Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category

 I have been alone with my thoughts more than I care to be. This reminds me of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces where Lauren Bacall (playing Barbara Streisand’s mother) after a sleepless night comments to her middle aged daughter, “It’s awful to leave a woman my age alone with her thoughts.” The inference to age aside, I am realizing that when left alone I seem to default to fault-finding introspection.

I have more time on my hands recently since I am between Seminary courses right now. I love my classes, although I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of my peers now that we moved half-way across the country from my school…again. Southern Evangelical Seminary is my third college to attend because we have moved so much due to my husband’s career. I have 110 hours toward a business degree and am about 11 courses short of completing my Biblical Studies degree. Studying as an external student is isolating, almost as much, I remember, as being a stay-at-home mother of four preschoolers.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE learning! I have over 600 books on my computer (many are reference books), but I could read a book every day for 200 years and still never satisfy my insatiable appetite for knowledge. Makes me sound smart and perhaps in some circles I am, but the more I learn, the more pitifully inadequate I become.

I say all this to culminate with this confession; I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sounds juvenile and pathetic, I know. And I am quite embarrassed at the acknowledgment of said fact; however, this undeniable observation is the elephant in the warehouse of my thoughts. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years now, and, by God’s grace, I do not have to work. This I recognize as a beautiful blessing, as I am unhindered to fully invest in my family. But still, a small part of me wants to do more—to be more. And that small part is getting louder with every day that passes.

Is this the equivalent of my husband’s mid-life crises? I hope not, because we don’t have enough room for all of Jim’s accumulated toys in the garage for me to add to the stash. I do sense an emerging desire to DO something rather than HAVE something. Everywhere we have lived, God has placed successful Christian writers and speakers in my life and many have encouraged me to pursue the same occupation. I have considered this many times, but (and here is the darkest thought that keeps occupying my mind)… I am NOBODY. I fully believe that I have nothing of value that would be of any help to anyone.

But maybe that is not an ominous thought after all…

Maybe it is essential for a simple clay pot to realize it is a simple clay pot. Apart from Christ I am nobody and can do nothing of eternal value, and perhaps that is the most proficient knowledge of all. To be content as a clay pot is liberating, to be satisfied as a clay pot is condemning. So I shall feast my mind’s eye on this: Let every breath glorify my Savior even if my service never seems to reach beyond the four walls of our home.

I foolishly believed that enduring a plethora of humiliations at Walmart at the less than stellar behavior of my children, that I have emerged a humble woman. But, no, I could still be accused of secretly desiring glory for myself. While there may be some substance to that accusation, I really just want the approval of my Father. I just want to please Him and I think we all make the mistake of confusing the praises of the world as the praises of the Father.

God can be glorified whether I am scrubbing toilets, teaching a precept to my son at the dinner table, reigning on the Best Seller list, or speaking before an audience of thousands. Loving the Lord faithfully should consume my thoughts and my actions even when no one is watching. I may never enjoy the praises of the world, and I can be content with that. I would much prefer the praises of my Father.  My purpose is not to draw attention to myself, but to draw the attention of others to Christ. Perhaps one day something eternally exquisite will arise from the confines of this simple earthen vessel. When that day comes, to God be the glory!

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When I was a little girl, I loved to go to church. I felt safe there. Everything seemed better at church. Food tasted better, colors were brighter, music came alive and the world made sense. When I played the piano at church, it seemed I could hit any key and it would be beautiful. When I sang, my 10 year old voice soared over the congregation and harmonized with the reverberations coming back to me. Later as a preteen and teen, church was my sanctuary. I wanted to be in God’s house every time the doors were open. Fortunately I had godly friends who could drive and didn’t mind picking up the scrawny little girl with horn-rimmed glasses three times a week.

Then my sophomore year in college, the pastor of my parent’s church raped someone very close to me. I didn’t find church to be so appealing after that. It lost its luster you could say. Apparently he had committed the same evil at his previous church, but they remained silent on the subject. Quite embarrassing and who wants that kind of liability? It took some time for me to wrap my mind around the appalling injustice committed in the name of God. The holy refuge I retreated to when I was lost now held dark and dangerous secrets. I still longed to be close to my heavenly Father, He just seemed so far away.

In First Samuel we are introduced to a particular priest and his evil sons. Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were charged with ministering to God in His temple and to His people. They served as God’s representative to His chosen people. What a great responsibility, what a great privilege! One would think that one would desire to live in a manner worthy of such a holy calling. One would think…

1 Samuel 2:12-17 (NASB95)
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord
13 and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.
14 Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
15 Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.”
16 If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.”
17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.

