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

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New Site…

I have seen several other people’s blogs with “blogspot” and so I finally checked it out and the whole thing is way easier to use and has cooler spiffier stuff…so I spent “all day” today relocating the site…so…that’s where I am going to be posting now…

“I was just thinking” in all forms was already taken…so I went with a Romans 1 theme…”everything is knowable”…

http://everythingisknowable.blogspot.com/

See you there…

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.

Where’d you get that idea?

I wonder about something…do “you” love yourself?
Are you happy with what you see in the mirror every time you look there?
Do you speak kindly about yourself?
Do you expect the best of yourself?
Do you feel worthy of being loved?
Do you feel loveable?
Are you happy to be you?

I was just thinking about “love” again…and how people view preachers who talk about it…

It’s not uncommon to see preachers/Bible teachers who focus on the Love of God to be criticized for being “light and fluffy”…and I was thinking about this like, “Why?” If God IS Love…why wouldn’t we focus on that attribute when so clearly humans are designed to seek it out.

“There’s a God shaped hole in all of us” right? That’s about love, so, why do preachers like Joel Osteen and others get big frowny faces from people?

When you look again at the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13…what do you see?

Love (God) is patient
Love (God)  is kind
Love (God) is not jealous
Love (God) does not brag and is not arrogant
Love (God) does not act unbecomingly
Love (God) does not seek its own
Love (God) is not provoked
Love (God) does not take into account a wrong suffered
Love (God) does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love (God) rejoices with the truth
Love (God) bears all things
Love (God) believes all things
Love (God) hopes all things
Love (God) endures all things.
Love (God) never fails

Do “you” read that list and immediately think that something’s been left out? Do you? Do you believe that this list is incomplete? Like, if someone asked you for a description of God and said, “Oh, look I found one here!” would you tell them that that’s nice but it’s not the complete description? Do you read this, scoff, and say, “Well, yeah, but God is also harsh, punitive, angry, and severe?”

Do you think that way?

I just considered this this morning and it’s really making me go, “hmmm.” I had been told that a certain preacher was “light and fluffy” or something to that effect and I was unfamiliar with them so I investigated a little last week. I listened to 2 sermons of theirs online and was reading a little about them. I found one blog that talked about how evil this preacher was and had quotes from one of his books and as I read the quotes that were all supposed to be “unbiblical” and they all had to do with God being patient, loving, and kind…and I thought, “hmmm…”

It’s common for preachers who talk like this to get criticized…so why? When The Bible says GOD IS LOVE…why do preachers who talk about what God is…why do they get people upset?

I’d say 2 reasons…

1. Satan came to steal kill and destroy and wants you to not KNOW God…

2. And…I believe it’s because we apply our own experience to what the Bible says. We add to it. Like the above list, believing that it’s incomplete and needs to have “punitive, angry, severe” added to it. We bring our own experience to it.

I’d be curious to see how many people who answered “yes” to all the questions in the beginning have a problem with seeing God as loving? I’d be curious to know how many people who really feel good about themselves, who love themselves and see themselves as worthy have a problem with these kinds of preachers?

You know, people who do not feel good about themselves and do not feel worthy and lovable are not comfortable when someone attempts to look them in the eye and express love to them. They must push or look away. So, is this it? Is it that when a preacher attempts to look us in the eye and express the deep infinite love of God toward us that we can’t handle it? That we’re more comfortable with the “punitive, angry” side of God?

And, where do we all get the feelings we have about ourselves? For the most part it’s ingrained in us from our 1st 3 years of life…

Did we have moms n’ dads who treated us like we were worthy and loveable? Were our parents patient, understanding, and forgiving? Did we please them? Or, did they always expect more from us than we delivered? Did we get treated like people when we were in error or did we just get our butts whacked?

Why do we see God the way we do? Are we comfortable with looking Him in the eye and receiving that intimate not-angry love of His? If not, we need to work on it ’cause we’re being robbed!

And, what kind of picture are we forming of God for our children?

Is there anything in life more serious than this???

“Love”

Most of us have a distorted version of “Love” because we’ve been “loved” by unloving people in our lives. Ask people what love is and they say it hurts…and that’s sad that that’s the experience we’ve had…

Most of us also have a distorted version of who “God” is. Ask people about Him and they believe He hurts us. “It’s all part of God’s perfect plan” they’ll say when something hurtful happens to them.

The Bible tells us what Love is…and who God is…

1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament says the following about what LOVE is…and by extension, because the Bible says “God IS love” (1 John 4:10)…therefore God is all these things.

You don’t find “harsh”…”judgmental”…”condemning”…”punishes”…”stern”…in this list…

Love (God) is patient

Love (God)  is kind

Love (God) is not jealous

Love (God) does not brag and is not arrogant

Love (God) does not act unbecomingly

Love (God) does not seek its own

Love (God) is not provoked

Love (God) does not take into account a wrong suffered

Love (God) does not rejoice in unrighteousness

Love (God) rejoices with the truth

Love (God) bears all things

Love (God) believes all things

Love (God) hopes all things

Love (God) endures all things.

Love (God) never fails

God’s not sitting up there on a cloud watching your every move judging you waiting to hit you with lightning bolts.
If you’ve gone thru hard times, God was not “punishing” you.

And, this is why for those of you who have been dumped on by people you love…why even tho’ your friends get mad at you for “taking them back”…this is why you do it. Because love is this way…and if you really love someone you will take them back.

Foreigner sang, “I want to know what love is! I want you to show me!”
That’s probably the cry of all our hearts…(which starts getting squashed the 1st time our moms don’t come when we cry but I’ll save that for another day)

So, God showed us what love is.
The perfect revelation of LOVE and of GOD is in Jesus Christ.
Not in the picture painted by the churchgoers who point fingers at you and tell you to “repent or burn!” Not the loud screaming preachers with dramatic southern accents. Not the picture painted of God in the stern guy with the big knees in the Chick Tracts.

If you want to know what LOVE looks like…if you want to know who GOD is…you need to look at the life of Jesus Christ who was the complete revelation of God to mankind…

Colossians 2:8-10 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…

Don’t be robbed of your right to know who God is…don’t be robbed of your right to choose for yourself what you think of God. If all you do is read the 1st 4 chapters of the New Testament…do just that…and look at who God is…and what LOVE looks like…and know that that love is for YOU…

God indeed has a “wrathful side”…it’s true…as do we all…but remember…

“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1)

When we know better and choose to ignore it that’s what makes God mad.

If you look at Jesus in the Bible…when He felt WRATH…it was not directed toward the prostitutes and tax collectors, but, toward the religious…the religious people who were such smarty pants that they weren’t friends with Jesus because their heads were so full of “religion” they couldn’t even see Jesus…God was RIGHT THERE…right there in their midst but they couldn’t even see Him because they were so full of their religion!!!

SO! Far from being “ticked off” at you and wanting to toss lightning bolts at you…check out Jesus in the 1st 4 books of the New Testament…He wants to “marry you”…’cause He’s wildly and madly in love with you…

Check it out…don’t let the angry critical religious people who you’ve known in your life hide this from you…check it out yourself…

Like the cloud formation that my daughters and I caught one day in the sky…one of us saw it and said, “Look!” and the rest of us looked. I’m telling “you” to “look”…there’s a “heart in the sky”… Judgmental religious people will want you to not “look up”…they’ll want you to look down and look at yourself and at all your flaws and tell you that you’re not good enough to see the love God has for you, but, they’re wrong. Just like this heart appeared in the sky for ANYONE to see, God’s love is open to you…and it’s way more photo-worthy than this cloud…


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

Obligation to save…

As I was waking up this morning I was thinking…

If you knew of parents who had a baby born with some horrible problem that was fixable but the parents told the doctors that they didn’t want to spend all that money to take care of the problem and to not treat them…and they just stood by and watched the child die and did nothing to help the child…what would you think of those parents?

What if you knew parents who had a child who was kidnapped…and the parents thought it was too much of a hassle to try to find the child, so they just did nothing.

Would you call those parents “loving”? Noble? Virtuous?

In both of those examples, the parents don’t actually even have a  choice, do they really? If they did want to choose to NOT care for the child, they really couldn’t because under the circumstances they’re kind of “obligated”. We even get pressured into that with our animals many times and spend 100’s and even 1000’s of dollars to fix up or dogs or cats! There is something about being an authority over something helpless which puts you in that spot where you can’t as a decent human being NOT help!

But, what about parents who have a grown child…who…runs away…maybe with their middle finger in the air on their way out the front door…and they get themselves in a huge pickle. Trouble with a gang. Jail. Homeless. Jobless. Bankrupt. Whatever they could do to get into trouble say they did it. Now, look at the parents. Do you “expect” them to rush in and spend their life’s savings to help their child, or, do you pretty much see that this child has “made their bed” and it would be acceptable for the parent to allow the child to experience the effects of the things they caused? In this case, you can still love your child sincerely and stand by and wait as their life plays out.

So then, if a parent of a grown-child who has gotten themselves in much trouble DOES go all-out and make a huge sacrifice to get their child out of the mess that they made themselves, we see those parents as very noble and very loving, don’t we?

Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy. He hates God and everything God created and wants to ruin it all. He is the “accuser” and the “liar” who is great at ruining reputations and relationships.

We Christians are taught that “God is love” and that we need to be “sorry” for sinning and that we need to be “thankful” for His saving us…And, we all say it all the time that, “God is love” but, do we really believe that?

