What is Our Achilles Heel?

I’ve was reading about King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and found he had a pattern in making bad decisions. Even so, he was a wonderful champion for God.

“The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the ways of David and sought not to the idol Baal; but he sought the Lord God of his father, Asa. He walked in his commandments and not after the doings of Israel and its kings.”  2 Chronicles 17:3-5

Not only did Jehoshaphat follow God, but he sent teachers of God’s laws to all the towns of his realm. God blessed him with riches and honor.

But Jehoshaphat had a failing in his character. Instead of staying apart from the evil kings of Israel, he made treaties with them. He allowed his eldest son to marry the daughter of Jezebel.

One day, Ahab, king of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat to come and visit. He then asked him to go to war against the king of Aram. Aram had promised to give the city Ramoth-gilead back to Israel, but he wouldn’t do it.

Jehoshaphat said, “I am as you are and my people as your people; and we will be with you in the war.”  Ahab’s false prophets had told the king he would win the war. But Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of God, so they sent for Micaiah. He told them they would lose the war and Ahab would die. Ahab threw him in prison and they went to battle anyway.

Thousands of their people died fighting and the battle turned out exactly as the prophet of God had said. Jehoshaphat barely escaped with his life. When he returned home, Jehu the prophet met him and said, “Do you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you. However, some good is found in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles from the land and have set your heart to seek God.”

Why did Jehoshaphat help Ahab? I think it was because he considered the people in Israel his family, which they were by blood. And I think he felt his country was too small to fight against Israel and other countries so decided to make them allies. Israel was composed of ten tribes, whereas Jehoshaphat ruled over only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. But this showed a lack of faith, for the Bible shows God doesn’t need a huge army to win a war. He doesn’t need us at all. He can do it all himself, if we believe.

After Ahab’s death, his son Jehoram ruled Israel. The king of Moab rebelled at paying taxes so Jehoram went out to fight them. He asked Jehoshaphat to go with him. You would think Jehoshaphat would have learned from what happened before, but he didn’t. He took his army with Jehoram. This battle was won by the hand of God.

After Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah ruled. “King Jeoshaphat of Judah joined with him Though they did not go to war together, they went into business building ships to go to Tarshish. Then Eliezer the prophet went to Jehoshaphat and said, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked on the way to Tarshish.

Jehoshaphat chose his eldest son Jehoram, the grandson of Jezebel, to be the next king. But he had been taught by his mother to worship idols. He immediately murdered his brothers so no one else could be king and he taught the people to worship Baal and other idols which included burning children alive as a sacrifice.

So, Jehoshaphat was a strong believer in God. He did follow him except in this one area of uniting with those who did not worship God. But the consequences of his decisions were, monetary loss, death for his people and then the death of his sons. He couldn’t seem to see the evil in the kings of Israel nor in his eldest son.

I believe his bad choices are in the Bible to teach us what can happen when we ally ourselves with unbelievers, either through marriage, war or business dealings. I think God made it clear how he felt about what Jehoshaphat was doing. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t saved. I believe he was, but it does show the terrible results of not trusting God enough and making decisions without consulting Him.

So, what is my Achilles heel? I would say I keep looking to people too much for love and attention. I have done that all my life and it has caused numerous problems. When I was a teen, I was desperate for someone, anyone, to love me. This led me into all kinds of trouble as you can imagine.

This carried over into adulthood where I made many choices out of God’s will because I wanted someone to love me. I am learning, slowly but surely, to find all the love I need in him. And what I like about this is his is a kind of love that never wavers and never ends. People cannot give me the all-encompassing love I want, but he can and he does.

I’ll leave you to figure out what your Achilles Heel may be.

The Becoming of A Christian.


My last post was about how we cannot know who is a Christian and who is not because it is a slow process brought about by the Holy Spirit. I thought I would give some examples of this.

I was raised in a home that was religious. We went to church each week and had conversations about God. Because of this, I have always believed there was a God. I have always believed the Bible is a true book about him. I was attracted to God all through my childhood and teen years.

But though I am grateful for that part of my upbringing, I was also taught God was strict and we needed to not sin in order to go to heaven. I wanted to be a Christian, but knew I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t understand grace and being converted.

When I was 18, I gave birth to my first daughter. As I held her in my arms, I knew I wanted her to be saved and I knew I needed God’s help to raise her. For the first time, I put another person before me. I learned what love was.

That year my grandmother gave me a book called, “Patriarchs and Prophets.” I read it and was moved by the picture of God by the author. Then I had a dream.

