Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: New Year's resolutions

A Christ follower living in a secular world: New Year's resolutions: There is nothing wrong with goal setting. The gesture of trying to improve oneself is a noble one. So often over the years I have said resol...

New Year's resolutions

There is nothing wrong with goal setting. The gesture of trying to improve oneself is a noble one. So often over the years I have said resolutions myself and failed to carry them out. The only one I have been successful with until now is the resolution I made to make no more resolutions. The reasons that my past resolutions have failed has been a variety of reasons. Mostly though it has been the vague goals I have set(Ex. eat better, be a better person, etc.). Not that I had no notion to improve but I had no plan or real intention to carry it out. I became skeptical of the whole process and very negative toward even making a resolution.

I am here to say now that I was wrong. At this very moment I don't have a particular resolution in mind for myself but I'm working on it as I write this. I am big on goal setting so just because I have seen my resolutions and others fail in the past I should be applauding people desiring to improve instead of being critical. So set some attainable goals. Here's a list of some current and all time greats:

  • Lose weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Start/increase exercise regimen 
  • Spend more time with family/friends
  • Read more books
  • Pay off credit cards
  • Help others/Volunteer your time
  • Get organized/remove clutter
  • Lose your arrogance/find some humility

So there you go, now just setting the goal is not enough. If you want to read more books set a number you wish to read this year. What kind of books do you want to read is important too. Some modern authors have interesting and individual works but a lot of them have a formula that they use. Read books but make sure they are ones that satisfy more than just making a certain number. If you want to lose weight set a weekly goal and a goal weight. Tell someone you are close to that can encourage you. If you want to reduce your debt set a budget and figure out how long it will take and do your best to stick to it. If unexpected expenses come up revise your plan but don't give it up entirely.

Now there are some really good resolutions I just couldn't put in a bullet list. These are more important than any of those. If you have a drinking problem, if you are a drug user, if you gamble recklessly, if you view internet porn or any other compulsive condition these are far more important to get out of your life. They don't have to wait for New Year's resolution time but if that is what it takes then do it. Seek help, you are not alone. There is a wealth of support out there for you. Do it today, don't put it off to tomorrow or next year. Those other resolutions pale in comparison and some of them may even be accomplished if you make this bigger change first.

I think my resolution is to be more positive. I can be but am not always a positive person. I tend to fall into the trap of sarcasm and even some of my non sarcastic verbal irony could be viewed as negative and not necessary. I'm already feeling more positive. My parents always said to us kids "if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all" and while there are certain times I don't believe that to be prudent 9 times out of 10 it is a good idea. Please remind me if I am slipping into old patterns of being flippant and a little negative. Feel free to encourage me if you see an improvement. I know it is a little vague as a goal but what can you do ;)

So what are your goals for 2012 and what resolution(s) are you making?

This is likely my last blog for 2011 so have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and may 2012 bring out the best in you!


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Don't forget to read the lines

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Don't forget to read the lines: I can get so busy looking for the deeper meaning sometimes I forget to look at what is right in front of me. I am multitiered with layers be...

Don't forget to read the lines

I can get so busy looking for the deeper meaning sometimes I forget to look at what is right in front of me. I am multitiered with layers beneath the surface but a lot of people are not. They just speak from their emotions. They want you to respond to what they are saying and not go to the root. At least not right off the bat. Where I want to probe deeper they just want to deal with the here and now. I can speak on that level and I can respond on that level but it is something I have to be aware of.

As Freud was attributed with saying... sometimes a Cigar is just a Cigar. I seldom feel that is true but it is sometimes. Certainly most times people want you to address their immediate concern before you go deeper. If they desire for you to go deeper at all. I can be a little blunt at times and don't tend to be emotional though recently I have had more of an emotional response than expected when I was talking with people going through difficulties in their life. Especially those with ailments that are ongoing. I feel a little more than I used to. I am a logic driven creature though sometimes with flawed logic.

I have to be knowing my audience. I will say things in jest(verbal irony) and it goes right over their head as they take me at face value. It can be a little demeaning to them as I have to then explain my little joke. It can go one of two ways usually: either they feel bad or they think I'm strange or both. So as a rule I try to be direct but with a certain sensitivity as too not be brutally honest. Honesty is good but sometimes too much truth can be hurtful and sometimes what I believe to be true is just my emotions coming through.

