I almost did not write anything, I have been juggling studying and traveling to gun shows for Wicked Jester. The journal insights did not really have anything in depth short of me ‘thinking on paper’ about my Bible studies, then I thought how could I make it personal, applicable. First, my study methods:

  • Reading a chapter in my NIV translation study Bible, highlighting what sticks out at me.
  • Then the many days afterward, I pick apart the meaning of the verses or the group if they build into context.

I do this while reading the more literal NASB translation, checking cross-references, and occasionally checking the study notes if I am still stuck. Then I do an overview where I paraphrase what I got out of the chapter.

Since the third chapter of James rocked my world, I decided to study the entire book and it is very convicting. The first chapter teaches to take joy in life’s tests; they show the strengths and weaknesses in someone’s character and faith. Will we compromise? The root of many of people’s issues is a lack of self-control.

Then I read advice that I had seen in ConCom, listening actively, in fact the book was looking at the monkey problems of status, hierarchy and the way things are done. It dealt with anger a lot, thinking before you speak (advice my dad preached), controlling your temper since most of the time it is self-righteous as opposed to righteous. James was also adamant against being a ‘Sunday Morning Christian’, writing about studying, dwelling in and applying the Word.

He then wrote that a person’s words and behavior betrays their religious depth. I liked that, I do not want to be an intentional hypocrite. I will make mistakes, I am human, and they have to be unintentional and as rare as possible. I am saved, not perfect, no matter what my ego tells me. Which is where the second chapter of James starts, on not letting it go to your head.

It warns about not looking down on those who have not done anything to us, judging their status and worth. This really spoke to me since in a moment where I was overwhelmed I did just that. I did not know where to put a volunteer in my ministry and brushed them off. When I see them, again I will apologize. The number one rule is to love others as you love yourself. Something to think about in proportion to one’s ego.

James warns not to judge, that I will be judged by the same measure that I judge with. Scary since I am very critical at times. He hammered at me again about not just paying lip service, do it, and live it; working in faith according to the Will of God, actually walking the walk. I am enjoying the book; it speaks to me a lot.

Surprising Advice That Begins Another Journey

If you read the Emotional Vampire post where I discovered my OCD vampire tendencies to lecture, criticize, and loom. I can be downright puritanical. That particular vampire tried to come out of its coffin again until I sat on the lid. Generally, it stays bottled up and runs as what I call “internal script scenarios” that play out in my head and get me worked up. After watching one situation play out with family, I had a lot of personal opinions and judgments. My brain was in full-blown lecture mode and I was suffering through it and what should I do.

During the last break of the night I go on my walks outside, it is my quiet time with the Creator. As I walked I poured my heart out, I just wanted to leave, and be done with the stress. I stopped, staring at the stars and asked what to do? I would take anything, a feeling, scripture, what? It got quiet, I stood in the shadow of the building staring at the ground, quietly, silently pleading, and waiting. I got the impression I should read the third chapter in the book of James. I pulled out my phone and opened the Bible app, read two verses and had to sit…

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers; because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (James 3:1-2 NIV)

This is why when it comes to the supernatural my walls are coming down. It fit perfectly though I never read this book in the bible so I did not know what was there. I do not believe in God because I was halfway brought up in the church, it is because of experiences like this one. With pen and paper, I delved deeper into the chapter to see an immediate application and later with some quiet thought, a deeper sense of something else.

For the situation at hand, it was clear to me that I am to be quiet. Anything I could have said I had said before, it would just create more problems. Just close the lighter and back away slowly from the gas-soaked wood.

In the deeper sense, I had been wondering what I could do to help people, toying with the idea of being a counselor. With this, I do not think I should teach, the standards are high and words are powerful. I could hurt more than help, so that door closes until I am ready if at all. The last part of the chapter goes into a good life, helping others as needed.

I do not know if Pastor Jaime realized when she suggested I read Immediate Obedience, she gave me a way to do just that. It has a 90-Day Challenge to serve God at his urging, so I started a separate blog to track that adventure. To follow along you can go to firstsamuel1224.wordpress.com.

It is a bit scary, and I am admittedly nervous, something the book’s author echoed. He saw himself “On Call” with God as his King and commanding officer. I could make a Captain America reference here but I will restrain myself…this time.

Wrestling With The Spiritual

It has been an interesting trip so far, especially as I write the book to see the differences between past and present. I realized I have been working on my body for four years, mind for two and spirit the past few months. By working, I mean with focused progress. Ever since I was baptized again, when I heard the phrase, “Lifelong follower of Jesus Christ” I have been thinking about that means to me. For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with thoughts of the supernatural and an indwelling spirit inside at work. It is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around, and a conversation with my wife clicked something into place. It is because I am a focused, compartmentalized thinker. I have been trying to put the supernatural/spiritual in a box that I cannot build without a frame of reference. So I buried myself into research, reading, and listening to Christians, agnostics and atheists, weighing it against my own experiences. I know that a person’s inner strength, as great as it may be, still is limited compared to the weight of everything else in the world. Some never have it tested to that point. If I am not applying it, somehow I do not know what to do with myself. It is not quite feelings of insignificance, but uselessness. In my journal, I compared it to a shark that has to keep moving to live. I have made great progress in cleaning out the parts of me I do not like. Like the example in Matthew 12: 43-45:

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

What do I do when I get tired or the onslaught is too much and I am only operating on my own strength? I slip, stumble, and maybe cannot rise, however if I have help from something greater than me? Then I have a better chance. The thing about the supernatural I’ve learned is it’s to be experienced, the evidence is anecdotal, something people experience and believe in yet don’t fully understand. At least I do not, and I will keep asking questions because I have experienced it at work within me so I want some grasp. After I wrote the draft to this I had this thought that helped put it more into perspective for me. The Holy Spirit is to Christians what the Super Soldier Serum is to Captain America. That pleased my little comic geek heart.

Searching For Vampire Remedy And Had To Stake Myself

I read a very interesting book a few weeks back I wanted to share since I got a lot of use out of it. In a matter of days, I devoured Emotional Vampires, a book I have to help deal with some difficult people in my life. Little did I know I would find I was one of those difficult people?

One thing that stuck out overall was this warning: be wary of anyone who charms and appeals to you upon first meeting. In a personal defense area, this could be a charm predator working their way closer to you before they attack to get something they want. Alternatively, in the book the antisocial type who does not think the rules apply to them, grooming you to make concessions that you would not for their own entertainment. I noticed quite a few people fit this template.

Another type was the narcissist who thinks they are the greatest, the world and those in it are at their disposal. In the book every type has a checklist of traits and I put a few through the paces, including myself. I know a couple of narcissists, thing is, a little over a year ago I was twice as bad as they were. I was a narcissist with a mythology; I will get into the ‘mythology’ in a minute.

The types also came with ways to protect yourself from them, and a self-help part for if you found yourself in the pages. The Narcissism chapter’s self-help section listed everything I had been doing the past year while I healed, from following other’s leads to helping others. The paths just matched and it worked for me. According to the author it takes years to deal with it, it took me a year after the world showed me I wasn’t the center of it, the power I thought I had was fiction and I was left broken. It was a helluva wake-up call for me.

With one vampire staked and turned to dust, I found another hiding in the shadows, an obsessive-compulsive one. The author broke it down into perfectionists and puritans (the mythology of MY WAY), I had a bit of both to personally deal with. I wrote down the tools needed to stake them, and asked my wife to read the chapter so she can keep me accountable.

One of the tips is to do not criticize anything six days a week, if you do then you must find two good things about it. When I mentioned this on Facebook, a commentator said most people’s heads would explode. I actually found I was happier when I refrained from criticism and complaint. Overall, I highly recommend the book for dealing with people who drain you and if you are not scared to see if you may be the problem too.

For an overview on Emotional Vampires go to the author’s site http://www.albernstein.com/id55.htm

It’s Not The Road Traveled But The Journey

One day a young man left his parents to find his own way. He wandered everywhere, sipping from many creeks and watching many trails. Every person he came across he asked one question.

“What is your perception of me?”

The answer always remained the same, a wanderer with no direction or idea of where to start. Then one day he came upon a stranger, asking the same question of him.

“You are seeking for a path,” was the answer. Then he elaborated on it, “In life take care of your needs, rely not on charity, just your own strength. Seek not a singular path yet, instead explore the entirety of the world and its wonders, drinking deeply of the experience and knowledge. You seek a single path up a great mountain filled with many ways to the top, enjoy the exploration of them and then you can wisely decide the path for you.”

They parted ways, the stranger on his path, and the young man striking out with a new appreciation.