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Author Archives: Kris

About Kris

I am the author of Kingsgrass, a blog that tries to focus on the weightier thoughts I have as I live out the Christian life. I am also the photographer behind Dandelion Wry, where I share images I have captured that 'speak to me' as well as occasionally include more personal glimpses into my life and my growth in photography.

Testimony

It happened about 30 years ago.  It was a Saturday and I was planning my suicide the following Monday.  The only way it would work, I decided, would be if I stabbed myself in front of the altar.  While I died, I would beg God for forgiveness.

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St. Peter Claver Church was the church my family attended and where I planned to commit suicide. Above the altar is a giant cross, and it was to this that I planned to beg mercy from.

What drove me to this moment was the pursuit of peace.  I craved it but couldn’t find it.  Everything was meaningless to me from a very early age.  I could not sense hope in life and I longed for death.  I tried to find peace in many places: mindset, pithy quotes, being perfect, relationships, drinking, pleasures, friends-and although those could lift my spirits for a moment, I always found myself crashing into a well of despair.

My road to suicide was accelerated by a hallucination I had three times my 15th summer.   Each time it started as a bad high.  Demons in my head taunted and screamed at me, sucking me down into an unknown spiral and I tried to claw myself out of their grasp.  At the moment I was being pulled under and the fight was over, the entire hallucination would break up, literally end, and there before me, in my mind’s eye was Jesus.  He stood there with a dignified power I couldn’t understand but which I welcomed amidst the chaos.   With His hands open to me and in an authoritative yet loving voice, He said,   “Child, in me you will find peace.”  Each time He said it three times and then vanished from my ‘sight’. Like I said, I had that same (almost identical) experience three times that summer.

This altered the way I had been thinking.  I had looked for the key I was missing but I did not think the missing key was God.  I went to church.  I believed in God.  I could not understand how God could be missing.    I believed He was big, powerful and perfect.  I also admitted I was not, and hindered by sin.  I understood sin.  I suffered from guilt continuously.  Painfully perfectionist, I felt every perceived failure intensely.  Due to the hallucinations, I thought the key was to live life as Jesus wanted me to, sin free.  I set out to do exactly that.

I failed miserably.  I could not live failure-free.  Despite being sensitive to anything that could upset my peace (failure of any sort), I couldn’t help myself.  I kept doing things that heaped guilt on me and pushed peace far away.

That is how I came to plan my suicide.  I rationalized it this way:  ‘Jesus died because of sin so that must mean I have to die because of sin.  If I die confessing every foul thing in me, perhaps He will forgive me and free me, and let me exist in peace.’  It was a gamble, but at this point in my life, I was desperate enough to roll the dice.

Well, you know that something happened because I am not dead.  When I went to school that Monday morning I was called into a room and within an hour I was put into a drug and alcohol rehab program.  I owe that to my best friend at the time.  She saved my life and probably still does not know that.

Getting substance-free, I thought would be my salvation as it was a major contributor to what I recognized as sin.  For two more years I tried to live sin free.  I tried to be perfect.  I tried to be anything but miserable.  Despite my efforts, hopelessness and lack of meaning once again had me fantasizing my death.  This time it was even more severe.  The reason I used substances was to escape the realities I sensed.  Now I was trying to live with my escape hatch closed and the realities I wanted to hide from still remained alive and active.

I went to college and my first semester I ran into a new Christian.  He had written and hand-drawn tracts and distributed them to a row of mailboxes.  To make a long story short, (and skip telling a wonderful miracle), I received one of them and we became friends.  He gave me my first Bible.

I read it carefully and continually.  I always had it with me. I even slept with it.  I believed as I read and the gates were flung open.  I don’t know how else to explain it except to say that something finally clicked.  An incredible, indescribable peace washed over me and KEPT washing over me, every single day.  I could see.  All of a sudden, I could see.  Jesus paid the penalty of my sin so that I could live in peace with Him.   My peace was not dependent on the perfection or meaning I could create but on the perfection He is and the meaning He gives.  The missing key, that life is found in God, not in a good life that merely acknowledged Him, was found.   The call on my heart was strong not to only assent to the fact that He died and rose again on my behalf to make peace possible, but to follow Him and give up everything to do so.

