What has God said about what we are meant to do?

I had a conversation with a young person about her reaction to my attempt to instill confidence so she could preach. She stated that she didn’t know if God wanted her to preach because of how I approached the conversation. I screwed up in the approach. I was aggressive and persistent with no spiritual language (as any INTJ that doesn’t know better is).

Something that irked me about her response was that I got the impression that she would ask God if He wanted her to do x at time y every time someone asked her to do something. So I asked: what has God told you that He wants you to do? She didn’t understand the question at first, so I had to rephrase it. Once she did, she thanked me for opening her eyes. She didn’t answer the question to me. I didn’t want to push it.

I don’t ask God every time I am told to do something by a human if God wants me to do it. I don’t have that type of mentality. I am rational, so I just assume that if I am asked to do something it means that God wants me to do it. The other reason that I don’t ask God if he wants me to do what I am asked to do, regardless of if I am the first choice or the last choice, is that I already know what God wants me to do. He wants me to sing to Him. He has given me intelligence and wisdom because He wants me to speak and share what He has already given me to others.

So when I am asked to sing or speak (sermon, Bible study, teach, train, testify, etc.) I don’t ask God whether He wants me to do these things or not because I already know what God’s answer is: Yes. Because I have been in my church’s metaphorical dog house from 2013-2018, I can safely assume that if I am asked to do one of these things what God is showing is that He is opening to door for me to do what He has already told me He wants me to do.

I believe that if we know what God wants us to do in general, it reduces the amount of times that we need to ask God “Do You want me to do this now?” We can make informed decisions on our own with the information that God gives us before hand. This is what I wish to transmit to her because I think that it will help her out a lot.

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Preaching with a cold.

Last Friday, on my church’s Good Friday Service, I was one of seven people preaching on one of the seven phrases that Jesus said while on the cross. There was just one problem: I woke up that morning and realized that my voice was gone. I freaked out a little. I texted my father, who is a doctor, about it. He gave a recommendation based on the little resources that I had at the time. Thankfully, with that recommendation and time my voice got well enough to speak for 5 minutes.

One thing that I realized about preaching when my voice wasn’t cooperating is that I needed to accept the current state of my voice. I had to flow with my voice’s resistance. I also had to keep calm. Everyone knew once I started speaking that my voice was bad, but I needed to show that I was not shaken by how the affected voice was affecting my ability to speak the way I wanted to sound.

The other thing that I confirmed about preaching with an affected voice is that the authority to preach isn’t dependent on how I sound. It is dependent on God backing up what I am saying. How my voice sounds and how I use it to express my idea is a tool. It’s the equivalent to the technique used to throw the seed. It doesn’t affect the genetics of the seed itself. It doesn’t affect what God thinks about the Word itself.

That morning I was scared that after all of the preparation I wouldn’t be able to physically share what God had shown me to the congregation, as He told me He wanted me to do. I tried my best to write down the message verbatim so that if my voice betrayed me at the moment of truth someone else could read it for me. I say I tried my best because I wasn’t able to translate what I really wanted to say and how I wanted to say it to a Word document.

To be honest, I had the Word document and an index card (I use index cards whenever I speak because it is a more suitable tool for how I preach/give Bible Study/teach/train) prepared and two Bible’s (the physical one and the tablet one) in the altar with me. I didn’t follow the order of what was written in the card nor the document. I had to make my message a bit more Evangelical than what I had originally planned and I changed the order in which I had things on the card. I already knew that the index card wasn’t as helpful for me going in because of how I rehearsed it. Yet, I was surprised at how differently it came out.

So far, the feedback that I got has been good. As I have listened to it and reflected on the experience, I have come to find out that this was a learning experience of having faith in one’s work and other’s work to complete the totality of the message… and to have faith that God may not allow for things to come out as I plan but He is in control.

Thoughts on kissing someone’s ass.

My thoughts on whether I support kissing someone’s ass got molded by how I took my mother trying to raise me to kiss someone’s ass. I never liked it. The reason I didn’t like it was because it felt forced by her. She saw it as something that’s good… even though if I tried to kiss someone’s ass and I didn’t believe what I said to be true then I’d be lying.

When I think about that fact, I tend to think that I don’t have as much of a problem with kissing someone’s ass as long as it is true. I don’t have as much of a  problem with it as long as I believe that what I am saying is true.

There is probably an art to kissing someone’s ass without seeming that this is what you are doing… I just don’t seem to think that this skill is worth obtaining. To each it’s own, I guess.

I am aware that this post has taken me about five minutes to do with a response that I have built over time. I am also aware that my thoughts on this topic can change with other life experiences. If my thoughts does change, then I have to go through the process to update what I think at that time.

Thanksgiving…

First of all, I want to give a shout out to Starbucks for being open for these holidays (In PR almost everybody closes for special holidays).

For the last 8 Thanksgivings I have had to face the reality that I don’t have family that I can rely on. No extended family. My nuclear family is unstable during festivities. I also don’t count on the friends that I don’t really have to take me in as their own. So I never have any plans for thanksgiving. I just hope for the best.

