Location: New England, United States

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Move Over Fear

Walking in sin is walking with a veil of fear,

and everything is seen through it's disguise.

Walking in faith is seeking without the veil;

allowing love to be clearly seen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


"For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother', and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.' " Matthew 15:4 RSV

In my relationship with God, I have found that when he determines to teach you a new lesson, that lesson is like a beautifully cut diamond - there are so many facets - you can only see the brillance.

Several years ago, as a manager, I was experiencing some trouble with one of my employees. This woman had a definite problem with my authority, and she challenged me on a daily basis. Managing the department became exhausting. Every decision, every direction was publicly challenged by this woman. This situation continued for two years while I struggled to maintain peace in the department. The department became so stressful, that I would wake in the middle of the night heavy with worry. I prayed to God constantly and every time I prayed, God led me to the story of Joseph and how he submitted himself to everyone that God had placed over him.
Justified, I prayed that she would submit to my authority, but the situation continued.

Finally in what I imagine was exasperation, God led me to the story of David hiding from Saul. Then he opened my heart to show me how I was just as challenging with the authority God had placed over my life. I had been challenging my superior at work as well, and when I was not challenging her, I was speaking negatively about her decisions to others.

As if that was not enough, God opened Matthew 15:4 to me (quoted above). He revealed to me how I also complained continually about my mother and father to anyone who would listen. I saw that the work that needed to be done was not with my employee - but with me.

Over time and with prayer, I began to accept the authority of my parents. I started to honor them in my thinking and in my behavior. With this acceptance, I was able to slowly forgive them for the hurts of my childhood. I healed!

I actually went to my superior at work and apologized. Although she had no inkling about the depth of my resistance to her plans, I apologized for not always being "on the same page" as her.

When I completed this work, my challenging employee decided to leave our employment for another position. I was now free from the stress.

Leadership comes in many facets - just like a diamond. For instance, in the church we have the Minister who is our spiritual leader, but he is still subject to the business leaders of the church, the Deacons. The Deacons are subject to both the Minister and the Worship Leader for their spiritual growth. The Youth Minister is in charge of the youth of the church, but he is subject to the Minister and the Deacons.

No authority is absolute, except Jesus.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

To Whom Are You Praying?

For many years I did not belong to the church community. In hindsight - seeing the backside of God - I feel that this was part of his plan. I call this time in my life the wilderness years, and it forced me to draw all my spiritual food from God alone.

Six months ago, he directed me to a church. I started slow, attending the worship services on Sunday and adding other services as he instructed. At each function, there is a call to prayer with one person speaking, and the others bowing their heads in agreement. Most of the time the prayers are heartfelt, universal and spirit filled, however, there are times when I raise my head, open my eyes and wonder, "To whom are you praying?"

I have heard correction, accusation and a general airing of differences in some prayers. This type of prayer is fine - alone with God - but I feel 'put upon' when the speaker assumes I will pray in agreement about a situation that is above my discernment.

I have come to God in prayer with correction, accusation and an airing of differences, but this was done one-on-one with God, alone. Jesus told us how to pray publicly when he gave us the Lord's prayer.

Our Father who art in heaven.
To whom we are praying is clear.

Hallowed be thy name.
The position of God is clear.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Our position to God is made clear.

Give us this day our daily bread,
A position which we can all agree.

and forgive us our trespasses
No specifics, for one sin is as great as another.

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
A universal reminder that we are required to forgive as God forgives.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Universal protection from the world and the evil one.

We all agree.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Fear Is the Root of All Evil

Fear of others
Produces aggression.

Fear of lost love
Produces jealousy.

Fear of unacceptance
Produces promiscuity.

Fear of Differences
Produces bigotry.

Fear of poverty
Produces greed.

Fear of accountability
Produces deception.

Fear of competition
Produces corruption.

Fear of aging
Produces vanity.

Fear of death
Produces narcissism.

Fear of truth
Produces oppression.

Fear is the root
Of all evil.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Is It Easier for God to Forgive?

Some years ago, I had a coworker and we developed a friendship based on our mutual Christian beliefs. She was new to our company working in a different department, but she had heard that I read the Bible and she sought me out from time to time to help with her Bible study. Eventually, she asked if I would hold a Bible study in my home as there were other coworkers who expressed the same interest, so we met in my home twice a month.

