Trending Easy III Ugly is OK

Wasn’t there a song once, “Parents don’t let your kids grow up to be cowboys”? Is that because cowboys do whatever they want? Because they grow up rebellious?

They used to be rebelling against over-controlling or absentee parents. Researchers call it authoritarian (high control, low nurture) and neglectful (low control, low nurture) parenting. The last one can be parents who are there but not engaged. Often because they weren’t taught how to engage. Both types were coming from what was given them, they just didn’t know how to parent and didn’t know how to get help. Often men say, “Well, I turned out ok, so they will too.” When their kids and wives are saying to themselves Uh, you are not ok!

Those are the two most undesirable forms of parenting. The other two are the most desirable. Best is authoritative–High control, high nurture, second best is permissive–low control, high nurture, according to the study done by the University of Minnesota, (one of the leaders in education).

It’s hard to look at ourselves, but it is really important. How are you inside? We are all products of where we came from; no, you won’t be perfect, but you could be interested, communicating,  present and strong enough to set limits and hold them.

I’ve said before that boundaries make a kid secure. They constitute fences that the child or teen can push against and know they won’t move. It makes the child feel loved. Someone cares enough to stand up and fight with me and for me–my true self. That means a parent has to be strong.

What has inspired this blog on parenting, yet again, is kids programming. The shows that I see movie trailers and previews for are scary for values. They are rude and crude, not to mention they move too fast and are too loud and too bright. That was my experience of kids TV with my grandsons a couple of years ago. Nickelodeon, and another I don’t remember now, were really bad for that. After watching it for 2 hours in a motel room with them I felt like I had ADD or ADHD–way over-stimulated, exhausted and a little crazy. But the rudeness in all the shows was really objectionable and supposed to be funny. It wasn’t funny at all.

I was telling my daughter about it and she said that is why she never lets them watch those. I was glad to hear it.

This week my husband and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy just for something fun. Someone had told me it was light and fun, and her value system is pretty close to mine, so we went for a fun date. It was pretty much like kids programming–loud and flamboyant, rude and crude. It took me a while to figure out what the values encased in it were. Here’s what I came out with: the galaxy is full of a bunch of bad dudes of various colors and ugliness, all fighting each other, and Ego describes himself as “a god little g” who seems to be good but ends up wanting to make everything like him, and so has to be destroyed, and the bad guys turn out to be good guys in the end–that was a little troubling. Their saving grace was caring about others. So not terrible, but there wasn’t much value on life. One of the “good” characters says, Let’s go see if he’s for real and if not, we’ll just kill him.” Some of the dialogue is pretty rough and a lot of killing. And at first I thought they were saying evil is good and good is evil, but then decided it was–not everything is what it seems.

I wonder how I will feel if my grandsons went to see it and liked it. I guess I would want to know what they liked about it. The guardians of the Galaxy certainly aren’t someone I would want as role models for them! As I said last week, it seems our country is getting a lot more rude and crude.

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Out-of-Control People

Are we regressing to barbarism from civilization? What is going on with all these people who think it’s ok to get into brawls and fist fights in streets, on airplanes, and even at graduations?! We teach children to “use your words” but these are adults! Is it all the rampant medication people are on? Is that why they have no inhibitions? Are they all drugged? Or just “entitled”?

Ok, so everyone has the “right” to express themselves, but in physical altercations? Really? I’m astonished. People have become disrespectful and dishonoring, and it is making them dishonorable. And it won’t be long, if this trend continues, before we lose our status in the world. Respect is the foundation of civilization not physical power, not brawn. The best system of government (God’s) is based on respect.

One of my friends just went through a horrible ordeal. Her neighbors have been harassing her for years. Finally, last year I went to the police with her who said there was nothing they could do until the neighbors damaged her or her property and she had evidence.

Last week we were texting and she asked if she should call the police. I said, “If he’s on your property.” The next thing I know, she is calling from the police station crying and saying he called the police and they showed up in force, called her out of her house, and nine of them surrounded her with big guns pointed at her. She was terrified, her PTSD from childhood abuse  was totally triggered. I was in shock, wondering what had happened, and asking, “How could you let this happen, Lord?”

The next day her pastor and I went to see her. Her story was the neighbor had set a screen against their fence so it would fall over on her driveway, when it did she kicked it off, and he called police. The charge was she was terrorizing and threatening him with a machete.

Fortunately she doesn’t have a machete, but the police arrested her and took her to jail before searching her house. When they didn’t find one, the charges were dropped but it was three days of missed work and terror.

It was hard, but God used it for good. She was with a group in the holding room while waiting for arraignment, and female addicts waiting with her. They couldn’t believe it when she told them she used to be a heroine addict. She was able to say, “You don’t have to live like this. There is another life. You have a choice.”

She said if felt so good to be able to calmly say that. Her friends have said, “God just needed someone to speak to those girls!”

When they released her she had no way to get home, so two policemen took her home and she got the chance to speak with them without undue stress. She told them what her neighbor had been doing for ten years and both of them said, “He is a stalker, you should press charges for wrongful arrest, missed wages and mental anguish.” That was the other good thing that came from it. I see it as a God-given opportunity. She’s not sure.

At three this morning I was impressed to get up and pray for healing for her and two people who live emotionally crippled from disturbed attachment. It stretched into five women while I was praying, and just now I thought of two more.

Disturbed attachment, more commonly known as a form of abandonment, is a deep issue that can only be healed by God–at least in 30 years as a family-systems therapist I haven’t found another way. Somatic  therapy is very helpful for trauma, and I have been successful to a point with abandonment, but if you know you struggle emotionally from disturbed attachment, God wants to help you.

First, own it. Admit it. That is always the first step. Then ask God to  heal it by giving you evidence that you can feel of His deep mother-love for you. It has to be experiential to heal. It has to reach emotions. Don’t be surprised if there is a flood of tears that have been stored for years. Let them come. Don’t stop them; it’s part of the healing process. The pain may be gut-wrenching but it will pass fairly quickly.

Then find a place where you can feel like you are sitting in God’s lap and just feel His love for you until you feel different. You’ll know when it happens. Don’t rush it and don’t stop it. You will be tempted to think it won’t happen for you, you aren’t worth it, but that’s a lie from the evil side trying to interfere. God wants to heal you.

If lots of lies come to mind–negative things you believe about you–write them down and one by one as you make opportunity, ask God to bind the dark side in Jesus’ name, and tell you the truth. All you have to do is own them and want them healed. Again, God wants to heal you. He doesn’t want you or anyone disrespecting you.

As Israel’s king, He came down harder on disrespect than any other thing–of Him and others. (And I’ve been heavy into His government, writing Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy!) We don’t think respect is that important. But it is the foundation of civilization.

 

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Hard Questions

Last week I started a tough chapter. One God brought up in my time with Him the other morning. I was just going to gloss over the death penalty in Leviticus as I and so many Christians have done in the past. It feels bad, wrong even, but this is God, and so we move on and in a while forget about it. So I mentioned it and was going to do the same again, until Ruach said he didn’t want me to. He wanted me to deal with it.

“What? Really?” And I felt worse.

The next morning He said, “Do you think that is what I wanted?”

And it was amazing how all the bad feelings melted away. I knew that was not what He wanted–ever. Death has no part of Him, Them, or the kingdom They created and will preside over forever. It can’t even exist in Their presence.

It’s why Jesus couldn’t go to Mary and Martha even though he wanted to. Lazarus wouldn’t have died, and God needed him to, so Jesus could raise him from the dead as Jesus crowning proof he was their Messiah (the sign of Jonah promised the Pharisees.) It was hard on Mary and Martha, but he knew them, and knew he could trust them to get through it without breaking faith.

So why did He set it up as a boundary in Israel? Why so harsh? Why so drastic?

He gave me several reasons: His perspective, the times, prevailing customs, and most importantly containment.

God’s Perspective on Death

If you read the Bible carefully, you find references to death that treat it as a sleep. Jesus confirmed this on at least two occasions: Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter. He raised them back to life, but they died again. Lazarus, not too long after that.

John the Baptist, on the other hand, died at Herod’s hand; the Baptist’s and Jesus’ disciples wondered why Jesus didn’t rescue him and never knew why. I wondered too. Then one day my husband and I were reading the story and I voiced my question again. He told me that he believed John was one of the ones who came out of the grave when Jesus died and went back to heaven with him (Matthew 28:52-53) as the “first fruits” we spoke of in the last chapter. Immediately I espoused that belief! I love it!