Having that said, I try to take time to think about what I can/should thank God for. One thing that I do notice is that the things end up being selfish things. I’d be lying if I say that I don’t take things for granted. I don’t think about being thankful for things that are outside of my daily life. I’m not going to say that it is 100% wrong. It is part of human nature to have a limiting perspective. Yet sometimes, it is good to think about things outside of yourself and how that affects your daily life. I don’t think that it needs to be on Thanksgiving Day, but I understand that Thanksgiving Day serves as a sort of subconscious alarm to be thankful. Hey, one day is better than not taking any day to meditate and thank God for things and people and processes and results.

What happens when an INTJ gets visibly pissed off.

Usually the rest of the world doesn’t get to see an INTJ pissed off. We INTJs pride ourselves in being these stoic cyborgs. Well… at least that is the illusion we want to keep. Sometimes, though, God decides to show His sense of humor and have something happen in our environment that makes us feel these weird thing called emotions.

When I as an INTJ get so pissed off that I can’t hide it anymore, I get aggressive. I never get into any physical altercation because I still have restraint, but my words get aggressive. I turn into a pissed off insult comic.

I as an INTJ already have a dark and cruel sense of humor. When I get pissed off, I tend to make a lot of Lewis Black type comedy sketches.

The biggest thing with my getting visibly pissed off is that there are two waves or phases of the emotion: the aggressive stage and the “crying because the anger emotion gets overwhelming” stage. I as an INTJ prefer to get physically aggressive than to break down like that and every time that it happens I get pissed off that God’s sense of humor made Him program me to have this type of response.

When an INTJ gets visibly pissed off no one really wants to handle it. Other people tend to tell me as an INTJ to calm down when I get angry. Externally I go from being okay to being mad pissed. Internally is where the brewing of anger happens. INTJ anger is like a non-ticking time bomb. Once you activate it, the countdown starts but you never know when the INTJ bomb will explode… and if you will ever see it.

If you get the INTJ visibly pissed off, deal with it! Don’t make the INTJ feel bad for having this strange thing you the rest of the world calls emotions. We already have a lot of negative thoughts when having an emotional outburst to have to also deal with your crappy thoughts.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with an INTJ when they show you they are pissed off is to just acknowledge the outburst and wait it out. INTJs, as much as we hate to admit it, are humans and are just as susceptible to emotional outbursts as the rest of humanity. Please treat us with mercy and without judgement. Please laugh when we turn our angry energy into an opportunity to make jokes because making jokes is better than giving the fullness of our raw emotion. Please help us stay within the God-approved anger expression boundaries and hold us accountable when we fall astray. Don’t ever tell us that the emotion is not okay. Understand that if we show you the fullness of our emotion, it means that we trust you enough to show the messiest side of our lives.

How does an INTJ show that you matter?

As an INTJ, I pride myself in not showing emotions… uncontrollably, I mean. We try to keep our emotions in check because we don’t want to express things without us understanding it first. Yet there are some things that the rest of humanity can look out for that show that we INTJs truly care about you.

  1. We make time for you. If you see that we INTJs are trying to plan to hang out, you can bet that we consider you important enough to plan moments to dedicate to you.
  2. We are present. If we make a concerted effort to not look at our phones (most of the time), you can be pretty sure that we care about you to make the time we give quality time.
  3. We make effort to quiet our inner world to focus on listening to you.
  4. We offer to help you with things that you need to get done.
  5. We feel… something… when you are going through a hard time.
  6. We visit you at the hospital when you are sick or rehabbing from injury.
  7. We listen to you when you let your feelings out.
  8. We explain our thought process to you.
  9. We share what we feel about something that is going on in our life.
  10. We try to keep a check and balances of the relationship to ensure that the relationship is balanced. (Never works in real life. We have to try, though.)
  11. We try to understand what the parameters of the relationship is and what are the expectations to be able to fulfill them as best we can.
  12. We seek intimacy and for the relationship to evolve at its due time.
  13. We enjoy your company.
  14. We are not grossed out when you get closer to our personal space.
  15. We respect you.
  16. We try to understand what makes you tick so that the relationship can work better.
  17. We ask questions to see what you think about a variety of topics.
  18. We share funny things that we found on the internet.
  19. We accommodate for your preferences.
  20. We say it… with a lot of resistance from our minds and bodies because we are not used to it.

INTJ rules for physical contact.

  1. Don’t put your hands on me… unless you earn it.
  2. If you dare put your hands on me, expect resistance or aggression.
  3. If you put your hands on me and then notice that I am avoiding you, you just earned being a representative of something negative that I don’t want to get myself exposed to you.
  4. If you are lucky to earn the privilege of me accepting physical contact from you, it doesn’t give you any permission to abuse it. Doing that will get you to square negative 1.
  5. If you earn the privilege of me accepting physical contact from you and I start allowing myself to engage in physical contact with you, don’t be shocked it if it awkward at first. I am not touchy feely. I have had a lifetime of withholding myself from engaging in physical contact because I don’t trust.
  6. Don’t screw up. Things with me are earned and have to be maintained, no matter how far we have come screw ups will have consequences and you will not like it.
  7. If you find that I progressively show signs of looking forward to engaging in physical contact with you, you have earned the highest privilege.

Birthday.

Today I turned 28. Birthdays are a bit bittersweet. I become officially a year older, and that is good. I have outlived the previous year. What is bitter isn’t becoming a year older. What is bitter is the realization of the fact that because I am not known enough most people don’t know that this day is my birthday. Because of the nature of my friendships, not even them know that today is my birthday.

So… no happy birthday… no cake… no celebration. Yeah, your family can do all these things… but with family to an extent doesn’t count. When friends do these things, there is a sense of feeling known and loved that no family does.

Facebook makes it easier because they get a notification on the day off. There is only one problem: I have few Facebook friends. There are some that message, most don’t.

Do I deserve it because I don’t tend to be good with these superficial things? Maybe. Do I still feel a little bit hurt that the people close to me don’t remember? Yeah. Do I think that this will matter after my life is done? No.

When a relationship doesn’t work anymore.

As an INTJ that sucks at understanding relationships intuitively, I have to take time (years even) to think things through to understand them. This week I finally figured (for now) what makes a relationship doesn’t work anymore. I have found that there are two things:

  1. The relationship got toxic beyond tolerance.
  2. The parameters of the relationship is no longer compatible with the people in it.

When a relationship gets toxic what is needed is to end the relationship. It’s not always as easy as the words imply. Not everything can be cut off because of outside circumstance, but it is important to keep the exposure to a minimum.

It is harder to detect when a relationship no longer works because the parameters don’t work. When I was younger and I sensed that the relationship wasn’t working because of this my first instinct was that the relationship ended never to be formed again. That wasn’t wise.

It also wasn’t compatible with what I was seeing. It never dawned on me that relationships can evolve over time and that this was okay. It also didn’t help that I never really had long term relationships. Everyone was temporary. God was the only constant.

When I took a hard look at relationships that lasted for more than 15 years, I realized that as I became an adult all of those relationships evolved because the parameters didn’t work anymore.

When I was 20 I left my parents house because of conflict that I didn’t want to be a part of. Soon after, I had this idea in my mind that I had lost my parents even though they were both alive. As time went on and saw that my relationship with my father still existed, that feeling calmed down. In fact, my relationship with my father got better. My relationship with my mother never evolved and it was pretty toxic so I had to end it.

Even the relationship with God changed. When I was 22, I had a “Courageous” movie type experience when God told me that I had become an adult (not those words, but this message). That meant that my relationship to Him had to change. It’s been one of increased expectation but also one of increased closeness.

When I look at all of the relationships at my local church that have lasted 15 plus years, the same pattern emerges. When I think of the differences, I am happy that each relationship evolved to the point where they are relationships between peers and there is no visible verticality.

Relationships need to have a good foundation of respect, acceptance, and value. They also need to evolve. Otherwise, a good relationship can become toxic. That one of the two parties find that a relationship isn’t working ain’t always bad. It is an opportunity to evolve. It is an opportunity to improve on a relationship. It is a part of life that we shouldn’t be scared of because every good relationship evolves because the parameters don’t work anymore.

 

Work in progress in Christ

As a Christian I am a work in progress. I don’t think that I will stop being a work in progress until eternity… probably. I am not where I want to be in life. I always find that whenever I feel that I am getting somewhere significant and have success in every aspect of life, something always happens that shows me that I am a work in progress. There is room for improvement… always.

Recognizing that I am a work in progress is a part of walking into a humble life. As a work in progress, I am not always aware of my status. Yet when I realize that there is room for improvement, that there are still areas of my life where the Holy Spirit needs to work, I understand that I need to pray for progress to be made at both the conscious and subconscious level.

I need to be honest as a work in progress. I know that there are areas of my life that the Holy Spirit needs to work at yet I am not ready to consciously change. Because I know from my education and my experience with spiritual behavior change that part of the behavior change is getting the predisposition to engage in the behavior that God wants of me.

As a work in progress, I am not always ready to admit the reality of my human condition. I have to pay attention to my internal conversation and be sensitive to when the conversation goes into a place where I am not prepared to go. I always recognize my resistance, yet I know and understand that I need to signal myself and pray to God that I get to a mental space where I can admit that about my human condition that I need to admit to then work on.

As a work in progress, I can never be satisfied with my current condition. Whenever I do, I become stagnant. Whenever I do, there is risk to fall away. Whenever I stop progressing, I hold back the fullness of my walk with God.

As a work in progress, I know that I will make mistakes. I can’t avoid it. It’s part of being human. As important as not making mistakes is, it is more important how I react to what happens and its results in my life. I am by no means an expert to walking in God as a work in progress. I am still learning how to do so.

Being a work in progress is not easy. That’s one of the reasons God gives us the Holy Spirit. It’s a loving guidance and behavior change coach that knows how to plan for short and long term progress. Our job as humans is to humbly recognize our condition and letting Him work freely. I don’t regret it. I am a better human because of it.