Thank God! We are NOT God!

Looking back, over a half century ago, at a little Presbyterian mission church outside of Chicago, I was taught that Abraham spread the word that there is only one God.  Centuries after Abraham, it appears that that lesson needs to be reviewed by many people in pop culture, and it is not only the New Agers.

 Mankind was created by God, in the image of Himself.  Like God, we create our own worlds, through our thoughts and actions, through the way we interact with other individuals, and through what media we choose to feed out psyches. 

 Like God, and often with the help of God, we answer the prayers of others as well as our own prayers. 

 Like God, we can often work miracles.  (If we can juggle a household and a career, and manage a budget in this era, who would deny that we can work miracles?)

 But we are NOT God!  Only God is God, and thankfully so. 

 God shares His very essence with us, and many feel His power deep within us.  But only God is God.  We are the vessel, but God steers the ship.  This should be a great comfort. 

 God is in charge of the universe.  He is not an impartial bystander.  He is a living, thinking, caring being.  God wants what is best for our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and add to that the lives of all creatures here on earth.

 I believe that those who say “we are gods,” may not know God.  Relationship with God does not mean that we are God.  We will not receive a promotion to be God. 

 I find comfort every day in knowing that only God is God, and God is in charge.  My boss is not God; the postman is not God, only God is God.

 Wouldn’t it be a fine kettle of fish if I actually was God?  What an awful mess that would be!  Have faith.

 W.S.

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Stepford Christians?

King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David, dancing, singing, rejoicing in joyful abandon.  David stripped out of his kingly garb, and clad in a priestly garment.  David triumphed in the carriage of the work God had called him to do.  There was singing, dancing, music and snacks for the multitudes who accompanied him.  Such disregard for self-control and timidity!

What about us? 

Last night I watched an old movie called “The Stepford Wives.”  (The original, not the remake.)  It was an eye-opening experience.  The movie explores how individuals can sometimes force themselves into molds, becoming robot-like in our behavior, giving up our true personality for perceived perfection.  This is all at the cost of the joy of living in freedom.

It dawned on me that this is how some Christians relegate their lives to robot-like behavior.  Sometimes entire congregations, or entire sects, can fall prey to this insanity.  Some sects want their followers to dress a certain way, behave a certain way, think a certain way.  Where is their individuality?  Where is their choice?  Where is God in all this?

We have a God of joyful abandon.  This does not mean to run naked through the streets.  This means to follow Him, not always the crowd.

In the village of Stepford the wives were relegated to household tasks and making themselves beautiful for their husbands.  Eventually, the robot would take over the wife’s entire person, and the woman would become that “perfect” robot. 

It is not always easy to suddenly start thinking for ourselves after undergoing years of indoctrination, and sometimes brain washing.  Breaking away is not always the most popular thing to do.

King David’s wife, Michal, criticized David for triumphing in the Lord’s work.  As a result, King David cut her off like a ripe fig, and she bore him no children.  Quite a price to pay for coming between King David and his Lord.  Have faith.

W.S.

 

Please see 2 Samuel Chapter 6 for the story of King David and the Ark of the Covenant.

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Pray? or Prey?

But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him.  Where are you?  Genesis 3:9 (Amplified Bible)

Shortly after creation, Adam disobeyed God, and therefore hid himself.  And so began alienation from God.  Soon, one thing led to another, and another, building a wall between God and mankind, and to present day, ourselves.  Until now, at best, most of us see God through a dim mirror, giving a blurred reflection of reality.  (Please see I Corinthians 13:12.)  (In fact why not read the whole book?)

Yet, in our alienation, as with the alienation of anyone we might love, we crave the attention and recognition of God.  We may pray often, hoping for any sign of relationship.

Believe me, my friends; there are people, sometimes bad people, who exploit this craving.  So many of us are looking for God.  Looking for God in romantic relationships.  Looking for God in songs we hear on the radio, or in the articles we read.  We are looking for God in our churches, in our schools, and in our families. 

 God seems so far away, yet He is as close as our next breath.  We all know this, deep down.  Many, many of us know that God is there, but we cannot experience that relationship or quell that craving.

In prayer we often can come close to God, even if only for a moment or two.  We may feel His soft, still presence.

Modern-day churches are filled with emotional performances and sermons.  Relationship with God is not an emotional rush.  Once the performance is over, many of us are left as we were, without lasting connection. 

It is through the life-giving, life-altering connection with Christ Jesus, in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls that brings lasting comfort and satisfaction.  It is the engagement with Him that can lead to the kinder, gentler existence that can only come through His agape love and guidance.  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest.”  Matthew 11:28 (Amplified Bible) Just ask!  Have faith.

W.S.

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“Worry”–the Millstone. “Guilt”–the Whip

Happiness, sympathy, anger, fear, worry, guilt.  Mankind was provided all of these emotions through creation.  They each have their season in our daily lives.  Yet each can be abused and also be the source of self-abuse.  In my experience, the two emotions that have been most painful in the past are “worry” and “guilt.”