And it helped me with God’s perspective on death which for years I had begun to see was different from ours. To us death leaves such a hole in our lives it is traumatic. And if the death was violent it’s so much worse. But even other deaths we hear of are painful when we hear of other people suffering. To us death has such a finality, even if we believe we will see them again in the resurrection. It may be years, and what do we do with the emptiness, love and longing for years?

To God, death is nothing but a moment. Our life span is but a moment. He lives outside of time. And They know hearts. They know who will be resurrected and live forever. Jesus said, “…Even the dead are alive in God’s mind.” So if God “accidentally” kills Nadab and Abihu because of their rash action of coming into Adonai’s presence unfitly, He knows if they will be in heaven.

Death here and forgiveness have nothing to do with each other. God might allow you to die to take you out of painful circumstances, knowing He will see you soon, as he did with John the Baptist and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They have been a great encouragement to other’s in similar situations. The dead are no different from the living to God.

I’m sure the deaths of those who reject Them are painful to God. There are no more chances. But once again, they read hearts. They know who is really Theirs, and forgiveness is easily extended to those who are honest in heart. This takes us to looking at God as King.

Civil Responsibility of Governments

How does God act as the government? He was the top for Israel. He was their king. until they begged for one. They didn’t want to be a different (holy) nation! They wanted to be like everyone else. It’s so sad how our insecurity makes us want to fit in.

God as king had to have civil laws, and perhaps that scared them because of Sinai. But if they had known God—had their own personal relationships with Him, as Moses did–and known Adonai’s sweet love and tenderness, they would have known He reads hearts and they could trust His judgment as king. Judgment most broadly means discernment.

But since this is too long already, here ends the excerpt from Love’s Playbook, episode 6.

 

 

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Caught in the Middle

The past two weeks I passed a test–one of universal importance. Sounds crazy, I know, but it became obvious my loyalty and faithfulness to God were being tested. And there is no test when things go my way. I learned I had a belief that if I didn’t get what I wanted, He didn’t love me. Later, it matured into not getting “what I needed.” Would I let Him down or turn on Him if I didn’t?

I love doing events, the biggest was my daughter’s wedding in our backyard. We were blessed. We got everything we wanted except sunshine. My daughter was perfectly ok with that. I wasn’t. This past weekend was much smaller–a prayer retreat in the same place. But I’m a perfectionist and can get stressed over them. I wasn’t going to this time, and I’ve been successful before.

We had redone some of our yard because the almond tree died, and had to be removed. We planted a new little tree and my husband decided to widen the path to the gazebo. It turned out well, but keeping it well till April 30 turned into a struggle.

The abundant rain stopped; gophers heaved up ground, the bugs ate my ornamental cabbages and primroses that lined the path; the temperature went up to 90–crazy for April and primroses; the east wind blew, not once, but three different times importing gobs of pine needles and mandating daily watering, and I knew the dark side had been given permission to wreak havoc. God had told me, “Rest is a weapon,” and I hung on to that.

The remains of dead baby mockingbirds were dropped on the path two different days, making me sad and silencing their mama for two weeks; my husband got sick with a terrible cough which woke me so I was on two and three hours of sleep twice. At the last mowing, the lawnmower broke, it started leaking gas and kept quitting. I was nervous it might blow up or catch fire and told my husband to stop–it was good enough. The last wind came the day before, and I said to God, “If you don’t care, I won’t either.” Everything that had caused me to question the love and care of God before an event, happened. And this event was for Him. The last day I learned four weren’t coming–a downer.

Early on, I made up my mind I wouldn’t fail this time. And I didn’t! It was actually a peaceful, restful, happy two weeks of being very aware of God’s presence.

Heard of Job? It’s the earliest-written book of the Bible and the clearest window on the war we live in. A myth? I don’t think so. There is too much evidence that Moses wrote it, and a lot of historical references in it. The Septuagint has Job married to Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. I think Moses was trying to work out his own issues with God after his plans (which he thought were God’s plans) went south. It’s hard to understand when that happens.

Job’s story pulls back the curtain to help us understand an apparent  discrepancy in scripture. Many places say that God tested people (especially in the wilderness), yet James, the one who grew up with Jesus, says God doesn’t test or tempt anyone. Job’s story explains that Satan questions us, and he is apparently continually asking to test all of us who belong to God to show we are phonies.

Remember how Jesus told Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat (and apparently all of them), but I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail.” Why would God allow that?

