Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Jesus is Enough’ Category

This week the world lost an incredible young woman.  She is the oldest daughter of one of my closest friends, a family that shared some of our crazy history, and that has stood by us in some really hard times.  We’ve both been through some trauma in the last three or four years.  We met in a home school group years ago and eventually formed a bond that survived all the religious transitions, moves, and family crises.  I guess we understood each other’s versions of crazy.  It’s hard to find friends like that.

Our kids grew, life changed, but our relationship often revolved around talking about our kids as they entered young adulthood.  As moms we share the joys, fears, struggles and frustrations.  We agonize over wanting to see our children come into their own, but it’s so difficult to make that transition sometimes.  We remember our own pasts.  We see them try to navigate the unknown territories and we hurt with them, pray for them, and then rejoice when the level places come in time.  Jessica had found her level place of a truly happy, thriving life.  Her last facebook post, “I. Love. My. Life.”  She had recently married the love of her life.

Jessica was always different, in a good way.  To say she was gifted would be an understatement.  When people would ask me to explain to them the benefits of homeschooling, I would say, “There is this one girl…”  And I would tell them about Jessica.  She learned Hindi, became a gourmet cook, was a horse whisperer, took up Krav Maga and became an instructor, worked on her own truck and motorcycle, and was one of the most gifted artists I’ve ever seen.  I knew her mostly through her mother after she left home, but I had (and have) the greatest admiration for her.  She was beautiful inside and out.

In reality, she would have been shown brightly no matter how she was educated.  I do believe being at home gave her the freedom to explore and develop in more ways than if she had been bottled up in a classroom.  But being at home also means the mother, teacher, mentor is deeply invested in her children on many levels.  Not saying it’s harder for one than another.  Just that it’s hard beyond words.  I have only come close to that edge and that was close enough.  My imagination carried me into that place I thought I might have to go, but we were spared.  Now my friend has been called to walk this road.

This past Monday Jessica was headed to work on her Harley, (yes, HER Harley) the bike she loved, living the life she loved.  A car pulled out in front of her and she walked into eternity at that moment.  I had been away from my phone for an hour (teaching my younger children) and when I came back to it my heart leaped into my throat as I read messages from so many people, and saw all the missed phone calls.  I called her mom, my friend.  Grief beyond words.  No words.  I went to be with her – although she had many friends and close family around her.  I just had to be there.  It’s all I can do.  Just be, and pray, and wipe away tears.

Tomorrow we gather to remember and celebrate her incredible short earth life of almost 25 years.  Her husband, parents, sister, extended family, friends, and Krav Maga community will mourn the loss together.  And then the next day, is Resurrection Day.  The New Day – and hope of Life and happy reunions.  As my own faith has been through the fire of testing and been dragged through the valley of doubt, this one thing – resurrection – this is the one truth that has kept me from dropping into the abyss of unbelief without hope.  And I cannot imagine facing a day like tomorrow without that rock of truth, that we are not just this body.  We are Life, His Life.

I may run out of things to expound on here on this blog because I’m not the same person that started writing here years ago.  I’ve moved on to other places and new vistas that have come after some deep valleys.  But one thing will not change.  The 8th Day is for Life.  Forever.  Rejoicing in the light of this, through the tears.

4540_1140563003645_2450427_n

Rejoicing In the Presence of Christ. Not goodbye, but see you soon Jessica

(For any who feel led to make a donation to help the family, a GoFund has been set up.  http://www.gofundme.com/FarewellJessica)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Been in somewhat of a valley recently. The timing seemed to coincide with the shortening of days and long nights of cold darkness. I have never experienced seasonal depression but I can understand how the lack of light can affect a person’s outlook. We have also had more dreary overcast days than I remember from past winters.

I have gone through a year of testing in the area of doubt and unbelief, delving into the depths myself seeking to understand what spark generates faith and what extinguishes it.  I did not lose my faith, but at times felt like I was holding it in my hand, like the stone in this blog header, examining it from the outside – yet not letting go.

For many years in my past Christian walk I have read so many faith-building stories of the people of God in terribly hard circumstances – each of them called to be a channel for His love and truth.  I have read of Divine revelations, visions, miracles, and impossible conversions, by human reasoning.  I have traveled a long road in seeking people that walk this road of the REALITY of Christ rather than theories, and who hold to His precepts – not compromising them with allegiances to worldly agendas.  I have found no such “place” in my journey to date, but I have found a few shining stars.  People who hold fast and rise above the confines of the structure of “religion”, participating in its outer structures or not, truly touch the Life of Christ and walk in it.  Not on some super-power plane, as we are all very human, but in a path of true Faith and Love.

Two of these friends have walked with me daily through so many trials in the last few years that it brings tears to my eyes right now to even write about them.  They are my spiritual family and my “church”.  They are a gift to me from the Spirit like no other I’ve ever had in my life.  We are called to believe all that our Lord has said, even in the face of all opposition, but I believe that He did not intend for us to walk the road of faith alone.  Even if we experience isolation, we still have the knowledge and memories of others who walked with us, or He will bring others into our path at the time of need.  The unity of the Family in God in the essence of His Spirit – not our finite understandings of Him – is just that.  Family.  It’s not a theory, a philosophy, or a dogma.  It’s a fellowship of Love.

It can be difficult as the world cheapens everything that is connected to Christ – either in the way the Church itself presents Him, the world mocks him, and the skeptics scorn.  It’s far more effective to convince people Christianity is a myth than to try and stamp it out by force.  This past year I have felt overwhelmed that in my own country, I don’t know how to overcome the false image people have received of Him.  It’s almost like they have been inoculated with a killed version of truth, and are now immune to the genuine.  I know the Spirit of God can overcome even this, but to my natural mind, it looks hopeless.

I understand what the scriptures say about the foolishness of the gospel.  To follow Christ in this age, as in any before, we must stand to ridicule and opposition.  I would encourage every believer to know WHY they believe what they claim.  Many atheists have given it much more thought than the average Christian.  But I find that most people will simply find a way to believe what appeals to them.  They are not willing to test either direction, for or against.  We can immerse ourselves in one side of an argument and never dig into the evidence for the the side we want to reject.  Some people may think this is dangerous to explore outside the confines of your faith.  But I have not seen people deceived by true, honest investigation.  I have seen many people led away by an obsessive hunger for that which follows a deviant path – without being willing to ask, “Is this true?”  I respect honest searching, even if the conclusion is different from my own.  But I have found so few people who have truly done this.  I know the Truth stands on its own and does not need my protection.

As I am going through a dark time, gravitating as Peter did, to be overcome by the waves and storm rather than the Master walking on the water, calling out to me to follow – I had an amazing gift this morning.  It may seem silly to some – but when God gives you a sign, your heart sees it.  When I opened my eyes from sleep, a blinding light was shining in my eyes.  As I put on my glasses I realized that the sun was reflecting off the windows of a house quite a distance behind us.  We have a very large back yard and a creek runs in a culvert between our house and the next neighborhood.  The light was shining through the blinds in our room, which are usually closed down tight – but raised last night a little to do something with the window.  They didn’t get lowered back all the way.  I’ve never seen this reflection at any time in the three years we have lived in this house.  I had to take a picture and thank Jesus for His light, and a Christmas morning light to encourage me when I really need to be reminded how dark-dispelling His light truly is.

WP_20141225_002

But this isn’t all.

A few nights ago I was out for a drive which I sometimes do in order to have some time alone when I’m really distraught.  My emotions were swinging between grief and rage over a situation.  Sometimes you feel that you cannot keep walking the same path, yet leaving it would cause even more pain.  This circumstance is directly related to faith and unbelief, but I cannot say more.  As I made my way back home, driving through an affluent neighborhood, I saw a junk pile on a curb.  I can’t resist these no matter what my state of mind.  In fact, I find it therapeutic the way some people might find shopping at the mall running up their credit card debt.  I pulled over and tried to see in the dark.  Among some interesting finds, I saw a medium-sized white box which had something encased in Styrofoam, but I could not tell what it was.  Curiosity prompted me to take it home just to find out.  I discovered a fairly large snow-globe with a nativity scene in it.  It has a music box, and when I put batteries in it, discovered that the manger lights up.  Yes, this might be a pretty cheesy Christmas decoration, one that I never would have actually purchased.  They say timing is everything, and it’s the thought that counts.  The best Gift  of Light we have received continues to reassure us, guide us, and comfort.

Merry Christmas to my true Family in Christ.  May His light shine brightly on you.

Read Full Post »

In the last few weeks we have seen the bloodiest conflict yet between Israel and Gaza.  The last news story I saw reported that Israel was appearing to scale back its operation, but there is no way to know what tomorrow holds, and the situation at the moment is terribly bleak.  The last figures I saw reported over 1800 killed and 8000 injured in an area about half the size of Orlando.  That would be a huge crisis even if your still had all your medical facilities and your power plant, which they don’t.

Yesterday I received an email update from a Palestinian pastor who has contacts in Gaza, and had been involved in ministering to believers there before this began.  With his permission I’m sharing it here to ask you to join me in prayer for them, and for those who are able, to send aid.   Please take just five minutes to hear his phone conversation with a pastor inside Gaza, and his description of the situation there.  He estimates there are 2000 believers there.

(video removed)

 

Now I want to bring up something this pastor never mentions.  In the times I have heard him speak, or in the few brief conversations I’ve had with him, he has never complained or spoken negatively about the lack of interest the American evangelical church shows toward their suffering brothers and sisters in Gaza and the West Bank.  But I personally  know there is often shock when people are even asked to consider that Palestinian Christian exist at all!  In our fervor to support Israel, we tend to see the Palestinians as one big block of terror – all dark and sinister.  But there is still a light in Gaza, and it’s suffering.

I want to share a few words with you from a book written 12 years ago.  Many have lost their lives since then in numerous conflicts.  But the situation spoken of here is just as true today as it was then.  Please put yourselves in their shoes and try to see through their eyes for a moment:

“For many years, I have been hurt so much, more by my brothers in the West than by Israel.  And this is common throughout the evangelical churches in Palestine.  We do not ask the churches in America to give us money.  We just want them to identify with us and allow us to identify with them.  And if not identify, at least feel with us.  Say you understand us.  On the contrary, many of the brothers from outside come to us with judgment.  They even come with rebuke.  We feel cut off, alone, away from the church.  We want to be part of the church worldwide.” – Jack, Palestinian Believer

“We wake up in the morning and have breakfast like Christians in the U.S…. We go through difficult times like they do.  We love the Lord as much as they do.  And we need them to be with us, not against us.  I don’t have a problem with any Christians supporting Israel with money and prayers.  I don’t mind that.  I just encourage them to look at the other side and to recognize that there are Palestinian believers too.

“But the only emails I receive from Christians in America say that Palestinians are terrorists and need to be killed.  A Christian church in America donated money for a tank.  Imagine how we felt as we watched the news and saw a tank crossing over on shipboard to Israel with a big sign on it reading, “Donated by the Christians of the United States.” – Waleed, Palestinian Believer

These quotes, along with many inspirational stories of faith are found in the book, Between Two Fires by Jack Kincaid.

Do you know anyone praying for Gaza?  Do you know any churches or groups weeping for them, praying, and mobilizing resources to help in their time of need?  I would love to hear about it!  Please leave a comment.  That’s why I’m writing this.  Please share it with your friends.  You can be the spark!

The suffering of every person should deeply touch us, Jew, Muslim, and Christian.  But if we do not even know what those in our own family are suffering, how can we show compassion to the rest?

I also want to share with you a picture and message that has come through a brother, who hasn’t as far as I know, read the book I just quoted.  But Jesus impresses his heart with images and words that express His pleadings for us to turn our hearts to Him and what He loves.

The Palestinian Bride

“Many of My people love Israel
and they pray for her often—
for her safety, peace, and prosperity.

They are proud to ‘stand for Israel’:
they preach it in their gatherings,
participate in conferences about it,
and assemble to protest and rally for it.

They support Israel’s politics;
they pray for Israel’s army,
for her military objectives,
and for her to be victorious.

They are attentive not only to the past
and present sufferings of Israel,
but also to potential sufferings that Jews
could experience under speculative scenarios.

But they cannot see the great sufferings
of their Christian brothers and sisters
in neighboring Gaza and the West Bank.

My Palestinian bride suffers,
but they do not mourn with her,
comfort her, encourage her or support her.
They do not ‘stand with’ her.

My bride in Palestine is an inconvenience
to the great devotion of many to Israel;
hearing of her suffering only interrupts
their unceasing prayers for Israel.

Many of My people in their hearts have sold
their suffering Palestinian brothers and sisters,
trading them for the hope of being rewarded
for unconditionally ‘standing with Israel.’

Although many in the church abroad
have forsaken My Palestinian bride,
yet I have not abandoned her,
and I have raised up a remnant of My people
to pray for her and support her.

Though she has not been loved
by many of her family—My people—
she shall be honored and called ‘My beloved’.”

*****

Art: “Forsaken By Family”

Ramone Romero

Weeping Jeremiahs

Read Full Post »

For many months when I have tried to begin to write these things I have been at a loss to know where to start, or claimed I do not have the time.  But when the heaviness gets to be too much, it just has to be written, with full knowledge that my words are offensive to people I love.  I have held back for literally years from speaking my heart in honesty, for fear of what people may think.  I can now no longer look at myself in the mirror as the fearful person I have been, but speak as I have been burdened to speak.

Early this morning I had a dream I was driving an old, junky car (with a passenger, but don’t know who it was) and came to an intersection in a small town business district that looked as any in America might look, with old brick buildings and cars parked along the street.  As I pulled up, a jihad-style army marched toward us from the opposite direction.  They wore all  black and carried banners with symbols on them.  Their machine guns pointed straight at us.  They stopped at the intersection as well,  keeping their weapons held up, ready to fire.  I felt terrified at first, and unable to move.  But then suddenly the fear disappeared and I decided to turn the car around and go the other direction, whatever the outcome may be.  I realized they might shoot, but it seemed better than sitting there waiting and wondering.  As I turned the car around, behind me was a procession coming from the other way – almost like a parade.  Women were in the front dressed in beautiful Arab clothing as if for a wedding or some special occasion.  Suddenly we heard people shouting at us from all directions to get out of the way, but I was blocked in and couldn’t get out.  I realized at that moment we had driven onto a movie set and ruined an entire scene someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to create.

I don’t claim to understand or interpret dreams, and I’m sure there is a great deal here that I have missed, and possibly just a dream reflecting how I deeply feel.  But it occurred to me when I woke up that all these world events are like a stage – and people have been appointed their parts to play.  Anyone who would interject that this isn’t our true reality, and decide not to be ruled by fear, will be seen as an extreme nuisance for botching the “picture” everyone has dedicated themselves to playing out.

In this world you can find an opinion in every direction from any source.  You can find  someone who has converted to any religion from any other religion – with convincing testimonies.  My husband recently ran across a zealous evangelist for Islam who was raised a fundamental Baptist.  Every human being seeks a group to express and define identity, whether that ideology is religious, political, or simply a lifestyle.

Doris Lessing in her book, Prisons we Choose to Live Inside, astutely observes,

“The fact is that we all live our lives in groups – the family, work groups, social, religious and political groups.  Very few people indeed are happy as solitaries, and they tend to be seen by their neighbours as peculiar or selfish or worse.  Most people cannot stand being alone for long.  They are always seeking groups to belong to, and if one group dissolves, they look for another.  We are group animals still, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But what is dangerous is not the belongings to a group, or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us.

When we are in a group, we tend to think as that group does:  we may even have joined the group to find “like-minded” people.  But we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group.  It is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group.” – p. 47, 48

We see “freethinking” movements today as many in our culture seek to reject the norms, yet this group will have its own dogmas and expectations and restrict free thought into areas it seeks to reject.

In my lifetime, I have been carried away in currents of more groups than I care to remember.  I have discovered that to align my life with the pattern that Jesus taught does not seem to be congruent with many groups I am aware of, chiefly because so many of the groups that claim to follow Him have allied themselves with other influential groups that imprint another belief structure on top of His, most of which I feel drown out and alter His true message.

Many world religions seem to have a violent faction and an arm of peace, which I find interesting.  Christians have a tiny slice of their group who reject active participation in violence, most of which exist on the outside fringe of what evangelicals accept as orthodox.

The Church in America denounces the violent past of the Crusades and Inquisition, explaining this was not “real” Christianity, yet the religion as a whole here supports without question the flag of a country, and its military, that have been one of the most and aggressive and meddling since World War II.  Although, when we are finished with a country, the Christians living in those areas are running for their lives, offered no protection from this great military might we Christians here support without question.

Evangelicals also widely support Zionism.  Along with the Hebrew Roots Movement to which I subscribed, these groups set up Israel as the modern fulfillment of Bible prophecy, therefore cannot be in error in any of their methods or goals.  These groups believe Israel must not be questioned  on any grounds for any reason, and refuse to believe any report that may suggest that the Jewish people may in fact be supporting a very oppressive, systematic breaking down of millions of people.  Many I know would in fact not even care.  They believe in the Jewish right to this real estate at any cost.  “Turn the Arab world into a glass parking lot…” – that’s what I hear.  This loyalty is based in religious belief, which ironically is not at all shared by the most devout followers of Judaism.

In the Hebrew Roots Movement we enamored ourselves with the teachings and way of life of the most faithful in Judaism while at the same time, never getting clued into the actual stance of many of them toward the political state of Israel itself.  This group does not believe in serving in the military (but are being forced to) and contend that the fulfillment of prophecy will come through the Messiah without violence and oppression.  Interesting viewpoint!

Evangelicals and Orthodox Jews both agree that the prophecies of Israel’s restoration will take place, but have very different views about the methods.

All religion aside (if that’s possible in this case), a brave voice in Israel wrote an article recently that explained most clearly and simply the situation as I had come to observe it as well.

The single most overwhelming item of evidence of Israel’s rejection of peace is, of course, the settlements project. From the dawn of its existence, there has never been a more reliable or more precise litmus test for Israel’s true intentions than this particular enterprise. In plain words: The builders of settlements want to consolidate the occupation, and those who want to consolidate the occupation do not want peace. That’s the whole story in a nutshell.Gideon Levy

This Palestinian hatred does not emerge in a vacuum.  Even the war hero, Moshe Dayan, honestly  acknowledged this fact, while still holding to the line that Israel must march forward no matter the reprisals or dangers.  But at least he didn’t glaze over the root cause of the conflict.

 “Let us not cast the blame on the murderers today. Why should we deplore their burning hatred for us? For eight years they have been sitting in the refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we have been transforming the lands and the villages, where they and their fathers dwelt, into our estate,” 

(April 1956)

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/doomed-to-fight-1.360698

 

When this injustice of continued land-grabbing ceases to take place, and Palestinians are not treated as sub-human on a daily basis in their encounters with the IDF checkpoints, and their basic human rights are acknowledged (speaking of the overall strategy here, not the wonderful exceptions to the pattern), then the claims of persecution and threat   may be taken more seriously in the world community.  I applaud that warning shots are sent to a house before it’s destroyed.  It’s great to be courteous when taking over a land.  I am not sure my own country is as thoughtful.  But attempts to minimize civilian casualties does not a moral army make if the directives are wrong in the first place.

I implore you to take less than 10 minutes to hear this alternative voice:

I understand Israel has a deep-seated fear, and a genuine danger from her neighbors, which she herself feels  obligated to escalate and perpetuate.  These nations are on track to bring about destruction of the entire region.  Palestinians are not that immediate threat to Israel’s destruction, although they do manage to cause pain and suffering.  Their rockets shut down the economic activity but harm little else.  They are pawns – used by opposing sides – to justify activities that profit a few.

Jesus says to live by the sword is to die by the sword.  If Moshe Dayan was correct in his assessment that to have a nation state of Israel in this region is to commit to a life of the sword for survival, then what does it mean to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?  What would be the prayer for Jerusalem now that Jesus would pray?  Would it be similar to the one He prayed in tears when He walked the Earth?

If my survival, and even more commonly – my prosperity, depends on bloodshed, the damage to my soul is greater than I have done to the body of my enemy.  I speak this of my own country even more so than Israel.

Can we form spiritual and political alliances or are they mutually exclusive for a Christ follower?  Are there people being called in all areas of the world who see that this path as one of self-extinction, not of peace?  For those who believe this theology of spreading the gospel to save the world, is it more effective behind the sights of an assault rifle or not?  Does the person on the other side of the rifle barrel or in the drone target zone understand the difference between your soldiers and missionaries?  And why you support both?

I close with one last quote from Doris Lessing.  She was a humanist, but echos my observations of the polarization of mankind into extremes.  I however have to differ with her on the point of reason and sanity.  The Narrow Way doesn’t usually follow into those categories.  But while there is great evil increasing, I also see rays of light coming out from unlikely sources.  Come quickly Lord Jesus – if not in the clouds today – at the least in our hearts.

 “This is a time when it is frightening to be alive, when it is hard to think of human beings as rational creatures.  Everywhere we look we see brutality, stupidity, until it seems that there is nothing else to be seen but that – a descent into barbarism, everywhere, which we are unable to check.  But I think that while it is true there is a general worsening, it is precisely because things are so frightening we become hypnotized, and do not notice – or if we notice, belittle – equally strong forces on the other side, the forces, in short, of reason, sanity and civilization.” p. 3,4  Prisons We Choose to Live Inside

Read Full Post »

Israel_Palestine_FlagMy heart is broken today over the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine.  I ache for all the suffering on both sides.  

As an American citizen, I have no ground to confront the violence of any other nation.  We romanticize our “wars” no matter how pointless, and worship our military.  I love and respect everyone who serves, but I find it sad that reverence for selfless service is used as a barrier to discourage open discussion about what they are asked to do and how.  As the whole world knows, we love our guns too.  It’s hard to find an American, Christian or not, who doesn’t believe violence is an admirable way to solve a conflict.  

Not only do we support violence, but Christians here have some strange beliefs about who God loves and doesn’t love, and therefore some people are of more value than others.  As I try to see humans through God’s eyes, not political and religious bias, and realize none of us are without fault or deserving of more of God’s favor, it becomes increasingly painful for me to remember the lock-step allegiances I used to ascribe to, and the people I used to degrade in my speech.

Father forgive us for these blind hatreds and loyalties both.  We are all in need of mercy.

Violence begets more violence, unless you achieve complete extermination or brokenness of an entire people group.  Once again, my country was successful on this front too with the continent’s First Nations.  While their total populations dwindled to only 250,000 at one point, and many believed they would vanish forever, there are now millions trying to reclaim their identity, and heal from centuries of genocidal practices toward every part of their lives for generations.  Yet we are still proud for having put them under our feet and taken everything from them we could.  I believe we have convinced ourselves they deserved it.  The “settler” and the “pioneer” are some of the most revered icons of our history books, and indeed my own great-grandparents were among them.

Why do people with no power or hope of winning continue to fight and bring these battles of final wrath upon themselves?  (Explore “The Great Indian Wars”)  Because they see what little they have left continue to be taken from them, right down to their dignity and their ability to provide for their own families.  Food is cut off, travel restricted, the space they are allowed to live becomes smaller and smaller as more settlers move in.  They see lands their families worked and lived on for generations taken over so that houses can be built for those who hate and abuse them, with military protection.

To this day, few people ever stop to ask, “What right did we have?”.  

I am living in peace on a land that 180 years ago was a war zone between the invaders and the people that had lived here for thousands of years.  My people won, and are still proud of it.  But when I go back and read the history, the broken promises, and learn of the devastated people, all I want to do is cry.  Nothing then, nor now, will stand in the way of our prosperity.  

This blog was not started to be political, and this discussion is much more about what the heart of Jesus sees when he looks at the world, not all the lies we tell ourselves about who is better or worse.  As Christians, many of whom proudly “Stand with Israel”,  I plead with you to not stand for violence toward any human beings.  Endless discussions abound over what people have a right to do in order to defend themselves.  Jesus had a right, but He set the example that it was more powerful to not exercise that right.  The bigger question is, what is the revenge cycle going to solve, and when?  

Genocide is a high price to exact in order to gain security.  Yet it appears there are elements on both sides here who have made a pact to follow this track to the end.  I know it is not the desire of all the people on either side.  Which side has the ability to actually carry it out, and will it in the end be justified or later listed with all the other unfortunate events in history?  

Where would Jesus stand?  I would personally love to see Him standing somewhere on this earth anytime now.  But my grasp on eschatology and prophecies wane a little hazy.  All I know is that whether it’s next year or 500 years, my call is to stand in Love, not on either side of a battle line.

I am encouraged that many voices are speaking out, from Israel as well, and I feel less compelled to do so.  But my husband and I both have discussed how our own past support of political sides that blinded us to the humanity of those we deemed as “enemies” leaves us with a burden to speak out for love, truth, and honesty.  I am not on anyone’s side, or against anyone.  I am for Love.  And for those who choose to walk in it as the highest road.  

If you are wanting people to believe the Jesus you speak of, you must put down the gun – both literal and figurative.  My faith has been sorely tested more by those who profess to be of this religion than by any other challenge.  “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”  Good question, Jesus.

 

Read Full Post »

I want to share a dream a very close friend of mine had a few weeks ago. I believe that as we settle down from the holiday food, fireworks, and parades – the message of this dream is so relevant to believers in the United States – or any country that has a strong sense of nationalism, and consequently the mindsets that develop as we endeavor to protect our way of life from foreign and domestic threats.

We are deeply divided against each other and view many other people groups as a whole, as evil. People have been easily herded into passionate crusades of one kind or another since civilization has existed. There is always someone screaming for your undivided loyalty.

The message of this dream conveys so beautifully the truths I have come to understand in the last few years.

I dreamed our family lived in a hotel. But it wasn’t unusual, because the whole world, or at least our country, lived in this hotel. Our government, the Church – everything was in this hotel. And it seemed that everything was in chaos. Terrible chaos. Terrorists everywhere. Government officials were urgently walking into and out of meeting rooms, giving speeches, suggesting one thing after another.

community-300x201But permeating the chaos and terror, and with supernatural power, was a group of young people on whom the Spirit of the Living God rested for just such a time as this. They had no weapons at all, but they were a choir. A choir with the sweetest music imaginable. Music that I couldn’t describe as I told Wes about the dream the next day. Music that made the things of life fade into the background and God into clear focus. They were singing, “Jesus Saves” but it was nothing like the song we know. Infinitely more beautiful.

And these young people were being killed by the dozens. But not retaliating, just ministering the Spirit to all. Gladly giving their lives that others might see and live.

I woke up with such a clear view of the Kingdom of Heaven being around us and in us.

I don’t want to muddy the water here with many of my words, but a few things stood out to me as significant.  The hotel setting shows we are in a temporary situation here.  We invest so much energy into the crises of these times in worry, fear, and anger.  We set up idols of ideologies, and look to human constructs for peace and safety.

But those who recognize the Supernatural walk in the opposite realm of love and living sacrifice.  They realize that retaliation and revenge perpetuate the darkness.  They would rather suffer their own demise as a witness to love than to hate and kill in return.

The song “Jesus Saves” is more beautiful than anything heard before because it’s the music of heaven being played out in their lives – not just a song on their lips.  The message Jesus Saves has been abused and misused for centuries in horror and violence, against Jews, Muslims, Native cultures worldwide, and even between Christian sects.  This was not His way.  This new song sings and walks in the truth.

I see many people caught up and carried away in the currents of world events and choosing sides.  But I also see many, often a younger generation, who are willing to walk the Jesus Road.  Big changes are coming.  Of which Kingdom do we belong?

See also a more urgent plea: Babylon is in Your Hearts

 

Read Full Post »

I really believe the human default (for adults that is) is law and legalism. I am not sure we are born with it, but society operates on this paradigm so it’s drilled into us at a very early age. Even if you don’t grow up in a legalistic religion, classmates and teachers both will make sure you understand the ground rules of success both socially and academically. How far back can we trace our fear of failure and rejection? Maybe parents were critical and you felt you must achieve something to gain their love. I am starting to see behavior-based religion as a secondary element that we choose because it flows with the worldview we already have. All the world religions I know of fall well into this same paradigm.

The problem isn’t that the law framework is false. Reaping and sowing are obvious – and even Jesus talked about this.  But grace is the supernatural variable that comes in, and unconditional love sees only that which remains – the good He planted in you – His own life and breath spreading light into the world.

The shocking, scandalous grace Jesus brought offends this law-based world, largely because we are led to believe that law is an end in itself. We never imagined there was another way, so if we can’t see the higher way He taught, we will try to fit him into the old wineskin where we understand how things work.

I read an essay yesterday by an environmental activist who saw the tragedy in living by a contract – that you will give no more than you absolutely have to. Sustainability concepts teach that you should endeavor to not take more from a living system than you put in, whether it be your land, community or family. This “contract” he stated, has created a mindset of people who are not willing to go out of their way for anyone or anything if they believe they have fulfilled their obligation. I understood exactly what he meant. Legalism at its finest.

Yesterday my children gave me a beautiful picture of what it looks like when Love trumps Law. I left my younger two with their older brother while I went to run errands. The house had been neglected for three days as we had spent most of our time working in the garden and yard over the holiday weekend. I constantly struggle with feeling overwhelmed, unable to keep up with my own expectations (law) about what I believe I need to accomplish.  I left them with two things I wanted them to do while I was gone, not really expecting it to be done by the time I returned. This brother and sister can take ALL day to clean a room, between playing and fighting – very normal kids.

When I came home, I instantly noticed the living room looked unusually tidy. My young son couldn’t wait to tell me what they did. But he didn’t have to tell me because I could see it! I walked into the kitchen to find my daughter sweeping the floor, and a note on the table said, “For You Mom”. The table was cleared off, along with the rest of the clutter around their desk and school area. She pointed to my bedroom door and said, “Look we even made your bed!” They also had started their laundry. I nearly cried. My gratitude for this gift was beyond measure. They weren’t even asking for extra allowance! They just wanted to help me. As I kept telling them how much I appreciated this extra help, my son said, “Wow mom, I didn’t think you would be THAT happy.”

I very soon thought of our Father in heaven and how it must touch his heart when we joyfully do things as a gift of love for Him, and not just doing our duty. Doesn’t the Scripture say, “God loves a cheerful giver?” I always go back to our human family as a reflection of our relationship with Him. Where there is love, no law is needed. Love goes above and beyond. It is a Law in itself, but one that breathes life and joy. (Not saying children don’t need boundaries… they do!) But as they grow and mature I want this love to be their motivation, not living up to my law or anyone else’s version of “have to”. Because everyone seems to have one, in and out of church or religions.

I would have been pleased enough if they had done what I asked. But to see them thinking outside of themselves, beyond reward or punishment to what would bless someone else, gave me a far greater joy – not just for the help it gave me, but for them to know this joy also. I don’t want to see them living a life seeking only their own benefit which leads to the never-enough syndrome, whether it’s in trying to ensure they avoid the wrath of God, or just impress the world on its terms. My prayer is they choose Love.  

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: