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Did You Find This Yet?

Every once in a while Colleen and I take our daughters to this “healthy” fast food restaurant in our city called Evos.  They claim that since they bake their food instead of frying and use organic free-range meat, that eating there is good for you… I’m still not too sure.  But we take the girls there once or twice a month to give Colleen a break from cooking.

The girls usually get the chicken strips and I get the Grass-Fed Steakburger.  Like little children often do… my middle daughter, Emerson, usually waits until everyone else is done eating to begin picking at her lunch.  At this point Colleen and I are pissed off and ready to leave, so we pack up her chicken strips and let her eat it in the car.  She really enjoys eating theses strips so it is not a problem getting her to eat once we’re in the minivan.

And we go about our day.

Two weeks later I’m packing the girls into the minivan to go to Grammy’s house, across town, and Emerson starts digging into the cushion of her car seat.  When I ask her “what the heck are you doing kid?”, she tells me that she is looking for her chicken strip!

I turn to Colleen for clarity, since I haven’t been in the minivan for almost 14 days, and she tells me that Emer has been looking for the chicken strip that she dropped two weeks ago when we left Evos!

At first I figure that my kids a maniac and I had better get her tested, but then I remember… well, shes only 3 years old; she really, really loves chicken strips from Evos; and it’s pretty normal to continue to search frantically, in some pretty weird places, when you have misplaced something that brings you joy.

In fact, I can totally relate to her since I had spent several YEARS looking in some really, really weird places for something that might bring me joy.

Let me know if any of the weird places that I looked for “the TRUE object of my affection” sounds familiar to you too…

– I first discovered masturbation around the age of 13 and thought that my life was SET… I would never have to look for joy again, since I had it right here in the palm of my hand!  But this became very monotonous after a few months.

– I discovered girls at around age 14, this really filled a gap in my life (or I filled it).  But being young and immature, we’d often argue about silly things and the relationships never lasted.

– I began drinking alcohol and stuff around the age of 17 (this is also the wonderful time that I began driving!).  Being drunk was fun, but I hated hangovers and it really stopped me from training hard and performing well at football practice.

– Oh, and how can I forget about strength training and football!  Although I still train with weights, I don’t even know who played in the Super Bowl last year.

– As an adult with children, I seek happiness in them… but this is pretty unstable since they whine and cry all the time.  They poop themselves and break stuff too.  Sure, they’re a pleasure to ‘have and hold’ but they really get under my skin at times.

As you’ve probably noticed… this list can go on forever.  I can tell you about all of my failed relationships, businesses and hobbies that showed a glimmer of hope upon first sight but ended up being less than “the TRUE object of my affection.”

I have and will always be a “seeker”, one who is in constant search for the essence of life and reality, who I am and what I should do.  I am never satisfied with the answers that one person, one book or one religion provides as ‘The Answer”.  I really don’t even believe that “The Answer” exists!

But though out my searching I have come across some reoccurring themes, ideas, values and principles that point in the direction of “The TRUE object of my affection

Growing up going to Catholic church I figured that God was some boring ritual that we had to perform every Sunday morning before we got to eat breakfast at IHOP.  Jesus was the statue at the front of the church, and it was his fault I had to be there.

In college there was a group of Christian players that would meet a pastor every Wednesday evening for Bible study.  I brought a Bible and followed them to class on more than a dozen occasions.  I loved what I was learning about Christ and God’s purpose for people but I couldn’t understand why the Churches we were attending we so segregated.  White churches, black churches, Puerto Rican churches, churches that were anti-this kind of person and anti-that kind of person, etc; never did I find a church which exemplified the unity that Christ demonstrated.  (Yes, there are many unified churches… I just couldn’t find one at the time)

Oh really? Very strange. (btw, these are NOT my children!)

When I was in college, my brothers and I used to sit at the computer in my bedroom and download audios from Napster and listened to music all day long.  One day we came across some audios by a guy named Allen Watts who was an English dude who studied and taught Eastern Philosophy and Religion.

