Saturday, 28 May 2016

I Can't Believe I Live Here!

"The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you."  Genesis 12:1

A lot of my childhood was spent packing and moving. I was born in a little town called Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. We moved to Calgary for awhile, to Midway, BC, and then to Victoria, Bc.

When I was 6 we toodled off to California. My brother had asthma and the doctors recommended a dry, hot climate. In California we lived in 8 different houses, I think. Where we lived depended on whether my dad had a good job or a bad one.

I loved moving. It was so exciting to live in different houses. Sometimes I had my own bedroom, other times I shared a room with my older sister. I'm sure my poor mom wasn't happy about all the moves.

I thought of this tonight when I was reading about Abraham. God asked him to move from Ur, a major city of the day, and then Haren and go to a land he had never seen, Caanan. God said he would give this land to Abraham and his descendants.

I wonder how hard that was for Abe and Sarah, his wife. Did Sarah complain about losing all her friends? And she probably never saw her family again. But it says they went in faith, believing and trusting in God.

There was one move I went through as an adult that frightened me. My husband and I had lived in small towns and cities after we married. We didn't want to raise our two girls in a big, bad city. But years later one of our daughters lived in one, Vancouver, BC. She had two boys who were very upset about the daycare they had to go to before and after school. We had a chance to move there and we did so I could babysit the boys.

When we got there I looked up at the tall skyscrapers and wondered what I had gotten myself into. A couple of million people lived there and they all seemed to be walking downtown as we drove by. Taxies, buses, bikes, the homeless, beggers and the police were everywhere! To be honest, I felt terrfied. I thought, "I can't believe I'm going to live here!"

We were there for 5 years, and as I've looked back I've realized those were the happiest years of my life. I came to love that city and all the crazy people in it. I loved being with my grandsons. We had so many good times; did so many fun things. We lived two blocks from the ocean and four blocks from Stanley Park, a gorgeous place. I went for long, peaceful walks every day while the boys were in school.

So, what's the point of this looong narrative on moving? Only this, if God asks you to go somewhere and you are scared stiff, go anyway. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

"I Love That Bug."

I was out on my balcony this morning and heard a little boy talking with his mother. He said, "Look, there's a bug!" He was silent for awhile and then said, "I love him."

I thought how beautiful children are and how beautiful love is. I remembered how the Bible says, "The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love."  Psalm 33:5

I am sometimes discouraged and often sad when I read the news online. But lately, after reading this verse, I've thought about all the love there is in the world and how many good things are being done. The earth is full of God's love, especially in the hearts of children. 

My family is full of love for each other. I see love working when disaster strikes; so many people are willing to help others. A few weeks ago I watched a man save a bear (an adult bear) that was drowning. He could have been killed, but his love for that bear's life took over in his heart. He dragged the bear to the shore and the bear looked at him and walked away into the forest.  

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable.”  Other people have said, "Love is the strongest force in the universe." God is love, so I believe it.

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." And that is what he did. 

When asked what was the greatest commandment from God, Jesus answered, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30

So, God commands us to love. Is that logical? Can one command a feeling like love? All I know, is that when I feel anger at someone, I pray to love them. I pray to love God with all my heart and to love every person I meet. When God commands us to do something we think we cannot do, we just have to pray and he will do it in us and for us. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Broken Hearts, Bruised Bodies and Minds.

"He heals the broken-hearted And binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

"The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted."  Isaiah 30:26

"Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised...(oppressed)."  Luke 4:19

We get bruised just by living in this world, a world involved in the war between good and evil. Bruises and broken hearts come to all of us in one way or another. There is no way out of it but through it, and it is infinitely better to go through it with God holding us by his right hand.

"If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me."  Psalm 139:9,10

"Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23

I'm reading through Isaiah now, and came upon the above scripture. It reminded me of a sermon I heard of a parable of how much God loves us and wants to help us. God is speaking in this parable about the children of Israel, but the same love he has for them he has for everyone. So here is a story of an abandoned baby:

"On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

“ ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

“ ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.  
Ezekiel 16:4-8

I don't know if you have felt despised, naked or abandoned. I have had those feelings. I've wished that I'd never been born more times than I could count. But, now I love that God covered me and took me to himself. He is my best friend; he has healed my broken heart and he is binding up my bruises.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Throw That Problem Into the Sea.

Photo by, Chuck Szmurlo

Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him."  Mark 11:23

When I first read this verse I thought, "How strange. Who would ask that of God, and would he really do it?"  I thought it would be handy for land developers, but I didn't see how that prayer would help me. I was taking what he said literally. 

I knew Jesus spoke in parables and a lot of what he said had a deeper meaning. But this verse didn't seem like that to me. I thought he meant we could actually pray for a mountain to move.

What I like about reading the Bible on Kindle is that I can close the page, go on-line and go to Bible Hub. Any word or verse I don't understand is there. I look up the verse and then go to the Commentary section. I did this with the verse about the mountain.

It turns out that in Jewish literature a mountain stood for the difficulties of life. Aha, the great light dawns. And I can tell you from experience that Jesus was telling the truth. Any difficulty I have had, if I believed God could help me with it, he did. He helped me in a big way. 

There have been times when I didn't know what to do and he has shown me. There have been times when I needed a rest from my family and he showed me where to go. Then there were all the times with little things, like what to cook for dinner. (This is still a big deal for me. Lol)  But God always takes the difficulty I'm experiencing and throws it into the sea. 

I used to have trouble with belief. I knew I couldn't drum up belief from somewhere deep inside me and hand it to him. I finally realized belief is knowing God loves me, he can do anything and I can trust him to only do what is good for me. I ask for something, knowing he knows whether he should grant that request. I trust his answer. I wouldn't want it any other way.

When I was young, I would say, "Oh, please God do this or that."  I don't pray that way any longer. I know he is happy to hear my prayer and happy to grant it if it is for the best. I've only learned this through many years of living and seeing how his way is always the best way.

Friday, 6 May 2016

What Would You Think?

What would you think if I told you I keep a dog chained up in my basement? I feed him and keep him alive, but every day I go down and burn him with a hot poker. What would be your opinion on what kind of person I am?

Yet, most Christians believe God does that  to human beings in a place they call Hell.

I wonder how many atheists are atheists because of this doctrine?  Why would anyone want to worship or love a being who would do that to an animal, never mind people. But when I tell people I don't believe in a hell like this, most Christians are deeply offended. As if this belief is a cherished one!

I was raised in a church that taught us death is a sleep until either Jesus resurrects us and takes us to heaven, or a sleep until Jesus raises us for the judgement and we will be told why we are lost. This is a teaching from the Bible I can live with and then love and admire God for his wisdom and mercy.

I have read the teaching of eternal torment in hell originated with the Greeks. Christians adopted it around 200 years after Jesus went back to heaven. Augustine taught this and it was incorporated into the Catholic Church. They later added Purgatory as a stop-off place to be purged of your sins. You could pray or buy your relatives out of purgatory.

So, that is the history of an eternal  hell of torment for the wicked. There are a very few verses in the Bible where people could get this teaching, but the vast majority of verses in the Bible about death call it a sleep or unconscious state.

And do those who love God go straight to heaven when they die? No, they also sleep. Jesus himself called death a sleep. Before he raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said to his friends, "I go to wake him out of his sleep." The disciples argued that if Lazarus was sleeping he would recover. But Jesus then said plainly, "Lazarus is dead."  John 11.

Now, Jesus didn't say, "Lazarus has died, gone to heaven, and I'm going to call him back from heaven." No, because Lazarus wasn't in heaven. The Bible says when Jesus died, many of the saints were raised. They went around Jerusalem telling the people about Jesus. The Bible doesn't tell us who these people were; it just says they were raised from the dead. It doesn't say they came back from heaven and walked around. "The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many." Matthew 27:52,53 Perhaps John the Baptist was in that group. People would have recognized him!

When Jairus' daughter died, Jesus called it a sleep. "And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” Mark 5:39

"Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death..." Psalm 13:3

"You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew."  Psalm 90:5

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

"He died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him." 1 Thess. 5:10

God said, "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom." 2 Samuel 7:12

"Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death..." Psalm 13:3

"But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Jude 1:9
Moses was raised with his body. His "spirit" didn't fly up to heaven. God raises the dead when he wants to and who he wants to. Moses was probably raised before many other people but most will be raised when Jesus comes back.

As for the word, "eternal" or "forever" in the Bible, it does not mean what we think it means. There are many sites that explain this. I've put one of them below. The "everlasting" fire of hell means, "until it is done." If you google this topic you can read what other scholars say about it.

Well, I could tackle the few verses that seem to say hell is a place of torment without end and what Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man meant, but I'd have to write a book. I'll just add a few more verses and ask you to have an open mind and study this topic for yourself if you are interested.

"You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:3

"... he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." Rev. 14:10

The wicked will be destroyed at the judgement day in front of God and the angels - not in some pit somewhere underground.

Speaking of his judgement on the nations, God says "It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever." Isaiah 34: 10  

But the world will not burn forever - in our idea of what forever means, because God says in Revelation that one day this earth will be the home of the City of God - the Holy City will come down here from heaven. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the angels will live among us, therefore the world cannot be on fire forever. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I Felt Humiliated.

My 89 yr.old mom is living with us. We love having her here. She has always gotten a daily newspaper since she was married. The paper started coming here, but this is an apartment building and they leave the paper outside the main door. Sometimes it gets stolen.

This morning, when I first woke up, I threw my coat on over my pajamas and went down the elevator to get the paper. I had forgotten my keys so I tried to hold the door open while picking up the paper. Couldn't do it. A young man came running up and held the door for me. I thanked him, then tried to pick up the paper. I kept dropping it. Because of my fibromyalgia it is hard to bend down at all. I kept saying I was sorry (I am Canadian) and told him about the fibromyalgia. He graciously picked up the paper for me and said comforting words.

Back in my bedroom, I sat on the bed feeling embarrassed and a little humiliated. Then I heard God's voice in my heart, "Pray for him."  I did so immediately. I realized then that the reason that all happened is this young man needed someone to pray for him. I felt so happy I could do this for him and for God.

I thought of the verse, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God..."  I think maybe God can use us better when we are humbled. I just finished reading a book by a woman who was an A-type personality. She felt she had to control everything and the longer she went on that way, the less she could control, her life became a mess and was too much for her.

This woman had a mental breakdown and was humbled by it. She realized she hadn't let go of all the many parts of her life and given them to God for him to control. If we insist on doing it ourself, God will let us. But if we give our life, everyone we love, everything we do and everything we have, to our Father, he can then control it. If we obsess, worry and fret, he may wait until we give up on ourselves.