Filled, Following, and Flurishing

Thoughts and journaling from a Christian, College student


Journal Like a Man

Interestingly enough, the title of this post is the most stinging cut I could take at myself. As you can most likely tell... the dates between the last post and the current is quite expansive, therefore I obviously haven't been doing what occured to me as defining a man. As pop culture would have me believe, writing in my diary/journaling, is a rather 13 year old girl thing of me to do, but i am stretching through that classification and reaching into what I think God has spoken to me and said: Journal Like a Man.

I had a pretty awesome expirience when sitting in church yesterday. When i say sitting in church I don't mean suburban or even American for that matter. I mean an 'underground' house church in China. I am almost certain that it is a risk to my own immigration status and to the security of the group, but they have been gracious enough to let me join. When you hear words like underground and chinese church, if you're in tune with God, it makes an excited chill run down your back, and you might think to yourself, "wow, that is exciting and fresh, if only I were in a church like that, i would really be on fire for worship, etc etc etc cliche cliche" The unfortunate part of that for me is that, it was exciting about the first two weeks. After that, my own underwhelment turned in to the monotony that was prevalent in a majority of the church expiriences of my life. There are obvious and distinctive causes for that, but the depth or lack there of, of feeling it causes can only be expressed as an emptiness that deeply impacts the fibre of any relationship with friends and family, and more specifically with God. The point of this prior rant was that God and I are not as close as i would like, and way more distant than he desires.

So, i am sitting in church, and temptation is just as real as outside the doors... disgust doesn't touch the feeling you get when discovereing how eternally damned i would be if it weren't for the Grace of God. As mentioned before, knowlege doesn't replace action, and that leads me to the meat of this entry. After the sermon, like every week, we broke into small groups to share how we feel about the sermon. I was relegated to the new comer group for a third straight week, not because of my new arrival status, but to accompany my wife as one of the ones to share the gospel with the new comers. This effectively gives me an opportunity to sit and think, because the rapidity of the conversation, mixed with the Chinese language, makes for a confused me. As i was sitting there, i began to understand very deeply the questions being asked. It took me into the book of James, and i began to explore the idea of Faith without works is dead. The idea that what i do, everythig that i have been saying is dead. I am a master of fully expressing an idea, or even representing my belief and putting it into relevant threads of thought that can be consumed by a seeker, and as they swallow it draws them closer to God. Albeit with out the feeling of the Holy Spirit ripping through me and pouring out the heart of God (which i have expirienced with utter joy) So as I was sitting I was thinking about why would you become a christian if it meant no change in your status as a human (question brought up by the girl we were sharing with, and a valid one) Accepting Jesus is a very special expirience in the changing of your status in front of the God of the Universe, but what does it mean in terms of your status in front of man. I understand the idea of justification and sanctification, but what does that look like from the seat of a non-christian, and what does it mean from the seat of Satan? From God's standpoint, we are cleansed, and he only sees us from outside of time and is waiting at the endpoint of our lives with the lense of Jesus first processing our filth, past and future, and filtering out imperfection (justification) but from the perspective of the fellow human who doesn't have the benefit of being outside time, and doesn't have the luxury of a Jesus lense through which to view us, what have we become, other than another religious follower? From my understanding, and what I explained to the girl who asked is that we are in a process of becoming more like christ (sanctification) But still, what doesn that mean, and what does that look like to someone that doesn't know who Jesus was, what he stood for, and what he did, which is ultimately Love. Additionally, How do we stop from sinning, which is essentially the opposite of perfect love, or according to the arrow missing the target definition of the Latin word Sin, missing the target of complete or ultimate love?

A special expirience started when God started to give me an image of what this means. Hitting a target in archery is not a minor task, but the entire goal of archery, in the same way that Love is not a task, but the entire goal of Chirstianity. How do you hone your skills and hit a target? First obviously, you have to have to see the target. How do you hit Love? First obviously you have to see Love, God is Love. The more you can expirience who God is (Love), the better you will be able to see the target and at least have an idea of where we are shooting. In fact, evey action that every human makes is the release of an arrow and the draw of the string for the next shot. Sometimes we even hit on the target, and you don't have to be a christian for that, you just have to release enough arrows blindly into a world that still contains the remnants of God's original splendor, you're bound to hit on love every once in a while, hence the ability for people to feel 'love' without ever knowingly expiriencing God. That is all good and well, but how can you become the Robin Hood of Love, splitting arrow after arrow as you drill further into the center of that target and Love pours from every fibre of action that you complete? Well first off Christ was the Robin Hood of Love, so forget it... but you can be one of his Merry Men. One part of every Robin Hood movie, no matter the year or format, is a scene of the peasents in the forest practising to become Robin Hood. Practicing... to become more like Christ, and olny after we have a clear picture of where our target is. I am not sure if you have ever actually released an arrow, our shot a gun, thrown paper at a trash can, etc. But the feeling of hitting the mark, after the rush of exhileration matched only by the swith surge of power of the arrow as it... THUD hits the mark, is unattainable elsewhere. That is the feeling of expiriencing Love, i am not a scientist, but i would venture a guess and say that the chemical and electrical reaction in the brain that occurs when you hit a target is similar, however miniscule and short lived, to that of a Father holding his son, a man holding his girl's hand for the first time, etc. The Joy of Love is Joy from God, and God's Joy is pure. That is now the only motivation I have to love. The exhileration of hitting the mark (if you're a hedonist) or the absence of desperation felt when the mark is missed (if you're a pessimist) is the only pure human motivation for becoming more like Christ.

How do we hit the mark? Basically every wise piece of information that you have gotten that makes you a Man of God. Read you're Bible (shine your light on the target), Go to church, Do good deeds (Target Practice), listen to sermons/read books (listen to others methods of how they hit the target, and apply it to yourself) don't get consumed by the world (Don't shoot at imaginary or distorted targets, created to be a distraction) Again from Robin Hood: remeber when Maid Marian blows on his ear as he releases? Target missed. The distraction and pull from the true target feels nice becuase your body thinks it is hitting the mark, but is hitting what are actually fake targets. for example a fake target the world generates is the target of achieving love through sex, and the acceptance of porn. Does porn seem like Love? you are absolutely and completely hating not only whomever you are looking at, but everyone that will follow into that industry, and promoting the rape and molestation of society, that is now so prevalent due to the availability and praise of gratification that oozes from the sores of porn. In addition to blatent and clear missing of the mark, there are less distinguished but equally dangerous feaux targets being slapped on every surface of our lives. Before you take the shot, think whether it truly is Love that you are shooting at. Inaction, or wasteful action is also just the missed opportunity to hit the target and gain that euphoria of hitting the center. How do we become motivated to Love? If I knew the answer to that i would write a novel and make millions, but since we are rockin out in a blog, let's give it a shot (pun intended).

The best I can come up with, is to keep firing at the target (first illuminate the target) The reason I like to take my shotgun out and shoot clay pidgeons isn't the bruise it leaves on my shoulder, but the orange dust that powders the air after a well placed shot. I don't release an arrow for the welt left on the wrist, but the THUNK. I don't go bowling so I can wear someone else's shoes, but for the chaotic crash of ten swirling pins. Now, i don't open the bible because i love to lay arround and read, but because the fulfilment and rush of true Love, of becoming like Christ. This is a fundamentally new approach to the way i look at life, and this entry marks the first true realization of this in my life. Hopefully, the following post are new ways to illuminate the target, practice hitting the target, and the record of bulls-eyes as i live a life for the rush of Love, and Journal like a Man.


