Sharing My Story: Worksheet

Last week in service we had a presentation on being ready to share your story. The last time I shared my story at church, it ended with me playing a Peter Furler song. How quaint. Anyway, it got me thinking about writing up my testimony again… in a shorter way. I have 2 main entries in my other blog written many eons ago, that I considered my ultimate testimony… but the second entry ended with me leaving college, and was very long and never finished. THIS “story” developer is based on something that would make it more succinct you might say. It is from the CRU website. It is a number of questions that I will answer and later develop and memorize. I find other people’s stories very valuable, and I suppose I shouldn’t think less of mine. Here we go:

My Life Before Christ
What about my life before Christ will relate most to the non-Christians I know?

  • I was selfish, lived strictly for my own pleasure, suffered through a parent’s divorce, found failure in my own efforts, struggled with depression, purposelessness, and fear.

What did my life revolve around? Where did I get my security, identity or happiness from?

  • My life revolved around finding the next thing to help me escape my own failure; drugs, alcohol, books, even hiking. My security was not only in my isolation, but also found in finding faults in everyone else. My best friend and I would make fun of others mercilessly. Focusing on other’s failures helped me not see my own.

How did those things begin to let me down?

  • Eventually I saw the escape as nothing more than that. I would always have to come back and face myself. There was no permanence in the escape. The searing mirror of my life reflected misery and hopelessness. I knew there was more, there had to be, but actually finding it was not something I was willing to put any effort in because of my own failures. And that was the crux, was it not? I believed there had to be effort put in to purpose, and my history told me to not even try.

How I Came to Christ
When was the first time I heard the gospel? What were my initial reactions?

  • The first time I heard the gospel, I actually saw it in action. The girl I knew I was to marry, had an extended family in which I shared a meal with almost every Sunday afternoon. Seeing them share their ideas with each other about religion, politics and other subjects that were taboo in my own family, in a (mostly) peaceful manner showed something I had never seen before. Although I had no idea what they were talking about at times, witnessing a family that loved one another enough to speak about the things they may disagree on and still share meals every week. There was something different about them. I eventually realized that it was Christ in them that I saw, even in their faults. The gospel for me was never something I first heard, but witnessed. Even in the times that I began to hear, the puzzle of the word wasn’t fully revealed until marriage counseling and many other sermons in which I was initially offended because of my idea that purpose equals effort. The gospel was seen and not heard for me.

When and why did my perspective begin to change toward Christ?

  • Knowing that my future wife’s family was the way they were because of Christ, made me think I was missing something about Him. Growing up Catholic, Christ was a mysterious figure that you accessed through ceremony and only heard about for a brief time in the gospel reading. It was impossible for us to fully know Him unless you forsook the world and became a priest. Hearing who Christ was at the church my wife’s uncle pastored, and hearing a brief snippet at the Catholic church, made me angry and confused that there was such a discrepancy in the idea of Christ. (Little did I know…) I knew that the Christian idea that there is no effort put forth in us toward a lifetime in heaven with God had to be wrong. My identity was tied up in my failure. I had excuses for not even trying. And now I was hearing that it wasn’t about my effort? It wasn’t about my failure? But, in a way, the life of failure that had come to define me, revealed to me that ALL my efforts would end up in failure. It was only in Christ that I could succeed. That was a long process for me and was a reason that there was no date and time for my understanding of Christ, in which, in Him, was all the effort I needed.

What were the final struggles that went through my mind just before I accepted Him? Why did I finally decide to accept Christ (or give Him complete control of my life)?

  • My struggles were that this faith included no real effort on my part, at least when it comes to the ultimate idea that I get to spend eternity with the Creator of the universe. I knew that life was more than matter. Purpose was one of the highest ideals for me. My considerations of Veterinarian, or Psychologist, or Forest Ranger, all came with a capital letter of purpose. Failing at all that helped me see that purpose isn’t found in career. Purpose is found in giving up all that the world has to offer. I was fully rebellious to what the world offered, and in Christ I saw that ultimate rebellion against the world. It was the attractiveness that Christ went against all expectations people have of Him. Our natural tendency is to believe our work gets us somewhere, especially in the afterlife, but Christ is different. Everything else became made up fantasy, and Christ turned into the greatest rebellion I could join.