It answers the question behind the war in the universe. Satan is the adversary of God and the accuser of us (see link below for my book that tells the story). He not only accuses us, but has accused God of being arbitrary, selfish and not fit to rule.

And rather than just say that it isn’t true, God has allowed us to be exhibit A of evidence: the demonstration of the truth to the on-looking universe . We are helping God win His (Their) case or trial. (They put themselves on trial. Romans 3:4) And what is more convincing than someone willing to believe in God’s goodness when He apparently lets you down?

But you can’t do that unless you know Him–really know Him (Them) as in experiencing Their love and care in a relationship. It isn’t enough to know about Them–it won’t get you through the tests Satan has designed for you. But don’t worry, God knows you, and He only allows what you particularly can make it through if you stay connected. And the rewards are enormous.

http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad  Love’s Playbook episode 1 is the story of the beginning of the war between good and evil. Job’s story is there too–episode 4.

 

 

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“Seeing Law as Love”

Writing the Bible as a love story set in a cosmic war has given me a new perspective on most things, and law is no exception. Writing Leviticus has been a challenge, but especially so since the point of this series is to show God as They really are–all good with no evil at all.

A few people want God to be hard, fire and brimstone, coming to execute His enemies, kill the bad guys. But most of us want a God of love. We want that love that we long for, the love we don’t feel we deserve but still crave. We desperately try to find it from a person, only to be disappointed yet again. Can God be strong enough to end evil, and still be all love, all good?

Yes! It’s getting clearer to me with every book–even Leviticus. Maybe, especially Leviticus. Here is where mercy and justice come together. But you do have to understand the context. It gives a new view on law.

Something that just happened will serve as an illustration, I think. My 9 yr-old grandson just broke his arm. Somehow that and God as a father segued in my brain. We rush our children to the ER, even at 9 p.m. We depend on them.  The pain was intense, both bones had snapped in two.  It was traumatic. Thank God for round-the-clock medical services! What would Moses have done? He didn’t have hospitals, not even doctors. He would surely have gone to God and asked What do I do? And God would have told him how to align it and to splint it on three sidesMoses walked with God–he went to God with everything.

So if God came to Moses and said this is how I want you to…eat, worship, plant (whatever it was), it wouldn’t have been surprising. So it shouldn’t be surprising that God would have ideas about how They wanted Their people, Israel, to worship, eat, plant, etc., when they had been living and acting under the direction of Egyptians for 100 years. (The first hundred they were independent.) Is it because God is a micro-manager? No. It’s because God has better ideas. Being their creator, God knows how they work best internally and inter-relatedly. He wanted to bless them with His ways.

Having a whole nation of people in a Moses-type of relationship was splendid for God–He could bless them with knowledge and ideas they couldn’t possibly know. He could literally prosper them; all they had to do was listen and trust that their God knew best.

Of course, Adonai (before He was Jesus) had to deal with boundaries, because that is a huge part of love in a broken world. Limits create security both internally and externally. And whenever limits are set, there is bound to be some rebellion. When the rebellion encourages mutiny, a king has to be ready with consequences, and Adonai was ready. When you look at things from God’s perspective, it shifts them considerably, even laws and death.

I doubt the death penalty was given for first offenses, but if it was as in the case of offering children as burnt offerings to Molech, the pagan god of the Amorites and Canaanites, don’t forget the experience was harder on God then on them. They  were all His children, and He is love–the same person we celebrate in redemption and resurrection this weekend–the very same. (1Cor 10:4) Somehow we have come to see God’s laws as negative, but they are like the ER, offering help and hope when we don’t know what to do.

If you believe God is love, and His government is based on love, then His laws are love notes. We may not always completely understand His laws for a different culture, but we can know the king who is the same today as He was then, and have a relationship like Moses had. Moses was no slouch; he was a very bright, accomplished warrior who had learned through suffering to depend on God for everything. Understanding God’s laws in the context given makes God look good.

 

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Far-fetched Ideas?

Is it a far-fetched idea to believe we live in the middle of  a war with a perspective way bigger than we can imagine? It might have been 100 years ago before the Hubble and the Hadron Collider. Or if you had never read the Bible. But if you had read the Bible with an open mind even then you had a window into the bigger picture; like 17th century author  John Milton, a blind poet.