Meanwhile, I was given a promotion, and with this promotion, I became her manager. The stage was set for Satan, and strife ensued. My friend challenged me on every decision I made. Her passive resistance was evident with every direction I gave to her. Her demeanor became surly and although she continued to attend the Bible study that she had requested, she was sullen and challenging.

I went to God. "Help me! I can't take this anymore."

"Forgive her."

Days later, I went back to God with my complaints. "Help me - did you see what she did this time?"

"Forgive her." Then he pointed me to Luke 17:3-4 RSV "Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times, and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."

Day after day - week upon week - her challenges continued. I lost sleep and I was always on my guard; still, God told me "Forgive her as I forgive."

Finally in desperation, I went to God. "It is easy for you to forgive because you can see her heart. You know 'the why' of what she is doing. If I could just see her heart, then I can forgive as you forgive."

"Fine - you will see her heart."

That saying - be careful what you ask for - well it surely applied here. Seeing the motives behind her words and actions made the forgiveness more difficult to achieve. Green envy and black jealousy inspired my anger. Didn't she know that I have been with this company for two decades. Didn't she know that I had worked hard for my promotion and that it was a long time in coming. Why couldn't she be happy for me instead of jealous?

Finally, God told me "Forgiving her is not for her, but for you. Leave her to me, but forgive her so you will have peace within you. You cannot walk in peace without removing the strife in your soul and the only way to remove that strife is to forgive her."

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9 RSV

Monday, April 18, 2005

Worshiping Idols

With all the failings we confess to the Lord, we seldom count the worship of idols as one of our sins. As Christians, we do not hug trees, pray to the sun or dance around bonfires on the summer solstice. Perhaps we may sneak a peek at our horoscope, but we don't really believe in that stuff - it is just for our own entertainment. We are after all Christians, and we worship the one true God.

Long ago, there was a man who also worshipped the one true God. His name was Abraham, and God had promised Abraham a son. Abraham waited many years for the fulfillment of that promise, but finally his wife, Sarah, gave birth to Isaac. Isaac was the pride and joy of his father - and therein lies the idol. God waited on his promise until both Abraham and Sarah were spiritually ready to receive their son, but that long wait caused them to place Isaac above all others - including the Lord.

" When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." Genesis 22:9-10 RSV

Abraham realized his sin and was willing to lay his son on the altar of sacrifice to prove to God that he had repented. What are we willing to place before the Lord? Do you miss Bible Study because your favorite TV program airs at the same time? Do you miss Sunday school so you can cut the grass before it rains? Are you willing to give your tithe to the Lord even when the car needs repairs? Will you lay your pride on the altar when God is telling you to make peace with your brother? Even when you know you are right - will you be the first to ask for forgiveness from someone who has hurt you?

Even gifts from God can become idols when we place them on a higher plane than Him. Anything in your life - including self- that you are not willing to lay on the altar of sacrifice has become an idol.

Perhaps God will never test you as he tested Abraham, but what if he does?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Piece of Clay

"Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was formed from a piece of clay." Job 33:6 RSV

God formed Adam from the dust of the earth; clay. The beauty of God's work did not lie in the clay, but rather in the formation of that clay. Envision Adam as a beautiful porcelain pot - highly decorated, glazed and functional - ready to be filled with God's oil (Holy Spirit). Filled, the vessel is now ready for use.

Unfortunately, Satan makes his appearance. He shatters the porcelain pot into many pieces, and God's oil spills out onto the ground; then disappears.

Jesus comes, and by his death and resurrection he gathers the pieces of the broken pot and glues them back together. The pot has been made whole, but is still cracked. It cannot hold a full measure of God's oil without leakage. When the pot is filled with God's oil, the leaking causes fluctuations - rising and falling accordingly.

Patiently, Jesus mends the cracks, one by one. Clay is applied to a crack and a glaze is set over this repair. The pot is then fired in the furnace to strengthen the repair, and then the pot is filled again to detect any further leakage. This process is repeated until the pot can once again hold the full measure of God's oil. Now the oil can be lit as a beacon to the rest of the world.

"Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, ..." Revelations 1:12 RSV

We are only clay, made whole, but still cracked by God's plan of salvation. To become fully functioning lampstands, we must - through prayer and Bible study - be repaired one crack at a time. The world is waiting for the light.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Waiting

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am still awaiting the verdict on whether I will retain employment - or join the ranks of the unemployed. Waiting can be tortuous. Hourly, I fight to keep the fear from overtaking my thoughts, and daily I fight anger to thwart its foothold.

Yesterday, I lost my battle with anger, and while showering - I berated God.

"What are you doing? How can you let this happen? You promised to take care of me!" I screamed at him. Then with tears, "I have been there for twenty-six years. I will lose my medical insurance! How will I pay my bills? Who do you think you are meddling in my life this way?"

He answered: "You are giving birth to a new life; the life I promised to you."

I pictured a woman pregnant with new life - her first child. She and her husband are happy, excited and expectant. They make plans for the new baby, they go to birthing classes, and they prepare a nursery. The woman grows larger, and she becomes uncomfortable. She may have sleepness nights, and foods that enticed her before, now nauseate her. Her body grows even larger and simple tasks such as lifting herself from a chair become a major ordeal. A heaviness settles over her.

Then one night, she feels a twinge - and another stronger twinge. The twinges are replaced by muscle contractions; a hardening of her belly. She wakes her husband and happily, they start to time the contractions. This is it - we are giving birth.

Later at the hospital, things are not so happy. Through the hard labor, she screams at her husband - the author of her pain. Yet, through her accusations, he holds her hand and comforts her. When the new baby is presented to the parents, the pain, fear and anger of giving birth slides away, and is replaced by the joy of this new life.

So it is with God. In the hard labor of giving birth to change, God expects us to rant and rave. He patiently holds our hand and comforts us through the process. He stays until the last contraction, and he helps us push through until we have given birth. He is there to share the joy of our newborn life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Stepping Out of the Boat

Many of us are employed in quiet desperation. We realize that we are just one pink slip away from ruin. For many years, I carried dread. I slept with dread, woke with dread and ate with dread. The dread would sometimes wane and at other times wax , but it was always present. It was the dread of unemployment, and as a single mother - I feared this dread greatly.

Last week, I was informed by my manager that the higher powers would be deciding whether to close my department or keep it going. I was now standing face to face with my dread, and a curious thing happened; suddenly, I was delivered from my dread.

I went to the Lord asking "What should I do?" He gave me Matthew 14 Verse 26 - But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, 'It is a ghost'." RSV Many times what we fear has no more substance than a ghost. It is a crippling illusion that passes into our soul to be fed by our doubt, and as it is fed; it grows.

Verse 27 - "But immediately he spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart , it is I; have no fear.' " RSV Suddenly, I felt light, peaceful and there was a joy of release in my soul. I was no longer the corporate performer, but I was Annie again. I remembered that as God's child, no one can touch me without his permission. He was in control of the situation and although I may not trust the people who will make the decisions for my future, I can always trust that God will do what is best for me. Faith is the light that will wither doubt, fear and dread.

Matthew 14 continues - Verse 29 - "So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus." RSV When we are released from fear we see possibilities just as Peter did when he stepped out of the boat. I began to see that the possibility of losing my job is not dread - but my opportunity to walk on water.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Holy Holy Holy

On Wendesday nights, our church has a praise and worship service. The music at this service is livelier and the sermons more personal than on Sunday mornings. This past Wednesday, they sang a song that was not familiar to me, so I focused on the words displayed on the overhead screen.

During the bridge or the chorus - I do not know the difference - the overhead screen was filled with the word "holy" repeated over and over. I thought, "What a strange looking word - Holy."
Still, now as I type the word, it appears strange to me. That strangeness prompted me to research the word during the next few days.

My Oxford Dictionary defines the word as I expected, "morally or spiritually excellent or perfect. belonging to God; consecrated." Not satisfied, I turned to a biblical dictionary. "To set apart." Still, I wanted more. Where did the word "holy" come from? Where did it originate?

I enjoy etymology - the study of word origins - so I turned to The word holy comes from the Old English word "halig" or the Goth word "hailags" during the years 450-1100. However, some scholars speculate that the original word probably pre-dates Christianity and the original meaning was probably, "that must be preserved whole or intact - good health." Now I felt that I was on the right track. So now in its raw form, holy means something that is whole and in good health.

Now, how does this definition pertain to God. What makes God holy? What is it about God that is whole and intact; the Trinity - the triune God. I remembered that in Genesis God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." Genesis 1:26 RSV Although there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, they are whole, intact and healthy.

When God said "Let us make man in our image.", he was not kidding. We were created as a triune being as well. Every man, woman and child consists of a body, soul and spirit. Our body belongs to the world and will return to world. Our spirit belongs to God and will return to God for judgement based on our decisions. The soul is the battleground - it is the place were we think and feel. It is the place where are memories are stored. It is the place where we feel love, anger, joy, pain, happiness, turmoil and peace. The soul is the place where we decide.

So, if Jesus represents the body of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Godhead, then God the Father must represent the soul. When we say that God is holy, we are saying that the three parts of God are whole, intact and healthy.

So are we ever holy? Yes - when our soul decides to extend an invitation to the triune of God, his body, soul and spirit unites with our body, soul and spirit to create a whole, intact and healthy Christian.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Before I Meet My Maker

Dreams of a lifetime
become wishes unfulfilled.
The harvest I have gathered
is grain that’s never milled.

Desperate grow the longings,
and time will not stand still.
There’ll be a time of mourning
for all my never wills.

I feel a great rush pushing
for each completed goal.
For what if my time ends
before completion of my soul?

Written words I need to read
and those I need to give;
a hand to hold, a heart to touch
or soul that's never lived.

A hungry mouth I could feed;
nakedness I could cover,
or a widow needing comfort
for the loss of her only lover.

I am just a puff of smoke;
a breath that whisks away.
Time is shorter than I think,
Perhaps it is today.

I pray that I’ll be finished
polished and complete,
before I meet my Maker
and bow before his feet.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Tide Is Out

I remember the feelings I had when I walked down the aisle of our little country church to proclaim "Jesus is Lord". In that first flush of salvation, every cell in my body grew larger, my lungs expanded without enough air to fill them. My heart beat faster. My face hot, my palms moist and little shivers running down my spine - I knew I was 'in love'.

For days afterward, I smiled wherever I went. Suddenly, I was estatic about doing dishes or driving the car, and even washing out the bathtub was a delight. High tide was beating on my shores and it felt good.

However, the cares of the world accosted me from my spiritual fullness. Strife replaced my peace and heaviness replaced my joy. Doubt quickly followed, and I questioned whether I was really saved or if those feelings were my own fantasies. The tide had gone out.

In the following years, I became accustomed to the ebb and flow of my spiritual life; sometimes the tide was in, and sometimes the tide was out. But I longed for a more consistent relationship with God.

Then I was given a sword. That sword was constructed of two things, my will and my words. God gave us free will knowing what would happen in the Garden of Eden. He knew that Satan would take possession of the world, but Satan was not allowed to take our will.

I learned that if I choose nothing, then by default Satan has control of the situation, but when I choose God, Satan must stand back defeated. So, when anger wells inside of me, I simply say, "I choose God." When I am filled with despair - I reply, "I choose God." And, everytime I choose God, the tide comes rushing back to shore.

Monday, April 04, 2005

God Lives

Sitting in church yesterday, I had a clear view of the tree tops through a nearby window. It was one of those early spring days; gray skies heavy with impending rain, and a vigorous wind. One conifer gained my attention as it uppermost branches danced. It brought to mind the Roman conquest of Israel.

The Romans found the Hebrew people strange and unusual for they worshiped a living God; an invisible God. When the Romans conquered other territories in the old world, the conquered peoples had no problem accepting the Roman gods. These gods were evidenced by grand statues or could be taken along with you as “pocket gods”. You could see and feel these gods and if you lost favor with one god, there was always another god that would accept you. Not so, with the Hebrews. They had one, living, invisible God. It was incomprehensible to the Romans that these people would believe in a God that you could not see and touch.

So how do we know that God lives? That dancing tree held the answer – because he moves. We cannot see God’s face, but every time you request something from God and your request is granted, you also receive evidence that God lives.

" Moses said, "I pray thee, show me thy glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live." And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen." Exodus 18:23 RSV

God will not show us his face while we are confined to our bodies for our own protection, however, God can show us where he has passed by. And, if God has passed by – then he moves. And, if he moves – he lives.

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