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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / Living In The Rockies Welcome Guest
    Living In The Rockies
          On he road to Cheley Camp, Estes Park, Colorado

    Tue, Sep 30th - 12:32PM

    Authorized To Judge



      Last night I had a dream, and like most of my dreams, it was cut and pasted together; bits and pieces jumbled together to create a fabric that only made sense when I was asleep.  I only discovered the real value of the dream when I awoke, and it was not in the remembered content as much as the players that came to mind, for I dreamed of a person I had not even thought of in many years.

      Laying in my bed with my eyes open in the dark, I began to think of the person in the dream.  He and I shared some intimate experiences within the bounds of employment, for it was he who was my background investigator when I applied for the job.  It was he who traveled across the entire state of Missouri to talk to my references concerning my character.  He was the person who initially endorsed me, and thus, paved the way for my later employment.  And even though I’m sure he was objectively honest in his assessments, I always felt thankful to him for the chance he gave me at a critical time in my life.

      Many years later he was to be the boss of my shift, and I worked directly under him on the job.  On several occasions he showed up on calls to facilitate the solution needed, and on at least one occasion let his temper get the better of him as he dealt with a “customer”.  On that occasion I realized I was witnessing an explosive reaction that would have been mine, had our roles been reversed, and I purposely forgot the matter – at the time, my version of mercy.

      Over time, I became bitter, lonely and deeply angry in every area of my life.  As we were closely related on that midnight shift, it was he who met with me one night in a dark parking lot and reminded me, “Maybe it’s time you got back to Jesus.  Remember your roots.”; and because of his initial investigation years before, I knew he remembered my “roots” – it was I who had forgotten them.  I’ll never forget that advice, and although it was only a temporary fix, I never forgot the gentle nudge God gave me in my own darkness.

      More years went by, and my gradual bitterness and anger came back, but more subtle this time, hiding in the framework of my inner man.  This man and I drifted apart on the job and lost contact almost completely as he rose through the ranks and disappeared in the “Oval Offices” of the administration.  His name did come up, though, as he was discussed among my peers, one of whom said he had witnessed an incident one night involving this man that would have had any of us fired immediately, but because “rank has it’s privileges”, the incident went unnoticed and unpunished.

      Because of the clarity of the sin, it became easy for me to point my finger at the man in judgment, and I did.  He became in my mind, and the minds of my peers, part of the arrogance we detested in the “Golden boys of the Chief’s Round Table”.  They seemed untouchable at a time when we were increasingly micro managed and threatened with job actions.  I, and we, became even more bitter and angry inside.

    The man I’ve been referring to finally retired and moved out of state.  We all rejoiced at the retirement – one less hypocrite to think about.  Good riddance!

      But then last night, as I lay awake in the dark, thinking about a man who had slipped from my memory for so long, I also realized with a shock that many of the judgments I had leveled at him for so many years, could in the interim, have been rightly leveled at me, for I since had had my own dark times, and had been involved in the same sins!  And like him, I too had been judged by those close to me, and had felt the lash of their condemnation. 

      As I lay thinking about my dream, I learned the lesson God had intended for me to learn, namely, it never mattered whether my judgments were “accurate” – what mattered was that I was never authorized to make them. 

      Perhaps I should have gone to this man and talked to him, as he once talked to me.  Instead, I sat in many dark parking lots with my bitter friends and renounced him judgmentally, and became proud of my “accuracy.”  Hear that?  I became proud, and Pride always blinds.  And now I see a little better because of a stupid, otherwise meaningless dream.

      Now I would say to this man, “I’m so sorry that I never even tried to thank you for your message to me that night when you told me to return to my roots.  I’m so sorry I didn’t take a chance later to talk to you about yours, when you were lost.  I never even doubted for a minute any of the bad reports I heard about you, and I’m so sorry I gloated over your damaged reputation as you retired out of sight and out of mind.  I was not ever given the job of judging you, yet I became proud doing so.  And in judging you, I brought judgment on myself.”

      It is as Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

      My friend, my prayer is that you will be blessed and my judgments will be removed from you.  Please forgive me. 

      We are both struggling towards the Light.

     

    John

     

     



    Comment (1)

    Sun, Sep 21st - 1:56PM

    The Case for Eternity



      Along with other difficult questions, the question was posed today in church, “Why is hell eternal?”  This was on a list of questions that have puzzled Christians for centuries.  Although I certainly don’t have all the answers, I do think I have some of them, and the answer for why hell is eternal is that it springs from the nature of God himself.

      In sum, hell is eternal because everything the Creator created, he created from his eternal nature, and just as we can't invent (create) anything eternal, he can't create anything from his nature that is not.  Just as all of the creation groans for the return of the King, all creation was and is, created for eternity. 

      Death came after creation, and should be considered a result of circumstances ushered in by mankind, not the Creator.  As human beings, you will either spend eternity in heaven or hell, but either way your destiny is eternal.  And as there will be a finite number of human beings created, there will also be a finite number of anything else that was created.  For instance, there are a finite number of flowers, racoons, fish, grass, mountains, etc., and all testify to the Creator, somehow. 

      In the same way, there are a finite number of times we have a chance to accept Jesus Christ as King, and then we will die and loose our last chance, in many cases.  As it says in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, there is a time for everything.

      Having said that, I should also say that when God said everything he created was ‘very good’, hell, if it existed at that time, was probably empty; not that it matters.

      Hell was not created because God likes to send people there; it was created so he wouldn’t compromise his perfection by filling his heaven with people who have chosen to be his enemies.  In effect, hell validates and protects our salvation within our eternal destination as believers.  And in that sense, hell is as necessary as heaven, because it safeguards God and his chosen ones.

      Additionally, I believe that hell is a real place, rather than a “religious concept”.  I can't justify the mental confusion of believing heaven is real without also believing in hell the same way. 

      And speaking of confusion, fuzzy thinking competes for our thoughts whether we do or do not, sit in church pews once a week.  As a race, we do not really seem to analyze what and how we think with any consistent clarity, rather, we are content to let others formulate opinions for us, and too often, we seem content to follow them down the broad road to hell without much thought.  That could probably be labeled, “Eternal laziness.”
      Even professing Christians, who have God’s Word for clarity, seem overly willing to let his words be interpreted without question by their clergy.  It is wrong to hire clergyman to think for their congregations, and as Christians, we have a holy obligation to relate to our God directly and personally. 

      Back to paragraph three, above, God also created a finite number of lemmings.  If you’re reading this, you shouldn’t be one of them.

     

    John



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    Tue, Sep 16th - 6:13PM

    The Great Turn-Around



      So who and what is God?  This is usually one of our earliest questions (or should be) as we become aware of the world we live in.  As children we have either asked, or wanted to ask our parents, siblings or peers about God.  Depending on the answers, we then find a place for “God” in our worldview and live our lives with him in a comfortable box we assign to him.  But the problem with God is, to quote C. S. Lewis in Narnia, “He’s not a tame lion.” 

      Since we are humans, we think and observe from our human points of view.  So when God squirms out of the place we’ve assigned him, we become confused and uncomfortable.  The very nerve!  Many of us, to make this “back to square one” mental exercise affordable, simply refuse to ponder the problem and push the whole issue out of our minds.  But then, if we aren’t careful, circumstances alone pull us back to the uncomfortable questions.  Who is God and what’s he really like?  What does the bible say about him?  Can it be believed?  What’s he want from us?, and, Why did he allow….etc.?

      I’ve finally realized two important facts.  First, it is absolutely vital for us to know God.  There is no cogent argument against it.  And second, we will never get to know God as long as we assail our innate ignorance from our human frame of reference.  There is, however, a way through this seemingly immovable wall, and it is just this:  I firmly believe we can never understand God unless we can glimpse him from his point of view – rather than ours.  And since most human thought seems to be 180˚ backwards from his, due to the curse, we first need to look at ourselves and our world from the outside-looking-in, rather than from the inside-looking-out (or up).  (Having written this, I’m drawn back to another old question: Do crazy people know they are crazy?).  That was a joke, by the way!

