Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Testimony

Part I

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. My family attended every Sunday morning and night, and every Wednesday night my siblings and I attended kid's activities. When I was 7 years old, I prayed with my Dad to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and was baptized roughly a year later. It was a simple life--public school during the week, church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and evenings full of video games and cartoons.

As I got older though, things started to change. We moved to another house when I was in the 4th grade, and by the 5th grade I was in another school. I suddenly had no friends, and I came to find I'd gained a little weight and I was also very into my own interests. If you didn't know how to talk about Megaman, Pokemon, Digimon, or other things like it, we couldn't be friends because I didn't really know how to talk about anything else, and frankly didn't want to. I was happy that way.

Everyone else? Well, everyone else seemed progressively disgusted and irritated with me. With the culmination of my weight, interests, and into myself-ness, I had become a very easy target for bullying.

As I went on into middle school, it got even worse and I was bullied verbally on a daily basis. And as it got worse, I secluded more and more into myself, into my own world. I began to hate church on top of it all, even at one morning saying I hated even the sound of the word worship. Church songs on Sundays and Wednesdays became obnoxious, and the messages preached didn't make any sense. I didn't want any of it--I just wanted it to be me and my world.

My world became a very strange place when I was 11. I was watching cartoons one afternoon after school like any other kid might do, potentially X-Men or the like, and something along the lines of genetic mutation was mentioned on the show. This, in my little mind, made me wonder if something like that was actually possible. What if, I asked myself, I could become something else? What if I could be special? It was around this time of course that I had somehow convinced myself that Digimon were real too, so it wasn't a major stretch in my already wild imagination. I ran to my parents' computer, logged on, and got online while nobody else was home and did some serious searching. I landed on this idea of shapeshifting, like in old Native American tales. I found some strange article that taught me my first dive into self-hypnosis, and that set me on a very odd path.

I spent years investing in this fantasy--namely that perhaps somehow, I could turn myself into a wolf. I would lie in my room alone, meditating on the idea of it, trying to call out to spirits and the like. In time I believed that I was a wolf at heart and not a human being, and that was my identity. I would eventually go outside at night for long walks, occasionally howling at the moon or just getting a kind of ecstasy being "in my environment." This all had a very strong effect on my sexuality too: I started being aroused by the idea of a transformation until it was the most pleasurable thing I could imagine ever happening to me.

My dislike for church and its goings on didn't let up during this time. As a "wolf" at the ages of 12-15 I felt like I belonged even less there, and wouldn't bother really affiliating with anyone unless I had to. It wasn't as though I didn't want friends, more so that I felt like these children who only ever seemed to discuss sports would have absolutely no capacity to understand my world.

Around the age of 15 however, something happened.

Part II

I found myself in a small group at my church, with other kids who didn't quite seem like the others. They weren't my level of strange in the least, but they at least liked video games and had played some of the ones I'd enjoyed in the past. I was able to get along with them and therein, take interest slowly in discussions we were having about the Bible.

I found myself then going to extracurricular church activities where we met at our youth pastor's home, played video games, and then broke off into small groups, and my interest began to grow even more. Church steadily seemed less obnoxious, and I started to take a little more interest in the messages taught.

However, at heart, no matter what anyone said, I was a wolf. No one was taking that from me, I thought. I would still covet becoming one as my highest pleasure above all else, and my world would remain my own.

At the age of 17, my junior year of high school, I fell into an even stranger world. I met a girl who seemed to fall for me very quickly, and on our second date, she confessed to me that she believed she was a vampire. When I say vampire, I mean the works--fangs, drinking blood, and according to her, having to feed on people. She would bite into me and blood would pour out from somewhere--no visible wounds or signs of anemia, but quite a show nonetheless. She would tell me all of these dramatic stories about fights with other vampires and creatures of the night she had, and some of them would even be acted out over the phone with me as though they were actually happening. Gullible as I was, I believed two things: One, if I left her then she would probably drink my blood dry and kill me, and two, all of this was real and me being a freak of nature myself, I would probably be alone forever if I left anyway.

This terror I was now seemingly bound to forever drove me to my Bible even more than having just found decent human beings to call friends at church. I read scripture almost every night and prayed, and I found that I enjoyed it. It brought peace and joy to me, and most importantly, made me finally begin to start questioning all of the things I was doing. Not heavily right away, no; my identity and "dream" was far too important for that. After church one evening though, feeling particularly strange and perhaps even convicted of the life I led, I did something I never thought for even a second I would do: I told my Dad everything.

I was much too afraid to tell him out loud, but I felt compelled to confess it somehow. I wrote out a letter on my computer to my Dad, and told him to come upstairs to read it. In it I described my identity, what I had been doing and trying (while conveniently leaving out any details pertaining to my girlfriend),  and I sat and cowered in fetal position on my bed while he read it. After a moment or two of silence, Dad turned to me and I sat up.

He went on to calmly, gently explain the concept of buffet Christianity--Taking what we want out of scripture and leaving out the rest. I got what he was implying to me then, but I wasn't sure I agreed at the time. He simply said after the fact that he believed if I were to pray about what I was doing and seek God, then I would likely find I was in the wrong. He didn't sit and say I was wrong, or lock me out of the internet forever, or really punish me in any way. He just told me the truth.

I had never felt more relieved in my entire life up to then. I knew then that my Dad still loved me even though he didn't understand or even agree with what I was doing at all. Even better after that, he didn't treat me any differently. He would still drop me off at school reminding me "whose child I was (God's)," and just randomly saying he was proud of me just because I was his son.

I have a great father. On Earth and in Heaven.

It wasn't much longer after this, maybe two months or so that I felt led, if not even compelled to break up with my girlfriend. I knew that I had to leave her world behind, despite not wanting to leave mine just yet. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but it brought freedom and joy I had never known before.

