Eccentricities of an Inchoate Hero http://www.whythawye.me Living Radically and Righteously with Hope and Purpose Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 Pandenominationalism Part Three: The Practical Application http://www.whythawye.me/2017/07/19/pandenominationalism-part-three-the-practical-application/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/07/19/pandenominationalism-part-three-the-practical-application/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 04:29:10 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=2237 Continue reading "Pandenominationalism Part Three: The Practical Application"

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In the practical application of theology, I like to categorize things into different levels. I’m a sucker for structured hierarchies and taxonomies. Heh heh.
First: The core of faith and theology, the Gospel, the parts that are essential to salvation itself. If you don’t believe these, then you have a false gospel and aren’t saved. These are very minimal, in my mind, and can be summed up essentially in the Apostle’s or the Nicene Creed. I have here quoted the Coptic Orthodox version of this, which I personally prefer for matters of style and completeness.

We believe in one God, God the Father the Pantocrator who created heaven and earth, and all things seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And on the third day He rose from the dead, according to the scriptures, ascended to the heavens; He sits at the right hand of his Father, and He is coming again in His glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life-Giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And in one holy, catholic and apostolic church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the coming age. Amen.

When the terms are understood (like ‘catholic’ in its old sense meaning universal, as in, not geographically located to one nation, but open to all peoples, nations, languages, classes, and sexes; ‘pantocrator’ meaning ruler or holder of all; and so on) it is very complete and exhaustive for this level. This is where the cults start to be distinguished from the true orthodoxy, and also where our fundamental unity in Christ is found over and above denominational differences. This is the common ground upon which all else is built. If you believe this and are committed to it (in the true sense of belief), then you are a part of the Body of Christ. Period. Full stop. You are a brother, and thus worthy of all privileges and blessings of that station. Such as an extra measure of loving charity from one’s fellow believers (Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”).
Second: The essentials of the faith. These are foundational and have far-reaching implications for the rest of your exploration of the truths of God and for life itself, but are not necessary for salvation. Belief in the infallible and eternal authority of Scripture from its first verse to its last, for example, is a big one. There are many sincere Believers who do not agree with that, and go astray in their theology, but are still saved. This is mostly to do with hermeneutics, and about how to approach Scripture and God and less about content.
Third: The pillars of the faith. This is where those beliefs go which people have been fighting over for millennia viciously because they are Very Important, and yet which in my belief they shouldn’t be fighting about. Not because they aren’t important, but because they are so important. There’s no learning in fighting. We are still Christians, and so we still have a common ground and common foundation in the first two categories. So we should be learning together and exploring these questions together rather than at each others’ throats. Anyway, this where things like infant baptism, predestination and free will, the age of the earth, creation ex nihilo, and things like that are categorized.
Fourth: The practical theology of day to day life. These are things like whether or not kosher laws apply to modern Christians, modest dress standards, what version of the Bible is best, clean speech, Church government practices, whether or not Christians should be involved in politics, whether we should drink or not, whether or not smoking is okay, how divorce is handled, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and so on and on and on. These are really really important aspects of theology. Critical topics! These are about “how then shall we live” and the nuts and bolts of the Christian life. I personally think that most theological study should center right here. The earlier categories should be established and then explored further, but cease to become immediately profitable to our day to day life as followers of Christ once they are understood and internalized, which should happen relatively early in our saved life. This tier should consume us as we strive hourly to become more like Christ.
Fifth: The relatively frivolous aspects of theology. Things that are more trivial. Interesting and academic and useful for understanding the earlier categories better, and certainly profitable for study, but not really as vital or as important as the others. Definitely not anything to fight about! I would actually put eschatology here. * winces * Some eschatology anyway. Not all of it — some eschatology is in the first category! Unfortunately, a lot of seminaries and sermons spend way too much time in this category, which results in “much knowledge puffing up” people.
What practical use are these categories? Well, for one thing, listing them out like this in our minds, and sorting through our beliefs and assigning them to their relative places, really helps us to prioritize and choose our battles. It puts our pride aside and helps us climb off our hobby horses and realize what’s really important.  It reminds us of how much we actually have in common with that person we are yelling at and excommunicating. Also, it helps us to formulate exactly to what degree “unequally yoked” applies to our current situation. If I am going to marry someone, I want to be unified with her completely all the way up through the third tier, and a great deal of the fourth as well. If I’m going to be best friends with someone, I might only need to agree with the dude on the stuff in the second tier. If someone is a mentor and a teacher, I might want to make sure we are in agreement all the way through to the fifth tier! Or not. But it’s good to think through these things and know where you (and your friends, sometimes, and your suitor, definitely) stand on them.
Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye
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Biblical Body Hacking? http://www.whythawye.me/2017/07/13/biblical-body-hacking/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/07/13/biblical-body-hacking/#comments Thu, 13 Jul 2017 03:56:34 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=2233 Continue reading "Biblical Body Hacking?"

