Joshua’s ultimatum was given to the church; not the world

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15 NIV

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord is one of those mic drop Bible verses that has since made its way onto t-shirts and Bible covers and wall decor.

As someone with a drawer full of Bible verse t-shirts myself, I see a problem in the way we might approach this verse. If we use this verse as an us against the world battle cry (which we tend to do with a lot of Bible verses), we fail to see it’s real value. It is meant to be an urgent call to examine ourselves, not the world, and to be willing to get rid of what evils and idols we cling to ourselves. Even if that means we will need to separate from our beloved church friends, who may not, themselves, be willing to put down whatever old evils and beloved idols or prior sins they once drug in to camp too.

Lyrics to the gospel song, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus. Though none go with me, I still will follow.’ also come to mind when I read this verse.

As a clergy abuse survivor, I see how our general acceptance of idolatry and false gods and dangerous spirits, some of those harkening back to Egypt; remains a problem within the modern church. One that then opened the gate for all manner of predators to come in and get by with abusing children right inside the very walls of the church, too. The world has nothing much to do with all that. It’s the church’s refusal to parse out its own self; that caused that issue.

If we read Joshua’s covenant from God in its entirety, see Joshua 24, we see that he is talking to Israel, (which in modern correlation would be like a sermon given to the entire assembly of professing believers). He was not lecturing the nearby Amorites or the far away Egyptians, just to be overheard by the Israelites who would then find that edifying and affirming that they were ‘separate’. Not even close. He was parsing and exhorting Israel herself! He drew a line in the sand, ‘come clean NOW, or go back to Egypt where you came from!’

In a modern sense, we would say Joshua was talking TO THE CHURCH, and entirely about the problems he was seeing therein. Sins and evil that people, not willing to fully convert and wholeheartedly follow God; had brought into the fellowship willingly. He was not so much urging the church to remain separate from the fallen world, as much as he was urging the church to examine itself and then kick out all the worldly bits. Idols and beliefs and ways of living to which they were still clinging, in spite of all the ways God kept delivering them from those very things!

I am going to go ahead and make the leap here and say the following. The ultimatum, therefore, choose this day whom you will serve, was given to the church, still applies to the church today, and therefore remains all about the church’s own collusion with evil, with idolatry, with sin. Not about its inherent separation from the world. Which is actually a laughable concept, given the apostate state of things today.

What does that mean to us, today?

It means that when I know or see that another Christian in my own circle or camp, allowing or partaking something which I can clearly see harkens back to Egypt, whether that is a book written by a New Age spiritualist, or a diet plan promoted by someone who channels spirits, or more alarmingly: siding with an abuser: I try to speak up about it. Or, at the very least, if no door opens for exhortation: I just resist whatever it is, myself. And when the opportunity arises, I share that as for me I don’t do Yoga, or read books like that one, or burn sage sticks, give space for a wolf in the sanctuary, or what have you, because I am a dedicated Jesus follower and that stuff doesn’t jive with following Him.

And taking Joshua 24:15 seriously also means that when I disclosed my own abuse at the hands of a Protestant minister, I knew it would cost me my family. In time I saw that I would never quite fit in again, either, with a lot of the brothers and sisters in the modern church world.

In the absence of any visible Joshua’s, I am, myself, speaking up more and more when I notice things the church at large is tolerating and passing off as just one more thing covered by grace.

And that’s ok. Because as I wait for more of the church to decide whom to follow, on our collective way to the Promised Land, I stay quite busy purging my own tent clean of all that I once drug into it myself.

Leprosy, Baptism, and Being Healed as We Go

A local church is planning to do baptisms this Easter Sunday. Seems a good time for it. The weeks and days prior to Passover, and Holy Week itself, are a sobering time for self-reflection, confession of sin, and repentance, culminating in great hope and renewal as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Historians theorize that it was the Jewish religious tradition of deep cleaning, wiping every cupboard and cranny of potential leaven (leaven or yeast represents sin), prior to passover/feast of unleavened bread, that led to the widely adapted practice of ‘spring cleaning.’

A thorough house cleaning sums up baptism too: making our faith public by undergoing a literal, though symbolic, purifying/cleansing act of bathing. ‘Dying’ to sin, as we go under that water, thereby renouncing and putting to death the old man: the world, the flesh and the devil, and then coming up from that temporary burial a new person: cleansed and trusting Jesus entirely for new life, for eternal life and the ultimate bodily resurrection to come.

I hear Bill Randles mention this detail frequently in sermons: Jesus had water gush from His side when He died on the cross; and there is always water involved in a birth process too. Water is a very important element in a baptism, and in our new life in Jesus.

I have been reflecting back on my own desire to be baptized by immersion, which, as I may have already shared here on this blog, was the crux point which began the total unraveling of my former life. The former life wherein I wrote nice sounding Christian-ese things and covered up any bits of ugly.

Then I entered, haltingly and messily, and not always very Christ-like, into a new life wherein I could no longer cover up truth, hide abuse, and still retain any peace in my heart. I found that post-baptism I needed, instead, to call the truth to light, in order to keep my internal peace. And I didn’t like doing that as it caused issues with others, and I liked to ‘keep the peace’; even at the cost of personal peace. But doing so was also costing me my own right standing with God. I had to change that.

To paraphrase something I think Anne Lamott wrote (not a recommendation or an endorsement of her, as I find her too new age for my tastes): if people wanted me to write nice things about them, then they ought to have behaved better…I didn’t fully understand such statements prior to being baptized. I once thought it WAS Christian to cover up other people’s sins. Not to reveal them. If you don’t have something nice to say: don’t say anything at all. Which I cannot find in the Bible even though it sounded Christian to me. Actually, I made it sound Christian in my head since that helped me justify why I was so willing to avoid conflict; and willing to live in a state of learned helplessness, where I just let ongoing pain happen to me and no longer attempted to move out of its way.

Being baptized is what ultimately empowered me to own up to the truth of my own past abuse, to feel and grieve the true cost of victimhood to myself and others: my spouse, my children, my in laws, many friends I’d burned–there was a lot of damage done, and not just to me, but through me and by me too. Sexual abuse of a child is never a single bullet sniper attack on the victim. It’s more like a mass shooting with many casualties and injuries of varying degrees.

I had to also acknowledge the personal sin pattern my childhood had set me on (and for that part: I was fully responsible). In time I was no longer afraid to openly admit my status as a clergy abuse survivor, and therein I think I finally could walk as a restored child of God, accepting that while it wasn’t my fault that what had happened to me had happened…it was, nonetheless, my own responsibility to break bad habits and to try and make right the collateral damage I had caused on my own, too.

Or rather, I should say, to let God right it for me as I continued to just confess and repent of my own indwelling sin–of which I knew I had no excuse. I was beginning to see that even if I had a valid excuse, making an excuse instead of promptly confessing my real state of sinfulness, would just keep me from walking in the light of Jesus, myself.

Baptism, quite literally, changed everything for me. Seemingly for the worse, at first, and then ultimately: likely being the very thing to keep me in God’s protection and power, through an ensuing fiery trial.

I was sprinkled as a baby, per the Protestant tradition I was born into. For a long while I felt that baby baptism sufficed, and also protected me somehow or other, and I didn’t question it. Until I came to fully believe that a baby baptism didn’t mean anything. I even suspected that my sprinkling as an infant may actually have been damaging to me, keeping me from something better, in some way I couldn’t fully understand at the time. That part was fuzzy for years. Eventually I saw how damaging it had been to have no real choice in such an intimate and life changing event, like deciding to follow Jesus for my own self, as our free will choice toward baptism testifies.

However, one part of it all was very clear. Prior to my baptism, I yearned, with all my being, to be dunked in water in the way the Bible exemplifies.

I was besotted with such a strong desire for it, that it was hard to wait for warm enough weather or a proper setting in order to do just that. Once those details were worked out, God put a particular Bible story in my heart that I am still reflecting on years later.

That Bible story involved a sick man dipping into some muddy water, just as the water I felt called to for my own immersion was pretty muddy. There were certainly cleaner lakes than the one to which I was so drawn…but that muddy water part certainly matched the story I was pondering in the Bible, which was a story of a physical healing taking place in a muddy river, and therein the even greater miracle: the finding of real faith in the true God. And so I came to believe that my own adult baptism would eventually lead to some kind of a physical healing for me, as well as become a representation of my own death to sin and new life in Jesus. (I should note that I was rapidly descending into chronic illness and pain, at the time of my baptism and therefore I was also seeking God’s healing.)

It was the Old Testament account of Naaman being healed of leprosy that was so strongly on my heart during those weeks preceding my baptism. Naaman was a Syrian army commander who came down with leprosy. A slave girl in his household told Naaman’s wife that if only her master were in Israel, (where the slave girl had come from), there was a prophet of God there who could heal him. (Takeaway: an unnamed slave girl’s boldness in giving glory to God, is what led someone to God. Be bold. Share your faith!!).

Naaman heard that she’d said this, went to see the King of Israel, and ultimately ended up at the house of Elisha, the prophet. Where he was met at the door and was promptly instructed, by a mere messenger “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” Naaman was offended, felt there were far cleaner rivers in his own homeland that he could go wash himself in, and almost didn’t even listen. (take away: do NOT question the direct instructions of God; rather, obey them, and when we obey, then is when we will receive healing).

Naaman consented and was instantly healed, and his conversion to God, which seemed to coincide with his healing, was solid and real. Like yeast/leaven, leprosy also represented sin, (as well as the ritual uncleanness that comes from our descent into sin/evil), in the Bible. Getting rid of his leprosy denoted something had also been cleansed in him in a spiritual sense, as well. As is evidenced by Naaman’s immediate understanding that it would be very wrong to ever again offer sacrifices to other gods. He then asks for permission to still be able to help his aging king, whom he served, kneel in the temple before the god Rimmon. To do so Naaman would end up kneeling in reverence, himself.

But, after his life altering dips in the Jordan, and thereby seeing the God of Israel AS God, Naaman now knew that to kneel in a false gods temple would be idolatrous and adulterous behavior. And since he was himself but a servant of an earthly king, he wanted to make sure it was ok to have an allowance there. Clearly, after his conversion/healing: his heart belonged to Elisha’s God, no longer to the false gods of his home country.

Elisha responded by telling him to go in peace, and I’m assuming that meant he was given an allowance to help his master kneel in the temple without compromising his own newfound faith to the one true God.

Where it all gets interesting, to me, is Naaman’s request to load up two mules– with dirt from Israel. He wanted to take some of God’s holy ground back home with him!

In my own baptism one detail I remember is how muddy the lake bottom was when I entered it, squishing between my toes and sinking nearly to my ankles. Whereas, when I exited the water again after being dipped under: the ground had seemed almost unnaturally hard and smooth under my feet, as if it had somehow turned to stone instead.

While water signifies birth and new life in Jesus, perhaps dirt, and/or standing on the holy ground of God, is what represents healing? I think of how Jesus mixed dirt with spit and healed the blind man. Or of how Jesus didn’t even touch, but merely sent the ten lepers, who’d come near Him seeking healing, away again on a walk–to go show themselves to the priest. Those lepers were healed on their way (see Luke 17). I’m not sure if it was them seeking Jesus, or their obedience to Jesus instructions, which healed them. Likely both.

Another leper was healed by Jesus touch (Matthew 8), and then was told to tell no one but go and show himself to the priest and offer the gift Moses had commanded; as a testimony to them. I’m also not sure why we are given that detail. Why would a priest of God need to be shown a testimony about God?

Perhaps for a similar reason as to why the minister who abused me also needs to see the testimony of my own changed life, and my new found ability to walk in truth and confront him for his actions against me, and thereby truly show myself as I really am, once badly damaged by sin and evil, held silent by shame, but healed again too and no longer bound by shame. My life is now able to be as a testimony to others; of the power of God. What other chance might some have, themselves, to repent and follow God– if they are not also called to account for their own hidden sins when they see the testimony that is someone’s formerly incurable and unclean condition, like leprosy (or the sexual abuse of a child?) just up and leaving them by Jesus’s power?

Another rich detail of Naaman’s story is how Elisha’s duplicitous servant, Gehazi, went out and collected payment from Naaman. Elisha had refused Naaman’s offers of a gift. And so Elisha confronted Gehazi, “Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. (2 Kings 5: 26- 27)

When I ponder that part of the story: I can see how many of my own physical and spiritual ailments are now lifted, just like Naaman’s leprosy. And how those who attempted to profit in any way, from my own healing process, brought injury to themselves. On a spiritual level, I am far less likely to cover my real self up in shame, like a lepor, outcast from the camp. While those on the peripheral of my story, went into hiding; as if they are leprous.

Others come close sometimes, but seem to just want in on the good stuff of God, the money and clothes, olive groves and flocks…and slaves to do their bidding… yet they shirk from the whole counsel of God, fail to grasp the full gospel (grace AND truth), and do not stand firm when it comes to the ongoing problem of workers of God profiting from other people’s sickness and miraculous healings. It’s no wonder why so many of us who profess Jesus are not well, or remain bound to shame, failing to walk in real life changing power.

Only one leper, of the ten who were healed ‘as they went’ (on their way to show themselves to the priest), returned to Jesus giving thanks to Him and praising Him for the healing. Perhaps that one desired another experience of standing on the Holy Ground that emanated from Jesus’ presence here on earth? Similar as to how Naaman wanted to take two mules full of dirt with him?

If so, then Jesus question to the one thankful leper is even more profound: where are the other nine lepers who were also healed? Perhaps they did not realize, as the Samaritan Leper had, that Jesus, not the priests, or the temple, is the Holy Ground which had healed them. And so perhaps the two mule fulls of dirt that Naaman took home represented Jesus Himself and the desire of a new convert to return to Him again and again for another healing and life changing experience of standing on Holy Ground.

If we are willing to be cleansed by the water of God, and we are also willing to sink our bare toes down into that holy ground of God, to not shy from the mud and the mess which is the ongoing sanctification process — then surely there is great blessing to be had in these acts of obedience. Because it sure seems that ‘dirt’ which Jesus makes holy, can change one’s life too, just as can the clean water of baptism: the healing water which flows from Jesus, poured out for our behalf.

Whether or not my take on ‘holy ground’ and why Naaman loaded up two mules with dirt and only one leper returned to thank Jesus is proper biblical exegesis or not…

Showing ourselves as we really are, to others, as a testimony to God, is a very good thing. As is giving all praise for a changed and/or a healed life right back to Jesus, and refusing to accept earthly rewards, nor to put up with others willing to accept that kind of thing, when God heals another in our midst. These seem to be solid takeaways, both as we ponder our own baptism, and as we also reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection.

As the World Turns; the Young and the Restless are having the Days of Our Lives.

This morning I read through Revelation. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Because a loved one of mine is currently enamored with preterist eschatology. And so we have had many discussions about it and I’ve gone to the scriptures many times to see if what is being said has merit. I understand the appeal : I studied preterist viewpoints in the past, still look at it now and then, and find parts of it intriguing myself.

I also understand that the speculative leaps many ‘internet prophesy interpreters’ are making right now (and which I have also made myself here and there) might lead many disgruntled believers to preterism –with its concrete assertion to ‘stop speculating and obsessing over promises which are now DONE!’

See: Preterists believe that, in terms of End Time Bible prophesies, ‘everything already happened'(in 70 AD and shortly thereafter). Futurists believe nothing has happened yet (in terms of the ‘end times’ and second coming prophesies, not the messianic fulfillments of Jesus first coming). Historicists believe in some mixture of past, present, and future fulfillment. There are also those who believe in things like dual fulfillment of prophesy.

I am reluctant to put myself in any of the known eschatological categories. (The above explanations are my quick takeaway/paraphrasing of what I’ve studied–I encourage curious readers to research these categories for themselves for more detailed information! I didn’t want to make that the main aim of this post).

