I Don’t Know What Title to Give this Post.

In my last post, I quoted from a book by Eugene H. Peterson. I usually quote from books and authors that have helped me. I know that when I read posts like that, I sometimes buy the book. But now I feel I should not have encouraged anyone to buy one of his books.

After reading good things about Pastor Peterson and his translation of the Bible called, “The Message,” I bought three paperbacks written by him. I started reading two of them, but was put off by his attitude towards non-Christians. He wrote of them, not in terms of love and pity, but with unkind judgement.

I did not finish those two books, but started “Life at It’s Best.” I thought I might have judged him too harshly myself and decided to give him another try. I did like the opening chapters, as I said previously, but when I came to chapter 14, I came upon that same unloving attitude.

He tells a story of his life when he was in the hospital to have surgery on his nose. The surgery was over and he lay in bed in pain. A new patient entered the room who was to have a tonsillectomy. He was in his early twenties, nice looking and friendly. I will now quote from the book leaving some sentences out for brevity:

“He came over to me, put out his hand and said, ‘Hi, my name is Kelly. What happened to you?’ I was in no mood for friendly conversation, did not return the handshake, grunted my name and said that I had had my nose broken. He got the message that I did not want o talk, pulled the curtain between our beds and let me alone…

Later in the evening the young man asked Peterson, “Well, what do you do?” Peterson writes, “I’m a pastor.” ‘Oh,’ he said and turned away; I was no longer an interesting subject.

In the morning he woke me, ‘Peterson, Peterson wake up.’ I groggily came awake and asked what he wanted. ‘I want you to pray for me; I’m scared.’ And so, before he was taken to surgery, I went to his bedside and prayed for him.

When he was brought back a couple of hours later, a nurse came and said, ‘Kelly, I am going to give you an injection that should take care of any pain you might have.’

In twenty minutes or so he began to groan, ‘I hurt. I can’t stand it. I’m going to die.’

I rang for the nurse and when she came said, ‘Nurse, I don’t think that shot did any good; why don’t you give him another one.’ She didn’t acknowledge my credentials for making such a suggestion, told me curtly that she would oversee the medical care of the patient, turned on her heel and left. Meanwhile, Kelly continued to vent his agony.

…he began to hallucinate, and having lost touch with reality began to shout, ‘Peterson, pray for me, can’t you see I’m dying? Peterson, pray for me.’ His shouts brought nurses, doctors and orderlies running…’”

His story ends there but it is how he would not shake hands with the young man and be interested in him that bothered me at the very beginning. You may say, “Well, he was in pain.” Yes, but Jesus was in pain on the cross and he spoke with love and mercy to the man hanging beside him. He saw there a man he loved and was dying to save.

Peterson next makes a conclusion about the young man in the story. He seems to wash his hands of him. I will quote what he wrote here:

“The parabolic force of the incident is this; when the man was scared, he wanted me to pray for him, and when the man was crazy, he wanted me to pray for him. But in between, during the hours of normalcy, he didn’t want anything to do with a pastor. What Kelly betrayed in extremis is all many people know of religion; a religion to help them with their fears, but which is forgotten when the fears are taken care of; a religion made of moments of craziness but which is remote and shadowy in the clear light of the sun and in their routines of every day. The most religious places in the world …are not churches but battlefields and mental hospitals…”

Peterson goes on to say how much better Christians are:

“Nevertheless, we Christians don’t go to either place to nurture our faith. We don’t deliberately put ourselves in places of fearful danger to evoke heartfelt prayer and we don’t put ourselves in psychiatric wards so we can be around those who clearly see visions.”

He goes on to say Christians have stability etc. Really? All Christians? Well, stability would be lovely to have, but I’ve met many Christians who are not stable and I am mentally ill so stability in my feelings is not normal for me. I have to pray and work hard on having stability.

Also, yes people pray when they are in danger. God uses that all the time. For the first time in their lives, some people may face death; and it makes them stop and think about eternity and God. That is a wonderful thing, a blessing from God! He will gladly take us just as we are, in that very moment when we are frightened. The criminal who died with Jesus probably had heard all about him and what he taught. He saw how Jesus treated the soldiers who crucified him. He saw how he took care of his mother. He heard the shouts of people who hated Jesus and said, “He said he is the Son of God.” So, he turned and looked on Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised him he would be with him in Paradise.

