The most important thing is to continually switch to God in your brain

The most important thing is to continually switch to God in your brain when you find your brain getting too focused on worldly matters or even bombarded with demonic, sinful suggestions. The more you can practice immediately making the switch to God, the better.

Welcome Jesus as a long-lost friend, a guest to be cherished, and despise sinful desire as an unwanted guest who has stuck around too long. The intense joy and freedom you will feel when you finally begin to automatically align yourself with the cross is indescribable, and only comes in hints and suggestions.

Always pray for the health, safety and salvation of others, no matter who they are. As soon as you encounter another human being, whether in a memory of a past experience or in the present, whether as someone you actually met or someone you only heard about, pray for their health, safety and salvation.

Learn to cease having those evil prayers of retribution. No matter how evil the other human being seems to be, it is not your job to judge or condemn them–they will receive what is due them on judgement day. How do you know that if you had the chance to travel back in time, that killing Hitler would be better than having him meet Boenhoffer when they were both teenagers? Perhaps killing Hitler would have simply enabled more darkness to come upon the earth, while saving him from his future evil ways might have brought an enormous amount of light that we can’t even imagine.

How do you continue to care about the things of the world, when you just want to get closer to God? People give up on you because you are a “dud” for not wanting to go out and become obsessed with temporal, fleeting things. You see people who were once close friends, completely mixed up in what can be described as nothing less than idol worship, and all you can do is pray for them–pray that they will receive opportunities to know just how much more wonderful a relationship with God is instead of a relationship with things, sports or pop culture. You pray that these opportunities won’t be too trying–after all, you aren’t in the business anymore of wishing terrible things upon others.

It doesn’t make sense to wish for bad things to happen to you or anyone else, anyway. What does make sense is to wish for opportunities to grow in your relationship with God–and accept when God sends events and people into your life that can only be described as trying. If you receive these things and people as gifts from God–opportunities to grow–you will begin to see them so much differently than you did when you saw them as mere obstacles getting in the way of your ever-expanding ego.

But, it is important to stress that all of this should be done in a mindful, proactive sort of way. If you react to difficulties (or blessings) with no plan at all, then you simply continue to live as a simple, blind human mixed up in this karmic wheel of pain and pleasure, birth and death. If you have a game plan ready to go, where you respond to all incoming difficulties or blessings with a great zeal to see how you can turn them into opportunities to grow closer to God, then you will move along so much more rapidly in your quest to become ever more immersed in the joy of the holy, triune God.

I grew weary of sin

I grew weary of sin. I tired of my kneejerk reactions to the world–to love the world and its immorality or to hate the sinners of the world as if I were blameless myself. I wished for tit-for-tat upon my enemies, and spent more time begging to God to cause misery to them, rather than praying for their salvation and praying my own forgiveness of their misdeeds.

I grew tired of drawing lines and saying, “The Elect and I are on this side, and the damned are on that side.”

I had no self motivation or self discipline to change my evil ways, and was unwilling to see that this was okay as long as I gave my all to God, and invited His son Jesus in to bring about much-needed change in my life.

I longed for a perfect life here on this earth among the wicked. I wished that I could be reborn as someone quite rich and immune to all of the stresses and tribulations most people in this world face. I hoped to be a young man or woman living in a large city in the nicer part of the city, free to do debauchery of all kinds every night with impunity.

I made modern art and jazz my gods, and worshiped them, occasionally retreating to nature to worship creatures and plants, pretending I was correct in doing so out of some primitive, holistic approach to Truth.

No one saw my wicked deeds, for I was too shy to find like-minded souls to participate in my wickedness with me. Only God saw them, and I pretended that he didn’t see them, or simply didn’t care–surely he was too busy punishing the really immoral people, like Republicans and other Christian hypocrites.

But, I grew weary of all this sin, for all the ill I wished upon others always seemed to come back on me. I never got ahead in life, and saw my chances to be considered great among my peers slipping away with each passing year as the cohort group I was most compatible with emotionally and socially grew younger and younger.

I began seeing my face in the mirror as others saw it, and seeing my puny efforts at creating art and poetry as others saw them–they were of little consequence and cherished only by their maker. My face really wasn’t that special, and neither were my efforts at a career to become a writer or a sales and marketing director.

Oh, how much evil I’d invited into my life without realizing it! As long as how I thought and what I did matched up to what was acceptable to humanist atheists, there were no signals that I needed to change. Of course, God held me to higher standards, and eventually, I did, too.

Jesus, please come into this world

Jesus, please come into this world. We need the light of your love. Heavenly father, please don’t look the other way when you see suffering unfolding. Little ones are we, whether we remember this or not. We are rooted in our own selfish pride, full of ignorance, and full of desire to exact perfect revenge upon those who persecute us. Even as we seek out an eye-for-an-eye, we find ourselves beseeching you to show mercy on us and our kin. In our ignorance, we think that our neighbors are merely the people who live next door to us, and even then, we are especially selective about when and how we will love them.

Jesus, please start with each of us, and our wayward, weary hearts. We are prepared to admit just how far from perfection and righteousness we are, and how little attaining such goodness depends upon our own thoughts, words and deeds. Jesus, we know that it is you who gives us our moments of being kinder than we usually are, and you who blesses us with grace and mercy to carry some small measure of faith in your righteous power, so that we are not constantly seeking revenge upon all who enact slights real and imagined upon us.

These are mentioned so often by those self-help gurus

These are mentioned so often by those self-help gurus, and yet they are extremely difficult to put into practice such that they become regular habits.

Being thankful for what you have vs. complaining about what you don’t have.
Praying for, or being mindful of, others’ health, safety, success and salvation first before your own.
Seeking out stories of the less fortunate and praying for them instead of secretly congratulating yourself for not being one of the less fortunate when you passively come across their stories.
Proactively participating in life instead of letting it happen to you — getting involved in your community instead of waiting for someone to ask you to participate.
Asking for the Lord’s help to abstain from sinful thoughts, words and deeds instead of waiting until you’ve done them and need to ask for forgiveness.
Assuming others have little or no kinds of intentions toward you when they interact with you, instead of always hoping for their best intentions while expecting/assuming their worst intentions.
Trust the Lord to provide for you and show you the way in life before defaulting into solely trusting in yourself. If you have faith in a higher power or even the greater common good of humanity, why not use this faith to its fullest instead of only relying on it during special circumstances?
Praying for Christ to appear in the lives of those who do evil or at least rationalize actions that aren’t what Jesus taught, as well as to appear in the lives of unbelievers–this means just about everyone but most often comes to you as others who don’t agree completely with your politics. The kneejerk reaction is often to wish them harm or to “get what they deserve” which inevitably means you are praying that you, too, get what you deserve instead of the overflowing bounty of God’s mercy and love.

Steps in 2016

Steps in 2016:

Sell the condo. Donate 10% to local charity, church and MU.
Set up L on a day out daycare 1-2 days/week
Set up regular volunteering.

Begin regularly setting an alarm to go off eight hours from when you lay down and read/rest.

Begin regularly walking dog in mornings again. Switch to running after comfortable with regular walking.

So, here it is, Christmas Day, 2015

So, here it is, Christmas Day, 2015. I said I shouldn’t write anymore words that weren’t beneficial to others, but I am feeling wistful and nostalgic. This is the first Christmas with L being old and big enough to be somewhat engaged with Christmas activities. I was feeling sad about the past and everyone who won’t be with me on Christmas, but then I see L playing with his new toys, and I am so excited for the future. I don’t feel like I’m turning 40 in the coming year–I feel like I am turning 30. It’s hard to think about how much time has passed since I arrived in Texas after college. If I try really hard, I can kind of piece together where it all went, but I don’t especially feel the need to.

Maybe it’s the new meds I’m taking, but I feel like everything is going to be okay whether I am accepted into seminary or not, and whether I walk away with at least $20K from the sale of the condo or not. I feel the need to spend less time trying to read every book about the Bible and theology that I can get my hands on, and maybe read some novels and meditate on just trying to improve myself in a few areas where I am lacking and still find myself caught up in sin.