Entry 4

I think I was supposed to call the last entry: Entry 3 as to keep with the trend, but honestly I didn't look at the one before it until I had already posted. If you look I left a comment as to the bzaar nature of how closely related the two blogs ended up being... I think frustration can be best perpetuated by a lack of progress in a certain area. However, as I spoke of desiring to desire Go: that is what I now know I mean by saying a lack of passion and praise him for fulfilling that need. The last two days has proved to be a slap in the face from satan saying this is still a war, but then a still and steady reassurance from God that he has my back. In fact he has my front and sides too, he already won the war, but I continue to pick this battle for myself trying to relay to much on my internal strengths rather than the promises that are offered to me by God.

I am currently reading a book called Taming Your Private Thoughts. I thought it would give me steps that I could take to pull myself up by the collar and win the war against my flesh. Instead it spent the whole first eight chapters telling me how deprived I am and how I just, plainly put, can't do anything to rectify the thoughts that want to course through my brain at a pace of 1000 sins per minute. However, it did lead me to a path of reliance on God's strength and a method of constant reminding of his Grace and strength. It offers a four part S.T.O.P. accrostic that goes as follows: Sins confessed, Think on such things, Order your thoughts, and honestly I haven't gotten to P yet but I'll fill you in later. These past couple days as I have still been bombarded by an assault worthy of a military fortress, I have been reminded to confess, think about God, and - well - order my thoughts. As the title of this blog is "filled, following, and flurishing" I need to add a disclaimer that it is more like "continuously being filled, dying to self, and stumbling down a rough path" I can't pretend that this is any sort of a simple journey, or that I at all times feel filled with God's spirit or am constantly mindful of Jesus' sacrifice and victory. I am however making strides to reconsider my faith, and my ability to do it on my own (Much like Elimelech in Ruth). I am realizing the desperation of my situation (thanks book) and also my inability to recognize a problem and deal with it (thanks friends).

While at a conference recently I was forced to look into my family background and history to see what factors they play in to what kind of communicator I am under stress. The conclusion was: I am a bad communicator. I display characteristics of all four styles of mis communicators, but don't have a performance based or dysfunctional family background o blame it on. I also, while talking to the Dr. lecturing, discovered I have an inability to really feel stress. So I don't technically know what I do when I'm stressed out, due to not knowing when I'm in that position... I think it is mentioned in "Lucky Number Slevin"(movie) Adorexia (sp?): A complete or partial block of ability to be preoccupied with worry or care about a situation or outcome. This is specifically derived from a self-propelled notion that "I can" I'll pass that along to you as holy shielded with Philippians 4:13 and state that it is Christ who gives me strength, but in reality I finish the verse a little early and am satisfied with I can do all things. Why worry? from Matthew 6 rings throughout my actions, and this would be a very Christlike action, if it were not for the self pride that was intertwined in that. Offering myself as a living sacrifice played out? What does that look like? Where do i go with that? How can I do that?

Pride rips into the flesh and devours your soul... My pride is too smart to let myself know that it is there and cloaks itself as faith. A very keen and strong predator since it knows me intimately it usually gets the upper hand. I can talk to you for an hour about my problem of being too prideful, but it is my pride giving the ability to say that impressive bit. There in lies the problem: Where do you cut pride off, how I guess is better? When discovering a lot about yourself you scratch a lot of ugly surfaces that don't want to be revealed. Hold on for the ride, and please continue to pray that I won't be satisfied with scratching, but that I would burrow deep and root out pride and flesh and temptation and ultimately sin. More to come later...


Break the Cycle

So it has been a long time since last putting my thoughts to... "paper" and I feel that now is the time to jot some thoughts down. I am not going to promise that this will be permanent or even more than a one time thing. However, God has been teaching me a lot in the past few months, and I need to let this stick. I didn't look over the last post that I left or even remember the content that was contained there, I just kind of stumbled on this and sure enough I was still able to sign in. So with out further ado ...

