OBEDIENCE SUCKS!


 

            The moment we fight our way into this world we begin to rebel against obedience. We cringe at the very notion of relinquishing our will and power to another regardless of the reason. Even the most flexible and submissive among us have that rebellious streak that needs to be put into submission but not by another. There is no way any of us can become obedient devoid the threat of punishment unless we first learn to bring ourselves into an obedient frame of mind. More critical is to learn how to create an internal ‘fertile ground’ that will give birth to an obedient heart.

            Obedience is hard. I do not think many would argue against that fact because it requires us to admit, whether by force or through agreement, that another knows better than we do and; therefore, must or should be obeyed. Human dictates and demands for obedience aside, looking solely at our rebellion towards God is enough to make one’s head dizzy. A simple stroll through the Biblical stories takes the reader through the gamete of human emotions.

            Jonah is a fellow I can identify with as I have wanted to run far and wide from God’s plan for my life many, many times. Although, Jonah’s flight was unique in that he was not in fear of failure rather he knew his mission would succeed…and that is an outcome he simply could not bear. He ran, he disobeyed but God brought him around with a strong arm then a few gentle object lessens. Abraham and Sarah had obedience issues before Isaac was conceived because they did not trust the Lord’s promise to deliver a late in life pregnancy. Their doubt and fear led to the birth of nation that still fights against Israel today. Yet, Abraham demonstrated the depth of obedience when he was willing to return Isaac back to God just because God told him to do it.

            The number of times the Israelites disobeyed God is obscene and the consequences were grave. But even as I shake my head at them in disbelief I must admit that I have disobeyed the Father at least as many times as that nation had, if not more. Obedience is a vital lessen to be learned but obedience to God, the Father is one that must be honed like a great battle sword. It is not mere submission to an omniscient, omnipresent Creator. No, our obedience to our Heavenly Father opens the flood gates of Heaven upon us and everyone around us. Our obedience to God wounds Satan…every…single…time.

Obedience requires choice and in every situation in which we are called to obey our Father we can walk away or we can obey. In some instances, obedience is rather easy depending on our gifts and the circumstances. For instance, if I saw a wounded animal or person laying on the side of the street then my gifts and talents would lead me to help without thinking twice about it. I wouldn’t even think of it as being obedient to the Father’s command to be good stewards over His Creation or to help our fellow mankind. I would simply act. That would be easy for me but maybe it would be more difficult for another.

However, there is an element that will always make it difficult to be obedient regardless of who you are, what you believe, or what you profit you stand to gain. That element is…PAIN. Emotional, psychological, physical and/or spiritual (the worst) will draw you quickly away from the notion of being obedient to God’s commands. We humans are a hot mess that love to be in control from start to finish with few realizing we were never really in control at all. I am as guilty as the next person in my lust for control over situations that I have had little to no control over. Many of my friends and family can attest to the fact that I was a “hard nut to crack” for the Lord as I did not to give up that façade of any modicum of control I thought I might have possessed. It took decades of pain and suffering for me to finally realize that I had to stop swimming against the torrent. Things did not get any easier once I learned to swim with the tide but they did become far more productive for Christ’s Kingdom.

Even though I know beyond all doubt that obedience is always the best choice, there are moments in my life where I want to run from the path that is being opened before me. Not because I fear an unknown element but like Jonah, I know what lies ahead. I know I cannot walk the path under my own power because I am weary and heavily battle worn but I carry full assurance that Christ will stand alongside me and strengthen, inspire, encourage and direct me towards ultimate victory. Christ knows full well the cost of obedience and all of the agony that can accompany it but he also knows the victory it brings. No other understands how much we struggle with obedience because he always had the choice of whether or not to obey his Father and he chose to obey every time. If you go back and read the accounts of when he chose to obey you see how much it irritates and infuriates Satan and simultaneously bringing an outpouring of love from God. Obedience to God is a heart submission and we must conquer our own hearts first. Making our hearts and minds submit to our will first and foremost is essential before we can expect to have the ability to submit to other authority. How do we do that? Get into scriptures and He will teach you what it takes to reshape your heart in the refiner’s fire. Submerge yourself in his word and it will permeate every fiber of your being, every inkling of thought or perception you can conjure and every feeling you dare to feel. Truthfully, you cannot conquer anything yourself. Your armor is His word. No shortcuts…no apps.

Life is pain regardless of your beliefs or worldview. How you spend that pain will determine how you make it out. Obedience to our Father in heaven allows you to tread a fruitful path. Take notice, I did not say that obedience permits you to tread a pain free path.  Christians, do not be surprised at your pain, persecution and suffering. If our teacher suffered all these things then why should his pupils be spared from the same? Obedience brings fruit…not only in our own deepening faith but in our ability to shine (without our own effort) ever brighter to all those, even enemies, who are ploughing through the darkness. Our one act of obedience in that one moment in time might be the only spark of light another sees throughout the entirety of his or her life. Pretty heavy responsibility…is it not?

Living an obedient life takes courage, perseverance and faith beyond measure. Obedience brings ultimate power over our sinful natures and over the kingdom of darkness itself. Examine your earth walk and open your eyes to the areas along your path that have been damaged by disobedience and your own efforts to skirt around God’s will in your life. No judgement from me…just a call to recognize the potholes. I have tried to “hurry God up” many times and each time it led to heartache, disaster and/or failure. I have learned to listen first, seek his will and then try in earnest to be obedient.

My writings are usually spurred on by my own life events and this one is no different as I face a path being laid before me that I really do not want to walk but I know through my obedience…good will follow. Perhaps that good is for another and not me and I am okay with that too because I want my pain and suffering to be able to cast a wide net. If walking a difficult path means I will be able to draw more of the lost to Christ then I go willingly and with a hearty ‘pep in my step’. Of course, that is after I seriously contemplate hiding in a mountain cave awaiting the moment, in all due angst, when my spirit is finally called home. Alas, my family and friends have informed me that I have not stored up the quantity of wisdom needed to be a sought-after guru! At the end of my internal battle, I will obey and forge ahead in anticipation of who God needs me to meet and exactly where he needs me to go.

In closing, contemplate this question. How has your disobedience effected your life and the lives of those you love? Maybe it is time to start walking the other way?

SUFFERING…WHO CARES?


