When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?

Book Review: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst

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Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst is a book to help you take the rejection life throws at us and give to God who is waiting for us. This is not a self help book that promises relief in three easy steps. Lysa’s points on how rejection affects life will hit home with most people. She makes the book personal, sharing feelings that are genuine and relatable.

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This book is not designed to be read in one sitting. It is designed to be read a chapter at a time so that the thoughts of the author and Biblical truths can be digested into your life. This is a book you put down to think, pray, and sometimes cry over. Yet at the same time, you’ll want to keep reading because you found the topic so engaging.

Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true.

We have all been rejected at some point in our life. Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true. Not only did I learn how to deal with past rejection and how to stop rejection pain from taking root. But I also learned that by extending the same love God gives to me, to others, I can help stop the cycle of rejection.

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After reading Uninvited, I have thought differently about the things that are said and done to me. I have thought about my own actions and words toward not only myself but also my friends and family. Uninvited is definitely a book I would recommend to others, be prepared with a highlighter.

God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live…loved.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Rejecting the Story

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We minimize and reject portions of the story God is telling through our lives. Stuffing those experiences, those moments we don’t want to talk about, away.

Wounds become scabs. Ready to be made raw at a moments notice. A simple comment made; A scene from a TV show. Pain discovered anew.

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

Walking grief is the new norm. We don’t even know that we are living in this manner, sick. Ignoring the bigger story God is weaving. Denying that pain has occurred. Until one day, someone speaks truth. Giving light to the darkest depths of anguish.

Expectations rule us. We perceive that others do not want to hear what we are going through.

“They are sick and tired of us talking about this,” we say.

A pit of lies.

And yet we live in denial of the story being written. Telling God that He is not there in that moment. While failing to realize that He has never left.

It’s jarring to read about video games one day and then infertility the next. It’s uncomfortable.

Welcome to JohnnyBGamer.

 

Full of It

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My intestines won’t stop moving. I feel like a punching bag. The sides of my stomach hurt. I have no idea why. Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is debilitating.

The first time IBS found me was in elementary school. I remember running around the house, clutching my stomach, screaming. My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. A few uncomfortable medical procedures later, nothing.

High school was an IBS nightmare. The thing about IBS is that it can sneak up on you in a moments notice. Forcing you into an immediate posture of porcelain throne worship. I remember a friend telling me that it was all in my head. That I was the one causing it.

I remember a distinct feeling of wishing I could transfer my IBS to someone else. If they could only feel what my body does to me, they would know that I am more of a hostage to something far bigger.

The Apostle Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians. I have always related to that.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have wondered if God gave me IBS as a way to keep me humble, focused on Him. In times of an attack, I pray for God’s strength to get through those moments.

My thorn in the flesh is not visible nor is it logical. I can’t tell when it is going to come and visit next. But I have learned to notice when my body is tightening up; I have learned that exercise helps reduce stress. God has taught me to rely on His strength when I have none. I just need to rely on Him when I am running at full capacity.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Game on, dear friends. Game on.

Longing For That Missing Person

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There is a room in our house that is empty. Sure, there might be an odd trainboard or even a bed and dresser, but the room is missing someone. Someone my wife and I have yet to meet.

For the past six years, we’ve been trying to have a baby. Methods have been tried, doctors have been visited. Nothing.

This is a pain I carry, a pain that feels like failure.

My wife and I come from big families. Raising an only son, we’ve come to discover just how much we learned about life from our siblings. Precious life lessons that have aided in our basic survival:

  • Someone punches you, punch them back
  • Trash talking
  • Learning to get along with someone that might not be nice because they are the only person around to play with (I’m looking at you, Kayla!)

Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.

Someone is missing. I can feel it. And at the same time I am trying to be thankful for what has been given to me. Struggling to wrap my mind around raising an only child. Wondering if my wife and I want to go back to the baby stage. We do/we can.

There is hope. Anguish. Emotions that ebb and flow.

God is working. Weaving a story together we cannot see. The pain my wife and I experience may not be physical, but the pain is real. I am grateful that I do not have to go about this alone (I love you, baby).

