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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Desire to Delight in God


 
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psalm 37:4-5

There was a time in my youth when I claimed these verses for myself.  I would pray them to God, reminding Him of His great promise to me to give me the desires of my heart.  At the time I was not petitioning Him, but rather demanding Him to give me the desires of my heart!   And He did.

What I most desired at the time was not what God wanted for me.  What I most desired at the time eventually brought me extreme pain and misery.  God knew that to begin with. What's worse is that I knew that God knew that, because He had told me so! But I was too stubborn, selfish, and prideful to admit it.  I wanted it, and God's Word said that He would give it to me (at least the way I was reading it), so that was that!

Later, after licking my wounds, drying my tears and wiping my nose, I went back and read these verses again.  This time, however, I actually saw them.  The very first part of the Scripture instructs me to "delight yourself in the LORD".  That's the part I skipped over!  I neglected to keep my end of the bargain.  If I had delighted in the LORD, then I would have listened to Him and realized that the thing I wanted was not right for me.  He had something much better in mind. I also obviously neglected to "commit" my way to Him as well.  I wanted my way - plain and simple.  But again, His way was so much higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9), but I was not willing to believe it, which means I didn't really trust Him.


How often do we see what we want to see in God's Word?  How often to we take a part of Scripture here, but leave others?  How often do we lay hold of God's promises, yet refuse to see our responsibility?  How often do we take advantage of the grace of God because we are ignoring His holiness and the command that He has given to us to "be holy as I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16)? I would like to say that I learned my lesson the first time, but like so many others, I'm a slow learner!  I hate to admit that off and on throughout the years of my life, I have gone back to claiming parts of Scripture for myself without fulling acknowledging that there is an act of obedience that precedes God's blessings.  Just as with a parent/child relationship - if a child wants to experience freedom and rewards, they must prove they are responsible and obedient (honestly, I hesitate using such simplistic analogies because our Heavenly Father is so much greater than any earthly model).

My point is this: Picking and choosing the parts of Scripture that make us feel good while leaving out the parts that hold us accountable to Almighty God, will only hurt us in the long run.  We are short-changing ourselves when we try to manipulate Him!  There is a reason that God has commanded His children to walk in obedience, to delight in Him, to trust Him, and that reason is because He is God and He knows what is best for us.  Yes - it is that simple.

Not only are we short-changing ourselves, but we are grieving our Heavenly Father, Who is holy, righteous and just!  When we walk in partial obedience, we are actually walking in complete disobedience.  And the results will always be pain and disappointment.  

So, I exhort you to read through the Scriptures slowly and intentionally.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 16:13, Psalm 25:5), to show you wondrous things in God's Torah (instructions) (Psalm 119:18), to help you to trust Him with all your heart & to lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Ask the Holy Spirit to help you walk in obedience and keep His commandments (2 John 1:6).

Delight yourself in the LORD, and (then) He will give you the desires of your heart.  You know why?  Because then your desires will be HIS desires, and He desires His best for you! 



 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spiritual Parallels in "Tomorrowland"

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
1 Corinthians 13:11.  

Some of my favorite TV programs growing up were Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, One Day at a Time, Growing Pains, and Family Ties, just to name a few.  Now that I am an adult and a parent, whenever I watch these programs today using my "Mommy lenses", I can see how much of what was in those programs actually did, well, program me! Growing up, I was a strong-willed, independently minded girl, which I attributed to my mother's influence, who was a very strong and independent woman herself.  However, over the years I have realized that entertainment also played a large role in my upbringing. Although, at the time I would have vehemently denied it, writing it off as "Just a TV show!", or "It's just a movie - it's not real!"  

Last night my husband and I went to see the movie Tomorrowland, a Walt Disney production science-fiction type movie.  I didn't know what to expect, so I had no predetermined ideas concerning the movie.  Honestly, I did not find it very entertaining, but perhaps I would have if I had waited until it was in the "dollar theater".  I will say that all throughout the movie I couldn't help but recognize some programming of sorts, or to use a stronger word - propaganda.  Dare I say - there are even spiritual parallels woven throughout the story.  