 Sometimes a little worry can be a friend.  For instance, a little worry can lead to behavior that will spur us on to complete a project on time.  It is when we dwell on our worry that can be harmful. 

 I have been reading the New Testament book of Luke, Chapter 12 today.  Chapter 12 seems to deal with priorities.  Seeking the Kingdom of God over worldly concerns.  I was especially impressed with Luke 12:25 as it pertains to worry:

 “And which of you by being overly anxious and troubled with cares can add a cubit to his stature or a moment [unit] of time to his age [the length of his life]?”  Amplified Bible.

 Sometimes it seems that as we tread the water of our lives, along comes worry to weigh us down.  In my own experience, it can seem like a millstone, and worry can do nothing to keep me afloat.

 Keeping my eyes on the Kingdom with Jesus as my Guide goes a long way in helping me prioritize and relieves my stress.

 And then there is guilt.  Some would say a little guilt can be a good thing.  When I have done something bad, guilt can lead to remorse, repentance, and ultimately to forgiveness.

 Thinking back a few years, it is dwelling on guilt that could be a harsh punishment.  Like the millstone that sinks us, guilt can incapacitate us, and weigh us down.

 As a child I was taught to feel guilty about the crucifixion of Jesus.  Sometimes as though I was somehow personally responsible for His suffering.  And to some extent this is true.  It was my own sins, and the sins of mankind in general that caused the suffering of Jesus the Christ. 

 It is when we are taught to dwell upon His suffering that causes the undue pain and ultimately, our own suffering.

 Better to dwell with God in the joy of the resurrection and the promise of forgiveness that it holds.  Have faith.

 W.S.

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We have nothing to fear but . . .

The end of the world!  Chaos in the streets!  Total anarchy!  Sharks falling from the sky!  And all of this because I made a typo.

Sound extreme?  Maybe a little exaggeration, but not much.  There was a time in my life that I feared making a mistake so extremely that I thought the world would come to an end.

I was afraid that if I let God down, I would anger God, and it would be the end of the world.  This phase of my life signaled a disproportionate opinion of my importance.  As if making a typo, or putting too much salt in the spaghetti would have such a negative effect on the world as a whole.

There was a time when I feared God so extremely that I was unable to function effectively.  I was afraid He would rain fire and brimstone on the world for nothing more than an honest mistake.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our failings that we cannot function.  Maybe we were never told about how God wants us to succeed.   We were never told that God is our loving partner, not our jailer.

So fear incapacitates us.  Fear of error can lead us away from God, not toward Him, as I have learned.

Instead, a wise pastor talked of the fear of God as being a respect for His Authority.  How can we be of service to God, or each other, when we are knotted up that if we fail, or we err, we will suffer calamity and tribulation?  This is not my God.  Is it yours?

It is a walk with God walking next to us that saves us from this fear, perhaps a little at a time, until it is resolved and disintegrates.  Jesus is our leader, guiding us away from the shadow of fear and finally into the light of Love and Peace.

I am not ashamed to say that I have made many typos, and that lasagna I made for dinner last night was a little too salty.  Have faith, not fear.

W.S.

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Birth Pangs of the Kingdom

I come from a prolific family, some of my kin giving birth to as many as eight children.  (Not all at one time.)  On holidays, when my family gathered, the ladies would sit around the table talking, and often would come the childbirth stories. 

 Each story was unique, and as a child I would sit in a corner of the dining room in awe. It would be a shame if a woman underwent that miracle of birth and did not wish to talk about it!

 Later, when it was my turn to labor, my mother reminded me that each labor pain was a progression to the miracle that was about to happen, and that that was one pain that I did not have to relive.

 I have a friend who is about to become a grandpa for the first time.  New birth is on my mind.  I looked in vain for the passage where Jesus compares entering the Kingdom of Heaven to birth pains.  I know it is there, but instead I was directed to Matthew 24:8. 

 Matthew 24:8 views the birth of the Kingdom in broader terms, not singularly, but encompassing the world.   It talks about nations making war against nation, about earthquakes, about famines, about false prophets. 

 “All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish}”  Amplified Bible.

 Bad news, or good news?   On one hand, giving birth can be almost intolerably painful.  (Ladies, you know what I am talking about here.)  But on the other hand, soon we will be delivered a brand new bundle of joy, full of promise and love.

 We are living in a dangerous world.  There are wars, earthquakes, famine and often terror.  The Kingdom of Heaven will not be delivered to us surgically.  We must bear down with each intolerable pain and know that soon we will be free of the pain and anguish.

 I am not saying here that God is sending all these calamities.  I am saying, rise above the pain and look toward the end of the labor, with a new “being”, full consciousness of the Kingdom of God, to rejoice.

 It will not be easy, but just as our children are born, and we experience with them each phase of life, our Father in Heaven is rejoicing with us.  Have faith.

 W.S.

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