There are times that reading between the lines is foolish. What you read into someones commentary can be wrong. Don't always buy into what you think is going on because you may not have it right. There could be way more/less going on than what meets the eye. It could be a joke that you don't get. It could be a Cigar. Address what you know to be true and work out the rest over time. Listen to people and don't label them prematurely. The truth comes to the surface but not always on your schedule.

This is really good advice.....for me!

Have a blessed day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is Ignorance bliss?

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is Ignorance bliss?: Is there truth in the expression Ignorance is bliss? There will be some instances where you are better to not know certain things. Where p...

Is Ignorance bliss?

Is there truth in the expression Ignorance is bliss?

There will be some instances where you are better to not know certain things. Where people have said or written things about you that are not flattering nor have any value in building you up. Snide commentaries intended to be hurtful and not instructive. Even in this type of scenario there is something to be said about knowing what was said. First off even if the comments are intended to be harmful you might actually learn something about yourself in hearing them. There may be some truth behind their wrath. Secondly, even with no redeeming quality to their commentary it is good to know the character of this person. So as to not put yourself in a vulnerable position with this person and not to pour too much of yourself out to them.

Anybody that knows me very well will know certain things about my character. I'm pretty open with who I am and who I used to be. I'm truthful about my life but am very good at keeping other peoples stuff to myself. I'm also curious about others. Even to the point of wanting to know the things that people say about me, even if they are unkind. Some I will take with a grain of salt and move on but others I can learn from. I'm forever trying to improve and accept I have flaws. I can't see my blind spots but others can. Even comments borne out of contempt can be beneficial.

In a court of law ignorance is not an excuse. This exchange is unlikely at best: Defendant:I'm sorry your Honour but I didn't know you couldn't pull a u-turn there. Judge:Oh, you didn't know. Well that changes everything. Your fine has been waived and you are free to go. No, that won't occur. The judge will ignore your plea and rule against you. Recently I was at a friends house and parked right in front of a fire hydrant. I didn't see it though it was pretty obvious but my mind was elsewhere when I parked and was totally oblivious. When I came back to my car several hours later I was shocked at where I had parked. Fortunately my car wasn't ticketed but if it had been I would have been okay with it. Not happy but okay since it was my fault.

A couple of years back I can think of a pretty harmless example of where ignorance lacked bliss and even any benefit of the doubt. I was at a shopping mall with my Mum. She is elderly and has a handicapped decal that hangs on the mirror. I had dropped her off at the door of the store and then went to park in a handicapped spot since when we were leaving she would have to walk to the car. I saw someone watching me as I parked my car. He had that look of judgement when I got out. He was drinking a coffee a few spots from where I was. I didn't say anything to him as I don't think I have to legitimize every little thing in life to total strangers. I joined my Mum and helped her do what she needed to do. Upon returning to the car there was a sticky substance on the driver door and a coffee cup on the ground near by. In this case ignorance was not bliss. It was harmful. Ignorance had assumed the worst. Not only was he wrong to pour the coffee on my car but to top it off he littered too. Ignorance was not bliss.

There are a lot of everyday situations where ignorance is not bliss. When you blurt out something about someone in a sarcastic way. You are cutting them down. You do it with little forethought and don't mean any harm but in a small way you attack their character. You at the very least reinforce a negative character trait to others and possibly change their perception of this person. When you do anything with little eye to the ramifications it causes. The expression painting yourself into a corner comes to mind. Sometimes you have to think of what you are doing while you are doing it. At my work I see it everyday. Where people throw garbage on the ground instead of using the garbage can 5 feet away. Someone has to pick it up. That's a case of ignorance and laziness. It could also cause a tripping hazard for you or others. Again ignorance is not bliss.