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Okay, here’s a controversial subject that I actually am not bringing up for the purpose of stirring up controversy. I’m honestly curious to hear different people’s differing ideas on this (the more thought-out and biblically-based the better). I’d like to avoid debate — so as an exercise, how about if we all just present our positions, and then politely ask questions about each other’s ideas?

The subject: body modifications. I.e. tattoos (of all degrees and locations), piercings (and gauges), aesthetic surgery (whether tweaking a feature already present, like a nose job, or changing physiology, like elf ears or tongue bifurcation), functional hacks (like implanting piezoelectric metal slivers in your fingertips so you can feel electromagnetic fields, and so on), scarification (flensing, branding, etc.), and all the rest.

For myself, I categorize the above list (and all other technological enhancements to life in general, actually) under three headings.

First: Cosmetics. These do not change function or form, but merely display artistic license in a creative fashion. I do not distinguish morally between permanent and non-permanent, or integrated and non-integrated cosmetic enhancement (thus: makeup and tattooing are equivalents).

Second: Prosthetics. These are a correction of function back to a natural order. Eyeglasses and laser surgery are both prosthetic enhancements using technology to enhance biological performance in order to overcome a biological limitation. A pacemaker, a wooden limb, a mechanized endoskeleton…. all the same thing basically. Putting someone’s face back together again after an injury would fall under this category.

Third: Augmetics. These are an addition of function past the natural order. In the exact same fashion as prosthetics, augmetics are enhancements using technology to enhance biological performance to overcome a biological limitation. The lever is a simple example. So is a wheel, a car, an airplane, binoculars, a sword, a pencil, a calculator…. pretty much most technology over the millenia has been augmetic in nature. In keeping with the pattern for the previous two categories, I do not see philosophical, logical, or biblical reason to state that external, non-integrated technology is fundamentally or morally different from biologically-integrated technology. If correcting eyesight to normal vision levels via surgery is okay, and it is also okay to use binoculars to see farther than normal, then it should also be okay to use surgery to augment your eyesight to see better than normal. Carrying the extension, it should therefore also be okay to add functionality in similar fashion (e.g. we can’t fly naturally, and so we build planes to add that functionality). Ergo, piezoelectric fingertips should be kosher.

It should be obvious from this that I clearly do not believe Leviticus 19:28 applies to these kinds of modifications. I do believe that it is likely to be a law which is not ceremonial and is not distinctly a part of the old covenant, and therefore is likely to be applicable today. But I do not believe that it is a blanket condemnation against all modifications. It appears to be specifically referring to not making marks on your body “for the dead” (as a part of a pagan funeral ritual presumably). It is clear to me that this is not defining marking one’s body as a pagan practice inherently, because elsewhere in Torah God instructs Israel to pierce the ear of a bondservant as a mark of his servitude. God does not contradict Himself, and so these two laws cannot be in conflict. Ergo, piercing in and of itself is not a violation of Leviticus 19:28. It is the reason and the purpose behind the piercing that is in question.

Like with all technological use, or adornments. We should dress appropriately and as Christians, and not avoid clothing simply because pagans wear clothing in wrong ways. I would posit that the same goes for body modifications.
Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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When is it Lying to Lie? http://www.whythawye.me/2017/05/19/when-is-it-lying-to-lie/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/05/19/when-is-it-lying-to-lie/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 01:52:11 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=151 Continue reading "When is it Lying to Lie?"

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We are often too eager to accuse others (or ourselves) of lying. This is serious, because not only is true lying a serious sin and hated by God, but true lying destroys trust, relationships, and love, which is abominable to God. Even thinking a person has lied to you about even the slightest thing can destroy a relationship if you are not relying wholly on God’s love in it.

One common misconception is that if a person merely states a falsity, he is lying. There could be nothing further from the truth. He could have been lied to himself, he could have misunderstood the evidence, formed a false conclusion from true evidence because of a mistake or a logical error; he could have any number of reasons for stating and believing something false, without actually lying.

A lie requires conscious knowledge of the truth, or at least the falsity of the statement you are positing. You have to know what you are saying is not true, and say it anyway. If you didn’t know it was false, there is no lie, unless it was passed along to you by someone else who convinced you of its truth when he knew it was false. Then it would be a lie for him, but not for you. A very common event. Therefore, it is impossible to lie accidentally (just like with any sin). Furthermore, if you are trying to discern and speak the truth, even if you fail, you cannot lie, because you are trying to speak truth. You cannot try to speak the truth and lie at the same time.

Another misconception is that every lie is a sin. Every deliberate falsity is a lie, by modern definition, but biblically a lie more often meant a deliberate falsity with intent to do harm, as in a false witness. You are lying in order to overcome truth. Sometimes a lie is necessary, and thus good, in certain situations. Self-defense is an obvious one, as God often commended and blessed people who lied in the act of self-defense and war (most notably David and Joshua). God Himself hid Himself from time to time, even during His earthly ministry – and what is hiding but lying by saying you aren’t where you are?

