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Faith and Loving on the Way to Heaven: Self-Help for Sinners and Saints!

Faith and Loving on the Way to Heaven: Self-Help for Sinners and Saints!

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Faith and Loving on the Way to Heaven: Self-Help for Sinners and Saints!

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Jun 27, 2011


Come on a journey of faith, love and learning on one psychotherapist's spiritual journey to the Promised Land. The author promises you will be entertained, enlightened and encouraged as you learn answers to many spiritual questions that face travelers in a rapidly changing society. This self-help book, will direct you to helping yourself as you receive from the Greatest Helper in history.
Jun 27, 2011

Sobre el autor

James Shinn is an award winning social worker, educator and psychotherapist. He won the Daniel Koshland Award (National Association of Social Workers) for being the Outstanding Clinical Social Worker for the State of California in 1986. He has worked for over 25 years in schools, medical clinics, rehabs and other counseling settings. He is a recovering alcoholic/addict who also was acknowledged as "Man of the Year" for Imperial Valley. His first book was Bedtime Storeezzz and he has taught Bible studies for over 10 years in churches and schools. He has presented research at conferences throughout the United States, and coordinated the writing of the first book in the U.S. in Spanish on perinatal bereavement (Ocaso Sin Aurora).

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Faith and Loving on the Way to Heaven - James Shinn



To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord

I like to think of myself as a good driver, but I probably am not. I drive too fast. I, Jimbo (my nickname), take risks, moving in and out of traffic, like a scared rabbit, but I am usually relaxed. I imagine driving along, maybe to work down Highway 111 to Calexico, CA, just zipping along at 72 miles per hour or maybe on Forrester Road, heading up to L.A. and all of a sudden, someone runs a stop sign. One minute I am hurtling along through space, a happy car driving camper, and the next . . . Bamm! . . . total peace. No ambulances, sirens, windshield glass, air bags or pain. The next thing I know, I am walking along, knee deep in a soft fog approaching these very pretty gates. There is nice music, and it is not loud at all, nor annoying which is sometimes the case in an elevator. I have arrived at Hollywood’s version of heaven . . . or . . . .

I like walking. I am the Bucklin Park for the millionth time in my life and it is during the week in the morning. I love being out and about in the morning right before the sun rises. There is a still and quiet that soothes the soul. The ducks are doing their thing in the water and I wonder, did they even sleep last night? The sand path crunches beneath my old tennis shoes and after my warm up lap, it is time to jog. I really don’t like running but I like it’s effects. Kind of like a hair-cut. Who really likes sitting in the chair all still, for 20 minutes, then rushing home to take a shower before the itchiness drives a person crazy? But when I get out of the shower, I feel a little like a new man. Not younger, but just more comfortable in my own skin. There is no joy in my jog, but I do appreciate the victory lap afterwards. Resting is a good thing, and a day that begins with a little run, usually ends up to be a better day. Ten minutes of suffering for the later payoff. Another cost benefit analysis in the mind of Jimbo Shinn.

As I walk, I come to the little rise in the road where I begin the run that is guaranteed to make my day, I feel the rust crunching in my gears as I begin to get my machine in motion. I get up to the appropriate 5-10 miles per hour which is my jog in full gear, in all its limited glory. I notice a slight dizziness and all of a sudden, it is dark. It is called a brain aneurism, where one of the radiator hoses of the head gives way, and darn it if the blood flood doesn’t just drown the life out of me! It is dark, not from the early morning park, but I am sitting in a movie theater. I am the only one there, except to my left, not in the next seat, but one seat over is Jesus. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. It is a dark room, but the glow from the screen gives off enough light so I can see my Savior. I don’t panic, but I have peace. I know what’s coming. We are going to watch, my not so wonderful life on the very big screen. He smiles at me and I see a remote control in his right, nail-scared hand. I don’t freak out, or want to run to the bathroom. I am like a prisoner, who has finished the trial, all the waiting in my cell and now it is time for the sentencing. I am a bit uncomfortable a bit, with the knowledge of my life, knowing we are going to begin watching a B movie, but the critic is kind. I know that with every bone of my body, so I guess it is like making friends with the prison guard. He is taking you somewhere you don’t want to go, but you have lived with him so long you don’t mind taking the walk with a familiar friend. Or . . .

I can feel my eyelids getting heavy. Jay Leno isn’t funny anymore, because the humor part of my mind already went to sleep. Maybe I am watching ESPN, and the scores aren’t computing. It doesn’t register who the Lakers beat today. The end of the day has come, but little do I know that it is also the end of life as I have known it. The last picture show is being watched by some drooping, drowsy eyes and when they open again they will be amazed. My mom died in her sleep, and I might also. The lids slam shut and then they seem to immediately open like they are spring loaded to be open, never to close again. The first thing I am impressed by is the color. The trees, bushes and flowers looks so pretty, like a perfect Polaroid, or on a more contemporary level, those nature emails you get with all those great photos of places you will never go to.

