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

“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…


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(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…


The traditional way of raising babies is really like used toilet paper…it should be flushed away and never used again…

There are so many wrong aspects of it…

One thing I just thought of…is “empathy”…Most moms think it’s ok and even good for a baby to leave them to cry. Especially at night. Those kids need to “learn to sleep!” They need to “learn to soothe themselves”. And, while I could go on for hours about the spiritual, physical, and emotional damage this does to kids…I wanna focus on one small thought…”cause and effect”…

Baby can learn when they cry at 3am and mom “sleep trains” them and does not respond…
…that sometimes no one comes when they cry…
…that sometimes their cries don’t matter; maybe whatever they’re crying about doesn’t matter…
…that they are on their own…
…the only one who is always there for them is “themselves”…
The baby’s “cause” = “no effect”!

Baby can learn when they cry at 3am and groggy mom comes staggering in and tends to them lovingly…
…that mom always will come…
…that what bothers them matters to others and must be valid; they can trust themselves…
…that when they cry that they can change their world…
…that loving others means that you’re always there even when it’s not convenient for you…
The baby’s “cause” = the “effect” of seeing a person who has been ill-effected by the cry and yet has come to our assistance and loves us anyway and cares about and helps us with our problem!

What a beautiful lesson for a baby…to cry…and have mom there by their side…all groggy and tired…but loving them. What a beautiful example of love…The baby will learn the “cause and effect” of their cries that they can change the world they live in…and that their cries sometimes can effect others in a negative way and they will over time learn to have compassion and empathy on others and they will learn when to “cry out” and when to “wait” till a more convenient time for others…

“Greater love has no one than this…than a mom drag herself outta’ her bed for her baby!”

:)

(Of course, the baby should just be in bed with mom…but…that’s another post)

Hookin’ up!

I was just reading…actually (as opposed to just thinking)…Ted Dekker’s “Bride Collector”…and in an exchange between the wack-job and the good-guy FBI agent…the dialogue…combined with a pamphlet a well-meaning Christian had given a friend of mine this week…made something “click”…and now I’m clicking about it…

What really gets me is that all of this stuff is just so stinkin’ obvious! Why! Why did I not notice this before!? All of us have fallen prey to the urge to introduce our single friends to people we feel would make them a good mate. We all get that “matchmaking” urge and some of us have even been “matchmade”! And, some maybe wish that someone WOULD introduce them to someone we could fall in love with. So, we all have had some kind of experience with this “concept”!

OK…”We” are the “Bride of Christ”…right?

God is love and loves us and desires to live with us in heaven for all eternity.

“Your sins have made a separation between you and your God” Isaiah something… (We n’ God…we’re “broke up”)

Jesus came to save us from our sins…so that we an be reconciled with God.

“He has given us the ministry of reconciliation”…2 Cor. something…
(God wants to get back together with us!)

THAT MEANS that God wants us to “matchmake“. He wants to be introduced to the world so that He can enter into the most intimate of all relationships in the universe a human can enter into with Him!

It’s all about “hookin’ up”…
We the Bride…hookin’ up up with the Bridegroom…the Prince…Jesus…

So, how…in the literal world…do we “Hook up”?
How do we “fall in love”?

Imagine you’re single…and “A prince” is attempting to “hook up” with you…because he wants you for his bride…he wants to enter into the most intimate of all relationships with you and live with you forever!

