Donny's Ramblings


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Why I’m Loving the Bible

Growing up, and throughout my adult years up until just a few years ago, I often saw the Bible as a boring book.  When God changed my life in September of 2006 I still held that feeling, especially when it came to The Old Testament.

But I started attending Neighborhood Church in Redding, California, and that has made all the difference…

Bill Giovannetti is the Lead Pastor at NCRedding, and he often uses passages from the Old Testament in his sermons.  And the sermons hold my attention.  Seriously, if I hadn’t said that myself I’d be inclined not to believe it.  The Old Testament not boring?  “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

Bill has become one of my best friends.  We meet regularly and chat about life, liberty, and the pursuit of… whatever we’re pursuing at the time.  When I told Bill, a few years ago, that I thought the Bible was poorly written and somewhat childish, Bill told me he thought I was wrong, loved the Bible, and thought it was beautifully written.  Thing is, I have a bullshit detector built in, and it wasn’t going off when he told me that.  He meant it.

Author Donald Miller wrote, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”  Don’s on to something there… because Bill’s obvious love for the Bible ignited a curiosity within me.  Bill has a doctorate degree.  In addition to being a Pastor, he’s a Professor at the local University.  Early in our friendship, when the aforementioned conversation took place, I needed to know why this intelligent man said such things about the Bible.  I needed to know why I could look him in the eye and tell he wasn’t just spewing out Christianese when he claimed to love it.

In Bill’s sermons, he takes us to the time and place being discussed.  We who listen to him speak hear context.  We learn about the culture of the people.  We are given an insight as to what the text meant to them… how they understood it.  I wanted to know how Bill knew these things, so I asked (that desire for knowledge is actually what led me to the place where I told Craig Gross from XXXChurch that I wanted to enroll in Seminary – which Craig responded to by telling me X3’s Esther Fund would pay for it).  I’ve been learning how to study the Bible, and I have to tell you… I get so much more out of it when digging into context and culture than by just reading the words.   I’ve read through the New Testament four times so far and I get something new out of it each time.

On a side note here, I’d like to recommend the following book to anyone who has the same desire “to know” burning inside of them: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – notice the word Its doesn’t contain an apostrophe… that’s because it doesn’t mean “for all IT IS worth”, it means “for all the worth it contains within”.

In the second half of 2009 I picked up the Scholar’s Library: Gold software package from Logos.com.  There are literally thousands of resources available within that package.  It makes a computer nerd like me very happy to be able to study from the comforts of my easy chair with my laptop warming the tops of my legs.  I read three chapters a day and try to do so in the morning before doing anything else.  Currently, I’m working through an Old Testament reading plan from YouVersion.com.  I start by reading an entire chapter.  Once finished with reading the text through, I open up a few different commentaries and read what they have to say.  Then I browse other miscellaneous resources that come with the software.  I’m always learning something interesting.  One recent example: it’s thought that Joshua was a skilled military leader long before taking over for Moses, and likely led the Egyptian army in battles.  Maybe it’s my inner nerd, but I find things like that fascinating.  It paints a more colorful picture when I read about his conquests leading Israel.

“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Indeed, Mr. Miller, indeed.  And so by watching a man love the Bible, and trying to figure out WHY he loves it,  I too have discovered a love for the Bible.  Sometimes I’m frustrated that I can’t find the words to express this properly.  All I can say is, dig into it, and see for yourself.

Question for the Day:  What do you think about the Bible? Be honest.

This morning I was reading through Joshua 5 and 6.  Earlier today on Google Buzz I wrote the following:

Donny Pauling – Buzz – Public
When Joshua was trying to figure out how to take the walled city of Jericho without possessing the weapons necessary to do so he was very troubled. He couldn’t figure it out. As the leader, it was his job to do so. But as he was pacing around fretting what he was gonna do he ran into God and was basically told, “Hey, this is my battle. Don’t worry about it. I’m leading this charge. You’re just a soldier following orders here. Let your mind rest ’cause I’ve got this covered.” What a relief, huh? Joshua didn’t need to bear the heavy burden and responsibility of leadership alone.

Sometimes I forget that life’s problems are taken care of. I can just be a dependent, rather than needing to worry about things I can’t change…


Donny Pauling – What a thought:

An army is being led into battle. Joshua, as leader, would normally shoulder the responsibilities. But not this time. God made it clear the He was leading the charge. Joshua was standing behind Him this time, not having to carry the weight of the world.

Lead, God. Lead. You’re the General in Charge. Take charge of my life…I’ll just listen for your commands.

I got a whole lot out of today’s readings, which also included chapters from Psalms and Genesis… those thoughts are just a few I pondered.  Studying the Bible each day just sets a tone for the day, know what I mean?


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A Blatant Case of Backside Kissin’

The main purpose for this blog is to serve as my journal/diary.  Often times I’ve written about things I wish to remember in the future.  I sometimes go back and read old entries and am surprised at how things have changed, most often those “changes” are my opinions on matters.  I feel like I should put a disclaimer at the top of this site that says, “My Opinions are Subject to Change Without Notice”.  I embrace this constant evolution, however.  I’m confident it’s something God is doing within me, and who wants to remain the same once HE has become involved in one’s life?

I’m also convinced God has a way of leading us to places we’re supposed to be. While there are numerous examples of this within my own life, for this post I’ll focus on the church I call home and the man who leads it, as much of the changes within me have come as a direct result of the perspectives I’ve encountered therein.

I first met Dr. Bill Giovannetti in a quaint little coffee shop called Yaks just weeks after leaving my past behind. I won’t bore you with details, but that meeting eventually led to a friendship I cherish very much.  Bill is the lead pastor at Neighborhood Church, which I now call home.  His style of preaching is exactly what I need. I particularly enjoy the way Dr. G brings context into scripture.

An open admission:  I fully intend to steal Bill’s sermon notes should I ever find myself speaking in front of churches on topics other than porn.  There’s not a sermon I’ve heard that doesn’t teach me something new, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

I really don’t like to kiss a whole lot of backside, so I’m not going to list all the things I appreciate about my Pastor…  but there are a lot of them.  Suffice it to say:  if anyone who listens to Bill on a regular basis DOESN’T spiritually grow it’s his/her own fault, ’cause there is no doubt he puts a big spotlight on the path to spiritual maturity.  I realize I’m still down there in the infant stages, but I’m listenin’ and learnin’.

If you live too far from Redding, CA to attend Neighborhood Church, the wonders of technology (and good ol’ fashioned books) will allow you, too, to benefit from the teachings of Bill G.  Here are four ways:

I’d also highly recommend clicking over to Amazon.com and making a purchase this afternoon (check out that last quote on the back cover 🙂 ):


“How to Keep Your Inner Mess From Trashing Your Outer World: Creating Peace from Your Inner Chaos” (Bill Giovannetti)


1 Comment

A Blatant Case of Backside Kissin'

The main purpose for this blog is to serve as my journal/diary.  Often times I’ve written about things I wish to remember in the future.  I sometimes go back and read old entries and am surprised at how things have changed, most often those “changes” are my opinions on matters.  I feel like I should put a disclaimer at the top of this site that says, “My Opinions are Subject to Change Without Notice”.  I embrace this constant evolution, however.  I’m confident it’s something God is doing within me, and who wants to remain the same once HE has become involved in one’s life?

I’m also convinced God has a way of leading us to places we’re supposed to be. While there are numerous examples of this within my own life, for this post I’ll focus on the church I call home and the man who leads it, as much of the changes within me have come as a direct result of the perspectives I’ve encountered therein.

I first met Dr. Bill Giovannetti in a quaint little coffee shop called Yaks just weeks after leaving my past behind. I won’t bore you with details, but that meeting eventually led to a friendship I cherish very much.  Bill is the lead pastor at Neighborhood Church, which I now call home.  His style of preaching is exactly what I need. I particularly enjoy the way Dr. G brings context into scripture.

An open admission:  I fully intend to steal Bill’s sermon notes should I ever find myself speaking in front of churches on topics other than porn.  There’s not a sermon I’ve heard that doesn’t teach me something new, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.

I really don’t like to kiss a whole lot of backside, so I’m not going to list all the things I appreciate about my Pastor…  but there are a lot of them.  Suffice it to say:  if anyone who listens to Bill on a regular basis DOESN’T spiritually grow it’s his/her own fault, ’cause there is no doubt he puts a big spotlight on the path to spiritual maturity.  I realize I’m still down there in the infant stages, but I’m listenin’ and learnin’.

If you live too far from Redding, CA to attend Neighborhood Church, the wonders of technology (and good ol’ fashioned books) will allow you, too, to benefit from the teachings of Bill G.  Here are four ways:

I’d also highly recommend clicking over to Amazon.com and making a purchase this afternoon (check out that last quote on the back cover 🙂 ):


“How to Keep Your Inner Mess From Trashing Your Outer World: Creating Peace from Your Inner Chaos” (Bill Giovannetti)


8 Comments

Immaturity and Being Mean

On March 24th I wrote The Lost Gospels – And a Disclaimer. I’ve been wanting to write the disclaimer you read at the bottom of that column for weeks, but my original plan was that it would be it’s own stand-alone column. That way I can link to it anytime I write about something controversial in the future.

Why do that? Because I’m the type who questions everything. And sometimes my questions make people a little uncomfortable or upset. And for some reason I kinda like making people a little upset. Why? I dunno. I just do.

But I also want it to be known that I’m in the process of learning, and will likely be in that process for a very long time. For life, most likely. And as a learner I’ve got to be ready to admit that I often misunderstand concepts and/or ideas, or that I am entirely wrong. What I spew as hard opinions today I’ll likely dismiss as the ramblings of an Immature Learner tomorrow. Kinda like a teenager, ya know?

Such may be the case with some of the contents of this blog entry as well.

Like this, for example:

It seems to me that there is much more to God than some people want to open themselves up to believe. It’s my hope to never be the type of person who thinks I have God all wrapped up in a box. I don’t think it’s possible for the creation to ever fathom even a fraction of the bigness of the Creator (thank you, Rob Bell) and I get a bit peeved when I hear someone discussing God like they have Him all figured out. Personally, I believe there are so many dimensions to God that humans don’t have a chance of getting remotely close to understanding Him. Ever.

I also feel that, while the Bible is undoubtedly a very important book, it should come secondary to spending time with God Himself. If I was in love with a beautiful women (which I am, but that’s another story) I could spend all day reading about her but I’ll never get to know her until I actually spend time with her. Knowwhatimean Vern? My single favorite part of Lee Strobel’s latest book, The Case For the Real Jesus, is when he points out that we should never make an Idol out of the Bible… it was never meant to be one. It’s a great guide, but it can’t take the place of a relationship with our Creator.

But I digress…

__________

In his sermon today, my Pastor put into words exactly what I’m experiencing at this point in my life: spiritual immaturity. I’m an infant. I know, I know… it’s hard to believe.  But it’s true.  😉

Bill’s sermon discussed the love found in the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth and explained how such love is only possible when one has reached a deep level of spiritual maturity. Did you know that 79% of non-Christians don’t think Churches demonstrate true love for God and love for others? I wonder if that means I’m not alone as an immature Christian…

Bill pointed out that this passage clearly demonstrates that such love as this doesn’t fail. Does. Not. Fail. Which makes me wonder if I’ve ever witnessed a truly mature Christian, but that’s another topic of discussion that I’m not capable of having.

When I surrendered my life to God in September of 2006 I began envisioning a world where God’s transformation power completely changed my life, healed my relationship with my ex-wife and reunited our family. With that goal in mind I was able to treat my son’s mother with a lot of patience. The things that used to irritate me when we were married (and even after we divorced… especially after we divorced) all of a sudden were “cute” and endearing. She noticed the difference.

But when it became apparent that reconciliation is out of the question… well, those things started bugging me again. I snap at her again. I’m very short with her again. I get angry with her again.

Immaturity. Not the love of 1 Corinthians 13.

And when Bill started talking about some Christians being downright mean to others I once again found myself getting hit upside the heads with his words. As recently as the past few weeks I’ve been pretty mean to others, including former acquaintances from the porn world. My thoughts on the matter were that those people will never again be a part of my life, I no longer have to do business with them, and their thoughts don’t matter to me anymore, so why be nice?

Does anybody else see the error of my thinking? Good thing X3 didn’t take that attitude while dealing with me all those years.

So here I go, continuing the process of “growing up”. By the way things look today, that’s gonna be a very long process indeed.


8 Comments

A Good Sermon I Think All Should Hear

My Pastor, Bill Giovannetti, spoke this past Sunday. On the church website they called his sermon “Totally Unstuck: Free In Christ“.

Click Here To Listen To It (you can also right click on that link and save it to your hard drive).

I don’t think people realize just how free we really are as Christians, and I love how Bill asks “Saints” to give up their right to be offended. That is a really good line, and I’d ask you to listen to his message in order to understand what he means by that.

In my opinion many Christians need to realize that, while there are definitely certain “rules” to life, the rules so many of us try to follow are often times made up by men rather than by God. It’s good to see churches are beginning to realize and address this.

Favorite Quote from Bill’s Sermon:
“The Bible, rightly interpreted, always makes you free!”

Favorite idea from the sermon:
“Jesus differentiated between God’s word and man made traditions.” (really listen to this part)

Random Donny Thought:
When you truly love someone you want to please them, right? If the person you love tries to scare you into “obedience,” doesn’t that diminish your desire to please out of love and ultimately lead to resentment? That is so clear to me! Yet, why do so many Christians try to scare people into obedience?