But, in the aim of full disclosure, I will say that I align ‘the most’ with the historicist viewpoint and I also see how dual or multiple fulfillments (as well as a combination of both a literal; plus a spiritual fulfillment) often seems to be a part of Bible prophesy as well. Just where I am ‘now’. That could always change.

However, I also think it’s important to understand the spirit of prophesy or the main purpose of prophesy in the first place- and to not lose sight of that. Otherwise we might see something or other as fulfilled by, say, Nero, when the greater point of the prophesy is/was to lead people to repentance and fully identifying themselves with Jesus — not leading us to identifying long dead Nero, or some present or future villain who comes to life, as the Antichrist.

If prophesy were truly about that and only THAT, than anyone who can figure out a riddle could somehow be spared– as if we just need to ‘use our own brains’ and think it through and thus save ourselves…whereas the way I see it: only those of us who approach mysterious and alarming prophetic revelations of God, by casting our selves on our knees in front of Jesus, worshipping Him alone and calling on Him for the forgiveness of our sins and trusting in His mercy and His status AS the Son of God, the WAY, the truth and the life!!–only those of us who take that posture of humility and worship and proper understanding of Jesus AS GOD–the only one who CAN save us — will be spared from the wrath of God.

(Whether or not we understood some hidden ‘riddle’ of times and dates and people and places — which may or may not have been written into the text…our posture before Him and our understanding of WHO He is; is what matters in terms of salvation and escaping God’s wrath.)

The way I see it: the spirit of prophesy points us to the denial of the self, repentance, and a return to Jesus as our first love, in this way the church is built up and edified. Read 1 Corinthians 14 . Pay attention to verses 24 and 25. (Paraphrasing:) “When an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted and called to account and the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” That, (not predicting the future! Nor proclaiming that those future predictions are all in the past now) is the aim of prophesy (the way I see it anyway). That worshipping of God (and thereby coming out of worldly and empire worship) is what The Book of Revelation is about, to me. Which makes it far less about predicting the future and far more about preparing my own individual heart for meeting Jesus face to face someday.

In regard to what still could be coming to the earth: I prefer to take a ‘wait and see how it all pans out approach.’ I don’t need everything to be wrapped up in a bow already– one and done– OR: not unfolding until after Jesus jets me outta here– to have a sense of peace. I just need to know that I am forgiven in Jesus to feel at peace. Marked by His seal on my forehead (therefore the mark of the beast, whatever that is or already was– WON’T be received on my forehead).

I also prefer to prepare my heart, so as not to be caught unaware, for a sudden return of Jesus, or meeting Him if sudden disaster strikes me–as it seems that that was the historical position most believers TOOK– in terms of the second coming, and/0r being prepared to meet Him through death. The blessed hope is certainly: life after death through Jesus Christ our Lord. As well as these words from the Apostle Paul (verses 51-53) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

One thing which grieved me greatly, when I left my particular brand of protestantism, was that it did not focus on the blessed hope of Jesus’ return, or that the day of death is better than the day of birth either. Perhaps some protestant streams do — the one I was in: did not. The thing that grieves me about the modern evangelical world I then explored– is that it does not seem to focus on the blessed hope of Jesus’ return either–at least not to save us from our sinful state and set the world right again.

Too many evangelicals seem to focus on the blessed hope of the rapture coming BEFORE the great tribulation so that they can escape…which is a bit different than being eager for Jesus to come so that we can finally live free of sin and evil; or soberly recognizing that to die in Christ is gain- hating even our very lives (as they constantly tempt us into sin). And vastly different from casting ourselves in worship before Jesus so that He seals us; and therefore we do not need to worry about getting the other mark …because we know that if we remain walking in the Spirit, He will tell us the things we need to know in order to avoid evil.

Furthermore: I do not want to be locked into some way of thinking that might hinder what God reveals to me, both personally, and in unfolding events I can witness with my own two eyes. The danger in following these various eschatological streams is that I might stop following Him and His daily guidance and put man’s opinions above the maturing work of the Holy Spirit.

I also don’t want to break, or damage, fellowship with those who align strongly with any of these eschatological viewpoints–another reason why I’m wary of labeling myself or dialing down too hard into one way of thinking about the dim glass/(mirror) which is biblical prophesy. (read all of the chapter for context and pay attention to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12).

Meanwhile, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about how many brothers and sisters in Christ that I know (personally, as well as what I’ve seen on online forums/blogs/etc.) who didn’t think the last inauguration would ‘actually happen.’ Some because they felt God was still with Trump and America — others because Trump is ‘clearly the antichrist’ and needs to stay in power to bring on the end of the final end, the fatal wound of one head of the beast ‘being healed’ through Trump retaining power. I admit, that thought that Trump could stay in power had occurred to me as well– as I saw what was happening. Thinking it to myself, and even running thoughts and possibilities by others privately, versus proclaiming loudly, on the internet, that that was going to be the way it WAS going to go down – however- are two very different things.

For these reasons and others: this morning I had a good laugh. Because I remembered the days when I was a teenager and loved watching ‘stories’ — daytime television soap operas. A friend recorded fuzzy episodes daily (VCR taping over previously recorded tapes often made it fuzzy) and we’d watch them together at her house after school with a shared bag of Doritos and separate Cokes.

Later, when I was staying at home with small children, my boredom and desire for junk food had me once again following along–this time with a bag of cheddar cheese and sour cream Ruffles and a Pepsi.

The junk food switch was about the biggest change, too. If you’ve ever watched soap operas: not much changes. You can pick up YEARS later and quickly recognize the characters and plot lines unfolding the same as prior. There is a lot of dramatic hype within each ‘new’ episode for the future episodes–many of these coming things would be ‘prophesied’ as the viewer would always know ‘major things’ were coming SOON. But the actual coming of these foreshadowed events drug on. And on.

The stage was ALWAYS ‘being set’ for what was next.

And so when I first studied the End Times a decade ago, I did so with an almond milk/ spinach-and enough fruit to cover the spinach taste-smoothie in hand. It didn’t seem like I was indulging in junk food or falling into prior bad habits. I’d definitely changed and matured since my youthful days. I had no desire to watch soap operas anymore!

But there it was, as I dove into the End Times streams, I found that there was junk food galore, tempting me to lose focus on healthy communion with God — and every stream the same: let me show you how to DECODE the prophesy by keeping up on current events. Use your head with me as we reason through the prophesies (and don’t worry about making your HEART right with Jesus…).

Because the stage is being set for something big–just look at this news clip and examine that world leader!

Or: don’t worry about the future, the past is where it’s all at! Let me show you all the ways that you can decode the fulfilled prophesies by studying history, and then you can be at ease again.

And so, even though I took a break for a few years, when I went back in and started watching the ‘stories’ coming out of the various prophesy streams (and the preterist views ARE also a prophesy stream!), I found all the same storylines as prior. Nothing much was new. They are again saying the same thing: the antichrist isn’t here yet, because the rapture hasn’t happened yet, but the stage is being set for something big to happen SOON.

And the preterists are still on the opposite side with almond-milk-spinach-fruit smoothies avoiding any NEW soap operas as they assure me not to worry about a thing, lets just watch the taped soap operas that already ended. They want to hit replay on history show me how it ALL actually went down. Because the story is over and those following any newly unfolding stories are just being tricked or foolish or something. As if only the Preterists have the healthy foods all figured out. Umm, ok?

But, isn’t the entire book of Revelation actually like a big exclamation point urging me to purify my WORSHIP to Jesus so I don’t get caught up worshipping the world, fall for satan’s tricks, and get ensnared by worldly empire? If it all already happened than the people who did escape it, were doing just that — purifying their worship of Jesus. Not viewing prophesy like a crystal ball.

And almond milk and spinach is a big part of what made me SICK. It’s not health food, but just cleverly marketed junk food. But that’s a bunny trail for another day.

