Christian Hypocristy

from the archives
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Growing up, I thought hypocrisy, especially Christian hypocrisy, was one of the absolute worst traits a person could have. To be called a hypocrite was worse than any cuss word ever used; I was very self-righteous in certain ways. And I still agree that we should try to avoid hypocrisy.

But I like to think I’ve grown up at least a little. And maybe it’s wrong, but I’ve become less rigid in a lot of my beliefs.

I truly believe that we live in a gray world, even though so many people act as though it’s black and white.

This is especially true when it comes to the church, or at least here in America.

One of my small group leader is a musician. A few weeks ago, when we met his house he played a video for us. It was a Christian concert, and the lead singer did the thing where he had each band member do a little solo on their particular instrument. He then asked us if we thought there was anything wrong with that- to which all of us said no.

Apparently, that’s not how everyone felt. Some people took it as the band members showing off, or glorifying themselves.

If these musicians are going to “use their gifts to praise the Lord,” shouldn’t they try to be the best they can be at it?I mean, I am supposedly trying to learn guitar but I suck at it right now. Sure, I could strum a chord and claim it’s praise- but that would be some pitiful praise. It would feel much more respectful to read my Bible, or pray, or just…meditate, almost, to the actual good sounding music of more talented people.

I’ve also heard some people say that we should be the same inside of church as we are outside of church. For a long time, I would have agreed- anything else would be Christian hypocrisy, right?

But I’m starting to change my opinion there. For several years, I didn’t have a church. I mean, I belonged to the general “body of Christ” type of church. But a specific group of people who shared my beliefs and worked together for the good of God and my local community, who prayed together and supported each other? Nope. I was a bit of a Christian island.

I know that my Christian walk was not as close to Christ or as strong then as it is now that I have those things. I’m not saying a church is necessary for Christianity, but I think the right church can be incredibly helpful to a Christian.

To me, my relationship with the church is similar to my marriage; my husband and our marriage highlights my good as well as my bad. It reflects the best and worst of myself, and makes me really analyze the kind of person I want to be and the characteristics I want to display.

Church & Christianity does the same thing. Yeah, I love singing about faith and being steadfast on Sundays. The reason that touches be so much is precisely because I struggle with control issues and self-doubt the rest of the week. It’s not hypocrisy that makes me love hearing about things that are the opposite of me- it’s inspiration and need.

The Bad Christian podcast talks about this a lot when it comes to worship leaders & pastors (since that’s what the hosts are/have been). Is it hypocrisyfor a pastor to preach a sermon about anxiety when he is worried about the church finances? Is it hypocrisy for a worship leader to smile and try to inspire others to praise when he is angry with God for allowing his wife to get cancer?

Or is is just flawed humans fulfilling the responsibility they’ve accepted to live out their beliefs that He is greater than ourselves and anything in our lives, and encourage others to do the same?

Isaiah 2: 22 says it like this:
Stop trusting in mere humans,
    who have but a breath in their nostrils.
    Why hold them in esteem?

We should strive to be steadfast and strong in our faith. But we are flawed.

That is the beauty of Christianity- that is what makes me hope and believe, the idea that we have a Savior in Jesus Christ who loves us despite our flaws and is pure enough to wash us clean.

We have to learn to grown in our faith- even if it means losing our self-righteousness. Maybe especially when loose our self-righteousness. We have to try to practice the forgiveness and understanding of Christ- isn’t that a huge part of what being a Christian is all about?

North Carolina is Done with Winter

I live fairly close to the coast in North Carolina. It's a great place to live, really and truly.  

We are kind of spoiled- especially when it comes to weather.

The past few weeks have been, well, almost winter like. There's been ice, and freezing temperatures*.


Even now it's warm but super rainy- there are flood and even tornado warnings...what?! Seriously. Almost everything in North Carolina is  freaking out. We're done. Maybe they are handling it better in the mountains. But here in eastern NC, pretty much everyone I know is dreaming of margaritas on the beach.

This may be a little more noticeable for me, seeing as how the summer is a big deal. At that point...I will have a baby! And the ability to indulge in at least one of those margaritas without judgement or guilt :)


Here's to warm temps and sunny skies!

*before anyone tells me how much worse it is basically everywhere else in the country, I am referring to the fact that temps have dropped below the literal freezing point of 32°.

Feeling Good

Does anyone else sometimes have days where you just feel a little itchy?

It's hard to explain. But sometimes I just feel like I need to go do something. Anything, practically.



Currently, at the moment, I want to

  • Get in my car and drive towards the coast to visit a lighthouse.
  • Make a Valentine's Day wreath for my front door (also, I need to repaint my front door).
  •  Go shopping for a dress for my maternity pics/baby shower (is it bad to wear the same thing to both?)

Maybe it's the fact that I worked out today! 

It's not totally unusual, but today I actually felt good at the end of the workout. I felt both like I had pushed myself a little but not like I was miserable and going to spend 2 days recovering (which is too often how I feel after working out while I've been pregnant).




Maybe it's the good weather...
and by good I mean it isn't freezing and raining



Maybe it's the coffee I had this morning, which I haven't had in a while.


Maybe it's just excitement over my awesome hubby and growing baby girl.


And/or excitement over our baby shower! 
Even though I'm about 95% sure no one is paying attention to our registry and I'm going to have to do massive returns to get gifts that actually fit our needs...and I do NOT understand the push against getting someone something they actually need/want by following a freakin' registry...
Still, it's a step closer to the very exciting (but still unreal and terrifying) fact that our baby is almost here!




Who knows. Either way, I'm enjoying the good mood. Hopefully it will last :)

What has you in a good mood today?

Show Us Your Books Link-Up

Life According to Steph

It's time for another Show Us Your Books Link-Up! I haven't read as much this month, but I do have one in progress and should still made my goal*.


  • Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda
    • This book has been all over the internet lately, with a ton of people who LOVE it. I enjoyed it, and there are tons of great things about it...but I didn't LOVE it. You can read a more in depth review of my feelings here.

    • How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
      • I purchased this at my local used bookstore, and it sat on my shelf for at least 6+ months. It will definitely be going straight back there once I finish enough books to warrant a trip (I can trade in books for credit- so of course I do). But hey, it meets my goal of cleaning out my IRL TBR.
      • This book was really not worth reading. SvtHSA, I enjoyed but didn't love. This one...I literally had to force myself to read. It may be better if you recognize the author or people that he is talking about...I didn't (plus some of the names were redacted).
      • Here's what I wrote on Goodreads:
        • Can't honesty recommend this book. Towards the end there are some interesting observations, especially regarding Young's eventual introspection and comparisons of London v. New York (although he does say "America" a lot, and NYC is definitely not a good representation of the entire country). Based on the title and description I went in expecting a satirical and snarky view of celebrity culture from the inside. It's not really satirical so much as the matter-of-fact failures of a man to succeed in a shallow world that he legitimately valued. Even the end where he seems to have "grown up" so to speak seems more as though he got tired of sucking rather than truly underwent a serious mental change. Maybe I'm just reading it wrong but overall he seemed to take himself, and celebrity culture, all too serious while pretending he's above the BS. 


    *My yearly goal is 30 books total, which works out to about 2.5 a month. So I'm actually pretty much right on schedule with that.


    Christians aren’t Christ, & Neither is the Church



    from the archives
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     When I was in high school, I was a goody goody.

    I got in trouble once.  I left school for about 30 minutes one day to go get fast food for myself and a friend while we were manning the school radio station.  Literally every other student in the class had done this to my knowledge.  But someone found out, and told the entire school- including my teacher.  No one in that class talked to me for several days- including people I had considered very good friends.  Nearly every teacher I knew pulled me aside to talk about it.  A girl who was next in line for Jr. Marshall pushed for my suspension so I would get kicked out and she could take my place instead.  The assistant principal basically ignored my friend when we were called to the office but spent 10-15 minutes talking about how I should have known better, I risked my educational future, and basically just screwed my entire life up over a hamburger.

    The only person who actually treated me fairly was the teacher whose class I skipped.  

    She was very upset the first day- rightfuly so.  But after seeing the big deal everyone else was making, she pulled me aside.  She told me it was a mistake, but that was it.  My grades were excellent, I was polite and responsible, I apologized, and I was clearly upset (I don’t think I ate for two days).  She pointed out all the other students who had been caught doing the exact same thing and were never even threatened with suspension.  She outlined the justifiable punishment and assured me that it wouldn’t change my class ranking or negate any honors I had earned.

    Other people did this probably every week and no one seemed to notice.

    But there was something about this invisible standard I had apparently adhered to for so long that made people want me to shatter instantly during that fall from grace.

    I think it’s the same way with Christianity.  People both inside and outside the faith think anything or anyone stamped Christian needs to be perfect.  Maybe we can let something like worry or gluttony slide by but nothing worse than that (since apparently people are good at ranking sin).  Anything more than that and you are just a false prophet (to Christians) or hypocrite (to non-believers).
    Let me just say this- Christians are not Christ.   

    The church is not Christ.   

    Jesus is Christ.

    He is the only one that should be considered blameless.  He is, ultimately, the only thing we should look to for an example.

