Stumbling Through Life

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Please, God – Don’t strike me with lightning! I’m just trying to figure this world out. Sometimes I think and say things that are stupid. But sometimes, too, You tell me things that are so meaningful that I simply have to write them down. This blog is nothing more than a diary of some of these thoughts.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

America's Golden Calf?

7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ Exodus 32

I'm speechless. I didn't know this idol -- ahem, statue -- existed until I saw it in the news at an "Occupy Wall Street" rally.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:5

Is this what we worship? We give lip service to "charity," but we uphold Capitalism pretty high.

Peace, Love, Wisdom

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Get Rid of Guilt... The Easy Way

I have been trying to wrap my mind around a conundrum. Some high-profile Christians are espousing ideas that are utterly unchristian. (God hates homosexuals. Muslims are all evil. Poor people are lazy moochers.) It seems odd that Christians, supposedly those who know the real meaning of love, seem to have become the religion of hate. Why? Why is Mainstream Christianity so far from the teachings of Jesus?
Then it dawned on me. There's a psychological idea called cognitive dissonance. In a nutshell, you can't keep two opposing ideas in your head. The two ideas I’m thinking of are these:

1. God calls on me to be loving and generous to those I hate, to forgive, even to sacrifice. (John 15:13, Luke 3:11, Colossians 3:13, etc.)

2. I like my money, my prestige, and my comfortable life. I don't want to part with it, even a little.

So somebody came up with an idea. Let's call it Us vs. Them.

Us: Those who are blessed by God, hard workers, “right“ believers.
Them: Poor people, unemployed, illegal aliens, those who have made mistakes. Oh, yeah, and those who commit a narrow range of sins: pretty much LGBT and political liberals.

If you try really hard and squint a little, you can make the Bible uphold this position, especially if you use the Old Testament.( Be sure to take passages out of context. For instance, substitute “America” for “Israel,” and “poor people” for “countries surrounding Israel.” Get the idea?)
Rampant fear helps too. If we don't do something right now, socialism will take over our country, so we must vigorously squash anything that looks remotely like socialism; Social Security, for instance, or universal healthcare. (Actually, if we keep things as they are, things will pretty much stay as they are. The rich will be rich and the poor will be poor.)
At the heart of this attitude is self-justification. It's not hard to find arguments justifying greed. But it is very hard to turn to the Bible for the answers we want to hear. So we have to look further. Ayn Rand's idea of rational selfishness comes from her book “Atlas Shrugged.” (Psst… Christians… If you follow the teachings of Ayn Rand, you’re not really a Christian. Call yourself a Randian so you won't confuse yourself or other people.)

Here's the part where Christians can justify superiority:

Find people who are “undeserving” to complain about. “Government handouts” are wrong, because anyone who needs a financial boost is, by nature, undeserving. (Is that in the Bible? Aren't we all undeserving?)

Pick a sin that isn't your own and bring it to the forefront for discussion. Homosexuality is wrong, and therefore homosexuals bring their problems on themselves (sounds like karma) and the rest of us, too, in the form of earthquakes and floods.

Make sure you're on the right side of the US vs. Them divide. If you're not rich, you will be someday, so you're on the good side. (Isn't that a relief?)
Poor people, the unemployed, etc. are somehow different from Us. If a fellow Christian is laid off from a job or contracts aids or cancer… well, I don’t know how this is justified. (Anybody?) I hear they don't deserve better because they aren't really Christians. Maybe they're hiding some sin. Maybe they don't pray enough. Maybe they don't “believe right.” (Ahem. This whole issue is covered in the book of Job)
So… It’s okay for Christians to hate them. They're only moochers.

That, friends, it the hard way to get rid of guilt. It takes a lot of work to continually fight off cognitive dissonance. You might end up with ulcers.

I titled the article “How to Get Rid of Guilt The Easy Way,” because there is another way. And it's actually EASIER than what I talk about above.

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-14

There. It's done. Jesus did it for us. Notice that this is a single sentence: All fall short, and all are justified through Jesus.

Want more?

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19: 21, 22

(Wow! What that doing in the Bible?)

Peace, Love, no guilt.

Monday, October 17, 2011

God’s Driving Test

God is Judging You!

This subject is very controversial. Let me start by admitting I don’t know enough about it to say I’m an expert. This is just my “take” on it. It seems that most Christians emphasize GOD’S JUDGMENT too much (YOU’RE going to HELL!) or not at all. (There IS no hell.) I think the answer is somewhere between the extremes. I also believe that I have NO RIGHT to decide how God feels about another person!!!

