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Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Christian simply cannot marry a non-Christian. It's life and death serious.

In a dating thread on Facebook, a conversation arose about faith and dating...

Someone said they were upset because they wanted a relationship with a Christian woman who wouldn't accept an offer from a non-Christian. 

Someone else in the conversation thread said they didn't mind if the person was religious they just didn't want it jammed down their throat.

Someone else said they had no such standard but did like it if the person had some kind of Faith.

A year ago, I'd have felt different. But today, here was my reply:

Jesus is a pre-qualification for me. It's not even enough to be a "Christian". We need to have as much overlap in worldview as possible.

See.

Faith is a term people often use synonymous with religion. A set of beliefs. Esoteric. Heady. Just believe.

In my worldview. 

Jesus is a living, breathing, active participant in my life. I speak to Him. He speaks to me. It's dialogue, not monologue. He is my Lord, my King, my best friend, my lover, my everything.

There's literally not a single relationship on Earth that matters more than my relationship with him. 

So within that framework:

A marriage involves three, active, participants. 

A man who is submitted to Jesus. 

A woman submitted to Jesus. 

A man and woman submitted to each other. 

And Jesus leading the marriage. The real, actual, person Jesus. Not the historical figure from societies ideas about him. 

In my worldview, that's a dynamic two-way friendship and relationship with Jesus. He is Lord of our lives. Any relationship with a woman who was not equally submitted to His Lordship would be impossible for me. A non-starter. And that's as it should be. 

This isn't about religion, it's way beyond that.

Point a gun at my kid's head and tell me you'll shoot unless I renounce Jesus, I'll tell the kids that I'll see them on the other side. I'd do them to say hi to Mom for me.

It's life and death serious for me. 

So that's why it's a non-starter.

This is actually practical too.

Because every single decision, from schooling the kids, Sunday habits, where we live... It's ALL submitted to God in prayer. 

I'm going to deeply rely on her ability to hear the voice of God and speak prophetically into our lives and into every day decisions. 

That's simply just not possible unless she shares my worldview.

**To which I got this reply**
Darrell G Wolfe wow! Did you really state you would rather see your kids get murdered than denounce a mythical figure?? I will get kicked out of this group for this but I don’t care! You are a freaking idiot!

**To which I reply:

No. I said I would rather see my kids murdered  than denounce the only person who has the power to save my soul and theirs. The only person that ever matters in any reality. The one who existed before this Earth, came and died for me, and lives today. The only friend that will ever ultimately matter. He and I speak frequently. He's not mythical. We speak, two way. And I love him more than I love my life. He is my everything. There's literally nothing and no one on Earth that matters more. 

Someday, everyone that's ever lived will agree. Some with pleasure. Some with distaste. 

But every knee will bow to Him eventually. At the end of all things. 

Love you brother. Sorry you can't see it yet.

#Selah

Friday, March 27, 2020

Let your "if only" become a "what if" today.

If only...

Among the most powerful, common, painful, and pointless questions/statements we ask/make after a tragedy... "If only..."

If only, I'd have not come back to my marriage, we'd be divorced but she'd have not gotten pregnant and died...

If only, she'd discovered Whole30 before she died, she'd have been healthier and would still be here. After all, it was written years before she passed...

If only, I'd have died instead of her, she'd be doing a better job raising these boys...

If only, we had moved earlier, later, never moved...

If only, I'd gone back to working two jobs, she'd have never gone to work stocking at night and worn her body out...

Etc. Etc. Etc...

The list goes on and on and on... 

We all have those lists. I read other's lists in the Widow/Widower Facebook Groups often.

In the book of John, you see Martha and Mary have been repeating this phrase with each other, because they both say the same words when Jesus arrives on the scene. 

"If only you'd have been here, he wouldn't have died..."

Jesus doesn't really answer this to Martha it Mary. 

He does tell his disciples that there was a greater purpose buried in the event. But he never answers the women in pain. Instead, he points them toward faith, instead of indulging their painful question.

One cannot draw from this text that God intended Lazurus to die for "His Glory". That would be a misapplication of scripture... 

Rather, as we learn by consulting the whole counsel of God's Word, Satan is the thief who comes-only to kill, steal, and destroy. If those fruits are present, it's Satan's work and not God's. The Word then tells us that God will get involved and redeem even those dark things, and shine His Glory into those moments of pain and chaos.

Jesus then demonstrated His power by raising Lazurus from the dead.

But... Here's a question... 

Is Lazurus alive today? Have you seen him on television giving speeches about his time in the after life?

He, along with everyone else Jesus healed and raised from the dead during his ministry in Earth, is in heaven now. None of them are still here.

There is a YES... and a NOT YET... in God's Kingdom. 

There are certainly demonstrations of God's power here, today. But as magnificent as those are, the ultimate fulfillment of His Power and Promises is Not Yet.

The Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof... 

But in Genesis 1-2 we see that God leased this planet to mankind. Mankind broke it. And all the promises to fix it are future-tense. He's given us many demonstrations of his power and willingness to fix it, but the real fix is yet to come.

Have I gotten off track from "If Only"? 

Nope...

If only... Comes from the fact we live in a broken world. 

In a broken world, things break.

We make decisions about where to live, what to eat, where to work... Those decisions have long lasting, sometimes life altering, ramifications.

We don't get "Do Overs".

We can learn, get more healing, make better choices, make new choices, take our new found perspective and craft a better future for our broken past.

What we cannot do, must not do, is second guess every decision.

Some decisions were dumb and you knew beforehand and you did it anyway. Repent, Receive Mercy, Grow, Move Forward.

Some decisions were dumb but seemed right (there is a way that seems right but the end thereof is death). Repent, Receive Grace, Grow, Move Forward. 

Some decisions were not wrong. You did everything right. But this broken world broke you. Either someone else's decisions broke you, or, some brokenness in this world, a natural disaster or disease broke you. Praise God for his interventions however incomplete they seam today, Receive Healing, Grow, Move Forward.

If only... Holds no real value.

Instead of asking or pondering "if only"... Ask or ponder, "what if"...

What if God could use this in my life to make me more like Him, soften my heart to other's suffering, carve out my strategic position of opportunity and influence in this world, and help me learn to weep with those who moarn as well as laugh with those who rejoice?

What COULD God do with this broken raw material? 

This shattered glass could become a stainglass masterpiece. If I let Him have it... 

 Daddy, God, I don't see the whole picture today. I'm in pain. It hurts so bad. But.. nevertheless, I give these broken shards to you. Use them as you see fit.

Let your "if only" become a "what if" today.

#Selah


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sex is not intimacy... but they can be related.

Intimacy... 

What's the image that comes to mind with the word "intimacy"? 

Sex, right?

But... What if I told you that sex is not intimacy? In fact, you can have sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex.

In fact, you can have decent sex with a stranger but it's unsatisfying. It only "takes the edge off". 

To have great sex, you must have intimacy. 

Intimacy is a pre-requisite for great sex. 

And intimacy doesn't always lead to sex. 

Intimacy can be had between friends, siblings, parents/kids, and yes, lovers.

Intimacy is a heart connection. 

In fact, connection and intimacy are nearly interchangeable terms. 

Non Romantic Intimacy: Friends

You cannot have real connection with a stranger. Connection requires that we are in relationship. We are vulnerable, real, open, and honest with each other. We not only admit our faults one to another (that's level one) we also admit out need to each other (that's much harder). Admitting our needs is hard. 

Scenario:

You visit someone's house. You think to yourself that you wish you'd brought your water cup inside. The friend offers a glass of water, and you turn it down. You say "No, I'm good, but thanks for offering". 

Why!?

Why do we do that? 

Being vulnerable and admitting needs is hard. 

Some "needy" person that's always asking everyone for everything may make this seem easy. But even that person isn't admitting real needs. Heart level needs. They're just asking for stuff. Still not the same as being vulnerable.

As I have worked on leaving co-dependency behind, I've had to acknowledge that I have real needs. And that I must get those emotional needs met in safe, non romantic community, and be real and vulnerable with them.

Level One: Telling my story and not getting rejected.

Level Two: Asking about their story, and being genuinely interested.

Level Three: Admitting real need. Take the glass of water, foolish child. 

Level Four: ? Don't know, haven't learned that lesson yet. Ha ha...

Intimacy with Jesus

I found intimacy in a romantic relationship with someone who was 1,800 miles away. It ended in disaster. But I learned something. I learned that intimacy isn't about physical proximity.

I built intimacy one text, one phone call, one silly selfie, at a time. 

So when I admitted to myself and God and another human being that I was a relationship addict and I needed to get healthy. I developed a new practical practice that helped me become intimate with Jesus. 

