Musings on Christianity 28

Musings on Christianity 28

Are The Old Testament and New Testament That Different?

Before I’d read the Bible, I was very confused between what I had heard of God from the Old Testament and what I had heard of God from the New Testament. Was God full of wrath or love? Was God merciful or judgmental?

Were believers in God to be weapons or servants? How were they related? As with many questions I had, the answers were right there in the Bible.

From Genesis to Revelation, we see the story of God, a perfect, holy being who is just and loving. Before one can even attempt to understand Christianity, one must overcome the preconceived idea that one who loves doesn’t punish. One must overcome the preconceived idea that one who is just lets people do whatever they want. One must overcome the preconceived idea that the choices we receive are a gift, not permission.

In the beginning, God created paradise for man to live in. He gave us a perfect world with a perfect body. He gave us dominion over the land. In this paradise, he gave one, simple rule. Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Humanity made the choice to eat that fruit. The consequences of that choice are death and pain. This isn’t an unfair punishment; it is the predetermined result of our crime. Yet even in that punishment, there was mercy, a promise, right there in Genesis, that God would deliver us. In this we see God is holy, he is just, he is merciful.

We started off this book asking why bad things happen, but we forget that we make choices all the time. Are you making choices for God or not? When one lives for ones self, they’re turning from God. Turning from God in itself is just a bad plan. Even setting aside God’s holy right to hold us accountable for our actions, if one walks away from God, there is only one other alternative.

People talk about the flood. They mention the rain and the death. I don’t personally recall many references to the reason for the flood.

But are there mentions of devastation and pain in the New Testament? Yes, even setting aside the entire book of Revelation, look at Matthew 24. Jesus himself, the symbol of love, humility, kindness, and compassion, is also the symbol of judgement, power, and righteousness.    

His life was a ministry offering us a very simple choice, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”

There again, lies the choice that should affect all other choices. Just as God made plain the consequences of Adam’s choice, so too did Jesus make clear the choice we have.

Over and again in the Old Testament God tells his people to follow him. He delivers them heroes and prophets, judges and kings, and for a time they obey, but as they turn more to their own desires, their hearts harden against God. Just one quick search online reveals 22 instances of the clause “ … the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

Over and again God performed miracles and wonders, and those who saw them rejoiced and obeyed for a time, but they would eventually turn to their own hearts and desires.

Over and again in the New Testament, Christ performed miracle after miracle, and some would be amazed. Others still saw an opportunity to gain what they wanted rather than submit to do what he wanted. I’ve often wondered, “How many people who observed Christ’s crucifixion were also present for any one of his miracles? How many people did Christ grant a miracle to then stood there watching as he died on the cross?”

Thematically, I wanted to begin this chapter with what I believe is the most important connection between the Old and New Testaments. In both, a loving, merciful, holy and just God tells us very plainly what we must do to obtain his promises, and in both, a rebellious people turned away. Those who do so make their choice.

The New Testament isn’t a replacement for the Old. Instead, it is a fulfillment. Exodus and Deuteronomy foreshadow Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The book that ties these together most beautifully is Hebrews. You see, everything about the ark of the covenant was a preview of what Christ did for us.

Yes, early Jewish people offered the blood of rams, goats, and pigeons in sacrifice to God. But no animal’s blood could permanently wash away the sin of man. But Christ, God in flesh, holy and perfect, his blood, one time, can wash all mankind clean.

Blood must be shed for sin, so Christ came down and offered up His.

One of the quips I hear most often is, “love your brother.” Of course you should love your brother. Half of the ten commandments are all about how to love one’s neighbor. But usually, when I hear someone shout out that particular commandment, they’re making a demand. “Give me what I want. Let me do what I want. Leave me alone to do whatever I want.” 