I wish that I could keep your attention long enough to tell you of all the ways I have experienced God step into my reality and lift me out of it , experiences I have had that leave no shadow of doubt in my mind that He is real and active and powerful…and relevant.  I will forego that now but leave you with this.

Since I became a Christian I, like every other human being, have had many painful things to endure.  There have been defeats, failures and dreams dashed.   Horrible life events, crushing disappointments and fierce battles with loneliness and confusion that are simply not fun to walk through.  But I can attest to this.  The peace He promised me never left me.  It has remained even while I walk through fog, pain or sorrow.  It has remained when the mundane and average life I lead whispers hopelessness and meaningless in my ear.  My peace is not based on my circumstances anymore, nor my success or popularity.  It is rooted in my life with God.

So dear reader, if you do not know peace, I offer to you what I have found.  The Prince of Peace.  Repent and Believe…..and He will give you peace.

For those who know this God already, I pray my story further confirms in your heart how marvelous He is.

 

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3 Comments

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in What I believe

 

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A World Like Me

A World Like Me
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
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The problem with the world isn’t that people are not like us.
The problem is that they are like us.
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The road to holiness is narrow and difficult only because
we must constantly fight the line found in our own hearts.
 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Sin

 

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Organic Jesus

In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says that he would preach nothing but Christ crucified.  The ThinkerAs ambassadors of Christ ourselves, we should also be proclaiming nothing but his message.  Christ, and Christ alone, is our message to those around us.

The wisdom of the world though speaks loudly to how we can have a good life, become beautiful people or obtain what we are looking for and it offers up a different suggestion, something different from Christ, for how to get it.  Many times the suggestions make sense….but it directs people to something other than God.  When Christians add this wisdom to the gospel and then start talking about it when they sit and stand, they in effect become evangelists for the wisdom of the world.  They are constantly telling others about “Christ and…”

For example, many of my Christian friends are caught up in things related to health and/or politics.  Perhaps you have friends like this too.  Much of what they share is what they have become passionate about and they bring Christ in alongside to prove their position.  They have become evangelists for “Christ and….”

In matters of justice, we do need to stand up for the defenseless, absolutely.  The gospel is all about justice and we are to act justly as His ambassadors.  It would be unjust to ignore the helpless.  Likewise, sharing common sense nuggets that we have learned should be passed along if it will help someone, BUT, and this is a big but, that is not the gospel and it is NOT our message.  Neither is general knowledge or opinions on things such as the government, our diet, or how marriage should be nurtured.  Go ahead and share them if you are so inclined, but they are NOT the message of Christ.

If people think first of your extra cause before they think of Christ when they think of you, you have probably started to become an evangelist for “Christ and…”

Christ and no chemicals in your diet.

Christ and a happy, intimate marriage.

Christ and a just government.

Christ and a healthy body.

Christ and the top ten common sense things to avoid.

Christ and the top ten common sense things to do.

Christ and

The ‘ands’ may be good things.  They usually are things that we seek after because we are fearful or just want them.  The ‘ands’ are usually something Christ never promised or talked about at length.  He never promised a just government, a healthy body, wonderful relations with others, success or a happy life….here.  They may or may not be fine to pursue but by becoming evangelists for ‘Christ and’ our message becomes: “be saved from your sins, AND live a healthy life.”  or something akin to this.  See the danger?

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  1 Cor. 2:2

For me, I make it my resolve as Paul did, that I will have no other agenda.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Discernment, What I believe

 

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Mathematical Proof for the Trinity

 

I love Math and I like seeing my kids think through it. The Thinker Often they will get a problem wrong because they set it up wrong.  They think they are expressing one thing with numbers but they are actually expressing something totally different.

I was reading a clip out of “The Creed of Saint Athanasius Proved by a Mathematical Parallel” tonight and thought this worth sharing.

Athanasius’ Creed affirmed that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.

Typically, we run into troubles with the trinity because we do our math like this:  1 + 1 + 1 = 3.

Bryne’s mathematical proof for God is this:  infinity + infinity + infinity = infinity
 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Never Saw That Before

 

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I’m Giving Up Sin….but just for Lent

I’m Giving Up Sin….but just for Lent

I have almost missed the start of Lent this year. I have never been any good at dates. I am reblogging a post I did last year, In regards to Lent, I would love that all would partake. Yet, I would caution those who practice Lent to be careful not to enter it with a ‘sacrifice’ of sin. Giving up what we know we should give up, as some sort of sacrifice during Lent is skewed, isn’t it? Think through the admittedly not perfect post and come to your own conclusions. God bless.

Kingsgrass

22452900E[1] “I’ve decided to give up a sin that has been bothering me for Lent.”

That was what I overheard this last week but not in those exact words.  The actual words sounded much more admirable, couched in lightheartedness with lots of spiritual talk inserted between the lines.  “I’m giving up something that has been bothering me,” is closer to what I actually heard.

This encounter launched me into questioning why many Christians participate in Lent.  Ideally, it should be a time of deeper contemplation about God and more focused prayer.  Most say that this is what they plan on doing, but for many, life and old habits make it hard for them to execute and they merely pull off the external.   As a result, I think many focus on the giving up of a thing as some sort of offering of their devotion, hoping that the mere act of doing…

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Letting the Donkey Make an Ass Out of You this Christmas

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What animal does the Bible say Mary rode while heading towards Bethlehem?

Easy trivia….but look it up and prove it.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Are you surprised?  How can the donkey not be there?  That is what we all picture and believe to have happened!

The idea that Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey comes from speculation and assumptions.  People do it all the time and it is dangerous.  Consider these thoughts held by many to be true: “God helps those who help themselves”, “wives must obey their husbands”,  and “God will never give us more than we can handle.”

Sure, if Mary didn’t walk she probably rode in on a donkey but we are never told that. We assume that. Assuming anything when it comes to God or the Christian life can be a dangerous thing.

Take heed of what you assume.  Chances are, something, somewhere,  has falsely crept in and it will make an ass of you if you stand dogmatically on it.  Maybe not in the nativity story, but when bigger ideas are wielded as if they were the sword itself it will always cause damage somewhere.  Remember that every time you see a donkey under Mary this season.   Remember to recognize and differentiate between assumption and truth.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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Grown Up Prayer

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  (and yes, I prayed like a child).   When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.”  1 Cor 13: 11

There are several spiritual gray hairs of maturity: love, patience, forgiveness…and many others, but prayer is maybe the most obvious sign of growth.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to mature in but it is not as easy as moving from “now I lay me down to sleep” to the “PRAY” acronym.  (P-Praise R-Repent A-Ask for others Y-Yourself).

I consider myself an older teenager when it comes to prayer.  I am not quite a child anymore, I think I know more than I do and my practice of it often feels not fully developed.  I am comfortable in the ‘grown up’ world but I still revert back to childishness at times.  Prayer for me is at once simple and difficult to master.  I have tasted very deeply of what it will be like to be a grown-up but I do not dwell there continually.

Some truly do seem to master it.   When I need to ask for prayer for something, although I know many Christians, there are only a handful that I think will truly pray.  You know what I’m saying here.  I know all of my friends will bow their head and ‘lift me up’….but there is indeed a difference between those saints who will go to their knees and travail for a purpose, who will take the time to ‘meet with God’ and suffer in the request, and those who fling random wishes into the air with ‘Dear God’ in front of it….there is a difference and if something is critical to me….I ask my buddies with the calloused knees first.

I suppose all of us early on put formulas into practice and then stall out.  We seek to deepen our prayer life by expanding what we pray for and the time spent doing it, which is really not a deepening at all…..we end up as the guy in this video praying for everything we can think of and feeling obligated to do it for so long.   Instead of boldly entering past the veil we rush through the outside court and call out our thoughts to God as we pass by.  I suppose it may count as prayer but it doesn’t seem to affect much.  Or, maybe it does, but it doesn’t seem very meaningful.

