It's autumn now. The acorns that fall on the sidewalk are ripe enough to crack when I step on them. Trees are still green but they are beginning to hint at the coming undress with a tinge of blush in their leafy complexions. The Belltown air is beginning carry a clarity, like the cool of the first bite into a crisp apple. My heart echoes the ambivalence of the warm street tired from the hot sun, anticipating the approach of the steel gray sky.

The bus is a gallery of Belltown life. Young and old, rich and poor tensely partake in their common need for movement. The bag ladies with their found treasures of tragedy, the boys hiding inside business suits with their conference call cacophony, the dilapidated mother with peek-a-booing cub in tow, they all come and sit with reverent silence. In the Metro we ride intimately crammed feigning perfect solitude. Loneliness is the art form on display, silence the paint, fear the canvas.

Friday and Saturday night are marked with the arrival of a migratory flock of clubbers, hipsters, lady killers and gold diggers. They are met by the local army of call girls and dealers. The street comes alive with longing. All seeking the same conquest, perhaps believing they've found El Dorado. Oh, shining Belltown. The night expends it's prize the seekers slowly begin their homeward journey. As the darkest hours of night come the true beast rises from the ashes of the enticing creature that has withered. It's cries resonate through the alleyways, the business men of the night threaten, the prostitutes scream, the addict wails. From my apartment the sound muffled comes like a gurgle from the belly of the beast.

The morning always comes. The sun leaks through the blinds and and promise leaks into my soul. A "good morning" to God. Bones creak across hardwood. I wash away the unnamed terror of the darkness with a Name. The morning always comes.



Trouble ahead, trouble behind.

Life is to be lived. Feelings are to be felt.

What becomes most agonizing for me in any given bad situation is not the painful feelings but the suppression of them. When I get violated and refuse to feel violated, I'm not living. When I get I hurt someone and I don't feel guilty, I'm not living. When I get a compliment and I don't beam, I'm not living.

Life is the experience and the reaction to it in our hearts. Without Christ I'd have been too afraid to cry when I'm sad, or laugh when I'm happy, or scream when I'm frustrated. I would never have believed that another could care enough about me to "impose the burden of myself". Now I know that Christ cares about my aches and elation, and I'm not ashamed of them. I won't be told to settle down and contain myself. I've got life abundant, in all flavors.

What I've discovered is that I can enjoy life without being happy. It is the authentic experience of what happens around, the relevance of that experience as God masterpiece, that is joy. As we are created in the image of God, we have consciousness, we have the gift of meaning. We possess something that is greater than the sum of the physical form. Consciousness. The spark of life. And thus, it is an act of worship to pursue the authentic reality of that consciousness as it happens, as the sovereign God has ordained it to happen. To reply with an appreciation for every sensation with the knowledge that is part of this gift called consciousness.

I've been fixated on the "happy" corner of existence. I drew my own lines about how I should experience life, and those lines were inevitably insufficient. When my heart crossed out of those boundaries, resentment came barreling down the path with a vengeance. Far be it from me to see that I was insulting God for giving me eyes to see the world, be it scary; for giving me a heart to feel, be it painful. So I say, relevance is the meaning of being. The real discomfort comes from me trying to make a real experience irrelevant. When unfortunate things happen trying to force a different reaction is agony, like suffocating your soul. To cry when you get hurt feels right. It is giving relevance to the human experience.

I'm going to be a different man. This changes everything.


Fake Fruit

My life consist of epiphanies and the space between them.

What does a Christian do differently than an unbeliever? You wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at me recently. The life I've been leading has slid back into a mode of self-punishment. What being a Christian means is that we're no longer blind to what sin is, no longer subject to the pervading guilt of it and free to live life to the fullest. The mindset of needing to pay a debt or earn my way to a closer walk with God had crept back into my frame.

I've lived like a prisoner the last few months, subconsciously taking salvation into my own hands. The foolishness of this can best be understood by thinking of me like a prisoner who has been pardoned and continues to live in his cell even though the door has been opened. The jailer is me, now.

I haven't been taking care of myself. I've stopped working out, I've stopped pursuing my passions, I've stopped eating healthy. The list goes on. Grace has eluded me. I thought I should stop doing everything that isn't perfect and "wait for righteousness". Not to say this isn't the case in some areas of my life, but I mistook this verse to mean "sit on your hands and wait for God to move you." Taken to the absolute meaning, I could start saying that I should stop brushing my teeth because I'm doing it for selfish, vain reasons. Oh I've been a fool, yet again.

The verse says "Let yourself be transformed by the renewing of your mind" I may not completely quit trying to perform my own surgery forever, but I will quit today. I'll let the Surgeon handle it today, and I'll just love Him for it.

I went to a parenting conference a couple weeks ago and the speaker told an amazing analogy about righteousness. The speaker, Ted Tripp, took it from somebody else and I took it from him, so if you're really concerned giving credit to the right person, good luck. Anyway, the story is of an apple tree that consistently grows bad apples. The man who owns the tree tries everything to help the tree grow good apples. Fertilizer, more water, aeration, everything you could think of. Finally in a desperate attempt to have a tree that had good fruit on it, he picked all the rotten apples off the tree and tied fresh, good apples to the tree. His wife comes to see the tree and is floored by the ridiculous superficiality of the work her husband has done.

The point of the story is that the heart is the tree the and what comes from the tree is determined by the quality of the heart. By forcing myself to do "good" is like tying fruit onto my tree. I've been doing so for a while now. The righteousness must come from with in. Yes, I could go out and do good, but it is superficial and ultimately more work than it is worth. All recipients of such "good" will be painfully aware of the phoniness. I will wait for Jesus to change my heart. In the meantime I'll stop wasting my time tying phony fruit to my branches and just live the life Christ has given me.



If the world is a stage I'm a costume designer.

The infinite labyrinth of my thought has consumed me again and I need rescue. I'm a simple man, if you could call me a man at all. Yet I engage the darkness and confusion time and time again. The image I see is David standing in Saul's armor. The attempt to be secure has encumbered me with more weight than I can carry. And I'm paralyzed again. My freedom is naked.

