The Internet's favorite Unkle.

Posts Tagged: Christians

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thisisthestuff732 asked: Hey Unka Glen, in light of the verses 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, how do you distinguish when its okay to be friends with unbelievers and hang out with them? [edited for length]

Unka Glen answered: Here are the verses you mentioned:

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

Paul is pointing to the idea of influence. He’s saying that in order to be an influence on a world that is struggling to find God, you obviously need to have some kind of relationship with them. Indeed, in 1 Timothy 3:7 Paul says that Christian leaders need to have a good reputation with those outside the faith.

Of course, if people who are lost on their journey to find God are influencing your thinking, eventually they might get you lost too, and nobody benefits from that. So it makes sense that we should have various kinds of friendships with all kinds of people, and to learn and grow from those relationships, but to make sure that we share about the salvation we’ve found. 

It’s possible to divide all your relationships into people who are further along in their relationship with the Lord than you, and people who are less further along, and then you can look to be an influence to those who are less further along, and to be influenced by those more further along. That’s the goal.

But the last part of those verses is the part that Christians really ignore. The part about not associating with people who claim to be Christians, but who focus on money, or fame, or their own pleasures. Paul’s not talking about Christians who know they’re doing wrong stuff, and are working on it, he’s talking about people who manipulate others, and declare it righteous.

I hear Christians use the phrase “eat the meat and spit out the bones”, meaning they take the good words from crooked or clueless Christian leaders, and they reject the bad words from those leaders. That’s a LONG way from the command to not even eat with such people.

In the end, it’s better to have friends outside the faith who respect your walk, and are open to what you have to say about Jesus, than to have Christian relationships that are a bad for your walk. Jesus was called “a friend of sinners”, and He got there by publicly rejecting religious ugliness, and replacing that with a message of forgiveness, freedom, and grace.

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Anonymous asked: I have very intense doubt. I think I believe in God, but without any “proof,” it’s hard for me to feel safe. The fear that God might not exist is completely crippling, and I spend most of my time consumed by absolute terror. I want to believe so badly, but it’s so hard. I try to pray, but I can never feel “God’s presence.” Do you have any advice for dealing with doubt? <3

Unka Glen answered: I vaguely remember a lecture in my college days, about a psychology lab that did sleep studies. They woke people up after being asleep for a few minutes, and others who had been asleep for a few hours. Often, they could report roughly how long they’d been asleep. But neither they, nor the scientists could say just how they came by this knowledge. 

They called it meta-knowledge, things that you just know, even if you can’t say how.

Some things just exist in our minds, explanation or not, and we’ve experienced this many times over in our lives, and accepted it without scientific scrutiny or philosophical debate. But when it comes to God, well, that’s another story. Deep down, in your secret heart, deep in your soul, even as you read these words, you feel the undeniable presence of God, warming your heart and giving you a proof that is beyond science or logic. You know that you know.

What you’re afraid of is that God DOES exist. Because if He does, that changes everything. No more handwringing debates, no fears to wrap yourself up in, no more games. Just you standing in the full sight of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. The worry is that God exists, and that He just doesn’t like you’re style.

I’ll give you just a three word quote from the Bible: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). To be in God’s presence is to be in the presence of love. To enter into a relationship with God is to be lost in love, to be overwhelmed and consumed by love. To abide with God is to know that this love is bigger than any sin, any doubt, any fear. 

God’s saving love says to you, “all that’s over now. You can relax.”

"You’ve heard it said ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. But it seems to me Christians are known for hating sin far more than for loving sinners. Perhaps it should be something more like ‘hate the way sin hurts those you love.’ Tell me of your great love for us sinners, before you tell me anything about sin."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

"The first thing that anyone ever tells you about church is: behave. ‘We’re going to church, everybody act like humans. Be normal. If you get your underwear stuck in your butt, leave it!’

So the first thing you’re told is ‘don’t be yourself’, and as we get older, sometimes we unfortunately get stuck in that mode."

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Glen Fitzjerrell (aka Unka Glen), on episode 5 of the Say That podcast.

Get it free on iTunes and please leave a review!

Source: thebridgechicago

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kyrapendley asked: Hey unkaglen! So I hope this isn’t an odd question to ask, but when you were called to ministry, did it ever freak you out at all that you knew God had plans for you? Like, I know that God has called me and I know that alot of my inhibitions are the enemy trying to prevent me from ministry, but I have moments where I’m just like, “God, what the heck? How is it that you’re going to do all these things in my life?” I guess you could say I find myself doubting my own faith and abilities? Thanks!

Unka Glen answered: Naw, I had some volunteer experience, and I thought I was hot stuff. Then I went to raise money from the church I had been volunteering with, and grown up in, so I could do the urban ministry I’m doing now. This was a large suburban church. They didn’t give me a single dime. Still haven’t. I had worked with the youth in this church, for free, getting them off of drugs and into the youth group, and not a single parent sent in a single dime.

Having grown up in that church, I knew they had a reputation for not generously supporting missions, but I can’t explain to you in words how disappointing and draining this was to face.

A buddy of mine gave me $100 cash, or I literally wouldn’t have been able to drive out of town and get to Chicago. And then, you’ll love this, my boss decides to change my job description, as I’m traveling, to increase my responsibilities. Here is what that job description looked like by the time I got to Chicago.

  1. Enter the Cook County Jail system as a religious volunteer.
  2. Locate North Side (mostly Puerto Rican) gang members in various prison units.
  3. Lead those gang members to the Lord.
  4. Disciple those gang members to assist you, so you can safely move among various North Side gangs.
  5. Establish Bible Study/Cell group meetings within various gangs in their neighborhoods, allowing them to reach each other.

I looked at that job description, and checked myself into the YMCA with my last few dollars, and I prayed the following prayer: “My God, I don’t have what it takes.”

Now, here’s the deal. I didn’t have what it took anyway. Had I been well funded, had I less to do, I still didn’t have what it took. I had just enough know-how to almost, but not quite, pull it off. And that not-quite part was going to kick my butt in the long run, and when you’re working with well-armed gang members, it’s really important to get it right.

So I prayed my prayer. “Lord I don’t have what it takes”. And I could swear that this is what the Lord wanted to hear all along. And little by little, things started happening, doors started opening, and eventually I did everything in that job description… But did I do it? I could swear at every turn, there was just something totally beyond me, that kept coming in and taking things over the top. In the end, you realize God did it all, I just had to be the willing vessel.

Here’s the other deal, I still don’t have what it takes. I know a whole lot more, but my challenges have only increased. I’m still in over my head. And I still pray that prayer, every day: “Lord I need you. I can’t accomplish any of this without you. Get me out of the way and do your thing. Use me. Make me an instrument of your grace.” 

2 Corinthians 4:7 “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

"Don’t make the mistake of thinking all Christians will have your back. Christians are just as messed up as everyone else. They’re in the process of being transformed, but most of them are in the early stages of that transformation. Those of us who know, and value, what you bring to the table, will always be there for you. We are your true family. You never walk alone."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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misterdavidlim asked: Hi :) I just started following your blog, and I was wondering: when we hear/see atheists and other nonbelievers saying clearly wrong/blasphemous things towards/about/of God and Christianity, am I to fight for my belief or am I to hold my tongue to avoid conflict? I’m conflicted. If you could help, that would be fantastic.

Unka Glen answered: If I could help”? If? Oh man, you are new huh? This ain’t uncle Glen’s first rodeo, ya dig? Get on the bus son, ‘cause I’m about to take ya to school.  :)

lol, anyway… There are two different kinds of people who would write blasphemous or atheistic types of things on the internet. The first type of person is someone who is simply looking for attention. And it turns out, it’s easy to get plenty of attention by just poking the nearest Christian with a stick. It’s like when you were a kid and you kicked an anthill, just to see the ants come out and run all over the place.

I hope it goes without saying that if you give people attention for saying ugly stuff on the internet, then you actually inspire them to say MORE ugly stuff. On second thought I don’t hope that this goes without saying, because a lot of people, Christians included, apparently can’t wait to stick their head in that particular trap. So hows about let’s all just don’t, mmkay?

The second type of person that writes negative stuff on Christianity does so because they’ve had negative experiences with the church. They’ve been mistreated and attacked by the church, and by you getting in “conflict” with them, as you put it, you would be… yep… attacking them all over again. Not good my young and overly skeptical friend.

So what can you do? Well, if you really felt a burden of love from the Lord for these people, then you might start a new blog just for people who’ve been hurt in the church. And instead of defending God, you defend them against the abuse they faced in the church, and you make it clear that God is on their side in that conflict. You love them and help them heal. Remember: a man of God acts, he doesn’t react.

But if the Lord doesn’t give you that kind of calling, I’d suggest that for every person who is attacking Christianity, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of Christians out there who believe as you do (or non-believers who are open to believing as you do) but they’re lonely as all get out. Or maybe they feel under attack. Or maybe they feel like they’re giving it all they’ve got and they’re coming up short, and they just need a good word to keep them going. In the time it might take you to debate someone into something, you could encourage and uplift hundreds of others.

Let’s focus on feeding the many who are hungry and ready to eat, then we can focus on the few that are starving and don’t know it.

