"I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still." Sylvia Plath

Archive for the ‘God’s Plan/Control’ Category

Believing IN…

My oldest son said something to me the other day about what “believing in” someone really means…

In today’s world, when we talk about people whether or not they “believe in” God…we understand that to mean, “does the person believe God exists” or not.

But…
Arwen “believed in” Aragorn…
In the end of the movie, once a relationship had begun, Roxanne “believed in” Megamind…
In shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, Bones…the characters “believe in” their partners and trust them with their lives…
Political fanatics “believe in” their favorite politician…
Sports fans “believe in” their favorite sports stars or teams…

It doesn’t have to do with believing that the object of belief “exists” or not…it has to do with a confidence in that person…

There are many verses in the Bible about “believing in” Jesus…

John 3:16 16″For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 5:38 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
John 6:36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.

I think too often people take those verses to mean that if we believe that God exists. If we believe that Jesus lived and died on the cross. But, if you put it in the other context of believing IN Him…it takes on a whole new perspective…

What do you believe about God?
What confidence do you have in Him?
What do you expect from Him?

For example…
Do you believe God just “smote” the Japanese for their “pagan” beliefs?
Do you believe God “punished” Pennsylvania thru the deaths of those 7 kids?
Or, do you believe that those ideas are pure NONSESE!?
You can see how believing those different thing about Jesus might affect your daily life and what kind of person you’d be because of believing crazy things about Him… but what about other beliefs that you can “believe IN Jesus?”

What you believe about God will affect everything about you…about how you live…the choices you make…the way you run your business…the way you raise your children…and the way you treat others…

Ask yourself what you believe IN Jesus…what confidence do you have IN Him?

Do you “believe in Him”…that…
He will smite you when you mess up…
He has a good reason…for the pain He’s putting you thru in life because the pain came from Him?
He had your pain and suffering planned from the beginning?

OR…Do you “believe in Him”…that…
He can and will save you from all the junk in your life…
The junk in your life came from the enemy and not from Him…
He is your safe place of refuge who will forgive you and cleanse you if you make mistakes and that He does not desire to see you suffer for it?

Since we’re supposed to “raise our kids up right in the way they should go” because “when they’re old they won’t depart from it”…and…
“It’s better that a millstone be tied around your neck and you get thrown into the sea than to cause a child to stumble”…and…
We need to take how we “believe in” God seriously…because God will “visit (find) the sin of the fathers to the 3rd and 4th generation”…

God is good.
God is love.
That’s what we need to believe IN Him…

Some verses about “believing in Him”…
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, ” I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, ” I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
John 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, ” He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.
John 12:46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 9:33 just as it is written,” BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, ” WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
1 Corinthians 13:7 (love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Peter 2:6 For this is contained in Scripture:” BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
1 John 5:5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

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How do you get “in” to heaven?

(I wrote this years ago…while we were living in Guatemala)

I got a pretty good picture of this recently because have a big fence allllll around our property to keep out all the neighbor’s pigs, horses, cows, dogs, chickens etc…So now we have kids dinging our gate bell all the time wanting to come in and play on our property. And, something about “who” we let in and “why” struck me one day.

The key being that we let in people we KNOW…because the people who come to the gate and just want in to play in our yard because they think it’s neat, almost offend me. They don’t want to come play because they care about or like US but just because they want to play with our nice things.

I was imagining all the “things” people do to “get into heaven” and how truly pointless and silly they are…

For example…say I went out to the gate and there were some kids out there…doing a special dance and they said, “We’re doing the dance…now let us in!” I’d think they were crazy and definitely tell them to go away!

If there were kids chanting a certain thing, “Oh! Stoltzfus family how we dig you guys and love your yard…we honor you guys ’cause you’re so good-looking and stuff…” Chanting this over and over and maybe even doing a jig with it, wearing special clothes, and burning some incense and candles saying, “And look we’re burning 1 candle for each of you!” And, then they’d turn to us and say, “We chanted the chant and burned stuff…now let us in!” I’d definitely think they were wacked and not let them in!! I think anyone reading this would react the same way!

And, if they did all those things so their neighbor could get into my yard I’d be like, “You guys are crazy go away! I don’t even know you or your neighbor!”

And if their reaction was to do these “things” even more fervently and more frequently, it would only strengthen my opinion of them as confused, wackos who I don’t know and definitely don’t want to let in my yard!!!

What would make the difference and let them in my yard would be if one day, one of the kids we DO know and already had a relationship with would show up with that kid and say to us, “Hi, this is Bob, he is my friend and we’d like to come in and play”. And, then, we’d let Bob in and once we got to know him, then, he could come and ding the bell, and we’d just look out and see it was him and we’d motion for him to come in. He wouldn’t have to DO anything but KNOW us to come in.

AND THAT RIGHT THERE IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUE CHRISTIANITY AND RELIGION…

A religion misses the point…it dances outside the gate…burns candles…chants chants…wears the right clothes…just DOES all kinds of things to impress God when He’s just looking at you going, “Um, have we met?”

All He wants to do is KNOW you…and if you KNOW Him, you don’t have to “do” anything to “get into His yard and play”.

If you are involved in a church that has you “doing things” to “get to heaven” you’re missing the point. It’s not about “what you do” it’s about “WHO you know”. God is a PERSON and He is not any more impressed by religion than we would be. He will “let you into His yard” if you KNOW Him.

And, until you know Him you don’t want into the “yard” for the right reason anyway.

Do you want into heaven because you want to be WITH GOD because you LIKE HIM or because you think heaven will be this great fun place where you can “eat all the chocolate cake you want without gaining weight!” If you just want into heaven because it is the good place…that actually is an offense to God. He will let you in if you want to BE WITH HIM…not in His nice yard with His nice toys…

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ (who rings the bell at the gate) will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ (and do all kinds of goofy stuff outside the gate)

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Matthew 21-23

“Doors”…

Couple our “current situation” with immigration…with the very good book I just read (The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker) which was about a serial killer…and you get this “revelation”…

“Open Doors” have nothing to do with “God’s will for your life”…

If they did…then serial killers are doing God’s will ’cause sometimes they have completely totally unobjectionable “open doors” to snag their victims…for that matter…any criminal having success in what he sets out to do could take it as an “open door”…

“Closed Doors” have nothing do with “God’s will for my life” either! Or else you’d have to say that it’s not God’s will to catch serial killers…otherwise the FBI (etc.) would not find so many “closed doors” in their investigations!!!

How often do we “take the name of the Lord in vain”…and attribute things to Him that aren’t Him at all???? Where did this view of God “opening and closing doors” even come from and where has it led to????

Something worth thinkin’ about…


“New Shoes”

Today my girls went on a “shoe date” with Dad. They needed new shoes so Dad took them to Payless and when they returned they came bursting into the house, “Look! Look!” Then, for the next half hour we must all, “ooh!” and “aah!” over the new shoes. Both girls wanted the tags taken off and had to change their socks and their clothes a little so that their outfits matched their new shoes perfectly. And, funny how putting something on their feet can travel all the way up to their tops and make their faces glow!

It got me thinking…

When we become Christians, we begin to be transformed into the “image of Christ”. Christ is the most beautiful thing in the universe…and so the more we are like Him, the more our insides are “beautiful”. And, really, every time we “get new shoes” spiritually, we should be the same way!

I kinda’ think that each time I run over to the computer and start typing here that it’s like that. I’m saying to all of you, “Look! Look at my new shoes! What do you think?”

Of course it makes me wonder…What if we were as discerning about our new “spiritual shoes” as we are about physical ones?

What if we made sure that our “spiritual shoes” matched our “outfits”? Would people accuse the church of being full of “hypocrites”?

What if we replaced old worn-out “spiritual shoes”? Would the church be more in tune with today’s people? Would we be able to reach more people because we’d be able to relate to them?

What if we were as excited about looking for new “spiritual shoes” as we are about getting new physical shoes? Would we spend 20 years sitting in pews every week? In the same church every week? Would we have “church doctrines” (stuff people think about the Bible) which generation after generation remain unchanged?

Does the world see your “spiritual shoes” and say, “Wow! Where’d you get those?” or do they either find your shoes offensive, or not even notice them at all?

Do your “spiritual shoes” stink? Do they offend people? Some Christians think that when they offend people that means they’re doing something good, but, that’s not always the case. I’d say that that’s mostly not the case…

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2 Tim. 3:12

Living godly in Christ Jesus would make our shoes beautiful. It makes everything about us beautiful. The more we are living godly in Christ Jesus the more we’ll look like Him and the only people who found Him “offensive” were the religious people…

As we become more like Christ, the most beautiful being in the universe, everything about us will be more and more beautiful…and if our “spiritual shoes” offend someone it will not be because they “stink” or are “ugly” but because they are “so beautiful”…

But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
Romans 11:13-15

If you think about what makes people “jealous”…stinky, worn out, out-dated, mismatched shoes do not “move to jealousy our fellow countrymen and save them…”

One of the most persecuted groups in the world is actually “the rich”. And, it’s pure jealousy whether folks wanna admit that or not!

If you think about it…what moves people to envy is by identifying that someone else has as better than what they have. The envy comes after the thing has been judged to be “better”. The world should look at our “shoes”…the things that protect our “walk”…and they should clearly see that our shoes are better and more beautiful than theirs…it should inspire them to look at their own shoes and go, “Hmmm…so…where’d you get those? How much did they cost?”

As it is, what the world sees is a group of people walking around in old, worn-out, mismatching, stinky shoes…criticizing everyone else’s shoes…saying, “You need ones like ours!” Or, rather than coming into a room like my girls did today full of joy and excitement saying, “Wow! LOOK at my new shoes aren’t they beautiful!” No. We Christians often walk into a room, proudly, in our “church shoes”…with our noses in the air and we make snide comments to people about how great our shoes are.

If you think about all the different ways you could present your shoes to another person, you really can see how effective or not the presentation would be and why the world finds the church nauseating!

What if you walked into a room and to present your “church shoes”…you…

…argued with other people who had similar shoes that yours was the best pair…
…did nothing but talk about your “church shoes” and had never even heard of other shoes…
…handed pamphlets out to all who didn’t have “church shoes” to tell them why their shoes suck and yours are the best…
…you stood in the center of the room and preached to all in the room about the superiority of your “church shoes” to all the other shoes in the room…
…you were constantly pointing out to everyone that every problem they have in life is because they don’t have a pair of shoes like yours…
…you kicked people or stepped on their toes with your “church shoes”…

All of the analogies work…and how many of us try to “evangelize” like this? How many of us try to “minister to the world” in these ways?

Then when we’re rejected, scorned, or mocked we tell ourselves it’s because we’re doing that verse…“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Tim. 3:12” when in actuality it is because we are NOT.

When we work on our own lives and living godly in Christ Jesus…everything about us will become more and more attractive to the world…and we won’t have to “say” a word to them…they’ll just want what we have because they’ll see it…they’ll be “jealous” of it…

Live…in a way that “might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.”

Look at your “spiritual shoes” today…
Does your whole “outfit match”? Examine all the things that you believe and ask yourself if those things “match” or do they contradict?
Do you believe that you must repent to be saved, but, that babies are sinful, but don’t go to hell when they die? Do you believe we’re ‘born sinful’ and can’t help but sin but yet somehow owe God an apology for it? Do you believe that “God is love” but that when bad things in life happen that “God must have a reason for it”? Do you believe that you are a Christian parent but yet you ignore, and cause your child pain to “teach them a lesson”? Do you believe you are “pro-life” but yet find children to be a big pain in the butt? Do you obey the law of the land? Do the hurting and unloved feel safe coming to you? Do you ave a reputation for being “religious” or for being honest and dependable and a good person? Do you believe you are more loving than God because if you knew that tomorrow I was going to be hit by a car you’d warn me but yet you believe God knows the future and yet does not warn me? Do you believe God is love but yet has PLANNED from the beginning that I’d be hit by that car? None of these things match! 
Are your shoes old? Outdated? Worn out?
Is the foundation for your doctrine stuff that was written by “a man” hundreds of years ago? Is the doctrine which is the foundation for your daily life something that was timely when it was presented to the church way back then, but now it just makes your faith look “weird” to the world in a negative way? 
Are your shoes comfortable? Or do they hurt your feet and interfere with your walk?
Because of doctrines which teach us that our flesh is just “evil” we often will disregard its signals that what we believe is just wrong…Like people who are angry with God for years over something they believe God did while at the same time they believe He’s good…If your doctrine gives you pain you need to change your shoes…
Are your shoes bought “from of the Bible” or bought “at a Church”?
Do you refer constantly to what your church believes or what you were taught growing up or what you were taught in “Bible College” or what your favorite “author” thinks? Or, do you get your shoes straight out of the Bible?
Are the shoes the right size for you or do they make you trip?

Do you still wear the SAME shoes as you did YEARS ago? Or, do you buy the same exact shoes year after year?
If you were to talk to you 10 years ago “right now” would you and that person agree on everything?
Do your neighbors look at you and admire you or do they think you’re a “Jesus Freak”?

Look at “your feet”…

Go shoe shopping…

As soon as you notice your neighbors and friends going, “Whoo” at your “shoes”…you’ll know you’re on the right path and don’t need to go on the “God Channel’s What Not to Wear” show… :)

Again, if I had time to write a book…this analogy could go on and on and on and on…long enough that I could wear out my keyboard, I’m sure!


Lot suffered a lot…

Genesis 13 says this about the material possessions of Lot…
“Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.”

Then, up ahead in Genesis 18 God tells Abraham He’s about to destroy the town where Lot’s chosen to go live…and Abraham asks God to spare the righteous in the town…
And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?”

God then went to Lot’s house and sent Lot and his family fleeing the next day before the destruction. Lot was found righteous and was spared the destruction.

BUT…have you considered…Lot had “so many possessions that the land couldn’t sustain him and Abraham together anymore”…Lot was a rich rich guy with lots of stuff and probably a huge house w/lots of the day’s most modern comforts! And, tho’ Lot was spared the destruction…his possessions were not. Neither was his wife who became a pillar of salt when she looked back…

In one day…righteous Lot…a good man…someone GOD deemed “righteous”…lost EVERYTHING he had…including his wife…

God deemed Lot righteous which means:
1. characterized by uprightness or morality: a righteous observance of the law.
2. morally right or justifiable: righteous indignation.
3. acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.

God deemed Lot righteous and…Lot…lost everything he had…
Lot had a good life. That’s what God wanted for him. But, there was evil all around him, and when that had to be dealt with unfortunately Lot suffered…it’s just the way it has to be in a world where sin runs wild…

I don’t know if God would look at our family and deem us “righteous” or not, but, even if He did, it wouldn’t mean that everything is going to work out for us the way we want it to…it’s just the way this world works…

“I’ll pray about it”…

I have a friend…who is very…full of life we’ll say! Her 2 oldest are twins, age 4…Next in line is a sweet little 2 year old with gobs of dark curly hair…then…there are her two twin younger sibs who are about 18 mos old…and no she is neither part rabbit, Catholic, or on fertility meds! She’s just full of life! :)

Now…I dunno if you can imagine what it’d be like to try to keep a house clean with 5 kids under 5 in a house constantly moving around messing things up. It is a never-ending battle!

Imagine, on top of that, moving into a new house (6 months ago) and trying to unpack and set up your house while taking care of your kids and cleaning up after them.

Now, having imagined that…now imagine that on top of all that…that you are 8 months pregnant…with gestational diabetes…bronchitis hits your house…the kids are barfing on things and laundry it piling to the ceiling…your self-employed husband finds the winter months beating him up with little to no work…and after a weekend in the hospital with the threat of premature labor your husband contracts pneumonia!!!

This friend of mine lives 2 1/2 hours away…and often I have wished she lived next door so I could DO something for her…but felt like I couldn’t!

So, one night, in a moment of weakness, she emails me and says, “My in-laws are coming on Friday to stay with us and I really want to have the guest suite and the house cleaned up and ready for them but I just can’t…would you come on Thursday and help?”

I read this email Wednesday morning. I could see that waiting in line to be read was another email from her. I thought, “It’s going to say nevermind I’m sorry for asking”. And, amazingly, even tho’ I don’t have psychic abilities…that’s what it said!

At this point I had options…and one of them would be to gather all my kids around and just pray for her! But, pray what?

The family was sick partly just because of stress. Can’t just pray for the sickness to go away when it’s a symptom of an overstressed life! Pray that she’d find peace? So, pray that despite the overwhelming amount of things she needed to do to care for her family that she’d just find “peace” about the disorder? What? Pray WHAT for her then? Pray that her house would “get cleaned”? Well, God does not normally do things “by magic” on a daily basis. When He intervenes and does something extraordinary it’s called a miracle, and housecleaning does not seem to be one of those miracles He does. What she needed was someone to pray…that someone would come and help her. And, maybe she already had a friend doing that…

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, do you love Me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love You. Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep.

James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

“Love is a verb” (DC Talk)

We coulda’ sat around alllll day long and prayed and prayed and prayed for her…but it would not have done her any good UNTIL God was able to spur someone to go be His hands and feet and help her…

That’s what we ended up doing…my 2 oldest daughters (who could work) and my 4 youngest kids (who could play with her kids) and me all piled into the truck that day (Wednesday) and went to her house armed with pillows and blankets to spend the night… to “feed His sheep” and to show our faith by our works…

And, it was just so stinkin’ fun! And, by the end of the day Thursday…her house was clean…neat…orderly…and she was ready for her house guests to come and she knew hat we and God loved her…

James 2:17 …faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

I think too often the church is full of people who are for one thing…too busy and for another thing are simply too afraid to step out “in faith” and DO things…and so we tell ourselves we’re really part of the game and we’re helping by “praying”…But, Jesus didn’t tell Peter to “pray that God will feed/tend/shepherd My sheep”…he told Peter to DO all those things…

James 2:14-16 …If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

Faith (prayer) is critical yes, but, if that’s all you “do”…it’s useless…

We had life-or-death experience in Guatemala in reference to this…a man came to our gate desperate…he needed $ because he was out of it! His wife was sick, paralyzed from the waist down, and lying in bed waiting to die…they’d exhausted all their $ going to doctors and buying medicine and now…they had no food and she was just dying! My husband asked the man what his wife’s symptoms were and where they lived. He told me and I got out a book written by a missionary doctor that listed symptoms in an orderly way in which you would just follow the trail of “yes” or “no” to a possible diagnosis. According to her symptoms the trail led me to “Beri beri” disease which was simply a vitamin deficiency. So, we figured it had to either be something super simple or something super not simple, but we would try for the super simple first and see what happened. We went to visit her and we asked her what all she ate…looked around at their family’s resources and got an idea of what she probably did eat daily and mostly it was white rice…

The husband and wife lamented that the church had been coming every night to pray for them yet she was getting sicker and sicker!

We left and went to the grocery store. We went to the veggie market. We went to the pharmacy. We spent maybe $50-100 on food, veggies, and vitamins for her. We went back and delivered the food.

2 weeks later there was a lady at our gate. It was her. She was well. She was walking. All she needed was food.

People from the church had come over every night and prayed for her. I can imagine the scene as the Guatemalan Christians will put on quite a loud show when they pray…shouting and crying and everyone praying at the same time…it can get quite…loud…BUT no one brought her any FOOD!

“Faith without works is dead…and sometimes therefore so are the people we pray for.”

Don’t wait for the material world to enable you to step out “in faith”…because that’s not actually faith in Him but in what you see…just get outta’ the boat and walk on the water…


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