Now I know that there are many people who might roll their eyes at me and blow it off as, "It's just a movie!".  I've already established that I once thought that way as well.  And honestly, I refrain from sharing many things that I think (I know you might find that shocking) because I might be considered crazy or weird.  But I guess I'm reaching that age where I don't care what people think about me.  

Before I go into the spiritual parallels that I noticed in the movie, I'm going to share why I think they even exist. Believers in Christ are exhorted in Ephesians 6:10-17: 


 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

There is a spiritual battle going on, and since it is spiritual, most of it takes place out of our physical capacity to see.  But one of the ways we are able to see it manifested is in the entertainment world: movies, TV shows, music, etc.  The devil does not want anyone to know that there is a spiritual battle.  He goes out of his way to make such things seem ridiculous, and Tomorrowland reflects this mentality.  

SPOILERS AHEAD

I was surprised to find that Tomorrowland is an apocalyptic movie.  It is full of images of nuclear bomb explosions, riots, and natural disasters.  In fact, at the beginning of the movie, the main character is shown in different classes at school where her instructors are teaching the end of the world, and of course each teacher comes across as a crazed lunatic obsessed with man-made global warming.  The girl is desperate to find out what can be done, but no one has the answer.   This girl, Casey, is chosen, or "recruited", by Athena, who comes from the future. It is thought that Casey IS the answer to the world's problems.  Athena takes Casey to Frank, a man who, as a boy, had already been to the future, but apparently built something that messed everything up, so he was exiled back to the present day.  However, he was needed (for some reason that wasn't made clear to me) to get Casey to Tomorrowland so that she could fix whatever it was he created (side note: Casey never really did anything, she just had a good idea, which if Frank was so brilliant to begin with, he should have thought of already).  Of course there are robot type people who are trying to kill them both along the way.  They finally get to Tomorrowland and discover that the head honcho there, Nix, is really the one who has been putting the "doom and gloom" thoughts in the people's minds, which is actually causing the world to come to an end.  He is doing this because he doesn't want anyone to cross over into Tomorrowland (the future?).  Casey's big idea is to destroy the thing that Frank had made that was making it possible for Nix to control the people's minds, and then everything would fix itself (yeah, I know).  After much struggle and of course much destruction of things (including the female robot who went to get Casey), Frank's invention was destroyed.  The movie ends with Frank and Casey addressing new recruits to go back into, I don't even know what to call it - the real world, the past, Earth?  - I don't know!  Frank stands before them flashing a huge smile with a twinkle in his eye, speaking in an "It's all going to be OK" tone.  Casey is there with him and hands out these pins for the recruits to take to people (other dreamers) so that they can cross over into Tomorrowland.  

So, what I saw in the movie is that yes, the world is coming to an end, but it's all God's fault (represented by Nix).  He can stop it, but he refuses to because he is mean and selfish and doesn't really want anyone in heaven (Tomorrowland).  

Frank and Casey are the true saviors - representative of the Antichrist and the False Prophet.  The pins that are to be handed out represent the mark of the beast, which will be the only way anyone can buy or sell in the last days when that time really comes.  (read the entire book of Revelation)

There! I said it!  

Yes, there really is a time when the world as we know it will end.  God IS in control, but He is warning everyone ahead of time so that they can choose to repent and follow Him, thus making it possible for anyone who chooses to enter into His kingdom.  
 
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
 Psalm 145:17-19
 
The devil knows all of this and is moving ahead at full speed deceiving the masses so that they will think there is nothing to it!  It's the old, "Did God really say?" lie that he first told in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1).  The devil is unoriginal - he copies everything that God does!  The devil is also desperate, and he wants nothing more than to keep as many people as possible out of the kingdom of God.  Don't let him lie to you!  Don't let him make you think that God isn't real, heaven isn't real, or that hell isn't real!  