    I believe in community.  I believe in friendships.  I am so, so, so thankful for my church and my small group.

    But I do not worship them.  I do not hold them to be perfect, I do not think my pastor is perfect.  He has confessed to having past struggles, but I fully believe that he is still having current struggles also.  And that’s fine.  Because so do I.  So do you.

    I believe in trying to be like Christ.  I believe in trying to spread the gospel. I believe that as Christians we should have a desire to be like Christ because we love Him, want to please Him, and to hopefully show others how wonderful He is.  But we are not perfect. 

    We are trying to live up to something that we are fundamentally incapable of doing.

    So why are we so surprised when we monumentally fail?  Why is everyone so damn shocked when a Christian sins?  Seriously.  WHY?  The fact that I believe in a perfect God doesn’t make me perfect.  It makes me want to try, but it doesn’t make it happen ALL the time.

    Doing something wrong doesn’t mean someone isn’t a Christian, even if it happens multiple times.   

    A fallible Christian does not negate an infallible savior. 

    It just means that people are inherently flawed.  It’s what we do about those flaws and how we respond to them that gives us the opportunity to truly showcase our faith.

    What Keeps Me From Reading




    I love reading...I really do. Obviously. But sometimes it just doesn't happen. Here are some reasons I end up not reading:

    1. Getting caught up with technology...aka browsing the internet too much. 
      1. Sometimes I zone out and just pay attention to my phone, instead of picking up a book. I'm seriously considering giving myself a technology bedtime, where I don't get on the phone past 7 or 8 pm.
    2. Working.
      1.  I used to have time to blog at work...now I'm actually pretty busy. Soooooo...that's probably good for my employer but sad for me.
    3. Adulting.
      1. This is different from working- I've pretty much been working since high school except a year or so. But last night hubby & I had a budget meeting (trying to prepare ourselves for the baby), then we actually did the dishes together and some other stuff around the house (again, gotta get our shit together before this kid pops out).
    4. I'm tired.
      1. Sorry to bring it up two points in a row...but I'm PREGNANT. It really is tiring yo. Somedays I can do ALL THE THINGS and some days I can't make it off the couch.
      2. Weather/Allergies also plays into this, as my eyes have been so sore/tired that I can barely hold them open.
    5. The books themselves. 
      1. Especially right now, since I am focusing so much on specific books (for my IRL TBR and Diversity Reading Challenge) sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure or I just don't like a book, but feel like I have to finish it so I don't have to search for another book that meets the criteria. 
    What type of things keep you from reading as much as you'd like?

    Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

      
    Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

    With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

    As I mentioned, I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli for my Diverse Reading Project. This book has been all over the blogosphere and Book Tube, so I had high hopes.

    I originally gave it a 3 on Goodreads, but I'm re-thinking it.



     My actual rating would be a 3.5. Maybe 3.75.


    The author did a great job of really fleshing out the main character- you got to know Simon as a student, as a friend, as a son and brother...it's rare to get such a full view of a character. And the emails with Blue obviously showed an inside thought process that added to that.

    The relationship with Blue is obviously the biggest plot point. The idea of getting to know someone anonymously and over the internet is becoming more and more common. This was done really well in this book, especially coming from a high school perspective. The relationship felt very authentic, and I especially appreciated the back-and-forth about meeting versus not meeting.

    I was getting impatient to the Blue reveal, but it was great when it finally happened! Also enjoyed the butterflies that came with the start of the relationship. It did seem as though they jumped into things a little fast- the time alone at the end worried me for a minute. I get that they had known each other, both online and through school, but the relationship itself was still really fresh.

    That could just be me turning into an old lady...I know pregnancy isn't an issue with two boys, obviously, but I believe there are more consequences to sexual behavior than that.
     

    Simon was a good main character, but I didn't necessarily feel like I connected with him personally. Once we found out who Blue was, I actually started thinking I would have liked to hear from his perspective more...that lack of personal connection is probably what stopped this book from being 4 stars for me. There are lots of people who totally fell for Simon and maybe it was all that hype that made him fall a little flat for me...or maybe it's just a personal thing (which is okay- you can't LOVE all characters just like you can't LOVE all people).

    Similar to Blue, all of the secondary characters were believable and interesting.
     

    I feel like I could have read a book focused on any one of the characters.

    Which is a really strong statement, in my opinion.

    Overall my favorite thing would have to be the idea of what all lies under the surface of people- the knowledge that in general we know so little even about those we are closest too.

     

    I've seen this book hyped up a TON, so I feel bad that I didn't absolutely LOVE it, but I definitely enjoyed it. It was cute but meaningful, and a relatively easy/fast-paced read.