Now…Imagine this approach…

Some random guy Steve comes over to talk to you. You’ve never met Steve before or maybe you just don’t know him well at all. Either will suit. Steve tells you, “My friend, Bob, he’s in love with you.”
“Oh?” you reply, weirded out, “I don’t know this Bob guy. How can he be in love with me?”
“He’s had his eye on you for years now.” Steve winks.
“Ohhh kaaaay…” you reply weirded out yet more.
“Really, he’s totally in love with you. He’d give his life to be with you.”
Your brow furrows and you begin to think Steve’s off his rocker.
“Only trouble is, is you.” Steve says glumly.
“Me?” you wonder if this conversation is worth continuing? Where is your cell phone in case you need 911?
“Yeah. He can’t be with you because you, well, ever since you were born you’ve been offensive to him. You have offended him countless times. In fact, you pretty much live a life of offense and he can’t really have that in his home.”
“Oh…ohhh kay…I thought you said he was like, in love with me?”
“Well, he is! He is! He’d die for you! But, yes, everything about you, the way you live, you offend him and…disgust him.”
“I disgust him?”
“With the way you live, yes. So much so that, well, frankly he can’t even look at you.”
You check and yes, your cell phone is handy. You look at it as tho’ checking for text messages. God help you.
“He doesn’t like that thing, either.” Steve says looking sorta’ prudish.
Puzzled, you ask, “What thing? My cell phone?”
“No. He disapproves of electronic things. And, while I’m at it I suppose I should point out that he doesn’t like how you do your hair, and he’s ESPECIALLY offended by those piercings you have.”
“So, I’ve never met this, this, Bob character…but…he’s in love with me, but, can’t even look at me because I’m so offensive and disgusting.” you’re trying to make sense of this but it’s not happening.
“Yes!” Steve says almost beaming. Steve is excited because it seems like you’re getting it, then adds. “He also is really offended by your clothing.”
“What?” you look down at your clothes, “I spent a lot of money on these clothes! They’re from a very expensive store! I worked hard to buy this stuff!”
Steve just sits there shaking his head sorta’ in a smug way as if to say, “Sorry lady, it’s gotta go!”
You’ve had enough! “Well, I think I probably need to get going, Steve…”
“No! Wait! See, you can still get married to Bob if you just, you know, stop being, well, you, and apologize to him for all the offensive things you’ve done to him!”
“I’ve never even met him!” you say.
“It doesn’t matter. You still have offended him and owe him an apology. He will need to ‘chastise’ you so to speak also. He’s a really great guy you just gotta hook up with him, really!”
“Wait! Wait!” you put your hand up in the air, “Chastise me?”
“Well, yes. If he loves you he’ll put a good hurtin’ on ya once n’ a while if you get out of line or offend him again.”
“Uh, huh. OK.” you scratch your head. “So, he’s in love with me, I need to hook up with him, and he would die for me but before he’ll even look at me, I have to apologize to him for offending him and basically stop being me? And, once we’re together sometimes he’ll give me a good whackin’ to set me straight on things?”
“Yes! Isn’t this good news? He loves you so much he’s willing to forgive you for all the things that you have done to offend him and the things you do that make him sick! And, because he truly loves you he’ll hurt you once in a while to make sure you don’t offend him!”
You start thinking about all the things that make you “you”. You start thinking about the things you like and the people you know, and, hey! You recycle! You have even adopted a cat from the SPCA! You shoveled the old widow lady’s driveway last winter once, even! What is it that this “Bob” finds so…offensive and disgusting about your life?
“These things,” you shake your head in bewilderment, “that I have been doing since I was born…have offended him?”
“Yes! Exactly!” Steve is just radiant. He can’t wait to tell all his friends about how he got to talk to you about this!
“Like, when I was born, he didn’t like it that I, what? Pooped my diaper?”
“Well, I can’t really explain that, I don’t really understand that, but, just what you need to focus on is that Bob loves you and wants to marry you! And, all you have to do is give up being who you have always been and he’ll find you acceptable enough to marry then and you’ll know he truly loves you because he’ll hurt you when you do wrong things! And, once you’re in this relationship you can never get out of it! Isn’t this great!”
You just look at him in a little bit of stunned silence.
“Oh, and I guess I should mention that if you don’t do this, he’ll kill you.”
“Kill me!?” your eyes almost pop out.
“Well, not so much kill as torture for the rest of your life, with all the other girls who have declined his offer.” Steve smiles. Steve is so excited that you really seem to be getting it.
Now you know Steve’s wacked and all you really wanna do is get far far away from Steve and you hope you never have a run-in with this “Bob” guy, if he even actually exists! “Steve, how do you know this?” you ask.
“I read it in this book! Here!” he proudly holds up a 5 pound book with many worn pages. “You should read a copy! I read mine EVERY DAY!”
“Yeahhhh…well…Thanks for sharing with me, uh, Steve, but, I need to run, I mean, go now…” You politely thank Steve for the information and leave quickly and are convinced that Steve needs meds and you think that perhaps a restraining order is in order.

So…do YOU want to hook up with Bob? Do you want to read Steve’s book? Do you believe such a weird man as Bob could really even be real???

Really, church! You could argue some of my points but, come on. We tell people “The Good News” that Jesus loves them by telling them that they’ve offended God since birth just by the fact that they are human…that the way they are now, how they live, the music they’ve grown up with, their friends, their political beliefs, their EVERYTHING offends Him and that He can’t even look at them ’cause He can’t look upon sin…and that if they don’t apologize for all this that He will destroy them forever in torment in Hell!!! That’s what we tell the world no matter how “softly”or “wisely” we try to put it THAT is how we introduce the most awesome loving beautiful Being in the world to people!!

Is this the way we introduce our friends to imperfect people they’d want to enter into a marriage relationship with?

Do we have a single friend and find a single possible mate and go up to them and tell them all the person’s worst qualities? Do we look at a potential mate and think, “Oh, well, she’d be great if only she weren’t like this or like that”…and then open the introduction with telling that person that if they changed “this or that” that your friend would be interested in them???

What’s the best way actually to introduce people? Blind dates? No! An ACTUAL introduction!

HOW do we introduce people to God ACTUALLY?

We are His hands and feet…
We serve…
We love…
We “feed His sheep”…

Do these “harder” aspects of the relationship have any place ever? Of course they do! I’m sure some of you more “religious” people would think I’ve gone off to “Light and Fluffy-ville” or something, but, come on! Romans 1 says the truth is evident everywhere! The way we’ve been created tells us the truth! And, you would NEVER introduce two HUMANS the way we introduce Jesus to people!

You know, you didn’t ask your current mate to wipe your bottom on your first date, did you? (That’d be an interesting story if you did!) Someday that may be part of your relationship and it won’t send them running in fear because you will have built up to that. After the introduction in a relationship, the entire relationship is about learning about the other person…what they like and what they don’t like, and if you LOVE them you will be making adaptations the rest of your life OUT OF LOVE for them…not out of fear…The hard truths about the relationship need to come after a relationship is there. After there is some love.

Getting straight to the hard serious stuff or getting too intimate on the 1st date is sometimes called rape and is unwelcome and not enjoyed by most women and therefore is unlawful in most countries.

Church think about HOW you would LITERALLY introduce a man you highly esteem to a woman you’d like to see take interest in him…just think about how you’d do that…Or, think about how YOU would want to be introduced if you were seeking a mate…and start introducing Christ to people THAT WAY…

Willfulness!!!

After posting the last thing I posted, I thought that a lot of people who have been raised on the belief of “Original Sin” would ask why kids sin…but…they’re seeing things wrong…

Willfulness…is not “sin”. Willfulness means we “have a WILL”…

Willfulness is one of the things that separates us from the animals and makes us like God. It’s one of the ways we’re created in His image. He has a will. We have a will.

Willfulness is only “bad” when our will opposes or disregards God…when our will is anti-Christ…

When our children begin to display willfulness…and actually begin to argue with us…when they “persist in trying to climb those stairs after we say, no!”…is not sin! It’s our children discovering and learning that they have a will…and it’s our job to not destroy that! But, to guide that will into reason, and into being a “good” will which will love God…

One of the saddest things in the world are the eyes of a child who has had their will “beaten” into submission by parents who believe that is “God’s way”…vacant lifeless eyes which live on faces that rarely smile or laugh… :( God gave us a will…He doesn’t want it beaten into submission…He wants our will to willingly submit to His will…

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!!!!

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