God in Our Lives.

My grandson, daughter #1 and son-in-law of daughter #2. Xmas 2018.

I’ve been trying to remember to write about life each day and how God has moved in my life. I’ll share a few stories.  Two weeks ago, my sister, who lives in Washington State, told me she was getting more and more tired. She could hardly get out of bed. She does have chronic fatigue syndrome, but she could usually do a few things during the day. She was so discouraged.

We both prayed about it and she discovered it was caused by the antidepressant pills the doctor gave her. As soon as she stopped taking them she had more energy. Also, she told me her back was better since she bought a back exerciser. She said she used to be in terrible pain after putting away groceries; but since she used the exerciser the pain has been small.

So, I would like to thank God for showing my sister what to do to feel better. I’m also very thankful my grandson is still free from heroin and feeling better every month. He has a dog he loves and a mom who stands with him, helping him all she can. I’ve been sending him stories from the Bible and he says he enjoys them. Thank you God for freeing him from heroin!

I listed to a podcast awhile ago. A woman told a story from her life. Everything was going wrong. Her husband couldn’t find a job, she had to work and her baby was sick. She said her mother told her to go to a special evening meeting put on by their church and have a break. She went to the meeting but felt angry and jealous of those around her whom she supposed had happy lives. The musicians were setting up their instruments. All of a sudden, she saw Jesus on the stage. He looked at her and said, “You came! You came!” He hurried off the stage and came to where she was sitting. He was smiling and hugged her and said, “I’m so glad you came.” Then he disappeared.

This touched me deeply. How kind of God to comfort her in this way. And how like him to be happy when we take time to be with him at a meeting or in prayer. I think God, like all of us, is happy when people pay attention to him. I love it when my daughters and grandchildren come to see me. When you think that to look at God is to look at eternal life and eternal love, and he knows that; no wonder it makes him happy!

I’ve been reading 1 Kings and found something so beautiful to me. Jeroboam was an evil king who introduced idol worship to Israel. This kind of worship included sacrificing children to the god to be burned alive. Jeroboam also told the people not to go to Jerusalem to worship God.

God sent a prophet to the king to tell him that in the future, his son would lose the throne and all his family would die. But the Lord made an exception for one of Jeroboam’s sons, a son who was sick. The prophet told him he would die of the sickness but, “All Israel will mourn for him and bury him; for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to have a grave because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.”

So, the Lord allowed the boy to die in order to save him, I think and to give him a good end compared with the rest of the family who were killed by the sword. This story reminded me of my grandson, Craig and my nephew, Ian. Their lives were full of confusion, sadness and trouble, but I know their hearts pleased God. I know I will see them in heaven.

Asking People for Advice: Yes or No?

Joyce Meyer has a saying, “Don’t run to the phone; go to the throne.”  She was speaking mainly to women about this because when we women have problems we usually talk to our family and friends about it. We want their sympathy and advice. Joyce says to go to God first, and not only that but to perhaps not to share those problems with other people. God is enough and will comfort and guide us.

To me, this seemed like good advice and I’ve been trying to do this. I have found out that God indeed does comfort and guide. He puts Bible verses in my mind about the problem I have. I feel heard and understood by him in a wonderful way. And I’m glad not to share my gloom and doom attitude with my family since it usually makes them feel sad or mad. It can be hard dealing with a family member who is naturally fearful.

But there are other voices that say we should have spiritual mentors and go to them with our plans and problems. I listened to a podcast of someone who said she thought she had a great plan for this year, but every mentor/spiritual advisor told her not to do it.

When Joyce was called by God to be a preacher, no one thought she should do it either. Her church kicked her out and her family didn’t believe God called her. Only her husband supported her after talking with God about it. At the time there were no women preachers, or very few; most churches would not allow it. But I believe God did call her and she has helped millions of people through preaching, writing and charity.

I was talking with God about this, feeling confused on what is right about the subject. He asked me to think on what Jesus did. Well, Jesus didn’t ask other people for their advice on where to go or what to do. He took his marching orders from his father. He is our perfect example of what we should do.

Then I thought of Paul, who was converted on the road to Damascus. This is what he says in Galatians 1:15,16

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not rush to consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the apostles who came before me, but I went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Only after three years did I go up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas, and I stayed with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.”

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says this:

“Having once obtained a firm inward apprehension of Christ as the Messiah and Saviour, the Apostle then comes forward to preach Him among the heathen. But that firm inward apprehension was not to be attained all at once, and it was in seeking this that “the Spirit drove him” into the wilderness of Arabia. First comes the instantaneous flash of the idea upon his soul (“to reveal his Son in me”); then the prolonged conflict and meditation, in which it gets thoroughly consolidated, and adjusted, and worked into his being (during the retirement into Arabia); lastly, the public appearance as a preacher to the heathen upon the return to Damascus.”

So Paul did not seek men’s advice or teaching, which is interesting. Most preachers go to seminary to learn how and what to preach.

When Paul was preaching in Berea, the Bible says, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  Acts 17:11

Now Jesus was a spiritual advisor to the disciples. There is that to consider. He called them, he taught them and he trained them. Paul advised Timothy and other Christian leaders. Elijah took Elisha under his wing.

I think I have come to the conclusion that before we listen to any person, we should study the Bible deeply and we should spend much time in prayer. There are false teachers and false prophets. I believe God will let us know as we study and pray whether what someone is preaching is right or wrong. And if you are called by God to go somewhere or do something, keep praying until you are sure, and then do it.

One thing too about humans. Even if they are right about many things, they can be off the mark in some things. Preachers disagree with each other. They interpret the Bible differently. And not because they don’t love God or study, it is just another way Humans are not perfect.

George Whitefield and John Wesley disagreed about Calvinistic points, but Whitefield, to the very last, was determined to forget minor differences and to regard Wesley as Calvin did Martin Luther, “only as a good servant of Jesus Christ.” He asked Wesley to preach his funeral sermon.

“On another occasion a censorious professor of religion asked Whitefield whether he thought they would see John Wesley in heaven. “No sir,” was the striking answer; “I fear not, for he will be so near the throne, and we shall be at such a distance, that we shall hardly get a sight of him.” 

The Collected Sermons of George Whitefield.

Why We Love Action Movies.

Photo by Marcus Quigmire.

https://www.flickr.com/people/41896843@N00

Many years ago, my husband and I went to see a political thriller at the movie theater. When it was over, the ushers had pen and paper in hand and asked those who were leaving whether they liked the show. I’d never had that happen to me before. I said, “Oh, I hated it!” She asked why and I replied, “Everyone good in the movie died! It was horrible.”

I do remember the closing scenes and being stunned the bad guys won the day by killing everyone who was on the side of right. My reaction was pretty emotional, after all, it was just a movie.

I’ve seen movies where some good people die, but everyone? No.

I was listening to a sermon on a podcast last night and the preacher said, “Why do we go to violent/action movies? It is because we love violence.” Well, I disagree. I think we like these movies because we know the good guys will win in the end. Superman and Batman are not going to die and they will make the world better and safer. The people in Avatar saved their planet. Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible will stop the bad guys in their tracks. We will all win against the murderous aliens.

I think we love these movies because we love to see justice done. We read the papers and see the crime, cruelty and hard-heartedness of people and most of us feel sad. Most of us can’t believe what is going on and what people will do to each other. But for two hours we can see some justice done and it feels good.

I don’t think preachers should say what people’s motives are. They truly don’t know. They sometimes put the worst connotations on why people do what they do.

Why do people take drugs? I think it is that they find life hard or very sad and take drugs to feel good, even though the feeling doesn’t last. I think the deepest desires we have are to be loved and understood and when that doesn’t happen, we will try anything to make ourselves feel better.

Jesus is the answer to those longings, although it took me a life-time to learn that. The Bible says to pour out our hearts to God. This is what I do now when I am discouraged or depressed. I just have to talk with him about the situation and he brings thoughts in my mind that encourage me.

Today I was feeling sad so I talked with God about what was upsetting me. The song, “You Lift Me Up,” came into my mind. Words like, “You lift me up so I can stand on mountains. You lift me up to walk on stormy seas…” I pictured Jesus walking beside me through a stormy sea. Then I remembered what he said to his disciples when they were afraid their boat would sink in a storm and they would die. Jesus said to them, “Why were you afraid? Where is your faith?” 

Oh my, how these thoughts from God comforted and strengthened me! The sadness lifted and I felt like painting, while before I talked with God I wanted to go to bed and put the covers over my head. This is what our God does for us. He is a, “Wonderful Counselor,” as the Bible says.

Vision of A Well.

Vista del interior de un pozo árabe, junto al Castillo de la Aldehuela, Torredelcampo, provincia de Jaén, España.

Photo by: Veinticuatro de Jahén

One of my sisters was praying about her sins. She said she asks God to forgive her sins every day. She was talking with God about sins and how we sometimes commit the same sins over and over.

Suddenly, she saw a well. As she looked down the well, the Lord spoke to her, “You can see through the first inches of water in a well when the sun shines on it. Below those inches is total blackness. Sins are like that. They are underneath the surface, and the Holy Spirit keeps them down and covered. But they can break through sometimes. On earth, you will always have this blackness deep inside you. In heaven, it will be gone.”

Years ago, every time I sinned I felt so guilty and evil that I couldn’t face God in prayer for days. I was ashamed I was capable of sinning after I gave my life to him. But I have learned we do sin after asking him into our hearts and minds. The Bible teaches that, but I had been raised in a church where sin was considered so horrible no real Christian would ever sin.

Actually, God uses our sins to humble us, to keep us from becoming proud. I think we would be insufferable if we were perfect. God did say to be perfect, but it means to reach completion. It is a walk, a life-long journey. I think we all need to learn we are extremely sinful people. Without God, we would do horrible, awful things. We would keep them a secret, if possible, but we really are capable of doing the worst.

Thank God for his forgiving grace and enormous love. Thank God he loves us just as we are and will hold us back from many sins. Thank God he will forgive us seventy times seven in one day if needed. And thank God he is everlastingly patient.

What God Did for My Family in 1918.

I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas. I know many people don’t because of a loss of some kind. I pray God will comfort you in that loss. He walks beside you.

I was thinking of the past year and what God has done for me and my family. Just being with us and living in us is the best thing. But there were times when the Lord stepped in to specifically help us.

My grandson Jordan has gotten off heroin completely. His mental and physical heath is much better. I asked if I could text him verses from the Bible and he said yes. I try to remember to send them every day. He is very interested in the Old Testament stories.

I went to an ophthalmologist to get new glasses and told him how God seemed to have stopped me from getting my cataracts removed. He told me it is a good thing I didn’t get the operation and I should never get it done, since I had an allergy to eye antibiotics 10 years ago. He said I couldn’t get tested for the allergy because a minute amount could kill me. So, I think I would have died last summer if God had not stopped the operation for me by not letting me get the antibiotics in time and also getting sick as soon as I entered the hospital. I’m very grateful, because my mom and husband need me right now.

Speaking of my mother, she was diagnosed with colon cancer a year ago. They told me to not let her eat anything with a lot of fiber. She was exhausted when she came home from the rehab facility. Unlike rehab, I let her sleep as much as she wanted. She sometimes slept 12-16 hours, got up for 2 hours and went back to bed. Well, she did slowly heal from her broken hip operation. Her ability to read came back too. It has been truly wonderful. I have read people can live with colon cancer for up to 10 years, so we are hoping this will happen for her. I am very thankful God let me have my mom back, even if it is just for awhile.

One of my granddaughters had to break up with a boyfriend and she felt so awful about it. I told her I would pray for her and him. The break-up went very well. It was painful for him, but there was no anger or fighting.