Ignorance means lack of knowledge. Bliss means extreme happiness or joy. I gotta say "ignorance is bliss" is much more catchy than "lack of knowledge leads to extreme happiness" which sounds like a saying from an Orwell novel. Now the particular quote Ignorance is bliss dates back to 1742 and a poem by Thomas Gray. I would say the sentiment goes all the way back to the garden of Eden. Before Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil ignorance truly was bliss. The original sin opened this can of worms. Then the blame game started and oh what a web of deceit and deception we have spun since then.

I don't need to know everything. For example if someone wants to air all their dirty laundry just for the sake of doing it. Bragging about some time of debauchery I can do without. I don't want that info and would rather be ignorant of that unless someone is desiring to change and is telling in the context of how can I change or where do I go for help with this.

So at the end of the day this I know. With very few exceptions ignorance is not bliss. Amen.

Merry Christmas, may the spirit of God descend on you in power and with majesty!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Any which way the wind blows

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Any which way the wind blows: A friend had their FB status as a quote about the wind. It is so true in the way most live. Whatever way the wind is blowing that is where t...

Any which way the wind blows

A friend had their FB status as a quote about the wind. It is so true in the way most live. Whatever way the wind is blowing that is where they are going. No real destination in mind. Just what is convenient or popular at that moment. It brought a piece of scripture to mind when I read the status. From Ephesians 4 verse 14 ...Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

The funny thing is at that very moment I had a show(more specifically, a sermon) cued up to watch on my PVR which ended up being about exactly that section of Ephesians 4. No coincidence as God works in everything and through everything. The pastor talked about how there are many false teachings out there and how we must be wary of those who use scripture to back up their sermon instead of the other way around. Very true and most curious(or brave) for a television evangelist to be that direct. We want to follow the wind of contentment. We want to be told we're okay and everything is fine. We don't want to be challenged and have to fight against the grain for the most part. I am not like that. I have to be careful though, in my zeal for going against the wind of populist teaching they aren't always wrong.

I was in a room of mostly angry people recently. Thankfully it wasn't me they were angry with. It was a 12 step fellowship I am not a part of. I was there in support of a friend. What they said about step 1 was contrary to what I had been taught elsewhere. That your recognition of your own powerlessness was not going to keep you away from ____(fill in the blank with what fits your life) alone. I believe that to be true and it took going into a dark and gloomy room with some filthy mouthed people to find out that not all fellowships are the same in their belief system. What a lot of people don't understand is that there is more to recovery than stopping that thing that you do. It has to be a change in mindset too. Being a Christian sure helps. That daily dying that I do keeps me grounded. Whatever your issue is, it's not the real issue, as the common enemy is compulsive behavior which stems out of deeper emotional issues. A lot of people turn form their thing to other things or trying to change other people. Many become addicted to meetings. Meetings are good but they alone won't make you full and complete. Actually getting out and living a life that is pleasing to God and edifying for your soul will complete you. If all your recovery time is spent talking about how you used to be then what is the point. Helping others is good but staying in that head space all the time is not what God wants for you.

You have to let God lead you in what to follow and what to avoid. I kept trying to find good and well adjusted people to help me become a better person. What I found was that everyone is at least a little broken. Now I do my best to find the good in people. I look at it as a jigsaw puzzle and everyone I meet has a piece I need to complete the puzzle. That good I see in everyone I meet is the wind in my sails. Not the winds of popularity which often blow strong but don't last. If I can get a little better understanding of myself by learning of others experience and following their good examples then I am positive that my Sailboat is headed in the right direction and there no special prize for getting there early. In fact the journey can be a reward in itself.

So if you never go against the wind you probably never get the full amount of blessings God has for you. However if you are always fighting the wind you probably have some issues to deal with. Take it to God. Ask for discernment and test things out and ask him if this is good and pleasing or selfish. He'll show you what is right. God Bless you in your journey!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is this the picture of a right wing conservative?

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is this the picture of a right wing conservative?: He was born into poverty. Grew up the son of a tradesman of some sort. Part of a large family and being the eldest son spent a fair bit of h...

Is this the picture of a right wing conservative?