A couple months later, I finally gave up my identity too. I felt God give me the peace and understanding I needed to give up the idea that becoming a wolf, or being one in mind and spirit was something I had to have. For the first time in my life in May of 2008, Jesus was truly real, and He was enough for me. It wasn't much later after that I started this blog.

Closing Remarks

After my rededication to my faith in Jesus, or perhaps what was my true conversion, I found that I still wrestled immensely with that fantasy of just becoming something else in general. For a time I despised wolves--the sound of them, the look of them, the mention of them all made me cringe. As it is now I love them, and in a rather different way identify with them, and can do so separated from the guilt and shame of the lusts and identities I had held so closely in my younger years. The fantasy itself of transformation is to this day a battle that I deal with and it is still an ongoing war that I hate, but by the grace of Jesus I fight, and have others around me to help me do so.

So, as long as this story is, what does one gather from it? I would say to you, reading this, that if you seek Christ, the true Christ of the Bible, He will meet you in your mess. He will receive you as you are, and give you the grace, love, and peace you need far beyond any semblance of those things that you could make for yourself. He will defeat your sin, and save your soul from Hell's grasp. He will not leave you alone, but instead guide your heart into new, abundant life where you will walk with Him and know Him intimately as an excellent father and your closest friend.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Furry Fandom, and some comments.

Furry is a subculture--a wide group of people who utilize a world of anthropomorphic animals to create different types of artwork. The artwork varies between drawn or painted works, written stories, or even crafts like making mascot suits by oneself, but that’s more of a rarity, despite the publicity that the mascot suits, or “Fursuits” get. “Furries” as they are called, generally hang out in Internet Relay Chatrooms (IRC) or on forums, at which they exchange their works that they’ve created. Some like to roleplay within their respected IRCs or forums as a means to play out their own furry characters that they’ve created, also known as “fursonas”. If Furries get the chance, they love to meet up and hang out together. This is generally because the subculture isn’t all of a big thing, and it’s exciting for them to meet with another Furry, or “Fur” for short, due to how rare it is to see one.
Some Furries are really big cartoon buffs, and gear their artwork more towards a cartoonish style. Others are intrigued by realism in the Furry universe, and incorporate that into their works.

Here are examples of some of the artwork:

I may or may not have given it away with the above links, but Furry art generally utilizes anthropomorphic canines and felines. You normally won’t see a “Furry” turtle or something like that… unless you watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when you were little. Those count.

Here are a couple examples of the fursuits:

Fursuits take a LONG time to make, months even, and are VERY pricey (800+ to 2000$+). Others don't have the funds to express their “Furriness” with suits, so they just make tails or ears, or wear collars (so, it’s not always the Goth kids!). The suits are generally worn at conventions, where a large number of Furries can congregate and show off their work to each other. Never been to one myself, but they generally have lots of fun from what I’ve been told.

What else are furries into?  If you look at the Chronicles of Narnia, Ms. Brisby and the Rats of NIMH, or Redwall, those would be considered pieces of Furry literature (albeit in varying degrees) by the subculture. Most old Disney movies or Don Bluth films (All Dogs Go to Heaven, anyone?) had a whole host of talking cartoon animals.Video games? How about some Star Fox, Banjo-Kazooie, or Dillon's Rolling Western?

Now, there are a very large range of misconceptions about Furries; I’ll rattle off a few.

1.) Furries seriously think that they’re animals. Why else would they wear the suits?

No. People, in general, who believe that they’re animals, or believe that they possess the soul of an animal are known as Therianthropes. Some Therians happen to be Furries, but those are a minority (Wikipedia Therianthropy for more info). 

Furries wear Fursuits for a couple of reasons. For fun, at parties, meetups, or even to entertain their community. Here's an awesome example of of that from TychoAussie:

Now come on, you have to admit that's awesome. This is pretty cool too!

2.) Furries have absolutely no life and just waste away online.

Again, no. Some furries do, but I’ve also met my fair share of very successful, and good Christian Furries. One Christian Furry I used to know works with NASA!

3.) Furries are sick, disgusting perverts who condone and perform zoophilia, or beastiality.

ICK! Sad to say, but there are furries that do this. HOWEVER, they are a minority and are known as “Furverts” within the subculture.

4.) Furries are sexually confused.

No. There are members of the LGBT community who happen to be Furry, but that’s not what Furry is all about.

Now, all that being said, there is a darker side to this that needs to be talked about. The online furry community is not one to be traversed alone--heck, sad to say but I wouldn't even Google furry. For the good, clean fun and art there is to be found, there is also a good chunk of perverse, nasty stuff too--most commonly yiff art (yiff is the furry term for sex). But in defense of the fandom itself (not the sin to be found in it), its community and the things residing in it are a product of its mother culture. We live in a sin-stained world.

It's sad to say that the darker side of the fandom gets the most publicity--and why not? We love to bring the dark and twisted to the forefront of our attention. Due to this though, there are many people who have an innocent interest in furry art and culture that feel as though they have to hide from everyone--families and friends alike. This secrecy in some cases in itself leads people down dark roads into deep patterns of habitual sin as they traverse the furry fandom alone, and any innocent interest they had goes out the window.

People, regardless of their age or background, should not have to hide. The world needs to see brighter examples of purity as a whole, especially in places like the furry fandom--and I'm crazy enough to believe that it would make a difference. Parents should be coming alongside their children and helping them cultivate their love for furry in a pure way instead of forcing them to shun it due to all of the darkness that they could get into. Older people should share their interest with their friends and family and be a force for good--like our buddy TychoAussie up there. I don't encourage that people presently in bondage to sin that's directly tied to furry to maintain a presence in the fandom, but I beg and pray for people that would help protect the innocence of people who presently have a healthy interest in it.

For those of you who read this that are struggling with sin in the fandom, I encourage you to take a step back. There may be things about the fandom that are good and you may love those good things with all your heart, but if sin is tugging at your heartstrings (like it's been at mine), for the sake of what good is left, step back. Seek God with all you have, repent of the sin that's been tugging at you, and hear out others around you for good, godly counsel--and for goodness sakes, get some accountability going. Don't try to do it alone.

If you're looking for a resource to help you break free from sexual sin, take a look at Fight The New Drug. I would also recommend talking to a pastor or ministry leader, or a strong Christian that you trust.

If you're looking for a safe community where faith and furriness collide, check out Christian Furs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A spiritual high.

So, as per usual, I've been battling with my sin. I've been learning about a lot of my other weaknesses too as I've walked with the Lord, but despite how much I learn about myself, my issues with the past still wait for me at my doorstep with every waking moment. Nothing new there.

Unlike my other posts, this won't be some long story with a big call to action (or at least, I don't intend it to be). I just kind of want to talk this time.

I'll start with why I gave this post the title I did, "a spiritual high." I was battling temptation one particular night, and I had let myself slip into some weird mental state to where I didn't feel like myself anymore. I realized in the moment that I didn't want to. I whispered to myself, 'I just want that spiritual high...' without thinking about it, and something dawned on me. I want a spiritual high just as much as a sexual one. 

When I give in to my temptation to fantasize about becoming a werewolf, at times it has extended further than simply looking at pornography. In these moments I don't want to just appease a fetish, I want something more than that. I want to lose myself completely. I want to step into the fantasy of being a werewolf as much as possible in the moment of my lust--telling myself in my mind that that's what I am, and in the midst of it visualize myself becoming it as I jerk off. I try to go to the point of mentally becoming the object of my fantasy, to create a sense of an augmented reality and escape as far away from real life as possible.

In all those times, not once did it dawn on me that I don't simply have some sort of sexual fetish, but that I'm yearning to have some sort of spiritual experience. There's a God-sized hole that only genuine, consistent time spent in fellowship with and worship to Him can fill. It's easy to think that I'm trying as best as I can, but it's also just as easy to fail to realize that when that lust gets worse, it's because I'm looking for an experience that only God can provide.

I can't say that I have this sorted out yet. I still live in this state of battling dysphoria, of yearning off and on for this experience that I've talked about of getting to be a werewolf in some fashion. It hurts, it's confusing, and there's not a passing day that I don't wish for some sort of resolution. Each blog post I write here, I want it to be my last one. I want to be able to leave a final note to everyone who reads this and tell the world that I don't struggle with my past anymore.

But I guess I won't ever get to that day where it's not a struggle. I don't say that in a defeated tone, but I somewhat say that hopefully. I worry about a day where I would stop fighting because I don't want this to overtake my life. I want to live happily with my friends, and family, not letting this daunting struggle become a waking nightmare that deprives me of every ounce of joy that I have. It's never not going to be a fight to choose to find joy and satisfaction in knowing and loving God versus wanting to create my own spiritual experiences and attempting to find rest in that (which I never do).

I don't know how many people really read this, but if you can relate to any of this, or you're dealing with anything (and I do mean anything) that's become too much to bear, send me an e-mail. Talk to me. Tell me how I can pray for you. Or, if you don't believe in God at all and are just frustrated with everything I'm saying, we can work through that too.

My heart goes out to those struggling with sin, and while I may not be a shining example of how not to struggle anymore, I pray I'm an example that shows you that Christ is better. Jesus is better than the sin we choose over him, and I ask for prayer that I would believe that myself (because that's a battle in itself every day).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Christian mission in your fandom.

I'm copying this from a different blog that I post to. Give it a read.

I’ve been in a couple different Christian fandom-oriented groups before. I would stick around for awhile, become a known person in this group, and make a lot of new friends. Once these groups started to face hard times however, I was quick to leave and not really show my face again. From the fallouts of these different ministries, I’ve run out on quite a few different people all because the safe haven created by them came to no longer exist. Or just in general, people changed drastically and I couldn’t cope with it.

This has happened twice to date; instances where I joined a Christian fellowship group for different fandoms online and then abandoned them and the people I met within them. I’ve since then not wanted to get involved with a fandom group / forum / network that had the Christian label on it because I’ve feared dealing with more fallouts.

Something about that, tonight in particular, struck me as very wrong.

If I look back, and I’m honest with myself, I have to say that I was much more interested in being loved because of common interest and calling it Christian fellowship than bearing the burdens of the people around me and equipping others (or being equipped myself) to do legitimate ministry. I wanted to celebrate that I could be a Christian and a huge fan of whatever instead of using what I loved as a platform to disciple people and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ (I’ll get back to that in a moment).

So much of (at least my own) mentality in being involved with a fandom has revolved around being safe, comfortable, loved, and all the while obsessing over whatever it is I’m a fan of.

What exactly is wrong about that state of mind, you may wonder? Simple: It’s a complete waste of your life.

I said it. Read it again. Then buckle up for what’s next.

There is no merit in spending all your time being comfortable and geeking out over whatever floats your boat with a group of people in the supposed name of Jesus. I'm not knocking being in a fandom of any sort, but when all you're about is your fandom and being with people in that fandom, it gets to a point where it isn't Christian fellowship anymore–it turns into idolatry.

