Wrong

I have been watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri with interest, as has the nation.

A boy there, Michael Brown, Jr., was a black male, shot by a police officer. There are too many of these shootings in the US, and it is time to do something, but what is happening there is not it. They are breaking the law, they have no leader, no organization, and it’s disintegrated into chaos.

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/11/209382-3-ferguson-pastor/

People get pushed to do things, sometimes, that is the wrong thing to do. They make excuses. They say it was necessary. They say they have the right because what has happened to them was wrong.

Have you known people who do that? People who want to exact revenge. People who feel justified in doing the wrong thing.

I do it. I have said and done things I shouldn’t have, because I didn’t know what else to do. I know of several things. I felt guilty, I repented. Thank God I repented. I don’t want to be that kind of person.

Wrong

Prayer

Do you pray more when you are in untenable situations? I do. I wish I didn’t. I pray I won’t. I ask God to help me to remember to pray.  Sometimes I think he does.

When I was applying for disability, I had a lawyer who met with me to discuss my need to be on disability. We talked about my hobbies. I talked about scrapbooking.

I scrapbooked for 15 years. I have book after book of photos and notes and decorations that I did because I valued my family time and I wanted to give them something to remember.

Then one day, it was gone. I didn’t have the desire. It seemed pointless. Someday those scrapbooks are going to wind up in the trash. So I stopped.

She pointed out to me that the hobby wasn’t for my family, it was for me.

So, then, is prayer. God deserves it, but I’m the real recipient of the benefits of prayer. Most of the time, it’s obedience. It is faith-building, it is a moment in time where I picture the awesome power of the One who Saves Me, and I know in that moment that he is so much more than I imagine.

So, I trod my path to the best of my ability, day in and day out. What AA people call ‘the road to happy destiny.’

Prayer

Pullups

I have spoken recently about vying to become a good forgiver. It is imperative that I forgive! My very life of sobriety and thus life itself is dependant on me being able to forgive.

I hold grudges though. I hold them forever. It’s hard to forgive when you are holding a grudge.

Being a good forgiver sounds like a great thing, and wonderful to talk about, but when I get my mind stirring about the things I have a grudge about, I just can’t let go.

I try all kinds of things, most of which are helpful. But the aching pain of having been done wrong just wells up.

I was thinking about this. It applies to any virtue I’m striving for. We each have gifts, and being able to forgive is one people have, but for those who don’t, I think God gives us a lot of practice.

I feel I am making no progress most of the time, but I came to see that in this decade I have so much more patience. I got it from having had a lot of situations that required it.

It’s like pullups. I practiced pullups a decade ago, and I worked hard, to the point where I could do 8. Maybe not a lot, but for a woman with not a lot of upperbody strength, it was awesome.

I could do those pullups because I practiced. I did pullups. There were other things I did, such as lifting weights or doing pushups, but to get better at it, I had to do them. When I stopped doing them, I stopped being able to do them.

So, my suggestion is to make a list of the things you have done with regard to the area you want to improve. See how many times you  have attained success with regard to it. Look at why you were successful at that time, and seek to recreate it. And always, of course, pray!

Pullups

Free Will

I believe in free will. As a Reformed Christian, I also believe in the omniscience of God. This is a riddle, a great mystery, that cannot be understood in this life. It just doesn’t make sense.

So, when I learned about Protestantism in high school, we were taught that God knows what we are going to do before we do it. That seemed quite ridiculous to me, and I argued with more than one Sunday school teacher over the years.

When I revisited this issue as a young adult, I came to the conclusion that free will and God’s omniscience were like 2 pillars that reached to heaven and never met. Like two parallel lines. It wasn’t a construct that felt quite right to me, but it was the best my mind could figure out.

I’m comfortable with the fact that I will not get all of the answers in this life. The phrase ‘there is one God and you are not it’ applies perfectly here.

Recently; however, I heard an illustration about free will that helped me immensely. It is from the book ‘The Shack.’ In it, God is speaking to a man. The man asks him this very question about how could he have free will if God knows what he is going to do already.

God (actually using the moniker ‘Papa’), asks him if he felt he could get up and leave at any time. The answer was yes. I can get up and leave anytime. So can you.

That is the framework I have now, and it is great. I do fully realize and am open to new ideas, new thoughts…it’s complex and simple. How cool is that?

Free Will

Obsessive Hobbies

I start things, throw myself in 1000%, buy the book and the t-shirt, and then at some point, I lose interest and stop that activity never to return to it again.

This in particular was a big component in the end of my marriage. Not all of it, because it was a combination of factors, but a component to be sure.

I’m coming to believe that I can choose to engage in different things, kind of sample the world. Sometimes I hate that I am that way, but is it wrong?

Whether it’s wrong or not, I think it’s a bit fun to try new things. That said, having some self-discipline within that framework is just plain responsibility. There is a reason for order and discipline, and that’s the area I need to work on. That I’m always working on.

Obsessive Hobbies

Playing for Keeps

In the New Testament, there is a story about a man and his demons:

24 “When an •unclean spirit r comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest, and not finding rest, it then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house where I came from.’  And returning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first.”

To me, the verse is about getting sin out of your life and how to keep it from getting back in. As a person in recovery who has struggled to maintain sobriety, I have surrendered a lot of times, actually cleaned house and when I relapsed again it was that much more difficult to stop. My faith in 12-step programs was weak. Attending meetings became a chore or a sentence. It’s not. I know that, but I relate to the thought that you remove something and it comes back in a more powerful manner.

I’m tying that passage to Jeremiah 34:10-11

All the officials and people who entered into covenant to free their male and female slaves—in order not to enslave them any longer—obeyed and freed them. 11 Afterward, however, they changed their minds and took back their male and female slaves they had freed and forced them to become slaves again.

The part about taking their slaves again just really stuck out to me. What I related to is the taking things back. Freeing their slaves and then forcing them to become slaves again. It might sound funny, but so many times over the years I would throw away my ‘stash,’ never to be used again and then buying more sometimes in the same day.

That it was costly in a monetary sense, pales in comparison to my spirit and soul. But really, if I didn’t replace that addiction with something else, then I wouldn’t stay sober.

There has to be a change in the way business is conducted. Find something to fill the space that was left. A creative sort can come up with a lot of things.

Playing for Keeps

Why I Love God

I’ve been listening to ‘The Shack’  by Wm. Paul Young. I know some would eschew its theology, but the book for me opened up a world unexplored.

When I was a child, I loved in Revelations about the streets of gold and the jewels in the city walls. I would draw pictures of what I thought it looked like. I think as children, the world is so much more open with possibility. We believe we can fly, because we don’t know that we can’t.

At the age of 8, I read the King James Bible. I still have it.

As I got older and experienced some of the down sides of having faith in Christ, I became a little disillusioned. The text seemed drier, sermons became more dull, the benefits were not forthcoming.

So, naturally, when I thought of heaven, I began to feel as it it would be dull and dry to glorify God forever. I don’t know enough words. I don’t have a good enough imagination.

So, the Shack came along at just the right time.

The story is about a man who is struggling to come to terms with the killing of his daughter. God meets him in this shack, and he spends a weekend with the three persons of God that appear to him in an interesting way. It’s a glimpse into the love of God. Something I have struggled with long and hard. It is comforting and cozy and while the theology is questionable, it expanded my inner vision of what and who God is.

So, what I experience today is that the world has gotten bigger and bigger. I see in nature that in this life, in this world, I will never see every good thing, and some good things may never be seen by any man despite our searching and seeking.

When a kid, there was this poem, by Joyce Kilmer, ‘I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.’ I thought trees were rather ugly. All those gnarled tangled branches. Wood and leaves. Didn’t do anything for me.

Now I think trees are amazing. I wish I knew all of the names of different trees and could identify them. When I was in grad school, studying information systems, we talked about the fact that trees can communicate danger to other trees…if, for example, a deer was eating its bark, it would send some sort of pollen to the other trees and those trees could use something in their composition to repel the deer. That’s a stretch from what I learned, a basic, unscientific viewpoint. The point is that trees are a lot cooler than I thought as a child.

This will sound odd, but even in television and books, you would think they would run out of jokes, and truthfully that can seem painfully true, but there is always a new fresh book or tv show or movie. There are comedy writers who write really funny things every day. I can’t imagine going to the show Saturday Night Live and saying ‘Hire me. I will write 20 good jokes every day for the next 40 years. It’s amazing that there are people who can do that. If that’s not a gift from God, I don’t know what is.

God has a sense of humor, the amusement is endless.To extend that further, the universe is alive to us to the point that they are numbering celestial entities because they are running out of names. We haven’t even scratched the surface.

In all of time, there hasn’t been a single,person who was identical to another. That isn’t even going to change as far as I can tell. It’s endless. We all learned about snowflakes as children: ‘No two snowflakes are alike. No two people are the same.’ Think of it. BILLIONS of people for thousands of years and not one alike. And the thing of it is that it’s not just the dna. It is the personality, gifts, inspiration. God has written a story for each one of us. The story he has written is an amazing story. We just lose that in the day to day.

I guess now that I’ve been around a few 24 hours, and I have seen what I have seen, and I realize now that there are going to be new songs, new languages, new understanding in music, math, science, language and every subject you can think of. There are always new sermons and new friends.

So, to me, it all seems to point to an endless amount of wonder, beauty and amazement. It is hard to understand, but the more I pursue God, the more I see how true it is.

Why I Love God