Friday, July 25, 2008
And there's the truth. I've been somewhat avoiding this place. I'd mentioned in my first post that I struggled with a particular sin for six years. During that time I became a master at hiding. I've begun to finally overcome that struggle. The problem is, now I'm struggling with openness.
Even the Rebelution conference highlighted this for me, and it really didn't have much of anything to do with openness. When he asked if anyone would stand, I almost did. I got to the point where I said if anyone I knew stood I would. My mom did. Before I could work up the courage he'd already moved on.
Thinking about it, I was on an emotional high and didn't need to stand. It was the same sort of thing I'd done ten dozen and one times. One pastor's kid puts it that he was 'saved every time his dad preached'. My youth pastor says he 'wore out the rededication program'. My problem wasn't that I didn't have the precise exact spiritual high for being saved. It's that I'd walk towards God, and as life set back in, I'd quietly turn and walk right back to where I was. Sure, I'd remain in youth group, in helping at this or that ministry, going to this or that Bible study, but I'd stepped back. I just kinda watched myself go through it.
Was I no longer Christian because I wasn't on an emotional supercharge? Of course not, but that's when I stopped acting like it. I went through motions because I hoped I would get that supercharge back, not realizing that wasn't what being a Christian was.
What does this have to do with avoiding this blog? Openness. I don't think anyone knows what various things I've tried to respark that supercharge. I'm pretty positive my parents don't know about the struggle I faced for six years. And I'm not sure if even I know who I am without so many panels of painted glass between me and everyone else.
And it terrifies me. The thought of taking those panels away, stripping away the secrets, so I can actually be a person, not a 'perfect Christian'. Afterall everyone around me is standing so tall. If they struggle it's probably something tolerable, like lying, or anger with their siblings. Not something so terrible as what mine is.
God views them the same, but we don't. And it scares me to death, wondering if they would look at me different were they to know the truth. Would they hate me for it? Would I be cast away? Would my parents even be able to look at me again? Shame. Guilt. Fear.*
My youth pastor tells us that everytime you teach on something, that's the exact thing you're going to face. I guess I didn't think of that when I started this blog, or quite how many secrets I had. You keep them so long, it's hard to remember where they end and you begin.
I began this blog telling you the importance of sharing your secrets. Now I'm pointing that same finger back at me. I need the same thing. So I ask that you pray for me as well, as I go through this same painful task, and perhaps, I can reveal what wisdom I gain from the experience.**
And mayhaps we may all enjoy a truer deeper fellowship, and in the walk of 'Do Hard Things', a more rewarding collaboration.
*A very small part of me says that I shouldn't because I don't want to make it seem like my parent's fault. I don't want to blame them. In a way, they did nothing to prevent it, certain events may have encouraged it. (But I still chose it.)
And no this part isn't really being charitable, it's just coming up with excuses.
** I'd mentioned that my friends and I had shared some of our struggles one night. But we didn't exactly move on from there in the right way, in some ways, at all. My next post is going to be about that, so don't worry if it seems I'm starting at the end.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Second, I mentioned with my last post some inspiration I had from Romans 4. I also had some inspiration from a friend of mine, some discussions we had before I left. For two reasons I decided to do this one first. One, it was more closely tied to the last post, and two, it provided some encouragement from Biblical examples.
Romans 4 gives us a view of two men, Abraham and David*. And while at first it's topic (justification by faith) seems somewhat off for this blog, I do have an idea of what I'm doing.
First David, because his more closely ties in. In Romans Paul quotes the Psalm David wrote upon knowing the intense forgiveness of God, after a time of hidden sin. For, at least, nine months, David had hidden his sins. Adultery, murder**. This was the man after God's own heart.
And yet, he'd stumbled, and he had fallen far. But rather than admit his sins, he hid them. Shame, guilt, fear, desire, whatever it was, he couldn't admit that he had been wrong. Not before anyone.
He describes it in the Psalm like this: "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."
This man was no longer after God's own heart. Instead he hid his own and tried to forget the past that was killing him. Until God took him head on. After an intervention by a prophet, David confessed, and though he still faced the consequences of his sin, God forgave him. Verse 5: 'Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah'
Verses 1 and 2 describe his great freedom afterwards. "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Not hidden away, but covered by the mercy of God. In whose spirit is no deceit. Can you say that of yours? Can I of mine?
And Abraham. His example is not of something hidden away, but one can see the struggles in his life. Twice, for fear, he claimed his wife as his sister, and for it, kings suffered. But God called him righteous. And for what, a brilliant offering of his only son? No. Only faith, belief. He trusted God.
