I Have Ancestors! Part II

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I’ve had soooo many things running through my head, but just couldn’t bring myself to write it all out. And then, last night, I received the results from my DNA test. Oh me, oh my… Oh my…

Let’s just say…we’re definitely ALL related!

I promise to write more as my little brain processes a couple of the “shockers” in my results. But, for now, just know that I am convinced more than ever that the life of Jesus gave more healing than any other…ever! To be born of a race that was considered “chosen” yet so horribly persecuted out of jealousy, and yet to still love ALL of mankind, is phenomenal and supernatural.

You know what is the most ironic? How true were the words which Jesus spoke in Mark 4:22: “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”

I’m so glad now, even though utterly embarrassing, that my life has not been portrayed as perfect by any means! That my sins have been “out there” and that I have a redemption story…one that shows if God can save someone like me…He can, and will, save anyone who wants Him. Just simply ask…

“My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

~Psalm 139:15

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I Have Ancestors!

It’s funny…until the past few years I thought my ancestors were non-existent. I had to come from somewhere, didn’t I?

After hearing little snippets here and there, I finally took the DNA plunge. I know…it’s a trendy thing right now. My dad won’t even consider it. He thinks the government will steal his biological history and use it to create a look-alike robot, or capture him and put him a Chinese torture chamber! 😉 But, if I had his military/war history, I would have those fears too. I think most people already know that the “powers that be” already know more about us than we do!

I’ll find out in a few weeks just where I came from! Most American’s have no clue due to the constant revolving door. When I was living in Ukraine, a lady told me that she was of the “pure” race. Well, she was basically putting me down for being a mixed-breed-mongrel. LOL. **Sigh**

Oh if only she knew that we were all created by God…and he loved each of us no less than the other! I wonder how many relationships would heal if we all looked at each other through the loving eyes of our Creator…and loved each other the way he loves us…

 

Scriptures for Hope:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~1 John 4:10

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

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Are we near the end?

Since people hate over the silliest of things, yes, I believe we are at the end. How much worse can it get? Jesus said when asked about the end of the age: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” ~Matthew 24:10

Are you ready for eternity? Do you live in forgiveness or bitterness? Will that thing you harbor anger and bitterness over really matter a thousand years from now?

We have to forgive, and forgive, and forgive again no matter how much it hurts, or how much the offender continues their attack, even if they never admit to their offense. It’s hard. I have to continually remind myself of this all the time. For, I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Forgiveness is the only way to find freedom for our soul. Forgiveness does not mean the offender is not guilty of the sin, for we all give an account for every little thing we do; it just means we release to God our right for revenge. (God’s vengeance is always much better anyway.) We are then free to live in God’s peace and joy, which usually makes the offender angry because we aren’t letting them cripple us. We are free. We are ready to “meet our maker” with a clean heart. We are forgiven. Because, yes; no matter how slighted we feel, if we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us. If we aren’t forgiven, we spend eternity without freedom, without light, without God…in hell.

Don’t believe me? Or, maybe you don’t believe me because you feel like I shouldn’t be forgiven because I have offended you in some way and you don’t like me. Then I say don’t. What do I know? All I am is the messenger. Here in the States, there is a bible (taken from ancient scrolls) in every corner. Look it up on the internet. All I am doing is relaying what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

What of this life will you take with you into eternity?

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22

 

“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~Revelation 21:6-8

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Irma Destroyed Our Barns!

With all the images coming out of the islands decimated by hurricane Irma, one resounding word keeps popping up in my mind: barns. In just one day, the “fun” was washed away…

washed away…

We moved off our farm in spring of 2015 and became city-dwellers. My husband’s family farmed that land for around 150 years. You would not believe the old equipment lying around…continually replaced by the new.

Needless to say, it took us more than two months to clear our junk out of the barns! We sold, gave away, and threw away…and still found more and more…stuff. :/

Though our intention was to downsize…our new house…you guessed it…bigger.

Do we ever learn??

Tearing down the old storage shed and chicken coop…

 

Parable of the Rich Fool

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

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My first book!

So I wrote a book…a devotional…and actually published it! My writings usually sit hidden in a drawer, but while living in Ukraine last year, my friend, Sarah, encouraged me to join her in her publishing company, The Thinking Tree Publishing Company, LLC, and put some of them in print. Sarah is a fabulous illustrator! Oh how I wish I had Sarah’s artistic talent…but then again, God gave me my own talents to use. The difference is…she has used hers greatly while mine have sat hidden in a drawer. But is that what God wants for us? According to Matthew 25 he doesn’t…

So, in my free time, I dusted off my notes and we teamed up to create a devotional that can be doodled!

Since this is the 14th day of the month, here is an excerpt of the 14th devotional. First though, read the actual Proverb from the bible before reading the devotional. Then, if you have a copy of the book (link below), you will enjoy doodling on Sarah’s illustrations! I hope you like it…

Day 14 ~ Proverbs 14

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.” ~Proverbs 14:10

How can we truly know another person, except by what we see and hear? Sometimes it’s easy to assess what is in a person’s heart by their countenance. We can assume a person is joyful at that given second by the belly laugh filling the air. We can assume a person is sad, hurt, or bitter when we see buckets of tears flowing down their cheeks. But, can we presume to know the reasons or the source? All too common, seemingly happy people (such as actor Robin Williams) take their own life out of deep depression. We are often too quick to make assumptions about a person or situation before we see all sides of a matter (see Proverbs 18:17 & 25:8). Yet, in our pride, it’s so very easy to assume we know what another person is thinking or feeling. Most of the time, our pride prevents us from simply asking, and therefore our reactions to that person will be unfitting.

“A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.” ~Proverbs 14:5

What happens when we assume to know the heart of another and treat them accordingly? If I see someone come through the door with a scowl across their forehead, should I assume they are angry with someone? And then, to top that off, they complain about the blue skies. Should I assume they are bitter or nit-picking? How do we not know that they simply woke up with a migraine headache or have recently suffered great loss? In our humanness, we are all occasionally guilty of these kinds of assumptions. When we fail to seek truth, we are uttering lies. The old Indian Proverb holds true: “Just walk a mile in his moccasins, before you abuse, criticize and accuse.” (taken from the poem Judge Softly, written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895). Yet, if we walk the same path, even then, do we deeply understand the heart of another?

“A sound heart is life to the body,
but envy is rottenness to the bones.” ~Proverbs 14:30

On the flip side, making assumptions on another person’s joy is just as harmful. How often do we reject people because we believe their lives to be ideal? We become envious of their happiness while not being concerned with knowing the road they traveled to live in their joy. Often times, we are shocked upon hearing a mild-mannered sweet Christian’s testimony to find she has a shockingly checkered past. Jesus says in Luke 7:47, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (NIV) Do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Or do we allow our own self-centeredness to prevent us from being genuinely happy for other people’s success and joy.

Our heart knows our own bitterness. We deeply feel emotion when we have loved another. People are fallible beings. When we place expectations on another based on our own desires, we will be hurt. People will always at one time or another let us down. But we are not alone in our bitterness, or our joy. Jesus says in Matthew 6:8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Why expect strangers, or even those we know, to share in our joys and/or sorrows when we have a God who knows every deep hurt, feeling, and thought we’ve ever had? A sound heart comes when we let go of our expectations of others and place our hope and trust in God, the one who most knows our heart.

“Those who fear the Lord are secure;   
 he will be a refuge for their children.” ~Proverbs 14:26

**If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you read with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles Journal can be found on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.

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Holiday Grace

Thanksgiving & Christmas Thankfulness…My little Speech? Statement? Declaration? My final breath? 😉

I’m so thankful for a faith rooted in love not terror; in life not death. I’m so thankful God allowed me to see him through His Spirit…and not in the examples or interpretations of earthly fallible men. I’m so thankful God gave us his Holy Spirit and his Word for guidance, strength, and comfort, and for the remaining churches that love the outcast like Jesus did (John 4).

I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow anyone older than the millennial generation in worship band/choir, but rather exonerates all walks of life (1 Kings 12:13). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow newer, timeless, music for fear of letting go of traditions or just plain being stuck in the 80’s (Job 32:8-9). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that clings to suit & tie & stocking hosiery instead of acknowledging that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart and wants our worship to be a place where people can be real, be accepted, and loved in ordinary jeans (1 Samuel 16:7: Matt 23:27).

I’m so thankful that even though I will never live up to the expectations of people who are so quick to believe the worst, I am forgiven and accepted by a God who loves me just as I was created (John 3:16-17). I’m so thankful for the friends God has placed in my life, people who would not listen to negativity, realizing that to believe hearsay without verification is the same as the original telling of the lie, for lies are only for enemies (Eph 4).

I’m so thankful for my husband and the restoration God has worked through our lives. We are not perfect, but we choose not to control each other, but rather to let God be in control; we choose to respect instead of belittle; we choose to love in spite of our baggage.

Finally, I’m so very thankful for the children God allowed me to birth, even thru the distance, disagreements, and miss-communications, they all know their Momma’s love will never end. My prayer for you is that your road will wind its way to the Lord; that you will always seek Truth; that your faith will be your own, and to know that… “our struggle is not against flesh and blood {people}, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12).

Most of all, never ever forget…”nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

That is all. (This is about as mushy as I’ll ever get….)


~Nora, Daughter of Abba God, Wife, Mom, Friend.

Jesus is the Light

Approval-seekers and Self-pleasers

My husband and I had a little discussion the other day about people-pleasers being one and the same as self-pleasers. We brought up a lot of controversial points in today’s world, so he suggested I put it in a blog.

The people-pleasing theme has run through many of my posts. This may be a reiteration of a post I wrote about people-pleasers: here. I also wrote a post on why people don’t like us: here, so I thought I had it covered. But…can you be a people-pleaser without being a self-pleaser? In my prior posts, I eluded to people-pleasers being self-pleasers. Are they one and the same? My question in my overly analytical mind is; why do we want to please everyone else?

With God, everything is a matter of the heart; even when we are pleasing Him.

We must ask ourselves:

  • Is it possible to please others and/or self and still please God?
  • Do we do our good little deeds for God or to feel good about ourselves?
  • Do we want to puff up others, or do we want to puff up ourselves?
  • When caving to the will of others; is our desire to bring them fulfillment or are we seeking their approval?
  • When seeking the approval of others; is not the seeking for our own satisfaction?

Approval-seekers are self-pleasers.

We have begun to wonder if some sort of revival is beginning to break out over our country. Fence riders are beginning to fall off. Eventually, everyone will have to choose one side or the other so we might as well start now!

One of those fences is full of people-pleasers. I know of at least two churches where the preachers taught on the subject just this last Sunday. Lately, I’ve seen several articles, posts, blogs, etc. on this subject. Hordes of books have been written on people pleasing; approval addiction; and boundaries in the past few years. Some of the hype could be the psychological-money-making-bandwagon. But when the phenomenon reaches several pulpits, we need to take notice.

When revival and/or trials hit, God calls his people to step up to the spiritual (not religious) plate. He said we are not able to live by double-standards. God is not only love, not only grace, but God is truth. Where do we get our screwed up lives from? Lies. Deceit. Lies. Hypocrisy is rooted in lies. Double standards are rooted in lies. And believe it or not, people-pleasers are rooted in lies…for by pleasing one, another must suffer.

Maybe God is fed up with our fence riding and is finally pushing us to stand for integrity. Maybe he is building character in his children to enable us to survive the hard times most are predicting. I don’t believe for one second the martyred Christians in Egypt were seeking the approval of man. How will we react when evil hits our doorstep? You’ve heard the line in the old Aaron Tippin country song, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Maybe God just wants our yes to be yes and our no to be no (even in the little things!) so we will have the character needed to withstand anything the enemy throws at us! Jesus said in John 5:41, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me.” Maybe we should follow his example.

God’s approval is all we need. Yet, we tend to have an unhealthy fear of man instead of a spirit of love and respect for God.

Isaiah 51.12

Lord, forgive us for our apathy. Help us to follow truth, no matter who it hurts. Because following truth is following you. Help us to stand for that which is right. Because in standing for that which is right, we are standing in love for all.

Isaiah 1.17 Seek Justice

 

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:10 (Do we show partiality?)

“Differing weights and differing measures—
the Lord detests them both.” 20:10
~Not only applicable to business practices…but to relationships as well. Do we have one standard for one person, but not the same expectation for another? Do we love others based on their ability to live up to our standards? We tend to view others based on our personal perspective derived from our own world. When we quit expecting others to love based on our standards, and quit trying to seek love based on another person’s standards, we recognize the Lord is the only entity who loves us unconditionally. The Lord is the only one who shows NO partiality in whom he loves. He is the only one who truthfully sees our heart. He loves me. He loves you! Rest.

Beautiful Differing Feet!

Beautiful Differing Feet!

 

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Another church debate?

And the church is now debating youth groups…

The newest movement in the church world today is the “Integration of the Congregation”. The concept is such that our kids are falling away, as argued in one of many circles such as in this article; Charisma News; which discusses statistics showing youth groups are driving Christian teens to abandon the faith. The trend is leading the church to abandon their youth groups.

The debate seems to be about destructive peer pressure in church. The new thought process is that separating youth from parents in church waters down and annihilates any teaching of Godly principles, leaving youth abandoned to seek total downfall with their church peers. By integrating the youth with the adults, they will learn to become exemplary, well rounded, Christian grown-ups. In all the articles I’ve read on Family Integration, statics and scripture references are used to back up this theory: Deuteronomy 16:9-14, Joshua 8:34-35, Ezra 10:1, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Nehemiah 12:43 and Joel 2:15-16…to quote a few from the above article. But, if you look at these scriptures, they talk of feasts and assembly gatherings (you know…church), but do not mention youth groups. In fact, I don’t think anyone has found any scripture stating youth groups are not allowed. (Yet, the bible doesn’t mention cigarettes either. Just sayin’!) One of the verses used by most when it comes to family worship is Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which instructs fathers to teach the statutes to their children. Yes…the fathers to teach their children. So, is this proof we need to abolish youth groups and put everyone together?

And then…finally…here is a common sense article by Ed Stetzer debunking the theory that all youth groups are bad, posted in Christianity Today. Actually, he debunks the statistics used by arguments for the bad youth group theory. When the statistics are skewed, we are compelled to take another look at our theories. I am not at all against Family Integration, rather I am for it. But I am not against abolishing our youth groups either.

This post is obviously just my humble opinion…but my opinion is based on experience…from my own youth. You see, I had a drug problem. My parents drug me to church every week! (Bet you haven’t heard that one before! 😉 ) Seriously, that is about the one thing my parents did right. Part of my “testimony” is that I hated church…and youth group…from being a pretty messed up youth myself. I felt all the kids were either hypocrites or dorks. They were not the kind of kids I preferred to hang out with on a Friday night…and I didn’t. I partied. And partied. But, that’s another story…

In spite of hating youth group…the Gospel got in.

It. got. in.

And I came back. Not to church. I came back to Jesus.

Yes, some of my most pivotal memories are of little words, verses, or phrases, Ron or Lindell spoke here and there. And then, there are the Sunday school teachers who put up with us one hour a week speaking into our lives.

And the list goes on…

I’ve often wondered over the years how many of them thought they were wasting their time. How many of them thought I was a waste…

I wonder where I would be if the church my parents attended (quite by default due to my Grandma) did not have a youth group. Would I have created less trouble for myself and others? Would I be here today? No, I don’t believe so.

Listening to the many in favor of abandoning youth groups, I hear a resounding argument that the youth would be naturally sitting at home on daddy’s knee listening to him quote scripture every waking hour.

Maybe in a bubble.

Not in my family.

Not in today’s world.

Yes, we were a “Christian” family. We went to church. We talked the talk. But not once do I remember my dad leading in anything other than prayer before dinner on Sunday afternoon. Even if he wanted to, how could he? He was either on a ship somewhere or working 2nd shift during the week. Neither did his father, or his father before him. I don’t blame them, they were living as their fathers before them taught. They were doing the best they could. Our forefathers believed the way to show love to the family was to work and leave the teaching to Momma and the Public Schools.

Hey Church! That’s the real world.

Yes, I gathered some instruction from my family. But when a teenager is “troubled” their parent is the last person they will follow. That’s reality.

What would have happened if I did not have a youth group? Where else would I have gone for instruction? The very places that encouraged my self-destructive behavior to flourish: the world. Yes, the public school and, of course, peers.

Now, they say times have changed. We watched a clip in church this morning interviewing several Millennials about their perception of the world and what it was like to be a Millennial Christian. Their words took me back to my own youth. You know what? Nothing has changed. Not really. As a child of the 60’s & 70’s, I had the same outlook…round peg in a square hole. I have a sneaky feeling youth have experienced the same moods since Adam & Eve. We can blame it on almost anything, but common sense says the human body changes and we grow up, during which time we search for purpose…that inner longing for the choosing between right and wrong…searching to fill the hole created by our own sin. That hole which only God can fill. Youth grow to adults, and in the process, we all seek to fit somewhere in society. Heck, even the disciples jockeyed for position…trying to “fit in”.

Youth of any millennia will seek their place in adulthood. Where is the best place to navigate those roads? I believe both the family and youth groups are the answer. The best place is the place where they can find Jesus. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent family, would they receive instruction outside of church? No. If the youth are in a spiritually non-existent church, would they receive instruction sitting in the pew next to their parents? No. Are there churches with youth groups that are simply play-time? Yes. Are there families who are only “Christian” on Sundays? Yes.

As for the theory of separation, in most American churches, after “Sunday School” is over, when the kids are old enough to sit for a spell (older than toddler age), the youth are always sitting (Integrated) in the church service…sometimes bored to death. But…the Spirit can work years later to bring back God’s word to a broken heart. God’s word which we never realized will reach into our deaf ears. And the “youth groups” that are in question? They always meet outside of Sunday morning services, such as a Sunday evening or mid-week night. Most active youth groups meet more than adult life groups! Would you rather your youth go to the parties I attended on the weekend or to a church youth event? I didn’t think so. Are there “bad” activities going on during church events? Sometimes…for we live in a fallen world. Are there “bad” activities going on during social, non-churched, events? Of this, I can assure you, almost always.

If you want to “fix” our youth, abolishing the group is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Preach to the fathers. Yes, instruct the fathers in how to teach their children. And in all reality, that may fail. Bad stats show somewhere around 50% in the church are divorced/single parent households, where it is more likely around 25-30%…which is still huge no matter how you look at the issue. Embrace those kids, as well as kids whose parents are unchurched. When the fathers are absent, create churches that will hire Youth Pastors and not Youth Directors. Train leaders who will be examples of Jesus to kids. Create an atmosphere where youth have a safe place as they learn to break the parental apron strings and grow into adulthood.

Then, and only then, will you have an explosion of salvation in our youth culture….our future!

God's Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

God’s Spirit will bring His word back to our hurting hearts!

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:14 (Inadvertent theft?)

“’It is worthless, it is worthless!’ says the buyer; but when he goes his way, then he boasts about his bargain.” ~Proverbs 20:14 

My husband hates to negotiate. Some of it is sheer personality, but mostly, negotiating is an indication that one of the parties is attempting to get something for nothing. Either the seller has inflated the price to portray something more than it is worth, or the buyer (as in the Proverb) is casting doubt on the quality in order to pay less than the actual worth. Inadvertent theft.

Does God do that with us? He could have. He had every right to cast full light on our sin and expose our worthlessness. Jesus could have called down all the Angels in heaven to keep from paying the price asked for our sins.

But he didn’t.

He paid a price we were unable to pay. He willingly sacrificed an inflated price for our worthlessness. And yet, as he walked away, arose to heaven, instead of proclaiming our worthlessness…he proclaimed nothing but love.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 

Grandma's Relics

Grandma’s Relics

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 15:17 (Better peace with veggies?)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.”
 v15:17

Family. You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them either.” … Well, yes, I can live without them. They say blood is thicker than water…but I don’t believe that is true for humans. We are fallible beings. I do believe that is true for God’s people, who are connected through the perfect blood of Jesus…not the blood of a fallible man.

Do you remember family dinners? Are they even in existence anymore? When disharmony is the dish of the day…a TV tray is much more peaceful. Sadly, we miss out on family time. But, when the conflict, back-biting, ridiculing, and the put-down’s flow, I’d much rather sit by myself with a bowl of…dare I say…broccoli *gasp* than to sit at a full table with people who cause one to have to come up fighting just to breathe. Yep…you can keep your fattened calf.

The family God brings into my life is where the love flows…

Fattened calf...actually, this was probably a bull at one time... ;)

Fattened calf…actually, this was probably a bull at one time… 😉

 

Reflections of Christmas through Poetry (OK…so I’m a little nostalgic tonight!)

My Christmas Story
 
A little child was born this day
to parents long ago.
Uncertainty surrounds his birth,
though Mary loved him so.
 
Perfect was he in every way,
yet Herod sought him out.
Society could not perceive
what he was all about.
 
With ignorance their passions flew.
“Be rid this Nazarene!”
A make-shift trial he was condemned,
to make their conscience clean.
 
Yet from the grave his love set free
the captives from beyond
Fulfillment in a better life
to those who would respond.
 
His love has grown two thousand years
to right that which was wrong.
Each Christmas we reflect his life
through each and every song.

~Me

Christmas Home

The Marriage Controversy…Not a very popular topic…

I’ve seen a few posts lately about divorce causing more destruction to the breakdown of the family unit than same sex marriage. I agree. After a couple of “fun” posts, here we are on a more serious note…and my mind seems to be jumbled tonight. I guess my thoughts are about the disintegrating family, divorce, same-sex marriage, and blame-shifting. Not very popular topics in today’s world.

At this point, I should say that if you do not believe in God, you won’t agree with this post. And that’s fine, I am not your judge, nor do I want to be. Though I’m sure not perfect, these are my beliefs. You are welcome to disagree…and leave a comment. 🙂

The biggest problem, as I see it, with both the world and the church is the inability to be able to differentiate between the sin and the person. The world would have us believe that to accept the person; we have to accept the sin. The church traditionally believed the person is the same as the sin and both are unacceptable. The modern church has shifted to accepting the sin in the name of tolerance. Yet, Jesus always loved the person while condemning the sin. And then…there’s the argument over what constitutes sin…

Since I am one who questions everything and tries to get to the source, or the bottom, of every issue; where is the progression? How far down will the “Christian” family fall? Where will it end? To figure that out, maybe we should figure out where it began…

The garden. The beginning and fall of mankind. Otherwise referred to as “original sin”. The love of self.

In the world of roping, a three-stranded chord cannot be easily broken. The typical Christian family consists of a dad, mom, and child: Three-stranded chord. This phenomenon is synonymous with the picture God gave in the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Three in one. Where does this foundation originate? From the beginning, from Genesis. It originates from a book, scrolls, which have existed for centuries, and proven over and over.

Unfortunately, in our politically correct society, any comment contrary to an acceptance of homosexuality is deemed as hate and bigotry. Most don’t understand how to hate the sin while loving the person. Any comment contrary to divorce being a normal part of life is deemed as antiquarian. In reality, divorce has done more to destroy the foundational family unit than the gay marriage issue. I should know…I’ve been divorced.

But do we really want to find out what God thinks? Most don’t. Jesus himself said, “Not everyone can accept this word.” ~Matthew 19:11 Most Liberal Christians dismiss the Old Testament, using the excuse that the Cross changed everything; but ignoring the words of Jesus, “… I have not come to abolish them [the laws] but to fulfill them.” ~Matthew 5:17-20

Then there is the argument that Jesus did not specifically talk against homosexuality. Yet, Jesus talked a lot about “sexual immorality” which was understood as being anything outside of marriage.

Scripture teaches…when it comes to “sexual sin”, anyone who was not a complete virgin when they married is guilty. Period. And these days…that pretty much encompasses most all of us! We’re all guilty. So, there you have it. That in and of itself should sum up any and every argument. No? Well then…

Basically, God said man is to leave mom and dad and cleave to his wife and become one. He did not say for man to cleave to his husband; or wife to cleave to her wife. The Old Testament is clear that marriage was between male and female. Jesus reiterated the same scriptures in the new testament: “Have you not read that at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? ” ~Matthew 19:4-5 & Genesis 2:24

Liberal Christians tend to not believe in the literal bible or the individual interpretations of what God did and did not want. They argue that actions do not affect others and who marries and who doesn’t is only their business. They proclaim if we do not accept their life-style we do not accept the person. As a result, our courts are creating laws against our Constitution thereby changing our society. Our government did not define marriage, God did.

So where does the gay agenda lead? Where does the progression stop? Where do we draw the line? Is not the basis of the homosexual movement about financial “rights” or “equality”? Money. Facts show homosexuals are not monogamous. It doesn’t take deep research to find that most people in the homosexual lifestyle got there due to abuse and pain in their past. Hurt people hurt people. I myself hate “churchy” people, and it is true, we are to love God and our neighbor above all else. But just like a parent will teach his child right vs wrong, and lead them to that which is in their best interest, out of love, are we to accept actions contrary to God’s righteousness or what is in society’s best interest to show love? Is that really love? Where the conservatives and the church have failed is to maintain love for the person while not accepting behavior which is destructive. You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Acceptance without compromise was the quest of Jesus. He showed love to the outcast, followed by telling them to stop sinning. He never compromised. He always accepted the sinner without accepting the sin. I’ve had gay friends…I’ve had divorced friends…I’ve had religious friends. Believe it or not, though he hates our sin, God loves each and every person.

This leads back to my first question…where does all this acceptance mentality lead? I think the evidence of that is coming. This article states, “Earlier this year two psychologists in Canada declared that pedophilia is a sexual orientation just like homosexuality or heterosexuality.” Pedophiles now want same rights as homosexuals. So, is bestiality next?? Gay marriage proponents claim Pedophiles are a whole different discussion and would affect someone, namely the child, whereas a homosexual marriage does not affect anyone but the couple. On the surface, this sounds, sound, but is bent and deceiving. While the child is directly affected from a pedophile, children of same sex homes are just as ruinously affected…as well as children of divorce, etc. To say any action does not affect the next person is both naive and irresponsible. Does creating a law of acceptance deem the action morally right? Lest we forget…slavery was once legal and socially acceptable. “No man can give me the right to do what is wrong.” ~Abraham Lincoln

In 2 Peter 2:4-10 we are told that God did not spare angels, the ancient world before the flood, nor Sodom and Gomorrah, as they are examples of what is going to happen to the ungodly. Jesus said in Luke 17:22-37 that the end times will be as the days of Lot and describes what will happen. Jude 1:7 says Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion…which translates homosexuality. The people living in Jesus’ day understood the concept of the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah so I’m sure Jesus did not feel the need to go into detail. The account of Lot and the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah can be found in Genesis 19. Abraham pleaded for his nephew’s life so God sent two angels, in the form of men, to bring Lot out before the towns were destroyed. In verse 5, the men of the town surrounded the house and demanded Lot send the men out so they could have sex with them. Long story short…God rained down burning sulfur and destroyed the cities. Pretty much shows how God feels about that life-style. Even though God is a God of love, he is also a God of justice. If you really want to find out what God’s word says about who ends up where, check out: Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15, & Revelation 22:18-19. Notice he says liars will be in the same place? One notable correlation…notice the names of the cities? These two names are the root of “sodomy” from which the act of homosexuality comes from and “gonorrhea” from sexual disease. Also take note that even though God pronounced a death judgment on the towns, in his grace, he did provide an escape for any who would leave. All but Lot and his family chose to stay, clinging to their depraved lifestyle. As with any sin, any life-style, God always provides a way out.

Beyond the gay marriage issue, the best way to destroy the family is to divide mom and dad. I don’t think I need to repeat statistics of divorce here…everyone knows the numbers are too high. To counter those stats, studies now show the generation coming into adulthood these days, the Millennial Generation, prefer cohabitation to marriage. I can’t say that I don’t understand. I do. But though we know cohabitation, which leads to an even higher divorce rate, is not the answer, to a generation who grew up with no family foundation, it seems “safe”.

This post is growing like Jack & the Bean Stalk, which turns off the short attention span of today’s readers. Therefore, I won’t go into the perils of divorce again here…my first two posts on this blog described the destruction divorce leaves in the family… {1st post here} & {2nd post here}. Basically… “Children look at the family unit as a reflection of the God-head, the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the marriage, and the Holy Spirit the family unit (Eph. 5:22-33). In divorce, no matter what the cause, the family is split, and the Spirit is severed. The God-head correlation is distorted. Their security in the unity they once rested has disappeared. The consequence is a warped view of what constitutes love. Children lose sight of God’s love for them when the love of the family grows cold. They wonder how God can love them when the example of the God-head before them has split into two households.”

Last question…just who is responsible for the destruction of the family, for the downfall of our society?

The Silent Generation. The generation from WWII. With the end of the war, women donned high heals and headed to the workforce, creating the first latch-key children…the Baby-Boomers. The generation that sky-rocketed divorce. The first major separation of the family. So, that’s it. The Silent Generation fell slack in their responsibility to the family, causing the high divorce rate of the next generation. Therefore, it’s not the same-sex marriage issue of today that has caused the distortion of the family. It’s not the high divorce rate of our generation. It had to be the generation before…when mom left the kids to babysitters and entered the workforce. And yet…who do they blame? Who do their parents blame…their parents?

  • The Millennial Generation (1982-2004) blames Generation X.
  • Generation X (1965-1984) blames the Baby-Boomers.
  • The Baby-Boomers (1946-1964) blames the Silent Generation.
  • The Silent Generation (1925-1945) blames the Greatest/GI Generation.
  • The Greatest/GI Generation (1901-1924) blames the Interbellum/Lost Generation.
  • The Lost Generation (1883-1900) blames the…

(**See Reference links below)

And so on…see where this is going?

It couldn’t be my generation’s fault.

Society attempts to lessen the devastation of divorce by blame-shifting responsibility for the destruction of the Christian culture to the prior generation. The downward turn increases with each subsequent generation. Just as Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve, and God, each generation blames the prior generation; their lack of commitment; their lack of stability, they were too strict, they were too lax, etc. After all their parents were the ones who raised this dysfunctional generation. And so on…

The last question should be, just how do we fix it??

I know I have been in sin, as has every human, but through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have salvation, a way out of the city. I wouldn’t want to call good, that which we know in our hearts to be evil, just for the sake of Political Correctness. There is freedom only in truth. Only God can make a blind man see His truth…not your truth, not my truth. But we also need to be careful about “thumping” religion over their heads. God’s truth must be told in Love…for only Love covers a multitude of sins. God is a God of restoration. Forget the do’s & don’ts. Instead, recalculate. (Love that commercial!) In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus replied to the lawyer, all the laws depend on just two commandments, to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. If we get those two paths straight, our whole legal system is unnecessary. We must renew our minds and fill up with God’s love to wash out deception. Immerse ourselves in the word, which gives hope…hope for a life-style free of negative consequences. That does not mean we will not have drama…we still live in a fallen world. But we will have inner peace. The more we fill ourselves with the Love of God, the less we will be interested in the deception of self or the desire to satisfy our carnal nature…the less we will desire sin.

We cannot be good in and of ourselves. It’s only God’s goodness in us that makes us good. His grace is what rescues us from our own destruction. Meditate on this scripture: 1 John 3:1-5:12, as it showers us with the great love of our Lord. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” With His love, what more do we need?

 

1 John 3.1

 

Scripture References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/English-Standard-Version-ESV-Bible/#booklist

**Generation References:

http://www.esds1.pt/site/images/stories/isacosta/secondary_pages/10%C2%BA_block1/Generations%20Chart.pdf

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/

http://www.genconnection.com/lmu/5th/List%20of%20generations%20-%20Wikipedia,%20the%20free%20encyclopedia.pdf

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2011/05/living/infographic.boomer/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation

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Hell…a place.

Hell.  Fire man

A foul word.

A very real place.

Can you smell it?

Can you feel it?

Life is a vapor.

Yes, there is always life: Eternal life. We simply walk through the door to the other side. Do we choose the red pill or the blue pill? We will live on. The quote, “Once you’re dead, you’re dead.” only applies to our chance at life. Death is final. Physical death is very final. Yet we live on. Our spirit will endure…Forever…But where? The one tested, tried, and true theory is a place called Heaven, conversing with our Creator on streets of gold. But most ignore the inverse. The same entity which foretold Heaven…foretold the fires of Hell: A torrid place: A very real place: A place for all liars: The root of bad drama. Have you lied to the Creator? He knows your heart. He knows the evil we spew. Yet, He still loves us. He loves us so much that He poured out grace. We will never be able to overcome the consequences of our sin nature…so He died in our place. He paid our debt. And yet, He is patient. He lets us dwell in the midst of our evil, giving us chance after chance to choose…to choose life or death. To choose between truth…or lies. Heaven or Hell. A very real place. Can you smell it? Can you feel it? Life is a vapor…

Fire mishap

Choose…

Woman at the Well

From Dumb & Dumber to Loved & Lovely

We watched the 90’s flick…

 Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

last night. It’s one of those movies…well, let’s just say the name fits. It’s so dumb it’s hilarious!

In the last scene, the two friends are walking aimlessly along a sparse highway when stops a tour bus full of bikini beauty contestants. The boys are “dumb-founded” by their beauty. The girls sheepishly say they are looking for a couple of good looking guys to accompany them across the country simply to oil all the girls before each pageant. Every boy’s dream, right?! But, true to the name of the movie, they are ever so grateful to help the girls by directing them to the next town instead of hopping on the bus. So the dumb-founded girls hop back on the bus and head off into the sunset. The movie ends with Lloyd and Harry talking about how two guys in the next town will be very lucky fellows!

Missed opportunities. Misunderstood opportunities. How often do we overlook opportunities because we have such a low self-value we couldn’t possibly believe anything that good could be right for us?

Psalm 139 says we are wonderfully made, that God was there when we were woven together in the secret places, and He knew everything about us before we were born. And he still loves us. How awesome is that? Psalm 27:10 says he has adopted us as his own. Romans 8:38-39 says absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Jeremiah 29:11 says he has wonderful plans for our lives. Jesus says in John 10:10 he came to give us life…life to the full!

So, why is it so easy to believe the lie that we are just not worth it? Satan is the father of all lies. And we believed him. We believed we were worthless in God’s eyes. We believed we would never measure up to His “rules”. Those rules that show us just how utterly sinful we really are. For God looks at the heart (Psalm 51). That little white lie we told is still a lie. No matter how good we are in the world’s eyes, we are still little heathens in God’s law. So we deserve nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why try for that promotion at work? Our co-worker has a better chance. Why try to befriend anyone or fix that broken relationship? They won’t like us anyway. Why would we see anything good come our way? We believe the lie…

But then…there’s this thing called grace.

That five letter word. Grace. God’s grace. Jesus. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. We were given mercy. Another five letter word. Mercy. He gently restores us, washing us clean. We are worthy! But…we know. We know the scriptures. We understand the power of sin was busted when Jesus died for us…and rose. We know.

But do we believe? Truly believe?

Did we let His love sink into the depths of our hearts?

We will never be perfect. We will let others down. And others will let us down. Others will believe lies about us, and spread lies. We will hurt for the sin in the world which we live. We are still human. But our mistakes do not define us in God’s eyes. Philippians 3:12-13 says we are not perfect, but we press on. We are not there yet, but we forget (let go of) what is behind…and look ahead.

So we screwed up. So…repent. Admit. Let go of our pride. Repent. Why?

Because God forgives. God redeems. God restores.

Though the world may never accept us…God already did. Our condemnation has been eradicated. Satan spread the lies. Jesus brought the truth. Through repentance and forgiveness, we are His. But, we also need to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 says God forgives as we forgive. OK…we want to go to heaven…so we forgive those who offended, hurt, and even destroyed us. Though there may be consequences to our sins, God will give us the grace needed to build a new life. Forgiveness from us is a releasing of our right for payment for the offense to God. We release the offender. God will vindicate. Hate is poison. Release them to God in forgiveness. But is that enough?

I must forgive me.

Forgive myself? But isn’t that arrogant? No. Any time we withhold forgiveness, we are playing God. Holding grudges is control. Not accepting God’s forgiveness for our repentant sins only leads to self-destruction. We must not only ask forgiveness, we must accept, and give forgiveness, even for ourselves. Only then will the power of love wash us through and through. Clean.

And we are worth it. God’s love says we are worth it.

And all those scriptures? All those opportunities? Yes…they are for me…they are for you!

Psalm 139

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

 004a

You want to wash MY feet??

I am one who despises religion…I’m more into relationship. I go to church…for relationship. Not the traditional rituals. The bible is clear the traditions held by mankind holds no meaning in God’s eyes. The apostle Paul describes it best in Galatians 3. Rituals, traditions, religions do not save the soul. Yet, we still have them. We still go. To. Church. Maundy Thursday seems to be the new rage these days. Our church held their first Maundy Thursday service this year. Normally, I am not one to get hyped up about these kinds of services. They seem so very…ritualistic.

Jesus taught in parables. He taught by example. Kids learn more by observing their parents than from any textbook. Traditions, festivals, religious holidays, etc. do serve a purpose. They “show” us the event. But save us? No. So then, why do we bother?

I was ever so glad when I was asked to run the media during the Thursday service. Work is always the perfect excuse to avoid participation. I could hide behind the sound booth where no one notices. My husband was asked at the last minute to participate in the live depiction of the Last Supper. So we were both busy. All settled. Foot washing ritual avoided!

During the service I hit play on a couple of videos which showed Ray Vander Laan explaining in detail the purposes behind each ritualistic position. Why they leaned on their right…or was it left…arm. Why they wanted to sit in such and such place at the table. Why Jesus dipped in the bowl of bitter herbs…with Judas. That part of the service, I love. The why’s. We read and hear things about Christianity that makes no absolute sense in today’s world. We have dishwashers and stoves. We drive cars and fly in planes. Why does it matter which arm they sat on? We sit at the table…they…the dirt floor.

Jesus, in his loving and patient way, lived what he spoke. He said serve. So, He Served. He was the leader. The King of the pack. The President. We are to serve those above. Yet, Jesus grabbed the title of the servant…the seat on the other side of the table…and took up the rag. He washed their feet. The King…washed their feet!

wash20feet

So, yeah…we have this “Foot Washing” in the middle of the service. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love a good foot massage! I am not above having my feet washed…hey go for the whole deal…I’ll even provide the lotions! And for me to wash others…fiddle-sticks, I’ve wiped plenty of babies’ butts! No, the mechanics of the act have no effect on me.

It’s the ritual. The meaning. Lost in today’s world.

A low voice circles around the sound booth door…can I wash your feet?

If there is one person in the whole church who deserves a spa pampering day…it’s the momma of a pre-teen and a very special boy! I believe the parents are just as, if not more, special as the child. Life never quits. She drops in bed exhausted every night. Yet, full of love. Her house is the host of many a gathering…even in the midst of their own chaos. Always working. Always caring. Always giving. And she wanted to wash my feet.

wheelchair

No way…I should be washing hers!

 

Then Peter’s words popped out. And Jesus replied. And the least shall be first…and the first shall be least. So we wash. And be washed. Washed with the Spirit. The spirit of fellowship. The spirit of Love.

 

Ritual? Yes…to show…to remind us to feel…to love.

1373

 

*I don’t own the rights to the original wash bowl & wheel chair images, and I’m not making any money on them.

Hurt People…Hurt People

When I started this blog, I had in my mind a progression of blogs that would tell a story. But, alas, life hit and my path took a few forks.

In my first two posts I wrote about the ugliness of divorce and the effect it has on families, and on our society. While the subject can be quite depressing, my intent, if not successful, was to convey God’s redemption and restoration. I know first-hand we can have a great life after divorce. I know a lot of people who live in a much healthier state of mind, emotions, and well-being after healing from divorce. But what is not expressed, especially by main-stream society, is the baggage that will be carried for life, even for those who carry the least amount of fault. I say least, because in divorce, no one is without fault. No one.

Our society has been living on no absolutes for about thirty years now. We are so lost in our own self-preservation we forget how to truly love…unconditionally. For the most part, our society does not understand the concept of love. Love is unselfish. Yet, we love for ourselves. Then we hurt.

The cosmic question of the day: Why do people hurt people? I believe research concludes that people hurt others because they were also hurt by others. Hurt people hurt people. In any relationship, if we understand the root cause of an attitude or conflict, the conflict will become inconsequential. At the root of any conflict lies a sin of some sort, usually pride, or lust. Spoiled people hurt people. “Life is all about me.” These days, people are easily offended, even in words not directed at them. Society loves to play the victim. Society loves to lash out. We are a society of extremes. People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people.

So how do we get past that which has hurt us? How do we tumble out of the rain into the sunshine? Whether your pain is from childhood trauma, physical impairments, death of a loved one, abortion, financial problems, bad relationships, or divorce, etc., you can find healing through forgiveness. I would venture to say only through forgiveness. The famous quote by Gandhi, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission” is intended to shift perspective and give control to ourselves rather than those around us. Gandhi used the quote when he practiced civil disobedience to stay strong against his attackers. While on the outside this quote seems to be the answer to all our pain, the reality is we can only rely on our own will to take care of us physically, but the soul will remain empty. Psalm 32:3 says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Only when we get to the root of our problem, internal forgiveness, will we be able to walk in true freedom. I know more than anyone the faith it takes to give up control of the pain from wrongs inflicted and let the Lord deal with the injustice. Our nature leans to vengeance. We need justification. But, are our sins any less? Did Jesus not die for us too? God has proven over and over that His vengeance is always just. And sometimes God has a way of “payback” that leaves us shaking our heads knowing only God could pull that off!

And what about those supposed “Christians” or even our “family” who turn on us? Joseph is the perfect example of a man so very hurt by his brothers, friends, and co-workers, yet who refused to seek his own desire for justification. He let God handle every situation. In Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV), he said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” By releasing his hurt to the Lord’s recompense, he was instrumental in saving two whole nations! Out of jealousy, David was hunted by King Saul. In 1 Samuel 26:10-11 (ESV) David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”  And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.” And God did just that. Saul perished…and David was held faultless. Will we be faultless if we seek our own revenge?

Let it go. Love as the Lord loves. Live in freedom.

 

“Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.”
~Deuteronomy 32:34-36 (ESV)

 

Let it go

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
~Romans 12:18-20 (ESV)

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