God

Doubt

Some Christians (not all), like myself, have been taught from a very young age that in our faith there is no room for things like doubt. That if we just have a muster seed of faith then we could move mountains. I won’t lie I was in perfect agreement with this that doubt could not only be an issue for my faith, but possibly even a sin.

Conviction against doubt in faith is like telling a blind man the water in front of him isn’t an ocean, but a puddle. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were a puddle, but without being able to see he must have faith. Can he truly be faithful when the puddle could be an ocean? Just the thought of falling in with no chance of escape, when he could have stayed safely on the shore.

Doubt in faith is a necessary feeling as faith untested is no faith at all. It is easy to believe in something when you have never been challenged by it before. Haven’t we all seen some YouTube video of people fumbling with attempting to state their beliefs about a subject? We wonder how they even had that belief at all when they are so susceptible to changing their mind at the first sign of conflict.

Doubt offers us a perspective, a challenge to overcome. Sure if we want to believe in something then we can find a rational reason for the belief, but it is much harder to lie to ourselves if the doubt is confronting. If we doubt something, we aren’t sure, then we seek truth. Truth is individualized and different for everyone, but our personal truth guides us to a better self.

I doubt that God in today’s world speaks to people in the same way he did in the Bible. I doubt this for many reasons, but people have been angry with me about this before. People are can also be angry when I say I don’t believe in anyone having the ability to heal now by laying hands on an individual, people speaking tongues, or that any person on the face of earth today has seen the face of God.

This doubt doesn’t make me a bad Christian it just means I have a different truth than someone else, and my doubt has given me renewed faith. For me I don’t see any objective signs of God because if God is going to do something it will appear as if he was never there.

Doubt is protection. We doubt that we will win a million dollars from the lottery so we buy one ticket instead of betting the house. We doubt the salesman in front of us, but listen to our friends with a review. We doubt in this world because we have to. Doubt promotes a better understanding of the subject in front of us. In faith isn’t bad, it just means that it’s time we dig just a little bit deeper to seek the truth.

Commitment to Yourself

This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.

I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.

To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?

Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.

Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.

Kierkegaard and Mindfulness

Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness

-Matthew 6:33

Soren Kierkegaard in Skrifter vol 11 (maybe the correct citation) meditates on the above paraphrased verse in his writings, discussing the deeper meaning of the words. In short, he discusses that one must first seek the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplish by silence. Silence, according to Kierkegaard, is the first and most important goal in seeking the Kingdom of God.

To Kieregaard dropping everything for God is not the first step to seek the Kingdom of God. The first step is to be silent. To be silent, and to make yourself nothing before God. In this silence we arrive at the beginning, and this beginning is where we seek God.

Yet, what is this silence? If Kierkegaard states that silence is being prepared for the opportunity when it arrives, then isn’t mindfulness the same thing? It’s just another word for the same thing, and we know that mindfulness by itself isn’t spiritual. Rather it is an inward observation. By knowing ourselves we can better seek the Kingdom of God.

In our mindful/silent lives we make ourselves ready to serve God when the time comes. In this meditation we ready our inward self to serve. How can we serve God if our own lives are not in control? First seek the Kingdom of God. By first seeking the Kingdom we learn to be silent/mindful, and we take control of our lives.

God calls everyone to different things. Silence and inward observation gives us clarity to what those things are. The first step toward God is to become mindful of your own life, understanding of your weakness, to become nothing, so that God may use you for his will. The freedom to follow God starts with getting control of ones life. To understand your part in the world, and to be accepting of it.

I can work for God, and do great things for him, but first I must seek the Kingdom of God.

The Cost of Judgement

People instinctively pass judgement on each other it’s a natural process. We make judgement’s on the way people look, act, and behave. We will take those judgement’s, and often pass them around to others. We will label those judgments on people, and they become fact without ever speaking to the person we judged.

I believe that I am more than guilty of this. I would say that it is my biggest weakness, and as a Christian who is trying to follow Jesus’s teaching it’s an issue that I cannot overlook.

As Jesus states in Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.

While Jesus was using rather funny hyperbolic imagery the lesson is the same. To place judgement on someone is to ignore your own issues.

I like to think about the times when I am shopping or in a waiting room, and there is a tantruming child there making a scene for everyone to witness. An even better example is to be on the light rail, or in the street and a couple is having a loud fight. In the past with these situations I have put judgement on the participants.

Look at that child why can the mother not take care of it, look at that couple they have some obvious issues.

I put judgement on people, but rarely do I try to understand what it must be like to be in that situation, and ignoring the times that I have been in that situation. I have never had a child, and can only imagine the pressure that new parents must feel when their child is acting out in public. Every child acts out, and for us to say that it is the parents fault for the behavior of the kid is to ignore issues that may exist under the skin. When seeing these occurrences I didn’t  have the experience of working with mental health that I do now. I have seen how a mentally handicap child can add immense amounts of stress on a new family, it is emotional for everyone. Who is to say that I would fair any better?

Everyone is different, with a different worldview, and different ideals of right verses wrong. It would be wrong of me to judge a person based on the few moments of meeting them, or watching them.

I know the intentions of my wife, my parents, and those who are close to me. Yet with strangers I have not met I should reserve judgement. How can I cast judgement when there is a plank in my eye, how can I cast judgement when I haven’t walked in their shoes? I can’t, and I shouldn’t.

So everyday from today on I will strive to reserve judgement for myself, and only to help myself be a better person. If I ever get to a point that there is no longer a plank in my eye then I may help my neighbor with the speck in theirs.

THOSE PEOPLE

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 3:17

It’s sometimes hard to get a break. To sit down, study, or write. Most of us are on the move constantly, and for me that constant moving makes it hard to really get into writing, and to create quality work (not that it’s quality anyways). I also needed a break due to many life issues that have come up, but at this point I am re-making my dedication to writing.  

Before this post most of what I have written about was life advice through my eyes as a case manager. I have always had this no proselytizing in the workplace stance when it came to helping people. However, my new self help will sometimes take on a more religious standpoint. Mostly due to my wife, Pandora, inspiring me by being baptized followed by my niece. This opened me up to talk more about my relationship with God.

So with all interesting updates that mostly is just me making an excuse for not taking time out to write lets get on with the subject: THOSE PEOPLE

I had the great privilege of being able to connect with others while doing laundry yesterday. It’s always nice to pass the time hearing what other people have to say, and what they go through day to day.

They wanted to know about the place that we worshiped, which is pretty new too since we are also fairly new to the area. We discussed for a time different places where we worshiped and they were both pretty upset with their experiences around town, and after listening to their story I would say they did have a lot to be upset about.

Their biggest issue was THOSE PEOPLE. The Church people. The man stated that he hated going because of the Hypocrites.

It’s a very good reason because there are a lot of hypocrites in the church, and liars, adulterers, alcoholics, murderers, and just about every other terrible person. In fact you could say that the whole point of the Church was for the terrible people looking for another chance. It was made for those of us who are in need of help, and whose lives are full of sin, not the righteous.  

It always hurts me to hear that people don’t like the idea of church because of those who judge them for not being perfect, looking dirty, or any other excuse. It really isn’t fair because no one has any idea what someone else goes through on a day to day basis. We are all there for God, and to become our best selves.

No one should feel unwelcome in the house of God, and that should be a concern with those in the Church. It’s a concern for me because I am a liar, hypocrite, and many other things but everyday trying to be a better person. I don’t want other liars, hypocrites, and others to avoid the church because they think I am perfect.

The best that we can do is encourage others in the church to ignore the judgement of others. That’s between them and God. For us we will do our best not to judge, but be welcoming to anyone who comes.

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