      With all this in mind, picture yourself as never having had a beginning…you just always were and always will be.  You created a world full of beings subject to beginnings and endings, but you don’t have those restrictions yourself.  Now, if you loved this world you created enough to let those human brutes butcher your only son, and you did this so that through his sacrifice the world you love would someday return to you, can you begin to understand some of the answers to the questions posed above?  Interesting exercise, in my opinion. 

      Everything we are and have and came equipped with originated in God’s mind.  It is not his fault we don’t fully understand – after all, he is God and we are not.  But I think God wants to reveal himself to those who belong to him.

      I would challenge you to let him out of the box and let him roam free in your lives.  It’s a lot easier on our intellects to just let him be himself.  It’s also a lot more fun!

     

    John



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    Tue, Sep 16th - 6:13PM

    He Knows



      In February, 2008, my wife and I realized it had been a full five years since we had taken a vacation, so we booked a tent site in a Cody, Wyoming campground and a cabin in Silver Gate, Montana, which is just one mile outside the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  Our plan was to take a day in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (museum) in Cody, then on to Yellowstone for another four days.  We thought Yellowstone would be a good choice because neither of us had ever seen wolves or grizzly bears in the wild, and we heard it was overflowing with both.

      About six weeks before our departure we received a call from Henry, at the Pine Gate Cabins in Silver Gate.  He asked us if it would be alright for us to be “upgraded” from rustic cabin #4 to new cabin #6, at no additional charge; we agreed.

      On Saturday, the 6th of September, we drove to Cody.  When we arrived at the Ponderosa Campground just before supper, we were tired and the weather was lousy – not a good time to set up a tent, much less live in one for two nights.  At the front desk we talked with Tom, who asked if we would rather have a little cabin.  He gave us the key for cabin #4, and we drove down to inspect the place.  Cabin #4 was a small, tight and tidy cabin with the western motif name of “Butch Cassidy” over the door.  Since my wife received her nickname from the Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid movie, I felt a stronger than average urge to take the cabin.  (It began to rain almost as soon as we went to bed in our dry, warm cabin – and did so until we left Cody!)

      Going back to the office to confirm our acceptance, Tom told us he was headed up to Silver Gate, Montana later in the week to stay in a cabin #4.  It turned out, he and Henry are friends!  At this point, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and I had a clear impression of God’s hand upon us.  The idea that we had driven to Cody, Wyoming and the first person we met there would be the very person who had “bumped” us up to the new cabin in Silver Gate, Montana, was too much of a “coincidence” for even a hardened skeptic.  I realized God was having a lot of fun letting us know he loved us – nothing too bombastic, but I could almost feel his arm across our shoulders.    

      Two days later we arrived at Silver Gate and checked in with Henry.  He reminded me of so many folks I’ve met in Estes Park, Colorado.  They drive Jeeps and look pleasantly unkempt, but in a previous life may have been a CEO or a rocket scientist!  Henry laughed when I told him about meeting Tom, and then went on to show us where to look for wolves and where to see the Grand Prismatic from a better location than most tourists ever know about.  Since we had not asked for any of this information, it seemed that God was at it again.

      If you haven’t been to Yellowstone National Park, I would strongly advise you to drop everything and go without delay.  Well actually, I would delay it until most of the kids are back in school as traffic is always congested in the park.

      We spent the next four days driving and taking photos – but no wolves.  Bison litter most of the park, including the roads, and if there is any animal dumber than a bison I’ve yet to find it, but they are funny, ancient looking critters.  Drive with extreme caution however, as the series of signs I saw accurately warned: “We saw animals; From afar; Until we hit them; With our car”.

      The night before we left to come back home we were grousing about not seeing any wolves when I realized a basic truth, for me, an epiphany:  God already knows from before the beginning of time exactly who, and how many people will see wolves in the park.  The message was clear:  we were to stop complaining and start being thankful that we saw bison, as I’m sure God had a reason for it.

      The next morning, at about 6:30 am we were driving out of the park on our way home and happened to see a roadside hill covered with folks looking through spotting scopes and binoculars.  We almost kept going – after all, we had an all day trip planned, but we stopped and walked up to them.  They were looking at four wolves, just visible about seven hundred yards away!  The wolves were just waking up, and we watched as they stood up, stretched and howled (awesome!) and then began their day.  As they began to run in single file we realized there were not four, but eleven wolves in a complete pack!  I cannot adequately explain how watching them changed us, but it did.  And only afterwards, as we were floating down the road, did we realize what had happened – God at work again!

      So here’s my lesson, and maybe it can be yours:  God loves us and is more active in our lives that we hope or ever imagine, and he wants to be intimately involved with us in ways that even transcend our earthly relationships, if we let him. 

      The choice is ours, and with it we can become much more aware of his presence.  As a child, I never felt more secure than when I was walking with my father. 

      As an adult, I find that nothing’s changed.  More of my father’s presence is all I  need. 

     

    John



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    Thu, Sep 4th - 6:46PM

    Targeting The Divine



       I was close to 60 years old before I had to seriously deal with goal setting.  In my last career we had to formulate goals towards the last few years of my employment, and frankly, most of us thought it silly at best and generally a waste of time.  Most of my peers copied a template we used the last time goals were due, simply changing the dates.  It filled a drawer in City Hall, it was easy and got the administration off our backs.  After moving to Estes Park, I was unhappy to learn my new boss was a goal fanatic, and I finally had to deal with the issue.  I had been ambushed and I had no templates!

       I am not naturally fond of projecting goals.  For me, it always feels like I’m trying to project the next winning lottery numbers, and yet my boss, an intelligent man, put a lot of stock in goal setting.  He used to tell us that people who write down their goals and then share them with someone else, meet their goals about 80% of the time.  Now that’s a pretty impressive percentage!  The goals we were dealing with pertained to real estate sales, and yet I could relate to the philosophy from when I was younger and into gun collecting. 

       In my 30’s and 40’s I actually took out a firearms license so I could buy and sell guns at wholesale prices.  Many of my co-workers collected and used guns, and buying them wholesale seemed like a good idea.   I remember that whenever I would want a firearm I couldn’t afford, I would say to myself, sometimes out loud, something like, “That’s my next gun”, and without conscious effort, I achieved well over 97% completion of that particular goal.  I never really analyzed it, it just worked.

       The studies of why goal setting works can be a bit confusing and sometimes wrapped in humanistic religion, so care needs to be taken.  Several years ago a fine piece of New Age garbage hit the streets in the guise of a video presentation called, “The Secret”.  I only made it part way through the presentation because I realized it was actually an advertisement for humanistic religion.  The presentation focused on visualization and how a person could generate “power” from within to achieve any set goal.  That was the first half – like I said, I never made it any farther.  And yet, subtracting all the vibes and hype, goal setting does work.

       I suspect a large percentage of people simply drift through life, soaking up time and space.  A good day to them may be a day when they “react” well or effectively to what life dumps on their plates that day.  Perhaps we could label this group as victims of circumstances.  We can learn to react well, but since we aren’t really in charge of our circumstances (in spite of what we like to think), we are either graceful or ungraceful victims.  But if we sincerely set meaningful goals, I believe we place into play an internal filter that simply lets pass pre-accepted circumstances and disregards others, and we don’t even know it’s happening.  And even though we are not necessarily in control any more than before, we are in control of what we accept.  A friend of mine, Bill Banks, used to quote, “Eat the meat – spit out the bones.” 

       How can all this goal setting be applied in a Christian setting?  Is goal setting a recommended idea for Christians?  I say “Yes” to both.  In Philippians 3: 14, the apostle Paul stated, ‘I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (NKJ version).   Paul had definite goals, and I think we can surmise he would encourage fellow believers to have them too.

       So what goals do you have with God?  What goals does God have for you?  Are your dreams from God or from your human nature?  None of these are easily answered since we don’t possess the answers – but we know where to go with the questions, don’t we?

      

     

    Here are some questions you might challenge yourself with:

    • Where do you want your relationship with Jesus Christ to be in 5 years?
    • What does He want for you?
    • Would you be willing to write down your goals with God and then share them with a friend?
    • Are you sincerely ready to remain flexible with God while He works on the details?

     

       I’m betting if you take the time and prayerful effort to make, write down and share your spiritual goals, God will come through for you a lot better than 80% of the time!  And don’t worry about getting it wrong, Paul went on to say in verse 15, ‘Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.’

       Even God can't steer your parked car, but if you trust Him with the course corrections once you’re in motion, you will arrive at the right destination at just the right time.

     

    John



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    Thu, Sep 4th - 6:42PM

    But Why?



     This morning during devotionals I began to think of God’s viewpoint.  I know He has one, so what do our lives look like to him?  It’s possible to get a headache thinking like this, but it can shed a lot of light on our lives.

      This morning I was picturing God looking at our globe and watching us all move around like ants.  Some of the ants belong to his family already and some do not, yet He loves them all and all of them share lives on loan from Him.  Since I like to arrange thoughts out loud, my wife listens as I ramble through them.  She’s really good at listening – at least she looks like she is, and I always assure her as I finally climb down from my soapbox that “nothing will arrive in the mail.”

      As I was picturing the earth floating in space I could see events, good, bad and sometimes tragic happening to all the ants, seemingly at random, and I was reminded of a little child endlessly progressing down the “Why?” path. 

      The best I can do is to picture the events of life as a learning/polarization process.  Those of us who are Christians are presented opportunities to grow our faith and our spirits through the “random” events that God allows into our lives.  Our response should be one of faith and trust, especially in the bad times we have to endure.

       The events of any Christian life should serve to grow the Christian farther into God through faith, trust and love.  The same events in the non-Christian’s life will serve to drive him into God, or away from Him.  Sometimes bad times even cause Christians to drift away.  Usually, as they begin their drift, they will be heard saying the old hack, “How can a good God allow this to happen to us?”, with the inference that God either isn't worthy of the office or they’re undeserving as Christians.  Perhaps the real foundational question should instead be, “Why did God risk giving people free will in the first place?”  The horrible things that happen periodically to all men on this dark planet are the result of our rebellion against God, not His failure to be Himself.

      Many of us have been trained since Sunday School to pump out standard answers to standard religious questions.  What would happen if instead we viewed questions from God’s point of view while remaining brutally honest with ourselves? 

      The following are eight questions I posed to my small group bible study this week.  As we resumed the curriculum for 2008/9, I asked them to make it their personal goal to reflect on these questions from God’s point of view and try to answer each one for themselves before next summer.  Seemingly simple, the questions should not be answered with any previously learned pablumatic answers.  They are:

     

    1. What is God like (to me, not generally)?
    2. Does God want me to discover what He is like?
    3. What am I like?  (Really and truly and in gross personal detail)
    4. What am I to God? (1 Pet. 2:9-11)

     

    1. What are my goals with God?
    2. What are God’s goals for me?

     

    1. Does God really love me as I am?
    2. Do I really love God?

     

      I believe many, maybe most Christians, are struggling or have struggled with similar questions.  One person I know told me they’re still struggling with #8 – are you?  I think it’s common.  Now, we all can find scripture passages that belay these questions, but if the cure were that simple, none of us would ever struggle with the basics of the faith.  The truth of the scriptures to penetrate our heads and then our hearts.  For most of us, that’s where the disconnect occurs.  We can get our heads packed with knowledge, but our hearts and lives don’t seem to change.

      Our relationship with our Creator should be an ever changing bilateral exercise.  We can will and decide to seek God – He cannot do this for us; on the other hand, He can allow us to find Him, and He can penetrate our hearts with His word – we cannot do this; only He can. 

      Perhaps it’s time for many Christians to dump the “welfare Christianity” mindset – God is not going to do His job and ours, although He might put a thirst in our hearts to want to grow up and quit asking “Why?” when bad things happen.

      Fact is, bad things happen to all men – faith and trust are choices.

     

    John



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    About Me

    Name: John Miltenberger
    ChristiansUnite ID: jmilty
    Member Since: 2006-08-22
    Location: Estes Park, Colorado, United States
    Denomination: Born-again believer
    About Me: Retired from Overland Park, Kansas and now living in Estes Park, Colorado. Another escapee from the Midwest!! Email: jmilty@q.com

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