Our Fractured Society

“People who live by the same code are rendered mutually predictable to one another. They act in keeping with each other’s expectations because everyone knows what to expect from everyone else. A shared belief system, partly psychological, partly acted out, simplifies everyone—in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Shared beliefs simplify the world, as well, because people who know what to expect from one another can act together to tame the world. There is perhaps nothing more important than the maintenance of this organization—this simplification. If it’s threatened, the great ship of state rocks.”― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Does that not EXACTLY describe what we are going through today? We have what seems like a million fractured belief systems with each member taught that anyone who isn’t part of our clique is ‘the enemy’ that mustn’t be trusted. We have internalized the childish, simplistic, outright cartoonish notion that heroes and villains actually exist and that we, safe within the stronghold of our ideologies, are the heroes and therefore anyone who contends with us must be the villains. …and we have all been thoroughly indoctrinated with what must be done with villains: they must be destroyed!

As a very wise man once observed, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” We are actively encouraged to bring retribution against those who oppose us–and are even persecuted when we don’t!–when what we NEED to do is seek restoration with humility and wisdom. We can’t find solutions to the very real problems before us by butting heads face-to-face; we NEED to walk side-by-side seeking them. …and that can only happen if we can trust each other. …and that can only happen if we are willing to be open and vulnerable. …and that can only happen if we choose to try.

We–each of us, all of us–need to try.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Testing. …and cheating.

Let me tell you a little story:

When I was younger, I took a pre-apprenticeship carpentry class to prepare for a career in construction. One of the first things that the instructor said was that 85% was the passing mark for tests. A student complained, saying that, in high school, 50% was considered sufficient for passing. The instructor simply asked him if he would hire someone to build his house who only got things right half of the time.

Let me tell you another story:

A fellow shared an event with me when I was a lad about how one winter he had to hike across a wide, snow-covered, frozen lake. As twilight was approaching, he happened to glance behind him and noticed to his horror that his footprints were filling up with water. (This means that the ice under the snow was soft enough to be sinking under his weight, even if it hadn’t given way yet. Yes, it is as serious as you might think.) As it was already starting to get dark and he was over halfway across, all he could do was to keep going, knowing that any minute the ice under him could break and he would surely die. He made it, of course, but he shared that tale with everyone he could as a warning to them to not treat snow-covered ice as safe. even if it seemed to be able to bear their weight.

Now imagine yourself standing at the edge of a frozen lake that you want to cross. (This one just has bare ice for simplicity’s sake.) Suppose when you put one foot down to test it, the ice breaks. Suppose it held up under one foot? Suppose you were able to stand on it, but it cracked as you moved? Should you attempt to cross the lake? Of course not! You already know that the ice isn’t thick enough to be safe.

In other words, the purpose of any test is to see if you should move forward or not. If the test fails, then you need to not do so until the situation changes enough to pass the test. Sometimes you can get away with continuing even when you shouldn’t, but you are placing yourself in a situation that can only get more dangerous with time, with more and more negative consequences looming over you.

good test should determine not what you know, but what you understand; if you fail it, then you clearly don’t understand enough about the subject, and need to go back and keep plugging away until either you do understand it, or come to the conclusion that you never will, and move on to something else. Consider this: if you don’t understand level 1 of something, then how much harder will it be to understand level 2? 3? 5? 10? How long before you fall so far behind that you quit in despair, feeling like a complete fool, unable to understand anything that everyone else is doing just fine with. It is far better to not move ahead until your knowledge and understanding are rock solid.

As far as cheating, can you now see that if you decide to cheat on a test, ultimately you are cheating no-one but yourself and you will eventually bear the consequences of it, drowning when the ices breaks beneath your feet when you are far from shore or rescue. If you find yourself struggling to learn something, then you need to test yourselfearly and often, figure out where the issue is, then find help to deal with it. The tests that others give you should simply confirm that you understand that subject well and you should be able to ace them without breaking a sweat.

In the end, constant, consistent testing is the only way to know where we are and when we should move forward.

Posted in Teachings, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Things For Christian Game Developers To Keep In Mind

Three things to keep in mind, even four that should be set deeply in the hearts of developers presenting God’s ways, character, and righteousness to those who don’t know them:

  1. God’s justice is restorative (fixing what is broken, if possible) while the world’s is retributive (eye for an eye/reward and punishment/applied karma). We must always strive to act like God, NOT the world. Jesus lived this out, literally to His dying breath.
  2. Folks tend to not care what you know until they know that you care; if your words and actions constantly, consistently demonstrate God’s restorative justice, THEN people will be more willing to listen to what you have to say.
  3. In all of our ways we are to acknowledge Him. We don’t even need to (initially) mention His Name if we are acting righteously (i.e. ‘walking the path that leads to life’); people pay MUCH closer attention to what you do than what you say, and if your actions are making your life better, they will naturally want to know how so their life can be better, too. (…and let’s face it: ‘Christian’ is a four-letter-word to a large percentage of the world’s population. To lead by telling someone that you are and/or your game is ‘Christian’ is to instantly have them mentally downvote it.)
  4. “Productive play is practice for reality.” The question that must always be asked is “Am I making something that is fun to play but just a waste of time, or encouraging a mindset that will help the player in reality?” (For example, ‘punishing the bad guys’ is encouraging players to think retributively, while ‘fixing the broken bridge’ reinforces thinking restoratively. The science is clear that the patterns of action we perform in games are reflected–to at least some extent–in our daily lives.)

While these are solid patterns for daily living, they are especially important when designing games, as you, the developer, cannot interact directly with players through your game; you can only offer an experience that they will interact with, and that experience will tell them who you are.

Sooo… What do you want them to know about you, and–even more importantly–what do you want them to know about God?

I hope that this helps, y’all.

Posted in Game Development, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Parents As Partners In Unity

The Hebrew nouns for father and mother are descriptive of action. The Hebrew word for father is אב (av) and literally means “the one who gives strength to the family” and mother אם (em) means “the one that binds the family together.

Muscles provide strength to allow the body to move while ligaments bind it together. Both are equally vital. If the body lacks either, it can do absolutely nothing and will ultimately fail. It is only when the body has strength and unity that it can perform as it was designed to. What’s more, if the muscles are weak, even though it may have powerful unity, it can do little that is worthwhile, and if the ligaments are weak, powerful muscles used unwisely can tear the unity asunder. Both must be strong and healthy in order to have a body that can perform to its full potential.

Posted in Parenting, Teachings, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Monsters Among Us

Here’s a thought: if you constantly tell someone that they are a monster until they start to believe it, then they will accept anything monstrous that they do as proof that they are who you said they are and justify continuing to do monstrous things as ‘just being themselves’ as they sink deeper and deeper into hopelessness and bitter despair.

Instead, what if you constantly told them that they were on their way to becoming a hero? What would they do and feel if they did something heroic? …or unheroic? What if you convinced them to never overestimate who they were, yet also never underestimate who they could be, for good or ill? What do you think might happen then?

…and what if the person you are talking to is yourself?

Posted in Thoughts | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Subject Of ‘Worth’

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the topic of ‘self-worth’, and instead of “You alone are the judge of your worth”–as Deepak Chopra has said–I would say rather ‘You alone decide your worth.” We do all have value, but it is based on what we do and is unique to each person we interact with or don’t. To a complete stranger in Chile–for example–I am literally ‘worthless’ because I have no value to them whatsoever as they are unaware of my existence. To my wife, on the other hand, I am incredibly precious because of how I treat her. (I don’t see it myself as I am just doing what is needed, but I am speaking of my value from her perspective, not mine.) To a number of others, I have a negative value, as I have said and done things that they didn’t want me to that brought up negative emotions within them. (…generally, because I told them an unwanted truth or otherwise triggered them.)
A particular person’s ‘worth’, therefore, is highly relative, subjective, and unique to every other single person on the planet. …and isn’t always accurate, as it can be skewed by opinions, biases, assumptions, lies, or just bad information.
To make things even more complicated, a person’s ‘value’ is based on a large number of ‘sub-values’. For example, I am generally positively valued for my ability to reach things off of high shelves and lift fairly heavy objects. On the other hand, I would be negatively valued if you needed someone to fit into small spaces. We all know this; think about how many people you choose to associate with about which you can say “Yes, s/he does _____ sometimes, but s/he is still a good friend, otherwise.” (This is the very definition of ‘tolerance’; to accept someone as generally having a positive value despite them having some negative sub-values, in your opinion.)
MY ‘self-worth’ is based on the list of people that I value whom in turn value me. (Not completely; many of those value me too highly, assigning a value to me that I don’t deserve, simply because of how what I’ve done for them makes them feel. If I do something that they don’t like, my value to them instantly becomes negative until I do something that they like again. The values-positive or negative–that such double-minded people apply to me just can’t be trusted and so I don’t.)
Simply put, the more things that I do that I know meet needs, the more value I accrue. The more things I learn that are helpful, the more potential for being valuable in the future I have. I am both investing in myself and putting my past investments to work as much as I can. In this way, both my (relative) self-worth and (absolute) actual worth are steadily growing; I am becoming both more content and more confident, based on solid evidence and sound reason, which gives me an incredibly strong foundation which the storms of life from within and without can’t destroy.
Posted in Teachings | Leave a comment

A Good Perspective for Bad Times

There are times in our journey when everything seems to be just too much to bear and we can’t see our way through. The sheer enormity of what we face on a daily basis can leave us absolutely helpless before it, but a passage that ‘just happened’ to show up today gives hope to me and, I pray, to you:

PSALM 131:1B-2 (LEB): “I do not concern myself with things too great and difficult for me. Rather I have soothed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like the weaned child is my soul with me.

Is it a toddler’s responsibility to make sure that there is food on the table, the bills are paid, or the leg she broke when she threw a tantrum by the stairs is put in a cast?  Of course not!  That is for her parents to take care of; she isn’t capable of even grasping what needs to be done to take care of such things.  (Imagine a two-year-old trying to fix a window she shattered throwing a toy, using only what knowledge and skills she has learned in her short time on Earth.  Would it even be possible?)  In the same way, our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need to grow, and makes sure that we get it at the proper time, whether as a blessing or a calamity.  The rocks of trials and tribulations that fall on us, the obstacles that loom like mountains before us, and the bottomless chasms of our lack of knowledge at our feet only serve to remind us that, in and of ourselves, we are helpless, hopeless, worthless, and useless to truly solve our own problems, and that it is only as we allow Him to teach and guide us that we can ever hope to be completely free of them and walk in true joy and peace.

It is not possible for any of us to know what we still need to go through on our road to healing.  It may be that we require going through some very deep, dark ‘valleys of education’ to teach us what we need to know and mold us into the person that we need to become.  (Consider Joseph and the incredible hardships that he faced over 22 years that transformed him from a cocky, spoiled boy into a humble, responsible man who could be trusted with the well-being of an entire country, and who could finally say to his brothers “Don’t be upset or angry with yourselves any longer because of what you did.  You see, God sent me here ahead of you to preserve life.  God sent me here ahead of you to make sure you and your families survive this terrible ordeal and have a remnant left on earth.  So it wasn’t really you who sent me here, but God; the same God who made me an advisor to Pharaoh, master of his household, and ruler over everyone in the land of Egypt.“)

What I do know is that the same God who brought Joseph (..and David, and Daniel, and Esther, and Jesus) through their dark times is the same loving Father who will bring you through yours, until you eventually become the shining, flawless jewel of a son or daughter that He already sees that you will be.

