Friday, May 5, 2017

The Difference

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why is there so much suffering in the world?
Why is depression and suicide so pervasive?

The disciples asked Jesus this question, in John's gospel, as they passed by a man, blind from birth. His answer was this:

"So that the works of God  might be displayed in him" (9:3)

If the power, love, healing and strength of God is as true as we say it is, then show it.

How can we show it without having something to overcome? Whatever suffering is ours to carry, it is there to show the world, or even just one person, the difference Jesus makes. If we handle it the same way the world does, in depression, substance abuse or any other kind of flesh feeding, we are wasting the pain and defeating the purpose. Our suffering is to display the power of God...the difference He makes. Second Timothy chapter 3 says that people, in the last days, will look the part, but there will be no difference in their lives to display the power of God:

"...holding to a form of godliness, but denying the power..." (3:5)

Everyone suffers. No one, Christian or otherwise, is exempt from pain. The difference should be the power of God to overcome that pain. If you are give Him the glory. If you are not healed....that his grace is sufficient for have joy regardless. His presence in our lives should be enough to continue in His ways, even in suffering, with strength, joy and hope.  

Am I displaying the power of God in my suffering?
Do others see the difference God makes in pain?

Or am I just like everyone else...coping...settlement for momentary pleasures...using things of the world instead of the Almighty life giver?

The blind man answered the questions of the unbelieving synagogue leaders with this:

"If this man were not from God, he could do nothing"  (9:33)

So, they kicked him out.

It's not the answer people want to hear, but when you have been blind, and now you see, it's the only answer you can give. The difference is the evidence of the truth of God. You can reject it if you want...but the healed and the waiting will go skipping on their way...convinced and in joy...displaying the power of God.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Preach Red

Confidence has never been one of my strong points. So I married it. 
Then, that confidence started to look like overconfidence and I started to develop a distaste for it. It just seemed too risky to be so sure about things. Being wrong is just too dangerous... too embarrassing... too misleading. Especially when you are supposed to be teachers of the Word of God. People's lives are affected by what you teach as truth... drastically. Being wrong about it, or even unsure, can often have devastating effects. So, it would seem prudent to stay grey. End all advice with "but that's just my take on it" or "no one really knows for sure". Teaching the Word of God however it seems right in your own eyes. I think there is verse that sounds similar to that.

If I want to know what color looks best in my living room, whether to go to Paris or Rome for vacation or even what style of music I should listen to, then your advice should be your opinion... take it or leave it. If I want to know what God Almighty has said in regard to a situation, from His Word, then I expect certainty...Confidence. If God calls us to live or die by His Word, if that might mean loss, if that might mean pain and suffering, if that might mean shame and sorrow...even death, then we had better be sure. We had better teach with confidence... as though the very oracles of God...familiar again? 

The Bible is not a self help books of advice, but a supernatural revelation of a person. A person who lived here, had sure thoughts and desires and desired for us to know Him. Teaching Him to others cannot be done in an unclear way. Imagine if someone asked your child what you thought about drug use or pornography and they said "Welllllll.... he's not been clear to me on that. I think he would say it depends on the person...If it makes you happy..." It really is an all or nothing message...Because He is who He is, all the time, under every circumstance. Uncertainty might happen for a time, but we are expected to be seekers and can expect to find. We're just lazy and a bit afraid.

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

That's most preaching today...To itching ears... satisfying rather than true. The aim of pleasing people rather than God. Please God, and He'll please the people. I value such brave and selfless preachers. Paul Washer is 55 years old and such a preacher. He lies in a hospital bed from a massive heart attack today... probably overworked himself in his Heartcry ministry. I pray we don't lose him. His messages might not make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, but he rightly divides the Word of Truth... yes, it can be done, or God wouldn't have asked us to...And preaches it with certainty... boldly and fearlessly. Being more afraid to band aid sin than to miss the opportunity to share the cure. That's the way I want to be. Confident in who Jesus is, what He said and would do. He made it possible to know by the perfect Word in our hands, made sure.

"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention"
2 Peter1:19

We doubt. It's easier to doubt. Grey is a comfortable color. 
Red is far more bold, hot and passionate.
It's the color He bled for us.
It's rich and overpowering.
It's never ambiguous.
Might be my favorite.

My husband says "The Bible is a person. Truth is a person." Teach and live the person. He doesn't shape shift, change His mind nor is He two faced. You can count on consistency and perfection with preach Him that way.

One of Pastor Washer's "Buckleys" sermons...Might taste bad, but it works!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gallery Glory

Sometimes I see a piece of art and wonder what on earth people like about it. 
I may not like the colors, it's likely too "busy", maybe I just don't get any feeling from it or the same feeling I get from a zillion others like it. Yet, it is on display, people love it and it has a hefty price tag. It reminds me of the diversity in opinions of beauty and value.

It's great that someone loves that painting and is willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to see it daily and to share it's"beauty" with others. The name of the artist is made known and his or her works are collected. The artist is sought after for shows and seminars. Fame and renown for the artist. What of the painting though?

The colorful canvas hangs somewhere, untouched. Prized, cared for and gawked at constantly. With lights focused on it, glory beams from it to the pleasure and benefit of spectators. It receives nothing but the honor of bringing glory to its creator. 

As an artist, I understand the personification of pieces of they are like your little children...A piece of you sent into the world. You want them to find a home where they are loved... because you can't keep hem all forever! But I wouldn't die for any of them...they aren't worth THAT much. Continuing the personification, if I could be the art, just hanging there, my beauty and message bringing glory to my maker and benefitting others, would that be enough? 

Acknowledging the fact that I had nothing to do with my glory, but am a chosen canvas on which to display His...Is that enough? Accepting that not all find me beautiful or valuable, by that someone somewhere does or will? Content in the fact that my Creator sees me as priceless? We can understand the difference between an artist and artwork...The right relationship they have and their differing values.

Imagine, if we decided to place more value on the artwork that the artist. Gave the artist a different name, lied about who they were or even denied their existence. Telling spectators that they can choose whomever they like to be the artist...whatever works for them...or that it came about by chance as the canvas sat there for days and days alone.

A piece of art is beautiful, if not to you, to someone.

The work is nothing without its Creator and its purpose is to bring him glory.

Bringing Him glory is the most honoring purpose and greatest pleasure possible.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Psalms 139:14

"because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

Romans 1:25

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spiritual Tylenol

Evil and pain are not the same thing. Evil can cause pain, but so can goodness. Pain is often a protection, like our body's nervous system, designed to inflict pain, or the purposeful administration of needles full of meds. So, if physical pain can be a good thing, bringing healing to the body, why can't we see mental or spiritual pain as, possibly, a good thing too? Instead doing all we can do be rid of it, why not consider it as a guide, a striking, beckoning lighthouse, warning of destruction ahead? Hastily removing pain, without considering this possibility, might end in more permanent torment. A good, loving God and good, loving people will sometimes allow, even inflict pain if it is going to bring healing. 

When people ask why a good God would allow suffering, I'm perplexed. Even allowing evil pain can be used to heal. God IS in control. He inflicts good pain and allows evil pain sometimes, because He has a better plan for us than just comfort and happiness. One that requires pain to accomplish. Sound familiar? The cross was a picture, an example, for us to see this. Jesus went first. He suffered more than anyone ever would, to bring healing. He asks us to accept the same, in different ways, for His glory and our benefit. Job asked the "why" questions because of the pain, but in the end, understood and accepted. Sometimes I ask the"why"questions too, but all the while I really know...I just want relief and comfort. 

Masking physical pain... Tylenoling too much...destroys the body's natural ability to bring healing. So masking mental/spiritual pain can destroy the intangible parallel. Searing the conscience is spiritual Tylenoling. I saw a person experience mental healing recently in miraculous way. Their lack of sleep, depression, anger, hopelessness and loneliness immediately subsided when they were allowed to experience the pain of conviction, the  consequences of actions and then the joy of eager forgiveness and comfort. Often times, the root of the pain is self inflicted...But it's too painful to even go there. Cover up is a quicker fix. I hate this part, I kick and scream when led there, but like Buckleys cough syrup...Tastes aweful, but works. 

In this season of "let's talk", why not add, let's be honest, let's be brave and let's let's allow pain to do it's healing work. Talk is not enough. It only helps temporarily. The talk needs to be the kind that brings real change and healing. Forgiveness is the ultimate medicine, but we more often than not, want to give it than receive it. 

