Category Archives: the Cross

Of Thoughts and Knots

Standard

This post will be a bit of a milestone because it’s my 100th post. How cool is that? I hope it’s been as meaningful for you as it’s been for me!

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve had lots of thoughts zooming around in my mind, but no way of getting them beyond my skull. So I finally decided to start typing and see what falls out.

So here I am…

As of today, April 7th, California has been on lockdown for 20 days. I’ve been out three times ~ or is it four, or maybe five ~ to buy food or go to McDonald’s for a mocha frappé during that time. I was able to get groceries via Instacart on my birthday, and I’ve ordered embroidery floss online from Amazon and DMC so I can work on the samplers I got myself for my birthday.

Aside from that, I’m watching TV ~ Say Yes to the Dress, and a couple of fun shows I found on the Home and Garden Network, namely Fixer to Fabulous, and Home Town.

I’m also reading my Bible, about four chapters every day. I just finished the Book of Hebrews and the Book of James, two of my favorite books, along with Romans, Genesis, Jonah, and the Gospel of John.

On Saturday I realized all of a sudden that this is Easter Week. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it did. It will be strange not going to church for Easter Sunday ~ actually Resurrection Sunday would be the proper terminology, seems to me. But because California is still on lockdown, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, online church is what we’ll have. However my church’s live-streamed services are really good. Even before everything got all messed up they were live-streaming the services and posting them on Facebook Live as well. But now they’ve really ramped up the online stuff.

Every weekday the online church has something going on every hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and every age group is represented in the activities. My church is kind of a megachurch in southern California, called Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and by megachurch I mean that regularly about 1500 people attend each service. My pastor, Jack Hibbs, is a wonderful preacher who teaches right from the Bible.

About eight years ago, in 2012, I was looking for a new church. I had started listening to Jack Hibbs on the radio, and I really liked his preaching, because he didn’t mince words and taught straight out of the Bible, and I very much liked that. So I decided to check out one of their services to see what they were like. And when I got there I knew immediately that I had found my church.

The two things that really captured my heart were first, that Pastor Jack loves babies. He does baby dedications every service when the country isn’t on lockdown, and babies trust him enough to go to him. And second, Pastor Jack isn’t afraid to address political issues from the pulpit. I really respect him for that.

I’ve made a tradition for myself of watching the movie The Passion of the Christ every year sometime between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s a very difficult movie to watch, but I’ve found it to be the most accurate depiction of what Christ actually endured during His trial and crucifixion of anything I’ve seen, and I feel a need to remind myself of what He suffered to save my soul. And this is my way of doing that.

So that’s my main job for this week ~ to watch The Passion of the Christ. I might watch it more that once, depending on when during the week I watch it the first time, partly because it’s done with subtitles in two or three different languages, none of them in English, and I find it interesting to watch without and again with subtitles.

This post is turning out to be train-of-thought writing, which is partly why it’s taking me so long to finish and publish it. As something occurs, and it seems important enough to write about, then I have to figure out the best way to say it ~ and then, of course, write it down. So everything is coming out in dribs and drabs and trickles.

Would that it came out in a river, so I could write and publish it all at once!

It’s so frustrating when it feels like I’m writing slower than molasses in January!

Oh well… I guess I’ll just keep word, word, wording along until I reach a finishing point. Hopefully that will be any word now!

Ever onword…

I started working on my cross stitch sampler. You know, the one I got myself for my birthday? I showed you a picture of it in Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. As I was stitching this evening one of the strands of thread got a knot in it, one of the most frustrating things that can happen to someone who does counted cross stitch. I still can’t figure out how it happened, because I wasn’t stitching when it happened. I wasn’t touching the thread at all.

It must have been magicSo now I have to try and get the knot out, because otherwise I’ll have to throw that strand of floss away ~ and I HATE wasting embroidery floss.

GRRR…

That’s how I feel about that knot. HARRUMPH!!!

So now I’m working on letting God have the problem of the knot so I can go to sleep.

And I think I’ve finally reached a point where I feel like I’m done writing this! Yippee!!

This post has been pretty disorganized, and I apologize for that. More than anything it’s been a chronicle of my week in quarantine ~ and it’s been a disorganized week, thus my disorganized writing.

And now to turn out the light…

I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, LORD, make me safe and secure. ~ Psalm 4:8, NET.

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Standard

Today, March 20, is my birthday. I turn 67 years old today. I’m not one of those people who is afraid of getting old. I’m proud of my age because it’s proof of God’s work in my life. God has gotten me this far, and I give Him all the glory.

Today I’m going to start working on a counted cross stitch project that I purchased for my birthday. It’s a beautiful sampler from a company called Long Dog Samplers. Long Dog Samplers is based in Great Britain, and is owned by a woman named Julia Line. She’s the one who designs all the samplers, and every one of them is truly a work of art.

I actually bought three samplers from Long Dog Samplers. Originally I was going to buy five or six, but that would have been too expensive, so I whittled it down to three. The one I’m going to make first is called Plight of Fancy, and it looks like this:

Plight-of-Fancy

I was drawn to this sampler because of the vivid colors, plus samplers are my favorite kind of cross stitch. Julia (her friends call her Jools) got her inspiration for this sampler from 17th century European band samplers. I think it’s beautiful, don’t you?

I’m also going to do some reading, and I’m going to see if I can get some ice cream, which, given the current quarantine situation, should be an interesting endeavor. I’m going to see if I can order some Ben & Jerry’s pints. I have two favorite flavors: Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core, and Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core.

Here’s a little update: there’s this company called Instacart where you can order and pay for your groceries online. Then one of their shoppers will go to one of the local markets, purchase your order for you, and deliver it to your home. So that’s what I did, and my order just arrived!

Way cool! Now I can celebrate my birthday with Ben & Jerry’s!

I think I’ll be using Instacart again. It’s so much easier than leaving and going to the store myself, especially now when everyone has to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus.

I want to end by listing what I’m grateful for. I have SOOO MUCH for which to be thankful!! First and foremost is the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for my sins. If it weren’t for Jesus dying on the cross for me, I would be dead, because one of my suicide attempts would have succeeded. I thank God that none of them did. I’m so glad to be alive that I can’t express it in words.

I’m also grateful for God’s Word. I love the Bible, and I fall more in love with it everytime I read it, because each time God shows me some new aspect of His character, or some fresh tidbit about the way different parts of it are connected to each other. He also shows me in many different ways how deeply He loves me, which is always healing to know.

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. ~ Psalm 19:7-11, NIV.

So on this anniversary of my birth I have much to be thankful for. I used to think my birthday was cursed because it’s usually on the first day of Spring. In the cult the first day of Spring is a fertility rite, and is celebrated as such. So I used to think that the cult planned my birthday to be on March 20th so I could be used for sexual purposes in the cult, and as a consequence I hated my birthday.

But in recent years God has shown me that He wanted me to be born on March 20th, because it is the first day of Spring, and it’s symbolic of the new birth in Christ. When I understood that I felt much better about it, and now I like the fact that my birthday is on the first day of Spring most years.

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!

When Faith Becomes Sight

Standard

I crave beauty in all its various forms. I can’t live without beauty in my life. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of money on paintings, art glass, and other kinds of art so that I’m surrounded by beauty at all times, no matter where I go.

That said, God is the author and creator of all beauty. Not only did He give human beings the ability to make beautiful things because He created us in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27), but the plants and animals He created were (and are) all unique and beautiful as well. All you have to do is look at a bird or a flower to see that a Being of supreme intelligence created it. Here are some examples:

In the top row, from left to right, we have a Gouldian Finch, which is native to Australia, and a Fiery-throated Hummingbird. In the bottom row, from left to right, you see a Passion Flower, and a Habenaria Radiata, aka a Dove Orchid.

And just to show you that God uses beauty to display His sense of humor, as well as make us laugh, check this out:

Hooker's Lips (Psychotria Elata)

Hooker’s Lips Flower.

I look at these examples of God’s creative power and artistry, and I’m in awe. And sometimes I imagine God as He’s creating the birds and the flowers, and in my mind’s eye He looks like He’s having a lot of fun as He’s doing it.

God having fun? Yes, but not in a carefree or slapdash way as a child might do. I think God was, and is, very deliberate as He creates. I think He has the exact design for what He’s going to make already conceived in His mind, and the fun is in the exuberant colors and shapes He chooses for the creatures He’s making. For example, look at the peacock:

Indian-Male-Peacock-ImageKandarps A

Talk about vivid, exuberant colors!

And then there’s this:

Tiny Peacock Spider

This is a male Peacock Spider, Maratus caeruleus. Peacock Spiders are a genus of jumping spiders, and they’re tiny, about 4-5 mm in length. There are some 79 different known species of these spiders, and each one is different, with a different pattern of colors and shapes on the vertical display. They’re found almost exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The colorful display shown above is found only in the males, and only during courtship rituals, along with their raised, fringed third legs. And the cool thing is, the rich, luminous, almost flamboyant colors with which God made this wee spider are also iridescent.

My point in showing you this last creature is that even in the tiniest of God’s designs, He expresses Himself in the most elaborate, even ostentatious ways ~ and I haven’t shown you any of the amazing microscopic examples. I could write a whole post about nothing but microscopic beauty, but that’s for another time.

These birds, flowers, and as much as I dislike them, even this spider, are, to me, extravagant design at its best. God really outdid Himself here, as He always does.

In reality, however, as beautiful and elaborate as these examples are, they’re only a wisp of a shadow of the beauty to be found in Heaven. And I believe the beauty in Heaven is the benchmark for everything else called beautiful, and it’s far beyond anything we could conceive in our wildest imaginings,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”(Isaiah 64:4, NKJV); 1 Corinthians 2:7-9, NKJV.

God doesn’t think as we do. His ideas are higher than ours could possibly be,

“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 when God thinks about beauty, He thinks in completely different realms than we do,

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. ~ Revelation 21:21, RSV.

That wonderful verse is talking about Heaven. There are twelve entrances to Heaven, barred by twelve gates, and as the verse above says, each gate is made of one, single pearl. Think about that. That has to be one huge, enormous, gigantic, HUMUNGOUS GEM!! And unless God created it supernaturally, which He’s certainly capable of doing…

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ~ Romans 4:17, NLT.

…then the oyster that made each pearl had to have been just as massive as the pearl it produced.

And then there are the heavenly streets, which the above-quoted verse says are paved with pure gold. The purest gold here on earth is 24 karat gold, and, as anyone will tell you, it isn’t transparent, or even translucent. In other words, it’s completely opaque, allowing no light to pass through. But Revelation 21:21 says that the gold in Heaven is so pure that it’s as clear as glass, which says to me that, as pure as we think 24 karat gold is, it actually isn’t very pure at all.

My point in talking about gold is that human beings seem to attach a peculiarly high value to gold and jewelry made of gold. Anything made with gold is considered to be especially beautiful by human standards, and yet in Heaven gold is vastly more pure ~ so much more so that it’s transparent ~ but it’s used to pave the streets. That says to me that God doesn’t place the same value on it that we do. He uses it the same way we do asphalt.

In Heaven, gold is equivalent to asphalt! What’s up with that!!

Once again, God’s ideas and values are very different from ours. So much so that we can’t comprehend it! And by the same token, God’s ideas of beauty are vastly different from ours as well,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by [Eliab’s] appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT.

To God gold isn’t nearly as valuable as living things, and especially the human heart, because Christ died for human beings. So it seems to me that God thinks human beings, and most of all the human heart, are the most beautiful thing of all.

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

Standard

It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

A Shiny New Lexus or Jesus. Which to Pick?

Standard

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 Should’ve Beens That Weren’t

Standard

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!!

It’s All About Gratitude, Difficulties Notwithstanding

Standard

I did it. I finally took a shower.

I’m very grateful to God for helping me to finally get it done. I played worship music the whole time, and doing that made it so much easier.

I find that an attitude of gratitude makes things so much easier, especially the really hard things. Over the years, being grateful to God for all that He’s done for me has helped me to put my life into perspective in so many ways.

Anything bad that happens to me now, regardless of how bad it is, doesn’t hold a candle to the bad stuff that I had to endure when I was little, because now I’m old enough and strong enough to be able to handle it. When I was a child I didn’t have the resources, physically or emotionally, to be able to deal with the onslaught of terror and horror that constantly overwhelmed me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t handle it now, but if I think about it logically, I know I can, especially if I keep my eyes on the LORD, my God, my Jesus.

As long as I don’t take my eyes off Jesus, and keep on listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Kings 19:12), and keep on trusting in God and leaning on His strength and not my own, I know I’ll be alright.

And most of all, I thank God for the Cross!

The Gospel Without Jargon

Standard

Jargon is defined as special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand. This phenomenon is common in Christian circles, and is known as Christianese (in legal circles it’s called legalese, for example).

One of the common Christianese phrases I’ve heard, but never understood, is, “more of Him, and less of me.” What does that mean? The picture that comes to mind when I think about it is one of me turning into a round mass of jello on the floor when I become less and Jesus becomes more, kind of like someone who has no muscles, so they turn into a ball of flesh and become completely ineffectual.

I can’t figure out if it means I’m supposed to become invisible, or just what it means. If I’m invisible, then how can I, or God for that matter, anything get done ~ like witnessing, for example? Jesus isn’t going to come and do it Himself. He told us to do it. It’s called the Great Commission,

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20, NLT.

It doesn’t say that Jesus will go out and make disciples, and take us with Him as He does it. It says that we are to go out and make disciples, and He will go with us. And if I’m invisible, I doubt that anyone will want to listen to anything I have to say, because they’ll be too busy running from me in terror because they’ll think I’m a ghost.

Then recently, one of my favorite Christian artists, Casting Crowns, came out with a new song, called Only Jesus, that showed me the answer to my problem. Below is one of the verses from the song that sorts it out for me:

Did I live the truth to the ones I love? // Was my life the proof that there is only one? // Whose name will last forever // Only Jesus.

And the chorus from the song reminds me of what’s most important:

And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy // I don’t care if they remember me // Only Jesus.

In other words, and this is where less of me and more of Him comes in, I want people to remember Jesus when they think of me now, and after I’m gone, as well. I can’t save anyone, or heal anyone, but Jesus can, and His name will last forever, while nothing I say or do will last beyond the minute I’ve said or done it. Jesus is the One to remember, not me.

ONLY JESUS!!

 

The Face of My Beloved

Standard

There is nothing I desire more than meeting Jesus face to face. For me Philippians 1 and Philippians 3 say it best,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1:21, NIV.

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in his death… ~ Philippians 3:10, GNT.

To stay here is to glorify God, and give witness to the saving grace and healing power of Jesus Christ. To die is far better, because then I would be where I most desire to be: in the presence of Jesus, meeting Him face to face.

There is nothing better!

 

As Far As the East Is From the West

Standard

I was driving to a friend’s house the other night (about 3 a.m. on May 28th), and listening to the radio as I was driving. I forget if it was a song, or something the DJ said, but whatever it was, it got me thinking about the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west”, which is a phrase used in Psalm 103,

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. ~ Psalm 103:11-12, NKJV.

So then I started thinking of all these questions: can you reach the east if you start in the west? Can you reach the west if you start in the east? I mean, you can reach the North Pole if you start from the South Pole, and vice versa, so why can’t you reach the east from the west? The problem is, there is no East Pole, nor is there a West Pole to use as starting points, as there is with the North and the South Poles.

So maybe being able to physically travel from west to east, or from east to west, isn’t the point of the idea.

What is the point, then?

When I asked myself that question, I started thinking about the images that come to mind when I think about the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west…”. Things like the infinitude of God’s love, and the limitless quality of His mercy. Most particularly, however, the image that comes to mind is that of Christ on the cross with His arms stretched out from east to west. It says in the Book of John,

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~ John 15:13, NKJV.

Jesus Christ’s whole purpose for stepping down from the Majesty on High and coming to earth was to go to the cross and take humanity’s place, to take the punishment for our sin. That’s how much God loved us, that He would plan, with His Son and the Holy Spirit, from the foundation of the world, to deal with the problem of sin by sending Jesus to earth to take our place and assume our punishment. And a terrible punishment it was, because our sin was terrible. It still is, but Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to take care of all of it for all time.

To me, this is beauty personified.

Oh my! When I think of that I’m left speechless! I am a sinful person. I’m full of pride, and I make mistakes all the time, every day. One of my many favorite verses in the Bible is from Romans 7,

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

I can so well relate to the Apostle Paul here! The preceding verses describe my day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute existence. Romans 7 portrays it so well,

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. ~ Romans 7:19, NLT.

It’s almost as if God was watching me when He told Paul to write that passage of Scripture! And yet, He loves me and wants me, regardless of my sinfulness.

I thank God for that everyday and in every way.