Posted in Teachings | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Gamifying Mental Illness and Recovery

A software developer asked fellow devs to check out a prototype game called ‘Hopeless‘ that he came up to show what it was like to suffer from mental illness.  After playing it for a while, I had some thought about where a game like this could go.  Here they are:

  • Understand that for this game to accomplish its full purpose, it needs to not only show unhealthy mental patterns, how we can miss the mark concerning how we are designed to live, and the natural consequences that will follow from that mindset, but also meet the player’s need to learn how to journey toward mental health.  In other words, give both the diagnosis of the condition AND give hope that there is a regimen to properly deal with it.
  • Generate levels [situations] at runtime, so that players can’t memorize them, and have to deal with each one on its own. [We need to understand the patterns that cause problems, not just learn how to deal with a particular situation by rote.]
  • Start the player somewhere in the middle of the level, and every respawn starts them behind where they spawned last time. [Failures set us back.]
  • The first types of obstacles should be impossible to get past.  [We start the story in the middle of depression when many things have grown too large for us to be able to deal with them.]
  • When you fail and have to respawn, sometimes you will end up near an NPC.  Some will be of help to you (“Notice that just by trying you are getting stronger.”), some won’t (“What are you doing?”), some will actively try to harm your progress.  (“Give up.  You’ll never be able to win.”) Positive comments will (as well as any other effect) buff you a little, while negative ones will debuff you.  [When we fall, others will often comment on it, and what they say and do affects us.]
  • The first helpful advice you get after failing a half a dozen times will help you deal with that first obstacle fairly quickly.  This is to teach you that what is impossible at the start can be dealt with in time.  [We need to start small, by tackling relatively simple issues.  That initial victory will give us hope and confidence that others will fall before us.]
  • Some NPCs that offer hints, insights, and new abilities are hard to impossible to get to initially, because of the size and type of the obstacles between you and them.  Some NPCs and paths are hidden behind obstacles and can’t even be seen.  [It can be very difficult or even impossible to reach out to someone that wants to help you, and our issues can make it so that we don’t even know that they are there.]
  • Have the hitbox for an obstacle tend to be smaller than the obstacle.  [Things aren’t usually as bad as they seem.]
  • Every time you take damage from a particular type of obstacle, increase that type’s hitbox, sprite size, and damage by a multiplier.  The sprite will grow faster than the hitbox.  [The more we fail at something, the more fear we will have the next time we encounter it, and the harder to conquer it will seem.]
  • Every time you pass a particular type of obstacle, decrease its hitbox, sprite size, and damage by a multiplier that is half of the failure multiplier.  [The more we succeed at something, the less fear of it we will have the next time, and the easier to conquer it will seem.]
  • Every time you respawn, resize all obstacles a very small amount in the direction of their default size.  [Memories of failure or success dim with time.]
  • After a very short time, just being near obstacles will cause them to grow very slightly; the nearer you are, the faster they will grow.  [When we aren’t actively dealing with things that trigger us, having them near to our thoughts causes anxiety.  While in recovery, we need to avoid our triggers except when they are being dealt with.]
  • Every time you successfully clear an obstacle, your character’s sudden reactions and high acceleration reduce slightly, over time making your character easier to control.  [Successfully dealing with things produces confidence, self-control, etc. James 1:2-4]
  • Getting damaged causes you to get a ‘sensitive’ debuff, which drastically increases damage taken while it is in effect.  Waiting until it wears off is the prudent action.  [Being triggered drastically lowers our ability to control ourselves if another trigger is immediately presented.  We need to actively avoid being retriggered.]
  • Use colours to give information.  Brightness represents how much you know about something, blue represents something helpful, red represents something painful.  green represents something untruthful.  Everything starts black against a dark grey background, including you.  As you interact with things and experience the results of doing so, they become brighter and their true colours are revealed.
  • Likewise, everything starts out as basic shapes.  Over time, as you gain knowledge of something (yourself included), the shapes become more defined.  Most obstacles, therefore, will look alike in the beginning.  (Start with the fully detailed shape and blur, then sharpen in cycles until you end up with a basic shape.)  [We can’t know exactly what something or someone is about and thus how to approach it or them until we have a better understanding.]
  • Add a ‘Health’ bar.  Every minute that you are alive and moving, it increases in length a tiny amount.  If you die during a level, you lose a portion of what you have gained that life, based on how many successes and failures you encountered. 1 success = 2 failures.  [We are always learning and growing, despite inevitable setbacks.  The more successes, the more we grow, though failures usually mean more than successes when we are in the beginnings of our journey.]
  • Add a ‘Strength’ bar and some NPCs’ offerings which increase that strength.  Strength sets how far and high you can jump, your stamina while sprinting, etc.  [When someone is dealing with mental illness, they start off too weak to deal with much; the pain and fear are too great.  As your strength increases, you can face doing more and more, despite the pain and fear.]
  • Have a ‘Discernment’ skill.  Levelling this up will decrease the amount that an obstacle will grow when you take damage from it and increase how much that type shrinks when you pass it unhurt.  At some point, it will level up enough that running right through it will cause no damage at all and cause it to shrink into nothing.  [Gaining knowledge, skills, self-control etc. allows us to learn from what hurts us.  Eventually, our understanding becomes such that things which would have stopped us cold don’t even emotionally register.]
  • Add ‘Armour’:
    •   Goggles of Truth: Increase the effect of Discernment. [We need to know what is true and false; the more clearly we see things, the better we can deal with them.]
    •   Vest of Right Thinking: Decreases damage.  Increases the effect of helpful advice and decrease the effect of harmful advice. [We need to guard our hearts by only thinking helpful thoughts]
    •   Boots of Serenity: Decreases damage.  Decreases the effect of obstacles that move the player. [When waves of doubt, fear, confusion, etc. threaten to overwhelm us, we need to calmly stand firm, unmoved by our wildly out-of-control emotions.]
    •   Shield of Faith: Decreases damage.  Protects from ranged attacks. [When we know (from evidence) what is right and good and healthy and we are journeying toward them, we need to trust the process and ignore those who say that we can’t win.]
    •   Helmet of Salvation: Decreases damage.  Protects from AoE attacks. [We need to protect our mind from attacks from those who wish to harm us by causing us to question our very journey health.]
    •   Sword of Conscience: Damages some obstacles. [We need to cut through the foolish lies that say that we are okay staying unhealthy.]
  • Add drugs, both prescription and non-prescription:
    • One of the first NPC’s you run into will be blue and will offer you ‘Potions of Protection’.  These will calm your controls down, give you more strength and stamina, as well as drastically reducing damage from obstacles; truly very helpful.  You will be able to survive *much* easier.  But… over time, their effect and how long it lasts diminishes, the rebound effect when they wear off gets worse and worse, and eventually your health starts eroding.  As well, taking damage from an obstacle still has the same consequence, and depending on the potions to get past them will leave you in a hard place when you eventually realize how much trouble you are in and try to play without them.  As well, new classes of obstacles will grow as you take them.  [Medication can literally be a lifesaver at first, as it settles down your brain chemistry, but, as it only deals with the symptoms of your issues, can’t cure them.  Chronic use will inevitably cause chronic problems, which can be even harder to deal with than what you were taking them for.]
    • Later on, you will run into red/green NPC’s who will offer you far more powerful potions, which offer incredible powers like flight, super strength, etc. but with horrific, long lasting side effects.  Blue NPC’s will try to warn you against them.  [Use of alcohol and street drugs are often the next step when prescription medication is no longer enough to deal with the symptoms you are going through.
  •  Offer alternate routes that are clear of obstacles but don’t actually get to the goal.  [We can spend a lot of time avoiding our issues, but we can never achieve our goal if we do so.]


{Edited 2018-07-28 9:40pm}

To be continued…


Posted in Game Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Belief, Trust, and Faith: a closer look

I admit that I had always assumed that belief, trust, and faith were essentially the same thing and spoke from that standpoint.  Recently, however, my inner skeptic kicked in and called on me to question that belief.  When I did, I was left with some egg on my face, but with a far deeper understanding than I was anticipating to find.

To begin with, let’s take a look at how the three words are defined:

be·lief (noun)
an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
trust (noun)
a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
faith (noun)
complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Hmmm… fascinating.  All three are part of the same spectrum but don’t have the same meaning.  To use an analogy, you can believe that chairs are intended to hold people’s weight without collapsing, you can trust that a particular chair will do so, but you must have faith that it will before you will take action and sit down in it.

James puts it well in the second chapter of his letter when he says

But someone may say, “You claim to have faith and I have good works; show me your alleged faith without the works if you can, and I will show you my faith by my worksthat is, by what I do.” You believe that God is one; you do well to believe that.  The demons also believe that, and shudder and bristle in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath! But are you willing to recognize, you foolish spiritually shallow person, that faith without good works is useless?

Strong words, indeed!  To place it in the context of my analogy, you can talk all you want about the faith you have that that chair will support you, but as long as you choose to remain standing when you should be seated, you are denying the faith that you profess.

Brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled; your own actions will tell you how much belief you truly have.  If your actions do not match those of a holy God, do not attempt to rationalize them by saying silly things like ‘we all struggle’, ‘I’m doing my best’, ‘I wasn’t thinking straight’, ‘s/he said/did yadda yadda yadda and that set me off’, etc.  They are all just excuses.  You need to diagnose why you did those things.  It is only when we understand why we (or others) do things that ‘miss the mark’ (the original definition of ‘sin’), that we can start taking steps to counter the thought patterns that generated that sin.  (In fact, the very core of forgiveness is understanding.  Consider the shift in perspective when you find out that the guy who terrified and enraged you by cutting you off, then flew through that red light, horn blaring, swerving all over the road, was getting his four-year-old daughter to the hospital before she bled out and died.  When we know why someone does something, forgiveness, more and more, becomes automatic, to the point where we will do it without thinking even while we are in the middle of having to deal with someone’s actions.)

Jesus Himself was extremely pointed when He outright said that unless you do the will of the Father, you will never walk through the gates of the Holy City.  Period.  Even those who honestly believe that Jesus is their Lord, yet who don’t have faith that He is and therefore demonstrate it through their actions, still will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  (Matt 7:21:23)  This is a hard teaching, and it goes completely against what is preached from many pulpits.  Here is reality: salvation is a process, not something that happens in an instant because you said a prayer in a moment of emotional conviction.  Yes, from the moment that God accepts you as His Own, your salvation is assured, as He knows the outcome and thus can’t fail at anything, but that just marks the beginning of your salvation process; He still has to prune away everything that is crippling you and getting in the way of you becoming like Him.  Much of what that process entails is Him converting unbelief to belief, belief to trust, and trust to faith.  It is only when we have achieved faith that what He can do with and within us becomes unlimited.  Until then, He has to operate within a narrowly defined set of limits to avoid overwhelming and harming us.  It is only as He builds our belief, trust, and faith that He has more space to work with and within us.

Even more to the point, consider the phrase used at the beginning of the previous paragraph, ‘will of the Father’.   How can you do someone’s will if they don’t tell you what it is?  How can they tell you what it is if you aren’t listening?  Why would you be listening if you don’t have a relationship with them?  If someone never speaks to you and straight-out tells you that you are his child, is he really your father?  These are questions that require answers, and the sad reality seems to be that most people who self-identify as ‘Christians’ can’t say that God has ever spoken to them, let alone confirmed that they were His child.  They may offer up the excuse that ‘He speaks to them through the Bible’, but that is like saying that I am speaking to YOU, O Reader, personally, through this post.  I’m not.  I don’t know who you are; I am sharing a general truth, but I can’t speak directly to you, O Reader, and to your specific situation, unless we are directly communicating, which can’t be done like this.  The Eternal One, the Lord Almighty, YHWH of Hosts is a Living God.  He speaks to and through His children, who are One as the Father and Son are One; through the conduit of the Holy Spirit.  If He has not told YOU, O Reader, personally, specifically, that you are His child, then you are not.  Period.    …yet.

Yet.  Yet. YET!  Those three letters form one of the most powerful words in the English language, for just by adding them to the end of a sentence, you add room for things to change in the future.  ‘I can’t’ becoming ‘I can’t, yet’ gives hope and direction.  The impossible becomes possible.  The unreachable becomes reachable.  The unholy can become holy.  There.  Is.  Time.  YOU can become holy.  YOU can have true love, hope, joy, peace.  YOU can become a Child of God.  You just have to start wherever you are and ask Him without ceasing to have Him accept you as such, then ask Him to turn your unbelief into belief, your belief into trust and your trust into faith.  Be desperate.  Cry out.  Let your tears flow.  Hold nothing back.  Mourn for who you are.  Yearn to be more than you are.  Let your pain flow out in agonized howls of suffering.  Let your heart be completely open and truthful, for the first time in your life.  It’s okay.  You can be honest with Him.  Yell at Him, scream at Him, demand that He explain Himself, let out all of your anger and feelings of betrayal that He allowed you to suffer as you did.  It’s okay.  He understands why you are hurting, why you are angry, why you feel betrayed.  There is nothing that you can possibly say that will offend Him.  You can call Him every name in the book and He will still love and accept you and wants you to understand why things happened as they did.  (In time, He will show you the reasons why, so you will understand and be able to let them go.)  For now, the important thing is to communicate with Him, to tell Him all that has been hiding and festering in your heart.  It is time to lance the infection of bitterness that has been poisoning you for all of these years, to reveal what has been stifled and smothered under ‘I can’t trust anybody’ and ‘nobody can help me’ and ‘nobody cares what I’m going through’.  He can be trusted.  He can help you.  He cares.  He has always been trustworthy and helpful and caring.  But His love is conditional.  Not conditional in the sense of ‘deserving’, but in being limited by your capacity to accept it, for true love isn’t a feeling, but a verb, an action word, something done.  His idea of love and justice is based on meeting needs, not punishing (or rewarding) deeds.  He wants desperately to meet your needs, no matter what you’ve done.  (Think about it; if you meet someone’s need for food, stealing a loaf of bread would never even occur to them, even if they have done it in the past when they were hungry, would it?)  There is a catch, though; He can only (actively) love you as much as you will allow Him to, for there can be no love without liberty, and you have always had the liberty to go your own way and refuse His love, to your sorrow and His.  He cares for you enough to allow you to have the free will to do whatever you decide to do, no matter how much it may hurt you or those around you.  This is your life; yours and yours alone.  You are responsible only for yourself and your actions.  You are at liberty to do whatever you want.  What He is asking is for you to give Him permission to do whatever HE wants with and in you.  That is a scary thing when you don’t know Him.  You find yourself asking ‘What if…’ and imagining all kinds of things, none of which make you want to turn your life over to this… stranger.  Very well.  The problem contains the direction to its own solution; you need to know Him.  You need to know who He is and why He does what He does.  You need to know that you can believe, trust, and have faith in him.  How do you do that?  By having evidence.  How can you get it?  You can get circumstantial evidence from others who know Him, but the only absolute way is to simply ask Him for it.  (…or demand that He produce it.  Being angry at Him because you don’t understand why He did something is okay; he is a big God and can take it.)  The reality is that the most compelling evidence must come directly from this extra-dimensional Being whom we can’t physically sense.  It is the only way that you can know His character and ways of doing things.  I can talk to you until I am blue in the face and my voice is a rasping whisper, and still not have the impact of a single leaf falling exactly when and where it needs to in His exact timing.

…when it needs to.  Timing is also vitally important.  At one point, I cried out to Him for hoursbegging Him to talk to me, to prove that He even existed, to no avail.  He said nothing to me, nothing, and I was left desolate, able only to acknowledge that, if He existed, then He would have to be the one to contact me, as there was clearly no way for me to make Him speak to me.  It was over eighteen years later that He answered my prayer.  I have since come to understand why; I needed to come to the end of my rope and completely shatter before I would listen.  I had to prove to myself that going my own way, doing ‘the best I could’, living as I thought best, could only end in pain, destruction, and despair.  He waited patiently until I understood and came to a place where all of my delusional pride was stripped away, laying my filthy, twisted, broken soul bare before me, to where I lay screaming in agony over what I had become, what I had lost.  It was only THEN that I was able to listen.  It was only THEN that He spoke to me.  It was only THEN  that I was open to hearing what He had to say and start to follow Him.  Only THEN.

Now… Now I live a life that I could never have imagined.  Now I have a peace seated deeply within me that the storms I still go through cannot tear away.  They can bury it under the waves for a time, but it is my anchor holding me firmly in place, and I have absolute confidence that I cannot be swept away, no matter how wild the winds may get.  Now I know what love really is.  Now I know that hope is a feeling of confidence simply without a known date for its fulfillment.  Now I know what joy is, and how solidly it can support me, whatever may try to drown me.  Now I know what peace truly is and the wholeness that comes from the war within being calmed.  Now I am being saved, and salved, a loving Father applying the balm of His active love to my wounds, leaving nothing but the faintest of scars and the story of how He is healing and restoring me.  It is because I constantly cry out to Him to ‘search my heart and show me the wicked way within me’ that He can do so and then work to excise the tumours of hurts, habits, and hang-ups that were killing me and causing me to lash out at everyone around me.  I now look at myself with a sense of awe and wonder.  I no longer know who I am, and it is with wild joy that I celebrate that!  Who I’ve always been is being pruned away, and now I’m becoming healthy enough to bear good fruit for others to enjoy and be nourished by.  Hallelujah!

It is my hope that my words have had an impact on you.  If so, the rubber must meet the road or it is in vain.  To that end, I encourage you to join me in your own version of my constant, earnest prayer and set your life’s rudder accordingly.

Father, while there are many things about you that I have faith in, there are still some that I only trust you in, or just believe you in, or even have outright unbelief.  This is not acceptable!  I desperately need to come to a place where my faith in you is complete, not full of holes and weak points, where the Enemy can enter and wreak havoc.  I ask you to work within me to show me where my faith isn’t complete, and make it so.  I accept any discipline, any suffering, any sacrifice to make sure that I become as much like You as I can on this Earth, so I can be the most powerful instrument of healing and restoration that you can make me, that I may have and give love, hope, joy, and peace to all who so desperately need them.


Posted in Teachings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Love And Its Consequences

Here’s the thing: love in the Hebrew sense is a /verb/, an action word. It is something you DO, not something you FEEL. What Jesus mostly spoke out against concerning the religious leaders of His day was that their deeds were cold, heartless, and selfish, and those wicked deeds came from their wicked hearts. Time and time and time again, the Father has said that His justice, His love, His mercy is all about helping those who are in need, NOT those who ‘deserve it’. That is His will, and if we are truly His, then we will ‘do the will of our Father who is in heaven’ and actively seek to BE patient, kind, gentle, charitable, self-controlled, etc., no matter how we may be feeling at the time.

Here is where the rubber hits the road: if you aren’t actively doing the kinds of things the Father does, you aren’t His. Period. There is no wiggle room. There is no justification. There are no excuses. You cannot love as He does if you do not know Him intimately, and you CANNOT know Him intimately if you habitually, willingly do what He hates. Period. Unless you are living as Jesus lived to the best of your present ability and consistently striving to become more like Him through His guidance, you can say ‘LORD, LORD’ all you want, and you won’t walk through Heaven’s Gates. Period. If you are okay with habitually missing the mark, you are doomed. Period. Those who are truly His HATE their sins, and are constantly crying out “Search my heart, O LORD; seek out the wicked ways within me”, begging Him to purify them. If you aren’t hungry for Him to work deeply within you, if you justify yourself by saying ‘everybody struggles’ when you aren’t struggling at all, if you give yourself a pass because you said a prayer one time and try to be a nice person, you are fooling yourself, and stand condemned already; that end is assured, and certain doom awaits you.

…but God.

But God is merciful to those who will turn away from their ways, no matter where you are. You see, He sees you through His timeless eyes; what He is mostly paying attention to is who you WILL be, not who you were or are now. If you turn to Him and allow Him to work deeply in you to heal and restore you, He is faithful and just and will surely complete what He has started in you. You will come to know more and more peace, joy, love, etc. It is a sure part of becoming more and more like Him in your thought patterns. You will be able to handle more and more, and will even be able to be totally relaxed in situations that would normally stress you out.

You just need to ask and seek and keep knocking. He will answer you. Your life will change. That end is assured, and certain joy awaits you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment