Unopened GIFTS Part 1

 

There ‘she’ is, like the crazy ex, all dressed up for the show staring back at you. Highly adorned for the celebration of the year! Glistening and lit up! Who is this highly decorated? She ain’t a she, or really even a who…but a what. What? Ok, my ‘coy’ pond is empty here. The description I am making is of your Christmas tree the day after Christmas (I know, a long journey for that right?). This particular December 26th is no ordinary picture of ‘the day after’ though. Sitting on ‘her’ skirt below are beautifully wrapped gifts that create wonder in your mind how they sit there unopened…all the wonder to wonder! Why are these gifts displayed there when all the festivities of life are already over? Was someone in the family sick (highly likely this year!!) or just unable to have Christmas? Any kid might say ‘who leaves gifts there AFTER Christmas!!??’

Would you ever leave a gift unopened around the tree all the way until after the New Year (or February for you procrastinators)? Wouldn’t you kind of at least be tempted to stow that beaut in the closet so you didn’t have to look at it? I am 200 words in and full of questions, ain’t I? All the talk of presents under the tree sent me to 8 year old thinking, which is 90% questions as you know! A parallel analogy can be made of life in general. Have you ever observed someone who seemed to leave their obvious gift unopened (their life potential)? For my thinking, that is seen regularly in sports…ask many a first round drafted athlete who had a short career!! Let’s consider this analogy like a Christmas coloring page of Santa…if you like Senor Saint Nic in a green suit, they are your crayons my friend.

Before the final buttress, consider this final observation. How would you truly feel if it were time to open gifts and they hand you one. You sit there with it in your lap the whole evening but never get to open it. One thing sure, if this is the 8 year old, forget it! That child would be like a Mexican jumping bean! A myriad of emotions would flow through you as you sit there anticipating what could possibly be inside. All the potential of possibilities lying there dormant to be undiscovered. How truly awful that would be! In my life I can think of only a few things sadder than a person sitting through life either unable to open their gift, or not allowed to.

These are the sort of threads I enjoy because it applies to everyone. It is both everyday life and spiritual life. Everyone can find something in this concept. Approaching 50 in a year and a half, there have been many times I felt like my gifts were unrealized, unwanted, or underappreciated. In my personal life that is both career/personal and spiritual. The funny thing about learning is we don’t usually know when we are ignorant (we don’t know what we don’t know!). All that said, let’s begin ‘crayoning  the Santa’.

Mysterious Weakness (a weapon!)

It has been a few tick tocks since I was inspired to do a full writing. This is live, which I tend not to do with writings, though I rarely edit. I find raw writing to be pure in the flow! My inspirations have been focused on the pearls lately, but here today on 12-3-17 rockin’ up to Christmas…something fresh.

Over the past few months a set of tough circumstances have been hashing themselves out. From being laid off to dealing with a tough situation I hope to never be near again in my entire life. In my younger days I would have been quite depressed amidst all this. Today that is not an option because I tried depressed and it doesn’t work! I find this one thing therapeutic with harder issues. Admitting my absolute inability to do it in my own strength! Oh come on…we’ve all seen ‘pull self up by boot straps’ guy! Many times the reason he has to keep pulling those straps is he doesn’t learn the lesson. I will call him b.s. guy for this illustration (what? oh…boot strap guy).  You see…b.s. guy believes there is always a solution within himself if he just musters up enough of it to pull it all together.

I often see b.s. guys and heal strap gals trying to do it in just their strength. I often think to myself when I witness this: “let me know how that works out!”  Kind of like the car crash you see coming a mile away. So how are we to react and be? What I am sharing here is the value of being dependent (in my weakness) on God. I know that I am a creature created and only a piece of Him. When my piece is weakened further thru needs, lack of knowledge or understanding (often), or just part of the human condition…who else but He who put me together can restore my piece? This is the deep root of Jesus for me yall. I haven’t seen anything better or really comparable to being with Him and in Him!

We often can try and fill that void with something else, but in the end we are empty if it isn’t God filling that spot. When I had this storm of losing job and close friend(s) I had a decision to make…was I going to lay it all down at the feet of Jesus or pull on my own darn boots? You see, the sooner we give up, the sooner He gets started helping us! Hurry up and get out of the way I always say. Here is a deeper truth: we are all surrendered to something in our lives. Everyone makes a choice here. What is going to be our go to, our strength? Folks, this ain’t no superhero YouTube video with high action and kick butt music!

The key is giving up myself. Creating space for Him to dwell in me. For those of you that have read my stuff…here is a little secret…I ain’t that sharp! The only thing I lay claim to is allowing Him to speak through me using a keyboard. I am not crafty enough to create it on my own. Anything creative came from His hands not mine! I am frail and in constant need of Him (and want it no other way).

You know the sound of the swerving car out of control? Insert that sound affect here please! This seems a far cry from relative, but I sense it true. There is a current ongoing societal issue playing out right now in the news that is an example of b.s. guy controlling his whole darn world no matter who it hurts. These may be extreme examples I do understand, but look at how controlling everything ended for Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, and all the hosts of others in news, politics, and entertainment. Look what kind of ugliness takes over when you alone are in control. I bet those guys thought they trusted themselves at one point too. Now, no one trusts them!

This is why I feel strong in my weakness, because it is surrendered to Him fully. I don’t have to worry whether I can fix something because He goes to work on it for me. Many people told me about this job and that job when I was looking around at the landscape. It would have been easy to settle on a job of equal standing, a lateral move. ‘Do a job you may not even enjoy if the benefits are good’ a lot of people will say. I am comfortable hearing God’s voice at this point to know that wasn’t the right choice. I waited, looked, and worked doing some side jobs. I was tempted to be be discouraged or settle. I made up my mind that He has something better than just ok…I heard His voice say to ‘wait a little longer, I have it covered.’ Long story short He brought me to a man that needed a lot of my experiences before in a job as a project manager type (instead of physical labor and hands on). From the ashes a much better paying job that is not physical labor!

The point of that is…no amount of ‘stick to of itism’ would have brought me here. Only my weaknesses surrendered: when my chiropractor bill was a good portion of my paycheck…when there seemed no way out and no way up. My weaknesses and burdens I have to daily give to Him to take care of, it is the only thing that keeps my heart and spirit from becoming heavily loaded.

R.W.B. Pearls 12-2-17 (#3)

 

Everybody here has a passion. We cannot all fully pursue each other’s passions except when the Holy Spirit leads you to. WE MUST know (or learn) who we are in a vacuum (just you and He in the prayer closet peeps!). Meetings are just overflow!!! Do you remember when David tried to wear Saul’s armor? How did that work out? Had to scrap that metal!!! The Word is clear that we are all different functions in the Body…Hand is not foot, foot is not hand. The Body is strong when we all are affirmed at our function in it. I have personally witnessed it too many times…people who don’t totally know who they are in Him try to be a hand or foot because the strong leader is that…8 feet causes stumbling.

Sitting Down at Pavlov’s Last Supper (a Halloween story??)

The indelible pictures of history coming in for this one. Who doesn’t remember the crude drawn cartoon in their history book about Pavlov’s dog? One of the first pillars of psychology and probably in the textbook of every American student growing up (there may be periods of time that has ceased, one of you young buckeroos let me know!). The science started simple enough. Dog sees food, dog salivates, dog eats. What surprised our friend Ivan was the associations beyond the food. The dog began salivating seeing the glorious lab assistant walking in the room, food or not. This is known as Pavlovian Conditioning…Dr. Google brought this up first so I wanted to quote a small section to ‘buttress my answer’ as one of my college professors used to opine.

“During the 1890’s Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was looking at salivation in dogs in response to being fed, when he noticed that his dogs would begin to salivate whenever he entered the room, even when he was not bringing them food. At first this was something of a nuisance (not to mention messy!).

Pavlovian Conditioning

Pavlov (1902) started from the idea that there are some things that a dog does not need to learn. For example, dogs don’t learn to salivate whenever they see food. This reflex is ‘hard-wired’ into the dog. In behaviorist terms, it is an unconditioned response.” Later it says “However, when Pavlov discovered that any object or event which the dogs learned to associate with food (such as the lab assistant) would trigger the same response, he realized that he had made an important scientific discovery…” (McLeod, S.A. (2013). Pavlov’s dogs. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html).

Observation of people lately has me arriving at some connections to Ivan’s discovery. This is going to be a strange 3-way fork in the road here. What else would you call a fork with Pavlov, Godly renewal, and Halloween together? Hey, it’s Halloween this week, why not something with Truth and some strange parallels? We have a culture that is obsessed with dark matter. You can see it this time of year obviously, but it has spilled over heavily into video games, movies, music, and every form of entertainment. What is generally overlooked here is that most everything in the world has spiritual ramifications to it. A short journey of these three is next, but the question is…WHO is making you salivate?

Pavlovian Conditioning is a spiritual parallel to me. It could mirror what the Bible calls ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil.’ All of us face the challenge of becoming conditioned in our lives. If you talk to someone who grew up abused for instance: they can speak to the conditioning, control, and just evil that took place. I needed an extreme example to make the point. God knew the world we were going to face (yes, even these modern times). It was why He sent Jesus to help us against the conditioning of this world. Like it or not, we are living down here with God’s enemy. It is where he landed when kicked out of heaven! All the troubles of the entire planet boil down to ‘conditioning’. Consider a serial killer or any extremist…a lot of things happened in that person’s life to lead them there. A more subtle form of conditioning? Simply put…the news!! Everyday a barrage of bad people, bad things, and evil around the world through corruption, etc. It wears down our senses and conditions us to lower standards.

The question I asked myself in chewing on this topic is: What is the good opposite of this conditioning to me as a believer in Christ? The opposite to me in the kingdom of God is renewal. The crux of renewal in the Bible is renewing of the mind. The mind is the gateway to the heart and spirit of a man. It is where ALL battles are won and lost. God and the enemy are fighting over control for your soul, but it starts in the mind. Temptation does not start in your soul, but in your mind. How we think and what we allow ourselves to dwell on mentally shape us (dare I say condition?). I won’t be able to do a whole journey here on renewal, just showing that it is the battle armor to put on against the influences of your mind. I know for me, the only way I am here and in my right mind in God is because of His helping me. I had to surrender a lot (well, everything) of my own understanding and will to receive this (and the battle rages). I know this is a whopin’ huge subject that is only scratched here.

You are probably perplexed to the tie in with Halloween of all things. Halloween is the representation of things dark and scary in our culture. It does have spiritual ties that are not in any way good. I do believe that allowing kids to do simply trick or treat stuff is not a big deal. There are those who practice anti-God spiritual stuff. It comes in various forms. Many from this vantage point believe they are ‘free’ from religion, but in fact are being conditioned by the world. I do believe that people are spiritually wired and many use that in a non-Christian way. I know people who are believers in Christ now who USED to be that way. They would sense spiritual things when they were kids all the time. If you read about Jesus and the man with the legions of demons, you see He helped him get free from everything that was not God. So there is hope for those who are spiritually wired and seeking something good from God!

Sometimes there are just many rabbits for the trail! This could be a very involved subject of many pages. Most of my writings I don’t want that! If people can’t last more than 6 minutes on a tv show they like without distraction, how long can they read LOL??!! My desire is for people to question what is conditioning them in their lives. If we are the dogs in the experiment, WHO do you want to be your Pavlov? Jesus said “I am the way, the Truth, and the life”. I am here to say that is good enough for me!