Easter is the Begining

I was double churched this Easter. I got up and went to my church of choice, the Episcopal church and participated in Holy Communion. Directly after my husband wanted to surprise his father so  we went to a primitive Baptist church. I had this sneaky feeling that if the people at the Baptist church knew I came directly from the Episcopal church they may have asked me to walk back out that door I had just walked in. Maybe not, but I am sure thy would have tried to convince me of the error of my ways.  I think we spend so much time worrying about the differences in our religions, what is right, what is true, who is right and who is wrong that we forget that it is not the path to God that is important it is the final destination that matters and the love we show others along our way.

To me the events leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion is about what the people around Him in power thought was right and wrong.  When you read the story of Jesus it appears that Easter, the resurrection and ascension  Jesus is the end of the story. We know it’s not. It was intended to end His story, but He appeared to many afterwards and is as the Bible says “seated at the right hand of the Father”.

What does this mean for us? It means that we can live unafraid. It means that if we trust God death is not the end for us or at least not a bad end. I don’t know what happens to us after this life. I know that when I die I will go to be with God. I can’t say that for anyone but for myself. Each one of us has to know that in our own soul, in our own heart and in our own mind. It is an intimate understanding between the person and God. What I do know is that when you die you will go some place. The some place is between you and God.

I choose to believe the Bible. I choose to believe that God sent His son to die on a cross and then that same God lifted His son out of that grave to “go prepare a place” for me. For me to get to that place I must love God, love His son and love all others with a servant heart. Also, I must trust God as His word that I am loved. It is really that simple for me.

The fact of what church I chose isn’t the deciding factor. It is my wish that everyone will one day understand that truth. It isn’t about religion it is about love. It is about God’s love.

 

Something is Missing

There is something inside every Christian that causes us to realize that this world is not enough. There is nothing here that we can latch on to that fills that forever empty spot in us. The constant longing for something we can’t even describe. That is the often called “God shaped hole”, though I really think that term does explain it well enough. It is much more than just a lacking in our lives. We thirst for something far greater than this world can satisfy as a result, we are disappointed. We go from one false promise to another, grabbing up things, jobs and people in great quantities only to find they do not fill that need in us. We are always dissatisfied. What we need to fill that hole, that lack, is where our true identity resides. It is the essences of who we are as people and as children of God. Once we realize that this world is not going to fill that hole, fix our relentless longing, we can turn to God and let him have His way with us.

Ah, if only we would stop fighting, pulling and trying to do things our way like a toddler fighting his father. “No I do it!” that is the battle of our earthly lives, that is the struggle of this world where we will learn our lessons of what it means to be Holy. That is how we know we are in the royal family of God. When the struggle stops and when we surrender to God that is the sweet spot of Christian life. That is when we are in His presence. That is where peace lives.
Our desire to have that peace and our constant search for it is what makes us human. Our surrender to it, when we stop looking at this life to fill it, is complete acceptance of God.

 

Happy and Blue

I have the blues today, and yet I am happy in a lot of ways. I am trying to accept the fact that life is not always something I can control. For instance, I love my kids and grandchildren  to the point that I want to pack up and move 730 miles to where they live to be closer to them. There I said it. I miss them more than I can say.  I pray for God’s will and I know that moving is not the right thing to do.  I miss my family more and more each day.  There are other things that I want so badly that I can, as the old saying goes, almost taste it. I continue to pray about it, but I am not getting the answers I want.

That is making me blue.

I am still so very happy too. I am at a place in my life that I never thought I would be. I am happy that I have succeeded on several fronts. I know that without God it never would have happened and I would have never got to this point in my life. I feel blessed and thankful to God beyond measure. I can see where GOd has answered many prayers for me.

That has made me happy.

Therein lies the confusion. How can one be thankfully happy and terribly sad all at the same time?

I wonder if this is how Moses felt looking on to the promise land and yet not being allowed to continue? Was he elated and sad all at the same time? Blessed and thankful to God yet sad that he was not going to step further?

Is it God’s way to teach a lesson by showing you what you desire then not allowing you to have it because He has other plans for you? I am not so sure about that. I have no proof that God works in that way. I know we can make plans and have wants, but God knows our path. He knows His will. It is our responsibility to listen to the call and do that which He desires us to do. We must under all circumstances follow the will of God.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God’s word doesn’t say that, I know the plans for you and if you don’t like it you can do what you what instead. No, that is not in there anywhere, trust me I looked for it. The Bible does promise no harm, but hope and a future.

