Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 7

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 7

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6


May 1, 2021, 9:31 p.m. 

26.5 Years Ago

Paul woke up in a hospital bed. His leg and arm each had a cast. Despite his grogginess his eyes darted around for his mother. Instead, they found Nobody, sitting in a plastic chair next to his bed. 

“Your mother is fine,” he said. “Or at least, she will be.”

He was dressed exactly the same as he was moths ago. The same gray slacks. The same black pea-coat. As messy as Nobody’s black hair was, Paul wasn’t sure a single strand had moved from when he’d last seen him. The opaque mask Nobody wore still made it hard to see any details in his face.

“So dad stopped?” Paul’s father had come close to killing him twice, and the man nearly killed his mother at least three times. They’d get rushed to the hospital and treated for what was always somehow described as an “accident.” They’d move after the “accident” to be sure the hospital didn’t have an accurate record of how many times the family had visited.

“No,” Nobody answered. “The police showed up. By the grace of God there was an officer near the house when you called. Your father is in holding. He’s been charged with domestic abuse, assault, and attempted murder.”

“I don’t think he was really trying to kill me,” Paul said. He was confused just an instant after he asked the question. Why was he defending the man who’d just beat him and his mother to within an inch of their lives?

“He had a knife on him when the police entered your home,” Nobody said. “Apparently, he saw the phone you used. One might debate if he really intended to use it or not. Even your father claimed he had the knife to attempt suicide.”

Paul’s father had done that five times that he knew of. His mom would threaten to leave, and he’d pull out a knife and threaten to kill himself. A part of Paul truly wanted that to be the truth. It was one thing for his father to pull one of his typical self-threatening displays, but another part of Paul knew that the knife was meant for him. 

“How do you know all this?” Paul asked.

“The same way I know everything else.” Nobody said it as if it were an actual explanation. 

“And you didn’t do a damn thing!” Paul yelled.

“Please don’t use that language around me,” Nobody said.

“Fuck off!” Paul shouted. “You appear in my bedroom and hand me a Bible when you could have knocked on the door with a police man.”
“The language you use is a reflection of your own heart,” Nobody said. “And you’re trying to make me angry and defensive. It won’t work. Tell me honestly what would have happened if I had shown up with a cop? If you hadn’t had called the police and your father didn’t actually kill you, what would  have happened?”

Paul opened his mouth, but no words came out.

“I imagine, if he hand’t killed you, he would have taken you to get patched up. He’d have claimed there was an accident. Then you’d move.”

Paul’s mouth remained open in shock. It was almost exactly what Paul thought his father would have done.

“Did God just magically teleport the Israelites out of Egypt?” Nobody asked.

Paul jerked his head. The question felt like it came out of nowhere. On moment, we’re talking about my dad, and the next moment he’s asking about Exodus? 

“Moses led them out of Egypt,” Paul said. “I’ve been reading like you asked.”

“Why?” Nobody asked.

“Why what?” Paul asked. Why did Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt?

“Why have you been reading?” Nobody slowly rubbed his hands against one another. It seemed like a habit. The room wasn’t particularly cold.

“I don’t really know,” Paul admitted. “I mean you asked me to, but a part of me was just curious.”

“And your other reading? Any luck finding out how I do it?” Even through the mask, Paul heard Nobody’s amusement.  

“I think you found some way to teleport,” Paul said. 

“Have you considered perhaps that God moves me?” Nobody asked.

“No,” Paul said. “What you’re doing is real.”

“And the Bible isn’t real?” Nobody asked.

“No,” Paul replied. “Science has proven there isn’t a God.”

“Really?” Nobody cocked his head. “I should like to see that scientific evidence.”

“The world wasn’t made in six days,” Paul said. “We didn’t descend from just two people. There aren’t miracles.”

“There aren’t miracles?” Nobody asked. “How then, do you explain the fact that you’re alive right now?”

“I’m alive because I called the police,” Paul said. 

“And what were you thinking when you made this call? What was the last thought you had right before you pressed that emergency button?” 

It was unnerving looking at the man’s opaque mask. Paul couldn’t really see the man’s eyes even if they were as intense as Paul felt they had to be. More strangely unnerving was the last question Nobody asked. 

I asked for help.  

“And who were you asking for help from, Paul?” Nobody asked as if Paul had spoken out loud. “After you asked, who helped you?” 

“I did it myself!” Paul said angrily. No all-powerful being gave him the strength to press a button. He’d pressed buttons all the time. There was nothing supernatural about a phone call.

“And what about every other time you could have done it?” Nobody asked. “Why this time? Why did you gain the strength and courage this time?”

