Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 29, 2016

Book of Love 


​”I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” 

Psalm 119:93

So sad that a lot of people believe (and a lot of churches teach) that the Bible is a book of rules and regulations on how to get to heaven. When in actuality it’s a book of love meant to help us live longer and happier lives while we’re here on earth. 

Advertisements
Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 24, 2016

I Am a Christian…

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.  The second that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  Both are nonsense.  You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

-Phil Robertson (the Duck guy, not the 700 club one)

I am a Christian.  A child of God.  His creation.

I have a relationship with Him.  I pray to Him often, and He listens.  And I listen to the still small voice inside of me that he communicates through to me.  (1 Kings 19:12-13)  It’s called the Holy Spirit.

God loves me.  And you.  And everybody.  John 3:16.  You know that one, even if you’re not a Christian.  But here’s the link.  Try Romans 8:37-39.  The scripture that this blog is named after?  Yup.  Why?  Because He can behave no other way.  He IS love.

The Bible is God’s Word.  Look it up.  This guy, John, who knew Jesus personally, says so (John 1:1). And this other guy, Matthew, who hung out with Jesus regularly, quoted Jesus about it (Matt. 5:18).  People for centuries have tried to disprove it, and failed (this guy, for example).  While the translations down through history have screwed things up some, “it contains 66 books written over 1,500 years by 40 different writers but it tells one “big story” of God’s plan of salvation that culminated in Jesus Christ”.  You cannot pick and choose what you believe out of the Bible, any more than you can pick and choose what to believe out of a math textbook.  It’s like having a conversation with someone (you know, very smart, like GOD), and when they say “look, the sky is blue!”, you either say “I don’t believe you!” or “you didn’t just say that!”.

Put these last two paragraphs together.  God loves us, and the Bible is not a book of rules and regulations we have to follow in order to please God.  It is a book of love that if we follow it, and have a relationship with God, we will not be perfect, but will have a good and enjoyable and peaceful life, regardless of the hardships and troubles that befall us.

Now, Jesus, His son, came down from Heaven to earth (by choice) and died for me, so I can have this relationship with Him.

Jesus said – as I’m sure most people know, Christian or not – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6).  The Bible is God’s Word, but the TRUTH…it’s there.  HE is there.  Living, breathing, giving life.  Our believing it/Him has no bearing on its/His existence.  And that, as Gandalf said in “Lord of the Rings”, “is a comforting thought”, at least to me.

These three persons, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, make up a thing called the Trinity.  Marriage was actually created by God to mimic this Trinity and show us a little piece of what their union is like – each of them saying continually to each other, “it’s not about me, it’s about you”.

A side note…

Religion is humanity trying to reach or please God in order to get to Heaven someday.  Christianity is God trying to reach humanity by sending His Son to die for them so that they could have an abundant life here, now, and hereafter by having a relationship with Him.  No other religion (to my knowledge) worships a supreme being that ever DID anything for us, other than give us a list of things to do and not do in order to get to Heaven.  Unfortunately, a majority of American churches have adopted that philosophy over the last few hundred years, i.e., the goal of Christianity is not to have a relationship with God, the goal is to say the prayer and “get saved” so that you don’t go to hell when you die.  Where do I sign up?  Sounds like an awesome group to be a part of, right?  (SMH)

Back to the point.  So what does all of this mean?  Why am I writing this today?  Because we’ve lost our minds lately.  We have reached a point where we think we know it all, and don’t need God, but we’re killing each other, killing ourselves emotionally and spiritually, and in short, NOT living the abundant life that is there for the taking.  I’m ANGRY.  Angry that some churches are doing more nowadays to turn people away from God than most anything else.

Side note #2!

