Tag Archives: “What is God really like?”

We Do it to Ourselves

I got upset with my husband on Wednesday for leaving without telling me, when I was waiting for him to have our time together. Actually I wasn’t mad, I was shocked and then hurt. But I determined not to let it bother me. Not to give it any energy.

It didn’t go that way. I had a rogue thought I should accept his message to act like he isn’t here, and I’m afraid I liked it and gave it too much attention. Then I got caught in a situation I wasn’t prepared for. I was putting clean sheets on the bed and he came and helped me. There were no words between us. I didn’t know what to say so I said nothing. And then, of course, I kept to it. (I know better than this.)

But it was fed by what I learned at the end of my hospital stay, that he gets upset when I don’t let him lead. Ok so let him lead in this one.

You can see how quickly it goes downhill. More like in the ditch.

By that night I was under condemnation. Because I had felt God’s approval to my first thought, but couldn’t stay with it and veered off-track. I didn’t think what I was doing was healthy or what He wanted, and I kept thinking about Joshua (which I just finished) and all the times Israel missed God’s preferred will because they thought they needed to fight. They couldn’t imagine His way, so He let them do it their way.

The condemnation feelings (lies) I did catch. I know condemnation is a lie! Finally. (Roman 8:1) So I didn’t listen to my feelings, I just ran to Him and said, “I feel like I’ve let you down, but I don’t want this to come between us.  I don’t ever want anything in between us! So here I am surrendering to You and Your way.”

Immediately, the feelings of condemnation and separation lifted and I felt His smile. He gave me an idea of what to do that night and I didn’t do it perfectly (I forgot I’d written down what to say and it would have been better!) But I did manage a poorer version without the results we had hoped for. However, now there is an opportunity for him to lead. And me to learn how to follow!

We don’t have to let feelings of condemnation come between us and God. Those feelings aren’t from Him. I was so grateful to see I had learned that!

The other thing I learned through this (more is coming I’m sure) is that my love language is trying to “help” and take care of people. Many times it’s not in the way they want to be helped, and often feels like control (and our marriages could benefit from living with less attempts to control each other.) So I asked God for a new love language and He graciously said “Pick one,” and gave it to me. Now I’m anxious to see it manifest. It shouldn’t be too hard to adjust to if it’s a gift. And God graciously showed me I had already experienced it in the hospital.

So why am I sharing this? (It feels a little like the dreams I used to have of getting to school without clothes on.) Shame grows in hiding. If you hate shame and don’t want to live in it, share it with someone. It’s good for us to know that we are all the same broken beings. It isn’t something we will ever grow out of. We will get better, the closer we live with God and follow His ways, but we will still get caught in our ways, still fall on our faces. We aren’t ever going to be perfect on this planet. That should help us step out of discouragement at our performance; and step out of shame.

This is why my new book on Joshua and Ruth has the subtitle My Laws Will Keep You. God’s law was meant to be a comfort to us, a helper, a protector. This really comes through in the book of Ruth, a tiny but beautiful love story. Most of us haven’t seen His law this way, but in the Greek of John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, My laws will keep you.” Doesn’t that just make sense!

 

 

 

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God as a Parent

I was raised with shame, were you? It was a pervasive style of parenting. I doubt if my parents even knew it. It was a way to control behavior–how they had been raised–change behavior by making you feel bad about what you did.

The emotional punch was “not good enough,” that’s how it felt. And it left a residue that covered you like slime or sticky dirt. You felt like you couldn’t get rid of it, would never be good enough, would never make it, never measure up. I very much doubt they could have changed it if they had seen it. It was how you raised children then–slime them with your feelings of anger,  disappointment, discontent, disapproval.

I do think it changed behavior, but the high cost was self-doubt and self-loathing that caused paralysis and second-guessing; or anger and acting-out. And it seems the internal conflict of brokenness gave us all that as a starting point. The first effect of being separated from God in Eden was recorded as shame. It is a natural bent. A propensity, a tendency we all have now.

It explains why God has had such a hard time parenting us. It’s our default setting. And God doesn’t deal in shame. He is extremely direct, modeling honesty for us, dealing with facts and consequences–telling us what they will be so we can turn around and make a course correction. Always trying to help us minimize shame by accepting our guilt and dealing with it redemptively.

Interesting that shame and guilt don’t go together with God. He simply says, “Admit what you’ve done, and I’ll help you find a way out of it.” He doesn’t criticize, doesn’t condemn, doesn’t shame us. He deals with facts and treats us with respect, leaving us free to choose how to handle our indiscretions and missteps. No, He doesn’t come personally to us the way He did with Cain; wouldn’t that be neat! But it didn’t help Cain. He already had an attitude set in place that prevented good choices.

But look at how God dealt with him. First, he comes to him. Understanding that Cain doesn’t know death. The whole universe has only seen death of animals and plants at this point. He was jealous, he was angry, and now he is a murderer. He should have been horrified, and maybe he was inside, but he doesn’t go to God, he doesn’t even respond to God who comes to him and says, “Where is your brother?” giving him a chance to own what he has done. And Cain gives him attitude: “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?”

God ignores that and goes on with facts, “What have you done?” Imagine God’s pain. The first murder in this broken world that started out so perfect. He loves Cain. And He knows he doesn’t know what to do, can’t think straight after realizing what he’s done. But maybe there is an opportunity to reconnect with him now. He’s been blaming God and growing hard feelings.

No answer.

“Your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” (I know what you did. You can admit it.) God had made man from ground, given him life and blessed the design; now Cain in killing Abel has returned him to the ground, bringing the curse of death to himself personally. So God describes the effects, “The ground is ruined for you, and your guilt will drive you away. You will have no peace.” (Can’t you just feel God longing for repentance. Just ask me what you should do! Please turn to me for help! Together we can fix this.)

But Cain blames God for the curse that isn’t from God. It is from Satan, God’s adversary who activated the law of sin and death. Cain knows this–he’s heard the story a hundred times. But it made him angry with God.

And here is his chance for change. His opportunity to make another choice. To turn around and go towards God.

But instead he says, “My punishment is more than I can bear.” (He may have been the first narcissist. It’s all about him, and he blames God.) “You have driven me out. And I will be hidden from your presence, and be a restless vagabond. And whoever finds me will kill me.”

Uh, who said anything about punishment? And weren’t you listening? The curse of sin and death has driven you out–your own guilt. God doesn’t want you to go but to fix it with His help.

So, God says, “OK then, I will put a mark on you, and anyone who kills you will have seven times the retribution” (life for life).

Why didn’t God let him be killed? He could have stopped a whole bunch of evil people from being born.  One, He loves him, two, its important for him and the universe to see the development of the curse of sin–maybe pain and suffering will bring him back, three, Cain asks God to intervene for him–and He does! He touches God’s father-heart that wants to give us good things more than we do to our children.

What could God have done for Cain? With Cain’s request He could have changed his heart, forgiven him and reinstated him in his family, taking his shame and guilt so he wouldn’t have had to leave.

Jesus favorite topic was Abba’s father-heart of love for broken humans. He showed us how God parents. He promotes and protects freedom and dignity. He won’t force us to make the right choices, but He would so like to be invited to help us sort them out. He doesn’t protect His kids from everything bad, but He goes through everything with us. He is always with us if we want Him to be. That is the ultimate parenting. Always available, always caring, never intrusive or taking over. He deals honestly, but not harshly.

After writing seven books of the Bible trying to understand and tell the story of God as a good parent, dealing with dysfunction in His family, one thing I see is we don’t understand God or His goodness because of preconditioning and language, and because of the brevity of the stories in scripture.

I invite you to read the series and fall in love with a new picture of God. He’s not a pushover, anything-goes grandparent, but He is a good, good father.

 

 

 

 

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The Love Effect

Yesterday I was with friends who got into a discussion about love. We had just finished reading Love’s Playbook 2 and 3 on Genesis. And the gal leading our group said, What is Genesis about? She told about watching Roadmap Genesis and how good it was, but it never answered the why question.

After all the discussion, I had to say, “It’s about freedom. Freedom and love are so important to God, that They have taken 6,000 years to show it.”

Of course that will be an ongoing discussion because we are just starting the book of Job (episode 4). If you are around Newbury Park, CA, and are inclined, come and join us at The Place, 10:30 Saturday morning.

Afterwards the pastor asked, “What is the Bible about?” and he got all kinds of answers, but not what he was thinking of, “The Kingdom of God.” That’s a good answer. But I, of course, like Love’s Playbook better. (smile) There are many right answers!

This morning I’m thinking about love and the Love Effect. How does love affect us? How does it affect children? Do you see it reflected by yours?

We have a description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, but mostly what it has done for me is make me feel like a failure, not good enough, I’ll never be that! So I came to put God in place of love when I read it, and I really like that. It gave me a whole new picture of God! Sad that I needed one.

I’m finding two classes of people who believe in God. People who believe God is all-good and all-loving, but who don’t read the Bible. And people who see good and evil as both coming from God who may or may not read the Bible, and others who want to see God as good, but read the Bible and get messed up. They come away with all kinds of questions.

If you read it you understand. It happened to me.

That is precisely why I am writing it. We can’t get better than our picture of God. Writing Judges really challenges this–even from a cosmic war perspective.

One thing that has really helped me is my friend Jean’s explanation; she is an ancient (Biblical) languages scholar. She says that there are two voices of God in scripture. His preferred will, and his allowed will. Most of the time we are seeing His allowed will. God values freedom so much that They (all three of Them) are willing to suffer to establish it!

Why? Because love isn’t real without it. Love is a choice.

I talked last time about love being a choice more than a feeling. And that is definitely true. At the same time, I heard myself telling a client this week that like is probably more important to a good marriage than love. You can choose to love anyone. But to like and admire someone, which makes him/her much easier to live with, requires a lot of like.

What does this have to do with children?

You obviously don’t always like them, but if you have any health, you always love them. And even when you don’t like them you can choose to love them.

But what is the love effect? How are our children affected by our love?

Love should not make us afraid. There should be no fear in love. Respect? YES! Fear? No!

I have a grandson that usually looks at you from under his eyebrows. It’s hard to describe. But his eyes are “closed” while they are open, and he almost always looks like he’s waiting to get in trouble, or expecting to get yelled at. He has been yelled at a lot. They all have–all eight of them. What makes the difference?

Love should not make us hide. God doesn’t want us to hide. That is when shame grows. It comes between us and Him–between us and people. We hide when we feel not good about ourselves–and we all have those places.

We see the first result of sin (separating from God, separating from love) as hiding in Adam and Eve. Hiding and shame are the same thing. The way you kill shame is in sharing with someone who loves you and accepts you. Do you feel that way with God? Do your kids feel that  way with you?

Love makes us confident. We can always feel sure about  going to someone who loves us, no matter how badly we have blown it. Even if we know they will be angry or sad, we still feel better when they know.

Love makes us relaxed. “Ah the comfort of feeling safe with a person…” said the poet. Intimacy is safety. When we know we are loved, we relax.

Love makes us secure. Security is the number one love factor for a woman. For children, boundaries make security–knowing what is expected is comforting.

Love gives us delight. God delights in you. Is that a crazy thought to you? He really does. Scripture is full of it–one of my favorites is Zeph. 3:17.

Love should give us love. When we are loved and feel it, it makes us more loving. Love is energy, it comes to us by receiving love. Think of it as electricity–you have to plug into the source.

Love should make us free. When we love someone, we leave them free to make their own choices. God does that  with us. We are absolutely free to choose against Them, and They are always hoping we won’t. They want to save us from the natural result of our brokenness, but they will respect our choice.

We can die if we prefer deathstyle to relationship.

So we need to train our children, help them make good choices, but leave them free to choose when they are adults. Just like God does with us.

 

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Jesus on Family

The following is one of my blogs from God-in-a Box–Your Inbox at Http://Godhelps.net  which goes through Jesus life in a year, approximately 250 words a day, showing God’s love through Jesus. This one always gets to me because I feel like one of those people whose better self was stifled in childhood.

“Jesus loves children, finding their pure openness and unaffected love refreshing. Little hearts are tender and impressionable, open to Spirit and strong to remember his stories–the kind of people he wants in his kingdom.

If parents give them every opportunity to learn of God’s love while they are young and their characters still adaptable, they won’t grow up hard-hearted.
Many regard true affection as weakness; their happiness is ruined because their better self was stifled in childhood. The expression of love toward God and each other wasn’t encouraged, but God’s love can melt the hardness.

A  mother teaching children to obey because they love her, is teaching them to obey God out of love.

Fathers, representing God’s authority, don’t need to be harsh or unkind. Jesus wasn’t discourteous or disrespectful, even cutting to the heart with the rudest men.
His graciousness causes parents to treat their children as intelligent beings, as they would want to be treated, correcting them gently as a gardener trains vines and flowers.
Take them outside and teach them how the God of nature made an awesome creation as an expression of His love for us–that all living things are governed by laws protecting happiness and joy–everything designed to give.

Don’t keep your little ones from Jesus by being cold or hard. Don’t make them think he is joyless or negative if he is like you. Smile at them. God loves to give wisdom and tenderness to teach them, but you do have to ask for it.”

 

Matthew 19:14-15,  Mark 10:15-16,  Luke 18:16-17

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Unafraid and Thankful

I doubt that very many of us will give thanks this Thanksgiving for our suffering. It is so counter-intuitive. And yet our willingness to suffer for God is such a gift. I suppose it is mostly because our arch-enemy said we would never do it. He loves to ask God to test us. I don’t think Satan thought we were capable of suffering and staying with God. By now he must know we are capable, but he knows as humans we fight against it and struggle with understanding it. It is foreign to our creation. We were made to run on love, and to live in beauty and goodness and peace.

Suffering is probably the one thing that really sets us apart for God. Because we would never naturally do it unless we were horrendously abused from childhood. Even then sometimes we will fight against it. But to choose suffering for a greater good, a huge cause, or the good of someone else is what God did; and I think that is what it means to “fill up the sufferings of Christ”–not because God wants us to suffer–but our willingness shows an attitude like His. He hates suffering more than we do! But Jesus chose to suffer to set the universe free–above suffering forever.

When God created freedom, the possibility of suffering was an option, and when it became a reality, They chose suffering rather than power as Their way of dealing with it. It wasn’t just Jesus who suffered–They all went through his suffering–it was probably worse for Abba and Ruach. They believed that They should experience the consequences of creating the possibility to suffer.  They could have picked up Their power and squashed any rebellion. But They knew the only right thing to do was taking responsibility for creating a world (a universe) where something could go wrong.

Suffering shows character, anybody can get angry and retaliate, that’s natural to broken beings. But suffering gracefully makes us stand out as definitely His–when we do it willingly, unafraid of anything as long as They are with us.

Last week I wrote about my friend who just learned he has brain cancer, and is facing death; his faith and attitude are amazing. Last Thursday I saw my friend,  who has suffered terribly with cancer–more than I can even imagine suffering. She was minutes away from death a year ago, and also last month, but rallied again. She has had a stroke, lost her sight, most of her hearing, and her ability to eat and taste, but her love and faith and strength of spirit is even stronger than it was before. And she was already full of them! Watching her family cope with it has been an education and a marvel as well. She told me every day she wakes up with excitement for what God will do that day because He hasn’t let Satan kill her. She said every day she is getting better!

What an idea! Unafraid of anything that comes because we know God and know They are with us! It makes us truly “Bulletproof” (I love the song by Citizen Way.) And it proves that relationship with God is not only possible, but the only thing that really matters! I don’t want to suffer (of course), but I want that intimacy with Them! And when I look back at my life, the suffering has been worth it. Worth what? Getting closer to Them. Knowing God. Experiencing Their incredibly sweet unlove and friendship.

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The Power of Love Warriors

After the past month I’m wondering should I write about weekly massacres, or natural catastrophes or the unraveling of Hollywood?

I feel so bad for Puerto Rico. I don’t care if they’ve had mismanagement, I don’t understand why there aren’t motorcycles or helicopters or something that can distribute food and water. I was so disappointed at President Trump’s calloused response. Does he want to make an example of inside corruption? Even so…to me it is unacceptable to treat the people so differently than another catastrophe.

And this business of people just taking out their anger in mass shootings! A steady diet of violence exacerbating! I know evil is going to be given more and more power in order to expose it and create choice points, but it is so frequent, and so painful for so many families. And it raises so many questions. Remember, God protects people’s freedom to choose.

And finally the exposing of sexual bullying going on in the movie industry. I’m not surprised, and I think it will get bigger. I’m glad it’s coming out–a lot of pain and shame is hidden there, which can now be healed. And I’m glad men are beginning to take it seriously and look at their own behavior!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by negativity–or just shut down feelings because it hasn’t touched you. But it will. I just learned that a dear friend has brain cancer. It was his goal to live to 100, and he is only 12 years short of it. He is so active and has a great attitude; and has lived a healthy lifestyle. Why this? We live in a broken world, diseased by evil.

We can keep our balance and help fight evil by choosing to be friends with God, no matter what our questions. There is no darkness in God at all. That is important to remember. None of this evil comes from Them–our mighty band of Three; it’s happening because everyone must make a choice between evil and good. But it’s easy to get drawn into fear and doubt when it is everywhere. That’s where choosing becomes important–so important.

I’m always saying ,”Your choice is the strongest power in the universe, because God won’t force you to be Their friend. And they won’t let evil overcome the weakest person who wants Them, but you will have to choose. The good news is that God’s love is always drawing you. Unless you resist, you will be drawn to Him (Them). And then you can become a love warrior, fighting evil by living in God’s love and delight.

The most important thing I’ve learned in life is God is all good, all love, and to choose to let Them love me. Unless I spend time alone with God just being loved, I forget that and get derailed by negativity. If you are like me, you may have to choose over and over and over. sometimes one right after the other until your mind gets untwisted. It’s ok. Just don’t get discouraged. There are times when Satan asks for permission to test us over a particular weakness. Don’t forget the power of your choice. Use it. It totally works, but it may take an hour and 20 choices.

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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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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.

 

 

 

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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.)

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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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