He emphasized the words, implying he knew exactly what verse was running through Paul’s mind when he made the call.

… to be continued …

Musings on Christianity 8

Musings on Christianity 8

Why Would God Allow This World to be Broken?

In an earlier chapter, we discussed the idea of bad things happening. Some see a distinction between humans and the world. This question may be phrased more like, “If God made everything, why would he allow us to … ” or “ … why would he let the world be like this.”

I actually see less distinction in this than some, but there are insights Christianity can offer. God made this wold perfectly. When he formed it, it was all good (Genesis 1). The fall of humanity brought about the fall of the world as well (Genesis 3).

So one would think, why would God let this happen? I actually have a mentor, teacher, and parental perspective. Parents, when you watch your children, do you follow them around with a pillow to make sure they don’t fall? When you buy them an X-Box or other expensive or fragile toy, do you sit there and watch them play to be sure they don’t break it? Teachers, do you constantly stand over the shoulder of your students and tell them what to do as they need to do it?

Sure, teachers, you teach. You show them the way. You explain what they need to do, but any teacher who gives homework can’t possibly answer yes to the question above. At some point, you leave the student alone to see if learning has occurred. Neither can any teacher who has ever administered a test ever say yes to the question above. Part of being in one of the roles listed above means eventually leaving the person alone and letting them make mistakes.

Why do we think God should do something even our own mortal minds knows we must eventually stop doing?

The truth is, God gave us a perfect world, and one rule, one symbolic rule of obedience to follow. Humanity chose disobedience (Romans 5:12-21, compare Genesis Chapter 3). Our action brought consequence.   

My thought (and I’ve spoken frequently on how I’m not an expert) is that those consequences themselves are an opportunity. Think about it. Parents, when your child has done something irresponsible in the best of circumstances, didn’t you eventually have to give them your trust in even the lest ideal circumstances? In a perfect world, with one, and only one, rule to follow, humanity still messed that up.

In a broken world, God gave us several covenants (Mosaic to name one, see Exodus 19), which eventually led to the New Covenant in Christ. But now, in this broken world, we have endless ways in which we can glorify God, which is what we were made to do. In a world full of sin, pain, and harsh environments, each time we choose to put our faith in Christ and do as he would have us do, we glorify him and bear fruit of our salvation, not as a work of justification, but as evidence of the gift of salvation through faith we have already been given through Christ (Romans).

This all builds to a much more interesting question. If God wanted us to be obedient beings who never turned from him, why didn’t he make us incapable of such? Why not make us essentially robots who couldn’t deny him and couldn’t fall to temptation? Now that’s a really great question, and it’s one I don’t necessarily have a Biblical answer for.

I do, however, have a thought to consider. If I make a robot, I know it will do as I’ve designed it because the programming prevents it. But that robot is heartless. It doesn’t do what I say because it loves me; it does what I say because it can’t do anything else.

My sons could easily do whatever I tell them. Observably, this world might think me a great parent, but am I? Stay with me here. My sons can have a number of reasons to do what I say. They could do it out of resentment, a sense of obligation, fear, or love. Some parents don’t even care why a kid goes to bed on time or does his homework after school. Isn’t that dangerous? If we don’t speak to the motivations of our children, how do we know their hearts are true? Can’t any one, no matter how horrible, act contrary to their personality for a time? So I want my children to do what they do out of love. I’ll deal with fear of the Lord in another chapter, but our first commandment is to love God with all of our hearts, all of our minds, all of our strength and all of our souls (Deuteronomy 6:5, cross-reference Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27)

  We can’t love if we aren’t given hearts. Robotic slaves who are only capable of doing what they’re programmed to do is something man as a species has already proven they can do, but only an all-powerful God, can make man, who has a heart born of evil, and change that heart, in this broken world we live in, and lead it to Himself. That glorifies Him. 

For our panel: If God wanted us to be obedient beings who never turned from him, why didn’t he make us incapable of such? Why is the world broken? If we couldn’t obey God’s one rule in a perfect place, why give us many rules in a broken world? What are things Christians can do to remain strong in a world this broken? Do our hearts matter if we’re doing the right things? Could we or should we try to fix this world? If so, how?

Sonnets For My Savior 14

Sonnets For My Savior 14

Because of His Grace

I was trapped by by sin.

I was lost and without hope.

I hid the pain deep within.

I was buried with more loneliness than I with which could cope.

No amount of money could bring me joy.

No amount of fleshly pleasures could bring me gladness.

Despite all of the effort I did employ,

nothing worked, I was still lost in sadness.

I questioned why he continued to deny me.

I questioned why he let me experience such pain.

Then His grace showed me what I couldn’t see.

Without Him, my life was in vain.

When I sought his grace, He made me new.

His grace saved me, and it can save you too.



Our God remains faithful though we are faithless.

He cannot deny himself.

Even though our sins are countless,

He does not lie or change, nor will He slander himself.

He doesn’t tempt us beyond our ability,

He provides a means of escape for every temptation.

While He rules with unquestioned sovereignty,

His grace is sufficient for us and worthy of veneration.

His word is upright,

and His love never ends.

Even as the morning comes after every night,

His great reliability never bends.

He is just, upright, and without iniquity,

and His faithfulness abounds despite our impurity.


Adam and Jesus

His obedience

to counter his defiance.

His deference

to counter his noncompliance.

Adam’s rebellion was the root of our sin,

so Jesus’ submission became our salvation.

Because of the first man, evil lies within,

but through Christ, we each become a new creation.

Adam’s sin led him to hide,

but Jesus sought His father when His time drew near.

Adam tried to cast his guilt aside,

but Jesus, without guilt, had nothing to fear.

Adam’s trespass resulted in condemnation,

but Jesus’ act of righteousness resulted in justification.


Your Will

We accept Your Son as our Savior,

for you gave us the gospel, and we have heard it.

We seek Your word with great fervor

and ask that you fill our hearts with Your Spirit.

Let us be sanctified,

so that we might be more like Your Son.

Let our previous, selfish temptations be denied,

and let only Your will be done.

Let us submit to Your law, Your church, and the leaders you’ve appointed over us.

Let our hearts be like a servant most humble.

We understand that some might punish or persecute us,

so we glorify You, Lord, for we suffer but trust that your grace won’t let us stumble.

Let Your will live in the hearts of women and men,

for You are our God now and forever, Amen.


His Miracles

He made the leper clean.

He healed the centurion’s servant with a word.

He healed many, just as the prophet had foreseen.

He healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and she began to serve him after that occurred.

He calmed a storm.

He cast out demons.

Many great works did he perform

to show authority in his sermons.

He helped a paralytic to his feet,

and brought life to the dead.

He healed a woman on the street,

He never failed to do a single thing he had said.

The Son of God did all these wonderful things,

but the greatest work is the salvation that He brings.


His Favorite Method

He worked through David to make Goliath fall.

He worked through Moses to set the Israelites free.

He healed the sick through the mere handkerchiefs that touched Paul.

He worked through Elisha to help a crippled woman earn money.

He worked through Sampson to bring the house of the Philistines down.

He worked through Elijah to burn the captains and their host.

For Joshua the sun and moon stood still, and this increased the army’s renown.

Look at all the miracles, and how He performed them most.

Through Peter, he strengthened a man’s legs and feet.

Through Isaiah, he killed the Assyrian king in his own land.

Many a wondrous deed did our Lord, God, complete,

but he didn’t do them simply by his own mighty hand.

Indeed for most the wonders and tasks we have seen Him do,

have come through his servants, people just like me and you.


The Provider

He made bread rain down from the sky.

He used a log to sweeten Marah’s waters.

To those who are faithful, his is faithful and does not deny.

His generously gives to all his sons and daughters.

He is our provider.

With him, we never want for anything.

Even to Ruth, a Moabitess outsider,

He provided a redeemer, and made her a matron of the king.

He provided for Elijah in the wilderness.

He blessed Abraham with an heir.

Praise be to God for his love and kindness.

Blessed is he who gives when we are in despair.

If ever one doubts how loving and giving is He.

Simply look at the world He gave us; it’s there for all to see.

Sonnets For My Savior 4

Sonnets For My Savior 4


I deserve punishment;

You granted me grace.

I deserve banishment,

but still in Your kingdom, I have a place.

I can not do anything to erase my transgressions,

nor is there anything in me that is right.

Yet still You call me one of Your possessions,

and You bless me with the light.

I was blind until you gave me sight;

I was dead;

I could not be worthy of You try though I might,

so Your Son gave me His worth instead.

My salvation is only possible because of your love.

Thank you, My Lord, who rules from above!


Let it be Known

He turned water to blood,

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

He brought frogs, gnats and flies, and the livestock died in the barns and the mud

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

Boils, hail, locusts, and darkness he cast upon land,

but still Pharaoh’s heart was hard.

Then all the firstborn were taken by His hand,

and some may ask why He made Pharaoh’s heart hard.

Pharaoh was raised so that God’s power might be known.

He has mercy on whom He shows mercy,

but some are set to be examples.

Our mighty God rules over all from his throne.

His plagues were sent to eliminate controversy.

Those who doubt must remember these displays of power were only samples.


Let My Seeds Grow

Do not let my heart be a path.

You, my Lord, can cover the road with fertile soil.

If my heart is on rocky ground, soften it, so I do not earn your wrath.

If my heart is surrounded by thorns, plant in it still, Lord, even though it is a toil.

Produce grain in me, a hundredfold, sixty, or thirty,

even if I should only be a harvest of one.

Please do not stop sowing, Lord, even though my heart is dirty.

Plant in me again and again, until my heart is won.

Do not let any birds snatch your seed away.

Let my roots go deep into the ground.

Don’t let persecution cause my faith in you to decay.

Let your word be all to which I am bound.

Let me grow in you.

Sow the field of my heart until I am made new.


How Great

How great is your sovereignty, Lord?

Every decision comes from You.

How great is your mercy, Lord?

You save us despite all that we do.

How terrifying is your judgement, Lord?

You reprove and discipline those whom you love.

How terrifying is your wrath, Lord?

Vengeance is yours to repay from above.

How immeasurable is your patience, Lord?

You are slow to frustration.

How immeasurable is your love, Lord?

While we were sinners, Your Son’s death gave us salvation.

How great you are!

How great you are!


Cleanse Me

I’m covered in the filth of my own nature.

My flesh overrules the desire of my soul.

Despite my wish to serve only you, my sin is in control.

Have mercy, Lord, for I am a sinful creature.

I am prideful, selfish, and lustful.

I serve my body when I wish to serve you.

I am unable to stop or help myself through

this constant failure of which I am so regretful.

Your blood is all that can wash my life clean.

Only Your spirit can set me free.

Only through You can I be made right.

On my behalf You can intervene.

Let me be your devotee.

In service to you, let me find my true delight.


Let Us Be Gathered

You sowed good seeds in your field,

but your enemy sowed weeds among them.

You let both grow so that our wheat we might yield.

Once the crops are harvested, the weeds You will condemn.

Have Your angels harvest us.

Let us be gathered into the barn.

The end of the age will be as thus,

but blessed will be those who to You are sworn.

Let us shine like the sun in the kingdom of our father;

gather for yourself all those who believe.

You can sow good seeds and no other.

Let those who have eyes see and perceive.

Please don’t cast us as weeds into the fire,

for to be with You, Lord, is our greatest desire.


Glory in Obedience

Let our hearts be closed to greed.

Let them be filled with honesty.

Let our actions be examples of modesty.

Let us give what is owed and to all who are in need.

Your name is as Holy as your person;

let us not profane it.

Let us not seek vengeance, no matter what transgressions people commit.

Let us not cause a person to stumble or make their situation worsen.

Let us be holy, for You are holy.

Let us glorify You in our obedience.

Let our love for You be reflect in our love for one another.

Let us love all, both the mighty and the lowly.

Let us deal with our neighbors with love, peace, and expedience.

Let us treat all with respect, as if they are a sister or brother.

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 22

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 22

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

See Part 20 here.

See Part 21 here.


Days after Mother was supposed to have already left the hospital, she finally received a diagnosis. I’m not sure what the medical term is, but the way it was described to my family was that it was as if, “someone dragged razor blades down her throat.”

The diagnosis wasn’t good to hear, and the time it took only served to frustrate my mom and cause heartache to my family.

My sister, the one who originally agreed to take care of Mom in Phoenix, offered to stay in Yuma to help care for Mom.  It was a comfort to me to know that Mom had that much support. Mom was weaker and in more pain than ever.  I’ll confess that by this point I had thought that any end to her pain, be it through healing or passing, would be a mercy.

I called that weekend. Mom was struggling to do much of anything. I learned that July 19 was an important date. The doctors had decided it was time to ask Mom if she was willing to continue treatment of if she’d had enough. This was more than a week from that phone call.

It was such a struggle. I wanted desperately for my mom to get well, but I understood that in any measurable way, I had no power.

Trust in God doesn’t mean trusting God to do what one wants; it means trusting in His Will. I can say honestly I wanted to have faith, but if I’m being equally honest the truth is I don’t know how good a job I did.  What I can say for certain is I reminded myself that God is the shepherd of my life.

As I stared at the calendar and that all-important appointment, I could only pray and trust. The hard part was distinguishing between trust and expectation.

As I reflect on those days, I find myself more frustrated by the Israelites after the Exodus.  They had a promise of relocation to a land of milk and honey. They didn’t have the same lack of overt assurance. They were told they’d be delivered, but they still rebelled. They grumbled and turned away at every opportune moment.

Then there’s our Savior Jesus Christ. He was promised only pain, suffering, and death. He was guaranteed these things, but he choose to accept and endure them that we sinners might be saved.

I believe that these examples serve as the extremes, or perhaps more importantly a contrast, of how we Christians should act. Christ, in his perfect wisdom and infinite mercy, suffered willingly for us without turning from his path; however, the Israelites in their foolishness and selfish, fleshly desires wanted instant gratification and eventually dug in their heels so much that ultimately, none of that generation were permitted to see the promised land.

I sadly lacked the Christ-like trust I should have. If I’m being nice to myself, I can feel better knowing that when I grumbled or worried, especially at this point in the journey, I picked up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and used it to stab at my temptation to doubt or be anxious.

I’d only need that sword more and more as time passed.


Questions and Revelations


Who can have that much trust?

Other than Christ himself, I’m not sure. I’ve known some who were clearly better examples than I am, and I’ve known others who were more prone to worry.  As always, I’m of the opinion that we should strive to be more Christ-like.  We’ll fall short until he returns to Earth, but we’re under the law of grace, in which our sincere effort and desire to be so matters.

What verses help?

For starters, somewhere around there, I’d started reading Dr. John MacArthur’s book Anxious for Nothing, which was titled after Philippians 4:6-7. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I found that verse very affirming in my beliefs. I’ve always felt that we pray in supplication, believe in God’s plan, and trust.  That trust becomes difficult in dark times. I’ve failed on numerous occasions, but I remind myself he’s in charge, and I honestly feel better.

I find the Psalms a fantastic resource for comfort and trust in times of crisis. I’ve mentioned a great number of verses I take comfort in, and I have a few I’m reserving for later posts.  I would need them more and more as time passed.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 9

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 9

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.


Mom got pretty sick the last week. One of the treatments was causing her some problems. None were, to my knowledge, immediately lethal; but it caused the doctors to roll back some of the treatments at least until things could level out.

My parents lived in a hotel for the bulk of the week, and since my mom isn’t doing all the treatments, they even let her go home.

No one is panicking in any way, and most feel that the most important part of the treatment is still under way. But where I had more confidence this battle would be over soon, I’m wondering how these changes to the treatment affect the chances that the tumor will be small enough to pull out completely.  It’s not a setback with her prognosis, but we’re not fighting with the number of weapons we thought were available. The truth is the only thing we need is God. He’ll work through doctors, but if he doesn’t want this to work, it won’t. I’m just hoping my mom’s sickness (the illness caused by the treatment) passes, and we can get back to using the whole arsenal of treatments. We’ll just have to see.  Nevertheless, I’m thinking about her progress in the battle as I think about my progress with living a more Godly life.

The fact is, I slipped. That word has a kind connotation that I’ll let stand, but it’s a term worth investigating in yourself.

I think some people believe a person wakes up and openly declares, “I’m going to sin today.”

First off, every person sins every day. We’re human; it’s what we do. As humans, we rank offenses to create morals and societal codes, but God doesn’t have such a measuring stick. Sin is offensive to him.

I’ve always been hyper aware of most of my shortcomings and a good number of my sinful habits I need to turn from. The thing is, I think temptation, and in some cases the devil, work in ways each person has opened themselves up to. I don’t know about you; I can only speak about me and my shortcomings.

Sometimes temptation hits me like a hammer.

It can be a dream. I happen to believe that we’re accountable for our dreams as we are for our random thoughts. I don’t pretend to say I have control of my dreams, but God ordained it so the Jews would crucify their savior. Even though God made it happen, they’re still responsible for their actions. This was something the church I attend actually spoke about recently.  I’m also big on responsibility. I declare that everything in my life is somehow my fault. I may not be completely (or even mostly) to blame, but for me to deny any blame for my situation is for me to admit I have no effect on the world around me.

Temptation can be an unexpected conflict. I’m at my worst when conflict comes without time or preparation. That’s when I feel the desire to be angry or judgmental, two things at which I’m particularly good.

Those, let’s call them, sudden battles are often more visual. I’ve had friends approach me and tell me they were proud of how I’d handle this situation or that.  I’ve even woken myself up a time or two. While more visual, I’m not certain they’re the more dangerous types of temptation. I wish I could tell you I overcome sin more than I don’t, but I’m just not sure. I’m afraid (which means it’s probably true) I succumb more often than I don’t. That said, I think I’m far more victorious in those more-intense, short term battles than I am against the thing I want to discuss in this segment.

Temptation can be a combination of whispers and time. Again, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like for others, but for me, I can go on a huge streak where I feel I’m doing well (relative to the Bell curve that is humanity).  But have you ever felt like temptation was metaphorically whispering gently in year ear for a whole day? A week? A month? While I might say I’ve won a victory or two against those sudden, visual battles with temptation. I don’t know that I’ve ever won against this particular form of temptation.

I think people hear on occasion that they need to keep their eyes on God. I’ve even spoken about one of my favorite little catch phrases, “Orient on God.” The fact is though, this takes consistent, vigilant effort. However, when temptation is whispering in my ear, like a dripping faucet or a song I can’t stop humming, it only takes one instant of a glance for temptation to take hold of me.

Once temptation gets a foot in the door, regardless of whether it’s a hammer that cracks your frame or a whisper that seeps from under the door, it’s all the more difficult to expel because you’ve already let it in.

So how does one shore up that door? I’m aware of the passage regarding the armor of God, but I don’t actually recall it.  It’s all well and good to have armor, but if you put on the breast plate after you’ve already been stabbed, how effective is it?

For me, I’m constantly aware of my frame of mind and my triggers. The thing is, I’m human. This is egotistical to say, but I’m pretty good at thinking about a lot of things at once. So it’s hard to focus all my attention on any one thing. This leads me to my point.

We glance from God all the time.  Perhaps you don’t like that accusation.  Very well, I glance from God all the time. I don’t do it maliciously. But the moment our motivation for what we’re doing isn’t “glorify God,” we’re turning from him. Setbacks happen from time to time. Those setbacks can’t be how the devil pulls us from God. It’s an odd compromise, knowing that you’ll always be a sinner forgiven by God because of Jesus’s sacrifice, and feeling like if one were going to sin anyway, the may as well.

I’m not claiming to be saved because I don’t sin. I’m claiming to be saved because Jesus died for all my sins — past, present, or future. The point is we can’t simply let sin creep in simply because of our savior’s sacrifice.

So how do I respond to setbacks? I usually take it as a sign I’ve turned from God, and I need to turn back. I’m most alarmed when some of my more-continuous battles are lost.

Please don’t think of it like a meter. I think that’s the wrong idea at least.  I don’t want to present the idea of, “Oops, I sinned! Guess I need a few more gallons of God juice on the way home.”

What I do think is, “Wow! I’m not keeping my mind on God, much less pleasing him.”

In his book, The problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis asserts pain is a reminder to focus on God. Could that be what’s happening with my mom? Honestly, it could be that. I don’t know that it is. To claim such knowledge would be to claim to know God’s plan. I’ll never do that. The action I take is the only course of action I can think to take.

While I can’t kneel in prayer every minute of every day, I can increase the amount of things I do. I can read more of The Bible. I can memorize verses. Some people do that, I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, and to ponder this would take a lot of time and distract from this train of thought. One thing I’ve started doing is listening to Christian music. I’ve been a huge fan of Flyleaf for years. So when I work out (which is another good thing to do regularly), I listen to that. I find that I think of sin less when I have a great song stuck in my head.  While I’m a fan, this isn’t a direct endorsement of Flyleaf. It’s an endorsement for Christian Rock, and (more importantly) Christian media.

These scares and setbacks can work to bring us closer to God so long as we don’t stop the actions that helped us. Don’t take the armor of God off to begin with. Sleep in it. Live in it. Fight in it. I imagine most people take that metaphorical armor off on occasion.  That’s when I think temptation attacks. When it does, win or lose, I’ll get my armor back on, and see what I can do to remember to keep it on.

The more I do so, the more likely I am to keep my mind focused on him, which is the point.



Questions and Revelations

Does God really “hurt” people to bring them to him?

Again, Mr. Lewis asserts so. A recent sermon at church said sometimes pain is given to teach. Sometimes it’s given to punish. Sometimes it just is. This life isn’t meant to be perfect and good all the time. I don’t have any scripture to back up each statement (I’d be grateful if anyone offered some). However, the punish and teach boxes are checked. I’d spoken about David. God hardened the pharaoh’s heart, leading him to keep the Jews, causing God to take all the first-born children of Egypt. That miracle was one of many to prove God’s existence and his power.

The short answer is yes. So remember that each time you sin. I’m not declaring every sin is brutally punished with Biblical amounts of pain. I am stating that God has the sovereignty to punish sins as he sees fit. That makes me wonder though, am I the only guy who’s immediately afraid right after sinning?

Think about your parents. You ever do something, and feel a huge sense of relief after you get away with it? What about when everything goes south, and you realize your parents are going to find out. How afraid do you get in those situations?

Now, consider the fact that God already knows everything we did, are doing, and will do. So I’m afraid a large amount of time.

Why doesn’t it stop you from sinning?

First, I don’t believe  that anyone, saved or not, is without sin. I need to say that because my honest answer to the above question is, “Because I’m human.”

I just don’t let that give me a free pass to sin more or more egregiously as measured by society.


If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 2

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 2

See Part 1 here.

The Morning After

“They found a tumor in my mom.”

It’s only seven words long. There’s only one word in that sentence with more than one syllable (two). I’m a trained broadcaster who has appeared on news shows during my time aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

None of that mattered. Each time I tried to get that phrase out, I broke into tears before I could finish.

I stumbled into work exhausted. I saw my command chaplain first. Then my boss saw me and asked how I was. I’d been sick the week before, but I knew he had to know what was going on. My boss offered to tell my team, but I’d made a promise to God. I promised God that I’d testify, and I knew I had to start with the people with whom I work.

I was so happy to hear that this tumor was operable. I was so grateful to God for making this a situation that could be handled. None of that changed how much it hurt to know the woman who raised me was going to have brain surgery. None of that changed how much it hurt to be in that position to begin with.

But I made a promise to God.

I’d sent a message via our team group chat. Everyone showed up to meet me and hear what I had to say. Even my chief and senior chief were there. I had to say the words again.

“They found a tumor in my mom.”

I couldn’t do it.  Even as I’m typing this, it’s hard to do, and if I had to say it out loud, I still doubt I could do it.”

“I promised God that I’d testify about this,” I said. “I don’t want this to be about how bad it is. I want it to be about praising.”

I’m not honestly sure how intelligible the comments were. I wept through the entire thing, trying as hard as I could to show how grateful I was to God for making this problem one that could be managed.

“They’re going to go in and take it out,” I said. “It’s small. They can fix it, and I want to thank God for making that possible.”

I pulled it together for a few more minutes to explain what was happening. I also made it clear that what I needed most was to focus on work. I’m not a doctor. My mom had more than enough support and loved ones already there with her. There was nothing for me to do.

My mom has taken care of me my whole life, and in that moment, I was powerless to do anything. When I feel that way, and I have before, what I need is something I can do. I had assignments to grade, so that gave me something, anything to focus on other than this surgery.

I finished telling everyone what was going on, and one of my coworkers came and gave me a hug. That was it. I didn’t have any more strength. I must have wept like a child for a solid three minutes. I’m positive I covered the shoulder of her outfit in tears. I couldn’t do it. She held me up as my other coworkers came to offer me a pat on the back.  I needed the outlet. I needed those three minutes to feel the sadness I was trying desperately to hold in.

On one hand, I was just trying to be strong. I wanted to be focused. On the other hand, I didn’t want to give the impression that I didn’t still believe God would see this through. I knew it then, and I still know it even now as I type this. I wanted to show this calm demeanor that reflected my certainty that God was with us, but I was a boy who’d just learned his mom was going to be operated on.

To give a bit more scope, I’m arrogant. I’d frequently told my friends how long-lived my family is. I’d say, “I know I’m going to see 80.”  Before that phone call the day before, I had no doubt. My mom is 69 as I type this. I didn’t think I’d have to worry about anything for at least another 10 years. A part of me thinks, This is what I get for thinking I know how things will go.

I eventually pulled myself together. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to grade some students.”

I grabbed my students’ folders and headed off to the room in which I could grade. My coworkers were amazing. They didn’t talk about it. They didn’t ask how I was. They didn’t ask how she was. Every time my phone buzzed, I’d look at it to see what was happening, and they’d just keep working. They gave me a sense of normalcy. Listen, no one is perfect. I’m sure I annoy each of them at least as much as they frustrate me now and then. We have differences of opinion. But that day, their ability to work like it was any other day allowed me to pretend it was.

Then I got another text.

“They can’t remove the whole thing without hurting her.”

I walked in that morning certain that there was this small tumor in my mom that they’d “yank out like a thorn” and move on.  They were working on the swelling. They wouldn’t be able to operate until later that evening.  However, they’d pull what they could out, do some tests, and handle the rest after that.

I was still confident it would work out, but it wasn’t going to be over quickly.


Questions and Revelations

I thought you said God would fix it?

He will. And Oh boy did I want him to fix it in one day. A year from now I’d sit with my Mom while playing cards and say, “Hey, remember that night you got that tumor? Yeah, that was a real tough night. Wasn’t it cool they just plucked it out and called it a day?” Thing is, God doesn’t work on anyone but God’s schedule. At this point in this trial, I kept thinking about the Israelites from Exodus to Deuteronomy. I’d just read those books of The Bible, so it was fresh. God pulls these people out of Egypt. They were slaves, crying out for salvation. God heard them and performed miracle after miracle to bring those people out of Egypt. About three chapters later, they’re already complaining. “Why did we leave Egypt if we weren’t going to have food? Why did we leave Egypt if we weren’t going to have water?” They were promised a land of milk and honey, and they wanted that land now.

Like I said, I’d just read those books, so all the information was pretty fresh. Something told me complaining to God about his schedule was a bad idea. Each time the Israelites complained or turned away, they were made to wait.  Heck, even Moses was never actually allowed to set foot on the promised land.

I figure some might argue, “What a petty God. He punishes his people just for complaining.”

He rewards faith, and punishes doubt and distrust. At least, that’s my interpretation. Also, these people were slaves, but they want to turn away from the God who saved them from that life to return to slavery just because they have to stay in the desert a few months and build some stuff? That sounds like some pretty petty people to me.

Think about it. Do you have children? Did you ever give your kid some candy? What did you do if that kid then complained he or she wanted a different candy or that the candy given wasn’t big enough or as big as a sibling’s candy? Well, if you’re me, and you saw a kid complain about what it was given, you took it. Ask my little sister and every nice and nephew I have. Complain that what you have isn’t good enough, and watch me take that. Now said person understands that what they have is something that should be appreciated.

Maybe you’re a better parent/uncle than I am. Maybe you found some way to help the child see how what they have is better than what others have. (For the record, I’m not saying I went straight for yanking said candy (or other gift) away,  but I got there eventually.) But I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it happen. Yes, God is far better and far more effective, but I’ve always considered him my Heavenly Father. He raises me to be the man I should, and if I get selfish or over demanding, he shows me just how much I already have.

If I’m being honest, I’m less afraid of him taking my mom if I lament this trial than I am concerned that I want to show God how much faith I have in him. That morning, I committed to the idea that, “The harder this gets, the more I’ll believe, and the more I’ll praise him.”

Is it wrong of me to have wanted this over quickly?

I don’t think so. I’m human. I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like worrying. I don’t like being afraid. I aspire to reach a point in my faith where I can truly just let go of my troubles and trust God. I’d like to get there one day, but I’m not nearly there right now. I’m a worrisome, control-oriented person. I believe that to change, one must do. I believe that there’s always something to do to make a situation better. Maybe what I’m learning right now is sometimes there isn’t a choice. Sometimes you’re powerless, weak and out of things to do. So have faith.

Frankly, this is hard for me. The faith part isn’t so hard. I still firmly believe this is all going to work out. I still have faith it’ll happen.

But what am I going to do about it? How am I going to fix it?

Nothing. I’m not. God will. He’ll work through doctors and medicine, but this is in his hands, and I don’t like feeling powerless. I honestly look forward to the day I think, It’s fine. God will handle it, and then I sit back and let him.

I’m not saying people should just sit around waiting for God to fix their problems. I’m currently trying to struggle to balance the concept of free will with God’s plan. I don’t have any answers. My current theory is God provides opportunity. Sure, he’ll part the Red Sea, but he worked through Aaron (he actually thrust the staff down; the movie lied). But he didn’t just teleport the Israelites to the promised land. They had to journey there. They had to cross the sea, trusting God would protect them.

I’m reading the Stormlight Archive. It’s wonderful, and in it there’s this ideal. Journey before destination. If God had just teleported them, what would they have learned? I mean, they were already complaining about their situation; imagine what they would have said if they realized they had to conquer their promised land if they hadn’t have gone through what they did during that journey?

Yes, I would have greatly appreciated a few bad nights and then it would be over. But already I’m learning. I’ll talk about some examples in future editions, but I’d already mentioned Carlie. She’s grown more now as a woman and a person than I’d ever seen her grow. I won’t pretend to know her mind or opinion, but I think she’d rather grown in less painful circumstances, but I came to rely on her so much in those first three days. The circumstances we learned that fact in were terrible, but knowing how much I can count on her is equally encouraging. The journey is what changes us. I hope my journey will end soon, but for now, all I can do is take the next step, trusting God will be with me.

So what did you do while you waited?

I went to Trivia night with my friends and my girlfriend. Why? Because that’s what I do on Wednesday nights. Normalcy is precious to me. The more afraid or confused I get, the more I seek my routine for comfort. I was surrounded by friends, and just like at work, they weren’t reminding me of the thing I was trying very hard to trust God to handle.

How afraid were you?

At that point, I was still pretty hopeful it would be over quickly. I was worried. But even now my faith is unchanged. The concern is there. The pain is real. I’m just hopeful that my faith and trust in God are more apparent than my concern and hurt. I won’t pretend they don’t exist, but I don’t want them to be the focus of my attention.


If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading