Saturday, July 20, 2013
It has occurred to me on several occasions that as a child, teenager, and even a young adult I did not have a dream. I remember very carefully avoiding all things “dreamish.” I do not have any idea why, except that I had a very deep inferiority complex. I figured that my life was enough of a failure for me without adding to it dreams that were destined to fail as well.
Then, today, I heard a discussion about the “lucky people” in life vs the “unlucky.” One line of thinking considered that people made their own luck by sheer force of attitude, getting up every morning with a smile and great expectations for the day. The other seemed to follow the idea of “those who dreamed of what they wanted to have in their lives and set their minds and feet to reaching that goal” were the ones who actually achieved and there was no luck involved at all. No dreams unfortunately means no goals.
This comes up now because of a recent sermon which discussed how God sees us compared to how we see ourselves. The example used was that of a caterpillar and a butterfly. When tested, caterpillar DNA is butterfly DNA. The caterpillar is a butterfly even though it cannot fly and does not look beautiful like a butterfly.
I cannot help but wonder if the caterpillar was able to think and emote, would it be as disillusioned with its own life as I always have been with mine? Would it see only the plainness and seemingly endless nothingness of life as many of us do? It surely would not know that better things would come and that it would be beautiful to all one day. It surely would not dream of making that happen by simply walking the path ahead of it.
The point of the allegory was that God sees us as butterflies even though we are still caterpillars and we should see ourselves that way, too. Through the blood of Christ we are made new. Our new birth, which we tend to think of as an allegory, is an actual fact. When we receive Christ as our savior, our DNA changes. No scientist may be able to prove that, but God knows it and He knows it well. We are not only empowered to live a life fully different from our old life, God is enabled to see us only through the blood of Christ, a shield that makes us beautiful in His sight while protecting us from His wrath. We are seen to be as beautiful as Christ because we are seen through Christ.
I can think of reasons why this is and should be, but I can also counter every single one of them. It is easy to laugh at that and shrug it off because we all know that we are beautiful in Christ and that we have full hope of one day being with Him… etc. But, the truth is, there are many of us out here to whom these promises are cloudy and not quite applicable in our daily lives. We have tremendous reservations about the capabilities of achieving dreams.
Yes, I know and they know that these thoughts come from Satan not from God. But these are life long inhibitions for us and a life long struggle. We all have triggers that bring on the struggles, mostly having to do with our own impressions of what we seem be, or what our value actually is to others around us. And when we are struck with these doubts about our selves and our self worth, the pain is very real.. A knife in the gut is a knife in the gut. Even if we can pray our way out of the depths that we suddenly find ourselves in; even if the knife is removed in a matter of minutes the pain is very real and lingers long after.
Now I have a picture to call on to help me realize how God sees me whenever I begin to fall. But I suspect that I, and some of my friends and yours, could use some serious support and prayer over this situation. Therefore… May we all find the will and desire to see ourselves as God sees us and become more excited about our own lives as we live them out for Him and Him alone. And may we dream of great possibilities no matter where we are in life with Him: at the beginning, in the last hour or so, or somewhere in the middle on our way to seeing Him soon. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Hug us tight this day and use us for spreading your love as a blessing to others.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I was reading this morning about Satan temping Jesus in the desert following His baptism; and suddenly I was thinking of how often we tempt one another, let alone God. We all know that Jesus rebuked Satan with these words, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God.” Later translations say, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test,” but I really like the old King James Version on this one. THOU SHALT NOT. Pretty strong words. And yet we seem to do it with impunity over and over again as we keep doing what we think is best for us, rather than doing what He thinks is best for us.
The thing is that tempting each other has also become something we do with impunity. And it starts in childhood. Mom says, “No!” Child does. Mom says, No” again. Child does. We even call this “testing.” “How far can I go before things get serious,” is the big question.
I have very fond memories of Steve’s first grandson doing just that with me. When he was barely a toddler, they came to visit us in our townhouse in Las Vegas. Our “yard” was an enclosed patio that barely had room for the roses and bulbs that we planted around the already existing tiled patio space. Not much room for a toddler, so I took him outside the gate to play in the common area grass. There was a street passing by which was very quiet, but a street nonetheless. As he played he started getting closer and closer to the street and then ran right up to it, looking at me to see what I would do. I, of course, told him “No,” in very strong terms. He turned back to the grass. After about three or four times doing that, I said nothing and just looked at him with a “stern” look. He watched me for a moment and then turned on his own and ran back into the grass. We smiled at each other as I told him what a good boy he was. He did not go near the street again.
Another time, we were visiting in their home in Washington and I was watching him and his baby sister who was just a few weeks old. They had a big yard, but it was not fenced and he could not be out there alone. The patio door was open because they had no window screens and the family room needed serious relief from the heat. As I was tending to the baby, he kept going over to the door and darting out. He made me get up and come to the door after him before he would come back in. We did that game for about three times. The fourth time I just looked at him and said, “Would you like to close that door now?” He grinned and eagerly closed the door. He never went near it again that evening. It takes me awhile, but I catch on eventually. :)
All of that to say, “Children, do not tempt your parents (or other authority figures like Grandma.) And yet they do and we do.
Take the typical family argument, sibling to sibling or spouse to spouse; What is really happening during those common confrontations? We like call it “pushing each others buttons.” I have come to see it as “tempting” each other. “How far can I go?” again becomes the big question. Some of this is just a part of growing up and even playing around. But, way too often, it becomes a struggle of will and words that rises to wrath and soon everything gets out of hand. We learn early how easy it is to make our opponent angry by bringing up junk from the past; and as the arguing escalates we find ourselves attempting to draw blood on the other person. There is no good that comes from this type of “tempting” and attempting. (Note here: there is also no good that comes from allowing someone else to verbally abuse us, but that is another story not involving pushing back in wrath.)
Sometimes we excuse this kind of verbal sparing as good exercise or just the way we communicate. But it certainly is not the way God would have us communicate. As we are throwing lobs of past sins at people, God is wondering what we are talking about because he has forgotten that persons past sins (if that person has repented of them.) We have kept the information for ammo in arguments. And we learned it as children when sparing with our parents or hearing them spar with one another.
God has clearly told us to love one another and to forgive one another and to carry out our lives loving others as we are loved by Him. He tells us, He shows us, He writes it on our hearts and gives us the Holy Spirit to help us. And yet we ignore all of that and resort to “tempting” at every turn.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, but He never expressed anger or wrath to Satan. He kept His temper in check because this was not the time for His final victory over Satan. He simply told Satan what His Father had instructed his people over the centuries: Thou salt not tempt the Lord your God. Sometimes we desperately need to draw on the water and the feast we have eaten from His Word and simply respond in love: His love.
May we all pray for strength to resist the temptation to tempt others into anger. And may we also resist the temptation to tempt others to do what they feel is wrong for them in that moment: Like eating that piece of cake they are trying to avoid. :) Have a great day with your Lord!
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
To Ezekiel God said, “Confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices….” He went on to describe the beginnings of Jerusalem (Israel) were quite common and she was not anything special at the time…. “(you were) thrown out into an open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.”
“Then I passed by and saw you… I made you grow like a plant in the field… you became the most beautiful of jewels.” He goes on to relish in the care and “makeover” He gave to them and says “So you were adorned… You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty…
“But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute.”
Are you tingling, yet, with a sense of how well this is describing the U.S.? Let’s see what else He has to say…
“You lavished your favors on anyone who would pass by and your beauty became his… You also took the jewelry I gave you… the food I provided… your sons, your daughters…” and “sacrificed” (gave) them to others.
“Was your prostitution not enough? Woe. Woe to you…. offering your body with increasing promises to anyone who passed by.... Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite for you give payment and none is given to you”
To understand how this affects us today and how it shaped history itself, we must remember this very important fact: Jerusalem was the Gold Standard for all to see and Israel was the Blueprint to help all countries see how they must follow God and not turn from Him if they wanted to survive. Jerusalem (Israel) was not taken out of this world to live for God; they were left right in the midst of the world so as to draw the world into also believing in their God.
This NOT a setting-aside of a prophecy to Israel for any other country to take on as directed at them for some special reason. ALL countries were always encouraged to “Turn from (their) wicked ways and repent and follow God” and to become a pattern after the one He set for Israel. Israel was intended to be His light to the World and would eventually provide the true light through Jesus Christ. But every single country was invited to follow. When coming to America most of the population had done just that and they chose to set their feet on that solid ground.
Just this morning I was reminded of the tours our current president takes and his determination to ask the world to forgive us for being us. And right now our government is struggling with this problem: How do we keep Egypt happy and friendly (really?) while not failing to keep our own law about not giving money to governments which have been overthrown by their own military. Now therein lies a true dilemma. How much more can we prostitute ourselves in the Middle East? And how much more can we spend outside our country while asking China, our sworn enemy, to loan us a few bucks here and there so we can keep up our habit of prostitution.
All money going to assist enemy countries who declare hatred for us is bribery money; and it does us no good at all. And all the things we do to dumb down this country, so that others will not hate us, is outright prostitution of this country. Every time we take another freedom from ourselves we prostitute the constitution of this country and become the laughing stock of our enemies.
Christians must begin to speak up. We must begin to take a chance on being hated for what we say. And we must take whatever comes from those actions even as Christ and His Apostles did as they spread the Word among those who loved it and among those who hated it. And they were despised by the haters.
I actually wrote this page intending to add it to a new blog I want to start about political opinion, but this is truly pertinent to us at this very minute and we need to see with our eyes wide open how far we have come from the America we intended to be. We are as much a prostitute before God as Israel ever was. And He will take care of this problem if we do not.
Lord, may we be given eyes to see, not only what is happening around us, but how we are helping it happen by keeping quiet and preferring not to offend and be hated. May we now speak up against the mess this country has become. And may we seek ways to bring the people of this country back to You and Your ways for Jesus sake. Amen.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Dear friends, I have fallen in love… with Ultra Sounds. I have had four, for four different reasons and everytime I come away awed to the bone about how fabulous our Creator created us. He is truly amazing and worthy of our worship if only for the delicate work He did on us. We are truly, wonderfully and beautifully made.
I had one ultra sound last week, and once more I was struck with awe at how amazing our bodies are. The ultra sound I had confirmed again that we can never know too much about how our bodies work and how much we are greatly blessed to be able to see it working. We were looking at the veins in my legs to see if there was evidence of damage or left-over blood clots from a pulmonary embolism episode that I had in 1984. We went looking because I have been having trouble using my legs and this was one thing we wanted to check out.
Once again I was seeing and hearing the flow of blood through my body. Trust me that this is a very exciting thing to do. And many things can be discovered while doing it. Not only is God’s intimate design for us revealed, but the very rush of the blood is celebratory of the Creator Himself.
I have had these tests taken for both my arteries and veins now. My arteries passed with flying colors. They got the highest score possible. But, sure enough, my veins had a problem. She found damage from the episode in 1984 and even the presence of a clot that never dissolved. I was stunned. But it was an eye opener about two mysteries in my life: Why the clots had been in my lungs at all and why my right foot is fatter than my left foot.
Funny thing is that while I was in the hospital for the embolisms, no one even mentioned my legs or took any pictures of them. They just gave me blood thinner and kept an eye on my lungs. Hmmm…. Sometimes you just don’t know what your doctors are not doing that they should be doing. But I recovered and have done fine until now.
But here is the fun part of this whole thing. The tech showed me that there are ways TO encourage blood flow through the veins back up to the heart. If she pressed on my leg, I could see and hear a Swoosh response from the veins when the pressure was released. Then she had me take deep breaths. Again, a Swoosh, as the act of deep breathing pulled the blood up to my heart. Wow! Who knew that deep breathing was not just for heart and lungs, it is for “pulling” blood through the veins in a smooth and timely way. That was stunning for me to find out.
Then she had me do my favorite stretching exercise (Push my heels toward the wall) and Swoosh, there the blood went again, rushing up to my heart. Ah ha, the pressure/release is the reason why we have to have the leg huggers on our legs when we wake up from an operation. And the deep breathing explains why we need to use a breather thingy (actual clinical term) to take deep breaths if we have had an operation and are in bed for awhile. Imagine that. There really is purpose behind those things we are asked to endure.
I am particularly fascinated with the deep breathing. How easy is it (for those who can) to take deep breaths as part of a healthy living plan? God breathed life into us. All we have to do to celebrate the life He gave us is to keep breathing, intentionally, for good health. Athletes do it. Singers and dancers do it. But we can’t all do the body movements that they do. Even if we can’t, we can do something. We can breath deeply just because we think to do it. We can stretch our arms up, while breathing deeply and Swoosh the blood back to our lungs for the next round. We can, when sitting or lying down, point our heels across the room stretching our calves and Swoosh the blood up our legs, back to our lungs for another round. And, hey, we can exercise our feet while we have that position. Then, we can get up and walk as well as we can, if even for only a few feet. No more excuses. We can do something to help our bodies work better.
But, again, the breathing… Yes, the breathing. How does that relate to our spiritual life? Genesis 2:7: the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. God breathed life into us in the beginning and we need to keep breathing in that life.
Consider the song, “This is the Air I Breathe.”* It plainly presents the truth that eating and drinking God’s Word is not quite enough. We must also breathe it in, deep breathing on a daily basis as we follow the paths we are on.
May we all be breathing deeply from the source of our lives and may we worship Him with every breath we take in and every breath we exhale.
P.S. For those have trouble falling to sleep, try taking at least ten slow, deep, deep breaths in two rounds before rolling over to go to sleep. Then let me know if you made it to ten. : ) Seriously. It worked for me. And may you sleep better filled with the very breath God gave us.