Church is a place where people of like-minded beliefs in God gather frequently to love on each other, help each other, grow as Christians, and worship God.  It is NOT a place you go on Sunday so that God won’t be angry with you.  Back to the point…

I’m angry that people who identify themselves as Christians are as hypocritical as politicians.  Angry that #BlackLivesMatter/racism, abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, ruined marriages…

 

  • Abortion is murder.  Regardless of the circumstance, regardless of when it occurs.  But if someone has had an abortion, I would sit and cry with them and love them and try to help them overcome the grief and shame they are under, as best I could, as Jesus would.  Because I am a Christian.
  • The LGBT community has either been deceived (see side note #3, after this paragraph) into thinking they are who they believe they are, or some tragic event or series of events in their lives slowly led them to the lifestyle they are now living.  This lifestyle is NOT how God created us to be.  It is NOT genetic.  A DNA molecule or genetic makeup that makes it “more likely for a person to be gay” is NOT THE SAME THING as “I can’t help it, this is who I am.”  But if I met a person that was L, B, G, or T, I would never condemn them.  I would love them, as Jesus would.  Find out about them.  Learn their life story.  Pray for them.  Try to speak the TRUTH in LOVE to them, and hope that they become the person God created them to be.  Because I am a Christian.  If you want more love and truth, go here.

Side note #3…

There’s this fallen angel, Satan.  He exists.  He has minions (not those stupid little yellow ones, either).  They roam the earth seeking to destroy us, because we are made in God’s image, and he hates us, with all his might.  Not by floating into our bedroom and stabbing us to death with some magical evil sword, though.  By putting thoughts in our heads that we think are ours.  Thoughts like “you’re gay”; “you should be ashamed”; “God is mad at you”; “you can never be the same again after what you’ve done”; “Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong with those emails”; “vote for Donald Trump”. (you think I’m kidding?!?)  These are not audible voices, so don’t even go there.  But if you don’t believe these things, you’re fooling yourself.  I believe it.  Because I am a Christian.

  • Racism is wrong and ugly and barbaric.  I hope you don’t need me to expound on that.  But I believe it.  Because I am a Christian.
  • God warns us against being sexually intimate outside of marriage, not just because He’s a buzzkill.  It’s because once you have sex with someone, you create a powerful spiritual bond that is not meant to be broken.  (it’s why they call it “making love”)  If it is broken, it becomes harder and harder to be intimate with someone.  You are emotionally and spiritually becoming numb on the inside, regardless of the rush you are feeling when you have sex with someone.  My ex wife (who I have no contact with) led a similar lifestyle before she became a Christian.  But I can wholly attest, the scars were still there.  And I hope and pray that she and all who have shared her experience will come to know how beautiful they are in spite of all that.  Because I am a Christian.
  • In the same way, pornography erodes away at your ability to be intimate with someone, physically and spiritually.  (1 Cor. 6:18)  I know this firsthand.  I was addicted to it for part of my teenage life, and my early thirties.  But discovering God’s love for me and Him showing me how to love myself and view my soul as a gift to be kept healthy and free from that junk, freed me from that addiction.  I know this.  Because I am a Christian.

I’ll probably make a lot of people angry by posting this today.  I might very well lose some friends, facebook, twitter, or otherwise today, as well.  but that’s ok.  Because I am a Christian.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | October 7, 2014

Discouragement

I’m discouraged. I have been for a while. My relationship with God has not grown during this time, which probably spans a year or more. My daily time with Him has diminished to a few prayers and some reading a couple of times a week, at the most. I have let the circumstances of my life, while not crushing or huge in their magnitude, reduce me. I am not, in this season of life, who I am meant to be. I am not the warrior that I hope to be, as stated in the title of this blog.

It’s the little things. Relationships. Communication (lack thereof, or the wrong way, or misunderstanding); God has thwarted my plans to get everything on my own (including companionship) consistently. I have no need to get married. It is simply a want at this point in life. It is more along the lines of wanting someone of the oppposite sex to hang out with regularly, to learn about, to go on road trips, and the like. But God has thwarted me. He wants me. He is jealous. I thank Him for protecting me and loving me and wanting me like that. But I am hesitant.

Ever since my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and eventually died from it, and while my dad finished his journey of checking out emotionally during that time, I’ve had this. “I’ve got this” has been my unspoken mantra. Because there was no one else to help. Looking back, God blessed me with His protection and sustenance and faithfulness countless times. But it is hard for me to let HIM “get this”. I have become very good at it in these 45 years on earth I have lived.