Oh if only I trusted God enough to leave him in charge of my secrets. But instead I scramble to hide them for fear that someone might know that I'm not the perfect Christian, but just human, like them. Sure I fear they'll judge me more harshly. I fear rejection, disgust. I even fear being chased from God completely.
But my bones are groaning, and my strength is sapped. My only encouragement is that, like David, God will forgive the guilt of my sin. I will rejoice, for my sins will be covered. And, like Abraham, my trust may be accredited to me as righteousness.
* I could mention a score of other characters throughout scripture, who would fit for this blog. But these two were my inspiration. So these are the two I (God?) chose.
** For those who don't know the story, David, when he ought to have been off to war, was wandering his palace when he saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof. Lust led to adultery, led to conception. So David sent for her husband, hoping Uriah would take his break with his wife. Uriah would not, so David instead had him killed, and married the widow once her time of mourning was over.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Last time I shared the purpose of this blog, encouraging you(and myself really) to be open with one another. Unfortunately due to time constraints (and the size of the post), I wasn't able to go into the scriptural background for it.
Today I can. I first heard this teaching (which I'll shortly be borrowing and butchering(parts of)) while at a conference in California. It was one of many God had been using to try to bring me to openness, among other things. The teaching was actually about legalism, but he went on a little bit about this.
Using 1 John 1:5-10: "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."
God is light, in him there is no darkness. The first thing we need to do is confront the idea that light might perhaps be holiness. If it is, then I'd be better off turning to James 5. But look closely. It says that if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, or make him out to be a liar. But they were just talking about being in the light. If we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. So while we are in the light, there is sin. It seems to follow us a lot.
Looking at the rest of the passage and the nature of light reveals what John is speaking of. If we walk in the light we have fellowship. What hinders us from fellowship, but hiding ourselves in secrets. And think about light. Light illuminates, reveals. The darkness hides things, covers them up, while the light shows them as they are.
And God does not hide himself. In him there is no darkness He has no secrets of his character, only things we haven't learned or understood. It's not like he can't stand us knowing how loving he is.
If we claim to have fellowship with him, but walk in darkness... Things get serious here. When we walk in darkness it says the truth is not in us. If we claim to be without sin, the truth and his word are not in us. If there was any part of you that was hoping that there was a loophole allowing you to avoid sharing struggles, crucify it now.
But there's hope in this passage. If we confess our sins, he'll forgive us, and cleanse us. From what? From the lesser unrighteousness; you know, that white lie yesterday. He'll cleanse us from most unrighteousness, but you better get to work, or you'll be spending quite a few years in purgatory. All unrighteousness. All. A-L-L.
I don't know about you, but considering how much unrighteous stuff I get/have gotten into that's a relief. I need it. I'm willing to admit right now, I don't make it.
I've been struggling for years on this walk. As a teacher put it, "You're either checked out of life, or you're struggling with the Christian walk." Cause Satan won't let you rest, not if he can make you miserable.
But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with each other, with him, and purification.
Fellowship and purification. Now where's that in our churches today?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
It’s been one week since my first post on this blog. It was about me (selfish bugger, ain’t I?), an introduction if you will, to myself. Today I give you an introduction to the blog itself.
The short answer is found in the song from which this blog gets its name, Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns. If you’ve never heard it, or you just want to watch it again you can see it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2HsLAxs1xs&feature=related Really, I suggest you watch it even if you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s an amazing video by the youth at 4:12.
The longer answer… Consider for a moment the words of that song. Look at the person they describe. It’s your neighbor in the pew, your worship leader, your family. It’s you.
Have you failed? Have you fallen? Do you struggle daily against a temptation that no one even knows you have?
And what of Sunday? We tuck it away, hoping that no one will ever discover ‘the truth behind the person you imagine me to be.’ The alter becomes a stage, and we hide every struggle behind fake smiles.
“How are you doing, Sean?”
“Pretty good, Bill.” Bill isn’t even listening anymore. It was just a greeting, like a basic ‘hello.’ But if he were, he wouldn’t here the truth. This morning I was having the same struggle I’ve fought for six years. And dare I tell a soul?
When I take a look around, everyone else has it under control. The few who don’t, look at me as a leader. I’ve been ‘the Christian’ since I was 6. How can I tell them that I’m really just human?
Taylor Swift, a country singer(yeah, I know, I listen to a bit of non-Christian music), puts it like this in Tied Together With A Smile: “you cry, but you don't tell anyone that you might not be the golden one. And your tied together with a smile
but your coming undone.”
I’ve heard it said “secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.” These secrets always hurt someone, and it’s always you.
God knows we can’t stand on our own. He’s won every victory for us. He has the power for us to withstand, to overcome but the strength of will... He can’t give us that. It’d be taking away our choice. Alone our will is so easy to wear away, like sand.
But we can’t really have fellowship with each other, can’t share that strength, when we don’t have problems, when we’re just happy plastic people, with towering walls of stained glass hiding every fault. When we don’t even know the other person, how can we possibly have real fellowship with them?
I have a number of friends. Some are in my youth group; some are in some other Bible studies I go to. A number of the friends from youth group have spent more than one night at my house, with my sister and I. We’ve spent nights talking about our lives, our pasts, our troubles, our struggles. In the wee hours of the morning it is slightly easier to share, possibly because the rational part of your mind is getting sleepy. I don’t know, but off topic.
But bible study on Friday nights, our ‘home fellowship’ group... we’re friends. Just friends. One of my friends there, I’ve known longer than all but one of the members of my youth group. And, through no fault of his own, I am, in a way, so much closer to them, than him. Why?
Because of openness. With him I always have a part of me that I hide, and to avoid that part, I have to avoid others. One secret and I’ve suddenly hidden so much of me, that I must become something to fill the missing parts. So I become ‘the Christian.’ Who knows, if they believe it enough, I might too.
But there’s a better way. A way to true fellowship. A way that God himself calls us to*. A way that while it requires us to ‘Do Hard Things,’** like sharing our failures, is the only way to a life that’s free, and a life that’s ready for the amazing things God has prepared for us, as we work together with our fellow believers, in fellowship with them.
Sure it’s scary. Shame, fear of rejection, anger, regret, wounds, worry that we’ve already missed it, all the things on the shirts in those videos… they hinder us; they hold us up. They’re the way Satan tries to keep us from that life.
But I’ve seen a life without it. And I remember being a child, before I started carrying my own secrets. If it’s the hardest thing you ever do, it’s worth it. There may be those who shrink away from you for your openness, or for your sin, but others will embrace you for your courage and your humility. And as you strip away secrets together, you become an army, standing together, firm against whatever comes your way.
Cause temptations will come. And we cannot face them alone.
* This was supposed to just be a brief overview of the purpose of this blog, it got quite a bit longer. I’ll (Lord willing) be looking at the scriptural background for this life next time, which may or may not be in a week.** Do Hard Things is an awesome and amazing book, by Alex and Brett Harris. It, along with the song Stained Glass Masquerade and about 200 lessons on being open, provided me with most of the motivation and encouragement to start this blog. Well, my life, and the 200 lessons prompted the desire for openness. The book and the song prompted the motivation and encouragement to share it like this. Thanks to both of you.
PS: For some reason my first entry was at 1:00 in the morning Central time. For an even odder reason I feel compelled to keep to that time. So here it is at 1:00 though I finished it about 11:15(automatic delayed postage is excellent). If I start doing it on other days I might possibly go to a more reasonable hour of the day, or at least midnight, so it's got some logic to it.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
My name is Sean R. Bunger. I really don't tell my middle name. I am 18, born on the 27th of December, and homeschooled in SD. Despite my age I plan to take an extra year in school, as I haven't been able to do all I've wished previously, and more importantly I really believe God said so.
I am a rather churchy sort, with church, a youth group, and Truth Project(well, just finished that, so just church and youth group) on Sundays, and youth group Tues, Middle Schoolers Wed, and Bible Study Friday. So the question is, am I a rather Christian sort?
Mother, father, older brother, younger sister. Pretty good family. I wouldn't call it the role model for Earth, but certainly not bad. Mom takes care of administration for the school, though she doesn't do much for actual teaching. Dad works. Unfortunately when he doesn't we don't always spend good time together anyway. Older brother left for the marines, and sister's also finishing up school.
I'm sure with the information provided someone could hunt me down, but I've got several weapons, a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, and friends and family in the military and security, plus my dad's a postal worker. ;) I'm not too scared. Well about that anyway. My next post will be when it starts getting harder.
It looks like I won't be going into hobbies, or really superficial stuff, like what my favorite color, or ice cream is. The world must weep. Yes I am a bit sarcastic. But it's late and the blog's getting long. Next post will be a general overview of the purpose then I'll be getting into the scriptural backgrounds. And then how I'm working with it? Just have to figure out how to say it all. And we'll see where it goes, Lord willing.