Jesus looks on those who are lost with the greatest pity and love. God does everything he can to save them. We should look on each person in the world as a person with a spirit and soul that Jesus longs to save.

As I said, I don’t know what title to give this post. I’m sorry I sort of recommended Peterson and his books. I rarely agree completely with every Christian book I read; but I’ve never felt like I had to apologize for encouraging people to read something. I do this time; I’m sorry.

Give God a Chance.

David singing for King Saul.

Psalm 34.  (In my own words.)

I will praise the Lord always. I will enjoy his company. Let those who are in trouble hear me and also rejoice!

I looked for the Lord and he answered me. He saved me from my fears. Angels of God surround those who revere him.

Try on the Lord, like a coat in a store, and see if he fits. Taste him, and you will see that he is good. You will be blessed by him. Fear God, for those who are in awe of him will lack no good thing.

If you love life, do not lie; turn away from evil and do good. Seek peace. God’s eyes are on us. His ears hear us. He is close to those whose hearts are broken. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.

In this world, we will have trouble, but God delivers us. Evil will kill the wicked, but in the last judgement, God’s people will not be condemned!

Can You be a Christian and not Love God?

The last few weeks I have either heard or read Christians say, “We don’t obey God because we want to be saved, are afraid of him or want something from him. We obey God because we love him.”

This always gives me pause because of the number of years I have not felt love for God. I first gave my life to him because he showed me through a dream that I was lost. I saw Jesus returning and wasn’t ready. That dream terrified me.

My grandmother gave me a book about God and I loved it. Then I went to an evangelistic meeting. I enjoyed that also, but when they asked if anyone wanted to come forward to give their lives to Christ, I didn’t do it until the last night. That was the night the preacher talked about Jesus and his death on the cross for us. I felt love and gratitude and walked up to the stage to give myself to Jesus.

So, I guess I could say I came to God through fear and then love. But the love feeling didn’t last. Because of my church’s teachings, I started feeling very afraid to sin and believed God would turn away from me if I sinned. I don’t remember any teachings about how we will sin and how God will always be there for us.

So, I was afraid. I became legalistic too and looked down on those who weren’t as “good” as I was. I’m not sure how you can have both feelings, but I guess I went back and forth between them. When I did sin or make a mistake, I couldn’t pray for days because I felt so guilty.

I then learned about, “righteousness through faith,” from a new preacher in my church. This was wonderful news to me and I embraced it. I felt at peace with God for quite a few years.

But then some traumatic things happened in our family. I couldn’t understand why God would allow such pain. I felt repulsed by the way he ran the world and let people suffer. Not just my family, but everyone in the world. I was filled with anger towards him. I walked away from him.

Four years later, when I came back to him, I had read books on why God allows suffering. These books had helped me a lot and I could understand why things were the way they were. But love? No, I didn’t feel love for God and for the most part, I didn’t really believe he loved me.

This went on for years, and the thing is that even though I didn’t feel love for God, I wanted to be a good person and I knew God was the only way to be that. I felt as Jesus said, I hungered and thirsted for righteousness. I cared about justice, mercy, forgiveness, love, compassion, generosity and patience.

I loved what God stood for, but it was so hard for me to equate that with a person in heaven. Maybe because men had hurt me all my life, I couldn’t think of God in a loving way.

So then, if I took to heart what these Christians say about obeying God because I felt love for him, I would have given up in despair. But I learned from Joyce Meyer not to rely on my feelings. They are fickle and unreliable.

One of my sisters feels no love at all for God. She was angry with him for many years. But God wouldn’t let her go. He called her, he bugged her, he chased her until she reluctantly gave in to him. She worships him every day. She is learning about him every day. She is growing every day. There is a huge change in her, although she cannot see it, I do.

In fact, the way God has dealt with my sister has made me love him. Not many people love her. One reason is she always says the truth of what she thinks or believes. She doesn’t let people get away with bullshitting her. She is direct and pulls no punches, but that is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is straight with me; I don’t have to guess where she stands.

I’ve told her I think the thing God loves most about her is her honesty. She doesn’t want to hurt people with honesty, that is just her personality and most people don’t like it. But God does. I know he does, and oh how that makes me love him.

I only started having consistent “feelings” of love for God the last few years. I became a Christian at 19 and I am now 69. It has been a long wait for me. I had moments of that loving feeling, but they didn’t last. Now, it feels like my heart will burst with love and the joy of knowing God. It was worth the wait; I’m so happy.

I wrote this for those who have no feelings for God and think they should. I’m sure God understands feelings and knows they can’t be counted on. I think he wants us to worship him because we admire what he stands for: truth, faithfulness, justice, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, long-suffering, tolerance, and most of all love.

But honestly, I believe God will take us any way he can get us. He loves us that much.

Don’t Be A Mule.

Juancito, which the author calls the best mule of Argentina, on an excursion on the Mitre Peninsula, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. In the background is the remains of the SV Duchess of Albany, shipwrecked in 1893. Photograph taken in February 2006.

How wonderful it is that God forgives our sins! If I keep silent about my sins, your hand of conviction will be heavy on me and each day I become weaker. But when I confess my sins, you forgive me the moment I ask.

All of us need to pray while we still can, while there is still time. God is our hiding place; when trouble comes, he will deliver us.

God says to us, “I will teach and counsel you. My eyes, which are filled with love, are on you. Don’t be like a horse or mule that must be controlled with bit and bridle! Come willingly!

Those who don’t know God also suffer hard times and trouble. But they miss out on God’s unfailing love and comfort, which surrounds those who believe in him.

Rejoice that you know the Lord! Sing to him!

Psalm 32 (In my own words.)

God is With Us.

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”   Isaiah 7:14

As Joseph was considering divorcing Mary, since she was pregnant, an angel appeared to him and told him the child was from the Holy Spirit. He said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

I’ve noticed lately how many verses there are where God told us he would be with us. Jesus said it many times. One of the things I remember from going to church as a child was that God was with us every moment of every day. I’ve never doubted that, but these days I feel so amazed and happy about it. To think the maker of the universe is beside me every day is comforting. I think I understand why God loves being with us. It is the way I feel about my daughters and grandchildren. I wish I was with them every moment of the day, simply because I love them.

I thought I’d write down some verses about this:

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”  Genesis 28:15

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  Psalm 118:6

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8

“For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even until death.  Psalm 48:14

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Ezekiel 37:27

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18:20

 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  Revelation 21:3

Questions from Jesus.

What I have noticed about the questions Jesus asked, is that he invited people to speak their mind honestly. It was up to them what they would say or decide. He didn’t try to talk people into anything; he respects our freedom of choice.

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”   He said, “Come and see.”  John 1:38

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Healing. Even when Jesus knew what people wanted, he asked them to tell him first. Even though God knows what we need, he wants us to ask him anyway.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

The woman caught in adultery was probably feeling embarrassed. When she wasn’t stoned to death, and the men walked away, she didn’t speak first. Perhaps her face was red and tear-stained. She probably couldn’t look Jesus in the face. So, in asking a question, it made it easier for her to speak.

 “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”

Many times, Jesus asked people if they believed he was the Messiah, the Son of God. He asked so they could declare openly their belief in him. I have heard that speaking something out loud cements in your mind what you believe.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25,26

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”   John 9:35

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”   And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”   Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Matthew 16:13-16

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Luke 18:19 (In other words, who do you think I am?)

Jesus had hard questions for those who opposed him. They were constantly hounding him with questions and accusing him of having a devil. From what I remember, they were the ones who always started a conversation with Jesus. He didn’t hold back any punches.

“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?   John 8:46

Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to accept My message.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me!   John 8:43-45

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”   Luke 6:46

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:3

Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”  They didn’t dare. Mark 11:30

And the last question, one of the saddest, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”   Luke 22:48  I think Jesus was trying to get Judas to think about what he was doing. Jesus would have forgiven Judas, but he just would not repent.

Well, those aren’t all the questions Jesus asked, but those were the ones I remember. What I love about Jesus is his total honesty, singleness of purpose and bravery. I love his respect for the human race in the total freedom he has given us to accept him or not. Most of all, I love his heart of love.

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.