Dumb and Dumber Faith

Lloyd Christmas, the hopeless romantic/eternal optimist (and inspiration for our Christian faith during dark times?)

I shared in my last post the reason why I’ve been reading Revelation frequently in the past few months.

The apocalyptical prophesy writings in the Bible almost always unsettle me, lead me to self-examination, repentance, fear of what still lies ahead, and then ultimately fill me with great hope that I will make it through it all and eventually out of here through Jesus Christ, thanks only to Him and not my own works. Turning that sense of defeat and fear and dread into great joy and relief and HOPE at the end.

My heart process as I ponder these hard truths in God’s word is much like Lloyd’s reactions in the above encounter with Mary, with whom he was so thoroughly besotted. When hard reality begins to settle in, he deflates visibly. But he doesn’t stay there long. As hope rebuilds and his great love remains, he simply can’t see anything BUT the slim chance he was given–as just that, a chance. That’s all he needed to remain hopelessly in love.

I have loosely followed along with various ministers and writers, all professing Christians, who are giving voice to what many others might call ‘conspiracy theories’. There is also a popular meme floating around about watching the news to ‘see which chapter of Revelation we are on today.’ It is only funny because it rings so true.

I am not a scientist and so I won’t get into the various theories going around about why 2021 and beyond could make 2020 look like we were on a paradise vacation. See ‘science with Dr. Doug’ if interested in a professing Christian scientist who seems relatively sound (that is NOT an endorsement, though).

In terms of ministers-I am once again getting quite a bit of help and hope from Bill Randles recent blog posts and sermons. Although he seems to continue to ‘see’ Trump as something very different than I see Trump.

Having now examined many other Christian sites and self professed ‘watchmen’ I once avidly followed, it seems few of them leave the reader with a sense of hope in the love of God, and the love of God alone. It’s a lot of: sounding of alarms as well as ‘avoid and wait’ (for the rapture) talk instead, to me. Others may disagree.

What I am is a believer in Jesus Christ, and that is what I can speak to; and will. My aim in life is to be as hopelessly besotted with Him– as Jim Carrey’s character, Lloyd, was with Mary. But I need encouragement from others to stay in that kind of hope. Those I once turned to for that encouragement are increasingly camped out on ‘warnings’ and this IS what it is ‘predictions’ of what lies ahead. (Oh, the unease such definitive statements bring me! Contrasted with the comfort AND the conviction to be found in Christians who simply say: I don’t know for sure but I can see how this might be…

And so to follow up on my last post, I want to share something that I believe He gave me during a troubled time of prayer where I was struggling with great fears and a sense of pending doom, in part because I had returned to some of these Christian pools from which I once drank freely and in seeming safety.

As I looked ahead to the future and began fearing greatly for my children, I didn’t see much hope at all.

That is when that scene from Dumb and Dumber came into my head and my heart grabbed onto it with a deep understanding, and a chuckle, of course… I knew that navigating my today and my tomorrow would involve grasping onto ‘dumb and dumber’ kind of faith. No matter what comes at me/us in the year and years to come–there is always, always, always HOPE in Jesus Christ. He can restore all the devil planned for evil and preserve what does remain and keep us from all the horror that may or may not come in our lifetimes.

Casting the pre-tribulation rapture and all those resulting arguments aside: The worldly odds of surviving the ‘pictures’ we are given of the actual apocalypse seem to give us a one in a million chance of mere survival, let alone making it out of here with eternal life intact. Yet there are a great throng of tribulation saints shown in Heaven who DO make it out of the end with their faith in tact.

God shows us what is to happen, sure, but He also makes it very clear that we ‘have a chance’. Those who remain in their love of Jesus above all else cannot be, and will not be, shaken by anything.

In the midst of so much which can be visibly seen as scary and dangerous and dark: the world might call those of us who retain unshakable hope in the unseen dumb and dumber.

I believe our Heavenly Father calls it precious! Jesus encourages us to be as children in our faith and in our love of Him. And we love because He first loved us.

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.

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!!

Whatever your hand finds to do…

Do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23

I’ve always loved those two Bible verses. The latter more than the first. Ecclesiastes can be a bleak book–it reflects King Solomon’s (if Solomon is actually its author) ultimate falling away from God.

Therefore, I feel it too often reads more like the life of an unbeliever (‘meaningless’!). Which can be a wonderful example and lesson of ‘what not to do’ (and believe). In comparison to someone who relies fully on God and knows that all we do for the Lord is NOT futile and pointless, but will last and/or be rewarded in the life to come, if not this one.

Ecclesiastes captivated me in my youth. These days I prefer the philosophy and life lessons in the ‘study to show yourself approved’, ‘let us not grow weary of doing good’, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ ‘take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ’…. ‘Jesus is coming soon and so is your reward’ (that one was paraphrased!) messages scattered throughout the New Testament Epistles.

Since the pandemic hit last March, I’ve added the following verse, also about ‘work’, to my list of favorites:

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. 1 Thessalonians 4:12.

This verse was reflective of the vocational climate in my childhood. Were it not for the rampant emotional and physical abuse, the pornography exposures, and the whitewashed Christian veneer hiding the sexual abuse in my family, it would have been a great childhood. Honestly.

I grew up with a strong Middle American work ethic at a time when farm folks still had a measure of real economic independence. As Thessalonians encourages, most farmers I knew did NOT depend on others. They were self sufficient and admired for their character traits. Though they were often broke and/or in debt–they frequently helped one another out with their work –and they didn’t have the current yokes and collusions with government and big agri-business, on which they have now become quite dependent.

Therefore I grew up like everyone around me: suspicious of government interventions and corporate America. I stayed busy doing chores, working with my hands, learning my way around a pigpen, a cattle yard, an equipment shop, and a grain field. And I had plenty of time to read challenging things which were far above my young head (our Television was fuzzy and rarely on). We were also, for the most part, a great deal poorer than people living and working on the Corporate America Coasts.

I eyed visitors who came from the cities, with their fancy cars and clothes, with awe and curiosity. As well as a painful awareness that I was poor and backwards, with bad clothing and shoes.

The farm programs, government interventions, and involvement of Con-Agra, which swept in in the 1990’s, brought a decline in work ethic, the removal of the general wariness of government and corporations, and much nicer clothes and cars to the farmsteads around my childhood home.

Just the way I see it. Others might disagree.

These days we have oodles of thriving boutiques and home decor stores in my Middle American mid-sized town. Much of the style borders on the boujee to me. Nevertheless, when traveling or receiving visitors from elsewhere, it’s obvious that the middle income Midwesterner enjoys what once only belonged on the coasts, and now is hard to find there. Unfortunately: that old midwestern work ethic and wariness of government seems to be disappearing along with the poverty.

I suspect the rise of internet, cable/ satellite TV, video games, and smart phones also took a ding to the once prevalent: we-are-poor-but-at-least-we-know-how-to-work culture.

We do retain some ethical holdover from former eras though. I suspect that is why big companies will still ‘head hunt’ for young adults from the Midwest.

I didn’t always enjoy the hard work parts of my childhood. In part because too many of the good formative experiences were sandwiched between abusive and unhealthy behaviors.

Plus, that level of physical work is an acquired taste. The current popularity of gym memberships shows how many people do realize the value of sweat equity and physical activity. And God bless you if you just love the gym. I don’t love it. Plus, I would rather NOT pay someone else to vacuum my house and scrub my floors while I pay a gym to use a machine on which I’m not accomplishing a single thing at all… when my arms won’t really know the difference between that machine or a mop handle and then at the end of the day I can see that I actually did something productive…there’s my childhood talking again.

At one time I ran as far from my past as I could. Except then God stuck me right back in a very similar place to that in which I was born. I did the human thing and just rebelled against the place itself, in my own heart and mind.

It was easy to label all the hard workers around me as ‘workaholics’. People with energy were often just a reminder of how bleak things were for me as a child. And since I knew that being poor sucked, what was wrong with taking some government stimulus and bailout and disaster relief program money anyway? It’s better than remaining in poverty for the sake of dignity. Poverty is traumatic in and of itself and lacks any kind of dignity — I think I have written posts on that somewhere on this blog; they may be set to private now though.

I ventured into all the world’s wisdom, and the pointlessness of life and the downsides of hard work, more than once. When I got physically and emotionally sick, I also pretty much checked out of my social and my work life as well. I even tried being lazy, intentionally, to try and heal from my own presumed workaholism and stress effects.

I judged others who retained their hard work ethics. Ducking out of my former hard work lifestyle seemed to help me physically so maybe everyone just needed more vacation and meditative time… Until I woke up one day and realized I was too young to act like I’m eighty.

Turns out my brain remained as active as my body always wanted to be. And that even when my body is in pain; not moving it at all will only make the pain worse.

So now that I have worked through much of the child abuse, I am sifting out a distaste for the ‘place’ and personality in which it occurred from the actual abuse itself. In so doing, and by pushing myself physically far more than I am even comfortable doing some days–I am also now feeling my body heal to the point of being able to be very active again.

Perhaps that is a factor in why and how I have returned to an appreciation of many aspects of my own trauma filled childhood.

I am glad that I was raised amongst mostly-poor farm folk where the barns for the animals were often nicer and more costly than the farmhouse. Oh and barns used to trigger me, too. They were actually the ‘stuff of nightmares’ for most of my life.

But enjoyment and appreciation of the place, and the landscape is being restored to me now. I haven’t had a scary barn dream in a few years. I find myself eyeing the old barns and farmsteads with love; when we go for long country drives. I stop to take photos often.

Though it took me a while to reconcile it all, I am realizing that people who work extra hard and/or who truly enjoy their work are not automatically ‘workaholics’, and should not be labeled and judged as such.

Now that I’m more active again myself: I’m once again in danger of judging others as being lazy, though. There’s always some sin crouching at the door…

The way I see it, those who have stayed active even in the midst of health and other crises are probably going to be the same personality types who will continue to spread the gospel and hold steadfast to Jesus; even in times of great peril, confusion, temptation, and persecution. Therefore, getting one’s work ethic back in order is pretty important.

Since I no longer spend hours a day in therapy work, navel gazing and trying to heal from past trauma, my brain is once again picking up on what’s happening around me and trying to grasp many things which remain ‘far above my head’. Meanwhile, my yard and home and business is showing the recent influx of care and work. I am able to sleep soundly and restoratively at night, after a day spent working with my hands–just as I did growing up.

Now for the real point of this essay: as I have personally gotten back in touch with the childhood work ethic of my past in 2020: I have been noticing and grappling with the ironic and nonsensical system of beliefs rising up within my still-calls-itself-hardworking, ‘Trump country’ community; during Covid19.

We’ve had the opposite of an economic fall out, here, it seems–and that boon started long before 2020. A lot of farm people are restoring those old barns mentioned above, which now sit empty of animals; next to their fully loaded million dollar equipment sheds. A lot of the hard work does go on, even amidst the wealth, though. Therefore, it’s the source of the wealth which troubles me most.

I want to believe that our local economic escape in 2020 was from a good work ethic combined with our spread out and sparse population, a different, self-responsible attitude about risk and one’s own health, and many businesses courageously remaining open throughout the chaos. However, I suspect that our booming economy is actually far more from a combination of the socialistic actions of the government pouring money into our economy and our own greed in making sure we get our own share of that American Pie. As well as general self-interest and a stubborn refusal to conform, or truly care about, one’s neighbor above one’s self.

The government has poured out money into Agriculture-based hands for several decades now. Yet in the last several elections Socialism was frequently used as a pejorative by those same folks. And the idea was touted, (from both sides), that we had to get involved in politics to ‘save our democracy.’ As if democracy and capitalism and that kind of freedom is even a thing anymore?

To quote and to paraphrase some very wise and prescient things I read somewhere else (and am feeling too lazy to go search for it-how’s that for work ethic-LOL?)

It’s only socialism when someone else is receiving free government handouts. When I’m receiving it; it’s still capitalism!

Government handouts are now labeled ‘stimulus packages’ or ‘disaster payments’ or ‘relief packages’ in order to hide the fact that they are, in essence, socialism.

So let’s take a look at the socialistic things which swept into America under other names and let’s also note who was in charge when it happened.

The second George Bush signed the law which bailed out banks and big industry BEFORE Obama took office. Which was one of the many reasons I was able to easily remove myself from ‘being political’ after I felt the Lord chastening me for my heart and mind (and literal) involvement in that corrupted and worldly realm–back in 2008-2009.

This year, while he was still president (and by the way some of my friends think he IS going to actually remain president too) ‘Capitalism Loving’ (?) Trump signed into law and then extended the PPP Small Business Administration program and oversaw what came to be known as CoronaCash (for farmers) and that’s not even mentioning the stimulus package where everyone under a certain income level received a check ‘from the government.’

