Category Archives: Uncategorized

So What if They Roll Their Eyes!

This came from my grandson’s school, and I was so happy to see them taking a stand and sending a strong message to parents. I decided to send it along to you and you can pass it on too. Kindness and civility are slipping away. It seems everyone wants to be raw. Being real is important but not at the expense of others. When we are mean, menacing or threatening to others we are not being real anyway, we are putting off our raw, uninvestigated feelings off on innocent others. We need to teach kids responsibility and respect.

“Important message regarding social media

August 31, 2017

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Our traditional calendar schools are not yet a week old and already we have experienced social media threats at two of our high schools. This is no way to start off a school year. Parents and guardians, please know and share with your students that we take all these threats seriously and investigate them fully. Not only are consequences delivered by the schools, but where feasible law enforcement, at our urging, will seek to prosecute.

In our school community we do not consider social media threats humorous, cute, or insignificant. Please talk with your students and help them understand that they are creating a digital footprint that not only will speak for itself, but will also follow them as they continue their schooling and careers. And yes, I ask you to monitor their social media. Young people are committing too many mistakes for which they do not fully appreciate and understand the consequences. Please help them with that understanding.

Now, let’s get back to why we come to school – to teach and to learn.

Thank you,

Dr. James G. Merrill
Superintendent”

An end note. This is a public school, but I don’t think they have greater problems than church schools. God comes down hard on every kind of disrespect there is. Love is the opposite of disrespect. Love’s foundation is respect. And responsibility is knowing and picking up your brokenness. Parents teach best by modeling. Your influence is the strongest there is. Correcting bad attitudes and disrespectful behavior has to start with you (your own), and then teach your children responsibility for their behavior with kindness and love. This is difficult, and it takes strength. I don’t think  it can be done without God’s help, which They are more than willing to give.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vulnerability is a Must for Love–Use It with Care

I had a crazy experience recently. I was leading a group and I really wanted it to go well–really get everyone bonded. I had made a plan but then decided to go with another one at the last minute.

The group went even better than I supposed it would. They all seemed to feel good about it, but I didn’t. People had opened up more than I expected, even people that I didn’t think would.

Usually I go first to model vulnerability–a rule of being a good group leader. But I didn’t even have to. And afterwards I felt bad.

I couldn’t understand it! Why did I feel bad? Because I hadn’t gone first? Because I had changed plans? Because I thought I hadn’t prepared well enough? I didn’t get it, but I felt an awful heaviness in my chest.

I went to bed an hour or so later, and it was still there! So I said to God, “I don’t know what is going on! I have no idea why I feel this heaviness. You healed some old lies for me this morning, and yet tonight I feel worse than if You hadn’t. What is going on? Do I need to learn something? Find a lie? Is this just an attack from the dark side because things  went so well? Please show me and take this feeling away.

Immediately it lifted, and I was so grateful and went to sleep. But the next morning I was still puzzled, when suddenly it hit me: the people who had shared had gotten so vulnerable and so real that it actually scared me. I felt that because they had opened up and shared so much I could, and it scared me half to death.

It was such a surprise to me! I have gotten fairly at ease with sharing vulnerable things about myself. I don’t know if anyone ever gets comfortable with it, but if is usually freeing and you feel lighter afterwards. That is the reward. Secretly, we all long to be known and loved anyway. But there are certain things that only go to very trusted people, and I think suddenly I felt that this was a group I could trust, and it scared me.

I’m sharing it because I think we all are afraid to be open and vulnerable, and we should pick and choose people who have earned our trust over time–people who have risked sharing with us also–to trust. Risking vulnerability is scary, but it is good. It is growing. Just wanted you to know that everybody feels it, except maybe sociopaths, but risking being known is one of the best human experiences there is. Do it carefully, don’t share too much too soon, but do it. Let yourself be known. It is the only way to feel truly accepted and loved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Does it Mean Anything?

This has been a rough week for Texas and Louisiana, and our watching nation. Help from neighbors and funds from everywhere are pouring in. It has all but eclipsed the floods in Asia.

Did you know that 17 million people have been affected in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh by those floods? People have lost their homes their livestock, and their loved ones–the death count keeps rising, presently 1200.

Tropical storm Lidia leaves 7 dead in Mexico. Fires are burning in California, and hail the size of golf balls fell where our kids live in North Carolina. All of this at once is overwhelming. And what if it gets worse?

Will you know how to answer the question, “How could a good God let this happen?” Will you say, “It isn’t God doing it; we have, it’s global warming.” That is a good answer for weather.

But what if evil starts showing up, like it seems to be, more and more in people? Maybe you have experienced it yourself! Can you say with confidence that God is good? And how can you explain that?

Do you know that there is a war going on here? Can you say why? You have to dig it out of scripture. It doesn’t really sit on the surface, except references to it here and there, as in Peter’s, “Your adversary walks around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Who is this adversary? Why does he hate us? Why are we counseled by Paul to put on the whole armor of God? Why are we told that we are not fighting against flesh and blood? And why is our enemy fighting God?

Can you answer these questions? God hasn’t exposed Satan. He let him do that himself. But now it is for us to understand why evil has such a huge presence here, and what really has happened in this war between good and evil. When will it end? Why has evil been allowed so much power and presence? And what do we need to know? Especially if it gets worse? Can we trust God? And why doesn’t He stop it?

I’m not saying focus on evil. You should by all means focus on good! What you focus on grows in you. But as I often say you are on a need to know basis, and you need to know this so you don’t get scared and start to doubt God’s goodness. God is good. And all of this craziness does make sense. That is why I’m writing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why I am Writing the Bible from a Female Perspective

Understanding God’s wrath as God letting us choose our own way has made all the difference. So much that I’m writing the Bible from a female, family- systems therapy perspective to show that God is all good with no evil in Them at all–Abba, Adonai (Jesus), and Ruach (Hebrew for Spirit). I mean think about it–it changes every churchy thing. If God’s worst anger is respecting our right to choose not to be loved by Them, and letting us walk away, what is there to fear? Then the fear of God becomes not only reverence but adoration.

Then God becomes Three beings you want to spend forever with because you can’t wait! You want to be with them! You begin to know how They love you–like there is no one else in the world. You begin to experience Their sweet, personal, tender love if you make time for Them. Intimacy is not sex, it is safety, the foundation of love and trust.

Writing has been so exciting–difficult at times–but Ruach always comes through for me. I want to live in Their perfect love that casts out all fear and I want that for you too. That is my passion. For everyone to see the God of the Bible as three all-good amazingly loving beings. God who wants to have a personal, daily love affair with you; you don’t ever have to be alone again.

But, you say, what about the bad stuff? The deaths in the Bible, the unanswered prayers? My own unanswered prayers? That is because we live in a war. God is opposed and the war is over His (Their) character. Is He good? Is He fit to rule the universe? God is so good They never pull Satan’s covers, They let him expose himself–which he did at the cross getting humans to kill Jesus. God won the war in the eyes of the watching universe then. But God’s adversary has tried to make it look like God killed Jesus so He didn’t have to kill you (more fear).

But how would that solve God’s problem of bringing us back into oneness? (Jesus prayer for us in John 17.) It wouldn’t. And that is not what God was doing. They were trying to bring back Their extended family. Jesus death demonstrated (after 4,000 years of war on this planet, and taking huge risks of interventions when They almost lost the war in the flood) that God’s love was unselfish –One of Them came to take responsibility for creating a world where something could go wrong and make it right by winning back the power to give us life by going through death.

Let me simplify it. the cross showed three things: that God is good, that Satan is evil, that sin will kill you. It killed even God when He allowed.

Satan is responsible for all the evil we have here–though he could only work through getting one of us to choose. It is how he still works.

Now let me make a timely point. I wish I had heard the Ted Talk weeks ago that I listened to  again today. I would love to see the total solar eclipse. I knew it was the way scientists, as early as 1919, learned about our universe, but I didn’t know the particulars and thought I wouldn’t get anything from it. But in this Ted Talk, David, who says he doesn’t believe in God, experienced awe. The awe of seeing our solar system in the sky. Now I so want to see it! It so shows the goodness of God to give us a little window on our universe! To let us see that things are so much bigger than we imagine or understand. Poor shamed Copernicus. I wonder if he saw a total eclipse? God has been reaching out in this and so many ways to let us know Their goodness. We just have to want to listen and understand.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A New View of God’s Wrath

 

Don’t you love Psalm 16:11? “In your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Wouldn’t you love to live in the joy and pleasure of God’s presence continually?

That is my goal. Most of my adult life I’ve been undoing the effects of growing up in  church, or so I thought.

I was afraid of God, and thought it was what I learned at church and church school. Recently I’ve begun to question that perception. I think it was because I read the Bible too young. The Old Testament and some of the New is not for young, superficial readers. I got scared. I knew God loved me, but I was afraid of Him.

I wanted to be perfect, and my mother wanted me to be also. She wanted that for all her children, and she modeled a real and loving relationship with God. She’d known Him personally ever since her baptism at 12, when she had a personal experience with Him.

My personal experiences with God started when I was six on a perfect late summer morning when I was alone outside imagining God. In my early twenties I had an amazing experience of understanding salvation by faith when I experienced God’s joy, and in my mid twenties I was alone over a holiday and made an experiment of being with God. It was beautiful.

I had a faith venture in my late twenties that was amazing, and having my daughter just before 30 showed me God’s love in an incredible way. I don’t think I had ever really loved before.

But still the fear of God continually haunted me–stalked me.

Through the death of my little brother God carried me. All through my divorce He was right beside me holding my hand. At the beginning of graduate school, God shared a new perspective on Luke 9:23-25 that opened up scripture, and it was about then that I decided I had to address my concept of God. I had to deal with the fear. My masters project was looking at the parenting of God in all 66 books of the Bible. That helped.

But what really caused a revolution was studying the wrath of God and discovering what it was. You wouldn’t think understanding God’s wrath would take away fear. Romans 1 launched it, and Isaiah and Jeremiah clinched it. There I found that the wrath of God was nothing more than God letting us have our own way! Letting us leave Him.

If you understand our context–living in a war zone with broken human natures and freedom, and an enemy that loves to destroy us–that is scary. But it begin to relieve my fear of God.

In a Bible study about ten years ago, I was thrilled to read 1John 1:4 and put it together with Genesis 3:15, and discover there is no evil in God. God is not capable of evil. Since then, I have found three other scriptures that say the same thing. And according to James, God doesn’t even test or tempt us. He doesn’t do bad to get good.

You may have known that your whole life, but for me it was huge. I’m embarrassed to admit it now. But the things I read in scripture always made me wonder. You can even understand the cross as God killing Jesus, if you look at it wrong. It’s all perspective and our perspective is often skewed, tweaked or filtered especially by people who claim to know Him but don’t.

This one thing has made all the difference. I’ll explain more next time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Obedience is Delight or Circumcised Hearts – 2

If obedience is delight, we don’t need to fear it or dread it. Delight comes out of a heart that loves. But our hearts only love in relationship. And relationships only last as long as we love. So then love is not a feeling, but a commitment to be in relationship–to take time to know the other, to build deep friendship–a covenant to choose the other and to honor the other. We don’t obey or listen to someone unless we love and trust, or at least admire them. Doing what you are told out of fear (slavery or abuse) does not qualify as obedience or love.

So Moses chose a metaphor to anchor the concept of Israel’s covenant with God. What was Moses saying by “Circumcise your hearts”? He wanted a graphic image so they would remember his words. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of his covenant relationship with God. It was something they saw everyday, but only them, something that made them different from other men. It was just for men as leaders (including their families in the covenant). For most of them it had been chosen for them, done when they were 8 days old–a sign of whom they belonged to, of identity. It was a safeguard to health and a safeguard to choice. They couldn’t undo it but they could ignore it.

So first, “circumcise your heart” has to mean that it is done for us, but we choose it. Our heart is the center of will, emotion and action. Our hearts are the first organ to develop. God uses it to refer to the center of being, of desire–where choices come from. It evidently has strong influence on the Prefrontal Cortex of our brains. Russian scientists discovered our heart energy can extend almost twice as far as the energy of our brain–25 feet as compared to 15 feet for the brain.

Secondly, Moses talks a lot about hard hearts–even saying God makes them hard. What he means is that God’s energy, His presence, affects us. Our response to love either softens or hardens our hearts. Just as the same sun melts butter but hardens clay.

Thirdly, God’s energy is love. Pure love energy is powerful–either life giving to good or destructive to evil. He has to protect us from His presence.

Putting all this together, circumcise your heart means: choose to cut away anything that might keep you from God’s love. As I said earlier, our hearts tend to get crusted over with shame, hurt, resentment, anger–however we respond to God and others. Offense is another word for sin. Do we give it? And how do we receive it? Offense tends to separate. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times not. Abel didn’t mean to offend Cain, but Cain took offense at him and killed him.

Lastly, my favorite definition for sin is separation. We have separation inside of us–our two natures, and between us and God. Most often our hard heartedness comes through the distance of mindlessness. We ignore Him. The details and cares of life, worries and ambitions crowd out a relationship with Him.

Moses’ “Circumcise your hearts” is like Solomon’s “Guard the avenues to the soul” and Jesus’ “Be careful how you see.” Today we call it mindfulness. Be aware! Pay attention! Wake up from your trance and realize what is happening. You are choosing actively or by default. As you build your character, or just let it happen, you are planning your future. In the end, everyone gets what they want–what they have chosen–whether their eyes were open or closed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Circumcised Hearts? Really?

Last night as I was cleaning up the kitchen I decided to try dishwasher detergent on the drains. (My friend shared how good it is at lifting crusted food, and I discovered it’s true.) Then I thought of the area behind the faucets and dripped some back there. This morning I came and cleaned, and it really did help, but I still had to use a knife to get most of the buildup behind the faucets. What is that? And how does it get back there? Dust and water crusts like that?

Of course you know that took me somewhere else–my husband got upset with me a week ago and tried telling me about it. Finally, I stopped him and said, “I can’t hear you when you talk like this.” His response was I couldn’t learn from him. I replied that I could and wanted to, but not when he was using that tone of voice and hurtful words like “bumbling through things” to describe me.

We all have emotions, and when our intense emotion matches our words we don’t hear our tone or our words. Perhaps if we didn’t let feelings build up but talked about them before they became so charged, we could deliver constructive criticism in a more loving way.

When we hear a shaming tone, most of us tune out and a crusty something begins to build around our hearts. So yes we all have crusty, build-up on our hearts, we’ve all heard shame and felt it in our hearts–the word God uses for our mainspring. It’s more than just feelings, it includes will and motivation. Desire and delight live there as well. It’s our center.

This morning I was reading about obedience in Deuteronomy and how truly important it would be to Israel in their promised land. Obedience used to feel like a heavy, horrible word to me, but I have learned that it has to come from delight or it isn’t even obedience. So I wrote in my journal, “If obedience is delight, we don’t need to fear it. Delight comes out of a heart that loves, but our hearts only love in a relationship.”

How does one  keep a relationship alive? One that delights in taking direction? There is no delight in obedience aside from trust and love! Not for broken humans!

I don’t even want to hear your input unless I trust you and love you, or at least admire you. Perhaps if I know your reputation I might trust you or admire you enough to listen to your thoughts.

That was God’s problem–(still is)–Adonai needed them to love and trust Him. So He continually showed His love and care for these slaves who didn’t know him. He wanted to live with them, even though it was very dangerous for them, because the possibility of Him consuming them was very real if they rebelled or even became too negative. His presence destroys entropy. That scared them. So they knew Him as fire by night and the cloud that led them and shaded them  by day. He provided water and food, protection, deliverance, everything to show them they could trust Him and move them into a love relationship with Him.

He even showed His power and majesty before he gave them His law. And the whole watching universe was amazed He would spell out His law, His way. They hadn’t even known there was “law” until Lucifer turned traitor. Their natures were in harmony with it, and everything they did came from delight and desire. They had no hard choices—-until Lucifer became the adversary and brought rebellion (sin/separation) into the kingdom.  That was the beginning of heart crustiness.

So Moses says in his farewell address (Deuteronomy), “Circumcise your hearts.” He wanted to impress them how important it was to have a relationship with Adonai like He had. They must honor their covenant. He was grasping for an image that they would remember and take to heart, and this was the best one he found. What does it mean? It must be important.

I don’t think I can do it justice in one or two sentences so I’ll continue it next week.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Confidence is a Good Thing

Thanks for your responses to last week. I’m late writing this week–had two prayer retreats at my house this weekend. They were awesome–and turned out to be one person each. I had a feeling that might happen and told God I was ok with canceling them, but He told me to go ahead. And I’m glad I did. I’m sure I received more than either of the attendees. The morning one was so beautiful it was surreal. The sun, the time, (I love early morning), the sky, the temperature, the breeze, everything was perfect.

I started doing the Lord’s prayer as a group prayer three retreats ago. I say a phrase and everyone says whatever comes to their mind. It’s really neat, and we have done it at every one since, usually spending fifteen or so minutes on it. Since it was just my friend and I, we spent as long as we wanted, and were amazed to see we had spent an hour on it! (The rest of the time we spend reading scriptures, listening to God individually and then sharing.)

When God shows up things happen. The first year I held it here, we had healings and a prophecy over our church. This time I learned something very valuable about myself: I’m so afraid to promote anything I do, that almost nobody finds out about it. I wait until the last minute, hoping key people will get excited about it and promote it. That has been very limiting, but I am not an effusive person, and I feel extremely uncomfortable “blowing my own horn”. My client that goes to Alanon says, “Attraction, not promotion,” and I love that. I want God to promote it.

So the staff at church knew I was offering retreats, but that was it. Finally a week before it, I talked to them about it and wrote something to put in the newsletter and bulletin. But even though I sent it to two people, it got overlooked and didn’t get in either one. I didn’t know this until the day of the event. I was discouraged, but I knew God had said, “Go ahead with it,” so I did, and it turned out great. My friend said afterwards, “I’ve been wanting to do this with you for years.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” I asked. She didn’t know. But it was confirmation for me. God had already said, “It’s ok for you to get excited about what you are doing and learning.” I knew I had a confidence fault that ran right through me.

I love learning and sharing it, but  not what I’ve created out of it, and especially presenting it… It’s not that I’m afraid of speaking, I’m afraid of looking like a fool. I had a brother that really reinforced feeling like a fool in me, even my husband is good at it, though he is also my best supporter and encourager. Ridicule withers.

But I’ve proved to myself again and again–God has my back–when I trust, He is faithful–everything works out. This past week I had one of those nights–something woke me and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I  decided to just spend the time with God and not worry about the next day. It was a really good day. I felt good, had a good attitude, was happy and got a lot done. I did have to take a nap before I saw clients at 5:00, which never happens, but that was good too. It was a great day on two hours of sleep, and I was so grateful and excited. It felt like freedom from fear–“I can trust God for anything”. (If you’re wondering, the next day was good too.)

So back to Sunday morning, it was as if something inside shifted. I  saw my lack of confidence clearly as crippling. And I felt that it’s ok for me to feel good about something I have done. (I knew that–but it took healing to feel it.) I can’t wait to see what happens!

Leave a comment

Filed under A God perspective, Mental Health, Uncategorized

What is God Really Like?

I found out last week that a dream has come true, and at first I was so excited!  I learned I am speaking for the “Character of God Conference” in Southern California in October. But now I’m getting writers’ block. I almost never have writers’ block!

But I couldn’t even think of anything to write here! There is a push towards getting nervous, but I refuse, because God told me, “Just rest for a while,” when I kept asking Him what should I talk about?

The dark side is trying to get in there with all their what-if’s and fears and sneers and blanking. But I know they are liars and want to steal the joy from both the anticipation and the event. In the strength God provides, I won’t let them. I choose to be confident and hold onto the excitement. Fear isn’t going to help me choose a topic or write well anyway!

So help me by responding. What would you want to hear about if you were attending a conference on the character of God? This may be a moot point; but I haven’t heard yet that they have assigned a topic, so I’m assuming it is up to me and God. Here are things I feel qualified to talk about: 1)Luke 9:24-26–Does God want us to Give up a Self?; 2) God’s Wrath–What is it?; 3) Learning About God from Balaam–It is not a cute children’s story about a talking donkey! 4) Why does the Bible Scare and Confuse Us?

I would love to hear from you! (My husband’s vote is for Balaam.)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Trending Easy–Part 3

Being a family therapist for 30 years, parenting is a big topic for me. And it has recently come to me again what poor marks Biblical fathers have gotten at parenting. Also in my work, I have a client struggling with feeling liked by his children. This week I could tell him, and I will tell you, take advantage of the parent platform and platitude that your children will love you no matter what.

That might be slightly overstated. There are children who don’t love their parents, but those have been some really bad parents. Even abusive parents can be loved, with children wishing they would be different, excusing them, and still longing for love. Children scarred by neglectful, clinically narcissistic parents still wish their parents loved them. It’s a relief for the children to discover they weren’t capable.

That being said children long to be loved by parents. It harks back to Genesis 3:15 where God commits to keeping His imprint at least 50% in us. So be strong because even if you discipline your children they will love you. In fact later they will love you more. Children need discipline.

It’s harder when you are a grandparent. you want them to love you, you want them to want to come and stay with you. You want to help them, you see the need, but you don’t have that built in assurance that they will understand, that they will still love you and want to come back. Now I understand why parents feel the heavy responsibility of guiding their children, sometimes at the expense of enjoying them. Children need guidance.

Left to themselves they would only do what they want. They would be on technology all day long. They would burn out their eyes and brains. They would ruin their health–eat only sweets, all the sugar they want, instead of the green stuff they need. They would stay up too late and get up too late, and never offer to help or even notice anything they could do without you saying something or asking for help. Are these the same kids that used to want to help? you wonder. Welcome to the teen years. Is it possible for kids to ruin themselves in a decade?

The interesting thing is that when asked to help and engaged with you, they seem so much happier–most of them time.

It just proves to me that life is backwards–we were made to run on love but don’t always recognize what it looks like. We would naturally eat all the wrong stuff and not exercise, and let others do everything for us–unless it is something we want to do. Perhaps teen years are just the transition into realizing that you have to choose your life and your way. If you have disciplined and guided them in childhood it will pick up again.

But give them that structure without fear. I am haunted by all the fathers is scripture who ruined their children by being too lenient with them. Aaron (Moses brother), Eli the priest, Samuel the prophet, David and Solomon–and I know there are more–great men who couldn’t seem to fill that role of requiring something from their sons and ruined them. They didn’t want to be hard on them. But can’t we be hard without being harsh? Can’t we require in kindness without shaming them?

Shaming is damaging and is mainly in your tone of voice. It comes from your feelings of irritation or anger, and conveys the messages you don’t have what it takes, you aren’t good enough, why don’t you know this? It can cripple for life, but so does neglect. If you know you aren’t good at discipline, ask God to discipline you, and guide you, then pay attention. He is faithful and gentle. Watch your feelings, pity isn’t healthy, but neither is irritation. Don’t expect perfect kids. You were given to them to teach them: “To guide them in the way they should go.” Development is a process that is much easier with interested loving parents who teach and require. Good discipline ends up feeling like love.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized