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From: mike
Date: Mon Apr 26 00:36:46 MST 2004 Subject: Nightmare

Boojeee: not about cremation (4/26/04)
russ: Identity (4/29/04)
Karen: O blog, where art thou? (4/30/04)
russ: Fixed? (5/3/04)
Karen: Test response (4/30/04)
Karen: Groveling (5/1/04)
mike: Thank you (5/1/04)
Responses (sorted by date)
russ: Fixed? (5/3/04)
mike: Thank you (5/1/04)
Karen: Groveling (5/1/04)
Karen: Test response (4/30/04)
Karen: O blog, where art thou? (4/30/04)
russ: Identity (4/29/04)
Boojeee: not about cremation (4/26/04)
It is late, and I cannot sleep. A nightmare woke me up, and I am pondering the experience.
In my dream, There was a mark on my forehead, and Russ was pressing my about what it was untill I confessed I did not deserve redemption. I deserved hell. I was a terrible person trying to act good.
From time to time I have had dreams, and visions. I have had my spiruital eyes opened to what was happening around me. It is almost always from the Lord. But not always. Tonite was a dream from the enemy, accusing me of not being worthy of being redeemed. When I woke up, I prayed. I did all those things the enemy accused me of.
For those of you who do not know, I grew up in a home where I was horribly abused. I ran away when in my teens, and lived a life before I was eighteen that was a living hell. I have done many shamefull things. Every accusatioin in my drean is true. I have done all those things.
Like the woman in the sermon tonite, the shame was awfull. I have pretty much stayed drunk since I was fourteen to deaden the pain and longings.
Like the sinfull woman in tonites sermon, I was forgiven by God. He paid the price for my sins. I am forgiven. He has chosen not to condem me. The Lord was the first person in my life to love me. He did not reveal himself to me untill I was thirty eight years old.
I deserve to be tossed into hell for my sins. The accusations are all true. I have no defense. Jesus has said to me " I forgive you". That is enough. I am forgiven. I am no longer living a miserable life, waiting for death, and judgement.
I live now in joy, and and I know that death is waiting for me. (we all must face that sooner or later). Death will not be a release from pain, but stepping into the presence of my Lord. Stepping into joy I cannot begin to describe.

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From: Boojeee
Date: Mon Apr 26 10:49:14 MST 2004 Subject: not about cremation

I think you're very brave to step into a life of redemption, which I think means God will be buying back your years of pain at someone else's sin and even the years of your own sin. Fight the fight and don't let the demons get you down...
I'm excited about what God might do with your powerful witness.

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From: russ
Date: Thu Apr 29 10:06:42 MST 2004 Subject: Identity

I, too, have been thinking about Sunday's sermon. When it was asked how the woman felt when Jesus didn't condemn her, my honest reaction was "loneliness" or something like that. Putting myself in her place, I felt anger, almost like Jesus had denied her/me something that we deserved. It felt like I was being ignored, or like something about my identiy was being taken away.

I have seen this in myself before, at least at the surface level. At the surface, I want to be able to pay pennance for my sins since that allows my redemption to happen at least partially by my own power. When Jesus takes away the woman's opportunity to beg for forgiveness, it exposes that his redemption comes wholly of his own willingness and choice, not out of some belated virtue in us. This is the old answer I've always had to this sort of situation - to characterize my desire for pennance as a rebellious desire to keep control of my own spiritual status. It's true, as far as it goes, but I started to wonder if that was really the problem. I'm starting to think that the root problem is more fundamental: our identity is wrong.

At least for me, a substantial part of my identity is wrapped up in the whole sin/redemption cycle. The way I see myself is entirely wrapped up in the fact that I am a redeemed sinner. Whatever relationship I have with God is an outcome of His victory over my sin. This is certainly true at one level, but it doesn't seem to be the way that Jesus treats the woman. Implicit in his reaction to her is a openness and lack of condemnation. He doesn't explicitly say that her sins are forgiven (which my law-based mentality expects); instead, he simply chooses not to condemn her.

The implication I draw out of this is that forgiveness is not always the point. It seems like Jesus is experiencing relationship with and love for the woman entirely outside of the sin/redemption cycle; he just interacts with her as a loving person. Sure, he then tells her to leave her life of sin, but this is AFTER the relationship already exists.

The Calvinist in me has a comfortable explanation for this: Christ, by his choice, has saved her and regenerated her heart. Only AFTER this happens is he capable of interacting with her in the context of relationship; so, although it is not stated, her sins are already forgiven when he says that he does not condemn her.

True enough, perhaps. Maybe that's what's really happening. Yet it's not what the text says. The text is silent on the issue of forgiveness. It's the silence that shocks me. If sin is the critical issue at hand (as I would typically say), then it must be addressed first.

You all are probably scratching your heads now. I'm just saying that we know our relationship with God includes (at least) two grand ideas:


I'm simply saying that I have always constructed my identity in this way:


That is, we deal with sin first (since it's the "important" thing), then we begin growing in intimacy. There's certainly Biblical basis for that model. But I'm thinking that there is also Biblical basis for this model:


wherein God loves us and interacts with us first, and forgives us as part of that relationship. Certainly you can see that in the Old Testament: "You will be my people, and I will be your God." The laws (and thus sin, judgement and forgiveness) came in the context of that relationship. The relationship was first.

So, I think that I miss out on part of how God sees me when I entirely think of myself in the context of only one construction. I find myself unable to experience joy in the intimacy with God outside of the context of an awareness of my sin and his actions in redeeming me. I am starting to think that God wants me to take joy in him, and that sometimes in that joy I will be blissfully unaware of the terrible realities of my sin. I have tasted this, from time to time. I have tasted of the sweetness of just enjoying him without purpose or justification. I could feel how much he delighted in me, and I delighted in him as well. Perhaps that's what was going on there between Jesus and the woman.

So Mike, I write this to encourage you to not only live in the truth of God's forgiveness of your sins. That is true, and it is good that you know it. But also live in the delight that, at some level I don't quite understand, you are a wonderful creation of God, unblemished.

(I want to change that last sentence to "unblemished in his eyes," but that's just the problem, isn't it? I can't let go of my sin identity. The best I have done is to say that God the Allknowing somehow overlooks something that is so obvious to us down here. Yet if God truly sees as "washed white as snow" and as "slaves to righteousness," then there must be some truth there that transcends our petty observations.)

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From: Karen
Date: Fri Apr 30 11:10:02 MST 2004 Subject: O blog, where art thou?

OK, I responded to Mike's and Russ' blogs and it said it uploaded, but...??? I doubt it was brilliant enough to type again :-)

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From: russ
Date: Mon May 3 11:50:07 MST 2004 Subject: Fixed?

FWIW, I think I've fixed the upload problem here. It seems like the problem arose from how I made "Nightmare" its own blog, rather than just being a response to "cremation."

If you see more problems, email Russ at

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From: Karen
Date: Fri Apr 30 15:05:48 MST 2004 Subject: Test response

Wondering if this one will show up on the screen or not... I'm taking the scientific approach to see if a pattern emerges. It's not a controlled, double-blind study, but whatever.

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From: Karen
Date: Fri Apr 30 21:02:54 MST 2004 Subject: Groveling

Yeah, and the payoff from staying in a place of groveling is that you don't have to take any risks; you're still not moving into freedom if you stay stuck there, crouching in the dirt.

As I read your blog, Russ, I was suddenly reminded of the scene in "The Holy Grail" when the Terry Gilliam cartoon-God w/a big head appears in the clouds (which is implicitly scary to me even as it is meant to be ridiculous), and God's Head complains, "Every time I try to talk to someone it's 'sorry' this and 'forgive me' that and 'I'm not worthy.'"

As I've been moving into more freedom in the last couple of months, the Enemy has really been hounding me, pulling out some old stand-by tricks and half-baked deceptions that he hasn't had to use much in the last 10 years. At the end of February, I had two dreams in which Satan was trying to pull me away from the joy and into an attitude of bitterness, a bitterness I've long been resisting with my mind and heart but now, that I've been more and more often resisting with words and actions.

I didn't come up with this idea, but I like it: "When Satan knocks on your door, tell Jesus, someone's here to see you." My extension: whatever happens, don't stop what God has set you to doing. Let your Heavenly Butler get the door :-) I've also found it works well to use a well-chosen expletive against the Enemy; although some may balk at this, I know Luther used it to his advantage!

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From: mike
Date: Sat May 1 15:10:55 MST 2004 Subject: Thank you

Julie, Russ, and Karen, thank you for the responses. They mean alot to me.

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