Perceptive Perspective was the title I originally thought of but thought people
would not find it catchy enough to check out. Everyone suffers as part of the human
condition the only real difference is the amount of resources you have access too. To what extent do those resources allow one to lessen or halt the depth, length and/or extent of that suffering legally or otherwise?

Anyone who has served any significant period suffering understands that it is multifaceted, multilevel and multidimensional eradicating all boundaries of time. Physical pain leads to emotional pain leading to spiritual pain in a never-ending cycle of misery. These three components are fully interchangeable and intrinsically intertwined. They have the power to destroy everything or nothing and the person suffering is the one who holds the power of determination.

I had a friend remind me recently of how blinded the general populace is when it comes to suffering and the incredibly narrow margin of perception that exists in the status quo. After a recent accident, my friend hurt himself to the point that his daily routine and pain level increased significantly beyond that which he was generally accustomed. However, it was not the physical pain that bothered him most. It was the apparent lack of concern from his loved ones about his suffering that landed the deepest wound. My friend complained that his loved ones spent the entire 30 minute conversation complaining of their woes without ever inquiring about his injury.

I, myself, spent years being resentful and angry at the world because “no one understood or cared” what I was enduring. Everyone went on about their happy, cookie cutter lives without a thought to their fellow human but I have learned a deeper understanding after four decades of suffering. It is difficult for others, who are not in the same pain as you, to truly understand or empathize. Most often, people cannot see beyond their own misery. If you think your fellow human to be hard-hearted then pause a moment to ask yourself when was the last time you felt the pain of burying a child. Have you had a limb blown from your body? Perhaps you are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from a mental or physical malady? Do you care for a loved one who you are losing a piece at a time to Alzheimer’s? Have you lost a business lately or caught your spouse cheating on you? Maybe you have been the object of bullying your entire life? If you have ever criticized someone who is suffering in any way, shape or form then you can count yourself among the cold-hearted populace that you only notice when you become the one who is doing the suffering.

It can be hurtful and feel as if they don’t care but the truth really is they care as much as humanly possible. Humans naturally recoil from painful situations with the exceptions of those who thrive on causing such pain or those who have strong desire to help salve that pain in some manner. The only way for a person to care more is for them to feel what you are feeling. If it is the general populace or those who have been ignorant enough to make stupid comments then we may cheer such a prospect on wholeheartedly. However, if it is a loved one then we should shudder at the slightest possibility that they will ever understand on that level because the only way for them to do that is to suffer on that same level. I don’t want anyone, whom I love, to really understand my suffering…ever. So, I accept what caring others are capable of then I try to do the rest of the understanding for them. It’s not their fault. Admittedly, there are callous jerks in existence that will not get it until they are visited by the cruel hand of suffering themselves but they should be pitied more than anything.

Of course, this cannot be done without Christ. He is the only one who can provide you with the peace, understanding and wisdom only  borne through years/decades of suffering. Without Him you get bitterness, anger, spitefulness and so much resentment that you become useless to yourself and to all around you. Without His purpose and will then your suffering is wasted. Some only think about God when suffering visits their door and then it is usually to curse Him or ask Why. Whether you believe in Christ or not, my question is, “Why not you?” “Why not Me?” Why should any of us be immune to the curse upon creation? Have any one of us lived such a good and godly life that we should somehow be shielded from the curse of original sin that broke ALL of creation? If you have lived such a pure and perfect life then by all means take your case to God and prove it. We tend to scream and cry at the injustice of our sufferings pulling random scriptural promises from the text without the slightest idea of what the rest of the Bible of which we are condemning instructs us believers or even non-believers. You who reject Christ may think you are immune to the Biblical teachings but it does not depend upon your belief to be true or false. Without you…it remains.

It can be terribly lonely when gripped in the midst of suffering but that is lie told by Satan to make you fall into his pit of depression. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone…” It sure seems like this adage is true when you are the one suffering but it is only the case if you choose to push people away and block your heart from the love so as not to feel the pain too. It is a lie.
Some hold unto suffering like an old familiar friend because it is the “devil they know” and are afraid of what might be beyond. That is not how it works in chronic suffering that has gone on for decades and promises to follow you to the grave. Nope, after four decades you either achieve wisdom, faith, understanding and boundless compassion or you have allowed yourself to be eaten up from the inside out. You become a shell of a human being that loves misery so much that moments of happiness actually bring agony. There are only two outcomes for the chronic sufferer and it all hinges on a choice. One, surrender to Christ and allow him to use your suffering to do good. Or, allow Satan to take over and use your suffering to destroy you, destroy all you love and to spread his vile poison further into God’s children and creation. There is no middle ground. There is no other choice so if you are suffering today, regardless of how long that suffering has been going on then you need to make a choice.

If you are not suffering then Praise God and thank him for his mercy upon you but do not remain ignorant, for your teacher will be experience. If you are not saved then your Earthly suffering doesn’t matter at all as your life is only a pawn in Satan’s grand scheme. Whoever you are, make a choice and stop walking the fence because you are enjoying an illusion of security that quickly fades as you expel your last breath.

You can reject these words or take heed. I made my choice and I have been richly blessed with peace, joy, compassion, understanding, wisdom and a deepening faith. I am grateful and I have need for nothing but God’s continued grace and love.

EASTER FUN


Using non-toxic food coloring that wears off in about a week I dye my male dog, Kai for Easter. I have a smaller female but her fur will not hold the food coloring so my little Kai is very  tolerant of me. I thought I would share a bit of brightness with you, my friends. May God bless and strengthen you as you worship Him this most holy weekend.

Seedling


 

A single Seed I cradle protectively in my palm.

I know the perfect place to plant it.

A rich dark patch of soil lays in anticipation

directly beside the path.

I cup my hands around it

as I gingerly transport it down the steps,

past the concrete driveway,

beyond the gravel watershed to

arrive at the rich patch of soil.

 

A mid-spring rain has saturated the

Patch allowing a familiar aroma to reach my nose.

The life of last season’s flowers, leaves, insects and grass

have created a soil overflowing with essential nutrients for

this tiny seed.

 

A year’s time has kneaded, turned, mulched and beat

this patch of ground into a luxurious bed of life-giving

Energy.

 

All I need do is take my precious cargo

 and give it back to its Creator.

 

Freeing one hand, I gently dig a small valley

In the mound of soil.

Looking at the odd little

seed I ponder it’s circumstance.

 

I know it’s full potential but

It looks like an ugly shriveled

speck of waste.

 

How many others, I wonder,

would have tossed it out

because they were

 blind to its potential?

 

If I kept it as a treasure, then I would

be just as bad as those who

would throw it out.

I would deny it the glory it

is destined to become.

If I do not trust our Creator to take over

after I give it to him then it will always be

only a seed.

 

Yet, if I let it go.

 If I give it to him

then he will transform it.

 

I tilt my palm

allowing the seed to fall,

as if a pebble, into the dark bed

I had prepared for it.

 

I move the mound of

soil atop the seed,

pat it firmly,

say a little prayer then

I walk away knowing

God will be faithful to

His promises.

The journey it must now

endure is not an easy one.

 

Transformations are never

gentle, never easy but

 they always reveal more

than we ever thought

possible.

 

Daily, I look for evidence

 that my tiny seed

has started it’s journey

 knowing full well that

time

 is the most critical element

In growth.

 

Tiny, tender, green leaves

push the surface soil away reaching

earnestly reaching toward the Sun.

 

Fragile and young,

It has taken root.

Shadows shield its future but

it is not alone on this journey.

 

I will shield it from the hail, the wind,

and the terrible storms.

 It will be protected

from the harsh sun and the invaders

who wish to take it’s life for their own.

I will protect it from all harm,

for God

has entrusted it’s care to me.

It is my job to treasure it,

to aid it on its journey

so that it can fulfill the purpose

for which God created it.

 

God put us on each other’s path

to aid one another,

to grow one another,

to shield one another,

to love one another,

to endure hardships together,

to enjoy victory together and

to reach full Glory

together.

 

I have a Seed

that

Must be

Planted.   

 

 

 

RAGE


White hot anger
turns logic to run.
No wisdom can penetrate
that wall built of hate.

Born of ignorance,
Fear, victimization,
Lust, abuse…
Pain…Pain…Pain

Ears cannot hear
as a spoken word
only spears the
wounded heart.

Eyes cannot see
Images are
glazed in the charred
wall of negative
expectations.

Flesh can no longer feel
tenderness. Each gentle
stroke is a burning lash
searing a memory
that is not the
Owners.

Rage is built, constructed
stoked by its object or
by perception of
the nurturer.

Rage creates puppets
To pain
spreading hopelessness
and
fear of change.

Rage becomes a comfortable
expectation
excusing its holder from
embracing the change
they fought so hard
To ignite.

They walk right by the
moment that
would have brought
healing and joy
as they can no longer
recognize Love.

Forgiveness is for the weak,
naïve, and stupid. Love is but
a facade or tool to manipulate.

Rage…its reliable, ever present,
found everywhere and it is always
the same. We are comfortable with
rage and holding it tightly relinquishes
our responsibility to do anything
productive with the life given us.

Yes, rage is my friend. It is my fuel
and it makes others fear and respect
Me. I will use my rage to
Crush others into
Submission. I am right
Everyone else is wrong.

You are nothing but a tool.
Wasting your life with rage, for
He is a liar, a puppet master, a
master manipulator. Rage poisons you
and all those who touch you. The
louder your rage the less
others will hear. Each angry word
or deed puts a nail in your causal
Coffin.

If you have allowed rage to consume you
recognize it, own it, and excise it from
your heart and soul. For, it
is the tool of Satan and he
owns you if you
allow it free
range in your life.
Rage is Spiritual Death.

Faith…A Vain Pursuit or A Naïve Placebo?


You slowly traverse the last two steps leading to your door, insert the key into the lock and then pause for a pregnant moment. You stare intently at the handle thinking of the hardships the past year has presented feeling that familiar tightness in your throat. Distant sounds beyond the weathered door do little to spur you to action. Instead, your arm refuses the brain’s instructions to raise and grasp the doorknob. Rather, your mind leads you to the tenth of April when Cassey was diagnosed with an unknown ailment, whose treatment is not covered by any insurance. William and Elizabeth continue to struggle with crippling migraines as doctors proffer genetics as the causation while your spouse refuses to work or otherwise join you in supporting the family.
The burden has been overwhelming for too many years and the weight of it has crushed you beyond your ability to recognize even yourself. Today…today was the last straw in an ever-increasing load that has persisted for over four decades.

Tears gain momentum as they start a familiar journey down your cheek. Hard work, diligence, playing by the rules, honesty, dedication and perseverance afforded to a mega mart company for nearly a decade meant nothing. Sitting there across from colleagues as they uttered those reprehensible words… ”I am sorry, but we just cannot use your style of management in our reorganization endeavor” sickened you to the core. The rest of the rhetoric was mumbles and chirps of which all nonsense is made. Loyalty meant nothing in an age where money means everything. The journey home was a blur but now, standing here, staring at this handle knowing there are no solutions beyond it, no help mates, no comfort, no relief, no offer to reduce the burdens made an insurmountable task of turning the key in the lock. A guarded glance back toward the ever-present beater car in the driveway allowed the briefest entertainment of flight.

Furiously, you squeeze the last searing tears from your eyes allowing your spirit to throw your anguish and helplessness at your Creator’s feet. Scripture bites, which you have heard a million times before, bombard your soul and each tasting more acidic than the one before.

“God will not give you more than you can handle without his help.” “If God is for me then who could stand against me?” “Through Christ, who strengthens me, all things are possible.”

But the one that is bouncing off the inside of your skull like a wrecking ball and one that you know you will hear a million times over in the next week and beyond is the one that is the hardest and most ambiguous to hold onto,

“Have Faith.”

Your soul is screaming in protest that you have had faith through it all and yet weariness is the natural result of engagement in a constant state of spiritual war. Now, you love your God and Savior and have followed him through the darkest of times in your life and strolled contently beside him during those rare episodes of peace; therefore, the concept of having faith is not foreign or obscure to you. However, you also understand that most speak from a store house of empty notions basted in a heavy sauce of conflicted misunderstandings. Most well-meaning folks have no idea what they are talking about when giving advice in general but are especially daft in the realm of faith, God, and the notion of core beliefs. Ignorant haplessness is usually the motivator demanding the ‘comforter’ just, “say something.” The comforter is not trying to be mean, vague, or trite but their words can fall like water bouncing off Teflon or burn like acid to your core. The best comforter, by far, is the one who remains silent while offering a soft shoulder and gentle hug.
Some pain transcends speech to the degree that each utterance is a glowing hot spike driven into the soul of the listener. Whether you are a Christian or non-Christian matters little when you are trying to offer reason to the madness destroying friends and family. If the life and times of Job taught us nothing else, it clearly magnified the foolhardy practice of offering an interpretation of God’s will or meaning in the life of fellow believers. Our finite brains cannot hope to perceive the complex web of happenings, choices, and events that had to transpire to bring your friend or family member to this very point in time. Millions of micro moments and thousands of macro events occurred since Adam and Eve procreated that had to happen in order for the person sitting beside you to be there. There was no mistake, that person is sitting there with their heart breaking because all of these elements came together to make it so. Nevertheless, that fact does not mean that the pain was supposed to accompany him or her on that journey. No, pain is of sin and that was borne of the fall where everything in creation was simultaneously broken even down do the atoms that make everything move.

As I have said countless times before, most human pain is born directly of poor choices we ourselves make and then we have trouble dealing with the natural consequences thereof. However, there is a realm of pain that is borne through no direct fault of the person currently experiencing it and that type of pain emanates from two sources alone, 1. You are victim of another’s sinful choices or you are 2. Victim of a broken creation (caused by original sin). Yes, we now live under the redemption of Jesus Christ but he will not redeem all of creation until he returns and that is a day we Christian’s look forward too while knowing it is to be a horror-filled apocalypse for the unsaved. This single tidbit of knowledge, alone, should be enough to spur us to action. We should be heartbroken for every soul lost especially if we are not even trying to lead others to the salvation we languish within.

So where does faith fit in and how are we supposed to pull it off when the world/Satan is doing its best to crush us? From the moment of conception, we are using faith in the flawed form of humanity. Humans, without exception, will always fail us and we ourselves, without exception, will fail others. Hence, having faith is hard mostly because our first tentative faith steps have nothing to do with our creator but with the adults in our lives. Those adults, even the best intentioned and most devoted to our well-being, are going to teach us that having faith in another means disappointment and pain. The phrase, “have faith” is bantered about as if its originator is receiving royalties at its mere whispered utterance. Worse, in modernity it has no common core or goal. What exactly are we all supposed to have faith in these days? Certainly, we learn quickly that putting absolute faith in a friend and/or family member will lead to disastrous consequences. If our parents join in on societal norms and foster the myths of Santa Clause, Easter bunny, tooth fairy, and other fairy tales then our children learn we are liars, whose words are not always trustworthy regardless of the well-intentioned motives. I am not offering judgement on this issue as I grew up with all these fictitious beings as well and they serve as some of the best warm fuzzy memories of my childhood; however, there is a cost and that is trust. Some adults rip faith and trust straight out of the core of another with cruelty and selfishness caring little for the remnant they leave behind.

Society offers a whole new quagmire of experiences that will teach you that trusting in another and having faith in anyone besides yourself is akin to dancing among flames whilst doused in gasoline. Having faith in someone or something is a concept we learn to be very dangerous to our survival. So, how on earth can we look at this group of individuals who claim to trust in Christ and who wear their faith in their God like battle armor seriously? Are they not just delusional people consumed by their own naivete? Are they not just crackpots using this ambiguous idea of faith as an excuse to cop-out of life’s real issues? Isn’t it just their way to give excuse for all the darkness around them without a responsibility to act or be accountable?
A mere glimpse of this world and the people who occupy it would give vision to the blind that it is a wicked, cruel, self-serving creation that is headed towards destroying itself. Care to strongly reinforce this ideology? Become a historian who actively pursues God’s will for her life and you will quickly discover a deadly pattern of human behavior cannot be missed. Regardless of the efforts of modern “scholars” to spin it anew or the deliberate manipulation of events by armchair historians or politicians, the written history is a complex entity that should never be mistaken for pure truth or honesty. History does not repeat itself but humanity never, ever learns from its mistakes. If you are an American, then you may find comfort in knowing that nothing that our nation is experiencing today is different than that which has been experienced by human civilizations prior to our existence. On the other hand, it has only taken a little over 200 years for our nation to fall into complete and devastating debauchery. It’s kind of a record of distinction. Granted, it is a distinction of what should be shame but a great percentage of people in this country do not know what that means any longer. As scripture tells us, “they have forgotten how to blush.” Worse news, the current status we find ourselves occupying leads to one thing, collapse. Not ‘maybe’, not ‘only if we don’t do this or do that’ but it ALWAYS leads to utter and complete ruin of the nation. Look it up for yourself…I strongly encourage you to do this.

Having faith in one another is a game of Russian Roulette in which any adult has learned to distrust and be cynical even if the game was brief. Surely, there are individuals that can be trusted and are worthy of placing some degree of faith upon? Absolutely, but blind faith in any human is going to set you up for failure because none of us are capable of doing, saying, thinking, or feeling the right (motivated by pure intentions) one hundred percent of the time. We will fail, others will fail, all will fail because it is impossible for us to be perfect. Nevertheless, trust and faith can be had among our fellow humans. Just keep it in the realm of possibility and perspective. Breathing and living the sound realization that all humans are trying at different levels to be a positive or negative force in this world will aid you in making better choices with whom you will throw your support. Be certain you understand who you are following because you will be held into account for where you place your allegiance in this world. Whether you believe in a judgment day or not matters little once you get there but your steps are guided by your choice today.

Where does that leave us, the believer or the searcher, should we chalk up this faith and trust thing as something only practiced by naïve ninnies or is it more? Having faith is the hardest thing to live in this life because those who truly understand what it means and to whom they are placing all of their faith walk a path fraught with danger, cruelty, cynicism, condemnation and ridicule.

“If the world hates you, remember it hated me first. If the world mistreats you, remember they mistreated me first.” In Christ’s own foreshadowing words.

Why then do we expect our walk in faith to be anything but turbulent? The stronger in our walk/faith/beliefs we grow the more vicious Satan will attack. Having faith in God, is not weakness. On the contrary, it is the hardest thing you will ever do in this lifetime because it takes everything you have and more. Additionally, we are not suddenly bestowed great faith and trust in our savior upon receiving Christ as our savior. Nope, that is borne of hardship and suffering. When is the last time you met a wealthy, healthy, self-important person to be one possessing strong faith in anyone but him or herself? If you have it all here, then why on earth would you ever need to trust a Savior? What good will believing in God do for you in this lifetime? Ah, but there is the rub, isn’t it? God is not needed in your life now but you are only a whisper, a being like a summer shadow who is here upon this earth for a very brief moment and then…what? What is next? Do you just cease to exist? Well that is a great copout, isn’t it? If you are not going to be held accountable for anything you do here on this earth or toward your fellow humans, then what restrains you from blowing your neighbor away because he or she plays the music too loud after midnight? What basis of right and wrong, if any, are you working under? Is there anything, any choice you make or do not make in life that matters at all?

Lifetime achievement awards are meaningless in this worldview because all you have achieved is useless. Anybody you have helped was a waste of your time because his or her life does not matter. Your life doesn’t matter, their lives do not matter and the need for law and order is baseless. Go ahead and kill millions of babies to cover up your irresponsibility because their souls do not matter. Who cares if you live a life of pain and misery or one of luxury and indulgence? What does it matter if you are abused and betrayed? My right is right in my eyes so if I think torturing and killing you is humorous then why cannot I do it? If you have something I want, then what is wrong with me taking it from you? If I do not think you are worthy of your breath, then why can’t I take it from you? If we all go out like lights upon death, then why try at all? There is no purpose to anything, good or bad. Absolutely no meaning to what we pathetic humans endeavor to do each and every day except to play the overdone part of our ancestors over and again like a really bad B movie. That is what is happening today. Even among complacent Christians who use the copout, “It is what it is so why fight it?” Um, that is totally secular thinking people! As long as we have breath in our bodies, then each and every moment we spend on Earth should be used to fight Satan. We are never called to lay down our arms of faith to allow Satan to take over another vast area God has created you to protect. However, God does not expect any of us, who call upon him, to fight alone. Many are sent to join us upon our path so that they can gird us and we them in the strength and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Some will stay and become our strongest allies but others will bail when the battles become too costly. Basically, we will encounter each type of “believer” in Christ out there who Jesus clearly describes to his disciples. We must seek out those who have been planted in the rich soil because their faith is strong and deeply rooted. It has been well weathered through perseverance and hardships. We too, must self-check to make absolutely certain the soil in which we are lingering is still rich and fertile otherwise our use in the kingdom is greatly diminished. We can still claim the salvation of Christ and have dead faith. If we do not fulfill the purpose for which we are specifically created, then we will have to stand before the father one day and explain why we decided not to.

In summation, faith in Christ our Savior is neither a vain pursuit nor a naïve placebo. On the sharp contrary, it is an active, living, breathing demand to action, perseverance, endurance, and fruition. Faith is a strong verb or it is a dead noun. What exactly is faith in your life and what, if anything, should you be doing about it? Whether Christ returns tomorrow or whether he waits for a million years from now, your task remains the same because we are all called to have active, vibrant faith that is nothing less than the very reflection of Christ. Anything short of that goal means you still need to work on it, just as I must constantly work and strive to mirror Christ’s attributes. Knowing I will fail…repeatedly, does little to dissuade me from the task. Faith is for the brave. Faith is for the strong. Faith is a life calling that carries us into eternity. What do you have faith in and where is that faith taking you? I am certain where I am going and I know exactly who is taking me there!

A funny tale…that just happens to be true


Looking up at my bedroom ceiling, my eyes tried to find patterns among the little nooks and crannies that were a permanent part of the decor. Our minds naturally look for patterns among chaos so I identified a little bunny here, a face or two there, a couple dragons flying over a mountain in the corner and a few other woodland creatures. Something was nagging at the corner of my mind but I was willfully pushing it away because it required movement. I had just left the hospital about a week prior but my body was stubbornly holding fast to an overabundance of H2O. Consequently, moving my leg six inches was a Herculean achievement.

If you have never experienced the critical threshold of your bladder or bowel then allow me to illuminate you on how important timing and calculation can be when a decision must be made. My bladder was at critical mass, meaning the threshold was about to rupture if action did not occur immediately. Still, I pondered whether I could turn over and catch a few more zzz’s or if my cozy, warm bed would soon resemble a water treatment plant. Movement was going to occur soon whether or not I participated in it or not so I decided to take action. Now, I just had to convince my pain-filled body to move with the timeliness that my bladder demanded due to my procrastination.

Dragging my heft to the side of the bed was never an easy task so I always waited until the last possible moment. Panting and sweating with many grunts and groans announced to my bladder that I had made it to the edge of the bed, flopped my legs over the edge and then sat there cheering myself on for the next part. The cheer session was brief because I was at critical mass so…I stood. Usually, I would pause to make certain my legs agreed with my brain, steady myself and only then proceed with my first step toward the bathroom. Well, The Pause, did not occur as my bladder was shouting its protest for any further delay.

Slow motion is a funny anomaly because every piece of data is being recorded at an incredibly speed driven rate but our minds perceive the elements of the event in slow motion. Without thinking, I moved my upper body in response to thinking my leg had indeed taken the step I ordered it to take. Apparently, it did not get the memo because now I was in free fall. Before I knew it, I had lost my balance, hit the bed at full force. An aside to further paint the perfection of this environment, my bed was very soft due to equipping it with two pillow top cushions to take as much pressure from my arthritic body as possible. Yes, having a bed akin to the Princess and the Pea did not achieve maximum wisdom in my current health predicament but it did provide superb bounce to mass ratio! Yes, I achieved some serious airtime as my buttocks reached the level of the box springs resulting in a massive launch from the massive recoil. A double pirouette into a secondary bounce on my marshmallow bed ended in a fast roll off the end of the bed, expertly landing on my knee then diving head-long into an over-filled trash bag I had sitting there. Thankfully, my shoulder slammed into an old fan I had in the bag bringing my roll to an abrupt halt! Another aside, my health had been in a rapid decline for two years previous but I had ignored the severity of it until it the Lord said, “You will not ignore this” and I ended up in the hospital. Due to that stubbornness, my housekeeping desire had been eliminated but my sister had been there the previous week and helped me get some of the junk bagged up for the garbage. Those garbage bags now lined my bedroom. I had no idea they would eventually serve as my ‘airbags’. My very first thought as I lay among the overfilled garbage bags was, “This is going to make a great story!”

Now, one must remember the initial reason I was getting out of bed…the threshold had been met. So, here I am on the floor trying to figure out how to get up without calling the fire department. I decided my best chance was to drag myself over to my bed and try to gain height from pulling myself up onto my queen sized marshmallow bed while using my feet to push my over ample mass upwards. Have you ever tried to gain purchase on a platform in constant flux? Well, trying to grab the bedcovers, the mattress pads, pillows, and blankets felt like swimming in warm fuzzy marshmallows so gaining any purchase filled me with hope and that little bit of energy to keep trying. I would rather have laid there and died rather than call the fire department to hoist my heft from the entanglement of blankets, garbage bags and possible waste so I was not giving up. It was a journey and climb worthy of planting a Mt. Everest flag! I made it! Now, I realize there is no way on earth I would have gotten up off that floor without the Lord’s angels hoisting me up but that is an army I do not mind lending a hand as I could not hear them snicker.
Okay, I was upright again and I was still dry. I could not believe that my bladder had endured all that nonsense and still maintained its poise. I promptly but agonizingly slowly groped my way to the bathroom, which was only about 10 feet away. Taking my rightful place upon the throne, I awaited a release akin to Niagara Falls but noooo…just a tiny trickle! Are you kidding me?

Grrr…Yes, I actually growled. Okay, back to my bed. I couldn’t wait to lie down, as now my entire body was pulsating in pain. I made the return trip without further acrobatics. Once again sitting back on my bed, I began to assess the damage. Bumps, bruises and extra soreness that negated any benefit from the rest of the night before. However, I was impressed with the combo bounce of my edema engorged abdomen and my comfy bed, the smooth roll right off the edge and finally, the one point landing.

Disappointingly, spider man, superman, nor batman came from the shadows to rescue me. After all, what if it were a cliff? At the very least, I thought the dust bunnies, whom I have allowed to live and thrive would have banded together to spring to the rescue but the cowards hid in the safety of their corners. They probably were afraid of being crushed into their atomic components. I have contributed so much to the dust bunny empire over the years; a little gratitude would have been nice!

In all seriousness, God is good and he rescues us at every turn…even from ourselves. All we need do is ask.

This happened in 2015 but I stumbled across it as I was cleaning up my computer files. It gave me a chuckle so I wanted to share. I am in a better place now and I have a home health aide so my acrobatics are minimum…but not eliminated. I just have a larger audience with more people joining my path and my heart!

ANGELS


I beg my reader’s indulgence to allow me to write of a subject I know little about but am pursuing in earnest. Angels, who are they, what are they and how do they fit into God’s creation?
Large portions of society have designated this group of beings as some type of spiritual being that can or cannot be attached to the belief or existence of God. People are very vague in tying down their beliefs but often attribute the unexplainable to that of the work of these unseen beings or random luck. If you do believe in God and Christ as your savior then are you supposed to buy into this whole fuzzy angel subject? Well, I do not believe it to be a fuzzy subject at all because angels are documented all throughout scripture fulfilling critical purposes. They have names and are given specific jobs to complete. Some are messengers, such as Gabriel who played a critical role in and around the birth of Christ by telling both Mary and Joseph of the holy conception. He also announced John’s coming as well. He is recorded all throughout the scriptures as delivering this message or that to humans. Then Gabriel announced Christ’s birth to all the shepherds and was backed up by a heavenly choir. So we know there are messengers and singing angels who play musical instruments as well (Luke 1: 11, 1:19, 1:26 & Daniel 8:16, 9:2 [not a total reference list]).
We know through the prophets, Daniel, Jude, Elijah and many more that there is a great and fierce warrior angel that is in charge of God’s heavenly armies and his name is Michael. (Daniel 10:21, 10:13, 12:1 & Jude 1:9 & Revelations12:7). In 2 Kings 6:17, Elisha prayed that the eyes of the fear-filled servant would be open. The servant saw all the angel armies surrounding Elisha with the glow of fire all around them. This is a good story to illustrate the power and need of prayer. So many discount prayer as a weak instrument or a last resort but it should always be first and continual. Angel armies fighting for men at the behest of God who answered the holy prayers of his children.
I do not know if I would be grateful for the gift of seeing these ‘unseen’ battles between angels and the forces of evil. Humanity cannot win over heavenly beings so when the armies of the Lord go against humanity, it is a certain slaughter. Again and again, there are examples of God’s angels answering prayers, consoling others, directing, teaching, saving from harm, delivering messages, and making reports to our Creator. We have guardians surrounding us fighting the battle we cannot see but I certainly assure you that you may suffer glancing blows from the evil forces. In Matthew 18:10, Jesus tells us directly, “see that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven.” This tells me that God has appointed guardians over his children because he loves us and they communicate with our heavenly Father about us.
This topic of the unseen world of angels and demons caused me to engage in some deep pondering. How weary the angels must be because of humanity. Sure, the angel population has been around long, long before humanity was created and they have had battles with evil before us but just think of how much more work they have because of how often we screw up. I could not help but feel saddened for them. They never get a break and humans are not running out of ideas of how to sin and create more evil on this planet.
We only have a small glimpse into this other unseen world so we are infants in our understanding. There are so many unknown mysteries of the Bible and huge swaths of history that has been deliberately omitted that no one, not even the most learned Biblical scholar, can claim to understand in total. God omitted things because we cannot fathom it, we could not wrap our finite brains around the infinite wonders that always have been. I pray for the angels all the time because I know, I myself, make their job much harder than it should be because I sin. Christ paid the price of my salvation but we must accept and live with the consequence of each of our sins. I just feel very sorry for the angels and wonder when they will ever be able to lie down their swords and enjoy their creator. Perhaps they get time off? I have no idea but I know prayer works and that we take it for granted as we do this huge population of angels who have been working hard to help us humans since God first placed Adam and Eve on the earth.
I know how frustrated and disgusted I get with my fellow human beings so I can only imagine how that feeling is intensified when you have been fighting the same battles for so long. I continue on my journey to research these fantastic agents of good and those who chose to hate us, namely Satan and the rest of the fallen. Even the existence and account of Satan’s fall tells me that the angels have freedom to choose as well. This realization led me to the question of why would the angels continue to choose to help humans who never, ever learn? They love Christ and Christ loves us so they will obey Christ and do what they are commanded regardless of whether we humans ever get it right. I just imagine they must be weary after all this time. They need our prayers so that the heavenly hosts can remain strong in the Lord. At the very least, we should be grateful to them.
Now, do not cross the line and think they are beings to be prayed too, because there are several accounts in scripture where a human fell to worship an angel and the angel rebukes them telling the person to worship God only. John recounts this time and again, as he is recording Jesus’ revelation in our book of Revelation. Therefore, we know that we are not supposed to pray to them or worship them but that does not mean we cannot thank them for the battle they fight on our behalf…every single day. However, do not get cocky and think you are better than the angels. Jude 1:9 clearly tells us that we humans dare to speak boldly and foolishly about the unseen world, demons, and angels without having the least bit understanding. Jude reminds us that even Michael, the archangel dared not rebuke Satan directly but called upon the power of the Lord saying, “The Lord rebuke you!” Certainly, there is a relationship that can be had there between humans and angels but only with the understanding that we will not have full understanding until we see Christ return. Until then I think gratitude in the form of prayers offered for the angel armies would be appropriate. I am certain the war has heated up as the entirety of creation is groaning with the wounds it creates.

God Bless you all and thank you for indulging my ramblings.

Artwork original by Samantha(Barto)Thomas titled: Anguish

God’s Timing: A blessing 17 yrs in the Making


 

 

God is a gracious, merciful and generous God who loves his children in both our darkest times and in those times of great joy. Seventeen years ago, I was working two jobs, earning my masters degree, and trying to care for my disabled mother. If you follow my blog, then you know that my own health challenges were thrown into the mix as well. I was working as a Christian High School history teacher but the salary was modest so I had to acquire a second job at a large chain department store. It felt as if everyone were taking a piece from my soul and leaving me drained and empty. Additionally, my health had begun to spiral downward and my depression spiked.

Several things are true about a very strong person. They can handle many things at once and they are expert jugglers of life’s problems. Others look toward them for guidance, strength and support. A strong person is extremely hard to cause to fall completely because they have had plenty of practice in falling and getting back up…just one more time. However, when a person of great strength finally succumbs to the burdens of life that same stubborn persistence that kept him up convinces him to stay down. It is excruciatingly difficult to convince this person of strength to get back up! Satan loves to take a strong Christian out because everyone who looked to them is also wounded.

Seventeen years ago, I fell and did not want to get back up. Oh, I knew I had the strength to brush myself off and begin once again but I had zero desire to do it.  My breaking point was the mere thought that God had turned his back on me and that all my life’s sufferings and challenges were without purpose. My hope was completely gone and I actively tried to leave this world. It was an incredibly dark and desperate time in my life and in the lives of all those who loved me. I had to quit my second job at the department store as my mental, emotional, and spiritual stability depended upon reducing the number of people/places drawing upon my spirit.

Leaving that hospital for the final time, I had promised God and my family that I would never try to take my life again. I promised God that I would wait to go home until he decided it was time but I pled with him in earnest agony for him to reveal two critical things to me. I needed to know there was purpose to my physical, spiritual, and emotional suffering. I needed to know how the pieces fit together and I needed him to reveal, at least in part, how my pain, my family’s pain, and my friend’s pain fit. He has blessed me over and again in answer to that prayer. I pursue my God and his will for my life in earnest because that is the ONLY place where purpose can be discovered. I had also asked a secondary prayer. I had asked God to show me examples of godly men in this world. No, I was not interested in using God as a matchmaker but I needed to see that godly men, men pursuing God’s will for their lives, existed. He has also blessed me in revealing not only many good men but also many godly, good women as well. I use ‘good’ as a human descriptive as God tells us no human is ‘good’. Only God, himself, is capable of being good. Nevertheless, he has overwhelmed my life with so many loving, godly people and I am extremely grateful for His continuing diligence in answering those prayers in an affirmative nature.

Today, December 19, 2016, I received a letter from a class action suit against the large chain department store where I had worked during that dark time in my life. I had no clue this suit even existed and had zero expectation of receiving any kind of money. Today, I opened a check for $500! I live in modest means so this amount of money is akin to thousands to me and its timely arrival just before Christmas was no less than miraculous. My greatest joy is born of giving so to receive this money enabled me to give to others. God knows my heart; he knows what brings me joy and happiness. He put a plan into motion 17 years ago, that would allow me to gift to others. He is beyond good to me and I am deeply humbled by his awesome generosity. It may not seem like a miracle to some of you but I assure you that this IS a miracle and I will be eternally grateful to my Father for giving me the gift of giving. Thank you Jesus for loving me in my darkest hour and planning ahead when I did not want a future! Wow, I am completely blown away. I had to share this miracle with all of you because even when we believe our lives are spiraling out of control, God has us in his loving embrace. He has each of our steps in his care, if we choose to trust him. Merry Christmas and a very, very Blessed New Year!

Healing or Strength…for which should we Diligently Pray?


 

 

I listen to the scriptures everyday as I do other daily tasks. I read the scriptures as well but I have found that I can listen to scripture for eight hours a day plus when I do other activities so the time is well used. I also make certain to use various translations so as not miss something. Today as I was listening to the people clamoring to touch Jesus so they could be healed of their infirmity a new pattern of thought began weaving itself through my consciousness. The desperation and hopelessness these folks experienced, especially in that era, is well appreciated.              I, myself, spent much of my life begging God to take away my ailments and hardships so I definitely get the desperation to be healed. However, I had a thought today as I listened to these stories for the 1000th time that struck me deeply. The afflicted flocked to Jesus and in his love; he healed them at their requests. No one wants suffering and pain unless they are a masochist or flagellant. Yet, I know suffering has purpose beyond that which can be seen or experienced by the one who is doing the suffering.

Okay, so this is the thought, what if the people who begged to be healed and were then healed inadvertently diminished their earthly impact because their ailment was removed? To be sure, if the healed remained in Christ/God after being healed then they would still have an Earthly impact because God will bless their efforts. However, if like the nine lepers who never looked back after being healed, could we diminish our earthly impact by taking our own path?

I know in all certainty that if God had chosen to heal me decades ago then I would learn to lean upon my own strength and cleverness.  If I had been permitted to pursue my own life plans in a body without blemish then would I have grown in faith and wisdom? Would I have had the tools to help others as they struggled through their journey? If I had gone on to live a healthy, “normal” life with the ability to achieve praiseworthy human accomplishments then what impact would I have been able to have? I do not know the answers to these questions but I am thinking my impact would have been far less because I would not have learned how to depend upon the Lord. My relationship with my creator would have been shallow and empty because I would have depended upon my own strength and cleverness. My plans for my life were thwarted. My ailments could have been a permanent roadblock, and they nearly were, but once I understood each had the potential to reach large groups of lost and hurting people then I began to understand it wasn’t about me at all. My ailments were not curses or punishments; instead, they were keys to open the hearts and minds of the lost children who were flailing in agonizing fear. I am able to reach through the brick wall of fear, anger, and agony many surround themselves with because I have been on that side of empty desperation. I can reach them because of the hardships, heartaches, and pain I endured.

Each hardship and ailment that constructs the person I am only has purpose when I give them to God to use for good. Regardless of the depth of agony of any hardship, each has a boundless wealth of possible good. I sit here and reflect because I know that I would never have met half the people I have, nor would I have been useful for the Kingdom if I had depended upon myself all these years. Sure, pain, agony and frustration are not enjoyable but the diamond he is creating us to be takes a bit of pressure.

So, does that mean we shouldn’t pray to be healed or work toward healing? Absolutely not! We must always petition our Lord for healing and if he sees that it will benefit it us AND those around us for his Kingdom then he may grant our request for healing. However, he tells us time and again that he works best through the broken. If you look throughout history, the figures that strike us as the most impactful were the ones who overcame great anguish in some manner. Sure, there have been some pretty infamous individuals who impacted the world and that will always occur but looking at just one scenario, the holocaust…How many iron clad stories of faith and survival came from that horrific event? No, I do not believe God sent that upon the people but when they chose to allow God to use their pain for good then we reap the benefits within our own souls decades later. Our faith in enriched because of the thousands of who stood steadfast and true in the face of pure evil.

In our own lives, in our heartache, pain and fear we become angry and confused feeling abandoned by our creator. I feel this in earnest when the pain becomes mind numbing and soul crushing but that is only Satan trying to tear us away from our Father, which is why the pain is so great. I believe there comes a point in one’s life where you must decide that the answer to your plea may be no or not until you reach glory. We obsess in our Christian culture to bring healing to all if we can only have enough faith then it will be so. I think that borders more on the line of the ill advised friends of  Job’s, who had the nerve to believe they knew what God was doing in that situation. They did far more harm to Job than any of the ailments or tragedies that struck him.

Regardless of whether we pray for healing or not we should always pray for strength and wisdom. We should always ask God to squeeze all the possible good from the suffering we must endure or else it is wasted. Who wants to hurt for nothing? I have learned much through the years and I can see clearly where I have wasted my suffering and where I allowed others to remain lost because I was too caught up in my own suffering and anger. I did not care if they were lost, I did not care if they were hurting, I was angry and hateful to everyone especially God. I was so caught up in the fact that my mother was not healed and I was not healed that I could not and would not see beyond the pain. I wanted it gone regardless of the cost. Now, I see how tragic that would have been. My faith and wisdom would not be strong but worse yet; many who I have been able to reach may have been lost or become a bitter tool for Satan. Suffering can only be understood by suffering, which is why our Christ suffered so much for us. An alcoholic is not going to listen to anyone who has never even taken a drink! Just the same, someone in physical agony is not going to be comforted by someone who can only boast surviving a head cold. Suffering is a universal language but it can only be understood through suffering.

Back to the original thought, was the glory of God lessened because these thousands of people were healed upon their requests? Now, understand that this is not a blanket assumption because Christ himself told his disciples that the blind man was born blind so that his healing from Christ would bring glory to God’s holy kingdom. We, in our human understanding, cannot know the purpose of every ailment of every person out there. We cannot explain the heartache that suddenly takes a child from its mother and father. We do not know the reasons for all suffering but we should at least accept that the impact of suffering could be positive or negative depending upon whether we give it to God or hold onto it like a precious treasure.

Be certain to understand, I am not speaking of suffering caused by our own hands. God will certainly use it for good if we allow it but we must take ownership of that suffering because it came through our own conscious choice. For example, I was once over 500 pounds and I was miserable, in pain, sick, and angry. I blamed God for all of it but it was not God shoving food down my throat. It wasn’t God preventing me from making healthy decisions. It wasn’t God increasing the rate of deterioration of my arthritic joints. It was me, my poor choices, my decisions, and my plan for my life. I reap the harvest of those bad choices but the key to my suffering now is to allow him to use it all and work hard to do my part to bring my plans into perfect sync with my Creators. Yeah, if you have read my blog then you know and understand that my suffering and challenges have come in many venues and most of them not through my own hand; however, suffering needs healing. Sometimes the only healing our suffering has upon this earth is through the spirit. We accept the cross we have been asked to carry, get rid of the crosses we were never meant to pick up and continue to follow the savior giving him our all in every way. If we have ailments that were woven into our being in the womb then we need to not only overcome them but also squeeze every bit of good that can be pressed from them. If we are suffering through our own hands then we need to stop and rid ourselves of a burden that was not meant for us and help others avoid the pit into which we ourselves fell. If we cannot help them avoid it then we should help them find their own way out, for they will not take a proffered hand out of the pit.  Supply the instructions, the support, the encouragement and the ever-watchful eye towards Christ and they may chose to find their way back to the path the Lord plowed for them.

Now I pray the prayers of Christ in the garden and of Paul who both asked three times of the Lord that the cup of suffering be taken from them but also acknowledging that their prayer only be fulfilled if it served the will of God. Otherwise, we accept that the grace God provides is sufficient and pray in earnest for strength.

 

 

 

 

In Christ and in never ending pursuit of understanding,

 

Tina