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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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

I'm a Widower. My Sex Drive has increased to insane levels. Is that normal? Yes, here's why and what to do about it...

Sex Drive increases with Trauma and PTSD...

After a major tragedy like becoming a widow(er), major life changing accident, disasters, war scenarios.... you have to understand that you've actually experienced brain damage. 

For the Widower, there are real physical neural pathways that were built around your life with her. You built protein structures in the brain around that life. Akin to muscle memory. 

Those neural pathways are no longer able to function and you are now rebuilding entirely New Life inside your brain. 

As a result of this you're disoriented and in pain. One of the ways the body copes with pain is sex. Sex creates the feel-good hormones. So a large number of Widows/Widowers experience an increase in sex drive for the first few years. Not a minor increase. A near MANIC level increase.

With good counseling, good safe non-romantic community, and good time spent building a new life... those pathways will eventually rebuild into a new life... And the intensity will subside. 

You're still a sexual being so you're always going to want sex but the near manic levels of desire are a result of this rewiring of the brain.

Go for a walk. Phone a friend. Attend a Bible study, A.A. or Al-Anon meeting, find a local meet up find an activity you enjoy... Get into counseling. Pick up new hobbies. Work the connections in your brain like any other muscle. Build new pathways by having been experiences. Take new routes to work. Go to a different gas station. Do need things. Force the brain to learn that life has changed.

It takes time.

But healing is available.

#Selah

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Mutual Submission

It's not about being equal, it's about being real.

Marriage is NOT about both partners doing 50/50 or even 100/100. You can't calculate the time you spend doing something and say "Well, I put in 300 hours and you only put in 289 hours this week..."

Marriage is about partnership. We both bring to the table our unique set of gifts, abilities, needs, and faults. We both choose to use our attributes in service to the other. Together, mutually submitted one to another, neither being over the other, both serving out of love.

This also means being intimate. 

Intimacy is not sex. Good Sex is a byproduct of intimacy, not intimacy itself. 

Intimacy is a result of two hearts being vulnerable with each other and the other side receiving the vulnerability with Grace and Love and Mercy. 

Intimacy comes from two people choosing to believe the best about the other. Choosing to grow together. Choosing to allow the other to be imperfect while simultaneously challenging them to rise above their imperfections and grow to the next level. 

Intimacy comes from one person saying "When you____ I felt___" and they other party saying "I am so sorry for making you feel that way, how can I help?"

Intimacy comes from one party saying "I need you to change this behavior..." And there other responding without defensiveness "I will change. What would that look like for you?"

When these conversations can take place where both parties come to the table owning their own wants, needs, hurts, and even misperceptions... While simultaneously accepting their partner is a different person, and embracing their positive and less than positive attributes...

A culture of intimacy is created and crafted in that mutual submission.

#Selah


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Blindness comes in all varieties... it's not always, or even often, physical.

Are you blind? Are you sure?

A man born blind gets mud put into his eyes, washes it off as commanded, then he can see. 

Obedience to the Spoken Word of God.

A group of men who, with puffed up chests and haughty eyes, claim they are the ones who see most clearly are the least likely to see that which is plainly in front of their face. They call good evil and evil good. 

Obedience to the man-made traditions around the Written Word of God.

We must be careful with what we think we know. Hearing God speak today, now, present tense, to our life and our situation, is vastly more important than clinging to some theology or tradition that we think we know because we learned it ten years ago and haven't studied it since. 

The Spoken Word and Written Word should always agree with each other; however, they may not agree with your traditions as much as you thought.

What's one thing you hold so dearly that you get into Facebook arguments over it? 

I'd bet that is the home of your most dearly prized false tradition. Because if it was God, you wouldn't argue over it. You'd love people over it. 

#Selah

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Sounds of The Past...

Sounds... 

I've been listening to a lot of material about Podcasting, Audio Equipment, Sound Engineering for Live Church Auditoriums, and most recently, Voiceover work. 

Sounds have been on my brain.

My left ear is ringing, which it does after awhile in the call center world. I need a new profession. But I want to make a big change, not just get another job. So I'm considering what a new self employed career would look like, hence my research.

Now...  looking out my window at the stars, listening to my rain music, the flute takes me back to a class around ten years old where they did a documentary of another culture. I find myself wanting to travel like I did then.

How much do the things we experience in life shape us without our knowledge?

How often can a song or a sound take us back to a lesson (good or bad) that we learned?

What would we be without sounds and the lessons they burn in our souls?

There stories we tell ourselves and each other are enhanced by sound.

What sounds have been meaningful to you lately?

What sounds should you avoid?

#Selah






Saturday, March 14, 2020

Depends on how you look at it...

From some distant Galaxy, the destruction of our solar system would be barely a match flicker. 

From the vantage point of heaven, things here don't matter as much.

