Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Encountering unbottled rage

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Encountering unbottled rage: On Sunday morning I had decided to take my Mum to church. She has only been going to that one for a few months and I just never had the oppo...

Encountering unbottled rage

On Sunday morning I had decided to take my Mum to church. She has only been going to that one for a few months and I just never had the opportunity to check it out. I find it hard to pry myself away from my own church and they meet at overlapping times. The weekend had been filled with missionary stories as I had spent the previous 2 days at missionsfest. Nothing against the people speaking at my church on Sunday but it was a mission related service so I took this opportunity to go across the bridge and check it out. The service itself was a little off the norm for that congregation because the Pastor had become ill last minute and a very young looking youth pastor presided over the service. That being said I enjoyed it very much. We went out to have lunch after the service and had a very nice visit.

So now we come to the incident the title alludes to....

After lunch we headed to her apartment building. The rain had come on quite heavy. My Mum doesn't walk that well or smartly so I decided to drop off at the front door so she would not get wet. As I pulled into the driveway there were a couple of vehicles blocking the driveway and a minivan directly in front of the entrance way. There was enough room behind it for my Mum to get through though the driveway pavement is a little broken up and a large puddle was forming right where she had to walk. The situation irked me a little. Not a lot but a little.

So by the time my Mum had made her way past the minivan the other vehicle had pulled away. I started to draw past the van I was surprised that there was someone in the drivers seat. I paused briefly, made eye contact, mouthed the word why, shrugged my shoulders and pointed forward where he could have been parked temporarily without blocking the door. I went and parked my vehicle on the street and was heading back inside to make my mum a coffee before I took off. As I turned the corner off the sidewalk toward the front door I was surprised the van was still there. I was just forming the thought to say to him why I gestured and what it meant if he was unsure.

Well As soon as he saw it was me he burst out of the van yelling obscenities at me and acting most menacing towards me. He was burly but short, honestly in a fight I doubt he would have stood a chance against me but I had no interest in fighting him or returning his evil. Once his first barrage of verbal insults subsided I tried in vane to explain what I had a problem with. I spoke forcefully but not with anger. I didn't take an aggressive stance but at the same time didn't submit either. I said if he wanted I could call the Police. He backed off but as he got back into his van he yelled more obscenities and in among them he stated he could park wherever he wanted. I didn't like that and I turned around and explained the situation one more time.

Well he burst out the van again and this time ran around to the passenger side and flung open the sliding door which revealed 2 young children in baby seats in the second row. He then said I had embarrassed him in front of his family he then walked to where my Mum had walked through and gestured say there seems to be plenty of room for you to fit through here. He then started to come at me and this time I got my phone out and we ready to dial 911. I really thought he was going to attack at this point. I guess he got a slight grip on himself and backed off at that point. I headed inside and the incident was over.

In review as I like to do with pretty much anything in life a few things come to light....

  • It was out of concern for my Mum and others like her that live there but do I really have to correct people
  • people can totally misconstrue hand signals/gestures and I'm pretty sure he did here. Perception is reality
  • once the incident started I handled it fairly well
  • however was it necessary for me to correct him again, did I really think he was going to receive it now or was that just my anger
  • what will I do next time
  • God protected me big time
  • 10 years ago I would have been in a fight 99% for sure
  • those poor kids

I felt so bad for those little children and also the realization that he was probably waiting for his wife to come down and she was going to get into a very hostile environment. So some of it I did well and praise God for that but other parts I can truly learn from. I've been praying for the unnamed man and kids ever since. My armour was damaged a little and it took some time to sort it out with God but he repaired it.

If anyone who reads this has some wisdom to share please do. Either leave a comment here or message me via email or FB. It is quite possible I may encounter this man again and I just want to do the right thing whatever that is.

Blessings, James

Edit: I should have added when he revealed his kids I spoke into that. I chastised him for his foul language and that it was even worse doing it in front of his children. I also reminded him that I did not say one curse nor insulted him personally in any way. The things that upset the most about the entire incident was that those tiny ears had to endure that barrage of filth.

A Christ follower living in a secular world: It has been a little while....

A Christ follower living in a secular world: It has been a little while....: My life has been going at a pace I am unaccustomed to. It has been growing in busyness for quite a few months now but since my Church wide f...

It has been a little while....

