Saturday, April 30, 2011

God's so-called mysterious ways

In my experience, when it comes to unanswered prayers, Christians blame God much more than they blame Satan. Except when they blame God, they dress it up in little pieties such as "he was teaching me." But no one really complains about folks blaming least not to the extent that folks complain about folks blaming Satan. Very odd, I think. As for God being mysterious, is that really true?

The Biblical view of the word mystery is something that was hidden in aforetime but which now is revealed. Paul says we have the mind of Christ.

So what are we to make of God's so-called mysterious ways?

Paul says, the things of God are now revealed to us by God's spirit. James says if anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God who upbraideth not and he will get wisdom. Jesus says, A servant doesn't know what his master does but I have called you friends and friends know what he does. The prophets says the Lord will do nothing but that he reveals it to his servants the prophets. Jesus says, God's sheep hear his voice. So...if we think we do not hear God's voice, we make God a liar. Or we have not abided in the vine long enough to hear God's voice giving us wisdom. God might not tell us about someone else's life but He will tell us about the reasons for things in our lives. All this talk about God being mysterious only shows that we haven't been praying long enough to hear his wisdom on a matter.

This is a deception in the church caused by Christian laziness. Sure, we don't know much of what God knows   but we are told that if we lack wisdom about a situation in our lives...and we wish to know, then we should ask Him. God is a loving father who shows us the truth. He promised His Spirit would lead us into all truth. He wants us to trust Him and He wants us to know what he's doing at the same time. He doesn't sit around hiding himself about some long-term illness or such things. This is such a pet theology of Christians that it's hard for some to get a hold of. They want to believe in "the cloud of unknowing" and in God's mysterious ways ..but God has told us that those of us who walk with God shall have the light of life. It's only the unpraying and the wicked who stumble about in darkness.

But do we pray as much as Christians in the past did? Do we pray fervently throughout the night for days and days and fast? No, we don't. It's very hard to pray when we have a theology that God and Satan are somehow in cahoots to work together to make us have faith. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Praying for our enemies -- The Limitations of human vision

"And God turned the captivity of Job when Job prayed for his friends."
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
"Do unto others as you would others do unto you."
"Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."
"It is not in man who walks to direct his steps"
"The heart knows its own bitterness and a stranger doesn't intermeddle with its joy."

So, I have finally managed to pray for the in-laws, not only the in-laws but for everyone who has ever wounded me.  How, you may ask?

Well, there I was watching Sid Roth and his guest was this guy,

the writer of the book shown below.

And I realized I hadn't prayed for them. True, I'd forgiven them. But I had not wished them to be blessed. How could I? They have destroyed so much of my life and my marriage.

Humans don't realize what they do to other humans. They simply don't. In some ways we are all pretty sociopathic. Only God sees all. Yet humans are often cruelly talking at and about other people, not realizing how they can devastate each other. Heck, I got post traumatic stress disorder from my in-laws...but try as hard as I tell them they cannot understand or feel the harm they've done. For a married couple to spend EVERY day of their 25 years of married life talking about the husband's in-laws is tragic. The typical judgmental Christian (or person who is proud of their maturity) will say, "well, that's very weak and immature of you to let cruel words affect you for so long." Another example of humanity's readiness to judge others.

I have spent the past 25 -- actually 27-- years asking God to let these people understand their cruelty to me, asking God to let my own father know how wounding it was to be told at age 17 that he had disowned me and my sister, asking God to let those who don't understand the fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia to understand pain, asking God to let folks who have judged my housekeeping skills and my weight gain understand what it is like to be judged. After all, to judge is to invite judgement.

But Peter Horrobin's talk about his book was about the golden rule: what we wish for others, we get for ourselves. <-- yeah, you read that right. Most people talk about the golden rule in a kind of gooey sentimental or dispassionately ethical way. But He discussed it as a law, as a real spiritual rule of life, as a way the world works. That is... I've been praying for the in-laws to suffer because they made me suffer...and it has led to my suffering because "what I want for others is what I want for myself."

So, I thought.. what if this is all true?

Then I thought about the in-laws and their inability to see. Can one be angry at any human, really? Even arrogant proud ones? No. Because they are so ignorant of their actions on other people, and they're so limited in their vision, unable to think past themselves because God is not in them showing them how to treat others.

So I asked God not to give them all the terrible things I've been praying would happen to them. (On the theory that I was getting in my life what  I was praying for for them.) Will see.

  • Paperback: 112 pages

  • Publisher: Sovereign World (January 1, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 9781852405021

  • ISBN-13: 978-1852405021

  • ASIN: 1852405023

  • Format: Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 362 KB

  • Publisher: Sovereign World Ltd (January 30, 2011)

  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

  • Language: English


  • Here's the blurb:

    This book is one of the most outstanding and concise available on the subject of forgiveness.

    "In this book Peter Horrobin hands us the master key to healing and freedom. It undermines all our excuses and challenges us to take the plunge and pray the most powerful prayer of all."
    WAYNE HILSDEN - Senior Pastor, King of King’s Assembly, Jerusalem

    "Never has a book been more timely or helpful. Peter explores forgiveness biblically, personally and practically. Every Christian needs to read and respond to the teaching."
    JIM GRAHAM - Pastor Emeritus, Gold Hill Baptist Church

    "Simple, yet profound. Explains the key to life as taught and modelled by Jesus Himself."
    ALISTAIR PETRIE - Founder and Executive Director, Partnership Ministries

    "Keys that will transform your thoughts and actions. We wholeheartedly recommend this much-needed book."
    EDDIE AND ALICE SMITH - Co-founders, US Prayer Center

    "For 45 years I have seen the damage and hurt of unforgiveness. I am so thankful that my friend Peter Horrobin has written such a dynamic, easy-to-read, cutting-edge book on this vital, neglected and biblical subject."
    GEORGE VERWER - Founder, Operation Mobilisation

    "Peter has brilliantly communicated, in clear and precise language, the tools God has given us to make what is impossible with man possible with God."
    DAVID KYLE FOSTER - Executive Director, Mastering Life Ministries

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    A Cry for Hire by Horace

    Take leave of Woe, and the soft Joys of Love: 
    And no Musician dares pretend to Skill, 
    Without a great Expence of Time and Pains-, 
    But ev'ry little busy Scribbler now 
    Swells with the Praises which he gives himself ; 
    And taking Sanauary in the Crowd, 
    Brags of his Impudence, and looms to mend. 
    A Wealthy Poet takes more Pains to hire 
    A Flatt'ring Audience, than poor Tradesmen i.'i 
    To persuade Customers to buy their Goods: 
    'Tis hard to find a Man of great Estate, 
    That can distinguish Flatterers from Friends. 
    Never delude your self, nor read your Book 
    Before a brib'd and fawning Auditor.; 
    For he'll commend, and feign an Ecstasy, 
    Grow pale or weep, do any thing to please; ^ 
    True Friends appear less mov'd than Counterfeit 5 
    As Men that truly grieve at Funerals, 
    Are not so loud as those that cry for Hire. 
    Wise were the Kings, who never chose a Friend, 
    'Till with full Cups they had unmask'd his Soul, 
    And seen the Bottom of his deepest Thoughts. 
    You cannot arm your self with too much Care 
    Against the Smiles of a designing Knave. 
    Umtillius (if his Advice were ask'd) 
    Would freely tell you what you should correct, 
    Or (if you could not) bid you blot it out, 
    And with more Care supply the Vacancy ; 
    But if he found you fond and obstinate 
    (And apter to defend, than mend your Faults) 
    With Silence leave you to admire your self, 
    And without Rival hug your darling Book : 

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Divine Arrogance: Who do you think you are? What makes YOU so special?

    When I was a teenager, I dreamed a horse spoke to me. It said, "Sometimes you have to be conceited just enough to survive." I woke up laughing, because I had heard that from "the horse's mouth." Around that time I also had another dream in which someone said, "The exception on earth is heaven's rule."

    So let's talk about exceptions. One really has to be arrogant and conceited enough to believe that the good that doesn't happen to other people CAN and WILL happen to you. Not being conceited in one's own righteousness, of course but making one's boast in the goodness of God and the finished work of Christ.

    Then there is the dream about exception. It was the kind of pun only a dreaming Christian could come up with. "Rule" can mean both "reign" and "standard."

    Psalm 91 and much of the Bible talks about the normal person who, through faith, became exceptions.
    A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee. Psalm 91:7

    Can I believe that? Can we believe that? What if we aren't raptured before the antichrist reigns? (I'm not convinced either way about pre or post.) But if an explosion came my way can I believe I could be an exception? Is it possible for the wind to blow everyone else's house away and for the house of the man who built his house on the rock to stand firm? It's not about faith this divine conceit, it's about our ability to believe God personally is aware of us and will do special things for us.

    Many ministers have done great sermons telling people that they have suffered because suffering is the common lot of man and God wants us to understand and love and endure all things. Quite true, but are they perhaps not also training people to stop thinking they can be exceptions?

    So many Christians praying for super-miracles and so few receiving them. Why not? In the parable of the sower, a lot of seed is sown. Few of those seeds end up growing. And even those that end up planted end up dying and being aborted before reaching fulfillment because cares choke the plant. (The seed of God's words can only grow in a heart at rest in God's true rest, and trusting in God's shalom.) But even those seeds that manage to grow and make it past the weeds may not attain their fulness.  A successful seed might bring out 100 times more seeds, and another successful seed might bring only 30. Good work to have arrived at such multiplication but it shows how difficult it is to get seeds. It's a tough battle.

    But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23

    Before I got published I would listen to tons of Black and Christian writers talk about how hard it was to get published. I had to clear my mind of all the crappy visions of unsuccess they put in my mind. I had to see myself as a great writer and to see my book published. God, who is so kind, gave me great sweet dreams that I could wage war with.

    Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 1 Tim 1:18

    When one has a dream prophesying that one will do 6 great works, one has to set one's heart on it and put aside all negative comments to the contrary. One must uproot the negative strongholds. (ooh, this reminds me. I want to write a story about two priests who find out they are dying of cancer or some such thing. Maybe AIDS. And one priest prepares his congregation for his death, while the other prepares his congregation for his miracle. Uhm..wonder if I can do it.)

    But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Romans 10:16

    This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" John 12:38

    Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Isaiah 53:1

    FACT IS: Who has believed God's report that "by Jesus' wounds we were healed!?" I have.

    Yet, I often imagine that I will not get my prayers for Gabe's and my healing. answered. Visions of movies and memories of sermons from ministers about people being failed by God cloud my mind. Although, I gotta say that I tend to think it's not God who would not grant the prayer but that in this case it would be my fault. I've managed after many years to reach the place where I know that God's will is to heal me and my son. (Anyone who doesn't believe this has arrived in my life too late, alas. It cannot be that God wants my son to be in pain for 21 years or for me to be in pain for 25 years from sleeplessness. OR for our family to lose all its finances and happiness because of money problems. Or for my marriage --or the marriage of sick people-- to falter.)

    We live in a world which taints our mind and where the word of God is made to none effect by man's traditions.

    So, yes... I totally believe that by Jesus' wounds we were healed...but I have to fight the good fight. Unfortunately, this getting a miracle thing is a collaboration. It is not faith alone that does the work. God who worketh in us and in us. Without our forgiving others, speaking the word, resting in faith, listening to the word, casting off strongholds, developing single-mindedness and single vision, abiding in the vine...miracles don't happen.

    I will put away my negative imaginings. I will be of good cheer. Jesus Christ has conquered the world.  Though no one else ever gets to be the exception, I am determined I will be an exception. 

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Loving John, a "thunder-boy"

    Sometimes as we read the Bible we see John as such a sweetie. All those epistles about love, all that deep stuff in the Book of John about love, light, life, etc.

    But John definitely had a passionate side:

    "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."

    But the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?

    They replied, "When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left."

    Yet, for all that angry, spiteful, arrogant, ambition... Jesus loved him. And Jesus changed him. How wonderful!!!!

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Shalom, Telestai, It is finished -- Holy Saturday

    It's Holy Saturday. Aaargh. Holy Saturday is about the aftermath of a broken dream. Imagine the feelings of these poor disciples. They have built their world around someone and the person has died, failing them. All their dreams have fallen. They must now prepare to continue living on with this unforeseen life without their former Hope. They must go back to living life without the Power, Love, Wisdom, Guidance, they had gotten used to depending on. 

    Many of us are in our own Holy Saturdays. We have had a disappointment and the shock is still on us. We're somewhat numbed from the shock. Others have had their holy saturday experience go on for so long that they have no hope left.

    I'll just say that life has been very hard for me for very long. I had hoped my younger son would be healed by now. I had hoped I would be healed by now. I had hoped I would be a rich writer by now. But not only are those things still with me but the devil is still relentless...and (although I am not exactly holed up in the house fearful of being persecuted by evil soldiers) I know a thing or two about being holed up and about being tired of the relentlessness of local cops and courts.

    I need rest. Sometimes I get weepy with this need for rest. Not just a little sleep at night but ...a longer rest --one requiring either death or tons of money. It's just been so many years of working hard at life. Don't worry. I'm not asking the spirit of death to come. Anyway, the good thing is that if younger son gets accepted in this program
    we won't have to get up every morning and he won't have to get up every morning at 6 am. So that's a little bit more rest. 

    And if I get a best-seller, then that's more money and more rest. 

    But now I want more rest. I want peace -- Shalom. And sleep and monetary rest. Rest from worrying about my body, rest from worrying about bills, worrying about legal issues, worrying about Gabe's health. Just rest.

    The devil is so relentless, relentlessly attacking. Peace, shalom -- everything good-- is such a good thing. 

    The Hebrew word for Peace means "nothing broken, everything whole." Jesus said He came to bring us peace. The angels announced Peace on earth. Jesus called himself our prince of peace. He says He called us to peace.

    Most Christian denominations spiritualize this. They talk about peace only as salvation from hell, and a kind of emotional peace. But I think if one has had a lot of crap in one's life that one doesn't spiritualize Peace. One sees the need for nothing broken and "complete wholeness" in every area of one's life. Being sick and having sick children means a heck of a lot of brokenness.  

    When Jesus was on the cross, His final words were "It is finished." The greek word which Jesus used on the cross was Telestai  which is often translated "It is finished" although it is a business term meaning "Paid in full." But Shalom also can mean "Payment." Both telestai and shalom can mean "paid in full" And if Jesus was on the cross, he probably did use the aramaic word of Shalom. Because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. 

    I totally believe that much more of the New Testament was written in Greek than academics believe. So, I will choose to believe that Jesus said "Shalom." But I digress.

    Two verses come to mind:
    The first: Give us vision lest we perish. 
    The second:   Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 1 Timothy 1:18
     We wage war by the prophecies we receive. 

    I've been promised good. The Lord himself has promised Good to me. So I look forward to a resurrection. Not something the disciples did. They had forgotten Jesus had said he would rise from the dead. We know He did. 

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Taking every thought captive -- Humiliation

    Was talking to Jessica about humiliation and she said this:

    What is the prupose of the humiliation? We are told that Jesus suffered silent as a lamb before the shearers. but he had a purpose. He was there to sacrifice his life and to redeem all of us. He was allowing evil and corruption to run its course, but there is a difference between humility (since Jesus was always humble) and humiliation (He was not always humiliated.)
    the purpose of humility seems in part to be so that we can serve God and hear Him better since when we are proud we cannot hear, but humiliation --to me-- seems to be the result of sin and not a good in and of itself. There was something greater and deeper which made Jesus stand silent before His accusers. Not just the desire to pass through humiliation.

    Oh and think of Paul! Remember he endured humiliation to the point that he could then demonstrate the error of the soldier's ways for flogging a man without due process. He waited until they stretched him out and stripped him (quite humiliating) and then he made his comment, "Is it proper to treat a Roman citizen this way?"

    Voila, humiliation there also served a purpose, but the concept of humiliation for humiliation's sake would otherwise seem to indicate that all humiliation is good humiliation because it ravages the soul but God is about healing the soul, not destroying it. He makes us human, not less than human. . .or rather He makes us more than human." 
    Jesus' Brother, Jacob (called James in the Bible)  warns us against being double-minded. The reason is that having two thoughts create nothing and makes a person unstable. The desire to be healed, or to have good finances, or to be blessed in some way is strong but an underlying stronghold fighting against it stops the desire from coming to fruition even when God has already given the seed of healing. For instance, if someone wants to be blessed but also deeply distrusts success or thinks success leads to spiritual or emotional dangers, then there is double-mindedness. In this case, I wanted to be free from trouble but I also kept thinking that I hadn't been sufficiently humiliated.

    I thought and thought and thought about it. Then it hit me that her differentiating  between humility and humiliation was really freeing... 

    I feel as if humiliation was a  srtronghold in my soul- that something in me was saying I had to be humiliated; and  that stronghold kept   blessings away. I'm really seeing it. It was as if I Have been telling myself that haven't been humiliated enough and as long  as I kept  that up I was keeping away blessings. It was, in some ways, like a legalistic  person saying they hadn't been good enough, or hadn't done enough to earn a blessing, or hadn't done enough to be holy. I feel, in a great way, that I'm more open now  to  receiving miracles  and  blessings, because  she shed light on this dark idea and the light destroyed the  stronghold, or at least one of the strongholds that has been chaining me. 

    So, so so many strongholds exist in the human mind that faith/hope/love and God's truth have to fight against. Praise God! I'm freer now. Ready to win lotto because I now feel I have had more than my share of humiliation and that I don't have to sit here taking it to build up my quota. Praise God!  Come blessings! Come! I am ready to be blessed. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Jessica. 

    Now, weirdly, my hubby has a "blessed enough" stronghold. While it was hard for me to believe that I had gained some sort of standard that made me free to be blessed, hubby had a stronghold which says, "I have been blessed enough. I had an idyllic childhood. Life was good for me." So, it's hard for him to pray for anything for himself because he just truly thinks that compared to all the poor folk in Africa or wherever, he really shouldn't be asking for anything because others more worthy should get it. What an odd stronghold combination for a married couple to have! No wonder it's been so difficult. 

    These mental strongholds come into our minds in many ways. Hubby's probably came from being told to eat because the poor children in China were starving. Mine came from cruel upbringing and from a terrible nightmare I had where someone had peed on me and said to me, "I will teach you to be humble." In the dream I h ad fought this being and had said, "Making me humble isn't the same as humiliating me." And finally, Jessica has said something which makes me feel I am free at last from the curse put into my mind by that dream.

    So now, hubby can say, "I want to be blessed. I trust myself to be blessed. I know I will take care of people if I get financially blessed. In addition, even if I had a great childhood, my family didn't. And since I am the head of the family, my feelings (of not having suffered as a kid therefore I should accept the sorrows of life) is a thought to be distrusted and repented of. 

    And I can say, "I don't want to be humiliated anymore. I don't want to be humiliated by arrogant rich people, by social workers, by thin people. I don't want to be humiliated by anyone else because humiliation is not of God." 

    So... what then is true humility? Humility is simply accepting God's words and God's divine order. It's believing what God says about us instead of falling into the lies that the pride of life, the human eyes, human rationality, and human judgement. feeling free. 


    Friday, April 15, 2011

    How faith works -- not ignorant of his devices

    I saw this posted on my friend's FB status and I reposted it. 

     YOU DON'T LOOK SICK! No, I don't. It's hard to explain to someone when they have no clue. It's a daily struggle feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (M.E., anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn's, M.S., diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, Sj√∂gren's, etc.)

    It falls in very nicely with something that happened a coupla days ago:

    First a little spiritual basics:
    We Christians know that Faith works by love, joy, hope, peace, imagination, the Word of God, and by silence. See the verses below, but the basics of what's needed for faith is:

    One must be in a state of love -- especially when it concerns forgiveness-- if one's faith is to really work in an impossible situation. Faith can work without love but rarely.

    One must rejoice always.-- especially in singing songs of praise, because praise is a sword, especially when praising the victory of Jesus.

    One must have the ability to endure  because faith is like a sown seed that has to grow and one must wait in joyful expectation  until one sees the blade, the blossom, the full fruit.

    One also needs inner peace for faith to work. The seed the sower sowed could not grow because worries choked it. For some reason, the word of God, the seed of promises need to abide in a heart that is totally resting in God..or it will not work well.

    One needs an imagination that is not vain, one that ponders the promised end and the thing one hopes for. The essence of true hope is a positive imagination that believes one has already received from God what one wants, that one is just waiting for it to manifest from the spiritual realm into the physical world.

    One needs to read the Bible with a faithful heart and to speak with hopeful faithful victorious Christians

    And last but not least, one needs to be silent about speaking the pathological truth of a serious situation. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The wise woman with the sick son affirmed only "it is well" or she kept silent. The angel Gabriel had to shut Zechariah's mouth because Zechariah was going to be speaking words of doubt all throughout Elizabeth's pregnancy and God works with matter what God wanted..if humans are gonna speak against it then it causes challenges. True Gods word is imperishable seed but sometimes our mouths can cause things to take forever...or to not grow at all.

    There! Our foundation laid, I can whine about what happened with this very annoying friend of mine a coupla nights ago.

    Okay, I know the devices of the devil. In my case, as I try to water the seed of healing for my son and me, I've had three major struggles whenever I try not to say anything negative or affirm the doctor's report or the pathological truth. I slip up and slip into the doctor's report instead of God's report. 

    Struggle One, Two, Three:
    Most often when a very compassionate person asks how I am or when some very cold person challenges me about how sick I really am. I also slip up sometimes out of fear or what I call the "unnecessary assessing" comment. where one wakes up and says, "I feel so crappy today." You see... not necessary at all, but it's the kind of thing that slips out of the mouth when one is overwhelmed with illness and frustration. This is part of the devil's devices. 

    So here I am with God telling me to actually imagine what life would be like if our family if my son and I were well. My imagination is so full of the past that it's hard to imagine anything bright...which is hard when one is trying to see a miracle. So my cynical social worker friend whom I have not seen or spoken to in months because I've been too sleepless and weak to go out of the house asks me me how I've been doing. 

    The proper Christian response to this is to say, "It's been interesting but God is working on me." Something non-whiny like that. Something that affirms my belief in God working, something that doesn't create a flow of desperation from my mouth. But nooooooooooo! She starts asking me how I'm really doing. And I actually fall into the demonic snare and try to convince her. This leads to me affirming the pathological truth. And instead of accepting my comments, she says, "Well, at least you have hope. There are people who came from their doctors today with no hope." 

    Okay, true enough. But you know... when I've had no more than an hour sleep for about 15 days straight...or when I haven't had any sleep for 9 days straight and my body is shaking and trembling and I'm taking care of a little 21 year old who has been in pain all his life and whose life I worry about all the time and who cannot speak... well..... I am in no patience for this bit of ridiculous dismissive piety.

    So, this woman doesn't realize her temptation to nag at me (to prove my great pain and the depth of my pain) comes from the devil. 

    But I know. And I really should've just stopped it there. But nooooooooooooooo! I FALL for the bait. I am snared by my tongue, by her tongue, by the devil's trick. So I try to explain to her to make her see that my pain is valid. But nooooooooooooo.  She is in social worker holier-than-thou platitude mode and there is something in her that wants to prove me wrong. And this makes me affirm the illness more. All hope, affirmation, imagination of good, joyous, hopeful, healthy...goes out the window as I try to paint a convincing picture of my sorrows for this woman. Aaargh!

    I'm watching this situation, fuming and telling myself why am I affirming my illness to someone who is not showing one ounce of comfort and who is equating comfort with telling me that others suffer more. And she did it so quickly and so readily. I was asking myself, "Wow, I am in so much pain now. I am worried sick for my son. I fear for our deaths every day and I am sitting with someone who doesn't know the amount of near-death moments I've had and rushes to hospitals we've had and temptations to suicide I've had...and this woman is feeling she has to insist that I am not suffering." Because she's spiritual like that.

    So, again I was snared. I said to her, "Do you realize that 24 years of sleeplessness and taking care of a 21 year old sickly kid all this this is a slow death?" Her response: "Well you have hope. Some people have no hope."  As if I and my son have any hope outside of God? 

    Ah, this k ind of dismissive comforting was spoken by Job's friends. And even now when Christians read Job, they get all caught up with theological questions...when they don't even attend to the basic issue of Job is this: "shut your mouth when you see someone suffering. Don't think you're the voice of truth. Don't be cruelly dismissive. Don't judge. You don't know someone else's life. You don't know God's working in someone else's life. You don't know Satan's working in this person's life."

    I didn't want to fall into judgment. The Bible tells us that we must not judge lest we are judged. I didn't want to say, "Well, I am suffering more than this person you're thinking off who just got no hope." But I did say, "you're getting into comparative mode." So, the worst I can get myself into (please God please) is to be in a situation where someone thinks I'm in comparative mode when I'm not. But my friend might have just brought judgment on her own head. It is possible that by judging me she has set in motion a judgment in which she will be sleepless and taking care of a sick child for 21 years...and then she will have to see and endure what she so easily dismissed. 

    May God have mercy on her soul. And may God help me not to be snared into affirming the matter how cruel or dismissive or comforting the temptation. 

    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

    Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Luke 11:4

    Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6

    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Phillipians 2:12

    And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:4

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

    For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:10

    The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

    If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain. James 1:26

    The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. Proverbs 14:10

    The lips of a fool intermeddle with strife: and his mouth provoketh quarrels. Proverbs 18:6

    There is also endurance, not as opposed to faith...but not exactly faith. Job was not listed in the faith chapter (Hebrews 11.) He is called patient. 

    As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11 

    Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

    Why was Endurance so important? Because He endured because he trusted and loved God as a Creator, and as a Father. He didn't have much to have faith in. The book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Job had no spiritual book to read. All he had was his love of God, his trust in God, his hope in God.

    The Full Soul

    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 Aevery bitter thing@ mean?  Can the Abitter thing@ be good?

    Let=s see what the verse would mean if we took the word Afull@ 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 Abitter 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 Afullness@ 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.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Before Philip called you

    Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.

    Verse: Luke 19: 2-8, John 1:48, John 12

    Do you remember this incident? Jesus had just arrived in town. Philip went looking for Nathanael and told him, AWe found Jesus who might be the Christ.  He=s from Galilee.@ Nathanael=s response was a sarcastic ACan anything good come out of Galilee?@

    A little background here. During Jesus= lifetime there were four large religious parties: the Sadducees who were rational intellectuals and did not believe in spirits, angels, and the resurrection; the legalistic Pharisees who honored Scripture, the Law and the Prophets; the Zealots who had a militaristic spirituality, and the Essenes (also called The Way) who honored the Scriptures, hoped for the Messiah, and longed for the outpouring of God=s Holy Spirit as had occurred in the days of Elias and the school of the prophets. The first believers in Jesus came from these four branches and many were probably Essenes because Jesus not only called Himself The Way but the early Christians called their religion The Way.

    We don=t know what Abranch@ Philip belonged to.  Nor do we know what school of thought Nathanael was aligned with. But we do know that all the people sensed that they lived in prophetic times. It did not help matters that many false Messiahs had cropped up and had betrayed many hopes. The only good prospect of a possible Messiah was John the Baptist and John was saying that he wasn=t the Messiah. (Even now, there is still a small sect which believes that John was the Messiah.)

    As he stood under the fig tree, Nathanael was probably as keen to listen to a new Messiah as anyone else in Cana. But this AGalilee@ business would have surely made him raise his eyebrow. Galilee was such a non-Jewish kind of place. It had way too many Gentiles. It was cosmopolitan in the worse sense. And now he was being asked to listen to a supposed prophet who had a Galilean accent. He could hardly contain his disbelief.

    It says a lot about Philip that Nathanael actually took him seriously. We all know people like Philip, people we respect much more than we respect the intellectuals among us, friendly types who are outgoing yet who seem to have a genuine love of their fellow men.  Philip called quite a few people. (No wonder his daughters were also active in the early church.) In addition to calling Nathanael, Philip also called Andrew who called Peter. Philip may or may not have been one of the Asuper-apostles@ but his outgoing personality was a ministry in and of itself.

    When Nathanael meets Jesus, Jesus gives him an unasked for sign. The Savior and Creator of the world tells Nathanael that He had seen him long before Philip called him. Before Nathanael had claimed Jesus, Jesus had claimed him as his own.

    Moral: God has called many. Yet although He wills that people come to Him, He has also appointed people to call those destined to be His.  Here is a paradox: Would Peter have come to Christ if Philip had not called him?  Who knows? Maybe Philip would have called another. Or maybe Peter would have been called to Christ by another. We do not know. What we do know, though, is that more people need to know Jesus.  These are people under the fig tree, people Jesus has already seen at a distant.

    Prayer: Dear Lord, there are so many people out there. You watch them in their daily life. You know that as they go about their daily lives they are looking for you. They don=t know that you have been watching them as they stand under the fig tree. They don=t know that you have appointed them to be part of your kingdom. But how can they know except someone preach to them?  The harvest is white ready to harvest. Send laborers who will bring these Nathanaels to you, Lord. Help me to bring people to you, or --at least-- help me to bring them to someone who will bring them to you. Bless all the seeds you have given me to plant for you, Lord. Bless all the laborers. Bless all the harvest.  Amen

    Asking, Seeking, Knocking

    "Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you." Matt 7:7                                  

    These encouraging words of our Lord not only help us to persevere in prayer, they help to make our minds like Christ's. True, we know that we are being conformed to Christ and His mind is daily being formed in us. But we often forget that we are beings who are made for Eternity, and we will not be able to receive a full reward if we enter into our Real Country with personalities and character traits more suited to this land we presently sojourn in. 

    In addition to receiving, finding, and having a door opened, we also are learning to worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus encourages us to Ask, Seek, and Knock. If we follow this command, we will achieve the fruits of love, faith, and hope. As St Paul tells us these are the three things that endure.

    Asking and Receiving

    When we ask, we are trusting that God hears us. We are consciously believing that Jesus loves us and has heard our prayers. But asking is not enough. After we ask, we must train our minds to look expectantly for the answered prayer. The saints in Heaven were people who learned how to see the invisible. They saw heaven before they got there. They saw the visible result of prayer when there was only God's Scriptural word --the invisible seed hidden in their heart. Like them, we must learn to have a confident expectation that the good seed will flower and produce fruit. We must learn to believe in the seed growing secretly. The Bible tells us that the wind blows where it wills. (John 3:8) The Scripture tells us that God is the Husbandman who gives seed to the sower, who sends rain and sunshine, who prunes and fertilizes the plant, and who gives the increase. But we also have our part. We are to water the word, watching in prayer with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) When we plant earthly seeds in the springtime, we believe that there is power in the seed to grow. Although we don't see the seed because the dirt covers it, we know the seed exists. Earthly farmers use earthly methods to reap their harvests. We are spiritual seed-planters. When we ask God for something, we are using God's word to plant invisible seed. God's word is active and powerful (Heb 4:12) and it has life in itself just as earthly seeds have life in themselves. God's word accomplishes what God sends it out to do. BUT this spiritual seed must be watered spiritually. Our prayers must be planted, watered, weeded, and reaped spiritually. How do we do this? We water the seed by praising God and believing that the prayer has been granted, even when we do not see any signs of the result of our prayer. That's how we "receive." The Word of God is an imperishable seed. It will not die. The calling and grace of God are without repentance. God doesn't take back what He gives. But we must be careful not to neglect the gifts that God has given us. If the word of God will profit us, we must mix it with our faith. We need to water the seed by faith. St Paul tells us that we water the word by giving thanks for what God has done. Jesus said, "When you pray, believe that you have received and you will have." St Paul says, "In due time, we will reap if we faint not." When we praise God in faith for something we have not yet seen with our human eyes, we are "believing that we have received." We are not fainting; instead we are participating in the reaping of the precious promises of God. We don't know when or how, but in "due time" -- the harvest time-- the seed will grow. We walk by faith and enter God's court with praise, trusting that He has already answered our prayer. This means that we don't begin our prayers with doubt, but with a faith that God has already answered our prayers. Oftentimes we begin to believe that God has heard our prayer when we start seeing an answer to our prayers. The little sprouts and blade begin to rise and then we start praising God. That's well and good, but we are to walk by faith in God's word, not by what we see. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Therefore, we must live expecting that something good is happening even now. In all things and in all situations, we must rejoice -- regardless of what our human eyes see-- because the eyes and heart of faith know that God is in charge and that He cares for us.

    But why do we water the seed. What is the real reason? How can we continue watering seed when we have not seen the blade, the stalk, the full flower? Because we know the personality and character of God. We love Him because He first loved us. As we give thanks and walk in love and wonder at His goodness, we train our souls to trust in God's love, power and providence.

    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.

    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 Adue 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.

    But these spiritual lessons in living a life of faith, hope and love not only teach us how to see and pursue the invisible, they change the very core of our characters. They prepare us for the kingdom of heaven where life, accomplishments, and fullness of joy depend on the spiritual currency of faith, hope, and love...currency we collected on earth. 

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Pushing my buttons, playing me

    In American two of our slangs are: "he pushed my buttons," and another is "he played me."
    In life you must be careful not to let anyone push yuor buttons or play you. People will say something like "I didn't want to get mad but she pushed my buttons." This means that a person knows exactly how to get you mad or angry or envious or depressed.

    It takes a lot of awareness not to let someone push your buttons or play you. People can get on your nerves but you alone have the power to decide how you react. Thoughts can come into your mind but you alone have the choice to follow them. When someone pushes your buttons your choice goes out of your hands. When someone human or a demon does something to you because they know your personality and your sins and your tendencies,
    they pretty much can direct your life by doing things that make you react in one way or another.

    It's as if you're a computer or a TV and the person knows that if they do A, you will do B.
    They know if they say "this" to you that you will do "that."

    The devil is like that. He's been around for centuries. He knows how to play humans. He knows human reactions.
    People are like that -- they push your buttons. Sometimes they say things or do things to make us react in a certain way. Sometimes they don't even know that things they say in their own lives or towards another person are really thoughts put into their heads by the devil.
    Paul tells us we are not ignorant of the devil's devices...but we Christians often are. Just because a thought comes into our minds doesn't mean we have to say, do, or think it.

    Always question your immediate reactions and learn to react to things the way God would want you to. I cannot tell you how many times I've ruined things for myself because someone "pushed my buttons." Train yourself to do the right thing, train yourself to have the right reactions. The book of proverbs is a good book for Christians to read all the time because it tells us wise ways of reacting. Those ways aren't natural to us, but they are the ways God wants us to react so we don't get in trouble.

    The Bible says it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. So our reactions have to be trained and the Bible trains us with words such as "a soft answer turns away wrath."
    In the past if someone annoyed me, i'd get very angry but now if I catch myself I can catch the thought and the action and not let anyone push my buttons or play me like someone playing a computer game. You alone own your mind and you must be aware of not being used...or being played.

    I'm always amazed at Christians who don't seem to realize that they should take all thoughts captive.
    The bible is there to open our eyes to show how the world really works. The best way to train one's mind and to learn to take thoughts captive is to read the proverbs, the epistles, and other books of the Bible. It's easy to read Proverbs. It has 31 chapters, a chapter for each day of the month. So if today is the 11th, you read the 11th chapter of proverbs

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