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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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Die To Live

Without death there can be no resurrection. Death happens so life can be brought forth right???? The only miracle that truly separates Jesus from all others of any kind of claim to Deity is His resurrection from death!!!! Death is called the enemy from the very beginning, sin is what caused death and sin resulted in separation, shame and guilt. Death was never meant to be welcomed, it robs us of loved ones and of our own existence. No wonder it is so often ignored as far as any discussion goes. Jesus overcomes death and makes it a nonissue. This is the heart of the Gospel and Gods character being Love as He made Himself die for all of us so he could rescue us from ourselves.

I know this to be true and always rely on it deeply and ultimately. I have the hardship of experiencing it in a practical sense as i have spoken of. I was drawn by a post i saw on another blog, where she spoke of her own struggle to take in the truth of God being Love. I have been one to hold things inside always. I always wanted to avoid causing worry or trouble for anyone by letting my *stuff* out. I think I became a good actor because of this way of handling stress and problems. problem is instead of a safe harbor it becomes a self-imposed prison where you hide yourself and feel unable to face true reality. This may be why as i posed the question in a rhetorical fashion that I don't *get it* as far as overcoming fear and death. I had thoughts come to mind of why death felt scary to me,why all the images of it were ones of pain loss and hurt. Part of that is losing my father. Part also is just selfcenteredness focused on deaths impact upon me as opposed to Gods having taken carfe of it. Somehow at my deepest level a message of God expecting certain behavior and action took hold and has stayed inside despite my knowledge having become so acute.

Life is a battle of the Spirit vs the flesh. Being able to forgive ourselves is equally as important as forgiving our neighbors. I have always found this very hard. For some reason I have kept this unspoken rule inside that i cannot get off easy but part of me rebels against that thinking and thus the circle of feeling afraid of some form of severe suffering, then saying its ok i am human then back to the yes but i should be stronger and on and on. How to relax and rest in His love and grace when I have focus on myself so much??? Nothing i ever do can make God love me any more or any less but I took in a message that says God will punish if your bad like santa saying you better not cry better not pout be a good boy always if you want santa to give you presents. Only with God the presents are His peace love and joy that stay inside More soon!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fear and Joy

Are they mutually exclusive??? Proverbs says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalms declare that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I have seen people ask the question what would life be like without fear??? I never know how to answer that, because I can't fathom it, not in a total way anyhow, not this side of eternity. Jesus had to have some fear right??? Since He was fully human and experienced everything we do but without sin??? He displayed utter agony as He prayed in the garden to His Father, but He also knew and saw the joy set before Him after the cross was bore.

I have gone round and round with fear like rocky having yet one more fight. I really don't get it still after all i have thought and wrestled with and through as far as why??? Death happens, it happens because of sin. Jesus removed the sting by His death,burial and resurrection. He removed any reason for death to be feared. That is how it should be and no problem should be had with it. BUT....... oh those crazy buts. The what ifs rain down inside the mind. What if your faith isn't strong enough??? What if you fail to love and obey as you are called to??? What if you want to rest in Him and the promises of His Word but still focus so much on your self??? Just a broken record on and on ......

I want to shift focus and seek joy, desire joy. I spend so much time trying to remove fear and half the time i am not FEELING FEAR when i speak about it!!!!! It strikes at weird moments like when i am driving in my car or busy at work or who knows where. I have sought on this blog to be as raw and open about all i am and deal with in living life but sometimes i feel like I just rehash my struggle and i am not wanting to do that!!!! I have ALOT of good things in life, despite my pain and hurts. I just have this thing in me which leans toward needing to share my rough stuff in hopes of comminicating with others who share similarly or to generate discussion or to be there for someone who may be encouraged somehow.

God is Good. He is Good all the time. He is love. I believe this but so often find my belief not matching my experience. I experience being ridiculed and rejected based on physical appearance and my own personal quirks by some. I experience feeling shy, unsure,.weak and helpless but also appreciated, cared for, loved,enjoyed,befriended and fun. I have a huge mixture of experiences from people over 47 years. I have experienced God in a lot of different ways. Distant,upset,angry,silent,expectant,impatient. I have experienced Him as loving,compassionate,excited,mysterious,joyous and forgiving. I have a blur inside between what I KNOW and what I FEEL. I want to seek to have my experience match what His Word says and just get off this self-fear merry go round and rest in Him and the love joy and grace He IS!!!! Does it make sense when i say even after all this exploring how to deal with my fear from just about every possible angle I still do not *get it* in so many ways???? Here's to focus shift on joy!!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Prodigal Thoughts

My friend Becky asked me a question on my last post about who I saw myself as in the parable of the Prodigal Son. I see myself as the older brother. This is poignant in a way as i actually am an older brother really. My inner world has been one of the older brother alot of the time which is messed up. I have a versy sensitive nature and also a very severe conscience. As i said before I always had a very rigid view of cussing when a kid. Anytime i heard very bad cussing , especially taking the Lords name in vain my insides would tighten and i would tell whoever not to do that. It has lessened quite a bit over time but still has been that way overall towards myself. I just read an article on a theology site talking about eternal security. 2 extreme views often happen from differing sides of the issue. Those who believe in eternal security see total security after coming to Christ, no sin can affect that ever as Christ keeps hold of the person forever regardless of their conduct. The other side is eternal insecurity in that any sin is seen as possible removal from salvation and worry reigns as one never knows their status due to constant struggles with their human weakness.

I would fall on the side of the eternally insecure. I have always been the *good kid* for the most part even before becoming a Christ-follower. Mostly because i was scared of doing the things that the prodigal did, partly because i felt like i needed to be good to not add stress and anguish to my mom as she was widowed and raising 2 kids alone. Deep inside though a part of me secretly wanted to be able to be bad and do all the *fun wild* things I imagined the prodigal doing. I engaged in partying for a short time in high school, I smoked pot and got drunk, but had some very bad experiences with pot that steered me away from drugs as i was a bit of a hypochondriac and didn't want to risk hurting my brain or heart. I avoided any sexual experiences for the most part mainly due to the belief i was ugly and unable to handle anything like that with a girl due to my acne in jr high and the rejection and ridicule i had experienced, which was even more pronounced by myself inwardly.

I had a late adolescence in many ways. After graduating from Bible College i was suddenly alone and apart from my secure environment. I had lived on campus in the dorms and was surrounded by friends all the time, and at church all day on sunday. After graduating I had to find a job and lost contact regularly with all the friends i had been around the past 3 years everyday. The aloneness struck at my insecurities with girls as i wanted to find a girlfriend but felt so clueless as to going about it. I tried dating services and had quite a few failed dates. I doubted i would ever be able to find a girl in the normal way and have a real relationship due to my insecurities and found other ways to satisfy those desires. My conscience severe as it is never let up anytime i indulged in those experiences. As i have shared on here before, i have worked through alot of this but still have times of struggle and failure and dealing with the whole addiction cycle of shame and guilt and love hunger which acts like a revolving door. The older brother in me wonders why God didn't help me get past my pain and fears of my jr high experiences so i could develop a normal way to have a romantic relationship with a girl that led to marriage.

I feel like lately i have gotten a better handle on all this and have had a few special friends with whom to share at a more intimate level. I hope my sharing on here has been a positive and good thing concerning all this. I am so thankful for the people who have commented or emailed me telling me they were encouraged or challenged by reading my journey and it has been used by God to strengthen them. That is wby i began blogging to begin with!!!! I hope and pray i will be able to share in the same way as I see God bring more healing and maturity into my life and i can translate that on here as i journey on.

Monday, February 16, 2009

such a mess

That sums up how I feel often as i reflect upon where i have been and how it got that way. I wish at times i had some major illness both mental and physical which would give me an out for messing up or for struggling to manage life more successfully. i have no such out. I feel caught in a vise of various expectations and responsibilities to live up too which i have failed at. I can think back to lying on my bed at the beginning of my senior year in Bible College. Supposed to be the best year of all. I had just finished a summer being an intern which gave me experiences i will cherish forever and was one of the best times of my life. There I lay, suddenly overcome by the thought that I had chosen the wrong major and peobably would never use my Bachelors degree ever. I shared this with various friends, many were supportive. One said he sure hoped that never happened to him for he would feel like he basically wasted his college years. THUD!!!!

I pretty much coasted through high school. I wasn;t sure what i wanted to do. I planned on going to jr college but was very anxious of failing. To my astonishment I did excellent in jr college and even made the Deans List. I had psychology as a major, and all the psychologist teachers i had encouraged me that i would make a good counselor. Somehow I thought being a minister would be a better goal. i am not sure entirely why but I think i somehow thought it would be better liked by God, silly i know but i was a fairly new believer and had lots of self-image problems and emotional insecurities. I should have foreseen being a youth minister was not a good fit for a basically quiet and introverted guy who had alot of pain still from jr high experiences as well as high school. I think i may have thought God was a magician as opposed to who He is.

I guess that is all a lil background as to how things stand today. I feel like i am uncovering buried roots which I somehow did not access in all the counseling and experiences i had from Bible College and Seminary and shortly thereafter. Somehow I made it through all that and had a wide range of knowledgve and ability to counsel and teach and encourage others, yet did not know how to handle fear and areas of my own weaknesses in a way He sought for me too. This is another vise. I had all this learning, study and experience, why was i not able to put it together and get beyond my issues??? Why such a chasm between what i knew to be true and believed to be true and putting into practice as wel las experiencing emotionally and relationally the truth i knew???

Mike Yaconelli wrote a great little book called Messy Spirituality where he shared God is with ua in our messiness and failure as well as brokeness. I shared with a friend recently how i struggle lately what to write here, because i do not intend this to be just ranting or whining or seeking to be helped or act as a victim. I write of my struggles to live the life i believe God calls me too, hoping it will be of help to anyone else who may need encouragement or who may be helped in some small way by my sharing and journey. I hopefully will keep finding the words to share as i long too. I let the messiness in my head and in my actions jumble things up it seems. I hope to let Him help me settle it in ways i have fought or ran from in ways i have sought to suppress from myself. Leaning into and having an attitude of accepting pain and trusting Him as it happens. Journey through the mess.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Whats Really Real??

I am loving the rawness and depth of soul searching which seems to be performing the wave across the blogosphere as of late. Some people are facing daunting scenarios which truly involve life and death on a daily basis, others face extreme stress and struggle with all myriad kinds of things from health, finances,job,family,marriage you name it. It fascinates me always to read people unveiling their lives, just seems to help me do the same with mine a lil more.

My mind tells me one thing of whats really real, my heart/emotions another. I have fought this disengagement for as long as i can recall. I have always felt a bit ashamed at how I have had my fear of death for so long, especially after being baptized and then committed to being a minister. How can I seek to be one who has a definitive goal the preaching and teaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ salvation and resurrection over death to give eternal life to all, and i still wallow in this fear??? Perplexing to say the least.

I am wanting to turn a corner even more than ever before. If my mind could erase this fear and struggle i would have had it licked a longgggggggggggggg time ago. My experiential side of me is the hangup. My experience tells me i have been hurt and abused by people and life. I somehow have missed the line where God gave out the mental toughness and intestinal fortitude to handle all that life brings, which is alot of harship and tough times from all kinds of places and people. Outwardly I have managed to handle things fairly well. My insides have been so different though. Over and over my spirit cries out about wondering when will death happen, will it be a very severe painful death???? Why do i think about it as i do and have ever since i was 8??? Why does it stay in my mind no matter where I go and what Im doing, the fear death could happen can occur so rapidly and sometimes with panic attack symptoms wanting to break loose too.

I an scared to type this because of how it will be perceived. Why am i a broken record on this??? Where is my faith at??? Why do i not find the peace and comfort that Jesus gives??? I seriously wish i had asnwers because i think i would be very different in experiencing life as i do inside. I have sought defense mechanisms to help me ward off the pain of my hurts which batter my emotions. Sex is so much like food and drugs i think in hows its used as an escape. Especially when its fantasy sex. I would never seek to have sex in real life the way i have online or over the phone LOL just have to laugh at it. The desire to recieve affection and physical attention from a woman lies at the root of escaping and masking pain from waaayyyyyyyyyyy back. Using flirtation and intimate encounters as a way to recieve from them and somehow give to them, in a way that always seemed impossible from when I was 12 on up a few years, masks a void that cannot be filled no matter how many orgasms happen or other affection is shared.

I need to soak in Gods love grace and acceptance so my experience rests in Him. My mind knows all this backwards and forwards and a deep part of me does experientally at some level. i also have too much of a pain and shame bubble which holds sway inside there and uses Scripture and God to punish me even more by telling me I should never have had this problem if i had truly believed in Jesus when i accepted Him back in 1978. I should not be dealing with any of this or ever committed the sins i did after all this time. It is kind of surreal typing this. I at times break down as i type these posts because i feel both the agony and regret and also the release He promises, and i am frozen as to know how to let HIm wash all the guilt,shame and fear away, and to take in the friendship,caring,encouragement and kindness of people, who may not know what to say or do but still are there anyway. Help me to realize experientially with my whole being that You are really REAL GOD and i can rest knowing whenever death happens however it happens that YOU will be with me the entire time as YOU always ARE!!!!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Seek and Seek

Hide and go seek was always a fun game. I want to seek and seek God though, as opposed to hiding from Him hoping He will seek or having Him hide. Dealing with my own addictive cycle has brought this out to me even more clearly. I find it hard to know what to write at times as i have sought to share on this recently though. I see others who are facing things in their lives which are so overwhelming and painful and I wonder how can i even dwell on the things i battle with at all, but all of our struggles differ from each others. Hopefully we learn amd grow and transform day by day as we learn from each other.

Easy. Where does the notion that anything should be easy come from??? Advertising yes like the EZ button for officemax. Whoever said life was easy??? Spiritual growth??? Certainly not God or Jesus. Losing your life to find it, taking up your cross. Far from calls to easy living. Somewhere along the way ideas of following took on easiness though. Just raise that hand ,ask Jesus into your heart your saved all is good!!! At my church i went to once I was baptized, we always had an altar call every service, 3 in the morning and 1 sunday night. It didnt matter if there were any visitors or not, we had them. The preaching was often gospel-driven and totally biblical. Thing was, it was usually to the choir because we all HAD Jesus. We needed to know what to do now that we had Him. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. i love blogging for the very purpose this verse states. We need each other to work out our salvation with. A community with which we can hash things out, and allow a lil heat to go with the light. Thank you all here in blogland for challenging, encouaging and exhorting to seek and seek more and more!!!

10 things from the Letter B

Mother Hen left me a comment and asked if i would make a post coming up with 10 ideas based on the letter B. I discovered her blog over at barbaras's and really liked a post she had done on one letter so here goes my shot.

Beautiful. This is the first word that came to mind. Beautiful is all around us. Christina Aguileras songs comes to mind, beautiful no matter what they say, words cant bring you down. Life is ultimately beautiful.

Broken. I am broken in lots of ways. i see the brokenness in others. It does not have to stay that way and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Brokenness can initiate positive changes.

Big. So many things are big. I was usually a big kid. I have been bigger in the middle ever since college. Big is not good when it comes to food. Big can be very good when it comes to fun things,or loving expressions and displays of affection like hugs,high-fives,kisses and massages. Big can be very bad when it is bodily releases such as farts,burps,spitting ot puking. LOL

Bashful. I can be quite bashful, especially around girls, particularly ones I like alot. Bashfulness can be a fun qulaity but can be a detriment if carried to an extreme.

Beach. One of the the greatest places God created. Beaches are made for fun,relaxation and enjoyment. A lot of good reading happens on the beach, as well as exercise via bodysurfing and volleyball. Sightseeing is definitely a guys high priority item on being at the beach. I shall let that speak for itself. :)

Blood. Blood is the life fluid that flows within us. Blood keeps our hearts pumping, our veins and arteries up and running and our minds active and alive. Vampires drink blood. Blood is needed for donation in order to preserve lives. Jesus spilled His blood in order to save every life that has ever existed.

Blonde. I was a true blonde as a kid. The epitome of a blonde beach bum, only with curly hair. Blondes take a beating from jokes but they also enjoy a lot of notoriety and special attention alot of the time. Blondes might have more fun and blondes aren't that dumb.

Bearhug. I love to give these. They are fun and cuddly and feel very good. Careful how hard you squeeze though, especially if you are a big bear and they are a tiny lil thing squeeze not squish

Beatles. They were true visionaries way ahead of their time and in my humble opinion, the greatest rock and roll band of all time. If you listen to most pop songs today, they use very similar chords and arrangements as the Beatles did. The Beatles early years of the melodic love songs were simple but clearcut. Their later more political and psychedelic were much the same. I am a paul guy so you can guess my fave songs of the fab Four.

Brilliance. Shown in many facets all the time. Writing,art,sculpture,filmmaking,speeches. The list can go on and on. We have the capacity for brilliance within us, given us by Supreme Brilliant Creator.

Thank you Mother Hen that was great fun!!! Anyone feel free to choose a letter and do the same at your place!!!