I love communing with God.  I find nothing sweeter in life, not even my children.  But, I do not pray that sweet Holy of Holies way every single time I whisper ‘Father’.  I go to lonely places but I don’t always steal away each day.  I am mindful that I don’t go long stretches without it entirely.  Typically I practice continual prayer which takes some time to get into the habit of and is unfortunately, easy to fall out of.  It takes discipline to stay in and I think, an evidence of maturity.  For me, it does not replace going off alone to pray but it keeps me closely connected until I am moved to be alone with Him, or ….I just realize I need to get back in there.   Often I find that it is the practice of lifting every thought up to God that leads me to thirst to be alone with Him.  As I pray throughout the day something will catch my breath and I feel compelled to meet with HIm NOW.  And I do, but not always in the sacred way I envision best.  Instead I’m bowing my head in the grocery store as I wait in line, in the car as I am driving (scary, I agree), or I excuse myself and go to the bathroom for privacy.  Nothing feels very holy about it but it is real.  Then there are THOSE times, those hours when I am completely alone with Him and I can almost feel His breath.  Nothing compares.

If you think about it, both require maturity though we tend to think of being alone on the mountain camped out with God as more ‘sacred’. A ‘grown-up’ in prayer though, will probably do both.

And this is where formulas and life separate.  At some point I realized that I will not be the epitome of sacred life and that is okay.  I rest on God’s pull on my life.  I ceased relying on doing things ‘the perfect way’ and now trust that if I respond to Him in all things He will perfect my communion.  My prayer life is probably going to be a little different from yours and that shouldn’t freak any of us out.  None of us have a corner on the perfect way to pray because there is no perfect way.  Well, okay, Jesus had it down.  He did it perfectly.  So let’s take a look at what He says.

It is interesting that when Jesus taught the disciples to pray He did not say, “every day get on your knees for at least 1/2 an hour and pray for every conceivable need you can think of.  While you are doing that try to feel my presence.”  But that is exactly how we try to mature in our prayer life, through content, time and experience.

The Our Father prayer can not be duplicated daily in our lives by following its structure.  We pray that prayer when we truly enter into those phases of communication with God throughout the day….and it may not be all at once in one big sit down prayer.

But we must guard ourselves.  I am always fearful in posts such as this that I am providing an excuse for not doing something.   I felt the same way when I posted The Heart of Christian Devotions.  This is not the case.  Continual prayer is not careless wishing in your head.  It is pointed, directed, leaning.  It is hard to explain but I think one knows if they are truly doing it or not.  It does not always lead to a feeling of closeness but it always produces awareness.

Prayer is not easily fit into a mold, in fact it can’t be.  It is one of the richest disciplines I have thought deeply about.  I believe that one of the signs of a mature prayer life is that it is expressed in various ways, not under compulsion but out of response and need.

We are still and quiet, letting Him speak to our spirit.  We are loud and knocking, searching for Him first in all things.   We pray continually in desperation and peace.  We pray with stride as we rest upon Him.

One last thought to get the guilt off of your back for not praying for Aunt Sally everyday.  If we fail to pray for Aunt Sally or the Walmart checkout lady, or whomever… not all is lost, BUT, if we fail to be in communion with God when He seeks to bring our attention to those people….we have missed a grand opportunity indeed.  Our prayers aren’t answered simply because we mutter them.  Our prayers are answered because we seek God’s will, are mindful of his presence and purpose and are in a constant dialogue with Him about such things.  Our prayers are not about getting things accomplished….this is the way man thinks….our prayers are about dependence, oneness, presence and aligning ourselves with His will.  It is in that ‘being’ that deeds are done.

*The original preview of this video can be found here: Coffee with Jesus    After communicating with staff at Worship House I was told I could use the preview video in my post however wordpress.com does not allow me to directly embed from their site.  Hence the less clear (copied?) version.
 
27 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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