The Weekend of Mixed Emotions

My apologies. This post was written on Memorial Day, but I was unwell and not able to get my tablet to a wifi area until today. Hope you all had a good, thoughtful and thankful day.

Welcome to Memorial Day, a day of picnicking and fun, frolicking in the beautiful spring weather. But is that what this holiday is all about?

I pray that you all spent at least a short period of time contemplating those who gave their very lives to give you the freedom to enjoy this day. I find it interesting that even those who oppose war, think that it’s wrong and so very horrific (and it is, don’t get me wrong), don’t seem to care that if these fine young men and women had not been willing to sacrifice for us all, we would not be in a position to enjoy the day like this.

In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus tells us that both a priest and a Levite pass by a man seriously injured by robbers and left laying in the road. It is the Samaritan, the one thought to be less than the Jews because they were of mixed heritage, who cared for the man, tended his wounds and paid for a place for him to rest and recuperate. He is one who took care of his neighbor, his fellow human being. I don’t care about your politics, how you may feel about our government, the individuals in office, their motives for what they do, whether what they do is legal or illegal, when it comes down to it, the United States cares for neighbors all over the world.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if Hitler had won World War II? I can’t. It hurts my brain to even try. Did we delay until it got personal? Perhaps. Did the entire world ignore the plight of the Jews in the Nazi death camps? Yeah, pretty much. I don’t know for sure, but I believe it’s against the nature of most to believe that such horrible things can really be conceived of and perpetrated upon fellow human beings. We don’t want to think the worst of our brothers and sisters until the truth of it comes up and smacks us upside the head. And whether you agree or not, it is against this general backdrop that the U.S. gets involved in conflicts around the world. As a country we are pretty much in a damned if we do and damned if we don’t situation. If we get involved, we’re meddling, and if we don’t, we are allowing innocent people to be persecuted, sometimes to the point of near extinction.

So, this forms the base of my weekend of mixed emotions. Add to it the military tradition of my family, a relative in every war fought by the U.S., even to the point of wars that were before the U.S. existed, (yes, back tot the French-Indian war), the nearer history of Grand-Uncle Everette who was a POW in Burma during WW II, my brother who passed away 7 years ago due to complications that stemmed from a disease attributed to Agent Orange, inflicted in Vietnam, the upcoming retirement of my nephew from 20+ years of service to the United States Marine Corps, and a wonderful time of fellowship with a newly formed small group from my church at Cantingy, a wonderful place of recreation and education at the First Division Museum. Oh, and yesterday would have been my parents 65th wedding anniversary were they still alive.

I have a tough time every year on Memorial Day weekend. I’ve always considered myself a war mongering peacenik. I tried, multiple times, to join the military, only to be rejected due to hearing loss. Finally, I simply minored in Military Science when I went to college. I got some of the training, but did not get to serve. And yet, there is a part of me, grown stronger since I came to know and love Jesus, that does not understand how we can allow ourselves to be driven to kill for the sake of land, or gold, or oil. Part of me says that it’s okay in order to save another, as Jesus did, or to liberate the Nazi death camps. And yet, God says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and that we should turn the other cheek, or go two miles when only one is demanded of us. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr died adhering to their non-violent ways. So how do we justify a nearly non-stop history of war? And my family’s been involved in them all.

So this is my weekend of pride in a family history that has protected this country’s freedom from the very beginning, thankfulness for those fought and died to keep me free, and massive confusion, wondering if it’s right to be proud. (I know it’s right to be thankful. THAT is not an issue!!)

Thank you to all who fought for my freedom and the freedom of so many others around the world. Thank you especially to those who paid the supreme price. You are not forgotten.

God’s Not Dead

Wow. Finally saw the movie. There’s not much to say but, LOVED IT! Well, I guess there’s a whole lot more to say, I’m just not sure how to go about it. I laughed, I cried, I prayed, I worshipped, I prayed some more. A part of me was glad that I was nearly alone (there were only about a dozen people at the afternoon showing) in a dark theater, and another part of me wished that there had been people everywhere and that we had gasped and cried together and leaped and cheered together at the appropriate points.

One of the points of the movie, I believe, is that many of the staunch atheists used to be christian, but were somehow deeply disappointed or hurt by God. Instead of simply venting that disappointment in a rant of some sort the way David did in the Psalms, they decide to flip the switch and turn God off. But God can’t be turned on and off. He’s always on, everywhere, all the time. In the case of the character in the movie, he finally admits that his believing Mom was not healed of cancer and died when he was 12. And so he blames cancer on God.

That’s actually a question that many ask, “If God made everything, why did He make cancer?” God didn’t make cancer. That’s the short answer. The longer answer gets a bit more involved. And it starts at the beginning, in Genesis. I won’t detail it all out, if you want to check it out, pull your Bible off the shelf and crack it open. There’s some really good stuff in there. So, when God made everything, He looked at it, and it was good. And when He made us in His image He said that it was very good. And He set Adam and Eve to tend the Garden and commune with Him. That was the original plan. But…

God did not create us to be automaton replicas of Himself, He made us in His IMAGE. (Father, Son, Holy Spirit – body, mind, spirit). Bill Johnson says it very well in his book Hosting The Presence when he says, “God did not create us to be robots. We were made in His image as co-laborers, working with Him to demonstrate His goodness over all that He made.” (pg. 33) He gave us free will, a choice to say yes to Him or not. He would love for each and every one of us to say yes, but He will never force us to do so. He gave Adam and Eve the Garden to tend, and to eat from, everything in the Garden but the fruit of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Yes, much as my omnivorous self does not want to acknowledge it, the ORIGINAL plan was that we all be vegetarians! It was not until after the fall and sin entered the world that He gave us meat.) The instruction was originally given to Adam, but when Eve was deceived by the serpent, Adam didn’t stop her. He willingly went along with it, even though he knew God said not to, and he ate of the fruit as well. And that was sin, open rebellion against God. It’s like when your Mom says don’t and you look right at her and you DO. Rebellion!

But where did the serpent come from? If everything God made was good, how did this evil, lying snake get there?

Open Doors – Part 2

So, what about the part of the Scripture that says, “I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places”? What does that mean?

It is said that there were 25 gates on each side of the city of Babylon for a total of 100 gates entering into the city. On the night in question, the night of the attack on the city, a normally flowing river was dried up and the gates that provided that river access were not shut up. So, the “break in pieces” part here is figurative, but some translations say “open doors,” so that is what happened. God left the doors open for Cyrus and his troops to walk right in and capture the city.

It was also common practice at the time to bury treasure in dark and secret places. It is said that Cyrus took 34,000 pounds of gold alone from his campaign through Asia. And that’s not to mention the tons of silver and other treasures as well. And all this was done is such a way that it was unmistakable to Cyrus that God, the One True God, Jehovah, was the One guiding and directing his steps in order to accomplish these things.

And that is how things will be, again, in this year of the Open Door. When God opens the door, there will be no way to mistake it for anything else but His work. It is the One True God telling us, “Here, I’m opening this door for you. You have but to walk through it into your destiny.”

Open Doors – Part 1

I went to a conference earlier this year, the “Come Away” conference for women, put on by the HUB Chicago.(His United Body). It was an amazing time of fellowship and communing with the LORD. I was refreshed and re-invigorated. I met wonderful people, and heard some absolutely amazing teaching.

One of the speakers was Bonnie Chavda. She and her husband Mahesh pastor All Nations Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina. They created a beautiful metal card (credit card sized) as a reminder of the prophetic word that this is the year of the Open Door. The Hebrew symbols for the current year, AM 5774, are the same symbols for the words, “Open Door.” (AM stands for Anno Mundi – year of the world). On the card, the Chavda Ministry uses only Isaiah 45:2-3, but I prefer to add verse 1 as well. In the English Standard Version (ESV) it says, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to  subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” “(Italic emphasis added by me!)

“Wow,” you say, “What does THAT mean?”

Well, one of the things I learned in Old Testament Survey (Yes, I know I’ve moved on to the next class, but I need to write about this.) is that many prophecies in the Bible are “now but not yet.” They were fulfilled, in part, at the time they were written or shortly thereafter, but there is a future aspect to them as well. In this case, there is a fulfilling of the prophecy that Cyrus would open the door to the people of Israel to come back from exile in Babylon and rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. But there is a future promise of the return of Messiah at the end of the age. And that makes me feel like a little kid in the back seat of the car on a long road trip. “Are we there yet, Daddy?” I ask over and over, “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Not yet, but soon.” (Or, according to Bishop Joseph Garlington at the Mighty Sound, Eagles’ Wings Conference in November of 2013, “There is no there.” Now that’s a good word right there!)

But there can be other aspects of this “now but not yet.” Hence, this year of open doors. Open doors of opportunity, open doors for ministry, open doors for advancement, open doors for ….  What are you waiting for an open door for? Is this your year?

Matthew 16:17

“And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.””

So I recently wrote on Matthew 16:16 and my history with that verse. I’m proud of what I wrote, and I believe that what I wrote really was pretty good. BUT… The same evening that I posted that entry, my pastor spoke about that very same verse in a class I’m taking at church. As he spoke more in depth about the verse, and the verses following, I thought, “Wow. How shallow is my writing? Will I ever be able to go deeper with God, plumbing the depths of His wisdom in the Scriptures?” Then I thought, “Well, maybe I’m not supposed to do that here. Maybe I’m supposed to keep this in the lighter side and simply reveal the truth of MY life and my experiences with God. I can make that deep enough. (Or at least pile it higher and drier than most. lol!).”

So you folks tell me, do you want me going deeper, fluffier, or do you like my posts just the way they are? I’ll listen to what you have to say. I may or may not end up doing it, but I’ll surely give you a listen.