The One About Autumn Leaves

​It’s been a while since I last took the time to sit down and write, and I’m realizing as I type this sentence that it was about a year ago that I sat down to write my first piece for this blogging project. Have I been faithful to it like I said I was? Nope. But, really, how surprising is that? Unfortunately, I feel like I’m the type of person that has great ideas but when it comes to actually implementing those ideas I lose interest and get bored.

​Actually, I recently got into this phase that had me really interested in figuring out what my personality type was, and after spending some time online and taking a few tests, my results weren’t all that surprising. I got ENFP (Extraverted iNtuition Feeling and Perceiving), which basically translates to a Spontaneous Idealist. Besides the fact that I think that has a nice ring to it, the description was pretty accurate, I think. “Spontaneous Idealists are masters of communication and very amusing and gifted entertainers. Fun and variety are guaranteed when

Here's a snap of the tree at the church I'm referring to.

Here’s a snap of the tree at the church I’m referring to.

they are around. However, they are sometimes somewhat too impulsive in dealing with others and can hurt people without really meaning to do so, due to their direct and sometimes critical nature. This personality type is a keen and alert observer; they miss nothing which is going on around them.”

​Where was I? Right, talking about how I’ve been neglecting the blogging thing. Well, you know what? Blogging is difficult when you’re taking 18 hours and have multiple projects, papers, presentations due weekly in two different languages.
​I guess my specific “theme” for this post is change. The very sound of that word sends shivers down my spine. I don’t do change well. My personality type says I like spontaneity, which I do, but usually when I’m the one in charge of creating the spontaneity. As I near the end of my last fall semester ever, I’m realizing that there’s a lot changing around me, but not that I’m necessarily adapting to those changes – or that the changes in my environment are changing me internally and not vice versa.
​Let me explain what I’m feeling using a visual anecdote cause that’s how I best learn and explain things. The other day after church, I was playing with some of the kids in the parking lot while some of the real adults were having a meeting. In the yard of the church there’s this tree whose leaves actually change shades of yellow and orange every fall (a rare sight in SA).
​Right now, those leaves are a bright shade of yellow, and as I took a few seconds to look at the tree’s leaves, I related to that tree in that instant. This time of year in Texas, as the weather gets (inconsistently) cooler and cooler, that tree has no choice but for its leaves to change. Those leaves and that tree are affected by the environment. Eventually, those yellow leaves will turn orange, then brown, and then one of us will be raking them up into piles in the church yard.
​And in that moment, I related SO much with that tree, that tree who, in a few weeks, will be dormant – at least on the surface. It’s leaves will fall and nothing but the tree’s brown and grey branches will remain – a skeleton of what once was.

Update: here's the same tree a week after the first photo was taken.

Update: here’s the same tree a week after the first photo was taken.

​As I stood there almost feeling sorry for the tree’s inevitable dormancy, I felt in my heart that I’m in my own state of dormancy – waiting for the semester to finish, waiting for graduation, waiting for something and not actively doing anything. “Wonderful,” I thought sarcastically, “I’m like a dead tree right now.” But the truth is that there’s a lot of power in dormancy, you know? That tree isn’t really dormant in the sense that we know that word. That tree is building up strength and preparing for Spring when it’ll come back in full force. I guess it’s kinda like that with me right now.
​In our times of stillness and quiet I would like to believe that, just like that tree will be in it’s state of dormancy, that we’re preparing for something big. I think it’s time we fully embraced that journey that so often is filled with bouts of change and dormancy.

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The One Where I Rant About Feminism

A couple of months ago, I was having coffee and eating a bagel before class, when my phone buzzed. It was a Twitter notification saying that someone had sent me a direct, or private message. I opened it, and saw that it was from someone who followed me, but that I haven’t met in person.

Jonathan, does your church REALLY have women in leadership?

The question really took me by surprise. The answer is, yes, our church really does have women in leadership. Our church has four female pastors, who are four of the strongest, most powerful women I have ever met.

Since that morning, I’ve read tons and tons of literature about the role of women in the church. What should they do? What should they not do? For the past year, every time I read somewhere online or on another person’s blog about how a women was told to shut up in church, I get angry. Over the past year, I’ve read in detail about just how pro-women Jesus was when He was on Earth.

And, I’ve begun to ask myself what the consequences are of silencing women. The answer is that the consequences are huge.

Last summer, I asked a friend of the church, who I consider to be one of the wisest people I have ever met about women’s role in the church. I remember asking him specifically about God’s gender. “Jonathan, God is not a man or a woman. God is all gender. Everything feminine and  everything masculine  can be found in the person of God.”

That went hand-in-hand with something I remember Kris Vallotton talking about during my time at Bethel. I remember him saying that God created both man and women in His image. This means that it is both man and woman who reveal who God is. Silencing women effectively says, “I’m okay with just knowing half of who God is.”

A couple months ago, I got into my first “Twitter war” with Tony Miano, an “open-air” preacher who has been arrested on multiple accounts for harassment, and who firmly believes that women should be silent in the church, that women should never assert a teaching role over men, and that men who read women’s blogs are sinning. The argument was about how “un-masculine” and “unjust” it was for a Christian man to defend feminism.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be guilty of shutting God’s children up. I believe everyone can and does hear from Him, and I don’t want to be guilty of eliminating 50% of people that I can learn from and see God in.

Here are some links to people who capture my thought on Feminism more eloquently that I ever could. Enjoy!

 Sarah Bessey: In which I’m a feminist, sure, but first I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ

Ailina Carona: A Woman President

Micah J. Murray: How Feminism Hurts Men

Preston Yancey: when i am a christian feminist in retrospect

Rachel Held Evans: What Feminism is Not…

The One Where I Rant About Feminism

A couple of months ago, I was having coffee and eating a bagel before class, when my phone buzzed. It was a Twitter notification saying that someone had sent me a direct, or private message. I opened it, and saw that it was from someone who followed me, but that I haven’t met in person.

Jonathan, does your church REALLY have women in leadership?

The question really took me by surprise. The answer is, yes, our church really does have women in leadership. Our church has four female pastors, who are four of the strongest, most powerful women I have ever met.

Since that morning, I’ve read tons and tons of literature about the role of women in the church. What should they do? What should they not do? For the past year, every time I read somewhere online or on another person’s blog about how a women was told to shut up in church, I get angry. Over the past year, I’ve read in detail about just how pro-women Jesus was when He was on Earth.

And, I’ve begun to ask myself what the consequences are of silencing women. The answer is that the consequences are huge.

Last summer, I asked a friend of the church, who I consider to be one of the wisest people I have ever met about women’s role in the church. I remember asking him specifically about God’s gender. “Jonathan, God is not a man or a woman. God is all gender. Everything feminine and  everything masculine  can be found in the person of God.”

That went hand-in-hand with something I remember Kris Vallotton talking about during my time at Bethel. I remember him saying that God created both man and women in His image. This means that it is both man and woman who reveal who God is. Silencing women effectively says, “I’m okay with just knowing half of who God is.”

A couple months ago, I got into my first “Twitter war” with Tony Miano, an “open-air” preacher who has been arrested on multiple accounts for harassment, and who firmly believes that women should be silent in the church, that women should never assert a teaching role over men, and that men who read women’s blogs are sinning. The argument was about how “un-masculine” and “unjust” it was for a Christian man to defend feminism.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be guilty of shutting God’s children up. I believe everyone can and does hear from Him, and I don’t want to be guilty of eliminating 50% of people that I can learn from and see God in.

Here are some links to people who capture my thought on Feminism more eloquently that I ever could. Enjoy!

 Sarah Bessey: In which I’m a feminist, sure, but first I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ

Ailina Carona: A Woman President

Micah J. Murray: How Feminism Hurts Men

Preston Yancey: when i am a christian feminist in retrospect

Rachel Held Evans: What Feminism is Not…

The One That’s Pretty Shitty

Disclaimer: This post contains language that some readers might find offensive. The word choice has been made for the sake of making an argument. Ye be warned. 

Some friends and I got together last weekend for some pizza and board games. We’ve all been friends since middle school, so it’s safe to assume that we’ve grown up together and experienced so much together.

We’ve seen each other through the horrible middle school haircuts. We’ve seen each other hurt. We’ve seen each other cry. We’ve seen some of us have children of our own. We’ve seen each other through breakups and makeups. Through the years, we’ve created a safe environment between us in which it’s okay to be you, and even then it’s okay to suck at it sometimes.

In our conversation, one of my friends said something that had me thinking on it for a good week. 

“Jonathan, you just really seem to have your life together.” 

I raise the bullshit flag on that one.

Maybe on the surface I may seem like I have it all together, but, you know what? I’m nearly 21 years old and I’ve never balanced a checkbook. I’m nearly 21 years old and I STILL DON”T HAVE MY DRIVER’S LICENSE. 

You know what else? It wasn’t until six very angry emails from the admin at Trinity that I finally declared my major. (That was after changing it four times.)

The blatant truth is that I struggle with lust, just like most men my age. The truth is that in my past, I’ve been a compulsive liar. The truth is that I use sarcasm for two reasons: to be funny, and to put people down so I don’t feel so inadequate.

To say that i’ve never struggled with porn would be a lie. The truth is that I constantly feel the need to top other people’s stories with my own. The truth is that I’ve compromised my convictions in the past in order to fit in.

It’s safe to say that I’ve dealt with abandonment issues. It’s safe to say that I sometimes have a hard time trusting people. The plain truth is that I’ve stepped on and over people in my past to get my way.

What is it about me that makes me so scared to be open and upfront about these things? Why do I constantly feel the need to paint the picture that I have everything together?

Because I’m ashamed.

Shame is a gross thing. It’s a poison. It travel from your brain through your veins and arteries to your heart and back again. Once infected, it’s an endless cycle of self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear…which lead to turning you into a manipulative jerk that puts people down to make you feel better about yourself.

But, you know what? Self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear, and manipulation are NOT Fruits of the Spirit. 

You know what else? It’s okay to not have your shit together just yet. We’re working on it. I’m so thankful that God is a god of the process. I’m so thankful that He grabs me by the hand and is gracious enough to help me work through my issues.

When I say I’m scared, my Jesus tells me I’m brave. When I say I’m guilty, He calls me innocent. When I doubt myself, He assures me of my righteousness. When I worry, He holds my hand just a little tighter.

When we realize that becoming a Christian does not equal immediately having everything together, and that it’s okay to be transparent and open with each other about it, we begin to create a safe community in which nothing is hidden. 

My goal for this post is for people to know that it’s okay to not have your shit together. I hope my being open with you will help you realize that being honest with yourself and people you can trust is just one step you can take to being free from shame.


I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The view expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views or vision statement of Living Word Church.

The One That’s Pretty Shitty

Disclaimer: This post contains language that some readers might find offensive. The word choice has been made for the sake of making an argument. Ye be warned. 

Some friends and I got together last weekend for some pizza and board games. We’ve all been friends since middle school, so it’s safe to assume that we’ve grown up together and experienced so much together.

We’ve seen each other through the horrible middle school haircuts. We’ve seen each other hurt. We’ve seen each other cry. We’ve seen some of us have children of our own. We’ve seen each other through breakups and makeups. Through the years, we’ve created a safe environment between us in which it’s okay to be you, and even then it’s okay to suck at it sometimes.

In our conversation, one of my friends said something that had me thinking on it for a good week. 

“Jonathan, you just really seem to have your life together.” 

I raise the bullshit flag on that one.

Maybe on the surface I may seem like I have it all together, but, you know what? I’m nearly 21 years old and I’ve never balanced a checkbook. I’m nearly 21 years old and I STILL DON”T HAVE MY DRIVER’S LICENSE. 

You know what else? It wasn’t until six very angry emails from the admin at Trinity that I finally declared my major. (That was after changing it four times.)

The blatant truth is that I struggle with lust, just like most men my age. The truth is that in my past, I’ve been a compulsive liar. The truth is that I use sarcasm for two reasons: to be funny, and to put people down so I don’t feel so inadequate.

To say that i’ve never struggled with porn would be a lie. The truth is that I constantly feel the need to top other people’s stories with my own. The truth is that I’ve compromised my convictions in the past in order to fit in.

It’s safe to say that I’ve dealt with abandonment issues. It’s safe to say that I sometimes have a hard time trusting people. The plain truth is that I’ve stepped on and over people in my past to get my way.

What is it about me that makes me so scared to be open and upfront about these things? Why do I constantly feel the need to paint the picture that I have everything together?

Because I’m ashamed.

Shame is a gross thing. It’s a poison. It travel from your brain through your veins and arteries to your heart and back again. Once infected, it’s an endless cycle of self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear…which lead to turning you into a manipulative jerk that puts people down to make you feel better about yourself.

But, you know what? Self-doubt, guilt, worry, fear, and manipulation are NOT Fruits of the Spirit. 

You know what else? It’s okay to not have your shit together just yet. We’re working on it. I’m so thankful that God is a god of the process. I’m so thankful that He grabs me by the hand and is gracious enough to help me work through my issues.

When I say I’m scared, my Jesus tells me I’m brave. When I say I’m guilty, He calls me innocent. When I doubt myself, He assures me of my righteousness. When I worry, He holds my hand just a little tighter.

When we realize that becoming a Christian does not equal immediately having everything together, and that it’s okay to be transparent and open with each other about it, we begin to create a safe community in which nothing is hidden. 

My goal for this post is for people to know that it’s okay to not have your shit together. I hope my being open with you will help you realize that being honest with yourself and people you can trust is just one step you can take to being free from shame.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I am on the leadership team at Living Word Church in San Antonio, Texas. The view expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views or vision statement of Living Word Church.

 

The One Where I Explain Myself

Here I am again sitting at my laptop trying to force myself to write another blog post. But this one is different. I’ve promised myself that I’ll actually keep up with this one. I guess a good question would be why have I even decided to start blogging to begin with?

A few days ago, I was giving some advice to a friend, and he told me, “Jonathan, more people need to read your words.” I guess you can say that that was what I needed to get me going again. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and it seems that was just the motivation that I needed.

So, what will you find me writing about? I’ll definitely be writing about Jesus, and if you know me at all then that is definitely not a surprise to you. I’ll write about everyday life, I’ll write about the Jesus I see in music, films, and books, I’ll write words of pain, anger, happiness…you’ll read words and thoughts of mine that I’ll try to make as transparent and as real as possible.

I’m not perfect, and you’ll read that, but everyday I try my hardest to be more and more like Jesus, and I hope you’ll be able to read that, too.

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