I think at this point I’ve probably made somebody angry, and if I haven’t, awesome. Let’s dive into this a little bit more. If a group of people, or you as an individual claim Christ as your Savior, then there are a few things that are true (among many others):

1.) You have been saved by a holy God through the sacrifice of his only son. (Romans 10:9, John 3:16)
2.) You have been given a free gift of grace, and through this have access to a personal, intimate relationship with your Creator. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Ephesians 3:12)
3.) You are called to, by that gift of grace and that relationship, live as a living sacrifice for God (Romans 12:1-2)

And this is a really big one right here:

4.) You are called to go and preach the gospel by which you were saved to all the nations (Romans 10:14-17).

Evangelism should lie at the heart of anyone that claims to follow after Christ, and to tell the truth, that’s scary for me. Terrifying even. I don’t like doing evangelism at all. I don’t like taking the risk of being hated for telling people about Christ, especially when it comes to people that I want to innately like me because I’m into the same stuff that they are.

In the end though, what’s really worth it: Gaining a few friends based on common interest (all the while being afraid to even touch the gospel with a 39 1/2 ft. pole), or gaining real brothers and sisters in Christ based on the truth of the gospel and the salvation we’ll share for eternity?

I struggle with this, and probably will every day… heck, I pray that I do…and that I pray that at the heart of everything that I and my brothers and sisters in Christ do, they strive with all they are to worship God alone, and trust in Him fully for the grace and strength they need to be a light to the people around them… be they otakus, bronies, furries, whovians, or anything else.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The addiction cycle, and some words of hope.

In the second chapter of the book Fortify by Fight the New Drug, it covers the addiction cycle. For the benefit of myself and my readers, I'm going to go over this cycle, and offer some encouragement as best as I can.

It starts like this:

1.) Discomfort of some sort arises. This is normal and experienced by everyone, regardless of whether or not they are addicted.

The choices are as follows:

A  → Choose a healthy response to the discomfort. This can be anything that genuinely brings joy and helps you bear with the discomfort instead of merely providing a quick distraction. In some instances however, like dealing with a stressful homework assignment, it's better to bear with the stress and work through it instead of trying to find an escape from that stress.
B  → Allow yourself to enter into the addiction cycle by letting the desire to escape the discomfort fester.

Okay, so say we've entered into the cycle. Where are we now?

At this point in the cycle, your body and mind seem to fall into an auto-pilot mode. The steps go as follows from here:

2.) You entertain the idea of using, rationalizing excuses to do so. This can seem subtle at first--you have flashes of thoughts that get your gears turning, and you become enticed by them.

3.) You begin the ritual. You close the blinds, lock the door, turn down the volume, and the gears start turning more and more as your focus narrows.

4.) You "use." Don't really need to describe what happens here. You feel some relief for a few short moments.

5.) You experience harmful effects after use. The discomfort of life grows, piling the resulting emptiness from chemical overload onto the fact that stuff still isn't going right for you.

The addiction cycle as illustrated by Fight the New Drug.

The cycle at this point, once the emptiness kicks in, can jump right back to step 2, without you even really having much time to recover from the first time around.

Or, you can choose to step out of the cycle. You can recognize these different steps of the addiction cycle that you go through, and at any time, choose to step away. It's not easy in the slightest, especially starting off... but there is a way out.

Regardless of where you are even right now in the addiction cycle, Whether you're contemplating using or just about to actually use, you can step out and turn away.

You are not your addiction, nor the thoughts and feelings that you pair with it.

But what about those thoughts and feelings? They can be really vivid and hard to cope with, especially since they're so easily paired with the emptiness and guilt that comes from using. Take heart--once you realize and accept that you're not what you think or feel, facing the thoughts and feelings can start to become a little easier.

I know that knowing what's going on in your head in and of itself doesn't suddenly make things easy, but it's a step. Watch your thoughts, especially the seeming subtle ones that poke at your desire to use. Remember, those thoughts and feelings aren't you.

Now, I'll say some things that Fight the New Drug might not. I wholeheartedly believe that in spite of what choices you've made, in spite of where you may be in your addiction cycle, there is a God who loves you fully and completely, and does not identify you by your addiction or the sins that go with it, and He can help you. Below are some verses that may help you understand how God helps us:

Romans 8:1-3:  So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

This tells us that if we believe that Jesus is who he claims, and have accepted his death on the cross for our sins in our place, and that he rose from the dead three days after, then in the eyes of God we are not condemned, but fully accepted and loved. Not only this, but that through the Holy Spirit we are given the power to do what we could not through simply knowing right and wrong.

Mark 11:23-25: For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

I believe that this passage holds a very important truth: We must pray believing we have received our salvation through Jesus, and not only that, but the grace, forgiveness, and love that was/is shown through what Jesus did. However, it's important to note that if Christ died for us, he also died for those whom we may be angry or hateful with, and we must forgive them if we believe God has forgiven us. 

1 Corinthians 10:13: The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

This passage is often misquoted to say that God won't give you more than you can handle. That isn't true--it's through the hard times that we turn to God so that He can show us his strength and our absence of it. However, it does say that God will provide a way out of our temptation--a way to obey his call to sexual purity in the midst of wanting to throw it away. I think this goes well with the previous verse. God says to pray believing we have received and it will be done--pray believing that God has a way out for you, and you are promised that he will show you a way to endure.

I'm in a place personally where I realize that I do indeed need God's grace every day, and that while God won't take my addiction away, He is working in me to help me stand on top of it instead of it standing on top of me. I should say to be honest that without Him, I couldn't stand at all.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The simplicity of faith.

I've been doing some thinking about my past (again). I look back to my past and I notice something--I didn't want to change at all. I insisted that my ideas about being a wolf were entirely true, that I needed to make it happen, and that it would be stupid and hopeless for me to simply accept myself as a human being.

I rejected the idea that I truly needed Jesus in my life, because to me, if I truly gave my life over to God, I would have to change... and by no means was I ready to.

That's the excuse, isn't it? The thing we always say when it comes to a relationship with God--"I'm not ready to give up my ways."

