Monday, December 31, 2007

Praise for Completion

Well, it's the end of the year and the end of the month. When I first felt i should write these praise posts, I honestly didn't know if I had it within me to actually follow-through. But I did. Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of my faith, helped me to complete the task. It may not be the best kind of posting because perhaps my posts could have been deeper. But at least I finished the task I felt God wanted me to do.

I'm working on my new novel, Inheritance. Of course, I'll have to finish it. Beginnings are tough because they imply there has to be an ending. It implies we have to believe we will be alive to finish a work, that we will be competent to finish the work, that we will be blessed in the doing of the work, that God will provide a place for the finished work, that the finished work will matter.

As I writer, I feel pretty much the same way I did when I became pregnant with my children. I wasn't sure how things would end. When I look at this house I live in and all the work that needs to be done on it, I have to look forward to completion or else I will never finish it. When I look at all this weight I have to lose, I have to believe.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that "the end of a thing is better than the beginning of a thing." And the trouble with receiving a vision -- of a story, of a renovated house, of a spiritual task, of a political task, of a thin and health body-- is that one is asked to finish the task.

So, let's all do the work one we are called to do...every day. The thing is not to freak. One day at a time.

Praise ye the Lord.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Praise for Guidance

Last night I dreamt of speaking to my mother. She left this earth in August of 2004. I dreamt I had a tumor of about 1 inch by 1 inch by 2 inches and the tumor fell off my body --just like that-- into my hand. I called my mother to tell her the good news. I said I only have the tiny tumor to worry about now. She said, "that's not a problem. The thing you should worry about is your high blood pressure."

Well, I don't have high blood pressure. And know what? Now that my mother has guided me with this dream-advice, I'm gonna make sure I do everything not to get it. Praise the Lord for guidance. Praise him also for sending my mother on this second-to-last day of 2007 to warn me. PRaise God for all healing, actual and preventative. Amen.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Praise God for self-acceptance

In a world filled with media, most of us pretty much know we don't measure up. Physically, we aren't as cute or attractive as we "should" be. Emotionally, we aren't as sane as Dr Phil would have us be. Our houses aren't the kinds of houses Martha Stewart would enter. And for many of us Christians, the Christian world has such a narrow idea of acceptable personality that we often wonder if there is something wrong with us.

Well, the great thing in life is that there are people out there who accept us and who make us understand that the world's standards shouldn't oppress us. Oh, I'm talking about becoming a murderer or not working on one's personality or working through one's issue...but honestly, we are who we are...and we are "accepted in the beloved." The phrase "accepted in the beloved" is the same phrase used in Luke for "full of grave" and "highly favoured." So, let's face it: God loves us deeply and He knews who we are and why we are who we are.

Know what? I am supremely loving (too much so) to those who love me. And I am very bitchy to people who annoy me. That's who I am. I'm not perfect. I try to be a fairly decent person but life is full of wounds and I cannot be as perfect as I would like to be. No problem. God loves me and sees me as perfectly acceptable in oour Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful Lord we serve. Praise ye the Lord!

Praise for inventions

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I'm so glad there's always an inventor around. So today I'm going to thank God for creating those immature people who couldn't accept things as they were. Imagine...some person wanted tomatoes (let's say) in winter. Well, too bad! They weren't around. But that very immature person invented a way to have his great ripe tomatoes in the middle of winter. Don't know if he invented the refrigerator or the trucking system or what...but he invented something.

Same praise goes to the inventor of the humidifier or the air conditioner. Think about it. Would we be able to have skyscrapers if there were no air conditioners? Not that i like air conditioners but you know they do help folks have jobs.

So, my praises for inventors.

A few weeks ago i downloaded a software called chimer which chimes every hour and on the quarter hour. I'm glad someone invented it. I needed something external to my mind to remind me to drink my water every hour. So yeah...there are immature kids out there whining about wanting some impossible thing. Wait, if guided and encouraged, they will come up with something pretty fascinating sooner or later (and after some pretty embarassing failures.) Praise ye the Lord for those creative immature people.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Praise for talents that come easy

I've just discovered that I'm more of a story teller than a novelist. Being a story teller comes easy to me. That worries me. I don't think very highly of it. I suppose we believe that nothing good can come that easily. Perhaps that is why we don't really trust or fully enjoy the loving grace of God.

The world tells us that some things are too good to be true. But God is never too good to be true. And the gospel is called the Good News -- the "too-good-to-be-believed" news.

I'm going to honor a talent that came easily to me. I suppose I could go on and list all the stuff we take for granted or try to avoid because they come easily... but I won't. You yourself know what lovely thing, person, place, or talent in your life you may be belittling. Praise ye the Lord.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Praise God for self-discovery

I suddenly realized today that I am not really a novelist. Okay, I had kinda discovered this before but I kinda forgot it.

The thing is...I am a storyteller...oral tradition and all that. There is some subtle difference between a storyteller and a novelist and I can't really say what the difference is but...I had been having so much trouble with voice and how the story should be told.

I always get this way when telling a novel and I've always liked stories with weirdo narrators or playful experimental personal narration. And then I was talking to a storyteller friend today and it dawned on me what Mark Twain had said about being a storyteller not a novelist. Who knew? Jamaica and the literary world combined in little old me. Folks who read literature and who came from a storytelling culture will understand exactly what I mean.

Isn't it wonderful to discover --or rediscover-- the truth about some aspect of ourselves? Praise ye the Lord for enlightening us


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

St Stephen's Day -- Praise (and prayers) for the martyrs

Here is a part of an article on how North Korean Christians celebrate Christmas:

It happens only sporadically that Christians think it is safe enough to meet together in small groups. Usually gatherings consist of only two people.

