Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The answer is "Yes and No"

2/8/11 Tuesday
I am always amazed lately, at how quickly time flies by. Tuesday? Already? What happened to Monday? Cold weather just blew in. It will go down to 16 degrees tonight and they are predicting 8 degrees tomorrow night. I’ll have to cut some more wood for tomorrow but we’re good for tonight and most of the day tomorrow. Last entry was Saturday so what has happened since then?

We had a guest speaker at church Sunday. Her name is Alice Patterson. She’s written a book about racism and politics, who’s title I can’t remember now.

2/9/11 Wednesday (47 degrees in the bedroom this morning)
That’s all I got written yesterday. Had to leave for the Midland Ministerial Alliance meeting and never got back to writing in this journal. The Midland Ministerial Alliance is an organization that seeks to bring unity in the Christian community. The members are pastors and those involved in ministry. How did I get involved? I was invited to attend their yearly event at the Baptist camp and there encouraged to get involved. For me, it is exciting to be accepted.

One of the things I brought out of the meeting, actually out of the conversation with the two whom joined with me for prayer and discussion of needs in our lives, was a sense of growing discord and increasing coldness involving compassion for others. This isn’t only seen in churches but also in other areas of life, including the medical profession as indicated by a brother who is involved in senior care. There is a change in our society, but also in the entire world. I believe that this is part of the last days, that seals have been opened releasing spiritual forces to accomplish this.

I sense God’s hand in being directed to the Ministerial Alliance, an evolution in my Christian walk as He leads me on paths long ago fore ordained. Where these paths go I do not know, but understand that the miracle of my life is an ongoing journey. I don’t think I was raised from the dead to sit here on this cold farm and do nothing. There is no question in my mind that the last ten years, since I woke from the coma, have been an orchestrated series of events that clearly show the hand of God on them. The restoration of my mind, marriage, faith, and life are a wonder to me.

Part of what I understand is that in every story of success is hardship. For all the great men and women in the bible there was tremendous tribulation. Our life hasn’t been easy and my journey back to a relationship with God has been rocky to say the least. The biggest problem, and greatest disappointment, has come from others who bear the name “Christian”. One might suspect that because there are consistent issues with my relationship with others in the church, the problems are caused by me. My answer to that is “Yes, and no”.

Part of the equation is one I’ve talked about before, the loss of social skills due to multiple brain injuries. When at the meeting with Mark Case we met a woman who is very active in the Kingdom of God. She surprised me with the statement “I’m good at judging people by their faces”. I regret not checking her on that. It was so wrong, so opposite of scripture, and such a surprise to hear from someone who should be spiritually mature. This judging based on outward appearance is one of the problems I constantly face. A lady at our church told me recently about having developed an opinion of me based on how I always “Sat and stood so prim and proper”. She asked forgiveness for doing this, but it really revealed what has been, and still is, going on in that community. I doubt many even realize just how much in error they are with this, just how opposite of God’s heart and desire doing this is. I’ve broken my back and neck three separate times, along with many other bones. I’m paralyzed on the right side from the brain injury. I’ve had a stroke on top of all that and the parts of my brain that control things like facial expression are damaged as well. I sit and stand “prim and proper” because I must to reduce the pain I live with every day. One of the aspects of traumatic brain injury is often the lack of showing proper emotion to events that happen. There’s a story, to be found on Lash and Associates website, about someone with TBI receiving some bad news and simply saying “OK” and walking out.

My pastor told me that she had been “observing” me ever since we started attending the church, and had developed opinions on who I was based on that. The problem is she has never talked to me, never spent the time to learn my heart. She doesn’t understand that those perceptions, once formed, color everything she sees regarding me. I dearly love her, and desire to help wherever I can, but these judgments in her heart prevent her from trusting me or allowing herself to learn the truth of who I am. I pray every day for her and the church, believing that I am there because that is where God wants me.

I remember being told, by a pastor at the church in Toledo we were “invited” to not attend any more, that he concluded I was “arrogant” based just on how I stood while waiting to go into the service. Again, I stand up straight, and sit that way too, because it hurts less. Now with the brain injury, I sometimes don’t say things in the most socially acceptable way. There’s no sugar coating of thoughts and I often don’t consider or understand the social ramifications of statements. I’m much better now than I was ten years ago, having relearned over the years many basic social skills, but in some ways I am still immature in those areas. I write this with the hope that it will help others understand the issues that come with traumatic brain injuries. Especially for the others, the estimated 1.5 million brain injuries that happen EVERY year. But mostly I hope and pray that those who wear the name “Christian” will learn not to judge based on outward appearance, and will learn to love the way Christ loves us still today.

It is Love, that is too be the hallmark of our faith. It is Love that is to be the means of identifying who are true followers of Christ (and who are not). It is Love that tears down all the works of the enemy. But it seems that love is often the hardest thing to find in a church. Much of this is on the forefront of my mind because I am writing a book on discord, and the proper way to deal with it in the church. I’ll leave you with the hallmark chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Click to enlarge. I carved this shortly after waking from the coma (Shortly being a few months)

Love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion. Feelings and emotions can lead you astray, and often are tools used by the enemy to deceive and divide. Watch out for pride folks. Spiritual pride is the one hardest to recognize. When you are confident in your ability to discern or your spiritual superiority to another, be careful, for this opens the door for the enemy to lead you astray. Is what you think in your heart that which builds up, or is concerned about what is best for the other? Does it match the guidelines found in the above scripture? These are questions to ask yourself. Be careful what you say about others, God is always listening.

Got to go to Odessa. Bye.

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