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," 2 Corinthians 4:17

Momentary pain can be endured  with the ultimate healing in mind. Never alone. The fellowship of His suffering and His true church gets us through. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Prodigal Christmas

Christmas shopping. 
I love it. It's a feast for my eyes and speaks volumes for my love language. All of the lights, glitter, cozy displays, festive music, scented everything and airy excitement is a bit of an overdose for this eye luster. It's like a drug of sorts. Just as a mess can send me crashing, so Christmas scenes can spike my sugars. Closing my eyes for just a moment or two helps to gain control over the whole blood sugar level thing. The purpose for being out in this delight is to buy presents for the people I love. Another high. Hunting for that perfect something for that imperfect someone is a pleasure and a gift in itself, for me. 
Not just hunting for but, preferably, creating for my loved ones is so meaningful. If I could, I would spend most of my time making things for people...and I do, for much of it...but not everyone can use what I make. See, the practical side of me has to get it's edgewise word in too. I love to serve people and I love to give things to people, therefore, hand made gifts are a double-whammy. So, when people say Christmas is "not about the gifts", something in me slumps. It's my yearly, guilt free, season of love splurging. Loving in my own personal, preferential way...double-dipping in the love department. 

Disclaimer...It really has little to do with money. Commercialism will not be helped by my little addiction. The value of the gift is hardly related to amount of money spent on it. It's the thinking, planning, resourcefulness and creativity that goes into the gift that gives it the value. The way it is custom made, or purchased, for that person's heart. the economy benefits a bit, for sure, but my well below-average Christmas budget is not going to jingle any bells in that arena. I just cannot, and will not, go out and buy just anything for anyone. It's like flattery or shallow motions to me. I won't even bother. They'll know it's not from the heart. Time, paying attention and out-of-box thinking will find the love gift, not a big budget. Learning to separate spending money and giving gifts takes thought and practice. Getting caught up in giving rather than commercialism is a good thing. 
Jesus gave everything He had. His comfy position with the Father, His reputation and due honor. Lived a short, unworldly, unimpressive, uncomfortable life which climaxed in agony and loneliness. His service and gifts were met with ingratitude and misrepresentation. His love was called hate, madness and arrogance. The world did not really know Him and certainly did not love Him. It's desire for sin and comfort blinded it to the Truth and still walks in willful deception. 
Sometimes your gifts will not be received with the joy, tears and elation that you expect them to. Sometimes your gifts will go unnoticed, set aside and re-gifted. Jesus experienced that too. I've done it to Him many times myself. Give anyway. Give till it hurts. Give in and out of season. Give what God tells you to give and not what feels right. Trust the Giver and let true love work it's magic.
Go ahead and spend prodigally...your energy, thinking, searching and making, not your money.
 Learn what love really looks like, give it away and be amazed.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sincerely Wrong

I was so confused, watching the election outcome speeches yesterday. Trump, Clinton and Obama all sounded the same, said similar things, 2 even quoted scripture!! How can these two sides (and then sides within sides) both appear so "good", so sincere, and be so opposite?? How can you be a hero and a villain at the same time? Lovely people, crying, hugging cheering and working so hard for "good" and yet, being so wrong in another person's eyes. Good people that I love and respect, seeing a totally different reality than I do. Aren't we watching the same movie??

There must be some kind of deception going on. No one is that great of an actor. Accept maybe Hitler, Mao or some other sort. I mean, the self deceiving kind. The kind where people really believe something that is really untrue...wrong...bad...not good...however you want to put it, but it really seems right and good to you. That is the scariest thing ever. What if you are doing that? What if I am doing that? One of us must be, because it is impossible for opposite things to both be right. Trump either hates women or he doesn't. Hillary broke the law or she didn't. We hear people saying all 4 possibilities are true...impossible. I'm talking about moral things, not preferences. Like, white men are either superior to all other races or they are not. It's beyond an opinion thing, and sometimes, allowing some people to go ahead with their opinion can be devastating to the whole world. Their opinion seems harmless. "As long as it doesn't affect me" we say. We let them into power, teach our children year after year after year and affects us all.

I watched the speeches. I heard the sincere words, felt the sincere feelings of loss and fear, but the disconnect between their words and their beliefs was so apparent to me, I couldn't get past it. It's like watching another world from the outside, seeing something they cannot see and not being able to do anything about it. Not being able to share thoughts and ideas because of feelings and desires that overpower. Someone, either me or them is being deceived. Because I just can't believe that they are insincere, and I know I am not. So then, how do you spot a lie? How do you find the truth? How do we all finally see what is real and what is a facade? Or are you just ok with not knowing? Accepting more than one truth. Living in a maze of differing realities with no foundation, no assurance, no right or wrong and no reality. 

Being an outsider looking in at the US division, the deception is very apparent. I know it is universal. I know that no one is immune. But I also think most people are unaware of the possibility of being deceived. It's always someone else that is. Comments about how stupid the other people are for believing X about Y. A better comment might be to start asking people why they believe such things. We need to backtrack out of the weave of deception we've been led into.

So what is the antidote to deception?? How can I be sure that I am not believing a lie??

 "They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11

 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Romans 1:18

The truth is suppressed because of unrighteousness.  
If I have some unconfessed, unrepentant sin  in my life, then I am susceptible to deception. 
I am opening myself up to being tricked by lies, born from my own flesh or the Evil One himself. A clear conscience before God will keep me seeing straight.

It's not a new's ancient...Eve, because of her desire for power and knowledge, opened herself up to being deceived and fell for it. 

May we be ever aware of the possibility of being duped. Sincerely believing something is right and good, when it isn't in God's eyes. Keeping righteousness at the forefront of our defensive strategy. We cannot know righteousness, if we do not know the true and only God of the Bible.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wrath is Cool...It Wears Sunglasses

True Grit
Man on Fire

Totally satisfying and inspiring scenes of strong people, walking away in slow motion, from a big mess of bad guys piled high is blood and justice.

I too, feel the satisfaction. The craving for justice is in all of us. When it happens, we all get that rush of peace, joy and "all is right in the world now". Their wrath has been satisfied...and theaters full of popcorners jump to their feet in applause. Movies make billions on the predictable effect and movie stars become icons or heroes for life. 

We get it. We love it. Satisfying wrath is really not a hard concept to grasp. It's obvious who the bad guy is, who the good guy is, that the sin was bad and the vengeance was justified. In real life though, it's a little less clear. We debate over who the hero really is, what actions are intolerable and what should be done about it...if anything. We vote on who knows best how to answer these questions and puts the judges in power. Always leaving many in disagreement and dissatisfaction. Wrath unsatisfied.

Reading many Old Testament books makes me think of this. God, needing to satisfy His wrath, sin being dealt with and then the readers thinking He is a big bad guy. What? It's ok for Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson, Hailee Steinfeld and Russel Crow, but not God Almighty? Head shaking confusion. Fallible humans can kill and feed their pleasure, but God...the only One worthy or deserving...isn't allowed. Where was God when...?? How could God allow...?? Questions indicating a discrepancy between who we think should and shouldn't exact justice....and what actions deserve it.

It's pretty clear to me that we think humans are pretty awesome beings. I agree, it's easy to see "goodness" in most people. Youtube clips of the random acts of kindness that bring tears and hope to our eyes. It's encouraging. Funny how we forget, don't notice or become desensitized to the unholiness in ourselves. No Youtube clips of that stuff...actually, there is, we just don't recognize it anymore. It's normal now. People are honored over the Almighty. We suppose good intentions in the heart of man, and bad in the heart of God. How ironic is that? Deceitfully wicked.

I need to remind myself everyday, that Jesus is the perfect lamb of God. The only one who could and did suffer torture, humiliation and death for me. Never a selfish thought or deed. He could don the shirtless war garb, showing His strength, calm vengeance on His face,  totally justified, and put all of us in our place...and He has done it before and will again...but He is so patient.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

When I wish He would just return and take me home, I remember His love. This is why we wait. I am ready, but really, as a bride checks the mirror seconds before her appearance to her groom, I need to continue fixing my face, my dress and my heart. I want to be as pleasing to Him as possible when He returns. Not to be accepted, I am that already, but because His love compels me to...
"walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Eph 4:1) Many others are not ready at all and He holds back his wrath, waiting for their love. This mercy is beautiful...I don't think I would be that loving. His love compels me to wait patiently too. Imagine, any of those screen actors, waiting, loving and longing for the love of the evil doer. I'd like to see a plot like that on the big screen. Would we cheer? 
We get it....we understand a story of vengeance and the pouring out of wrath. We just have our characters a little mixed up. 

He is not slow. He is just very loving. He is also a promise keeper...