Simon notes: "For example, a Christian goes and sits on a bench in the park. Another Christian comes and sits next to him. Sometimes it is dangerous even to speak to one another, but they know they are both Christians, and at such a time, this is enough. If there is no one around, they may be able to share a Bible verse which they have learned by heart and briefly say something about it. They also share prayer topics with each other. Then they leave one another and go and look for Christians in some other part of their town. This continues throughout Sunday. A cell group usually consists of fewer than 20 Christians who encourage and strengthen one another
in this way. Besides this, there are one-to-one meetings in people's homes."

Click here to read the rest of the article

Check out one of my favorite videos done to a hispanic evangelical song we sing at church

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Praise God for heaven

St Paul says that in death we Christians do not sorrow like other people who have no hope.

I am totally convinced I will again see my mother who died in 2004 and my aunt who died this week and my pastor who also died.

We will see them as they are, except perfected. They will not disappear into nothingness, becoming Atman or part of the universal consciousness. They will be themselves with all their funny quirks and sense of humor and oddball personalities.

I will see the "good" people and the "bad, creepy" people I have loved. Why? Because through the blood of Jesus, they were made perfect for that wonderful feast in heaven. I thank Jesus for making this possible because I really loved somd of those "bad" people. But now, knowing that they acknowledged Jesus as their savior and his blood as given for their sacrifice...they will be at the heavenly party too.

Praise ye the Lord.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Praise God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit

Jesus told us that when the Holy Spirit came to us he would give us power to witness about the truth of the gospel. HE also gave us authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. St Paul tells us what the gifts of the Holy Spirit is. The word of knowledge: A word that tells people something about their past, present or inner life. The word of wisdom: A spiritual advice or comment that is so powerful and wise the person hearing it is enlightened. Prophecy, gifts of healing, gift of faith, gift of miracles, speaking in tongues. And of course the greatest gift, the most excellent way, the love of God shed in our hearts.

Paul tells us that he didn't preach the gospel as mere philosophy or doctrine. He taught with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit's power. This is how Jesus taught the good news also. He healed the sick, cast out demons, cleansed lepers. By the time he was finished doing miracles, people were ready to believe the gospel.

We live in a multicultural world with many religions claiming to be the true ones and many supposedly holy books stating that our holy book is wrong. Folks, plain old doctrinal arguments aren't gonna get a believer anywhere when faced with someone indoctrinated against Christianity or the Bible. One can talk until one is blue in the face but nothing's gonna happen because deep in the heart of the non-Christian is a conviction against Christianity that the person does not want to change. Common sense doesn't help in these situations.

My good friend is a muslim. And a feminist. I asked her how she felt about Mohammed marrying a seven year old girl and consummating the marriage at age nine. IT didn't bother her. She thinks the Bible has errors but that the Koran was delivered by the angel Jibril (Gabriel) to Mohammed from God. Yet when I point out that the Koran has errors in it such as stating in Sura 18:83 that Alexander was one of the great saints of God who did God's will and that Alexander lived to a ripe old age. Yet, history tells us that Alexander certainly has some sexual issues and that Alexander died at age 33.

Or one could tell a Mormon til one is blue in the face that its so-called history, linguistics, archeology, and geography are all wrong. One could even talk about the historical documents --Mormon and non-Mormon-- that show Mormon and Joseph Smith history. That kind of evidence simply won't help matters.

But when one has the Holy Spirit's gifts of witnessing...ah things become differnt. IF the Holy Spirit shows you that the pushy mormon missionary at your door was sexually abused at age 6 on his birhtday by his uncle Hal and you pass that information on to the missionary....that will make the guy know you serve a living God...and that you aren't mistaken about your religion. Or if the holy spirit tells you that the person in front of you denying the resurrection of Christ has a sister who is dying of cancer and you go to said person's house and pray for her healing and the sister improves remarkably and the cancer goes into remission...well.... there is no word for that.

Be filled with the Holy Spirit and praise ye the Lord.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Praise God for things I hate but which he obviously likes

Well, it's winter at last. I kept hoping global warming would free me from its frosty grasp but no such luck. I'm Jamaican, warm-blooded. I HATE winter.

I also hate roaches, mice, snakes, viruses, bacteria....oh I could go on.

Okay, I'm a creative person. But I don't create every little thing that pops into my brain. Why our Creator would make horrendous things I simply cannot fathom. Oh yeah, sure they're part of the grand circle of life, yadda-yadda...and the world would probably fall apart if snakes, winter, and viruses didn't exist...but dang! One would think that a being who could make galaxies, crab nebulas, amber waves of grain, the human tongue which can detect 40,000 (or is that 40 million) different tastes, and long stretches of desert sand would have some sense of taste or self-control. Did he totally have to totally create every little thing that came to his mind?

But God saw fit to create stuff I am not particularly enamoured of. I totally believe that praising what we dislike brings blessings. Remember what happened with Corrie Ten Boom? In her autobiography, The Hiding Place, she talks about being in the concentration camp. One of the buildings where she and her fellow prisoners were imprisoned had fleas. Everyone had them. She and her family decided to praise God for fleas. The upshot? The Nazi soldiers didn't like entering that particular building so they were relatively free from the Nazis boterhing them. PLUS the people inside the building could have Bible studies. Okay, it's not the super-greatest most wonderful thing. But it's a blessing that came from those vermins.

