Jesus, I Believe. Help my unbelief!

I’ve been at a place where I’ve tossed aside some of the Bible’s promises and it’s directives. Some verses that are applying to me right now, in that I’m not believing them confidently are Psalm 1:2, John 17:17, and Matthew 4:4. In these verses I see Jesus relying only on God for his spiritual sustenance.

Jesus never “flew solo” when it came to his thoughts, words, and actions. This includes all his concerns and worries, as well as anything he may not have wanted to follow through on. As I’ve been facing the challenges before me, I have not turned only toward obedience. I do not have the singular confidence that my faith has driven me toward in the past.

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Locationally Mis-identified

An exploration of identify. Determining what makes me fragile in these given moments. From where do my motivations come? Location seems to be an easy starting place.

I remember walking through my undergraduate student union with an emotional awareness of myself. I thought the more briskly I walked by the small shops, the more purpose I would attract. I recall a sort of anticipation every time I walked up the front steps and opened those stainless steel-rimmed glass doors to be greeted by a rush of air-conditioned academic freshness. I was a full-grown growing-up student, albeit merely picked up out of the public education system and dropped into a state-subsidized extension of my only functional reality.

Today, seven years later, I pass through similar corridors of my graduate school student union, feeling deeply moved by an upcoming relocation to begin my career as a band director. God first tied me that undergraduate institution, then sent me away married, loving my brand new wife (hot off the press) through this new adventure together. Now the wind in the sails has completely reversed directions, taking us back to where we came from and seemingly ripping us away from many we hold dear.

We’ve secured the cutest of cute houses, with a wonderful park across the street, complete with disarrayed tennis courts. Ignoring my wife’s anxiety about leaving all we love in Lubbock, TX to return to our hometown, I easily stepped into a number of properties, brimming with the excitement of our potential. It’s not hard for me to imagine myself being awesome just about anywhere I go. We settled after viewing six properties, but we both admit our new place is just “almost” perfect. Only God is perfect, as my mom says.

Today, feeling the stress of an impending move affecting my wife and I’s interactions and seeing potentially damaging patterns developing, I’m grasping for meaning in the realization of how emotional I feel when thinking about location. At this juncture, I realize I feel so much fondness for where she and I once brushed into each other in Washburn’s student union. Yet, I feel so far beyond it, as if I cannot ever return with the sort of vitality once alive in the younger me. Regardless, I stand outside my past identity and see just how much stock we invest in our location.

Am I defined by my location or do I give definition to my location? Do I receive the day’s weather directly into my limbic system for cloudiness and storms to overflow in my behavior? Or do I hop out of bed with a smile, ready to splash through the prevailing puddles and personal muddles?

There is something that transcends all of this, which I’m admittedly out of touch with recently, and that is the Spirit of Christ. I know that many struggles of my past five years of life were bearable, and even fruitful, due to God’s work in me. When I am setting aside myself and remembering the amazing news of Christ’s forgiveness for me, not a single negative circumstance can overtake my emotions or my behaviors. Instead, in that wonderful state, I am defined by the gratefulness and humility I feel towards God and those emotions translate into a natural and encouraging service to those around me.

Today, in Lubbock, TX, walking just another errand through this soon-to-be distant student union, I notice a weight of sadness. Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe it’s finally time for me to mourn. All I find myself seeking is a way to embrace this change, to follow Christ through the futile battles in my brain, and to lead my wife to a land of promise. The road is painful and our need for comfort is great. That’s what we desire. Not these distractions and impatient conflicts.

Come, Holy Spirit, will you? No matter my location crisis. No matter my identity crisis.

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Pet Peeve, I Peeve, You Peeve?

I forget to completely close doors…closets, bedrooms, cabinets, and drawers. It’s something I conditioned myself to intentionally avoid doing having grown up in a very old, creaky house with a mother who slept ever so lightly. I hate loud noises, as my beloved professor of percussion, Tom Morgan, oft proclaimed (#irony). I don’t like disturbing a quiet household…it pains me to imagine robbing rest or comfort from someone by closing a door or slamming a drawer shut.

A number of months ago, for a small group meeting, we used pet peeves as an icebreaker for the evening. We shared what annoys us most, shedding light on all sorts of things that tend to irk us, send our blood pressure up, make us squirm. I noticed some patterns. We really enjoyed tossing bad drivers under the bus (pun intended), commiserating about waiting in long lines, and generally (vehemently) agreeing on the kinds of things that “those people” do to annoy us. It actually showed our tendency to blame others for our temper or insecurity lies just below the surface, but we tried to cover that ugliness with some laughter.

I couldn’t think of anything in particular that annoys me, so I tried to playfully call out my wife on some small issue. I realize now, she could have quickly cited my lack of shutting things as her pet peeve but she kindly attacked third graders at her job instead. However, I hear almost daily a request to close the closet door or shut the cabinets after gathering dinner ingredients. I always think I’m doing awesome when I remember to close the fridge!

I’ve realized that instead of focusing on our pet peeves, continually adding to a seemingly never-ending list of complaints about others or about uncontrollable circumstances, maybe I should try and discover what others see as my most annoying habits. Maybe I could benefit by taking the log out of my own eye (quoting Jesus here) before attempting to convince myself that others are the cause of my problems or that I’m a victim of the day’s challenges.

Of course, this could be a silly exercise. I’ve learned that plodding down the paths of self-help or self-improvement can lead to an existential dead end. I’ve tried to pursue perfection for the sake of security or pride only to find myself more empty than when I started. Perfection is both elusive and ultimately depressing.

But, perhaps this could reveal some serious issues in my behavior. Maybe I could discover some of the hurdles or barriers that turn people off to the life I really could be sharing with them.

Have you ever thought in this way? Have you ever considered that maybe your unawareness, insensitivity, or plain obstinance really bothers others? Have you ever considered that your actions may be failing to show love to those around you?

Why don’t you go ahead and clue me in to things I have done, repeatedly do, or used to consistently do, that peeve you. For me, I’ll call them iPeeves – the things I do that peeve others. This is the internet and Apple is the standard. So, iPeeves. #iPeeves. A wave of owning up to our obstinance and repeated offenses will catch on.

Maybe.

Comment anything that comes to mind, anonymously if preferred. I want to consider these, both silly and serious, and may implement them as resolutions or habits to break/change/mold/improve. Again, this isn’t about the perfection of self, but the loving of others. Starting with my wife and those pesky and loud doors!

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1000 Things

Our church has come up with a task of listing 1000 things we are thankful for, in recognition of God’s great provision. The premise is that all we REALLY need on earth is food and shelter. We all need salvation, too, of course! We are also focusing on changing the language of our homes by actually using ‘need’ and ‘want’ when appropriate.

Last updated: Saturday, November 24th

not listed by importance or priority!