I and my boys are living without Flavia here... For us this is painful and sad. But last I heard from Jesus, she was teaching at classes, playing with the kids, and finally walking on water like she'd always dreamed of doing. Since she went ahead of us, she's even had a hand in preparing our homes there. 

From her vantage point, this is a temporary separation. She's not concerned.

Perspective

Today, 3/15/2020, many are concerned about the coronavirus and how it's affecting society and commerce and businesses and toilet paper... Why toilet paper people!?

This time next year, some will be grieving there loss of loved ones with compromised immune systems that didn't survive this virus. 

This time next year, MOST people won't be thinking about it, because the news media will have time then to worry about something else instead. The coronavirus will have become just another non-issue something we worried about that didn't actually end up happening to most people.

Some, though, will be pondering life from my perspective, as one who lost. Realizing, some things just aren't worth getting worked up about.

There are things that matter. This just isn't one of them.

#Shalom
#LiveLong&Prosper
#Selah

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Three tests to determine if your church is healthy?

Is your church healthy? 

I'm listening to a podcast by Smalley Marriage Radio and an interview with Karl Vaters.

According to Karl, there are three signs of a healthy church. Are these true of your church?

1. The Great Command: Love

Are we loving God and loving one another?

2. The Great Commission: Reaching Out

Are we reaching out to the community around us, loving them well, are people coming to know Jesus (or know him better)?

3. The Pastor's Mandate: Equip The People

The Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher have one job: Equip The People for the work of ministry. If the pastor or paid staff is doing everything, it's an unhealthy church. The People are the ministers, the leaders equip the people to do the work of ministry.

That ministry is everything. Not just Sunday morning. It's anything and everything the body does. 

A party planner can organize parties for the church. The bikers can start a Harley club. The artists can start at sessions. Those with hospitality can start groups.

#Selah

https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9zbWFsbGV5LnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL2ZlZWQueG1s&episode=c21hbGxleS5wb2RiZWFuLmNvbS9rYXJsLXZhdGVycy10aGF0LXNtYWxsLWNodXJjaC1ndXktNzU1NTM0NzEyMDcwZGZmOGI4OTVlNDY1ZDJlNTMyNDM


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Death is just the next birth.

Death and birth are reciprocal cycles.

To an infant, after nine months in the safety of a womb, birth into the world is traumatic.  But we all experienced it, and we all had more life outside.

Jesus compared his death to a birth.

From the relative safety of the known (the world we live in) the next stage is scary. We understand maybe an inkling more about that life than the infant does about our world. 

But we know enough to know to be excited, if we're rooted in Jesus.

In the meantime, I'll make the best time of this preparation chamber that I can.

#Selah


Monday, March 9, 2020

We will see them again...

Does job contain a secret gentle reminder about eternity? 

Philip Yancey makes a great point! 

Job had everything taken from him. At the end, he gets double for his trouble. 

Double the sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys... 

But...

He lost seven sons and three daughters, he got back seven sons and three daughters. 

Could this be a hint? Maybe he did get double! He got ten more kids to go with the ten kids that he'll see again someday. 

God views death differently. From his perspective, the ones we've lost (who are in Jesus) are more alive after they've moved on from this Earth. 

When you take your last breath here you take your next breath there. You walk into the entrance of heaven, meet Abraham, who still greets everyone like he has since the first time he went there. Jesus talked about Abraham's bosom, and how the rich man begged him to send Lazarus to cool his tongue. 

That Paradise was emptied when Jesus rose from the dead, taking captivity captive and setting the prisoners free.

The man who died next to him on the cross was in Paradise with Jesus, but that man entered into Glory three days later with everyone else. 

Further, heaven is not our final resting place. There is coming a day when we will follow Jesus back to Earth to take it back from darkness, when he will restore order to the planet. He will ride in on a white horse and we will ride in behind him. 

And the gentle Lamb of God will return a Roaring Lion. The very words of his mouth, will slay those who chose to rebel against him. Then he will set up his Kingdom on this physical Earth and reign for a thousand years. But even THAT is not the end of the story.

One last rebellion is coming at the end of that period, then, we will all stand before God on our merrits or His son's, we choose one. 

Then the Earth and Heaven will be reborn and merged into one entity. Heaven itself will come down to Earth, and God's physical Kingdom will rest on this planet.

We will absolutely see our loved ones again. We will know them. Actually, we will know them better than we knew them on Earth. We will know family that died before we were born.   

This Earth is so temporary. So fleeting. 

I've seen Jesus, on his throne, surrounded by angels. That vision has sustained my heart through many doubts and fears. I lived a lot of rebellion but I've never doubted the reality of Jesus, not once.

Many times, when I didn't get what I wanted, I doubted his goodness, like a whiney child that didn't get the new toy and threw a fit. But his reality, I've never doubted. 

My late wife and daughter, my Uncle Glenn, others who have gone before, they are in that great cloud of witnesses, cheering me on, waiting my return. 