But sometimes we should just praise in order to praise. So today I'm going to praise vermin. Because God obviously likes them and created them because he loved them and thought they were needful to the earth. And I will praise winter, a season which so many others love but which I consider the worst vermin of all. In the grand scheme of things, it's the Creator's taste and wisdom that counts. But Lord knows I'd like to have wonderful house in Hawaii -- far from a volcano. Praise ye the Lord.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Praise God for working wonderfully through imperfect humans

Before I begin today's praise devotional, I simply have to say that God is faithful. When I felt within my spirit, the call of His Spirit to do a praise a day, I honestly didn't know what I'd come up with. But God is faithful. Sometimes I feel that it is He who is giving me the day's topic, and sometimes I think it's me just kinda winging it and being quite free to choose whatever topic I think of. But I have never run out of ideas.

This reminds me of what happened the day before Wind Follower was to be sent by the publisher to the printer to be uploaded, printed, and bound. I woke up with the impression: "Carole, you didn't put an epigram/epigraph in the beginning of the book." God uses our own soul to speak so English isn't the issue...the impression is. I didn't know if the real word was epigram or epigraph but I knew exactly what he meant. I was supposed to have a Bible verse in front of Wind Follower. As usual, He didn't tell me which particular verse. I was free to choose any. I just had to find one. So I got three verses and emailed them to the editor at Juno. Three Biblical verses, mind you. At a secular press. I told her to choose one. She put in all three. Isn't God good? But what was weird about that incident is A) I hadn't even been thinking of epigrams/epigraphs and getting this tought on the day before the book was going to press showed me that God was thinking of my book and those verses were needed for some reason He knew of. Plus B) God gave me the leeway to choose any old verse I wanted and C) Ask for what you want. Don't edge your bets. Go all out.

I am always amazed at how God has made us His co-laborers. How wonderful He is! We have a treasure in earthen vessels. Christ in us the hope of glory! God in us -- Emmanuel. And yet we are so imperfect so loony so prone to our besetting sins and so frail. And yet, it is the Called Out ones, Christians, whom God uses...even in our imperfection and faithlessness and sin.

Sometimes I'm supposed to be praying for someone to be healed, let's say. And Lord knows I am...but then hubby sincerely p*sses me off and I don't want to forgive him but there I am at the same time praying for someone else to be healed. When I am annoyed with husband or son or life or when I am angry that I'm not rich, I may want to touch God but I also am very attached to my anger or my lust or my greed and I don't want to put it aside to pray. Yet God hears me.

I'm not saying that all my prayers get answered. And I'm definitely not saying that all my prayers get answered when I'm obviously doing something the Bible warns me against doing. Sometimes I know very well that one of my attitudes is getting in the way of a blessing or a prayer. Yet, how many more times have God answered my prayers even when I was in the middle of sin and unforgiveness and doubt. How lovely our God is! If we were to understand His love, oh my!!! He is just sooooo loving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Praise God for knowing all

The old song goes, "Nobody knows like Jesus."

How wonderful it is to have a God who knows all, and who is so loving about what he knows?

Ever had one of those situations where you are misunderstood or judged? I have. Sometimes, it's not as though we're misunderstood, sometimes our pain (or pain) is just so complicated so deep, so incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it.

But God knows. We can kneel down before a God and talk with Him. We have a God who actually cares about the tiniest thing in our life, the hardest most difficult things, and the flakiest thing. How loving He is. And how knowledgeable! Praise ye the Lord

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Praise God for yet-to-be answered prayers

I was going to call this post "praise God for unanswered prayers" But then I realized that would be one of those posts which sometimes excuses faith. Let me explain that. I totally believe God doesn't answer prayers that are bad for us. Let me get that clear.

But I sooo dislike it when people say, "God answers prayers in three ways: yes, no, wait." It's a cute little saying but Biblically, it just isn't true. Nowhere in the Bible does God define answered prayers as saying no to a prayer. (And if we really want to complicate matters, there is such a thing as people not knowing how to pray. Such a thing as people not taking God's guidance and forcing the issue. Such a thing as Satan answering our prayers. Such a thing as folks cursing their own lives by their words and actions.)

All that aside, I just want to say that for a person who supposedly trusts God I am absolutely prone to grief and sorrow when I'm waiting for a prayer to manifest. I say manifest as opposed to "be answered" because I believe that God answers all our prayers. Actually, that's not me. That's the Bible. John says, "we know that if he hears us, we have the petition." Jesus said, "Everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds."

So the prayer is answered. It's up to us to work out our salvation through fear and trembling and to water the word with thanksgiving. Think of Daniel. God answered his prayer the minute he prayed but Gabriel showed up 21 days later. All that spiritual resistance in the spiritual realm. So fasting and praising God for what we haven't received and believing (walking by faith and not by sight) is the way to go if we want to actually see what God has given us.

This is the essence of hope. This is the endurance of the saints. This is true patience. Sometimes we think of enduring as enduring something that just will not change....and if it changes that change is only for the worse. But, isn't it possible that we are called to endure something that will change for the better? Jesus said, "When the son of man returns will he find faith in the earth?" That's the essential requirement. Whatever religion you have: Do you every day rely on God's goodness? Do you hope in His mercy, power, care and love?

I remember once a bill came. I was so upset. No money to pay it. I said to God, "You're my shepherd; I shall not want." I said it but I had no real joy. I kept thinking "How am I gonna pay for this thing?" But the holy spirit kept bringing that verse to my mind. I was in a funk for a good week. Then suddenly out of the blue and miraculously money arrived and paid for it. Suddenly I was Little Miss Joyous, happy as a lark. I felt the Holy Spirit rebuke me. As far as the spiritual realm was concerned, there was no difference between the moment before I received the answer to the prayer and the moment after I received the answer. The only difference was in my sinful carnal mind which wasn't looking at God's kindness or care or power or love..but only at what my human mind saw, smelled, knew. That taught me a very good lesson. Praise the Lord always for unseen as yet unanswered prayers. Praise ye the Lord.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Praise God for Communion

Communion, like speaking in tongues, is one of the great underused gifts given to us by God. Both build up the spirit and edify us. Like the word of God, they both are vehicles for bringing the transforming spirit of God into our earthly lives, minds, bodies, and spirits.

Taken on a daily basis, Communion brings healing. Jesus blood is drink indeed! His flesh is bread indeed!

The Bible tells us that "man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." And so we know that we live by the word of God. We trust the word, we live the word, we speak the word. In the same way, Jesus says he was the true bread that came down from heaven. He said the Holy Spirit is Living Water.

In his first letter, John tells us "Three things bear witness on earth to God's power and the salvation Jesus has given us: The water, the spirit, the blood." I John 5:8 The water of baptism is a witness, the holy spirit is a witness, and the blood of Jesus is a witness. Yes, the Word of God witnesses to God but without the water, the spirit, and the blood we don't really have the power to be true witnesses of God.

Communion is a way of declaring to our sick bodies the truth of Jesus salvation. Many people have been healed by taking communion every day and declaring that through Jesus wounds and blood they were healed. Many people have had their sick bodies transformed by eating the flesh of Jesus, which is the true bread of life and declaring that God sent His word and healed us.

God has provided a blessing to the poor. Those of us who have been A) challenged by so-called incurable diseases
B) who have not been helped by many doctors
C) who have weak faith and can only be healed slowly and gradually
D) have no minister near by to help us
NOW have the healing power of the communion -- simple bread and grape juice.

The early church took communion from house to house. Where two or three are gathered together, Christ is literally in their midst. It was only four hundred years later when the church usurped communion and really got into this idea of laity and the oh-so-special clergy that ministers pretty much behaved as if they were the only ones who should do it. (One day I'll go on a rant about what we have lost from the early church but not.) Hey, hubby and I do it almost every night. Grape juice and rice cakes. It has been healing to our marriage. How could it not be?

Praise ye the Lord

Praise God for guidance

God guides us sometimes by speaking to our spirits. The rational mind often doesn't accept it but after a while we use our faith and trust that God's people DO hear His voice. The Bible says, "God's sheep hear his voice." Some of us don't like being called sheep, but I don't mind. It reminds me that I have a great shepherd who looks after me.

I've done many a thing that seems irrational and yet I knew that it was God guiding me.

Three examples:

I once went into a GNC at the mall. A man walked past me. I heard "in my spirit" a voice that said: "This is so-and-so. He's the general manager of such-and-such a radio station." The name of the person and his title and his workplace. I walked over to the man and quite irrationally said, "Hi, are you so and so?" He said, "I am." I did not behave irrationally, mind you. I didn't go over and tell him that the holy spirit had told me who he was. So I had some sense. But still, it is kind of irrational to believe some weird bit of information one hears in one's spirit.

Another time, I was working on my novel Wind Follower. I decided on a whim to make the main character an epileptic and needed a name to call the illness. I decided on "the falling sickness." Wrote a scene. Got up from my computer. On a lark I turned on the TV and flipped through the channel. I saw some guys in togas. Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar. As I listened I heard one character say, "well you know Ceasar has the falling sickness."

Another time, I finished writing a scene where a character tells another character he should change his name from Stevie to Steve because Stevie sounds so childish. I went upstairs and although I NEVER turn the radio on at night, turned it on for some strange reasons. A guy was calling in to the DJ. He said, "My girlfriend thinks I should quit calling myself Stevie because it's too childish." Kid you not.

I remember once I got some money and I was wondering who to give my tithe to. I said a prayer, "Lord, who should I give this tithe to?"

Immediately the name of a friend across the country was impressed upon me. It was so strange to hear that name in my heart that I suddenly stood still. I thought, "that was weird!" Generally, guidance didn't come so quickly and the name had come so suddenly and so clearly after the prayer...I found myself thinking that the idea had come from my own mind. And yet, it was so weird to suddenly get this girl's name in my head. I decided to tithe the money to her.

Then, I said...I could send her a check...but I had bounced checks recently and I was bounce-wary. All I needed was to pay $50 to my bank for bouncing a check written as a gift to a friend, and then my friend's bank would also charge her for the bounce. So a gift check for $50 would cost $150 by the time everything was said and done. (Okay, I get nervous and like I said I was very nervous about bouncing a check.)

Then I thought I would send the money as cash. But then I got nervous about that. Cash might get lost in the mail. Then I thought about a money order. But I didn't want to go to the bank or the post office to write a money order. Hey, it's cold in winter in NY and I didn't want to deal with it.

I decided on pay-pal. But I had to wait until the check I had received cleared and went into my paypal account.

Anyway, one night about four days after this quandary and decision, I went online to check if my money was in paypal. It wasn't. Later that night, instead of going to bed, I went downstairs again and for some weird reason (thank you, God) turned on the computer and went online to paypal. The money was there!

I transferred the money from my paypal account to my friend's paypal account.

The next morning my friend emailed me. It seems that the night before -- the night i felt the need to as transfer the money to my friend's account -- my friend was driving home from the hospital with her sick husband. She was miles away from home. Maybe 40 miles. And had run out of gas. She had no money left in her checking account and on a whim (thank you, God) decided to check her paypal account. Voila, the money I had sent her was in it. She hadn't even expected it. But that money got her gas and got her home from the hospital.

I love when God does stuff like that. It makes me feel that yes I do hear from God. It makes my friend know that God is aware of her. It makes us both know that God is aware of the future and provides for the future in the present. Isn't our God good? IT just makes me so happy when stuff like this happens. And they happen all the time. Doesn't it just make you roll your eyes when some atheist says that only idiots think that God exists? Hey, if this kind of lovely stuff is what happens to idiots, may I be an idiot forever!

Thank you Jesus.

I cannot tell you the amount of times my life and my family's life have been saved or my children's life by trusting the irrational.

We Christians call that kind of thing "God winks." It the situation is death-defying, we call them "testimonies of God's protection." These events are odd and a Christian's trust in them is utterly irrational. But it gives us a feeling of being loved. And while everyone has some odd thing happen to them once in a while, these things tend to happen incredibly frequently to Bible-believers. Praise ye the Lord.

Praise God for night-time dreams

I love dreams soooo much. Not only are they a kind of mini-vacation, but they are God's little nightly telephone call to us to guide us and to protect and enlighten us.

I cannot tell you how often God has used a dream to protect and guide me. I once had a dream in which two teenaged boys from up the road were beating my young 3 year old with iron pipes. Terrified I woke up. Around mid-day those two boys from up the road visited. They held up a little piece of yarn. "We want to play with Logan. We're playing cowboys and Indians." They let the yarn flow along my hand. "See it doesn't hurt. We won't hurt him." Needless to say although my son wanted to go out and play with them cause he was a lonely kid, I didn't. God had warned me.

In spite of the fact that doctors couldn't really help with the fibro, my health has been helped greatly by dreams of water and by coincidences that told me to drink water.

Many Christians don't think much about their dreams. Like Aristotle, they belittle them. But those that ignore their dreams and don't know how to interpret them are ignoring God's help and guidance.

Dreams are often full of word play. And why not? Jesus is the Word; He can have his puns.

One pun I remember is one found in Jeremiah. The pun was on the "almond" which often appears symbolically in the Bible:

"The Lord asked me: Jeremiah, what do you see?
I answered: I see a branch of an almond tree (shaked).
The Lord said to me:
You have seen right,
For I am watchful (shoked)
to bring My word to pass" (Jeremiah 1:11-12).

I know there are other puns in the scripture i just don't know where a good topic to research.

So when someone says "word association is just the human consciousness playing around" we can say, "No, the Bible showed us -- long before modern psychology did-- that God Himself uses punning and word association to speak to people.

Some dreams come from our own spirits, from our soulish fears, from eating the wrong things, from evil spirits...but so many come from God. Yes, it's sometimes hard to believe that God is so intimately near us that His Holy Spirit talks to us every day but He really is. Praise ye the Lord.-C

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Praise God for giving us the Church

The apostle Paul says that God gave us apostles, teachers, workers of miracles, helpers.... oh it's a long list.

In addition to specific gifts, the Church is also the community he gave us. They live in us and we in them. They are a part of us. When we are sad, because they are a part of us, out of the blue we might get a call from someone cheering us up. Or even if we don't get a call, someone somewhere is told by the holy spirit that she should pray for us.

We were also given the blessings brought by the blood of Jesus. Love, healing, power, communal authority. Praise ye the Lord

Praise for life lessons

By life lessons I mean the little living parables we see in our life. Often those parables help us to believe and truly understand the word of God.

I know we really should trust what Jesus says, but let's face it. As Jesus said, "If I have told you about how things operate on earth and you don't believe, how will you believe when I tell you about how things operate in heaven." So, we are all pretty carnal. We have carnal earthly human ideas about how things work and plain and simply we often cannot see the workings of the kingdom of God.

Occasionally we get glimpses. For instance, I wasn't quite sure that what the Bible said about words was true. But then I said some negative things, some negative fears and the next thing I knew they had manifested. Once I audibly wished something bad would happen to someone (who wasn't present) and the next thing you knew.... YEah, I know. Some folks would consider this magical thinking, but I can't help it if the world is somewhat magical and if words are truly powerful things.

I also saw how powerful it was to resist speaking a negative fear or assumption. About three years ago I was battling a cold which annually became a nasty bout of bronchitis. Every year like clockwork it happened. So the cold came on me and I was in bed and so wanted to shout: "I am in so much pain because of this cold." But the Holy Spirit kept telling me that no matter what I was NOT to give in. My throat was burning and scratching and my ears were hurting and it seemed so cruel of God to not allow me to whine and scream out. But as I lay there everytime I was about to whine, I would subsitute a shout of praise. The upshot? The flu/bronchitis that had plagued me for years didn't manifest. This was a total miracle. It should have, it always did. Even stranger, I have never had the flu since that battle. That was three years ago. And yes, that made me believe that words do have effect when we restrain from affirming the negative symptom.

So now I'm learning about authority. But how? Well, we got this dog, remember? Just got him. He has a habit of getting up on our bed. And I have to order him off. Not that Hemo is a demon but I learned that he doesn't listen to authority readily. Just like sicknesses. We have to speak with authority a coupla times before he gets it. Plus even after he hears and finally obeys the word of authority, he returns to the bed some time later. IF I'm not consistent with ordering him off the bed, he doesn't take me seriously. Jesus spoke about that. A demon who leaves a "house" always wants to return if the house isn't full of the holy spirit's teaching. The same thing happens in the physical world with diseases. IT takes several months after getting over a flu for the flu to finally leave but for a while there, it just wants to linger. I also learned about agreement. IF I am telling something to "get behind me" or "get off my bed" or "be gone and be cast into the sea" and hubby or sons are allowing the same thing I'm battling, then there is no agreement. So far, I've got to admit I'm pretty inconsistent with doggie. One moment I allow him on the bed, the other, I tell him to get off.

But now that I have this visual representation and this visual proof of God's true word, then I can trust the Lord's words to be true. Praise ye the Lord

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Praise God for our non-Christian friends

I have been blessed with some wonderful friends, most of whom are not Christian.

There's my friend who is Muslim-Buddhist-Hindu-New Ager. Yes, there can be such a combination. Sometimes when I speak with her I get downright frustrated at the interesting theology interwoven in her mind. What Mohammed doesn't quite allow, Hinduism does. Sometimes I want to shake her and say "Please have one theology instead of this kind of buffet spirituality." Yet, she loves Allah with all her heart. She prays all the time. She has the kindest most loving soul.

I also have some friends who are downright sinners. Some of them are Christians, some Jewish, some atheists. I love them with all my heart. Perhaps because having them around me I understand how they got so destroyed by life that they fell into sin. I've always been a compassionate person who loves the outcast but these friends certainly prevent me from falling into judgmentalness.

I also have some Christian friends but mercifully not that many. I say that because the average American churchgoing Christian is often a pill. First and foremost they have a very narrow idea of what decent human behavior is. One person actually stopped being my acquaintance because I said when it was my monthly period I went emotionally crazy. She was offended that I mentioned the word "period" and that I actually was so dang honest as to say that I went nuts at a certain time of the month. Christians can also major gossipers. Whether online or in the reel world, I have been so discussed by Christians "for my own good" and because they were afraid of "being tainted" by me that I am pretty suspicious of them all. Once I even got an email accidentally emailed to me by a Christian to a Christian critique group I belonged to. Seems there was a conversation going on among them all about how harsh I was when I critiqued their stories. (Trust me: I wasn't harsh. Some Christian stories are pretty bad and these folks were not open to real criticism.)

I suspect the reason I get along with my non-Christian friends better than most of my Christian friends is that there is a true human connection there between us. I chose those non-Christians because I loved them and they loved me, not because they believed what I believed.

I do want to praise those wonderful kind-hearted Christian friends out there too. I have several of those and that is the best kind of friendship.

But my non-Christian friends have been good and kind to me. And what more can be said? I find myself praying for them to learn more about Jesus. How wonderful it would be if we were truly spiritual siblings in addition to being emotional and psychological friends. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Praise ye the Lord

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Praise God for memories

I suspect God created memories in order that we might remember good things. But that's in a perfect world. Our memories remember many bad things now...since we're on earth. Some of these memories of bad things (in the past) protect us from evil and teach us how to walk in the future. Some of these memories lead to bitterness or fear.

Well, I was reminded again about the goodness of memories.

I was in one of my depressed "without hope" kinda moods. I kept thinking about my health, my son's health, money, etc. I was on the way to despair:

Then I remembered that the Lord was my rock.

I love that verse. The Bible is always full of people remembering stuff. In fact, when God creates a holiday, he says "remember how your Lord did thus and so therefore make this day a day of remembrance."
In the Bible, unbelief isn't equated with some great intellectual aspect of man. It is equated with forgetting. People become atheistic fools because they have forgotten some great good that God did for them.
Think of how the Israelites fell into sin when they forgot the Lord their God after Moses died.

Well, I was in a state last night. Grieving, crying, and generally assuming the future will be bad because the present is bad. Then I remembered that the Lord is my rock. I would have fainted but I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Why? Because A) I remember goodness He has done for me in the past. B) Because I remember the testimonies of his saints, those who held on to their faith. Praise ye the Lord.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thank God for sex, eros, and celibacy

What a wonderful thing sex is! I've decided to praise it although many Christians are so priggish about it. But it's such a wonderful thing.

I suppose the Lord could have enabled us to procreate (or rather co-create) children without all that fun. It certainly would have made life less complicated. But he made it fun. And healthy. And a kind of wonderful vacation -- for married folks. It relieves stress, it aids sleep, it helps the respiratory and circulatory system, it creates intimacy and a feeling of being loved. It creates children. That's not all it does I'm sure but seeing I'm not a medical person, I can't think of anything else.

Eros also exists. And Eros can also be tainted. Sometimes physical bodies don't even have to be involved. Some folks fall into sensual longing by listening to a song, or by falling into a worship for God's creature instead of God, the Creator. Some people become erotic after they have drunk too much alcohol.

Of course, like all other human apettites, it has gotten tainted by human pain, human cruelty, and human evil. God is cool. I have no doubt he allows for some strange sexual stuff between married people. There are of course certain things he doesn't allow. No incest, no rape, no necrophilia, no bestiality, no homosexuality. Life happens, however, and some of us have very screwed up lust-maps. The sexual instinct is very hard to heal. Trust me, I know it. I'm a black woman and because of my personal history I have never fallen in love with a black man. In fact, my sexual orientation seems to be toward any guy who isn't. The Lord heals, though. And if the healing doesn't come, or if we are not married, there is always the blessing of celibacy. In whatever state we find ourselves, the erotic exists. And God's power to uphold us also exists. Day by day, one step at a time, he helps us.

So today I'm praising God for those good things He gave us that complicates our lives, or that others have complicated for us. Praise God for good things -- even those things the world and life have tainted. He is our restorer, healer, and upholder.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Praise for talents

There are two parables about talents in the Bible.

In one story, everyone is given one talent each. In the other story, everyone is given varying amounts: ten, five, one.

The basic idea is that we have all been given the same amount of faith and love and truth. We are supposed to use that same amount and cause it to grow.

But there are other gifts that are uniquely ours, gifts that we must also use and grow.

Whatever the gift, whether unique to us or shared by others, our purpose is to grow it and to not bury it in the ground. If God has given us a talent, then he obviously trusted us with it. Use your talent. Trust yourself. Make it grow. If God has called you to use a particular talent, He obviously believes in you. Praise ye the Lord.