The water in the river, is crystal clear, like totally pure. It sparkles like glass as it skims over the multi-colored rocks. No EPA needed here. Everything is as it should be, as it was in the beginning, before the fall. The Garden of Eden, is now the Garden of Eternity. In the distance I see His throne, and every cell in my system directs me toward it. It is a bonus day in paradise! It is the first time I say that phrase and really mean it! I am going to meet my Maker and the last puzzle piece is about to be put in place.

These are the scenarios I live with. I could meet the Grim Reaper tomorrow and he would be the one upset. I don’t worry about these things. It is good to have faith in things unseen. It is good to love life. I don’t love the rashes, meds nor drama of the workplace, but overall I am in the plus column every day. I hope you walk this way. This book is about faith and loving on the way to heaven. If you don’t have faith, or you are not loving it, please keep reading. Don’t let my joy, cause you to miss yours.

On cigarettes, meds and some containers are written warnings: This could be hazardous to your health! I think reading this book, might be helpful for your well-being and I wish I could say it is guaranteed. If you take a step of faith right now, I think it might seal the deal. Take a minute and talk with God. You see, I am on my way to heaven, but I don’t know about you. It is very simple to punch your ticket. I really would like you to go there too, and we would see each other at some point in the future, and you could tell me about the book. I’m OK with most critics.

Back to sharing in my journey. First, you have to admit you have fallen short. Admit, not all your wrongs, but just a few to impress the Judge. Lie, cheat on the taxes, got a tongue fit for a sailor? Give it up! Admit you are a sinner and you missed the mark. To admit such a short list of shortcoming is hard to wrap your brain around. This does not make sense, unless you look at things from God’s perspective. Don’t try, you can’t. It is an act of faith, to admit you are a screw-up to Someone you can’t see.

The next step is say you believe in Him. You don’t have to feel it to step out in faith and say it. Just bring the body and the spirit will follow. Faith is believing in something that may on the face appear unbelievable. We do it all the time. When you turn on your TV or cell phone, you are believing in something that if you were to explain it, would make no sense. OK, now I want you to believe that this works. Your cell phone, is going to take light through a little opening, and make a picture, that pretty much reflects what you just looked at. The light is going to be transformed into electronic impulses that are going to run along a few wires or circuits inside the phone. Now the little phone, is going to transmit that little bit of electricity, into some type of invisible waves that are going to be sent to a satellite somewhere many, many miles away. The receiver up there in space, is going to receive your little wave length processed picture, and send it back down to earth to some tower in Barneysville, USA or Europe for that matter.

These wavelengths will now be sent to some cyber server place and then end up crawling up some weird wire coming through the wall to your best friend’s computer. It once again is transformed into electronic impulses, and then color images, and finally into a grin on someone’s pie hole! Amazing technology huh! Well we are talking about Amazing Grace. Jesus, the person, is a historical fact, no one denies. You need to state that you believe He died on a cross two thousand years ago to pay the price for your misdemeanors or felonies. You weren’t there so you have to believe in something you can see (kinda like a cell phone!). You can’t see it but it works! You can’t see the wind, but we all have experienced the effects of the wind! Does wind exist? You betcha!

By believing, you are establishing a relationship. He wants you to know Him. He already knows you more than you will ever know! The last part of beginning a journey of joy, is asking Him to come and hang out with you. You can ask Him to change your life and He will. He does that time and time again, and it is amazing what good you can get without even asking. So there you get it, three steps to real social security. First admit that you can’t (save yourself from death!), He can, and you have decided to let Him! So easy, even a Caveman can do it!

Whether you are walking in step with me to the Promised Land or not, it is OK. Please keep reading. After all, you already spent the $15.00 or whatever for the book. You might as well get your money’s worth and be a smart shopper. I know I have a bargain, and I didn’t even have to bring a checkbook. No matter how much I screw up, the deal is sealed and I get to heaven, however the final fantasy plays out. It is kind of cool to look forward to death. Make no mistake, I really don’t want to speed the process, because there is much left to do here, but if you are going on a trip, isn’t it nice to know you have all the gas to get where you want to go. It is also nice to not worry about the car breaking down. I may have a flat tire, now and then, but motor meltdown, no way.

Let The Walls Fall Down

I built walls between me and God for a long time. On one level, I was recycling the walls I saw my Dad build as I was growing up. Parents are models whether they want to believe it or not. My family never went to church, and I can’t remember my parents ever having someone over to the house who was a person of faith. My siblings may have had a different experience, but there were invisible walls around the Shinn house, keeping believers at bay. I don’t know if it was a conscious effort, but when a parent is an atheist or agnostic, they make spiritual decisions that affect their children.

I did not live in a vacuum. I was around friends with faith, and families of faith. I hung out with lots of Italians, and they were Catholics. Now my friends went to church because it was mandated, but their conduct wasn’t much different than any other guys that I knew. There was no Holy Spirit living in those adolescents around me, as far as I could tell. My buddies behaved badly, as did I. When I would spend the night with them on Saturday night, I would have to go to church with them on Sunday morning. The truth was I liked spending the night, but I could have passed on the church deal the next day. I didn’t grow spiritually and I think I was just taking up space and sucking oxygen during worship. As a teen, I also went with friends to Catechism on Wednesday nights at the local Catholic school, just to hang with my friends and fool around. Don’t remember any Bible learning, but there was lusting after the girls that showed up for class! The lack of a learning curve had nothing to do with the teaching. I wasn’t shopping, and I was just a lookie loo taking up some sanctified space.

There was faith in their families, mostly in the Moms. I saw that in their love and their assuming responsibility for the spiritual education of the kids. They were the ones dragging the kids to the pews. As an adult, I have thanked them for their role in developing my faith. At some point, my peers were pushed to have me become a Catholic. I heard that if they got someone saved, then that would reserve them a place in heaven. Not a bad deal. Save a soul and save yourself a seat in Graceland ! Even as a kid, I was a people-pleaser, and when pushed I move easily. I told my parents, I wanted to become a Catholic and they provided no resistance to the idea. I think that was out of respect for my friends’ parents faith, and that my parents weren’t overtly anti-faith. My Mom had faith, but raising seven kids, without Dad’s support, she had put it on the back burner.

I began individualized instruction with a priest. He wasn’t the most positive person, and it seems that he put up with me rather than really getting into the soul saving process. I went through the rituals and remained unchanged. I confessed, memorized the Apostles Creed, got Holy Communion once, and was still spiritually confused. After I had completed the process, not once did my friends ever express concern about my never attending church again. The deed was done, so we were moving on from cigarettes to alcohol and other drugs. In spite of the spiritual instruction, the process of sinning, went on unabated. Again, I wasn’t shopping, so I did not come away with any bargain buys, like eternal salvation. This all occurred in junior high school, and I never really looked back. It was kinda like a summer school experience. You put your time in, but it was in no way a powerful academic experience.

I was passive about faith until I got college, and that was where I became outright hostile. Part of it was with the progression of my anti-social activities (drinking, druggin’, thieving and sexing!) It was easier to call others hypocrites, rather look at what I was doing day-to-day. The college experience enabled me to use bigger building blocks between me and God and I was getting extra mortar, from the many forms of atheistic education so common in American colleges. I don’t remember a single Christian instructor. If they had faith, they either hid it, or when it was mentioned, I had no ears to hear. I would bet big money, very few were Christians, and many encouraged the anti-social path I was pursuing.

In the late ’60’s and ’70’s, when I went to college, it was time of turbulence, and it was politically correct to be anti-faith. After all, those who believed in God, stood for many things that I couldn’t possible consider as likable lifestyles. Sexual abstinence, sobriety and generally sane conduct, were never in my week at a glance. I liked living on the edge, even though it was killing some of my friends through car accidents and overdoses. Denial was a daily dose in my mental regimen. This continued on, the walls got thicker, and I got sicker!

As continued in my chemical causes, I did develop some relationships with Christians, as long as they like partying. I don’t remember any mentions of ministry as we used marijuana. If they had, I would have made a joke and ignored it. In graduate school, I had my first Christian friend, and she didn’t use drugs or drink and she was the real deal. We didn’t hang out together a lot, but she was a first for me to actually spend time with. We did a school project together, and although I was a year ahead of her, we became friends. My using was beginning to taper off since I had become a parent and was a student of social work. My drug-using identity was starting to get some competition from my professional persona. There is a name for that when what you do begins to conflict with how you see yourself. I was beginning to change and had been in therapy three different times in my life for issues related to depression, not drug use. I put walls up so the therapists couldn’t see where I was really living.

I graduated with honors and left the ivory covered walls to take my rightfully earned position in the professional world. Unfortunately, when I attempted to go to work, I was told to get in line with the other under-employed. This was a huge helping of humble pie for me. I was a veteran counselor, having worked successfully several counseling jobs, I was bilingual and I had a graduate degree in social work. I was ready to make the big bucks, or at least, put some of my newly found skills to work. God has a sense of humor and knows that before I became what He had planned for me, I needed to be broken. Well, my wife at the time, got a good job at a local junior college, and I became a house husband. I also got a job as a waiter at a local Mexican restaurant, and became one of the most educated food service professionals in the state. I actually loved the work, made decent money, and it enabled me to spend quality time with my toddler son Justin, who was at that time one year old. It was all good dogg! as they say, but the depression kept lingering along the walls of my brain. Some of the walls began to crumble as I began to question myself and my conduct.

One of the good things about staying home, was watching Oprah, and having a lot of quality time by yourself. I really enjoyed the time with my son Justin and it enabled God to begin to break down some barriers in my mind. I needed my reality to change, and I decided that to change my world, I needed to change myself. I got involved in a group counseling program to stop smoking marijuana,

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