The beautiful thing I also see, and that many Christians see... is that God didn't wait on me. God didn't wait for me to be willing to change before showing his love to me.

As I got older, I chose to accept that God really did love me (around age 15 or so). I started to pay more attention in Church and get involved in youth group discussions. The mystery of God slowly became clearer to me, and it became progressively more visible in spite of the life I was living, and in spite of the fact that I still didn't want to change. I would simply pray every other night that if there was something wrong with the things I was doing, that God would show me. I didn't think about it critically, I didn't read the Bible outside of Church to discover that, because I put such deep stock in the identity I'd created for myself that I was afraid to let it go.

But God never let up. I experienced him more and more, even as my choices worsened... until I was brought to the point where I understood the love of God enough that letting go of the life I lived was not only okay, but desirable.

I didn't logic through it, I didn't dissect my behaviors, I simply was shown that God had better, and that my choices were cutting me off from him... and I didn't want that anymore. I wanted a real relationship with God, and not because I decided to get religious, but because God revealed his love to me within the simple acceptance that he loved me, and that deep down I wanted to know his will, despite how contrary my life was to that.

I make my present problems so lofty and confusing, making it my job to fix myself... but in my past, not only did I not make "fixing myself" a job, I didn't even truly believe there was anything wrong most of the time.

It was all God... and it needs to be all God again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The suicide of unrepentance.

Saul started out humble, but as he gained fame he became arrogant. He started to tweak the commands God gave him to suit his own desires, and eventually, because of his pride, God left him altogether, and drew near to David instead. However, God did not make himself invisible to Saul. Saul knew very well that God was with David and had left him, but he didn't care. He simply wanted to be renowned as a king. He didn't repent of his arrogance, he didn't care to change his ways, and he made empty confessions to seemingly just appease God's anger (and he even stopped doing that after a certain point, and simply paid lip service to God!)

This unrepentant behavior of Saul's progressively ruined him. Even once demonic influences came into play, he looked for other outlets to soothe himself (most notably David and his harp) as opposed to seeing the attacks on him as an opportunity to repent and step back into God's will. He became more and more self-centered, even to the point of attempting repeatedly to kill David in order to restore his fame.

By around chapter 30 or so, Saul kills himself.

Our own unrepentant behavior can seem very subtle. In my case, my behavior involves a long line of lifestyle choices--spending a huge chunk of time online doing nothing but browsing the internet and playing video games. While neither of those things on their own are bad, my heart behind them (especially as of late) has not been good.

I don't even know where to begin with all the implications of Saul's life. You could practically write a book on him (not sure if I just made Bible pun there). The primary point that I want to make however, is that unrepentant behavior is far more hazardous than we may think, no matter how subtle it may seem in small doses... and the cure for it is far simpler than we make it.

When I'm living in unrepentant sin, it seems so complex, as if there were some major math problem I had to solve in order to change my behavior... but friends, it's not complex. Jesus did all the work--all that's left is to repent of our sin and to turn away from the desire to put ourselves above God and our friends. 

That's all that's left.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blind to bondage.

When I created this blog, I chose to call it "One Once Bound," noting that I was bound to sin, and that I am now set free. In a fair number of my posts I attempt to echo that idea with text that suggests that I had a problem, but I learned something new and suddenly don't have a problem anymore... only to find myself still struggling and needing to learn more.

Throughout all this, I think it's fair to say I've still been bound up in a sense--serving a master that demanded my worship and surrender, a master that I feared to leave and claimed that I would be nothing without it. Sounds a lot like God, right? Here's the problem--that's not the master I've been afraid of.

I could make this post centralize around idolatry in general, but here I want to talk about my heaviest, most imprisoning idol. An idol that since I was eleven years old, I have worshiped and yearned for. I poured out all I had for this idol, gave myself away and even was willing to completely lose myself, to throw away my entire life and become a completely different creature. Again, sounds a bit like how a Christian is saved, becomes a new creation in Christ, and surrenders their all to him (but that is a bit different than what I'm referring to).

I started this blog after I left my life of totemism, after I decided that I would no longer practice what was basically witchcraft in order to become a wolf and lose my humanity. However, the idea itself of becoming a wolf (a werewolf in particular) has still very much been an idol. Whenever I've felt weak, I've run to that idea and allowed myself to give into it emotionally, sensually, and even sexually through masturbation, clinging to this idea that if I gave myself to the idea of becoming a bigger, stronger creature in every way possible, I would find strength that I felt I had to have. Something else I noticed just tonight however, was that I didn't simply run to transformation fantasies when I felt weak. I've searched for it in everything--the feel of fur, things on TV that reminded me of werewolves, even in just seeing animals in general... anything that gave me an excuse to fantasize, I nonchalantly searched for without even realizing it.

The picture of a man's relationship with an idol is painted very well in Isaiah 44. Here's an excerpt:

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20  He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Basically, this passage is saying that someone who worships an idol, even though their worship may be blatant, they aren't aware of what they're really doing. Lesser idols, in my experience, can be looked at in one's life and identified as a problem and be readily dealt with. Major idols however, are ever-present, and through many venues are worshiped by a person... without that person even realizing that it's idol worship!

I know from here it will be a heavy battle to let go of this idol in my life, but at least now it's been revealed for what it is. This now requires that I very deeply examine my heart for the furry fandom as well as the art form in general, and see if I'm using it as a venue to worship transformation, or to truly worship the one, true God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My musings on therianthropy

This post is a bit of a deviation from my usual format, and it may make some of my readers uncomfortable. Before I begin, if this content offends or discourages you, I apologize and I promise that I have no such intent in this post.

Let me open up with something that happened to me.

