Category Archives: Faith

Christ Didn’t Die On the Cross to Save Ice Cream, Nor Did Ice Cream Die On the Cross to Save Me!

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In case you can’t tell from my somewhat lengthy title, I’m having a bit of trouble with ice cream. Or more to the point, with idolatry, and even closer to the point, a particular flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

 

 

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core

I’ve looked everywhere in my local vicinity and no one seems to have it. The Ben & Jerry’s website says you can get it at Target and Walmart, and Stater Bros has always carried it, but none of those places has it in stock, even though the shelf label is there.

You know how you get when you can’t find a product anywhere, so you start to fixate on it, and you get to the point where that’s all you can think about? Well, I’ve reached that point with this Ben & Jerry’s flavor. I’ve been hunting for it for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m going through withdrawal because I haven’t had it in so long, and I can’t find it, and I’m getting so frustrated!!

I know this sounds really ridiculous. You can laugh now, because I certainly am, albeit a bit ruefully.

I finally realized yesterday that it feels a bit like idolatry, thus the title of this post. So maybe I need to give up on my search and put my focus back on God where it’s supposed to be.

Then God gave the people all these instructions: “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” ~ Exodus 20:1 and 4, NLT.

It’s not that I don’t want to put my focus back on God. It’s the idea of giving up my favorite ice cream that’s so hard to think about.

No! No!! Rats!! Harrumph!!

Yup, it’s gotta be done.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! ~ Psalm 34:8, NASB.

How did I let myself get into this position?? I can sort of see it happening if I think about it. First, I eat too much ice cream in general. I certainly don’t need the stuff. I mean, I weigh over 200 pounds.

That’s right, over 200 pounds.

But I like it sooo much!! It tastes sooo good!! And with little else to do because of the quarantine, I’ve taken to eating ice cream everyday. I’ve rationalized it by telling myself that Ben & Jerry’s comes in pints, so the serving size is small.

Well, not really! At 200 pounds even a pint is too much, plus I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me everytime, telling me to only eat half of it, and I ignored Him.

Uh uh uh, naughty, naughty!! And after awhile He wasn’t prompting me anymore, so I knew I’d blown it.

I like it when the Holy Spirit talks to me like that. It makes me feel like we’re partners. So I repented, and now He’s nudging me again.

Phew!! What a relief! And I only ate half this time.

I’m so proud of myself! Obedience is a good thing. I can feel His pleasure when I obey Him, which makes me smile. 

What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. ~ 1 Samuel 15:22, NLT.

I don’t ever want to get caught up in anything resembling witchcraft, and it’s always been my desire above all else to please God, so if having His blessing means eating less ice cream, seems to me that’s a very small sacrifice to pay to get it.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

That’s right. Pleasing God is more important than anything else, so that’s what I want to do!

Fibber McGee’s Closet

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There are times when my mind gets so cluttered that it feels like Fibber McGee’s closet.

Now, I realize that there are those of you amongst my readers who don’t know who Fibber McGee is. Fibber McGee was the main character of a radio show that was broadcast from 1935 to 1956. The show was called Fibber McGee and Molly, and Molly was Fibber’s wife. The reason I know about him is because my mother told me about him, and because of his untidy closet.

The closet came in because Fibber had a hall closet that was used as a running gag on the show, and it was stuffed so full of junk that everytime the door was opened everything came crashing out onto the floor with a huge, loud, racket.*

When my mind gets that jumbled and muddled, I can’t think straight. In fact, I have a hard time thinking crookedly, or even at all. I have a hard time focusing enough to read or watch TV, or even play my game.

And there’s the shock of the world. I play a computer game.

I know, horror of horrors. I’m committing a great sin. You may gasp now, and then maybe you can pray for me. I, like everyone else, can always use prayer.

So when I feel fragmented and cluttered, what I need to do most of all is talk to God, because God is my source of wisdom and healing and light and anything else I might need, especially when I can’t think straight.

And that’s what I do. I cry out to God. He’s my very present help in time of trouble,

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1, NLT.

I have no other source to whom I can turn for help when I need it,

As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]. ~ John 6:66-68, AMP.

And eternal life is simple enough to acquire,

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3, NASB.

Imagine that! All you have to do to have eternal life is believe that God is, and that He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, which is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:6), and then with your faith, seek to know Him by reading His Word.

