Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Death Dream

I was gonna die. I was in the hands of good friends and in a safe place, and i was gonna die. Not sure why, either. I can say this much: in my dream, my death was imminent, certain and necessary.

All I could do was tremble/quake in fear while in the hands of my friends. I wasn't afraid of dying or death per se, but of loosing my wife and kids. It's the only thing in my mind in the dream. I'll never see them again, i'll die and they're gone for good! My family, gone! I can't die, I can't loose my family!

When I awoke from the depth of despair, all I could think was "What about Christ?! I was supposed to be excited to see God! What about God? What about Jesus? Did I really forget Him? How could I?!"

I have told myself many times, and said it aloud on a few occasions: God tends to my fam while I'm here, he can tend to them when I'm up there, too. When it's time for my homecoming, parting may be tough at first but I get to be with God. That was why Christ died in the first place.

So what the heck just happened?

Friday, May 7, 2010

What if God were make-believe?

First thing's first, you should read the very real story that inspired this post. Please read:

I have friends who ascribe to the concept that God is great if you believe in Him, and that one way to God/heaven is as good as another. I have learned over the years the the varying concepts of God and the afterlife from the major religions and belief systems of the world are simply not logically compatible with one-another. Religion A and religion B will always contradict each other if they have any firm sense of belief structure. (Ask me about it sometime, I'm chock-full of evidence) So if they contradict each other and we're talking about God, can they possibly co-exist and be real at the same time? If God was the initial creator of time and space and claims that there is no other way to Him, as he does in the 3 major monotheistic religions, then the only logical answer is that one of them is right and the rest are wrong, or a bunch of the belief systems are right and all of the above 3 are wrong, or the Atheist favorite: none are right.

So it seems to me that there's a LOT of religious and spiritual make-believe going on, no matter how you shake it. If you tout the mantra of "whatever you want to believe is good for you, and I'll believe whatever is good for me", then you have essentially bought the make-believe concept wholesale. Here's where I get back to the linked story above: What are you going to do in the situation linked to above? How will you cope if God is only as real as you believe He is? If your faith falters, does God just fade away like the image on a dying TV screen? I really want to know folks: how do you deal with that?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How our marriage ended...

...and found new life:

I want to share this for a few reasons, the very first of which is to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. Ironic, how I choose to celebrate such a thing by sharing the lowest moment in our marriage. The great truth is that in our weakest moment is where God is strongest. Read on if you please... and happy anniversary Melissa!

My wife Melissa and I shared this in front of our congregation at church. The italicized text was hers to read. The rest was mine:

Recently, Melissa and I were given an opportunity to present a devotional at Christian and Kristen's wedding shower. Afterwards Pastor invited us to share it [in front of the congregation]. We're very pleased to be able to do so, even though it means sharing some of the most difficult moments in our life. It's from early on in our first year of marriage. Our oldest son was only three at the time. And at this point in our relationship, it had become quite obvious that our idea of how to parent were polar opposite from one another. Not only did our approach to parenting differ, but our way of interacting with him in general was like night and day. Needless to say, arguments had become a common occurrence. And these arguments weren't just heated debates either. These were the kind of arguments that would bring out the worst of who we could be. So much so that one night we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a stand off in our sons bedroom. I had been the one putting him to bed and was trying to get him to do what he was told. Melissa heard the battle of wills from the other room, and suffice to say, did not approve of what she was hearing. I "deserved to be obeyed", and she felt that her son "needed to be saved from my unreasonable demands". These were the roles that we would find ourselves in time and time again. It was the building up of this dispute and many others like it that had funneled down into this one all out, knock down, drag out fight. We found ourselves stuck on our couch in an impossible situation, hardly able to stand being in the same room together, no less sitting next to each other on the same couch.
Of course, that's a very brief and understated retelling of our situation, but the point is that we were fighting and we were at an impasse. We had gone around many times, but with no resolution. We had become frustrated with each other, very critical of each other, and we had finally had it. If we couldn't fix this problem, it was over. That was where we were at. Our marriage was over.