He was born into poverty. Grew up the son of a tradesman of some sort. Part of a large family and being the eldest son spent a fair bit of his time working to help support his family. He didn't have much schooling. Apparently learned to read and was largely self educated. Lived in a back water area where, according to big city folk, people were slow and simple. Kind of what we would consider a hillbilly. Probably hung out in the nearest town a lot as a youth and got a fair bit of knowledge from observing the people there. Picking up knowledge and wisdom along the way from whatever sources were available. He was humble so he didn't show off his intellect but he was very intelligent.

At the age of thirty he was baptized. He immediately started into a life of ministry. His ministry thrived and his followers were many. So much so that he had a hard time being alone with God and at times had to go to extreme measures to attain a level of solitude. He preached of repentance. He spoke of mercy and forgiveness. He spoke of riches as being an obstacle for some. He told us to not concern ourselves with the future but to stay in the present. He told us to store up for ourselves spiritual things instead of silver and gold. He told us the least would be the most. He hung out with the unclean and the poor. He forgave those that had no righteousness and warned those that were overly righteous. He loved life and loved people and was unafraid to be vulnerable. He gave his very life for those that had turned their back on him.

I speak of no other than the Messiah himself. Truth is there is very little known of Jesus from his infancy until his ministry kicked into full gear. The Gospels have very little to tell us of his early life moments. My take is just speculation but I believe it to be true. It seems to me his profile is much more that of a socialist than of a conservative yet who are the political champions of Christianity nowadays? Steven Harper and George Bush are prime examples that really pressed home their Christian walk as part of their platform.

It frustrates me. I'm not exactly left wing but I'm certainly not in favour of deregulation of industry and the conservative political parties are. I'm in favour of strong social programs with room for compassion and parties like the NDP are too. I believe people have the right to be whomever they choose to be however I'm against gay marriage and even recognition of the status of couple when it comes to benefits etc. They are welcome to choose that if they want but I believe it to be against God's law and therefore to be sinful. In my church I would welcome them in to worship with me however not to be put into a position of leadership. I'm also pro-life and believe abortion to be a form of murder. The NDP would not want me in their party with views like that. I'm pro-labour and would like to see better protection for workers than what is enjoyed right now but there is no political party that fits the bill for all of my concerns and my viewpoint.

The communist block fell apart because communism doesn't work. Capitalism is crumbling right now because it doesn't work either. Somewhere in between the two is socialism and it is what I believe Jesus was preaching to us(a secondary message, his main message was about our eternal destiny). Tommy Douglas was a socialist and a pastor. Later he was the father of medicare in this country as the premier of Saskatchewan. FDR(32ND president of the US) was a Christian and referred to himself as slightly left of center. He pioneered unemployment benefits and old age security in the USA. Somewhere between then and now the Christian label has been hi-jacked by the conservative right. Show me one scripture that supports Jesus was a hard line conservative(I doubt there is even one) and I can show you ten that indicate his ideals were socialist in nature. After his ascension the early church was selling off their possessions to help the poor and pooling their resources for the common good. They weren't setting up hedge funds and handing over billions to corporations while watering down individual rights and freedoms. It makes me angry, the way things are in the here and now but it doesn't make want to go and set up a tent in Vanier park either.

I don't have a solution here. I pray about it regularly and will continue to fight for what I believe is right. I will respect authority but I don't have to agree with their policies when I believe them to be against a higher law. Jesus stands up for the oppressed, he doesn't cause it. Any feedback, even negative, I would love to hear.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: What are the root causes of anxiety, depression an...

A Christ follower living in a secular world: What are the root causes of anxiety, depression an...: This is what I believe to be true. I'm not a doctor and I am not advising anyone to stop taking meds because of what I say. Although I belie...

What are the root causes of anxiety, depression and other disorders whether diagnosed or otherwise?

This is what I believe to be true. I'm not a doctor and I am not advising anyone to stop taking meds because of what I say. Although I believe medication for chemical imbalances and disorders, much like pain relievers, treat the symptoms rather than the disease you should not stop treatments as the results can be dangerous. There is much to be learned from books on the subject than you will find here in this blog. I'm no expert on the subject and just throwing my pov. So with that disclaimer out of the way here we go!!

Right at this moment I feel a little anxious. I think it is the caffeine in my system. That or the analyzing of where my path is going right now. I'm excited and nervous and a little jittery. There is nothing pressing going on but it is just things building up in my mind. I have thoughts of what I should be doing. I think of possible ramifications of my actions if I carry through. The reaction of people in authority over me. The reaction of people around me and the outside pressures I will be put under. The learning of compromise and what power I will really possess. Then there is the perception of who I am and what is expected of me. It could be overwhelming if I chose to let it be. I choose to not let it consume me. See if I give the situation power over me then that becomes real and will overwhelm me. I will do my best to stay within my strengths and also test the bounds of them. What do I really have to fear? Nothing. Who is in control? God is!

I suffered from a spell of depression some years ago. I even went to the doctor about it. I was, thankfully, given some pills that I was allergic to. I say thankfully because the problem was a symptom of a deeper problem. My life had overwhelmed me as I was operating in a sinister and sinful way. I was cunning and devious. Wise in my own eyes and full of much contempt. It manifested itself as depression but sin was the cause and depression was just the messenger. It took a long time for me to come to grips with that and make the necessary changes in my life. I must confess I still have down times be it ever so brief. It is always at times I have some issue hanging over me that I am trying to deal with on my own. I still tend to turn inward instead of seeking what I need externally or I should say upwardly. I am a work in progress but I have so much to be positive and thankful about in my life that those negative feelings tend to fall off of me pretty quick as I deal with their causes. Sounds simple enough but it has been years on the process as my former tendency to run and escape issues ran deep in me.

Now when it comes to other mind related disorders. There are people born with birth defects like fetal alcohol syndrome which can cause many of these issues. I blame spiritual attack for most of them. I know one person very well that has been diagnosed as Bipolar. He is on meds and his episodes occur if he reads the bible, prays and was hospitalized soon after a church service a couple of years back. So long as he stays away from the things of God his symptoms remain mostly in check. He is managing but just barely however I would have to go through his family if I wanted to help him. They are church going Christians but are afraid of what would happen if he was pushed too far. When he was hospitalized I wanted to visit him but they just wanted him calmed down. Truth is they didn't want him well but manageable in his illness. I am in no way saying all disorders are spiritual in nature but some are and this particular case to me clearly was/is. 

As for medications for Blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and the like help people continue to live a poor lifestyle. The reasons people suffer from these ailments are most often a case of poor diet or lack of exercise. There can be genetic issues for some but for most of us health issues have causes we could cure with a few minor(in certain cases major) changes to our lifestyle. I had mildly high blood pressure 7 years ago. 140ish over 90ish was the norm for me. Since then I have lost weight(60 lbs) and have removed a lot of the junk foods/beverages from my diet. I take vitamin supplements too which I suppose is a form of medication but to get enough of every vitamin from our diet is challenging so I cheat a little. My blood pressure now ranges from 115 over 75 to 125 over 80 which is excellent. It's been in that range for the past 5+ years now. There's a plethora of books about healthy living. Dietary changes can lessen your risks of many ailments. The longer you stay in unhealthy living the more likely you will have permanent health problems. The time to start change is now, right now!!

Illnesses can be attention getting behaviors. We all know people that play up anything they have wrong with them. They wear their wounds like badges. Saying look at me, pay attention to me, feel sorry for poor old me etc. We have to be careful in those cases too though. Some people are hypochondriacs but some are assumed to be. I know of a person with MS who was misdiagnosed for 10 years by Doctors as having nothing wrong with them. She was made feel like a crazy hypo when really she had a medical issue that they ignored because they made assumptions. If they had caught it sooner she would have been in better shape now. Don't be too harsh in your judgments on others because how would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot.

So I think I blogged a few months ago with a similar theme. It is of particular interest to me. How the mind works and how we really are what we eat. BTW Speaking of food, it turns out the jitteryness was just low blood sugar as I ate dinner and just like that I was calm. Either that or the time I spent with God or a bit of both. That's my take for what it is worth. God bless you right where you are!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Stepping out of my comfort zone,

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Stepping out of my comfort zone,: I have a good life. I don't have a lot of underlying stress or ongoing issues. I am stable and comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable s...

Stepping out of my comfort zone,

I have a good life. I don't have a lot of underlying stress or ongoing issues. I am stable and comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable sometimes. I am not stretching myself enough. In my little cave all is well.

However I have something stirring deep inside of me. God is calling me to get more involved is several areas in a deeper and more profound way. Engaging in potentially confrontational areas and testing my ability to handle more fills me with a sense of trepidation. By doing more am I going to lose what I have or is what I have what I really want in life. A song keeps going through my head every time I'm in situations where I feel I should say something or do more. I'll post the song in this blog, the lyrics "there must be more than this" from the song Consuming Fire have gone through my head often in recent times.

I should say I have been stepping out of my green zone more and more. That being said there is more to be done. Some scripture is also playing in my mind more too, "The harvest is great but the workers are few" has been an ongoing theme. Over the last several days a portion of the sermon on the mount has been on my mind as well. In Mathew 5 when Jesus is talking about giving to the one who asks and don't turn away from the one who wants to borrow. That I never really understood and I took it to be literal and was confused by it. I prayed and meditated on it and God gave me an epiphany. It is not about money for me, it is about time, abilities and resources. I have experience and talents that I have chosen to ignore all in the name of being comfortable and not in situations of potential confrontation. I know that is going to change as I have a moral obligation to lend a hand when I have been asked not once but twice to step in to one particular situation.

So I'm going to step up to the plate. Put my best effort into it. God would settle for nothing less and I can only do it with him and through him. Let there not be a moment I try to lean on my own understanding because that leads to nothing good. This is a test, this is only a test and I am ready to take on what God wants me to. No matter what the outcome I am going to know this and that his power will lead me if I choose to follow. I tend to get full of myself and put my pride ahead of others. Lord let me be gracious and humble on the road ahead.

Here's the video for Consuming Fire

There is more than this, God let your glory fall in this place, Amen!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Faith, what is it?

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Faith, what is it?: Faith is a word that's been tossed around a lot. Everyone has faith in something. Every time I turn on a tap I believe water will flow. It t...

Faith, what is it?

Faith is a word that's been tossed around a lot. Everyone has faith in something. Every time I turn on a tap I believe water will flow. It turns from faith to fact once the water starts flowing. Though if I go to a park and go to turn on a fountain I don't have faith it will work. In fact I'm also leery of the amount of pressure that the water streams out at if in fact it flows at all. In fact even when the water flows I tend to give it a smell to make sure there isn't an odour to it before taking a sip. A simple illustration of a complex word. In the first case I had total faith and in the second case I had serious doubts on several levels.

People will talk about taking things on faith. In many cases they have doubts and really aren't trusting at all. Faith, real faith is all about trusting in what can't be seen or hasn't transpired yet. When I make a bank transfer I don't just do it and never think of it again. I check with both accounts to see that the transaction I initiated is completed as per my instructions. Recently I adjusted quite a few banking instructions and am satisfied it has been done to my satisfaction. I didn't just say "here, do this" and then promptly forget about it. I am ye of little faith when it comes to financial institutions. I do have some faith though since I do put my money there instead of under a mattress :)

If you go to a Doctor for some ailment do you just take his/her advice. If it is simple advice like a year or 2 ago when I had an eye infection the doctor prescribed some drops. I had faith enough to take them and sure enough within a few days all was well. However, if the advice had been "well sir we must remove your eye" I probably would have sought out a second opinion. I wouldn't have just taken it on faith and said "alrighty then gouge it out". So I had some faith in the Doctor but not total faith.

What I am trying to get at is there are different levels of faith. I have a high level of faith in my family members. They have shown me overall to be people of good character(though different levels and expectations for different people) and I trust them in most cases. Much more than a stranger on the street or someone I know casually. There are people I know that have shown me with there actions that they are highly trustworthy. These people I have great faith in that they will do the right thing. However there are others who have shown me by their actions to not be trustworthy. These people I have little faith in. I confess that I hope for the best but expect my hopes to be dashed. That being said sometimes I am surprised by their actions and so my level of trust(or faith) starts to rise.

What does the dictionary say about faith?

Trust in something or someone without prior proof.

Synonyms: acceptance, assurance, belief, certainty, trust

Antonyms: doubt, skepticism

Now for a very long time in my life. I wanted to believe the theory of evolution. I wanted to believe this was all random chance. I was irreligious. Without really knowing it I kind of had a Buddhist/Hindu theology in the belief or faith in man improving himself. I wanted to believe immortality was in the footprint you left behind. The way you affected other lives gave you life beyond your mortal coil. That there was no God and that we were just a higher form of animal life and that someday something would super-cede us. The more I searched for that in life the less evidence I could see of that. As technology increased and evolved the people became lazier and more selfish. Treating others with little regard was the way to get ahead and "win" in this world game. I became disenchanted and disconnected from playing the game. I didn't want to play by those rules anymore. I didn't have faith in the theories, I didn't have faith in the world around me and I didn't have faith in myself enough to overcome it.

So I would pray and I seek God to show himself to me. He was silent. It took a few months from there but I finally came to the end of myself. We all have different levels of brokenness and let me tell you I was pretty broken. Without knowing he was there I called out to him, I bowed down to him and in his own way he started to guide me. I had the faith of a mustard seed but it was guteral and total blind faith. For the first time in my life I believed in something greater than myself. He showed me small but not insignificant signs of his presence but only after I had put my faith in him. I look back now at where I was then and where I am now and I think wow life is so much better now. When I read his word it inspired me. In fact even though I had never read the Bible nor had biblical instruction it was very topical in my life. A lot of times I would say things or do things that I would then read about that very night. It was spine tingling. Jesus was there for me when I called out to him with sincerity of heart.

It is 7 years later now and I still am learning to trust him. I tend to take things back and try to do it by myself but I'm learning and growing deeper with every passing day. A loosening of my grip is all I need to do for the blessings to flow. I look at faith and my path as a train. The Jesus train. I can jump off anytime and go it alone if I choose but the moment I turn around and get back to trusting him the train is right there to pick me up. It may be a few metres from where I jumped off or it could several kilometres back but nevertheless it is there.

Faith is a journey and all you have to is jump aboard. The conductor is calling "all aboard!!" Can you hear him?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: God's grace is more sufficient than any human reas...

A Christ follower living in a secular world: God's grace is more sufficient than any human reas...: I liked to think of myself as intelligent and a person with good powers of reasoning. Which I believe to be true. That being said my life wa...

God's grace is more sufficient than any human reasoning

I liked to think of myself as intelligent and a person with good powers of reasoning. Which I believe to be true. That being said my life was not working well and I ended up making a series of bad choices. It all started with circumstances I couldn't control but it was how I reacted to them that made the difference. My powers of reasoning were clouded by my own prejudices. It ended up manifesting itself in:

  • meaningless self indulgences. 
  • feeling sorry for myself. 
  • feelings of bitterness and envy. 
  • lying to myself and others
  • depression
  • anxiety 
  • compulsive behavior
  • Pride

This was many years in the making. It wasn't like everything was fine one day and the next day this all happened. It crept into my life slowly bit by bit. I kept it together pretty good on the surface but underneath I knew I was a fraud. I really thought I was a nice guy deep down but the fruit in my life was unripe and sour grapes. I was mean to those I cared about and I felt like the only right person. Everything and everyone was inferior and a nuisance. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't mean all the time and I didn't do everything wrong but I was a jerk. That's a fact.

I know of people that have had terrible things happen to them that were not their fault but how they reacted to it was. In most cases people react rather than consult. They act selfish and assume no one knows what they are going through. That no one else has been in so much pain, discomfort, financial pressure, add your thing here as what they are going through at this moment. They often make a bad situation worse. They get angry and lash out. This is not how it should be. This is not how I wish to live.

I know a few people that have had terrible things happen to them that were not their fault and how they reacted to it was amazing. They dealt with their issues as best they could. They reached out for help. They faced up to the part they could face up to. They took steps to improve the situation as best they could. These people are role models of grace and I've learned valuable lessons from their plights.

I do my best to not be offensive in my Christian walk. I don't usually go out of my way to pick a fight. Funny thing is I started to write this blog several days ago and it is most relevant in an encounter I had on FB last night/this morning. Apparently I offended at least a couple of people with my take on a dialogue regarding the spiritual world. It was asserted I was stuffing the Bible down peoples throat when all I did was state what I believed to be true. It was also assumed I was angry and had "stuff" going on in my life. Truth is we all have stuff going on but really in my life things are good and I didn't feel angry at all. I like to express ideas and offer opinions when they are being sought. I guess I can come across a little bombastic when really I am just passionate about what I believe. That can be the problem with email and the like. Face to face is so much better because you can't read the body language behind the words nor do you have a tone to feed off of. I'm not always going to be right and at the beginning of a discussion with someone I do my best to be open minded but there are core values that I have. There are many things I believe to be true and a few that I do know to be true.

Now when bad things happen I do my best to soldier on. To hate the sin and not the sinner. To accept the hand that's dealt me as it were and to make the best of the opportunity. Problems can be huge opportunities for growth. A closed door in one corner can lead to 3 others that open up. I look at where I am now versus 7 years ago and I think wow life is so much more worth living now. I don't have a lot of pressure or stress. When I do then I do my best to resolve it rather than run from it. I don't take on other peoples burden by myself and don't try to run their lives. If they want my help I am there and they know that but I can't nor wish to save people from themselves. Everyone has to make their own path straight, if I do it for them they learn nothing and will end up there again anyway. So I pray for them and intercede on their behalf. If they need to help carrying a heavy load(figuratively, not literally) I will lend a hand when it is sought out.

Today I rely on God. He is reliable and has all the wisdom I need and so much more. I know on my own, in my state of human reasoning that I will make bad decisions and lack good judgement. Just as my prior ways were many years in the making my walk with God has had its bumps too. My transformation is a work in progress but relying on God is a good place to start. Everyday I try to make it a good day and some days are better than others. May today be a good day for me and for you and God bless you!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: The reason for the season

A Christ follower living in a secular world: The reason for the season: As we approach December 25Th the world is inundating us with the generic and nonreligious messages of Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays. ...

The reason for the season

As we approach December 25Th the world is inundating us with the generic and nonreligious messages of Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays. It started long ago as a way of getting around the fact that this is the time when Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas has been commercialized to the point that there is virtually no where you can go and not see Lights or bows usually attached to signs saying buy your gift card here or sale on now or the like.

Santa is the central figure in all of this attempt to sell people what they don't need. My family is all adult now. If any of us needed something we have the means to buy it(within reason) and personally I have more trinkets around my place than I can stand to look at and don't want anymore. That being said if someone got me a gift I would accept it with gladness of heart. Especially if it was a book from one of my favourite authors or a CD I don't have(yes in this digital music age I still like hard copy CD's). With regards to my family I don't plan on buying gifts but likewise if I saw something that I know my bro doesn't have and would like I will get it for him. My plan is to give donations to 2 worthy causes. One to Gateway of Hope in Langley and another to World Vision who do many good works with Children in Africa. The poor need my gift far more than my family does.

As for people with children I totally understand the need to get them gifts but do we have to be as lavish as a society? Honestly looking back I was spoiled and when I see what many kids get today it shocks me. Parents put themselves into major debt over the holidays and the kids usually get as much joy out of the stocking stuffers as the major gifts anyway. I know, I know easy for me to say since I don't have kids but it is the truth. Spoiling your child is not going to teach them anything.

There is much debate within Christ following circles as to when Jesus was actually born. I too, am not sure about the timing of Christmas but it doesn't matter. The fact is he was born and we are celebrating a royal birthday. It is not uncommon for a Queen or King to have an official birthday celebration that is not on their real birthday. So for the King of Kings I look at December 25TH as his royal birthday. I also have been guilty of getting too caught up in Good Friday/Easter as being bigger than Christmas for me. I mean the reason Jesus came to Earth was to take our sin away so Easter has significance too however without God coming to Earth as an infant and facing all the challenges he faced including being born in a manger the Cross would not have as much significance in my opinion.

So this Christmas, enjoy time with your family and friends. Partake in some feasting and appreciate all the good things in your life. Just don't forget the significance of the event. It is a royal birthday so celebrate it!!