Still think Bernie Sanders is the only Socialist in Washington? Even he is taking some heat for voting for the PPP program by his own supporters; since it’s proven to be so corrupt.

BUT these things were all good, and needed, right?

No one wants to see a small business fail, right?

Or, perhaps hiding behind a cry of ‘we have to help the small businesses’ is a clever cover for more corruption?

And perhaps behind the socialism lies something with an even harder bite to it.

I don’t know the answers to the above questions. I just know that it seems few are even asking the questions, or pausing to think what we are really colluding with and accepting when taking ‘free money’ from the government. Perhaps we are all too busy to think—busy shopping and filling our barns and homes with more things; all thanks to the influx of Corona Cash. Meanwhile Revelation urges us to come out of her my people so that you do not partake of her sins or share in her plagues.

When a nearby farmer, who got both corona cash and a PPP loan… complained about the young adults voting for Biden because they just wanted their student loans forgiven… Can you believe their sense of entitlement? Don’t they understand that socialism doesn’t work! Without capitalism, our country will be toast! — I tried not to snort out loud as he drove away in a shiny new pickup with a Trump bumper sticker.

I realize I have a super power nose that often picks up scents before others can smell them.

But at what point is everyone else going to smell America’s toast burning?

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.

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?

 

 

 

Rethinking the Rapture? Not so fast.

This post has been modified from when I originally wrote it. When I first wrote it, I was questioning pre-tribulation rapture theology.

As of this updated writing, I do once again believe the rapture of the church is a real event and that it is going to be a separate event from the final end time coming (of Jesus back to the world). I also believe that we who call on Jesus will avoid both the worst of the tribulation, as well as the final destructive wrath of God.

But before I came to that amended conclusion, I wrote the following:

The last time I took a big trip, I had an exit row seat on several airplanes. If you aren’t familiar: before the plane takes off the flight attendant asks the people sitting in those seats for a spoken verbal confirmation, agreeing that you will help evacuate the plane in an emergency.

As the flight attendant was asking for my verbal confirmation, I had the thought that I should be the last one off the plane. As a believer I know where I am going (heaven) and others may not be saved yet. So it is only just, and right, that others who may not be saved should be the first people to get off the plane safely. That way they could possibly still be saved before they die. And so, after having that thought and knowing it was true– I braced and steeled myself, in case any destruction did come on that plane, I would actually stay there and do the right thing. Not succumb to the flesh thing and escape myself, but actually stay and help others evacuate safely–just as I had pledged to do.

I mean, when you are sitting in a seat right by the main exit hatch, it’d be pretty easy to open it up and DUCK out yourself just to be safe…

I also knew that fending for my own safety, above the safety of others, would be a real temptation in a disaster. Because I know just how human, fleshy, and fearful I am!

As I was pondering the current times we are living in, it struck me that the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture theology could come across as incredibly flesh-y.

It’s a lot like saying– I’m sitting by the exit door and going to be the first one off the crashing plane! See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, suckers! To everyone left behind.

Wouldn’t it be more in alignment with basic Christian principles, for those of us already saved unto eternal life to stay on a plane going down just as long as possible, to try and make sure those who aren’t saved yet, get saved– before the wrath comes and it’s too late to save anyone?

Like sitting by the exit door on an airplane. What would a Jesus follower do in such a situation? She’d stay on the plane and try to make sure others lived (eternally), if at all possible. Her days would be filled with attempts to wake people up to the seriousness of the hour. She’d use all her energy and talents to bring people closer to Jesus.

What would selfish, fleshy me do? bail and preserve myself/not keep my word to help others off the plane…

Christians do have an exit row seat and we will be pulled out of here before the wrath of God comes down to destroy the world. That part is and has always been VERY clear in scripture. But with that prime seating spot, I am thinking comes greater responsibility toward others on the same plane; not less.

When I first wrote the above, it all seemed pretty simple and I was willing to discard a rapture theology that I came into believing later in my life (I grew up protestant–and I was not taught to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture as a child).

Since then God has reminded me many times that He is God. He does the saving, I do not. And when He decides it is time, it WILL be time. I will either fall in line with His plan or be left behind myself. What makes me think I know better than God Himself, how to save people anyway? The Great Tribulation will have a sifting effect. In my eagerness to ‘help with the harvest’ and save souls, what if I am working in opposition to God’s plan for the world; instead of in sync with it?

Listening to some old podcasts and interviews with Dave Hunt also had me rethinking my recent rethinking of the rapture.

In one interview Dave Hunt said the following, “If the bride isn’t eager for the wedding, better call the whole thing off!”

That one got to me. In my eagerness to save other people from impending doom, I wasn’t simply eager for the upcoming wedding–for meeting Jesus face to face myself. Which should always be my first goal and earnest desire as a Christian.

In the end I concluded that it isn’t about keeping an eye on others. It is about keeping my eyes so fixed on Jesus that I am very eager for the wedding, and will not hesitate to leave all here on earth (including other people) behind me. So that I can go and be married to the bridegroom. Because, again, if the bride isn’t eager for the wedding; better call the whole thing off.

 

 

 

 

 

The Accepted Idolatry of Spouse & Family

Much has been said already in the blogs and youtube videos I follow- about how God has allowed for ‘the removal of our idols’. Sports, entertainment, leisure, restaurants, nonessential shopping…few mention church fellowship ties, or family ties, and how they can also become an idol before God.

If you’ve read my recent posts, you will see my insistence that we can still have church in our own homes ‘wherever one or two are gathered.’

Now I feel led to add an addendum to what I’ve already shared:

As humans we are very good at making other people into idols in our lives. With social distancing, it seems even that insidious idol has been revealed (for those with eyes to see and ears to hear). In many cases it has even been physically removed or threatened, as well.

We see horrible stories of infected people dying alone without family or spouse by their side. And I keep seeing news reports and stories of how spouses are willingly living separately and keeping their distance from one another to prevent spread of sickness. Particularly if they work in healthcare or had been traveling. Famous examples are in the news too. It was reported that Prince Charles stayed away from his wife during his illness. Oprah Winfrey insisted her long time partner stay in her guest house for fourteen days after he returned from travel.

This is, indeed, a very strange time. But I think there is meaning in what is coming through our news channels as well. I think these rich details, much like the rich details in scripture, are being put into the world for a deeper reason — for those who are willing to ponder it and pray about it.

In my own life the Lord has revealed my idolatry toward my spouse, toward my children and even toward those family members who once abused me in unconscionable ways. That last one took me a long while to see; as I was already keeping my distance! But idols grow in our hearts and physical distance is not always enough to knock them down. I also came to believe that one of the horrible effects of such acts of evil is to leave behind a type of bondage to the victim; which must be brought before God in order to be broken. And therefore I’m not convinced that we love and adore all our idols; sometimes we are fixated on an idol in ways we can’t even comprehend and need help untangling from. In this way we allow it to control us long after it’s initial evil attempt to control us!

It is our attitudes and beliefs which need to change, a turning BACK to God in full repentance and wholeheartedness of faith and love for Him, and trust that He will free us from whatever has us bound if we ask and seek that from Him–in this way I feel idols can easily be destroyed before God; through His power to save and sanctify us.

It was still a painful discovery, though, every time He showed me an idol I had made from another person. And inevitably, once I knocked it down, I healed a great deal. Other times my troubled relationship with that person I had made into an idol (particularly my spouse and children) then grew and improved. Because I was no longer trying to control their every move–as we tend to do with idols. Think of the super fan in the stadium or before the television. It is as if he can will his favorite team to a victory through his screams and clenched jaw and strong desire to control their performance.

Do we do similar controlling measures with our spouse, children, family members, church family?

I have certainly been guilty of that in the past!

1 John 5: 21 Dear children, keep yourself from idols.

Luke 9:59-60 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

1 Corinthians 7:32-34 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband.

Luke 14:26  If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

Right now the world is telling us we must be prepared to separate from a sick family member and die alone; in order to stop the spread of a sickness and, in essence, be able to live (to die another day).

God’s word has always been clear that real disciples are willing to lose everything, including parents, children, spouse, in order to gain Him.

Is eternity in His presence enough of a reason to separate our hearts from our idols; even  the idols we make of other people– which can seem so blessed and holy and not like idols at all?

Or will we choose to cling to our life here on earth– for who knows how long?

 

 

 

 

 

 

PTSD Triggers, Trauma, and Travel: “It Never Goes Away” (& how I am managing that fact.)

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Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

(Trigger warnings throughout this post and I apologize for the length — sometimes writing for ‘me’ gets wordy–and I appreciate any readers who will actually plow through this one).

Juanita Broaddrick has shared about being a rape survivor and when I first owned my own story, I stumbled upon hers and was engrossed in it. (‘allegedly’ Bill Clinton* raped her in 1978– he denied it but I believe her, not him). Anyway,  she wrote that it (the rape) ‘never goes away’. It clicked with me, being both at once depressing and also legitimizing for what I was going through myself. 1978 is a LONG time ago. But in reading hers, and other stories, I began to see that owning your story is so very difficult because once you do — it will never go away again (delusion/denial/dissociation allows it to ‘sort-of’ be gone).

*yet another reason why I am not political anymore — in the last presidential election both sides had way too many ties to rape and/or sexual assault claims.

Traveling triggers my PTSD. Traveling also relieves my triggers and has been one of my favorite ways to deal with things like family drama during holidays, certain seasonal events with bad memories attached to them (for which I prefer being out of town), and my health (which benefits from milder climates). Many of the blogs I follow have shared similar thoughts about travel; so perhaps traveling is a common tool amongst trauma survivors and/or the chronically ill.

First off — as many other blogs have already shared — I am aware that not everyone is on a chronic illness spectrum that allows it, and/or has the kind of extra finances on a regular basis — to include frequent travel in their own box of coping tools. I am trying to be sensitive to that, while also being real and honest in sharing my own story.

There is no doubt that our healthcare system and what we actually know about health in general is in real crisis. More and more it is only the wealthy and/or the very smart/highly educated who are able to navigate through their health issues with any real success. I believe sharing our N=1 stories, with the paradox/gift that is the internet, is one tool God is giving us to fight back against some of this oppression. And that motivates me. Another motivator is more selfish. I find great help for ME by writing out my thoughts until they make better sense. And so here goes:

Travel is great; and travel is terrible. There’s nothing like a reset in a different location far from home to clear my mind and my body. But, there’s nothing quite as horrible as being triggered far from home.  You’d much rather be in your safe chair in the living room with the shades closed. Your own bed. Your favorite blanket…equally awful is booking a room that looked great online and turned out to be so run down the stained shower stall triggered events that happened in the squalor filled, imposed poverty, bathrooms of my youth.

ALSO not pleasant.

I hate that I am so ‘high maintenance’. That is NOT me at all. I am a big fan of simple and I believe less is often more. I’d rather simply spend more time with my husband than have him valiantly work long hours to pay for frequent escapes and vacations that meet all of my (many) ‘needs’. But I hate, even more, being reminded of my trapped childhood inside a house without locking doors and window coverings (there was frequent voyeurism) and an environment so utterly devoid of care that it was squalor from the time I could remember to the time I finally said NO to enduring holiday dinners in a filthy kitchen that smelled of cat urine combined with rotting tuna and cabbage. And so we usually travel like we eat: as basic as possible but very well, and constantly considering all my ‘avoids’. And I thank God for blessing us enough to keep doing it.

To have a triggering episode (physical or mental) while away from home can be THE WORST thing ever. And so I end up having less actual vacation time than I feel my body and brain could benefit from because I inevitably blow the entire budget on non-triggering accommodations and foods, alone. My main travel rule is nothing less than ‘3 star’. And my husband can tell you where the cleanest gas station and restroom stops are in cities which are hours away from ours. I’m thankful he remembers these things as I don’t always remember it — even though bad restroom stops are huge triggers for me.

Complex PTSD, for me anyway, is this strange combo of amnesia and photographic memory.

Our last winter vacation included a lot of open air, high balconies. These were very triggering for reasons I couldn’t immediately identify. I worked through it. I eventually saw some root issues I hadn’t seen before–like a lot of trust issues with myself, with strangers and also with people I know (I kept having obsessive thoughts that someone was going to hurtle me off a rooftop–or that I would hurl myself off accidentally or something too). I am still working on my fear of heights and have accepted that me jumping out of an airplane to try and overcome it just isn’t happening. EVER. I do have better insight into what is causing it all, though. But my body, which had been doing fairly well prior, physically tanked on that trip and then really tanked after returning home.

