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pursuing the upward call with fear and trembling

just a 44 year old man seeking to share my meanderings with the world at large or the blogosphere at small

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Wasn't sure what to tiitle this post. Thought of calling it *just another post* I find it hard to know just how to write for some reason. Usually I just write from my heart about things I am focused on or that have impacted my life. I guess i am just in a state of floating in a lot of ways now, wanting changes to continue and seeing things i want to do but not quite knowing how to get there. I had wanted to write a series of posts based on my characters of my fictional town burning embers but i don't know if i can get across what I had wanted to as i envisioned it in my mind.

I don't know why I get so stuck within myself so much. We all face life everyday and we all have different trials and tribulations, different victories and successes and all the rest that makes life life. I let my imagination and ideas about the past present and future just take hold and its like i am caught in a wave that just goes on and on and i can't break free. I have these notions of how I *should have* handled certain events in life that happened to me a certain way and must beat myself up for my lack of whatever it is I lacked at the time. I feel this inner pressure to be something, just what i am not sure but something, because of my yearning to be a minister, a helper and to be above and beyond my limitations which are largely self-imposed. I look back and am startled at how i was able to accomplish some of what i have recalling where i was and how i was for a time. My inner parent just loves to lay the smack down on me though in an unrelenting fashion.

I know at the root is still irrational beliefs of being hurt or having what i care about taken away. My rational mind knows better but deep down somewhere I feel like somehow someway I will lose who i care about and also something bad happen to me. I am pretty sure this is linked to my dad dying and my magical thinking response to it. I loved and cared about him with all my heart and he got taken away so of course anyone else i love and care about with all my heart, the same will happen. Obviously this hasn't been the case as my mom and sister are very much alive!!!! I just think that is the root because i felt emotions stir as i wrote it down. Maybe that is a key to my issue with anger as well. If i don't get angry or show anger then I won't make anyone want to go away. If i am always easygoing and friendly how could anyone want to leave me??? Those that didn't reject me because they didn't like my looks anyway.

I hope this makes sense. Just thinking out loud here. I do not think i am ugly now. I just still have scars from 7th-9th grade though that made me think/;feel that way long after my acne was gone and I did look alright. This is some stuff i had to share for now. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love Is Stronger Than Fear

I hope so. This is a title of a book by Peter Kreeft, it is something I want to believe. Belief seems to be fragile so much more than I once had thoughr as I find blogs of what is going on in peoples lives lately or for sometime regarding their beliefs, their faith. Some lives seem to begin and stay in turmoil that never ceases, such as though born in the Middle East or Africa. Some are born into privilege which stays with them and others have a varied mixture. Life experience plays a big part in forming beliefs when we are young, but it doesn't force a particular belief.

I am in a doggypaddling mode i think regarding faith and belief and what is what. I see that certain things like the questions I posed a few posts earlier are not as I had believed them to be. God gives us alot more freedom than i think has been taught through the ages since the time of the Protestant Reformation and then the rise of Premillennial Dispensationalism in the 1900's. One of the most famous sermons in history was by Jonathan Edwards called *Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God*. I have read where many people committed suicide after hearing this sermon or hearing about it so they would not end up falling away and committing sins which would damn them to hell. How crazy is that??? God is love, that is THE biggest identifying aspect of His character!!!! He says Himself that mercy triumphs over judgment,that we should forgive without end,that His kindness leads to repentance. If that is the case then how can the tremendous amount who hold to a belief that only the *elect* will be saved explain the contradiction here??? A God who Himself, since Jesus is the exact replica of God the Father incarnate, chose to die to save His creation that rebelled against Him, how can THAT God doom so many before they are even born because He chose to do so because He is sovereign or all -powerful???

I have talked so much about my struggles with fear,and i still don't have a full handle on it. I think anger lurks behind the fear. I really am at a loss for dealing with anger. I have embedded it way down deep for so long. I have not wanted to be angry, especially at God and people. I think I felt i should be against those who ridiculed and taunted me at times, but i was afraid of it getting out of control. i find now though, as i have for so long, anger comes out in various automatic thoughts or in silly ways. I yell at cars when i have to wait for a lil bit to make a turn. I get so frustrated when I make lil mistakes or drop things or stuff like that. I feel it turned inward as i know i made it so a long time ago as a way to handle it. I really don't know how to take it and feel it and let it go though. I have such a background in psychology and dealing with helping people handle their emotions and counseling them, yet i have such am inability to understand how to handle it myself.