And if you read the whole thing putting the bits and pieces together, a story emerges that is even bigger than our redemption. That is just a corner of it. Some people will be offended by that, and that’s ok. It’s just that when you have seen more suffering than most people because of your job, it pushes you to big questions more often than most people go there.

The little boy who was killed a year ago on our street lost his mother by suicide this past week. What will happen to the little girl who pushed the brother (playing) now that her brother and mother are gone? How will she grow up? How will she ever make sense of life? Thank God for a bigger picture window on the universe that helps us understand suffering. I hope she gets it. And though I don’t know her, thank God I can ask Them* to carry her and to send someone to tell her what she needs to know before her brain is damaged by hideous self-talk. I can even ask Them to run interference with the self-talk and  let her know They are with her.

Suffering is a reality here. No one escapes it. And what you do with the suffering makes all the difference for you personally. If you lean into it, and into God, you will be walked through it and grow like you can’t imagine. Afterwards, you will look back and say it was horrible but it was good for you.

What will happen to this little girl if she fights or denies the pain and walks away from God? It will make her hard and bitter, blaming herself, and steal her life. That is unless she is told God caused it and that’s why she  walks away from it.

God does NOT cause suffering. True, They don’t stop it. They can’t always, or it would end freedom, and that is Their highest value. Well, actually, love is Their highest value, but They have to have freedom to have love, so They are adamant about freedom.

The rub is the enemies, that love to cause us pain just because God loves us (all three of Them). We are loved–well loved. They can turn tragedy into forgiveness with our choice of acceptance. Opening up to Their love will create beauty instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

 

*Them. If you haven’t read last week’s blog, it explains my concept of three beings in one God position.

 

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Wanting to Understand

My friend Barb shared this quote with me because it reminded her of my first book.

“We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, often a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. It’s like we are holding in our hands some pages torn out of a book. These pages are the days of our lives. Fragments of a story. They seem important, or at least we long to know they are, but what does it all mean? If only we could find the book that contains the rest of the story.”

That is exactly why I wrote Love’s Playbook: The Real Story of Cosmic Love and War. And today it was Barb’s turn to teach the book study. We are in the second book, but she said, “I have to go back to the first book because none of the rest makes any sense without understanding this,”  as she waved the first book in front of us, continuing, “In fact, none of the  rest (the Bible) makes sense unless you understand the war in the universe.” (So neat to have someone understand and feel as passionate about this as I do!)

But though it makes me a little giddy, and thrilled, I’m awkward. I haven’t had enough practice responding. It doesn’t happen very often, but more since we started the book study. ( I should ask, if any of you agree on their merit, I would love to have you leave a good review on Amazon. It’s very easy. Just click on the book to review, and on the new page click on review. And then leave a sentence or two on what you like about it. Amazon is review driven so it’s a big deal.  I’ll give you the link: http://amazon.com/author/arla caraboolad And thanks a bunch!

Just imagine if I feel like that, how God must feel trying to reach us with real reality, and how delighted He (They) are when someone gets it. (One of the gals said, “I can’t even think of God as one person anymore. It doesn’t make sense that He would be one being.” I loved that because I have said for years, “If God is anything, He is relational. One God, yes; but not one being.”)

I came to understand this writing the first book. How do you have God having conversations with Himself? So I begin to understand the Trinity as three beings filling one position as God: same values, same passions, same abilities, but yet different personalities and functions. God is family and made us family in His image.

And I think it is safe to assume based on Genesis 2:1-4 that we were the end, not the beginning, of God’s creation. It says there four times in four verses that all of God’s creating was ended. Moses used repetition for emphasis, if something was important he said it twice in a different way. This is four times and not too differently stated! Yet I doubt he even understood why. He seemed to only have a slight grasp of the war–at least he didn’t talk much about it. Sometimes I have gotten upset that he said things the way he did! And I have asked God, “Why did you let him say it like that?”

Truth is, God preserved those “hooks for doubt” for the sake of freedom. If They blatantly overwhelmed us with truth, we would have no choice but to believe. Then where would be freedom? Another truth is the antediluvians had Adam around for almost 1000 years to talk to and chose not to trust his word or God’s for whatever reason–anger? doubt? self-absorption?

So of course my books aren’t for everyone, just for those who love good and are wanting to understand all the things about life, suffering and God that don’t make sense to them now. Thanks for helping me get the word out.