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people say that they don't believe in God because they can't see Him.  More often than not, these same people will ask others to send them "good vibes" or "good thoughts" whenever they are having a hard time.  Can vibes or thoughts be seen? No! Is there any power in vibes or thoughts? So why are those things acceptable to believe in but not God?  It all comes down to accountability.  We don't want to be held accountable.  It's not comfy to think about standing before an Almighty, Holy God Who will judge us!  But not believing in Him does not negate His existence!  A person desiring "good vibes" or "good thoughts" is indicative of their inner most being KNOWING that there is someone higher than themselves.  Romans 1:18-20 states it clearly: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

Again, I want to encourage you - don't let the devil lie to you!  Call out to God and He will answer!  

  Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6

 If from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23 

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9 

 


Oh, and the very last scene of the movie shows the "dreamers" in a wheat field, which reminded me of the verse where Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Luke 10:2)







 



 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Safe Place to Take Root and Grow

A new season of gardening has come, bringing with it more teachable moments. This morning while I was out pulling weeds, I was waiting to hear from the LORD.  I wasn't sure whether or not there was anything new that He could teach me in the garden.  After all, this is my sixth year having one.  I had decided not to listen to my iPod, just in case He had something to say to me.  Well, I wasn't disappointed. 

Today I noticed that there were a few green bean plants growing in places where I did not initially plant them.  They were close to where I planted them, but definitely not in the exact same place.  What I think happened is after some heavy rains we've received, the seeds I planted were washed away just slightly.  Thankfully, because I have a border around the garden, they weren't washed away completely.  They were still in a safe place where they could take root and grow.  

The LORD told me that the border around my garden is much like His Torah.  He gave His Torah (His instructions) to His people in order to set safe perimeters.  He then reminded me that sometimes in life His people experience periods of heavy rains, or storms, but as long as we remain within His set boundaries, we will still have a safe place to take root and grow.  

Joshua 1:7-8 tells us: 

Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.…

Having just recently come to understand that all of the LORD's commandments still apply to His people today means that I am still learning what all of those applicable commandments even are.  I'm starting to recognize the safe perimeters He has laid out.  I see these borders as a demonstration of His love for me, even if I don't understand them all just yet. Much like when my children were toddlers, their father and I set perimeters for them, showing them where they could go and what they could do. These borders were not given to keep them from fun, rather we laid them out for their well being.  Our rules & instructions provided freedom and safety for our children.  The freedom was their ability to enjoy life knowing that they were safe as long as they obeyed their father and me. 

As a child of the Most High God, I am to follow His Torah - His instructions (Exodus 18:20).  Because I love my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, I am to obey His commandments (John 14:15). Doing so gives me a safe place to take root and grow
 

Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.
Psalm 119:17-24 




 
                                                (This picture is of my garden in 2013)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weeping in the Prayer Closet - Longing for and finding more of God

For several years now I have felt a void in my spiritual life.  I have sensed that something was missing.  I would go to my prayer closet and pray, and many times I would weep.  I would cry out to God:  "I want more! More of YOU!", not truly realizing what that meant. 

Even though I cried out for more of God, I did not think that my sense of emptiness had anything to do with my relationship with Him. I know that sounds odd, but I was faithful to read and study His Word, I was faithful in meeting together with other believers, and I was faithful in living out my faith - so I thought.

Now I understand.

If you have not yet read my post about Connecting the Dots, please do so.  In it I shared how God has been leading me on a journey of recognizing the importance and relevance even today for His children to follow His commandments.  

Now that I have that understanding and am doing all that I can to be obedient in following His instructions (or Torah, as it is frequently referred to), I have so much more joy in my heart and peace in my spirit!  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  How can following a "bunch of rules" bring joy and peace? 

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.   
I Corinthians 1:27 

That verse came to my mind as I was praying in my prayer closet this morning.  The world considers the things of God to be foolish, and yes, even weak.  I again cried before the LORD, but this time my tears were tears of joy!  He is so faithful, so compassionate, so kind, and so patient (Exodus 34)!  I was thanking Him for answering my heart's cry for more of Him, and for spiritual unity with my husband and my children.     

Now don't misunderstand me.  My husband and my children have always been close - praise be to GOD!  But in my time of hunger and thirsting for more, I knew that somehow it also included my family.  I knew that whatever it was that was missing for me, was also missing for them.  

Since my husband and I both have submitted to following our Father's commandments, we have grown closer to one another. We have seen our children follow with a desire to obey Him as well.  That is huge!  

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. 
Psalm 72:19 

So why do I now believe that God's Laws are still relevant for His children today? I simply believe that He says what He means, and He means what He says!  The Bible, the Word of God, clearly states that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1).  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The LORD does not change (Malachi 3:6). God is not human that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) . So when God said that we are to keep the Sabbath day holy, He meant the Sabbath day! (Exodus 31:15; Leviticus 23:3) When He said that HIS appointed times (feasts) are to be kept FOREVER (throughout your generations), well, He means FOREVER (throughout your generations)! (Leviticus 23). 

More often than not whenever I would go to my prayer closet, I end up praying Proverbs 3:5-6 over myself, my family, and the Body of Christ.  These verses say: 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I see this prayer as being the Holy Spirit teaching me how to pray (see Romans 8:26).  My spirit knew that I was missing out on the fullness of God because I was not following His commandments!  My spirit understood before my mind understood that God's Law is trustworthy & true, it is light, it is perfect, and it is freedom!  (see Psalm 119)

Now that I have determined to follow the LORD's commandments to the best of my ability, I have a new level of love for Him, and a new level of peace. I also have a new level of gratitude for what Jesus did for me.  

I was thinking more about that today.  Jesus is the Word (I've already said that, I know), the Word of God tells us God's instructions.  So Jesus is essentially God's instructions for us to follow. Jesus is the Law. He came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it (see Matthew 5:17).  The meaning of the word "fulfill" means: 

to fulfill, to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to render full, i.e. to complete; to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise; i.e. to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment 

The meaning of the word "destroy" means: to dissolve, disunite (what has been joined together), to destroy, demolish metaph. to overthrow i.e. render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught; to subvert, overthrow; of institutions, forms of government, laws, etc., to deprive of force, annul, abrogate, discard

I share all of that with you to help you follow my train of thoughts this morning (I hope it works). Jesus was essentially the Law of God showing us how to keep the Law of God.  He willingly laid down His life on the cross for those who had broken and would break the Law of God!  He took our punishment for breaking God's Law upon Himself!  

I don't think that I'm doing a very good job of expressing the magnitude of that loving act! 

All I know is that I love Jesus for Who He is and for what He did for me.  And because I love Him, I want to obey Him and walk as He walked by keeping God's commandments (Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; Proverbs 3:1; Proverbs 4:4 John 15:10; John 14:15; 1 John 2).  


Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rulesc of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.





Friday, April 3, 2015

How Do You Listen?

Jesus often spoke in parables.  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a parable is: "a short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson; especially : one of the stories told by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible." To be honest, I haven't always understood these parables of Jesus, but neither did His disciples, which at times has comforted me. 

One of the more recent parables that I have read is found in Luke 8:4-15

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“ ‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

After reading this the other day, I found myself stopping, going back and reading through it again.  I did this several times.  For some reason I just felt like this was where I needed to "camp out" for a bit, until the deeper meaning settled into my spirit.  The main reason I felt the need to do so is because of the next portion in Luke 8:16-18:

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

I wondered, why did Jesus go from talking about a farmer and seed to a lamp?  So I went all the way back to verse 4 and read through to verse 18, taking notes along the way. My notes look something like this: 

  • seed = Word of God 
  • path = ones who hear, devil takes away word from their hearts
  • rock = ones who receive word with joy, but have not root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing, fall away
  • thorns = those who hear but do not mature because life's worries AND comfort (riches and pleasures) 
  • good soil = those with noble & good hearts, hear the word AND retain it, produce crop by perseverance       
Then I decided to do a search on the word "lamp".  Here is what I found:

2 Samuel 22:29 (KJV)  "For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness."

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."

Proverbs 6:23 (ESV) "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,"

Psalm 119:130 (ESV) "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

I started to understand why Jesus went from "seed" to "lamp".  They both mean the same thing: God's Word!  

Luke 8:18 really made me stop and think.  It says: "Therefore, consider carefully how you listen.

How we listen to God's Word determines whether or not we (our hearts) are the path, the rock, the thorns or the good soil.  And if the good soil is representative of us and our hearts, then there will be light!  When we have the light of God's Word shining in us, we need to put it out there for everyone else to see!  







 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Connecting the Dots

I consider myself to be a pretty transparent person in that I freely share the struggles and the victories that I have experienced in life.  My overall struggle in life has been with depression, which, praise God, I have been delivered from resulting in victory! (search my blog for posts specifically related to this)

However, my transparency isn't limited only to my experience with depression.  I now want to open myself up to others as the Lord is leading me through a time of spiritual understanding like I have never experienced before!  He is giving me a fresh look at His Word.  I have been having more "Aha!" moments in the past two months or so than I have had during my 30+ years as a follower of Christ.

Over the years as I have read and studied my Bible, there have been nagging thoughts in the back of my mind.  Some things that I was being taught just didn't seem to line up with God's Word, but because they were being taught by people with more education than I have, I just took their word for it.  I would skim over the troubling passages and assume that once I got to heaven, I could ask Jesus about them all.

Some of the things that bothered me were:

  • Why did Jesus say to keep His commandments if He was going to "do away" with them?
  • Why does Paul seem to contradict what Jesus said, AND even himself at times? 
  • Why do some people say we need the Law to show us our sin, but then after we're saved, we no longer need to follow the Law?  For instance, why is the commandment concerning the Sabbath overlooked?
  • Why did Jesus say He would be buried for three days and nights, but we're taught that He died on Friday and rose on Sunday?  
  • Why did Jesus talk so much about persecution if we're going to be "raptured" before the Tribulation?
  • Why are we to "die to self" and "take up our cross daily"? What does this even mean? I don't feel like I have had to deny anything so far! 
These are just a few of the things that nagged at me.  Until...

...this is where it becomes more challenging for me to share my thought process, because there has been no one thing that led me to where I am today.  God has placed dots in my life - people and things - and now He is helping me to connect them.

One dot came in the form of home schooling my children.  When my daughter was in the first grade, my husband and I enrolled her in public school.  I strongly believed that we needed to home school her, but my husband was not in agreement with me at the time.  However, after only six weeks of her being in the public school system and seeing the amount of work she brought home with her to do after being in school for six hours already, and after hearing some of the things that her innocent eyes were seeing and ears were hearing, and after I continually prayed for God to help my husband be in agreement with me about home schooling, we pulled her out.

So now that I was responsible for her education, I began doing a ton of research.  I  determined that unit studies were the way to go.  A unit study is simply taking a certain topic and tailoring all the subjects around that topic.  Since I was the teacher, I got to choose the topics.  History is my favorite subject, so I decided to research the historical roots of things. I also wanted to make the learning process for my kids applicable to life, so I used topics that would (hopefully) interest them as well.

I said all of that to lead into why I began researching the holidays that we celebrate.  I'm not going to lie (that would not be transparent of me, would it?) - what I discovered made my heart sink!  The origins of Halloween was a huge eye opener.  Although when you think about it, it really should not have been surprising to find out the evil roots of that holiday.  It is really extremely obvious if you are willing to admit it.  What really shocked me and rocked me to the core was what I discovered about Christmas and Easter!  I'm not going to go into detail here, but let me just say that most of the resources I used at the time were secular, so it's not like I was taking some radically misguided, legalistic Christian's view point of things at face value. The things I discovered were definitely a big dot!

Year after year of home schooling requires continued research.  It seems like I have always been looking ahead to the next school year, so I am pretty much always trying to find what curriculum I should buy next.  I can't remember exactly when I discovered a curriculum that was based on the Hebrew roots of Christianity, but that is another dot the Lord placed in my life.  This was a dot that intrigued me, and I really wanted to use this curriculum, but for whatever reason (probably fear and doubt), I did not.  This is one of those things that if I could do all over again, I would!  But one of the things I did pull from that was teaching the Biblical Feasts.  That was a very exciting topic for me!  I was amazed at the details that pointed directly to the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  I began to see just how deliberate God is in everything that He does!  Sadly, the significance of this did not really take root in my heart just yet.