1. Salvation
2. Forgiveness
3. mom, her care and acts of service
4. dad, his support and wisdom
5. Jason
6. Billy
7. Hans
8. Peter
9. my girlfriend, Carly
10. socks
11. shirts, too many really
12. underwears
13. convenient washer/dryer
14. running water
15. hot water
16. cold, purified water
17. a convenient water bottle
18. this laptop
19. ability to express
20. ability to compose
21. drums
22. drumsticks
23. music
24. musicians
25. music school
26. professors
27. counselors
28. teachers
29. custodians
30. trash cans
31. couches
32. my cajon
33. my guitar
34. my phone
35. my music
36. past learning
37. math class
38. social studies wisdom
39. the BIBLE
40. the books in the Bible that give advice
41. the books in the Bible that give comfort
42. the books in the Bible that give hope
43. David, the Psalmist
44. Wordpress
45. Youtube
46. Community
47. Facebook
48. my car
49. my scholarships
50. food, and what I like at that!
51. Smoothies
52. Bananas
53. Almonds
54. mucus relief (compare to the active ingredients of Mucinex)
55. sleep
56. a comfortable and warm bed
57. pillows
58. handkerchiefs
59. running shoes
60. running shoes
61. boots for cold, wet, adverse
62. practice pads
63. The Mars Volta
64. encouraging phrases
65. inspirational books
66. good stories
67. Harry Potter
68. the ability to experience nostalgia
69. pop-sickles
70. poop-sickles (the humor, okay?)
71. humor
72. jokes
73. bill cosby
74. the emperor’s new groove
75. money in the bank
76. automated bill pay
77. sense of hearing
78. aesthetic enjoyment of music and sound
79. sense of taste
80. enjoyment of food
81. preferences and rights to use them
82. America’s freedoms
83. freedom of expression
84. freedom to urinate in my backyard (ya, I know its weird)
85. freedom to write,
86. to sing,
87. to read,
88. to play
89. sense of sight
90. glasses
91. contacts
92. contact solution
93. file cabinets
94. order and organization among chaos
95. the wind in the fall
96. the change of season
97. the varying and never-boring weather of KS
98. friendly Midwesterners
99. travel opportunities
100. wind ensemble
101. orchestra
102. jazz band
103. Washburn University Percussion Collective (the experience and good times)
104. Christian Challenge meetings
105. Doorholders ministry friends
106. The Challenge Band
107. drums at Challenge
108. earplugs
109. headphones
110. mobile music devices
111. good tires
112. closet of dressier attire
113. medicated foot powder
114. protein shakes
115. a scale (to be aware of my health)
116. the ability to walk,
117. to run,
118. to bike,
119. to trampoline,
120. to swim,
121. to bathe,
122. to jump,
123. to roll,
124. to stumble but stabilize myself
125. my bike
126. helmets
127. bike gloves
128. winter gloves
129. work gloves
130. bare feet
131. rain and mist on a windy night
132. the smell of rain
133. house plants
134. fans
135. remotes for fans (seriously America, why aren’t we grateful?!)
136. Halo
137. Pizza
138. homemade bread
139. gardening
140. practice time
141. quiet time with Jesus and His Word
142. the ability to type,
143. to speak,
144. to sing
145. the beauty of each sunrise,
146. sunset,
147. picture-cloud kind of day
148. opera gongs
149. percussion camp
150. band camp
151. drum major camp
152. scholarships
153. business connections
154. teaching opportunities
155. my kids at Shawnee Heights
156. supportive bosses
157. metronomes
158. God’s protection
159. Solitude
160. Silence
161. loud and noisy objects
162. warm baths
163. quick showers
164. sinus rinse
165. home-remedies
166. insurance
167. doctors
168. medicine
169. snacks
170. peanut butter
171. warm home
172. a few places I can call home
173. airplanes
174. buses
175. trains
176. rails-to-trails

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North Star Bible Camp Wrap-Up – 2 months late

Well, greetings to all. It seems two whole months have slipped by since my return from a month in Alaska. I wrote and printed letters to many people who were my supporters and then stumbled in all sorts of ways to not get all of them sent out. That makes it look like I promised a wrap-up and failed. That also makes it look like I didn’t care about your support in the end. Life has been busy in so many varied and exciting ways since returning and I apologize for my failure to make good on my promise…so far. Here is my wrap-up:

Greetings! I hope you have enjoyed your summer season of 2012! I am writing to report back to you about my trip to Willow, Alaska, where seven Washburn University colleagues and I served at North Star Bible Camp. We had a wonderful time working with campers, experiencing God’s creation, and spreading the Good News.

THE THANKS
First, I want to thank you for your support in prayer and/or finance. Our team was very blessed in focus, unity, health, and friendships. Though we were challenged at times, I feel camp was prepared and bolstered by ample prayer and God’s work. We were also blessed to be fully funded, removing stress and distractions from our mission at camp. Thank you so much for what you contributed to make this a great camp!

THE SETUP
Our experience began with three days of training and camp preparation. Our focus was on sharing the Gospel in three parts: mankind’s individual sin (Romans 3:23), Jesus’ loving sacrifice in our place for our sin (Romans 5:8), and the eternally saving response of faith in Jesus (John 1:12). This gave us a very simple framework for talking with kids of varying ages. During training we also got accustomed to camp life, routines, and rules and worked on various projects. I was delegated to bike repair and music preparations. Group meals and evening games built team unity for the weeks to come.
A typical day consisted of a staff prayer meeting, cabin cleanup (for both cleanliness and good-hearted competition!), breakfast, camper devotion time, chapel (worship and message), games, activities, lunch, verse memorization, free time, cabin discussion time, dinner, chapel again, evening games, snacks, and bedtime devotions. The weather was generally cloudy and occasionally rainy – though we had a few sunny days that rivaled a calm and clear 70 degrees anywhere!

THE CAMPS
There were three weeks of camp, beginning with high school. We had an exceptionally low camper to counselor ratio for this week with five campers and three counselors per cabin. This allowed for lots of flexibility to have one-on-one conversations and time for rest. My five high school campers were a mix of ages and maturity and one of them actually made a decision to accept and follow Jesus during his time at camp! The other campers were all open and curious about learning more about God, but a couple headed back home to very discouraging environments.
For middle school week I was the camp photographer. This was a nice break, but I missed out on the unique energy and malleability of this age group. As a staff worker, we had our own devotions and verse memorization, so in addition to following camper activities I also learned about the early Christian church (Acts, chapters 1-8) and became more focused on honoring God daily through studying Ephesians Chapter 5. You can see the media slideshow and other photos on North Star’s Facebook page (bottom).
Elementary week was our final camp. In just the first night these campers were more fun and more challenging than both prior camps combined. We also had more campers. I was surprised that all of my campers already believed in Jesus. However, a couple of them did not behave as though God’s grace was active in their lives through their arguing and competitiveness. Granted, they were young and we did our best to model Christ-like actions while keeping up the light-hearted activities. Thankfully, conflicts were resolved and all the kids were able to benefit from a full week of God’s teaching. These younger kids definitely stole our hearts!

THE TAKE-AWAYS
Camp taught me to build relationships with peers and students with the purest intentions of trust, respect, and service. I gained experience and confidence in sharing or reviewing Gospel with everyone – seekers, stumblers, and “souled out” followers.
Beginning each day with staff prayer was energizing and encouraging because we helped each other focus on God’s mission for every believer (Matthew 28:18-20). We grew very close and I was truly sad to leave. I am inspired to maintain my personal relationship with God, be more intentional in sharing the Gospel in Topeka, and now desire closer relationships with fellow believers.

Thank you again and all glory to God for His work in the lives of the campers and staff!
In Christ Alone,

David Wingerson
Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11

I am glad to talk with you more about this experience! david@wingerson.us | http://wingerson.us | FB: North Star Bible Camp 2012

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North Star Bible Camp Week 1 and more

Today is July 2nd, our twelfth day at North Star. This is the first morning of the middle school camp and I’ve got a break on my new position for the week.

Our first few days here we spent lots of time training and working on camp to-do’s. Each day was packed with three or four “chapel” times in which we worshiped and then learned about North Star rules and procedures and the mission of the camp: to lead campers to Christ through presenting the gospel and to help grow and encourage those who already believe through discipleship. We learned four main rules/philosophies that guide our actions as counselors and staffers – these are overarching and cover most of the smaller detail kind of rules of camp:

  • 1. Be nice
    2. Don’t be stupid
    3. Obey God
    (4. Camp is for campers – this one is not known by campers)
  • We also learned succinct ways of sharing the gospel – splitting it into different sections (sin, Jesus, response) or using a bridge analogy (Romans 6:23). All our study and methodology was very encouraging and helpful in solidifying the significance of the Gospel I’ve been experiencing for the past couple years.

    I became the bike mechanic and worked to maintenance ten mountain bikes owned by the camp. They are all very nice but have not had the best care over the past couple years. At this point (after a week of camp) we have nine of ten bikes working well. I ended up assisting with other things, like organizing game equipment, leading worship and playing drums (a conga), and cleaning cabins and the lodge.

    We also got the opportunity to visit Talkeetna, a tourist town near Denali National Park. Denali = Mt. McKinley. It was a beautiful day and we saw a full view of the mountains in the range – God’s creation is absolutely beautiful!

    I ended up getting sick Friday through Monday of when the first campers arrived. The typical sinus congestion I get when sick. Not mono symptoms, though fatigue has been something I’ve still been fighting.

    High school camp was wonderful! We were unsure of the number of the campers who would come, but God brought us about twenty-five campers in all. We had a very high ratio of counselors to campers (1 or 2 to 3) which was great for getting to know the campers personally, having fun with them, resting at various times (helped my sickness and mono battle quite a bit!), and having individual conversations about God and the Gospel.

    One camper in our cabin professed new faith in Jesus, while two of them were full of lots questions – thirsty for answers we could say. Interestingly, questions on a certain topic would arise (i.e. what happens if a murderer believes in Jesus before their death row date…will they go to heaven?). Our camp speaker, a pastor that came with us from Kansas, would in turn answer some of those very questions in the following chapel message – God at work in the minds of our campers!

    Little things like that, ever since I became a follower of Jesus, convince me that coincidences don’t really exist… God is in control and we are just to obey what he commands and he will complete his mission. When we say “What a coincidence!” we are really forgetting to attribute something to God’s plan. “Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”

    I think most of the campers got a lot of information and understanding from the week’s program. We also gave our cabin guides for building their prayer habits at home (7 minutes with God – Navigators).

    Another building block for the week was were memory verses. We memorized Romans 8:31-39 in sections over the course of the week, competing with other cabins for points. This passage stresses the security of our salvation as a result of God’s unmatched love for us through Jesus. The kids were excited to get points memorizing, but more importantly they were hiding away a bit of God’s truth in their minds. Hopefully they’ll draw from this in the future!

    Pray that this week’s campers would be about God and his love for them, that they would make decisions of faith in Jesus, and that their activities would be blessed with safety, friendship, and fun. Also, pray for the counselors whose goal it is to make the most of opportunities to talk with kids about Jesus and salvation. Pray for their hearts and minds, and their endurance and health.

    WOOT

    Posted in My Day, Personal, Religion and Politics, Spirituality | Leave a comment

    Flat Earth

    I’m hesitant to write these things out loud. I wonder if the scientists who first postulated and later confirmed that the earth is round were hesitant in a similar fashion. I’d like to think they were bold all the time, but how did their new and challenging ideas resonate in their own conscious before striking the population’s known reality upside the head?

    Too bad my thoughts aren’t as groundbreaking… But I’m giving it a go!

    I’m sitting in the same bedroom, in the same house, in the same neighborhood, same school district, in the same city, same state, same nation, earth, universe, that I would have sat five years ago to write a blog post. What might I have written about? Anything, really. Check out my categories to the right and browse through. See how many differing ideas and interests I dabbled in. Many of these interests have stuck with me: I still have a huge passion for music and family, and for honesty, reality, logic, and curiosity. I still love my friends even if the scenery has changed a bit. I’m even the same height and weight, eat a similar diet, and do a similar amount of physical activity. I still understand the inner-workings of a computer, I still enjoy political humor, I still enjoy pondering natural beauty in people and the world, and swimming still isn’t my favorite.

    But today feels so different from that past. Indeed, my life contains blessings beyond measure; if I started a thankfulness list to share with you, it would surpass the sum of all other words on this blog. You might say my paradigm has shifted just a bit. An new umbrella now covers me – I trust Christ for my life and view anything good as having come from Father God.

    For some reason I’m hesitant to write and share even that good news these days.

    Everything that has happened in me and to me in the past few years doesn’t reach the masses as quickly as it once did. My excitement at a new idea or pursuit is usually limited to my mind…sometimes a close friend. It’s ironic that this is true when today’s technology lets us be connected to hundreds of friends more quickly than anyone had imagined just a generation ago. And since I would expect such technology to help me express and share, I’m actually going to blame it: Facebook and smart phones.

    Facebook status updates have robbed me of the release and validation that came from sharing my thoughts and activities in more detail. Instead of catching a new idea and then taking a substantial amount of time to hash out detail in order to share a complete synopsis, I now tend to think in shorter phrases. Anything that is witty but brief. Or perhaps, profoundly short. I’ve always been into making a deep impression, be it factually, emotionally, or humorously. But my full blog post expressions that achieved this so well in the past have been pared down to curt statements that hardly begin to unlock all the thoughts and emotions that could be sown and grown in my mindgarden.

    Facebook enables us to emphasize surface image and neglect truer understanding. Its much safer to analyze and judge someone from a distance. For instance, this may be through forming opinions about the stinky kid in the back of math class that no one ever talks to. Its easier to feel better about ourselves when there is distance between us and those we deem inferior.

    Online socialization establishes an even safer distance. The computer chair I sit in has become so much more comfortable than it used to be because I’ve gotten used to avoiding interaction when I feel I need to. But a good friend of mine, Charlie, surmises that without awkward social interactions we don’t grow as fast. I’ll build on this and say that less face-to-face interaction altogether – awkward or not – is going to leave us socially and emotionally underdeveloped. I used to hardly sit in one place for more than an hour because I was running from one project to another, from homework, to family, to friends. Now this judgement seat is my favorite place to rest and eat up time instead of exploring or connecting.

    Even outside of this judgement aspect, Facebook gives the illusion of satisfaction of our desires for social interaction with things that aren’t quite as fulfilling. We were created to be relational; connectedness is in our emotional DNA. Granted, I’m an introvert and feel drained after being with others, but I’m learning how beneficial this connectedness is for my intellect and sanity. Skimming over other peoples statuses, photos, and listed activities is NOT the level of relationship that will fill our lonely soul-holes. Facebook News Feeds end up making us feel more connected and in-the-know but give no real friendship foundation to satiate our social desires.

    Smart phones are almost as evil as Facebook. They do have many amiable qualities that put them ahead of social sites, though. Like useful apps, alarms, calendars, to-do lists, cameras, contact management, and email. Fast and convenient. Even trendy and fashionable.

    But something about smart phones – all phones actually – that I’ve noticed recently, is their capacity to steal us away from now, the moment we live in and the people with whom we abide. More and more I find myself interacting with people who have a phone in their hand and are glancing down multiple times (or even texting) as they speak or “listen” in conversation. Even an atmosphere that has been deemed a “hang out” or “date” is riddled with phones in our laps and beside our dinner plates. This digital communication dominates our attention and even takes precedence if interesting or important enough. And seriously, as I just wrote that last sentence, my phone buzzed by my thigh and I glanced at it – a text that I’ll now pause to look at…

    See how that just disrupted my thought process? Do you realize how many times this happens to you and what you’re missing out on as a result? Since when did staring at a screen become as invigorating as shared laughter or gazing into another’s eyes?

    These times of pure thought exploration and social relating, where we’re forging ahead in our mindgardens and possibly (positively) influencing others, get jolted off course. I’m as guilty as anyone. It is our free-will decision to allow distractions. But I think I’m only beginning to realize the personal consequences.

    I’m someone who enjoys expressing. I’m a learner and a sharer. Even though I have hardly written on this blog in the past three years, I have maintained a journal consistently: my occasional log of things that happen during my day and my more routine reflection on things I learn in bible study and prayer. And maybe that is healthy enough. But it definitely isn’t any sort of public exploration of new ideas and learning. I don’t tend to step up and offer my views like I used to.

    My fear is that our world is gradually flattening. We’re settling. We’re withdrawing into our individual, media driven lives. And tons of media tells us it is okay to be loners. It seems like the day is coming where we will prefer to fulfill our desire for relationship, closeness, and intimacy through the quick and easy touch of a button. We will all build a habit of being satisfied with a funny video, cute status, addictive game and some new pictures someone posted. Gradually our desire to know others will be replaced with an existence of sole and lonely self.

    Billy (another great friend) and I agree that although individual perception isn’t reality, it might as well be. (That is another entire post.) A thousand years ago the world might as well have been flat. No one knew any better, and it really didn’t matter for life’s operation at the time. Now the earth is turning flat again by our own devices; through distraction and lack of depth. We all know the world really isn’t flat – but it might as well be.

    Maybe I’ll try this in 2012: give myself more time for thought development and self-knowledge. Maybe we’ll all find ways to combat the depersonalization in our digital society. Toss me some comments!

    Posted in Culture, Personal, Technology | 4 Comments

    Unstoppable

    My heart gets no rest
    My mind finds no answers
    To complete this test
    I roll about in agony
    Wondering which direction
    My lottery will align me

    I stare out of the window
    Into the deep bleak gray
    Ashamed that all my reasoning is colored the same
    Dazed, confused for days and days
    Not locating in any any
    Any truth or right way to proclaim

    My life’s great mistake:
    A challenge in which I
    Refused to partake
    In infant retrospect:
    A guilt, a pain,
    And a lowly spirit left

    Oh, love’s definition
    Shrouded and withheld
    Outside understanding, still I am compelled
    An invigorating
    And stunning dive
    Into the surrealest emotion!

    Coupled with a firm decision
    Love is capable
    Completely capable
    Fed with the fuel of the Almighty
    Love’s unstoppable
    Unstoppable

    But I am a failure
    A sheep lost it’s way
    I’m selfish, I beg and beg
    What’s worse, I’m haughty
    My pride doesn’t let me obey

    Where I stand today
    Is in no form, shape, or way
    A fair representation of Christ’s love for me
    But there is a flip side
    These hindrances can subside
    Forgiveness, salvation, with God I will abide!

    Coupled with a firm decision
    Love is capable
    Completely capable
    Fed with the fuel of the Almighty
    Love’s unstoppable
    Unstoppable

    (I have my direction. My God has found me.)

    -David Wingerson, 2011, edited 2014

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    Thoughts on Temptation

    This morning I stood in my room and faced the seemingly simply decision of whether of not to open up my laptop or sit down with my Bible…

    I was feeling lustful since the time I awoke and knew no one else was home. If I sat down at the computer with those ideas in the back of my mind, I almost certainly would fall into sin… hundreds of situations have built up a pretty predictable track record: I would sit down and open up a “private browsing” window (just in case I ended up “needing” to go somewhere “questionable”). I would open Gmail and Facebook. Some pictures, ads, or phrases may have caught my attention and drug me deeper into tempting thoughts; maybe a status update from my ex, new pictures from someone’s winter Caribbean cruise, or a suggestively illustrated cartoon ad for women’s swimsuits.

    But as I stood transfixed on this scenario, on this possible adventure into Satan’s territory, I recalled a list of Bible verses I had made while browsing through the New Testament a few days ago. (To me, if Jesus was who he said he was (which I certainly believe) then the entire Bible rings with truth and guidance for my character and relationships.)

    Somehow, as I stood there, I felt I was choosing faith in eternal life or faith in eternal death. If I chose life, I would sit in my reading chair and learn more about God, gaining more understanding of His purposes for me. I would pray for his Spirit in me to cause me to flee from sin (especially sexually immorality, 1 Corinthians 6:18) and that He would continue teaching me how to rid myself of unrighteousness (1 Corinthians 8). Basically, I’d be going out on a limb, calling God’s bluff so to speak, and waiting to see if Christ really does free us from sin.

    Because of my past struggles with porn, this was such a hard decision! This morning was the most aware I have been of it’s complexity. It reminds me of Jesus, perfectly blameless and never submitting to temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; Isaiah 53:9). If he had been standing there with me looking at my laptop and Bible, how hard would He (or I, for that matter) have to think on this one?

    I inhaled deeply and sighed as I fell into my reading chair. As I sat, it felt like I was killing a bit of my sinful nature – not the most enjoyable feeling really – like trying to kick a familiar and comfortable habit. I grabbed my bible and flipped directly to the list of verses I had made a few days prior and began praying, reading, and thinking.

    You know, I place faith in God. That means living as his servant, as one indebted to and inspired by God’s grace. It saddens me that so many do not see this grace more often because of their own walls or inhibitions, or because of the influence their surroundings, sacred or secular. To loosely quote Jim Congdon: I urge everyone to consider God’s grace in the face of our stupidity (or flat-out filth), because it is stupendous!

    As I continue to battle against sexual temptation, I’m also going to make a conscious effort to pray or read the Word BEFORE I spend time on Facebook each day. And later in the day before surfing (or stalking) during a block of free time, I think I’ll hit up the Bible or phone an old friend or take a moment to catch up with my family. These are things of a more true and eternal significance: learning, growing, forgiving, befriending, loving. The internet is really too tempting anyway…

    -David Wingerson

    Posted in Culture, Personal, Religion and Politics, Spirituality | 4 Comments

    Victim

    A victim of a traffic accident,
    Lays, clinging to the blue knitted wool hat in her hand.
    An image of low, thick fog bulging at her, imprinted in her mind,
    Right before she was flung onto the snow.
    This isn’t a grab at the ordinary,
    Like her laughter just before the crash.

    -David Wingerson

    Posted in Personal | Leave a comment