Monthly Archives: November 2019

Lily and Gratitude to God and Thanksgiving Day

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In a previous post (The Itch to Write), I talked about having to take my cat, Lily, to the vet. Well, I did it. That was a week ago today, last Thursday. They kept her for four days, until Sunday. The doctor diagnosed pancreatitis, and said that I may have been feeding her the wrong food, something she had originally prescribed for Lily several years ago for various reasons.

So I picked her up after church on Sunday, and the vet had a prescription for a new kind of food, as well as instructions on how to deal with any flareups from the pancreatitis, because she said that would come and go from time to time.

Now that she’s home, she’s much happier. She’s only vomited once, whereas before she was vomiting all the time, and she really likes the new food a LOT. Once she forgave me for taking her to the vet, as evidenced by the fact that she stopped avoiding me about five hours after we got home, she was back to her old self ~ cuddling with me while I watched TV, following me into the bathroom whenever I went there, and talking to me about anything and everything as she walked around my apartment.

I’ve wondered from time to time if my love for the various cats I’ve had over the years is something that’s pleasing to God or not, but then I found this verse in the Book of Proverbs,

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. ~ Proverbs 12:10, NLT. 

Once I’d read that, I knew it was okay with God that I love and care for my various and sundry pets, and in fact, it would be wrong if I didn’t.

Even though it cost me over $800 this last time at the vet, the doctor gave me a number of discounts, which she always does, so it could have been even higher, plus I’m always very pleased with the way she handles Lily. She’s always extremely gentle and unfailingly kind whenever she touches her, and the staff is the same way, even though Lily is well known for being a bit of a spitfire and a biter while she’s there. The biting is only because she’s nervous and afraid because I’m not there, and I hate that she does that, plus she doesn’t do it with me at home, except very infrequently when she’s mad at me. In addition the staff doesn’t seem mind ~ I always apologize, and they always tell me not to worry about it. I’m not that bothered by the cost, because I have faith that God supplies my every need,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19, KJV.

I love this verse, and I repeat it to myself all the time, a sort of meditation, kind of like a cow chewing her cud. The whole of Philippians 4 is full of rich nuggets, and Philippians 4:19 is just one of many.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul is talking to the Philippian Church, and he reminds them that the same God who meets his needs will also provide for them, and all of it will come from His riches in Glory through Christ Jesus. You can bet that’s a LOT of wealth, because, as the Bible says, God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the gold and silver are His as well,

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. ~ Psalm 50:10, KJV.

‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ~ Haggai 2:8, NIV. 

I especially like Philippians 4:19 in the New Living Translation,

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19, NLT.

So, in summary, Lily is better ~ thankfully ~ and God, being my source, is still on the throne of my life ~ where He will remain forever and always ~ even more thankfully.

 

A Shiny New Lexus or Jesus. Which to Pick?

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The answer is Jesus, of course. For me, there was never any question.

The holidays are approaching, always the most difficult time of year for me, though thankfully, they’ve gotten a whole lot easier in the last couple of years since God has been working in me.

It used to be that from the beginning of October through the middle of January I would fall into a deep depression that was so bad that it was hard for me to get out of bed, and it was difficult for me to blink and breathe. I’m so grateful to God that He’s healed me enough that I don’t go through that anymore. Now the worst it gets is a mild sadness, and sometimes a feeling of anger at people in general for the fact that they’re missing out on the real meaning of Christmas by focusing so much on the material aspects of it.

Of course it’s not hard to understand why people are so focused on spending money to buy the most expensive gifts possible. Seems to me there are a number of possible reasons.

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that focusing on surface issues like how much to spend on gifts distracts people from looking at the deeper issue of the true meaning of Christmas, which is that God sent Jesus Christ as His Gift to mankind to set us free from our sins, and bring us back into relationship with Him. Most people don’t want to be reminded that they’re sinners. They prefer to deny that fact by spending lots of money on all their friends. If they buy expensive gifts for everyone they know then they can say, “Look what a good person I am. I just bought you this snow white Lexus for $30,000 and parked it in front of your house with a giant, ostentatious red bow on top. Aren’t I wonderful? I spent more on you than I did on my children!”

That thought process reminds me of the passage in Matthew 6 where it talks about doing good deeds,

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:1-4, NLT.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but if advertising trends are any indication, then I’m not far off the mark. Every year Lexus trots out the same ad with the same ostentatious red bow on top of a shiny new Lexus, with someone handing over the keys to an ecstatic soul, who now loves their new best friend, whether that friend is the new car or the person who bought it for them.

And then there’s the Great Christmas Light Fight put on by ABC. Season 7 begins on December 2, and ABC is so sure of its success that they’ve already scheduled Season 8 for December of 2020. Basically it’s a competition to see who can come up with the most outlandish Christmas light display, and entries are accepted from all across the country. My problem with it is that, as with the Lexus ads, they’re missing the whole point of Christmas.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is utter madness.

The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate and honor, and express our gratitude to God for His one-of-a-kind and precious gift of Jesus Christ to mankind for the remission of our sins.

There has never been a gift like this, and never will be again. I mean, Who gives His own and only Son, who allows Himself to be murdered in the most vile, shameful, and painful death ever known, even though he’s a completely innocent and perfect human being, because He’s taking the punishment for the rest of humanity for our sins.

Who does that? Only God, Who did it because He loved us SOOO incredibly much.

And in the process of dying, the Son has to experience the abandonment of His Father because He has to take on Himself the sin of the whole world, and His Father can’t look at Him at that point because the Father is too holy and pure to be able to look at sin, so He has to turn His back on His Son.

I think that was the most painful part of the crucifixion for Jesus, and why He cried out from the cross,

Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” ~ Mark 15:34, NLT.

This post started out being about Christmas, and it’s ended up being about Easter, and while that wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing on my part, I think it was on God’s, because Jesus came to earth so He could die on a cross for our redemption, and three days later He was resurrected from the dead, once again for us, so He could return to Heaven and sit at the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for us always,

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25, NKJV.

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. ~ Romans 8:34, NLT.

We celebrate Christmas and Easter as separate holidays, but I think they could easily be celebrated as one huge observance commemorating the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It could done over a two week period, with a few days devoted to each period, and then a final huge bang-up party at the end.

I know this will never happen, because people are way too entrenched in their traditions. Plus, in reality, the Life of Christ should be lived out and celebrated in our everyday existence all the time.

I know this is kinda long. Sorry…

I think I’m done with this rant for the time being, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say at a later time.

The Itch to Write

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This is going to be a rambling and meandering post. I want to write about something, anything, so I’m just going to write about whatever comes to mind.

I’m going to have to take Lily to the vet. She’s been puking up her food a lot lately, and I don’t know why. I hate the idea of having to do it because she hates riding in the car, but there’s no other way to get her there. Plus I’m fairly certain the doctor will want to do blood tests, and possibly X-rays, and they’re expensive, but there’s no other way to find out what’s wrong with her. I do trust the vet I use, so I’m not worried about that part, it’s just the whole thing about having to take her to the doctor and all that.

ARRGH!!

I found another lovely little hidden bit of divinity (A Hidden Bit of Divinity) while I was doing my reading today. I’m currently reading the Gospels, and I’m in Chapter Eleven of the Book of Matthew,

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27, ESV.

I read that verse and thought, “That sounds like something from the Book of John!”

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ~ John 10:14-15, ESV.

And then, to my delight, the very next passage in Matthew 11 turned out to be,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ Matthew 11:28-30, ESV.

So Matthew 11:27 talks about Jesus revealing the Father to those whom He chooses, and then Jesus tells us to come to Him and find rest with Him, and learn from Him ~ right after He talks about revealing the Father to us.

How cool is that!

Okay, I feel better now. The itch to write has been scratched.

 

The Mystery of Forgiveness

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The Bible says only God can forgive sins,

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is He saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” ~ Mark 2:5-7, NLT.

This is a mysterious thing to me, because, while I understand the part about God being the only one who can forgive sins, I don’t understand why God then says that we are to forgive people as well. He even says if we don’t forgive other people, then He won’t forgive us. How can we forgive anyone if He’s the only one who can forgive? Makes no sense to me,

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NIV.

It becomes more understandable, at least to me, if you think of sin as being against God and God alone, as King David said in Psalm 51 after he’d sinned with Bathsheba, and conspired to murder her husband, Uriah the Hittite,

Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:4, NLT.

But that still doesn’t explain why God requires us to forgive if He’s the only one who can forgive. How is it possible for us to do so if He’s the only one who can? I don’t get it!

I know from hard personal experience that forgiveness on my part is a good thing to do. I’ve actually made myself physically sick by holding on to unforgiveness towards my sister because I was so angry at her for something she did to me that was incredibly hurtful. When I finally forgave her I was instantly healed, and all the turmoil and confusion that had entered my life because of the bitterness and unforgiveness I had entertained towards her simply left, and I was at peace again. It was a wonderful object lesson, and not one I plan on repeating.

So regardless of whether I understand why I’m supposed to forgive, I’m going to continue to do so. It’s enough that God commands me to forgive, even if I don’t understand why. It’s kind of like your mother telling you, “Because I said so!” when you asked why you had to do something when you were a kid, only it’s God saying it. It has so much more meaning and significance when God says it, seems to me.

So that’s my rumination for today. I don’t necessarily need anyone to solve it for me. It’s just something I puzzle on periodically, is all.

Thanks for letting me meander! I love all my followers! I wish I had more!

A Hidden Bit of Divinity

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Have you ever had the experience of reading through a passage of Scripture, and coming to a verse you’ve read many times, but this time God shows you something in the verse that makes you feel like you’d never seen the verse before? I had that experience recently when I read John 17:5,

And now, Father, glorify Me at Your side with the glory I had with You before the world was created. ~ John 17:5, NET.

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. ~ John 17:5, NLT.

There are a number of places, especially in the Gospel of John, where Jesus declares Himself to be the Son of God, and/or to be equal with God, and John 17:5 is a clear statement of Jesus’ divinity. I’d never seen it before, but there it is. And now, everytime I read it, I get excited, because I understand what He’s saying there. John 17 is what many people call Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer to the Father before He went to the Cross. While most people think of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 as being the Lord’s Prayer,

Therefore, you should pray like this: our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as Holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:9-13, CSB.

I think of John 17 as being the Lord’s Prayer more than Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The passages in Matthew and Luke are important because they’re where Jesus gave us a roadmap on how to pray to the Father. But to me John 17 is more literally the Lord’s Prayer because that’s where Jesus spoke directly to God, and He spent the whole chapter doing so.

There is so much rich meat in this chapter!

I won’t talk about all of it here because there’s so much, but there is one little tidbit I want to mention.

In the second verse Jesus says that God gave Him authority over all flesh,

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” ~ John 17:1-2, ESV.

In context, the authority over all flesh is referring to the fact that God gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to everyone that God had given to Him. But I think it could also be said that the authority referenced here could be authority over other things.

For instance, when I read that God had given Jesus authority over all flesh, the very first thing that popped into my mind was that it was no wonder healing came so easily to Him. God gave Him authority over all flesh, so all He had to do was exercise that authority for healing to happen.

I think we can have little hidden bits of divinity as we go about our everyday lives. For me these bits of divinity are unexpected encounters with God ~ moments where I happen on a beautiful bit of scenery that takes my breath away, or when I read a particularly lovely poem or portion of prose, or when I hear an especially joy-filled piece of music. I call these times bits of divinity because they’re unanticipated, and because they make me think of God when they happen. It’s like God gives me a little gift out of the blue, a little bit of beauty that just pops up seemingly out of nowhere. And the only response I can give Him in return is to praise Him.

Another hidden bit of divinity might be when we help someone in need,

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! ~ Hebrews 13:2, NLT.

How cool it would be to know that you actually helped an angel when you thought you were helping a human being.

That would be pleasing to God, and there’s nothing better than that!

Which Bus Should I Take?

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The title notwithstanding, this post has nothing to do with taking the bus, and everything to do with controlling my thought life. It’s a metaphor suggested to me by my therapist, and it made so much sense to me that I decided to write about it.

Yay for McT!

We’re all inundated with thoughts on a constant basis, and I’m no different than anyone else. The problem is figuring out which ones to listen to and which ones to ignore. And this is where McT’s clever little analogy comes in. Which bus/thought should I take/listen to and which bus/thought should I ignore? Especially when things get chaotic and overwhelming, and there are a lot of thoughts and buses zooming around inside my head, it can be very difficult to sort out which ones to pay attention to and which ones to ignore.

At that point I want to throw up my hands in exasperation and get lost in a good book!

ARRGH!!

Unfortunately I can’t do that because life goes on. More to the point, my life goes on, and I simply can’t let myself drown in the chaos, nor do I have to. I can take control and decide which thoughts I’ll listen to, as it says in Philippians 4,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, WEB.

Escaping into a good book would be the easy ~ and fun ~ way out, but most of the time it’s not an option. Plus, when I do take control, the sense of victory I have is palpable, as is the feeling of God’s pleasure in me because I trusted Him and His Word.

And I LOVE pleasing God!

There’s nothing better than that.

The Should’ve Beens That Weren’t

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The cross. I could rhapsodize on that one subject for the rest of eternity and still not have covered everything that could be said about it. The same holds true for the resurrection. Those two topics are a source of endless fascination for me, because Christ was willing to go through the agony and shame of the cross, regardless of the pain and suffering that it meant for Him, because He knew what was coming. And I’m thinking that Satan didn’t know what was coming, because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 2,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, KJV.

I love this passage. For one thing it tells me that the devil is not omniscient. So while he is powerful, he’s not all-powerful, and he’s certainly not as powerful as God is. And this passage also says pretty specifically that it was Satan, through evil man, that crucified Jesus Christ, just in case there was any doubt.

Because of the cross there are all kinds of should’ve beens that didn’t happen. Like I should’ve gone to Hell, but I won’t, thank God. Like one of my nine suicide attempts should’ve worked, but they didn’t, praise God. Like one of my mother’s attempts to kill me should’ve succeeded, but didn’t, thank God. Like I could’ve been abandoned by God, but wasn’t, amazingly. Like I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, but wasn’t, incredibly.

That last one, that I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, gives me pause when I consider it. I don’t like to admit that I’m a sinful person. No one does. But I am. I’m full of pride. I play online games more than I should, and I’ve refused to stop playing them when I’ve sensed that my playing them isn’t pleasing to God. I don’t read my Bible nearly enough, nor do I spend enough time fellowshipping with God. I also watch far too much TV, to the exclusion of doing other things that need to be done, like cleaning my apartment, and washing the dishes.

It was my sin, and the sin of the rest of humanity that put Christ on that cross, and it was His love for me and everyone else that kept Him there. I find that kind of love incredibly difficult to understand. That someone would be willing to go through that kind of hellish agony for me, so I wouldn’t have to, is unfathomable to me, and there’s only one possible response I can make to such a gift. I could reject it, but I’d be a fool to do so. So I choose to receive it, and praise and thank God for it.

Hallelujah!!