Almost everyone in my family came to visit this year. We had such a beautiful time together. I keep thanking God over and over for this. I will always remember this Christmas.

Faith to Forgive.

Sycamore Tree in Israel.

One of my problems in reading the Bible is that I take many things Jesus said as being literal. The disciples had this problem too. When Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword, it sounded like advice to have a sword in case people persecuted you. But this flies in the face of the other things Jesus said about turning the cheek and loving your enemies.

Most commentators of the Bible say Jesus was not being literal. And I believe they are right since when Peter cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, Jesus healed the man and told Peter not to use the sword.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

 “At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spoke only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.” 

Whenever I would read what Jesus said about moving a mountain into the sea if we had enough faith, I would wonder what he really meant. Then I read someone say the mountain represented difficulties in our lives. They said in the Old Testament, mountains represented difficulties,and that made sense.

Today, I was reading Luke 17 and Jesus spoke about the Sycamore or Mulberry tree. He said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea and it would obey you.’”

He said this in answer to his disciples who had asked him, “Increase our faith.” And they asked him to do this after he had spoken about forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness they thought impossible for them.

“Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you, you shall forgive him.”

So, uprooting a sycamore tree is impossible for anyone to do; therefore, if you think it is impossible for you to forgive over and over, you are wrong. Faith in God will make it possible for you.

This is what I read in some commentaries this morning:

Pulpit Commentary

“The Lord signifies that a very slight real faith, which he compares to the mustard seed, that smallest of grains, would be of power sufficient to accomplish what seemed to them impossible. In other words, he says, “If you have any real faith at all, you will be able to win the victory over yourselves necessary for a perpetual loving judgement of others.”

Barne’s Notes on the Bible

“This sycamore is a remarkable tree. It not only bears several crops of figs during the year but these figs grow on short stems along the trunk and large branches, and not at the end of twigs, as in other fruit-bearing trees. The figs are small and of a greenish-yellow color.

It is easily propagated, merely by planting a stout branch in the ground and watering it until it has struck its roots into the soil. This it does with great rapidity and to a vast depth. It was with reference to this latter fact that our Lord selected it to illustrate the power of faith.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the fires of hell preachers talk about. I believe the fire is symbolic of something else.What would be the point of God burning people who are lost? Punishment? Punishment is supposed to be restorative. Actual, physical burning? I don’t think so. Being burned is very painful, and I think when the wicked realize they are lost,it is like a burning in their soul. A terrible pain in their heart at seeing what they have given up because they loved darkness rather than light.

A Dream of Jesus Beside Us.

I had a dream last night. Two men walked up to me and said, “There is someone standing beside you.” I looked and said, “Yes, it is Jesus. He is always beside me. You should give your lives to him.”

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 41:13

Usually, in my dreams, if I am around men I a m afraid and they look at me like they want to have sex. Not this time. I wasn’t afraid and there was no suggestion of sex in the dream. This made me so happy because I think God is showing me I am learning to trust him more. It felt so right and good to see him standing beside me.

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'”

I heard a sermon from the pastor of Creekside Church podcast and he quoted C.S. Lewis from one of the Narnia books called, Prince Caspian. In this scene, Lucy hasn’t seen Aslan (Jesus) for awhile.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’r bigger”   
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?”  “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

The preacher said as we spend more and more time with God, he will seem bigger to us. I have found that to be true. God seems amazingly pwerful to me now. I see him as King of the Universe, a mighty and awesome God who stoops down to walk beside me. Me, a weak and sinful person. I feels so thankful for who he is and what he does.

I found some other verses that tell us God is beside us.

“My soul clings to you. Your right hand upholds me.”  Psalm 63:8

“You have also given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand upholds me; your gentleness makes me great.”  Psalm 18:35

“With the Lord beside me as my helper, I will triumph over those who hate me.”  Psalm 118:7

“I saw the Lord ever before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8

Paul wrote, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17

“For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who judge his soul.”  Psalm 109:31