Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Broken N

This morning I took a long walk just to rest my soul. It has been hard to get back into the habit of restful walks.  As crossed a bridge I was drawn to how calm the water was. I stood beside these still waters and asked God to bring my soul to a place as calm and still as the water appeared. It was interesting to know that there is some much life beneath the surface of that calm water.  I know there is life in me too.

I continued along the road and found this broken metal N.  My immediate thought was "how appropriate."   I've been a broken and felt so lost. I wonder what I looked like as the Creator took my broken form in His hand and carried me. Maybe I won't find my identity in being called "Mr. Neuenschwander." Maybe this is the path to finally understanding the better name God has for me. 

Yesterday I prayed specifically, "God, I want a miraculous God.  I am tired of the pathetic, watered down one."  Today this verse came.  

Deuteronomy 7:19 "You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear." 

I'm wondering what it is God is leading me to. I have a feeling that this wandering has a much more important outcome then I ever imagined.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Living in the Middle

For a while now I have felt stuck. The past still lingering and the future still distant. I looked at this first as a torment and then an as opportunity for growth. Growth however requires change, and so I set about looking for the points that need to change. I suggest that everyone do this.

Over the last few weeks I have come to a couple conclusions about my growth areas.

First, There are areas in which I am very unforgiving. I took time to pray about this,  and realized that I can not live a life of unforgiveness. I would never fully heal.

Second, My chief complaint has been against God. Specifically His slowness to judge what I have demeaned wick. I judged that those that hurt me are evil, wicked persons hell bent on destroying me. I deemed them worthy of God’s judgement and thus I had viewed myself as innocent.

This was a hard thing to digest. It did not fit nicely into the "get over it" space that people keep pushing me towards. I took time to pray. I understand that this judgement is based largely on my emotional state. This is the state I am in. I am glad that I could admit this, by virtue of admitting I was hurt, I acknowledge that my judgement is not in complete health.

I pray. I am drawn to scripture…

…Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
So we should learn to look on the heart, right?  See what people really intend? This is as I was traditionally taught. Here’s the problem. We are incapable of doing this. Go ahead and argue that you can see peoples true intentions. Go ahead. I will tell you that I believe you are wrong. I don't believe individuals are able to understand their own intentions most of the time. This requires a deeper understanding then the average person applies, and also maybe totally impossible without the aid of the Holy Spirit to begin with.

So I for one am going to attempt to no longer apply, what I believe to be erroneous interpretation, to this passage. It judge led me to judge others wrongly. 

I decided to look at this passage again, apply the simple truth that we are not God to this process.

We are left with two options.
-Option One:  We just can’t do what we were taught we are supposed to do.  We face the question, "Is God asking the impossible from us?'

-Options Two:  The statement should just be read as true fact. We do this and God does this.

I will tell you right now that God does not ask the impossible from us. He asks us to acknowledge what we are and thus our need for him.  So what’s my point? What if this verse is simply a reminder of the short comings of human understanding. If I stay conscience of this short coming then it opens up the possibility of something huge.

Before I say what I believe that is let me first explore the negative that comes along with thinking we really know someones heart.  As humans when someone pleases us we believe there intention to be benevolent.  As a human when someone displeases us we believe their intentions to be malevolent. So our human understanding tends to be based on a pleased or displease response.

What about when we step out of this mentality and remain cognizant of our human inability to see true heart?  I believe this leaves space for that small zone between pleasure and displeasure.  This is the zone where the benefit of the doubt lives.  It is where we can say we aren’t pleased with the result, but we understand that the outcome was not the result of purposeful wickedness, but a mistake or accident occurred.

We don’t like to live in this area. We like to pretend we do, but we don’t like living here. You may protest, but I’m preaching to myself too. I like to believe that I am loving and forgiving, but I also like to believe that I “KNOW’ people and can see what motivates them and that I’m an authority on everybody else business. 
Side note: Learning to ignore things is not the same thing as being a loving and forgiving person. Learning to ignore things usually makes you ineffective in actually helping others or it makes you a ticking time bomb that will explode at a later date.

So where we like to live (or mistakenly live) is not the same as where God wishes us to live. Why do I say this? Look below…

Reference: 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

I believe that love lives in the middle zone. Love is not self pleased and love does not harbor an offense.  So love lives in the unnatural middle. It is here that as few of our most popular verses actually live and find meaning. Catch phases like, “I can do all things through Christ & all things are possible for those.” 

Let me take an unpopular stance right now. I don’t believe that these have anything to do with my athletic prowess or work success except in the area of Christ like character. If they did I would have to debate where Tim Tebow failed and Steph Curry succeeded in following Christ. I'm not going to do that because I don't believe the verse apply the way most people are choosing to apply them.

Why am I even going down this road? I am on this road because I believe true healing pushes me toward this middle place. That the calls to “get over it” and “just move on” are completely contrary to Christ’s work in our lives. The middle is a place that I can not live in under my own strength. It is a place that God's love sustains us and His joy in us is full.

As I have been on this journey toward I realize that I have been wandering in and out of this middle. This occurred mostly because I would be pressed to revisit things that I should have forgiven. I can't blame others for this. I chose to revisit those hurts that stirred up judgement within me. It made me feel momentarily better to see myself as the victim. Whether or not I was the victim is not the point. Revisiting the hurt to be the victim stirred judgement and pushed forgiveness down the road.

So here I am looking at the middle and realizing full well that if I can submit to God's spirit, then I can live there. I have two very simple, but extremely difficult things to do in order for this to happen. First, I must stop believing I can "perfectly" judge peoples motivations.  Second, I must actually allow forgiveness to take place.

Sadly, I don't believe I have the strength to do this. Thankfully....."I can do all things through him who strengthens me."Philippians 4:13

I believe that God wants me to live in the middle and so it must be possible for Him to hold me there.
I know that some of us have been really hurt, and it's hard to believe that things can get better. I know it's hard. I want to leave you with the words of Job. 
       “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2

If God wants it. It is possible. We just have to be willing to go there with Him.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Addressing the Purpose.

Addressing the Purpose.

Months and months ago when I first found myself in total life upheaval, I had a very blunt conversation with God. I will summarize it briefly.

Me- God, what are you doing?
God- What must be done.
Me- It hurts.
God- I know.
Me-Why does this have to happen?
God -What is it you should want more than anything?
Me - To be who you created me to be.
God-Do you want that or not?
God -Then this is necessary.
Me -Then do it all now. I don't want to have to restart this. 

Sure the conversation was more in depth than that, but you get the feel of it. I came to that place that we should get to naturally, but sin stops us. It is only because of the pain that my will began to align with God's. I had thought that I was submitting to God, but there is always a deeper submission.

The point I am making is this. I am not simply looking to be OK. Some people view the steps I am taking to be extreme and unnecessary. Those people want me to be OK, to return to status quo. This just isn't my goal. It isn't God's goal either.

God is not looking for us to be OK. God wishes to take us on the deep changing journey that only He can. He wishes to reveal who we were created to be. So I have simply chosen to submit to the path that bypasses OK on the way to who God created me to be.

I hope that this answers some of the questions surrounding the process. Please continue to pray and support this process even if you can't understand it completely.

Addressing another part of the Process.

People continue to ask questions about how I process through issues as I heal. So I wanted to give those of you that read my blog, a peak behind the curtain.

How do I process? I spend a lot of time isolating each feeling and then distilling it down into a solid issue that can then be dealt with individually. 

The reason I do this is because I believe when we make statements like, "I'm angry because..." we have missed the depth of what drives emotion.  Anger is a broadly sweeping emotion that covers to much ground. The reasons underneath are usually complex based on years of compiling events. I try to never allow myself to be satisfied by a childish level of diagnosis.

Today I sat down and tried to write out what I am feeling toward those who sinned against me, yet continue on as if they are serving God without fault.

Here is a first pass at writing it out.
I pity your apathy
You keep going as if you've done nothing
It begs the question...
Do you stop to think?

I pity your complacency
You continue on in a weak understanding
It begs the question...
Do you pray to the air?

I pity your compromise
You allowed the slide to occur
It begs the question...
Do you hold any standard?

I pity your shallowness
You refuse to walk into the deep
It begs the question...
Do you hear God?

Please don't judge me to harshly on this piece. It's not meant to be published or even shared on Facebook. It just shows you the start of the process. When I look at it I see that I've recognized within those persons several negative things.  I think, "Oh, Those really aren't things a follower of Christ should embrace."  Still I have to ask why these have made healing difficult for me.

I take a deeper look and understand that these are things that I work really hard to never fall into because I hate things like APATHY, COMPLACENCY, COMPROMISE and SHALLOWNESS. In fact I view them as things that enable the wicked to prey on the defenseless innocence of the world.

Still I press deeper and realize that when I see these in people who say they "know" Jesus, it makes me view them as enablers of the problem. I see them as tools of sin to hurt the ones I wish to protect.

So seeing the ones who hurt me, as the ones that still hurts others, does not allow the painful event to be in the past.  So I am here still hurting not from a past wound, but from a daily wound.

Further along in the process and I begin to pray specifically that God deals with my present in ability to forgive. If you are still following this then I assume you understand that if they came to me and confessed there wrong, I feel compelled by God to forgive.

But what if they never come? Will I have to be held captive buy their actions?  I know this is not what God wants.  So then my mind always jumps the the scripture as God pushes me forward.

2 Corinthians 5:2-6  I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

I understand that I want to punish every disobedience, but my obedience is not complete. I have to submit my way of hurt thinking. It must be captive to Christ. I am not healing because I am allowing my flesh to use un-captive thoughts against my own heart.

Where it goes from there is a matter of time and prayer. As I said before, please don't judge me to harshly based on this writing. I didn't premeditate it at all.  I just LIVE processed so you could get a glimpse behind the curtain.

If your question is, "BRIAN, WHAT ABOUT YOUR PART IN THE PROBLEM?"  Well that was the first thing I tried to process. We should always consider our own fault first. It's easier for me to see that part then the other, and honestly it was a really freeing experience. I encourage you to try it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Taking Time to Heal

Week One in Pennsylvania

Saying Goodbye:  I departed late Oct. 31st after putting the girls to bed.  This was an incredibly painful thing. Kissing those little girls goodbye re-broke my heart.  There was a moment where I had to remind myself that my healing was the best thing I could do for them. Now every time I talk to them on the phone, I remind myself that Daddies have to guard their hearts so that they can guard their children's hearts.  I am grateful for my Mother, Brother and Sister-in-Law for agreeing to give extra love to the girls, while I am gone.

Trip overview:  Driving & Sleeping: I drove the approximately 2900 miles taking only two sleep brakes totaling 5 hours. When I was to tired to drive I would just pull into a rest stop, climb into the back of the car and sleep.

Eating:  I packed my own healthy food. Other then gas I spent under $10 on the trip. I did break down and buy coffee one morning, a large bottle of water, one soda and a small bag of M&Ms.

Thinking:  I listened to very little music during the drive. Instead I had selected a few podcasts and audio books that I knew would prompt me to think. I spent large portions of the drive in prayer.

Arriving:  I arrived at 2AM on Friday November 3rd.  Then I slept.

Activity:  I have had two formal meetings with my healing mentor and several informal. Sadly I fell very quickly back into my habit of becoming to involved. I began filling my time with helping others and then had to take a big step back as I realized I was beginning to strangle my own healing process.

As for right now I am:

- currently walking through what ended up being a very painful look at what exactly is wrong.

-reading the book of Romans over and over again everyday.

-being challenged to confront the issue of identity. Specifically finding identity in being a child of God verses finding my identity in ministry or vocational calling.

-going on a deep exploration of whether or not my American- Judeo-Christian view of "Turning the other cheek" and "Righteous Anger," are anywhere near those of Jesus Christ.

-trying to understand how we move on when the one's that hurt us seem to be allowed to still run around hurting others.

-making huge progress in writing my second novel.


I will try to post some more in depth thoughts once they stop spinning in my head.  Please continue to pray that God will excavate the deep recesses of my heart and that I stay willing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Abandoning Wandering

One of my favorite J.R.R. Tolkien quotes states, "Not all those who wander are lost."  It's a line from the poem All That is Gold Does Not Glitter.  I think I love this quote because I like to wander, with the name Neuenschwander, what do you expect.

I will probably return to this subject at a later
date, but wanted to approach the idea.

When I look at the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

Joshua 5:6 recounts, "For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord; the Lord swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey."

I have taught this story for years and each time I feel that I come closer to understanding. Still today I am wondering about the process. They spend years in the wilderness. During this time they do worship God. They do receive instruction. They do have good an bad times. They submit, but also rebel. They older rebellious generation dies off and the younger generation is left knowing only the wandering life as normal.

This makes me wonder about my walk with God. I have now walked with God for over twenty years. It's a generation really. Years spent seeing the different rebellious parts of me be put to death. As I approach this next stage of life I truly wonder if I am at a loss because it will be so different. Could it be that I have grown so accustom to the WILDERNESS, that I can not perceive the promised land?

I wonder if my struggle could possibly be a indication of how the American church in general has acclimatized to the wilderness as the norm.  I better get back on track. That is way to big a subject for me to tackle today.

The long and short of it is this:   I am excited to stop wandering, and willing go fight in the land. -Whatever battles need to take place in order to let me settle into that land.
-Whatever soil needs to be tilled in my heart in order for me to rest in the Lord.
-Whatever sacrifice needs to be made for me to hold nothing back from my God.

I understand that fear kept them from the land. Fear, uncertainty and longing for the familiar all bound together to tare their hearts from the God of Signs and Wonders. So as I stand here preparing to cross multiple rivers, mountains and valleys, ...

I am moved with JOYFUL TREPIDATION, and I wonder if I am truly ready to stop wandering.