I can only best describe my relationship with God over the past months as frustrating. Frustrating but highlighted with a series of the most amazing experiences that I never would have thought He would let me savor. For quite some years I have been praying and begging God to give me a passion that would bring meaning to my life and end the frustration that was cursing the seams of who I have become. With a complete ability to say or be anything to anyone I have lost the ability to tell myself (or others for that matter) what I want or need and how that affects me. Looking back these past couple months I have seen that God has indeed giving me my request and filled me with a passion for changing the world in a very specific way. I can't detail that here, due to the public nature of this post, but it has taken a hold of me and driven me closer to my Savior. That being said, he has also given me the love of a woman he created for me to work along side and glorify Him with. I can't explain the undeservedness I feel and the fear I feel daily that this is oo good to be true. Why? I am still, in spite of his over-whelming grace and blessing, struggling to keep my head and mind in holiness. I can say all day that I feel thankful and close to God, but actions will speak louder than words, and my actions speak to the contrary.
Where is the disconnect? Where do I lose the love i should feel and gain the content that if an onlooker could examine my thoughts would surely say that I feel towards God? It's not a blatantly stated content or even thoughts of opposition to Him, but the darkness that still wreaks havoc on my thoughts from years prior to this new found passion, still finds its way into my head on more than an seldom occasion. As I read through the end of Romans 7 I can't help but well up with tears and feel the depth and strength of sins pull on my heart. There is such a welling passion for the right, that is so easily consumed by desires of the flesh that I can't seem to oppress the up flaring urges. At times, I trick myself into thinking that I have self-control and that I can indeed say no to whatever comes across my plane of view, neigh neigh... soon I am again consumed with thoughts and actions that would repulse my "self-controlling self" I guess I have learned to turn a blind eye to what actions tend to consume and minimize all that taints my relationship with God. Even now as I sit and write this, I feel a slight tug on my heart to delve into pleasure and ditch this new found desire to write. I can't... I won't... the tug increases... this is war, and there will be a loser. I am ashamed to say that before now my righteousness was always compromised and destroyed as I slipped in the cycle of sin that would wither and devour my person, until I had nothing left to bring before my father and would be to ashamed to even attempt.
My prayer the last few nights has been "How O Lord am I gonna change, transform, become closer to you... Let me feel your love so I am so overcome with delight that I can't think to do anything but rejoice in your presence." This sounds like a last minute call of desperation... I guess it is. I am trying my best (not ever good enough) to continually seek his presence in my life. This has included a new found desire to pray (sorry not desire, desperate need) a morning time with God, and this... putting these actions into word so there is some sort of permanence to my actions and resolution. I am intending now to be open and honest about struggles and sin, and to bring this out into the light and continually repent as I know he continually forgives. Wow, this hasn't ended up any where I initially intended, but exactly where God has led. So until next time...