Ok, so let's back up a step. Ya' see, we had been best friends for over 8 years before we were married. We had met back in our high school years while working at the mall. We clicked immediately and became the best of friends. I saw him as the super nice, smart guy who always had a smile on his face. He saw me as a spark plug behind a shy, awkward facade, a diamond in the not-so-rough, as he put it. When we were together we just lit up. In the upcoming years, Chris would always show up at the most opportune times, sometimes without even a phone call. One of these times happened to be when my boyfriend stood me up for my senior prom and with less than 24 hours notice, Chris got the day off of work, showed up with a tux and corsage to match my dress, and escorted me to prom. My knight in shining armor, to say the least!

From the beginning, Melissa was the consummate friend, perfect and complete. We could hang out for hours doing nothing at all and have a blast doing it. We often helped each other with relationship issues, she even set me up on a date or two when I was the shy one. We were like peas and carrots, like peanut butter and jelly, and it was like that for years. Eventually I made an attempt to court her; however, my overtures would come too late for she had developed a very serious relationship. Soon after that, there came a day when I had to tell myself, out loud, that my Melissa was not mine anymore. I would devote myself to her as a friend and nothing more. In time, I got to be a groomsman in her wedding. When they had troubles, I would be there for advice. When they had a baby, I got to be at the shower. I did my best to befriend her new husband, though with not much success. Melissa and I, however, remained best friends.

So yes, I had been married once before. That marriage happened to be one big, abusive mess. I had loved this person, had a child with this person, and put all of my faith and dreams into this person just to have them completely unravel. I deemed myself an utter failure. I had lost any sense of identity or self worth amidst all of the lies, deceit, and verbal abuse. Chris was what helped me survive that horrible ordeal. I had fallen into such a state of misery and despair I barely had a breath left in me. And just when I didn't feel like I could hope or believe in love any more, there was my Christopher just waiting for me. It was him that was the breathe of life that my soul needed to be revived. He is what kept me going. And yet, after all of this, here I was again, ready to accept that I was a failure and that I would have to pick up the broken pieces that were left of my life and move on.
So, here's where we get to our theme. Despite our amazing friendship that built a storybook marriage, which everyone swore was meant to be, we had “fallen out of love”. The world seems to think that you fall in love and get married, it lasts forever. This kind of love is over rated. It will only get you so far, and we had already reached the end of its usefulness. Within one years time we managed to make complete shipwreck of our love, and there we sat on that couch, waiting to see who would declare this unfortunate truth first. We couldn't fix this problem and it was over.

I was the one who spoke up first, but “it's over” wasn't what came out of my mouth. You see, “It's Over” was not good enough. We had come too far. We used to talk about how fate had brought us together, that some greater power guided us through our life. We weren't supposed to date as teenagers, we were meant to be friends first; we were supposed to go through other relationships and suffer the hardships and learn the lessons. We used to call it fate. But we learned something new. Fate has a name. He is God and his son is Jesus. Though I hadn't quite wrapped my head around “sovereignty” and “Providence” yet, I understood that the Lord is the author of marriage. I knew that God hates divorce. I knew that, just as God was the third member of this marriage, so was he the third person on that couch. What I said to Melissa was something like this:

“Melissa, we can't fix this problem. We can't figure this out, but you know what? God can. I don't know exactly how it works or what it looks like, but we have to give it to God. He'll make it work.”

We dropped our heads and prayed. We cried, and we prayed some more. So it's obvious how that night turned out. The Lord did work things out. He got us through that night on the couch, and he's gotten us through many more since then.

Over the years I learned to set boundaries for the kids and that reprimand, sometimes, needs to be harsh. Chris learned how to season discipline with grace and with mercy. He also learned that he had anger issues and how to work through that; but mostly, we learned that we are a team. We are partners with the Lord in Holy Matrimony. We have learned how to take correction from one another and how to give it. We have learned how to lean on each other and how to support. To this day, God continues to teach us “Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”

We share this, not just to tell our story, but to offer to you an example of how God is in marriage, and how He will never forsake a marriage. After all, he is the author of marriage. He is the one who declared “It is not good for man to be alone” and that, apart from woman, “No suitable helper (will) be found”. He declared that we would “leave our father and mother and become one flesh.” “What God has brought together, let man not separate.” This was a direct reference to marriage!

Though we don't imagine you need to hear this, or that this is something you didn't already know, but we would like to offer it as a reminder: In all things, turn to the Lord. Seek His guidance in prayer and also in the scriptures and to Him will be the glory forever and ever, amen!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Out of control, In control

From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. — Psalm 61:2

When you're feeling alone and hopeless, remember that God is in control.

Prayer is an amazing tool. People debate over whether God answers prayers or if he hears prayers. People question their motives and question other peoples' motives. There's a lot to be said about prayer.

One thing I feel is woefully overlooked about prayer lies in our faith. One of the greatest benefits of prayer is the simple fact that we are laying our burdens upon the almighty and sovereign God. Will God heal your wife's breast cancer? Dunno. Will God take away your painful addiction(s)? Hope so, but maybe not as soon as you like. Will God stop pain and suffering, will he end world hunger? In his own time. Regardless of topic, He's on it.

Are we gonna get the answers we are looking for when we pray our problems to the Lord? Maybe or maybe not, but you can rest assured that God PROMISES that He's listening and He's tending to our needs and He's with us through our trials. Prayer is a reminder that God is on the job - what can be more comforting than that?

Do Not Worry

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
What can I add to that? Nothing.

More Than Conquerors

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose.
That's good things and bad - they are worked out for our good.

These are just 2 examples of God's words (Matthew ch.6 and Romans ch.8) promising us that He's with us and He is in control. Pray to Him. Give Him thanks and praise, ask for help, ask for miracles. In and after that, take solace because He is with you and He's got it under control.

When you're feeling alone and hopeless, remember that God is in control.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"It takes more faith to NOT believe in God..."

... than it takes to believe in God.

The assumption here is that it takes a lot of faith to believe in God. The corollary seems to be that it doesn't take any faith to not believe. The arguement is made in many churches and houses of religious and philosophical debate that "It takes more faith to not believe in God than it does to believe in God." The suggestion here is generally made that you have to believe in SOMETHING if God doesn't fit into your understanding of existence and life - to rephrase it, I would say "If not God, then who or what?"

What does that look like to you? Help me make some sense of the statement, or help me discount it. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Government dollars at work?

That is, your tax dollars.

CNN article regarding

This article says, in plain english, that the website has inaccurately reported stimulus money spent and the jobs saved/ created in US congressional districts that don't exist.

"A report released Wednesday by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states, four territories and Washington, D.C. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds was shown as being spent -- and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created -- in 440 false districts, it said."

My knee jerk reaction is to assume that someone wants their administration to look great in front of the public and is willing to lie to look good - or worse, that money was funneled or laundered and this was how they covered it up. Let us remember, though, that we are supposed to be a nation of "innocent until proven guilty".

The explanation is that the people who received the money reported their congressional district inaccurately and, as VP Biden stated it, the errors didn't indicate unaccounted-for spending but rather were the result of people who had "bad civics classes." Good. Now we know that we're to blame...

Here are the questions and concerns that I'm left with:

1. The direct implication here is that is not getting it's information from the government who spent it, but from the people who received it. Why aren't they using their own data as they track what's being spent? - Answer: They admitted already that they don't know where it's being spent. This poor excuse for accountability is a reaction to that revelation, meaning they have to go back and ASK the recipients how much they got and where they spent it.

2. If we can't trust WHERE it's being spent, how are we supposed to believe anyone who tells us how much is being spent or what good it's doing?

3. We were shocked to hear that our government doesn't know where the stimulus is being spent, and they make it worse by screwing up any attempt to make good on their own accountability. The billion (trillion?) dollar question that everyone should be asking - how are we supposed to trust our Government with anything? Health care? National Defense? Civil service? REPRESENTATION?

So now, when they claim to have put 120,000 more people onto health care insurance, we can assume that means 12.