I am holding on to that. I am taking God at His word. Maybe knowing that God wants me to have a hope and a future will cheer me up.

Prayer

I have been thinking about prayer. I say things to people I know like, “I will pray for you.” or “Prayers ascending.” Most of the time, almost all the time, I stop right then and say a prayer for that person in my head and heart. If the timing is right and depending on the person I pray with them. I feel that it is better to pray right then instead of waiting. People have different prayer rituals. Some write the first name of the person and the issue down. I do that in an official capacity in my duties as a member of Daughters of the King. Others just say prayers from memory. I think it isn’t the process that we use more than it is the simple fact that we pray.We commit to do something intimate for others, we promise to take their name to our God in prayer. 

I have often struggled with the fact that prayer should not be a chore. “Oh I have to pray today.” That is not true prayer. I do my best not to pray when I am in that sort of mood. Then there is guilt of telling someone you would pray for them and forgetting to. It is a broken promise that they will never know about but you know and so does God.  “Let me pray real quick.” Don’t bother….yes God will hear and He knows. Just the fact you thought of someone and that you needed to pray, is prayer enough. Don’t insult God by making it a duty. Prayer is a conversation between your heart and the heart of God. It is a connection of your spirit to His. You don’t have to do anything but acknowledged He is there and He knows what is in your heart.

Praying for others is like an offering to God. You place others first in your heart and mind before your own needs. “Love thy neighbor as yourself” in a whole new way. Love them by giving them to God. This is a powerful act. Especially when that person isn’t interested in God or you telling them they should pray. “You should pray about it.” No thank you they may say, so you pray for them anyway.

The ultimate prayer for others is pray God will act in the life of a atheist. It is very overwhelming to pray for them and see evidence in their life that your prayers were answered. They won’t believe you if you tell them it was your prayer, but it is so powerful of a testimony when you see them change and come to love God. It is something that my words can not do justice to the experience. It is that quiet love of God that is the most amazing to me.

I think we will be surprised when we see how exactly important prayer is in the kingdom of God. I certain that it is the faithful prayers known and unknown that give power to the Christian spirit.

 

 

Feeling Guilty

I was sitting here feeling guilty about not going to church. I feel I have a valid reason for not going. I have been up coughing all night and I really don’t want to sit in the pew hacking all through the service. It doesn’t matter that I feel I have a good reason to stay home. I still feel guilty for not going. I began to wonder why do I feel this way? There is nothing biblical that says thou must attend church every Sunday. There is the mandate about keeping the Sabbath Holy in the big ten. Can you keep the Sabbath Holy without going to church? That is debatable I know. Everyone has an opinion about it. Some say no you can not keep the sabbath Holy without going to a Holy place. Others say yes you can keep it holy. All of that is opinion, but doesn’t answer the questions about why do I feel guilty for not going to church today?

I have searched in the Bible and there are verses about being in the company of other Christians. None of which say it must be on the Sabbath or on Sunday. I thought about why I go to church and why it is important to me. I analyzed why is the Sabbath Holy, which lead me to when exactly is the Sabbath? Some scholars say Saturday and others  say Sunday. None of this research explained why I felt guilty for not going to church. Then this line of thought could go all the way into what is the correct church, and I do not want to go there today. I just don’t have the strength.  I have written my opinion on a previous post, and I quote ” The church is not the building, domination, or the religion. The church is the people. US! ME and YOU! We Christians are the Church… God’s church. We are to represent His Son, Jesus, in this world. No matter what church building you decide to enter, you are part of God’s church.”

I then decided the best idea was take it to God in prayer. I asked God why do I feel guilty for not going to church? You and I talk all the time. I do go regularly and take communion. I study the Bible often, not every day, but a few days a week. The more I talked to God about it, the less guilty I felt.  I know that Church is not the place but the people….all people who love God.

Then it hit me.

This guilt I feel is human inflicted. I was always taught that you go to church on Sunday. It was more than just going, you make a point to be quiet, reflective on your human condition of being a sinner, and you do not work on Sunday. That not working includes no household chores except cooking and cleaning up after. Well, I have already broken the no work rule. I work at the library on Sunday and I (gasp) often do laundry on Sunday afternoons after church. This guilt is not from the belief that I am breaking some mysterious commandment. My guilt comes from the human tradition that was passed to me by others. I am not saying that the adults in my life when I was younger or the adults in my life now are at fault. I am not condemning them for their opinion of the tradition or their belief that they were being a good Christian influence on me that caused my guilt is a bad thing. It is their tradition and their belief. Truly the fact that I feel guilty is of no one’s fault but my own. The guilt I have is self-inflicted because I believed tradition over Biblical truth.

There is biblical truth about being in the company of Christians, honoring God on the Sabbath. That is truth. There is no biblical basis for my guilt. God loves me no matter if I go into a church or not. He wants me to live my faith, in the image of Jesus Christ every day and everywhere not just on Sunday in church.

SO if you are feeling guilty today about not going to church,  relax, you are in good Christian company.

…the greatest of these is love

1 Corinthians 13: 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

As the new year approaches I encourage you to love everyone. Even those who are difficult to love, those who you do not know, those who do not want love….love them all. Then express love in your actions. If only half of our county would do this our society would improve and morph in front of our eyes. Life would be different. From love comes respect, dignity, honor and encouragement.

Love is the foundation of all good things. Love is the reason we live and the reason we care for others. Love is everything. If you have all other things and don’t have love, you have nothing.  Hate is the opposite of love, but so is indifference, evil, jealousy, degrade others and judge others. You can not do those things and love someone at the same time, in the same moment.

Love is the answer. Love fixes everything. Love feeds, heals, protects, promotes good, and encourages us to do the right thing at all times. Love is life. God is love. 

We are created in the image of God. That does doesn’t mean we physically look like God. God is spirit, so it is impossible for a human flesh body to be a spirit. To love is to reflect God, to be in the image of God. To love and be loved is the greatest gift. To have the love of humans is grand, but the love of God is unfathomable.

 

Thanksgiving

I saw a post this morning on Facebook that I had to share. It said, “Thanksgiving is not a time of year but an attitude of the heart.”  This is true but thanksgiving is more than that, it is from God. He knows in your heart what you are thankful for, He is waiting for you to acknowledge that all your blessing come from Him.

Psalm 107:1
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Once you acknowledge that He is the reason for everything you have in your life, you can then see that He is love. While you are celebrating this Thanksgiving Day, be mindful of how blessed you are to live in the only county that has a day that allows its people to publicly declare thanks to God who loves us, to God who provides for us and who is forever good.

Thanks Be to God!

Wandering Away to Myths

 

I see the trend of people looking at myths and legends to ground their truth. Maybe it is the Halloween season and the world of myths is in the forefront. What concerns me is it isn’t people who don’t know God. It is the knowledgeable people who know the truth of God who are mixing dogmas and theories to please their lifestyle, to make how they are living seem right. That is dangerous territory. They have itchy ears so they scratch them with words that suit what they want in life.  They think they know what they are looking for, but find cold  fake satisfaction instead of love and safety of home.  They are dealing with troubles in their head and are not looking at the doctrine of truth to find their answers in the heart of God.  They are searching for that relief of their soul that won’t come until they find the only one who can give it freely. All the false teachers they fashion to suit what they want to hear give them fake assurances of love and life. Don’t see it? Look at what is trending in the media. This was foretold, just like the end that is fast approaching.  I am not a doomsdayer or an apocalyptic preacher. I am a Christian who grounds my faith in the word of God.

All we can do is keep speaking the truth in love. It isn’t up to us to make them listen, force them to hear, or shout it to them as reprimands. We have to keep living it, walking the talk and praying for them.  We can’t judge them, we must be persistent speaking truth even if it is uncomfortable to us.  We can’t stop. We can’t be distracted by what we see and hear that seems to make sense but is in direct conflict to the word of God.

There is a thin line we have to walk. We must love them not what they do. We must do the work of an evangelist without judgement. That is difficult for us broken humans. It is easy to judge and think, “I wouldn’t do that.” or “Oh my that is wrong wrong wrong, tsk tsk.”  That is not in tune with the spirit of God. That is not love.  We must convince them and rebuke false ministry with the word of God.

As we see more of the fantasy of evil we can’t let the fun trendy things suck us in, creep into our hearts and twist our faith. We just can’t allow that to happen. Arm yourself with prayer and the word. It is going to be a rough ride. Love them, don’t join them in the myth.

(Read 2 Timothy 4:1-4)


 

Really Happy

I saw a homeless man. Not the creepy, smelly, old type of homeless man. This man was between twenty-five and thirty, He looked like a bohemian. He had on jeans with a brown belt, a blue T-shirt with a peace sign on it, and a backpack on his back. His hair was long and he had a beard. On his head was a crocodile Dundee hat, a brown felt fedora. He was smiling looking behind him as he walked and in his hand a tambourine. I couldn’t see who he was laughing at, it looked like he was carrying on a conversation. Then suddenly a small brindle colored puppy came up behind him. I could tell that this was his puppy and he loved it. The man was talking to the puppy as if it were a small child. Not in that sing-song voice we all talk to puppies but more like how we would speak to a five-year old child. “Now, you have to keep up my friend.” The puppy was limping a little. The man squatted down to investigate and the puppy rolled over exposing its pink belly. The may laughed as he looked at the dog’s feet. “Oh, you silly boy”, he said. Turns out the puppy had stickers, for you southern folks we call them sand spurs, in his feet. The man removed them, rubbed the puppy on the belly and off they went. The man was laughing and the puppy was frolicking behind him. All the while the tambourine was playing twinkling sounds in his hand. Then the man started singing. He sang a song about Jericho…”and the walls came tumbling down…” I couldn’t help but smile at what I saw.

This man was happy. I am not saying he was happy to be homeless. In that moment, with his puppy and his song he was happy. Life is that simple. We don’t need to have all the best things money can buy to be happy. We don’t even have to have a puppy following us. (It sure helps, but it is not a requirement.) All we need to be happy is knowledge that God is there and we are loved. He can move walls, put a song in our heart and wag dog tails. Life is really that simple.

I hope that I remember the happiness and love that homeless man was living with that day.  Being happy, experiencing love in any circumstance is an admirable thing.

Why Can’t Real Life Be Like Disney?

I have been away for writing for a couple of weeks due to a family trip to Disney World. I took my kids and grandkids on a week of fun at the Mouse’s house. It was amazing to watch them experiences their fantasy world in real life. The characters, castle and other things that they thought only existed in colorful animation in the movies were right in front of them. My youngest granddaughter is almost two years old so she was a bit small for some of the rides. As a result she and I spent time together sitting in the shade watching people walk by as we enjoyed a cool drink while I fanned her little red face. Disney in June is hot my friend. We saw all sorts of people from all sorts of places speaking all different languages. Everyone was happy and smiling. There were a few screaming temper tantrums from kids and parents who had had enough fun. I am sure they were heading back to the hotel for a swim and an adult beverage, but for the most part everyone looked as happy as the Magic Kingdom promises you will be if you go there. It is a reality like no other I have ever experienced.

One thing that stood out to me was how friendly everyone was there. The workers, sorry cast members were great, but the visitors were too. Perfect strangers would sit down and talk to me like they had known me forever. Is this your first time? Where are you from? I am here with my kids, school group, family reunion, friend’s wedding…..on and on they went. There was no attention paid to where you were from or what you looked like, people were chatting with me and the others sitting watching, eating, resting in the shade. It was so relaxed and comfortable that it was almost eerie.

After a few times of this unusual behavior from strangers I began to giggle. I thought, this must be what haven is like to an extent. No one is a stranger and everyone is happy. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could act this way in real life? Disney has a way of making you feel like you are in one of those happy sing song sort of places that Disney movies are famous for. That feeling relaxes people to the point where some of them put their guard down and become open to strangers. I guess it is the result of the constant fa la la music coming from everywhere, sweet smells of confectionery goodness wafting through the air and the genteel smiles from Cinderella and the other princesses who pass by appearing to float on air in fairy tale gowns. Disney World is truly a kingdom set apart from reality.

If we can be so polite and relaxed there with each other, why is it so hard to be that way in the real world? Wouldn’t this place we have to live in be so much more pleasant if we could just bring that euphoria out of the park with us and bring it back home? What would happen if we tried it, faked our way through and pretended that we could talk to strangers about anything, share happiness the way we talked on Main Street USA at the place where dreams come true?

Society would be a much happier place to be if real life could be like Disney World, even just a little bit.

Photo0066FourBySix