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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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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in What I believe

 

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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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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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Aside

We take refuge from God in God.The Thinker

That’s kind of strange when you think about it.

The only escape from God’s wrath is God’s mercy.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Quips from the Short Sage

 

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God-Shivers: the Handicap of Faith

I don’t think I was very old in the Lord miracle[1]before breathtaking things started happening.  Prayers were answered in ways that sent chills down my spine.   The Spirit provoked me to do ‘crazy’ things and incredible things happened.   I would go to my Bible and say, “Lord I need a word on….”, open my Bible and find something staring back at me so pointed that it would make me cower.  At times during worship I felt like I was on the edge of a trance and afraid He would make a spectacle of me. I felt His presence.  Saw His presence through events.  I had dreams.  Demon possessed people fled from me holding their ears when I proclaimed the truth.  I saw provision come when there was none to be found.  I snuck Bibles into Communist countries without incident.

It was all so exhilarating…and real.   It was exciting!  I woke up in the morning wondering what I would encounter next.

I’m ashamed to say that at some point the rush of the experience had purpose in itself.   My walk felt validated by what was outwardly happening.   I inwardly looked forward to the next ‘miracle’ like experience.  I liked my exciting life with God.

My focus subtly shifted from serving God to looking for His miracles and comforts. During this time, I thought that the closer I walked with Him the more consistent these amazing things would occur.  If I lived ‘this’ way, God would do ‘that’.

God showed me much of the realities of the spiritual life as a newbie and I cherish each of those instances.  But, as you know, only the wicked want to be entertained with the Vegas show of God.  Only unbelievers need to see signs and miracles to know He is in their midst.  Me, the new believer, so fresh out of the gates, had to learn that I was in the presence of God even when the bush never lit fire...I had to learn to know He was there by faith.  I also needed to stop relying on experience as a way to escape the tediousness of the mundane.

So God taught me that.

And for years I didn’t like it.  It felt cold.  I feared I was straying, that I was back-sliding, that I was becoming luke-warm towards God.  Heaven was quiet and I felt alone.  Why was I abandoned?  Why didn’t He do anything?  How did I screw it up?images[9]

It wasn’t just for a few weeks, or months.  He became quiet in my life….for a very, very, long time.  I still knew His presence but it wasn’t adorned with things I could see, feel or sense.  I knew it through faith.  Much of my walk during this time was done through sheer conviction and determination of mind to follow.  To believe in Him even if He appeared to fail me.

Must something stir us to experience it?

Of course not.  We can experience both the magnificent sunset and the crazy, boring drive through parts of the U.S. Midwest.  We experience both but one we enjoy, the other we do not.  We naturally run after things that titillate us and make us feel alive.   It doesn’t seem worth running after the mundane.  Why bother with the cake when there is frosting to be had?  Who chooses school over a field trip?   Living out our faith though is often a mundane experience.  It plods along and every day it grows quietly stronger.

I, like all of you, love the God-shivers.

Rejoice in those moments when God powerfully moves and you ‘see’ Him.  Rejoice, but keep it from becoming your focus, or you will handicap your faith like I unwittingly did at first.  Perseverance in faith is the only way we become strong and resilient.  We must learn to stand in naked faith, without the props of experiences, and become comfortable with the mundane.  When one has learned to walk in the quiet they also learn to hear God in the quiet. 

An unbeliever can see God in the apocalypse;

the believer sees Him when He doesn’t move.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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No Deeper Christian Life to Find

From the beginning, Christ captivated me.  The first few years of my walk involved a lot of clean up: breaking of bad habits and getting rid of obvious sins.  Drinking, smoking  (neither of which I consider to be sinful necessarily), swearing, stealing, gluttony.  These were my battles.  My life became clean enough to comfortably go to church without standing out.  This wasn’t my goal but it happened none-the-less.  Once these were dealt with I found myself longing for something deeper.  I wanted to experience Christ more fully because I longed for Him.happy-womans-day2[1]

Some twenty-five years ago, about two or three years after I became a Christian, I started reading books that promised to show me the “keys to going deeper”.   Among these, common themes were explored: prayer, dying to self, living in position, acute focus etc.   Each had a unique way of explaining it, or an emphasis particular to an author, but ultimately all said about the same thing.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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