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myheartisonfireallforyou asked: When someone completely rejects you and makes it clear that they don’t want you a part of their life, how are you supposed to love them? It’s my conviction that love is action. How are you supposed to show love to someone if they won’t let you be a part of their life? I don’t think that thinking loving thoughts really counts. [edited for length]

Unka Glen answered: Some relationships are meant to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This isn’t necessarily wrong, or bad, or an indication of something evil. That’s just a part of life. Hanging on, past that natural end to a relationship, can be really painful for everyone. Love isn’t proud, it knows when it’s time to let go, and let God handle the situation, as opposed to trying to manipulate events yourself.

Love isn’t an action, though it does move us to action, to acts of kindness, charity, or mercy. Love isn’t an emotion, though it does move us to a whole wide range of emotions. Love is a virtue. Virtues (like joy, peace, or hope) come from God, that is, we receive them from God. We receive love from God, and we are meant to express it. But one of those other virtues, wisdom, tells us there is a right circumstance and a right way to express that love.

Sometimes love is like a coiled spring, it waits within us for the right time, and place, and person to spring forth. Meanwhile, love is patient.

"Christians worry about being correct versus incorrect. Correct in their lifestyles, correct in their relationships. Perhaps it would be better if they focused on being a plus instead of a minus. Am I a positive force, helping others find a more intimate walk with Christ? Or am I stepping on people’s toes and justifying it by how ‘correct’ my assertions are?"

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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mercyshipdude asked: Hey Unka Glen, You have been such an encouragement to me, and your answers are always enlightening and uplifting! Your blog is most certainly amazeballs! Here’s my question for you: What’s the best way to deal with people who are not interested or hostile to the gospel. I know that you can’t convince people to come to God, not directly. God has the power to change people’s hearts, and he uses people to do that. But it’s so frustrating when there are so many people who need God but don’t seem interested at all! What’s the best way to deal with these people? Should we invest tons of time and effort when they are actively opposed to the idea of a higher being? Or is it best just to leave them be, and trust in God to maybe use someone or something else in the future? Thanks a bunch!

Unka Glen answered: As usual, my Tumblr followers show themselves to be the best and smartest in the the whole Tumblrverse, and are often on the right track even as they seek their answers. Indeed, investing time and energy in helping people get closer to the Lord needs to pay off at some point. The effort is important, and time is short.

Let me give you a look at this from my perspective, if I may. When I visit a place like Cook County Jail here in Chicago, I’ll go onto the prison deck and visit with as many brothers as I can before leaving. When it comes time for me to leave, a group of men will line up by the door, hoping to speak to me, and I have to say no, I cannot stay and tell you about Jesus. I’m not given enough time to get to all of you. The next week I try to get to those I missed, but there’s always more that have to wait, in longing, to hear the Gospel.

So yes, I think it’s worth considering, are we doing enough to reach those who are already hungry and ready for it? As you might guess, that hunger does have to do with the messenger as well as the message. That is to say, those men are open to hearing the Gospel from me in a special way, because I’ve worked very hard to have a very specific type of reputation among them. When I help one brother, he becomes my “letter of recommendation” to the next brother.

And I think that’s key to figuring out where we go from here. Everyone is interested in eternal life in paradise given as a free gift. Some people don’t believe it, but you’d be crazy to not want it to be true. Some of us in the church are willing to accept spiritual direction from just about anyone, but many of the people outside the church are outside it because they’re unwilling to trust this most important decision to just anyone. On my mission field, if you handle yourself just right, you’ll never run out of people to talk to about the Lord, if you don’t act just right, well, you might want to go ahead and pack your things and go.

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shannalo asked: Unka Glen, I have loved every bit of advice you give, so when this issue came up with me and this guy I have been dating, I knew just who I wanted to ask. Here goes… So I have been dating this guy who gets very adamant that I should *never* feel the desire to wear make-up. He explains that it is seeking the approval of man, and that that is not what we are to do as Christians. So, Unka Glen, what is your take on the make-up issue, for us Christian women? I always like to feel put-together — is this merely a bad side effect of being a Southern woman who was raised to always put on her best before going out? [edited for length]

Unka Glen answered: I knew if I lived long enough, I’d be asked for makeup advice. Cross another item of the ol’ bucket list! Anyway, I think men often lose sight of a simple reality: women often view themselves as their own work of art. Their lives, their career, their appearance. It’s all a creative journey, ever changing, always evolving, endlessly exploring. When I was in grade school I remember the day they taught us about how caterpillars turned into butterflies. All the girls said, “that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” and the guys all said “whaa?”

We still don’t get it.

But there’s a lot that’s lost on women in this area as well. You can paint with all the colors of the wind, but from the male point of view, there are two different kinds of makeup: 1) relatively undetectable, and 2) “hey look, the circus is in town!” And sometimes it’s a fine line between the two. 