My Life After Coming to Christ
How is my life different now? List some specific changes in your character, attitude and perspective on life.

  • Today I still struggle with my selfishness. I want everything to be about me. But I now understand and fight to give that glory to Christ. He has given me that purpose, and I always come back to that; I have a greater purpose through Christ. I know that in many things I still fail, but Christ has redeemed it all. I mean in that, that ultimately I will be with Him, no matter all my failures. I see people who’s lives seem far greater than mine; great vacations, beautiful homes, purposeful careers, luxurious vehicles, all the bells and whistles, and there is a pang inside me that wants that… but I know Him and His purposes for me so fully transcend those things, that they don’t matter. Reflecting on Him and all He has given me, helps me to live without regrets and not focus on my failures. I work on attitude that all my efforts are for Him. If they fail, it is God’s purpose to help me grow closer to Him, understanding my life more.

What motivates me now? What do I live for?

  • I am not perfect, and even though I may say I live for Christ, I still fail. But, I come to Him after those failures and seek to know Him and thank Him for that opportunity. I live for Christ and the victory He has for me in how quickly I come back to Him; in my failures AND my successes as well.

Even though my life still isn’t perfect, how does knowing Christ help me deal with that fact?

  • Knowing my life isn’t perfect helps keep me humble. If my life was perfect, I would start thinking less of Him. Failure is a door to Him.

Conclusion

I think that this exercise really helped! Keeping things in a more generic story will leave the opportunity to ask questions by the listener. I don’t have to be fully detailed. This is a good start. From the website, here are the next steps for this “story” of mine:

Put it Together
Let’s take a look at how to put your story together, section by section. There are five basic parts to your story: the opening, your life before Christ, how you came to Christ, your life after Christ, and the closing.

  1. The Opening. Identify a theme you can use to frame your story. What did your life revolve around (e.g. relationships, your reputation, money) that God used to help bring you to Him? Briefly illustrate how that influenced your life.
  2. Your Life Before Christ. Paint a picture of what your life was like before you came to Christ. Don’t dwell too much on, or brag about, past sin struggles. Share only the details that relate to your theme –– just enough to show your need for Christ.
  3. How You Came to Christ. Give the details about why and how you became a Christian. Communicate in such a way that the person you are talking with, and anyone who overhears you, can understand how they can become a Christian, too. Even if your listeners are not ready for that, God could use your story and explanation of the gospel to draw them to Himself in the future.
  4. Your Life After Coming to Christ. Share some of the changes that Christ has made in your life as they relate to your theme. Emphasize the changes in your character, attitude or perspective, not just mere changes in behavior. Be realistic. We still struggle as Christians. Life is far from perfect, but what’s different about your life now?
  5. The Closing. End with a statement that summarizes your story and connects everything back to your theme. If you want, close with a Bible verse that relates to your experience.

I will work on this on my next blog entry.

Mayo

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Kingdom of Stranger Things

I found an interesting book in the library. It is a mystery based in Saudi Arabia. The author is a woman who lived in Saudi Arabia for a time. I find it a very fascinating description of the culture that I know nothing about. Many of the critiques of the book even say that. I wondered just how true it was and hoped for an article speaking to the truth regarding Saudi culture. I went to the all-powerful google and typed something to the effect of: Truth Culture and Kingdom of Strangers.

It brought up this article. Myself being a “Stranger Things” fan, I was curious. I read a little ways, laughed out loud. Read some more, laughed again. Then I got a little frustrated. Then angry. I decided to critique this article in my blog. Also, address the magazine, RELEVANT, itself. So here I go.

About RELEVANT Magazine

In the “about” section on their website, it says, “Since 2002, RELEVANT has been the leading platform reaching Christian twenty- and thirtysomethings.” Their focus is faith and culture and *buzzword-alert* intentional living. They love great art, and seek to show God at work in our culture. Their desire is to challenge the box we have put God in, whatever that means to the twenty- and thirtysomethings. Going against the Christian “bubble” they may have found themselves in, they challenge the worldviews and bring dialogue, “about Truth, about faith, about freedom in Christ.”