Another misconception is that withholding information is lying, when the fact of the matter is that this isn’t even dishonest most of the time. Actually, it’s nearly always absolutely necessary. If withholding information (even without mentioning the presence of undisclosed information) was a lie or a sin, then the Bible would be incredibly sinful since it, while being a history book of the universe, withholds vast quantities of information about an infinity of topics. It is impossible to ever make a truly full disclosure, and it is often inadvisable. God Himself said that “it is the glory of God to conceal a thing; and the honour of kings to search out a matter.” We often have many more reasons for our actions than what we reveal to a specific person, and there is nothing wrong with this.

This is even true in consideration of the injunction to “confess your sins one to another.” If this was taken exhaustively, we would have to search out every Christian in the world to confess every single sin to every one of them. Yet this is clearly ludicrous. The command is to confess to someone, not everyone. So withholding information about your past sins in a particular instance with a particular person isn’t even a sin. If you refuse to be transparent with anyone or pretend that there is nothing to reveal at all, that is another matter, though.

Yet in all these behaviors which we like to mask under an accusing pharisaical cloak of lying, we neglect to see the true elements of evil deceit which we accept and condone constantly. Such as living a lie.

We put up faces and behaviors that are not our own. We represent ourselves as someone we know we aren’t until we deceive even ourselves. When our conscience pricks us, we deny it and quench the Spirit, dulling our hearts with whispers of ‘positive thinking.’ We don’t want to believe that we aren’t all we hope we are. We don’t want to succumb to ‘the devil’s accusing voice,’ when in reality it is the Lord calling us to repentance. We lull ourselves into being past feeling in order to escape the truth of our depravity and failure. We use the very same lies that kept us from the Cross before our Salvation and say that we ‘aren’t that bad.’

This life of lies is pervasive and deadly. It is a sin against ourselves, against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and against our God Himself. Against us, because we are slaying our own life and destroying our own heart. Against the Body, because we are turning ourselves into a deadweight and a poison in the Bride of Christ. Against our Saviour, because we deny His saving grace, His holy nature, and His everlasting loving desire for us to be intimate with Him. We break His heart every moment we reject His advances of transforming love.

The answer? Repent! Be honest with yourself and measure yourself against the standard of your Holy and Just God. Fear, tremble, be very very afraid, but be courageous. Stand up and step into the light, that your deeds may be made manifest and proven to be in God. Let Him have the work of judgment, and do not take it upon yourself. Let Him mark you as unclean and unworthy, and then let Him cleanse you. Submit yourself to His holiness. Submit your life to His service. Humble yourselves, for we are sinners of the Cross! Draw nigh to God! He will draw nigh to you!

He will! Always, ever and forever, He will. He has never failed. He always comes. Draw nigh, in tears, in mourning, in weeping, in humility, in contrition, and He will come in love. Love like you have never known it. Love like is nowhere on this earth but in His sanctified people. Love that will pour into and through you, cleansing, forgiving, changing, empowering. Abundantly and overpoweringly flowing out of you to those around you. Love, as God loves.

But first, be honest. Do not lie to yourself. Tear off the mask. Let your God see your disease. Confess. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart. And find His Truth.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

P.S. This is an edit of an old draft I wrote ages ago, before I went to prison. I had to tone it down in some ways, because it smacked of arrogance to me now, looking back on it. It has a different tone to me, now. These are issues I’ve had to wrestle with over and over again in these recent years. Living a life of transparency with a past which haunts you is a terrifying thing. I try, though. At least I try.

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Why Keep Hoping http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/27/why-keep-hoping/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/27/why-keep-hoping/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 01:19:45 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=145 Continue reading "Why Keep Hoping"

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“Why do I keep going?”

It’s something that people have asked me multiple times in different points of my life after they see things that I’ve gone through, things that I’ve lost, disappointments — shipwrecked dreams, loves severed. Why do I keep going? How do I keep smiling, keep trying again? How do I get back up and just keep trudging on? How do I still enjoy and keep my focus on the things which are still pleasurable?

In prison, oftentimes, I ran into people — I was surrounded by these sorts of people — who, for every positive thing somebody would say, they’d bring up five detractors or countermand them with other things which make it worse or make it not worth anything. But that’s not how life works. There are bad things. There are a lot of bad things. There are countless bad things. Mistakes, evil, pain, miscommunications, lies,  betrayals, accidents, deliberate evil: they’re all out there. They all mess up our lives; they all wreck things, dash hopes. Some things plain just don’t work out.

But there’s also an infinite number of good things. There are so many beautiful, glorious, wonderful things: promises — hopes that can’t be shattered. Indomitable, adamant, infinite hopes. And sometimes they reify and peek through the world and show themselves in little things that seem transient — seem ephemeral, inconsequential — but they’re not. They’re shining through like pinprick stars on a starry night, seeming so tiny, yet are in reality vehemently flaming balls of insanely grandiose power.

And that’s why I keep going. I’m stubborn. I keep thinking about all the good things that are going to happen, that have happened, that are happening right now. And they are hard to see through the veil of tears. They’re happening. And those future things that I hold out hope for — that I still fight for, and I still keep trying to lunge after and snatch after and run towards — they’re happening: they’re being fashioned, even now, behind the scenes, invisibly, within people’s hearts, behind the curtains. And in the third act, when those stories conclude — in the final climax and the denouement — we’ll go home to the Shire. And then to Valinor.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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Pandenominationalism Part Two: Personal History and Testimony http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/23/pandenominationalism-part-two-personal-history-and-testimony/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/23/pandenominationalism-part-two-personal-history-and-testimony/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 23:31:35 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=121 Continue reading "Pandenominationalism Part Two: Personal History and Testimony"

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I sat in my seat, staring out the window at the night, my insides consumed with nervousness, the van filled with silence. My father drove, I sat. We both knew we were about to have a conversation that would be hard, serious, and awkward. I was terrified. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t know if I would be able to. Or how he would take it. How he would respond.

This was the first time I’d disagreed with him. And I had no clue what that meant or what happened next.

Of course, before I was saved, before my transformation, before I became the new creation in Christ that I am now, I disagreed with him on everything. As a matter of principle. I was at war with my parents, and my only interest in their beliefs or instruction was how to use them as a mask to bolster my hypocrisy. But now… now I cared. I had repented of my rebellion and embraced submission. I finally had learned the joys of teachableness.

I had embarked recently on a journey of defining myself. I dug deeply into who I was, what I believed, how I wanted to live my life. I examined everything I had been handed from my parents, not distrustfully or arrogantly, but respectfully and gratefully. I wanted to make my beliefs my own by verifying and instantiating their foundations within myself. Blessedly, the more I learned about the reasons behind my father’s teachings and beliefs, the more I respected them and the more I respected him. And when I found a disagreement or a confusion, I had invariably found them to be due to a misunderstanding on my part.

Until now.

And my mouth was dry. I wanted to understand. I wanted to learn. I wanted to believe the truth. I had studied, prayed, researched, sought the answers to the quandary I’d been faced with, and I knew where all the evidence I saw was leading me. I saw the perspective my father had presented me with, and I thought I understood it relatively well. As best I could, I stood in his shoes and looked at the problem from his eyes as he explained it. And I still disagreed.

I still disagreed.

I was about to tell him that. And I had no idea what would happen afterwards. I loved, and do love, my father deeply. I respect him tremendously, his wisdom, his faith, his intellect, his experience, his knowledge. He is an amazing man, blessed superlatively by God. I trusted him. But I’d also seen families torn asunder by disagreements. I’d seen relationships wrecked. I didn’t trust myself, really, to not wreck the trust God had given me the opportunity to earn at long last. And so I was afraid.

I finally opened my mouth, and with many stutterings and circumlocution, explained my position. And there was silence.

And then Papa started talking. And my life changed.

He said he saw where I was coming from. He said he still disagreed with me. He then said that he respected me and my maturity, my ability to prayerfully and intelligently come to a conclusion. He said that I was in a different place in life, with different life experiences, with different insights. He said that there was a possibility that in those experiences there might be something which made me right and him wrong, and yet which I could not articulate to him and he could not perceive, simply because we were in different places in the journey towards truth. A newborn Christian may be given a bit of wisdom which another Christian may not acquire until his 90th year of salvation, on his deathbed. And yet that older Christian might have learned a piece of truth which the newborn Christian never will learn until Heaven. We each learn different things at different times. And my father said that because of that, and because he respected me as a man and a man of God, he respected my belief, even though he disagreed with it.

It wasn’t a salvific issue. It wasn’t an issue for disfellowshipping or discipline. It was a matter of practical theology, of application of Scriptural principles in the best manner for a godly way of life. But in that moment, I felt and believed that my father acknowledged me as a man. In that moment, my respect, affection, trust, and estimation of my father exponentiated dramatically. He’d levelled up in my eyes, and so had I. In that moment, I learned about a new kind of maturity. And in that moment, I became a Lauser, a man of my father’s dynasty and family, more than ever before.

I had occasion to exercise that maturity only a few months later, when I found myself in prison and trying to discover how to fellowship with the Church in an environment where no one agreed with me on anything but the bare fundamentals. If I held to my denominational identity as the criteria for what services to attend or which Bible studies to participate in or who to have deep fellowship with and learn from, I would have created an island of one.

I was doctrinally alone. And yet I was surrounded by Christians. Men who loved my Savior as much as I, who were as loyal to the Gospel as I, who were just as passionate about the pursuit of truth and holiness as I.