But my discouragement runs deeper. After my marriage and divorce, He brought new life and understanding to me. I believed and still do that we are no longer identified as “sinners”, but saints who sin. I read today in a book by Erwin McManus and posted the excerpt on facebook…”other religions deal with SINS. Christianity deals with SIN.” Our debt has been paid. I may be splitting hairs with semantics, but “sinner” is not how I define myself. I am a child of God. I am His. Our hearts are GOOD. Just read “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge. I dare you. He uses references in scripture to back this claim. This does not mean that we don’t make mistakes. Or lead a sin-free life. But we are not defined by Jeremiah 17:9 (“the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”). We are defined by Ezekiel 36:26-27 (“And I will give you a new heart…and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”). We can be a force for good in this world. To show the love of God and Jesus to all.

And thus my discouragement. We have stumbled into a faith that is defined by Jer. 17:9 and that deals with sins instead of defined by Ez. 36:26-27 and a relationship that deals with sin. I remember putting some pieces together one Sunday morning about a year ago or so. God cannot tolerate sin. He hates it. Sin, by definition, is separation from God, a rebellion on our part. Therefore, He hates to be separated from us. But oh, how I have been beaten down by what I see all around me, not in the secular, but in the Christian world. One that believes that we are full of sin and that we are “sinners saved by Grace”. I have all but given up trying to propagate any kind of rebuttal to this.

I realize that this might all be splitting hairs and semantics, as I said before, but I can see it in the lives of believers, sometimes at least. How and when will we wake up? How will God restore my hope? My belief has not wavered, but, as I said at the beginning, I am discouraged.

I mean, even Yoda knows some of this (yes, yes, the Force is not God and all that)!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_QcRPNfUuE

“Illuminous beings are we, not this crude matter!”
“I don’t believe it!” “and that…is why you fail.”
“I can’t. It’s too big!” “Size matters not. Looke at me! Judge me by my size, do you not?”
“You must unlearn, what you have learned.”
And the favorite…”Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”

God, just…help. I’m not dying, I’m not in danger, I’m not desperate. But just help.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | August 14, 2014

45

Today, I am 45 years old. I don’t feel old. My body does sometimes, but I don’t exercise, and eat like crap every day, so I’m sure that’ll catch up to me at some point. But I’m 6’8″, 250 lbs, and generally healthy. I play golf, paintball on occasion, video games a LOT, and I’m a musician both at my church and in a local band. I’ve been through a divorce, three jobs, one layoff, and moved 4 or 5 times from Alabama all the way to upstate NY. Life ain’t all that bad.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been on this earth for 45 years. It doesn’t seem like that long. But here’s how it breaks down, at least how I remember it, and what I know about it now.

1969 – 1980
Raised in a strict Christian home, went to church every Sunday, made good grades at school, started piano lessons when I was 6, had a good group of friends, was a class clown that got into trouble at school occasionally. Was provided for materially.

(raised in a home with no intimacy, a church that taught about rules and regulations instead of relationship and grace and mercy; had a hard time with relationships, even though I had some, because my parents taught me nothing about relationships, because they knew very little; I though all of this was normal; secretly inside, I was nurturing a great disdain and hatred for the way I was being raised and neglected, emotionally, by my parents)

1981-1990
Still made good grades in school (or else); my mother had cancer three times and died in 1988, my freshman year in college; I still haven’t cried for her, not really. My dad, and the little emotions he did show, checked out completely, giving in to his shame and guilt that he carried from WWII and being a recovered alcoholic; he stayed on the wagon, but his shame was evident. I hated HS, really. I had some friends, and I graduated third in my class, but again, my lack of social skills kept me from really making good friends and really fitting in. I started college at a small school near my hometown, then transferred to the University of Alabama in 1990, which was refreshing; no one knew me; I had a chance to start over. My dad retired and started to travel abroad. And though it was probably the roughest period of my life, I thought all of this was normal. With mom and dad “gone”, my mantra became, “I got this”, because no one else was there to help.

When I was 13, I became a Christian, for the first time, in a real sense. But I still had no idea of what a relationship with God looked like. But I know I felt His presence and I gave my life to Him, the best I could. I committed to serving Him and following the rules and regulations, because that’s all I knew to do.

Also, in this time, I became addicted to pornography. I have no one to blame; it was my choice. My need for any kind of attachment and emotional bonding led me down that road. This addiction would last into my 20’s, stop for a while, then resurface with the advent of the internet. No more trying to look inconspicuous in bookstores. It was too easy.

1991-2000
I graduated with a BS in Aerospace Engineering in 1992, with a good GPA. My dad was still checked out and traveling abroad in an RV, and unbeknowst to me, accumulating a large amount of debt. He got married in 1992, shortly after I moved to MD for my first job, and got an annullment 2 weeks later. (??!?!?!!?) While in MD, “I got this” broke down when I got into a serious relationship with a couple of different women. I just didn’t know how to handle real world relationships beyond the physical part of them (with women), and the issues that arise from that. I was a small child in a 30 year old body; by this time, I knew this wasn’t normal.

My dad got married again to a lady in Oregon. In usual Dad fashion, I was informed by him on the phone after the fact. I was glad he was settled down somewhere. As much as I didn’t enjoy hanging around him when he visited, and our conversations on the phone were never much more than about the weather and my job, I worried about him.

I moved to NY in 1997 after getting laid off from my job in MD. God provided for me; I have never felt more close to Him that at that time. When I got laid off, it was Him and me. That was it. Either He provides me a job (I sent out tons of resume’s, I had to do the work), or life is gonna get hard really quick. I knew a pastor in upstate NY, he asked me to come up and drop off some resume’s, and a local company called the next day. God had His hand on me. I had a relationship with Him, as I had all my life, but I didn’t really KNOW Him. I also joined/started a local Christian rock band. We played both locally and abroad in PA and northern NY for 3 years. Some of the best times of my life, with really talented songwriters and musicians. I left the traditional church I was attending and started going to Union Center Christian Church, the church I still attend and am a member of today. This was a turning point.

2001-present
The band dissolved amicably. Everyone got married or moved away (except for me). I became addicted to porn again (as described previously). I went into counseling at my church. It was during this time that I discovered what a relationship with God was. I was not a bass player, or an engineer, or a musician, or a smart person; I was a child of God. Period. The counseling did not help with my addiction. I had a good job, and was still enjoying playing bass and keys and singing at church, but my shame and guilt and generally poor perspective of myself kept me from bonding with others.

I met my wife, Kara, in 2002, at small group. She had come to know God as her saviour after hitting rock bottom in her life. I’ll spare the details, but she had been through a LOT. It left scars that were still there, but her commitment to God was real. We got engaged, disengaged, then engaged again, and married in October of 2004. During this time, God was moving in me. Big time. I learned first, that I didn’t want to look at porn anymore because it was hurting my fiancee’. Then second, because it wasn’t real, and I wanted a real relationship, with her, God, and everyone else. Then third, because it was killing ME on the inside. And I got to a place where I loved myself enough not to do that to myself anymore. (note to readers: If you’re struggling with porn or any addiction really, change will not come until you quit for YOURSELF, not for your wife, kids, or any other reason…this is my humble opinion, but I believe it to be true). I have not gone back to porn since. I have no need to. I love myself enough to keep myself healthy emotionally in that manner.

We got married. It was hard. The months leading up to the wedding revealed a lot of scars, sin, and trouble in each of our lives. I will not say we shouldn’t have gotten married. I WILL say that there was so much confusion, miscommunication, and sin involved that it was destined to fail. I was still coping with growing up “inside”, and she didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on because of everything going on inside of her. Including bulimia, which she went to rehab for shortly after we were married. We separated in 2005, and were divorced in 2007. She got married the month after the papers went final. I haven’t heard from her again.

This was a dark time. But a good time. A time of growth. I no longer had to bear everything myself. Although it’s been hard to accept help, I can actually do it now.

In 2009, after a bout of serious depression, I started counseling again, this time “professionally”, at the behest of a good friend. I was diagnosed within a month with OCD (can’t get thoughts out of my head…they get “stuck”), a form of bipolar disorder (hypomania…a sort of constantly semi-depressed state with periods of elation; not like the roller coaster of emotion that bipolar is normally known to be), and anxiety. A “cocktail” of three medications was prescribed, and it changed my life. God provided this for me. I am still taking them, and am no longer overwhelmed by circumstances as I have been most or all of my life; it explained SO MUCH of my life and my behaviors, it granted me so much peace. I have a long way to go, as we all do, but I’d like to think I’m growing still.

My relationship with God is still on and off, but I have peace that I know Him, and I’m not stressed when I don’t “feel” Him around. My church has been through many transitions, but I’d never leave. They are my family. My father passed away in 2011 (his wife passed away in 2006, and he moved back to TX, where he grew up, in 2007), simply from old age. He was difficult in his last years, very needy, and still living with guilt and shame that only he could give away, but didn’t. I know that now. I didn’t know that for a long time.

I have also gotten to know my half-step siblings in TX, and reunited with my cousins there, as well. I have family. We’re a ways apart, geographically. But it’s a very good thing.

I’m still in counseling, learning the tools of communication, etc. I need to have healthy relationships. I have growing to do. I will not stop. I am thankful for my life and how God has brought me thus far, to 45. I need reminders sometimes of how good I’ve got it, how good my life is, both materially, and with the relationships I have with God and my church family, and others. But I am thankful for it all. As much as my parents tried to shelter me from the world, my mother’s illness, and lots of other things, I have finally experienced “real life”, and I am all the better for it.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | October 22, 2013

Mr. Right?

I’m 44, single/divorced, and in my “second tour of duty” on match.com. And I’ve found a couple of things that make me go Hmm…

First, I haven’t read the book/trilogy/whatever, but a LARGE contingent of profiles I see on the website have this:

“Last Read: 50 Shades of Grey”

Now, before I start a firestorm here, let me quickly say that I’m not judging anyone for what they read or their opinions on the material in these books. I will say that it’s interesting that these books have been so prominent in our social consciousness lately. And is there a statement here about how women in America feel today about men/romance/love in general? Are they fed up with the fairy tale? Is it another manifestation of the attraction to “bad boys”? Again, I haven’t read the book, so anyone seeing this blog, feel free to enlighten me. But please, be nice. I’m not trying to be mean, just curious.

Second, it’s also interesting to see the manifestation of how Christian men (and religion, I guess in general) have gotten a bad rap in our culture, and I guess dating culture. I see lots of profiles where women want a “caring, passionate, honest, loving” man in their lives. To me, these are all characteristics of a Christian man, or they should be. And yet, several times, when a woman has discovered that I’m a Christian, they have said that “we’re not a good match”, or a couple were even scared by my profile.

So what does THIS say about Christianity and relationships in America? And how hard is it to find a man that’s NOT a Christian with these values? Again, enlighten me, but be nice. I just want your opinion, if you’re willing to share.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | January 29, 2012

God…My Dad

My Dad passed away this past January.  He was 87 years old.  My relationship with him was strained, difficult at times.  I grew up in a very, very strict household (just search back through some of my older posts on here, you’ll see).  We never hated each other, just never really connected.  He was emotionally detached, the classic “provider” for our family, but not much more.  I became to feel like a nuisance to him as I grew older.

Then, as I grew through my 20’s and 30’s, he became needy to ME.  (my mother passed away when I was a freshman in college)  Whereas when I was younger, it was just detached, now it was draining to be around him.  Christmas and Thanksgiving vacations to TX to visit him left me more tired than when I left.

Sadly, a LOT of this has translated to how I view God.  My head knows from all I’ve read that God is SO not like my earthly father.  He is powerful, faithful, caring, fierce and fiercely devoted to all His children.  His love is never-ending, steadfast, all-encompassing, surrounding me as I type these words.

But, again, sadly…my heart does not know this to the fullest extent that it should.

Maybe the verse in my daily devotional (which has NOT been daily lately) this morning will help.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:14-15

I dusted off my concordance.  I wanted to know what the Greek translation of “friend” and “servant” meant.  Because I never knew what my dad was about.  I’ve met my siblings from dad’s previous marriage since he passed:  he kept everything prior to meeting my mom a secret from me, because they were troubling and difficult times in his life.  I wish he’d been more open about those real times so I’d have known him better.  Anyway…

“Friend” was a familiar Greek word to me:  Philos.  “Loved, dear, or friendly”; also “fond”.
“Servant” is doulos.  “Bond man”; “a slave”; “one who gives himself up to the will of another”.  Ho hum.  Yep.  Heard that, too.  Here’s a difference though, which thankfully, Mr. Strong (or whoever wrote this huge book) put in:  This is not what Paul meant when he said spoke of being a slave to Christ in Romans 6.  That is the word diakonos, which is related to the service the slave is doing, not to the relationship to his Master, as doulos is.

As a doulos, we have no choice.  As a diakonos, we have willingly chosen to do the work that God has given us.  We have chosen this of our free will.  God doesn’t manipulate anyone into being his child; we already are.  It’s up to us to decide whether we want to follow Him or not; as a philos.  He is fond of me.  It’s still not sinking in like I’d like it to, but maybe if I meditate on that a while…

Posted by: zephaniah317 | August 24, 2011

Learned My Lesson?

Sometimes I think I’m better off
To turn out the lights and close up shop
And give up the longing, believing in belonging
Just hold down my head and take the loss

You’d think that I’d learn my lesson by now
You’d think that I’d somehow figure out
That if you strike the match
You’re bound to feel the flame

You’d think that I’d learn the cost of love
Paid that price long enough
But still I drive myself right through the pain
Yeah, well it turns out, I haven’t learned a thing

-Daughtry, “Learn My Lesson”

It’s funny.  I really like this song.  But isn’t the whole point to NOT learn our lesson?  Or at least the way he means it?

I mean, I’m not saying that we should continually hitch ourselves up or associate with unhealthy people.  That’s not the point.  That’s a given, and a learned behavior, and hard sometimes to know healthy people from unhealthy.

What I do mean is that it’s impossible to love without being hurt.  I can’t deny the longing that God has placed inside of me for intimacy.  With Him.  With a woman.  It keeps me from closing up shop.  It drives me right through the pain.  It keeps me believing in belonging, that yes, there IS someone out there for me.  I’ve never for a minute, even after a divorce and some really silly and disappointing relationships, put a blanket statement on all women or all people and given up.  God is here with me, but I and everyone else on the planet was created for relationship.  Not performance, not efficiency, not pride in our talents, not striving or trudging forward day after day.  RELATIONSHIP.  A safe place to be real and vulnerable.  Where I can screw up and the person doesn’t leave.

It’s what God means in 1 John 1:7.  And it’s oft misinterpreted.  It doesn’t mean we just have relationship with HIM.  It means we have it with each OTHER.  I feel like closing up shop, taking the loss; we all do sometimes.  I drive myself right through the pain, so I can grow.  I don’t want to learn a thing.  I want to stay ignorant, to keep trying, searching, growing.  Break the rules.  Never give up.  Never stop believing.  Love is priceless, it has no determinable cost.  It is a price we cannot pay.

I don’t want to learn that lesson.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 24, 2011

Doing vs. Being

. . unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven —Matthew 5:20

The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in his motives, having been made good by the supernatural grace of God. The only thing that exceeds right-doing is right-being. Jesus Christ came to place within anyone who would let Him a new heredity that would have a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is saying, “If you are My disciple, you must be right not only in your actions, but also in your motives, your aspirations, and in the deep recesses of the thoughts of your mind.” Your motives must be so pure that God Almighty can see nothing to rebuke. Who can stand in the eternal light of God and have nothing for Him to rebuke? Only the Son of God, and Jesus Christ claims that through His redemption He can place within anyone His own nature and make that person as pure and as simple as a child. The purity that God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within, and that is exactly what Jesus has undertaken to do through His redemption.

No one can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations— He gives us His teachings which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature which He places within us. The great wonder of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He changes our heredity. He does not change human nature— He changes its source, and thereby its motives as well.

-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

This pretty much wraps it up, doesn’t it?  My morality, the following of rules and regulations, cannot “remake” me.  If the motives of my heart are just to be moral, then I’m like “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”  (Matt. 23:27), and worst of all, no love abides there.  Just a desire to be moral.  To be good enough.

Jesus is the only one who can change my heart and settle it.  To bring me first to a place of peace and calm so that I can understand his teachings and hear his voice, and then act on whatever He is telling me to do, even if it is to just be still and wait.  Maybe that’s why His voice is so still and so small.  Otherwise, He’d have to be constantly yelling at me over the noise!  Love can only come from a peaceful and quiet place, and that is what Jesus desires in me.  To just be instead of do.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 19, 2011

One Year Later…

Very interesting…this is the first time I’ve revisited my blog in a LONG TIME.  (and I’m still getting hits on that “camelback cricket” post, but that’s another story)

I read my post from last July, shortly after a relationship had ended with a kind-hearted, caring woman that I cared deeply about.  Problem is, I didn’t realize this until this past March.  In any case, it took me a while to get my head and my heart straight, but I got there.  In the meantime, we got back together and broke up again.  This has been frustrating and hard for me.  But I’ve been able to work through it; the working through has been hard and frustrating as well.

Also in the meantime, I’ve been blessed with a bernese mtn dog/border collie mix named Big Mike:

Big Mike

He’s great on the leash, great with other dogs, doesn’t bark at visitors in the house, and is very laid back.  You can go to my facebook page for more photos and stories.  I thank God for him.

Life is busy.  I’m in a band called “reMastered”; our name was previously “InsideOut”.  Our facebook page is here.  It will be changing soon.

I’m addicted to facebook.  My page is here.

I’m on my worship team at church.

I play golf on Tuesday nights.

I’m still going to counseling on Fridays, and it’s pretty stinkin awesome the growth that I’ve experienced there.

I play Call of Duty:  Black Ops pretty religiously on a weekly basis on Xbox 360.

And, I’ve been involved in and heard of a situations where communication has been essential (as in all relationships), but has broken down.  That’s the point of this post.

Here are some things I’ve learned from these situations:  where (seriously) kind-hearted, well-intentioned folks, put an end to communications and friendships/relationships with others rather than speaking the truth in love for fear of “hurting their feelings”:

A.  The other person’s feelings are hurt worse by cutting off the relationship and all communication.
B.  Neither of you grow as a person because (1) you’re not taking steps to overcome your fears, and (2) the other person doesn’t grow because they don’t hear your constructive criticism; even if your perspective isn’t right, there might be something to be learned by both of you.
C.  A relationship that could’ve grown and matured between two mature people is ended.

I run into this way too often.  We really need to do what we can today and every day to overcome our fears and speak truth into people’s lives.  If they get upset and leave, they’re emotionally immature, don’t want to change, and need help in that area.  If they hear you and receive what you have to say, even if they disagree, both parties are better off for having had the conversation.

We’re made in God’s image and made to be in community with each other:

“If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

-1 John 1:7

I can’t remember if I’ve posted about this before, but people commonly misinterpret this verse.  “fellowship with one another” doesn’t mean (just) between us and God, it means between us human beans!  We were created for fellowship with one another.  Don’t let hurt feelings keep that from happening in your life.  Step out.  See who your real friends are.  See who stays.  See who leaves.  Trust that God will place mature and safe people in your life that you can have a deep, meaningful relationship with.

Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 8, 2010

Update, and stuff I’ve learned lately…

Recently I’ve become addicted to FaceBook. I have accumlated many friends (over 100), gotten in touch with high school friends and acquaintances that I haven’t spoken to in many years, and had fun commenting on folks’ posts, as well as posting some interesting YouTube videos, etc. But none of my deeper thoughts ever really make it on there. I haven’t blogged much at all recently, but I guess in the back of my mind I’ve been reserving this spot for the deeper things that I ponder (although, I’ll admit, I’ve blogged about sports ticket prices, the San Antonio Spurs, and the blog entry that continues to get the most hits is the “camelback cricket” post, one of my first).

So, with that said, here’s what’s been going on with me the past few months…

My relationship with a beautiful young lady just ended this past week. At the beginning of the relationship, last October-ish, I realized very quickly that (a) I liked her, and (b) all sorts of emotional baggage from my divorce was coming to the surface as a result, and I was overwhelmed by these emotions continually. At the advice of a good friend, I got into counseling, which I had avoided, somewhat stubbornly, ever since my divorce began in 2005 (which you can read about in earlier posts…this event in my life spawned all sorts of deep thoughts, and sorta began this blog in the first place).

Within weeks of counseling, I was diagnosed with having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and a few weeks after that, being Bi-Polar. I was even diagnosed as having low levels of Vitamin D, which causes the depression you’ve probably heard about when people are deprived of sunlight for large periods of time. In Binghamton, NY? Really? Shocking!

Anyway, the Bi-Polar part was called “hypomania”, which means that I’m not up and down emotionally from one moment to the next, as is common with Bi-Polar sufferers, but more of a constant semi-depression punctuated with spikes of “feeling great” or “highs”. The OCD part was associated with obsessive thoughts; in other words, once something intensely emotional (disturbing, good, bad, etc.) gets stuck in my head, it doesn’t leave very quickly or easily. After several weeks of trying different medications, I believe that we’ve found the right mix, at least for right now. I am not (as) overwhelmed by things emotionally as I once was, and I’m still attending counseling and learning the proper “tools” to cope with life and have healthy views of myself and others. I am VERY THANKFUL for these meds, and I can look back on my life and see where they were desperately needed in some very troubling times in my life so that maybe I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed and could have coped differently.

So, on with the deep thoughts…

1. This was the first relationship I’ve ever been in where I refrained from any serious physical intimacy with the woman. I was a virgin when I got married, but until that point, I had always gotten into “making out” whenever I was on a date (past a certain amount of time together, of course). As friends of mine commented after my divorce, it’s EASY to like someone when you’re making out all the time, and all the ooshy gooshy emotions are rolling along that come with that physical interaction; but at the end of the day, you don’t even know if you like the person or not! And I’m very thankful for their advice and the fact that I refrained from this in this last relationship. It allowed both of us to keep a clear head and work on getting to know each other, so that the physical intimacy could later be a fruit of the relationship, as it’s meant to be. I highly recommend this path for every relationship. I speak from experience that it fosters healthy ones.

2. I still struggle with the times when I make mistakes in the relationship and hurt the other person, but by and large, now that I’m getting the physiological side of things taken care of, I can handle conflict as a part of the relationship. I don’t welcome it, but I don’t freak out about it like I used to. I’m more than willing to work through anything until all means of resolution have been exhausted and it’s decided that this thing just ain’t gonna work.

3. Communication is essential. E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L. And I mean VERBAL. There are some things that can be figured out by body language, but sometimes all the person knows is that there’s something troubling the other person. They need DETAILS, and usually, the troubled person NEEDS to talk. You hear comedians joke all the time about their wives and the “I’m fine” or “it’s OK” comments when they ask what’s wrong. These answers are unacceptable. The only two that should be allowed are “I’m bothered/troubled, but I don’t want to talk about it right now”, or “here’s what’s bothering me…”. Period.

4. Conflict is essential in a relationship. And inescapable. And it sucks, but there it is. But, as long as it’s viewed as a PART of the relationship that’s necessary for growth, better communication, and avoidance of misunderstanding in the future, it’s not quite so hard. Of course, I mean that the conflict has to be RESOLVED. You can’t just leave it out there. That won’t work. And hey, like Garth Brooks sang once, “sometimes we fight just so we can make up.” ;o)

5. I’ve also learned how to express feelings, even if I don’t follow this rule all the time. MAKE IT ABOUT YOU, NOT THE OTHER PERSON, when expressing feelings of hurt or disappointment. Give them a chance to explain themselves or the situation. Here’s an example:

“You stressed me out last night when you <insert action here>”.

“When you did <insert action here>, I felt stressed.”

See the difference? See, there’s this thing called “perception”. Mine is different than yours. Sometimes it’s different than a lot of people’s, if you talk to my circle of friends. :o) Anyway, it’s very possible that the first comment isn’t true (and I think, a lot of the time, it isn’t), because the other person didn’t purposefully mean to stress you out. It’s just that whatever they did pushed a button inside of you and you got stressed. And you as a couple need to talk about that and resolve what’s going on. Not so that the “stresser” is walking on eggshells around the “stressee” all the time as a result, but that both can come to some sort of agreement on what happened and what each person is thinking and feeling in those situations, and that it’s not personal. And maybe, in some cases, the deep emotional wounds from past experiences that caused the stress can be healed. Which leads to…

6. No relationship will work without God in the center. Pray with your significant other. Every date, every time you get together. Have devotionals together or even separately; give the devotional book to the other person for a week, then you get it for a week, etc. You can learn a lot about the other person this way in addition to getting to know how they see God, and get to know God better through their eyes, and vice versa.

That’s all for now. But, wait, you ask, what happened in the relationship that just ended? I’m not saying, out of respect for my ex. She’s a wonderful, caring, loving person; it just didn’t work. But I’m glad I learned at least this much stuff as a result.

If some of these things are “duh” statements to you, awesome.  I just put ’em here so maybe I won’t forget ’em. Have a great weekend!

Older Posts »

Categories