I forget how it came about, but I wound up having a discussion with a therian friend of mine about Adam and Eve. The friend argued that in Genesis chapter 2, while Adam was looking for a worthy companion amongst the animals and could find none, he should've chosen the wolf as his companion (thus creating a grey area insinuating that he should've mated with the wolf (eww) or that he would've never sinned if he'd not needed Eve).

To most others, this notion would be hilarious (no offense intended, friend). However, to me, I was infuriated. I couldn't fathom how someone could come up with such theology to attempt to support a therianistic viewpoint. Fuming mad, I left my computer and went outside to think. I wanted to know the real reason why I was mad.

I stood outside in the freezing cold and in the dark, and prayed. I asked God to search my heart and show me why I was so upset with my friend for his views. I came to find myself angry not because his theology seemed so unsound, but because somewhere in my head, it sounded like something I somewhat wished myself (remember, I was a totemist for a long time). That led me to ponder--why did God make me human?

Let me throw some verses out here:

Romans 9:20-21: But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

This points out that God created us the way we are for a reason, and that because God is perfect and makes no mistakes, we are no one to tell him that our present form is a mistake on his part.

Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

In-context, it's not saying that God has appointed us to all be prophets or teachers. It is however noting God's sovereign plan for our lives--one that was set in motion for us before we were even created.

Psalm 139: 13-16: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

This verse notes the intricate way in which God created us and the care he took in doing so. God didn't just slap a bunch of limbs together or regurgitate us into existence--he put us together intricately, and planned out our days.

Passages in scripture flooded my mind as I pondered my humanity. Why did God create me as a human? What purpose did he have in doing so?

I reasoned that, just as God plans out the days of his creations, he could have very easily seen what my life would've been like as a wolf or any other animal. He likely saw that I wouldn't be able to draw or sing or learn Japanese, or do any of the other things I can now. I would have family still, sure, and I may even have fallen in love. But my creativity, my ability to express myself in eloquent or artistic ways would not exist, nor would any such desire be present. You don't exactly see wolves playing Mozart or recreating the Mona Lisa!

God created us as we are because he saw the lives we would live, what we would learn, what we would do for His Kingdom in our own unique ways... the span of our lives as humans reflected his glory best--that's why we're human.

If you're not a theist, then consider this: If you're a therian and assume that your life would've been better if you weren't human to begin with, or that you're destined to lose your humanity somehow one day, what will you no longer be able to do that you can do now? If you can draw, will you be able to draw anymore? If you can sing, will you be able to sing anymore? If you can write stories or poetry, will you be able to do any of that anymore?

Humans are the only ones who can create and express themselves in such beautiful ways... why give that up or want to throw it away?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Moment I "Got It"

Y'know, a lot of my posts are calls to action. Through my writing, it seems like I never just stop and reflect on how awesome Jesus is, I just try and spur myself to believe something that I need to believe. I'll say this--without the Cross, without Jesus, no matter how powerful my writing or language or whatever may be, none of it is ever going to mean anything. Ever.

I'm thankful, very thankful to the Lord for those "aha" moments, but really, there's times in our lives when we don't need "aha" moments from God, we just need to reflect on what we already know of the Lord: the simple yet beautiful fact that He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the Cross for a world of undeserving sinners like you and me.

I was saved when I was 7 years old, that is, I professed that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for my sins. However, at that age, even though I went forth for Baptism a year later, I wasn't "in love" with Jesus. Jesus was just someone I kinda knew, but didn't know or trust enough to really follow him, and that was reflected in the years to come, the years that I constantly write about in the blog posts below.

I would pray, if only religiously, almost every night. I guess I was doing it out of obligation or because I figured that it would help me look good to God... Love? I don't think I ever remember love. All I remember about my faith then is that it took a back seat to my fantasies of becoming a wolf. I started to care about Jesus, suffice to say I liked him, when I got a little older. Around age 16 or so, Church seemed less haphazard, but it still wasn't a place I cared a great deal about. I knew I was cared about there by at least some people, but I didn't seem to care that much about them.

In my relationship with the vampire girl I mentioned in a couple of posts before, I reached out to the Lord in desperation. I wanted to get the heck out of the world I'd plummeted into. I mean, who was I gonna be able to tell that was gonna be able to help me willingly give this sinful life up? I knew that I was in danger spiritually, and I wanted out.

...And I was set free. I was led out. President's day of 2008, I broke up with her, and in May of that year, I gave up the totemistic / occult-ish pursuit of becoming a wolf. I knew that if I really wanted to show Jesus I loved Him, I'd have to let it all go, and by then, I was willing to leave that lifestyle because around then, I really began to get it.

There was one moment, I think, where I really started to understand God's love for me, about a year before I gave up my sinful lifestyle.

My Dad showed me some random video about the love of God on his computer. I watched it, cried, and I snapped. I had to tell Dad what I was dealing with. I didn't know what the consequences would be (I honestly feared death), but something in me stirred and said "you've got to tell him." I wrote out everything I was doing in-depth, called my Dad upstairs, and I lied on my bed in fetal position, shaking in fear of what he was going to say.

He responded lovingly, explaining the concept of buffet Christians, and that I needed to have the Lord search my heart and show me that what I was doing was wrong. He didn't curse me, he didn't beat me, he didn't cry or call me a failure. He reached out and helped me.

He helped me. Jesus helped me.

Every single time I recall that moment, and really think about it, I cry. I can't help it. The God of the universe reached down through my Daddy and chose to help me instead of destroy me. He showed me He was paying attention and wanted to help me. He wanted to redeem me, wanted to reconcile me to Himself.

A perfect and holy God, who hates sin, loved me and called out to me, a boy who lived in sin and expected death from the hands of the righteous.

From that day on, the love of Christ began to unfold. From that day on, it slowly blossomed into more than a story or a religious fact. It became the truth, it became love. It became freedom, life, redemption, hope... it's everything. It has to be, because I want more of it. I want to know the Lord more. I want more of that love, and I want to give it back to Him.

It's a truth that never gets old, no matter how much I recall it, because it's a real, living love.

He is a real, living Love.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mountaintop experiences gone idol... no more!

As Mark Driscoll described how people worship, they pour all they have into their idols. When they don't get what they want, or someone gets in their way... They get angry, others get violent.

I was angry. Fed up. Downright disappointed. I wanted that next mountaintop experience with God so badly... and day after day, for months, I never got it.

There would be some days, or instances where I'd get all weepy-eyed and cry and whatever, but more often than not (save for some instances where God did indeed reveal his glory in my suffering), I was just crying because I had an excuse to cry. I was feigning mountaintop experiences to get a temporary Christian high.

The highs let me down, so come May or so I started to distract myself. A lot. I became lonely, depressed, and yet, obsessed with social networks. I got interaction, but none of it was ever enough. So, I started more and more to try and fix my TF kink.

That didn't work either, and now I have a pawing problem because I fixed something that a filthy rag can't even remove a stain from (reference to how good our good is compared to Christ).

I've been very whiny to everyone. Facebook, ChristianFurs, and with the RPG Maker VX forums, I've pretty much just been using them to get script documents to make my games cooler (games I never finished).

Begging for attention, begging for some kind of high in life... and I never found any of it.

And then, I found the prophetic word. The Bible. I saw a sermon Mark Driscoll preached about people idolizing mountaintop experiences, and it rang so true for me. There was this also:

2 Peter 1:19-21:

And we have something more sure, THE PROPHETIC WORD, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

That's it. Right there. The thing I was missing all along. The Bible. I never needed to go looking for a mountaintop experience, or to look down at the crater I was in. All I had to do was read the Word... and cast down my idols that God might have spoken to my heart amidst my (mostly self-inflicted) burdens.

Praise God that I've begun to understand this... and, I'm sorry for whining so much.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Forgiving Yourself"...?

I was recently linked to the following page : http://www.carm.org/questions/other-questions/it-biblical-forgive-ourselves. This article states that it is unbiblical for one to forgive themselves. It stated that there is /nothing/ in the Bible that talks about forgiving yourself. It states that when you do something that you regret, something that makes you feel horribly guilty, and you feel like you'll be living with it for the rest of your life, that it's not yourself that you've sinned against. You've sinned against God.

However, the Bible states over, and over, and over, that Jesus died on the Cross, bearing our sin and shame. No matter what horrible sin we've done, we've been forgiven, even if it feels like we've scarred ourselves for the rest of our lives.

The past that I lived, the strange, twisted past, even typing about it, or thinking about it makes me feel guilty. I feel guilty that I was in sin for so long (5 years), and still called myself a Christian. I feel guilty that I hated myself so much, that I hated who I was because I got made fun of all the time. I feel guilty that I went so far as to pray to spirits for power and not God. I feel guilty that I self-hypnotized myself, and would go on long treks outside and act like a wolf.

I feel guilty that I tried to let a spirit inside my body, in a sense offering my body to a demonic being so that I could escape who I was. I feel guilty that I hated wolves after I stopped it all, because they are God's creatures. I feel guilty that sometimes I still misplace my confidence in the idea of losing my humanity as a means to become a monster to get power and exude a beastly confidence somehow. I feel guilty when I dream of turning into a werewolf or whatever it is, and waking up and... (not gonna go there.)

I feel guilty that I was a Furry for a little while for the sake of finding confidence in a new identity. I feel guilty for wasting my nights sometimes, looking at comics and scenes on YouTube that depicted transformation. I feel guilty that I forsook my family and friends when I was younger because of my self-deprication.

There's... a lot of baggage that I have here, as you can see. However, I didn't sin against myself. I didn't do myself wrong. I did God wrong. I sinned against the Father.

My sins in my past are some of what put Jesus on the cross.

But, there's another picture here. Yes, I sinned. I did some really bad things, and I sinned against God something awful...

But despite my sin, Jesus loved me. Despite all my wrongs then, Jesus loved me. He loved me so much, despite all the things I did, despite my blaspheming, that he had nails drove into his arms, and he hung on a tree on calvary for me. He died for my sins and rose to life three days later, and promised that if I placed my faith in him, I would be set free.

He didn't just take "some" of my sins then. Jesus paid it ALL! Jesus took my sin and shame, and he put it to death, and promised me NEW life! If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has GONE!!! The new has COME! I am a new creation! You can be too!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The secret has to die!

For awhile now, as some of you know, I've chosen to leave the furry fandom. The way it looks, I don't know if I'll ever come back to furry--not because I don't think I can take it, but because I'll be met with the inescapable feeling that I'll have to hide it from people... and I hate secrets with a burning passion.

A lot of furries keep this a secret from their family, or certain friends, and even if they have told their parents, they can't seem to get approval. Why is this? I don't know... From what I can tell, conservative parents (err, some) immediately think it's some kinda cult thing. If they don't think that, they just think it's "weird," especially when yiff comes into the picture.

Furry, I believe, could be an AWESOME way to glorify God. However, hardly anyone seems to be doing that. Furry is kept in the shadows as a secret, and even a guilty pleasure at times. I firmly believe that the secret is destroying lives all around. Nobody shows their furry art to their parents, especially if it's TF (transformation) art or inflated furry art... at least, I didn't. Nobody's showing their parents stories they write or RPs they do.

Why don't they show them? Why don't they show it off to family or friends? Is it because it's "furry"?

There's no harm in artwork, stories, or heck even making a fursuit. No harm at all... so why do people hide it? What's the point?

Furry isn't what one is, it's one one likes to do. It's art, not some weird cult or a bad secret that should never be told.

The secret has to die... for the sake of family and friends alike.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weight of what you are

I noticed a slight flaw in my thinking when I had that conversation with Nathan. Yes, it is true that being a furry implies a lot of bad things to those who actually know what it is, but at the same time the general public doesn't have a clue. Personally, it was (and at times still is) extremely difficult to talk about furry to anyone, because I immediately assumed the worst would happen if I told them, almost as if I were going around telling people I was a wolf again or something.

In a sense, because of the mindset I held whilst being a furry, that's partially true for me. Yes, I had a wolf fursona, and for seemingly good reasons that justified it (it was a means to remind myself of where God had brought me from--trying to make myself not hate wolves anymore because of wolves being one of God's many creations... etc.), but in all reality, furry was just another way for me to escape.

To be honest, being a furry would have been a lot more fun for me if I'd had different motives for "being one." That connotation right there, the idea of "being" a furry, brought me back to the ideal that I was something other than what God made me to be. The furries I know generally don't hold that mentality; it was poison that I was holding onto from my older days that corrupted my furry experience.

Anything and everything, if moderated incorrectly, can lead someone into sin, taking away precious moments in life that would otherwise be there. When I was asked to play with my little brother or sister, or watch a movie with family, or heck even eat with the family, I would say no more than half the time, because I was on the computer hanging out in CFF.

There was a carnal attachment that kept me there, one I didn't notice or even want to admit was there. From the day that I chose to call myself furry, I was sinning. Not because furry is bad, but because I wanted another escape, and my flesh wanted an escape, and moreover, another identity that would make it feel like I was stronger than I felt I was.

The furry identity I adopted became so much more than just a hobby, it became who I was as a whole. Furry wasn't a fandom for me, it was a race of people who were different from the rest of the world... which is exactly what I was searching for, a way to differentiate from other human beings somehow without holding onto the belief that I wasn't human myself, and not only that, a community where I could uphold this identity.

Let me ask you this: Are you involved in something, some kind of community or club you enjoy? How much of that community is part of who you are? How much weight do you put on telling someone "what you are?"

The only thing that should have any sort of weight or importance, I feel, is who you are in Christ. There's so much more worth in that... nothing in this world could ever give you any true lasting importance, importance and worth that will last until the end of the age.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Setting my priorities.

(I'll get to my prayer request in just a moment... but first, I'd like to point a thing or two out to anyone who has the spare time.)

Now, people as of late will argue that I'm never online. I would have to agree with them, considering my slacking off on housework has come back to haunt me. Dad's got me working in the yard and in the house, but with my staying up past midnight so often, I oftentimes have little strength to do what's asked of me.

I'm sure that very many like myself love spending time online. If it's not the internet, then, there is SOMETHING that people like me can't live without--games, cellphones, forums, the list goes on. We see God as important, we love our Father. We may pray every night, read our bibles, all that good stuff, but the time we spend doing what we feel we have to do, well... sometimes that time takes a little too much priority over everything else.

In my case, I've spent my whole life immersing myself in anything I could to live in a proverbial fantasy world. When it's not video games, it's either friends online or the internet in general. I shut myself off from my family, from people at school, and what little time I had to develop social skills was given to my imagination... and recently, it still is. I don't talk to people at school unless they happen to share a common interest (and those people are few, and I rarely speak to them as is... if ever.) I could care less for the jock, or the gangster, or anyone else. Faith? I don't even bother asking about it.

...And all this time, while I spent my life worrying about how to find my next "imaginary high", I threw away the great commission. I threw away what I was called to do... and I called myself a Christian?! If I could go back, right now, and see myself living the life I was then, I'd beat the living daylights out of me.

This really started to hit me when Mom got onto me about being a furry. She doesn't bash us because of the furry hobby, heck she doesn't even understand it. But because of all the time I've spent, just like the time I've wasted on everything else that I got my hands on in the past, she sees us all as escapist children who are trying to avoid reality at all costs. You all know that that is just not true of us furs, or heck any hobby group.

I realized earlier whilst working in the yard that I'd wasted my life trying to escape into a fantasy. Whether it was my video games or wanting to be a wolf and actually trying to be one or whatever, I was always, and until today, always trying to find a venue to get out of life. In all this, I missed one HUGE picture: the Great Commission!

All the time I spent wasting in an attempt to escape reality is time I could've spent building friendships. In the bible, a passage in the New Testament reads that Paul became all things to all men so that he might save some. In this, I have sinned something awful. I disregarded the interests of others, I secluded myself into my own world for the past 8 years... and it cost me a lot of potential friends, and it ruined a lot of chances that I could've had to share the love of Jesus, which is why we're alive in the first place, to live for our Father, and to share His love with everyone.

Even recently, when all these wonderful changes are unfolding and I'm growing more and more in Jesus each day, I still seek escape. Tell me, how is that gonna save anyone? I can't walk up to someone and say "Oh, look at all the faith points Jesus has given me. I'm such a good Christian and Jesus loves me." It just doesn't work that way.

My main thing in all this is: My priorities have been out of whack for a long time. My main priority, for the past 8 years if not longer, has been looking for a way to get into my fantasy world and stay there. That purpose is reflected in how I wasted in how I spent my time doing everything from playing too many video games to trying to turn into a wolf to roleplaying... everything was wasted.

I'm not saying those things are bad and evil and should never be done (well, the wolf thing was bad... don't do that :P), but... God should always be first. He gave you everything you have, gave me everything I have... and I should be showing my blessings to everyone I know through my actions and love for others, no matter who and what they are.

...So my prayer is that I keep God first, and that He will ALWAYS be my first priority... and I pray the same for every Christian fur and Christian alike.