Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mammon in film

Well, I've been watching some foreign films lately on LinkTV, a kind of global channel. I just love movies a lot so it doesn' t matter what country they're from. Saw two films which gave two different takes on mammon. One was called Singapore Dreaming and it was basically about debt and how the rush for money and the need for money have just become the center of the lives of middle class folks.

The other film is called Takva and it's Turkish. It's about a lowly man who becomes the bookkeeper for a mosque and its rich sheikh. It kinda picks on fundamentalists who mix capitalism and spirituality. The specific religion here is Islam but it could be any religion. It shows the spirituality of Islam, that the people are always praying, that they mention God in all their conversations. Hey, religious people are alike...uh? Sometimes when I listen to the conversation I have with some of my friends (Christian or Buddhist or Muslim) I think, "Wow, secular people will think we're so odd." But it's par for the course. I mean, a film that deals with real religious people would have folks like us mentioning spirituality all the time...God in one breath, cookies, in another, weird husbands, in the next, God in the next, movies in the other. But it's a different kind of normalcy that Americans aren't used to. But everywhere in Takva people talk about Allah as par for the course.

I can't remember the last American film I saw where greed and money were shown as so powerful and so pervasive. When American films talk about greed, they kinda single out a specific bad guy, but not about an entire generation (as in Singapore Dreaming) or about a good man slowly going bad.

We are a wealthy people and probably quite addicted to mammon but since we don't really want to examine it -- the business of america is business-- most of our art forms don't examine it. I mean...there's a book genre in Japan called the Business Novel. No such genre in the US.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Haggai and Zechariah

I have to share this. Listened to a sermon I downloaded and was really touched by it. Anyway, this is what the minister David Paroz from Sandgate says (the gist of it anyway):

The books of Haggai and Zechariah give the reader two different perspectives of the same thing: the building of the table. Haggai talks to God but also gives us what's happening historically on the ground. Joshua, the high priest, is having a tough time. Zerubabel is having a tough time. Troubles, antagonists, money issues, apathy. No wonder Joshua is stressed.

But Zechariah sees what's happening in the court of heaven.

What Zechariah saw about the temple has led to a very popular verse among Christians: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord."

Let's look at the vision:
Zechariah 4

1And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.

2And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:

3And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

4So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

5Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

6Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

7Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

8Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

9The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.

10For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

11Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?

12And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?

13And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

14Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

Imagine all the stress and the activity on earth. But then look at this vision. Look how the oil flows, look how it flows without any human help. The holy spirit works...not by might, nor by power, but by God's spirit. God works and we shouldn't stress. Things are working...God's holy spirit is working.

I like the image of heaven's work that we see in the vision.The Bible often gives us scenes of the heavenly court. We see that it's a place of serenity, a place of busyness. It's a lawroom too. With two lawyers. Satan is the adversary accusing folks of sin. The Comforter is the Advocate announcing grace and Jesus is mediating. It's a place of warfare too, but the war is settled. Whether it's the book of Job, the book of Isaiah, the book of Kings or the Book of Revelations what it shows is that god is in charge. We must abide in the vine and let the vine and the oil of the holy spirit do the work.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Then I remembered

“They remembered that God was their rock.” Psalms 78:35
“Thou shalt not be afraid” Psalms 91:5
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” Psalms 112:7
“When thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid.” Prover 3:24-25
“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
“Neither fear ye their fear.” Isaiah 8:12

On a recent morning I woke up and, without thinking, turned on the radio before my morning devotionals. A flood of horror streamed through the broadcast into my house and into my heart. Children were being stolen, cars were crashing, disease rates were rising. In addition, I was suffering with an allergic reaction. My chest ached as if an elephant was sitting on it. And with the onslaught of terrifying news stories, the elephant had suddenly gained a lot more weight.

I was suddenly afraid. What would happen to me? What would happen to my children? How could I keep them safe? How could I prevent harm from coming to them? What if my allergic reaction turned into a heart attack? Fearful thoughts thronged my mind.

Then I remembered.

What did I remember?
The promises of the Lord.
The Lord’s character and mercy.
The Paths He has taught me to walk.
The power of prayer.

I began to repeat the promises of God, shouting them as I lay in bed and later as I walked through the house. Whatever Scriptures came to my mind, I said them aloud, adding “It is Written.” All morning long, I sang the praises of God’s care, Love, and Protection. Then the fears left.

Often when we are overwhelmed, we react in a natural way. The world tells us that when we are faced with fear we should speak about our fear. But the Bible tells us, “when I’m afraid, I will trust the Lord” Psalm 56:3.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with speaking about our fear. But that is not the spiritual way to fight fear or temptation. Our weapons are not understandable to the carnal unspiritual mind. In fact, they might seem like mere foolishness. But, strange and bizarre as these weapons might seem to be, these weapons are powerful. God has appointed us to use these spiritual weapons victoriously that we might be more than conquerors against spiritual enemies such as fear, sin, sickness, despair, anxiety, and doubt.

We are told to fight the good fight of faith. The good fight is a fight more often than not a fight that occurs within our own minds. The apostle Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Often the good fight involves triumphantly praising God in the midst of adversity and speaking His praises while refraining from speaking our fears.

A small example: when we get a sniffle or we feel a cold coming on, we often say – for no reason– “I just know it. I feel a cold coming on, and I get so sick when I get colds. I get earaches, my throat hurts, I can’t leave the house for three weeks. Sometimes it turns into pneumonia.”
Consider, however, if this is the faithful thing to do. Yes, we know our bodies. But shouldn’t we simply go downstairs make a cup of tea, buy some cold medicine and resist the urge to make negative prophecies over ourselves? And shouldn’t we learn to respond to the sniffle by saying, “In Jesus’ name, I will not get a cold; and if I do get a cold, it’ll come and go within a day.”

Another example: What if your child returns home past her curfew? Fears storm your mind. That is fine; fears are natural. But instead of simply telling the child, “Don’t stay out so late next time,” parents often say, “Don’t you realize you could be murdered? Do you realize X and Y and Z could happen to you?” Then, after the child is in bed, the parents speak to each other even more doubt-filled words. Instead of saying, “The Lord is working in our child’s life. I know she/he is beginning to understand how to live her life well,” parents will stay up nights saying, “I worry that that kid will end up in jail or pregnant or heaven knows what. Remember what happened to so-and-so’s kid? What a mess that was!” This kind of speech is useless. First, because our children have already heard the speech more times than they can say, and secondly, because we are indulging our fears by speaking them so prophetically. But even more important, this kind of talk is dangerous.

Jesus told us to “Take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we put on?’”

It’s not our fault if fearful thoughts pop up into our heads. Fearful thoughts are temptations sent to make us doubt. But notice Jesus’ words: “Take no thought, SAYING.” A fearful thought is not yours until you start saying it, worrying about it, repeating it, prophesying about it possibly taking over your life.

The mouth is a hard thing to tame. Both Peter and James warn against it. Some may think that to consider the mouth a powerful demonic tool is foolishness, but this is what our Lord says, “Wisdom is justified by her children.” Matt 11:19 This means that a doctrine will prove itself sooner or later. A bad seed will bring forth a tree full of bad fruits, a good seed will bring forth a good tree full of good fruits.

He also said, “If anyone wills to do God’s will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”This means that when we attempt to do God’s will begin to understand God’s will. There is something about actually trying to do God’s will which makes us understand that Jesus’s words are right. Those who decide to tame their tongues – in this case, struggling to praise God instead of speaking unnecessarily about something we fear– that makes us realize that we are indeed enslaved to our tongues.

Brothers and sisters, one of the first lessons we must learn if we are to wage war victoriously is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. In the case of our tongue, it means we must let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be always about God’s power and care in our lives. Let our mouth continually praise His care, His power, His protection. And let us always speak His promises instead of our fears.

Prayer: Dear Father, I have sinned so often against others and against myself by using my tongue wrongfully. But most of all, I have sinned against You by speaking as if You aren’t powerful or caring enough to be my good shepherd. Lord, often when I try to do good, I am powerless. When I try not to speak words of fear, cynicism, and doubt, I sometimes fail. But You, Lord, have promised to perfect everything that concerns me. Perfect this, dear Father. Always make me remember everything You have done in the lives of Your people – the great cloud of witness and those people I know in my life. Make me remember the power of Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ name, Jesus’ word. Amen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Passion: A Sandstory by Joe Castillo

Check out his website at

Monday, August 25, 2008

A terrified kind of life

For as long as I can remember I’ve been terrified. I don’t think I can remember a time when I was not terrified. I remember hiding under beds fearing my mother’s or grandfather’s or aunt’s or uncle’s belt. I truly don’t think I was especially abused. It’s just the Jamaican terrify, threaten, and cripple children with fear. Every relative had a belt and they would pick it up and hurt you anytime it pleased them.

