We want to help you understand your world. If left to our own spiritual eyesight, we’re doomed, for we won’t see the Black Dog coming. There’s more to this world than meets the eye; there’s a spiritual dimension, from which we are being attacked. This helps to explain the struggles that we have and the bondage that we’re in. Subscribe to Fight the Black Dog on iTunes and share these podcasts with your friends. Thank you and here’s the link to episode #4: Fight the Black Dog // Podcast 004 // Spiritual Optometrist.
Archives For worth
The first step in fighting the Black Dog is Understanding the world we live in. Listen to episode 003, share it with a friend, and then follow us on iTunes.
“From now on, beginning with the Homecoming Dance on Saturday, October 6th, all students must dance appropriately. Inappropriate behavior, including back-to-front dancing, will not be allowed.”
The school banned the popular dance known as “grinding.” I will spare you a description.
However, in response to this new policy, some students and parents have banned together to hold an alternative event on October 6, known as “The Real Homecoming.” In other words, grinding will be allowed at this event.
Just in case you’re a student who’s tempted to go to “The Real Homecoming” or to grind at another Homecoming dance, here are ten reasons from a pastor (me) why you should not.
- Put your efforts in to helping others, rather than helping yourself. There’s so much need around us, so much hurt and suffering. I understand that you feel like you have rights, but why not use your rights to help society? Stand up for the homeless or the hungry, not for grinding.
- You won’t die if you don’t grind. But you will die if you don’t respect authority. While no person on record has ever died because of unfulfilled sexual urges, millions of people have died from not following the rules. By obeying your school’s administration now, which is a “small” authority, you’re preparing yourself to obey “bigger” authorities in the future. We can’t just do whatever we want; there are consequences for our actions. Learn to follow the rules now and you’ll save yourself from disaster in the future.
- You’ll become a much better dancer. Nobody has ever complimented a couple of frisky canines on their dancing abilities. Use this as an opportunity to add a little more sophistication to your dance routine.
- Use better logic. In the comments that I have read about the school’s new policy, some have said that if you prohibit grinding, kids will find a way to do it secretly, anyway. So, you might as well just let them do it at school. The level of ignorance in such a statement is shocking. According to this argument, you might as well not prohibit any activity, for fear that people will do it on their own. Why prohibit murder or rape, since people will find a way to do it anyway? I’m not equating grinding to murder or rape, but to the logic behind the argument. Even more, basing your decisions only on what you fear people will do, is no way to live. In fact, it’s called paranoia, and is diagnosable.
- People don’t like it as much as you think. They’re uncomfortable. They’re scared. You’re on a power trip, wanting to turn people into sexual objects, rather than treat them with dignity. You turn them around, quite literally, and act behind their back, rather than having the courage to look them in the eyes and show respect.
- There are better ways to show affection. “Oh,” you respond, “But they like it!” Let me tell you right now, guys, that girls don’t like it. Period. There’s not a single girl in the world that would prefer animalistic and debasing grinding, over someone treating her like a precious masterpiece of God. Girls long to be cherished, not sexualized. Deep down, every woman feels this way.
- Grinding doesn’t communicate to a girl that she’s worth dying for. It doesn’t communicate that she has intrinsic value or worth. It only communicates that a man has urges. It reminds me of when a dog satisfies itself on the nearest leg. Girls, are you just a pant leg? Or is there more to you than that? You are worth dying for. How can a guy show that? By putting to death his sensual urges for the sake of your worth. If he’s not willing to curb his sensual desires for you, then he is not worth what you have to offer.
- Show your world that this generation is better than that. Break the stereotypes, rise above the status quo. Why not do a little cultural judo? Make holiness the new sexy. Make self-control and chivalry the norm. Don’t get sidetracked from being a truly great generation by matters like grinding.
- It looks incredibly stupid. What do you want people to remember you for? When you look back on these years, what do you want your legacy to be? That you were an ace at grinding? When your future kids see a picture of you at homecoming, do you want them to see you in that position? What if God were with you (which I believe he is, and if you’re honest, so do you), would you change anything? We all do incredibly stupid things, and by virtue of my age, I’ve done many more stupid things than today’s high school students have done; so don’t think that I think that I am better than you are. However, I am very glad that wiser people have “put me in my place” and helped me to see my errors over the years.
- Leave room to be wrong. Maybe you’re not right, have you thought about that? If multiple school administrations (all over the country), who are composed of very competent people, most of whom we voted for, have made this decision, then who are you to say that you’re right and they’re wrong? After all, they are the experts; they know what’s best for their schools. Could it be that you’re allowing your personal desires to trump reason and unity? They are doing what’s best for everyone. True, this will offend some individuals, but these individuals need to see the value in the group. Put aside your personal rights for the sake of the community. I know that’s a radical thing to say in our individualistic culture, but it must be said, lest our narcissism consumes us.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
On a whim I said to a random teenager at the mall, “Show me something that symbolizes this generation the best.” With utter seriousness, he took out his wallet and showed me a twenty dollar bill. “This,” he said, “represents my generation the best.” I asked him to explain. He responded quite simply, “If you don’t have it, then you’re nothing.” He wasn’t proud and he didn’t speak condescendingly; rather, he was matter-of-fact and spoke with a bit of unease—he knew that if the money ran out, then he was a “nobody.”
That’s the atmosphere that our children are growing up in, one where identity is determined more by possessions than by intrinsic value. If a kid doesn’t have all the perks that money can buy, then he or she will not fit in. Or, of much greater concern (though the two are tied together), our children will honestly believe that they are not worth much.
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who wrestle with these feelings.
My two sons play baseball; and any time there is even a remote threat of lightning, all games are cancelled. If you look at the stats, about 80 people die per year from lightning strikes in the United States. With those kind of numbers, I’m very grateful that we do all that we can, to keep our children (and adults) safe.
But here’s what I don’t understand: over 80 people die per day from suicides in the United States. And for every suicide there are 25 attempts. So what are we doing about it? September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week.
During my time as a pastor, working deeply with individuals and families on life issues, I have found something that is completely ironic to me. Too many people honestly think that they are worthless. I look at these same vibrant individuals, many of them being young people, and see so much life and potential. Yet, for multiple reasons, they can’t see their worth.
I want you to know that you are never without hope. I want you to know exactly where your worth comes from, not only for yourself, but also to help those that you love.
Your worth does not come from your possessions or from your accomplishments—or lack of accomplishments. This would be like telling a hundred dollar bill that its worth comes from what type of wallet it’s put in. Your worth comes from what someone else is willing to give in order to have you. God was willing to pay for us with the life of his own, precious Son. That is how much you’re worth.
You are priceless.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
You are sitting on a treasure and you don’t even realize it. That treasure is you. Other people see it. I see it. But you don’t. Why can’t you see it? Why can’t you see what I see? You are so precious, so full of worth. You are a gift, a treasure—why can’t you see it?
You don’t see the treasure that is you, you see only the junk that gets mixed up in our lives. It’s the stuff that’s there, in everybody’s life, but it’s not who you are. Other people shove their junk in your path; you even add yours to theirs. But that doesn’t define who you are; it just gives us all something to do.
You are the treasure, can’t you see it? God made a bold move to earth in order to snatch you up for himself. He gave away his Son in order to provide a way for you to return home. And something’s worth is defined by what someone is willing to give away in order to get it. God has his special eye on you, for he is a real treasure-hunter. And you are his treasure.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
“I’m gay.” That’s what the note said. It was the last thing his teenage son wrote before he hung himself in the attic. That was the second personal tragedy in my friend’s life. First, his wife left him. Now, alone in his home with the cold body of his son, he was enduring what no father should have to go through. It’s just not right. My friend thought to himself, “Had my son only known how much I loved him and that what he wrote on the note didn’t matter.”
Just over a year later, the police came to the workplace of my friend. More bad news. They told him that his other son had been shot, as he was trying to break up a fight between two others. In case you’re doubting, this is a true story—and it’s just not right. No father should have to go through what my friend did.
It’s been many years since these tragedies, but no amount of time can take away the sting.
It’s been many years since another tragedy, in fact, it’s been many centuries. But that sickening feeling in the gut remains. No father should have to go through what this Father had to go through.
And it’s just not right. That’s the thought you’re supposed to have when you hear about the life and death of Jesus. Any honest reading of Mark’s Gospel will give you this feeling. The historian and writer Mark spends most of his ink establishing Jesus as God’s Son. The first fourteen chapters of his book are loaded with descriptions of Jesus’ divinity, power, perfection, and right to the helm of the cosmos. Jesus was God’s Son: he healed the sick, made the blind to see and the deaf to hear. He displayed stunning power over demons and nature. Quite literally, Jesus walked on water.
No person ever lived like he. No human had a resume like his. He didn’t just act like God, he was God. All honor and glory should be his. He ought to have the right over every life, to dispose of every creature as he wished. Indeed, he ought to exercise that right, especially given what we’ve done to our world and to each other. We are so dark and he is so pure.
Then Mark turns the corner in his book in chapter 14. He begins to take him down a few notches. He narrates the humiliation of Jesus.
What did this humiliation look like? Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest followers (14:43). He was lied about, slandered, and testified against (14:56). He was spit upon and slapped (14:65). He was outright disowned (14:71). He was legally accused (15:3). He was judged less than a murderer, who was released (15:11). He was mocked by a fake robe and a crown of thorns, struck on the head, stripped, tortured, and ultimately crucified (15:17-20). On top of that, his remaining possessions were stolen from him (15:24) and everyone passing by his lifeless body reviled him (15:32).
After knowing what you know about Jesus and then reading how it all turns out, your overwhelming sensation should be, “That’s just not right.”
Anyone with a pulse should have the same moral outrage as that of my friend, if you truly grasp the significance of Jesus’ death. This isn’t to minimize the pain that my friend went through, but to recalibrate your view of Jesus. It was a tragedy. God’s Son should never have to go through what he went through.
So why did he do it? Why was he abused? Why was he humiliated?
Because God didn’t want to go another day without you. It feels like I’m committing an indecency even writing these words, but they are utterly true. God chose to forsake his Son so that he could forgive you. God crushed his boy in order to welcome you into his arms. God, help me as I say this—God felt the same moral outrage at the thought of losing you, as we feel at the thought of losing a child. God looked at you, seeing what might become of you if he didn’t intervene, and said, “That is not right.”
© Samuel Kee, 2012
“No one can be saved—in virtue of what he can do. Everyone can be saved—in virtue of what God can do” (Karl Barth).
When I was growing up, my dad rebuilt wrecked cars. He’d go to the junkyard or auction, bid on a real wreck, and then have it delivered to our home. Some of these cars just had fender benders, but most were totaled. For insurance purposes, to be totaled means to be beyond repair. And that’s the way these cars looked to me when they arrived at our home. When I looked at the car, it looked beyond hope, but when my dad looked at it, he saw the finished product.
After all, I was not the mechanic. If left up to me, the car would remain in the junkyard and eventually hauled off to the scrap yard. I did not have the creativity, perseverance, know-how, technology, or desire to rebuild such broken things.
But my dad had all of these in spades. Junk didn’t scare him, nor did hard work. To him, these cars were worth it.
I know it’s a crude analogy, but it seems to fit the way God sets his special eye on us when we’re junking away with the rest of the wrecks. God has no taste for the cars that shine, but for those who are at their worst. The ones the world rejects. The ones that are beyond repair.
Totaled. That’s a good word to describe us cars; and if left to ourselves, there is no way that we could ever be roadworthy again. We are twisted and caved, with flat tires and broken glass, our engine is cracked and axels pulled. There is no way that we should ever be driven again.
But God has his special eye on us; he loves to bring home the unwanted. He loves giving second chances to those in the junkyard.
“No one can be saved—in virtue of what he can do. Everyone can be saved—in virtue of what God can do.” The salvage yard is not a place of potential, but a place of condemnation. Salvation does not start with a working engine, but with the word “totaled” written on your title. Salvation begins in the salvage yard.
God can save you. He is the master mechanic who loves putting wrecks back on the road. You are never beyond his repair, unless you try to fix yourself. When we try to fix ourselves, we resist his tender garage.
We cannot fix ourselves, our only option is surrender. No one has the ability to fix himself, on the one hand, but absolutely everyone can be fixed by God, on the other. Salvation is both narrow and broad at the same time.
Do not make any verdicts on your life before placing it in his healing hands. Do not say, “I am junk,” before hearing Him say, “You are loved.”
© Samuel Kee, 2011
At the risk of reducing Divinity down to a top ten list (not to mention the risk of being a little too narcissistic) here are the top ten things I love about God:
10. God gives us a new identity and worth.
I’m always chasing after answers to the questions: “Who am I?” and “Am I worthy?” God says, “You’re mine!” and “Yes, you’re worth the price of my Son on the cross.” Unconditional love is such a relief! At the end of each day, I can go to sleep knowing that I’m a “wanted man.” God wants me more than I can imagine; and it makes all the difference in the world to know that you are wanted.
9. God gives us his words in the words of humans (the Bible).
This is a huge one for me: I am a Bible FREAK! I love reading the Bible, meditating on it, and learning about God from it. Reading the Bible is my favorite part of the day! I know that seems a little cheesy and a lot nerdish, but hey, I’m okay with that (see #10!)
8. God keeps hope alive, no matter what.
When Jesus stood up after death, he introduced a new economy of hope into this hopeless world. Death no longer has the last word; life has the last word. Hope is alive because hope is resurrected. It reminds me of when Martin Luther (the 16th Century German Reformer) came home in a sullen mood, only to find his wife (Katy) dressed in black mourning clothes, complete with a head veil. Martin asked his wife, “Who died?” Katy responded something like this: “Well, since the great and holy doctor of faith and theology, Martin Luther, walks around so sad and defeated these days, I assumed that God himself had died!” Ha! Katy knew that so long as Jesus is alive, we always have hope.
7. God loves the way he made each person.
Each person is remarkable! It seems like God accepts that fact way before we accept that fact. Perhaps the best advice we could follow is “Be Yourself!” We’re so unsure of ourselves, always asking ourselves if we’re “doing it right.” God hand-crafted each person and loves to see each personality blossom. God delights in us, just how we are.
6. God’s Spirit gives me power when I need it the most.
Apart from God, I am completely not “sticky.” God’s Spirit makes me sticky. This means that a whole bunch of God’s benefits stick to me through the bond of the Spirit. Before, I had little joy or peace, but the Spirit causes God’s joy and peace to stick to me. Before, I had no goodness, but the Spirit causes God’s own goodness to stick to me. The same can be said of my life when I am weak. Apart from the Spirit, I am weak, but with the Spirit, God causes his power to stick to me. Just when I’m at my wit’s end, the Spirit keeps me going. The Spirit is the superglue that bonds me to God, the only source of life.
5. God not only forgives, but he also transforms.
I can’t think of two greater things that I want (need!) for my life. I want to be forgiven: I have so many sins that it’s overwhelming. I need God to deal with my sins, once and for all, and now! It’s not fun living in sin’s prison! But I just don’t want to be forgiven, I also want to be transformed. I want to become better and better. I want to make progress and become all that I can be. God not only forgives, but also he transforms. He loves me right where I am at, but he doesn’t leave me there.
4. God knows what it is like to walk in my shoes.
God decided to clothe himself in humanity and come live among us. Jesus is “God with us.” God wasn’t afraid to get dirty, in other words. He loved us too much to stay away. So he put on the flesh of Jesus and experienced real life. This means that God is very personal: he knows what it’s like to walk in our shoes. He suffered, hungered, cried, laughed, dreamed, and wet the bed! He completely contextualized to human life (with the exception of sin). I don’t follow a God who cannot relate to me, but one who knows what it’s like to be me.
3. God is relentless…he keeps pursuing me, even when I run away and hide.
The great man of faith and suffering, Job, once said to God, “God, would you just leave me alone long enough so that I can at least swallow my own spit!” (Job 7:19, my translation). God wouldn’t leave Job alone for one second. God chases after us, like a loving father chases after his children. And even when we are faithless, he remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13). God can be quite a stalker!
2. God does not play favorites, but loves everyone equally and has a big dream for the world.
All kinds of people are welcome to God’s home and around God’s table. He’s got a place for everyone, no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, family background, maturity, training, accomplishments, etc., etc. All are welcome to come home to God through his Son Jesus. God does not just dream for a certain minority group, but for the whole world. His lap is large! He especially has a place for those who realize that they are not worthy and have nothing good to offer.
1. God found a way to call me a friend and be with me forever.
Yes, me! And if you know me, you know what a miracle this is! God wants to be in a relationship with me not just here and now (though that’s still pretty awesome), but forever. He gave all of him to get all of me. Friends do that: they find a way to make important relationships happen and they don’t bail on you. My translation of the title “Lord” is “The One who does not bail!” (It’s funnier if you know Hebrew…). God loves us and he’ll never leave us.
So there they are, the top ten things I love about God.
© Samuel Kee, 2011
When I was nine years old, I started saving quarters; I put them in a long, transparent plastic tube. Eventually, I had enough quarters to buy something that I had my heart set on: a silver trumpet. No longer would I have to play the goofy little bronze coronet; I would now have a slender and cool silver trumpet. I felt like Louis Armstrong.
I gave a specific amount of silver quarters in order to purchase a silver trumpet. Once I had saved the exact amount that I needed, I gave them to the person selling the silver trumpet. I saved no more or no less than I needed. I gave no more or no less than I needed. The exchange was equal.
When you purchase something, you exchange one thing for another; and the worth of each is (usually) the same. It would make no sense, for instance, to give one million dollars for an ordinary silver trumpet, or five dollars for it, for that matter. When the receipts are totaled and the property is exchanged, you have something that’s the same worth as what you started with—and so does the other person. Transactions are usually like equations in that they have equilibrium between both sides.
It has been 25 years since I made that purchase and I still have my silver trumpet. And I do not miss my silver quarters, for I know that I have something that’s of the same worth.
But what would happen if I gave an extraordinary amount of money for that trumpet? Let’s say I gave $500,000 for it. Even though I attained a silver trumpet, there is not equilibrium. The trumpet is not worth $500,000. So what happens to the worth?
Since equilibrium must be reached, I give extra worth to the silver trumpet, which was not there before. The worth of $500,000 just doesn’t go away once the deal is sealed. Worth just doesn’t vanish into thin air. I now mentally transfer the worth of $500,000 onto my new trumpet. It is now worth $500,000 to me, since that is what I gave for it.
In the same way, the Scriptures teach us that God gave his perfect Son in exchange for imperfect humans (see 1 Peter 3:18). This was not a fair purchase; there was not equilibrium between the sides. The weight of glory on the Son’s side was a massive load compared with the hovering dust on our side. The worth of “Godness” is more than humanness; divinity is always greater than depravity.
When God gave up his Son to die on a cross, he was not doing it to rescue another God; now that would have been a fair deal. That would have been like equal silver quarters for an equally valued silver trumpet.
God did not sacrifice his Son in order to purchase God, but to purchase humans. He gave far more than the worth of the purchase. Even if you don’t believe in God or the event to which I am referring, you can still appreciate my line of thought.
But the worth that God gave just doesn’t go away; his $500,000 still looms. As I said before, in cases like these, the purchaser will give the purchase the worth that it might have been lacking before, because of what he or she lost in the transaction.
The worth of God’s Son does not vanish into thin air. Instead, it lands right on our heads, as God transfers to us the value of his Son. He begins to treat us as his children, for that is what we have become.
You cannot pretend that the added worth has just gone away. It doesn’t and it can’t; it has been transferred to you.
This means that all of the extra value that once was the distance between you and God, has now turned into something else, called love. The difference between the value of what God gave and what you were in your worst moments, has been transformed into an enduring and steadfast love from the Purchaser, God, to the purchased, you. He makes up the difference in value, in his love for what he purchased.
And his love for you is as real as the Son that he gave up. Remember, it just doesn’t go away.
If you have doubts as to whether God will care for you and get you through your trials, just remember all that God gave up in order to have you. And if he gave up so much, then he will not forget its value and he will not fail to treat you with the worth of his own Son. You are worth that much to him.
© 2010 by Samuel Kee