Category Archives: Faith

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.

Stunned and Gobsmacked, or, God Must Be Right and I Must Be Wrong.

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Maybe I’m doing better with God than I think I am. I’ve always thought it impossible for me to please God regardless of what I do, say, or think. I realize I’m probably seeing God through the lens of Harry. I wish I could just take the Harry-glasses off and break them into a million pieces and be done with them for good so I can see God as He truly is, but such is not to be, it seems, at least not yet.

But maybe I’m not doing as badly as I think I am. The Bible says,

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.

Throughout my Christian life my greatest strivings and highest longings have always been to know God and to please Him, but doing that very thing is what has always caused me the greatest anguish, because I’ve felt the most hopeless about being able to do so. But the interesting thing was that in all my struggles and strivings I never stopped believing in God. I always believed that He existed, I always believed that His Word was true, even if I couldn’t believe it was true for me, though I desperately wanted to believe that it was.

If I’ve always believed, and never doubted, that God is, as it says in Hebrews 11:6; in other words, that He exists, seems to me that requires faith. Maybe even a lot of it, given the kinds of experiences I’ve lived through.

The Bible gives the definition of faith as,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~ Hebrews 11:1, NLT.

So maybe I do have faith, possibly even a lot of it. I’ve been seeking God diligently my whole Christian life, regardless of any memories that were niggling in the background, or that were surfacing, or whatever. It feels scary for me to say that as a statement of fact, even arrogant. There’s a big part of me that wants to qualify it so my faith looks in some way less, but I don’t think I’ll do that, as uncomfortable as not doing so makes me feel.

But maybe God sees me differently than I do. I mean, the Bible says,

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV.

So maybe the way God sees me is completely different than the way I see myself, and more importantly, the way Harry portrayed me. The Bible says God created me in His image and after His likeness (see Genesis 1:26). I really like the way that sounds, because God doesn’t create anything ugly or defective or junky. He only makes beautiful things, and I finally figured out that God thinks I’m beautiful.

When I realized that I was utterly stunned and gobsmacked. God sees me as beautiful? Wow!! And God doesn’t make mistakes, so He must be right.

I think I’ll believe Him. He’s smarter than I am.

Which brings me back to whether I have faith or not. I must, if I’m choosing to believe what God thinks about me rather than what I feel about myself.

How cool is that!

 

I’m Perverting God’s Word. Moi? But Yes!

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It occurred to me recently that I’m twisting God’s Word. It says in the Book of Hebrews,

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6.

But I leave half that verse off all the time, because I’m terrified that I’m not pleasing God. This is the Book of Hebrews according to Sarah,

It’s impossible for me to please God no matter hard I diligently seek Him ~ Hebrews 11:6, Sarah’s Word.

That’s a hard truth to accept about myself, but there it is. Something I never want to be guilty of doing is adding to or subtracting from God’s Word! I love the Bible, more than any other book I’ve ever read or known of.

The Bible has some severe things to say about people who pervert God’s Word. Like, if you add to it then God will add all the curses listed therein to your life, and there are a LOT of curses in the the Bible. And if you take any words away from the Bible then God will take your name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.

REALLY don’t want that to happen! I like being in the Lamb’s Book of Life a LOT!!

Of course my version of Hebrews 11:6 assumes that I have no faith, which would be why God can’t be pleased with me, according to the real version of the verse, as quoted above. Also, I realize that I’m basing that perception of God on the fact that it was forever and always absolutely and completely impossible to please Harry, and it also felt like it was futile to try and please my stepdad as well.

An example of that futility was one time after I had graduated from a program in medical assisting. I got the highest overall score that anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ a 99.25%, and when I told my stepdad about my amazing score, all he could say about it was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?”

I felt SOOO ANGRY when he said that!!

I had worked so hard to get that score, slaving night after night memorizing volumes of material that I didn’t think I’d ever use.

And all he could say was why didn’t I get a 100?!?

DAMN!!

I think he thought he was encouraging me, but he wasn’t. What he said cut me deeply. It made me feel like nothing I did was good enough.

I had to forgive him. I didn’t want to but I had to. It wasn’t for his good, but rather mine, so I did.

This is a hard thing for me. It’s so difficult for me to differentiate between God and my father, to separate them and put them in unrelated categories. I have to detach, disengage, and disentangle God from my father in my mind, will, and emotions so that God no longer comes to mind when I think of my father. So that the only reason my father might come to mind when I think of God is because I want to pray for him.

That’s my goal, and I know it’s doable.