About

Listening B & W
For many years I've listened to what others believe, and never had come to any real deep convictions about what I personally thought and believed. In fact, I was trapped in the land of "What will other people think" for much of my life. That kept me trom reaching outside of the "norm" and also kept me from thinking deeply about anything or saying anything about what was inside me. I was too concerned about being accepted. And yet, even with that, I never felt accepted. for much of my life I've felt like an outsider, never really fitting in, wanting to be accepted, but never feeling accepted. However, over the last 20 plus years I have went through some intense trials and had to rethink much of what I thought that I believed.

I have done a lot of deep soul searching, thinking, writing, wrestling with difficult concepts, researching, looking up word meanings, etc. I'm tired of just hearing what others think or believe. It takes a lot of effort and deep inner work to really struggle out what one truly thinks or believes about the important things of life. I've ignored it or put it asside for much of my life. I'm glad, and extremely blessed, to finally be on the journey. In one sense I don't care any more what religious people think or believe any more. I just want to know what is real and true. I want to have an answer when people question me about the deep things of life, even if the answer is simply, "I don't know."1

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15 

The Bible talks about "joy in sorrow". Now I have a better understanding of what that means. Some of my most meaningful times have been when I've had such a deep sorrow that wanted to just overwhelm me, while at the same time I had such a deep and abiding joy. Those were the times when I felt the presence of God more deeply that at any other times.

Building the Live-Anew website has been such a blessing to me as it has allowed me to put the fragmented pieces of my thoughts and beliefs together in a way that makes sense to me. There are still a lot of unfinished pages scattered throughout the website. That speaks of this being a process. Some pages may eventually be more or less finished. some pages may never get finished, and that is OK.

This website is devoted to learning how to discover that which is true, reliable and honorable. Much has been preached about "the Bible" and about religion, Christianity, and Jesus that just isn't true. However, many people don't take the time or the effort to think about the implecations of what they think that they believe. 

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him discover it within himself.” Galileo 

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." 1 John 1:1-3a

More important than finding the "Truth" is learning how to think, explore .... and to discover for oneself what is real and true. Too much of the trouble that comes upon people is the result of people just accepting (without any evaluation) what other people say. It is a lot of hard work to think out what is really true. It is a lot easier to just "believe whatever the preacher says".

It is important to know what you believe, because it affects so many of your decisions in life. For instance, what we believe about heaven, hell, and salvation, governs much of our purpose in life. When we believe that hell is a very real place, created by God to punish wrong-doers forever, that belief system sets up a very subtle "better than them" mentality. "We", the saved, focus on trying to get others to be "saved" (to believe like us).

When we believe that we have to preach to people to try to save them from hell, then that affects how we relate to people. Many people go to great lengths to try to "convert" people before they die. When that is the focus, it is so easy to neglect the physical and emotional needs of the dying person while he is still alive.

God is in total control. He controls the hearts of men (he hardens whom he will, and he has mercy on whom he will1), and that "No one can come to me unless the father draws him2"

Although I was raised as a "non-denominational Christian" I no longer go by that. I don't know what to call myself anymore. In some ways, at least at this point, I think labels are too confining and restrictive. One main trouble with following a particular religion (i.e. Christianity) is that people get caught up in either trying to defend that religion, to prove that specific religion right, or trying to convert people to that religion. In the process the basic premise of the religion (loving and serving others, and living an honorable life) gets lost. We need to get our minds off of trying to "convert" others (to our belief system) and just learn to love and serve them.

 

Instead I try to live by doing what is right, being kind and considerate, treating others as I want to be treated. As Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change that you want to see." Rather than trying to follow a particular religion, instead I try to live my life by the principles that are (or should be) common to all religions and all responsible patterns of living (Virtues, ethics, etc.) 

  • 1. "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." Romans 9:18
  • 2. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44

My Story

I was raised in a distorted form of Christianity. As I became older I left that and spent many years in one branch of Christianity or another. I went to countless church services and many Bible studies. I had many Bible verses memorized and I thought of myself as a "strong Christian". I was very judgmental in my mind of "fallen" people. I spent many years searching, but now knowing that I was searching, and not knowing for what. In the midst of this I wasn't living a meaningful or Godly life.

 For many years I've listened to what others believed, and never came to any real deep convictions about what I personally thought or believed. In fact, I was trapped in the land of "What will other people think" for much of my life. That kept me trom reaching outside of the "norm" and also kept me from thinking deeply about anything or saying anything about what was inside me. I was too concerned about being accepted. And yet, even with that, I never felt accepted. for much of my life I've felt like an outsider, never really fitting in, wanting to be accepted, but never feeling accepted.

