Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Hope

January 31, 2016

“He does not crush the weak, or quench the smallest hope.”   Isaiah 42:3

These words were spoken about Jesus.  Everyone longs for Jesus, they just don’t know it.  Every single one of us longs to be loved, just as we are.  Every single one of us longs to be understood.  We all want to be healed and helped.  We just don’t really believe it can happen.  We’ve been let down too often.  We’ve been disappointed in parents, friends, lovers and spouses.  We have never found a human being who could be all we need.  But Jesus is and has and does all we need.

Many people cringe when they hear the name of Jesus, because the lie is that we have to clean up our act before we can seek Him.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Truth is, we have to come to Him before we can clean up our act, because we just can’t do it on our own–none of us can.  No one, not Mother Teresa, the Pope, or the saintliest person you ever knew, can clean up their own act.  Everyone falls short of what God created them for, and everyone needs the grace, mercy and healing of God.

The great news is we can come to Jesus with all our baggage, all our issues, everything we’re ashamed of, our guilt, our pain, all of it.  And He doesn’t crush us, but heals us.  He doesn’t condemn–He loves us.  When our faith is so small its like a tiny spark in the wind, barely staying alive, He shelters and nurtures it.  When our hope is so tiny, its barely visible, He feeds it and cares for it.  We can pray  “Lord if you’re real, I want to know you”.  And He will honor that prayer.  After all, He was the one who said that faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains.  Faith is the key, He is the mover.

Being Honest with God

January 24, 2016

“O Lord, how long will you forget me?  Forever?  How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?  How long will my enemy have the upper hand?  Psalm 13:1,2

David was expressing something like exasperation to God, and it was almost exasperation with God.  He had been suffering, being cornered by enemies who sought to destroy him, and he was not seeing any action on God’s part.  He had a certain daring.  He dared complain to God, and yet he felt safe enough to do so.  God could have destroyed him.  God had punished the complainers among his people in the past.  But God didn’t punish David.  God actually called David “a man after my own heart.”  What was the difference?

David wasn’t taking God for granted.  He didn’t lack faith in God.  In this same psalm David said “But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.” (Verse 5)  David was just tired, heartbroken, and longing for some reassurance from the Lord, some movement on his behalf that would give him some hope.  He wasn’t distrusting God, but just being honest with God.

Sometimes it feels wonderful to just unburden ourselves, talking about our problems with someone who will listen without condemnation.  God knows how we are made, and He doesn’t mind at all that we ventilate our emotions before Him.   He is pleased that we trust Him like that.  It is good for us to be honest about our feelings, not acting as though we have to play some holy pretend game before God.  It is good for us to unburden ourselves to the only one who can do anything to help us.  And it is good when we then tell God we are willing to do what He wants.  It is good when we tell Him we trust Him to work out our problems for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28)

Asking

January 20, 2016

“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Anyone who seeks, finds.  If only you will knock, the door will open.  If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread will he be given a stone instead?  If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonour snake?  Of course not!  And if you hardhearted sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t  your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?”  Matthew 7:7-11

In this episode, Jesus taught that our Heavenly Father is like a very loving earthly parent, but even better.  First of all, He likes to be asked for what we need.  Unlike earthly parents, God already knows what we need.  What then would be the purpose of asking?  Asking indicates trust on our part–trust that we have been heard, and trust that we will be given a loving answer to our requests.  That trust is a type of praise that brings God glory (it reflects all His goodness, love and beauty).  Jesus taught that everyone who asks will receive an answer, and everyone who seeks answers will be given something.  Jesus said that if we knocked we would be answered.  God never has a busy signal.  We never get the runaround.  We never will find God absent when we knock.  We will get an answer.   The answer might not always be exactly what we asked.  Think about parents.  They don’t always give their child what it asks for, because many of a child’s choices are foolish.  But as parents, even less than perfect parents do acknowledge the child’s request and give something good.  If a baby asks for something it can choke on, the parent distracts it with something else they know it likes.  If a child asks for something foolish or dangerous, the parent gives something better.  Sometimes it is necessary to wait for an answer, because someone or something  isn’t ready for the answer yet.  God will never give anything that would hurt us no matter how much we think we want it.  There was a song once about thanking God for unanswered prayer.  According to the lyrics, the young man had prayed for a certain girl to become his wife, but years later upon seeing her again, and then looking at the wife he had, he was glad God hadn’t answered the original prayer.  His actual wife was a much better match for him for a lifetime.

Terrorism

January 5, 2016

“”Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for he alone has all wisdom and all power.  World events are under his control.  He removoes kings and sets others on their thrones.  He gives wise men their wisdom, and scholars their intelligence.  He gives wise men their wisdom, and scholars their intelligence.  He reveals profound mysteries behond man’s understanding.  He knows all hidden things, for he is light, and darkness is no obstacle to him.”  Daniel 2 20-22.

These days are terrifying.  When we don’t know what kind of threat we face, whether a bomb will be detonated in our crowded shopping area, whether we will be shot at an event, whether we will be gassed by poison gas or infected with some weaponized microbes, we are always worrying and wondering.  We wonder if our children will grow old and whether our grandchildren will grow up.  If we are a young person, we wonder whether we will ever see children or grandchildren ourselves.  We have a vague anxiety, because we don’t really know how powerful our enemies might be, who they are and what are their capabilities.  Its a tough world to be living in right now.

Daniel has the answer for those who believe God.  He was, after all, a prisoner of a power who destroyed his nation and took him captive.  But God protected him.  Though he lost his possessions and likely was separated from his loved ones, his life was spared, and he was selected for special training in the kings palace.  Daniel knew God existed, and he prayed regularly to God.  He knew God’s power and God’s knowledge was without limits.  We can know that, too, if we know Jesus.  Jesus claimed to be God in human form, and he proved it by his mighty miracles and his ultimate resurrection from the dead.  He taught the same things Daniel said–that God is all powerful, all knowing, and all good to those who love him.  Ultimately, our faith helps us get through these days of horror.  God is bigger than any terrorist group, powerful enough to take them out when He’s ready, and to use them for His own purposes until that time.  He knows the thoughts of every person, and He knows what they are all planning.  God knows all about us and is able to protect us.  He promises to help those who love Him.  We need not fear.  God has our back.   He is for us.  He loves us.  He holds us in His hands.  We are in good hands with God.  We are in the very best place to be.

Hobby Lobby and the Government

January 2, 2013

What can you call a government that forces you to violate your conscience or be severely punished?  In the past, our government allowed for issues of conscience, in ways ranging from provisions for conscientious objectors in wartime, to provision of special diets.  Now, this administration is telling religious objectors that they must supply abortifacient drugs in their healthcare plans or face bankrupting fines.  In the past, religious objectors were not required to perform abortions.  In the past, taxpayer money was not used for abortion.  Now, suddenly, employers must provide abortion drugs.  Clearly, something happened.  The government has decided that what it decides is the “common good” pre-empts individual conscience.  This is a 180 turn from the thinking of the constitution’s writers.  They were descended from settlers who left their native lands, in many cases, in order to practice their religious beliefs and follow their consciences in freedom.  Freedom of conscience is the whole principle underlying first amendment freedom of religion.  What is happening to Hobby Lobby and 119 other employers is not only unconstitutional, but is showing this administration to be a tyrannical government.

A Letter to Muslims on Israeli-Arab Earth Day

March 30, 2012

I was thinking this morning about the desires of Muslims to own all of Palestine, and for Muslims to rule the world.  Suppose for a moment this happened.  Suppose there were no Jews or Christians left in Palestine.  Suppose there were no more churches or synagogues left in the world, and Muslims effectively controlled all the world governments.  You will each still die.  You will not spend eternity on this earth.  Do you know where you will spend eternity?  Will you ever know God?  Will your sins be forgiven?  Will your good deeds be enough?  Is it possible to know whether you will go to Heaven?  When you die, what possible difference will it make to you, who controlled Palestine or the world?

There are prophets who lived more than a thousand years before Mohammed.  The Quran tells the non-Muslim people of the book to read their own prophets. (Surah 5:47)  These prophets say the following things:  “Seek the Lord while He may be found.”  Isaiah 55:6    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13    “It is time to seek the Lord.”  Hosea 10:12   “Seek me and live.”  Amos 5:4   “Seek the Lord, all you humble”  Zephaniah 2:3

The prophets say we will find the Lord when we seek Him with all our hearts.  That means with open minds, open hearts and openness to obey what He tells us.

May you find the Lord while there is time.

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

Prayer when the world seems a mess

March 25, 2011

Lord, thank you for reminding me that You care about the good of our world and about everyone in it.  You care when evil people misrepresent You.  You care when evil people deface the beautiful things You have created.  You care about war, violence, greed and abuse of people and the sacred.  You care about the lost, lonely, sick, misguided and silly people.  You care about everyone I love.  You care about the things that make me sad because they are wrong.  They make You sadder than I’ll ever know.  If I cry over sin in me and others, You wept first, and with more feeling.

Thank you for caring about it all and about me.  And thank you that You are still in control and working out all things for good for all who love You.

Prayer about Death

March 24, 2011

Dear Lord, thank you that you have already planned every detail of my death, and it is lovingly planned.  You will be right there with me every minute until I see Your face, the face of the One I have loved so long and who has been with me forever.

How can it be right when it turned out wrong

March 24, 2011

The way things turn out in no way changes the rightness of the original act.  Otherwise the Christians who went to the lions would have been wrong to profess their faith.  The truth of what is said can’t be judged by the treatment of the speaker.  Offending someone may not be wrong if truth were spoken with love and care, even if they are still white hot with anger and vindictiveness.