Tag Archives: Bible

Update and Quote-Share

Joe Ceremony 1(One of my favorite cartoons ever).

2013-Winner-Square-Button

 

This is my update on NaNoWriMo: I did write 50,000 words! I started the month of November on schedule with the around 1700 words per day necessary to keep the pace. Then issues with my parents and a mild bout of depressions slowed me way up. To pick up the pace, I had to write a LOT….and did. It is really rough, but it is there.

It WAS worthwhile. I learned so much about my parents’ marriage and history. In my ethnic group, respect for older people is present, but not as it should be. My parents, whose bodies and minds are changing how they operate, think qualitatively differently than a middle-aged whipper snapper who wants to move too fast without understanding the depth of meaning behind their ways. Even if changes MUST be made. Being a basically insecure, very feeling, analyzer and second-guesser, it has been painful and frustrating navigating with my parents their process of reviewing their lives and grappling with the limitations that snuck up on them too fast. It has also been and is a great honor. So writing about how their lives (plural) become their life (singular, together) has opened an opportunity sometimes missed in my culture – to sit at their knees and learn from the wisdom of the aged. And to be reminded, with GLEE, that they are the same “swell kids” they once were. I learned so much from them that I have had all of my life to learn, but never put together quite this way before.

And it took me out of the problems and issues and challenging logic, into the souls of two people who have been blessed to live life with trust, success, and harmony overall, throughout their lives. A couple who, as very poor newlyweds, would make decisions like forgoing stouter fare and opting for oatmeal or pancakes for a while so they could afford to go out to a movie, yet would find something in the cupboard for happy siblings and spouses who would stop by with their own paltry offerings, and eat until it was gone – laughing and enjoying the company. Who had some of the funniest marital fights I have ever heard! Who forgive each other everything, always. Whose eyes dance with warmth and love whenever the other is reflected there.

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It is 50,000 words of facts and thoughts and ramblings. There is work to do to organize it and even out the styles of writing (personal vs factual narrative), and make it complete. I will do it, and soon, so it will be a legacy available for them to share as they wish in their lifetime.

Now for the request. I received a chain letter in my personal e-mail suggesting that each person send one positive and encouraging Bible verse to the e-mail address of #1 person, then move #2 up, then send on. I am really curious what verses people would choose, and in a rare state where I actually want to hear people quote Bible verses. I mean, this is almost weird. I’m not going to bombard anyone with a chain letter, but I did send a query to see if they want to get it. Weird again.

Truly, I have called you my blogger church. Still true, really. I wonder if you will do me the honor of sharing one particularly encouraging, positive verse or quote, scriptural or not, just for the joy of sharing a bit of your spiritual legacy and wisdom with me?

I would be so honored to sit for a moment at your knee and learn as I did with my parents.

Thanks, dear friends.

Blessings,

Diane

Lighten Up! How Simply Christian Is That?!

Every day, a woman stood on her porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord!”

And every day the atheist next door yelled, “There is no Lord!”

One day she prayed, “Lord, I’m hungry. Please send me groceries.”

The next morning she found a big bag of food on the stairs. “Praise the Lord,” she shouted.

“Ha! I told you there was no Lord,” her neighbor said, jumping from behind a bush. “I bought those groceries.”

“Praise the Lord!” the woman said. “He not only sent me groceries, but he made the devil pay for them.”  Found in Reader’s Digest

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“And so,” the speaker concluded, “God will always provide for your needs, explain His will for you, and give you peace.” At our divorced/widowed recovery group, she had just related her glowing story of divorce and God’s care for her…money in the mailbox, direction and divine peace, in spite of her dire financial situation while raising children. I spoke to her, and expressed gladness that it had worked that way for her, but noted that it wasn’t always that smooth and clear for some others, including me. She squinted at me past her halo’s glow and stated, “Then you have a LOT to learn, honey!”

Her ex tells good-humoredly that he paid her $1000 a month alimony — the best money he ever spent!

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god hates figs 2

Original reference unknown. Found in Google Images, multiple sources.

Funny:

WE CAN SEE “IT” ANY WAY WE WANT.

But what about quoting the Word accurately and not misrepresenting God?

If we aren’t sure what is the exactly, specifically, technically, perfectly, doctrinally, theologically, formally, denominationally right, letter of LAW….

…why not err toward love, peace, patience, gentleness, wisdom, common sense, compassion, intelligence, safety…….LIFE!

Really, what will be lost if you quote deliverance verses to an abused person rather than admonition verses, and don’t take a hard enough line with the Word of God????

Nothing, because he/she may live and believe long enough for you to discuss it again later.

Even better, he/she will live and believe long enough to discuss it with her Savior in a place of safety.

How simply Christian is that?

Blessings!!

Diane 

Oh, Lord I Need Thee…Your Answer, Christian?

A Christian…drawn back to God by an enormous sacrifice and gift, through no action of their own, dead to law, with the mind of Christ, seeking discernment, filled with love and gratitude, who prays like this:

  Sam Robson

Answer this: Can such a Christian answer the woman (your daughter, sister, mother, neighbor) below with lectures, law, and theory? IS IT POSSIBLE?

Below are a few of HUNDREDS of videos addressing wives behavior toward husbands, quickly selected during a full afternoon of viewing. There were a number addressing husbands behavior to wives, too (not as many, none by women). I claim no responsibility for context within each speaker’s total perspective because a victim listening will most likely hear each talk on it’s own, as I did. Nor do I convey support for any ministry – take these videos as they are. If these speakers wish to include the 25% of their congregations/listeners who are abuse victims, they will have to explain how their assertions differ in the context of various types of  abuse.

 

 (The following were hard to find – if you know of any Christian videos talking safety and God’s love, please let me know – I want to start a collection).

These are better:

Christian? What did Jesus rescue the Christian from?

Got Grace? Please pay it forward.

Blessings,

Diane

Visit “End the Silence…?” Team 2013 

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The Faith of a……..

Visit “End the Silence…?” Team 2013 

Featuring: Daily Stories in the News
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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

JUST – Is a Four-Letter-Word.

 

 

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Just do it. You just need to say no.

JUST. RARELY have I heard the word “just” used, in the form of advice, when it didn’t over-simplify and minimize a more complex issue.  Sometimes simplification is needed, BUT more often, when dealing with abuse, it is applying a band-aid to a severed limb.

 

This version of “just,” as defined by the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “simply, only.” Abuse is not simple, and there is not only one solution or option to consider.

You just need to tell him to stop. Just let him cook his own dinner. Just leave it to God. You just need to pray. You just need to keep faith.  Just trust the Lord. Just wait. Just believe! JUST LEAVE…..You should JUST….. 

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See what I mean? On the surface, this APPEARS harmless, or maybe even helpful. 

But it’s not. Coming from someone without an individual’s experience or understanding, or who has not deeply attempted to understand,  it is simplistic and insulting. If a woman and children are in an abusive situation, this creates either further mental/emotional confusion. Worst case scenario, it can cloud the situation enough to place lives at risk. So, YOUR words cost you nothing to SAY; they could cost, OR ENCOURAGE AND STRENGTHEN, someone for the rest of a lifetime, and generations beyond. I am not being poetic here. One lifetime after another, one generation after another, the abuse and fear are perpetuated, OR TRANSFORMED into a BETTER view and life that will then be perpetuated. 

I catch myself half way through the word on occasion. Every time I do, I do a mental stop, and ask myself what I am minimizing or oversimplifying. It never fails to open up a wiser, more complete picture. And from that, an opportunity to listen and speak from greater discernment.  And even better, to know what I don’t know, and SAY NOTHING.

Which brings me back to one of my recurring themes. LISTEN!!

That urge, stronger in some of us than others, to be thinking of what we want to say next, or mentally solving the problem and wanting to verbally troubleshoot, NOW, must be set aside. We need to become calm, look at the abused woman talking to us, LISTEN to her with our entire awareness, hear what she says in words and beyond words – the core of what she is saying. She is dealing with a situation of colossal DISRESPECT to everything she is, in herself and as created by God. We must not disrespect her further by not listening, and JUST-ing. Instead, we can HONOR AND STRENGTHEN HER with one of the GREATEST FORMS OF RESPECT: LISTENING. Then, if she gives permission, and we truly have suggestions (not theoretical or theological) that MIGHT help, we can tell her politely without pushing or control.