I dreamed I was drinking and partying with my friends. We were outside walking up a hill on a sidewalk. All of a sudden, the sky went black. I turned around and saw a rainbow spanning the dark sky. I knew Jesus was coming back and I wasn’t saved. I wouldn’t be going to heaven. I felt terrified.

When my daughter was two, I went to California to visit my parents. My mother and grandmother took me to an evangelistic meeting. The night he spoke about Jesus’ love, I went forward and gave my life to him. My grandma and mom were crying with joy and I was very happy and at peace.

Not long after that I had a dream. I was standing in front of my parent’s house with my daughter. I saw Jesus coming in the clouds. I felt great joy and knew I was saved.

All through these years (I am now 68) I have been learning about God. There have been times I was very angry at him; there are the many times I have seen his wonderful works in my life. I have learned to admire and love God.

My two daughters were raised by me to believe in God. We took them to church and they attended a church school. When they were teens, they decided not to be Christians. My oldest daughter told me she thought heaven would be boring so she didn’t care if she was saved or not. But she believed there was a God, and prayed when she needed help.

Then 8 years ago, her oldest son died at the age of 21. She needed God desperately in this time and has stayed with him. He has been her help, comfort and courage.

My grandsons went through years of the Holy Spirit working on their hearts. When they were teenagers, they told me they were atheists, like their step-father. But after years of listening to my husband and other family members, they both believed in God. My grandson who died was praying and wanting to live a better life. He died by drinking way too much, falling asleep face-first on a soft sofa and never waking up. But he was accepted by Jesus as he was. He is saved for eternal life.

My nephew, who was mentally ill and killed himself 2 years ago, was at first an atheist. But my sisters and I talked with him about God for years. He had many questions we tried their best to answer. When schizophrenia took hold of him in his last year, he phoned me and visited me in order to ask me all about God.

Thankfully, I had gone through a time of having doubts about God’s goodness and I could answer his doubts as God had answered mine. A few days before he died, he told me, “I’ve made up my mind about God. He is the one true God and I’m giving my life to him.” I was so very happy. I had no idea what he had planned to do. But I do know God accepted him as he was, mental illness and all. The only time he talked normally was when it was about God. Other than that, he talked about how the government was after him and people were following him every place he went. He said he put us at risk by just visiting us.

I give these examples to show how true it is that people are either becoming Christians or are not becoming Christians. It shows how for years the Holy Spirit works on a person’s heart and then, seemingly all of a sudden, they ask God into their lives.

I am so thankful for God’s patience and mercy. I thank him for accepting us where we are; that we don’t have to become a great person before he comes to us. I’m thankful he came to save sinners, not the righteous! What a God he is, full of love, compassion and forgiveness.

100% Christians.

Clouds seen from my balcony.

I have made the mistake of judging who is a Christian or not. I have thought or said, “Well, they can’t be a Christian if they did or said that.” It is really an awful thing to think that I am the judge of the world, but I used to.

I recently read the following excerpt from the book, Mere Christianity, by C.S.Lewis. I thought it explained exactly how our thoughts should be of people. It is so natural for humans to judge other humans. We do this on how they look, what they say and how they live. And it is actually important we do that in perhaps the workplace or when choosing friends or a partner in life, but not when we think of God’s work on the human heart. Here is the excerpt:

“The world does not consist of 100% Christians and 100% non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen (preachers). There are other people slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted to him that they are his in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand.

There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points.

Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position. And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together.

Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgements about Christians and non-Christians in the mass. It is some use comparing cats and dogs, or even men and women, in the mass because there one knows definitely which is which. Also, an animal does not turn (either slowly or suddenly) from a dog into a cat. But when we are comparing Christians in general with non-Christians in general, we are usually not thinking about real people whom we know at all, but only about two vague ideas  which we have gotten from novels and newspapers.”

How to Pray Like David.

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I listened to a podcast called, Exploring my Strange Bible, by Tim Mackie the other day. It was about how to pray like the people who wrote the Psalms. He said the Psalms are there for us to learn how to pray. Many times I have prayed with the Psalms, repeating the words as my own prayer. But he wasn’t talking about that. He was teaching us how to pray like the men in the Psalms.

In our western culture, we don’t usually do that. We tend to think God already knows everything so all we usually do is ask for help. We might say, “Oh God, I’m so depressed, help me.” And I know God answers those prayers. But Mackie said that telling God everything helps us in a different way. He said a third of the Psalms are about pain and sorrow. They are called “Lament and Protest Psalms.” In these prayers, David and others give a detailed description of what is going on in their lives how they feel about it. They hold no emotion back.

He said people do one of two things with their emotions. They either stuff them deep down and perhaps deny them; or they pour out our emotions to other people. Both of these reactions are more harmful than good. When we tell others all our sad, mad feelings, we can make them feel sad and mad.

For me, sharing my sad thoughts with people has not helped. They usually don’t want to hear it, casually brush me off or try to offer solutions that don’t work. I feel alone and misunderstood.

When I push my emotions aside and don’t deal with them, I become very depressed. I feel alone and despairing. Then I go to a counselor and pay them to listen to me. Which does help, but not enough.

The Bible says, “Pour out your heart to God.” Psalm 62:8, Lamentations 2:19. Mackie says after telling God our thoughts and feelings, then make a request. Don’t tell God what to do, just tell him the situation and your feelings about that and believe me, he will know what to do for us and it will be wonderful.

Mackie says we should do the same thing with our doubts about God. If you are doubting his goodness, then tell him that and then request he strengthen your faith.

Many times the Psalmists remind God of what he has done in the past for people. They usually reference the Exodus from Egypt. Reminding God of his past mercies seems a bit strange to me, but I’ve been doing it because it is a part of their prayers. “Remember how you helped Joseph when he was in jail? Help me too.”

Most Psalms end with praising God for all he has done. I think that is a great way to end our prayers. We start out looking inside ourselves at our sorrow and pain, then around us at the chaos in the world, and we are discouraged. But then we lift up our heads and look at God and know he sees and feels it all; and this life, this world, will one day be over and we will be with the amazing God of the universe and so we praise him.

The Wilderness.

Photo by: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing.

I’m reading in 1 Kings now and found many interesting and beautiful things about God. And I learned something new about Elijah, a great prophet of God.

You may know the story of when Elijah was on top of Mount Carmel. It hadn’t rained for three years because the people of Israel were worshipping Baal, an evil god to whom the people would sacrifice their live children by burning them to death.

Elijah told King Ahab to bring the people and the prophets of Baal to Mt. Carmel. They would have a contest between Baal and the Lord God. They would build altars and pray; whichever God answered by fire, he was the true God.

After many hours of praying, Baal did not answer. Elijah prayed and immediately fire came down from heaven consuming the sacrifice and altar. The people said, “The Lord, he is God.”

Elijah thought the nation would change; he thought Ahab would quit worshipping Baal and turn to God, but this did not happen. In fact, his wife Jezebel sent a message to Elijah telling him she would kill him by the end of the day.

Elijah ran. He ran into the desert, the same desert that Israel had to cross to get to the promised land. And this is the part I had forgotten; he wandered in the wilderness for 40 days.

I thought of Jesus and when he went into the wilderness for 40 days. I thought of Israel and how they had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. God has patterns throughout the Bible and here was another one.

Most commentators of the Bible say Elijah was discouraged by the outcome of his work for God. He probably thought his work was fruitless and wondered why he had risked his life for nothing. He couldn’t see what God was doing or why. His faith in God was tested.

When Israel wandered through the wilderness, their faith was tested also. They came to a day when there was no water. They thought they were going to all die of thirst so they complained and wanted to go back to Egypt. They got angry at their situation. God provided them with water, not just once, but many times. They had no food left and were frightened. They didn’t trust God to feed them. They said, “Can God make a feast in the wilderness?” Yes, he can and he did. These things happened to make their trust in God strong but it didn’t work with that first generation.

For Jesus in the wilderness the test was the same. Did he trust his father? Would he complain about being hungry and save himself? No, he didn’t. He could have made the stones into bread but he knew if you or I were in the wilderness, we could not do that. He came to live a human life, depending on God for everything.

Joyce Meyer talks a lot about Christians going through a wilderness time. Everything around them feels dark and hopeless. They cannot see the way out and wonder why God allowed this to happen to them. We have a choice in these times, to trust and praise God in the midst of them, or to complain and rebel against him.

I found two songs lately that are so inspirational. The words are fitting for this subject.

No one can take away, my hallelujah.

No darkness can contain, my hallelujah.

Your cross has made the way, for my hallelujah.

From the song: My Hallelujah, by Brian and Katie Talwalt.

Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness.

Give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den.

Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense.

Then I can fight my giants with confidence.

From the song: Confidence, by Sanctus Real.

“No darkness can contain, my hallelujah.” We must not allow darkness to stop our praise and love towards God. Remember how Jesus and his disciples suffered. No one is immune to suffering; you are not alone. This world of pain is not our home; Jesus walks beside you.

Telling God Alone.

In my last post I wrote about watching too much television with my mom and having a struggle with that. Of course, God came through and helped me. As I said, Mom told me she would like to play some computer games. Well, that is what she wants to do every night instead of watching TV. I’m so thankful to God. Now I have more time to listen to Christian podcasts, read books about God and to pray.

In one podcast, a man said something like, “If you were raised in a legalistic, fundamentalist religion and are now free of it, be grateful for your upbringing. You grew up knowing the Lord’s name.” I agree with him and have thought about that a lot.

My sisters and I used to be upset at our religious upbringing, but now I am grateful. Because of my parents and my church, I have always believed there is a God; I’ve always known he hears and sees me; I’ve always known there is eternal life for those who follow him. I may have been terrified of God and when I sinned I thought he would kill me with a bolt of lightening, but hey, it was a start! I’ve certainly never been tempted to be an atheist.

Something happened this week that showed me how good Joyce Meyer’s advice is on not telling people when you are hurt by someone. I thought about telling only my husband but I realized there would be no point in that. He couldn’t change anything and would also feel sad that I was sad.

I don’t want to say what this person did. It was someone in my family. When it happened, I felt like a knife went through my heart. So, I spent time talking with God about the situation. I thought about what Jesus would do. I think he would have felt hurt, but he would have just accepted what happened. That night I prayed God would take away the pain in my heart and when I woke in the morning the pain was totally gone.

That day, another family member came over and talked with me about what happened. I didn’t bring it up, but she knew about it. What she said made me feel so much better. The situation was clarified and I could see there was no malice at all involved in it. That night we all went out to dinner and had a perfectly wonderful time together.

I love God’s way of dealing with our hurts. I love this way of not telling people I am sad etc. I know there are times we must confront people. Jesus said to go to those who hurt you and talk with them. I have done that before; sometimes it works out great, other times not so much. What I especially love is how God tells us not to spread these stories all over the place. We shouldn’t call our friends and tell them how horribly someone has treated us. We should go to God alone and he will help us.

Distracted From God.

Photo from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/en:German_Federal_Archives

I’m having trouble spending as much time as I would like to in seeking God each day. I’m still doing that, but not as much as before. I’ll explain.

My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer around a year ago. We went through a lot together before the diagnosis. She broke her hip, seemed to have dementia, was in a nursing home and then came home to me. I’m so glad she is home.

When she returned, the doctors and I thought that lack of enough Vitamin B12 was the reason for her weakness and dementia. I’ve been giving her shots and she is slowly healing. She couldn’t read or watch TV at first; but that all changed with the shots. She does have short-term memory damage, but I hope it improves. A person can live 10 years with colon cancer and that is what I am hoping for.

For the last months Mom has not wanted to read as much. I think she forgets what she has read so I am ordering magazines. She enjoys those. She does like TV a lot, especially British shows. Most of those are written beautifully and the stories are compelling.

So, we started with Father Brown and Midsummer Murders. I’ve seen those before, so I would read and pray as she watched, or do that after she went to bed. But things started to change for me with Downton Abbey.

I love that show. I’ve seen it years ago so I thought I would not watch. But I’d forgotten a lot of it and couldn’t take my eyes away from it for weeks. Then this week we started Paranoia, a British police mini-series. Well, it is fascinating and the writing and acting are amazing. They certainly know what they are doing in England. My husband watches tons of American cop shows and they are boring so I am not tempted to spend hours watching them.

Last night, after watching a 5-hour marathon of Paranoia, I knew I had to do something! But when Mom got up to go to bed, she said, “Didn’t I used to play a computer game?” I told her she used to play Flipwords. She said, “I’d like to do that again.”  Well, thank God. She can play that for hours and love it. She told me she had had enough of that show. The story is complex and I think she doesn’t know what is going on.

I’m still going to watch the last four episodes. I’m no saint. I’m thinking that after this I can play Yahtzee with her and then she can play computer games. We will see how everything works out. All I know is I want my evenings with God back. I did take time with him after Mom went to bed, but I’m very tired by then.

I remember a woman in a church I went to. She said she had a dream from God. She saw Jesus and asked him why his people were not what they should be. He said one word, “Television.” Then she woke up. She believed or felt that Jesus meant we spend so much time watching TV that we have no time for him.

I can see it. Most people come home from work, make dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Nothing wrong about that, unless the TV shows are full of sex and violence. But we could watch nature shows all evening and it still takes us away from Jesus. The only way to be like Him is to be with Him. The only place for strength to live and power to work is beside him. He alone can make us better people. One thing he cannot do is seek himself for us. That is our job. That alone is, “working out our salvation.”

I need to update this post to say I do have worship with God every morning. But I need more of him. Like Daniel, who prayed morning, noon and evening.