I find that to be wonderfully exciting, and even on days when I’m feeling confused and muddled, I’m still sure of my salvation. I know I can always call on God. I’m always sure that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Jesus spoke of in John 14 will be there to guide me and remind me of all the things that Jesus said,

But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you. ~ John 14:26, WEB (WEB is the Webster Bible translated by Noah Webster in 1833).

I guess the upshot of what I’m getting at here is that no matter how badly I’m feeling, no matter how jumbled and confused I get, I’m never without hope. And trust me, I know what it’s like to be without hope, because Harry stole my hope when I was a child.

That’s why I was so suicidal for so many years. I tried suicide nine times because I had no hope. But God restored my hope as He healed me from my childhood, and I’m so glad He did!

*The Meaning and Origin of Fibber McGee’s Closet

 

Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

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Johannes Kepler, the great astronomer and mathematician said that. And of all the thoughts that exist, God’s thoughts are the ones I want to think. However, the Bible says God’s thoughts are higher than ours,

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the LORD. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT.

So God’s thoughts are higher than ours. One place where you can find a whole lot of God’s thoughts is in the Bible, which is why it’s such a good thing to read and study it.

If you think about it, Isaiah 55:8-9 is also talking about God’s sovereignty, though if you leave it in context with the verses following, it’s also talking about the fact that God’s Word never fails, and always comes to pass, and part and parcel with that is the fact that God always keeps His promises.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV.

The sovereignty of God is one of those mysterious aspects about God that I’ve had a hard time understanding, both with respect to my own life, and with regard to the way things have worked out in other people’s lives for whom I’ve spent time in prayer.

There have been a number of people over the years, who all had cancer of one kind or another, whom I prayed for to be healed. After the first one died, leaving a wife and a five year old daughter behind, I decided I wouldn’t pray for cancer patients to be healed any longer. It was too painful when they died, and I felt like too much of a spiritual failure.

I realize that was probably pretty selfish of me, but I don’t think I can be effective before God when I pray for people if I’m fighting my own feelings of insecurity while I’m trying to pray for someone’s healing. So, while I do pray for people to be healed of other illnesses, I don’t pray for people to be healed of cancer. I direct my prayers in other directions when I’m praying for people with cancer.

Part of the reason for this is that my sister died from colon cancer back in August of 2008. I watched her die ~ and it was horrible!! The cancer metastasized from her colon to her lungs, so ultimately, what killed her was lung cancer. The cancer in her lungs asphyxiated her. Her oncologist said one of her lungs was okay, but the other lung was so bad that he was surprised she could breathe at all. He said her bad lung was one huge mass of cancer and blood clots. It made me hurt just to hear him describe it like that.

In addition to just having cancer, she had problems with her chemo drugs. For some reason they caused her to have hallucinations and delusions, but she didn’t know that’s what they were, so she didn’t ask her oncologist about it, because she was afraid he wouldn’t believe her, but would refer her to a psychiatrist, who she was sure also wouldn’t believe her.

What she did instead was talk to me, because I have a background in psychiatric problems due to my own issues and experiences. It was actually kind of amazing that she talked to me at all, because throughout my life my sister and I never got along. So all of a sudden, we were talking and relating peaceably like friends, with no arguing or bickering. It felt like a miracle.

God used her cancer to heal our relationship, a small silver lining out of the horrors of her disease, and something for which I will always be grateful.

Ravi Zacharias is someone else who died of cancer. I’ve come to realize that he had a profound influence on me, and now that he’s gone I feel like an enormous hole has been ripped in the fabric of my life.

The Bible says that God has numbered our days, and that He knew everything that would happen to us before we were born,

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. ~ Psalm 139:16, NLT.

I understand that to mean that God knows everything, including when we’ll die ~ and I’m assuming that also means how we’ll die ~ before we’re born. And while I know we have to die from something ~ I mean they have to put something on your death certificate afterall, even if it’s nothing more than cardiac arrest.

However, I know from reading my mother’s death certificate that the immediate cause of death, for example, cardiac arrest, is just the beginning. There’s a secondary cause, and a tertiary cause as well. But if you think about it, cardiac arrest doesn’t mean anything for a cause of death. Everyone dies from cardiac arrest, because everyone’s heart stops when they die, and that’s all cardiac arrest is. So using cardiac arrest as a cause of death is meaningless as far as I’m concerned.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I need to trust God. As hard as it is, I need to trust that He knows what’s best for me, He knows what He’s doing in my life.

His sovereignty is a good thing.

Let me repeat that. God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing.

Even when I can’t see what’s up ahead, God can, and He always has my best interests at heart. He will always do and plan what’s best for me. I have to trust and believe that about Him.

I have to always remember that God and Harry are two diametrically opposed people and figures in my life. God is not Harry and never has been. And Harry was not God, thankfully, even though he tried hard to make me think he was.

These are truths that I must continually remind myself of until they are fully integrated into my very wiring, they are that much a part of who I am.

So, in closing, God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing for me!!

Hallelujah!! Thank you, Jesus!! Thank you for birthing that truth in my heart! Please help me to keep it there, and please make it grow!!

My Brain Has Flown the Coup, and Then Come Back Again

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At the beginning of my last post, Ideas Flitting In and Out, I suggested some possible titles I was thinking about using for a blog post. The above was one of them. I kind of liked it so I thought I’d use it, considering I’m having trouble gathering enough thoughts to create a sentence, much less a whole blog post.

Lily, my cat, has decided that right now is the time for her to crawl into my lap and be affectionate. So that’s what she’s done, purring loudly, with her head nudging my right elbow, as I’m trying to type. Of course it’s almost impossible to concentrate, much less write down what I’m thinking about, with her doing all that, but it’s hard to turn her away because her motor and her beautiful blue eyes are so appealing.

Just thought I’d let you know what fun I’m having while I’m trying to write! Lily has always been a gift from God, and I love her dearly, but it gets interesting when she wants me to pet her right when I’m trying to write.

Back at it, Lily notwithstanding…

I’ve been feeling less depressed since that memory surfaced last Thursday while I was writing, and I’m very relieved about that. It’s extremely difficult for me to function when I get that depressed. It’s hard for me to blink and breathe when it gets that bad, so I can’t get anything done, not even reading my Bible. 

Fortunately, as I said, I am feeling a bit better, so I’m blinking and breathing easier and more often, thankfully. It’s kind of like a boil was lanced when that memory came up, to use an analogy. I do think I’ll need to explore the well from that memory with McT, because I’m not sure I’m done with it yet. Thankfully I’m supposed to have a phone appointment with him this afternoon.

So I had my appointment with McT, and it was, as always, a really good conversation. He is so easy to talk to! He just makes things easier. You know, things. Things that are hard to talk about. Things that hard to think about. Things that are hard to see, or hard to hear. I’m more and more able to trust him with the really hard stuff, the bits and pieces of my life that I’ve never been able to tell anyone.

The reason it feels like my brain has flown the coup is because, even though I’m feeling less depressed, most of the time my mind is blank, without thoughts ~ thoughtless, as it were, and I can’t figure out where they’ve all gone. I seem to be able to think enough to speak, so where are my thoughts when I want to write? It’s very frustrating and distressing.

I hate feeling like I have to wing it without knowing what’s going to come out when I say something. I have to trust myself, and that’s even harder than trusting God or McT. I have to trust that I won’t blurt out something stupid or obscene, or that I won’t say something that goes against what I believe or that dishonors God in some way.

I learned early on that I couldn’t trust my own reality, something that’s common amongst abuse survivors, because no one believed anything I told them. Plus Harry forced us to lie about what he was doing to us.

There’s a certain point at which someone who is forced to lie all the time begins to believe that the lies she’s telling are actually true. I think that happened to me, and was probably at least partly why I repressed the truth and remembered the lies. I couldn’t have survived otherwise.

But now that I’ve experienced so much healing at the Hand of God, I’m beginning to learn that I can trust myself and my reality. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, even harder than learning to trust God. I’ve always had the Bible to show me I can trust God, but I’ve never had anything on which to base any ability to trust myself, other than just… myself. Which didn’t make me feel confident at all. I mean, I wasn’t able to trust myself before, so why would I trust myself now? And no one else trusted me, so why would I trust myself?

However, as I’ve gotten stronger and more and more healed, I’ve grown more and more confident. And I’ve learned that my voice is worthy of being heard, and that I no longer have to remain silent. I can trust that what I have to say is just as meaningful and useful as anyone else’s message, because I have God on my side, and He will always come first.

It’s taken me over a week to write this post. I started on June 9th, and I’m almost ready to publish it today, nine days later. It’s evolved through a number of topics ~ as I thought it would ~ and in the process I feel like my brain has flown back into the coup.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

Trust is a big thing for me. It has to be earned, and I’ve tried hard to earn the right to trust myself. I’ve tried hard to earn the right for God to trust me, if you can do that. I hope you can, because I desire that God would trust me above all else.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

 

Enforced Hermit-hood Makes Me Feel Rebellious ~ Sort of

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As much as I like being alone, I’ve found that it’s a different feeling when you choose to be alone, as opposed to when you’re forced to be alone because of a government-enforced quarantine.

Hermit-hood is a lot harder to maintain when someone else is forcing you to do it. It doesn’t make me want to run out and stage a wild party or anything like that, but I’m finding myself entertaining some unfamiliar feelings. Things like, I don’t WANNA stay inside! Or, WHY do I have to stay inside?! I wanna go out and PLAY!!

Then I did my daily Bible reading from Philippians 3 and 4,

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:10-13, NIV.

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times, but this time God helped me to put a different slant on it simply by reading verse 13 in context with the rest of the passage. I don’t think I’d ever done that before ~ and what a difference it made! Philippians 4:13 says,

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13, NKJV.

I say this verse to myself all the time, for instance, when I’m climbing the stairs from my garage to my apartment with a load of groceries. As I’m huffing and puffing up the stairs, trying not to drop the bags of food, I mutter under my breath,

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength (Philippians 4:13, my paraphrase), huff, next step, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10, my paraphrase), puff, next step, shift the bags again…

God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect (2 Samuel 22:33), huff, next step, again, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, NLT.), puff, shift the bags yet again…

Repeat until I’ve made it all the way up the stairs and reached my front door, thank God!

If all that sounds a bit arduous, that’s because it is. I usually have four or five bags of groceries, but I hate, and I do mean HATE, making more than one trip getting them up to my apartment. It just feels wasteful, and ridiculous as it sounds, I feel lazy doing it that way. So regardless of what I have to do, I manage to haul ALL my bags up at the same time. It may take longer because I have to do it one step at a time, but I get it done, Scripture verses and all.

My point in relating that long tale is that I meditate on Philippians 4:13 all the time without really being aware of it, as I’m sure many Christians do, at least partly because I talk to myself (the only time it’s bad if you talk to yourself is if you have to ask yourself what you just said ~ hehehe!). But how many of us have ever looked at that verse in context with the rest of the passage? In context puts a completely different slant on it. It doesn’t change the meaning of it at all, but it takes on a whole new and deeper significance when you look at it in context.

Let me explain.

Taken alone, it’s true that we can depend on Christ to strengthen us so we can accomplish whatever tasks we need to get done. He is completely trustworthy and will always keep His promise to fulfill His Word,

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT.

And,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So Philippians 4:13 could be taken as a standalone verse.

But you can’t ever take any one verse by itself without considering that verse in context with the verses around it (which I suppose I just did with the verse above. Hmm…). So regardless of the circumstances I’ve learned to be content ~ whether I’m hungry or well fed, in need or well supplied. And I’ve learned the art of contentment because I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

God is amazing!

How cool is that!!

In Which I Get In a Car Accident.

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I had an appointment with my estate-planning attorney yesterday. The appointment went well, but before I got to the appointment, I went to a McDonald’s near her office to get a mocha frappé because I arrived about ten minutes early. Unfortunately I managed to get into an accident in the parking lot, however. As a consequence I didn’t get my mocha frappé and I was about ten minutes late for my appointment. Plus, I was the one who caused the accident.

Harrumph!

It wasn’t a serious accident. No one was hurt, and the damage to the other person’s car appeared to be minimal. She wasn’t mad, either, which was good. I mean, she could have been totally steamed, but she wasn’t.

I got upset with myself, and I think I hit myself, but I’m not sure. If I did, it wasn’t as bad as it used to be, though I did use some bad language on myself. But this time it was much easier to forgive myself than it was before. It used to be incredibly difficult. I had to really work to pull the words out, and I was only able to do so after great effort, and only after I’d beat myself up a lot both physically and verbally. This time it was easy. I was able to do it right away after it happened; just, “I forgive myself,” and that was it.

The only difficulty I encountered was an unsettled feeling that kept hanging on and haunting me. But once I tried to figure out what was causing it, I realized that it was because the devil was causing images of what had happened to constantly run through my mind, making me feel stupid and condemned. After all the accident was my fault, and it could so easily have been avoided if I’d been watching behind me.

But I wasn’t (watching behind me), and I’d already repented for my careless driving, and I just refused to get all bent out of shape about it, so I told the devil to cut it out and leave me alone. Then I recited Scripture to him,

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1, NKJV.

I also quoted 1 John 1:9 to him,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, ESV.

Satan doesn’t like hearing Scripture. When you quote Scripture to the devil he has to stop harassing you and leave you alone. That’s what happened when he was tempting Jesus during the 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness,

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him.’ Then the devil went away and angels came and took care of Jesus.” ~ Matthew 4:10-11, NLT.

I used the New Living Translation here because that’s just about what I said when I told the devil to get lost. And he did, indeed, get lost, praise God! I no longer felt unsettled after I prayed, and I still don’t. I’m so grateful to God for His Word!

So overall, while I’m not glad I was in an accident, I’m pleased to say that I came through it better than I have in the past, and much better than expected.

Thank you, Jesus!

Love, the Highest Ethic

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An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

In Ravi Zacharias’ latest book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, which was released in April, he wrote,

…love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer.

~ Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 04/2019, pg 3.

I love this quote. I especially love the logic of it. It shows me that God is logical, in addition to all His other amazing attributes. He’s a God of love and He’s logical. How cool is that!

I’ve been on a kick about free will lately. I think the most important part of what Ravi Zacharias said here is the part about love, combined with the part about free will. Without love, free will is an impossibility, and without free will, human beings wouldn’t know how to love, because they’d be nothing more than robots, all of which means that free will and love are inextricably intertwined. And what follows after that is a kind of cascade of logic.

And then God brings it down to meet me where I live. God loved me so much that He gave me a free will so I could choose whether I wanted to love Him back, or reject His love. He could have said, I love you, and you will love Me back, and that’s the way it will be.

But if He’d done it that way, I wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter, and I would have been a love-robot, or a love-slave, loving God by rote. That wouldn’t have been real love, though, would it? That would be slavish obedience; Yes, Master, No, Master; not obeying because you adored Him so much that you would do anything for Him out of love.

God wanted humans to love Him freely, not because they had to, and not because He’d commanded them to. So He took a risk, a huge risk, and created every human being with a completely free will so they could make their own choices. And if that person chose to reject God and His love for them, then so be it. But if that human accepted God’s love, then he’d receive everything in Heaven and on earth that God had to offer.

The way I see it, God gave me the most incredible gift anyone could ever present to me, the gift of salvation. And I didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. It was completely free. All I had to do was believe it was mine and receive it.

I knew I needed to be saved, desperately, but I couldn’t understand why God, Master of the Universe, Creator of all Things, would want to save me, probably the worst sinner ever, though if He wanted to do so I wouldn’t argue with Him. I’d just accept it. I’m not one to turn down free gifts! Not me!

Even at that, it took me many years before I could trust Him enough to believe that He meant what He’d said in His Word, because of all the lies my father (Harry) had told me. He had to abuse me because God hated me, and I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face were the two main ones, because they were a litany he repeated over and over and over again until they were ingrained in my nervous system. The guy in the white robe posing as God, sitting on the throne, who sometimes looked like Harry, telling the others what to do to me in the cult rituals, was the other big one. 

It took many, many years of consistently reading and studying the Bible before God was able to replace the poison and lies with the truth. But it did happen, and still is happening even today. God is still healing me, because there are times where I find myself falling back into old ways, and believing old lies. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but it does happen from time to time. Now I know that God thinks I’m beautiful. That’s a truth I hold onto very tightly.

The upshot of it is that I’m incredibly grateful to God for everything He’s done for me. Not only has He saved me so that I’m able to know Him, and I get to go to Heaven when I die, the best double whammy ever, but He’s healed me ~ and is continuing to heal me ~ from the worst childhood ever. And if that wasn’t enough, He’s supplied my needs beyond all that I could ask or think. I never knew I could be this happy, or have this kind of peace or joy! My gratitude to Him makes me want to serve Him, makes me desire to love Him back, just because He’s been so good to me!

I know I still blow it, I still sin from time to time ~ far more often than I’d like. But when I do mess up, I pray that God will forgive me, because I value much too highly my close relationship with Him to want to stay in sin. Humans can’t help but sin, simply by the very fact that we’re human, but once we’re born-again, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to not sin.

And that’s, once again, where our free will comes in. We can still make choices one way or the other. The Holy Spirit, being our Helper, aids and strengthens us, if we’ll take His assistance, to choose the right way. He’ll help us to avoid temptation,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit variously, the Comforter, the counselor, the advocate, and the helper, depending on the translation,

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me… ~ John 15:26, NASB.

But we still have to make the choice to take the Holy Spirit’s assistance. I still have to make the choice to take His help, follow His advice, and sometimes I don’t, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, I can still feel God’s Presence with me, even when I do sin. He never leaves me, He never forsakes me, just as He promised in His Word,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

It makes me want to try ever harder to not sin at all!

God so amazing!

The Gift of Free Will

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is that Jesus was 100% obedient to God’s leadings 100% of the time. That just boggles my mind. I’m doing well if I’m obedient maybe 50% of the time.

Of course Jesus spent huge amounts of time in prayer, plus, even though He was 100% human, He was also 100% divine. But He was 100% human, and anyone who is human will always be tempted to disobey God.

Though all I’ve ever wanted is to know God and please Him, until now I’ve felt like a complete failure in that area. But I’ve come to realize that my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t please God, but rather that I doubted my faith in God. And notice that I said I doubted my faith in God, not that I doubted God. It’s an important distinction. Throughout my life, with everything I’ve been through ~ all the horrific abuse inflicted by Harry and my mother and the cult ~ I’ve never doubted that God existed, only that He loved me.

Now I’m confident that I do have faith in God, because I’ve been seeking Him ever since I became a Christian. It says in the Book of Hebrews,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

So if I’m to believe Scripture, and I definitely do, I must be pleasing God, and I must have faith, because I’m seeking Him, and I always have been. Sometimes I question my motives, but I’ve never stopped seeking Him, regardless of the reason why.

Praise God! Thankfully, that question has now been resolved!

But there’s still the problem of my almost constant disobedience, at least that’s what it feels like, though I think I know why I have such huge problem with it.

When I was being abused in the cult there would be someone in a white robe sitting on a throne telling the others what to do to me, and that person on the throne was God. And sometimes the person looked like Harry. So now when I’m trying to be obedient to God I can’t tell if it’s God, or the devil, or maybe Harry in my head telling me what to do. It gets all messed up and confused inside.

I used to have panic attacks about it all the time. Now I just try to live the way I think God wants me to and be done with it, though every once in a while I become aware of a specific leading. When that happens I go through the same confusion trying to figure out who’s talking, and whether I should obey whatever the instructions are. It’s never of any great import or significance, but if I can’t be obedient in the little things, I can’t realistically be expected to comply in the big ones, because I’m never sure whose voice I’m hearing.

A long time ago I did a drawing that well illustrates what this looks like:

Jesus-Harry-Satan Face of Confusion

The face with the halo and heart-shaped features is Jesus, the face in the middle is Harry, and the face with the horns and fangs is Satan, and they’re sitting on a throne in a white robe just like they are in my memories. The two mountains are my-mother-the-iceberg hanging around during cult rituals, pretending to ignore what they’re doing to me. And the Satan side is holding a cross dripping in blood, while the Jesus/God side is holding a dagger dripping in blood.

All of that is to say, that’s what the confusion looks like when I try to be led by the Spirit, because I can’t tell who’s talking to me.

I thank God that He’s not bound by my confusion and/or insufficiencies, and the Bible says that God is not the author of confusion,

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace… ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33a, ESV. 

I have to believe that God is able to lead me regardless of any hindrances or confusion on my part. Otherwise what hope do I have of being able to follow God given my present difficulties? I choose to trust that God is merciful and trustworthy, any problems I have in following Him notwithstanding.

Thank you Jesus for your unchanging love and faithfulness!

Author and Finisher

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I love the phrase, “…the author and finisher of our faith…” in Hebrews 12:2. It’s talking about Jesus, of course. I like the way the NIV puts it,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV.

It’s like my faith ~ my story ~ is a book, and Jesus is its author. He’s the One who began my story, and He’s the One who will finish it, as it says in Philippians,

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6, NLT.

I love the Bible. It always tells the truth. The verses I quoted above tell the truth about God’s activity in my life. And the cardinal truth can be found in this verse in Hebrews,

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, NLT.

Throughout my life ~ through all the abuse, all the times my mother tried to kill me, all the horrendous and terrible things my father did to me, all my suicide attempts, even during the period where I was enraged at God ~ through all of it, God was there, keeping me alive, shielding me from the worst of the abuse, and even protecting me from myself.

He’s never failed me, He’s never forsaken me, He’s never abandoned me, plus He’s given me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, as it says in Isaiah,

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.

God has given me so much beauty in my life! He’s been so incredibly good to me, and He continues to be so on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. The cross is the best, most beautiful gift He could ever give me. It’s the best demonstration of true love anyone could ever give to another person, as it says in the Gospel of John,

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13, NLT.

Quirky Questions to Make You Think

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I recently took a class through the RZIM Academy called What Does It Mean To Be Human? It was without doubt the best class I’ve ever taken anywhere, with the possible exception of Why Suffering, which was another class offered by the Academy.

Every class I’ve ever taken through the Academy has been exceedingly well done, but this last class was by far the best. I always learn a lot when I take these classes, but this time I learned a lot, and they made me think, probably more than in any other class.

One of the assignments we had to do was to come up with ten questions on what it means to be human. The variety of questions that people came up with was really cool.

I decided I’m going to post my questions here, and then try and come up with answers for each one.

So here goes…

  1. What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?
  2. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity for spirituality?
  3. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know and understand truth?
  4. What is it about being human that gives man the craving for beauty, and the ability to pursue perfection in the arts?
  5. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know his origins, to know where he came from, deeper than just the details about sex?
  6. What is it about being human that gives man the hunger for morality, and the consequent ability to establish governments, and make rules and laws?
  7. What is it about being human that gives man the curiosity to pursue knowledge in the sciences and other fields of inquiry?
  8. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity to love sacrificially, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, to hate absolutely?
  9. What is it about being human that gives man the yearning to find meaning in his life?
  10. What is it about being human that makes people crave to know their destiny? In other words, what happens to us when we die?

So those were my ten questions. I don’t know how good they are, but I like them. The purpose of the assignment was to come up with questions that would make people think about what it means to be human, and to make them think more deeply about the things of the Spirit, and of God.

I want to start by answering the first question in this post, and then answer the questions one or two at a time in successive posts.

So, here I go with Question #1:

What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?

I think the answer to that question lies more than anything in the idea, corroborated in Scripture, that human beings are created in the image of God. It says in the Book of Genesis,

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~ Genesis 1:26-27, ESV.

There are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind when I contemplate the idea that God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, would create me in His image. That boggles my mind. As amazing and marvelous and wonderful and mysterious as God is, He created me in His image, and after His likeness.

Then I find myself wondering, what does it mean to be created in the image of someone? Is it about being created like that person, and if it is, like that person in what way? Since this is in reference to God, it can’t have anything to do with physical appearance, because God is Spirit.

Then Kim sent me some helpful ideas. God created us to reflect Him, kind of like a mirror, and He is, at the simplest level, Light, Life, and Love, so we were created to reflect God’s Light, God’s Life, and God’s Love, because those are God’s defining characteristics.

Something else Kim reminded me of: if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus Himself said that,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you?” ~ John 14:8-9, NLT.

First, God is light, as it says in 1 John,

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. ~ 1 John 1:5, NASB.

Then, God is love, also in 1 John,

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8, NASB.

And also in 1 John,

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16, NKJV.

The idea that God is life is a little more difficult, because there isn’t a scripture that says plainly, God is life, as there are for the other two concepts. But inferences and deductions can be made, and conclusions can be drawn, so I’ll try and do exactly that.

Peter calls Jesus Christ the Author of Life in the Book of Acts. In order for someone to be the author of life, that person has to have life in himself, and Jesus Christ certainly had that, and still does in inexhaustible supply,

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! ~ Acts 3:15, NLT, NIV, ESV, and RSV.

And “Author of Life” is translated variously, “Prince of Life”, in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, YLT, WEB, and HNV; “Source of Life” in the CSB; and “Originator of Life” in the NET and the DBY.

All of which means that God is Life because He is the source and originator of life. Plus Jesus said about Himself,

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One. ~ John 10:29-30, ESV.

In addition, Jesus says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who He raised from the dead, in John, Chapter 11,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies… ~ John 11:25, NASB.

So Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life (resurrection and life used as nouns). He’s saying that He has life, and that He is life.

I don’t know how close I’ve come to answering the question, but at least I’ve made a stab at it. I’m sure there’s more I could say, and I may come back and add more later on.