Tag Archives: Christians

Can Suicide Separate Us From God?

Stormy skyThis week brought shocking news: the son of Rick and Kay Warren (author of the Purpose Driven Life) committed suicide. Within days, this news has spread, raising a lot of questions and discussion about suicide and Christians. I want to share with you two years ago I went through a very dark time in my life, a dark night of the soul. And unless you have experienced this, you have no idea what it is like to be suicidal.

My life was already full of cracks by the time my husband was fired from the church we were serving at. I was like a piece of glass with multiple fractures. We had been laid off from one church, lived on unemployment for almost a year, experienced loss of health and almost the life of our son, burned out by ministry, forced to move every few years, and now this. I remember the shock to this day: walking around in a numb state until my insides shattered into a thousand pieces. I was broken beyond repair and I entered the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Those months after my husband lost his job were the darkest in my life. Even though I was still around people, I felt such intense loneliness it hurt physically. Depression hung on me like a black shroud. At one point, I remember visualizing myself curled up in a ball, naked, laying on a rock in the middle of a raging storm out in the ocean, with the wind and the harsh rain pounding down on me. All alone.

StormI couldn’t hear God anymore. Up to that point, I could always hear God, feel Him near me. But not anymore. I would look up to see only black raging clouds. I knew God was around somewhere up above those clouds, but I couldn’t see Him like I used to. And my spiritual hearing was gone, like being hit by a blast wave that leaves you deaf.

The depression went on for months. I felt like I was drowning. I was still fighting to stay afloat, but there was part of me that wanted to give up and sink down into the waters and be done.

This empty, deathly feeling scared me. I’ve been depressed before, but usually the thought of my husband and kids drew me back. But this time it was not enough. I was afraid that I was going to give in to the desire and kill myself. It’s like standing on an edge, looking down, and having that wild feeling to throw oneself off.

There was only one thing that stopped me: I did not want to meet God that way. I did not want to take my life and stand before God and see the disappointment on His face. I could not take my life… because my life was not mine to take. It belonged to God.

That was the anchor I clung to during that wild tempest in my life. Eventually I dove into God’s word, especially the Psalms, finding comfort in the fact that I was not the only one who had ever felt that way. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!”

And even Paul writes about his discouragement: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves…”

The sentence of death. That is exactly what it feels like. But Paul goes on to say this: “…so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on who we have set our hope…” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-10)

I made a choice that day, a choice that I have stuck with ever since: my life is God’s and God’s alone, for Him to use, and for Him to bring me home when it is time. I still could not see God, could not hear Him when I made this choice. But I chose to trust that He would deliver me someday. And He did, through the prayers and friendship of my husband and two close friends. This is how God delivered Paul as well: “And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers…”

I am blessed to have come through a time like that alive. But what happens to a person who chooses to end it all? Is that person damned? Is his or her salvation no longer valid since the person took his or her own life?

I believe God’s answer is no.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow— not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38

Not even suicide.

But I believe that person will miss out on all that God could have done in his or her life: all the people that person might have touched, all the people that person might have helped or comforted; the view of the rainbow after the storm.

And yet there are many living that are already missing out. A lot of people today are missing out on what God can do in their lives because they are too busy chasing their own dreams. It doesn’t take death to stop God’s work in our lives, just our selfish ambition and belief that our lives are our own to use and pursue what we want to.

I encourage you to love and pray for others. You never know if there is death lurking behind a smiling face. And pray for the Warren family, that they experience grace and peace. Our heart goes out to them with love.



Christians and the Gaming World

I blame my husband. I played video games, but they mainly consisted of Mario and Tetris. It wasn’t until we moved to Dallas, Texas, and my husband Dan began attending Dallas Theological Seminary that I first had my taste of the gaming world.

One day, as he was taking a break from homework, I looked over his shoulder to find him playing Age of Mythology, an RTS (Real Time Strategy) computer game. I was intrigued. I started asking him questions. We traded spots, and he started showing me what each unit was and what the main goal was in the game. A couple days later, we linked our computers and became a gaming couple.

At first we started with RTS games. I would gather supplies and he would lead our armies. Then we worked up to some light shooter games like Star Wars Battleground. I usually would play the role of sniper and would cover Dan as he would run into hostile situations.

Eventually we made our way to MMORPGs (Massive multiplayer online role-playing games) and single player games on consoles like the Wii and Xbox. But our favorite games are those we can play together.

Early on in my gaming, I came to realize there needed to be boundaries in what I played. You can do almost anything in the gaming world (maybe everything). And a lot of it is stuff that has no place in my life. That conviction was reinforced when I read an article written by a Christian gamer. The main point he made in the article was never do anything in a game you would not do in real life.

Those are words I live by now in my own gaming. For example, one of my favorite games is the Elder Scrolls series (Oblivion and Skyrim are two of the titles). In those games, you can join the Thieves Guild and the Assassins Guild. Because of my convictions, I chose not to join either guild and therefore did not play those particular parts of the game. Why? I would not steal in real life, therefore I will not steal in a game. I would not choose to murder someone in real life, so I won’t in a game.

Now you might be pointing out that most games consist of killing. Yes and no. It depends on the role you are playing in the game. Are you a soldier? In a war? Well, in that case, there will be some death involved. But I never will be an assassin, killing innocents for money.

I have also made the choice not to play overly gory games. I don’t need to see that kind of stuff on the screen. I’m thankful that there are now options in the settings to remove the gore out of most games.

Another area I place boundaries around is the romantic storyline in a game. I choose not to follow amorous relationships to the bedroom (yes, you can now do that in games and watch the cut scenes). No thank you.

So with all the potential pitfalls and dark elements in the gaming world, why do I still play? After all, wouldn’t it be safer to just not play at all? Sure it would. And I know a lot of Christians who choose not to play video games. But for me, I like playing video games because I like adventure, I like the unique stories, and I like being the hero (or in my case, heroine ;) ). It is also something my husband and I can do together and enjoy. And I like meeting other people.

The gaming world is a place full of real people with spouses and kids. It is also filled with people who have lost their jobs, struggling with suicide and looking for hope. In a time and age where front porches have disappeared and meeting people outside our own small circles becomes harder, games have become the new meeting place.

My paladin in WoW

I have met people from all over the world and in every walk of life. I have been able to share my faith, encourage those going through hard times, and make new friends. I have been a part of both Christian guilds and regular guilds. The people on the screen are just as real as the ones you meet on the street.

But aren’t there dangerous people in the virtual world? Yes, there are stalkers and weirdoes and unsavory characters. Navigating through the gaming world requires good judgment and using your common sense. But as one person once pointed out to me, the gaming world is probably one of the least reached spheres of people. It is a dark place in need of light. Trust me, when you play with kindness and integrity, you tend to stand out, much like a candle does in a dark room. This uniqueness leads to opportunities to share the why behind your play style.

Christians and the gaming world do not need to be at odds with each other. Games can be a place to recharge the imagination, come together as a couple or a family, and meet people beyond your physical sphere of influence. And they can be fun too!


*I originally posted this article at speculativefaith.com.

CSFF Blog Tour-Night of the Living Dead Christian, Day 3

Spiritual Factor: Night of the Living Dead Christian is full of spiritual questions, lessons, and thoughts. What I found most interesting is how Matt categorized different people into different monsters, each with their own inner issues and needs.

The werewolf represents those of us who succumb to our baser instincts. We see how destructive we can be when we let loose the beast within. We hurt our friends, our families, and ourselves. We want to be free and desire to not hurt others anymore. But the wolf beckons and we answer the call, turn savage, and leave a trail of blood behind us.

The vampire represents those of us who leach life out of other people in order to give life to ourselves. In other words, we use people. And once we’ve used them, we ditch them to the side and look for another fresh life to use up. We don’t like to look in the mirror because we are ashamed of what we do and do not want to see what we have become. But we lack the ability to stop.

The zombie represents those of us who mindlessly follow others without rationally thinking for ourselves. We buy a particular leader’s books, podcasts, and videos. We never learn to read and understand God’s Word for ourselves. Instead, we let leaders tell us what to do and then heavy handedly encourage others to do the same. Disclaimer: it is not a bad thing to follow church leaders. But when we lean heavily on a leader for our spirituality, it usually means we are not leaning heavily on God.

The robot represents those of us who, if we lived in the world of Star Trek, would have been born Vulcan. We tend to over think and have a hard time feeling. Everything is a cold calculation. The problem with that is we forget to love people the way God loves people.

The mad scientist represents those of us who have an answer to everything. And because we have the answer, we don’t listen to anybody else. It also means that we think we can fix the world. In other words, we have a big problem with pride.

There are other monsters listed in the back of Matt’s book, but I list the top five that show up during the story. As you can see, it’s kinda funny to compare people to monsters. And yet look how scarily accurate the descriptions are?

We are all monsters. Or as the Bible would say, we are all sinners. And no matter how hard we try, we cannot get rid of the monster inside of us. Only God can. Only God can bring true transformation, transformation that starts from the inside out.

I highly recommend Night of the Living Dead Christian. And if you really want, I also recommend Matt Mikalatos’s first book My Imaginary Jesus.