Entry 2

I'm not sure where I left off last time, but not alot has happened since then, which seems to be the theme of this semester. Whelp, I wrote last time with the full knowlege of what I need to do to become the man God intends me to be. But as i may or may not have said, What is the point of having the klnowlege of what I need to do unless I have the inate desire or craving to seek after God. i have the desire to desire God, believe me I feel empty at times, and I feel filled at others, that isn't my struggle. My struggle (along with multiple sins) is an inibility to act out what it is that I know i "want to do. "I know I want to do", sounds funny, but it's true. I know exactly what I should want, but for reasons beyond what i can describe, I don't feel what I should do. For the longest time, I felt a conection with the verses in late Romans 7 ..." I do what I don't wnat to do, and what I want to do I cannot" It gave me comfort that even Paul, solid guy that he was, struggled with an inibility, at times, to do what he knew was right. Romans 8:1 however was a bit disconcerning, "No condemnation for me!" With this new found liberation I found myself with the ability to justify actions with the fact that nothing could snatch me out of God's hands. (using lack of context to my advantage comes too naturally) Of curse I still belive that this is correct, from an eternal perspective. But I can now feel a deprivation of God's love, which isn't possible, therefore, it is God that feels the deprivation of my love towards him. However, I know Idon't depend on God like I should, i know I don't act out the things he wishes most for me. He wishes to give me the desires of my heart, but I have'nt allowed for desires to come into my heart . I haven't allowed for him to show me what it is to live life to its fullest, My desire list, right now, is empty.
There is no more desperate a feeling than the lack of desire, but having a desire to desire at the same time. But the feeling of the first so outways the knowlege of the second that inaction is the only result of my endless struggle to desire God. Only further complexifying the situation, and thus more frustration comes when I ponder my situation. Now, the beauty of reading the wod is in mistakable, I get into the word, whenever I have the need (horrendously not enough) I think there in lies the problem. That and my unwillingness to just be alone with God and just talk out, and seek out the end to my seemingly endless rut. I don't know if I feel ashamed to come back into his presence or if I don't feel at all. Or, is it the Devil or my flesh waging a war against what my spirit thuroughly desires? If so, they are decietful masters of stifling the sreams of desire to sprint endlessly back to my Saviors arms, because I can't even hear the faintest whisper. However, I know that is the case, I know the desire is there, fighting to get the light it deserves, fighting to shine from every ounce of my being, fighting to fill, no overflow me at the seems until I am bursting with the need for God's never ending Love. I know it is there, yet I choose to ignore since I cannot hear. Out of mind, out of heart should be how the saying goes, it is very much so in my sight, I can see the visible impurities that spill over from a vicious battle that wages daily in the members of my body (mostly my cursed eyes and tounge) I can feel the remorse and the pain that is coupled with a person who lacks God's love, but unfortunately for me, I cannot show it.
I show the world that everything is fine, I show my friends/brothers that I indeed have a problem, but I am taking steps to master it. That is why I write, to expose what is indeed going on, i write to not only lift my spirit and make reel my problem to myself, but also to verbalize what it is that I can so easily mask with a false battle an false victories, and false faith. Inwardly i am slinking into the dark recesses of my life thus far. While outwardly, I struggle indeed, but to what end? To the end that is acceptable to outsiders. i have become so acustomed to deciet that i can now expose horrible parts of my life, and then cover them with what appears to be a revalation, or a new effort to seek God, when in fact, all I am doing is creating more of a distance from the truth, and climbing slowly (sometimes furiously) away from God. I often time time stop and survey the progress I've made while others watch what I can make look like an effortless dive back into what God has for me, only to effortlessly slink back to my climbing perch while they aren't watching, thnk and sceeming my next apparent shortcoming that can be easily overcome by my amazing outward self. So now I sit, naked to deciet, longingly looking down back at the water with the knowlege that if I jump now the impact will only hurt momentarily, but will quickly be overcome by the refreshing cool of God' s encompassing self. The Sun and wind blister my skin, but my body keeps climbing away, up ,up ,up, I look again and realise that the hurt could be worse now, but my body still climbs, and my mind still lays the web of lies, and my heart still feel nothing. But the spirits muffled voice cries out in a hallow and dark hall, i hearit, but how do I answer?


Entry 1

For the longest time I have wanted to start a journal in which I could just let out what I am going through. Thiis is an easy and fun way to do so, so here goes. I am now in my sophmore year of college at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Life is coming fast and slow at the same time, and I have yet to realize what it is that I wnat to do with my life. Blah Balh Blah, a bunch of other cliche stuff about future plans, blah blah...... What really is going on is a struggle to get myself into a position of submission to God. I understand the beauty that is Grace, and perhaps this is why the thought of a relationship with God is natural. I have grown up Christian, and as far as I can remeber I have been walking with God. There are definately times when I now, retrospectively, realize I am drifting away, and taking control of my own life, but that is what brings me back to the point where I am now. I am an external processor (not used as a crotch or excuse, but as a reason to divulge oersonal information) So I feel best when I talk out what I'm thinking, and realize how I percieve what is going on in my daily walk with God ( which is very rarely actually daily from my part) I know he desires to know me fully, and I know that I should submit all that I have been blessed with to honor and glorify him. I just rarely feel compeled to. This has become a recent developement, that for my detesting of personal excuses to myself, I credit to laziness and an inability to take an itnitiative to let him fully envelope me and fully take me iinto his arms. He will carry me if I let him, I know that. I just am un-willing to let it be so. I have, for as long as I can remeber, been able to do anything that I set out to do ( by God's strength in my life) I just am now realizing that I am uncapable of anything without him. That sounds again cliche, but hearing something, knowing something, and truly feeling deep down are totally different things in and of themselves.
Faith, the ability for me to give up myself as the controller, and handing over what is mine to God and letting him fully use the tools he created in the frist place. I can't seem to realize what it is that lets me be so ignorant to this fact. Sin I guess. He is patient with me and he always knows what is best, I know that too, but I don;t feel that. There is too much peace in my life, there is too much security. I desire to feel a rush, adrenaline, fun, fear. I hate scarry movies, because I don't like the suspense, but I love to jump off cliffs because of the analogy of taking one step and letting the spirit(gravity) do the work of completely encompassing me in God (Water). All too much I try to climb away from God, while I am visibly still dripping with God, he desire to cover me, but I just go again climbing away from him, just to get to the point of the jump, faith, the step, that will give me the rush of falling back into hiw, where I want to be. I am aware that he is there, I know that he is still on me, under me, and by necesity he is in me (body being composed of water) in fact without him I would not exist. But still I climb away, Why?............. Hmmm... I guess it is the knowlege that he is still there, I know that he is still covering me, in my sin, I don't care if I begin to dry off. In fact to make the mental picture better think of the world as hot dry blowing air, ad God as that cool refreshing stream, ( or cold air and warm water, depending on your quirks). Think of the desire you have to stay in the water and be continually saticefied and continually covered. But stillIstruggle in the opposite direction to seek, I guess, false saticefaction in what I can find up the eternally tall cliff. You could also veiw the cliff as works as people try to clmb there way to God, up an impossibly high, and unscalable wall, when in reality all they have to do is decide to let go, to take the scarry, but freeing step off the edge and fall off into complete surrender to God, why climb away? why struggle to work my way to the top, Maybe to get high enough up the cliff to be noticed by every one around, maybe so other "swimmers" can see me helping "climbers" make the decision to jump, I'm not the one that pulls them down into the water, God does that, but I can tell them how awesome it is to take the plunge, Oh yes I can tell them all daythe rejuvinating and refreshing beauty of the plunge, but I still don't fully get why I'm not always taking the plunge. Why do I try to clomb away? Why do I strugle and toil inside, maybe effortlessly externally, but inwardly just knowing I love that fall into God's love. All i need to do is take the step.
I can know and enjoy this knowlege all I want, and I do, I know exactly what has to be done, and what steps I can take to get there, and what I can do to get to the point of taking the step, I know I can take the step to fall into God, I know I will enjoy the fall I know I will enjoy being covered and out of the unquenchible dry heat, that sucks the love of God right off me. i know this, I do, It is deep instilled in my mind. My problem, as far as I percieve it, is that I have no overwhelming desire to get it done. I have no deep pressing urge to get there, I know the urge and need is there, I just don't feel it. This makes me angry, sad, overwhelmed, but mostly complacent. Which is discouraging. I know I'm not the person I am fully intended to be, and I know that that will be fulfilled by God alone, what i don't know, which is the most helpless I have ever felt, is waht to do now that I have the knowlege. I have only inability to act. The inability to move, the inability to feel the need to have feeling. And paradoxically I feel the need to have feelings which are not present in my life. I am beyond making sense now, so I will sign off with this encouragement. I Can Do ALL Things Trough Christ Who Strengthens Me. -Phil 4:13