My counselor asked where I was this week. I'm hiding. That's where. I'm hiding behind all this apologetic thought. The shitty thing is that in turning my eyes to defense I've lost sight of God, and thus lost all the joy and benefit of the thing that I'm defending. Caleb asked who I was trying to convince. Yep, it's me. I can't remember what happened first defense or insecurity.

The idea behind "Surprised by Joy" is just now settling although I finished the book two weeks ago. Lewis said you cannot contemplate an experience and enjoy it simultaneously. The concept was easy enough but the implications are still creeping like roots into my life. One of those implications is that I can't be joyful in Christ while worrying about being joyful in Christ. Nor can I enjoy Christ while expending my thought on less than His glory.

Reading over the last few weeks of posts the trend of trying to formulate my approach to God emerges. All the plans in the world will never build a tower. I've got to move. I've got to worship through life, engage in Christ through life, not in spite of it.

In my hopelessness I've worked my way into an esoteric corner of "surrender". It was really fear driven paralysis.

I've got so many thoughts that feel like they need resolution, but I think they can wait their turn. I've got things to do.


Show's Over, Folks...

I'm my own audience because I'm so scared no one will take me seriously. Sometimes I feel like a one man vaudeville show. I'm a broken record, too. No new material. Same poodle on a tricycle shtick as always. Woe is me.

Not today. I'm settling into a new groove. Before I knew Christ I had two lenses to look at myself through. I could tell myself that I was alright and deny my shame, and go on a self-righteous war path of persecution. The second option was to be honest with myself and dive into the deep pool of self loathing, in go war against myself. This usually came to head with suicide attempts. Today the third option is evident to me. I can take an honest look in the mirror and stand taller than I ever did in my self-righteous haze, because I am forgiven, and indeed, a new life grows up through the wreckage I see in my soul. I plead guilty and walk free.

I pray that the days of crying to the imaginary emptiness are gone. God's listening. I pray that I never leave this freedom found in honesty. God, hear me now, I'm scared of losing what you have given me, and for that fear I'm prone to flee to the things that have brought me sickly comfort in the past. I wish I could paint myself into your corner, but I fear that the beginning and end of this security lie in your hands. I pray for enough to feel secure and not stray. That's all I ask.



Time for another bleeding heart confession. Here goes.

Sometime this week a big realization fell into place. It was the answer to an presumed innocence and resulting distance from God. I discovered the truth of resentment and it's implications. I formerly thought resentment was simply holding a grudge. I have a feeling it is more complex.

I can recall an incident in my childhood that has been something of a mystery to me until recently. My mom would tell me that it was time for bed and offer me a drink of water. I would refuse it and go bed. I would wander out of my room shortly thereafter and request more water. She would, of course, say, "No, I offered you some earlier. Go back to bed." Then all hell would break lose. I would cry the cry of a martyr. I basked in the pain of "helplessness". I would eventually break my parents by virtue of my self-induced martyr's high. They would offer me water at last and I would deny it. Victory wasn't what I wanted. At least not in the sense of dominating the strongest force in my life. I wanted the feeling of being justified. I wanted to play the victim. This scenario was not uncommon.

Up till last week I thought I was unique. This phenomena was my little freak show and I was the star. 12-step speaks much about resentment, and most strikingly, that it is just as powerful as lust, alcohol, drugs, etc. "Hmm, I don't hate many people...I guess I don't have a problem with that." With my definition of resentment falling only on people and situations that I felt justified in harboring contempt my blinders were perfectly in place. Almost.

Remembering back to the intense sensation of longing and drive behind the seemingly senseless drama of the water, I questioned what was to be gained there and then it all clicked. I had been placing myself in situations where I could feel justified in abusing people and myself since I was old enough to talk. I've been a self-destructive martyr since day one. My mom was not wrong when she said I should have been a lawyer.

Powerless is what I am over this. This was my first addiction. It is hardwired into me. Victimizing myself, setting myself up to be abused in increasingly sophisticated ways has been my trajectory of life. My most elaborate facade has been against God. I have done things that He has told me not to do and then I blame Him for the consequences. Then I sin some more, because I've convinced myself that God has abandoned me. I "deserve" to, why bother trying not to? So it has been.

My latest escapade of resentment has just ended. I have plunged into self pity again with the circumstances that have "befallen" me. I have no money and I have stopped trying to do anything for myself. I've been telling everyone along the way that God will provide and take care of me. What I left out was "in spite of my lack of cooperation". I've set myself up again.

I do believe God will take care of me and He has, but I've rationalized my inaction under the guise of "surrender". My attraction to surrender has not been the promise of God taking care of me, but the goldmine of opportunity to play the victim when things don't go my way.

Resentment is a drug and I am an addict. God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was so ignorant of your love and tried to excuse myself from your mercy. I'm sorry I used my insolence to defame your glorious name. I truly am a wretch of a man, and I need you more than I could express if I fill the universe with books about my guilt. I accept your grace. Change this perpetually treacherous heart. The door is open, come inside.


I hate smart people.

Purge. I want to spew my insecurities onto the internet as if the people I'm scared of will read them and then see that they are just as scared as me and then let there guard down. I feel naked. I feel stupid.

I want desperately to be artistic and create something that people will relate to. I want it so badly that I'm willing to pour myself out on the pavement. I fear that I will open my soul and people will see what an artless barbarian I am and I will be destroyed.

I have this nagging feeling that my desire is hopeless and that I should just surrender to God. I'm scared that the people around that I'm trying to impress will think that is a horribly ignorant thing to do. I can just hear the thoughts:"He's so weak and pathetic. He just can't hack it in life and he runs back to his simpleton faith every time things get real.

I can't stand it. The intellectual community that I have idolized is everywhere. I hate that they make me feel like a dullard with my simplicity and blind-eye philosophy. I want to be free of the perceived judgment of the greats.