I would not consider my mother cruel but before she earned her double masters and PH.D at Brooklyn College, she had strange ideas about fear. Fear was the power to keep girl children from coming home with the belly. Not that my sister and I were even sexual enough to even think of sex. By age thirteen both or us were pretty much emotionally destroyed. She would wake us at night by beating us with a belt if she came home to find the house messy. My mother must have had some inkling about the power of fear – she apologized for all the things she had done to me when we were growing up. And she also talked about the fear the whippings she received from her parents had caused her.

The trouble with all this terror is that it was interwoven with a kind of rebuked life. When they terrified you, they rebuked you. You were always wrong. And when they rebuked you, they always terrified you. Kinda like those people on television who always warn about how fat black women are going to get cancer anytime soon.

The image I have in my mind is this: a group of well-meaning vaguely sadistic folks digging a deep pit in my heart and mind that can only be filled with fear. If you do not believe me when I tell you how sadistic Jamaican parents generally are, I won’t try to convince you. Trying to convince people stresses me out. I will only say that rebukers -- media health nuts, telephoning collection agents, parents, know-it-all church people use terror in much the same way these old country folks delighted in telling me ghost stories. (Won't mention the sneering cruelty of atheists in this post cause they generally don't terrify.) The faces of the old folks lit up when they saw how their evil cruel stories made you tremble. To this day I can see and imagine this trace of spiteful joy on the faces of folks who rebuke and terrify me.

I once saw on the news a story about a little two year old who died of fright when halloweeners arrived at her door. This kind of thing is understandable. Fright is an emotion that literally – I mean “literally” tugs at the heart strings. I remember once a friend of mine played a practical joke on me. “Look, Carole, a bee is on your shoulder.” My chest became so tight that for about two weeks I had a burning tearing in my chest.

I am actually quite used to that tightness in my chest. It pops up all the time quite dependably whenever I hear bad news. But it also pops up when I only fear bad news. My body seems to be running overtime and fear seems to have its way with me. For instance, whenever the gate opens, I anticipate the mailman bringing bills and the chest pain rises.

This is not a panic attack, mind you. Panic attacks come and go. This is a kind of sustained emotional state that I can only say that my body is worn down with stress and fear. I do not add the fact that since my second son was born eighteen years ago I have spent every night fearing he will die. So then, what to do?

The trouble with this fear is that it has persisted through my adult years. Because it comes in various form even when one has become an adult. There is always some person out there who wants to either rebuke or terrify a person (or both.) I’ll admit two things: One, I used to terrify my child with stories about what would happen to him if he didn't finish school. I have terrified the soul of that kid. Mercifully, he has forgiven me. And I have tried to bless him with good words instead of cursing his spirit with negative terrors and rebuke.

And my second admission: I myself have fed and nurtured this terror within my own soul. For instance, whenever I get into a discussion with anyone, I find I am utterly unable to pick up the phone...lest the person I had a disagreement with is calling. If I owe bills, I try not to pick up my phone at all. And if I accidentally pick up the phone when a bill collector calls, the terror I feel rivals anything a good slasher fill could conjure up. Before my mother’s death she used to visit us. On those Saturdays, I would lie in my bed in a fetal position – remember, I was way past 30 by then– and tremble in fear until I psyched myself to come down.

May I rest in the peace of God.

Downloadable sermons on the internet

There are some great places on the internet where you can download some great sermons.
Andrew Wommack's website,
Derek Prince's website
Internet Archive
In The School of Prayer
Keith Gerner's website, Audio Christian
and sermonindex
William Branham sermons

Plus there are these podcasts:

Remember, there is nothing in the Bible that says we should pray to God to give us more faith. We are told that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Sermons are created to build faith. We hear the word of the lord, we speak the word of the lord and that's how faith comes.

Dreams and writing

Okay, so there I was trying my best to make Constant Tower good -- I have a week to finish the first draft-- and I had the sweetest dream in which I saw a billboard that read, "Sow the unusual, reap the plentiful." I was holding a little baby girl in my arms. Lovely, uh? I've been having some lovely dreams, lately. I am so sticking to my sunlight and water and weirdo diet regimen. The dreams are not as lovely as the ones I used to have back in the day but I feel they're heading that way. But to the point at hand: I am totally convinced that Wind Follower was written with a massive help from the holy spirit. I have to get holy spirit's help again. The Constant Tower has the possibility of being great also but again, it's not a story I can write on my own. I need God's creativity again. I need him to set my soul free to play and to be unrestrained again. In Wind Follower it took a lotta bravery to write about certain religious things -- I got slammed for the religious sections by a Christian reviewer who thought I was heavy-handed but God alone knows how much bravery it took to write those scenes.

Well, Constant Tower cries out to be flaky. It wants to be wild. And there's this very careful part of me that knows all the rules of modern novel-writing that is holding back its innate flakiness. So I'm trying to just cut loose.

In short: I want to just get into the narrator's mode, run with the story, and not give a damn. But courage of this kind comes only from God freeing the soul from fear of ridicule, fear of failure, fear of reviewers. And I have only a week to finish the first draft of this thing. The dream made me feel as if God is aware of my struggle and was telling me to go with it and trust my soul to bring this little baby to birth. Will see.

Right now I think I just have to listen. God is to be depended upon. Especially in the writing of stories and the figuring out of plots. The Living God is an author and a Finisher and I will sit and listen to what He tells me to write, and how to write it. I just have to be bold to do what He tells me to do. He has never failed me, I will not fail Him. -C

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer 2008 Religious Films

Film I might see:
Henry Poole
I've always suspected the Wilson Brothers were Christians or at least very spiritual.

Stone Angel:
Hey, I like anything that connects to the Hagar story.

The Fall:
Okay, it's totally confusing and I like trying to figure out confusing movies

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Supposedly a great film about Creation-Intelligent Design-Creation

If a movie mixes horror and religion, I'm there! Plus I like Keifer Sutherland

(Released on DVD this year) Okay, i like Mexican athletes. Besides this won a lotta prizes. Which says a lot for a Christian film

The List:
(Released on DVD this year) Yep, a foxfaith film but it actually looks quite good. I like mysterious forces doing evil type of movies.

The Longshots:
Hey, I like a black feel good movie about fighting the good fight

Prince Caspian:
I love C S Lewis. Plus the actor who plays Caspian is cute.

Not gonna see:

Hamlet 2. I just don't like seeing my Lord mocked. Folks don't pick on Mohammed or Buddha. Why pick on Jesus? Because in their hearts they know He is Savior and Lord. And the hatred they have against God shows up here. I mean...isn't it a bit strange that of all the gods, avatars, saviors, prophets that exist in the world, the world mocks only one. There has to be evil behind that.

Israeli film about Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
I so stress out when I see these kinda films. I'll be a wimp and pass. I have to deal with my angry Israeli friends and my angry Muslim/Arab friends. And they're the ones I go to movies with. If I go with them, I'll never hear the end of it.

Different Worlds

Verse: For you are a peculiar people
But Solomon’s wives turned away his heart.

“They’re just from different worlds.”That’s what we say when two people have different ways of looking at the world. People aren’t born with different world views. Small children come into the world with the same basic value standards: love and kindness.

But as we grow older, our parents, neighbors, media, schools, and churches teach us that status, power, money, skin color, religion, and education also matter. If our parents are atheists, they give us an atheistic worldview. If our parents are nominal churchgoers, then nominal Christianity will be enough for us. Unless we hear the proddings of the Holy Spirit, we are taught by those we know how to see the world and we accept that worldview.

We don’t really question our worldviews until life challenges us. An unexpected love, a loss of status, an enlightening conversation. When such events such, the atheist tries seeking God...and --fighting against all the ingrained objections– might reach something. The nominal believer – either studies his religion closer or decides (wrongly) that he already knows about his religion.

In Jane Austen’s novels, characters of differing personalities, character, class, often marry. For better or worse, the resulting marriages are either horribly bad, middling, or wonderfully glorious. But while Jane Austen deals primarily with class, money, education, and personality, she never shows what happens when people of different religions marry.

What if a Bible-believing Christian, marries someone from another religion (or an atheist)?

The Christian believes that God’s word is active and alive and that speaking God’s promises in faith affects the material world.
The Christian believes that just becomes something is supernatural doesn’t mean it’s good.
The Christian believes that God is personally lovingly interested in everything she does.
The Christian believes that we should conquer evil with good.

If she marries with someone who thinks all supernatural entities are good, or the supernatural doesn’t exist...
If she marries with someone who thinks God is an impersonal force, or someone who thinks asking God for help is childish...
If she marries someone who thinks sorrow is a result of some past life deed, or true happiness lies in submitting to evil and denying joy...
If a child falls sick and one of the spouses cannot – or refuses to– pray...
If a spouse leaves a job for moral reasons which the other doesn’t find moral at all....
This is when the Christian must either bear the grief of living with someone whose worldview is different. She either prays that her spouse sees the light, or she asks the Lord for strength. Or she slowly compromises her faith as Solomon did.

Moral: Look carefully before you leap.

Prayer: Lord, help my son to fall in love with the right person. Your word says in Genesis that it is not good for the human to be alone. Your word says in Proverbs that he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. But St Paul wrote that we cannot fully serve God if we are married and that we should only marry if we are overwhelmed with passion. Lord guide me. Let him see your leading, and help him marry the right girl.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Just came out of the sun where I was getting my vitamin D and reading Paul's letters to Timothy. I love Timothy. Paul is always telling him to be bold. Timothy had received a gift through the laying on of hands of the elders and affirmed by prophecy. But he just didn't have the boldness. Paul told him "God didn't give you the spirit of fear...but you have power!!!!! love!!!! a sound mind!!!!!"

Hey, it's tough being bold. Anyone can preach the gospel. But how many of us can walk into a room and try to be bold and command sickness to leave someone's body?

Anyways, came upon some neat things that gave me food for thought.

1) 1 Timothy 2:11-13
In the original greek the verse reads: "I don't permit a wife to teach or have authority over her husband." By translating it, "I don't permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man."...well, what is about a family situation becomes a doctrine for the church...which I'm not sure it should be. After all, Paul says somewhere else that in Christ there is no male or female. And then there was Prisca who taught Apollos. Amazing how a different translation can create all kinds of issues. It seems Paul is saying that no matter how wise you --a woman-- are, do not try to enlighten your husband. Pray for him, affirm him, but don't teach him. Share...but let God do the work.

1 Timothy 4: 3
They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods.
2 Timothy 3: 6
For among those are those who make thier way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
I won't even say who these verses might be referring to.

1 Timothy 3: 6
He must not be a recent convert (or a new believer) or else he may become puffed up and conceited.
How many young ministers and bishops are out there?

1 Timothy 5:9
Let a widow be on the list if she is not less than sixty years old command the younger widows to marry.
Uhm, how many Bible-believing churches who say they follow Christ actually have a list of all the old widows and disabled folks that they are to provide for? Also, people talk a lot about Paul saying folks shouldn't marry...but here he is talking about people marrying.

2 Timothy 1: 15
You are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me.
2 Timothy 4: 16
At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me.

The Full Soul

Verse: The full soul loathes a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The funny thing is I’ve never been able to say for sure if fullness of soul is a good thing or not. Is the proverb praising those with a full soul? Are there different things a soul can be full of? Can one be full of good things as well as bad? And what does “every bitter thing” mean? Can the “bitter thing” be good?

Let’s see what the verse would mean if we took the word “full” in a good sense.

There can be a fullness of joy that no one can take away. The person who feels truly fulfilled by a loving spouse would not be tempted by an extramarital relationship. Or consider the fullness one feels in one’s stomach after eating a satisfying meal. If you were offered a sickly-sweet chocolate bar after such a meal, you would most likely refuse. If one has a satisfying relationship with God, or a satisfying knowledge of God, one will not be tempted by the pious trappings and false truths of false religions that satisfy other searching souls. But the hungry spirit searching for truth will cling to fodder that a full soul would recognize as a mere honeycomb, mere empty calories.

There are hungry souls who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. They are so desperate for spiritual meaning they end up latching onto a “bitter thing” and thinking it is the sweetest thing they ever tasted. They will be fed by bad religion and their lives might even be sweetened by it for a while.) How many of us have known people who joined strange cults or got into strange religious practices because they met up with just the right "ambassador" of that religion at just the wrong but opportune time?

But now let us ponder fullness. Perhaps “fullness” can also be a bad thing. The full soul might be full of itself, full of false pride, full of false teaching. In this case, the honeycomb they loath might be a good thing. A person who is rich, self-satisfied, handsome, powerful and respected might be so full of the joys of this life that he needs some shaking up. What would happen if such a person encountered a bitter thing? Such a man would be profoundly disturbed if he lost his money. He would be lost in his bitterness. And yet, spiritually speaking...this bitter thing would be a true sweetness to this man's soul because it would be leading him towards the better things in life. It would be like what is mentioned in another proverb: the medicine tastes bitter but it makes us well.

So what should we do with this verse? In many Bible studies, believers want to share what a particular verse means to them, but in this case the exact interpretation of this verse isn’t important. It merely tells us something we can all agree on. There are full souls and empty souls. And there are choices that are made depending on how full or empty a particular soul is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unused Flashlights

And his life was the Light of Men. John 1:4

If you have the Light, walking in the Light John 12:35
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. John 6:55-56

Last winter on my way home I stumbled. It was a dark night with snow and ice piled on the ground. Full garbage cans and trash strewed the sidewalks. The next day was trash pick-up. I stumbled along but did not fall. The funny thing is that as I stumbled I knew I had a flashlight in my bag. I just was too lazy and tired and intent on my journey to actually stop and use the Light I had.

The Scriptures tell us often that we have the Truth. We have Light. We know the Way. We do not stumble as those who do not have any light. We have a vision of God’s goodness, power, and care. We have the mind of Christ. We have the peace of God ruling in our hearts. We have the Word of Life. We are more than conquerors. Why then do so many Christians stumble? Quite simply, we don’t use the Light we have.

A few days ago I found myself in the middle of a panic attack. As Christians we are supposed to be careful what we hear. But I had not been careful: I had allowed myself to listen to television talk shows which continually stated that obesity led to an early death from diabetes, cancer, and a long list of ailments. The more these pontificators encouraged me to lose weight for my own good, the more fear seemed to encroach on every side. I could not sleep and went through much anxiety as the year progressed toward its close. Then yesterday I realized I had not used the Light the Lord had given me. I pondered for a moment: what kind of light did I have exactly?

Oh, there were many! The power of the promises of Psalms 91 would keep me safe throughout the upcoming year. God’s blessings on my tithes would bring prosperity. The power in the Word of God would renew my mind and spirit; and a renewed soul would lead me to eating less. Trusting in the living Word would transform my body if I leaned on God for comfort and not on food. More light dawned, but still the fear strove with me. Then all at once I remembered the power of the blood and body of Jesus. Yes, yes! That was the Light I had neglected to use. The body of Jesus is meat indeed, the blood of Jesus is drink indeed. There is emotional, spiritual, and physical healing in this True Food. In the past year whenever fear began to oppress me, and whenever I became ill, I would rush to the benefits of the Eucharist. I have trusted communion as a gracious gift from God ever since my friend, writer John Sherrill, told me God had used communion to heal cancer. John is a writer for Guidepost and the writer of many wonderful Christian books. I immediately told my husband that we were lax and forgetful. How could we have forgotten the power of the blood and body of Christ?

When he returned, we knelt beside our beds and thanked God for the body and blood of His Son Jesus. We thanked Him for the unseen but nevertheless active power of the Blood, Name, and Word of God. We praised Him for the Work the Blood of Jesus was doing in us, preserving our bodies and soul unto everlasting life.

Many Christians have faith for miracles, but the average Christian has faith for gradual healing. And where faith is large, but unbelief is just as large, and where the mountain is large, Communion is efficacious. God is merciful indeed. I had prepared myself for a slow healing. I would look for the blade, the stem, and then at last the full flower. I figured my healing would come in several months. Imagine my surprise: I fell asleep in peace and when I woke I realized the panic had fled. As did the fear. I had turned on the Light that God had given me. The Light had shined in darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in the unseen power of faith. When we pray to you, or receive communion or the laying on of hands, we receive so much. But often we ignore or belittle the power of these wonderful gifts. Many times, we think we have not received anything Lord, and so we neglect to act on your word or walk in faith. Lord, help us to always remember that you are always working and that you have given us all the gifts we need for this life. In Jesus’ Name, we pray.

Luke 2:32; Ps 34:5; Proverbs 29:13; John 3:20; John 8:12; John 11:10; John 12:36, 46; Rom 13:12, Is 51:4

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Road to Lost Innocence


Book: The Road to Lost Innocence
Author: Somaly Mam
Dates: September 15- 19
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publication Date: September 9, 2008
Blog tour September 15 and 19
WaterBrook Multnomah, a division of Random House

Will probably be involved in this tour in a month or so. And will post a review here and also at Blogcritics


Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.

As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them. Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscious, such as our Christian community, to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these." Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing.

A bit of a documentary is on youtube

to purchase the book at

This is her update page at her website

You can also pre-order it from her store on her website before it hits the bookstores.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


In two parables of prayer, Jesus spoke of importunity. Shamelessness. A friend comes to your house in the middle of the night asking for food for a visitor who has arrived at his house. You don't get up to help him because he's your friend. But if he is shamelessly begging and nagging at you, and if he refuses to give in and becomes a bother -- and doesn't mind that he's a bother-- you're gonna get up and give it to him. Just to shut him up.

Jesus said, God is more willing to give to us than we are willing to expect help. When a human being really wants something earthly he/she goes to all kinds of trouble to get it. The committment to a need is relatively easy for some folks when looking for earthly stuff. Some folks don't persevere, mind you. They give up. Or they give up after a year, or they give up after three years. Sometimes I look at a love story on television and the guy wants girl but the girl says "no." But guy nags her -- almost like sexual harassment sometimes-- and finally gets her. (Remember Molly Ringwald and Rob Downey Jr? Remember Marisa Tomei and Rob Downey Jr? Heck, remember any love story with Robert Downey Jr? Persevereance all the way.)

But in prayer, we don't importune. We often don't reach the point of shamelessness in our begging. We don't get obsessed with the idea that "God gives, therefore He has GOT TO give to me."

It's not God who is unwilling to give. Other factors are involved: demonic challenges, our own sins, our relatively bad or utter lack of interest.

Remember we think we are interested in getting our prayers answered. But have we turned off the television for a month to devote all that time to praying?

Storms, etc, come against us. Remember when Jacob was returning to reestablish his relationship with Esau. An angel met him and challenged him? And he FOUGHT that angel. Remember when Moses was returning to Egypt to free the people (and he didn't have the circumcision.) An angel met him and would have killed him. If it weren't for Zipporah, who was a descendant of Midian, a descendant of Abraham, who reminded him of the circumcision covenant (which the Israelites apparently had forgotten) he would have been destroyed. Remember when Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilea and the big storm came up against them? Probably because Satan knew the Legion in the demon-possessed man was going to be cast out and the man would be freed and become an evangelist for Christ in that area and Satan was doing everything against it. Jesus told the storm to shut up. Remember the men with the paralyzed friend and how they knocked down the roof of Peter's house?

Great prayers are challenged, great times are challenged, but we have to be shameless in praying and obsessed with getting what we want.

That said, I wanted to go to Andrew Wommack's healing service. And was quite willing to do anything to go there. But the Lord specifically told me to do only what my husband wanted to do and to say nothing to hubby about the trip --say neither good nor bad, yes or no about it. I said nothing. And hubby said, "we can't go. we don't have the money." I'm taking that as the will of God. Maybe He wants my son's healing to come through us...regular Christians. Instead of super-Christians. Anyway, am importuning. -C

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some books Christians might read if debating atheists

Evidence that demands a verdict by Josh McDowell
The Proof of God by Larry Witham.
There is a God by Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese
Why Good Arguments Fail by James W Sire
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Intelligent Design 101 Edited by H Wayne House
The Edge of Evolution by Michael J Behe
The Language of God by Francis S Collins
Quantum Physics and Theology by John Polkinghorne
A Friendly Dialogue between an Atheist and a Christian by Luis Palau & Zhao Qizheng

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Divine Healing by Andrew Murray

Divine Healing by Andrew Murray
Christian Literature Crusade / Paperback
5 out of 5 stars(1 Review)
CBD Price: $8.99
Availability: In Stock
CBD Stock Number: WW885521X
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 147
ISBN: 0875085512
ISBN-13: 9780875085517

This is the blurb:

Andrew Murray was no stranger to divine healing. After an illness interrupted his ministry for over two years, Murray received a miraculous restoration of health through the prayers of God's people. Divine Healing is the classic work resulting from Murray's deep study of Scripture on this topic. Join him as he unfolds the promise of James 5 that the prayer of faith will heal the sick. Be inspired to trust God for His healing touch in your area of deepest need and wait to see the Lord "raise you up."

I loooove the old spiritual books. Somehow I believe them more than I believe the books written by modern preachers. This is one of my favorites. You can buy it in any christian store or online at Christian Book Distributors or the Religious Book Club. They have a neat series of catalogs btw. Christian fiction, Christian studies, Christian CD's etc. This is the Andrew Murray Page at Christian Book and this is the Divine Healing by Andrew Murray page

You can also download audio readings from this book, other books by Andrew Murray, and great sermons from the internet archive Another of his really great books is the ministry of intercession (also called the secret of intercession. These books, along with books by F F Bosworth and John Lake, are MUSTs for every christian interested in healing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Body Prayer

I made up this Body Prayer to use as an affirmation

I thank you Lord that — My head is covered with the helmet of the hope of salvation, that I have the mind of Christ, that I am not conformed to the world but am transformed by the renewing of my mind, that the very hairs of my head are numbered, that I am wise as serpents and harmless as doves, that you cover my head with oil, that I think only of those things that are good, lovely, just, virtuous and true, God has not given me a spirit of fear but one of love and power and of a sound mind.

I thank you Lord that – that our eyes are single, I am careful how I hear, that I walk not by sight but by faith, that you have removed the logs from my eyes, that the words of the Lord do not depart from my eyes, ears and mouth

I thank you Lord – that we have ears to hear and do hear, that my ears are not hardened against your words.

I thank you Lord that – the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart are always acceptable in your sight, that I know how to speak a word in good season, that the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, is in my mouth, that I believe therefore I speak, that I have eaten the milk, honey, and meat of your word, that I eat your flesh and blood and have life within me.

I thank you Lord that – I am not stiffnecked towards God’s commandments but I run to do God’s will, that I have laid my burden on Jesus and taken Jesus’ yoke upon me, which is easy and light.

I thank you Lord that – underneath me are God’s everlasting arms, that whatever my hand finds to do I do it as unto the Lord, that I raise innocent hands to God, that you bless the words of my hands

I thank you Lord that – you have created a new heart within me, that the love of God is shed abroad in my heart, that you satisfy us with good things

I thank you Lord that – your words bring soundness to all my flesh and health to all my bones, that by Jesus’ stripes I was healed, that I have the shield of faith wherewith I can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy, that I have the breastplate of righteousness, that God restores my soul, that I wait on the Lord and renew my strength and my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I thank you Lord that – I do not sit in the seat of the scornful but my delight is in the will of the Lord

I thank you Lord that – I have not bowed my knee to any false god, that I run and am not weary, that I walk and don’t faint, that my feet are beautiful bring news of happiness and spread the gospel of peace, my feet are shod with the preparation to preach the gospel, that your word is a light unto my feet, that I do not stand in the way of sinners

I thank you Lord that – greater is God who is in me than he that is in the world, that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, I worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, that you show us your salvation, the angels of God encamp around me because I fear God, that with long life you satisfy us and show us your salvation.

For women:
I thank you Lord that – the fruit of the womb is God’s reward, that beauty is deceitful and charm is vain but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You God See Me

The God Who Sees Me

Hagar, a favorite Bible character, was the first single mother in the Bible, the first woman “put away” or abandoned by her man. When she realized that God loved and cared for her, she gave Him a new name: “The God who sees me.”
Hagar represents the unseen of earth. The poor, the divorced, the outcast, the discarded, the foreign, the poor, the hungry, the rejected. Even now she is unseen or “wrongly seen” by many Christians. Yet, her life in many ways mirrors another slave’s: Joseph.
Both Joseph and Hagar were owned by foreigners, faced possible death because of the jealousy of others, were seen as mere objects by female owners because of sex and their youth. Both learned obedience through suffering, were honored and demoted, were enslaved because God needed them to preserve His people, suffered in order to help their master’s nation, and were saved by divine intervention.
“You, God, see me” encompasses all the names of God:
Jehovah-jireh – God provides – He sees your needs.
Jehovah-rapha – God heals – He sees your sickness because he was afflicted as we were and was wounded for our healing.
The Lord our shepherd – He is not a hireling who pays no attention to the sheep.
The Lord our light – He sees our path although we know it not.
The Lord our Comforter – He sees the pain in the heart of the rejected and unseen ones.
“You, God, see me.”
The name’s meaning can be understood by the most innocent child and by the most guilt-wracked adult. It is a name that the wounded and the powerful, Christians and non-Christians can be enlightened by. It is a name that shows that God is immediate and intimate, yet omniscient, awesome, and eternally loving.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Andrew Wommack healing conference

Well, it looks as though I'm going to go to the Andrew Wommack healing conference in Framingham, Mass. One of those disciples-ripping-through-the-roof kind of things. Cause Lord knows this kind of traveling and renting car is not something we do regularly. But we figure...why not? If we actually do go -- almost a 4 hour drive-- we'll aim for the Saturday morning 10-12 service. There are services on Fri night, sat morning, sat evening, sun morning, sun evening. Please pray for traveling mercies for us on Saturday morning and that healing and healing manifestation will take place for Gabe and me and that God will provide for us. Thanks so much.

Ask Seek Knock: Part 3: Knock


Knockers trust God's love. It is a hard thing to persevere in knocking when no one answers the door. It’s even harder to keep knocking when one is not sure if someone is actually behind the door, or what the personality of the person behind the door could be. We know that Someone is behind heaven's seemingly closed doors. We know that Someone loves us. We know His personality and character. We know he hears our cries. We know we are in a relationship that can never be destroyed. We might even become angry that the Someone behind the door is delaying the manifestation of our prayers. We wonder why his “due time” is taking so long. Why won’t the fruit appear now? But we have good memories. We can persevere and endure because we remember other times when the person behind the door helped us. We know His faithfulness. But perhaps best of all, we know that we are not knocking at the door alone. For although we are asking for the door to be opened, we also know that the one who owns the house, the one who opens the door, is in fact beside us knocking on the door with us.

I had a discussion with my Buddhist-Muslim best friend. I said (thinking to win the argument with her) "The Koran has one hundred names for Allah and none of them is Love. But Jesus said "God is love." She said, "Yes! Very true. God is above that kind of thing. We muslims don't want to taint God with human emotions." Aaargh, I had failed miserably. But then I said, "As humans all we have are human ways of understanding God so that is why he sent his son Jesus so we can know him. I am glad we have Jesus as a symbol of what God is like. Or else we would be way more confused about what God is like. In Hinduism Krishna incarnates in order to pursue the evildoers and to destroy them. In Christianity, God incarnates in order to save the sinner." Now, as God would have it I had picked up one of my devotionals that morning -- was reading Notes on the Parables of Our Lord-- and had landed on the parable of the lost sheep. Don't you love when God does these things?

I said, "Christianity gives us the idea as God as the good shepherd who seeks the lost sheep and leaves the other perfectly-behaved sheep in order to save the lost sheep. It tells us that he is a Good shepherd. And what does the shepherd do when he finds this lost sheep? Does he rebuke it and slap it around?" My friend answered, "No, he puts it on his shoulders and carries it home!" I soooo wanted to jump for joy. She was born an Arabic Christian and was going to become a nun except that stuff happens....She left Christianity because she couldn't deal with the idea of God becoming Man and because the ancient anti-Jewish rivalry between Jews and Arabs reared its head. So emotionally and politically she returned to Islam. She believes God actually gave the book to Mohammed and that it's flawless. (why does it say that Alexander the great was one of the great saints?) But let me stop digressing. The fact is: her reaction to my telling her the story of the lost sheep gave me a great deal of hope. When she knocks at heaven's door, she probably is thinking more of a Christian God who seeks the lost sheep than she is thinking of the very unapproachable Allah. I want her to really ponder why -- and this is in the koran-- why God made Jesus be born of a virgin. She should really ponder thins. I'm also still praying that Jesus will come to her in a dream as he seems to be doing with a lot of Muslims worldwide. When he comes to them he often comes as a good shepherd. Will see. But we know who is behind the door and who we are waiting to come to the door when we knock. -C

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ask Seek Knock: Part 2: Seek

Seeking and Finding

A Christian who seeks knows there is an answer to her problems. Christians really should not go around saying that they see no way out of their problem. First of all, there is a way out. God always makes a way out. Second of all, we should not go about speaking negatively about our lives in a way that makes God a liar. How can a child of God who is blessed with God's wisdom within dare say that there is no answer to her problems? Those who seek believe that every problem has a solution and every request for wisdom will be answered by a God who upbraideth not. We may not see the answer before us. But we know it exists. We know that our God reveals the secrets of people’s hearts and gives understanding to the simple. Unlike others who have no hope, Christians never despair for solutions. We are God’s people and He speaks to us in dreams, through Scripture, through the counsel of good people, through circumstances. Like discoverers and inventors, Christians are always ready to receive insight and wisdom that help us find our way out of the dark, even when human logic tells us there is no way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

so these are my people?

Okay, it has finally dawned on me who I am rooting for in these olympics. The underdog. It's like if the newscasters like someone, I totally start disliking them. So it's not that I'm for Americans or for Jamaicans or for blacks or for whoever. I'm for the ones the newscasters don't believe in. And I'm against the ones the newscasters praise to high heaven. Glad I figured that one out. -C

Is tomorrow promised?

I so loved Bernie Mac. I'm going to miss him. I went looking all over youtube for clips of him doing his comedy.

I wasn't going to post on him but I went over to a site I always visit, a woman of wise words, and she said, "Tomorrow is never promised." A part of me says...yes, that's true. But the other part of me thought about 1 Timothy 1:18

This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare
and I said to myself: True, we don't know when we are going to die. But if we have a prophecy given us of some great work we have to do, then should we not shout to the devil, "I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord because the Lord has appointed me to do these great works! HE told me this by prophecy and I will not give up."

True, tomorrow is not promised us, but when death comes to us can we not challenge it as many in the Bible also challenged it? Christianity isn't a religion of fatalism. Once we're dead, we're dead. But in the parable of the useless vineyard, in the story of Hezekiah, in the story of the syro-phoenician woman, we see that there is such a thing as bargaining with God. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross lists bargaining as one of the five stages of dying. But she doesn't mention that sometimes -- very rarely-- bargaining works. I suspect bargaining doesn't work for the most part because God knows the sick person simply will not change or that the sick person has fulfilled his work on earth already and must go home to a greater reward. But I don't want to accept the fact that tomorrow is not promised. As far as I am concerned, Tomorrow is promised me until God tells me it is not.

Yes, we should definitely live as best and as happily as we can...and do all the good we can to as many as we can. I tend to be a bit on the morbid side, unfortunately so I tend to always think that in the end, we'll be dead much longer than we're alive. And am hoping and trusting that that place where the dead go, if there is an afterlife, will be full of great joys (minus the great sex, probably.) But I totally feel we should enjoy this life under the sun. And we must do all the good we can. Because it's our goodness in this life -- much more than our happiness-- that will count. When I hear that someone I love has died, I think: Have I enjoyed life? But I also think: Have I done all the great works I am supposed to do? It gets me working as well as enjoying. Death cracks a mean whip.

For your enjoyment...a couple of his routines. BE WARNED EXPLICIT MATERIAL...yeah, yeah, I know. I'm a carnal Christian.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Verses on my mind

Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.

I like this: We know that God has answered our prayer. We believed that we "received" when we pray and we trust that we "will have it." The idea of progressive healing. The tree is not in the sea yet -- but it's nearer to the sea than before.

We wage a good warfare by the prophecies we received.

I like this too. If we remember what promises God has told us about our lives, we can tell the devil that he is wrong about all those fears he puts in our head. I can say, "The Lord has told me that I have six great works to do. The Lord has told me to expect great things. You can't make me fear for my health or my career."

I have commanded a widow woman there to feed you.

I like this: Because the widow woman didn't know that God had commanded her to feed Elijah. For all she knew, she was about to die from starvation. Amazing that we could be obeying God and following Him without knowing we are. This reminds me of the line in Job where Elihu says, "God gives us dreams." We don't understand the deep dreams in the deep darkness of the night but "God has sealed our instructions."

Guard your heart with all diligence because out of it flows the issues of life.

I like this. Been trying to do it. This morning I almost watched a TV show with all the wonderful things autistic kids could do. I reminded myself that younger son was no longer autistic in Jesus' name. Saw some news shows over the weekend and they were talking about how terrible fibromyalgia was and how bad it gets after menopause. And then I got to looking around the internet for more on that. Then I remembered the Bible said that we should not "strengthen ourselves in the things of Egypt" and that we should "take heed what we hear." So am protecting my heart.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, preach the gospel, baptize men. make disciples, feed my sheep Matthew 10:8 and other verses.

I got to thinking about the word "cleanse." Why did Jesus differentiate between healing the sick and cleansing the lepers? Okay, maybe I was thinking about body cleanses a bit too much but honestly. As a Christian I try to see what Jesus told us to do, in spite of what my denominational tradition is. We pray for the sick when we should command people to be healed. We pray for the demon-possessed when instead we should be casting demons out and preach the gospel to them so that their bodies (the spirit's former home) won't be "empty" after the demon is expelled but filled with the glory of God. We pray for healings when we should pray for miracles. I we sometimes command people to be healed when we should be commanding people's body to be made clean. Is this just semantics? If so, then why did Jesus make a point of differentiating between healing and cleansing? Is it because one cannot heal a contagion, but one can only make a thing clean? Emotionally, biologically? Just thinking.

With the heart man believes and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

I like this. Because I will sit in bed pondering a verse. The verse will help my faith and give me joy. I was thinking that God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power love and of a sound mind. But then I have to remind myself to speak my belief in this verse. It's not enough to lie in bed thinking of how lovely and good the salvation we have in Christ is. We have to say something. Faith without works is dead. Without saying something confession isn't being made unto salvation.

Been getting "'Not by might nor by power but by my spirit,' Saith the Lord." Don't know why. It's a famous verse but don't quite know where it seems to be popping up everywhere I turn. Trying to see how it applies to any of my situations. I tend to have trouble resting in the word. Paul wrote in Hebrews. We must enter into God's rest because the word of God is active, powerful, alive. I know that faith is the victory. But sometimes if I'm not careful I start striving in my own strength. This morning was looking all over Which may or may not be a good thing. On the one hand, it reminds me to eat the way God wants us to eat. Which is good. On the other hand, alternative medicine can become a burden or its own little case of idolatry and enslavement...and might make a person strive to heal themselves instead of trusting God. Maybe that's what the verse is applicable to. But who knows?

Devotional verse this morning (we tend to just open the Bible and read whatever we open to) was where the older prophet lied to the younger prophet and made him "eat bread" after the younger prophet had been warned not to "eat bread in that place." It comes right after the section where Jeroboam listened to his companions instead of listening to the older men. So we figure it's about counsel and knowing when to listen and who to listen to. And also...if one hears something from God, don't discard it because some older and wiser prophet says opposite. A nice thing about hubby picking that verse out of the blue is that the chapter I am working on in Constant Tower really really really connects to that entire Jeroboam story. So I felt it was God hinting that he's over my shoulder.

Yeah, yeah, I know... I really should quote chapter and verse more often. But I'm lazy in that way. God bless.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


What we Christians have to get into our minds is that we are called-out of this present evil world. Sometimes when I see Christian television or when I read Christian fiction, it seems that the aim of the work of fiction or the show is to bring people into the fold of normalcy, to make them better normal people. Now, I understand this. We are called to help the orphans, the widows, the outcasts, the sinner, the sick...we are called to restore. But the aim of our restoration is to restore folks to God. Not to the world.

I think this is why I like some of my flakier friends. My weirdo outcast friends. My depressive friends. My artsy friends. Often they are more aware than my Christian friends that there is something very wrong with the world. My Christian friends understand that the world is seriously lost in sin...but then they often are so worldly themselves. They, like me, want the better house. The better car. My flaky arty friends set out to build strange little tents on land in the middle of nowhere. My depressive friends don't care one fig if they are wearing unfashionable clothes. My weirdo outcast friends don't give a sh*t if they are seen talking and walking with the local drug-dealer or prostitute.

When did Christianity become such a sign of normalcy and worldliness? At least in the west. JEsus called us out of this world. He told us the world would hate us. They said, "A disciple is not better than his master. If they hate me, they will hate you." HATE is a strong word.

Oh, okay, we all know some lovely saintly Christian woman who is loved by her community, Christians and non. She had her pretty little house, etc. But if we look closely, we will see that these sainted little old ladies were often very loving to all they met, very understanding of all. The word tells us that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. I believe this. But often even when the world praises a good person, there are some belittling comments. "She was a very holy person, but she dressed badly. She was a very kind person, but a bit rigid in her spirituality." That's the kind of praise we Christians should expect from the world. If that.

When I look at a minister who mocks another minister whom he considers too Biblical, or too unsophisticated, I find myself thinking, "Wait a second, are you mocking your brother and sister to get respect from the world????" Hey, I'm open-minded. But it gets me nervous to hear some minister accept the praise of the world about how tolerant said minister is and how evil the rest of the Christian world is. Im not gonna name names. But it just makes me think. And it reminds me where my real home is. We cannot abide in God's word and have the world love us. We really can't. If the world loves us in one area, fine. But if the world -- or worldly Christians-- consistently like us and praise us. Then something is very wrong. Very wrong. Because Jesus warns us about being too praised by the world.

Dear Lord Jesus, I am aiming for whatever fame you want to give me in my writing. Help me always to love you so much that I focus on truth and not on receiving the love of the world. Let me never betray you, Lord. And let me be bold in preaching the word...wherever I am, whomever I am speaking to...if I feel your spirit telling me to speak of the wonderful works of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

There is Death in the Pot

One of my favorite Bible characters is Elisha, and one of my favorite stories concerning him occurs in 2 Kings 4:40. According to the story, there was a famine in the land. Food was hard to be find. We could consider why there would be such a thing as a famine among God’s people. Elisha was the master of a group of prophets. As he traveled with them, the time came for them to eat and he told them to put a pot on the fire. This is a testimony to their faith because they trusted that even though there was a famine, God was able to provide something for them. In the meantime, they went looking for food. One of the men found a wild vine and shredded the gourds from the vine into the pot. The food seethed into a stew and when all was cooked, the prophets prepared to eat. Indeed, they actually began to eat. But then one by one they realized something was wrong and shouted, “Master, there is death in the pot.” They could not eat it. But Elijah found some meal and threw it into the pot. All harm was removed and they could eat. What a great story! It contains so many thematic and story elements of other great Bible stories: famine, discernment and the ability to taste and see, vines, the meal offering that purifies, the healing of bitter water.

All those are for ministers to deal with. What I’ll talk about – what concerns me at this moment, and what I see now– is the famine, the regret, and the discernment elements.

I want you to imagine how terrible this famine was. And I want you to imagine that it is a hunger for spiritual things. This isn’t so very hard to imagine because the land had been sinning all along and was halting between two gods: Yahweh and Baal. This was one of the reasons why famine had been called upon the land.

Imagine now, the faith of the prophets as they put the empty pot on the fire. All they had was a handful of meal but they had their master with them. They knew God answered his prayer. Their master had ordered them to put the pot on in anticipating of God helping them to find food. OF course God would answer. Imagine now, the faith of these poor prophets as they searched the barren fields believing that God would lead them to the right food. Imagine now their joy when they found the wild vine, so full of gourds...oh so many! Can you imagine the praises they sent up to God for those vines? God, as far as they were concerned, had provided. Imagine, too, the smell of the gourds stewing in the pot. How lovely it must have been! At last their hunger would be satiated. They sat down to eat and began enjoying it. For some time, I would think...and then, the cry comes, “Master there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat.

Now, I’m not sure how deadly this vine was. Certainly its effects weren’t immediately felt. They had time to see that they were being poisoned. Although they felt no pain, they knew that death had begun working in them? Can you imagine if this vine killed quickly, much of the prophets would have died. Or been killed off by Satan who always comes to kill steal and destroy. But even if death was not working in them, they still had the problem of hunger, and the great disappointment to their faith.

Imagine, for a moment the particular prophet who had found the vines. Perhaps he was happy that God had used him to feed the people. How proud he was and how his faith leaped when he walked towards the pot. He had listened to his spirit, he had found the food. Spiritual food, in my illustration. He had shared it with his fellow prophets. And look, death! It didn’t matter that others didn’t discern the danger within the gourd. He really should have been able to tell the difference between a vine that brings death and the True Living Vine that is Christ. He had wanted to be of some help in edifying his spiritual brothers and here he has brought death instead. Again, this illustration is spiritual so I will say he brought a wrong teaching.

When famine and a hunger for the word appear in the land, those who eat at the communal pot have to be very careful. They must be careful how they hear. They must learn to discern. The blind must learn not to follow the blind or he will end up in the pit.

Discernment pops up everywhere in the Bible. Proverbs 27:7 states, “The full soul loathes a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” We are told elsewhere “to taste and see that the Lord is good.” We are told in fact that God is good.

Notice in the story that the vine didn’t merely pollute the stew. The prophets were so hungry that they probably would not have minded bitter soup. There was death in the pot. The water had to be healed. And the only healing that could repair it was to go to the savior – or a symbol of the healing savior– the meal which Elisha threw into the pot.

I don’t want to go too deeply into the symbolism of the meal offering, but I’ll mention a few things. The first time meal was mentioned in the Bible it was offered by Abraham to God when God promised Sarah her womb would be healed. In Numbers it is used as an offering for sin. The meal offering was a type of Christ and it was put into the pot to cancel the damage done by the false death-bringing vine.

In the world we’re living in, there are many false vines that bring death. They look healthy. Indeed, they look as if they bring life. Often we don’t see their death-bringing quality until we have been around the communal pot long enough to discern it. Have you ever listened to a sermon and walked away feeling that “there was death in the pot?” I remember several sermons that bothered me very much. In one sermon, the minister said that God gives people terrible diseases in order to test them. In another, a priest said, “To me, God is not daddy.” Well, to me, God WAS daddy. God was my shepherd, and I could discern that there was bad fruit and death in that sermon.

As Christians, especially Christians living in a time when so much of Christianity is affected by the media and by other religions, we have to know the difference between the deadly vine and the true vine. We must know God. This means we must clearly accept that God’s personality is like Jesus’s in every way. If Jesus would not a certain thing to us, then God would not do it. If a minister, or some television personality tells us something that is opposite to what Jesus says, we must say, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” Unfortunately, many Christians are not good at discerning because they don’t know their Bibles.

I remember hearing a woman saying, “Hypertension runs in my family.” Well, perhaps it does. But Jesus has told us that we are in His family now. Hypertension does not “run” in God’s family. He has paid to heal us of generational sickness. The holy spirit teaches us how to eat and take care of ourselves. And we are ordered not to worry about anything. We must learn to see when there is death in the pot. We must say to ourselves, “I refuse to accept this.”

I cannot tell you clearly enough how important it is that we take heed what we hear. I had a dream once. In it I sat in my house and saw snakes, serpents, and all manner of evil creeping things try to come through my windows. The windows are the eyes and ears of the soul. I went about closing the doors and pulling down the shades. I was in fact, committing myself to the Bible and the Bible alone. If our eye is single and we see only God’s word, then we will not be doubleminded. Our lives and bodies will be full of light. If our eye is not single and we accept both God’s word and the world’s messages, how our lives will be surrounded by darkness. Jesus tells us that those who have little, the little they have will be taken away. Brothers and sisters, we must read our Bible and take it as our sure and only foundation.

Moral: The Bible is God’s word about how life really works. Read it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to hold fast to what I have so that now one takes my crown.

If you confess

I'm re-reading Christ the Healer by F F Bosworth. A great book! Everyone who wants to be healed needs to read and re-read this.

Anyway, he mentions
"If you shall confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
(Romans 10:8)

I noticed that he italicized "as Lord." (I bolded it above.) And started to think. Many times we tell people to "accept Jesus as saviour" but the Bible tells us to confess that Jesus is Lord. Over all, Over US. Many Christians don't really think of him as their Lord. They call him Lord but when push comes to shove, their denomination (and their denomination's interpretation of the Bible) is their Lord. That is what they use to rule them. Or they accept the media as Lord. Or doctors' opinions as Lord. It's very easy to accept Jesus as saviour. We love him that he saved us. How many great movies have we seen where a "religious" gangsta thinks of Jesus as his savior? He knows he'll die and at the end of the film, as he lays dying, he repents. The old "forgive me for not following your laws" bit. So gangsters are well-aware that Jesus is Lord and that they love him but that they aren't following him or obeying him. I suspect gangsters are way more aware of their need for a lord than the typical christian is. The typical Christian loves Jesus as a saviour and plays around with sayings from their lord that they will obey.

Same thing with being saved and healed. I wonder, Would people be healed quicker if they say, "By Jesus' stripes we were healed and Jesus is my Lord." As opposed to "By Jesus' stripes we were healed and Jesus is my saviour." Bosworth didn't say that and perhaps God isn't a stickler about semantics. But maybe the persistent illness is. Perhaps the mountain we speak to needs to know not only that Jesus saved us but that we are obedient to Jesus who is Lord. Just got me thinking. -C

Friday, August 08, 2008

holy reverential blasphemy

I saw on the news this morning that a church bus had an accident and several people were killed.

I've been thinking lately about blasphemy and "taking the name of the Lord in vain." I think we Christians have a certain annoying piety in which we continually blaspheme God thinking we are giving him glory. Most of us would probably say "I never take the name of the Lord in vain." And by that we mean, we don't say cuss words or we don't say "oh gee!" or "Oh God!" or "Oh Jesus!" or "Holy crap!" But nevertheless, we still blaspheme God's name.

There I was at the deli rewarding myself with my once a month greek salad when one old lady customer mentions to the waitress and to another customer that someone she knows has died. Up come little miss spiritual waitress, "It was the man's time, then. Don't worry. God took him." The old lady customer said, "I don't believe God took him." But that was pretty much it. I so wish I could have just jumped into the conversation. But for all my chattering here, I honestly hate religious debate. Aside from the fact that the young waitress quickly dismissed the old lady's pain by a platitude (as if platitudes can heal pain) there is that little bit of nastiness which has got to be the worst blasphemy of the Christian church, a heresy that has caused more harm to regular people than I can think of. The God is sovereign heresy. The Nothing happens but what is God's will blasphemy. The God has power over everything heresy.

Folks, the Bible tells us that God cannot do certain things without us. We are co-laborers with God. It is God's will that all men should be saved but God rarely saves folks without using preachers. How shall they know if they have not heard? God has chosen the foolishness of preaching.

God wants us to go to heaven but we cannot go there unless we repent of our sins, turn from our wicked ways, trust in God, and forgive our enemies.

God wants us to do good, and we cannot do good on our own. We need God to help us in our march toward holiness. But God cannot force good into us, we have to resist the devil.

God wants us to be well but if we eat the wrong things, or if we do not persevere, or if we do not allow the living word to transform our body or if those who pray for us do not have faith. we will not reap.

How many times have I heard ministers make a theology of disbelief, looking pious as they tell us that suffering is piety...and all the while turning over the faith of many by telling them not to hope for miracles.

Check out some of the verses in Psalm 78

7That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
9The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
10They kept not the covenant of God,
and refused to walk in his law;
11And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
Interesting that being armed and carrying the armor of God and turning back in the day of spiritual battle is considered as not keeping the covenant of God.

17And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
18And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
19Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
20Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
21Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
22Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:

Can God do this? Can God do that?

40How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!

41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
42They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
43How he had wrought his signs in Egypt,
and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
56Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
57But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

Much of this misunderstanding about God's power and sovereignity comes from folks not reading a Bible verse in its entirety. A lot of these verses have a condition in them.

Hebrews 7:25
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them

Galatians 5:6 states that Faith worketh by love. You may have tons of faith but hey, if you have no love...your prayer may not be answered. So don't blame God. The power to get the prayer answered depends on how loving you are and if you can forgive and love your neighbor.

And this one: People always say that God is able to make all grace abound ...but they often don't remember the first part of this passage:
6But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Check out Romans 8:28 which Christians often quote only as "all things work together for good."
But the actual quote is:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Break it down:
Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good .... to them that love God... to them who are the called .....according to his purpose

So, do we love God? Are we the called? Are we intent on God's purpose?

When someone's husband was two hundred pounds overweight and doesn't exercise...then he ups and dies, God did not take him.

When someone dies in the middle of making love to someone not his wife...God did not take him. Probably more of a case of reaping what he sows. (I read a statistic once from a secular book on sex. It shows that less than 1% of people who die die while having sex, but of those who die in the middle of sex, 87% died while committing adultery.) Folks, there is such a thing as "be sure your sin will find you out." It's not God killing you, it's your sin that's killing you. Dying from Risky sex doesn't mean God punished you. Hey, you might get to heaven, but it's your lifetime that brought you there sooner than expected. It wasn't God who whisked you over there because he wanted to punish you. Or because he loved you and wanted you in heaven with him. Puhleze!

If a bad car accident happens to someone who doesn't love God or never once thought of God, this verse does not apply to that person. First, God only chastises his children, not strangers. Second nowhere in the new testament does God chastise people with illness. In the old testament illness was a punishment not a sign of God's love. So why do people say, "God must know what he is doing?" Folks, God had nothing to do with it. Don't these folks know about the devil? Don't these folks know that death and life are in the power of the tongue and someone might have said something negative that accidentally cursed a person? (Yeah, I believe this stuff. I've seen it in action. A friend of mine got a bike and another friend kept saying, "You're gonna die on that bike, you know. That thing is dangerous." My friend replied, "Well, if I die, I'm gonna go in a blaze of glory." A month later, my friend with the bike died. IN A BIKE ACCIDENT. My friend who had warned him went around saying, "I had warned him." And walked around feeling like a prophet. How many times have mothers said to their sons, "Why do you always fall for these no-good women? You don't want to end up with all these babies over the place." Then...the next thing you know.

Sometimes God does take someone but not as often as we say. The problem is more likely to be caused by the devil, caused by our own words or caused by living in a world where accidents happen. But when we hear someone say something glib about "God took them to test us," let's remember that the Bible says, "When a man is tested, let him not say that he is tested of God because God tests no one." And let us not think that God "gave us a handicaped child" because he wants to purify and test us. God doesn't do that kind of thing...unless he is determined to give you a in the case of the man born blind. (And even there, there's a possibility that the translation is a bit off.)

Anyway, just had to get that off my chest. Too many atheists exists nowadays because some well-meaning Christian told them that God had taken their little sister or had killed their parents. We don't know why some stuff happens, we should stop spouting off to "comfort" people. We only end up looking smug and blaspheming God.

As Christians we allow our gentle meek and mild God to grow up. But sometimes we go so far into accepting God's inscrutability that we start saying that God does evil things to us in the name of love. But God doesn't do evil to us. He has already punished Jesus for all the sins we will ever be punished for. All that is left for a real child of God is a reward judgement. Perhaps we have a chastisement if we are really on the wrong path. And perhaps if we sin a sin unto death, our sin finds us out and destroys us. Not God. But an atheist would rather cling to a God who always saves the innocent and allows life to be fair. But Jesus was innocent, wasn't he? God may not save us out of our mess. Or, he might be trying to save us out of our mess, but we don't have the faith or the persevereance to co-labor with God to get us out of our mess.

The childlike innocence of the atheists is one that says, "I want a God I can understand. I want a world where I don't have to rely on faith but on what I see." It's a little different from the trust we are asked to have in God. And basically, atheists are relentlessly loyal to this understandable, good, protective God who hurts their enemies and protects their friends. And they would rather have no god at all than a God who they can't understand or a God who allows the evil in the world. They want a god who is sovereign over all." Trouble is, though, if we start asking God to remove evil from the world, where should he start and where should he end? Should he allow us to cheat our friend or steal our friend's boyfriend? OR should he only tackle folks who do stuff like kill 6 million Jews? If we start asking God to step in and remove all evil, how long would we last?

Christians on the other hand go so far into the "God is sovereign, God is inscrutable" path that in trying to avoid the ditch on one side, they go into the ditch on the other side. They say things such as "this is my thorn in the flesh." Well, as Smith Wigglesworth would say, "To what wonderful degree of holiness have you reached that you should have a thorn in the flesh?" Thorns in the flesh (whether an actual illness or a spirit knocking you about) is very rare. Most of the folks I've seen who claim to have this just plain aren't that holy. And when Christians start saying that suffering can turn people to God, I can only half-agree. Suffering might turn people to God but often it turns people from him. And even if it turns people to God it doesn't necessarily lead people to repentance. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that anything but the Holy Spirit can bring conviction of the truth of the revelation of the reality of Jesus' redemption and gift of salvation.

Sure, we have trials on earth. But those trials involve being persecuted by the world, being persecuted by the devil. Our trials come usually because we are in the world, because we are God's children, and because of our own self getting us into trouble. They generally don't come from God. We endure them because God is with us, not because God sent us.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Study to show yourself approved

Ah, the Proverbs! I love the Proverbs! IF I had kept up my habit of reading the chapter of the day (15th chapter on the 15th of the month, etc) I wouldn't have gotten into that fix with that creepy neighbor. I would have remembered that a soft anger turns away wrath.

Proverbs teaches us other things too. Ah, Mrs Joel Osteen, I'm talking about you!

St Paul told us to study to show ourselves approved. Now, let's try to put aside my feelings that Victoria Osteen always seemed a bit of a star to me. (Way too many of those televangelical wives act like stars in their own little empire.) But woman, Victoria! this is gonna make you look real bad! You should've turned your wrath awan and given a soft answer.

I had a friend who was an anesthesiologist. He moved to another hospital in another city so I don't see him often now. But he once made me wonder about his workmanship when he said to me, "Oh, I don't read any of the anesthesiology newspapers. I already know everything." Yeah, well. Anesthesiologists still accidentally kill people or cause accidents --such as people being awake during surgery when they're supposed to be asleep. So, my opnion is: even if you know everything already, a little reminder wouldn't hurt. Hey, that's why we Christians always re-read and re-read our Bibles and go to church. To study to know what's what, to study to remember, to study to show ourselves approved. Victoria -- I'm not judging you woman cause I've been where you are...and honestly, one look at Proverbs, would have reminded you not to get into a tussling match with someone and would've saved you a law suit. Speaking of which. My courtdate is today. ::smile::

Continue to Love Me

Every once in a while something happens that makes me see how much God loves me. (I need to see that every once in a while, unfortunately.)

Anyway...a couple of mini-testimonies here:
First: One day we decided to take younger son to my church to get him prayed for. This is often a bit of a chore. But we managed. I had on this lovely red dress I had received hand-me-down from a friend. Then, for no reason I could think of, I changed from that dress into something else. Off we went to church. Son was quite a handful, all this wrestling him up to the altar. Then we got home. Some time later -- either the same day or the next-- I put on the red dress. I squatted to pick something up and the dress tore from the bottom to the top. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had worn that dress to church and had been struggling with younger son in front of church? Quite embarrasing.

Second: Back in the day I wrote a piece for a Norton anthology called LIFENOTES: Contemporary Writings by Black women. (Something like that. I forget the actual title.) The piece was called OREOBLUES and it was a sexual history. Looking back I shouldn't have written it. Well, I had it here in my bookcase for sixteen years and never really looked at it much. Once something is published, I kinda move on. One day, however, out of the blue I picked up the book and ripped out the essay I had written. For fear older son would see it and give me a hard time about it. (Older son was way immature at the time and we had told him we hadn't had sex before marriage. Okay, a lie, but well...) Anyway, I rip it out and put it at the bottom of the garbage bin. Then I returned the book to its usual place on the bookshelf. The very next day I found the book on my dining table. Son's college teacher had asked them to find a piece on Black memoirs. Kid had come home and found that on the bookshelf. Now.... was my heavenly father looking out for me or what?

He's done so many things for me, for all of us, without us asking. But the best memory I have of God's sweet love for me was the angel I saw. I always think of that angel...and how sweetly and conspiratorially and humorously he smiled at me. Like we were old friends. Honestly, like we were old pals who were winking at each other in the night. What a glorious and wonderful place heaven must be to contain beings who smile so lovingly at us like that!

If only we could take God at His word and understand His deep, deep, personal, caring love for us! Healings would flow for us, I think. Because so much of faith works through love. Us loving others, us loving ourselves (in the right way), us loving God, and Us knowing God's deep wonderful love for us. -C

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