i want love to be stronger than fear. I hope and pray I will do what i need to so that it is true in my mind,heart and action. Share freely any thoughts you have upon reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sweet Escape

A pocketful of sunshine wouldn't we all love to have that??? So many thoughts on so many things running around in my hanster wheel in my noggin. Addiction can happen with so many things. Sex,drugs,alcohol,shopping,food,work,gambling,exercising,serving in church. The list is endless because we have endless ways to become addictive in what we pursue. What drives the addiction??? Pleasure I think, although the pleasure is not fulfilled as it once was dreamt of when the addiction began. Avoiding pain, inner nagging emotional pain. Normal means do not resolve it. Something about the thing we become addicted to has a lure for usm a scratch we just need to itch even when we know deep down it really isn't the best thing for us.

I have been wanting to start a group with people at my church for awhile now, a group that incorporatesa lot of things into it. i want to call it *risking openness* i want it to be a group where everyone can risk opening up about the toughest things, and everyone in the group can accept and return the risk in kind. There are so many reasons why this fails when tried so often. We are scared to open up and be exposed to others. We fear rejection yet again and being torn in our most vulnerable place by people we thought would not do that. We all have our owm baggage of junk we have done to others or had done to us. We are a curious mixture of all kinds of things both good and bad and usually only God is given access to most of it.

I saw a post at Missio Dei tonight by my blog friend tracy simmons. It was about how she has participated in a group called Thrive, It is a missional discipleship group. Tracy spoke of how this group has transformed her life and all the lives of those in it, because they were willing to risk with each other. Risk at a very deepl evel where most people won't go, at least that has been my experience lo these 47 years. So incredibly cool and exciting to hear about!!! I pray i can be one who would risk what i need to in order to lead and make such a group happen. Baring all so openly on this blog is risky. If some people in my real life ever read some things it would be very scary. It is worth it though. Freedom and responsibility. May God grant us all a healthy dose of both!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My lil Craziness

I seem to go round and round with fear and its effects. I guess its how i interpret it and what i think i should be in regards to it. I have always idealized my dad, especially knowing how he had to live with cancer for so long, knowing he was terminal. He must have had times of fear but he kept them inside. I guess we all do mostly. I dont display my fear unless i become overwhelmed by feeling very anxious and like i have no escape. I dont know sometimes just how i end up where i do inside. I have the part of me that fully functions and understands whats going on *out there* and manages to carry on. Another part that dreams,imagines,seeks to be as loving as i can be as i am challenged to. And yet another part that probably has sub parts in it. Gets caught up in fears and worries, seeks to get lost in fantasy that blots out personal pain when involved in it, and just caught up wondering how to deal with the ways life acts like a pinball machine, bouncing ne around all over as i get hip by different flippers and bumpers.

My friend becky showed me a site that was very cool. Eebelution launched by teems seeking to follow Jesus in a bold way. They had a post saying young people should think about death but not fear death. Very good points they made on it. I get all twisted up inside over my whole struggle with acceptinmg death ever since i can recall. I sometimes dont know if i still fear it or if i feel like i have to because i just do. When i read articles, hear sermons or lessons, or talk to people i realize death need not be feared. But there has always been a difference between knowing and experiencing it hit me. The times when I feel death could happen are just scary. Isn't that natural though???? I mean, Jesus sweat blood He was so anxious about dying. Of course His death was the most agonizing death ever, but He was still humanly dealing with real feelings of fear. Did God comfort Him feeling wise as He prayed there in the garden???

I am sure i will have more on this, lol, seems to be a subject i just have to deal with, I have had a few friends tell me i am not crazy or a wacko in my ways i have dealt with my fears. They dont know how helpful and reassuring that is. I know i love hearing any *lil craziness* anyone chooses to share on there page. Makes it a small world after all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lost In Emotion

I was reading a study today that deals with becoming how God intended for us to be all around, mind,emotions and will. Made me think of how I have let my emotions take control and act as though they are running the show. I find i can maintain outer calm and control but inside is sheer turbulence often like a 747 going through a windstorm. It is so hard it seems when emotions get such a strong grip and won't let go.

I thought of Job and how when he was in the pit of his suffering and his wife was chiding him and his socalled *friends* were giving him negative advice, amongst all that he let his cry be *ya though He slay me yet will I trust Him* Wow. That still always floors me. I almost always want to escape and avoid or be rid of pain and suffering when it happens. i think almost all of us do as a natural reaction. Job was able to praise and cling to God at its worst. When i hurt emotionally or physically so often I am tempted to wonder where God is and when will He rescue me??? Reality is that He is there always even if the suffering gets worse and is prolonged, even if i would die. I need to let the truth of His promise and His Word be more real than the pain and emotion and irrational thoughts that seek to run ramrod in my mind during it.