Okay, okay. Sounds mostly good and all that. I like being intentional. I also like dialogue and challenging my idea about God. I dig me some righteous discussions on culture.

Let’s look at some of their article headlines currently running to pique those twenty- and thirtysomethings interest…

“4 Little-Known Facts About the Bible That Suggest It Can Be Trusted” (My emphasis, not theirs.)
“Creflo Dollar Defends Snoop Dogg’s Gospel Album” (I mean, like, what?)
“You Might Cry Watching Ellen Tell the Yodeling Walmart Kid That He’s Going to Perform at the Grand Ole Opry” (This article is definitely revealing God in our culture.)
“Ben & Jerry’s Is Giving Away as Many Free Ice Cream Cones as You Can Eat Today”
“Disney Deleted a Very Creepy Tweet, and Everyone Is Unsettled”
“Study: Most Churches Have Never Disciplined a Congregant”

I’m a fortysomething, and only one of those headlines garnered any interest for me (can you guess which one?). If this is what interests those twenty- thirtysomethings, than… I guess that’s okay. I don’t see much Jesus or, rather, God in there. I guess their culture leans more towards the cultural. And Free Ice Cream!

Now, About the Article

“Wesley Walker is a classical educator with Classical Conversations, a seminarian and a postulant for Holy Orders in the Anglican Church in North America.” This is a description of the author, and the article starts out fairly well…

Theologian and social critic Peter Leithart says, “the Devil has no stories.” In part, he means that stories—no matter how spooky or tragic or family-friendly—borrow elements from a deeper, truer story.

I love that idea! I find it true in many senses surrounding our culture, the stories we tell, the movies we watch. It reminds me of the quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. “‘It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. … Although the old magic, or traditional religion, of Narnia is Deep Magic,deeper still is the magic that Aslan uses when he sacrifices himself.’” This has always fascinated me; thinking that so much is out there that the incarnation of evil does not understand. We live in a world that seems to be at its darkest, but the Truth may live in our stories. The world may mock Jesus, but admire a great story of sacrifice. They laugh at the idea of miracles, but embrace an idea that the future is known and foretold.

It starts out great, but then…

The show’s protagonist is a girl named Eleven. She is pretty clearly a Christ figure (Her nickname, El, even means “God” in Hebrew).

Oh, yeah. The first time I started watching Stranger Things, I thought I was attending a church service.

It goes on…

She has a mysterious birth story and her true father is never mentioned, even though her mother does make an appearance. She possesses seemingly miraculous telekinetic powers. While in captivity, government officials “tempt” her to use her powers to kill a cat, which she refuses to do, paralleling Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).

Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously? This is such a stretch, that the author needed to get his shoulder checked for getting dislocated. Clearly the author’s had Christ in mind when developing the character of Eleven. (Sarcasm.) For Eleven is the number of tears shed by Jesus over Lazarus’ death.

In this article, the Duffer Brothers (creators of Stranger Things) credit, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven and especially Stephen King. These guys loved the 80’s and paid so many homages to 80’s culture, they get giddy over fans seeing the hidden messages… about the 80’s!

The world of Stranger Things resembles the Christian understanding of our world. It has two interconnected dimensions: The first is the idyllic world of the 1980’s, filled with nostalgia that almost immediately causes viewers long for a simpler time.

No, they loved the 80’s, but it was hardly idyllic, even represented here. There are bullies, ignorant parents, paranoia about our government, and fear of the greatest enemy in the 80’s; Reagan… wait, no. It was the communists. Our greatest enemy was the communists.

And just because this has two interconnected dimensions doesn’t always bring us to heaven and hell; although the upside-down is very hellish, and two of the main characters have to journey through this hell to rescue someone…

When El escapes from government captivity, she spends time with a group of lovable losers—kind of like the twelve disciples, a group composed of those who hated (Matthew the tax collector) or of a low station (i.e., fishermen). El even puts on Mike’s sister’s clothes, which alludes, I think, to the Incarnation (John 1:14a [NIV; see also Hebrews 2:14-15] indicates, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us”).

At this point I wanted to rip my eyes out in unbelief at the length this guy is going to, to connect this to the gospel. Arrgh! Mike’s sister’s clothes! Alluding to the incarnation?

The author goes on about the Jewish leadership… or I mean Mike and his friends rejecting El for not meeting their expectations. And then, AND THEN concludes that there is still hope after El’s apparent death, because she is being sustained in the wilderness with Eggo waffles. Yes, I said it.

El spends time in the wilderness where she is sustained by Eggo waffles, a pretty clear allusion to the manna sent to Israel from God while they were in the wilderness and prefigured the idea of Communion.

IMG_5193.jpgThe Eggo’s are a clear allusion to manna and foreshadows Communion.

The author goes on about something I can relate to: Supernatural Battle. But then he goes on theorizing about El in a crucified position, Winona Ryder as God, and Sheriff Hopper as Judas.

Conclusion: Sometimes a virgin’s lamp is just a virgin’s lamp.

You know, I’m all for understanding stories in a spiritual way, but this pushes the boundaries of symbolism and interconnections. I was once told by someone I admire very much about Christ’s parables, “You don’t have to make them stand on all fours.” He meant that every aspect of the parable Jesus told doesn’t have to have some deeper meaning. Sometimes a virgin’s lamp is just a virgin’s lamp. We can talk about the struggle El has in communicating, the friend’s initial mistrust, the parent’s absence to our kid’s all day. But if we want them rolling their eyes at us at 15 years of age, tell them that the Eggo represents the communion and promise as it rests in the tabernacle of hope, use this article as a discussion.

Some things about the Christian culture annoys me: The overemphasis on experience. The overemphasis on knowledge. The quickness at which we get offended at a movie. The way we jump on the latest CBD offerings to trend. Looking at the back of each other’s heads, being happy with simply watching. I’m in general a very cynical person. So, seeing this article about a series that simply has a good story, being so enormously over-spiritualized, well, annoys me. But I suppose that is the kind of pitch twenty- thirtysomethings find appealing. Make the movie “The Purge” into a gospel allegory and I can feel less guilty about watching trash. I’ve never seen it, but I’m guessing it’s mostly trash. But take something good, something everyone is talking about, and turning it into a gospel presentation makes it so much the better. Let’s make a sermon series out of it. Hmm, what to call it, what to call it… Stranger Things to Your Ear? Nah. Stranger Doctrines? Oooof. No. Doctrine? Don’t put that in there. How about… Jesus: the Strangest Thing. Perfect!

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A Moment to Remember

My daughter started at College of the Ozarks this January. We have been blessed to live so closely to this school and that she was accepted. I am humbled by the fact that she is so studious. The other thing I am so humbled about is her growth. (I’ve been told that saying “humbled” is correct for a Christian to say, but wow I am so proud.)

Story starts here: If you didn’t know about my mother-in-law and her husband turning away from the Christian faith to follow some UFO guru, then you missed out. (Articles are here and here.) We’ve been estranged from them since before we moved from Utah. I’ve tried several times to connect with them but they are stringent in their relationships, which makes us unable to come to an agreement about what respect means, as far as it concerns the way we raise our children, as well as blaming my wife for the division. Much backstory is needed but unnecessary in this instance because this is about my daughter, but you may have needed a bit of understanding in the situation. I’ve also prayed a lot about my actions in the past and have concluded that I have done as much as I can at this point to resolve bad feelings.

Anyway, we have encouraged to allow my oldest to have an email relationship with them. She may be the only contact with them for our family. They asked about her college experience and she said that God blessed her with many good friends. A couple of weeks later they sent the very first letter (in the alien saga) to her, explaining their new-found beliefs, stating that we haven’t responded and wanted to make sure she knew. Our daughter wanted to respond, spoke with us, prayed and finally wrote the following.

Dear Grandma _____ and ___,

Our email relationship has been going on for several years. I hope you have benefited from it and have enjoyed receiving my emails.

I am writing to address some things that I have been thinking about for the past several months. When your letter arrived two years ago during the holiday season, I was shocked. It was so sudden and such a turnaround from what I had previously thought about you.

Since you said in the letter you accepted no arguments, I decided not to address it in our emails. I was afraid of retribution, afraid of not knowing what to say. I also did not want to talk about it and then have you or ___ attack my mother in some way, even though she said I did not have to protect her. This response I have written is completely my own, although I have spoken with her and my father in order to organize the swirling thoughts in my mind.

I have decided I do not want to keep silent any longer. You asked me how I was doing in college and if I had any friends. I responded, saying God has given me many wonderful friends. A few weeks later, you sent me my own copy of the letter you had sent out two years ago. Were these events connected? I don’t know if my response was your motivation to send me a copy, but I am responding as if it was.

Just the fact that I attend College of the Ozarks is a huge blessing from God. My friends were put in my life by Him, to push me and encourage me. I hope I was put in their lives for the same reason. It is also now God pushing me to write this letter, to finally speak out about what I believe. I don’t want to keep silent for fear of offending you or having you hurt people in my family with harsh words. God is calling me to be bold.

You mentioned in your note that you did not receive a response from my parents about your letter and that you wanted me to be aware of your beliefs. This is my response. I am aware of what you now believe, and that you do not want to argue about it. But please know that I am not going to keep silent about my faith if we continue to email each other. If I have an opportunity, I will speak about Christ, what He has done for me and what He will continue to do. Please know that I am also praying for you, that you will be able to see the light of Christ and the true hope He offers.

With respect and love,

(_____)

Reading this email from my daughter made my heart swell to proportions unknown to me. She is standing up for herself, for her family, and for her faith. I told her she may be the only one who really has any chance to communicate in a real way to them. They’ve denied many aspects of our extended family’s reaching out to them, saying they don’t want to hear about God and the like, but we should hear all from them. And my daughter steps in to this. She may get fully rejected for this, but I am so proud of her. She is really coming into her own.

I praise you God for what you’re doing in her life, and I pray that hearts would be softened by her boldness and her love. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice and I praise you that you give us purpose and peace. Thank you!

08245-cross

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That One Site… or Facebook, Ugh.

That’s it. I’m off Facebook for good. And it wasn’t just because of the privacy issue, it was much more. I like to do long rambling posts to purge the putrid pontifications or proselytise paltry panoramas of persons… But, alas it is not the forum for me. Nor do I enjoy scrolling through stale statements or scatterbrained sharings of same old shameless situations of political purviews. I can get that from my coworkers, or the news, or youtube, or any number of vast offerings of opinions. I have been listening to a lot of NPR lately, (not that I enjoy it much),  and they had some lady on there who wrote a book or an article somewhere that I can’t find anymore, about leaving Facebook and nobody cared. She didn’t make it a matter of being hurt, but that the idea of Facebook connecting us is ridiculous. It doesn’t connect me. I doesn’t allow for any form of intimacy or true communication. You either agree, or move on. And seeing what I saw in my feed didn’t matter to me. Mostly. My family never posted, at least the ones I convinced myself I was on there for, and I think I wanted that. But not really. Their thoughts lean toward the emotional.

It wastes time, it disconnects us, it makes you feel insignificant, it gives away personal data. It’s become a cat sharing, discount selling, religious mining, article phishing, time wasting site of a mirror to the worst of our culture. Or maybe I was using it wrong. Either way, I’ve decided a few things to change in my life and that one site is part of that change. Seems extreme to give so much weight to this decision or that site, but… oh, who am I kidding. I’m done with facebook, there you go.

I end with a bunch of interesting facebook images.

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I Was A Stupid Teenager

I’m baffled by that one site lately. Not only my feelings of wanting to cancel it all over again because of privacy issues now (p-shaw!), but the fact that I’m seeing family posting picture of themselves standing with all the teenagers last weekend who are advocating “an end to gun violence.” I imagine that if I was back there in SLC, that I’d try to avoid any type of conversation with them, because, you just know that they’re gonna bring it up. I listened to an interview of the kid who “organized” this protest, and the interviewer just let his dumb statements float into the atmosphere, making us all the dumber for it. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I believe there are some smart teenagers here among us, but it is the experience in my book that counts more. Some of the smartest people say the dumbest things. But hey, that’s my opinion. I remember hearing, while I was still in high school, the argument that teenagers are just going to “do it” anyway, so we might as well protect them with all the condoms money can buy. I bought into that. Because it was a way to stop abortion. Even though I was a liberal (weren’t we all) in high school, I understood that killing babies might be wrong. But there was no way we were telling a woman what to do with their bodies, so making sure they weren’t having babies by giving out free condoms to those no-control sacks of meat and hormones, was the best idea I could come up with. Wow. I was a pure doof with a capital D. There was no process in my brain beyond “don’t tell me what to do, just finance it anyway.” And here we are, giving idiots a voice and glorifying the idea that kids don’t want to die. We need to just stop the violence. Oh, the glory of ignorance. No talk of millions of RESPONSIBLE people, or where does this much anger start, or the fact that these are a bunch of teenagers here! I’d love to see the capitol steps where they marched; full of discarded chip bags, hamburger wrappings, plastic bottles. Let the responsible people clean this mess up, they say. It was probably a great place to meet chicks there to boot! Ah, but I don’t dare say any of this to my family who righteously marched, because they don’t want to be killed. Last time I even questioned an idea, I had some stern warnings. Well, I for one am worried. Worried for this generation that doesn’t really care, do they? It seems like such a selfish motive. I don’t want to see people killed by other people with a gun, especially in a elementary or high school even. But what the hell? What do they think they’re doing? They aren’t marching for anyone’s rights! They’re marching that right be restricted. I know, you’ve seen it yourself on that one site already… I just had to rant a bit. I feel better… No. Not really. I weep for logic. I woe over the people who think that we can’t hurt your feelings. I cry that my children will have to deal with these people on a day-to-day basis in the future. But am I doing any better with my kids? God, I pray it is so…

Rant off.

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Ketchup With Mayo: A Year of Wanting

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written an actual post that I entitled, “Ketchup With Mayo.” I’ve written a few pieces that captured the KWM spirit, but never an actual post. A lot has happened in this past year and I don’t feel necessary to catch y’all up on everything in just this one post, though it may be lengthy.

A New Start

I came across this comic today…

specter-finalfb

It provoked me. I’ve been feeling like a failure these past couple of weeks because of a situation at work. I’ve been accused of being anything from a bully to a grump, and getting rid of people I don’t like just so I can hire all my friends. The other day someone yelled at me on the phone. Several hours later someone else did. I began to think that maybe I am the… jerk, in all it’s context and form. I questioned who I was, what my duty looked like at church, at work, in my family. I told myself that like an insane person never questioning their sanity, perhaps an as… ahem, a jerk never questions his jerktatude. But none of it helped. I couldn’t stop from crying at work. I began to think I was the biggest loser (in the negative sense). I couldn’t shake myself out of it. But, I had a duty to a friend to study a lesson in Bible Study Methods. When I listened to this and answered the questions it made me forget myself for a time.

Then, after our study last Tuesday night, I hung about at the host’s place. I wasn’t sure why, but then when everyone else was gone, I asked him (one of our elder’s) if we could talk. We talked for just a brief period, but it was much of what I needed. He helped me realize and see that I was not who I believed people believed me to be. I have a lot to work on, but it isn’t my nature to be the … jerk I was believing myself to be. Sure, I can be so at times, but it doesn’t define me.

I want to be known as a kind person. I know that is not what people see, because they would treat me differently. I think shy kids, become shy, fearful teenagers, who become apparently stand-offish jerks. We gotta break free from this mold. Perhaps I’ve held onto this childish concept for far too long. People don’t recognize an almost 50-year-old man as shy… just a jerk.

As forthe writing…

… I just put things down for a bit. Maybe this is the start of nothing at all, but just a long post in the line of trying to get things going again. I like writing, I really do. I think I have a lot to say. I’m just not sure if that is me anymore. It served me for a time, but is that still me? As I sit here typing, there is a glaring number 4 in a circle, at the top of this site. I hovered over it, and it says, “Latest Drafts.” That represents 4 times I started writing something that I just gave up. And it doesn’t even count the times I just deleted everything and walked away. It disappoints me. Not anyone else, just me. Even now, I scroll up and down this draft, check that one site, drink my tea, and hesitate. This last paragraph took me a good 15 minutes.

Just keep typing.

Loss of a friend

One of the friends I took with me to Utah almost 2 years ago now has drifted away. It’s been a hard knock to my consciousness. I cared a lot for him and believed him to be right in many things. But, he is wrong in this instance. He has told us for some time that there is something else going on with his split from our church. I accept that. I also accept the fact that things happen. In turn, it is also true that people MOVE ON. The main issue for me here, is that I feel deserted. He had something he wanted to do, and did it in the wrong way. At least that is how I feel. I love him and all, but it WAS hard. I’m over it now, and just want him to know I harbor no ill will. What you see above is about as passionate as I’m going to get about it. My other friends feel different. They want to know more, or want him to do something to make it right before he moves on fully. It’s tough to see someone go, but my journey as a Christian has left me not surprised with any of our actions… including mine. I’m still struggling with many things I believe others never think about. Well, I know that is not true nor is it logical, but I get my drift.

Another 20 minutes go by.

I consider deleting that last paragraph about the lost friend.

He might see it you know.

Let him.

Actually, I’m done now. Bye.

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The Desire for Authority: a Story of Aliens and UFO

I wrote this article last year in response to a letter we received from close family relatives. We’ve received a new one this year. Back then, I was frustrated and sad at their turning away from truth. Now, I have a different perspective and although I’m no psychoanalyst, I’m going to analyze their new letter and try to figure out why there has been such a change in perspective from their “lifelong” pursuit of Christ. Integrated in my thoughts will be ideas behind Pastorship verses Eldership and the authority found in each.

This year, their letter is on the same letterhead, a typical holiday border with holly and bows and bells. The thing is, if this was actual letterhead, I’d be more forgiving, but it’s printed, along with the letter. If they still had a lot of letterhead they needed to use up, I could see their choice in using this. But couldn’t they have found some letterhead that was a bit more generic, say in a UFO style? Anyway, no big whoop. Just trying to lay the groundwork for choices.

Their letter starts out in this way:

Season’s Greetings to all!!!

It’s that time of year to sum up the activity at our home for 2017! It’s been a busy year as it started off with teaching an 11 week course on the Billy Meier Story which focuses on the deliverance of the Laws and Recommendations for all mankind to live by and to convey the false teachings of religions.

Still the holiday greeting yet with a de-emphasis of why they are writing; it’s simply a summing up of their year. (Punctuation is recreated as closely as possible.) I’ve got to say though, their commitment to this deception is garnering steam that I felt was going to go away with time and analysis, but they seem all the more committed, literally. They’ve also gone away with the “you have your beliefs and we have ours” with that last statement. They are now teaching, and telling us the fact, that religions are false.

I, myself, felt that any response to last year’s letter would be counterproductive, because I couldn’t get behind the idea of respecting what they had to say. But I do know people who did, in a very loving way. I feel that somehow any challenge to their new-found beliefs would only serve to strengthen them, and that is my ultimate goal in this writing that I’ll eventually get to, but let’s get on with more of the content.

The success of this class led us to teach the class again this fall. The information that *** taught from Billy Meier and the Plejaren people was educational, provable, inspirational and life transforming… a true blessing in everyday life!!!

This goes on with more about the “Laws and Recommendations of Creation” and other “Scriptural” texts, and a renewed recommendation for visiting theyfly.com, which is a ridiculous site that proves nothing. (The exclamation points are so extraneous, it makes the regular body of the letter unimportant.)

They go on to talk about that their teachings have a 1.5 hour instruction on how to contact “UFO.” Let me point out at this point that every reference to “UFO” is just that. Not “UFOs,” but always the singular. I don’t know if this is on purpose or just an error on their part, but it detracts from the idea of the whole thing.

On that same note, we have had 61 times that UFO have flashed back a “hello” to us, one flyover, two flashback responses by verbally requesting a validation of their presence, and 16 visual sightings of UFO hovering.

I’m left wondering by these things at their hopes. Do they stand around, perform some sort of ceremony or ritual, hoping to see proof? They say at points in this letter how pleased they are at the interest people show in all their teachings, and to me it seems obvious that people would be more curious. What do they have to do to see a UFO at least 5 times a month? And what’s the deal with “verbally requesting a validation of their presence”? They see these things 61 times and “two flashback responses” confirm something deeper to them? Again, it makes me curious in their hopes.

A greater surprise awaited us after the second meeting when the campground owner asked us to come back the summer of 2018 and present the 11 week course on the Billy Meier Story as well as the 1.5 hour course on how to contact UFO!!!!

This was said after telling us about their camping story where they shared the Billy Meier story. This is the crux, the turning point, the axis if you will of their story. This is their hope and desire: that people will want to listen to them. And it is all the more important, I believe, that the stranger the things they want to share the better it is that people will still listen.

I remember back, late at night, in my home in Utah, when they were living with us for a time, him speaking to me about his father. The lights were all turned off, I was ready for bed, and he caught me in the kitchen. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but I do remember his tears. He cried about the relationship between him and his father. We had a disagreement with them regarding the fact that Stacey would not call him father and to our children he could simply be “papa ***,” and not Grandfather or other honorary term. The respect he didn’t receive from his father was not being replaced by his own children, and now us. I truly felt he was trying to manipulate me into feeling that he deserved the respect he always wanted. This came across in the fact that many churches wouldn’t accept his leadership because he was divorced; he was very bitter. I saw that any disagreement with him was in fact, a deeply rooted idea that you didn’t respect him.

Now, with this UFO thing, how can you disagree with him? He doesn’t even give you the opportunity! He wouldn’t hear of it.

Lately, in our own studies at our church, we have studied the idea of leadership and authority in a pastor led church verses and elder led one. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably many healthy pastor led churches; ones in where a pastor doesn’t get caught up in their own authority. I haven’t thought much about it before, but an elder led church has less, I say less, propensity to move towards error. Elders need to give each other to their fellow elder under the headship of Christ. Decisions regarding theology, direction, counsel and prayer need to be discussed and dealt with among a plurality of elders. Again, I’m not necessarily against a pastor led church, but it seems that a lot of the churches that have gone off the deep end, have a singular authority.

I see this in ***’s desire for people to be interested in his teaching. “These people respect me,” I see him saying in argument against our challenges. If they take it all in, then finally reject what they’re teaching, their loss… It’s no longer what he is teaching, but to him, it is their rejection of “UFO.” This was something he couldn’t see in his weak teaching of Christ. I say weak, because I know. He sent us a book he wrote, back when he still called himself a Christian, about forgiveness. The arguments were weak and had no value holding onto the authority of Christ, but only the authority of others in your life, probably a father or pastor.

He has found his muse, or mantra, whatever you want to call it. And the more he is challenged by his authority in those who rejected him, the more power it gives him in his embracing something that is just crazy enough he can only blame your weak faith. I can speak to this because I lived it for a time. I came to a point some years ago, that I saw my driving away people, as a way to blame them for their intolerance of me. I knew that eventually people wouldn’t care for me so I drove them away in my obnoxiousness in order for me to say that they couldn’t handle the truth of who I was. But it was a lie I formed around myself. Much like *** has found a belief to surround himself with in order to not have to blame himself for his shortcomings but he can now blame others for their lack. Knowing this brings me no comfort in his decision for him and his wife, but I can understand it a little more. I could be wrong, but I think that I’m not. It rings of truth in the history of knowing him the way that only I observed.

I feel sorry for him and his wife that they can easily deny what they claimed for a lifetime. Their/His hope is now in beliefs that he claims are “provable,” but even a soft examination of this… stuff, proves how much faith you have to make within in order to believe it.

I end this article in the same way I did last year: a prayer for them. Lord, I don’t fully know the way to reach people, especially these people. They were very close to us for a time until they rejected us. I don’t care anymore about their rejection of us, because I understand now how easily it is to forget and/or reject those we love. I recall so many times I’ve rebelled and in a way rejected you. Yet you’ve always been faithful, bringing me back growing in faith, knowing that you’re always there. Thank you for being real. Make yourself real to them, in the way you would only know. Please let it never be a point where you give them over. Let this be a time of testing for them and for me, knowing I will grow and knowing that they would see the fault of the worldview they’ve adopted. However, You are sovereign! You are God and I will ever praise you in whatever circumstances I find myself in.

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