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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Today was a completely fantastic day! God is at work in West Plains and especially through the fellowship of Township Line. I still am amazed and thrilled that He brought me into this group to see Him grow bigger and more incredible with every week. And this weekend has just begun.

Thursday we went to the West Plains Motel to hand out some flyers announcing our meeting at the park on Sunday night. The motel is almost all low-income residents and many of them need a little hope in their lives. Our family was the only ones going around and we decided that it might be prudent to ask the office if it was okay to knock on doors and hand out flyers. The lady at the desk didn’t give us approval as she wasn’t the owner, and I was able to leave some in the office. We walked around and talked to some people outside their rooms and told them about our gathering. (If you didn’t know, Township Line is gathering in several different places around the community this summer for meal and services, to get to know people and stretch out our leadership/relational skills.) Many people’s responses were positive and I hope many can come and see a people blessed and sharing the blessing of love and grace He has given us.

Today was another adventure with this group: A woman in our fellowship wanted to have block parties in differing places where some of the members live and serve and present the gospel to children. This was the first morning she had it and it was at her house. She was nervous about getting everything together and that kids would even come. There were a few kids that came and a little late at that. But she needn’t worry as God is at work in His people and what took place honored God and I believe got some of the kids thinking.

The puppet group was invited to do a song and skit that was supposed to be the majority of presentation of the gospel. The puppet group we were involved in at our former gathering, sort of dissolved after the leaders of the team started going to Township Line. (God has seasons in mind not only for His people, but also for those gathering in His name. I have no ill will towards the former fellowship we gathered with, it was just time for us to move on. I’ve never considered it a severed relationship, just a different one. I still love and see many of them and hope for growth and love to grow there.) So we have a few puppets and a new stage was built, so this was the trial run. It was a lot of fun as my wife and two youngest daughters helped out for a song. (My oldest, who started out in the puppet group with me, was taking the ACT, so she wasn’t able to make it.) My wife and I had a skit planned where she stood out front and interacted with a puppet in talking about “Whosoever” shall be saved. Well, since we had such a late start, my wife had to go pick up our oldest from The Test at the time we were going to do the skit. We had a back up plan of one of the guys replacing her. He stood in and was great. He did some ad-libbing; of which my wife was adverse too, and did a great job talking to the kids at the end.

Tonight we had a community dinner that we provide once every few months or so, that people from all over come and enjoy a free meal, and we get to meet them and find out what is going on in their lives. We got there a bit early and people were working and trying to get things prepared. Some kids were underfoot and I proposed to give them all a little walk before people started showing up. Walking down the block, we heard some loud shouting and raucous behavior down a blind alley. Three very tall, shirtless college basketball players came out and I put myself between the kids and these “boys”. As they were past us, I called to them, “Are you guys hungry?” They turned and looked at me and hesitated, then answered the obvious, “Yeah.” I told them we’re having a free meal of steak and hamburgers just down the street and they were invited to come. They said okay, but I wasn’t sure if they’d show. They did show up and brought one of their friends with them. It was great. I got all their name, although I don’t remember any of them, and found out one was from Dayton, another Pittsburgh, and another Atlanta. I wasn’t able to talk to the other one, but I find it incredible when I find out where people came from and then find themselves in little ‘ole West Plains. Some of the other guys from our group got to talk to them and it was wonderful that they came. At the time of their leaving, (with bowls of fruit cobbler and ice cream in their hands), one of them gave me a hug. It was incredible and I’m tearing up now as I type thinking about what a blessing it is to be blessed by someone you don’t even know, nay barely let them pass by as God used my voice to call out an invitation to them. What fun! I met lots of regulars who come to these community dinners and many new faces. This is such a great opportunity to meet people. There was an announcement about tomorrow’s services and some woman I was talking to asked me what denomination we were. I told her we were non-denominational and that we believe in the bible and that Jesus is our savior and died for us and we don’t have to do anything but accept His gift of mercy and forgiveness to be with Him forever, but that doesn’t mean we can do what we want, our lives should reflect the thankfulness we have and shared with those in the community and that is why we have these dinners. She was smiling and very interested, then told me she was a Catholic. I told her a little bit of my background, growing up Catholic in SLC. I told her she should come tomorrow and she said she would hope to.

God is so good. I’m reeling with joy. My cup overflows. I am so thrilled to be part of this work and I am continually praying for His Spirit to move in and through His people here in West Plains. I have shared with some of those in our former group about this summer movement and invited them. Many are enthusiastic and say they will come, some worry that it will look bad to gather with those not of their group. I praise God that one day all division will be wiped away and we can come to Him under His banner and praise His Name forever and always. Amen. And please continue to pray for this time, thank you.

Even in this dark time when there is so much uncertainty, and I watch the news and feel depressed and distressed, I know God is at work in the little things, the small bits, and it grows and grows. Thank you God.

~Stranger

(Author’s Note: I won’t be writing Sunday Scrutinizations for the summer because in addition to my flyer/dissemination leadership duties, I will also be with the kids during the actual sermon time, but I will be writing about what is going on and hopefully interview the people in leadership in this movement.)

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Seeing Specks Through the Log

Strange Confessions: I grow weary of what others are critical of others for and thus grow weary of myself…

I know, I know. Sounds confusing, but I realize that I’m in a circular mess in which the thing that I’ve been bothered by lately is in turn something I should examine within myself. First, as always, a little bit of background and reasons why I come to where I am now.

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, which as most of you know is a bastion of Mormonism. I, however, was a Catholic. Many of the things I saw my Catholic friends and family doing was done in direct opposition to what might be expected of a Mormon. For example, coffee, to a Mormon, is regularly regarded as a forbidden drink, so, perhaps, a Catholic, being a religious type person, and not wanting to be associated, thought of, or regarded as a Mormon, will regularly and in public consume mass quantities of the stuff just to show the world how un-Mormon they really are. (Wow that sentence has a lot of commas in it. I wonder if my English major friend will judge my work harshly by the mass quantities of commas used in that last sentence.) I assume that many a religion has an averse relationship to itself because of the culture that surrounds it, as it was in many ways that I witnessed in SLC.

When I became a Christian, I found out more about how Mormonism came about and their beliefs. As I talked more to Mormons I realized that many of them did not know what they really believed. A common remark that Mormons would utter when faced with a question they could not answer was, “You should talk to one of our elders.” Many Mormons understood life as presenting to the world a facade of goodness, pleasantness, rightness and a surety in all the those behaviors. Yet they couldn’t say why they did certain things, where those ideas came from, or whether or not those things were actually laws in their code or just things to try to do. They were in fact what I would call, a Cultural Mormon. I felt sad for them because they were as Reb Tevye, strolling down the ways, singing praises to Tradition, yet not nearly as flexible in their thinking as our sad hero of “Fiddler on the Roof”. They would not be moved. Which in some ways is a good thing, but when it comes to reasonable dialogue, there is a wall that is very difficult to breach.

As I moved to the “Bible Belt” I saw the same thing, yet from the Christian standpoint. We all hear about those who understand our faith to just be a Sunday-only, self-righteous and condemning belief system, but I saw a little more of it here than out in Mormon country. Mormons tended to judge each other by how much less their “brother” was doing the “right” thing. When you get into a culture that emphasizes a right way to live within yourself, you tend to get people who look at all others behaviors in minute detail. We as Christians should live in such a way that we know the right thing to do and understand the fact that we really can’t do any good in our own strength and so better the relationship with Him who works through us so that the natural behavior that comes out is improving every day because of how much we know our God and how thankful we are to Him. Many times though, unconsciously, we fail and fail, again and again in the same area that we forget our God and the power we can draw from Him. We begin judging ourselves against what others are doing or not doing, much as the Mormon is bound to do. They have a hopeless religion where more and more they have to compare and contrast themselves to others. We have a faith that says He is able to complete in us what He began; and that is our sanctification: the way we display the fruits of the spirit more and more the closer we get to Him.

And so comes to my point: One of the first examples, of what can come about in this culture, I witnessed, was a woman who left a church angry because someone wouldn’t give her the money she believed the person should have given her, because after all: he was a Christian. I see that a lot. People who are frustrated with another believer because they believe that those others are not fulfilling their Christian responsibility. “How should we deal with those who aren’t behaving like Christians?” I hear. Now, it is one thing to call someone out for committing adultery, it is quite another to call out someone for not giving money when they were called to. We do not know what other people are called to or not. It is not their story we are living out, but ours. We should look at our motivations, our attitudes. I see it on Facebook; how someone generally calls out people because they suck, or are evil, or are mean. Like we should be surprised. Posting a general statement about how evil people are does not help any situation, nor does it display any type of love, compassion or understanding that we should display as Christians. I say this not to hurt but just to remind you who you are, and that the world is watching.

There is one place in the Bible that it tells us about dealing with someone who may not see as clearly. It is when Jesus told us that before we deal with the speck in someone else’s eye, we should take care of the log in our own. It hit me today that it is not described as a log because our problems are bigger than others, but because dealing with our own issues if INFINITELY more important than dealing with others.

I see that I may be trying to deal with someone’s speck in their eye and not looking at my own log, but perhaps I need look at the situation in the same way I see my driving. I have come to view other drivers as an individual that is going through something I may not understand. Maybe they are slow because of a death in the family. Maybe they are rushing because this is the last opportunity to proclaim their love to someone before they fly off to Japan. I don’t know what is going on in people’s lives, and maybe they shouldn’t post generic angry stuff on that one site, but that doesn’t mean I should get upset with them. God deals with us all in a variety of ways. May I always be reminded to examine myself when I see the specks in others eyes.

~Stranger

Why Should It Be? You and I Should Get Along So Awfully

Question 10, inspired by this article.

Amherst College: “Sartre said, ‘Hell is other people,’ but Streisand sang, ‘People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world.’ With whom do you agree and why?”

Ah! Well done Amherst College, well done. Use your questions to discover our stance on two of the most outstanding politically left philosophical, as well as artistic minds of the last century and their seemingly contradictory “statements.”

Let’s start with what Sartre said and why: “Hell is other people,” was a line in Sartre’s play “No Exit.” It is a play about three people who have been condemned to Hell. This Hell that they are in is a room, with no exit… forever. These people only see themselves by how others see them. In the case of only being able to understand yourself from how others may see you, is perhaps the Hell that Sartre envisioned. Sartre himself probably did not “hate” people as may be suggested by the question posed, because of what you are trying to contrast, but may have in fact hated the idea that what people see, by our actions or words, is what they judge us to in fact be. There is so much more to us than our actions or words. We are made up by our history, by our thoughts, by the way we interpret the world, its people and it’s culture. We all have come to conclusions about who we are by everything we have observed and decided how we see these things. How shallow, in fact, what a Hell it would be to live and be judged by people who don’t really know all these things you have seen and how that has made who we are now. You cannot understand from these statements that I believe we all have excuses for our behavior, for we should come to the conclusion that we should not act on every impulse, but be able to control ourselves, that is true humanity, true relationship. If it wasn’t, we’d be all going around killing each other, and stealing, and demanding, and destroying; for there are some philosophies that espouse the notion of doing what thou wilt. Anyway, Sartre does not believe that people are the poison that makes our life Hell, it is just Hell when we don’t know each other; a thought I say “cheers” to, and raise my glass high!

Now, on to what Barbara Streisand “said.” The statement here is from the song “People” from the musical “Funny Girl.” The musical is based on the life of a comedienne from the Ziegfeld Follies days and her turbulent romance with a gambler. Now, I haven’t seen the play “No Exit” or the musical “Funny Girl” so I am surmising a bit about what each of these quotes might mean in the context of a small amount of research I did on the two. What I see from the time this song is sung and the lyrics therein, is it is kind of sad song about how as adults we have lost our childlike ease of entering into a relationship, and that we get to a point of either admitting we don’t need anyone or we have an unhealthy co-dependency towards anyone who shows any interest towards us. Consider this lyric: “We’re children, needing other children / And yet letting a grown-up pride / Hide all the need inside / Acting more like children than children”. The song is filled with regret about how we betray each other, how we don’t really understand that we do need each other, and how lucky those people are who have that knowledge. Those people who have a healthy need for others are finding those of the same need. How horrible it is to have an unhealthy need that you go to those who hurt us the most. It is much like a Hell that we have developed around ourselves, because of those we attract.

You ask me who I agree with and why, when each of these statements are, at the core, almost saying the same thing. Superficially though, I would agree with both. Dealing with people sometimes is like Hell, if Hell were a temporary situation, but it is not. We have to have patience and love for those we deal with, because we never know what they have been through. I have a really hard time with people who are going way under the speed limit in front of me, or those who come up way fast behind me and stay there, on my bumper. However, I do not know their situation. Maybe they just lost their husband, or are hurrying to that meeting they have hoped for in the last 5 years. We never truly know each other at the core of our being. What made us do those things that may so drive others insane? Have patience. Have compassion. Have control. We are not an island dealing with self and self alone, but we do have to deal with how we react to situations. Many people choose not to know why others do the things they do, they just want to stay angry. I know there is differences in our beliefs, but do you just believe by tradition or have you worked out things in your own mind? Have you closed your mind on something solid, or are you still open to what others may say?

You people at Amherst College, have you done your best to understand why others believe the way they do, or do you never give the opposing viewpoint an opportunity to voice their experience? I would hope that as a college considering someone whose view is Christian and conservative, would not reject me outright because I’ve come to my conclusions through the experience of the life I have led. I understand your possible progressiveness. I would see to it that I sought out to understand of all my classmates, professors, and faculty by hearing about who you are and how that came to be, and that you would give me and those of similar ideologies equal opportunity. Let us not break down the structure we have built our “Universities” around; the one from many. You have asked a question that revolves around people and our relationship with all, give all the chance to learn, from all.

~Stranger

One Year of Stranger in Rebellion on wordpress

It has been a while since I wrote anything on here, and today when I got on I had a notification award of one year of Stranger in Rebellion. Almost a month has it been since I wrote my last post, honoring my Mother for Mother’s Day. Usually I come back from being on hiatus for a while depressed, sorely needing something to say, and eager to get back on the bus. But not lately. Sure I’ve had a lot I’ve had wanted to write about in regards to popular culture and sermons I’ve heard and writing about all the stuff I see friends posting on that one site. It just hasn’t been pressing me as of late. Even as I sit here trying to remember all the things I’ve wanted to ponder upon through words, it just kind of fades like smoke, dissipating into a dark sky, and you’re not really sure if you really thought about it at all.

So, in the spirit of a writing anniversary, let’s do a quick Stranger in Rebellion year in review, and perhaps this little exercise will get the smoothies flowing again.

As a quick history, the “Strange Confessions” started on May 17, 2012 on my personal “that one site” page. On December 9 of the same year, I started the “Stranger in Rebellion” blog on that same, “that one site.” (Reminder: I say “that one site” because it drives me a little crazy when, in normal conversation, people give the casual aside, “I saw this (so-and-so) on Facebook.)

Then on June 2, 2013 this started. I have written 97 posts and have 79 followers. The most visits in one day was 68, which was December 1st, 2013, and that was when I wrote this article, but the previous day’s article, has the most reads, that being 24. I have an unfinished project in which I answer the 15 most ridiculous college application questions, inspired by this article, in which I am stuck on this question: “St. Mary’s College is casting for the incoming class. Send us your audition tape via the Web or DVD. Please provide us with the site for posting. Selection of this option will stand as your college essay. Consider your audience.” I’ve considered just skipping it, but that just wouldn’t be fair now, would it? Interestingly enough, this article, is one that most people come across when they do general web searches. I suppose it has something to do with the tags that include, aliens, dinosaurs and robots. That was one of my most favorite writes as well. Go ahead and read it if you haven’t. I am eager to get back to finishing this project, so I may skip the video, and then come back later.

Since I started writing I have had great spiritual growth due to a loving and open group of believers we meet with every Tuesday night, and have started going to a church that is small and challenging, which has inspired me to write summaries of what I have been learning. That is something I need to get back to again. Our Sunday group fellowship, or church as I’m uncomfortable in calling it, has taken on the challenge of going to the streets this summer. You can check it here, please do. Many of us have been called to be leaders in specific roles during this time, and I have been chosen as distribution/dissemination leader before we meet in various places in the community. We go door-to-door or where people gather and hand out flyers explaining our purpose. We hide nothing in this as it says that as followers of Christ, we have a duty to go into the community and share the love and joy that comes from knowing Him. It is a very exciting time and much prayer is needed as we will be reminded that we are at War. A war in which the outcome has already been determined, but a war nonetheless.

Writing about these things gets me going and I want to start sharing again. Thanks for you patience and remember to pray for Township Line Church. This is a watershed moment for not only the people, but also for this community. Give God the glory! Thank you Jesus!

~Stranger

P.S. Here is just a fun picture to gain interest as I re-post this on that one site.

Sunday Scrutinizations: Believing the Lie That Being Liked is More Important Than Being Loved

How are we to function as a church body?

Continuing in the series regarding the relationship of believers to each other we read the whole of chapter 4 of Ephesians. I noticed the amount of times one was referred to. It spoke of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. I also read about unity. Unity has been the subject of much what I have written about lately, although I may have not used the word. Let’s go back a bit in Ephesians and look at a couple of verses:

“in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” 2:22

“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” 3:10

These verses tell us we are being “built together” and that we would know the manifold wisdom of God. This is all done in unity. This cannot be done in isolation. Together we walk worthy of the calling. We put God on display through our humility, our gentleness, our patience, and our love; for each other. We should see our relationship with each other in the church as a marriage. It should be the ultimate difficulty to break fellowship with other Christians.

Recently I and my family left the church we have been going to since we moved here. I never intended it as a “divorce” from the fellowship, in fact, we are still involved with a food ministry, the puppet ministry and my daughter involved with the Bible drill at the former church. I let the Senior Pastor know of our decision and many others as well. Although sometimes we run into people who haven’t seen us in awhile and demonstrate concern that we are not going to church. We assure them we have found a good home church and a great fit for us now, in this season of life, but it seems that they are overly concerned about our spiritual health, which is a good thing, but too connected with where they may be. It is a very hard decision to participate in another fellowship, we never want to hurt anyone, but we have to make the best choice for our family and most specifically the spiritual head of the house. I wanted to say all this as introduction to what is to continue in the look we had at Ephesians 4, with a few verses specified.

To each one of us grace is given (v. 4). What are some of the other gifts that God has given us? Each other. See verse 11, it talks about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We commonly see this as particularly personal, but I have never imagined it as the person given to us by God. They are gifts to us; the Church. I needed to be shown this as God has given this to us and to be very thankful to Him. Of course, what are they for? Verse 12, it seems again, I never saw it in the way presented. They are given to the Church for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry and edifying the body of Christ. Now we have to ask ourselves, When was the last time I built up the body? I am many times wondering where are the people who know me enough to build me up, without thinking about the gifts I have been given and how I have been using them to fulfill God’s purpose to become more and more like Him. Verse 14 shows us what it will be like when we are bound together as God intended: that we should not be children, tossed about by every wind of doctrine. There are still many children in the church today and I believe that is one aspect of where God has grown my concern. God is everything. God is Truth. God is supernatural. God is my all in all. He gives me hope. He gives me purpose and meaning. When I see someone who is a Sunday only Christian, I have my concerns for them. But it seems as though they are the hardest to reach. Something else may be filling their hope and purpose and meaning. What does God really mean to them? I should know them and love them, and hopefully, someday be able to teach and edify them, but I know that ultimately it is God who changes people. I have my love and concern and purpose though. I want to see that the deceived see truth, that the children reach maturity. I know I am not perfect and would hope that someone loves me enough to say what I need to hear, so that I don’t remain a child or deceived, however the case may be. We need to speak truth into others lives, but we need to know truth.

So, we come to it: How are we going to get there?

  1. Press into the family. We have to know them and we have to allow others to know us (ouch!). I’m so good at letting out who I am on here, but it is very difficult for me to live out what and how I write. I don’t mind if people read this and I so hope they do, but if I can’t be open and honest face-to-face what good am I at laying it all out there. I am getting better though, thank God.
  2. We need to see clearly. Someone needs to tell me the truth, and they can only do that if we are part of the family. Press in, be ready, put down your defenses. (I’m talking to me here especially.) We should no longer walk as the Gentiles, in the futility (purposelessness) of mind, no longer in darkness keeping the light to ourselves or living in isolation. Behind every sin is a lie about God. Remember, God is great, God is glorious, God is gracious, and God is good. If we look at our sins it reveals to us we have believed a lie that goes against one of these characteristics. Complaining about our boss: we forgot God is sovereign, seeing all and has all in His hands, that He has been gracious to us expecting us to give grace to others, and that all our suffering is ultimately for our good.

We have believed for too long that being liked is more important than being loved. Let us not perpetuate the lie by only consoling and empathizing with those who sin, but also calling them out, revealing the lie that we have believed, making sure you do not consider yourself more highly because we all at one time or another believe the lie. Take the log from your own eye, but definitely remove the speck from your brother’s eye, whom you love.

And finally: Why don’t we speak the truth?

First, we fear that we will have the truth shown to us that we are afraid to see. Who are we? We are children of God, holy and made righteous by His blood. Our eternity is reserved for us in heaven, which is just a dim reflection of what we see here on this earth. We are chosen for a higher purpose and if we are unwilling to hear truth spoken to us, what do we deserve of what God has reserved? Truly we deserve none of it, but this is God, the creator of the universe, who knows all and sees all deserves our attention when He speaks to us through each other. Amen?

Second, we believe we are unworthy to be bearers of the truth. We are not to gain pride in throwing the truth around, but have enough humility to give someone what they need: the truth. We need it, they need it. We have it and have a responsibility to give to those we know and love. Never throw it in ones face, truth is not to be haphazardly spat out with disdain, but lovingly cherished and transferred.

Thirdly, giving truth is abnormal. The truth makes enemies, makes people uncomfortable, it shows that you have a concern more with being liked. They may not like me, we say.

Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin.” When we lie or perpetuate the lie we hate those, the bible says. Comfort without truth works ruin. It is obvious that when we just seek to be liked we can never truly love. Like a child who needs discipline, a loved one needs truth. They may hate you for the moment, but thank you for a lifetime.

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Friends, loved ones, will cause hurt. Enemies kisses are deceitful. The truth will almost always hurt, let’s be prepared to hear it, I am from you.

Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world, but they have some of the most shallow root systems. How do they stand up? Their root systems are intertwined, they hold each other up, they support each other. Let us be as the Redwood trees. Let truth be our root and love be our bond.

~Stranger

Sunday Scrutinizations: Continuing in the Flow

I have not written on here for a while because of the reading demands of the Perspectives course I am taking as well as taking in some of the Olympics going on over in Sochi, Russia. I need to not be off here for so long next time, because there is so much that is happening in my life and this is my only outlet for figuring things out. I know I’m dependent on my writing because this morning was sharing time at church, and as soon as it was announced I knew I was being required by God to speak, and my communication was sadly lacking in cohesion.

These last two years have been the biggest time of growth for me and my wife. God has changed my perspective on what the Church is, on what a Christian looks like, who I am in relation to these and that I don’t have to hold those standards to others that God has called me to. The preparation for me to realize these things have been our move to West Plains, in essence our breaking away from what I held as a great source of security, some very difficult trials in relationships with other Christians, and finding some other deeply committed Christians who have such depth and diverse backgrounds, that I have really been able to trust. The love I have for my wife and realization that we are growing together in this journey has made me even more faithful and trusting in Him.

This and so much more is what I wanted to share this morning. I was so discombobulated about talking freely, and worried that I would ramble on that I don’t even remember what I said, not sure I made my point, and just cut myself short because I couldn’t focus. Enough about me though, I want to talk about what someone else said and our conversation afterwards.

A single mother got up and talked about how disconnected she feels with everyone because she feels like she has no mission God is calling her to and that her kids are important to her yet she feels like she is even failing in that. Her kids go to public school and most others are in a Christian school or are home-schooled. It seems that all the things of her life that defined her were the opposite of what was going on in any number of people within the congregation. She said that she never determined her life to be a circle of perfect Christian people but that is what is going on now and it seemed that she was very discouraged by that.

I could understand fully what she was saying. I mean, it was only the previous week that I didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone at that church. It wasn’t anything anyone did, it’s just me. I feel so disconnected sometimes, that no one knows me, that they are only talking to me because they have to, that the things they talk about are not important, too cerebral, or they don’t really care about my opinion nor do I want to anyway. If people cared they would read my blog, comment and like it; which most people don’t anyway. But again, that is just me. People are normal, I, am particularly… not. Or at least I like to think that I am. We reach an age, say about 14 or so, where things get bogged down in some sort of particular personality politics that wearies me. I have things going on in my mind that I dwell on and contemplate that others just don’t want to deal with, either because it is too immature, too weird, too depressing or just too deep. I’ve had conversations with people in the past where I’ve hit nerves. Not the kind that are like, “Hey! That hurt,” but more like, “Hmm… we’ll talk about that some other time. I’ll call you,” and they never do. It didn’t connect with them. But with kids, or some very close friends, getting together is like continuing the flow. It’s like getting into a familiar river, a bit cool to get you excited and the flow is how you remember it, and it is so nice to be in it, letting it take you away.

I went up to this woman afterward and told her I knew exactly how she felt. She has come up to me before and told me she is generally a man-disliker, but she felt different about me. I don’t know why she felt this way, but she did. I usually give off the “you don’t want to know me” vibe to people and I am not used to people saying they liked me right off. Her reaction to my empathy was one of confusion: “Why? How is it you don’t get along or connect with these people?” She figured I was married, had home-schooled children, perhaps I look like I got things together(?), why didn’t I connect? To me basically it did come down to trust, but why can’t I hold a conversation like everyone else does?

A few weeks back I wrote that I believed it was Satan or demons that told me to be wary of people trying to manipulate me. Manipulating me into doing God’s work? Really. That is what I believed. I believed that if my heart was strangely moved by a presentation, I started hardening it, because I convinced myself that I was just being manipulated. This had gone on since I became a Christian. The things we believe that make us not do His work are unlimited. We can convince ourselves of anything in order not to do His work or do something that is against His will. Wide is the gate and many are the paths we take away from the Lord.

With tears welling in her eyes she told me she was a failure as a parent. She had resigned it. Just as I had resigned that people are just manipulative. It was from Satan, and so is what this woman was telling me. But could I say that to her without sounding like I’m a recording in a box? “That is from Satan. That is from Satan.” over and over again. Maybe she has heard that before and has convinced herself that when people say that it is an excuse that you are the failure, and brings it back upon self, and continues the cycle. We just don’t know these things until we know people.

I find it hard to get to know people who just so happen to go to the same building week after week, forced into a situation of facing me yet again, until that guilt builds up to say, “Hey, next week I’ll be sitting at your table,” as they leave. You don’t really want to sit at my table so don’t feel so freaking guilty to tell me that is what you plan on doing, meet me where I am: where ever that might be (I say in a small squeaky voice because I don’t really know where that is really). In so she may find it hard to know people because everyone else has a “successful” marriage, has “Christ-filled” kids. They don’t have time for little-Miss failed marriage and now failed kids. Both our ideas are from the darkest pits of hell! I’ve heard this stupid little trite saying before about how today is a gift that is why we call it the “Present”, but it makes a whole lot of sense. I can go on thinking that you don’t know me and you sure don’t want to know me, or I can wake up and say that not all people are like they were in the past and darn it some of them might actually like you if you give them a chance, so stop being so suspicious all the time and talk to them for crying in the mud. And, my friend can say that every day is a new day to just do the best I can with what I have been given, with where circumstances have brought me, and I am going to forget what I am trying to convince myself and realize that every day is a new day, a new chance to do just a little better, to know God just a little better, to hug my kids just a little more, to be vulnerable just enough so that it will stop building up and take over when I want it to the least. Everyday is a gift to do more. We don’t have to be miracle workers, that is what God is for, we just have to follow Him where He leads. He is not leading me to be more suspicious and He is definitely not leading my friend to convince her that she is a failure. I rebuke that now! My Christian brothers and sisters are not out to betray me or hurt me or leave me or ignore me, even though it may seem like it, they are just living their lives the best they can in the circumstances God has put them in.

It all comes down to relationship. God has made us in His image and one of those aspects is relationship. With sin in the world we began blaming each other for our own faults and still do today. I pray that as Your Church grows that we can become vulnerable and encouraging as You meant us to be. I pray that Your name would be glorified in our failures and our successes. I pray that we would seek Your unity and forget about the things the make us different that would divide us.

A Wet Day In Charleston

Strange Confessions: Problems come about at work: “Ugh! I hate that I have to deal with this all the time! Why can’t work ever be easy? Please Jesus, come back now…” Problems come about while doing ministry: “Oh this is so exciting! How are we going to figure this one out? We’re going to have so much fun *squeal*! What a great time for bonding with God’s people!”

It rained yesterday in Charleston, Missouri: a lot. Two weeks ago the forecast was calling for freezing rain, snow, and low temperatures. As the days went by, outlooks became a little brighter. It was going to be warmer and final percentage for chance of rain: 80%. Nice. I am usually the one who drives the bus for the two and a half hours it takes to get to Charleston and back on the third Saturday of the month for food distribution day at the Shining Light Mission located there. Having 15 people’s lives in your hands can sometimes make you a little tense, especially when the weather turns ugly. It rained the whole way there, but just a fine to moderately heavy drizzle. Once we got to the low-lying plains of the Southeastern corner of Missouri, water was standing high in the ditches on the sides of the road, and my eyes were pealed for chances of a hydro-planing situation. This made me grip the steering wheel tighter and my shoulders try to disappear into my ears. But, we got there safely. Praise God.

We were going to be short this month for help. The only other church with major volunteers were out and most of the experienced players on our team were going to be gone. This third Saturday of the month fell harshly: four days before Christmas. I was volunteered back in November to head up recruitment for this month of trial-like small numbers. Blessedly, I had help. It ended up we scheduled 21 people to come. Hallelujah! That should be enough. We got to the church parking lot at 6:15am to get the bus all warmed up and ready to leave. Our main connection showed up and said several people weren’t showing up, but, there was some unexpected people there ready to go. It ended up being 26 people! We took the smaller bus of 15, someone else took 7 people in their van, and another family of 4  just ended up going on their own.

Once we got there, the pantry was jam-packed with donations for distribution. I told everyone that the first half-hour there was a little slow until we all found our position and our groove. It took a while to get organized because we were so crowded with extra people and donations. What a blessing. My spirit’s were starting to soar. I was getting excited about getting the problems solved that were beginning to show their face. People were looking lost. Others wanted to look around. We needed some organization, some purpose. Moving around pallets and boxes of food with so many people standing around was fun, sort of. Once my wonderful wife got pantry goods sorted for bagging, then things really got moving. I was with a new guy I recruited from my bible study, and a young, eager, local kid who usually only benefits from the distribution. We were busting open boxes of a rice mixture getting them in bags, tying them off and handing them over to be counted. The kid was all, “Slow down!” and I was all, “No way! Keep it coming, we can take it. We got strength and skill from God.” We packed 310 bags from the pantry, 306 for the USDA, and we had boxes full of mini-sausage biscuits, bags of potatoes, containers of bleach, and assorted frozen meats (including chicken feet) to organize and give away.

We broke for lunch at about 11:45 and came back before the distribution time of 1pm-4pm. The head of Shining Light told us to close the regular door we go out of to load the groceries, for he had a new plan. The fields and playground were already flooded and the front was growing; but the rain was staying at a slow drizzle, which didn’t seem much of a threat. Generally, ministers and ministered to, go in circles and arcs to keep things moving, but this rain was causing a problem we had to figure out. The only exit was the front and we had to let people in early to stay out of the rain. We had to reroute the line through another room to clear the hall and had several checkpoints so only 5 people could come back at a time. The teens are usually the grocery herders, bringing goods out to people’s cars. I wanted to do it this time, so I could talk to people and give others breaks from getting wet. It took a while to get those teens inline so we could go past each other and not cause too much chaos; because there was going to be chaos! I would yell at them every time I saw them, “To the right! To the right!” “Hold still! Wait until this group goes through!” “Move it out! Get those loaded!” “Not here! Open up the cart at the back of the line.” All in good-natured commanding, I hope. Someone gave me a full weather rain slicker, so my top stayed dry, but my jeans and shoes? They weren’t going to be dry until next year. These kids though: they were getting soaked, but their spirits stayed high! I had to yell at a couple, including my own daughter, to make someone switch with them. There was some teen boys in the food packing area I made switch out. There was even a determined girl who was having so much fun being utterly drenched, she got mad at me for caring. Can you believe that? No good deed goes unpunished, yes?

At around 3pm, God opened up the heavens to pour the rain down in sheets. Even the raindrops were shedding rain. By this time we had finished most of the line, for our numbers were lower than usual: I wonder why… Anyway, from 3pm-4pm is my favorite time: we’re not too busy, for the line is shorter and not as urgent, I can talk with all the other workers and especially the teens, there is just more time for great fellowship and fun. I was singing carols and cracking jokes, (I am always my best audience) just enjoying myself. My wife told others I have two types of natural highs: the 2am highs and the “just served a ministry” high. It was a tough day for a lot of us, but I felt like I was on both. Santa was there giving out candy canes, and we had this little routine. “Merry Christmas Santa,” I’d yell as I went along on my errands. “Merry Christmas Mark!” he’d yell back. I would turn in shock, surprise, and utter joy in my face saying, “How do you know my name?” He’d laugh and others would giggle. It was a lot of fun. I heard someone say that a group of teenagers could really sing. I searched them out and asked them to sing some Christmas carols. Much to my disappointment, they wouldn’t agree. Hey, I was having fun. Some didn’t like my singing, but they had a smile on their face.

Getting ready to go, I had discovered that the front lot was covered with at least 8 inches of water. It was a shock: how was I to cross the street to get the bus. One of the other drivers and I were scouting out the path of least resistance, or perhaps it was most resistance we were looking for: strong, sure footing. I glanced across the lot and saw the last driver striving purposefully across, wading in water past his ankles. He was unknowingly heading directly toward the now hidden ditch carrying a large bag of clothes, when suddenly he pitched forward into the ditch throwing the bag in the road in front of a moving truck. The truck squealed to a stop and I ran across the water, soaking my shoes to get to him. He went up to his chest in water and pulled himself up, out and to his truck before I was even half-way there. I know if I was in his position, I would have wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I don’t know him that well or I would have called him today to see if he ever got dry. Hopefully he got to some store for some dry clothes before trekking the 3 hours back. I successfully got the bus across the pond and everyone piled inside when we were off. The roads in town were flooded and I was thankful to get to the freeway. Water was higher in the valley than when we came, but the road didn’t have any standing water. Thank God. With the slower speeds we got home a bit later than usual, but with our hearts filled at working together with great purpose at working for God.

I discovered that I just love serving when there is some problem that needs to be solved. We talked about it later, how there was always some obstacle we had to overcome to get the job done, and that is what makes it enjoyable to me. Yesterday was the most difficult day we’ve had there since starting there this year on a regular basis. I cherish these moments of purpose, fellowship, serving, and mission. Yet I wonder why I don’t feel that sense of good, that sense of right, when I do my daily duty of supporting my family, trying to help and guide the companies I work for, giving the employees a good sense of caring and doing a job well. Then I consider the minister in the field; every day filling such a great sense of purpose. Do they look at the problems that arise the same way? Do they groan under the same pressure, under the same issues that need to be dealt with? Our bible study met for supper and a summary of what God has/is doing in our lives this year the other night. We have a few students in our group who shared that they were frustrated that they can’t just go out and start serving God or that they don’t really know what they should be doing or that their sense of purpose is out of whack. I didn’t really want to tell them that that is the way I feel almost every day I have to go to work, because after all, shouldn’t we imagine that this sense of meaninglessness will eventually go away? I was just amazed and humbled that we had such a thoughtful group of youth, wanting to really get on with their lives. When I was their age, I would stay young and irresponsible as long as I could. It is hard to know that there is a purpose out there for you to face and having to wait and wait and wait. But God teaches us patience, yes He does. He has taught me much here in West Plains, and I’m so thankful to be able to see it all and examine it all and write about it all here. Incidentally, God has given us a great and terrible gift here with this technology. I pray that someday I would have the privilege of finding out if I could maintain my sense of joy in the regular problems that would arise in serving Him or at least see that joy in the day-to-day of the work I find such trouble enjoying one single day of the week.

Stranger

(By the way, do you like my new signature? Also, see my logo and icon below. I like the picture of the single, lonely tree in the desert.)

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Strange Confessions: Four Years Away from “Home”

Strange Confessions: When we left Utah, we told people we’d never come back. I regret ever saying that. Totally.

Our family has had the wonderful privilege of hosting our niece over her Thanksgiving break from college. She is going back to Mississippi tomorrow. I just put my youngest daughter to bed and she started to act like she usually does when we’ve had guests and they are about to leave. She gets very emotional, tells me she is sad about them leaving, but usually doesn’t cry until just after they leave. Then the next few days I expect one or another of my daughters to just start crying and say how they miss Utah, our family there, the friends we had. It makes me sad. Makes me regret ever coming here. I don’t want to put my family through this kind of regular heart-ache.

We have some truly wonderful friends living in Kansas City. We have been friends with them for about 19 years. They moved from Salt Lake City about 13 years ago. Lived in the San Francisco area for a while, then moved to KC. Being friends with them after such a long time of geographical challenges is a real testimony of their loyalty and patience with our family. We see them at least three times a year now, and I love every minute they are here or we are up there. We are travelling to KC soon, and the one thing I don’t look forward to is leaving. Having to deal with the kids’ state of mind, and even my own is very sad. I counsel the children that this is not the end of seeing them, it’ll happen again, we had fun here now, why ruin it with sad feelings? I’m really talking to myself. This happens when anyone who stays for more than a night comes for a visit. They especially miss my mom, as I do.

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This Thanksgiving marks four years since we moved from Salt Lake City to West Plains. In a lot of ways it has gotten easier. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. We knew that God wanted us to get out of our comfort zones and look to new challenges of trust and empathy. I accept His sovereign will in my/our lives in this matter. Our cousin posted this picture you see on that one site, and it has been very helpful in the last few days. All the things on this list are true. I usually dwell on the things I don’t have, which is, I believe not the way God would want me to look at things. There is one thing I would add: “I really miss my family who is miles away, because that means that I have family who still live in this country.” I have a friend, I’ve told you about him before, who has no family. Well, that is not entirely true, but his parents and only other sibling are gone. He does have an ex-wife and stepdaughter. I don’t know him intimately, we were friends only for a summer back in high school, but when I wrote him on that one site, we talked quite a bit and still maintain some contact, at least I haven’t driven him away for good… yet. In my lame little way I contacted him over Thanksgiving to see how he was doing. I know it can’t be easy for him, but how do I know? Maybe he can take it. I know I couldn’t. Anyway, I hope he’s good. I don’t want to feel like I’m sorry for him, just let him know I’m there, if it matters…

I am thankful for what my wife and I have found here: a deeper, more intimate and trusting relationship with the Lord, my beautiful, loving and smart wife, my wonderful children, a great fellowship group that meets at our home that is fiercely diverse, a good church family where His word is brought to my ears to challenge me, and all the other things that make it possible for me to have a job, home, and means to get from here to there.

There is some things that sometimes seem to be missing. I say sometimes, because I do have occasions that I am completely fulfilled by Him in His glory. I also want to point out that I am not complaining, or at least I am trying not to. I just know that there are things, of this world, that make difficulties a bit more… easy. Again, that is not to say that I shouldn’t look beyond God to fulfill me, but, you know… that it would… help. “He never said it would be easy,” is the occasional mantra of the Christian, and I know that. I just miss my family, my wife’s family, the best Awana club with the best group of kids ever, and to a lesser extent, the mountains, the roads and valleys, the buildings, and yes, the familiarity of it all. I do want to go back to Utah, or at the least 2-3 hours away from the Salt Lake valley, or even a maximum of 5 hours.

My mom will call me and say something like, “when are you going to come over and fix my faucet?” I tell my wife, after I am done talking, about what she said. I say that of course it is all in jest, but then my wife says in many ways it isn’t and I see the truth in her words. My mom would very much like me to be home, in Utah. I would very much like to be there for her. Perhaps, someday, God will see fit that we would go back there. Perhaps not. I really pray in these times of realization, that I want to be a teacher, that I want to be a full-on missionary, that I want to be closer to my mom, that God would do a miraculous work here to get me to face those situations head-on. If God wants me to stay here, until He comes back, so be it, and praise Him for it.

When I moved here I was astounded that so many people came here, and of their own free-will! “Why?!” I would ask them. Many of the answers that came back were, “family.” Sometimes that answer rips my heart out. I want to cry out, “I know, I know! Why do we move so far from those we love.” But then, I consider the full-time missionary. They sacrifice what they know, to be with those who they… love. See that? Because I just did. We need to love the people we are with. Does that mean we forget those we left behind that we love? May it never be! You must love them all the more. Hope that they know God has laid on your heart a people who need to see clearly the love of God and His sacrifice.

Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. ~1 Corinthians 7:24

One of the reasons I called this blog “Stranger in Rebellion” is, I like the connotation of the word “Stranger”. I am a stranger to you, but I am also a stranger here on this planet: this world is not my home. I call Salt Lake my home; I was born and I lived 40 years there, but it is not my True Home. That is heaven, where I will be with my true Father forever. The feelings I feel for the people and the place that is Salt Lake City, are just a dim shadow of what I will or should feel for my home in heaven. I long for SLC as I should long for heaven. People I’ve known and loved there for years are there, maybe they are not waiting for my return, but I am. I am also longing to be in heaven, so we shall never know the pain of ever having to say goodbye… ever… again.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: Declarations of Hopeless Optimism In These Troubled Times

Strange Confessions: I’ve recently understood that what I always thought regarding my attitudes towards others is not as truly optimistic as I’ve always regarded them to be, but rather quite the opposite; I am a pessimist and I hope only recently so. Because if this is how I’ve always been, it kind of frightens me; to think I may have been a horrid pessimist always driving people who may care away from me, thinking that they chose it.

There, now that may have driven the truly uninterested away, for this is deep stuff for me, and I dare say seriously frightening for me to finally understand as well as reveal. Even though I’ve held the attitude that I have nothing to hide, knowing these things reveal much more to me than I think I wanted to know.

Last week I confessed that I enjoyed the company of children way more than adults. I surmised that I am emotionally open because of the fact if people don’t hang around me for long I can blame them because they couldn’t handle the truth. That was something I discovered as I wrote and have since searched my heart and found it to be true. I believe that this may be a recent change in the motivations of the way I am with other people because of some things that have happened in the past six or so years.

We had a friend over for supper, well actually they brought supper over to us, the other night, who is from the congregation we have recently been attending. Conversation turned to how we are… assimilating into the church. I allowed my wife to speak, for fear that I would go off on some strange tangent regarding what I wrote about last week. While I sat there, I really thought about it. Thought about why I was really so off-putting in terms of getting to know new people. To our guest, I kind of mentioned my behavior as of late, and they mentioned that I was really good at the community dinner we had a couple of months ago.

The church has a community dinner every couple of months, inviting those who are… perhaps a bit less fortunate than us(?) I told myself I was going to go there and make people feel as welcome as I could. I prayed to God to make me bold in my conversation, keeping things open and real. God was with me and in me that night, and I was happy to serve Him while serving others.

I and my family travel three hours East of us, to one of the poorest communities in Missouri, every month or so, to organize, pack, and distribute food to the people in the community there. I enjoy meeting the people who come around and those who come from other places to help out too.

We also spoke of living here, in small town West Plains. I told of my expectations when moving here that people would be interested in knowing someone who lived so far away, what life was like where I was from. No one ever said, “Really, Salt Lake City? What was that like? Where did you live? Who did you know?” That is what I talk to the kids about. What their life is like, where they live, who they know. And then there is the satisfaction of the status quo. They actually like living here, they come back and live here. There is nothing new, things are always (seemingly) the same. And they aren’t interested in the outside world. Now, I know that I am thinking in general terms here, and not everyone is like that, but it is a pervasive attitude that invades everything, and it makes me want to shake their world whenever I can. Which is rare for me. Because of what I am understanding.

As I spoke with our guest, thinking about these things I understood that I don’t trust people. Kids are honest and serve no agenda, there is nothing I need to hide. Strangers may have an agenda, but I don’t have to make myself fiercely available to them; I’ll be home soon anyway. Someone tells me that I did a good job, and I think they are just saying that because I’m the poor fellow who needs to be encouraged, so they have to say that sort of thing to me. Someone asks me how I’m doing and I believe they are fulfilling some sense of duty within themselves, and they feel better for talking to the weird guy. There is really no reason for anyone to want to get to know me, I believe. So why should I give them the benefit of knowing me when they have all they need already. They have the friends they have no need for more, especially one of such… emotional openness that is displayed through weakness and pretend shyness.

You must understand this is never something I consciously understood, but as I think about it, I see the truth in it, and it makes me sad for the sad little man I’ve become in this respect. But is this how I’ve always been? I hope not. Understanding this makes me know, at least these last few years, why I have become this way. Relationships broken. People who I thought could be trusted, but couldn’t. The evil of this world has done a number my thinking, yes? One of the “benefits” of one who thinks too much, perhaps?

With God’s leading, mercy and love for me, I’m certain things can change in this. For the relationships I need to bear with others of the faith should be more excellent than what I have been thinking about them. For this comes through in prayer, with every situation I am coming into I will pray that God will fix my thoughts on what I need to do. That I shouldn’t consider the worst in people, but only be aware of who I am in Christ, and that is all that matters.

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” ~Phillipians 2:1-2

~Stranger

 

Strange Confessions: My Current Spiritual Relationship Situation

Strange Confessions: I would much rather have a conversation, or hang out with those of the 6-18 year-old set. Adults make me very uncomfortable, and I seriously don’t make it easy for them to talk to me.

Since I became a Christian, I have always known that I have been blessed with the ability to relate with those of the younger type. Back in Utah I would try to recruit people to become an AWANA leader. One of the answers that really surprised me was, “Kids really intimidate me.” I’d stand there, shocked and amused, wondering how in the world kids could expose these people’s insecurities in such a way. Kids are the most honest people on the planet: they have nothing to hide, and they say what is on their mind. It has always been so refreshing to me, to not have to interpret what they are saying, whether or not they have some agenda, or are just trying to make me feel better. I have even had kids tell me that I am fat. It was annoying, but they told me the truth, as they saw it. I enjoy any time I can hang out with kids, finding out about them, playing with them, teaching them, learning from them. It has been a little different here in West Plains, but, you get right down to it, and kids are the same everywhere. I’ve held some pride in this gift and have given God the glory for it. I’ve always believed it was a blessing. Until last week… when I started to question my motivations for avoiding adults.

I’ve talked about in previous posts about another church family joining with the one we have recently become a part of, and  now there are lots of kids in our congregation. Lots of new names to learn. Lots of new friends to find out about. Another commitment I’ve made, when we have joined here, is for me to be more involved in people’s lives. You know, the iron sharpening iron deal, the relationship with peers, the making myself available for discipleship, the being an integral part of our congregation. Essentially, being the hands and feet of our Lord here on earth. I know, I know… perhaps part of that is having a great relationship with the children in the church. But, last week, I annoyed myself.

Before I explain about the crazy thoughts that went on in my head last week, I want to explain again, one of the many purposes of this blog: I write, to find out about myself. I get the idea in my head that I want to tell you something, something short and sweet. But, my brain works out things as I type, and I need to discover something that my subconscious keeps tap-tap-tapping away at my conscious part of the brain about. I need to understand this thing, and I need you to understand this thing too. I started this blog knowing that not many people would actually read this, and that is fine, so when I say “reader” or refer to “you” it just may be me that I am talking about. Well, whatever. I am a strange one, and I’ve never attempted to hide it. So, onward…

We have been having meals after services every week. It has been a chance to share a meal with those who have heard the same sermon we all just listened to, and to discuss our thoughts on it, sharing our lives, concerns and praises. I get my plate, look around the room and pick a spot that looks the most comfortable. The most comfortable is usually a table not full yet, but has people at it who can talk well and are already involved in conversation. I can sit, maybe answer a, “How are you doing?” question or two, but then I just blend in. I’m like camouflage: hidden among my surroundings, keeping the attention away from me. I am a professional conversation divertée: ask me a question, I’ll answer mildly, then ask the person next to me something a bit deeper, transferring attention with ease. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s not that I don’t want to really know people, or let them know me, it’s just that the standard situations we make to figure these things out are incompatible to my personality. Give me a pool table and a pitcher of beer and I’m a go! Set-up a game night where it goes deep into the night, to reveal Mr. Goofy-pants, and we’ve bonded. Take a hike on a strenuous trail together, friends for life… well, for a time: a good time I promise, maybe.

I suppose I had some more to say before I got to what happened last week. Remember? It’s about writing, about finding out more about me… Hmmm… sounds a bit narcissistic, no? Oh well, that was addressed in the last post. Whatever.

There is a lot more kids at church now than there was a few weeks ago, and they go out to play when they quickly eat up their meal. Since there are so many now, some might get in a bit of “trouble” out there. I’ve decided to make myself an adult chaperone. I go out and watch them, organize plays, have a bit of fun myself, talk to them, know them. It felt a bit like an excuse. It is a bit of an excuse. It is so much easier, so much more comfortable, so much more fun; to be with the youngins. My wife even asked me, “Are you ever going to be in with the adults?”

One of the reasons we came to West Plains, is because our life was “easier”, more comfortable in Salt Lake City. We only really knew, I mean, really knew that, was a few years of living here. Now, here I am choosing the easier, comfortable, fun way. Instead of the hard, uncomfortable, work that I need to do, to be the Christian God is calling me to be now; I’m taking the easy, wide road.

And I did it again this week. In fact, a couple of guys came out today to talk to me. They asked me how I was doing, what is going on… I gave the easy answers. I’m feeling a bit ashamed. One of them was the pastor, or head elder, (I still don’t know what to call him), I was about to tell him my thoughts, then my wife came out… probably to save me from some embarrassing statements on my part. I have to get out of this position. But, I have to admit that I don’t really know how to do it. Do I tell them this whole bit? Well, not the “whole” bit, but just my difficulty. I’m feeling like… no, I shouldn’t. I’m not like normal men. So I shouldn’t think that something that separates me from the others would be the thing that binds us. I appreciate where we are now, I just don’t know how to move on.

I have a very fulfilling relationship with the small group I have been a part of for the last couple of years. It has been only the last few months where I have truly been able to open up. Sometimes I believe I’m sharing myself deeply, but for myself, it might have been what I believe they may have wanted to hear. Which may account for some of the depression and lack of desire to attend for the first year or so. I protect myself by being open to the point of driving people away. I see that now… as I write. I do not want to be this way anymore. It is too fake for me. No, nevermind… I am moving beyond this, slowly.

One thing I do know, is that God knows what I need to do. He will lead me and guide me. I thank God that He is on my side, He is even on their side. I know there is no superficiality in their dealings with each other, I want it to be that way for me. Perhaps I do need to be a bit open about what I think, just limit it until things get… easier.

But not too easy.

~Stranger

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