Sunday, March 29, 2015

What Do You Do When You are Anxious?

I have mentioned before that I have a mental illness but there are probably some reading this who don't know that. Anyway, I have social phobia, traumatic stress disorder and Obsessive thinking and when I'm really sick, I have delusions. Lots of fun.

I am back in therapy since I got very sick this fall. She is helping me think differently; I am a negative thinker, especially about myself. I started to write journals with the help of Brave Girls Club. I find this helpful.

The last two weeks, my sister was visiting from Washington State. She is the one who is homeless. She used to live with us but was too allergic to the pollens here and had to leave. Since she was here, my mom and daughters came to visit a lot and I used to love all the hustle and bustle; but now I am sick and it was hard.

I felt anxious right away and it got worse so I said to myself, "What did my therapist say to do?" For the life of me I couldn't remember. So, I just decided to thank God for what was good and I felt a bit better. The next day I re-read my journals which helped a lot. The third day, I remembered. I'm supposed to write down my feelings if they are overwhelming so I did. I write in the form of a prayer, giving these feelings to God. Each day I felt more peace and I thank God for his strength.

I realized, from reading my first journal, that I wasn't saying positive things every day. This is the most important thing for me to do and I didn't do it. I always wonder why I seldom keep up with the things I am supposed to do. It is so alien for me to think on purpose instead of just going along with whatever comes into my head.

Tonight, I am going to print out positive thoughts and cut each one out and put them in a box so when I feel bad I will run to the box for help. I thought I'd share this idea with those of you who are depressed and negative.

So, why is a Christian depressed and negative? Well, childhood abuse. So, why aren't I all healed up at 65 yrs. old? I don't know and I don't care. I have to keep plugging along with the life God gave me. He didn't give me depression; he helps me walk through it. If I were smarter or had more faith maybe I'd be a ball of sunshine! Hasn't happened, and as far as I can see it never will. Sunshiny thinking is something I will work on til I go to heaven and that's okay. Endurance is a fruit of the Spirit and God will give it to me.  Love to all of you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lord, I'm Having Trouble...

Lord, I'm having trouble feeling close to you lately. Of course, there has been all the commotion with people visiting the last week. Also, I know I can't rely on my feelings.

I want to think of you and smile instead of being worried I'm not praying well or doing something wrong. I pray I'll feel relaxed and happy in our relationship.

I'm so looking forward to seeing you face to face one day and holding your hand.

Life is difficult, but life was difficult for you too. You were wanting your task to be over so you could go back home. I feel the same.

I look at the world and see the terrible evil of ISIS, racism, human trafficking, drug lords and all the rest and think of you seeing it in detail every day.

Life looks so overwhelmingly sad to me. Yet you have told me that life is beautiful. I pray I will look on life that way.

There is beauty in a baby's smile and a parent's love. There is beauty in kindness, giving, sharing and loving. There is beauty in a sunset, a mountain or an ocean. There is beauty everywhere. The Bible says the earth is filled with your glory and I see that.

Turn my face towards your face. Let me always see beauty in the life you have given me and the life you have given the world.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why Did Jesus Become A Man?

My last post was about the fall of Lucifer. He came to Earth after being thrown out of heaven. He tempted Eve to distrust God and she did; she ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband and he ate.

Satan wanted to be a ruler and a god. When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God then Satan thought he had a planet to rule. They had chosen Satan by listening to him and agreeing with him that he was right and God was wrong. Their allegiance was now his.

But... But God came down to the garden and told Adam and Eve he had a way out for them. Because the penalty of sin was death, He would give his life in place of theirs. He would come to earth as a baby and pay their penalty for them.

I once read of a priest who was in a concentration camp in Germany during WWII. Someone had escaped and the penalty was that ten men were to be starved to death. One of the men who was chosen begged to live because he had children at home. A priest came forward and said he would die in that man's place. The Nazis allowed it. This is similar to what Jesus has done for all of us.

Satan told God human beings could never be sinless; they could never keep God's laws. To prove to the universe that a human could keep the law, Jesus became a man; if one man could live a sinless life and die for everyone else then justice would be satisfied.

It had to be a man equal to Adam before his sin. A man who would be tempted to do wrong but would not do it. That man was to be Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus called himself, "The Son of Man," more than any other title. The term occurs 84 times in the New Testament. Here is a commentary on this subject:

Expositions of Holy Scripture — Alexander Maclaren

In substance He is claiming the same thing for Himself that Paul claimed for Him when he called Him 'the second Adam.' 

 'The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for the many'; 'Ye shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.' 1 Corinthians 15:47

And the name is employed habitually on occasions when He desires to emphasize His manhood as having truly taken upon itself the whole weight and weariness of man's sin, and the whole burden of man's guilt, and the whole tragedy of the penalties thereof, as in the familiar passages, so numerous that I need only refer to them and need not attempt to quote them, in which we read of the Son of Man being 'betrayed into the hands of sinners'; or in those words, for instance, which so marvelously blend the lowliness of the Man and the lofty consciousness of the mysterious relation which He bears to the whole world; 'The Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for the many.'

All our human joys were His. He knew all human sorrow. The ordinary wants of human nature belonged to Him; He hungered, He thirsted, and was weary; He ate and drank and slept. The ordinary wants of the human heart He knew; He was hurt by hatred, stung by ingratitude, yearned for love; His spirit expanded among friends, and was pained when they fell away. He fought and toiled, and sorrowed and enjoyed. He had to pray, to trust, and to weep. He was a Son of Man, a true man among men.

 When He says 'the Son of Man' He seems to declare that in Himself there are gathered up all the qualities that constitute humanity; that He is, to use modern language, the realized Ideal of manhood, the typical Man, in whom is everything that belongs to manhood, and who stands forth as complete and perfect.

Jesus will always be a man:

 'Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the glories of heaven'; or as when He says, 'He hath given Him authority to execute judgment also because He is the Son of Man'; or as when the Stephen, with his last words, declared in sudden burst of surprise and thrill of gladness, 'I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'

What Jesus gave up to become a man we may never know, or we might be told when we are  in heaven. What I do know is I am thankful he did it for me and for you. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

From Lucifer to Satan.

"Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven." 
Revelation 12:7,8

"And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." verse 9.

War in heaven sounds incompatible to us since we think of heaven as a happy, beautiful place where God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the angels live. But it happened. What kind of war it was we are not told. Did Satan (called Lucifer in heaven) refuse to leave when asked and God had to physically force him and his followers to leave? Or is the language poetic and means a war of words? Wars generally start with words.

What were the words of Satan while in heaven? We can guess some of them because he is quoted and described in the Bible.

 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star (Lucifer), son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;

'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'  Isaiah 14:12-14 

Obviously, Lucifer wanted to have God's power and rule heaven himself. I suppose he thought he was as wise as God and didn't see why he couldn't be worshiped also. How he came up with this idea is a mystery, but he did. He envied God's power and was dissatisfied with his role in heaven.

What did he say to the other angels to convince them to follow him? Perhaps that they should have the right to do the things God did. Maybe there were rules in heaven to follow and he promised them freedom from those rules. 

Lucifer was a created being. In fact, God's face was probably the first thing he saw. Comparing him to the King of Tyre, God says,

"Thus says the Lord GOD, "You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.

In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you.

All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”     Ezekiel 28:12-19 

These verses don't just discuss the beginnings of Satan but also his end. He won't be in charge of some kind of hell - no, he will become a pile of ashes. After he is dead he, "shall be no more forever."

The previous verses in Isaiah also go on to inform us of Satan's end.

"Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?

Satan is the cause of wars on earth. God says he will one day make the earth like a desert. The saddest part of this verse is that Satan did not let his prisoners go home. Those who do not follow God's light are prisoners of Satan whether they know it or not. 

"All the kings of the nations lie in glory, Each in his own tomb. but you are cast out, away from your grave, like a loathed branch, clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a dead body trampled underfoot. You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, you have slain your people.
Isaiah 14:15-20

When Satan was cast out of heaven, he came here to see if he could make humans fall as he fell. Then he would have a kingdom of his own. He could rule earth and be worshiped here. Not as good as ruling heaven, but I guess he thought it was better than nothing!

He did cause man to fall by the same sin he committed - wanting to be God. He said to Eve, "For God knows that in the day you eat from it (fruit from the tree) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

To be continued...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

He Deserves Your Help, Jesus!

"...a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them."  Luke 7:1-6

I love this story because the centurion was a Roman soldier and I always rejoice that he heard of Jesus and went to him for help. His heart was surely open to God since he realized the Jewish religion was superior to his own and had even helped build a church.

It is also interesting how the elders of the church came to Jesus and said, "This man deserves to have you do this..."  Jesus never seemed to consider if anyone deserved his help - he just helped people.

My sister is homeless and living in her van. She has met a lot of homeless people who live in their cars. One man she met told her he was hungry one day. He saw a church group gathering in a park for a picnic. He went up to a woman and asked her for a sandwich. She asked, "Do you smoke?" He answered honestly that he did. She then said she wouldn't give him a sandwich because if he could afford cigarettes then he could afford food.

In other words, he didn't deserve to eat because he was wasting money. Well, I can see the logic in that, but logic doesn't always lead us to love. I think with God it is our great need that matters, not what we are doing or what we have done. And unless you have ever smoked (I do) then you don't know how addicting it is and yes, I would buy cigarettes before food too. That's just the way it is.

The Roman Centurion understood this. The Bible says, "Jesus was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you." verses 6,7  

This man knew he had done nothing to deserve Jesus' help but he asked for it anyway. We cannot earn God's love or attention; we just have to ope the door and let him into our life. He is already there knocking.  "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Sky that Speaks.

The Pleiades.

I often think how sad it is that most people never see the night sky in all its glory. I remember when I was 16 yrs. old and went on a date. We went to the forest in his car and parked (of course!). When we turned the car off and walked outside, I stood amazed at the stars in the sky; a gorgeous array of thousands of stars I had never seen before as far as the eye could see.

Psalm 18 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God. It shows his handiwork. Day after day and night after night it speaks to us all around the world."  (paraphrased)

God asked Job, ""Can you direct the movement of the stars--binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion?"

"He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name." Amos 5:8

The Bible says the sky speaks of the power, wisdom and majesty of God. How powerful would you have to be to say one word and a sun appeared? How wise would you have to be to know how to make a nebula? How big and awesome would you have to be to make a galaxy?

We have a big, wise, powerful God who stepped down to live with us and die for us. What an amazing God!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

God Will Fight For Us.

I love this story of how God saved Jerusalem. The people were in an impossible situation and God saved them because they trusted in him. When the Bible speaks about our enemies, in the Psalms or as in this story, I think of how God fights the evil spirits who try to discourage us and make us want to give up in despair. I know God is stronger than evil and that makes me happy.

The Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against King Jehoshaphat (of Jerusalem).
Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea.  ALARMED, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:

Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahazie. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ”

Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to theLord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give THANKS to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Giving Til it Hurts.

Jesus said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Luke 18:24

Jesus said this after a rich young man turned away when Jesus asked him to sell all he had and come be one of his disciples.

All his disciples had left their jobs to follow Jesus. They all depended on the offerings and gifts of those who believed in Jesus' work. It was risky. Jesus had nothing with which to pay them wages. Peter was married and presumably had children. James and John had worked with their father in the fishing trade. Their father must have had to hire other workers. Matthew was a tax collector and wealthy; Jesus had probably asked him to sell everything too.

Jesus once sent his disciples out to preach and heal the sick. After they returned from their trip he asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. God will supply our needs when we work for him.

There is a story of another rich man, Zacchaeus. He was also a tax collector. In those days that occupation was looked on with disgust. Most tax collectors lied to the people and charged them more than the Romans had asked for. Also, people hated paying taxes to the Romans.

But Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus' teaching and had repented. He heard Jesus was going through town and wanted to see him. He was surprised when Jesus told him he would come to his house.

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham."

It certainly isn't a sin to be rich; but it is important what we do with our money. All of us, rich and poor. All through the Bible God tells us to help the poor. I like what C.S. Lewis said about giving, "Giving to the poor is an essential part of Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Jesus In Mental Pain.

Jesus said, "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"
Luke 12:50

Sometimes I think of Jesus as being super-human but this verse denies that. He was God, but when he came here he had laid down his power and was a man: The second Adam. He lived his life relying on his Father as we must do. He had the same feelings as us and needed God's strength to go through trials. 

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

As I read this verse this morning, I knew Jesus was speaking about his trial and death. He thought of what he would have to go through and wanted it to be over. My heart went out to him. Here are some commentaries on this verse:

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The baptism of which the Lord now speaks is that of one who is come into deep waters, so that the floods pass over him, over whose head have passed and are passing the waves and billows of many and great sorrows. Yet here, too, the Son of Man does not shrink or draw back. What He felt most keenly, in His human nature, was the pain, the constraint of expectation. He was, in that perfect humanity of His, harassed and oppressed, as other sufferers have been, by the thought of what was coming, more than by the actual suffering when it came.

A baptism - See the notes at Matthew 20:22.
Am I straitened - How do I earnestly desire that it were passed! Since these sufferings "must" be endured, how anxious am I that the time should come! Such were the feelings of the Redeemer in view of his approaching dying hour. We may learn from this:
1. That it is not improper to "feel deeply" at the prospect of dying. It is a sad, awful, terrible event; and it is impossible that we should look at it aright "without" feeling - scarcely without trembling.
2. It is not improper to desire that the time should come, and that the day of our release should draw nigh, Philippians 1:23. To the Christian, death is but the entrance to life; and since the pains of death "must" be endured, and since they LEAD to heaven, it matters little how soon he passes through these sorrows, and rises to his eternal rest.

...these words express both the trouble and distress Christ was in, at the apprehension of his sufferings as man; which were like to the distress of persons, closely besieged by an enemy; or rather of a woman, whose time of travail draws nigh, when she dreads it, and yet longs to have it over: and likewise they signify, his restless desire to have them accomplished;