If you don't know that you're going to heaven, know beyond s doubt, read this:

http://www.darrellwolfe.com/p/got-life.html?m=1

#Selah

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Widow Brain: Why do I feel so crazy after loosing my Spouse?

Question: 

After loosing my Spouse (or parent, sibling, fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend, child, etc.); I experienced a time where I couldn't think clearly, my mind was foggy, I couldn't remember simple things, like why I came into a room... Is this normal? Or am I crazy!? 

Answer:

I won't pretend to be a scientist, but I've read a lot of material going through grief. 

Here's what I found out: 

This is COMPLETELY normal. It's even got a name in the rooms I am in, "Widow Brain". 

When you've built a relationship with another person, that person has become associated with established pathways in the brain's neural network. 

Their absence creates a disconnection or cognitive dissonance. What should be isn't happening anymore, and the mind must completely rewire for a new normal. 

The closer they were, the more integrated they were to your daily routines, the closer your intimacy and connection was, the more foggy you will feel. Because that is new neural pathways that have to be established.

This rewiring process is called Grief. You can get help processing through qualified grief counseling, books, healthy community, friendships, going through belongings, finding new patterns, and a thousand other helpful tips. 

The bottom line, is that you've become an emotional amputee. You're missing a limb you once had. 

Amputees are often asked to scratch the new nerve endings at the new stump with a variety of materials (soft, hard, scratchy smooth, cold, hot, etc) in order to teach the brain there are new nerve endings. This helps alleviate phantom limb syndrome.

So the more activities you can engage with to help you process this new normal, the better chance you have of gaining a new mental equilibrium. 

Clean out their belongings, you won't feel ready, go slow, but do it. Take down "our" stuff and find new "me" stuff. Keep sentiments in a box or display, but start making OUR space YOUR space again. 

Get qualified grief counseling, so you can go through targeted exercises that help you process and integrate those experiences. 

Try new things,aybe things you always wanted to do but couldn't or were too afraid to try. Join a class. Pick a new hobby. Take a small trip. Get into a new group. Attend a theater show or play. Pick up an instrument or art or craft.... try things. 

You won't keep or even like all of it. The point is to do things to exercise the new reality, build new pathways. 

Start small. Do one thing today. Put away one draw. Take down one photo. Go on one walk. 

When you're overwhelmed, which Widow Brain will ensure you will be, stop. Take a nap. Do something tomorrow. 

Expect the first x-period of time to be insane. You've experienced a trauma. It's okay to acknowledge it as trauma. You need to heal. 

Eventually, keep trying things. 

Keep going.

Reach out when you'd rather hide. 

NO HIDING is still the key to healing after trauma too. 

I hope that helps. 

#Selah 

Boundaries are for you not the other person.

It's always interesting when you draw boundaries. 

When we first try to set boundaries, we think it means telling the other person to stop and the boundaries are a way of making them change. Then they don't change and we say "boundaries didn't work".

The other person usually doesn't change. 

Sometimes they will, if you are firm and you change the rules of the game to be more healthy, it can create an environment where the other person is missing half their pattern, so they must change.

But you can't set the boundaries expecting change. It's nice, but don't expect it.

Rather, boundaries are YOUR protective fence. It's as though you decided you've had enough with people walking through your garden and you finally decided to put up a fence around it. If people climb over the fence, you may also need a guard dog or security guard.

The point of boundaries is for you to decide how you will respond, including what mechanisms you'll need to enforce that response. 

The point is to protect the garden of your heart, not so that the other person will change. They'll go trample someone else's garden, but not yours.

If they change, they could be invited back into a healthier exchange. But people don't change without a lot of pain.

I know. I was awful for decades. It took many events, many confrontations, and dinner life shattering experiences to give me enough pain to seek help.

I am a completely different human than I was in Fall 2016.

But that didn't come without a lot of assistance, books, healthy community, and some tough love by people who cared enough to tell me I was wrong.

What boundaries do you need to set today to protect your garden?

In what ways might you be stepping over other people's boundaries and not knowing it?

#Selah 









Saturday, March 7, 2020

Have you asked for help today?

I've felt like a tsunami inside this past few years. Emotions flooding in, wave after wave.

As I began to heal and create good boundaries I had to get real and honest with myself about the one thing that I was afraid of most....

Admitting I had needs.

I can meet someone else's needs but can I admit that I have needs. 

Not to be crude but even when it came to sex, I would give and give and give, but I had a hard time receiving. I'd spend an hour giving, but want to get mine done as soon as possible, embarrassed for even wanting it. That's played out in every area of my life, but that one became painfully obvious and was very hard to work through. My next wife will have to be patient with me, as my growth in that area is stunted until I can learn again in a safe marriage. But as I keep growing in admitting need in other areas of life, I will heal enough for that day in the future where I face that again.

Love is a give-and-take, sow and reap preposition. It's like breathing in and breathing out. You can only breathe out so long before you have nothing left to breathe and the insatiable desire to breathe in is created. 