One of my struggles with this is the thought that once i fully embrace the statement of job and accept it fully, that God will let something happen as a test and i won't be ready as i thought i was. This eats at me because it is a constant problem anytime I am faced with possible severe pain and suffering. i want to accept it and believe fully God is with me even if i were to die but my mind fills with shane and guilt over all the past ways i failed and lacked obedience and intestinal fortitude. Feeling the reality of grace and love from God in a way other than mentally has been a difficulty i have had , though not always. I am finding babysteps to improve this and hopefully more posts like this will further that along.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Frame of Reference

It does feel like the whole world has fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in wonderland at times. A surreal wonderland nonetheless. I find it so intriguing how all of us are so unique yet can appear sometimes to be so similar and even almost cookie-cutter in some regards. i am making gross generalizations here but it helps to make my point. Groups can take on an identity that causes most of the members of the group to blend into one common whole. Rebelling against the establishment soon becomes the new *establishment* Seek to be alternativem but alternative to what???

Frame of reference. Each one of us has a particular one. Our intellectual capacity,emotional nature,social conditioning and upbringing all play a part in forming our frame of reference. I have been prodded to think of this lately as it pertains to beliefs and especially spiritual beliefs. What impels us to believe as we do about God, the Bible. Jesus, the Church,living life as God intended???? I have been scanning around pages by people who have de-converted from faith and i have truly found some incredible insights and critiques that make so much sense when brought back to the idea of frame of reference.

Upheaval and anxiety I think are natural responses if we find our worldview and comfort zone in how we relate to life turned upside down. Jesus caused this amongst the jews when He arrived and began His ministry. He turned their conception of Messiah totally on its head and left them with their jaws dropped open and wondering how they missed it. Martin Luther caused it when he posted his 95 theses on the door at Wittenberg and began the Reformation he intended for the Catholic Church but which broke out into Protestantism and soon various splinters of denomnations. I really hope God lets us meet anyone we want in heaven because i so want to find Martin Luther and ask .... dude!!!! did you have even the remotest just what you started by your posting those theses???? Incredible.

I have been seeking to better understand the frame of reference of the audience whom the Scriptures were written to directly. They had no scientific knowledge of the sort we do today and so they needed to speak and be written to in a way that made sense to them. We have all kinds of varieties of writing styles, and they also possessed these styles then as well. Poetry,symbolic,allegorical,irony and hyperbole as well as literal. Symbols have huge meaning for us. The flag,the national anthem,the cross,peace sign,rainbows. Many more but symbols hold a deep emotional connection for us in so many ways, as they did for the people in ancient times.

God created us, we rebelled and wanted selfishly to be God ourselves,God pursued us to reconcile us back to Him and ultimately died for us to express His genuine love for us and to have us restored to life. Is there anything that forces us to believe all that is written in the Bible is to be taken literally??? Does there have to be a supernatural angelic being who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven and became the devil???? Is there really a place where those who reject Gods salvation are sent to spend in eternal conscious torment called hell??? Is the Bible to be believed to be absolutely inerrant and that God wrote it Himself and made sure it was all absolutely inexhaustibly inspired beyond any doubt??? Am i now a crazy heretic falling off the deep end??? LOL Had to add that last one for fun.

Some of these themes i have touched on before. I just have been pursuing to study more intently for awhile and have been stretched to look past what is traditionally and longheld to be the beliefs which correspond with what is true. Frame of reference. I will have more,hope I whetted your appetite a bit though. Definitely look forward to hearing responses from any and all.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

All About Believing

So many views and opinions have swirled in the last several months surrounding the election and the candidates. I'm sure a new round will begin now regarding barack obama as he prepares to take office. There is that old phrase about opinions and everyone having one. Everyone also has beliefs. Just where do they come from??? How are they validated???

I have been doing some searching concerning properly interpreting the Bible as I think it is something that is quite up in the air still even in our communication age. I found anm article speaking about urban legends that christians believe. I found it quite interesting. It focused on an email which circulated awhile back, many of you probably recieved it, claiming all these incredible *facts* about iraq and the Bible. Most of us do not have time to go researching the veracity of a random email and the way it gets distributed, groupthink can easily occur and we decide that if so many other christians, maybe even family and friends, believe it well then it must be true. The author of the article did research and gave answers to show the inaccuracy and falseness of most of the claims made in the email. The one that caught my eye was the actual location of the garden of eden. Many start from Israel and then seek to pinpoint where the garden was located. Huge problem is that the nation of Israel didnt even exist as such till a long time after the time of adam and eve. DOH!!!