I feel so lowly with what I've got to give. I feel like a beggar who thought he got invited to a high society party and shows up with all the excitement of a child to find that he was never really invited.

The best part is that this is all probably in my head, because nobody is even paying attention.

How do I pour my passion into something without endangering my stability? How do I pour my passion into something without putting my self worth on the chopping block? So, I digress. Back to where I started with my simpleton creed. God, I give up. I'm cowardly and self defeating. I'm too scared. I'm just a little boy with huge dreams. The world seems like a monster waiting to swallow me whole if I crack my door open an inch. Ugh. I give up again.


Spiraling Up

Welcome to a place were you can lay down all of your burdens. You can lay down all of your fears. You can be free like a child. You can be completely at peace now.

What? How?

Surrender, duh. But I got lost somewhere along the way the last few months. I took "surrender" and made it mean "give up things as I think of them" instead of just "give up". I started making the list for my moral inventory and it became a laundry list of things that I would surrender. I took the terms of the surrender into my hands and took control back. It would be like Japan saying to the United States after WWII, "We surrender! but we'll make a list of things that we want to surrender and let you in as we see fit." Not much of a surrender.

What I've realized as I reached the end of myself last weekend was that I need to surrender my attempts to surrender. Yep, true to form, I cannot do anything good on my own, including surrender. So, my prayer is now revised. This is looking like what could be the foundation of my relationship with God, behold:


I pray that you will give me submission in all things. I am willing because I have seen enough of you to know that are a good God. I believe that will take care of me and that I will be best off in your will. Therefore I desire to surrender to it, but I have seen that I'm powerless to do so despite my best efforts. I need you in all ways and wish to rest in your love. I believe, help my unbelief.

I've been praying this prayer for the last two days and so far, so good. I feel all the peace that I felt in the beginning. Every time I feel myself starting to feel anxious or unsure I pray that God gives me submission of my fear. Every time I feel powerless or insecure I admit my powerlessness and pray for submission to God's truth. It seems too bold to say that peace and contentment could be this simple but the Bible does say to come before God like a child. In complex theological discourse I see only attempts to control God, control the behavior of God and control our own lives. I'm not saying that theology is bad, but in comparison with the practical truth of surrender to God theology seems kind of elementary and petty. Something like train-wheels for faith. I think I will leave this topic because I can't say much more without being flagrantly offensive. The important thing is that the concerns of life are now out of my hands.

In receiving a surrendered heart, all the commands of God become compulsive. They are like ripples in a pond vibrating out from the disturbance that is God's power in my life. I don't fret about how to be a better Christian. It takes faith to believe that God will fulfill these things in me without effort on my part. This becomes a little easier to live with when you think that the One who engineered the very mind that ponders Him is in control. He is greater than the sum of all the energy contained in the universe and His love for me is greater than the sum of all the love that has poured from lovers over human history. He loves me so much that He relinquished all the control of the universe to die at my hands. For me. All these thoughts make what ever I little push I could give seem pretty laughable.

I believed that God was pursing me, but I was more concerned with my pursuit of Him. I made the mistake of believing that I needed to. God wanted me and He came for me. He won me. I love Him now. And I believe that all that infinite power is continuing to pursue me. Infinite Love is loving me right now. It's hard to worry about whether I am giving enough money at church, or if I'm loving my neighbors enough when I think about who God is. His will will be done, and it is good.


Quit Trying to Quit?

I haven't got much to say today. I'm praying for surrender of all things in my life. The Fourth Step inventory has really got me over the barrel. I'm painfully aware of how much I fail and how powerless I really am over everything. I haven't a vague idea of what "right" is and I know how far from it I usually end up. Even the things I do right I manipulate myself into by guilt or back breaking force of will. I get that I'm weak. I get that my attempt of doing good for myself is a black hole of necessity.

So, I lay the reigns in God's hands again. I have thought that praying for the right thing could yield me some results but now I'm certain that I don't even know what I need, and if I did I would foul it up. Now this may sound like I'm beating myself up, but I'm not. I don't feel sorry for myself right now. I'm saying this as an objective fact. The sum of my experiences lead me to believe without a doubt that my attempts at good are futile. Simple and true. I discovered God's strength and love in the confined arena of lust. I thought that I could distill that power and apply it to everything and I tried. I failed. In fact, in trying to do so I proceeded to fall back into my old habit of acting out lust. I'm not sure why God let this happen to me, and maybe someday down the road I will be able to look back and say why. As for now, I just know that I can't surrender on my own. That's right. I can't even stop trying to do good for myself. So I pray that I can surrender. I pray for God's strength, and the courage to stop using my own.



Submission is a bitch.

I'm so totally exhausted. I may not have said this in the past because I've been scared of what people would think of my "miracle" faith. Not today. I'm broke down and I'm wearing it like the clown suit it is.

I have story to tell today. I have been troubled by the impracticality of the paradox of God's sovereignty and free will. I have this slick little diatribe that arose from the period in my life when I was concerned with proving everything. It goes like this: It is true that we can not reconcile the characteristics of God in this finite mind, but this fact is assurance because it illustrates the infinite nature of God, His hugeness, if you will. And that is reason to worship Him, because He boggles our minds, He shows His worthiness in incomprehensible enormity yada, yada. This little chunk of cheeky philosophy does so little for me in application.

I ask God what to do with myself. I ask for advice when I don't know what to do. The other night I was invited to a friends house for dinner, but I didn't know what bus to take and it was getting late. I prayed to know what to do. I knew I needed to go see people because I was feeling really isolated and depressed. Of course, I didn't want to. Something curious I have noticed: My perception of God's will seems far too often to be not what seems right but whatever is contrary to what I want. I contradict myself. So I decide that I think God wants me to go.

So I go. I get on the bus and ride down to Beacon Hill. I feel good about things at this point. On the way down I start fantasizing about how things will go down at my friends'. I imagine that I will be courageous enough to let my guard down and lean on my friends to help carry my pain. In short, I start gearing up for encounter. I get off the bus at what I later learned was the wrong stop. Unsure of which direction exactly my friends' place is, I wander around a bit looking for the street. I fail to find any sign of there house, street or their neighborhood. I wander back toward the bus stop starting to feel really dejected. On the way back I pass a lit window in a warehouse with the words "Christian Church" or something like that on it. I walk closer and see that there is about ten black people in chairs listening to a man pray. The only words I remember him saying were,"...and God loves you no matter what, whether you like it or not!" I decided not to go in, and right after I did a little girl opened her eyes and waved at me. The whole scene spoke to my heart and a sobs started creeping up my throat. I snuck away back toward the bus stop. My frustration was building.

Back at the bus stop I succumbed to the loneliness of the moment and sobbed at my inability to be known. 45 minutes later the bus came and I for some reason continued to trudge on my mission even though it was now two hours past when I said I would be there and completely dark. I get off at the right stop find a bike path that I think goes toward their house. I walk down it for about a half a mile and realize that I have no idea where I am. This is the last straw. I sit down on the bike path and cry. I mumble through sobs,"Why?" I lay back on the path and stare into the sky. A man rides bike and asks me if I'm alright and I snap, "I'm fine."

I wander back the other direction still unable to let go of my plan to find the house. I follow the bike path past the bus stop the other direction and end up so lost that I finally give up and concede to just walking until I find a bus to get home. By now I felt like I was in other world. I had never been to the place I was walking. I was in an emotional whirlwind of pride and sorrow. As I wandered the scene changed into a view over a lit span bridge reaching out over the intersecting road below. There was a pagoda looking gazebo in the grass behind me. It felt like an empty scene out of Blade Runner. I wander up a hill and I come up on the Veteran's Hospital. The place looks like an insane asylum. It is lit from top to bottom and sits on top of a hill surrounded by skinny trees that filter the light reflected off the monolith.

Past the hospital was the destination of my journey. I came to a parking lot on the side of the hill and the view from there looked something like this:

I was still too prideful to allow myself to enjoy the adventure at hand. The smells that night were bizarre too. Each place I wandered had a smell about it that took me back to random places from my life. It was strange. I caught a bus across from the parking lot and rode home. When I got there I was confused and defeated. I thought I was pursuing something God wanted me to do. I ended the night by checking my email and seeing that 6 people had read this blog and prayed for me at random. I only got about half way through the first email and broke down again on the floor squeaking out sobs. This time there was distinct tinge of guilt to my self-pity.

I finally came to end of myself back at the place I started. The whole night God let me run to the end of myself to the see the beauty in surrender. I'll still complain after seeing that things are okay even though they are out of my hands. I still haven't settled down. I've got my agenda and it seems to me that I can't even see it until God let's me run my self ragged.

Something about the catharsis of the night landed me in a place of raw reality. On the bus ride home a man was sitting opposite me who looked like he was traveling. He had a mullet with one dreadlock, hiking boots and canvas bag. He incited the wanderlust in me. The heady drink of staring down reality with suicidal abandon had intoxicated me with the courage to pursue the thought. The tenets of societal norms and mandates of secular control have once again ensnared me. I'd thought maybe I was courageous or enlightened before, but evidently not. The need for control of life through possessions, relationships and security are felt like an snake that has outgrown his skin. So many things govern my life that are not God. I want to be free.

I'm not sure why God get all the credit for good and I get all the credit for the bad. I am a little man, and a confused one at that. I want to try and end this story with a nice little bow to tie it all together with some profound meaning behind it all. The only thing I've got for a bow right now is shoestring. I guess surrender today accepting that I don't know what the hell is going on.



I've been so wrapped up in thought that the reality that it pertains to may have passed me by. I feel like I've gather up so many theories that the state of my heart and the relationship between God and I has been neglected altogether. I feel like a man who fears losing his marriage and rather than talk to his wife, he goes to a counselor, buys every marriage book he get his hands on and isolates himself in a study trying to find out what is wrong. What good is all my thought and struggle without talking to God about it?

I'm going to pray.


Hi, I feel like it's been so long since I talked you in earnest. I'm tempted to parrot off some nice things that will sound Christiany and faithful, but I would betray my heart. I've been arrogant and I've strayed. I've sneaked out the back door of my mind. My thoughts are stalling out right now, trying to protect me from acknowledging the truth of my ignorance. I pray you give strenghth to not disosociate right now. I want to be real with you. I know that I've tried to find ever way around surrender that I could conjure. I'm so sorry. It's who I am. I lie to myself better than I can lie to other people. Please let me see myself honestly. I have relied on my own understanding so much lately that at this point I feel effectively blind. I'm stumbling so hard. Turn on the lights in my brain, please!

A while back I felt really confident in You, I was trusting in You and I had faith that everything was surrendered to your sustainence. A fear has grown in me that I have to maintain that reality because I've commited to it so vocally to those around me. I've lost faith because my fear of everyone thinking that what I believed so wholly is just a sham. I'm so scared that people will think I've deluded myself and what I was running around saying was just in my head. I'm so sorry that I didn't trust you to keep me safe. You know that I still don't. I can't really relinquish control on my own. I don't have the courage to let go. Please Jesus. I tried my hand at life again. I really only decieved myself. I'm back at this juncture knowing that the life that I am in control of is an anxiety-ridden dirge. I know only that I need you, and I don't have the courage to turn over the reigns. I'm like a terrified back seat driver. I need so much. You know this. I don't. Show me how. I'm desperate to walk closer to you. I need you to show me how to do it. I surrender what I can. I pray you give me courage to give up more of me. Take all of me. I give up my fear of people. I'm ashamed that I've let them come between us. Please take my fear.

I'm yours Jesus. I'm giving up in spite of what people are going to think. I want what your joy more than I want people to think well of me. I'm a wreck, a coward, and a traitor. I don't care if the whole world knows. I only want you. I love you the best I can. Please make it more.

Further Up and Further In

I've been noodling for awhile now on the connection between addiction, love, philosophy and God. I remember hearing once that compulsive gambling addicts actually get annoyed when they win. The curiosity of this phenomena worth looking into.

In addiction, ritual becomes a big part of the cycle. For the discussion's sake I would like you broaden your definition of addiction to anything that one does compulsively regardless of it's perceived negative effects; anything from smoking crack to folding socks. In my own experience, the actual pay off of the object in desire is always a let down. The preparation, the anticipation is the real joy. When I arrive at the terminal point of my pursuit I'm inevitably disappointed. In chronic pursuit of addictive pleasure the ritual develops in order to postpone the pay-off and prolong the anticipation and the buildup as long as possible. I think that there are two separate things that happen. The desire and the actual pleasure. What I just realized is that I've also liked the desire better than the actual pleasure. The "getting there" is better than the destination.

I've said earlier that I think desire for God is what we are after when set out to fill ourselves whether we know it or not. How does this fit into what I've just wrote? Well, the disappointment that occurs when we reach the terminal point of pursuit need not occur when we pursue God. The disappointment occurs, I think, because we are seeking the infinite, and all worldly solutions are finite. They end. God does not. If we seek God we can continue to desire Him forever, for we will never reach His end. The letdown never comes.

Thus far what I have said is speculation. It makes sense to me but it may be way off. I'm writing this primarily to hash out my thoughts against the possibility of another person reading them. I'm forcing myself to think at least rationally enough to be presentable. Maybe I'm losing something in doing this, but oh well.

My understanding of things, especially of God, is handicapped by the finite nature of my brain. God is bigger than the rationale of His creation. At the end of the day my approach to Him is (God willing) that of a humble servant. I really know nothing compared to the infinity of God's mind. I pray to keep the humility of that fact near to my heart. It would be easy for me (and I've done this so many times) to think I've got God all figured out and from here it's just "play my cards right". In keeping with what I've come to believe about God, a relationship with Him is the only hope of receiving the Joy-without-end that desire and pursuit of Him promise. I pray I don't fall victim to the hubris of thinking I've got God figured out.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9



Christian Hedonism: Seeking God's pleasure and pleasure in God.

In "Surprised by Joy" C.S. Lewis defines joy in a very strange way. He says that joy is not getting what you want but the actual desire of it. He describes it as a longing. An intense desire ignited by something incredibly good.

Mark Driscoll described his hell as an airplane. He evidently hates everything about flying. But he described how the experience becomes a heavenly one when accompanied by his wife. How the loneliness, the discomfort and the pain of flying is erased by the presence of one whom he loves dearly.

When we are near people that we care about our desire for them is increased. In the same sense with God the more time we spend with Him the greater our desire becomes. The more we experience God the more we want to experience God.

In a sense, I believe God's love is the antithesis to the seductions of the world. Whereas reliance on all earthly pleasures for fulfillment will lead us to unhealthy, unfulfilling and even deadly dependency, reliance on God's love results in a dependency on something healthy, fulfilling and life-giving. Reliance to worldly solutions can cause a person to deteriorate into a shell of a being. The reason that addictions are so prevalent in the human race is that we are designed to love something with reckless abandon and we pridefully choose things that are controllable but insufficient. I would even be so bold to say that our need for love is infinite and we apply the finite, that which has a beginning and an end to that which does not, our souls. We are designed to be addicted to God's infinite love.

To illustrate my idea in the negative, imagine that sin as the Bible refers to it is offensive to God because it steals His glory and harms us. It takes from us our native purpose. Many of the things that seem so good, and in fact are good, become harmful when used wrong. That is to say when we use what God has made for us as though we were made for it then we sin. And the thing that gets overlooked so often is that sin is offensive to God because it harms the ones He loves so dearly. We often don't see how something that feels good could be harming us, so we naturally assume that God must just be a killjoy. Unfortunately, we make this uninformed judgment on God because we are ignorant to how much we are missing out on.

In light of this belief it makes sense to try fulfilling our every desire in God. This means when you feel bored, horny, depressed, empty, ugly, unwanted, hateful, anything and everything, you turn the desire over to God. Love is the answer to all these things. Turning our need for love over to God is what He requires of us,"Love the Lord, your God with all your Heart." We desire every day. The opportunities are there. In seeking to let God fill me when I feel these needs occur I allow my love for God to increase and increase my desire (joy) for Him. In loving God, you necessitate more need for Him. He grows like an addiction in you.


The Aftermath

I still have no idea where that outburst of hatred and self loathing came from. What I do know is that it is the lowest I have been since April when I gave my life to Christ. I am still angry, but I've calmed down some at least. I had such hope in remaining close to Christ. I had faith that he would keep me close. I feel so marred. It wasn't like I didn't know my natural inclination to run away from him. I just thought He would prevent me from doing so. I thought He would keep from doing myself in. Evidently not. I know full well how powerless I am to keep myself from doing myself harm, not to mention other people, but I thought that God would protect me from myself. I feel some serious doubts happening in me.

What am I suppose to think when God lets me fall? Where do I turn when I feel like I can't trust myself and I can't trust God? I feel doomed. Maybe like God is toying with me, that maybe I'm not one of His children and He's just starting the torment of Hell early.

How uh...This is stupid. God loves me.

The question in my head was this: Why does God get all the credit for good and I get all the credit for bad. Why do I get the credit for torturing myself, judging and hating my self? Why does God, or rather how does God dodge the bullet for all the Bad? The question gets undermined by the more practical question: Will I demand an answer or accept the love that is available to me? Will I picket the pearly gates with a sign that says,"The garden of Eden was an inside job!" or will I put down my sign and let God love me?

God doesn't make sense at all to my little mind and admittedly I have risen yet again to think that I could formulate Him. An astounding mind once thought for man to understand God is for a stream to flow higher than its source. In a manner of speaking, there is an intended place for me to meet God, a role that I am intended to play. My heads gotten too big again and I've tried to grab something that isn't mine. I demanded it. I've forgotten whats good for me. I'm officially embarrassed.

