Perhaps one of the most startling revelations I faced after I broadened my horizons into including a world of money, a job, and typical adult life, was how much stress and worry the average human smokes every day. To be fair, it’s rather an addicting substance, stress, and worry, and I’ve smoked my fair share of it as well. However, my intensely grounded childhood gave me a distinct benefit that was a marvel to those who noticed, and something that my oblivious self took for granted. Stress and worry were foreign to me. It was a language I spoke so rarely, that it always took me by surprise, and instinctively, I used techniques I didn’t know I had to squash it.
I’ve taken my ability to remain calm, relaxed, and stress-free in nearly every situation and tested it accordingly. Roller coasters. I heard it makes everyone scream. Not one sound left my lips. I did feel the tingling sensation of excitement at tumbling around at breathtaking speeds, but no fear. Skydiving. I honestly couldn’t wait to jump and leave that cramped, small, airplane behind. No fear, just impatience to jump; and the delightful wonderment and happiness when I was finally free in the wind was worth it.
Car wrecks. I will admit to one car wreck I had on ice that at long last created a paranoia to driving on ice to where I no longer venture with the same amount of confidence that I once had. However, if I’m not at the wheel, I have no stress. Multiple times I’ve been in the passenger seat and felt the vehicle start to slide, and I stay relaxed.
There were days this year, thanks to Covid’s economic impact on my life, when I ate the last remaining bite and hoped the hunger wouldn’t be too much till we could make more money. Still, I can’t remember stressing about that. I knew it would be okay, and it always was.
There is an unshakable foundation within the very core of my soul that has been tested against some truly fearful circumstances in my life, that has weathered the storm of 2020 and yet, has remained incredibly strong. Fear. Stress. Panic. Worry. Others around me succumb to it daily. One side has a deathly fear of the virus, the other side fears government tyranny and gathers their guns accordingly. Somehow, I cannot fall prey to any of it. I literally cannot fear. I’ve often wondered why, and as the days pass, as my understanding deepens, I realized the answer.
My father built that foundation. It is truly remarkable that someone can prepare someone else for such an unknown future so well. My life, compared to so many other childhoods, was extremely easy. No, I didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury, but at the same time, I definitely did. I always had food to eat. I always had a roof over my head. I never once experienced traumatizing abuse. I had the rarity of never once hearing my parents argue, or show anger to each other. There was no one that Dad loved more than Mom, and no one that Mom loved more than Dad. This creates an extremely secure childhood base. And yet, it gets a lot deeper than that.
Anyone who has known my Dad for any length of time, will sooner or later, stumble across his book, “Through the Eye of the Needle.” The title summarizes the conversation between Jesus and the rich, young ruler from the Sermon on the Mount. In this exchange, the unsuspecting ruler asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. “If you seek perfection, sell all that you have and give to the poor,” Jesus responded. “And you shall have treasure in heaven.” Disappointed, the ruler turns away, because he couldn’t let go of his possessions. As he walked away, Jesus gives this sidenote to his disciples: “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Once upon a time, my father was fascinated with the pursuit of wealth and the way in which money could be accumulated. There were so many endless possibilities in which the growth of wealth could be learned and mastered. But there was one thing that Dad loved more than money. Christ. So after he wrestled the appropriate demons of doubt, he made the decision to believe that Christ really did mean what he said. The rich were going to have a rough time of it, trying to fit that camel through that needle, and Dad would be avoiding that drama by cheerfully giving his possessions to the needy. Accumulating treasure in heaven was a huge motivator for him.
Predictably, my Dad’s newfound lifestyle was viewed with a great deal of skepticism by money lovers everywhere. This, and many other reasons, eventually led to vacating one church in exchange for a newer, restless one. However, because my Dad persisted in the firm belief of never holding grudges, we still frequented the previous church. But now, we were weird. I remember once getting jeered at “Your dad must think owning a $100 bill is a sin.” We kids were tempted to feel resentful after such insults, but there was no room for any bitterness in Dad’s heart. “It doesn’t matter what anyone says, just treat them like Jesus would. Just love.” And so we loved.
We might have held onto grudges, but there was never any doubt in our minds that Dad certainly did not. And that sticks with a child. Whether we realized it or not, we had been given the powerful tools of living a life without malice. Mocked by fellow religious peers is one thing. Mocked by random people on the street who hated Dad’s obnoxious gospel signs who expressed their anger with loud name-calling, crude hand gestures, throwing trash, etc. was another. However, Dad just smiled and waved. So we smiled and waved. We were there to love everyone. So we loved.
Anytime there was any debate over spending extra for an unnecessary extravagance, Dad always remembered the poor. “Do we really need a new swimming pool when some children don’t have enough to eat?” Grumpily, we conceded that we did not. But after we gave, we found out just how happy life could be when you were not living for yourself. Dad had a responsibility to the poor because he had chosen to cast his lot with Christ, and following Christ comes with certain stipulations. Christ loved the hurting, the sick, the suffering, and the fallen. In time, Dad’s love for the hurting, the suffering, the sick, the fallen became our love. So we loved.
Love is the first stone in this mystical foundation in my soul. 1 John 4:18 reads: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Literally next to no one understands my viewpoint when I say that if a violent intruder breaks into your house, and you just choose to love at that moment, you won’t be afraid. How can they know? It is an impossible paradox and fails human common sense, and yet I lived it. I know it. I’ve been in various precarious situations with potentially violent individuals; never once did I have fear.
Faith. The next stone in this foundation. Also Trust, Faith’s twin sister.
As a child, I probably heard the Sermon on the Mount over 500 times. Instead of falling asleep to a TV, we would fall asleep to the New Testament, read aloud on our tape player. Matthew 6:25-34 was instilled in my subconscious night after night until it became my brain. It’s a beautiful set of instructions. For those of you who might not remember what it says, I will paste its entirety here for all to enjoy.
A wise person once told me that literally everything is out of my control. Everything. Except for my own personal choices. My choices is the only steering wheel I have; due to the swirling cloud of millions of others’ choices constantly impacting me unpredictably. This realization caused me so much freedom. I did not have to worry about circumstances out of my control. There was nothing I could do anyway, so I wasn’t gonna trouble my brain about it. I would just do the best with the options and personal choices I had.
The reason this resonated with me harks back to my instilled understanding of the said passage in Matthew. Don’t worry about food. Don’t worry about clothes. Life is about more than food and clothes. Don’t stress about tomorrow, tomorrow will figure itself out. And that beautiful poetic conclusion “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
It’s 12 years later since I listened to those verses on audio. But subconsciously they are my heart’s mantra, my shield, and my biggest dose of mental chill pills. No pharmacy drug can compete.
Dad believed those verses too. He also had some other delightful ones to add to the collection. Well, in fact, if we are going to be real, the most oft-repeated command in the entirety of scripture is “Fear not” or its many equivalents reworded. Now we know, scientifically, that less stress ultimately is healthier for your physical body and mental health. There is a reason why that is the greatest reminder in scripture.
Dad’s money continued to not be Dad’s money. Rather, he was the steward, and if we put the poor and the needy first, God would not fail to remember to provide all of our needs. Remember that swimming pool? We still got one. A gift, if I remember correctly. Ironically, it was shortly after I had surrendered my pool savings for starving children. God had remembered me, I didn’t have to worry.
My brother required an unexpected surgery. Did we have thousands of dollars saved to pay the monstrous bill? No. Oddly enough, the hospital mysteriously canceled out a huge portion of the bill. To this day, I still don’t know why. While others’ marveled at that story, to my young brain, that was absolutely normal. God always looked out for Dad, because Dad was always looking out for God by giving all his extra money to the poor, and the poor were Christ. It all made perfect sense to me.
Time and time again, I watched my father live in an almost seemingly supernatural halo of protection. For example, Dad never locked the car doors. Ever. “Other people lock their car doors. Why don’t we?” I remember asking once. Locking car doors was a completely foreign concept to my dad. #1, There was rarely anything of value to steal. #2, If someone needed something that badly, why would he not allow them to have it? Dad settled with #3 as a reason to give me “Because the angels look out for us. We don’t have to lock them.” I 100% believed him. Still do.
Dad was a firm believer in no debt. This resulted in never buying a house. After leaving the home I had spent the first 16 years of my life in at the landlord’s request, we moved to a smaller double-wide trailer. Less than a year later we moved again to house sit for a family who was spending time away from the U.S. From there, my family moved to a new, large, beautiful 6 bedroom home as renters, because the current owners were vacating but not selling. I’ve heard the whispers from a few acquaintances of the irony of my Dad living in such a place. They are surprised that a man who has lived a life with seemingly no thought for earthly possessions should now live in a house that looks like he did in fact care about such possessions. They can continue to be surprised, I’m not. I’ve watched my father remember God in everything he did for my entire life. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when God remembers Dad.
Following your gut instinct is no joke.
Yesterday, I had a very strong and sudden urge to pan for gold. A week ago we had been attempting to drive to another ghost town not too far away, and had stumbled upon a creek with quite a few obvious small flakes glimmering in the sunlight.
“Let’s go today,” I insisted.
Ronnie, lazily, “Why today?”
Me, “Obviously because we could be millionaires.”
Ronnie, “First time you’ve ever had a strong urge to head up into the mountains.”
This was true. Also, it was odd. Odd that I was strongly advocating to head up into the mountains when we might at best have two or three hours before the sun began to set. Normally such adventures require an earlier start. Nothing about my extreme push to leave /right this second/ made any sense. But nevertheless, I was determined, and nothing could deter my fixation that “today was the day.”
We arrived late afternoon, and successfully caught some of the flakes in our pan. But we lacked the tweezers to pick it out, so back to it’s natural habitat it was returned. After our short supply of patience ran its course, we toured an old homestead graveyard nearby.
Next, our fancy akin to the wind, we decided to try again to reach that elusive ghost town.
There are two routes for this, so we tried Route #1, to no avail. The snow, even in May, was still hopelessly deep and soft. We turned back, after I shot down the idea of hiking a few miles to get there.
Seconds before we attempted Route #2, we saw three teenagers in their truck head also up that way. So we followed.
The earthquake two months ago had evidently created a tiny stream in the middle of the road. “The road wants to give way and fall back down the side of the hill,” Ronnie observed calmly. Obviously this meant we would still keep driving.
After a few corners, the snow once again appeared, making the truck snort with contempt.
Of course, with the gradual increase of higher elevation, the snow only got deeper. Then we saw them. The snow had successfully captured their vehicle. They were stuck.
Ronnie made them feel better. “Yeah, I followed you guys up here because I knew you would need to get towed back out.”
They grinned sheepishly.
So, in the end, I realized my strong gut feeling of heading to the mountains existed to ensure these random college students would be spared a cold night in the mountains, with no cell service and miles from another human…. and apparently to prove that in 2020, the gold fever is still alive and well.
It’s not often that one discovers true *gematrocities in life, but I always am intrigued when I do. Recently, (special thanks to Dank Kingdom Christian Memes Facebook Group) I gleaned information regarding dontperish.com, and their blog that exposes the false, pretending wolves in Christianity. I would estimate there to be about 500 posts, or more. Each exposed faker getting their own personal blog entry dedicated specifically to them, and updated as the need requires.
Some of my favorite ones: “Baptists Exposed,” (who knew every single Baptist was exactly the same?) “Christian Motorcycle Group Exposed” “Alcoholics Anonymous Exposed” “Ray Comfort Exposed” and no one, mind you, gets off the hook here. Dozens of individual churches, (if deemed worthy enough) obtain their own delightful read. The Amish, Mennonites, and any branch of Anabaptist that exists or wants to exist has been dutifully exposed.
“David Bercot Exposed” reveals the horror of vampires among us. (Look out for those pale-skinned, Boston folks who indulge in reading John 6.) Even the plants don’t get a break: “1000’s of Roots Exposed.”
“Marketplace Witnessing Exposed” leads me to believe that the only way for this author to have been in every marketplace witnessing scenario ever to accurately expose, he must practically be a omnipresent god. I’m in awe. Respect, man.
Proof that I’m not making this up: https://bewareoffalse-unbiblicalteachers.blogspot.com/
Impressed? Any Wannabe Exposers that don’t know where to start? After a great deal of thought, I’ve come up with a list of tactics and techniques to correctly employ the use of exposing.
First of all, choose a religion. Ultimately no one cares about your Book of Opinions, so you need some overarching elusive authority that you can wrangle into taking all the blows for you, as well as firing all the shots. What religion? It doesn’t matter a whole lot. Just make sure that it allows for a very black and white framework that allows you to easily place most people on the black side. There is no fun in a gray “this varies from person to person” kind of thought.
If you choose Christianity from the list of possible religions to use, get a red pen. There will be some specific verses you need to scratch out before you begin exposing. First up, Matthew 7:3. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Here we see that Jesus is in full approval of exposing. However, He ruins the fun by instructing us to expose our own sin. Not others. Depressing. Unacceptable. To make it worse, notice Jesus refers to them as “brother.” After we expose a sinner for who he is, do we want to refer to them as brother? That’s too much. Thus, getting rid of this verse entirely will help the process.
Next up, any verse that mentions “neighbor” is likely a good indication to also remove. Christ helpfully tells a lawyer how to inherit eternal life in Luke 10. ” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Of course, the obvious question was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus followed this up with a parable, that ends on a disappointing note.
Of all the atrocities! The neighbor was the Pagan Samaritan, not the upstanding Jew who followed the letter of the law. This does not work for a true Exposer of Evil. If Pagans are a neighbor, and we are supposed to love them as much as we love ourselves, how can we expose someone with words that we would never use to describes ourselves??
Honestly, on second thought, maybe Christianity isn’t the best option for an Exposer. However, I think we can cram this foot into the shoe.
Exposing anything requires an extensive amount of time to accurately research every avenue of fact and information. For example, exposing 9/11 as a government conspiracy is a very time consuming project. You have to figure in hours and hours of detailed math, calculating all the various influences that perhaps started years before the towers ever went down. You have to conduct interviews, watch and re-watch footage, you have to understand airplanes, and melting steel. However, exposing a catastrophe, a series of events, is possible. It may take years, but it’s been done.
Exposing humans is another matter entirely. Imagine a dazzling, shimmering chandelier hanging from a ceiling strung with hundreds of diamonds. Imagine a elaborate maze at the local fair with mirrors staring at you from every turn, making it nearly impossible to find your way out again. Imagine a God, infinite and divine with “created a universe” on His resume, who also designed the human brain, soul and heart.
There are so many levels to one human that broad, generalizing statements completely fail to expose anything except one single, particular aspect of that person which from a distance is always convoluted like muddy, murky waters. To make matters more complicated, society and culture has done an excellent job at teaching humans to build outward facades to mask their true feelings, thus while we might expose a human, we are only exposing a facade that likely does not match what’s going on beneath the surface.
However, my dear exposer, you do have one tool in your belt if you choose to use it, as pertains to humans. It will require accepting Christianity as at least partial fact, and understanding that the only one who really knows humans is the one who created them. Mathew 7:15-16: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.“
Is that a green light? Buckle up, Exposers, prepare to EXPOSE. Wait, stop. It would appear that numerous times in scripture it’s discouraged to dwell on bad fruit. Such as Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” So the only exposing one has left to accomplish would appear to involve good fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 conveniently lets us know exactly what to look for: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.“
So there we have it. When you discover someone who radiates love, kindness and goodness, and acts in mercy, patience, gentleness and self-control, expose them.
“Good Fruit Exposed: 100% Biblical!”
*gematrocities. Definition: atrocious gems (Coined by Cornelia)
As kids, the varying levels of embarrassment come to us in different forms. My brother loves to recount the story of my encounter with McDonald’s one day when I ordered my food, arrived back to the van to discover that I had forgotten to add fries to the order. However, the horrific mortification of returning inside to order AGAIN was too much for me. “I’ll give you an extra dollar,” I offered to my overly confident, capitalistic brother. “If you purchase the fries.”
In retrospect, my low self-confidence as a kid seems rather ordinary. All teens go through this “everything is embarrassing” phase, right? I’ve heard the laughter of adults over the red-faced teen who caught him/herself in woeful blunder, or at times, a strictly imagined one. “They’ll get over it in time,” they nod, believing that time and age mercifully erases many of the heart-stopping embarrassments that afflict our late childhood and teen years.
Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.
One of most predominant and iconic storylines of the popular hit series, Game of Thrones, follows orphaned and traumatized Arya Stark, who flees on foot after the beheading of her father. She is held prisoner by various captors, narrowly escapes torture, her journey is isolated, fraught with hardship and most of all, lonely. Despite the seemingly hopeless elements, she faces the odds with defiance. She is brave, resilient, confident, and her defining factor, a kill list for all the ones who wronged her or her family. Obsessed with revenge, she repeats the names of her enemies every night, the ones she vows to kill. Her prized possession was her Valerian sword, gifted to her from her beloved half brother, Jon. Her sword, christened “Needle” represented her core identity, the last remaining tie to her home and family.
My blog is a dusty unused journal at this sorry point in existence. It’s time for a fresh reboot. I don’t have much of an audience which is surprisingly freeing, because talking to one’s self is very therapeutic. I’ve archived/trashed the former posts on this blog, they needed to retire.
Heads up, my blog has no genre, because my mind has no genre. I might indulge in some philosophical debate over the theories and structures that plague various religions, or I might just want to discuss my favorite kind of wine and discuss some obscure TV series that has grabbed my interest. Predictable is pandering to a specific audience, I can’t pander, because I am not a niche.
However, in respect for my some of my possible readers, I shall keep the swearing to a minimum. As ugly as truth can be.
Cornelia, let’s do this.