Yesterday my teenage daughter was practicing for her driving test. In 30 minutes, she drove very well, except for one very BAD mistake. (Frankly, if the other driver weren't paying attention, we would have hit them; maybe even T-boned them!) After we were home safely, I had to talk to her about it. "Do you understand what you did?" I asked. At first, she made an excuse. “The other driver must have sped up.” Then she admitted she knew what she’d done… and she felt bad.

Aren’t we all like this at times? “Me? Sin? No, way!” Then, if we’re honest with ourselves, we admit to sin, repent, and get on with life. Driving erratically may or may not be a sin, but lying to yourself or others… that’s a sin.

What does God do about it? I don’t think He keeps a permanent record of every lie. In fact, our sins are taken “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 That means as far as we can imagine! No more sins, just for the asking! (Unless we choose to bring them back, of course.) In other words, we've got GRACE!

But… God DOES convict of our sins, and that can be really uncomfortable.

When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:8

I HAD to bring up my daughter’s mistake, but I did it matter-of-factly. (I also praised her for being a good driver for 29.9 minutes.) I think that's what God's judgment is like. Now that my daughter knows what she did wrong, she’s less likely to do it again. By the time she takes the test, she’ll be ready for it. Perfect? No. (Hey, I’m not a perfect driver either.) But I’m sure she’ll pass. And I’m sure that those who are willing to listen to God’s corrections will do fine in the final judgment. All we have to do is believe:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

… a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16

If you’re worried about God’s judgment, I really suggest you pray about it and read the Bible. I recommend Christian community, but watch out for those who try to scare people into being Christians.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Peace, Love, Mercy

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today is my 25th Wedding Anniversary


How did we stay married so long?

First of all, let me get one thing straight: It wasn’t because either my husband or I have any sort of super-human strength. It wasn’t because we don’t fight. (Oh, yes, we fight.) And it wasn’t because we know something the rest of the world doesn’t. Or maybe we do…

We started by saying “we” instead of “me.” Unfortunately, in our society, people value independence far more than interdependence. We live in an era of prenuptial agreements and separate bank accounts. We value “rugged individualism” far more than teamwork. We admire to “mavericks” and “self-made men.”

But no one is completely “self-made.” That’s an illusion. It’s not a weakness to admit you need help; it’s a strength.

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In a working marriage, two people don’t tear each other down; we lift each other up.

We don’t compete; we cooperate.

We don’t point out each other’s flaws; we celebrate each other’s strengths.

Most of all, our marriage is not of two, but of three. There are times when both my husband and I are too weak or (I’ll admit it) self-absorbed to see things clearly. Frankly, neither of us is strong enough to hold it together in tough times. That’s when we depend on God to hold us together.

Peace, Love, Teamwork

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Zig-zag Path to Heaven

Matthew 7:13 says "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

I have to admit; I don’t like this verse. I want to think everybody’s going to get to heaven somehow-or-other. (I know there are people who do believe that.) On the other hand, I don’t believe the road is a tightrope, either. God loves us, and He allows us to make mistakes – even big ones – if we’re moving in the right direction! The way is narrow, but it’s not a knife edge. A loving God wouldn’t be trying to get us to trip up and fail!

The gate is narrow, but there is an unlimited number of tickets. No one – NO ONE – who enters will be turned away.

In fact, there is only one way to avoid heaven: Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. In Mark 3:29, The Pharisees accused Jesus of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. There are other verses, all aimed at the religious leaders, who were in a place of authority and were deliberately and continually trying to discredit Jesus. (Note: This has nothing to do with sex!)

Want to know how stay out of heaven? If that’s what you want, deliberately turn your back on God and reject Him. He won’t force you in. (This is my belief. I am not a theologian, so if you want to know more, consult more knowledgeable sources.)

The path I take isn’t straight. (It’s probably fairly narrow, as I’d be considered a “prude” by the world-at-large.) Instead, my path zigs and zags, circles back upon itself and stops for periods of time. Yes, I am a follower of Jesus; but maybe a poor one. At my best I follow Him closely, read my Bible, spend lots of time in prayer, tell my kids I love them, and do good things. At my worst, I pout, ignore Jesus altogether, say mean things to the people I love the most, and walk right by people who are in need. I doubt God’s existence sometimes, too. (Oh, I’ve done some pretty un-Christian things in the past. None-o-your-business what. That’s the past. I’m forgiven.)

Am I a good Christian? All I can say is, “I try.” If I said anything else, I’d be lying. I’m not worried about whether I’m going to heaven, not because I’m any better than anyone else, but because I trust God. I’m not pointing at people I think aren’t going to heaven because I DON’T KNOW.

Want to go through the narrow gate? Just go through it! Point yourself in the right direction and try not to worry. Here's how: ask God for help. If you're facing Him, you're already going the right way!

Peace, Love, Faith