Tag Archives: What is God like?

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.

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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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Epiphanies Everywhere

Just this morning another lie surfaced. I was sitting with God and somehow it came up. I blurted, “But I always thought You wanted me to feel bad about myself!”

As soon as I said it I felt foolish, knowing it to be total and utter foolishness. But there it was–my truth. And it was ok, I could feel His understanding smile.

I know better. How amazing it is, right there and then, to ask Him to tell me the truth and heal it. And even though I know it, it always almost takes my breath away. “I want you to enjoy life, to love being you, and love others.” Wow! The truth is amazing, but the best part is getting rid of that ball and chain I’ve been dragging around. And it came from religion, no doubt. Sad! We weren’t taught about the true self and the false self. They didn’t know it–even though it was always there. Self was bad period.

So how happy it was to attend “The Epiphany” last weekend. A friend of mine said, “He thinks just like you do,” when he told me about it and Graham Cooke. I was pulled in. And I was captivated by the description. But it was tough getting there–a lot of obstacles and opposition. (Of course.)

I’ll summarize it for you. We need to “unlearn” all the negatives we’ve been taught, or taught ourselves, and began to see that the gospel (religion at its best) really is good news! Everything about it! And when we can see it from a new perspective (my thing, if you know me) we can live in awe and wonder, having new epiphanies (ah-ha moments) daily.

Graham started with (in my words) if your false-self was crucified with Christ why do you keep feeding it as though trying to keep it alive? We need to see differently, think differently, act differently. We don’t have to live in anxiety and fear. We give power to what we focus on.

Relearning can be fun because God is always giving us another chance to learn. We need to see our mistakes as I could have learned… give me another chance! And, of course, He will. Anger and fear allow someone else to have power over you–you have other choices (the nine fruits of the Spirit).

You don’t like what they are doing? But do you like what you are doing? Then change it by choosing. We could die to our false selves and have a wonderful time doing it–learning how to live in the presence of God. There are always four of you fighting your enemies, and Three of Them are omnipotent!

We have been given everything–a credit card from God–all we have to do is activate it. We can give gifts of blessing to everyone. Jesus taught that  everyone can be loved and accepted, no one is safe from blessing. All we have to do is “practice Jesus” asking, “What do I do with this situation?” “What do You want me to ask for?” “What does this mean?”

Too many of us believe the lies that God is angry, that we get blessings for performance, when the truth is Christ in you attracts favor, looks for favor, expects favor.

When you have to unlearn something God is putting His finger on the site of your next miracle–grace is the empowering presence of God that creates the true you! God doesn’t do shame or judgment–Jesus bought your inadequacy–revival is a lifestyle.

After Jesus left, we read, “The Christians are coming! Those people who turn the world upside down,” as if it was a bad thing, but truly many couldn’t wait for them to show up! These are the people who can heal us! Who have gifts of healing and righteousness to give us! They are extraordinary at loving! That’s how people should feel about us. ( This was the best part–as he emphasized how people would feel if we were like that and he  jumped up and down shouting, “The Christians are coming! The Christians are coming!” It was great!)

Move from a sin-conscious culture, like Paul did, to one that gives gifts of righteousness. Why can’t unlearning be joyful? What helps Ruach (Holy Spirit) the most is loving the learning. Being open.

You are completely and utterly adored by God now! If He is wonderful, we are one of His wonders. There is nothing to be afraid of. If identity in Christ dominates the way you walk in life you will practice faith in his constant presence by continually asking, “What do you want from me right now?” or “How do I handle this?”

These are some of his “brilliant perspectives.” Just had to share it.

 

 

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Experiencing God

I’m hesitant to post this because it is so personal. And then I had the thought I’ve posted plenty of negative personal things in he said/she said detail, so why not something positive? You’ll understand after you’ve read it.

So I was on the plane, in the middle seat, flying back from a great sisters’ trip, and decided to journal for my time with God which I’d missed. Our pastor has encouraged us to journal on scripture–especially the ones he is preaching on. We write what God is saying, and then what He is saying to us specifically.  He’s just started a new series on Mark. This is Mark 1:8 “I immerse you in water, but He will immerse you in Holy Spirit.”

“I love the thought of being completely immersed in You, Ruach! (Hebrew for Holy Spirit, pronounced Roo ak.) The closest I have come to realizing it is sitting in Your lap, leaning against Your chest in the morning–I’m just waking up, still sleepy, and snuggled up as I have often seen my daughter’s children do after a nap. I love that loved, relaxed feeling. I want to feel that relaxed, that loved, all the time. I want the love to ooze out of me as Val described her friend.

“I know I’m not that comfortable with people or myself yet, but I’m better. Thank You that at least I can see a bit of improvement. I know You don’t usually let us see our improvement because it doesn’t bode well with us–over time we get careless, thinking we don’t need You. I want to always know I need You, but I want more just to want You, and that precious time with You–want to let You flow through me.

“Make me not have to need people’s feedback and approval. At least this trip I don’t think I gave offense to anyone! Thank you for that. And thank You that the meeting with my nephew and nieces was so special.”

And He answered!

“I am so proud of you, and so grateful for your heart. You wanted to share your love–My love–with others in getting them all together. I know that. And I did let you see that I understood your motive by inspiring the writing of that text to C.”

Thank You.

“You are so welcome My Love.”

You see why I was hesitant to share it. But if it helps just one person open up to God in experimental, experiential relationship, then it is worth it. He will be just as affirming, sweet and gentle with you too.

The only religion worth anything is a relationship with God that is real to you experientially.

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A Perspective Excerpt from Love’s Playbook 5

I’ve decided to share a couple of pages from the book I’m working on. It’s book five in the series: Exodus and the plagues. This is a break in the story for a new perspective.

“Whether or not Satan can create brings up an interesting question. Does God create destructive elements—in this case flies? Egypt has historically had the dog fly. It is large and venomous with a painful bite. And this one God instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh would not come on the Hebrews because God would make a distinction between Egypt and His special people.

It’s possible the first three hadn’t affected them either, but this is the first time God specifically tells Pharaoh it won’t, to make sure he is aware of it. Does God protect his own people from God? Or from enemies?

Back to the original question. It is true Satan doesn’t have ability to create life from nothing. But we have all seen how he can twist God’s gifts to create aberrations. Look at the suffering and disease he has created from sex. Or just the diseases he creates in us from ignorance and from taste, let alone viruses he creates. Remember in this series how Lucifer was given the chance to study the laws of nature and see what he could create. No doubt, he learned a lot about nature and its laws.

At that time he was still under God’s influence, and getting to fulfil his dream. He had not yet defected and activated the law of sin and death. But imagine what he must have done in the lab after he had activated entropy. He is called “the destroyer” in Exodus 12:23 and also in the book of Hebrews (2:14). He would destroy all of us (or have us destroy each other) if God allowed. It’s who he has become.

This is the first plague where it says the land was corrupted—literally the Hebrew is “the land was destroyed.” Would God have done this? Or would he have allowed the dark side to do their thing? I think it is the latter. I don’t believe God is the creator of evil. I think it is the absence of good as death is the absence of life.

Yes, They allow it to exist for choices, but They are winning the “right” now to banish evil, keeping it only as a personal choice forever, because it brings death. God has allowed Satan to have the power of death as long as he is kept alive. When God stops shielding him, he and all of his will cease to exist. Evil can’t exist in God’s presence. Revelation 20 says death and hell will be thrown into the lake of fire which is simply a metaphor for the dark side rushing into God’s unbridled energy to take his new city. (See Rev. 20:7-10.)

So why haven’t we questioned this before? We didn’t have the perspective. Our collective consciousness thought God does what He wants to because He is God, and thought the fear of God was literal along with other metaphors. Most people served God from fear—not what God wants! Now we know that another translation is more accurate: fear is best translated reverence or respect.

So why did God allow this? Because to protect our freedom there has to be hooks to hang doubt on. God can’t make everything completely plain until someone asks. Some things had to be shrouded in mystery until we started questioning and searching for a better understanding.

I don’t suppose I am the first one to question or understand this, just one who dares to interpret scripture this way, write it down and publish it.”

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What God is Like

I’m on vacation at home. It has been a wonderful week with two of our grandchildren! I haven’t worked like I usually do, and have focused on just relaxing and enjoying them. It’s been a great experience. God helped me realize one morning that most of my life I have been focused on making people right rather than knowing and enjoying them. It’s the way I viewed Him for many years.

Now I see Them(One God–three persons) as wanting us to know Them and walk with Them in relationship through the process of every day, no matter what others do or what happens. To experience Them every day–Their love, Their kindness, Their goodness, Their laughter, Their joy, just Their presence, in all of everyday life, no matter what others do or what happens. And it is beginning to make me see and treat others differently. It’s about time! Safety and control were always so huge.

Our influence for good in the world comes from drawing not pushing (God told me that), from making God look good because we are so good to be around and we are clear and comfortable about identifying ourselves as Theirs. I really can’t even comprehend that yet!

Could it really be that powerful? Do I know–see–encounter–experience enough people that it would really make a difference if I was just full of God’s goodness? If I just lived with Them and soaked in Their love? If I just focused on the good in everything and everyone?

I’m not put together that way, but God seems intent on me getting this. Right now I’m thinking of people who raised their kids erring on the side of love, people I thought should provide some discipline. I’m not talking about giving-in or neglect, but truly focused love, and in adulthood the kids turned out well.

I think of Jesus who drew people to him, inviting. He never told us to go make Christians, he said go make followers (disciples). The only way you can do that is by drawing, making them want to follow. It seems to work for the dark side. Isis plays on the desire for power and revenge, expressing discontent, anger, and hate AND in the name of God! They draw many malcontents from our society.

And what does it take to experience God’s goodness that way? The only thing I know for sure, at this point, is choice. The second thing I suspect is some time alone with God, getting to know Them. Ruach (Holy Spirit) is closest, and Jesus is the easiest place to get to know God. That’s why this year I’ve added to the titles of God-in-a-Box, “Know God in a Year #…” because this may be the most important choice you will ever make.

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Your Resident Genius

We watched the President’s get together Thursday night. I liked it. He was open, relaxed, unbiased, direct, and inclusive. He was supportive of all groups represented, non-threatened, and non-threatening. He was honest about the problems, and yet encouraging and hopeful.

David Muir did a great job of setting it up and moderating. It was the first time I had seen a President do that–like a town hall meeting only better. Getting diverse people to sit together, share, ask and listen is huge. Kudos to David if it was his brain child, almost like group therapy, just a little more structured, and a little more wow factor. They were invited to be in a group with the President of the United States! They could even ask questions if they had made arrangements to. An experience they will always remember.

This week I read a description of the advantage we have as God’s children. We have a resident genius living with us–God’s Spirit. Why don’t we use Him? He is always with us, waiting for us to talk to Him. Why don’t we ask Him questions? Or ask His perspective on what we are going through? How does He view what we are struggling with? What are His plans for keeping us safe? You can have an audience with the King every day! Just by choosing it. Really. I do.

Some days it’s richer than others. And it will morph over time. I started by purposeful breathing. And then added talking and listening at the same time. Now I curl up next to a big pillow like I’m on His lap. Some days its all about me, and that’s it. But I always end up better. Other days, many of them, I get His thoughts, His perspective, on what I’m working on or wondering about. It’s great! Even better than having the honor of sitting in a group with the President!

As I said last week, Jesus warned us it was going to get ugly–it did again this week–in France, and my oldest sister finding out she has cancer. So many people grieving and in fear! We need our Resident Genius to get through this, to keep our hearts strong, warm, and well. Don’t let your heart get cold because of evil. God wins! It isn’t all good, but it will be.

 

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Wisdom from Age

Let me tell you about my friend who just visited. He’s 88 and loves life. He wants to live to be 120, especially now that he “learned not to control.”

He said, “I wonder why I was like that?” His wife died seven years ago, and he’s wondering why he felt that everything had to be his way.

He’s building a house. Also helping his girlfriend with her goat farm and properties, is interested in everything, loves learning. In short he has a great attitude even though he’s a bit hard of hearing and his ankle hurts from an old  injury when he walks . You would never know it except that he limps.

I’ve know him for 40 years, haven’t seen him in 6 or 7, and he was so happy to see me, he was like a kid. It was heart warming. I wish he’d had more time to talk so I could find out what brought this great transformation. I’m guessing it was suffering.

He’s always been interested in everything and learning, but there has come more softening, more other-centeredness, more acceptance.

Those are the gifts suffering brings, and losing a spouse will bring them. Glad I haven’t had that experience yet, even though coming close brought its own gift.

Oh and speaking of suffering,  Job is in preorder stage on Amazon. I’ll post the cover and link here since some of you have asked where to get it. https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Playbook-episode-Perception-Everything-ebook/dp/B01HLTG36W?ie=UTF8&ref_=pe_2427780_160035660.

I feel like I have just graduated from a university course on suffering. And what did Job learn fromPlaybook Cover Kindle RGB 04  intense suffering? That it’s better to go through it with God  than without Them.

Suffering is getting bigger  and more widespread, as we saw this week, soon there won’t be anyone, if there is now, who hasn’t been touched by intense suffering. I’ve said it here before, Jesus warned us to get close to God because the increase of evil activity will cause many hearts to grow cold. Suffering is a timely topic! Suffering brings out who we really are. Forces us to make choices. Brings understanding.

And there are several other important perspectives we can learn from Job. I think that must be why I was so impressed to make it the next book in this series of finding an all-loving, all-good God in scripture. Take care of your heart.

 

 

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Experimental Freedom

I read the term “experimental religion” once and was intrigued. But it was years before I began to practice it. I had prioritized relationship to God–well, at least the discipline of it–a good habit, but fairly rigid. I’ve written about making God real–the practice has been interesting and rich. Recently, it’s gone to a new level.

I was challenged by Oswald Chambers idea of 1 in 60: that is, taking 60 seconds of every hour to celebrate who you are. More precisely, whose you are–God’s. It is very hard to train yourself to do that every hour, even asking for help. So I decided to use my smart phone for something smart. I set it to go off with these tinkling celestial-sounding chimes every hour to remind me.

It has been great! I love the interruption, and if I’m not in the middle of something with another person, I let it go for what seems like a whole minute while I am articulating thanks. Then I touch the screen to see if it has been a minute. All my alarms are set to go off at 59 past the hour, so it is very easy to see when the minute is up.

Even if you are talking to someone you can shoot up thanks. And even if I am on the phone, I can hear the faintest background chime and I know.

It was funny the first time it went off, I thought where is that chime coming from? My neighbor must have gotten new wind chimes. Then I discovered it was my phone’s alarm. I had already forgotten! Now it’s been a week and so far I love the interruption!

Yesterday my grandson and I were on the phone. He had just gotten his first phone for graduation to middle school and so called me. We talked 45 minutes and one thing was about his moving up to big church from kid’s class. He admitted he was kind of bored, and then said they had told him what he already knew–you need a relationship with God, but didn’t tell him how to do it.

I shared about setting my alarm and told him it’s hard for God or people to say do this or that because then it becomes the only thing, rigid, a formula, a legality.

Would we tell people how to have a relationship with a person? Some of us could use that instruction, but it isn’t the way it is. Usually, you meet someone, you are attracted to him or her, you share something in common, one of you pursues the other, you make time to be with them, and then more time to be with them with more sharing of yourself. The more fulfilling the relationship is the more time you make for the other.

So it would seem that a relationship with God would follow a similar path. He is always seeking us. Once we see Him and are attracted to His personality or character, we begin to give Him a little space in our heads-a little time. Then as we get to know Him, we are drawn to more time, and as we are fulfilled, we make more time–we may fall in love—hopefully that is where it goes. There is no one safer, or more fulfilling, or more exciting to be loved by and to love. But it does take time and effort–just as you make time for a friend.

But keep it real–make it experimental. If you don’t, and you say the same things every time you get together, its going to get boring. And seriously, that is disrespectful, at least once you know better. Give God time to be God, let Him talk and don’t monopolize the conversation! Let Him be real. Experiment.

 

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Making God Real

I had a client a while back who used to say “I can’t make Him real” every time we talked about God and having a relationship with Him.

I would always answer, “you don’t need to. He is real.”

After some time I got exasperated with her insistence, but I discovered that it was stuck in me. How was I making God real? I prayed to Abba, I read and wrote about Jesus, I talked to Ruach (Holy Spirit), and thanked Him for His presence, but was I making them real? Did I perceive Them as real persons present in my life? Did I really talk to Them or just make demands? Did I listen to Them and take it seriously?

I’m having a retreat at my house this weekend. Last night we sat around a fire sharing miracles. It came to the everyday miracles as the most important. We often can’t tell what God is doing on a grander scale as in someone’s healing and God’s plans to use that or death. But we can see the little things–like my calm and patience taking care of my husband while getting ready for a retreat…God helping me see all the good in that. Or the lack of fear when he fell on Friday and panicked, and I was perfectly calm and unafraid.

I couldn’t figure out why I felt so negative going into the retreat and it really bothered me, until I realized that it was that inflammatory cascade again! I was mad I had missed the special prayer over our associate pastor who is fighting stage four cancer at church (I stayed home with my husband). I heard it was beautiful and powerful. And that allowed my fatigue, irritation with people not showing up,  sleeping through my time with God that morning, and my hurt and confusion over unanswered prayer for friends, and it all started the negativity flowing. So afterwards I was repentant and in total self-disdain.

This morning after five solid hours, He woke me and I felt rested and glad to get up for some extra time with Him. And He showed me that it really is all about trusting His eternal holy love in wild and passionate caring for me. I had a lie stuck in me–a leftover from an unanswered prayer that I didn’t understand until ten years later– What if He doesn’t… This version was What if He doesn’t show up?

That’s crazy because He had planned it, giving me the format and the questions. But what if people didn’t respond? I wanted Him to do something huge. (And of course it’s all about me–even my irritation that the pastor couldn’t come. I said How can you have a leadership retreat without the leader? And He said, “Uh, who is the leader?” Right! Got it! So it’s my not feeling valued!) So, good as He is, He told me the truth and healed it for asking.

Besides that, They outdid Themselves and gave us the perfect day: sunny, blue-skies, and 72 degrees! It was an outdoor event. And we had a Mockingbird, Mourning Dove and others serenading. I love mornings–love having company in the morning. Add some of my favorite people and I was ecstatic!

They even did more! I was hoping for something huge and the associate pastor who was prayed for yesterday, came and stayed four hours! She was able to do my stairs to the gazebo, and eat and keep it down! Evidence of healing.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, he brought the pastor and his wife to share a miracle they had just experienced that confirmed what God was telling us! Wow we were so blessed! All of us!

But I was especially! I felt especially loved!

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