Tag Archives: “What is God really like?”

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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“Seeing Law as Love”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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What is God Really Like?

I had a dream a year ago that was pure feel good. I was in heaven, I think. Everything was very bright. Just the lighting itself was incredible! And the feelings! I felt like I could do or be anything–feeling truly me. The people were amazing. So shining and smiling. So unbelievably welcoming and gracious. I felt totally wanted there, totally accepted and loved. I met someone who was the leader. He didn’t look like Jesus, but He was. He was amazing. Everyone wanted to spend time with him. His presence felt so freeing, so satisfying. I never wanted to leave there. And then I woke up and wanted to go back. It is hard to put the feelings into words.

Writing Exodus has made me hungry to experience God. Moses had 40 days and nights in His presence! What would that be like? I attempted to write the feelings he had that morning. “Moses wakes up excited, today I am going up the mountain to meet with God!”  What thoughts he must have had!  He had felt the ground shake and heard the huge voice the day before. And he had to wait six days on the edge of the cloud with Joshua so he wouldn’t be consumed by the energy. What if he had thought this is taking way too long. I’ve got to get back to work.

Do you have a time when it’s just you and God? Have you experienced the good feelings that come in His presence? It can take time, but it’s so worth it. Is anything really more important?

I think it was a gift God wanted to give him. He had a hard job! Moses in the mountain with God didn’t eat or drink for 40 days because he didn’t need to. I’m sure he didn’t even think about it. From the bottom, the Israelites perspective, it looked like the mountain was on fire. Talk about lighting! His face shone so much they couldn’t look at him! It must have been hard to come back.

 

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