My life has been going at a pace I am unaccustomed to. It has been growing in busyness for quite a few months now but since my Church wide fast started 23 days ago(it ended 2 days ago yet I'm still going but for how much longer I'm uncertain) I have become very busy. I love it but just didn't have time to sit down and write a blog. I will probably always be a blogger but there will be times I post many and other times I will post few. If you enjoy my blog just check in once in a while. Even though my blogs aren't that long they take a while to write. I don't just want to just blurt out random thoughts(perhaps some of my articles still fall into that category) but actually share what God has taught me.

My life had to be emptied out for a time because I needed to get deeper with God. I went through a season of pruning last spring/summer. It was a good time to reflect on where I had been, where I was at that moment and where I should go next. I needed to get re-equipped for the battles that were ahead of me. Indeed the time spent in reflection was well worth it. My connection to God is very strong and I've never felt closer to him than at this moment.

Since that season I have had ministry opportunities spring up everywhere. I have deepened connections to people I know as well growing my network of friends in and around my church. I let people into my life more openly and share deeply. I am further understanding my role in the body as a prophet. I see things from a different perspective than most people and understand more fully that neither perspective is wrong but just different. Instead of thinking they are wrong and I am right I can take what people say as the truth from where they are coming from. In life there are very few absolutes. There are times my perspective has been the one that was totally off kilter and I am thankful for correction. I never fear God's discipline although at times it has been difficult to go through. Anytime God has told me to put something down or take something up, as straining as it may be at the time, over and over again I have seen how it was for my and/or others betterment. It gives me peace in times of trouble and a lot of enjoyment in times of blessing. He's not done with me and there are going to more trials. I have no doubt of that but my eyes are on the prize.

That prize is honouring God in my daily affairs. The way I treat people and situations. What I prioritize. I seek to glorify him because he loves a wretch like me and you know what, he loves you too!!

Thank you Jesus, leader of my life!

Blessings, James

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Filtering your life.

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Filtering your life.: I posted this some time in March last year. Recent events around me have brought it to my mind a few times of late. I think now is a good t...

Filtering your life.

I posted this some time in March last year. Recent events around me have brought it to my mind a few times of late. I think now is a good time to review it and if you are new to my blog then enjoy it with fresh eyes. Blessings...James

Now not everyone is going to be the same about how they go about this. We are all individuals with our own paths to walk. However I will share my opinions about how it works in my life.

We all filter things we intake.

Sometimes what is said and what we hear can be quite different. It is important when engaged in conversation you listen to what is said. It is also important to take into context who says it. What mental state is that person in is as important as the words they speak. People will often obscure their own truths because they are in an up state or a down state. It is important to ask questions to fill in the background of where someone is coming from. Not with all conversations. Some people are just big on small talk and just want to fill any gaps with words, any words that fill the silence. It is important to understand the difference between a meaningful conversation and gap fillers. Some are more apt to engage in small talk due to their personality type, there's nothing wrong with that, it is just how they are.

Just because someone says something that upsets you or that you disagree with strongly it doesn't have to affect your mood or outlook. That is totally your choice to make, not theirs. You can respond with what you believe to be true without having to belittle/berate them. Perhaps you'll change their mind but likely not if you make them defensive. I can get passionate about my truths at times and recognize this as an area that needs improvement. Not everything I believe is true and everyone else can teach me something I don't know or am misinformed about. Be open minded about concepts or procedures. There are certain universal truths I know and cannot be moved on but in a lot of areas I am open to new ideas. Take all the good you can from others and filter out the bad.

Filter what you meditate on.

Meditating is something everyone does. It's not just some monk on a mountain top that does it. Lets see what the dictionary says about meditation

Meditation: continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.

If you continue to think about something bad that happened to you(some argument or miscommunication that happened recently for example) it will just eat away any positive energy you have. It will become bigger than it really is and no matter how many times you replay it, it doesn't become a pleasant thought. If you have an argument with someone perhaps figuring out a way to remedy the situation would be good to think on. Or perhaps you could think of a good memory with that person and meditate on that. Bitterness and frustration do not get better by thinking about them endlessly. They get worse. Often people will replay the negative things that happen to them over and over for years sometimes and it just makes them bitter. I don't want to feel bitter, I'd rather feel better. If your past keeps haunting you in your thought life there is a program called freedom session that can be a big help. Check it out here.

Words that heal vs words that harm.

Measure your words carefully. Depending on the situation your words can make a big difference to diffuse a situation. They can also fan the flames of discontent. Just because you have a thought doesn't mean you have to share it with the world. Some people talk just for the sake of talking, filling the air with noise. If you didn't like a show and the objectionable content you saw then why are you now describing that content to others? Why not talk about something you like if you need to share. If someone is listing complaints about you then probably this isn't the moment to list your complaints about them. Address their concerns as best you can and realize they are only speaking from their own hurt. They may even be right about some of them :)

Spewing bitterness and resentments is like spreading germs. It is contagious. The flip side is to spread love and joy. This is also contagious and infectiously good. Knowing your audience and knowing yourself is a big asset. Reading body language is something everyone can do to a certain point. I'm not saying never ever complain but make sure it is context and to the right person. Also being super cheery with someone who is really hurting can do more harm than good. When someone is venting is not the right time to correct the finer points of what they are saying. Use some discretion.

Don't be a talking head!!

Try to be discerning in your commentary. You don't have to share your opinion on everything. I fall into that category at times and I know that sometimes less is more. The person that says the most often is listened to the least. Words are precious, measure your words carefully. Offering your opinion on everything can lessen your impact when it is something you have meaningful dialogue on to relay.

Let your actions match your words.

Talk is cheap. If you say one thing then in reality do the opposite your words become less and less meaningful. If you talk about having a positive attitude and then complain about everything and everybody your attitude is anything but positive. Actions DO speak louder than words. So don't spend forever talking about change, actually be an active part of that change and you'll gain respect which in turn will gain more than any words could ever do. I love words but words alone don't do anything. They are meaningless without activities that mimic your words.

So meditate on what is good and true, talk less, listen more and walk your talk.

Blessings, James

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Christ follower living in a secular world: What is fasting all about?

A Christ follower living in a secular world: What is fasting all about?: I'm not here to boast. I'm not going to brag of my righteousness. Truth is when it comes to food fasts they are rare for me. In my current w...

What is fasting all about?

I'm not here to boast. I'm not going to brag of my righteousness. Truth is when it comes to food fasts they are rare for me. In my current work it would be unwise and quite likely dangerous to go on an extended fast of food. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. That took incredible strength and determination plus dependence on God the father to sustain him but I believe in the right circumstances I could be up to the challenge. My Church is about to go on a 21 day fast starting next Monday. Some will go on food fasts but most will give up other things in their day to day lives. They will give up Coffee or desserts or a variety of other things.

So why fast? For me there are several good reasons to fast. First it increases my dependence on God.  When fasting food and I get hunger pains I seek God immediately to help it pass and to sustain me. Secondly it increases my awareness of God as he can satisfy more than anything else. Thirdly it increases the amount of time I spend in prayer and in the word as I find I now have extra time on my hands.

What is the significance of fasting? It is an act of submission and self denial. Often it is used as an act of repentance. Fasting, the tearing of clothes and wearing of sack cloth and ash on your head was often an act of obedience when sinful acts were revealed to a people or person. The Pharisees fasted on Tuesdays and again on the Sabbath as an act of obedience often as repentance for their people more than themselves. Jesus recognized fasting as a good thing to do but to do so without any fanfare so to not show it as an act of righteousness. When asked why he nor his disciples fasted he replied they can do so after he is gone. Clearly implying it is good and proper to do as something somber. I believe it to be an act of faithfulness and self denial.

Who should fast? I would say it is something that Pastors and other Church leaders do more often than the flock but really anyone who is a believer in Jesus can and should. Depending on your health and circumstances a food fast may not be wise. How often is really up to you. I don't think I do it enough myself. I seldom go on food fasts and have given up other things for Lent like Chocolate for example but really am rather lax in the whole process to be brutally honest. Other religions have pre-planned fasts that anyone who claims to be a follower (Nation of Islam for example) must follow if they are to be considered a real believer. Christianity has no such rules as it is not a prerequisite for getting into Heaven. I believe it is a good thing to do and desire to do it more often myself but have never thought it was horrible if someone in my Church did not fast. It is between you and God. Seek him first and the Holy Spirit will lead you in what is right for you.

As I said off the top my Church is going on a 21 day fast. After much thought and prayer on the subject I have decided to give up television for the 21 days and use that time in prayer or reading the word. I figure that is a couple of hours a day so by the end of 3 weeks I should be much more righteous than I am now :) Okay, no not really but maybe I'll be a little closer to Jesus than I am now. I sure hope so.

Remember that when you fast don't go around bragging about it. I've probably talked more about my personal fasting than I should but I tend to be wordy.

Happy 2012 everybody!! What a great time it is to be alive! Blessings!