Praise for opposition

How lovely it is to be loved, to be among those who adore, admire, and understand us!

How devastating it is to be among those who revile, misunderstand, and rebuke us!

Jesus told us to be happy when we are persecuted for loving Him.

There's something about persecution that helps a believer either cling to her faith or leave it. We humans love the herd mind. We like being part of the herd. We have a fear of not belonging. The Bible says falling into this "fear of man" is a snare to us. In order to fit in, we lose our edge, we fall away from ourselves, we fall away from God.

Bad enough we tangle with atheists and the world, we also encounter opposition among friends and among our fellow believers. The truth is there will always be opposition. But let us consider that opposition as our path of soulmaking. We become who we are by what we stand for and what we fall for.

Praise for the gift of bad emotions

I often think that we Christians think that so-called bad emotions are evil. But if they are so bad, why did God give us to them? The thing is to balance them and not be overpowered by them.

Consider the gift of fear:
We live in a media world which feeds our fear of disease, murder, chaos, poverty, etc. And so we are already primed to be taken over by fear. More often than not, we are afraid when we shouldn't be. And when we are afraid, we don't turn to God ...we turn to what the world says will save us: doctors, guns, a bigger raise in pay, etc. Not that those things are bad, but they aren't our true comforters.

The thing about fear is that in its pure pristine God-given form, it protects us. As I've said before, how many times have we not entered an elevator because something within us warns us against it. So we now must learn to learn how to discern true fear from false fear.

It's the same thing with all the other emotions. Think of all the good things that anger has accomplished. And certainly, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King could not have changed American history so much if not for the negative emotions of resentment and anger. Righteous anger. Emotions tell us something sane, hopeful, and right needs to be done. If we were happy about everything in life, would we try to change anything? Would Mother Theresa have gone to India to take care of the poor if a sad emotion hadn't oppressed her? Praise ye the Lord

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Praise for the Bible

Oh, I love my Bible. I love all twelve or so translation lying about my house. I love that God loves stories and tells us so many truths in story-telling form.

I love that the word of God is alive and speaks to us and is always new and always right and perfect for us.

I love the Bible authors. Joel, Moses, Amos, Luke. Ooh, how I love Luke. Not because that's my husband's name but because Dr Luke is just so pro-the poor and so anti-the rich.

I love the wisdom, the poetry, the truth, the angst. I love everything in it. And if Christians would just read their Bibles -- in a translation they understand-- how it would teach us!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Praise for Growth

I really really really hate the cold. I don't like going out in it. Yet I find myself pulling on the old boots and tramping outside in all kinds of weather. Who knew? Obviously, in spite of myself, some growth is taking place. That simply amazes me.

I don't think I psyched myself up to grow. It just kinda happened. I STILL don't like the cold. And I still groan when snow starts falling. But I tackle it.

I can only assign praise to God for this. I thank Him for helping me to grow in spite of myself. Isn't it wonderful to think of the living active word of God doing its sanctifying work inside us? The seed grows silently and no one knows how. The wind blows where it wills. And no one knows how. All we, as believers in Christ are asked to do, is to read the Living word of God and trust it purify us and make us alive.

Praise ye the Lord.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

God teaches the young

It takes such a long time for a kid to learn to be God's friend without relying on his parent's spirituality but I think it's beginning to happen with my son. I've been nagging God every day and night to make my son know Him.

Okay, some kids rely on God from the start. They had more than my share of trouble. But some kids, though... lazy. Or they think God is so distant. Or they think there is some special way to pray. But after a while, they learn to talk to him on their own. And that just makes a mom learn how to rest and to --kinda-- step aside (as best as she can.)

So my son had these traffic tickets. He challenges them. He goes down to the courtroom. A city copy standing nearby says, "Don't plead guilty. Those state troopers never show up."

My son thinks, "This is weird."

Then the lady at the counter who accepts payment for the ticket says, "You better not be paying for this ticket. Those state troopers never turn up."

My son thinks, "This is too strange."

Then another person in the courthouse says, "I hope you're not gonna pay that ticket."

Son thinks. "Way weird."

He goes into court and pleads "Guilty" then returns to pay for the ticket.

The lady at the window said, "Are you telling me you pleaded guilty when I just told you not to? Go back in this minute."

Son goes back in but court is out of session. He sits in seat and then judge who is packing up looks at him and says. "What's up with you?"

Son says, "I want to plead not guilty."

Judge says, "But you just pleaded guilty. Okay, then, court back in session. Come on up."

Son pleads, "Not guilty."

Judge says, "Come back next Thursday.:"

Son comes back next Thursday (Today) and goes into court. NONE of the cops show up. Not the city cops, not the state troopers. $300 worth of tickets cancelled.

Is God good or what?

I'm so happy. My son is just flabbergasted. He is learning now how faithful God is. That's all I want, for my son to know that God is a faithful friend and loving God. Then my son will serve Him all His days. Praise ye the Lord

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On this day I complete my 48th year

Well, it is December 5th. I am now forty-eight years old. Tomorrow I will be forty-eight years and one day.

Amazingly, I hadn't thought I would be on earth. But here I am. Alive and well, and very thankful to God for keeping me here. Not that earth has been so much fun, and not that I don't like the idea of heaven...but it's where I have to be cause there are certain things I must do in my life.

I totally believe in each life having a purpose. There are things in this world that others cannot do or that others would not do. Each life is important. Some folks don't know how important their lives are. For whatever reasons, they have never been told how important they are to other folks. I find that hard to believe but there are people in this world who aren't told on an ongoing basis how good it is for their friends, their families, the world at large that they are in the world. I've been very lucky. My friends always tell me how important I am to their lives.

I was lucky also in that my mother told me the wonderful myth of my life. True myth. And it's had wonderful power over me, power to encourage me in times of serious grief and distress. That's my mom on the left there. I miss her very much. Her birthday was Dec 7th. So we always celebrated it together.

Anyway, the overpowering myth of my life: I was born in spite of the fact that my father wanted to abort me. (He succeeded in aborting five of my brothers and sisters.) So from birth I was a survivor. Then when I was a baby, I had to get some vaccinations. My mother and her friend kept making dates to go to the clinic but something weird would always stop my mother. At last my mother's friend said, "Irie, I'm not waiting around for you." (Irie, is a jamaican term which means something like "sympatico friend.") So my mother's friend went and got her baby vaccinated. Her baby died, along with several other babies who had been vaccinated at that clinic. Turns out there was something wrong with that batch of vaccine, badly maintained or something.) Survival number two.

Then when I was thirteen I was on Bear Mountain and running around like mad as kids often do. Suddenly I felt a hand stop me in my tracks. There was no one there. But there was this pressure of a hand against me, stopping me. I stopped running and walked a little further. When I looked I saw that there was a sheer drop down a cliff. If I had continued running, I would've dropped over the hill and died. Survival number three.

In college, a fellow attempted to rape me. Some of the bloggers who have reviewed my book were offended that I didn't make the rape less offensive. Oh well! They don't know squat. I was beaten to a pulp and left on the floor with aching ribs that pained me for almost a month. But I survived.

During the past 20 years I came down with fibromyalgia. That is 20 years of sleeping only two hours or so a night. I had a son who was diagnosed as autistic and who was non-verbal and prone to allergies. You cannot imagine what kind of life this was, sleepless and taking care of an autistic kid for these past 17 years. But God has never failed me. Sometimes I would pray: "Lord, just take me home to heaven. This kind of life is slow torture." Somwetimes I would seriously wonder if I just shouldn't end it all. But then the Lord came to me in a dream one night and said, --He is sooo wonderful, my dear, dear, Saviour-- "Hold on, Carole. Live a little longer. You have six great works to do."

I laughed in His face when he said that. But I now know that if He hadn't told me about the six works I had to do, I probably would've given up and allowed myself to die. But I encouraged myself in the love and promise of my God and I managed to write Wind Follower...on two hours of sleep at nights and with achy bones. And I created a character who also chose to live in spite of her sorrows.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is unsearchable.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Praise hopefully

I hate the phrase "praise God anyway."
I suspect there are some folks who see this little saying as advocating the power of praise to change situations and lives. But there are others who don't read their Bible enough to understand that. They feel as if the praiser is being bullied. As if the person is saying, "Life is crappy as hell but I'm gonna be obedient and praise God because theoretically, this is all from His hand and I'll just submit." It kinda reeks of martyrdom.

The truth of the matter is that we SHOULD praise God in all things. The Bible says praising God in all things is the will of God concerning us. It doesn't say the thing that has happened to us is the will of God. Quite frankly, we might have gotten into that mess all on our lonesome. But God has given us the tools to get our victory over that mess.

The tool is joy. Think of all those victories won in the Bible by the sacrifice of praise and by watering the word with thanksgiving.

So, when you praise God, praise with hope and joy. Praise knowing that the devil wants you to whine and murmur but that you understand that praise is a great weapon, the sword of the spirit in our mouths. Praise ye the Lord.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Praise for the Light

I want to thank God because I walk in the light and not in darkness as others do. Yeah, I know. Sounds arrogant, doesn't it?

But that's what the Bible tells us...that when we abide in the word, we know the truth and the truth sets us free. It tells us that we are not in darkness. So what exactly do we know.

Well, other glorious things aside, the one thing we Christians truly know is the love of God. So many religions in the world focus on the goodness of God. And yes, God is good. But how many adherents of those religions actually understand God as a loving father who cares for us even when we sin?

This is a great light. A light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of God's people Israel. In the old and new testaments, the love of God is a light that strengthens folks like Gideon, David, and Hagar.

And it strengthens me. Where I walk, I know a loving God loves, cares for, empowers, and guides me. Praise ye the Lord

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Miracles of unwelcomed interruptions

Okay, it's the first day of December and I am committing to praising my Lord every day.

Today, I got a doggie. A pit bull. Not a dog I would like. Not a dog I would even seek out. But you know how kids are. They bring stuff home. Mercifully, I'm only keeping this dog until son and his friends find a new house or apartment to rent. Here's a photo of son with doggie -- when doggie was a cute little baby. Doggie is supposed to stay here until his real owner finds a place to live. So that could mean a month from now or two months. Who knows with these kids? And who knows what effect this will have on younger son who at present is running around the house with doggie hot on his tale? Yeah, the kid is terrified but he's got to learn to conquer his fears. Especially with a doggie as sweet and obedient as hemo.

So, let me praise and thank my Lord for this dog and for unwelcomed interruptions. That's what C S Lewis called it: the miracle of unwelcomed interruptions.

I've grown over the years to be a bit more obedient and submissive to interruptions. I remind myself that God is the time keeper. My times are in His hand. If a talkative friend calls me just when I'm going out the door, I accept it. Perhaps not with as much joy as I should, but I accept it as something from the hand of God. Who knows? Maybe because of the interruption I will meet someone on the road I wouldn't have met. Maybe because of the interruption, I will avoid some person or tragedy. One never knows.

And I guess that's what it's really about. Praising God for what one never knows. His providence for us, His protection, His love...are things we will never fully understand on this side of the sun. So I will bless the Lord for this little -- pardon me, BIG-- doggie in my kitchen. In all things, God's love is working in my life.

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