The big thing has already happened. I’ll agree with the preterist points on that. It’s high time to behave as if it has happened and walk in the real power that comes with Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus came once. I also believe He is, literally, coming back but no one knows the day or the hour of THAT. Focus on Him, not the details we are told we cannot know anyway. It is the young and the restless who focus on such details from current OR past events. The mature in Christ, focus on Him, and Him alone. We tremble and try to purify our worship of Him; when we read Revelation and then He calms us all over again with the knowledge of His work on the cross. We don’t say ‘phew, thankfully we don’t need to worry about all of that because it happened.’ We say PHEW, Jesus saved us from the coming wrath…

One final thing, about the vaccine. Notice I didn’t write vc or VX or any of the other things anti-vaccine people now do to ‘avoid censorship’.

I’ve now wasted many hours examining what supposed experts on both sides are saying about the vaccine. I have heard many popular ministers claim unfolding prophesy in regard to the vaccine and others insist it is ‘bad’ but NOT the mark of the beast. I’ve also heard new age, antichrist in spirit, doctors cherry pick verses from the Bible to proclaim it IS the mark of the beast, as in the next breath they tell people to ‘draw on their higher power’ whether that is Jesus or whoever. Talk about confusing times we live in.

Which is why it also grieves me– given how confusing it is to find any information one might actually trust–how many Christians continue to base major life and theology decisions on head logic, scientific arguments, and things they read online somewhere or heard from others. Instead of using wholehearted faith and prayer as much as they use the (seeming) logic of their own minds.

After praying about it, what did He tell you to do or not do? Because of course every mature Christian would shut out the noise of expert debates, theology teachers, and even the advice of trusted doctors, hunker down in humility and awareness of our fallen condition, take a prostrate position before God, and fully take that one to prayer. Wouldn’t they?

How many of us are just fearfully avoiding something because an online minister or blogger told his listeners to do so?

On the other hand, how many of us are blindly taking or allowing something, trusting what others are telling us to do; is the right thing to do?

And how many of us are using our logic and our brains and trusting in that over and above Him?

Oh, how young and restless we still are; substituting junk food and milk for meat; again and again. Others of us believing we have all the answers and aren’t eating junk food– but edifying food.

Church, please take Revelation seriously, no matter your eschatological leanings. It’s a call to purify ourselves again, to return to Him as first love, to lay down all the extra stuff we hold dear, including our notions of intellect, and to become instead: humble and faithful servants who obey His call; no matter if it makes clear sense to us or not. No matter if it costs us our very lives.

The temple veil was rent in two, we all can approach the throne boldly to get answers to our questions. The reason why we are not doing that likely has something to do with our fascination of watching the wicked turnings of the world; instead of obeying the One who turns the world. This is what keeps us immature. This leads to us needing more and more newsfeeds and proof and evidence of whatever viewpoint we have camped out on.

Take it to prayer. Ask. And then listen.

A brother to one who destroys

Proverbs 18:9 (NIV) One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys.

So in other words: lazy people don’t necessarily destroy outright, they are just intimately related to those who DO destroy…this concept is also displayed in the idiom ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’.

I haven’t had much time to ponder and write as December and January are busy times for my line of work (that is– my outside-the-home work, which is in addition to home and yard; family and community ‘work’). This year circumstances beyond my control have made this season ‘at work’ even busier for me.

However, because I’ve been working more than usual, I have had lots of time to observe the work habits, and sometimes the lack thereof, of others around me. As well as how one worker’s laziness then creates a damaging and reverberating effect on the surroundings – both coworker and client or customer deeply feeling and having to deal with the consequences of these effects.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes before heading into the office, to flesh out some thoughts I’ve been having about all of that.

To be fair: I have also noticed my own gut and heart revolting and straining over the tedium that is part and parcel of my job duties. I feel myself struggling to recover from what, in all honesty, I need to just call what it actually is: Laziness. There are any number of tasks that I just ‘do myself’ at work rather than watch a coworker half-heartedly complete them or complete them sub-standard to what I wanted. These are often tasks that I find myself groaning inwardly about doing myself. My lazy heart not wanting to do them anymore than anyone else wanted to, but the realization that part of my duties as a Christian is to take joy in these things, regardless, is often what spurs me onward. And so I put that lazy part of me ‘to death’ for another day. Lazy-me will undoubtedly resurrect sooner or later, though, so don’t go thinking I’m all that. (I’m not).

When I was in therapy for diagnosed PTSD and anxiety disorder, I eagerly went down the blame-it-all-on-workaholism-and-perfectionism-trail of ‘you worked way too much for too long, you set way too high of expectations, and that’s how you ended up needing therapy for stress and anxiety.’

That ‘workaholic’ trail is wide and well traveled. Followed closely by the ‘perfectionism’ trail, which seems equally wide and well traveled. Many self-help (Christian and other) books have been published to get us to recover from things like perfectionism, workaholism, and stress. One therapist, and one minister I visited with, introduced themselves to me as ‘recovering perfectionists.’

Many of those ‘Christian’ books and programs I bought, or bought into, included things that were way too close to contemplative prayer, eastern breathing practices, meditation, and yoga for me to actually FIND relaxing and restful. (And if you’ve been reading this blog prior then you pretty much know that I had to throw that detail in. Otherwise — there’s an X in the upper right corner if you believe such things are compatible with Biblical Christianity–as I do not.)

Now that I’m several years out of the therapy processes that were helpful in some ways (particularly in recovery from sexual abuse)–but which I then found that I had to process back out of again as I didn’t like what certain aspects had done to my belief system– I see several points where I was led astray, and other points which raised a whole lot of questions for which I do not have any clear answers.

For instance: do sloth like, gluttonous, lazy folks really need to recover from working too much? Do they really need to be told over and over again that ‘God wants us to rest.’ Clearly: taking a day a week off is one entire commandment, of a mere ten. What about the other six days though? If we truly had found ‘balance’, then shouldn’t there be just as many self-help books being written about how to be diligent, self-denying, hard workers who overcome our sinful lazy natures and do not cheat our earthly bosses (or God) out of the time we owe them or Him?

When I read the letters to the churches in Revelation for a fresh time, my experience in organized Americanized churches and ministries– usually has me seeing American Christians as being exceedingly: ‘laodicean’. We sure seem ineffectual, lacking passion, lukewarm…and, well, lazy. Lovers of pleasure, not sacrifice. Believers in wealth and self-esteem and learning to let God love us better; not prostrate on our knees with broken and contrite hearts before God confessing how poor we actually are in the midst of all our filthy mammon (a broken and contrite heart IS the sacrifice He desires).

I glanced longingly at my office bookshelf the other day — realizing it would be a while until I got to a point at work where I could settle into some winter ‘free time’ to read–and as I ran my eyes over the book spines, I noticed how many titles there were about ‘rest’ and ‘relaxing’. And how few books I had about ‘doing things’. Save for some business, marketing, gardening and homesteading how to books (some of which are all about being lazy, LOL, and others which seem to have ulterior motives of saving and remaking the world by our own merits).

All of which convicted me further. I have entire bookshelves of waste that only feeds into my own laziness and desire for money and means I didn’t earn honestly.

I think a great deal of why the world, and the church, seems to be harvesting the fruit of our sins — can be summed up by Paul’s words to Timothy: For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. (2 Timothy 3:2 NLT)

Many Christians I talk with have been trying to find their purpose or figure out their calling. Indeed: seeking our purpose and finding our calling seem to slip right by these words in 2 Timothy. As it seems like we want to turn our lives over to God, like we are being self-denying and God seeking; not materialistic lovers of self and mammon. But reading today’s (January 14th) Oswald Chamber’s daily devotion gave me pause. To quote Chambers:

God doesn’t single out someone and say, “Now, you go.” He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— “the voice of the Lord.” In perfect freedom we too will say, “Here am I! Send me.”

What if our ‘sending’ is more like quietly sticking with a job or the task at hand and going through the tedium of service wherein God opens doors constantly for us to ‘share the reason for our joy.’ A work and calling that mostly goes unnoticed by the ministry organizations of today, work which seems to have little effect, but nevertheless which pleases the Lord and makes great contribution to those around us.

When we think of ministry or a calling of God, do we immediately think of the person washing the dinner dishes, or the public toilets at a small business with a gospel song and a word of encouragement or Godly correction always ready on their lips. As for me, too often when I heard the word ‘ministry’ or ‘work of God’ I would think of the writers and speakers and front of the room people leading the sheep. But is that type of thing the best way to tend to the sheep? Or does it reinforce the idea that the chosen ones are those who have the ‘obvious’ ministries and the rest of us just haven’t surrendered yet or we’d be there too, on those platforms or working in some ‘actual’ ministry role — (playing on the construct that Jesus set forth when He said many are called but few are chosen).

What if the chosen prove to be the believers who listened to a call which has them in some wilderness places, away from the spotlights and platforms, fighting back against laziness and selfishness by their very witness and life examples, and knowing that in so doing they are being a brother and sister to those who sanctify and preserve what is left. Rather than being a brother to those who destroy.

Could responding to a call from God be as simple as: stop being lazy?

God’s Healthcare And God’s Economy

A family member asked me why I am so wary of the vaccine. He didn’t understand how God could allow something like that to fool so many innocent people (if it’s truly a ‘bad’ thing as I am sensing it could be). I’ve had lots of premonitions now and just a ‘general fear’ regarding it — to the point where I don’t plan to take it myself; even, and especially, if it is forced.

My immediate thought, after being challenged by a family member, was that the God we tend to fashion in our own minds is often a bit different than the God revealed in Holy Scriptures. I’m guilty of making God into what I want Him to be instead of trusting who He really is, and so that was not a judgment of this family member. It’s a warning to myself as much as to anyone else. The real God, revealed in Scriptures, did take great care to warn us ahead of time about what would happen in the time between Jesus ascension and His second coming. And many of these things ARE very hard things to accept; but I think that is exactly why we were warned ahead of time.

Matthew 24: 24- 25 (NLT) For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

If you aren’t already familiar with all of Matthew 24, I encourage you to refresh your memory and read it for context of the above verse. It parallels with Luke 21 and Mark 13. Here is a handy reference of the major parallels.

Being questioned by this family member started me pondering. I was then able to give voice to some of my reasonings behind the reasonings…things I don’t always share as they are slowly developed in my head by evidence gathered as I live my life and sift out whatever seems evil. And so I tend to think that these evil things I spot in the world must be obviously evil to others as well.

If you aren’t familiar with my background – I am a clergy sexual abuse survivor. Multiple layers of abuse had to be undone in my life for me to heal. I don’t think it is even possible to be sexually abused by anyone in any manner without some sort of brainwashing and emotional abuse coinciding with it, and, in the case of ongoing familial abuse (which mine was) a very, very deep level of brainwashing and grooming tends to occur as well. And in terms of clergy abuse–there was also a great deal of spiritual abuse and spiritual brainwashing.

I have written, fairly extensively, about the process of coming out of all of that brainwashing. The benefits now being that I have the vantage point of someone who has been trapped by evil, and lived to tell about disentangling myself from that evil trap.

And so I will share a bit, here, about what I’ve been seeing that is ‘off’ within the modern healthcare complex.

There were attempts at brainwashing by doctors, nurses, and other proponents of ‘health’. Were it not for my own natural defensiveness that was born in a childhood where people, especially those seeming to show favor to me or wanting to ‘help’ me, really were out to get me and harm me, I probably wouldn’t have picked up on these things. I learned to keep my guard up in order to survive. I once paid several therapists to try and undo all that guard keeping I come by naturally. Thankfully that didn’t fully work.

I see my past, and the discernment skills it honed in me, as a gift of God. All of which adds yet another layer, as to why it wasn’t that big of a stretch for me to see that something evil could definitely come out of an industry that seems to be so helpful and humanitarian. The clergy in my family who abused me was also quite helpful and humanitarian to many; beloved even.

However, not everyone shares my way of processing things, or my past experiences with evil– and so I can see how all of this might be a big stretch for others — which, well, also could just be part of the delusion.

And so I started to explain all the spirit checks I’ve had, myself, to this family member– as I have navigated the modern healthcare complex over a lifetime which included some fairly severe injury as well as recent mystery illnesses which eventually just got chalked up to PTSD. I’ve spent more time in hospitals and navigating the modern healthcare complex, as well as alternative things like diet and various lifestyle changes, than many people my age.

Time and again: very kind, wise, loving, friendly doctors and therapists (some who have even given me permission to call them at home!) have damaged me in their efforts to heal. I’m still thankful they were there, especially in times of real emergency! And, in terms of what the experience, and the failure of some tests too on my part, then revealed about my faith, specifically where I needed to change things, it all proved to have value (Romans 8! God works ALL things for the good of those who love Him! GOD IS GOOD!!).

And so: let it be known that I wouldn’t even be here without modern health care. I remain thankful for that too. But, I would also not be honest if I didn’t admit that there was also damage done too, and more than a few disasters to my walk with God which were barely averted.

Healthcare professionals routinely tried to steer me toward things that could altar my mind — like anxiety and depression meds and other strong medicine I was literally too afraid to take (fear is not all bad, it can be a gift–especially the Holy Fear of God!), or urging me to do yoga and meditation, or suggesting other practices that are full of the new age– certain massage techniques like reiki, and acupuncture, and Chinese medicine beliefs. Chiropractic care, and especially naturopathic and holistic medicine/practitioners, even navigating the aisles of natural health food stores— I found to be a quagmire of eastern and mystical religions, calling out to me like sirens with their lusty promises of cures–some of which I regrettably tried and then repented of, and all of which routinely gave me great pause and many many spirit checks as a Biblical Christian.

The way I see it: there has been next to zero Christian discernment in the modern healthcare complex and even less, it seems, in the rising naturopathic/holistic fields. And many Christians I know will listen to their doctors, or alternative care providers, and follow their directives and readily take all the prescriptions and practices (occult or other) they offer, without really questioning them or researching what the pharmaceutical or supplement or herb is really going to do, from a scriptural context. One Christian friend defended the Medical Medium (the name alone ought to be obvious), claiming he was a Christian– and even if he was not — he’s ‘just recommending people eat more vegetables, what’s the harm in that?’ Another family member told me he had ‘needling’ done, and it worked, after everything else had failed. I was aware that acupuncture had recently been whitewashed over and renamed as needling instead. So I was well aware of it’s eastern religious roots.

But when I said to this family member: needling is an eastern religious practice. How did you reconcile having that done; as a Christian? He blurted back in dismissal, “It didn’t change my faith one bit, it just stopped my pain.”

Hmm. I would argue that such a compromise of one’s faith in God could reveal what one is really putting his faith into. These revelations, if they are recognized, allow us time to repent before we are sealed in the delusion of such sins. But if we aren’t even listening and turning, when others are revealing these things plainly: what happens to us? Does the delusion we are under only intensify and risk our very foundation of faith?

A parallel can be drawn here. Between the blind faith we tend to put in the modern healthcare complex above and beyond our faith to God, and the way we go about church. Specifically how many of us Christians blindly follow and put faith in a minister or church leadership, above and beyond our faith in God Himself. Without really questioning methods or teachings or verifying the practices we are engaging in– being like the Bereans in all things and testing the spirits as 1 John 4 urges.

One could argue (and many already have) that the advent of the Birth Control pill, with it’s abortifacient qualities, all of which came through the modern healthcare and pharmaceutical complex–just as this vaccine is now coming, was enough to bring down judgment upon the entire healthcare/pharmaceutical complex which birthed it and the people who partook of it.

I will briefly mention pharmakeia and then I will quit talking about the modern healthcare complex. Pharmakeia could be its own very deep dive. The pharmaceutical complex, the ‘alternative’ medicines, with all its corruption and mind altering medicines and practices, seems to fit well into the warning in Revelation 18:23, about God’s people refusing to give up their sorceries/witchcraft, which is translated from the greek word: pharmakeia and which is where we get the modern word pharmacy. (See Revelation 18 for context.)

Many other things coming out of the modern healthcare complex (it’s penchant for eastern practices and acceptance of shamanistic techniques is a lot like ‘sorcery’ to me), as well as the naturopathic world (more ‘sorcery’, the way I see it: muscle testing, reiki, acupuncture, mind altering herbs, teas, mushrooms, etc.) do seem to fit into Pharmakeia; as well. It really does seem to me that much of what we now turn to for help with our health is more and more resembling of witchdoctors; than anything godly.

But does anyone care about the Christian purity of healthcare? Catholics are being urged to take the vaccine in an act of charity and good will; being absolved of any guilt for aborted fetal tissue by the Vatican itself. It’s hard to stand against such things, and against the acceptance of standard health care practices. To speak against doctors and nurses can be as difficult to do as to speak against members of the clergy.

“It didn’t change my faith. It just took away my pain.”

Sometimes God has reasons for us to be stuck in pain. Pain might be the clearest indication that we are still alive in Christ.

Then again, what about the pain endured by the clergy abuse survivor, or the medical malpractice victim–where do they get help and support, in a world that doesn’t want to hear anything bad about our designated experts and heroes?

And now I will briefly mention the other half of the title of this post.

A colleague, who seems atheistic on bad days and agnostic when he’s in a good mood, has a favorite expression:

Follow the money trail. There you will find the corruption.

If you get nothing else from this post, I hope you take away this very simple lesson in Discernment!!

If you want to test something, whether it’s a ministry or a vaccine: I suggest you do as my unbelieving friend suggests.

Follow the money trail!

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10.

God’s economy is very different from this world’s economy. Read ALL of 1 Timothy 6 to see a clear example of God’s economic principles.

Sobering.

In God’s economy He bears ALL the cost Himself! In God’s economy, followers of Jesus love others and treat them well, for they know that ‘those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction‘ (1 Timothy 6:9). God’s ministers and evangelists readily bear the cost themselves, and trust that God will provide for them to do so.

A great ‘working’ ‘real life’ example of God’s economy is exemplified very well in something I have witnessed my husband do, at our business, countless times over the years.

It started decades ago with a young man in our community who had fallen into drug use. He gave him a job, trained him how to work, and the young man eventually got clean. To this day that man credits my husband for teaching him ‘the right way to sweep a cement floor’ and many other things too.

Since then I have seen my husband annually and routinely take in, and take on, about one-three, sometimes more, very green employees, some quite young, some almost too old to help anymore, some with few skills and others who come with a lot of baggage. He puts them on the payroll, buys them a pair of work gloves and a pliers, and he sets out, while paying THEM, to teach them skills which they did not have prior. Skills which, once acquired and honed, they often then take and use somewhere else entirely, already well trained under our payroll and experience. Where another then reaps the rewards of an experienced and well trained employee.

His example inspires me constantly to do better at training up others myself. This past year I had some painting projects to complete. I could have hired professionals; but I wanted to do it myself. And it may have been easier in some ways had I just done every bit of it myself. But circumstances kept opening up and I was able to hire four separate amateurs. Some far more green than others. As the months passed and the year comes to a close, I can look back and count up four people, who improved their painting skills as I paid them to help me.

Each one was eager for a chance to make a bit extra cash and several were eager to learn something they had never done prior; as well. And so I found myself showing others the art of cutting a clean line with a paintbrush, next to a ceiling or a baseboard. Someone else had trained me in how to paint like a true professional years prior. I trained others this year; and I paid them as I trained them too. And yes, as much as I could, the conversation while painting walls often steered to my witness of Jesus 🙂

I do not share this to brag about my husband or myself; although I am incredibly proud and thankful for the man God gave me!

I share this to contrast that basic economic and discipleship example with what we see elsewhere in the world; and even now in the church.

The Christian example, and the righteous, godly example: is to BEAR THE COST of discipleship. To actually PAY the mentee while they are still learning the skill. And then turn them loose to benefit OTHERS.

What does it mean when churches and ministries try to hold onto people ‘for life’, when they willingly take money from green people in the name of teaching them discipleship?

What does it mean when the world readily passes the cost of education and vocational training and discipleship processes onto the very people MOST in need of it, people who often cannot even afford it and who have gotten no real training on the homefront?

What does it mean when pharmaceutical companies develop something they then market to save the masses, and instead of patiently testing to see what it might bear out, instead of bearing the cost of any repercussions themselves, they pass all that potential cost onto the very people in need? Knowing that we’re all now so programmed (brainwashed?) to accept that kind of thing as normal — that we will receive the things we bear the cost for, with as much thanks as we might receive God’s FREE gift of eternal value; which came at great cost to HIM?

Passing the greatest economic COST onto those most in need has now just become the accepted economic practices of the world and, sadly, of a lot of the church.

Furthermore, I wonder how many Christians even think to use very basic discernment–follow the money trail–which should lead to the questioning of why the poor and the un-qualified are bearing so much of the cost for the rich, when God would have it be the exact opposite!

I know it’s bad writing form to answer rhetorical questions I just asked in paragraphs above — but I think it all could mean many things. Some are not so pretty: seems much of the professing church is now given over to evil and some kind of strong delusion. And I don’t know for certain but I shudder because it looks this vaccine MIGHT be very, very costly, and very very damaging.

But God’s healthcare and God’s economy will be what rules forever and ever. These other forms are, even as I write this, already passing away. Praise Jesus, creator and King of the universe, for that!!

Maranatha!!

Do Christians need a wake up call from other Christians?

Jesus said, ‘For wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’ (Luke 12:34 NLT).

I’ll return to that concept.

But first: I liked a lot of what this article had to say. However, based on the ‘no politically-bent comments will be posted’ disclaimer at the beginning, I excitedly presumed I was going to be reading something soundly spiritual. A wake up call for the church to come out of the worldly realm of politics, not a call to choose the less corrupt side of Joe Biden (in the author’s opinion). That is what I didn’t like about it. Oh, I am wary and alarmed of all the ‘Christian Trumpers’, too. As I’ve written before, I simply realize I don’t have to pick a monkey in the world’s circus.

The article gave me pause in another way as well. I began pondering the idea of Christians giving other Christians ‘a wake up call’. This caused a lot of self-examination on my part. As, of course Christians need to give one another a wake up call is usually my thinking. Recently I’ve been questioning my thinking though.

I’ll return to all that as well. First, I’d like to address the political bent in that linked ‘wake up call to the church’ article. Wouldn’t BOTH Biden and Trump; who represent the ultimate manifestation of ’empire’– be like Satan tempting Jesus with a shortcut to all that He eventually had coming anyway?

Empire being in direct contrast to the throne of the lamb (Jesus). Therefore, following the Lamb OUT of Worldly Empire is the ultimate wake-up call which God gave in Revelation (and much of the Bible, the way I see it). By the way: I learned the ‘Empire versus following the Lamb’ concept from the book ‘Reading Revelation Responsibly’ by Matthew J. Gorman. (This is NOT an endorsement of that book. I took some things from it, but found other things troubling–like his quoting of Eugene Peterson.)

Had the title of the linked article been something like, “Why I am voting for Biden; as a Christian” I likely wouldn’t have read it. Not because I am for Trump, either, as stated above and elsewhere on my blog. But because the Lord called me out of my former political involvements, as I’ve also stated several times here. That is why I don’t spend much time reading why Christians vote the way they do. I find it distracting and fear it also might prove tempting. 

The wake-up call went off, for me, after the stock market crash in 2008 and the resulting behaviors of the politicians of the ‘Christian Right’ in bailing out the banks. That event, along with the Lord putting several Christian ‘end timers’ into my path, sparked me to study eschatology. As well as to actively work to get out of debt, and to try and change some other things I’d accepted as ‘normal’.

I couldn’t in good conscience vote for any option for President since waking up and then seeing the unfolding of more (and more) wake up alarms in the world, America, and in American politics too. The hour seems too late for me to risk further involvement in politics and I shudder at how involved with the worldly empire I still remain. Or, as the above linked article called it, accepting ‘Satan’s shortcut’.

Thanks to what began unfolding for me in 2008, I better realize the dangers of colluding with worldly empire. Particularly in order to try and gain what I will eventually have coming anyway (if I can restrain myself from involvement in these sort of ‘bull fights’ and stay content at the Throne of Jesus).

The way I see it (and I could be wrong, these are just my opinions): God has already given wake up calls to the church. The calls were/are often being ignored…I ignored plenty of wake up calls myself in the past! I get it. My heart’s desire was not entirely sold out for God. I pray it is more sold out now than prior. I was a living reflection of Jesus’ words about ‘wherever your treasure is, there will also be the desires of your heart.’

For most of my life I preferred to stay in bed with the world, hitting the snooze button; lulled by the words my adulterous lover was whispering to me which made me not even notice the annoying sound of alarms going off every few minutes.

And now, over a decade later since my big wake up call moment in 2008– our world is even closer to global ‘oneness and unity’ through one world religion and government. The NAR (New apostolic reformation–Paula White, etc. — Trump’s inner circle religious posse) and the RCC (Biden’s religious posse) are like two sides of the same coin, seeming to be different and somehow antagonistic from one another. Yet ultimately I fear everyone will end up in the same spiritual condition by following either side: little gods who bow down to one another, trying to be as God and re-build a unifying worldwide ‘tower of babel’, which is like thumbing one’s nose at the real God. 

Thesis + antithesis = synthesis. Things can often seem so different between the thesis and the antithesis, that it’s tempting to think there isn’t actually going to be some ultimate synthesis waiting in the wings by going along with one of the two choices we seem to be given. There’s Satan’s shortcut temptations again.

Which is why choosing either side seems dangerous, adulterous, and even idolatrous, to me.

I see Jesus as the third, usually unseen and un-marketed, option. I hope to cling to Him, to ‘otherness’ and not be sucked into oneness (otherness versus one-ness is a concept I heard from Carl Teichrib, a researcher and author of the incredible book: Game of Gods. I am working my way through it, and so I can’t endorse it YET, but let’s just say I am in awe of the research he has compiled and his insights into what is happening in the world and in religion).

I think historically that is what it meant to BE a Christian: to choose Jesus as the unseen and un-marketed third option whenever the world put forth a thesis and antithesis option.

But again: I may be wrong. That’s the beauty of the gift of free will. We all get to use our own free will in these matters. And we also get to choose whether or not to push the snooze button and keep sleeping, when God sounds those wake up alarms. It can be risky to try and wake up sleepers–it may also not even be part of God’s plan for us to go around ‘sounding alarms’ either, when the human heart ‘wants what it wants’ to quote a popular song lyric. But we don’t need popular songs when we have the Bible. It has already said all which can be said anyway. Like this verse:

Song of Songs 8:4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

This verse, the article I linked above, as well as Jesus’ words about my treasure dictating the desires of my own heart: has me re-examining my own desires, including my eagerness to ‘warn others’ and ‘sound alarms’ and all that. What is really behind all that anyway?

Hopefully I can turn my own desires back to Him whenever I find myself tempted toward adultery and idolatry with the world. Thereby my example might also urge others to return to Jesus as first and only love.

Perhaps it’s best to leave the actual wake up calls, the sounding of alarms and all that-to God. And not insist that people who still desire to push snooze ‘get up already‘.

Would you want to have a friend, let alone a lover, who doesn’t even desire your company enough to get out of bed when you call for him to come and meet you?

Then what makes us think God wants us going around trying to wake up adulterous lovers for Him?

Maybe its best to let the sleepers sleep. And let those of us who are awake– return to, and try to keep, our own desires for God.

in one day

After reading Revelation 17-18 recently, I was struck by a couple of things.

First off: For many years now I suspect that my dwelling place in Middle America is akin to being trapped in ‘the belly of the beast’. I know that I am captive to, and trapped by, modern Babylon; perhaps even the very Babylon mentioned in Revelation 18. This used to bother me. I’d wonder often if we shouldn’t pack up, sell off our extra stuff, and move somewhere else. Perhaps New Zealand or somewhere that isn’t as corrupt as America seems to have become.

But recently I realized a few things about captivity. Daniel, and his three friends, were captive to Ancient Babylon. But yet they did not join Babylon, and Daniel survived its eventual destruction too. Joseph was captive to Egypt, and even influenced the building up of Egypt. Yet at the end of Egypt, prior to its fall, Moses was called out of the Egyptian ways. He chose to identify as a Hebrew slave – just in time to witness the fall of Egypt (and escape it himself, as he led the rest of God’s people out with him).

And so perhaps it is one thing to be captive to Babylon (or Egypt). It’s another to be a part of Babylon. To join it. To be in collusion with it. And to continue to want to affect outcomes IN it.

Have I joined Babylon? Am I partial to the outcomes playing out within it? Or am I so wrapped up in God’s kingdom and anticipating the coming of my King Jesus–that I’m not at all distracted or swayed by the peer pressure to go and ‘cast my vote’ this year, to make allegiances with ‘one side or the other’ to ‘choose the lesser of two evils’?

Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”Rev. 18:4-8

I do not know what the ‘therefore in one day’ means. Perhaps it is a literal undoing that will happen all at once. Or perhaps some event that occurs in one day will be like ‘the final tipping point’? Which is why I shudder when I think of how big of a deal one particular day has become in American culture, where we are told we can all go and participate in our government process.

Election Day.

Is there a chance that God is watching how His people act (or don’t act) on this ‘one day’ and that after that one day is over, more judgments will fall, because so much of our actions have shown that we are choosing to be a part of Babylon rather than to simply remain captive within her, as we wait for Jesus to finally free us?

I have no idea. I may be wrong in having, let alone sharing, these thoughts. I can only share, definitively, my own journey and chosen courses of action. And so I will say this: in the past I felt it was ok to vote for local officials and local proposed laws and just leave the president boxes unmarked (leaving boxes blank is an option on election ballots).

This year I am feeling called to avoid the entire thing, top to bottom. The plagues coming on Babylon make me shudder and I want to remain in Jesus as much as I possibly can. Lord knows I will need as much help as possible to do that too, as everywhere I look in my life, I see the trappings of Babylon. Sigh.

Voting simply isn’t worth the potential risk. I’m already skating on thin ice, with my comfy life here in Middle America.

What is our work?

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29

God impressed the simplicity of this verse upon my heart over a decade ago; when I was frantically trying to prove myself as His disciple. When I read the verse in context — I noted that the disciples asked this of our Lord shortly after He had performed many miracles. Perhaps they were wondering how they would ever be able to do the miraculous work Jesus was doing.

I was feeling similar at the time–wondering how in the world I was going to serve God as the saints of old had done. How was I going to evangelize, partake in miracles, raise children, keep myself unstained from the world and somehow still put food on the table too? The freedom that came to me in our Lord’s response, John 6:29, was so very welcome to me in that moment that it became a cornerstone verse for me going forward. I began to repeat that verse aloud every time I felt that niggling in my gut that I ‘wasn’t doing enough’ for the kingdom.

“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.” Emily Bronte.

I came across this quote just this morning and it gave me a niggling trace of guilt. I was reminded me of the extremely productive person I once had been. These days I am someone who spends hours each week in passivity–often just listening (not even evangelizing) to various people who find their way to my back porch.

I try to do home improvement projects and I garden a lot every summer. But those things often get interrupted and remain unfinished. Either by company stopping or my own limitations. I still work outside the home and go into the office in the afternoons when it is needed– (I am a business owner. But I stepped away from the daily grind when I got sick several years ago. My husband still does the heavy lifting for the both of us at our business).

I changed because I had no choice. When I got hit with crippling PTSD, I knew I had to make some changes to my workaholic ways as that was only making me worse.

I began leaning into the day slowly. As anyone who has suffered from an anxiety disorder can tell you — it is the most debilitating upon first waking. For months I forced myself to relax and just stay home, cancel appointments, etc., until the anxiety lessened and finally went away. I wake up calm these days as I no longer have PTSD or an anxiety disorder.

But I continue to lolly-gag at home in the mornings. Slowly emptying the dishwasher and doing a load of laundry, letting my mind fill with the thoughts God puts there, and the Bible verses that come to my heart. Sitting down eventually and reading a devotion and daily Bible reading- or looking up the verse that came to me upon waking. Doing some writing now and then. Gardening, house work, baking, cooking- all of that– alone. With Jesus, of course. In the early hours before the phone rings or someone knocks on the door.

I find this easing into the day approach gives plenty of opportunity for pondering the things of God, as well as spontaneous singing out in worship. The contrast of these slow and quiet mornings compared to my years of getting piles of ‘work’ done before ten, (lest I not get anything done at all –highlights all the ways the world intrudes upon a morning — with its rushing about, it’s appointments, it’s buzzing and ringing phones and other siren calls to either ‘be productive’ or to waste time in utter distractions…

Parts of my belief system (like an entrenched Midwestern Work Ethic that ties value up in one’s ability to make money) are still so entrenched in my heart that I automatically return to them when reading things like that Emily Bronte quote above. And then God’s truth slowly settles me down again.

Because if the work of God is believing in the one whom He sent (Jesus); then spending a slow morning at home IS actually far more productive, from a Kingdom mindset, then rushing about getting as much ‘worldly’ work done as I can before the crux point hour of ten a.m.

I know, from past experience, that if I do not spend my early mornings with God, then chances are good that I will not spend much time at all with Him during the rest of the day.

 

 

 

True Freedom

I’m sitting on my porch as I write this. It’s a pleasant seventy degrees. With a slight breeze and warm sunshine- a near-perfect June morning in Middle America.

A fountain splashes in my garden and birdsong surrounds me, as soft as the sweatshirt around my shoulders. A motorcycle roars down a nearby highway. It is obscured from my view. But I know the rumble of a Harley.

I envision a helmet-less male driver with legs outstretched, a bandana and a beard blowing in the wind…

FREEDOM

This morning that word, impressed upon my heart, was followed by an urging to read Romans 8

Romans 8 confirmed that chaff is, indeed, being sifted from kernels of wheat; in the latest winds.

What is freedom? And have we lost it?  Or did we never really have any at all? It seems some have little to no freedom while others have too much and are abusing theirs. After 9-11 we all agreed to exchange freedoms for (a sense of) safety. It seems we are doing that again.

I have heard others express their thankfulness to live in my rural area where we can still be relatively free and safe.  I am thankful too, because I know it is where He planted me and would still have me be; for now.

Here is where this freedom paradox gets sticky: 

Gun memes are popular amongst Christian friends of mine. Gun sales are up; as are enrollment in gun classes and self defense classes.

At first I was alarmed about what is really happening. But I have now heard so much about Bill Gates’ microchip and Michelle Obama waiting in the wings as our next president, that I don’t trust any of the conspiracy theories whatsoever and see them as just more deception now… (I live in openly Trump country, and that allegiance gets lathered with a veneer of holiness). I am far more concerned, now, about what could be happening to the hearts of professing American Christians.

As a trauma survivor who has seen people injured, die and/or be threatened with death numerous times, I have no desire to arm myself against others. And the Lord also delivered me from political involvements a long time ago. Um, He also has done a mighty work in trying to cure me of presumptions, speculations, and using the Bible incorrectly (although I still do those things myself and so I am not in a position to judge others for it).

I will say this though: as a trauma survivor myself, I understand why war veterans, by nature, are often reluctant to fight. They know the heavy cost. Plus, Jesus did say: ‘those who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Also interesting to me, when Jesus returns (in Revelation) the sword comes from His mouth…His Word seems to be the sword. Otherwise, wouldn’t He be carrying that sword in his hand?

Will evil fall by swords/guns/some kind of powerful divine destruction in the very end? or will it actually be destroyed by (at? from?) Jesus Word (or Words?)?

Either way: it seems to me we better choose our weapons (and our theology) wisely; right now. As for me, I realize the power in The Word and in my own words too. And in listening to Him and His word when my own words fail me. I don’t wish to trade that kind of power for the self-destruction of guns and fists and presumptions (theological or otherwise) and harsh words spoken in sin (even though I am still often guilty of the latter two; sigh).

Speaking of words: I just saw someone on social media using Patrick Henry’s 1775 rallying cry of : Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!

It is not lost on me that the country in which I live was founded upon rebellion and that we still tend to solve our problems by presuming we have no solutions other than to fight it out for ourselves. Those who live by the sword die by the sword; indeed.

True Freedom

I do wonder if some measure of true biblical freedom was either birthed here or brought here to America as an act of mercy; alongside that seed of rebellion.

Either way, somehow or other God saw to it that I would learn that real freedom is from Him and that it is the opposite of rebellion. True freedom comes from having my sins washed away in the blood of Christ. Through clinging to God in obedience and a pouring out of all my own strength. Which is seen as weakness in our human viewpoint.

But freedom in Christ is not weak, as in slavery, (to quote from Romans 8) but strong–as in we are the bought and paid for adopted sons and daughters of The King! Therein our souls and spirits will be kept safe (no matter what happens to us physically).

And I somehow learned that truth about freedom while living right in the middle of this vast land of the free.

To be proud to live in America– usually has more to do with personal liberty, and license, the ability to rent a private plane, to otherwise circumvent the usual systems, or to go to the store without a mask on…to gather in the streets and protest, and yes, to gather and worship as we choose, too. But in countries where there is a harsh consequence to worship (along with a lack of other basic liberties), we often see a purity and a devotion to God (that American fellowships seem to lack)–A clinging to their real freedom of eternal life.

In contrast: we who have personal liberties take our eternal life status for granted. Therein even religious freedom, for which American Christians are so grateful (rightly so), has a cost. Because it is only in such free places where we see that personal liberty is, by its very nature, antagonistic to the freedom we have in Jesus.

I had to be set free, myself, from a stronghold of personal liberty. Of gun-toting, Harley riding, wind in my hair, do whatever I want to do– freedom. In the place of ‘Give me Liberty, or Give me Death’, God wrote new words on my heart, and they are found in the first verses of Romans chapter 8:

…because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life HAS SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death.

To weaponize myself and defend any other idea of freedom would be to deny my real freedom. Even as I see other Christians speaking of doing just that. I cannot judge whether that means they never had real life in Christ to begin with; but it does give me pause.

As for me: I’m quite thankful to still have my porch and garden and other comforts. But: others can keep the Harley. And the guns. And the protests in the streets. Political this and that; too.

I LIVE.

Did you catch that? I am alive! I was once dead, but now I live (and will be alive forever, thanks to Jesus).

How much more free, could any person possibly be, after they are born again in Christ Jesus?

 

 

 

Adopted at Birth

We quasi-adopted a young man years ago. It’s complicated. He isn’t really ours, but I do love him as a son. He never lived full time with us.  Though that wasn’t because we didn’t want him under our roof. That was always my desire. However, it wasn’t possible to break what family ties he did have; and wouldn’t have been right to do that either. Instead, he traveled with us and ate a lot of meals with us and worked with us and spent a lot of time with us, including some sleepovers.

But he isn’t truly ours. And now that he is an adult, this becomes evident on days like Mother’s Day when he calls on the same day as the birth children phone me (or are visiting face to face with me).

My sons and I have our own language. We also have zero subterfuge and can quickly get right to the heart matters. The good stuff. The things I like to talk about and hear about.

Bonus son still hesitates to go there. My birth sons were this same way as teenagers. I spent a lot of time being present and available and talking about small matters until they were ready to open up and share something deeper or more meaningful. But after their rebellion phase passed, they did enter adulthood much more willing to have the kind of relationship I always longed to have with them.

It struck me that this is how we are with Jesus. When we are adopted into the family of God it is important to live there, eat meals there, to be born again and start our formative years over at God’s table, as a fully adopted birth child who doesn’t want to return back to the home in which he was formerly raised.

Only then can we grow up to know the same language He speaks. And get right to the heart of the matter without any subterfuge. This is His desire. To know us as if we were birth children from the start. To repair the rift after our years of rebellion have passed.

I want to encourage anyone reading this to go ahead and cut the ties with your family of origin, or with your old former life of sin, and move in with Father God as a fully adopted infant about to grow to maturity– live full time in His house; learn His language and the way He speaks, and let Him see to your development in every way.

If you look around and see brothers and sisters in that same house–you are truly blessed. But don’t let them distract you from getting to know the Father as fully as He desires we know Him.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.