Try it right now:

1. Breathe out as long as you can push yourself to the very end.
2. Hold that in as long as possible resist breathing in.
3. How long did you last for the overwhelming desire to suck in air overcame your will to not do it? 10 seconds? 

Your emotional needs are the same d breathing. Emotional needs were meant to be given and received.

If you take all the time and never give that's obviously unhealthy and selfish. 

But if you give all the time and never receive, that's equally unhealthy.

Part of NO HIDING is admitting you have a need. 

Go tell someone you need something today.

#Selah




https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9zdG9yeWJyYW5kLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz&episode=Y2FmOWZjY2YtNWIzYS00MjY3LWI1MDMtMGVjY2RkOTkxM2Q1

Friday, March 6, 2020

Who's your John-Mark? The pain of relating to people goes away when you retool your expectations.

Sometimes... The pain of relating to people goes away when you retool your expectations.

You thought someone was one way, and they turned out to be something else underneath. 

Release them from your expectations!

Part of that release is about no longer expecting them to behave the way they were, or you thought they were, in outward behavior.  
 
Part of that release is giving up "mind reading", which is really "heart reading". You can't determine the other person's heart or motives. What you see as malicious and purposeful usually isn't. Usually it's just a broken and hurting person being broken and hurting. You didn't cut them, but they bleed on you anyway because you're there and you're safe to bleed on. 

That doesn't excuse the behaviors, you need to set Boundaries about what you will and won't accept. But those boundaries are for you. They're not intended to change the other person, only to determine how you'll respond, which may include not responding.

I thought I had met a good friend last year, who consistently demonstrated afterwards that wasn't the case. So I've distanced myself long enough that I now hold no expectation any longer, but, I also hold no expectation our for restoring either. A faint hope, a wish, but no expectation.

This person is now just another stranger on the internet in my heart. With that distance, I can be friendly, but not close friends. The unhealthy cryptic behavior that separated us continues to this day. But I'm okay with that now. It used to bother me, until I released those expectations.

They have their own journey, I have mine. Those paths crossed for a shorter time than I expected, but that's how life goes. Some seed doesn't grow. Keep planting in new souls, everyday, eventually you'll have a friendship garden.

When you release the person from your expectations to be who you thought they were and allow the reality of how they actually are showing themselves to be to settle in, no matter how much it hurts, you can eventually release them to be how they are. 

It doesn't mean you'll ever have fellowship with them again. You should maintain your Boundaries. 

They may move completely out of your life, or remain on the fringes. 

Or... Like John-Mark who left Paul and abandoned him on the journey but later in life returned a healthier person and even a useful colleague, they may leave, grow up, and return healthier versions of themselves. 

Releasing them doesn't restore the relationship, but, it restores your sanity and allows you to move on without holding on to that expectation. 

Once you have let them go, you can be okay with them being whoever they are going to be. You can stop dictating their journey and let them have their own walk with God. 

You aren't always right. You aren't their Holy Spirit. Even if you are right in your observations, and that's a big if since you're not all knowing, it's not your job to change people. Give them the freedom to be on their own journey, just like you need the freedom to be on your own journey.

Maybe your John-Mark will return in another season. Maybe you ARE the John-Mark and you need to go grow up and come back later. 

#Selah

Collaborate with someone, do something magical.

NO HIDING means we lean in to uncomfortable places and topics. The more we would want to shy away, we lean in harder, even and especially religion and politics.

If you want to skip the whole post and get the point, here it is:

Go collaborate today, make things happen. The world is made better when we stop waiting for a handout and we start handing out ourselves.

I'm going to get political here for a moment. But before I do, let me say that I believe both the Red and Blue teams we have today are killing us. This isn't about Republican or Democrat, I think they should both be replaced. This is about Capitalism vs Socialism. I think this is important, and it's worth saying.

***On to my point, this is in response to a Reddit thread:
https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/fdziov/cmv_mike_bloombergs_campaign_is_proof_that_the/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

The Free Market, not Big Government, has given you everything that's ever made your life better, even the device you are reading this on.

When people are free to associate with each other without interference by big government or big corporations magic things happen.

Socialism is death. Capitalism and Free Markets are responsible for raising more people from poverty than any other system in history, by a long shot. 

What people think they hate is Capitalism. What they actually hate is Crony Capitalism, which is actually a form of Socialism. 

Socialism and Crony Capitalism both require Big Government. Real capitalism requires small government. We haven't seen real capitalism in my lifetime. Unfortunately. It made us prosperous as a nation, then we allowed progressivism to suffocate us.

This Reddit thread had the right heart behind it but shows deep ignorance on serval levels.

Just to name a few:

The inference is raising the income tax rate.

Income tax rates are for "earned income" so they only apply to money made from working a job. They have zero affect on "the rich". Their income didn't come from any job. So to tax the rich, as the author would like to do, would require taxing other income sources, namely real estate and investments at this higher rate for amounts over a certain amount.

Which is fine, if your philosophy is to tax the rich more. Then again, how do you measure fair.

If we each put in the same percentage, that would be fair. For those who earn more to pay a higher percentage is not fair, but, you could theoretically argue that they are responsible for more because they get more from the economy. I suppose.

All the data, supports lower taxes and fewer regulations and free markets are the BEST way to raise everyone's income.

Our economy soared under Trump's lower regulations and lower taxes and suffocated under Obama's death grip on regulations and taxes.

It's not rocket science.

Open Source software makes our digital Life better because people freely collaborate without top down interference. This is why more people are using Android than Apple iOS, by a long shot. Because Android is Open Source, allowing more people to contribute more, making it better and cheaper, making it available to more people. Every prepaid phone used by the nation's poorest people is an Android, NOT an Apple. Because Free Market, Free Association, and Open Source Collaboration make the world a better place.

Anytime people can collaborate without being told what they can or cannot do by some Big Brother, magical things happen and cool stuff gets created. 

Now... I'm taking about small business. 

Real innovation happens when the government gets out of the way.

Big Corporations AND Big Government are the problem. Big Corporations get bigger under Big Government, because they get new regulations passed that snuff out smaller competition. Deregulation allows smaller leaner companies to compete and outshine the big guys. Redbox and Netflix started small and put Blockbuster out of business. In a Socialist
System (Big Brother had his hands in everything, telling everyone what to do), we'd still have Blockbuster and no concept that Netflix or Redbox were possible.

If you want the world to be better for people, let the government do what it was designed to do and stop making it do what it wasn't designed to do.

Government can and should set and enforce rules to make sure nobody gets abused or taken advantage of. 

Government should be a referee in the game only. It should NEVER be a player in the game. When government starts being a player, the system collapses. Even as a referee if it's too involved and too tightly observing, it stifles the game. Imagine if referees took the coaches job and stopped plays in the middle to tell quarterbacks they're holding the ball wrong. Coaches and Refs are different roles. 

The system we have today has the government playing all the roles and even competing with the players. 

The system we need to return to is one in which the players play freely without government interference and the government only steps in when absolutely necessary.

The Free Market. Is the real "Social" construct. It's one in which people freely associate, work together, collaborate, and make things happen without Big Brother always stepping in to squash things. 

The Free Market, not Big Government, has given you everything that's ever made your life better, even the device you are reading this on.

Go collaborate today, make things happen. The world is made better when we stop waiting for a handout and we start handing out ourselves.

#Selah

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The journey starts with the first step.

Last night I did a thing. 

I took a two hour class on Voiceover work. It was very interesting and I got some great tips on using my Tone, Pitch, and Pace with more purpose to clarify my message. 

What I got most was confidence to try things.

For decades I talked about what I was GOING to do. 

She said she worked in banking for years taking about how she was GOING to get into radio. But finally her mom asked her when she was going to DO it. 

"You already know what it feels like not to do it..."

So she did. A year later, she got her first gig. Her mom passed away a few months later, but got to hear her on the radio. 

Ironically, I work in banking, so this was an interesting example.

I've been TALKING about Blogging, Podcasting, and being my own boss, even talking about publishing books and doing Voiceover work, for over a decade. But short of infrequently posting here, and starting several websites I never finished. A half written novel... I've not taken many actions. Definitely not consistent ones.

It's time to show up every day, and take one action. Record one segment of a podcast. Work on one section of a novel. Take one class on voiceovers. Take actions. See where they lead you. Pivot when needed. 

You never know where you'll end up, it starts with one step.

#Selah








Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Which reincarnation do you believe in?

Why is there idea of Reincarnation so dangerous?

It's a very popular idea. Several friends of mine are quite serious when they say "I must have been an X in one of my past lives because I..."

Some people point to death as just an ongoing cycle of life. You'll come back again, maybe this time as a butterfly. 

I think there's a thousand or more reasons this idea is awful, but I will cite just a few.

1. God created YOU. Not this version of you, but you. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a you again. You are uniquely you, and God adores you, and he had plans and purpose for you that carry far beyond this mortal coil.

2. Redemption shifts. Reincarnation shifts the burden of redemption from God's finished work in his son to your earning your way. If 10,000 of years of human history has taught us anything, it's that you cannot earn anything. Your "right-works" are as filthy rags compared to God's Glory. If your redemption was dependant on your works, you'd be doomed to repeat things over and over, never improving, like some sick twisted groundhog day, but with only vague notions about what you did before.

3. Redemption requires awareness. In order for reincarnation to even make sense, you'd have to come with full recollection of the previous life, so you could "do better". Not just a few vague 'memories' but actually recalling all of it. Otherwise, the activity has no meaning. 

4. It denies the REAL reincarnation. There is coming a day when each of us will inhabit a new body, but it will be a glorified version of this body. We'll live in this body, look like us still, but without any of the frailties. That day is future. Only one human in history has ever done it. The rest of us, past, present, future, will be getting ours on the same exact day. In one very specific moment, we (who are in "Christ"  "The Anointed One and in His Anointing") will all be transformed. The dead in Christ will rise first, and we who remain will be caught up with them. That day is ever closer. I believe I'll see it in my lifetime. Even if I don't, I'll see it still. 

5. You never stop being you. 10,000 years from today, you will still be you. If you've accepted the offer Jesus makes, to trade your life for his, you'll be happy about where you spent that 10,000 years. The reason Jesus came and took your place is so that (a) he could pay your price for you, you don't have to earn anything, and, (b) because you don't get another chance to do it better. This life keeps going. You are a spirit having a natural experience. You don't stop when your body does. 


What about those with vivid memories of past lives?

The Bible is clear on this. You get one shot. You are not coming back to try again. But what about those who think they remember? I submit a few thoughts.

1. Vivid imagination. They are dreamers. The same function that helps us tell great stories. They've told themselves the story so well that they believe it. 

2. Demonic Influence. Demons are fallen angels. They existed before the first human. No new angels were ever created and none destroyed. The exact number has been in existence from before man that exists today. A demon who spent time with a particular person can recount intimate details of their life to you. Even hidden treasures and secret conversations. They can't read minds, but they were in the room with them. This is the same reason Mediums can help you "communicate with your loved one who passed". It's NOT your dead husband you're speaking with. It's a demon imitation. There's no good that can come from it.

3. Willfully Fabricated. Either in an attempt to decieve or just because they want it to be true so bad, they made it up. Consciously. This is the least common, but I've seen it. It's part of an identity they craft for themselves, seeking attention.


Where you spend the next 10,000 years depends on whether you decide to stand before a  perfect God on your own merrits or His son's, but you have to pick one, before you leave. 

#Selah

Monday, March 2, 2020

We are the hands and feet of Christ.

We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
We are the hands and feet of Christ. 
And again... We are the hands and feet of Christ. 

Throughout the modern era, from the enlightenment forward, The Church has driven every significant change in culture. 

Hospitals, Scientific Breakthrough, Schools and Universities, homeless shelters, the civil rights movement, women's rights, orphanages, the ending of slavery, all started and led by The Church.

As The Church in the USA abdicated it's responsibility to heal and teach, The Government took a more active role to fill the gap. That change was driven in part by the secularization of culture, but, the root of it all was Christians being either too afraid or too self absorbed to engage in meaningful ways. 

The rise of Socialism is a secular response to the decline of The Church.

Thankfully, I'm seeing a turn in the tide but it's not making major news. The Phil Vischer Podcast (The Holy Post) as well as Building a Story Brand Podcast and the Exploring the Prophetic (Shawn Bolz) Podcast all share frequent examples of people stepping up to the plate and making a difference. 

The fight against human trafficking is being led by The Church. While many of the Secular Leaders behind the rise of Socialism are actually contributing to Human Trafficking. #JeffreyEpstein 

So change is coming. The Church is waking up.

Maybe you and I don't have the expertise to start a school or hospital... But we can reach out to do for one what we wish we could do for all. Smile at folks. Slip a note in the cleaning ladies bag, put $20 or even a $100 in there with it. Call someone and love on them. We can partner with organizations that are making a difference.

Be the change you want to see, start with one.

#Selah


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Are you suffering enough?

"In human society we are suffering because we are not suffering enough..." Dr Brand, quoted by Philip Yancey.

The danger of leprosy isn't the deterioration of the body. Unlike what I originally thought about leprosy, the body doesn't automatically deteriorate. Parts don't just fall off. What happens, is the ability to feel pain is removed. So a person turns a key in a door too hard and damages their finger with a deep gash. But they don't feel the pain, so they keep going. Then because they don't feel pain, they don't treat it well, it becomes infected, and it has to be removed or sometimes it falls off.

In order for the human body to function, trillions of individual cells give up their individuality and function as one whole. This whole is connected by a network of sensory receptors, including Pain and Pleasure, which are more linked than you first think. 

Ever try to get into a Hot Tub and it's too hot at first, but then it's nice. The temperature didn't change, you adjusted. Your pain and pleasure are subjective.

Just as the body is made up of cells working together, The Body of Christ is made up of individual cells. 

"... but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." Ephesians 4:15‭-‬16 NASB https://bible.com/bible/100/eph.4.15-16.NASB

When a body feels pain, everything stops. You stub your toe and you pause everything to do something about it. The pain screams "Ouch, that's MY toe!"

A small child with Leprosy will eat their own finger off, there's no pain to tell her "Ouch, that's MINE".

We are not a functional body unless we begin to hurt when the body hurts.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
Romans 12:15 BOOKS
https://bible.com/bible/31/rom.12.15.BOOKS

So.... I ask you...

Are you hurting with other people's hurt? Does the plight of others move you?

Extreme Anarchists are too extreme to the side of Independence. Extreme Socialists are too extreme to the side of giving up individuality.

But there's a point in which we must each be held responsible to do our part (healthy boundaries never rescues when it should hold accountable) yet we must hurt with each other. When a part of the body is injured, we must stop and attend to it. 

We must hurt with the hurting, and collectively yell: "Ouch! That's my body!"

#Selah













Saturday, February 29, 2020

Are we too Christian? Are we loosing opportunities to serve because of it?

Are we too "Christian"? 

More and more, I've heard from people who say things like "I don't want to go to church, they're just there to talk about Jesus".

That sounds good on the surface to most Christians. But take it deeper. 

As I ask what they really need and want... I find:

They want to do life as human beings with other human beings. They want to talk about life, struggles, hardships, successes, and do life together. They want real community. 

There is absolutely a truth to having a shared worldview, and shared commitment to The Word and to Jesus Christ our Lord and His Father. I'm not negating that.

But... 

#1. Are we SO dedicated to doing Christiany Things that we actually create a fake community? 

If every time we get together we open the Bible and talk scripture like a book study, making sure we don't say anything that will get a rebuke, making sure we look and sound a certain way... We end up in a place where we don't just do life together, I think we run the danger of building an inauthentic community.

#2. Are we so fortified in our Christiany Things that outsiders who haven't met Jesus yet don't want to be with us? 

We will absolutely turn off those dedicated to darkness. If someone hates the light, they'll hate us. Nothing we do will change that. 

But what if the people who don't like us aren't dedicated to darkness, they're actually making an astute observation about us that we're blind to. We're inauthentic as a community and therefore unsafe.

We should be the safest, freeest, most authentic, most vulnerable, most raw, most willing to be imperfect and let it show, of any community on planet Earth. 

But we're not. We're known for being plastic. One way on Sunday and another way during the week. We're known for being stingy, judgmental, mean, holier than thou, and hard to be around.

The communities the Church wrestled against are the ones being real, raw, authentic. True, they're embracing life choices that are destructive to them. There's no call or ask to be a better version of themselves. But they're real, and the world is drawn to them. 

How could we begin to craft community that is BOTH authentic and calls us to more?

#Selah

Value is an the inside out proposition.

How you value yourself is how others will evaluate you...

What you are getting back from the world around you is far more dependant on what is inside than you realize. You're getting from others the energy you put out.

This is about value not behavior, even if behavior is affected by value. One must not discount external feedback in regards to behavior modifications. If everyone says you interrupt a lot (my old nemesis), then maybe work on that.

However...

Value is intrinsic. It is known in a deep inner knowing. It is not dependant upon external feedback. In fact, value has the opposite affect. Value is an inside out presentation.

People's reactions to you is more likely a byproduct or response of the value you project.

If you value yourself less, you project that value, you tolerate things, and things come.

If you value yourself more, people still try to test your value but you shut those people down faster. And, people of higher value are attracted to you. People with lower values walk away faster.

So attracting higher value starts first internally, by increasing your own value of you, then externally as people respond to that.

What I would add as a Christian, is that any value you have for yourself apart from Christ is empty. It's hard to see our failure and own our value. The more honest we are the less we value ourselves... Unless... We know that our value is based not on our deeds but on his eyes.

Our value is what he says it is, and he says it's worth the price of His Son.

Therefore, the paradigm shift is knowing who we are in His eyes. Not church. Not Religion. But God's eyes.

When we see ourselves the way he sees us, our identity becomes firm and unmovable. Then from that identity, we work inside out, and people begin to respond differently.

For example, I noticed this play out in an interaction with my friend one Sunday. She could see the difference in my eyes, demeanor, how I talk and carry myself. And instead of pushing me away she leaned in more. Even responded to a coffee invite she's usually too busy for.

I could see her perceiving me differently because of my mindset shifts and how they affect my presentation.

She's not my person, but, it was encouraging to see someone who used to respond to me one way shift how she responded as I changed from the inside out.

Want to take it to the next level? 

Begin calling others to a higher valuation of themselves! 

#Selah

Friday, February 28, 2020

Is masturbation a sin?

An anonymous friend of mine asked me this question, it's a question I've been asked by several friends in the last year. I'm reposting the question and my current thoughts (subject to change) with permission.

Question:

Do you think masturbation, without using pornography, is still a sin?

My thoughts, as of February 28, 2020:

That's a REALLY good question... I think there's a nuanced way of looking at this.... Multiple sides. 

It's a question I've thought about, studied, and prayed about... A lot.

I've been sexually active and sexually aware since I was FIVE years old. 

In Fall 2016, I was having an affair and planning my suicide.

In January 2017, I found a miracle healing of heart, but that miracle moment wasn't complete healing, it was merely the start of the journey. 

It's taken two counselors, my late wife's unyielding Faith in me, Widowhood, multiple failed relationships and flings, and lots of prayers and some fasting and a lot of books and messages, a few classes, and a lot of safe friendships, and a lot of soul searching, and a lot of emotional healing... To finally say, in February 2020, I am free from Sexual Addiction. 

Given that freedom, I know I must not return to bondage again. I must be diligent to guard my heart and steward my hard won freedom.

So with that background, what are my thoughts...

#1. Wrong Question from the end tree. Sin (S-State of being) is the root... sin (s-action or behavior) is the fruit. 

Asking if a particular behavior is a "sin" is the wrong way to start any questions about God's Grace and Kingdom as New Testament believers. Behavior questions come from the Tree of Knowledge (of Good/Evil). All religious thought comes from that tree. It's the wrong tree. You cannot practice a "Better Knowledge of Good" and be any closer to God than the most evil sinner. We have all fallen short, all our righteousness is as filthy rags. You cannot be good. You cannot be "holy" if by that you mean good behavior. To be "holy" is to be set apart, not to behave well.

The Tree of LIFE doesn't ask behavior questions at all. It asks identity questions. 

Who am I? 

I'm God's Son/Daughter! I stand before him blood washed and stainless. My Sin (capital S, a state of being not an action) is paid for. My actions, sins (lower case s, fruit of Sin State, not the cause of it) are irrelevant. 

This leaves us with:

All things are lawful but not all things are profitable.


#2. Principles not Laws. The Tree of Life alert what is best (heart issue), not what is best behaved (body, action issue).

So if all things are lawful but not all things are profitable, how can we view masturbation?

God made our bodies to be sexual bodies. This is why some people experience orgasms in their sleep. Many a man while going through adolescence has nocturnal ejaculation. The body processes it's need to release.

If due to the combination of psychological and biological need the pressure to release is so high that it's distracting you.... Go release it! 

In some cases you may find that exercise meets that same need for release.

Caution:

In the case of women more than men (but it's true for both) a state of arousal may require imagination or engaged mind. This is where we can get into trouble. 

Fantasy is not bad. Fantasy is part of storytelling and storytelling is why we have movies and books and novels. But fantasy can lead to unreal expectations. When unreal expectations build up and become strongholds in the mind... They can create blocks for real intimacy. 

This is why phornography is dangerous. Pornography builds unrealistic expectations inside the mind and heart, unrealistically high reactions of dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin... These inhibit real intimacy with another human.

So ultimately what you do with your body is irrelevant... Watch carefully how it's affecting your mind and heart. 

You could accidentally create a block to real intimacy if you don't guard the heart and mind carefully.

As long as you have a peace about it... Get out the vibrator and get that release. Just watch the mind and heart and be sure you're not building any bondages.

See also, my best practices for alternatives here:

http://www.darrellwolfe.com/2020/02/god-is-passionate-about-your-sex-life.html


#Selah

Karma. Seed. Feeling Stuck.

My friend posted this question, I'm reposting with permission.  It's a question I struggled with for decades and a common one to the human experience:

Question: They say karma is a bitch... I wonder what I did in a previous life to deserve the crap I have to deal with now. My life isn't terrible, I know, but so many people have it so much easier and I just dont know why I am stuck where I am in life. I don't need a pity party... I do great at those by myself!

Feeling Stuck, and Karma (seed/harvest) are both topics I've been pondering for many years.

Here's my thoughts...

#1. In a broken world things break. So if things aren't going right, that's just part of the human experience. But not the only part, keep pushing forward.

#2. Generally output is equal or greater than input, but that's a general principle not a guarantee for success every time. 

Some seeds produce thousands of times more than you put in. Some seeds never root. Some seeds root then die off quickly. 

Because seed/harvest is a principle, it can still be good to check inputs (what you feed the system). Outputs (what the system feeds you back) are out of your control, but they are influenced by the inputs.

Nevertheless, not every seed (input) will produce.

#3. Boundaries and Emotional Health affect us more than we are usually aware of. It's very possible to be struggling in life, never getting traction on the changes you seek, never "getting ahead" all while focused on the external circumstances (if only I had...) while you are completely unaware of the internal changes you need to make. My entire job environment changed for me in the last three months because my own heart got healed, and what used to be turmoil and dread at work changed to a happy place, without external circumstances changing. 

#4. Just keep swimming. Life is seasonal. Some seasons are darker and some brighter.

#5. Be careful of comparison. You're almost always judging your internal world by someone else's external highlights reel. You are uniquely you. Only you can do what you do the way you do it. Don't compare, just strive to be your truest and most authentic self, the self God created you to be.

#6. Focus on what you give not what you get. The more we focus on what is coming back to us the less happy we'll be. The more we focus on what we sow into others the more content we'll be. This doesn't mean that we should be codependent and give ourselves to death. We should be balanced, healthy, taking time for self care, feeding ourselves strength so that we are fully equipped to give. But... If we're focused on what is coming to us, we'll stop sowing, and stop reaping. 


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