 

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Tension Between Old and New/Honor and Dishonor

The tension that comes from unlearning old programming and relearning new patterns can be tricky. Today I was faced with just such a dilemma, who do I honor most? and how do I know which decision is best?

I had been honored. I had reached out to Rob for help with my books a year ago, and he honored me by giving me a ticket to their annual author summit. I was very grateful, but I knew it was partly pitching their promotion program which was way out of my ballpark financially. So when the offer came, I was tempted, but tried to graciously decline by saying they should give the space to someone who could afford their package, because I knew that was the purpose.

Rebecca more graciously said, “No, no, that’s fine. There is a lot you will get from being here; come, we have room.”

Well, I didn’t want to be ungrateful; I really wanted to honor their kindness, but my husband didn’t want me to go. I told him I felt gratitude was in order, and he didn’t agree, but didn’t oppose me. The next day we had a fight, and when I tried to make up, he wasn’t ready. That made it much easier to go to the summit on Friday. And I really enjoyed the first day.

However, Rob shared that the second day a friend of his was coming who was in the movie industry to share the process of getting your book made into a movie. I had planned to skip the second day–figuring they would leave the financial possibilities for the second day and I didn’t really care about that, but now I really wanted to come.  That is my dream–to have my book series made into movies, but I told him thank you and that I wouldn’t be coming tomorrow. I felt ungrateful and unworthy.

The second day of the summit was my sacred space, or Sabbath, which I really guard from intrusion, and typically don’t do ordinary (or marketing) kinds of things. Also, I co-lead a class on my books and my co-leader had asked me to trade weeks with her because she had to help her brother.

I agreed, thinking it was God’s nudge to honor my commitment to Him and His space. But then I begin to wonder. And of course my feelings were pulling me back to the summit.

This  morning I talked to God about it, curled up in His lap. He took me back to Jesus’ Sabbath observance, which was pretty standard except for healing. Can you believe they believed that was breaking the Sabbath! All of a sudden I saw that I could go, and without fear, throw myself into participating and do what He and I had been talking about the day before: putting my light on the stand. (Mark 4) I’d been holding back sharing because of the nature of my series–rewriting the Bible. We had talked about that too! (And had done some healing.)

Suddenly I felt a-tingle with excitement. I could go or stay, either way, and be serenely happy knowing He was leading. Two things had to happen; both were possible, though not probable. I thought of a replacement, but she was sick. My husband could have gone with me, but didn’t want to!

But the best part was, I was happy, and everyone saw it! I even had a new dress which I got many compliments on, but it was, in reality, probably my attitude. The book study was great and I was glad I got to teach the chapter on Cain and Abel.

You can’t go wrong with surrender because God is so good and loves you so sweetly and crazily. And even though I felt like I was dishonoring their kindness and generosity to me, it’s better to honor God first, and he will take care of the rest. (Hacksaw Ridge-need I say more?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Wants Fear?

I’ve talked to more than one person this week who is scared about the political  climate of our country. I try to be aware without getting caught up in fear. I don’t think we actually know what is going on, and there are always fear-mongers who try to get people stirred up. For some reason people really get off on scaring other people.  I think it must be the power they feel from it, or they are trying to hand off their own fears. The media seems biased to fear and evil. Humans have always been extremely vulnerable to fear, and it is debilitating. Fear, not hate,  is the opposite of love.

Refusing fear doesn’t make you naïve, in my opinion. Fear just saps your strength. There are so many things you can be afraid of if you give in to living in fear. Anxiety is the number one mental health problem with depression a close second, and can get ahold of you and paralyze you, taking all the joy out of life. Both are fear-based. And do we really know who is telling the truth? Who would choose fear?

The antidote to fear is trusting God.

Praise teaches you to trust. I just learned that writing it. For weeks God has been pulling me to a fast of praise for the next 40 days, and I have resisted. I didn’t  want cycles of success, struggle and failure like last year. Finally, after 40 minutes of going back and forth in which I offered to fast from worry and fear, he said “I will do it, you just agree.” I got it, and  agreed to a fast of praise. You may have noticed I was just surrendering fear and worry over failure. I didn’t feel I knew how to praise well enough to do it for 20 minutes a day for 40 days (or even ten minutes, though I suggested that). When He said he would do it, I realized it is like every other good thing–He is at work in us doing it–whether we know it or not, and I surrendered.

The thing is, God has to have permission or surrender; or at least unwitting co-operation to work good in us. It’s part of the rules of engagement in this war over freedom, and is so much better than learning through suffering! Even though suffering makes a very good teacher.

And what is praise? It is looking at God’s goodness. This is such an irony, because I was afraid to try to focus there and yet it is the reason I am writing the Bible as a story of God’s goodness! And when He said through me “praise teaches trust” I knew He wanted to help me because the stretch ahead is going to be challenging (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). The first part of Exodus is out–YEA!!!

You see, He is so good He knows what we need and actually wants to help us with it before we ask! When Mosplaybook-cover-rgb-05es asked to see His glory, God showed him His goodness, His character. Moses had already seen the power and glory, but still he asks to see the fullness of God, and God gives him His character. His glory comes from His character–the goodness.

He is all good and that is why you can trust Him (Them).* Even when things aren’t good you can turn to Him and trust Them* to lead you through it or get you out of it.

 

 

*This mighty band of three that make one God.

 

 

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The Advantage of Weakness

What is the difference between the advantage of weakness and the disaster of weakness? The final of The Advantage of Weakness just went to the printer yesterday! My new book  Love’s Playbook 5–The Advantage of Weakness is the story of  Moses and the Exodus (chapters 1-24). Available next week!

It’s interesting how it stopped at chapter 24 instead of 40. I had written through chapter 40 but I wasn’t feeling good about ending the book there. It seemed it should go right into Leviticus since that is primarily the story of dedicating the Tabernacle, and Moses got the plans in chapter 25. (Leviticus is going to be  interesting to tell as a story that makes God look all good all the time!) Most people wash out after Exodus.

And then one morning as I was sitting in Ruach’s lap, I got the idea to end it after chap 24, which confirms the covenant between Israel and Adonai, and ends on a high note. The book was plenty long enough at that point (240 pp), and why not make the next book focus on the benefit of law that goes through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy as well?

What a great idea! I think we don’t really understand law, and there is less “story” in those three–a lot of data and reference material, but not a lot of story. So making it the second half of Israel’s journey as told in the next three books made sense. A great sense of relief came–especially since the first half really does show the advantage of weakness, but the second half–not so much. It more shows the disadvantage of weakness or the disaster of weakness, or the stupidity of  not trusting God to do what He said He would–the worst kind of weakness.

So what is the difference between the advantage of weakness and the disaster of weakness? You probably guessed–trusting God. God is the advantage factor always, but if you don’t know Him, it’s hard to trust, harder to admit weakness. Vulnerability is not something we like or do easily, and yet it is the key to accessing the advantage. “I don’t need God” will get you a kind of freedom but leave you without advantage. So many people either don’t know God at all, or they have a scary picture of God. I totally get it.

I’m writing this series because I have read the Bible daily since I was 15, but some of it scared me. I ended up with more questions by the time I was an adult. “I do tend to overthink things, but I’ve always been analytical by nature. “Why?” has always been my favorite question. But asking why questions about God from a lateral or a legal perspective can make you crazy.

However, if you ask those questions from a cosmic or vertical perspective, things look a lot different! As I wrote last week–probably heresy to some of you–I think there are many worlds with many beings watching what is happening here on this tiny, but very significant, planet. It is the only way all of the questions, all of the suffering, and all the seeming contradictions in the Bible make sense. There is a lot more to our story than we ever thought.

And to read it in the setting of a war between good and evil where God has been charged with Narcissism, and responsibility for suffering, and declared unfit to rule, by one of his kids, makes everything make sense. Especially when you read the correct meaning into a few scriptures like Romans 3:4**–God has put himself on trial. He is transparent, loves transparency, and knows He will win. But He isn’t happy over the loss, He just accepts our freedom.

And He is so happy for us to understand our significance, and to have our help winning His case. So happy to have us choose Him and life for ourselves through accepting His act and gift of unselfish love–solidly establishing the truth about Him and securing safety for the universe forever. Now it’s just a matter of time and our “getting it”.

God wins through weakness! What a concept. But He only looked weak, it takes incredible strength to suffer like He* did.

 

*Just in case you read my books, it  drives me crazy to talk about God as one person  after always writing about God as three–yes, still one God–but I don’t want to add that distraction to heavy new subjects.

**Romans 3:4 is correct in most translations except the most commonly used New International Version.

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