Look at the deadness of “the church”. We’re supposed to be the Bride of Christ…He’s our Prince…Do we act like we’re about to get married to the most amazing Prince in the universe? Seems like when we talk about Jesus we’re more like a little kid being forced to say, “sorry” to another little kid when we don’t feel it. The church is not “in love” with Jesus.

Why would that be?

I believe there it not “one” answer, but this is one reason…

If we are born sinful then for God to just stand by and say, “Nope, it’s too costly to save them, Doc, forget it, let them die.” would be a really super cruddy god! God pretty much has no choice but to save us if we’re born this way. We couldn’t help it! It wasn’t our fault! He HAS to do everything He can to save us because we’re just like a little baby born with a heart defect! Helpless!

How appreciative can we really be then toward God they way the church portrays this relationship between God and man? The church says we’re all born with a heart and blood defect! Born sick! And portrays a god who sees this defect in us and…first condemns us for the way we’re born and then…expects us to apologize for it…and then makes sacrifices to save us from the way we were born? It’s as tho’ God is a parent of a sick newborn baby and He looks at that baby and says, “Ugh! You make me sick! Look at you! All…diseased! You’re disgusting!” so much so that He can’t even look at us! And, then He insists we apologize for being born that way and THEN after we apologize for this then He pays the doctor to fix us…

But, we’re somehow supposed to see that god as “loving”?

For that matter, we’re supposed to see this god as sane? This is precisely what someone who wants you to NOT love and respect God wants you to think about God.

The truth is…
God was not obligated to save us…because we were not born sick. We were born beautiful. God looked at us when we were born and he COULD look at us…and His heart swelled with love and pride and hope just like we do when we have babies. He invested into us and loved on us and then…when we got old enough, we chose to walk out the front door with our middle fingers in the air and we took off with no regard for God…and then…when we got ourselves into a huge mess…God was ready, eager, and willing (not obligated) to sacrifice His entire life’s savings (His life) for the Great Physician to come and save us!

THAT is nobility. THAT is honor. THAT is love.
THAT is a BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY!
THAT is a beautiful GOD!!!

That kind of love makes God a hero. That is the kind of thing movies are made of!

And, that is the last thing someone wants you to understand about God…

The truth is on your heart…

The doctrine that says we’re born sick did not come from the Bible but from man. (there are bad translations which have changed the original text to fit this doctrine, however, and so investigating this issue to find the truth with an NIV {for example} will be confusing).

The evidence is in Romans 1…in the Creation…how do you feel when you look upon a newborn baby? Like you’re looking at a filthy dirty bundle of evil which deserves to go to hell at that very moment? The truth…it’s right there…and promoting and believing this doctrine leads many parents to treat their children in ways that lead those children INTO sin…

The Jews did not even and currently do not believe that a person is born sinful…they believe they reach an age of accountability…and they wrote the Bible…See Isaiah 7:14-16…this verse applies to Jesus…and to all of us…This teaching has such far reaching effects into the Christian life…it has distorted just about everything and it’s something we should not allow to continue!!!!

Best Friends and Mugs

A recent development in our life has made me think of cups…

The cups on the left…as you can see…I have the most of…and tend to use most frequently…
We spend the most time with these cups…
But they are not my best cups…

The cup in the middle that says, “Canada” is the cup I personally use the most…
Tho’ it is a high quality mug, it is not my “best” cup…
It is the cups on the right which are my “best cups”
These are expensive cups (mugs) from Longaberger which were a gift that cost quite a bit…

If you look at these 2 cups, the one on the left is my daughter’s “favorite” mug (looks like an olive!) It came from the Salation Army Thrift Store and cost about $1. It is the one she grabs every time she grabs for a mug. But, it is not her “best” mug. Her “best” mug is actually currently quite far away from her safely packed in a box…

Then, there are these teacups we have. Dainty fragile tea cups that we bought, also, at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, but they are used for special “tea parties” with the children…

What the recent development in our life has made me think of is that often, starting in school, we have people we refer to as our “best friends”. Our “BFFs” right? These people are usually the people we hang out with the most.

But often, our “best”…most high quality and valuable friends…are ones we are far away from…ones we haven’t seen in a long time…ones we don’t even spend much time with…

Sometimes our “best” friends are people we see rarely…
Sometimes our “best friends” are people we only see on special occasions…
Sometimes, our “best friends” are people we never would expect…because they are not our “most” friends…
And, no matter what the quality…coffee is always better with a cup or mug… :P

This week, I have realized how many “best friends” we really have…

Thanks, everyone…

(This analogy could be so much deeper…but I think you get the point! Trouble is I thought of this like 2 days ago and rather than write it while I was “inspired” I waited till I took pics and it kinda’ takes the “zing” out of it then somehow…)

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