I also need to exercise more, and continue to purge myself of old junk that I don’t use or need. I don’t feel especially disheartened by the prospect of starting ambitious projects or resolutions or regimens that I don’t finish. All will be well no matter what.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I drank too much last night, and am in the middle of experiencing the point of recovery in the hangover where all of the darkness and doom and gloom trends toward sunshine and bunnies. It helps that it is quite warm and nice outside today. I am slightly remembering Christmas of ten years ago, when Mom was still alive–one of the last Christmases I would spend with her. There was all of the drama with D that was just getting started and would almost consume me for the next two-three years of my life.

I am probably socially and emotionally about as mature as your average well-adjusted 29 year old, and so it is difficult for me to get my brain around the notion that I will turn 40 next year.

My mind is a bit scattered right now, but I think I am getting to a point where I can put some overall themes down for what I would like to work on in 2016:

I should read more fiction and lighten up on my ambitions about what I need to read.
I should exercise more each day.
I should write more each day with an eye toward producing a book that people will want to read. This isn’t a backup plan for if seminary doesn’t work out, it’s simply something I should do.
I should purge more of my things regardless of whether or not we move out of this house in the coming year.
I need to stop worrying about what will happen with the condo and how I will support my family if I don’t sell it for as much as I would like and seminary doesn’t happen in 2016.

Overall, I need to work on lightening up myself–stop taking myself so seriously, and taking seriously everything that is going on around me. I need to enjoy life in a more spontaneous fashion. I get stuck in ruts, but most of them are of my own creation.

Of course, I need to continue to practice praying for others–praying for those I know and the leaders I don’t know–praying for more light to come into the world. If I am capable of even slightly altering the balance of light vs. dark in this world, I should be spending time in this effort, even if prayer can sometimes feel a bit dry and pointless.

***

For whatever reason, I had it in my head for a long time that I wasn’t really one of the little people. I am nothing and I am nobody. God sees me, and loves me, and loves me as much as the next soul that has turned back to Him. But, I am not a somebody on this earth.

I pray to Jesus to bring more light into my heart, and to squeeze out the darkness that lingers there. I pray to Jesus to give me strength to be the kind of presence for my son that my dad was for me. I feel just a little safer when I am visiting my dad or my dad visits me, because he still carries that light which once burned brightly for me on the darkest winter nights. I never knew just how terrible the world really was until I was completely out on my own. Nowadays, my dad is quite old and has shrunk to be several inches shorter than he was in his prime. If someone had to do the protecting and saving, it is more likely that I would be doing it for him, not vice versa. But the sense of his power still remains, since it was embedded deep inside my baby brain.

I hope that L won’t see me as the ferocious and scary presence that my dad sometimes was, though. I hope he won’t resent me too much when he becomes a teenager, the way I resented my dad.

I pray to Jesus to provide some light to my brain, so that I may know the right next steps to take with my education and career. These are the darkest nights, as I await the decision of the seminary to accept me or not. If I am not accepted, then life’s course will be readjusted, and I am certain that I can’t go back to being a marketing button pusher.

Let’s say that I was going to write a book for others to read

Let’s say that I was going to write a book for others to read. I would want it to be easy to read, even if the content of concepts was challenging.

What would I write about?

I don’t think I would write about my life, at least not in a straightforward, autobiographical sort of way. My life hasn’t been interesting enough, unless you are simply someone who likes to read about the lives of others, no matter how mundane they are.

I would want to offer some kind of encouragement, but not the kind of easy and soft encouragement that comes from a lot of motivational book writers. I think that the poems of Walt Whitman often give me the kind of encouragement I am looking for. And some of the diaries of Thomas Merton. I feel like I am with these individuals, caught up in their joys and problems, whether they wanted me to come along with them or not. Almost certainly, Thomas Merton wouldn’t be that impressed with me, were he to meet me face to face, and Walt Whitman might be kind just because he is nice to almost everyone he meets.

Maybe my book begins with a clear picture of me reaching out across whatever distance of time and cultural differences there are between me and the reader. Perhaps I attempt to keep my descriptions of my human life as universal as possible, and gently lead the reader into material that is more specific and peculiar to my time and place.

Am I being too ambitious to think that I will create something others want to read? Yes, if the words that fall to the keyboard and screen are merely my own. I need to pray to the Lord to give me the right words to say, to benefit the most people possible.