I usually do. But please consider for a moment if what you want is about you or about God. I leave the choice to you. I won’t shout at you or ridicule you. What would be the point? If you insist to do what you want, what would me telling you what you’re doing is wrong accomplish? I’ve made plenty of bad decisions, and several people I love tried to warn me. I did it anyway. Why? Because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. That rebellious attitude might very well be more condemning than any accusation another person could offer. I knew from the beginning what I was doing was wrong. I had people tell me as much. I chose to do it anyway.

But what does it mean to do as Christ said and love your brother? Again, love is sacrifice. It is the giving up of ones self for others, so to demand others capitulate to your desires is the antithesis of love. It is, in fact, selfishness. This culture doesn’t want to see it that way. They want everyone to endure every decision, action, and choice of another person regardless of how it might make one feel.

Reading social media, I see plenty of people demanding something from someone. They demand money from the government. They demand respect from other people. They demand recognition for their work.

What I hardly see is anyone who remembers the rest of that phrase: “Love your brother as yourself (Mark 12:31).”

This isn’t really too difficult to understand, but people demand the first half without any regard to the second. They want others to permit or ignore or get over things without offering the same. They want others to give of what they have “because they need” but they don’t give in faith for others. They want to be loved, but they’re not so willing to be loving. 

This is as true in the Old Testament as it is in the New. The Israelites wanted deliverance, a king, wealth, and prosperity, but they weren’t willing to be ruled, keep themselves from danger and trust in God to provide. Christ offered life, food, love, and mercy, but people wanted validation, to rule themselves and do as they wished rather than what Christ said was right.

God is the same God. Christ is the same Christ. Our choice is our same choice. The reward for that choice (good or bad) is still the same. 

For our panel: Are there other thematic parallels between the Old and New Testament you’d like? There was a lot of focus on thematic parallels, but would you be willing to discuss Hebrews more in depth as it relates the Old to the New Testament? What are some observations you would make that display the character of God is the same between the Old and the New Testament? What are some observations that display the character of man is the same? Why is it do you think that people want to create so much separation between two parts of the same book?

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 4

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 4

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.


I’ve always been a man obsessed with the plan. I’ve always been hateful of change. The reason for this is the simple fact that nobody changes what they’re doing for a good reason.

So when my little sister sent me a text to tell me Mom wasn’t heading home, I knew something was off. I called my older sister to see why Mom was staying at her house in Phoenix instead of going home as planned.

“It’s cancer,” she said.

They needed to do more tests and see what was going on, but they new it was cancer.

I talked with my older sister. (I have several of those. I’m speaking most specifically about my next oldest sister.) Then I got a hold of my dad, the man who’d already lost a brother and a mother to that same monster. I really hate cancer. I’m going to go on the record as saying it’s bad.

My dad is Superman. He’s calm, cool and collected. He always knows what to do. He always knows how to handle a situation. I can’t say I’ve ever actually heard or seem him cry, but that phone call was the fourth time I’ve ever heard his voice crack, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do when Superman himself is struggling. He held it together.

“It’s just another bump in the road,” he told me, repeating what he’d told my mom. Like I said: Superman.

I got a hold of my brother (that older sister’s husband).  In a matter of hours, they made room in their house, got everything set up and made sure my mom would be comfortable. They didn’t even blink. All they did was focus on making their home comfortable and inviting. My brother and I stayed positive. We both still felt (and feel) that everything would work out.

I, unfortunately, was having this conversation over the phone while standing in an H & R Block waiting for an appointment. I didn’t care. When I hung up after that last phone call, I got down on my knees, put my elbows on a chair, and prayed.

“Heavenly father thank you and praise you for how generous and strong my family is being. I’m scared now, and it’s hard to fight through that fear to remember I’ve surrender this problem to you. Lord I’m reminding myself that there is no problem you can’t solve. There’s not disease you can’t heal.”

I don’t know if anyone watched. I didn’t pray out loud. I whispered the words, reminding myself that God has a pretty good habit of healing sicknesses. He’s even brought people back from the dead (I can count five right off the top of my head).

They didn’t have a lot more information, and I was too shell shocked to do much more with it. All I wanted was to do my crummy taxes. All of these events happened over the course of about four days, and each of those days dealt a new blow. Adding that to the list of what now seem pathetically hilarious other issues just felt like a new test.

So I reminded myself: The more afraid I feel, the more I’m hit, the more I’ll praise God, the more I’ll trust him.

It was hard to do it, but I did, and a week later, I’d see some of the results of that trust.



Questions and Revelations

How hard was it to pray in public like that?

Not hard at all. I wasn’t thinking about my pride or what people would think. I thought, “Hey, I’m in a pretty big pile of doubt right now, and I made a promise to God.”  I honestly wasn’t the least bit concerned with what others thought. I was honestly more concerned with how I’d react if anyone felt like challenging my freedom of religion at that exact moment.

A brief tangent: I gave real thought to the question of if people would react to my praying as I typed this post. Here’s the thing: Why is it okay to march and protest in anger, but a guy can’t pray in public without making folks uncomfortable? I could have written a sign, started shouting, and I probably would have had ten or twenty people out there shouting with me.

Why are we more willing to show our outrage at life than we are to show our faith in God?  I don’t have the answer to this question, I’m honestly asking you, the reader. Those who follow my blog know exactly how much I love the First Amendment. But that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

But how often do people take what they want from that, and then use it against itself? One possible reason people get uncomfortable? Probably those using religion to speak out against things. The Bible is pretty clear on things that offend God. I’ve seen protests on a few of them. I listen to people speak out and talk about how people who do X are doomed to go to Hell. Funny thing is, I’ve never seen a protest against lying. That is an actual Commandment, but no one is out there shouting or warning people they’ll go to hell for it.

My theory on why: Everybody lies. It’s awful hard to shout out and condemn people for the things they do themselves. It’s awful easy to talk about the sins only some people do, the ones statistical minorities take part in. But that judgment and hate is pretty hard to muster up. Then, all of the sudden, we want to talk about God’s grace and forgiveness because those people, those who only commit the sins everyone else commits are somehow more deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness than those other, more egregious sinners.  I just read about David. God loved him. God made him king over all Israel. Then David murdered a man just to sleep with the man’s wife. Why will you never see me using God’s judgement as a platform for my protest? Because all sinners are deserving of God’s sovereignty, and I’d rather not draw more attention to myself.

Sin is sin people. This creates an argument that divides from God. Some who read this will think I’m wrong because people should warn about sin. Some will argue I’m right to call others out.  I’m not trying to create another fight. But I’d rather proclaim God. Praise him publicly and worship him. All sinners deserve his sovereignty, I get that. But I’ll leave it to God to judge. I’m going to love my neighbors and praise my God. Does that make me ignorant to the things The Bible says is wrong? Does it make me disagree with the stances of some of those protestors? No, but it just starts a fight.  Those fights are the very things that divide when what I want us to do is unite.

I don’t intend to pray publicly every single day. I just don’t feel any shame over doing it when I feel it’s appropriate: Grace, hearing my mom has cancer, and before the 49ers play.

Did anyone say anything?

Nope. I’m certain I was obviously shaken and upset. I play poker well, but that’s about the only time in life where I don’t over-express my feelings. I didn’t break down and cry, but I wanted to. However, I was clearly emotional. Blessings in disguise? That day, the tax folks were really backed up. They were worried I’d be pissed they wouldn’t help me at the appointed time. If I’m being honest, had I not received that phone call, I would have been. I would have probably barked and grunted about how people should do the things they’d said they’d do when they said they’d do them. I have a tendency to do that. But that delay (I think it was like three hours), was just enough time for me to call my loved ones, figure out what was happening, get my emotions under control, and even grab so food. Had they been ready for me, I’d have gotten that news right in the middle of the appointment.

Did you still really believe God would fix this?

I did and I do. As I type this, I’ve just finished reading 2 Kings 4.  God, through one of the prophets (I can’t spell these names), brought a child back from the dead. To be honest, I’m seeing a ton of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments. I knew about Lazarus and Jesus, but God actually brought at least a handful of people back to life.  The hard part for some might be believing he’d do so today, but why wouldn’t he? Now, does that mean he will? Like I said, I believe, but it’s his call. I’m just testifying as I swore to Him I would.

What kind of Caner is it?

I’m not sure at the moment. My dad helped me understand a bit when I called him a week later (which I’ll talk about in a few weeks). I’m trying to get details and learn more, mostly because I want to find out exactly which type of cancer I’m going to go after first in what’s become a personal vendetta against the disease. My intention is to use the proceeds of any sales of this memoir to fight that specific form of cancer.

Did you actually go through with the tax appointment? 

Why wouldn’t I? If I trust God, then I should just live my life and handle my responsibilities, shouldn’t I? I’m of the opinion that had I freaked out and gone home and moped, that would be the literal opposite of trusting God. I was sad. I sent a quick message to a core group of friends who I knew would check up on me. I needed a few to get my mind together. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to go home, get in bed, and stay there until this was all over. The problem is, that wouldn’t have been me showing God I trust him.

I still refused (and still refuse) to be like those early Israelites who complained and shouted, “why did we do this” every time things got difficult. It didn’t work for them, so I have reason to believe it wouldn’t work for me.  I continue to believe. I made up a few new catch phrases and took further measures to obey God’s will. I’m still convinced that is the way to save my mom. He’ll take care of her. That miracle (worked through people just as he’s done in several examples in The Bible), will happen; and this testimony will chronicle that miracle.

I get that you acted like you trusted God, but did you really just shrug and move on with your day?

I bet I look like that to a lot of people. The thing is I’ve always been able to compartmentalize. But I break eventually. I’ve broken five or six times I can think about just as I type this. Each time, however, I refocus and work harder to feed my faith and trust in God. Yes, I worry. I absolutely let that fear bring me to anger (which I’ll talk about next week, but I can only do so much. My plan was that if I kept acting and doing as I should, I’d gain confidence and peace as I went. Not to spoil any of the future posts, but it’s working. The more I trust, the less I worry. The more I trust, the more things start to happen in all the best ways.
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 1

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 1


I’m probably the least qualified individual to speak about God. I’ve read the New Testament. I’m reading the Old Testament, but I haven’t been to church in more than 10 years. I don’t have a degree in theology. I can’t read The Bible in its original text. I’m just a man.

If you’re reading this to gain knowledge, I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. What I am is a man who feels called to testify about God and His glory.

I titled this “Testimony: My Trail of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer.”  I need to explain it. I’ve only just learned on March 3, 2018, that my mom even had Cancer. As I type this, I don’t even know what kind it is. So why “struggled”? Because I have faith that God will cure my mom of this disease. I have such faith, that I’m writing this story as it’s happening. Like any story I write, I don’t start writing until I feel confident I know the ending.  As this story develops, I hope you’ll understand why.

I’ll reference scripture, but only in the sense I’ve been reading it. The point of this book is to testify God’s glory. I’ll tell the story as I experienced it. I’ll reflect on how that affected me. That’s all this is.

The structure of this story will be as follows:

I’ll talk about a specific event. I’ll point out all the “elephants” in the room regarding faith and how I feel.  Then I’ll reflect on that event from a religious point of view, using The Bible to help establish these revelations.

I’ve made an effort to improve my relationship with God for years now. This trial, this test my family is facing, is one I insist on passing. As I struggle, every bump in the road and every bit of bad news is just another part of the test. Do I turn from God? Do I lose my faith and lament life and its hardships, or do believe more strongly? Do I increase my faith and trust in God? This is the test, and I believe that successfully passing that test will end with my mom free of this disease. In the end, keeping my faith is the only thing I can do.

I invite you to share this journey with me. I invite you to watch this opportunity to see a miracle as it happens because I believe it will, and when it happens, people will know God’s power.


The Call

Feb. 27, 2018

I was driving home, happily listening to “Oathbringer” by Brandon Sanderson. Audiobooks usually help me get through any drive. I’d just hit Maryland 295 when I noticed my phone vibrating.

I have a rule: Don’t call me during working hours unless it’s an emergency. Some of my family members aren’t very good at that rule, but my heart jumps any time I get a call before six. When I noticed my sister, Carlie, was the one calling, I promise you I felt an added degree of worry. You see, Carlie is actually good at following that rule. Also, Carlie, my baby sister, still lives with my parents.

I picked up the phone.  “Carlie, hold on!” I scrambled to drive 70 miles per hour, pause my audiobook and keep the phone in position. For anyone who might have been behind me, I’m sorry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“They’re airlifting Mom to Phoenix.” She was crying. I could hear her breath catching. “They think she might have had a stroke.”

I have this unique skill. I think in addition to it being a gift from God, it’s something my time in the Navy developed. I go into this mode where I’m super focused. I process information, and I keep calm. That doesn’t erase the emotions.

My mother is the center of our family. She’s who we call when we’re mad at one another. She’s who we call when we want money. We all converge on her house on Christmas. She’s hyper productive. She’s genuinely compassionate. Every good thing about my personality, I got from her. And all I knew is she was hurt.

The last time I’d spoken to my mom, Etta Zavala (a very long story), was the previous Friday. I’m a momma’s boy. I call her pretty much every Friday. We talk about how our week went and what we have coming up the next week. During that last conversation, I was honestly annoyed. She’d seemed distracted. A number of my sisters were there. I was on speaker phone. She was sitting down to eat and talking to my sisters. So the conversation was short. I’d said something like,”Well, you clearly have a lot going on, I just wanted to call and say hello and I love you.”

It seems that day my sisters and father had noticed my mom wasn’t speaking correctly. My mom reads more than I do. She suffers the same issue any parent with more than one child has. You know, that habit where she has to list every child she’s ever had until she reaches the one she’s actually trying to talk to? Well, apparently by this point she wasn’t just naming the wrong child, she was using gobbledygook words in place of our names.

Carlie explained this to me as she filled me in on how things got to where they were. She seemed off. My mom takes medicine. I’m not really sure what it’s for, but she’d gotten some new medication, and they wondered if that had adversely affected her. She only got worse as the days moved on. She didn’t want to do anything. My mom, who would cook dinner while vacuuming between commercials on a show she was trying to watch, didn’t want to do anything.

By the day my sister called me, they’d basically tossed her in the car and took her to the doctor. Her ability to speak was greatly diminished.

Carlie told me all of this, and I listened.

What I said was, “Well, she’s with the doctors, and they’re going to take care of it. I know God is going to make this right.”

In an infinite moment before I said that, I considered my options on how to react. I was terrified, but I’m regarded as the “calm” one in the family. I keep things in perspective. But something else occurred to me. Am I a man who believes and trusts in God or not? I swear to you I immediately sensed, this is a test of faith. 

I’m going to believe God will fix this!

Carlie promised to keep me in the loop. I told her to focus on mom and let me know what she learns when she learns it. I’m a journalist. I deal in accurate facts. I don’t deal with theories or worries. I wait to know what is going on, and I go from there. At that moment, all I knew was my mom was sick.

I don’t have the perfect clarity some claim to have when tragedy happens. I’m not sure if she called back or if we were still talking. I only know that “stroke” was the first theory. Then I got another call.

“They found a tumor,” Carlie said. “It’s in the speech area of her brain.”

Suddenly, that stroke seemed like a preferable option. You can recover from a stroke. You can go to speech therapy.

Best as I can remember, she hadn’t been taken to Phoenix yet.  My sister, Crystal, called to tell me she was going to meet Mom at the hospital. My brother Ben called.

Do you still trust God? I didn’t hear the voice, but I could feel the question in the back of my mind. I’m going to believe he’ll fix this!

I told Crystal, “God will handle this.”

I told Ben, my best friend who married Crystal, “The whole point of faith is for times like this.”

I sat by my phone, stubbornly working and acting like the woman who raised me and a number of siblings that’s hard to specify wasn’t in any danger. Why? Because I wanted to show God I wasn’t worried. I was. I really was. But I kept reminding myself, God will fix this.

I waited for word. Crystal told me, “They’re bundling her up for the helicopter now. I’m worried because it’s really windy.”

“People don’t know enough about helicopters,” I replied in that confident tone I use when everything is going insane. “They’d never take off if they didn’t already know they’d land safely.”

They never took off. That weather Crystal mentioned caused the hospital to change the plan. Instead, they’d drive her there via ambulance.

Carlie told me they weren’t driving, “with light’s blazing,” so I replied with, “See? They’re not that worried about it.”

I hung up, and wept. I’d run out of strength and fake confidence. I’d run out of the ability to focus. I didn’t have anything to do. I was powerless.

But aren’t we always powerless? In comparison to God and His will, what can we do? Nothing. We never have any say. Even in that moment, and every moment, I understand that my tendency to become hyper focused and drive myself into whatever I have to do (that day I had to write a blog post and set up the book cover tournament I do every month) is only an illusion of power. But the other reason I tried to act like nothing was wrong, was because I was doing everything in my power to show God I trusted Him.

Hours passed. Three. Long. Hours.

I have wonderful friends. I have an amazing girlfriend. I hadn’t told them what was going on yet. I was still working it out. So messages kept coming. Each time my phone buzzed, my heart leapt, hoping it was news about my mom. But no. My girlfriend was stuck in traffic. My coworkers were being their usual chipper conversationalists. My sister, Rosa (long story), who didn’t know my mom was sick, sent a message asking if I’d pick something up from the house she’d just moved out of. Every single message that wasn’t news on my mom felt like a whip.

I wanted to shout at everyone. I wanted to yell. I wanted to be mad. But that’s not what God wanted me to do. At some point, I filled my girlfriend in. I wasn’t ready to talk to my friends yet. They didn’t know. What right did I have to be mad at them for something they didn’t know? I sent Rosa a message, but she was some 2,000 miles into a 4,000-mile trip across the country.  What I felt God wanted me to do was remain patient. Wait. Trust him. So I did.

Ben called, “Hey, they’re taking her in, but it’s going to be a few hours before they know what’s up.”

“Ok,” I replied. “I’ll just finish up and try and get some sleep. There’s nothing else to do, and I want to be able to function when we get word.”

So that’s what I did. I finished my blog post. I even played a few video games. Why? Because if I could just act like nothing was wrong, if I could just trust God and let him handle things, it would all work out.

I went to my bed, I knelt down on the floor like I do every night, and I prayed.

My prayers have a pattern. I begin with the day’s greatest blessing. Then I offer prayers for those I know. Then I pray for what I need. Lately, I’ve been saying, “Lord, you know my heart, my goals, and my dreams, but what I need most is strength.”

My girlfriend and I want to abstain until what we both hope becomes a wedding day.

That’s not what I prayed for that night. That night, I wasn’t the least bit interested in my hormones.

“Lord, I’m going to trust that you’ll handle this in your time and in your way. I’m going to have faith that this will be an opportunity for me to testify about your grace and your glory. So I ask that you take care of my mom.”

I don’t dream often, and the dreams I have are either mundane or bad. They’re always related to whatever was on my mind before I go to sleep. I woke up four or five times from vivid dreams where something happened. Each time I woke, I’d say, “God will take care of this.”

At some point, my phone buzzed. Carlie wanted to know if I was awake.  Once I said I was up, she called.

They found the tumor (it was hard for the doctors in Yuma to pin down due to the differences in equipment). The doctors found the tumor, and it was operable. At some point the next day they were going to surgically remove it and go from there.

“See?” I said. “They’re going to pull it out, and it’ll be fine.”

Carlie was so strong. I’ve honestly never seen her this strong. She was always tough. Well, if I’m being honest, stubborn is the better word. But she, like me, uses fury to push through more than she should. But she was patient, detailed with her information, and comforting. She’s also working to improve her relationship with God, and she validated my faith by agreeing God would handle this. We talked for a few minutes.

When she hung up, I prayed.

“God, praise your grace and your mercy. Thank you for watching over my mom.”  By the end of the sentence, I was bawling. I was a weeping mess curled up in a ball. I love my mom. I’d promised God I’d praise him when this was over, and I’d just learned that this tumor was operable. Sure, they’d have to look at a few things, but my mom was going to have that thing taken out of her.

The next day, I intended to testify, just as I said I would. I did testify, but I also learned the test wasn’t over by a long shot.


Questions and Revelations

You’re telling the world about your mom and her struggle with cancer on a blog?

Yeah. Angie was updating people pretty regularly via Facebook, so it’s not like people don’t already know. And I promised God I’d testify. I have this platform to do so. I feel I’m keeping my word to God the best way I can. To be honest, I intend to compile these posts into a memoir. I’ll donate every single dollar in royalties to cancer research, as I think this is God working through me to make more progress against the disease. I’m honestly a very private person. Part of the reason for my pen name is to keep a level of privacy. But when one promises to testify for God, he does it.

So you think God gave your mom a tumor to test your faith?

God tests us in a number of ways. I’m a huge fan of the book of Job. His whole story was about how God tested him to demonstrate just how faithful he was. I haven’t read that book in The Bible yet, but I’ve listened to some sermons. I’ve heard the story a few different ways. The one I’ve heard most is God let the devil pretty much do everything but kill Job. The point was no matter what the devil did, Job wouldn’t turn against God. The point is, nothing happens without God’s will, so yes. is God only testing my faith? No. Remember, my mom is the centerpiece of my whole family. My sisters are being tested. My brother is being tested. My father, who’s already lost several members of his family to cancer in the last few years, is being tested.

So why praise a God who’d give your mom a tumor just to test your faith?

If I’m being frank, because I’m nothing compared to God, and if I’m right, and he is testing my faith, turning away from him would only make matters worse. You can look at this from a bunch of different ways, but here’s the thing. We all want to believe in a kind and glorious God (well, those of us who believe in God).  A lot of people want to give God all the credit for everything good that happens in life. That empowers the doubters in the world to point at the bad.

Then there are those who hate God or refuse to believe in God because of those same bad things. God does this and lets that happen.

There are those who believe God doesn’t do anything. God put us on Earth and lets us make decisions.

What I currently believe is God is God. He is merciful and wrathful. He is great and powerful.

Job 1:21: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return tither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Could God take my mom? Yes. At any moment, God could take everything I have from me. If I were a different man, I’d focus on the fact that he took them. I once had more than $20,000 in my bank account. Now I don’t. I once had two nieces and a nephew. Then I didn’t. Then I found them again. (Long story, but true.) Now my Mom has cancer! But for me to be angry at God for taking anything from me, I’d have to first realize that God gave them to me in the first place. So I learned about that phrase and, as I often do, I paraphrased it in a way that makes sense to me.

“I don’t have or deserve anything. Everything I have is on loan from God, and he can loan me more or take all I have back whenever he wants.”

That reminds me of some critical things. These things in my life were never mine to begin with. We think too possessively as humans. My mom. My money. My house. My thinking is if I do a better job of realizing it’s all God’s, I’ll have a better perspective of how things are.

So what does God want?

Oh! if I only knew. Look, the basic point is God wants us to worship him. So my new mantra is, “The more I’m tested, the more I’m going to worship God.” Now some may argue that’s exactly why they don’t believe in God or choose not to follow him. “Who would ever follow some bully who would give tumors to parents or take children from mothers.  Well look, believe in a God or not, something: life, nature, the world, is taking those things and those people. The difference, from my point of view, is if we continue to praise God, he’ll reward us. Frankly, on this earthly plain, God could make every day of my mortal life miserable, and people would probably say, “Look at him, he’s miserable, and his whole life is miserable because he won’t turn from that mean God.”  But here’s the part where I do math. Let’s assume that I live the 75 or so years most people in my family live (easy), what is 75 years of suffering compared to eternity?

I write fantasy and science fiction. We read stories about people who are immortal or ultra powerful.  Do you ever read anything where they tell you about that bad century a few millennia ago? No, because in comparison to infinity, every other number is nothing.

Do I want God to make me suffer for my entire mortal life? Of course not! Look, I think I’ve had some tough times in my life. I don’t want to get into a “my life has had more trials than yours” competition, but I’d unfortunately think some of my trials have been pretty numerous in comparison to others (see below for that). But I’ve had some great years too. Even if I can’t point at that many years, I can point to moments that are worth decades. I remember my niece Kailynn’s laugh. I haven’t heard her for decades, but the mere memory of her laugh is still enough to make me smile.

I remember the feeling I got when The Journals of Bob Drifter went live.

I remember the worst year of my life (2013).  Life is more than any one thing. We do too much as a race pointing out all the bad or pointing out all the good as proof of God’s existence or not. I believe God is always with us. We’re tested. We’re frankly punished. It happens. But if we keep our faith, if we do our upmost to live in accordance to God’s will, the blessings will come.

Can I prove this or not? Well, I’ve started this entire project specifically to present evidence in support my theory.

But it’s not fair! Why does God give so much to bad people, but he punishes and tests me?!

Man do I struggle with this. Listen folks, I was single for thirty-seven years. How do you imagine I felt at every wedding? A considerable number of my brothers result from marrying my sisters. I’ve wanted to be a father since I was 8, and I once remember a man complaining to me about, “how many kids he has to deal with.”

You don’t think I wasn’t jealous? There were times I said, “If I see one more wedding invitation, I’m going to punch someone!” Life is pretty unfair when you’re selfish enough to only look at what you have and what you don’t have, especially when you’re only looking for more.

So here I am hearing about yet another member of my family having cancer. (Seriously, I’ve actually lost count of how many family members I’ve lost to cancer in the last couple years. I mean I literally, have lost count.) But I had them to begin with. I also know people who wish their mothers or fathers had died. The man who’s genetic material brought me to Earth wasn’t a good man, but the man who raised me, who taught me to be accountable, who taught me how to be strong, and who taught me how to be relied upon was a blessing in my life. It’s easy to get caught up in how much more I want in life. It’s easy to get caught up in how many bad things have happened in my life. But I think if I focus on all of it, I see it’s just life. And when I focus on the fact that I’ll die one day, I can remember that this mortal life is sort of like a test run. Life as a whole is a test. We live it, proving to God who we are. I’m just tired of being angry. I’m just tired of thinking I’m made to suffer as some sort of punchline or curse.

Will I get angry again? Yes, I’m human. I got angry, like forty minutes ago. Seriously!  I just have to think, to believe, there’s something more after it all. If I live right, and I believe, I’ll be granted eternity of wonder when this test of life is over.

Could I be wrong?

Yes. Yes I could be wrong. I’m human, and prone to that particular position. But if you’re  a non-believer or even a Christian, what’s the harm? What do I lose if I choose to believe God will make sure this all works out in the end? I’m going to live, and I’m going to die. These are facts. I can live miserable, lamenting all the things I don’t have. I could be resentful I’m not a best seller. I could envy my friends who are married. I could resent family that have never had to deal with abuse or cancer. I could be a downright asshole. But what would it get me? So I might as well be the man I want to be, believe in the God I know exists, and live as if I’m right. If I’m wrong, and you’re not a believer, it’s not like you’ll be able to tell me, “I told you so.” We’ll be dead.

But if I’m rightI gain eternity of salvation. Sounds like a win, win to me.

Thanks for reading