Screen-shot-2013-05-16-at-2.38.47- AM  TinyBuddha.com

This is life-giving opportunity.

1) We want to fix it. It is uncomfortable, so we vomit out the solution that makes easiest sense and reinforces our philosophy of life, religion, or whatever. INSTEAD, BECOME CALM AND OPEN OUR MINDS TO LISTEN AND LEARN FIRST.

2) It requires little thought or effort. INSTEAD, THINK AND DEVELOP EMPATHY; LEARN MORE. LISTEN.

3) It sounds right. INSTEAD, CONSIDER HOW IT WOULD APPLY IN REAL LIFE. Test it. LISTEN.

4) It feels like we’re being effective, wise, supportive. INSTEAD, DON’T SETTLE FOR FEELING HELPFUL, LEARN HOW TO ACTUALLY BE HELPFUL. LISTEN. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Our WANTING to help doesn’t mean we are ABLE to help – she needs options, not another person who (like her abuser) tells her what she JUST HAS to do.

There are other definitions and synonyms for the word “just” as well, again using the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, that are much more useful ways to use the word:

  • having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason
  • agreeing with what is considered morally right or good
  • treating people in a way that is considered morally right
  • acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good

TreatYourChildWithRespect  - www.nathanielbranden.com www.lifejourneycoaching.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUST – can be a four letter word.

JUST – don’t use it that way any more.

INSTEAD – BE JUST.

 

Blessings!!

Diane

 

August Gift of Words

If one would realize that the world of God, His splendour and magnificence, are to be seen in the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, then one would think tolerantly and reverently of all mankind, knowing that it represents the messenger, as the messenger represents God.  ….If the eyes and ears are open, the leaves of the trees become as pages of the Bible. If the heart is alive, the whole life becomes one single version of His sublime beauty, speaking to us at every moment.  Amras888

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Our fear of “what if “creates our prison, but our trust and faith in  Divine possibilities, is what will set us free. Window of Wisdom

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We think this world is “real” because we observe and interact with people and objects and ideas using our minds and our physical senses.  Certainly, the day-to-day stuff of life is plenty real.  But there is more.  Much more.  Connecting Dots…to God

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I WENT TO A BOOKSTORE AND ASKED THE SALESWOMAN, “WHERE’S THE SELF- HELP SECTION?” SHE SAID IF SHE TOLD ME, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE. Unknown

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All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.  J.R.R Tolkien

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WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS? Unknown 

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To me sitting comfortably in Christ is more than the seating arrangements in our churches, light and heating; church is not just simply a physical building of bricks and mortar, it is to be “seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)   whisperingleavesblog

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 Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes a part of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. Out goes naivete, in comes wisdom; out goes anger, in comes discernment; out goes despair, in comes kindness. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive and expansive… The pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”  Martha Beck

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ONE NICE THING ABOUT EGOTISTS: THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. Unknown

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Love everyone. Trust few. Paddle your own canoe.  Anonymous

Blessings.

Diane

 

I Believe

The cold wind nipped at my face and hands. The air was thin and my breathing deep. Beneath my feet was rock; around the rock, vulnerable, ancient tundra. As far as I could see were range after range of mountains – bare of trees. I was above the timberline,  at 14,000+ feet elevation, near the highest point of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. DSCN1442I have been many BEAUTIFUL places,  and I inhale the beauty of trees and water and mountains like my life’s breath.  But even without trees, and somehow beyond the sheer visual input around me, this was the most beautiful place I have ever been! In the thin air, where my daughters become altitude-sick, and my husband’s heart slows him down, I was energized!  It was a different, higher perspective than I had ever known! Magnificent! I RAN up the summit and scaled the rock. Raised my hands to the perfect blue sky, and said “God….can I hear you NOW?!”  2012-12-17-ImageofGod

I have been asking, “HOW do you believe?!” After you HAVE believed, but learned that what you believed could not be trusted, could no longer be believed. You have said, “just believe.”

I have been talking and writing about this with you and Graeme Schultz since December. Graeme has spent untold hours and many thousands of words ever so kindly sharing his faith and talking through understandings of Christ, faith, God, Adam and Eve, suffering, the nature and effect of faith, crucifixion…always back to Christ and the cross.  He didn’t blow away my doubts, or even chip away, or refute, or prove them false. They began to melt away, ever so slowly, as I was able to trust the patient, quiet thoughts of a friend in dialogue that conveyed, “Rest in Christ. Trust Him. Let Him fill your screen. He’s that good. Expand your view. The cross is that powerful! This is how it works for me. This is what has changed for me. This is how I see things now.”

I read or recalled scripture, info on the origins of the Bible, intention and prayer, time and the universe, and most of an interesting book, “God’s Lunatics” by Michael Largo. Added to years of believing and living out….I don’t know what it was , searching, and loss. I didn’t push…stayed open, but not to others who push. My conclusions? There are arguments and counter-arguments about EVERYTHING! No two Christians (or any other group), even with strict doctrines or analytical criteria, have identical beliefs. imagesCAM2Y74B

We ALL pick and choose what we can and will believe, for myriad personal reasons. Which verses we elevateimagesCAMOA0XL to law, and which we reduce to analogy. Which sources we trust. How much we really BELIEVE we can hear from God Himself. We will never PROVE it absolutely, whatever IT is. Misunderstanding even when different words state the same idea, or illumination when the change of phrase makes them suddenly “believable.”  Yes, I could believe the wrong thing. Yes, I could be disappointed again. Yes, I could miss it. But then again, I am already missing too much by living in profound mistrust. Starting with my basic God-fact, the magnificence of creation through my senses and theories via science, I have asked and answered enough practical and scriptural questions, laid ENOUGH doubts to rest. And I WANT to believe. It just had to be something I CAN believe. Someone I CAN trust. Beyond expectations and rules. More about the Person and the reality beyond my senses and understanding. And the beginnings of thoughts about how powerful BELIEF or FAITH really may be.  A different, higher perspective than I’ve known. Magnificent!

There was no jump from a cliff. No burning bush, or voice from heaven. Still no blinding light, or overwhelming sense of love. No deep knowing. No tears. No choir, or brush of angel’s wings. No moment of desperation. No flood of warmth.

I wrote this to Graeme a couple of days ago:

“G, you need to know this: I found myself responding to Joe Pote’s post (Redeemed!) with conviction about who Christ is, and what He did on the cross. From the stance of a believer. Surprised myself!  I find myself riding my waves or feeling fear and anxiety, and say to myself, rather as I’ve heard you say…”wait, this can’t be right…this was fixed 2000 years ago…the reality is the hybrid creation Jesus/Diane that I’ve become.” I started by testing out how that feels, whether I could visualize and believe it…and I guess I do.  I’m considering that the earth manifestation in blood, and painful nerve endings, flesh, suffering, torture – perhaps even of crucifixion, may….I don’t know… no words, sorry. Something just outside my ability to get to it! But I’m open to even the cosmic meaning and consequence in that…which is what you grasp so clearly without the recoil I feel so strongly.

I find myself WANTING to believe more than I fear to believe, as I carefully and quietly (almost sneaky as to not trigger myself!) set aside my beefs and disagreements, hoping that as I rest, I will understand better, but through loving union not a spirit of intellectual debate. And I am perceiving, sometimes almost feeling, the love. My past experiences with religion are becoming irrelevant to my beliefs – fading in my mind like images from a scary movie.  I find myself more interested in talking with God than talking about Him. And when Christianity does come up (as it has with atheist Emily, and my nephew and niece), I find myself responding carefully – saying “maybe it is like this…” as I describe some (safer) aspect of our conversations or your book.  I have previously been incapable of sustaining faith but, as you have said, it doesn’t require years of restoration but rather turning my gaze back to Jesus who will never have left me, even if I am being freaked or inconsistent myself. And the renewing of my mind will continue. And I’m feeling traces of the security and freedom you describe.”

So quiet I can hear. A different view than I’ve known. Worth believing. Magnificent!

life-and-the-universe

By commenting on this post you are giving permission to me to quote your comment in subsequent writing, blog or article. Please indicate in your comment that you want any quotation to be referenced to you; otherwise, I will include no reference.

A few Diane-style references:

Powers of 10 – Original 1977

Powers of 10 – Redo, just the universe

Hardwired to Christ by Graeme Schultz

God’s Lunatics by Michael Largo

The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert  (Don’t do an auto-trash on this because it sounds new age. A lot of good stuff on prayer, and the power of our thoughts and words. As in BELIEVE, bless, heal, pray, do good. Points TO God, or away, depending on YOUR paradigm. I suggest take what you want and leave the rest.)

Wikipedia on Bible and History

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

Believe – In YOUR Words!

I thought, Is the Bible real? Is it accurately translated? Is it historical? Is God real? Can Jesus be true? If He really was in the history, who was He? …..But then it came a point, when all my life climaxed. Who am I? Why am I living this life? Why am I involved in these horrible situations? And I realized that no longer I questioned if He is real. I simply NEED Him! See, when that happened, none of my questions were answered. Logically I had no basis to take either side. Logically it makes no sense! But logic has nothing to do with who I am right now. It was a gift of faith. Talitha Kum

 

The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.

…I know better than anyone that I’m far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after many years of trying to figure out this concept of what we simply call the Trinity, I’ve concluded that no one is able to explain this Triune God in terms that are understandable to even the razor-sharp knives among us. And, I’m now okay with this because –

“If we were able to understand God in human terms, He wouldn’t be God; He’d be a man.”
CS Lewis  Unshakable Hope

 

Today, I believe that God is, that God is Love, and that Love is Kind and Good. Today, that’s enough for me to know. I don’t need to know anything else, but Christ, and Him crucified, for it to be well with my soul.  Lady Quixote

 

…There are certainly many things that Jesus said which I don’t understand, which I find unpleasant, which tickle my teeth and turn my guts upside-down… 

…If someone died for me while saying a few tough words: I’m not going to whine about the tough words.  J.S.Parks

 

…Mike and Lorraine were not followers of Christ when we met them. We did our Christian duty and invited them to church and tried to share the “Good news” with them; even our girls (then 4 and 7) invited them to church, but all to no avail. (They later told us that they mocked us in private. I could relate; I once mocked Christians too. Let’s be honest: making fun of Christians is so easy).

But after I was diagnosed, they began to reexamine the faith that was sustaining our family through this trial. Lorraine told me; “…When you were diagnosed with ALS I began to see a man who held no anger with the God that ‘allowed’ this to happen. Then you began to demonstrate trust in God’s plan, I saw your faith and I saw 2 little girls accept what God was doing in your lives and I began to wonder how such young children could love God unconditionally. I opened my heart first to the possibility that this might be good thing for me as well. Then I finally got it and allowed my brain to accept the basic truth that God is only good, loving and faithful…”   Unshakable Hope  

 

When I am asked why I believe in God I simply profess that he exists…….

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”  C. S. Lewis 

 Planting Potatoes

How can some of us be put to death, yet realize the promise that “not a hair of your head will perish”? The answer can only be found in a radically different concept of safety. Jesus sees things from His Father’s perspective. In His eyes, the passage from this world into eternity looks more like a coming-of-age, or a rite of passage. It’s a beginning of something much more than it is an end of something.                                 iLife Journey

 

Let’s face it.  There are aspects of God’s Word that are very confusing.  Some passages are just plain weird and others seem contradictory.  For those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word in the original manuscripts (an important qualifier), this is troubling.

If God’s word is perfectly true, then what do we do with apparent inconsistencies?   Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place?  Certainly he knew these issues would be cause for disbelief, argument and interpretive error.  Why invite confusion?

I’m sure he has his reasons.

…. But, I don’t think God allowed ambiguity so that we will read more scholarly opinion.

Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.

Connecting Dots…to God

Although I didn’t understand much, I did understand one thing.I believed, with only a tiny amount of faith, that God had shown me that He was in fact real — and if that was true then I kept hope that He might help me. That choice to have that tiny bit of faith was a pivotal point in my life. I had asked and accepted Jesus into my life at age 16, but it was not until my late teen years and early twenties — the peak of all that I have described — that I started to focus on Him.  40-Year Wanderer

 

The only way I have found to lay hold of the peace and rest that all of mankind craves is to ‘step over a line’. To decide once and for all that Christ died on the cross to make me His. I have to examine this so closely that I am willing to make it the pivotal statement of my life. Christ can do no more; He has already given Himself for me and to me – now it is over to me. Will I believe it, will I cease my quest for more proof, more evidence, more answers – that’s why it’s all about trust – at some point in my life I need ask my last question, express my last doubt, try my last fleshly endeavour… breathe out slowly… and begin my new life as one who has decided that God is good, He loves me, He can be trusted… with everything.

And all of this I do with unanswered questions, with my flesh screaming out “don’t”…. I do it on the basis of one fact only; “Christ died for me” – and now I await the revelation of the cross of Christ to bring sense into my senseless world – now I rest in  the life of Christ in me, and cease my life of trying.  Graeme Schultz, Hardwired to Christ

If Someone Told You To Jump Off A Cliff…Would You?

Last Saturday I was asked…are you going to  jump?

Mmmm.  40..50 feet? Probably not.

For $100?

I’m not stupid. You’re not going to give me $100!

How about if I took a video, and you could say you did it?

Yep.  I’ll jump!

I walked to the edge – thought, what if I belly flop, hit the rocks, twist in the air and get hurt?  I wanted to jump. Too afraid, I backed away, to the disappointment of observers perched on rocks below and on the cliff. “Awwwwww” (they wanted to see the mom-type jump). I watched two jumpers (survive and) beckon from below.

I tried again (right to left):

Yes, I’m alive. Onlookers clapped and cheered for me, which felt out of proportion sensational. It was exhilarating! It hurt, and was worth it! IT WAS A BLAST! No, I couldn’t insert the video here. But  thumbnail photos work great…you can’t see me too well in a swimsuit!

At a point in time, I BELIEVED, and I JUMPED.

I’m truly flummoxed at what inspired me to jump, my motivation to jump, the WHY. I watched others, absorbed their experience with gravity, rocks, and water, and BELIEVED I could make the jump, too. I assessed the risks, decided what data I believed, was at first hesitant, then…jumped.

You know me. You know this analogy is about faith. About taking the leap:  BELIEVE. Again, after running the gauntlet.

If I had leaped like this before and hit the rocks or flopped and worn bruises, would I have been willing to try again? Or said, “I no longer believe I can jump without getting hurt (I don’t trust this theology/God/Bible/Christians).” Or “I no longer consider this worthwhile (I’m tired of trying/caring).” Or, “I don’t believe in jumping off cliffs” (I’m an atheist).  What would it take to overcome those obstacles to believing that I could jump safely? Would it be enough if someone TOLD me that THEY flew like a bird and landed like a feather, and that I would too, if I just BELIEVED the way they do? If they quoted Bible verses about mounting up with the wings of eagles? How about watching them jump, land, and swim?

Another person’s reasons would be different. So, WHY do people BELIEVE? HOW do they decide WHAT to BELIEVE? And HOW do they actually BELIEVE? About anything, really…marriage, politics, global warming…but I blog about faith and domestic violence. Lately, about MY faith. I’m reading your posts! I hear you say “I just believed…in spite of what I don’t understand.” Even after abuse and disbelief or through trial. After believing perhaps mutilated scripture. How the heck do you DO that? You say, “I just did it.” HOW DO YOU DO THAT?????!

Standing on the rock – or jumping.

My experience with Christianity paired with abuse: Supernatural knowing – fail. Empirical evidence (life experience) – fail. Blind belief – fail. Understanding scripture – fail. Observing, listening to others – fail, if it doesn’t apply to my situation or they aren’t credible sources.

Regarding credible sources: I voiced my “mean God” perceptions to two close Christian friends some time ago. (It was anger – which they didn’t need to hear; but I really wanted answers from two who I thought would know, and they did claim to have the inside story from God….).

Source #1: “You are simply spewing hatred for God!”

Source #2: “You are hanging over the pit of hell.” 

Let’s hear from Source #3:

Another dialogue with Graeme (Hardwired to Christ):

Diane (speaking):

As you wonder if I am getting sick of you responding in a contrary vein, I wonder the same in reverse – especially my obstacles to crossing the line into belief. I am not consciously trying to AVOID believing.  It’s just that I have gone in blind, in faith, before and it just didn’t work for me. I’m avoiding the humiliation and disappointment of hanging myself out there and doing it again.  And I respect and appreciate beyond words the time and thought you have invested in sharing with me the reality of resting IN and WITH Christ, new creature, kingdom and earth at once, to the core of your being, that you experience.

Graeme:

I also don’t want you to go in blind – I also have tried the approach of saying things I didn’t really believe in and looking like a fool for it. In contrast I am suggesting a process of going in fully informed, a process of stepping into the one thing of which we are certain, ‘the sacrifice of Christ’ – but not until we have seen in it the rock solid love of God.

Diane (part of 2400 word “download”):

….God creates us to have free choice, but the consequences of disobedience are horrendous. Being deceived is no excuse.  Consequences for all, because of the  choice of two.  Which side of God is that? LOVE or JUSTICE? Now we have a sin nature and are MORE likely to sin and be deceived, but still take full BLAME for the wrong “free choice.” Heaven or Hell.  A choice? The FAULT of the humans who chose, not the ONE (or three) who created the set-up.  Dominion GIVEN, BY MAN, by choice,  to a different, created, FALLEN being, who has already disobeyed and been kicked out of heaven by GOD (not my man, who doesn’t have that power).  GOD who kicked satan out then GAVE stupid MAN the authority to choose to pass the world to said fallen angel, by disobeying one command, the ONLY command. Hell. Separation from God forever. Nice. Or Burning in eternal fire of punishment, for making the WRONG choice of a FREE CHOICE. Even nicer! This is so much like what abusers do, really. Love and obey me, no matter what I do to you. I have the power, and I give you choices. If  you choose wrong, I will punish you, and also hurt the kids. Oh, yeah, and I love you more than anyone else loves you. I AM love….

Graeme:

Love your work!! – I think you covered everything and I’m still here, and I presume God is too.

 I’m not going to shoot back a smart-arse Christian response to you, but just wanted to say that “that was a good spray” – and it causes me to dig past the level of clichés and down into the seam of gold – I will respond…shortly…

….All of the ills of life have a way of defining our existence; our past defines who we are, both good and bad. Unfortunately our past is shaped by fallen mankind, the kingdom of darkness, and the traumas and hardships we have traveled through. These hardships leave a big footprint, they do not pass quietly into the night, instead they claim their place in our consciousness on a daily basis, they are determined to complete the task for which they were assigned, to capture us for life in their orbit.

Is it possible for someone who has been so overwhelmingly constrained within abuse for a significant number of years, to throw off this restraint, and choose to live their lives in a completely different orbit? Can an abused person ever be defined by something that has nothing to do with their abuse, can they re-define themselves by the blood of Christ, can they choose to leave behind the past to the extent that it pales in comparison to their new identity in Christ? In other words, is it possible for the blood of Christ to so re-define us that we start over with a blank slate – that the pain of the past can grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace?

In my view it is indeed possible, if we choose it we can see out the rest of our days defined by the love of Christ, but only if we truly want to, only if we are courageous enough to believe He is as good as He claims to be.

****

Which source would you consider before jumping off a cliff?

Blessings!!!!

Diane

Like Sun Sparkling on Water

Picture a river, wide and crisply cold. A magnificent, white hot afternoon sun. A gentle breeze. Look at the water, alive with fireworks, a million dancing reflections of that magnificent sun. Tears sting your eyes, from the painful brightness of the dancing light, from the heart-rending beauty of the sparkling  water, yet you don’t want to look away. If you try to catch a pinpoint with your gaze, it flashes and is gone, replaced by a million more, all laughing. They have you. But you don’t have them. LOL

I’ve been pondering ideas so sweet and new that my mind and heart can’t quite catch them, but I’m mesmerized, and don’t want to look away. They have me. God has me. I keep testing these out against my questions and rearranging my mental file cabinet, adding new folders to accommodate what I can’t assimilate into my current ineffective  paradigm. Sometimes calmed, sometimes angered by what I still can’t “take on faith.” There are so many directions I could go with this, that I just have to start somewhere.

We’ll start here: BELIEVE.

I believe in God. No matter how trashed my faith, I say to Him, “Wow…You are such an Artist!” I am touched by beauty in nature and between people, and animals figure in, too. I am awed by the immense complexity…off the chart, utter, beyond belief ORDER and artistry in nature. Even a blade of grass has millions of intricately connected parts functioning together. One blade of grass among billions. Among millions of other species and non-living things. On one celestial sphere among millions. I believe in God. In God the wildly artistic and intelligent Creator. And I can’t imagine this being done without love.

But these are things I can see and touch and smell. I find it easy to believe scientific researchers, and it is no big deal if they disagree or their statements prove false. To date, it just doesn’t affect my life on earth all that much.

Christianity is another issue. I spent 25 or so years as a devout Christian, happy going to church, teaching, studying, praying, bringing up my children “in the Lord.” From a place of need, I chose to believe what I didn’t entirely understand – like the Trinity, the need for crucifixion as the only way to be restored to God’s fellowship, and the like. I took them “on faith” and fully believed that I was “saved” and that I would receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, to help me know how to do life with an abusive husband. I had EXPECTATIONS, derived from church and the Word, and I BELIEVED God  would operate, with me, as described. He didn’t. So, I listened to the legalistic rules, and learned to look at my flaws, pray more, be more holy, “have faith,” wait, listen for a still small voice, rebuke satan…….ad nauseum. He still didn’t operate as I  believed He would. And  I was more than disappointed. It affected my life on earth A LOT. The rug was pulled out from under me. And I have become very, very wary of who and what I hear from others, un-trusting of my own discernment, and of God’s willingness to make Himself heard by me. I wanted to just bag it, but I can’t stop listening for something I CAN believe. My friends Graeme and Angela call that a string, a connection between God and me, and that He is holding on to me. That I have a “God fact” (more later) that won’t let me let go of Him, either.

And I’m hearing something!

Graeme (Hardwired to Christ, MyBroom), replied to my comment on his blog: “My own situation is challenging, tho’ quite different. I was a victim of the Global Financial Crisis and lost my life’s work in property development. I heard all the well meaning rhetoric about what God would do for me too — and it was like trying to make a pie out of dirt, it was beyond me I didn’t have the inner resources to exercise faith. Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there — I just didn’t know Him well enough to have any confidence in Him — so I prayed and studied and prayed because I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me — I came up with one key ‘fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith’ ….I began to see Jesus, I began to believe that irrespective of my circumstances I was safely hidden in His work on the cross — this became my primary truth — I had little else theologically resolved in my mind, just that one thing — Christ had proven himself to me on the cross. I don’t exercise belief to get through a situation — I rest in the work of the cross — it is not a process that I have to get right…, it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.”

It’s the darndest thing! I had given up on having a “relationship” with Christ, as Christians say, but this presents something truer. Being so one with Christ – one being, one creation – that I don’t pray to Someone out there somewhere, but have murmured conversations with Him to lives and dwells in me. To be so secure in God’s love and approval, which would be because of Christ not me, that everything else is secondary to that reality (perhaps just as basic as everything earthly is secondary to my next breath). For starters. This hits me full in the chest and I cry big tears.

I  just have to believe. It all happens by faith. But I don’t know how to get around the things I have to believe first: Does God love me? Is God good? Can I trust His Word?”

I know the following verse well, and have not found it to “come true.” But it’s possible God wants me to revisit this, and so I am:

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

More soon.

Blessings!

Diane

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