Every time I would have wanted to send something to that girl, I sent it to Jesus instead. I literally opened messenger, and sent a message to myself, addressed to Jesus. 

I even recorded things and sent him those phone calls. 

I went for walks with Him. 

... I built intimacy with Jesus. 

And now we're close. But it took real practical effort in my side. 

Build Intimacy

Go make a friend, sent a text to your kids, compliment your spouse, get into a small group and do life together. 

Make something happen. 

Do things to build the habbit of intimacy. 

Eventually, when you build that with a spouse, it'll enhance your sex life too! 😉

#Selah


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Be Still and Know...

Looking to Jesus... The author and finisher of our faith... Is not about being good. It's not about doing a better knowledge of good. 

Looking to Jesus is about being present in this moment. 

I will not claim to know what tomorrow holds. I will not begin to claim something about tomorrow that I don't know for sure. I won't even name and claim some positive outcome that I want... Tomorrow May in fact be darker than today... And I'm okay with that now.

I know that whatever comes, even the dark stuff, especially the dark stuff, Jesus will walk it through with me.

That's all I really need to know. 

So if big scary stuff is happening I just slow down leaning a little harder listen a little more surrender a little more fight a little less...

I listen so that I can be proactive instead of reactive...

I listen so that I can take advantage of opportunities that he points out in the middle of the dark stuff...

If I keep myself centered on him and the storm rages but I have peace.

I'm a Widower...

At day one, I told myself the only "why" that mattered is that in a broken world things break. 

That carried me through the why seasons.

At almost two years now... Here's where I've come so far:

In this World you will have trouble. 

Not might. Will. It's a promise from God. 

You. Will. Have. Trouble.

Fear not. I have overcome the World. 

I will see her again. She's in my future. She won't be my wife, that ended here. She's my Sister in Christ. Which she was before our marriage, during, and always will be. That title is more important than the title of wife. It's an eternal title. 

Which also means that how I treat my other Sister's In Christ here matters. They'll be my Sister's for eternity. I must honor them. I'm still learning how to do that one. I've failed more than succeeded. But I'm growing and learning.

There's coming a day when everything here will be a distant memory. It will have been overcome. Some overcoming happens even now. There's a "yes" but "not yet" to God's promises. Some we see here, some we won't see the ultimate fulfillment of until we get there.

He doesn't walk us around the valley of the shadow of death.... He walks us through it. 

When he says he prepares a banquet table in the presence of our enemies... I've come to see that as him using our darkest valleys as the place of preparing us for our greatest points of ministry. 

I don't feel a specific calling to widows, for example. But I do sit with people in hard stuff, widows included, in ways I couldn't before.

I've faced the hardest stuff of my life since she died. But instead of running to distractions, like I used to, I lean in to the hard stuff now, let it change me, and I keep leveling up each time I do.

I leveled up this past week a bit. It hurt. But it felt good too. 

So I'm going to practice being still again. I let this busy season take me out of that habit. I'm going to do it again. Come back to the stillness of my chair and let Good speak.

#Selah

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Complain or Complete: Two ways to deal with disappointment.

Nothing about the last few days.... Last few weeks.... Last few months.... Last few years.... Last few decades.... Ah heck. Nothing about anything in my entire life has gone according to plan.

So I have a choice.

* I can complain, make excuses for why I can't succeed. 

Bury my head in busy work, distractions, and addiction. Come up for air one day to realize it's been ten years and I missed moments with my kids because I wasn't being present and missed opportunities to do meaningful work because it was "too hard".

* I can complete... One task. I can do one thing that is important even if something else "feels" more urgent. 

I can pause myself from taking a shower and going to bed because my child has decided that 9pm is when he wants to get all ten thousand words out. But I am being present for him and investing in him. 

I can make one voice recording. Even if I delete it, I'll have practiced using the software. I may not actually launch the Podcast I intended this week, or even this year, but I can take mini steps. 

I may not know how to start a career in Voiceover, but I can watch YouTube videos by voiceover coaches. I can listen to industry Podcasts. I can order one book. Take one class. 

I may not have the house I want in the state I want it in. But I can organize one room. Order one item. Hang one picture. I can make one move toward the order it if the chaos.

I may have been shocked at the abhorrent decision of a friend that severed our friendship. I've actually seen a few of those this last few years. Each time I'm surprised. But... I can take inventory of my own actions, and ask God if there was anything I should have done differently, for next time with new people. I can evaluate the type of people I associate with, and choose healthier individuals, and raise the quality of my friendships to ensure I am building friendships with safe people. I can listen to or read works by people such as Dr Henry Cloud who will help me determine what makes someone a safe person to invest in. I can go to counseling and allow the excellent Dr Jana to simultaneously show me Grace where I have none for myself, lead me to God's Grace and Vision for me, and yet call me to a higher order of living, challenge me to live a truer, higher, more authentic life before God which becomes a higher life before people. 

I can set new boundaries, to prevent people from dumping their toxic waste on my yard. I can love people without letting them into my inner circle. Preserving the inner sanctuary for safe people. Safe people aren't perfect, either, but they're safe. 

Today, you can Complain about what is or you can Complete one thing that will be a vote for your new identity and new life.

#Selah


Sunday, March 22, 2020

What happens to my marriage in heaven?

This question comes up a lot in the Widow rooms... If I get married again then who will I be married to in heaven? My first spouse or second?

This comes from a lack of understanding...

Things in heaven are of a higher order than what we experience on Earth. 

There's no marriage in heaven. 

That can sound like a "bad" thing to us here, but that's because we have such a small context for it.

Marriage is intimacy. As close as two people can be on Earth.

In heaven, and later when we all return to Earth again together, we know as we are known. 

The intimacy we only glimpse here will permeate everything there.

The relationship we have there will be on a higher order than anything we are capable of here. Closer, not more distant.

There will be no hiding, no secrets, no shame, no guilt, no jealousy... Both my previous wives, #1 &, #2... And my next wife... #3... Will all be my spiritual siblings. They all know Jesus, therefore, they'll all be there.

Even now, today, my late wife was my Sister in Christ which is a higher order than wife. 

We'll ALWAYS, for eternity, be best friends and Sister/Brother in Christ...

We were only Husband and Wife for a few short years on Earth.

When I say Sister/Brother though, that's still an analogy. I'm not talking about spiritual incest. 

It's like when military folks say "My brother in arms"... It's a Brotherhood/Sisterhood of joined identity... United under one family, with The Father as our Daddy. Jesus as our first born Brother. The Holy Spirit serving the function of Mother. 

There's no marriage in heaven, because what we'll have will be SO much better, closer, and more intimate... That there's no way to label it here. 

I hope that helps. 

If you don't know if you're going to heaven... Read this: Got Life?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Reevaluating my Boundaries...

Every so often... 

One realizes that people are messy. 

One must simultaneously love and forgive the messiness while also protecting themselves. This is called boundaries. 

Yesterday, I was shocked and taken by surprise that someone at work who I called a friend outside of work got a third party involved to tell me my communication style bothered them.

I'm always open to correction. I may not always agree with your assessment but I'm always open to hear it and evaluate it. I am certainly willing to either change my style or discontinue taking with you all together if that's what you need. I'm service minded first.

But not once did this individual even hint that we had an issue. Not mention of it. No "can you please stop xyz...". No words ever expressed. 

Getting a third party involved is sometimes necessary if an individual has been asked to stop doing something but continues the behavior. I myself, after months of enduring disrespectful behavior by a former friend came to the point where I let that individual know I will reach out to a third party if it happens again. 

But to go from zero to one hundred... To go from saying nothing and laughing at jokes and pretending to be my friend even the day of... to asking a third party to talk to me is juvenile, bizarre, and shows this individual to be far less safe and far more risky then I realized. Looking back, I can see this pattern of behavior with others they were in contact with, I just didn't notice at the time. I try to give people the benefit of proving that they are bad before I assume they're bad.

From now on, I am being more cautious, evaluating the safety of individuals before allowing them access to my world. 

I'm definitely going to reserve friendship for co-workers as a higher priced commodity, available only to those who have demonstrated they are safe. 

I also realized I have kids. Although they're teens, practically adults, people can still access them through me. So that bears consideration.

In light of this event, I removed about 150 people from my Facebook friends list. Most of them former co-workers, but some were people I met in Facebook groups.

I've come to understand, unfortunately, that I've given other people too much access to my life. I've left in place only those who I have a firm established relationship with, either through church, or we're friends outside of work, or we've built an honest connection.

Days ago, this individual would have met that criteria... So future requests will be evaluated more judiciously.

In the meantime, if I don't accept your request it's not personal. I just need more time to trust you. 

Please send me a Message through messenger. I'm still open to chat.

#Selah

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