He taught us that “Tao”, a Taoist term meaning “The Way”, was everywhere, at all times, can not be destroyed, is constantly in motion, is always creating, is working in us and through us, and really can not truly be understood.  This “Tao” was above human understanding, but we can learn how it works by observing ourselves and nature.  (An interesting point, early followers of Christ did not call themselves Christians but followers of “The Way”)

We had never heard of God described like this before but it really rang true for us.  This was a empowering depiction of who we were, who God is, and how He related to us.  I adopted this idea of God, as The Way, described by the Taoists in a book called the Tao Te Ching written by a man named Lao Tzu.

Although this new depiction of God revolutionized my entire paradigm and set a powerful course for my life, it was NOT all that I had been looking for (although it is probably the simplest means by which one could navigate his was towards mindfulness and peace).

Being born and raised is a Judeo-Christian society along with all of the mental programing associated with it I was not satisfied marrying my wife in a weird Taoist place somewhere.  Besides, who is really a Taoist? — I don’t know any.  In fact, I think Lao Tzu would laugh and just say something really ephemeral like, “everything is married to each other and we are all married in the Tao”… sorry, my thinking is just a little too concrete for language like that.

Before getting married Colleen and I became members of the Bahai Faith.  A religion founded by a man named Baha’ullah claiming to be a manifestation (or perfect reflection) of God on Earth, just like Jesus.  In fact, Bahais believe that Baha’ullah is actually the “return of Jesus” that many Christians are waiting for.

This faith was, and still is, a very attractive means for me in discovering God’s reality for our lives due to the main principles of the faith, which are: The oneness of humanity, independent investigation of the truth, religion as a source of unity, equality of men and women, removal of all prejudice, universal peace, God’s progressive revaluation and continuity of “the covenant” beginning on Mt. Sinai through Moses, Jesus and now Baha’ullah… as well as a few other principles.  — Finally, a faith that provided the conservative structure in practice that I so yearned for, and the pragmatic principles that was more unifying then the separatism I encountered in the Christian church.

Despite my love and admiration of the members of the Bahai Faith, Baha’ullah, and the Bahai principles… we have not been a part of the Bahai community for almost 6 years.

Today we attend a local church in St. Petersburg where I am learning more about living as God desires us to through the teachings of Christ.  Like the early followers, I do not call myself a Christian… I am merely a student or disciple of “The Way” of Christ.  I seek the mysteries revealed in his life and his teachings as an example for my choices and behavior.

My children are taught to love and trust God, and to appreciate his perfect manifestations, like Christ, by modeling their lives after their examples.

Currently, I am really enjoying the books and information on the practice of Historical Orthodox Christianity by Rob Bell and Ray Vander Laan.  Both of these authors take into account the historical perspective of the Jewish people, Old Testament and The Gospels in order to shed real light on the meaning of these books and how they may, perhaps, be related to our current day and age.

Again, despite my current fascination with Christ and his life I am not handcuffed to ANY idea or theology.  I am merely a passionate seeker, serious student and practitioner of what I know to be right and true.  I don’t study simply for information, I want to understand and tread confidently in the direction of “The Way”.

This sums up my experiences with passionately searching for God, the REAL object of my affection.

It is my understanding that today most men either a) resort to adopting the faith of their parents and grand parents without question or retort; or b) never ask any questions at all, they merely ignore, reject and even abhor the concept of a god who may fill the emptiness that we all experience as we travel through life believing that we are alone.

Whether we admit it or not, we are all frantically in search of real joy…  of a fulfilling existence marked by love, peace of mind, purpose and meaning.

In my experience this can only be obtained by a deep and evolving union with our creator.

I invite you to seek.

Look everywhere.

Find the path that most suits you as you look for clues and experience the joy of union while on your journey.

Whatever you choose to call it… God, Allah, The Universe, The Tao or “The Way” really doesn’t matter.

How you choose to search and practice your faith, really doesn’t matter.

The color of your skin, the type of head dress you wear, the language you speak, really doesn’t matter.

How you relate to God, your commitment to practice His way, the way you treat others and the way you see yourself though His eyes… this is what really matters.

Keep seeking.

Comments 25

  1. As a member of your Tribe, and as someone who appreciates your knowledge and advice, I am confused. The photograph of the two little girls on this page doesn’t seem to jibe with what you’re saying. Since you begin this blog post my mentioning your two little girls, it would seem that the picture is of your children. I just don’t understand. Everything else in your post is about tolerance, open-mindedness and love. Can you explain?

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    Jim, I’m attempting to show how some people use god as a means for separation, prejudice and bigotry. This is a clear example of how people are brainwashed, at a very young age, to operate in this fashion.

    A VERY disturbing picture, I agree!

  3. You may be interested in check out Knowing God by JI Packer. I’ve read Bell and he has some interesting points–but he’s also out in left field in some things.

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  7. Thanks for responding, and for adding the caption. That clarifies your position, and I appreciate it!

  8. Hi Kevin/Elliott,

    Mark Driscoll does a very simplistic explanation of how his church differs from some others, especially Rob Bells.
    I was a Rob Bell fan, but, as you like to say Elliott, I seek and seek every day, and got to a point where Rob Bell was not making any sense anymore. Difference in my seeking and yours Elliott, is that I am seeking for only 1 truth, 1 God, 1 way to heaven, and you are looking to adapt certain parts of different religions to fit your lifestyle.
    Elliott, the BEST place to start seeking – you are probably not going to like this – is the Bible. Why don’t you start there? And please, DO NOT take your old catholic bible, because that is changed to fit in with the pope and his dudes (interesting fact – go look at the symbolism being used in catholic society and those in moslem, shocking similarities)
    Go get a NIV translated Bible (probably the one Marc Driscoll uses) or something similar.

  9. I can’t get this one thing in my mind, If Jesus is God , Why did he worship God…Strange right…What ““on the road” toward something better/enlightening.” Mr. Bill Jones is talking about?

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    This has been quite an hang up for me too. Especially since Christ refers to Him as The Father and describes himself as The Son. I am my fathers son, I am NOT my father.

    But, as my father’s son I, in many ways, display mirror reflections of his character and inherited traits. Christ, in my opinion, is the mirror reflection of his Father as well. That’s why he tells us that we may come to know The Father through him.

    I also think that most of these kinds of hang ups with regard to WHAT Christ is, is completely irrelevant.

    He constantly reminds us that if we love him then we will DO as he says… He doesn’t say that if we love him we must believe that he is God, that he rose from the dead, that his mother was a virgin. (these are all flesh matters, not matters of the spirit and arguing about them does nothing to bring us closer to God or to experience The Kingdom that he invited us to.)

    He simply says, “Do What I Ask You To Do!”

    If anger, frustration, hatred, separation, prejudice or segregation arise out of disagreements about how to proceed regarding WHAT Christ actually was then we are clearly not doing as he asks us to.

    In fact, he constantly pointed out to the Pharisees and religious leaders of the time that they too were focused on irrelevant matters, especially as it related to details of the flesh, and to instead fix their minds and hearts on pleasing God and acting in accordance with the agreement (covenant) they had with Him.

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    Ed,

    Thanks for reading and your contribution.

    Yes I agree, 1 truth, 1 God, 1 way to heaven!

    And Yes, there are different RE-ligions (or to re-league / re-unite) with our creator.

    I AM hungry know the 1 truth, 1 God, and 1 way to heaven.

    If you are hungry for understanding on a particular subject, would you only read one book? Study only one teacher?

    Would you not seek out advice from many counselors before claiming to “know”?

  13. I also looked everywhere (Allah, Buddha, Catholicism, etc) for answers (and “joy”) and they where all dead ends leaving me empty. Religion is empty. Then I came to know Christ as my personal Savior and established a relationship with God (true Christianity is a relationship not a religion). All the important question I ever had have been answered and God reveals more and more (mostly details) as I read His word and pray (examples; meaning of life? Simple, REV 4:11 we don’t need to over complicate the issue lol, how do I get to God? John 14:6, how do I get to Heaven? Eph 2:8-9, Rom 10:13).

    One of Christ’s clear teachings was to be in the world but not of the world. In other words witness (and do Gods will) to everyone at the same time keep yourself clean and yes separated. God taught separation to the Jews to protect them (among other reasons) and to the NT believers as well. Hate it all you want but the principle is clearly there. God never taught separation because of skin color though, that is mans ridiculous invention. Paul talked about separation (2 Cor 6:17, Rom 1:1) many times. And yes God taught us to love one another and wearing the shirts pictured above is not loving. The truth is everyone practices some kind of separation. Many fitness gurus say if you want to get in shape stay away from those who will hinder your results. Want to be happier? Stay away from negative people. Want to do something “impossible”? Stay away from nay sayers.

    You mention not being “handcuffed to ANY idea” as if it is a bad thing. Paul often referred to himself as “the prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:1). By Gods view point there is nothing wrong with being a prisoner as long as you are handcuffed (so to speak) to the right person. I would rather be a prisoner of Christ then a prisoner of sin and the world.

    Joy? The truth is if we lack joy it is our own fault, because God provides it fully (John 15:11) and no one can take it from us (John 16:22). If we don’t have joy it is because we gave it up of our own free will.

    Man (mankind) will more often then not contradict and argue with God and His written word. When ever that occurs I remember what God said “… let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom 3:4).

    Luckily for me the search for truth, joy, peace and God is over although I stumble like everyone else but I just get back up (Pro 24:16). My quest to get into better shape is still very much unfinished and so I will continue reading your enjoyable blogs and incorporating your LHM techniques into my daily workouts.

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    Thank you for contributing Michael!

    “By Gods view point there is nothing wrong with being a prisoner as long as you are handcuffed (so to speak) to the right person. I would rather be a prisoner of Christ then a prisoner of sin and the world.”

    Well said :)

  15. Never had expected a man who looks like a muslim to know so much about Christianity!!

  16. I think that has been Man’s problem from the beginning. They are trying to understand everything about God. IF everything were to be understood by God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit what would make them God? Where does faith come in if we have to understand everything. I simply believe John 14:6.

  17. We cannot understand everything about god unless the things He revealed to us and wants us to understand…At first i thought that what the church teaches about trinity exists in the bible but You know what, There is not a single verse in the bible which speaks about trinity. I didn’t expect the pastors to lie.

    I found this video, this man is impressing me immensely.
    Watch this video for details.

  18. I read many of the post and just wanted to put my two cents in. I am 26, at the age of 13 I stopped believing in God, thought organized religion was a joke and just another excuse to hate “different” people. I grew up, I became a seeker and my passion, like yours Elliot, grows stronger with each passing day to become closer to God, the Universe, Creation, Potential, what have you. I read someone talking about Jesus calling himself the Son and the Father earlier and I have come across this before and was very baffled. It racked my brain and i thought it to simply be another of written mans mistakes and fallacies. But as I searched into different beliefs and practiced many of them for the sake of understanding, I have come to find that most are the same at the core, they all teach the exact same values. One major thing that I have come to find is that we are a part of God, that we are all one mind capable of all that is imagined and conceivable. We constantly befuddle or lives, exponentially more as time passes, with more problems to fix so we have more to do instead of just sitting with ourselves and finding out who we are…because its scary. It’s scary to realize your potential, and (I know many won’t agree, but that is okay, I love them anyway) that we are God. Yes He created us in his image, but He doesn’t separate himself from us, we decided that. This is why, I feel so many people look down upon themselves and others, because so many “Gods” exist now and everyone thinks that there God is the true one. Got off on a bit of a tangent, but my point is that Jesus(as was Buddha, Muhammed, etc) was simply pointing out that!…that we are all one in the same and as soon as we get out of our way (which starts with listening to and following the path or way of the ones who have realized) we will understand that God lives inside of everything and everyone and only the befuddled part of us puts limits on ourselves, because we are limitless

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    Thank you TJ! I must say that my sentiments tie very tightly with yours.

    “It’s scary to realize your potential, and (I know many won’t agree, but that is okay, I love them anyway) that we are God. Yes He created us in his image, but He doesn’t separate himself from us, we decided that.” — VERY, VERY Awesome!!!

    I love and appreciate your perspective and am grateful for your contribution. Thank you!

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