The trip I took this summer, after radically changing my diet, was noticeably different. It involved a lot of driving, stretches of poverty-stricken areas, and a lot of switching of hotel rooms. At one roadside restroom stop (after dark) the only bathroom was located away from the service station in a dimly lit corner of a parking lot. I hesitated but I really had to pee!

When I entered the dirty bathroom a woman, my age but aged far more than me, was just leaving and she was sobbing openly. “Why would someone do this to me? I really need my medicine!?” Someone had just stolen something or other from her handbag. I offered to help her, I asked her what kind of medicine it was (thinking I could maybe give her some of my own stash of Advil and minerals, etc. and then quickly realized it was not a simple over the counter ‘medicine’ she’d had stolen…) but just as my eyes were opening wide and making that connection, she blurted, “oh don’t even worry about it” and with two hurried steps, into some bushes beside the unlit restrooms, she was in utter darkness and I had no idea where she even went. I used the restroom anyway, in anger, squatting over the disgusting toilet and clutching my own purse in my lap and thinking to myself that if some drugged up cad was going to try and accost me, he was in for one hell-of-a-fight before he was gonna take my purse or my dignity.

The old me had returned. The scrappy, brave, don’t push me, tough girl who grew up with scraped knees and a mean left hook. Those haven’t been my thoughts in well over a decade now. I wouldn’t have even considered that bathroom a year ago, and would have insisted my husband accompany me if I had no other choice. Because I’ve been crippled on a very physical and physiological level — by fear and body pain — nearly to the point of defeat.

In the area we recently traveled, most three star properties, which I knew were my limit, were the equivalents of two star and less in other locations. Everywhere I went, memories were surfacing. Weird ‘feels’ were constant. Hairs standing up on the back of my neck every hour or so. I was definitely flaring PTSD-wise. But, strangely, my neck was NOT tight, my muscles were not in knots and I slept fairly well considering. Plus, summer itself is triggering for me as the worst of the abuse episodes happened from extended family members who would take me on trips (to isolate me) or to their homes for extended stays, usually in the summer when I wasn’t in school.  So it is hard to say what exactly the triggers are sometimes — because the way the wind blows through the leaves in the summer can be enough to trigger me.

Yet this last summertime vacation was so triggering based on the locations we traveled through. The change in landscape from where I live, and being brought back to childhood by the sight of a certain kind of plant, a lack of trees, restroom breaks with toilets that didn’t flush (or sobbing women who’d just been mugged), and/or a distinct color of rocks and soil, was jolting.

Yet, I did notice that I wasn’t as jolted as I had been for so long now, either. And I slugged heavy bags, and coolers of food and water, in and out of vehicles and hotel rooms for days, without any upper back pain. I didn’t have dizzy spells or nausea. I slept ok and when I didn’t get enough sleep I could still function the next day. My neck wasn’t killing me the entire time. I only took two Advil, total, in over three thousand miles of travel. The hardest part of the trip was finding decent food as much of what we could find in gas stations and roadside restaurants was on my avoid list. So I just ate a lot of steaks. Crappy ones at that.

And I know that I know, now, that a lot of the physical manifestations of PTSD came from physical toxicity and that can be healed through diet changes. I KNOW this based upon my traveling experiences alone and the differences between last winter’s vacation and this summer’s road trip. Wherein on one I was eating my old diet and the other — a diet which eliminated known toxins.

But, if my experience is indicative of a larger pattern: I don’t think my PTSD went away. It just isn’t as hard as prior. Which is a gain, but it is still hard.

I do not think the actual PTSD triggers will ever go away– no matter how carefully I watch my diet. Evil is still evil and it is everywhere and in some spots of the world it is definitely more concentrated than others. I am coming to believe that my PTSD is the devil’s toll for living in a world over which he rules. Certain parts where his dark influence is greater than others are those very parts wherein I will be more triggered.

I am accepting that. As a Christian my hope for eternity is in Jesus. In this world, my hope is also in Jesus, who brings light to the dark. Pretty sure that He is telling me my daily bread is going to have to be carefully managed and that that’s going to lift off the heavy yoke that I feel has been over my back and my shoulders for life — since suddenly I can sling a heavy suitcase and not have any neck tension whatsoever. And since I was prepared to fight myself with a potential restroom stalker rather than run and hide under my husband’s cover.

But I’m still gonna insist on staying in three star and above hotels, and I don’t think I’m ever going to drive through certain parts of America ever again, either.