I had no luxury of choice of just choosing the assembly down the road. I had what was available, and that was it. To refuse to attend a service from another denomination would be to refuse to attend services. That was not an option. I needed to be a living and connected part of the Body of Christ to survive. I knew that to cut myself off from my fellow brothers would be to cut myself off from the power and life of God Himself.

And so I exercised the maturity I had seen in my father, and I recognised the common ground we possessed in the Gospel. I listened. I learned. I discussed. I questioned. I exercised discernment. Where I still disagreed, I respected; where I discovered myself lacking or in error, I embraced the truth. And I thanked God for their perspectives and what I was able to learn from them, either way.

This is pandenominationalism, and where it began in my life.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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Raising Standards to Their Achievability: an Innovation in Accountability http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/16/raising-standards-to-their-achievability-an-innovation-in-accountability/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/16/raising-standards-to-their-achievability-an-innovation-in-accountability/#respond Sun, 16 Apr 2017 13:18:18 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=117 Continue reading "Raising Standards to Their Achievability: an Innovation in Accountability"

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Battered, not shining.
Battered, not shining.

I have fought all my saved life against persistent, nearly unflagging temptation. When your primary struggle is with lust, there is rarely respite. Those few days where you go hours without having a single wayward thought try to tug you down the wrong path are like cool breaths of fresh air. You cling to those days and thank God for them as precious gifts, for they are rare. Because there are also those days where every other thought, like a pulsing siren alarm, is an overwhelming appetite, a desperate and ravenous hunger for the illicit. There have been days I physically shook from the strain, sweating, unable to focus on anything but the immediate battle that was waging inside myself.

More often than not, if the battle gets that intense, there are few avenues for escape. And shamefully often, the end result is another tick against myself, another battle lost. Another confession which must needs be made.

Because confession is huge in this war. As in any moral conflict, I believe. Not just to our Heavenly Father — acknowledging our sin to Him, and laying it bare before Him openly and willingly, seeking pardon and cleansing. Seeking strength to get back on the right track. But also submitting ourselves one to another, bearing one another’s burdens, letting the light of confession and transparency shine into the darkest recesses of our souls by confessing to each other. Too often our idolization of privacy chokes our spiritual growth and cuts us off from the intimacy which the Head desires in His Body, and which is necessary for the fulfilled Christian life.

The idol of privacy is another topic, though, for another blog post. 😉

In one of my more recently formed accountability groups, the other two guys are veterans of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous for those not in the know), older guys, not afflicted with the acuteness of struggle in this area that I am burdened with. But they brought something to me from their experiences dealing with alcoholism, which I at first struggled to understand how to apply. When they were coming out of the throes of drunkenness, whenever they were feeling the itch for a drink, they’d call their sponsor. Not to confess what had already happened, but to confess what they were afraid was going to happen. And the sponsor could encourage them and stand with them in that moment of decision. Making the decision to call in that moment was often the critical precursor to deciding to maintain sobriety.

So they encouraged me to call them when the temptation struck. I was sceptical because I envisaged having to call them multiple times a day, maybe dozens of times. Which would be annoying for me, much less them!

But then when push came to shove, I didn’t do it at all.

This baffled me. I remembered distinctly the early nudging by Holy Spirit, urging me to call them. I had brushed it off, with a complex cocktail of emotion.

And I fell.

And I called them, confessing. And I told them about the failure to call beforehand. And I wondered why, and realised why.

I was a coward.

I was able to face up to failures already past, but I couldn’t face the confession of a struggle already in progress. It eluded me. I realised with a shock that I had never in my life done this before. I’d confessed only after the fact. Never reached out when I was in the middle of the battle. I’d always tried to force my way through on my own. Even if I wasn’t trying to do it in my own strength, and I was relying on God’s strength, I was not relying on the strength which God offers through His Body.

There are blessings and gifts of fellowship with our Beloved which He only ministers to us through His Body, through His Church. Like in the Garden of Eden, where He designed things in a way so that Adam had a need, an incompleteness, a less-ness, without the correction of which God could not call creation Good. He created Adam with a need which God Himself refused to satisfy or fulfil except through Eve.

In pondering over this, I came to the conclusion that I needed to change this in myself and in my life. I needed to become a different kind of person. The kind of person who reaches out for help in my moments of greatest weakness and vulnerability. I needed to become the kind of person who had that kind of humility and submission.

It took me a while, with several heartbreaking failures coming after. But by God’s grace I made that first phone call. Before I fell. And the victory that resulted was epic.

I haven’t done it every time since, and I’ve fallen still since then. It took some getting used to. But I can say that right now I am standing here with the longest stretch without relapse that I’ve had in years.

I don’t credit it entirely due to this fundamental change, as Father has been working on a great many other, equally radical changes in myself during this same time. But this is one which I believe is not applicable only to me. So I want to share it with you.

And also share a tactic I learned to augment and supplement the strategy. Because making a phone call isn’t always practical or feasible, and as I soon discovered, the sheer frequency of the need to reach out was greater than the availability of those I could call. As a consequence, I set up a simple code and asked a close and trusted friend online to help me try it.

  1. Temptations aren’t even crossing my mind.  I am at a restful but alert state.
  2. Temptations are popping up intermittently, but not insistently or with force. They are being easily dealt with, taken to God without much struggle. They are not a distraction.
  3. The temptation is a steady and persistent nagging desire, a serious distraction which is making it hard to think or to do anything else except battle it. If I take my attention from the battle I feel the slide towards surrender.
  4. The temptation is intense, a concentrated and overwhelming desire blocking everything else out without remission. I cannot think about anything else even if I wanted to. The cusp of failure is terrifyingly near.
  5. The temptation has gripped me, and I’ve already taken steps in the direction of giving in, and I’m being drug towards relapse. The hook is set, even if the sin itself has not realised itself yet. Pulling out from this stage is only possible by direct Divine intervention.

Using this scale, I can send a single number over chat to an accountability partner. They don’t need to drop everything and intervene and plead with me to hold strong (though if it’s around 4 it is often appreciated). They just need to acknowledge and start praying. The bare act of reaching out and requesting prayer and confessing my need shifts my entire battleground position. Victory is suddenly within my grasp because I have humbled myself and knit myself into the Body of Christ. Just with a single number.

I’ll also use floating point numbers, measuring in between these stages. If I send a 3.8, that means exactly what it sounds like. The temptation is spiking and I know where it’s going, therefore I’m asking for prayer before it gets there. I don’t only call out when it’s a 4 or above. I’ll often let it be known that I’m praising God for a day of 2s and 1s. Because it is something to praise Him for! If a day is averaging 3s for an extended period of time, I will also reach out, because I know the danger of the exhaustion it breeds.

A side-effect I observed after doing this regularly, was that I became more aware in myself of where I stood on the scale, especially where before I would have been oblivious. I’ve been busy doing things and Holy Spirit will nudge me, asking for my number. I’ll have to stop and think about it, and realise with surprise that I’m a 3 and had been all day long without noticing. The subtlety of it missed me. But by being regularly prompted to attach a numeric value to my degree of temptation, sin has a far more difficult time of creeping up on me.

And so I offer this as a tool and a weapon for you. A help, from one veteran to another. And I want you to know, that if I ever receive a chat or a text from you with a single number from 1-5, I will know what it means. I will expect nothing else. I will pray for you. I will stand with you. Because I know. And we are not alone in this fight.

And those of you who have prayed for me when I sent out a number, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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Comfort Zones: Good, and Sinful http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/13/comfort-zones-good-and-sinful/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/13/comfort-zones-good-and-sinful/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 15:10:31 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=114 Continue reading "Comfort Zones: Good, and Sinful"

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Comfort zones are good, and helpful; they help us to be efficient in our lives. They help us to be able to know what to expect, to know what needs to be done, and be able to plan for those ends. Comfort zones are where habits, routines, plans, and lifestyles live. They free mental space for us to be able to think creatively about other things, without having to worry about what hand you brush your teeth with. Also, by establishing a norm they help us to recognize patterns, so we can notice danger when those patterns are broken. And so the threat response to having a comfort zone encroached upon is both legitimate, and healthy. When mastered, comfort zones can be used to establish healthy routines in our lives, and become tools to master the way we live and make our time more effective and profitable. This is why God designed comfort zones into how our biological and cerebral makeup function in the first place, of course.

However.

Comfort zones also can become a source of sin in our lives, and hinder us from doing what God requires and calls us to do. By relying on them to determine our course in life, we will neglect to accept the power of God’s grace, and refuse to obey when God calls us do things that we can only do by His strength. And God never tells us to do things that are within our capacity to do, without His grace. God also never gives us His grace to do things that are still in our future, but He always gives us His grace in the nick of time so we are always able to do what He tells us to do. No obstacle in our path is greater than His ability to help us, when our path is lined up with His will. But this is known by faith, before the event. This means that for us to live the righteous and Christian Life, we must live outside our comfort zones. God’s calling is never within our comfort zones. If we are living comfortably, we are idolizing our comfort zones, and refusing to accept what God calls us to do, and maybe even refusing to hear it. And therefore, comfort zones become sin.

Like most addictions, comfort zones are not an evil in and of themselves. They only become an addiction, and sin, when they master us instead of being mastered by us. When used as a tool for God’s glory, they can free us to be able to become all that God wants us to be, by freeing time and mental space, making us more productive. But when they are used in any way shape or form to govern or advise our life choices, they become idols and killers of God’s grace in our lives.

Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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Pandenominationalism Part One: The Origins http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/09/pandenominationalism-part-one-the-origins/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/04/09/pandenominationalism-part-one-the-origins/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 03:21:29 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=106 Continue reading "Pandenominationalism Part One: The Origins"

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You’ve all heard me use the term all over the place. I’ve given a few short definitions, but I typically refer to an upcoming blog post which expatiates the concept more fully. This is that post. Or rather, the beginning of the series of blog posts. So buckle up. 🙂

If you hadn’t guessed it already, pandenominationalism is a neologism. It was originally coined mostly as a joke by a close friend of mine, but in our discussions, we developed it into a more defined and refined concept. I have found it to be tremendously useful as a term and label. Mostly because there aren’t preconceived connotations tied to it, and so I’m better able to explain what I actually believe with more clarity.

I believe a lot more people are pandenominationalist than know they are pandenominationalist. They already live the exemplary life of its principles. But they haven’t sat down and thought through why they do certain admirable things from the specific perspective of an identity as pandenominationalist. And so they often don’t apply those principles to other areas of their life. And so they are unwittingly inconsistent, without wanting to be. This is why understanding it can be valuable. It might change very little for you to start identifying as a pandenominationalist, or it might change a great deal. That’s up to you and God.

But what is Pandenominationalism, other than a sesquipedalian word that is fun to say? There are two core elements at the heart of it.

Firstly, it rests upon the firm belief that all those who truly believe in the Gospel (in the deeper biblical sense of submission and devotion, not just intellectual assent) are Christians, saved, and part of the Body and Bride of Christ, and are thus family. There is one Body, not many, though there are many members, and the prime command within the Church is to love one another radically, and thereby love our God.

Secondly, it rests upon the firm belief that the truth of doctrine, the revealed teachings of God in their entirety, is absolute (not predicated upon our assent or comprehension), discoverable (not impossible to be ascertained by the aid of the Holy Spirit and a willing and teachable heart), and important (worthy of study, both edifying and commanded).

Now, a great many people would concur with both of the above paragraphs. At least, independent of the application. When traditions and behaviours are held against the ramifications of these two beliefs held together, they almost always fall short, in my experience. I will write on some of these in more detail in later posts, but right now I’ll touch on some of the highlights.

The third primary principle of pandenominationalism is at the juncture of the first two. Because of them, every believer in the core gospel has a fundamental common ground which takes precedence over our individual beliefs about what true Doctrine actually is. Treating someone as ‘outside the fold’ due to a non-salvific difference is tantamount to adding to the Gospel and creating a schism, both of which are condemned with the strongest of language in Scripture multiple times. We are to seek after truth, yes, but together. In unity.

This is why pandenominationalism is called what it is. A denomination is not a cult. A denomination is a useful categorization of a person’s conclusions regarding the nature of Doctrinal Truth. It is not a dividing line, it is a semantic and cultural label with pragmatic value. Serious seekers of truth examine all possible sides of an issue and are willing to hear contrary positions and lend them serious credence. Mature lovers of truth can do this without having to believe that truth is non-existent or non-discoverable. In this sense, denominations can actually have a unifying value, rather than a dividing one. This is why this isn’t the same as nondenominationalism — a pandenominationalist recognises the universal membership in the Body and Church of Christ as prime, and thus identifies as a member of all denominations, instead of identifying as a member of none.

However, as I mentioned, a denomination is not a cult. Just as this is not nondenominationalism, this is also not universalism or modern ecumenicalism. The Gospel is core, and is what lends this unity in the first place. Denying the existence of the Gospel does not solve the problem, it exacerbates it.

I hope you agree with these statements and recognise how identifying as a pandenominationalist does not obviate your identification with specific denominational traditions. Identifying as pandenominationalist subordinates those traditions under identification as a Christian, though, as it should be. And that has far-reaching relational, sociological, theological, and moral ramifications. Which I look forward to expounding upon further in later posts in this series.

If you have questions, let me know in the comments! I would love to hear your feedback, not only on whether you agree or disagree but also on how I might more clearly express this philosophy.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye
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Happy Pi Day! http://www.whythawye.me/2017/03/15/happy-pi-day/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/03/15/happy-pi-day/#comments Wed, 15 Mar 2017 00:03:12 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=102 Continue reading "Happy Pi Day!"

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3.1415926535897932384626433832795028842197…
The digits I just recited are very special. They are the first 40 digits of my favourite number, a magical and mysterious number with strange and wonderful powers. It even has its own day, and I and millions of other nerds around the world celebrate it every year on March 14th. For centuries brilliant men have studied it, and been awed by its glory and beauty. This number is known as…
Raspberry Pi
…Pi! It is named after the Greek letter π and not the food. I love Pi so much, I thought it would be cool to use three of its features as metaphors for three similar features of myself and my family. And so, my dear readers, may I introduce to you… Pi!

The first feature I would like to show you is that Pi is patternless. This is because it is what is known as an ‘irrational number.’ This means, among other things, that it is not a repeating sequence stuck in a loop or a simple digit like other, more boring numbers. It continually presents fresh and unique sequences without pattern, each digit standing alone and defiant.
Secondly, Pi is precisely calculated. It may look random, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is a solid, unchangeable value with a very specific function: measuring the ratio between a circle’s circumference (the distance around it), and its diameter (the distance across it). This is a critically important role! And Pi takes itself very seriously, each digit having the exact value and being in the exact place it needs to be in order to fulfil Pi’s purpose. Each digit is perfect, and none are pointless.
Thirdly, Pi extends infinitely. It. Never. Ends! The 40 digits I gave you in the beginning are enough to calculate the area of the known universe to within the width of a single hydrogen atom. Just 40 digits! NASA only uses 16 of Pi’s digits. But Pi itself is not content with even millions or billions of digits of precision. It continues pursuing perfection, marching on and on for eternity, knowing that if it halts it fails in its purpose.
Now you know about Pi. Next, I will present to you three points about my family, the Lausers.
First: we are eccentric, extremely so. Everyone is different, unique, and special. People are often proud of this and try hard to stand out from the crowd. But we aren’t even in the crowd! We are a culture unto ourselves. When we moved from America to Ireland, we brought our culture shock with us! People are always trying to figure out what tribe of crazies we belong to, but we defy categories. We don’t just think outside the box, we hunt down and destroy boxes!
Second: despite our dedication to weirdness, we are purposeful and not random. There is both rhyme and reason to our madness. We design our lifestyle, we take nothing for granted, and we analyse everything. We are intentional, and yes, calculated. We relate everything to our core purpose: to obey God and fulfil His calling on our lives to the very best of our ability. From education, to health, to recreation, to work, we strive to be the best we can be, by that standard.
Third: we do all this with eternity in mind. We aren’t content with being just good enough. We know that this side of eternity, during our short lives, we won’t be able to reach perfection. But we don’t give up. There is more to how we look at our lives than just this earth. We have to include more in our perspective or our calculation will be off. So over every worry and cultural pressure to conform, we keep our eyes on that eternal goal. And perhaps along the way we might do something as awesome as calculating the area of the known universe.
To sum up! Pi is patternless, precise, and extends infinitely; we Lausers are eccentric, purposeful, and eternally minded. Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to encourage each and every one of you to take stock of the mathematics of your day-to-day lives. Every second, every minute, has worth and potential. No choice is so small that it has no impact on your life as a whole. Every. Little. Step has meaning. Don’t leave the details to chance or the choices or the culture of others. Be intentional and hold a high standard. Be focused on a worthy goal. And don’t ever give up. Thank you.
P.S. This article is actually a transcript of the Icebreaker speech I gave at Toastmasters – the first speech you give in the program. I’ve wanted to share it with you for some time, and figured since today is Pi Day, this is the time to do so. Enjoy!
Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye
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Addicted to Happiness http://www.whythawye.me/2017/03/06/addicted-to-happiness/ http://www.whythawye.me/2017/03/06/addicted-to-happiness/#respond Mon, 06 Mar 2017 01:21:31 +0000 http://www.whythawye.me/?p=97 Continue reading "Addicted to Happiness"

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At first, addiction is maintained by pleasure, but the intensity of this pleasure gradually diminishes and the addiction is then maintained by the avoidance of pain.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/123004633553233705/

Many of us whine, “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” Leonard Ravenhill answers, “God is not concerned about our happiness but about our holiness.”

In meditating on this truth, I saw a correlation with drug addictions.

Imagine you have a friend whose life is enslaved to cocaine. He begs you for money to get high on; his life is miserable if he doesn’t get it; and he’s desperate for his only pleasure left. Yet if you are a true friend, you will withhold him from getting high in order to try and get him off of his addiction: your focus is not on helping him get high, but on helping him get clean. Once he is clean, he will be freed to be happy with true pleasures, and he won’t want the highs anymore.

In the same way, we are addicted to happiness, and to the ways of our flesh which bring about happiness. God is not concerned with satisfying our flesh at all: He is instead concerned with making us holy. Once we are holy (that is, clean), we will be free to have joy, and we won’t be seeking after happiness. He wants us to have joy, not happiness.

The difference? An eternal, Spirit-filled perspective. We may rejoice in the same things, but to someone whose life is holy those things are not his treasures. God is his greatest and sole treasure, and he finds joy in everything around him merely because he recognizes the work and image of God in them. Therefore he is actually more full of joy than the worldly man is of happiness. But this joy can only come once we are holy.

Thus hardships and chastenings and trials come to us in order to purge us from our addictions to the flesh and happiness, for the glorious purpose of revealing to us the infinite and intimate glory of God, bringing true joy into our lives through holiness.

Therefore seek holiness, whatever the cost. That is where God is waiting to embrace us.

God bless you with His presence.

Signed - Jaymes Lauser, Whythawye

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