Hophni and Phinehas not only despised the offering of the Lord, they despised the Lord and Eli did not rebuke them. I have become increasingly disgusted with the selfish and self serving ministry of some pastors and I for one refuse to remain silent like Eli.

Pastors telling God’s people that they need to mail them a check to “sow a seed of faith.”

Pastors committing vile sins and then manipulating their congregations to reinstate them to their former positions of authority.

Pastors who never prepare themselves to teach and minister the truth and starve their flock with spiritual milk.

Pastors so enamored with their “vision” that they deny the gospel.

Pastors who stand before a congregation week after week and refuse to tell people how to find forgiveness because “we don’t do that here.”

Pastors who prey on the wounded and the suffering and lure people away from the path of salvation with provocative lies.

As disgusted as I am with the deception of some evil leaders in the church, I am humbled by the warning to believers found in God’s dealings with Eli and his house.

1 Samuel 3:13-14 (NASB95)
13 “For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.
14 “Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Eli was held responsible for not disciplining his house and he and his house were judged harshly for their disdain toward God’s precepts. How long will churches in America refuse to hold our leaders accountable to the truth? How long will we allow teachers to inaccurately handle the word of God? Where are the true prophets to boldly rebuke the iniquity of the false priests? Do we fear man over God so much that we have become paralyzed with apathy?

The American church is no longer viewed as a refuge for the lost and a beacon of truth. The church has absorbed the values of our culture, denying absolute truth and criminalizing those who refuse to compromise the integrity of God’s word. However, I am confident that the bright light of immutable truth will overcome the shroud of darkness that plagues us today. When God’s people behave in a manner worthy of the Name they bear, then God will not seem so distant.

One glorious day all that hides in the darkness will be revealed and holy justice will reign. Those who fear that day have reason to tremble, but the children of Righteousness can rejoice! The Gathering will be cleansed of all deception and God will inhabit the praises of His people forevermore.

 

Over the course of my walk with Christ, He has allowed me the privilege to serve Him in many avenues. My favorite would be discipling and ministering to His people and reaching out to unbelievers. But sometimes I get tired. I am not superhuman, I am not callus. I have suffered in life and in doing so have acquired an ability to share the pain of others.  Compassion can only be learned through suffering. And there is a lot of suffering out there.

As you know, the financial outlook for our country is bleak at best and has resonated through every household. Mine is not exempt. Four out of twelve couples from one of our neighborhood Bible study groups have lost employment since Christmas. The injustice of bailouts padding the pockets of fat bureaucrats and their fat friends is enough to make me want to just pack up and leave . . . and go . . . somewhere. As if there is anywhere on earth not plagued with injustice.

I get frustrated. And at the same time I know that I need to remain focused for those who depend on me.

I was reading Luke 9 this morning. Jesus had sent his apostles out on their first solo mission, spreading the gospel and healing the sick. The apostles returned to Jesus and reported their experiences, and Jesus listened. Then He took them aside to be alone with Him. They traveled across a lake to Bethsaida (house of fish or house of provision), the home town of Philip, Andrew and Peter. When they arrived at the other shore there was a crowd of people waiting for them.

Luke 9:10-11

“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.”

Mark 6:30-34 

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Serving others is great. Listening, counseling, evangelizing, all these things are worthwhile and we should do them with joy. But don’t neglect time alone with the One who sent you. You have the power to serve and the authority to serve because He equiped you and authorized you. Sometimes it is necessary to disengage from service for a season, unplug and rest. It is not a sin to say no to busy-ness, in order to say yes to His invitation.

Is He inviting you to come with Him to a quiet place and rest? Don’t hesitate. Drop what you’re doing and climb in that boat with Jesus. Let Him minister to you. There will be plenty of work waiting for you on the other shore.

Heb. 4:16

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”

 

Jonolan is a self described Pagan who serves the war and death godess Morigu and the hunter god Cerrnunos. This interview is posted with his permission. Comments are welcome here and you can also find his blog at http://blog.jonolan.net/

Nancy (10:16 AM):  Hello, jonolan! Do you have time to chat this morning?

Nancy (10:27 AM):  Some other time.

jonolan (10:37 AM):  OK

Nancy (10:48 AM):  Are you available now?

jonolan (10:48 AM):  yes

Nancy (10:49 AM):  Super! I am intrigued how you got into grief counseling. I am interested in counseling as well.

jonolan (10:50 AM):  It was a strange and uplanned vocation on my part

Nancy (10:50 AM):  Did you receive any training?

jonolan (10:51 AM):  Some, later after I’d been doing it for a while

jonolan (10:51 AM):  It’s a fairly new form of counseling – insofar as any standards are concerned.

Nancy (10:52 AM):  How does grif counseling fit with your view of your life’s purpose as a warrior for your gods?

jonolan (10:54 AM):  It fit well – especially after the 1st time I was part of the detail that handed a flag to a young widow in trade for her husband, who’d been my close friend

Nancy (10:55 AM):  Hmm, I had suspected that you served in the military. That must have been very hard for you. Where did you find comfort at that time?

jonolan (10:57 AM):  I found comfort in my faith and it gave me the strength to lend comfort to the others. You see, we don’t have Pagan chaplains in the military, so I served as an unofficial one

Nancy (10:57 AM):  I see. How did you choose your gods? What criteria did you use?

jonolan (10:59 AM):  It’s more like they chose me. I wasn’t really looking for them. It’s hard to explain other than just a knowing and a feeling – like when many Christians read or hear scripture

Nancy (10:59 AM):  OK, why do you suppose they chose you?

jonolan (11:01 AM):  I think it is because I am a useful tool for them. My nature is that of a fighter and defender, though there’s always the strain of choosing which fight and how to prosecute it in a way that achieve the greatest good while doing least harm

Nancy (11:02 AM):  You mentioned that your faith gave you comfort, what do you have faith in?

jonolan (11:04 AM):  That what we see as death is only the death of the flesh and we – in some form – will continue, that a life given up in service is not a wasted one

Nancy (11:04 AM):  What makes your service valued?

jonolan (11:05 AM):  I don’t quite understand what you’re asking, sorry

Nancy (11:06 AM):  If your life has value because you can serve a god, what value has someone without that ability?

Nancy (11:07 AM):  I suppose another way to ask is, what determines your value?

jonolan (11:09 AM):  Ahhh – I feel a person’s value in the end will be determined by what the strove to accomplish, why they did so, and how well they strove to do so (as opposed to wheter or not they were empirically successful)

Nancy (11:09 AM):  If you were chosen by your gods because of your value, what happens when you are no longer of use to them?

jonolan (11:10 AM):  Hopefully, I will be allowed to “retire” as it were and rest in peace (pun not intended)

Nancy (11:10 AM):  Who or what determines your value?

Nancy (11:11 AM):  Is there some universal standard by which we are all measured?

jonolan (11:11 AM):  The Gods will render their judgment of me on this life when it ends.

Nancy (11:12 AM):  and what standard do they use? You must have some idea of what you should be striving for.

jonolan (11:13 AM):  I would say that there there is a universal standard, but I would also say that it is probably both so prosaic and so profound that we mortals won’t fully understand it during our lives.

jonolan (11:14 AM):  I believe the standard is – at least somewhat – how well you served Good in your heart in the fashion that you were made to do so. By that I mean how well you tried to do so.

Nancy (11:14 AM):  How do you determine what is good?

jonolan (11:17 AM):  For me it’s simple – possibly too simple – that which serves to help the human soul grow and thrive.

Nancy (11:18 AM):  And are you the one who determines what that is? In otherwords, is good relative?

jonolan (11:21 AM):  No, I’m not the one who determines that – but I am, as are we all, the one who must at times interprate what is Good vs. Evil. Is that relative? I’m not truly sure.

Nancy (11:24 AM):  Within the Christian worldview, we can know what good is because an objective universal standard exists by which to measure. Yes, that standard is infinite and finite minds fail to fully comprehend it. But that infinite good put on our limitations in the person of Jesus to reveal Himself to us. I can know what evil is because I know the standard of good. You are wise to say you do not determine what is good. What happens to you if your gods judge you unfavorably?

jonolan (11:27 AM):  That would involve torment – much like the Christian’s Hell – before eventual rebirth to try it again. Or – in the most drastic case the destruction of my soul and therefor oblivion.

Nancy (11:28 AM):  So do you live day to day without any security of your destiny?

jonolan (11:29 AM):  Yes. Don’t you? Jesus may love all, but even a loving parent must sometimes inflict harsh punishment…

jonolan (11:34 AM):  <- – BRB

Nancy (11:36 AM):  Christians are secure in their destiny because eternal life is a gift independent of my character or deeds. Salvation from eternal separation from God (hell) is entirely dependent upon the character of God and his love. If I do nothing to earn salvation, I can do nothing to lose it. My deeds and my character are evidence of His presence in my life, but His presence in my life is not dependent upon my deeds or my character. God compares himself to a parent often especially in the matter of discipline. Scripture agrees with you.“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Heb 12:5- 6

Nancy (11:37 AM):  How do your gods disciple or guide you in this life? Through your feelings?

Nancy (11:40 AM):  From what I understand of pagan practices you have no “scriptures” but you design your own worship practices. How can you know that your behavior honors your gods?

jonolan (11:42 AM):  In this life I am punished by myself for my failings and by what I feel is the more mechanical process of recriprocity. Good begets Good and Evil begets Evil – not Karma exactly, but word will serve well enough

jonolan (11:43 AM):  As for guidance, yes I’m guided by my feelings – especially after prayer

jonolan (11:44 AM):  And your right – we have few iff any scriptures left to us. Even our oral traditions were most abolished under ROme .

Nancy (11:44 AM):  What do you think you did to deserve losing your friend?

Nancy (11:45 AM):  Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. How do you establish a connection?

jonolan (11:46 AM):  From a religious standpoint, nothing. When we are called to fight, some must die. That is a sacrifice that must be made and I don’t believe it’s meant as punishment.

jonolan (11:46 AM):  That was to the 2nd to the last question, BTW

jonolan (11:48 AM):  How do I establish a connection? Unles it’s something happening to me or someone I’m responsible for, I try not to make the connection. To do so, implies more knowledge or judgment than I have.

Nancy (11:49 AM):  What is death to you?

jonolan (11:50 AM):  Some odd combination of: going on leave, getting a performance review, and waking up from a dream.

Nancy (11:51 AM):  How do you know that you can have eternal life?

jonolan (11:52 AM):  That has been promised and is part of the traditions that we managed to hold on to.

jonolan (11:53 AM):  Call it faith if you will.

Nancy (11:54 AM):  How do your gods relate to what you are going through? How do they know suffering?

jonolan (11:56 AM):  I think my Gods relate to my suffering, such as it is, in the manner that parent reacts to their child going through a difficult but necessary time in life.

Nancy (11:59 AM):  That parent has experienced suffering himself so he can empathize as one who bears that pain with the child. But it seems that you are a pawn for your gods and they cannot empathize with you or comfort you as a parent would a child. I say this as an observant from what you have told me of your gods, not to be demeaning. How do your gods comfort you?

jonolan (12:04 PM):  I have been remiss in explanation then. My Gods have set me in harm’s way because they must. It is more of a parent sending their child off too war – or school – than a tyrant spending a pawn. I serve them true, but it is out of love; they are stern but not unloving. How do they offer me comfort though? They guide me to people and places that show me that what is happening has meaning and purpose.

jonolan (12:05 PM):  It doesn’t take much really. Sometimes just seeing families playing the parks and knowing that they have no clue about many of things I’ve een and done is enough.

Nancy (12:06 PM):  Do you see yourself as privvy to special revelation? How did you come to this revelation?

jonolan (12:08 PM):  No, I don’t see myself as privy to special revelation. Anyone can see the same things; they just have to look.

Nancy (12:09 PM):  What happens to all the people who do not see what you see?

jonolan (12:09 PM):  How do you mean?

Nancy (12:11 PM):  What happens to all the people who do not have your revelation or your understanding of reality? How are they judged by your gods?

jonolan (12:12 PM):  They do not serve my Gods; they will be judged by their own Gods and held to Their standards.

Nancy (12:13 PM):  How are people matched with gods?

Nancy (12:13 PM):  Are you saying they are judged according to the gods they choose? what if they do not choose a god?

jonolan (12:13 PM):  I really don’t know and it’s a question I ask myself fairly often.

jonolan (12:15 PM):  I’m saying that their Gods will judge them according to Their standards. I’m frankly unsure of what happens to those without Gods.

jonolan (12:15 PM):  I’ve got to go for about 20 minutes

jonolan (12:15 PM):  sorry

Nancy (12:16 PM):  That’s fine it’s been lovely talking with you this morning. Have a beautiful day, jonolan!

 

Just curious what you Atheists think when you watch this.