So the Jonah picture becomes clear. He hates himself. He punishes himself and tries to punish others. He denies God's grace though he witnesses it in epic, miraculous displays. He fails to let himself need God. He thinks has a better plan, and God saves him from himself. What God was trying to show Jonah was His unrelenting love. Jonah says, "Never mind the whale, never mind the shade plant, I don't need you, I don't want you, go away and let me do this my own way." And God replies to me, "When will you see that I don't need your payment of misery, I've already got it covered. Just relax and let me love you."

So, here we go again.


My church just did a sermon series about Jonah. It's agonizing to look deeply into the story of Jonah for me because in doing so I'm forced to see the things that have driven me and continue to drive me.

Jonah had a calling. It was simple. He was supposed to go to a big scary city and tell the people there to turn to God. He decided he wouldn't go and that he had a better plan. He took off in the other direction. En route he got swallowed by a fish. After the fish spit him out he went and did his assigned task. He got the lesson that God was trying to teach him, right? Nope. He preaches in the city and they repent and instead of rejoicing at God's mercy, he goes and sulks. He hates that these people, whom he doesn't even know, get to be spared. He writhes in agony in the desert, wishing for death under the hot sun. What is striking to me is Jonah's affinity for putting himself in these life-threatening, miserable places when it seems there is always a more pleasant and suitable alternative. When on the boat he could have said, "God, I'm sorry please forgive me, the sailors will turn the boat around, I'll go do your work now." Nope, he says,"This is my fault and I will pay the price. Toss me overboard. Save yourselves." When the city is saved he could have celebrated with them and rejoiced. Nope. He crawls out into the desert and pouts, waiting in vain for the city to get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment. He hates them from afar, even though he has been the instrument of their salvation.

The book of Jonah is short. Only four chapters. The last chapter is about Jonah conversing with God about his anger. God asks him if he does well to be angry and Jonah answers,"Yes, angry enough to die." The dude is so angry he wants to cease. And why? Because God grew a plant over his head to shade him and then God killed it the next day. He was angry because a plant died? This bit confused me in an unnerving way for the majority of the series. It finally made sense when I realized the common factor between the two instances that Jonah tried to commit suicide. The common denominator is his pride. Jonah's twisted logic: he rages at the destruction of a soulless plant and doesn't bat an eye at his own self abuse. He tries to carry his own burden then blames God for the pain he suffers when he finds he cannot bear the load. Rather than swallow his pride and accept freedom from his self-inflicted chains, he persists in paying his way. This results in a self-hatred so severe that he wishes for death.

Oh the pain of learning Jonah's story. I am so much like him that it seems he lived only to show me how God isn't baffled by my indignance. This weekend I have done so much harm to the people that God has used me to help. I have seen God's power work through me in the lives of my dear friends. Alas, my own inability to accept grace for myself has turned me into a jealous prick. I don't know how to explain the pathology of how I got to the place I am at, but I know that it is a bad place. I'm angry enough to die. Somehow the burden that I had lain on Jesus has crept on to my back again. I have prayed three time in the last 24 hours for God to let me die. The future looks bleak to me. I can only anticipate more of this torment and I don't know how I'm ever going to make through, never mind why God would want me to. I can say all the things I know I'm supposed to say, but I would just be parroting.

I wept in church again. I cried and cried and this time it didn't feel good. I didn't take communion. I sat there wallowing in dissociated self-pity afterword. I tried to go home but only got the first stoplight and turned back toward the church, hoping again. I found Travis and we went to pizza. I was insufferable and vicious to Travis and Laurie as they tried to cheer me up, and tell me all the right things to do. I tried my best not to bite their faces off. We left and Travis asked for the millionth time what was wrong and I told him not to worry about it. Perfect 10 on the self-pity maximizer. I struggled to not abuse his care for me although all I wanted to do was tell him to fuck off. I said something similar to Katie last night, although I think there was much more transference from my mom in her case. I'm sick of playing the strong one, the leader. I wanted it, and now I despise those who gave it to me.

Travis's face looked like the kid in "Old Yeller" when he realized that Old Yeller wanted to hurt him.

I am a hateful monster at my core. I need to be healed or put down.


Love Me, Love Me, Say that You Love Me

I have a horrible quandary. I fear certain people that possess the very things that I want to find in people. I want to learn from people that have skills and talents that I admire, but I'm terrified that I won't have anything to offer them. I'm terrified that I will be unappreciated by people that have what I want. My binary understanding of people and values is so unwieldy.


I feel like a ship.

The rudder, dragging in the past, trying to steer the future. How strange.

Even as I write I attempt to steer myself. What I lay down now are what I hope to be the foundations, nay, the requirements of the future. Dynamics are astoundingly simple yet overwhelmingly complex. Doubt will destroy you before you set out if you attempt to have a perfect plan before execution. The striking thing about navigation through life is for all our attempts to plot the course, it will never be certain, for the abstract is only an echo of reality. Finite minds can never know. Relativity seriously crushes my mind like a black hole.

Back to the point. I use the past to leverage the future. Reality is the contact point, the line if you will, between the past and the future. It's so bizarre to me, how this thing called "Now" imprints into our minds. The "world" as we refer to it is the real abstraction. Somehow the stimuli coming into our sense translates into meaning, and into cohesion. But the things we generally live as though they control us, actually only exist because we believe they do. We believe what comes down the line from our senses is what is out there. But without the mind, what would it all be? Darkness, silence, emptiness. What you are experiencing as you read, right now, is reality. It exist because we exist. The plans and plots of humans are all based on abstractions of what we have come to accept (on faith, mind you) as what reality means. What the heck am I trying to say?

I guess all this is to say that humanity, reality, perception and the whole thing is just too impossible pointed and strange when you look at it to conceive that this is a random chance. This thing necessitates God. The finite nature of man, his relativity is also necessary. We know something, but not everything for that would be self-existence, and not nothing for that would be non-existence. We're in the middle. We're on the line. It seems the soul is the line between nothing and something. How does God work into this?

Honestly, I'm scared to make inquiries about God. I'm scared of people telling me I haven't read enough, or that I'm blasphemous. I'm only slightly scared of God Himself. This seems so backwards to me. Whatever.

This contact point idea of the human soul being poised on the edge of meaning and nothingness begs the question: Why? We have some control but only relatively speaking. We can't contain all the knowledge of the universe, but we can't know nothing either. It seems that we can only change the direction we choose to face. It seems to me that God set us here to choose. The material world is an illusion that seems to seduce man's desire for control. But without the capacity to control, any attempt to do so seems hopeless. On the line we can face in the direction of Something or nothing.

I feel like I'm losing steam writing about this. And confusing myself.

Three things have happened in the last three days that have piqued my interest.

1.) I've been sitting in a coffee shop for the last two hours and two girls have sat at the table behind me at separate times and each were wearing perfumes that two of my ex-girlfriends wore. One was Victoria's secret something or other. The other I don't know. The incident took me back to places in my heart like a driving into a fog and beginning to think that you are somewhere you are not.

2.) Last night I was laying on my bed (ever notice the distinction between "on" a bed and "in" a bed? Does anyone else treat their bed like a cocoon?) and feeling sorry for myself about something or other and I prayed that God would do something to help me out of this self-pity. The strangest answer to prayer came. I opened my eyes and looked at my dirty sheet and could hardly recognize the fabric or the bed or my pillow. It all looked so foreign and weird. "What is this?" I thought. That moment I was just lifted right out of context and saw my tiny slice of reality as so strange and petty that it was almost comical. I just layed there and stared at the oddity of a sheet, and pondered it and appreciated the strange concept. It felt new. It was mystery found in the mundane. The tiny criss-cross soaked with skin oil and littered with bread crumb boulders. Then I got up and walked to the coffee shop and ogled the majesty of a cool Seattle night with all the awe and frivolity of a child at the circus.

3.)This incident requires a bit of backstory. I have been pretty poor lately. I have bills piling up (not that that is a new aspect of my life) and my cellphone just got shutoff. My wallet got stolen a few days ago. I don't know what God is trying to orchestrate through all of this, but I've been praying for some deliverance, providence, whatever. So I get the notion to go out and trying and make some money on the street playing guitar on Thursday. I figure this will be a great way for God to shower me the money I need, (and feed my ego). I find a good spot on First Ave. on this three step stair case to nowhere in the middle of the sidewalk. I'm sitting there and this guy walks up to me and asks me if he could play a song on my guitar. I say sure and he takes my guitar and howls something that sounds like a cow that has smoked crack for 30 years. I laugh and thank him for the "song". He sits down and I play some more. Then he asks me if he can buy my guitar. I say no, of course. But then he offers me $500 dollars for it. I instinctively decline again and he looks at me like I'm insane. I considered it for a second thinking how I could pay almost all my bills with the money and then I turn him down again. He left and I played for another two hours making about four dollars and fifty cents. Just this morning it hit me that God was providing. I prayed and prayed for some providence and when it came around I said,"Uh, no thanks. I need guitar. I'm gonna be a rock star, and besides it has sentimental value." The trade I made was my security for a piece of wood and metal that is an idol representing my prideful attempt to be admired. I bow to it. It'd be easy for me to whip myself about this now, but I'm choosing grace. God will still take care of me in spite of my noncooperation.

A Note: I found myself feeling alienated after write this entry. I am fearful that making a statement from where I am will be suicidal. I am afraid that I will paint myself into a social corner by being bold/stupid enough to muster a thought and proclaim it. I'm not sure what's right and true, but I'm trying to know. I hope it does not ruin me.


A Reprieve from Myself

I spent something like three hours reading web comics right before I wrote the last post. Then I exerted myself as hard as I could. Ugh. I am exhausted. I collapsed. I'm trying to hard. I give up. As if I've got any choice. I feel so weak, I need rest more than anything. I fall down into God's grace. He's got every single molecule contained in His plan.

I don't want to beat myself, but I really am ridiculous. I'm so slow to learn. I'm so forgetful. The lessons I've been taught in grace are so immutable. Huge. God has demonstrated His love so many times in ways that are nothing short of miraculous. And yet, I continue to fall on my own understanding. I repent. I surrender. My thought only serves to suppress my hope. Yeah, people are gonna say,"You're just excusing yourself from the responsibilities of life. You are a coward and an ignorant one at that." That is exactly what I'm doing and saying. My only hope is to abandon my attempts, and turn to God with all my heart.

I've been criticized for saying things like that, because people think I'm denying man's free will. Not true. I'm only concluding that all my will needs to be turned to God directly. Not trying to love God through any sort of action, but seeking Him in a personal, real, direct communication. I believe that all the goodness that tends to cloud my thoughts will occur as naturally as breathing if I pursue this connection with God through Jesus. Talking to God like a lover. Any other pursuit is a wasted effort fueled by human pride. Even in this pursuit, it feels more like a submission. God's pursuit of me is infinitely greater than any attempts of mine to receive Him.

I know this is radical and extreme. It's necessary. I feel so free. Join me if you dare.


I once told my friend Mark how powerful it would be if a pastor was secure enough in grace and bold enough to be public about his insecurities. I said this in reference to a particular pastor that I find a bit prideful. Now I turn the critical eye to myself.

I'm afraid that if I expose my fears to the public that I will be discredited and no one will listen to me. I want to be a leader. It's no secret. I want people to follow me. I want to be respected and feared. The struggle is knowing how to surrender this desire to God's will. Undoubtedly they are selfish ambitions. I want so badly to erase this paragraph, but something tells me I must not. I'm a greedy, power hungry narcissist. I want control. Where do I go from here.

Humility. Everything God says about leading people points to that word. I have tried to construct a mental image of what a Godly leader looks like. It's disjointed and shaky, and by no means complete, but here is what I have thus far. A Godly leader is one who inspires by his own life instead of imposing his ideals on others' lives. A leader is one who empowers his followers by being a conduit of love, rather than driving with a whip of condemnation. A Godly leader places his own needs last before the needs of His people. This point is often understated, or lost in cliche-ridden Christianese banter. The needs of the people include physical needs like food shelter etc. but also include, if not primarily, spiritual/emotional needs. This, in my experience, is painfully overlooked. It means really loving people as Christ loves. That is the power that gives us strength and therefore as a Godly leader one should focus primarily on this facet of relationship. Leadership should be organic and merited by evidence of God's love flowing forth from an individual.

I am afraid of this venture. My capacity for controlling people is scary. I don't mean to say this in a conceited way, as if to brag of how influential I am, but rather to confess my manipulative tendencies. I fear the idol that being a "declared" leader could become. But in the same stroke, I wouldn't be so foolish as to tell God He can't overcome my sinfulness for His glory. On the contrary, I see the potential for His glory through and in spite of my flaws all the more.

Pray for me!



I've been thinking about all the ways I let people impose on who I am in. My fear of people is unacceptable. I am validated by Jesus alone. I pray that God will give me boldness to be a light to everyone. I'm enraged at my cowardice. I have the greatest thing a human being can experience and I'm worried about stepping on a few toes to share it.

I was thinking about what to write about today and I realized I am shy about writing how deliriously hopeful I am. It seems unrealistic and foolish to people and I've subconsciously started adopting that mindset of "reasonable" doubt. More likely I've always had it and now it's becoming evident. I'm don't think being agreeable is an inherently bad thing, but in this world of negativity and sin, I think I'm far too agreeable. You know when you say someone is a pessimist and they retort,"I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist." Well, I have a problem with that mindset, whether it's realism or pessimism. My basic assumption about life is that life is not as it should be, and this world is broken. Thus, I would commit a fatal flaw to define my reality by "the way things are" as I see them. I prescribe to a higher ideal, and I will choose to define the world around me, set goals, and live according to that standard. That standard is the Bible, and it's ridiculously hopeful, damnit!

People (mostly Christians, ironically) have told me all along the way that I'm setting myself up for disappointment, that God won't do the things that I hope in. They've told me to believe in things that are reasonable and safe. "Don't get your hopes up," seems to be the underlying sentiment. Unfortunately, the life I left behind to follow Christ was so bad that I was ready to kill myself at the drop of a hat. I cannot simply settle for a nice quiet life in the suburbs going to my trendy church every Sunday. I must hope for something great, because it's all or nothing. Everything I am, every drop of life in my soul rest on the truth of Jesus. I will hope for a life of pious righteousness. I will hope to touch millions of people.I will hope to love God with everything I am. I will hope to hear God speak. I will hope to love every person that I meet. I will hope to fearlessly offend the sinful norms. I will hope to stand in the face of death for my God. I will hope to change the world. I will hope for the impossible.

I want to actually live a life that has room for big mistakes and failures. Up till now I've been walking the safe and riskless path. Minimized chance of horrible things happening but no chance of phenomenally good things either. The simple life, the American Dream, the whatever you want to call it is not for me. It is no life. I may make some horrible mistakes, but at least I'm committed to something at last. If God doesn't catch me as I dive into Him, then at least I can say I jumped rather than trying to get away from the edge my whole life. I will be able to say that I lived for something.

You may think I'm melodramatic and deluded. You may think I'm insane, living in a fantasy world. We will see.



Huh. What can be said...I love Jesus!

I wish I was a great poet or musician so I could create something really phenomenal for God. What on earth is a boy in love to do? Well. I will try. I guess what's really important is not the quality of whatever I do in man's terms but the sincerity of my heart in doing it. I'm sure I could be more sincere, relatively speaking, but here and now, I don't think I could be more in love with Jesus.

It's been a week since my last "slip". I feel so good. I've come to the conclusion that the only way for me to feel confidence in a good state of mind for it to be dependent on God. I have much clarity now, but it took almost a week for the ill-effects of my sin to lift. I could never have known how sad my life was without knowing how good it could be with God. I'm imprinted now. Even in the darkness of last week I still clung to hope in God. There were no other options. I can never go back.

An epiphany hit me today at an SA meeting. In a sense we're like spiritual, emotional and physical machines, and somehow these factors are all connected. I don't at all mean to reduce us to simple machines but only wish to paint a picture of the way we function. A machine needs energy to run, it needs fuel. So I think of myself in this way. When I get these urges they are so strong they suggest a very real need. I used to beat myself up pretty hard, hating myself for the fact that I would long so much for things that hurt me. The reality is that I've just become so used to using the wrong things for my needs that I confused the need with what I've chosen to try to fill it with. I started believing that my need was a need for lust, or a need for eating too much, or for getting loaded, the comfort du jour.

It's not the need itself, but filling it with insufficient solutions was the cause of my pain. To go back to the machine analogy, putting lighter fluid into a gas tank might make the car go but not for very long. I've realized that when I feel like I'm breaking down without my typical comforts, it's not a reason a to get upset, to kick the car, so to speak. The machine I am was built with the need for fuel from the beginning. I was made to need God's love though, all the unhealthy substitutes. The solace that I have reached comes out of this realization: Every time I feel empty longing for whatever it is that I think I need, I can call out to God and He will fill me up with what I really need. Every time I feel what's commonly referred to as "temptation" is an opportunity for me to be filled with God's satiating love.

How Lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My Soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

God's mystery seduces me. The brilliance of Him turns me on. Seriously. I'm enraptured with the song He sings in my ear. I will fight with all the passion of lover fighting for the honor of his love. I've found my place in the universe. I want to be here forever. I pray His love for me ignites a boldness to stand up in the face of all who would oppose Him. I have no more interest in loving God in a polite way. I want to stop fearing people and start fearing God.