We all have frames of reference with which we form our beliefs. We all have a set of presuppositions and are affected by our social environment as well as emotional and psychological factors. None of us have irrefutable certainty regarding ANYTHING really. We all have to live by faith, even atheists and agnostics. They just live by a faith that excludes God. So many beliefs about end times, spiritual warfare,nature of spirituality and tons more. The Bible gets interpreted in so many ways, and so many of them are taken from a 21st century mindset and point of view. None of the writers of the Bible had any idea of the way our world exists currently. If you take a a certain view of God and inspiration you can come up with a way to make Him fit our existence into the minds of the people then. That really is more a manipulation of God though i would think.

I have wrestled alot and my prayer for the last 3 years has been for God to wrestle with me and give me a blessing and a wound as He did with jacob. I have prayed to discover the intimacy with Christ like paul describes in the book of philippians. Open-ended prayers,allowing for God to answer as He saw fit. My wrestling has had me focus on my own failures and bad choices and decisions over the years and how to overcome them and leave guilt and shame behind. I find the wrestling leading to this area of beliefs and understanding how they develop as well as rightly interpreting Scripture. I seem to be discovering some very long held beliefs may not be correct. Of course I have to be open to my own being wrong and i try to always have that in my mind. We each need to wrestle with God and his Word and work out our salvation. I hope to keep doing that even more. God gave us minds for a reason,He gave us so much freedom I'm sure He doesn't want us to surrender that freedom and creativity in being like Him to try and make Him do everything for us. We learn from failures and mistakes just as we did as children and our parents didn't do everything for us. Just stuff going on inside me now. Don't stop believin!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Celebrity Rehab

I was really touched watching this show tonight. Listening to some of the sharing by a few of the celebrities was so real. Rod Stewarts son tried to talk about how he now as a 20 something year old, was still trying to come to grips with his feelings about his missing his dad since he was 6!!! I think it can be easy to see this from a very cynical viewpoint as celebrities just doing the show for ego or vanity or who knows. I really felt a connection to some of them though in certain things they shared. I could see as they went through group and individual therapy sessions how they sought to hide from their pain, whatever it might be, by turning to drugs and alcohol. For most of them allowing their feelings to be felt and expressed was a very scary thing and almost overwhelming.

I am very analytical, but very feeling oriented as well. I veered towards psychology as i prepared to graduate high school, feeling very comfortable in that whole ballpark. Helped a lil by the fact my mom was a psych nurse perhaps, but I have been a good listener and one who likes to encourage and help people. I was thrilled by experiencing such a success in my 2 years at jr college. I had a 4.0 gpa for the first time ever and made the deans list, and also recieved a lot of compliments and encouragement from the psychologist/teachers i had in all my classes that I would eventually make a good counselor. Of course that was tempered by my own inner turmoil of self-sabotage and fears of inadequacy. It was and always has been so odd to me how i can be and feel so able and confident on one level and yet also feel so deficient and insecure all at the same time. I'm sure it doesn't help to throw in a helping of perfectionism and all or nothing thinking as well as my own skewed realization of my struggles simply as a flawed human being, which we all have whether be we be believers or not.

I really felt empathy with some of those celebrities. I have covered my pain by turning to fantasy over and over. i know even before ever becoming a christian, I needed to have sexual fantasy as an outlet in some way to show i was a *real guy* I mean even though I experienced rejection and ridicule in reality by girls due to looks and inability to communicate, i still needed a way to show myself that I liked girls and sex and could imagine how to carry it out if the opportunity presented itself. I hope that makes sense here and doesn't come across sounding really lame. All guys want to be able to be liked by girls and to have them want to be around you and make out or do some romantic stuff. I think the roots of alot of sex addiction are based in dysfunctional attempts to escape pain of not having a relationship with the opposite sex, be it a guy or girl. Why do I feel like I can't talk about this in a way i want to that sounds more cool or something???

Celeb rehab helped me see my need to let myself allow God to help me feel things i have sought to escape from and to know He understands why i sought to escape and He will help me to find people with whom i can share and let myself be fully vulnerable in ways other than by intellectualizing. Real healing by real feeling of real pain.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Are Eggs Ever Really Over-Easy??

I prefer my eggs scrambled but actually just a silly way to say not much is ever easy. A few of us at my church got together to study on the nature and meaning of the kingdom of God. The guy who prepared the study has some interesting views that are far from the tradiitional interpretation but that's all good. One of the others tends to have a very literal approach and so he came across like the devil almost to her. It wasn't easy as we went through it but it hopefully it was good for both to hear each other share their perspective.

Why does God allow so much pain and suffering??? That is a neverending query which has gone on for eons. I hope i am learning a few new answers to this now. Freedom really has a big price and that price is pain and suffering. The freedom we love to enjoy is also abused by those who have ulterior and negative motives for actions they take. I wonder what it would be like if we could zap everyone anytime they acted in a harmful way?? Would it change their character??? Would it be a benefit to us overall???

I wrestle with these questions. I wonder by what good fortune am i still here breathing??? I feel the burden of bad choices and actions as well as thoughts and feelings i have had. I am uplifted by right choices,actions thoughts and feelings i have had. A mixture of good and bad wow imagine that!!!!! I have a weird mind at times can you believe it??? I know my own imagination makes pain worse than the actual pain when it happens. That is how it wa with my angioplasty. That is how the dentist seems to be usually. Yes some pain is excruciatingly bad regardless how your imagination felt. I am puzzled at how important a role our own attitudes and beliefs play in our unique experience of pain. I have driven myself crazy trying to figure out the point of pain at times and trying to outguess,outfox and outrun it. All the time knowing I was chasing my tail really. Trust. has to come down to trust.

I do trust God. I don't trust God. I want to trust God. I don't want to trust God. Just like the centurion- I believe Lord help my unbelief!!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Is God Mean?

I finally began to read the Shack again after quite awhile. I got to a part where the little girl whom the story is largely centered upon asks a very penetrating question to Mac, her father. I don't want to give away anything to those who haven't read it yet. She ponders the character and nature of God, at 6 years old. I found myself feeling emotion swell up inside and tears begin to stream down for I felt her reasoning as i read. I have tried to keep emotion fully under control and even buried alot, what i see as negative emotions anyway. I think it began as my own se;f-defense mechanism. Writing and sharing on here,interacting with various people via their comments or their own blogs, has helped me process things more. I don't have many conversations about death and how it happens with people really. I am sure there are a few reasons for that.

My dad got skin cancer when he was only 18. He suffered many surgeries,chemo and radiation treatments, and still ended up dying at 30 years old. I cannot recall ever hearing him complain or get deeply depressed over what happened to him. I am pretty sure he had his times where he did, and probably made sure to keep those moments away from his childrens sight. I do not remember much as i have said before, mainly lil snapshots of things we did together and times we spent at home or at relatives. i do recall he was a very lively and funloving man who had a big voice and made sure he let people know how he felt about them. His final words to my mom right before he died were that he loved her. Why do I think of Brian's Song when i type that???

All of us will experience death. We wil lose a close relative or friend at some point. I wonder where i fall on the continuum which tells how maturely you handle death- fail to handle it at all or handle it with seemingly no trouble. In relation to everyone else that is. I am moved deeply by focusing on Jesus dying for all of us in order to save us. I am in awe of how He, perfect and sinless, willingly and purposefully took on ALL the sins of every living person ever, and died a death that was excruciating and daunting, an utter lonely death where even God became cut off from Him as it happened. He did this for those who were His enemies,and He did it in love!!!!!

When I think and reflect I take in all this and it satisfies my mind and lets me understand about my dad, but ny heart doesn't. I still have a pain deep inside that wants to rail and grab God by the neck and yell WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN???!!!??? I would think all of us would have a similar response when it came to a loved one we lost. I know God did not plan for us to have to die and go through the suffering and pain we do in this life. He took a huge risk in creating us humans with freewill. He saw it as risk worth taking. I struggle still with ambivalence here. I want to be like Jesus and willingly accept death in the name of love. I want to have that level of love in me where i would do that. I don't have it yet. i have another part of me that wants to find a way to conquer death,pain and suffering by some discovery like penicillin or something. I want to make it all go away. i want to have God's power as far as that goes. This is all the ambivalence I'm talking about. i hope by the time i finish the Shack i will be closer to accepting Jesus call to die and to rejoice in all sufferings.

Where do you fall on that continuum of maturely handling death??? 1 being not at all and 10 being totally handle it??? Do you ever have conversations about it?? Curious to know. As far as my title of the post- I dont believe God is mean, although at times I may think so for a period of time. A mean God would never let His Son and ultimately Himself die in place of a creation who rebelled, rejected and resisted Him and His love over and over. I hope His love will continually overcome pain,fear,anger and unbelief as life happens.