I grew up in the south, as you may know, and I know the difference between “let me quickly put on some lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara”… and the full-on war paint. At some point it monopolizes time, money, and attention in the effort to improve upon perfection. God may be nudging you to reorder your priorities there a bit, but that’s just so you can turn those artistic urges in a more meaningful direction.

P.S. As for not “seeking the approval of men” that point lands with a dull thud. Christians seek approval from other Christians to a degree that can be downright sickening. Tell baby boy that one’s a swing and a miss.

"Note to Christians who seek to be obedient to Christ: love leads to obedience. The reverse is not true. I resent the one who obligates me, but I love to do the things that love demands of me."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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pettifoggery asked: I was brought up in a heavy merciless atheist environment (family, school, friends) and so I have some conditioned reflexes as a result. The one that worries me the most and repulses me beyond explanation is that I find the name “Jesus” automatically bad. For my whole childhood, the word Jesus meant a swear word and was attached to all the Bad-Christianity-Cultism and a charicature of a false prophet. I don’t know what to do… I’m programmed to find the very name of my beloved saviour, friend, teacher, Lord of All, Light, Truth and Way shameful! Any praise, prayer or worship with His name feels like I’m swearing. Do you have any advice?
Much love and prayers xxx

Unka Glen answered: Yeah, I think Christians struggle with this quite a bit. I know a few people who feel the name “Christian” itself has so many negative connotations, that they prefer to call themselves “Christ followers”. Ah well, whatever works for ya. Jesus wasn’t His name anyway, that’s just an English translation.  Yeshua ben Yusef is what you’d have seen on His passport (good luck gettin’ through security with that). So heck, if you like Yeshua better, I suppose nobody could fault you on the basis of accuracy. But…

Make no mistake, for the people you know, YOU define what a Christian is, much more so than all the other weirdos put together. I promise. I have friends that hate institutional Christianity, and would never set foot in a church, but love what I do for a living, and will talk Jesus stuff with me all night. They, no doubt, think that I’m on some rebel breakaway rogue Christianity that is super-cool… some rare strain of Christianity that they can get down with. That’s fine by me, if they find a way to hear about Jesus and get closer to Him, who cares what box they put it in?

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Anonymous asked: How do you feel about interfaith initiatives — people with different beliefs working together for something, like feeding the hungry or housing the poor?
 
Unka Glen answered: Heck yeah, why not? Of course, once you get past the physical help, and into the spiritual help, you’re gonna have some major differences there. But I think there is a certain mentality that gets passed around in the church, that if we aren’t actively saying that we disagree with something, then people will be confused into thinking that we actually agree with it. That if we don’t rebuke every sin, as we see them coming up, then perhaps we appear soft on that thing being a sin.

My wife and I went to a dinner party, and the men at the party were talking about some actress, and how they thought she was hot and sexy and whatever. On the way home, my wife said she didn’t like all that talk about sexy actresses, and I said, “okay.” My wife then did what all wives do, they say crazy stuff to see how much they can get away with. “You agreed with them!” she said. “I didn’t say a word” I replied. “I know, that’s how I know you agreed with them!”

So now, years later, anytime someone mentions an attractive woman, or a scantily clad woman comes on the show I’m watching, or whatever, I yell in a loud and comical voice, “I’m against that!” Sometimes seeing things play out helps us see whether or not we have a point. As you can imagine, working with ex-cons in inner-city Chicago, I would have to spend all day walking around yelling out what I’m against. That would put and end to: a) ministry, and b) my life.

  • Question: I am loving your blog. :) I have been a Christian for a little over a year now and I feel like I am constantly having to fight my desire to be like everyone else. What I mean is, I always feel this huge tug to be less about Jesus and more about whatever everyone else is about. How do you fight this and not bow down to this? I don't like being this way. This is something that's a daily struggle for me and I know it's important to stand firm and not be ashamed. Sometimes it feels really hard -- but it might be me making it harder than it has to be. - Anonymous
  • Answer:

    Dang I love this question. You rock. Acceptance is a powerful thing, and it can exert a strong pull on anyone. Risking the loss of that acceptance can be scary. But here’s the deal— you’ll never really feel at home until you’re in a community of Christians who know what you bring to the table, and value what you bring to the table.

    Please be your unique self. Those people at church wanna do the same, but they’re too chicken. They’ll admire you for it, even if they don’t know what to do about you. God has given you your own personal weirdness, and He means for you to use that weirdness for His glory. You may be the only one who can reach weirdos like you. We don’t need any more cookie-cutter Christians, we need you to break the mold!