If a person reads the Bible, it is not difficult to see that God has a special love relationship with Israel.  I have always attributed my love and affection for Israel as simply an extension of my love for God.  In a way that is true - but that is not all there is to it.  Another dot.

I have always been drawn to the Old Testament.  The prophets fascinate me with their ability to hear from God and to speak with such confidence, "Thus sayeth the LORD".  I used to think this fascination stemmed from having the spiritual gift of prophecy and my desire to understand that gift, but now I see that it was just another dot.

For as long as I can remember I have been a rule follower.  I was almost always the teacher's pet in school because of it!  But that was also a dot placed there by my Father.

Another dot in my life is the fact that I tend to see things as black or white - no grey, much less fifty shades of them!  (sorry, I couldn't resist)

And then there is my favorite chapter of the Bible - Psalm 119.  This chapter talks solely about God's laws, precepts, commandments, precepts, ways, etc. (all of which mean the same thing) and how they are life, light, truth, freedom and so on. It also happens to be the longest chapter in the entire Bible!  Coincidence? I think not! I now see it - you guessed it - as another dot! (hey, that rhymed!)

And finally, for the past two years or so whenever I wanted to study something in particular, I would pray about it and ask God where I should start.  Every time He told me, "In the beginning", so I would start reading in Genesis in search of the topic I was interested in at the time.  I actually began a Youtube channel and have shared some things on Genesis 1-7. 

So what picture am I describing as a result of connecting these dots?  I wish I could attach a visual (I did look for a picture, but didn't find one that I liked), but unless you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about how as a Child of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I am to obey His commandments out of love for Him.

I can't really point to one specific person, date or event that occurred to help me connect the dots in my life, but I will share with you some of the things that God has used to help me.  
I'll share them in the order in which I found them (at least the best my memory allows):

The history channel is where I learned a lot about the pagan roots of the holidays.  I started looking into this a long time ago, so I don't remember all of the resources I used.  However, some resources I found for other things also talk about this.  They are listed below.

The Fuel Project on Youtube, in particular the Know Your Enemy and Revelation series was an eyeopener.

119 Ministries at www.testeverything.net (also found on Youtube) explains about the perceived contradictions of Paul and many other misconceptions.  This ministry has played a very large role in helping me (and my husband) to connect the dots!

Passion for Truth is another very influential ministry, and I highly recommend the Identity Crisis video.  Talk about WOW!

And then there are people whom God has brought into my life - friends who are a bit ahead of my husband and myself on this path, but who are so patient and understanding and eager to help us, and people who I "just happened" to meet without even looking for them, also trying to live according to Torah (God's instructions). 

So, now what?  Well, like it says in Psalm 119, God's Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).  With His help, my family and I will take one step at a time to walk according to His precepts (1 Kings 2:3).  I can't say that it is going to be easy, because I don't think it will be - at first.  After all, we have a lifetime of false teaching to undo! So far I feel like I'm going through the stages of grief:

1. Denial - this is why it has taken me years to get to this point.  I didn't want to admit that I was misunderstanding God's Word.

2. Anger - I go back and forth at being angry at myself for not following up on my doubts sooner and being upset with the teachers who have continued to hand down the misunderstandings of God's Word.  Overall, I feel cheated.

3. Bargaining - I guess this is an overflow of the feeling cheated.  I think, "If only" this and that, then I wouldn't be here.

4. Depression - Again, the feeling cheated aspect has been huge.  But I have to remember that God will restore what the locusts have eaten, and now that my husband and I know, God will help us from here on out.

5. Acceptance - I think I am finally at this stage.  I, along with my family, am looking in the Scriptures very intentionally to see what changes need to be made in our lives to be more in line with God's will. 

I know this is a lot to take in!  Trust me, I know! I'm sure that once we start making these changes, there will be people in our lives who will not understand (and this has already started).  I get that.  But, I agree with the psalmist:

In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11) 

Some of the changes we have already implemented are: not eating pork or anything that God calls unclean (my daughter and I have been vegetarians for over two years now, so this one wasn't hard for us!), doing our best to observe the seventh day as commanded by God to be our sabbath rest, and we are also going to keep the LORD's appointed feasts the best way we know how.  