I’m tired of being silent. I want that missing person to come home.

Lord, my heart is torn in two. It’s up to You, God.

Recovery

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I have been sick for most of my life. As far back as I can remember, I have dealt with stomach issues. My parents have told me that I had problems digesting milk from the very beginning. Thankfully the wonders of the soy bean had been discovered long before my arrival. All of that to say that recently I become sick of being sick. So, at a friends suggestion, I sought out a gastroentrologist in an effort to delve into the secrets of my gut.

About the same time I was pursuing the gastroentrologist, I started to experience pain in my right and left sides. A sonogram and a HIDA scan later, my doctor concluded that I was having gallbladder problems. I then had an appointment with a surgeon who told me that I was a prime candidate for gallbladder removal. Woo hoo!

October 6th, I arrived at the hospital for check-in. I was nervous. After having lower back surgery earlier this year, memories of my pain and recovery were still too fresh. The last thing I wanted was to be put under again. The near-constant pain in my right side said otherwise, however. Prepping for surgery, I consistently had a sense of deja-vu.  I kept thinking that I recognized different nurses and orderlies. Thankfully all the pre-op stuff went well. Having the IV put in was no big deal. What was a big deal was seeing the needle for the blood thinning medication. The needle was huge! The nurse gave me the choice of having it inserted into my abdomen or my thigh. I quickly chose my thigh (leave my stomach alone!). With pre-op stuff completed, I was soon wheeled back into the pre-op holding area.

Back when I had my back surgery in January, the pre-op room I was in was for kids. By this I mean that there were prints of colorful animals all over the walls. I remember the wall decorations as being somewhat creepy and not soothing for an adult. This time though, I was placed in a normal white-walled holding room. My wife and I talked and I gave her permission to remarry in 20 years. I also told her that I wanted a 15 minute guitar solo at my funeral.

Being wheeled into surgery, my memory starts to get fuzzy here. The last thing I remember were the operating table lights. I was literally asleep in what had to be minutes. Praise God!

When I woke up, I noted that it was 1pm on the wall. My surgery had been at 10:45am. I had no clue how long I had been laying there. What I do remember though was the nurse telling me to stop moaning. She said that it wasn’t helping anything. Sure, tell a drugged person to knock it off. I fell asleep shortly after that.

Waking up, my wife was by my side. She would later tell me that I had not been too nice to the recovery nurse. Apparently I just wanted to be left alone. Who can blame me? By 4pm the doctor cleared me to go home. Thanks to the miracle of medicine, I don’t remember too much of the drive home or the rest of that day for that matter. Hmm.

Recovery has been slow but good. Nothing like my back surgery. Worst thing that has happened is some sort of allergic reaction that I’ve had. My incision points look like welts and I’ve developed a rash that itches like none other. I also have occasional pain and can’t eat too much. I think I’m actually losing weight. Which isn’t a bad thing.

12 days since surgery and I am going strong. I have even been able to eat yogurt, which is something I haven’t had in years. So yummy! So yeah, I’m back. Hope you didn’t miss me too much. I am hoping that this surgery marks the end of my surgical year. Anymore and I might as well become a doctor and operate on myself.

Pain

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There is something about pain that sucks all the life and creativity out of a person. Constant, persistent, throbbing pain has been plaguing my lower back since the end of October. At first I thought it was a pulled muscle or something. So I went to a chiropractor and was told I was suffering from a pinched sciatic nerve. A month and an MRI later, I have found out that I have two herniated discs and multiple tears. What I did to my back, I cannot even tell you as I do not know myself. Life is crazy.

In the midst of pain, I am finding myself wondering what the point of all this is. I mean, I am relatively young (a year short of 30) and I have never injured myself in a major way. As a Christian, I am trying to see what the bigger picture is. What does God have planned in this? If I end up having to have back surgery (which I have been told is likely), I will have plenty of time to ponder this question. In the meantime, I thought that I’d post this in an effort to explain my absence lately and lack of posts. As the pain ebbs and flows, I will no doubt be back to writing on a more consistent basis. Until then.