 As the years went by I made some wrong choices and went through some intense trials. I brought some very strong and long-lasting consequences upon my family and myself. I went through a period of deep darkness where everything seemed to be going wrong. (It was much later that I realized that God was setting my life in order.) I took up journaling just to survive. God taught me so much through my own writings .As a result of my bad choices I was convicted and went through twelve years of probation and "secular" individual and group counseling. I had to spend time with and learn about the "fallen people" that I had once judged. I learned that I was one of them. During this time I also did much deep questioning of my "Christian" beliefs and many of my beliefs crumbled and dissolved. This was where God became real to me for the first time in my life. He showed his care for me and that I was one of his sons whom he loved deeply.

 During those many years of trials I had to rethink much of what I thought that I believed. I have done a lot of deep soul searching, thinking, writing, wrestling with difficult concepts, researching, looking up word meanings, etc. I'm tired of just hearing what others think or believe. It takes a lot of effort and deep inner work to really struggle out what one truly thinks or believes about the important things of life. I've ignored it or put it asside for much of my life. I'm glad, and extremely blessed, to finally be on the journey. In one sense I don't care any more what religious people think or believe. I just want to know what is real and true. I want to have an answer when people question me about the deep things of life, even if the answer is simply, "I don't know."

----------------------------

I was raised in a what was called a "Christian" home where my parents taught us about the Bible at home. My dad had a falling out with the preacher and left the church when my brother, sister, and I were very young children. We had "Bible Study" and "church" at home most for most of my childhood. At the same time our parents abused us for many years. There was this "secret" in our home, which distorted so many areas of my life. Yet, I was blind to the distortions in my thinking and in my character.

 I had an unhealthy view of the Bible. It was an idol for much of my earlier life. I had heard people say that, "the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, and it is the supreme and final authority for all matters of faith and life." I believed that the Bible was written by men who were filled with the Spirit and (if I had thought that far) I also believed that the spirit wrote every word. I envisioned in my mind the the Spirit took control of the men's bodies, as if they were in a trance, and the Spirit used the bodies of the men to write the words of the Bible. I also believed that "all of the Bible applies to us today." I believed that the apostles lived a much higher type of live that the rest of us humans could never achieve. As a child and as an young adult I never thought out or reasoned out anything about the Bible. I just accepted what I was taught by my parents and by the church. I considered myself a "Strong" Christian. I listed to "Christian" radio for many years.

 However, my "faith" was all head knowledge that I had picked up from what I was taught. The teachings about living a godly and righteous life never made it into the life I was living. I was very judgmental of the "fallen" people that I came across. I did not say anything, but I judged them in my mind. I believed that I was one of the "good people". At the same time I was living a perverted life, but I didn't judge myself for what I did. If I did something, it as OK, but if someone else did the same thing, "they" were bad people. I was very proud and very uncaring of other people. I desperately wanted to be accepted by other for who I was. Yet I was afraid to show anyone who I was. I was never real with myself or with anyone else. God wasn't real to me. I thought of him as this being, or old man, who lived "way out there" somewhere. I didn't see God as being involved in my daily life.

 For many years I had went to home Bible studies of one church or another. I thought of them being more real than church settings. Yet, even in them, I was never real with anyone. I was afraid of saying anything that anyone would disagree with. I was afraid that if someone knew who I really was that I would be rejected.

 Well, the years passed, I finally got married much later than most people and started raising a family. I committed a dreadful sin. A couple years later I confessed to it, thinking that I would be forgiven and then everything would be OK. Instead the police and authorities came into my life and the lives of my family. My whole family was blown apart. The authorities separated me from my family for two years. During this time I started into Christian counseling. I went through some months of extreme darkness of depression. I started journaling just to survive. "Why is this happening to me? I'm one of the good guys." is part of what I wrote. I also wrote out all of my anger at the authorities and what others were doing to ME. I also discovered I was angry at God. I remember waking up in a rage. In the middle of the night I yelled out my anger at God. At this point something began to change in me. I had never thought of God being involved in my life. And yet I was realizing that God was deeply involved in my life, and I was angry about what he was doing. And yet, through this realization, for the first time in my life, that God really cared about ME. In fact, as time went on, God began to show me that I was (one of) his son, and that he loved me greatly. I began to have a joy that I had never had in all of my life. I was LOVED, by my Father, God himself!

 At the end of two years I thought I was finished with counseling. I thought I was OK. What I didn't realize at the time was I was so immature and self-centered. I needed that time of counseling to begin growing up to prepare me for what was yet to come.

 After two years we were finally allowed to move back together, and I thought everything was over. But it was just about to begin. I was convicted and sentenced to ten years of probation and ten years of treatment/counseling. I had to submit to a full disclosure polygraph where I had to disclose everything I had ever done that was wrong. It was through this process that God showed me who I truly was, a sinner. As I was taking my 32 pages of history to my counselor's office I was so afraid that the authorities would throw me in prison and throw away the key. After I arrived at his office and gave him the papers I sat there trembliing as I watched him read my story. After he had finished he said something like, "we already know all of this...." He had a genuine warmth and acceptance of me that I had never experience before. He did not approve of the bad things that I had one, it was very evident to me that he accept me. He also approved of my honesty in what I had written. For the first time in my life someone knew the worst things that I had done and still accepted me. That was such a healing balm to my soul. To be known and still be accepted. My counselor was like Christ to me. Over the following ten years my counselor became like a second father to me, a father who reparented me and taught me how to live a responsible compassionate life.

 Part of my treatment included my memorizing about 35 "Criminal Thinking Errors" (i.e. making excuses, Justifying, lying, etc.) including the descriptions. Then I had to take the seven thinking errors that most applied to my life and write out complete descriptions of how I had used those thinking errors to commit my crime and to offend others.

 After about a year of counseling my counselor thought I was ready for group that consisted of other offenders in my situation. As I entered the group meeting I found it was time for introductions. Starting with the person who had been longest in treatment, each person told of his crime with very clear, specific, and detailed descriptions. After telling exactly what he had done, he also told of his conviction, and where he was in treatment. By the time each man had similarly told his story, when it became my turn, I knew what was expected of me. So I also to my complete story. In this group there was to be no covering up and no hypocrisy. In each meeting that followed we each were to tell anything that may have happened since last meeting that might be of concern.

 In addition to that, I had to think of everyone I had offended and write out in detail a complete account of how I had hurt each person, why I had offended, what I was doing to correct my thinking and behavior, etc.

 From this, and what I had been taught earlier, I learned what "confession" was all about. It was NOT simply saying "I have sinned", but rather it is telling complete, thorough, and accurate accounting of the offense and the events and conditions that had led up to the offense. The purpose of confession is not to condemn the offender, but is part of a process of him learning how to control himself and stop the offending behavior.

 Following that first polygraph I had to take a polygraph every six months, for a total of about 25 to 27 polygraphs over the following ten years of probation. I was under the supervision of my probation officer and my counselor.

 Taking the polygraphs was God's method of teaching me that he is TRUTH, and that he wanted me to always tell the TRUTH. After passing the first and second polygraphs I failed the next three, barely passed one, and then failed the following three polygraphs. I didn't know why I was failing the polygraphs. I was extremely careful in everything that I did. For example, I kept under the speed limit at all times. I stayed away from any place that might cause me to sin. I was careful to follow all the restrictions that I was under.

 Still I kept failing the polygraphs and I didn't know why. The polygrapher was a tall ex-policeman. I felt so intimidated. He told me nothing about how the polygraph worked. I tried my best each time to do everything he asked, to answer every question truthfully to the best of my ability. I thought it might something about my breathing or something else. So, during the polygraph, I tried to keep my breathing even and consistent. In order to not change my breathing pattern I would try to wait to answer the question until I was breathing out until I answered the questions. Then the polygraphed chided me for not answering immediately. No matter what I did or what I tried almost every time I kept failing polygraphs. There seemed to be nothing that I could do to pass the polygraph. From the beginning of my taking polygraphs with him, each time the polygraph was over, he would ask, "How do you think you did?" After the first polygraphs I said I thought I had done fine. But in later polygraphs I hated each time he asked that question.

 Although I think that my counselor thought I was telling the truth, he was getting concerned. Then, when I was sure that the authorities were about to send me to jail, they had a conference with me. They suggested that I try another polygrapher. The new polygrapher was like a breath of fresh air. After filling out her information forms I told her of my experience with the past polygrapher and my fear. She explained the polygraphy process to me. She let me answer the question by a slight nod of my head (so I wouldn't have to change my breathing pattern to answer the questions.) Although she still held me to a high standard, and didn't approve of any wrong behavior, she did a lot to quiet my fears of the polygraphy process. Beginning then and in the following years I passed every polygraph I took with her.

 God used the polygraphy process to teach me the difference between law and grace. With the first polygrapher, who represented the Law, there was nothing I could do to measure up. Nothing that I did was good enough. The second polygrapher represented God's grace to me. She held me to the standard of living a responsible life, yet she was compassionate and explained what I needed to know.

 I had been taught and studied the bible for most of my life, and had went to church for many many years, I had considered myself a strong Christian for most of my earlier life. However it wasn't until I went was arrested, convicted and went through the courts, judges, PO's treatment that God became real to me. This has been the most intensely painful experience in my life, and it also has been the best time in my life. I never want to go through anything like this again, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The Write Frame of Mind

This is an essay that I wrote about the value and importance of journaling. But it also tells about a period in my life when I was experiencing the consequences of my behavior, and the whole world around me seemed to be falling apart.

The heavy blackness lay upon me. The stark reality of the situation pressed down on me like a wrestler solidly pinning his opponent to the mat. They were gone! They had been taken away. I sat upright in the disheveled bed in a dazed stupor. Everything that meant anything to me had been stripped away. What was left to live for? How could I go on?

Sitting alone in the large, empty house, I thought back over the dismal events of the previous few days. I had confessed my hideous sin to my wife and had asked for her forgiveness. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I had not been prepared for what followed.

The police had come with the determined caseworker to interview us. I was totally open as I answered all their questions, almost as though I was in a trance. Then they drove away, taking my daughter with them. I was left alone. In the days that followed, it seemed like so many people were stepping back from me. My wife, was being forced to live somewhere else. My secure world, as I knew it, had ended; it had just been swept away right in front of my eyes. My life had forever changed. I couldn't do anything about it. I had lost everyone that I loved. What would I do? Feeling weak and drained, I struggled just to get through each day. The bleak darkness of the long dreary nights pressed heavily upon me. I needed help.

Although I don’t know why I started, I began journaling to cope with what had happened, and what was yet to transpire. When I first started writing, I only wrote a few words or sentences each time, which amounted to a few paragraphs per day. I somehow gave myself an unspoken directive -- when I write in the journal, don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar, or even if I have complete sentences. Whenever I only had a piece of a thought and couldn’t think of the rest of the words, I’d just use dots “….”, which would remind me to add more words later. This turned out to be such a good decision, because it allowed me to gradually open the floodgates and let the deluge pour out.

Sunday, August 7, 1994. Yesterday was the worst time of all. I was so ..... emotionally affected that I had a very difficult time functioning to do even simple things like fixing something to eat. I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Many times I broke down in uncontrollable ......tears and distress to the point that I couldn't think..... There were times that I was feeling ok, but during those times I felt guilty that I didn't feel bad. I felt that if I was really sorry for what I had done the I would be feeling miserable and be in tears.”

This also began a long painful journey where extensive periods of deep blackness swallowed me up. I turned to my journal, just to cope, to try to make some sense of what I was going through. I wondered if I would be able to stand up to the test.

The question that keeps coming back to me over and over is, "Am I willing to lose everything that I have in order to become clean and follow God. This has been scaring the living daylights out of me.

A few more days passed, and I had been unable to sleep for almost a week.

August 11, 1994. Last night was the first night since the kids were taken that I was able to sleep through most of the night, (about 6 1/2 hours). It has been 1 week today since the children were taken into the custody of CSD. Our lives have been turned upside down, my family has been separated. I've only been able to work a total of perhaps 1 or 2 days in the last 2 weeks because of my emotional distress and the mountain of details involved with ....

In the weeks that followed, as I found a counselor to help me through all of this, my journal became like a close friend in my counseling process. When all others seemed to be turning away from me, it listened intently to me, waited expectantly, without judging or condemning. Opening its arms, it warmly embraced me as it tenderly applied a healing ointment to my deepest wounds. As I wrestled with all that was happening to me, I wrote much of it in my journal. Sometimes I wrote in a notebook, but mostly I just typed into my computer, which I left on day and night. Then, as emotional, traumatic, or insightful thoughts would come to me, I would try to capture as many of them as I could. Months passed as I struggled to make sense of it all, through my journal I cried out from my very innermost being.

Although learning to put my deepest thoughts and emotions into a written form has been very beneficial in my life, its healing affects has not been  to me alone. Many hurting people have experienced the therapeutic properties of struggling to put their thoughts into a written form. In one case John Mulligan, a Vietnam veteran, returned home to San Francisco after his tour of duty. Suffering with flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder he spent the next 10-12 years of his life as a “shopping cart soldier,” (9)(13) a homeless drunken bum, sleeping in the bushes or in doorways. One day he was taken to the hospital, where he remained for three days in a coma. His life had hit bottom and finally decided to make some changes in his life. During this time, he took a veterans’ writing and meditation workshop(8). He wrote about a horrific scene from the war, complete with all the blood, the noise, and the sense of loss. When he left the work shop he “was so elated he was ‘whistling and skipping.’”

In the following years he found the benefits of “facing his demons.” As he continued to put the horrific events of his past into words, his mind became clearer and he felt better.

“Mulligan has often described the very act of writing ‘Shopping Cart Soldiers’ as a cathartic and healing experience which helped him to get off the streets, and off alcohol. ”(9b) Somehow, being able to write about the trauma that he had experienced had set him free from the dreadful prison of his past memories. As Mulligan discovered, writing can have powerful therapeutic affects in one’s life.

While thoughtful writing, often called journaling, is beneficial for those who struggle with traumatic events in their past, it also has other uses and benefits. In the article, “Journaling as Therapy,” Jayne Ash, an artist, sculptor and writer, says, “Journaling helps me clear my mind and become conscious of what is going on inside. I have found that usually the first feeling I have is not the root cause of anything. There is always something underneath it and journaling helps me to get to what that is.” (2)

I have found the same thing true in my own life. Whenever I’m struggling with some type of problem or issue in my life, I start writing about the most troublesome or persistent thoughts. Then, once they’re out of the way, a whole new and deeper level thinking or solutions often appear.

Many therapists have learned the powerful affects of this type of writing. Some have included journaling as an indispensable part of the healing process.

Laurie Nadel, Ph.D. psychotherapist, regularly suggests to her clients that they keep a journal themselves For people who are depressed, in a crisis, or feel "stuck," journal- keeping is a way to gain insight into their thoughts and feelings, says Nadel. "Journaling allows you to dialogue with parts of your psyche that are frozen in time. It allows you to tap into deeper reserves of creativity and problem solving. By keeping a journal, you can get a flash of knowing and awareness that you haven't seen before." (11).

One famous psychotherapist has found journaling so beneficial that he has focused much of his practice, and his success, upon getting the patients more deeply involved in their own therapy in this manner.

Dr. Ira Progoff, a renowned psychotherapist, began pondering the value of such behavior [pouring out one’s heart and soul to a diary] in relation to his field. In his practice, Dr. Progoff encouraged several patients to use journals. He called these journals “psychological workbooks” and asked that the subjects record anything that came to mind, including emotions, anxieties, thoughts, and fears. The doctor soon realized that they were able to work through their particular feelings or situation much more quickly and easily, and he became convinced of journaling’s value as a powerful therapeutic tool. With his development of the Intensive Journal Method in the mid 1960’s and 70’s, the “father of modern journaling” established the journal as a valid therapy. (7)

Michael Rank, Ph.D., associate professor and co-director of the International Traumatology Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa says that journaling is simple to do and it forces people to do something. (11) He states that some people resist it because it is a lot of hard work, especially if they are depressed. It’s painful write about bad feelings. However, for those who work through their resistance and do it in earnest, they will improve. “What journaling provides is a way of turning subjective thoughts to objective words on paper that can be analyzed, changed, even destroyed, says Rank. ‘Once your thoughts are externalized ... once they're out of your head and onto paper, there's no longer a mystique attached to them.’” He also says that keeping a journal forces people to be honest. While he didn’t specifically say it, I think that we can safely assume that being honest with oneself is an important part of the recovery path.

Research is also beginning to show the beneficial and valuable affects of jotting down one’s thoughts. James W. Pennebaker, M.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, began journaling during a stressful time in his own marriage and found journaling to be a great help. (1) He wrote, "There are dozens of features to a relationship, journaling helps to slow things down and put them in perspective." Journaling helped him understand what he wanted and what he valued, and the marriage survived. Seeing the great benefits in his own life, he went on to conduct studies that showed that participants who journaled about the most traumatic experiences in their lives stayed healthier than those who journaled about shallow events.

Dozens of studies have found that most people, from grade-schoolers to nursing-home residents, med students to prisoners, feel happier and healthier after writing about deeply traumatic memories, says James Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and leader or co-leader of many of the studies. (8)

In another example, a team of clinical psychologists and immunologists performed tests (5) that showed improved wellbeing from subjects who wrote thoughtfully and emotionally about traumatic experiences in there lives.

Our choice of words seems to make a difference in our health. The journaling that’s best for us seems to be where we give some deep, meaningful, thought to the traumatic events we are going through or have been through, and how we are really thinking and feeling. “The physical act of writing triggers brain processes that lead you to make new connections among ideas.”(12-pg 2) “Writing forces you to clarify your thinking as you use words to convey your thoughts, and a journal instills the habit of close observation and discovery.” (12-pg 28) I have personally encountered many times where answers to tough problems, which I hadn't seen before, have come to me while I was writing in my journal. Journaling has helped me to keep focused on what is really happening, and why, and has greatly helped me to make sense of all the trying times.

I’ve kept a journal for the last seven years. It has helped me tremendously in my counseling. I’ve had to be brutally honest with myself and to see myself as I am. As I look back and read my journal from those periods, I still get misty-eyed. I have written hundreds, if not thousands, of pages in my journal. This has been terrible and it has been wonderful. It has been a journey of self-discovery. I’ve had to look deeply within myself, and to see some things about myself that I really didn’t like, and didn’t want to see. Nevertheless, I had to look, and I had to admit that about myself. Then I had to work on changing those things about myself. I’ve had to do a lot of inner work, and my faithful journal has lent his compassionate ear to hear my every word. Many changes have been happening in my life, much of it recorded in, and even helped by, my journal. This has been such an invaluable time, as it allowed me to express my anger, pain, confusion, discouragement, and frustration. I have also written much about my joy of learning new things. I've expressed my thankfulness for God’s work in my life, for the new friends, and for what He has done with my family.

Since that time when my family was swept away from me, I’ve had to deal with many heavy consequences of my previous actions. I've had to learn to accept the many requirements and restrictions that have been placed upon me. For lack of knowing what else to do, I have just done what I was required to do. My journaling has really helped me to keep focused on this often arduous journey. Along the path, my wife and my daughter have been restored to me, and now we have a 3-year-old son.

“Honey,” calls my wife from the kitchen. “Could you come spend some time with the children? The kids need to spend some time with their daddy.”

I sit back and pause for a moment. As I stretch, I think to myself, “Yes, this has been a difficult journey, but its all been worth it. Keeping in the “write” frame of mind, keeping focused and following the rules have helped me to become a better daddy and a better husband. I wouldn’t trade what I have for the world.”

Shutting down my journal, I get up from the computer and go into the kitchen. My daughter and son are excitedly waiting at the kitchen table to play a game. As they spot me, their gleeful eyes twinkle with enthusiasm.

“Daddy! Daddy!” They both cry out in unison. “Can you play now?”

As I pull up a chair, I smile warmly and think to myself, “Well, I guess I’ll finish my journaling later tonight before I go to bed.”

What about you? Are you in the write frame of mind? Could you benefit from journaling? The research seems to indicate the positive benefits associated with journaling. It is easy to begin. All you need is a pencil, a notebook, and a desire to begin the journey of self-discovery. Do you have any thoughts about what you just read? Why not write them now as the beginning (or continuation) of your own journal?

Sources:

1. How Journaling Keeps you Healthy, http://www.healthierliving.org/health/journaling.html

2. “Journaling as Therapy” by Wendy Burt http://www.inspiredlifestyles.com/July%202001/7801_p17.htm

3. Strange but True: Improve your Health Through Journaling, http://www.shpm.com/articles/health/journal.html

4. Brief Writing Exercises Can Reduce Symptoms In Patients With Chronic Illness

http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/sci-news/1999/snr0414.htm#jpc90005

5. Effects of Writing About Stressful Experiences on Symptom Reduction in Patients With Asthma or Rheumatoid Arthritis (A Randomized Trial) http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v281n14/ffull/jpc90005.html

6. Writing tonic for chronic complaints, BBC News, Online Network, Wednesday, April 14, 1999 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_318000/318953.stm

7. A History of Journal Therapy - University of Pennsylvania – School of Arts and Sciences

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~weinberg/JournalTherapy.html

8. Writing for therapy helps erase effects of trauma By Chris Woolston CNN.com March 16, 2000 http://www.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/03/16/health.writing.wmd/index.html

9. John Mulligan’s book, “Shopping Cart Soldiers” http://www.curbstone.org/authdetail.cfm?AuthID=28

http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/mulligan.html and http://www.vietvet.org/visit/px/curbston.htm

9b. Writers Online, volume 3, No.1 Fall 1998

http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/olv3n1.html

This gives more of an in depth story of his book and of John Mulligan’s life

10. Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy.
Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 1988 Apr Vol 56(2) 239-245

http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/faculty/Pennebaker/Reprints/Kiecolt.pdf

11. Writing Your Way Out of Depression - Keeping a journal can help you cope. By Carol Sorgen

http://content.health.msn.com/content/article/1668.51435

12. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers, Lynn Quitman Troyka, pages 2, 28

13. “Choose from three excellent, healing works on Vietnam” August 24, 1997

Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/gizmo/1997/vietnam.html

My Working Premises for this Website

One might ask me, "Your ideas are so different from "Traditional" Christianity. What makes you think that you are right? Of the first matter, I don't claim to be right. I just think about and write out what makes sense to me. My Presiding Question for every article is, "What is Right? What is True?". My Accompanying thought is "Truth is very simple and very logical. The truth makes sense! And yet, it can be very difficult to comprehend.

My basic premise, my basic question, is "What is true?" I also realize that each of us is limited in our ability to truly see the truth. We can only see what we can see. We are also often hindered by recognizing and accepting the truth because of what we think that we know. Our immaturity and our pride (of thinking that we are right, or that we know everything) blinds our eyes from seeing and understanding the truth. Although the truth is very simple, it can be extremely overwhelming.

From early childhood we each of been taught and learned many things. We think that just because "we" (think that we) know something, then that means that it is true. Anything that disagrees with our beliefs is wrong. This thinking keeps us blind to the truth in immature.

Here are some of the things and my basic premises:

It seems to me that the Greek language that was used to write the New Testament was just the basic Greek language. To see more about this, see "Biblical" Greek.

To try to understand what the original intent of the writers of the New Testament I look up the Greek definitions of some words. Using the Greek words I also search the Internet common Greek definitions.

Quite often when I have a "new" or "different" idea about some aspect of religion or beliefs, etc, I search the Internet for my thought to see if anyone else has written anything about it. If any of the articles I find make sense to me I enter them into the Biblio (bibliography) of this website. I often put articles on both sides of the argument in the Biblio.

I try to think things out and then to clearly write out where I got my ideas and why I came to a particular thought or conclusion. I do this so that I can remember why I came to this conclusion and it also will, hopefully, show the reader why I wrote what I did and how I came to a particular thought. This way, if there is a flaw in my logic or in my thought, it might be traced out and corrected.

Statement of Faith

Many churches and religious organizations have written a statement of faith that they put on their website and pamphlets. If the leadership of those organizations wish to display their statements of faith, it is perfectly appropriate for them to do so. It shows the website visitors and prospective members what the leaders of that organization considers important.

However, requiring prospective and active members to have the same beliefs is not proper or appropriate. The Statement of faith is a statement about the Organization's leadership, not about the members. As a side note, many businesses have a "Code of Coduct" for their employees. I think that is entirely appropriate. You can reasonably require certain conduct and behavior of people involved with a business, church, or organization. But it is not proper or right to try to force everyone to believe the same way that you do. Beliefs are individual things, and rightly so. When people are genuine and honest, and really think about what they believe, then you will find that people have a wide range of beliefs.

As for myself, I put very little importance of a Statement of Faith. This is a man-made contrivance. I will never sign someone else's "Statement of Faith" If you want to know about my faith, look and see how I live my life, how I treat my wife, my family, my friends, my clients, etc.. How I truly live my life is my genuine "statement" of my faith, not some words that I write or speak.

However, for those who want to know what I believe about specific topics, here is a list of pages that I have written on this website for you to look at.

  1. God
  2. The Word of God
  3. The Bible
  4. The Scriptures
  5. Does the Bible claim to be the Word of God?
  6. The Spirit
  7. Living “In The Spirit”
  8. The Law and the Spirit
  9. Religion
  10. A Religious Skeptic
  11. What is Salvation
  12. Is Hell Real?
  13. The Concept of Satan
  14. Fighting Evil
  15. Character Development

 

 

Why Do I Do This Website?

I was a very timid child as I grew up. My father was a dominant personality and always thought that he was right about everything. I never wanted to get in trouble by disagreeing with him. As I grew up that translated that wherever I went, I didn't want to say anything that anyone would disagree with. I rarely shared any ideas that I had. Over the years whenever I went to church, or to bible studies I would just sit and listen and not say much. I didn't question whether the teachers and preachers were correct in their speaking.

In my early forties I did some bad things and experiences some pretty severe consequences, and caused a lot of pain to various members of my family. This led to my going throught twelve years of counseling. I've had to a lot of deep inner evaluation and correcting of erroneous thoughts, ideas, bad habits, improper behavior etc.

That all led to my rethinking much of what I was taught or had picked up. Some years ago I got interested in developing websites, both for my business and for personal. One of the websites I began to develop was about what I was learning in counseling. I continued with that website for some time. After I finished counseling (if one ever finishes learning the many lessons of life) I slowly began to realize that, although that website had been very useful to me, it wasn't appropriate for general audiences. So that led me to create this website, which I've been working on for the last few years.

In this life there are many subtle pressures to conform to what other people think is the right way. A perfect example of this is in the area of religion, more specifically, Christianity. I read that there are over "Christian" denominations in the US. Each of them has a doctrine and a set of beliefs that they consider to be "the true religion". My many years of experience with religion has not been a healthy experience. I learned more of value going through counseling than I have ever gotten out of any church services or Bible studies. This is not to say they hold nothing of value. But it is to say that the "Truth" is much larger than any one religion, or of all religions. Truth can also be found in Science, Psycholothy, Medicine or any other field that seeks to do what is right.

So, consequently my writings focus on far more than just religion. But, before I leave the thought of religion, I want to say this. In my writings I don't seek to agree with or to point to any one religion above another. I seek to find out what is true and write about that. However, I make no claims that what I write it truth. But, it is as much of the truth as I know at the moment that I write each article.

Ultimately, this website is about me researching, studying, and writing about, "What seems true to me." You could rightly say that the practice of my writing the articles are me search out what I believe and what I consider to be true. I view this to be a healthy practice for me so that I can learn to speak out (when appropriate) what I believe. I no longer want to follow along just to fit into someone else's belief system. I want to follow God's leading, not based upon what others say, but upon what God teaches me. As I continue to do the research and the writing, it begins to develop a confidence in what I am learning.

I don't hold to tightly to the things that I think I belief because over the years God has taught me much. At subsequent growth level much of what I learn at that point seems to contradict  what i learned at an earlier level. But I also realize that it's all part of a larger picture. Any particular lesson is not really that important. What is more important is opening up one's mind to learn to see God in all circumstances. God's lessons are all around us if we will open up and be receptive of it.

Site Keywords: 

A Religious Skeptic

As I write this in August 2012 I'm 61 years old, and I can truthfully say that I'm a religious/spiritual/faith skeptic. For example, when you want to claim some religious doctorine (or any other opinion) I would say, prove it to me here in front of my face, where I can see it with my own eyes, touch handle and hold it with my own hands, disect it and examine it. (1 John 1:1) Do it slowly so that I can watch each step closely, explain it to me so that I can understand the process for myself. If you can't or won't do that, don't bother trying to convince me, I won't believe it.

 Throughout my life I've seen so much stuff done in the name of faith and religion that I just don't believe much of what religions say nowadays.

For many years as I grew up we used to watch all the faith healers, including Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, and in later years I watched many of the healing services of Benny Hinn. During all those years of watching hundreds of healing services I saw a lot of showmanship, charisma, and emotional excitement. However I never saw anything that I would consider a provable undeniable healing or miracle. I never saw anything that couldn't have been faked or manipulated. For example, I never saw any missing legs or arms restored.

If faith healers could genuinely heal people, then why do the not go to where sick people are, such as the hospitals, and heal them? They could just go from room to room, touch the sick people, and they would be healed. The doctors could verify that they were actually healed before they left. No, I have never seen any a faith healer do this. This does not get them the publicity and the offerings that they crusades and healing meetings give them.

I've been sick and have had people lay hands with me, anoint me with oil, and sincerely pray over me.  They had done what the thought that they were supposed to, but that had no affect on me. I left there still sick, but eventually got well in the normal time.

I've been to countless religious meetings, both in church and in homes, where people have prayed for something or someone. I've seen no outcomes any more that just the law of averages. Sometimes people get well, and sometimes they don't or they die. If the people get well, the people who prayed take the credit. If the people don't get better or they die, that "failure of prayer" is put aside and not counted.

My dad died of Lymphoma cancer when he was about 63. During his long illness and treatment I saw no improvement in his condition which I would attribute to prayer.

My mom considered herself a prayer warrior. She prayed long and hard for many things

When my mom was sick with many ailments she went to healing meetings and received prayer literally dozens of times. She claimed that she was healed of several of her ailments (which could have been psychosomatic), but she kept repeatedly going back with her list of ailments for which she wanted prayer. She never was healed of the majority of her prayer requests.

Later on she had overian cancer. The cancer was removed during her hysterectomy. It wasn't because of prayer.

 My mom eventually died of a brain tumor while her church was praying for her recovery.

If prayer really worked that way that it is claimed, then it would work every time, no excuses. There would be no sick people, doctors and medical staff would be out of work and would have to go into another profession.

I don't think that our faith is supposed to give us any more "power" than anyone else in this life. Our faith is not an instant ticket out of any troublesome situation so that we never experience any hardships. Instead, our faith is meant to give us meaning and purpose in our lives and to give us perseverance .... so that we work through the troublesome situations in our lives.

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Stephen's Eating Plan

 

Avoid

Breads, pastries, pies,

Potatoes

Processed food

Dairy, butter, margarine

Stop

Stop being the garbage disposal. Don't eat that last bit of food. Put it away or throw it away.

No Snacking

Do

Eat small portions. Portion sizes is one of the main keys to loosing weight

Do take time to make a proper meal.

Put everything on your plate at the the first.