All of this is foreign to us simply because we were not raised this way ,but we truly desire to please our Father.  I remember how when my children were little and their dad and I taught them how to do things for themselves, like make their bed, fold their clothes, etc., we didn't expect them to do everything perfectly the first time.  Some things take time, practice and patience.  We trust that our Heavenly Father, who is long-suffering, compassionate and kind, will understand our learning process.

I strongly encourage you to search these things for yourself.  We are told to "test everything and hold onto the things that are good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you don't want to look into the ministries that I mentioned above, then do a word study on "sabbath", "commandments", and "laws".  Be sure to find out the Hebrew or Greek meanings for these words and others.  Unfortunately, the translation process of the Scriptures has twisted many things.  Thank God for the internet and having resources literally at our fingertips now!  I highly recommend biblehub.com for this.  Also, remember to keep things in context as you read.  Reading an entire book through at one sitting really helps. 

Perhaps you have all sorts of questions for me and maybe even some Bible verses to share.  I would actually like that.  One of my passions is examining the Scriptures to see if what I'm being told is true, just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).  I only regret that I didn't do this sooner as thoroughly as I should have.  Just remember that the Scriptures the Bereans examined were the Torah (in case you aren't familiar with that term, the Torah is referring to the first five books in the Bible).  


Psalm 119:1-8 

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—

they do no wrong
but follow his ways.You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.

Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!

Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.

I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.

I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.



Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Whatsoever Filter (Not settling for less)


The other night my daughter and I watched an episode of Once Upon a Time from season three.  In this episode, the evil queen talked about using "blood magic" that only she (supposedly) was able to undo.  However, (spoiler alert) unbeknownst to her, she has a half-sister - the Wicked Witch of the West (yes, the one from Oz). She also had the ability to use and undo this "blood magic".  

Now this should have been (and to be completely honest it was) a major red flag!  However, I let it slide and continued to watch the episode.  That night I had a demonic dream (nightmare), and when I awoke from it I knew exactly why.  By simply watching that show, I opened the door to demonic influences.  I immediately renounced watching the show and reclaimed my spiritual ground through the authority of Jesus Christ.  I informed my daughter that we would no longer watch Once Upon a Time

I KNEW BETTER than to watch that show, but I lowered my standards and gave the devil a foothold.  I know that I'm not the only one.  There is so much garbage out there that we are exposing ourselves to and calling it "harmless entertainment"! It's Eve and the serpent all over again!  "Did God really say?", the devil asks us, but we ignore it.  We're bored, we need something to pass the time, and besides, "It's just a show", so it won't harm us.  Psalm 84:11 says: "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." Every time we choose to watch, listen to or read something that is not pleasing to God, we are basically saying to Him that His best simply isn't good enough for us!

We wonder why we struggle with the same sins day after day.  Well, it really should not be that difficult to figure out!  We turn on the TV show or go to the movie theater where we expose ourselves to profanity, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, murder, lying, cheating, blasphemy, etc..  Every time we choose to participate in those things, we harden our hearts against (or grieve) the Holy Spirit, and the door is opening wider and wider for the enemy to have access to our lives.  

I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them.   
Psalm 101:3 

Again, let me remind you, Child of the Most High God, that the King does not withhold any good thing from you, if you walk uprightly!  So why do we settle for so much less?  

Genesis 4:6-7 

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Before you continue watching that beloved series on Netflix, before you go to the theater to watch the next blockbuster, before you purchase the latest recording artist's album, stop and ask yourself if the One Who formed you and knows what is best for you, would wrap it up, put a bow on it, and personally hand it to you for your enjoyment.  If He would, then by all means unwrap it and delight in the gift!  If you know that He would not, but would rather throw it to the swine, then don't indulge in it!  Don't roll in that muck and dirty the garments of righteousness that Christ gave to you.  Trust in Him and trust that He wants to lavish you with good gifts!  

Matthew 7:9-11
 Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 God has told us to use a the "whatsoever" filter: 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 
Ephesians 4:17-23
 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.