Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Circle of Anger

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9

Everything has an opposite and even contains its opposite depending on your perspective. Try this experiment: Point your index finger to make circles to the right in the air as if you were writing them on an imaginary board in front of you. Continue to make those circles but turn your hand so you are writing on the back side of your imaginary board, which will give you the perspective of your circles as would be seen if a person was facing you and you will see that your circles are turning left, the opposite direction. The direction did not change, only your perception of it.

Opposites are more complicated than just hot and cold, especially with emotions. Some say the opposite of love is hate and others say indifference is the opposite of love and hate. Actually, both are true and false. (I do try to warn people that I am complicated.) I believe that everything tends to contain on the flip side or it draws in/attracts its opposite, like the opposing poles of a magnet. So, in one aspect love is the opposing attractor of hate.

One really cannot hate something he did not love, which brings me back to the term "love." We really cannot love something that does not have the capacity to give love. For instance, as much time as I spend on my tech devices and appreciate what I can do with them and really feel lost without them because of my dependency on them, I do not really grieve when one of them "dies." Also, I do not think my tech is being uncooperative because it hates me. I may say I hate or love this or that, but in reality only the beings (people and animals) that stir my heart to grief when they are gone forever are the things I love.

If we look at a bipolar magnet, we see a north pole and a south pole with equal forces, like the earth. Now, let's imagine love being one pole and hate being the other. If we had another love-hate magnet, and placed the love side near the hate side of the other, they would attract. If we place the hate sides together, they would repel as would the love sides. Now the hate sides repelling makes perfect sense, but the love sides? Well, what happens when two men love the same woman? Yeah, that is when you can see that love also attracts hate.

Lesser known is that exactly in the middle of a bipolar magnet about the width of a needle is an area that has no magnetic pull at all. It is called the Bloch Wall. The Bloch Wall in our love-hate magnet is indifference. So while love and hate attract each other, indifference attracts neither. Technically, love and hate are opposites, but neither love or hate has any influence with indifference. So, if we lived in the Bloch Wall of indifference or perfect neutrality, we would neither feel love or hate.

God is not indifferent.

One of the things that intrigues me about the scriptures are the things that is not written. This is one of those things. We have read that God hates sins and He loves us, but there is no place in the Bible that even suggests that God is ever indifferent. God just has never said, " I don't care."

God cares.

God has feelings.

God both loves and hates.

We both love and hate because God made us in His image.

God is not indifferent, so we are also not indifferent.

Therefore, everyone has feelings about everything. Everyone has an opinion. And, our capacity to love something is the same as our capacity to hate it. What makes all the difference is we also have the capacity to choose. We can choose to turn our hand and see the another perspective of the circle.

God did this with us and for us. He brought is Son into the world as one of us to experience our perspective and He provided us with His perspective of His Kingdom through Jesus.

Now, imagine the circular motion itself represents anger and on one side of the motion of anger is love and the other is hate. That makes sense, does it not? You usually become angry with people you love because they did not live up to an expectation (I invite you to read: Changing My Expectations) and about things you hate. Remember that no matter which way you move around or change perspective, the circular motion is still representative of anger.

Yesterday, I was in a store waiting in a check out line watching an older woman in another check out line placing her items on the conveyor belt. It was obvious difficult for her and I thought in that moment that I could leave my place and go help her, but then I saw the man behind her chose to do that. It was a black man helping a white woman. Now, normally I do not "see" color but with all the racial tensions that have been building in my country, I now notice. Was this man angry at white people or this woman angry at black people? I do not know, but in that moment there was kindness without color. It was something that would make God smile. This simple act of a few seconds that went largely unnoticed beyond the two involved certainly made me smile for long after it happened. I actually felt that there is hope because one black man chose to help one white woman. In my little part of Georgia, racial tensions are quite low and I think that is because of the stronghold of Christianity here. Even those who are not Christian are influenced by it.

What if a person chose to actually change the force of the circle itself? There still would be love on one side and hate on the other, but anger would not be the driving force. What would be the driving force between hate and love? Some might say happiness, joy, or even delight, but remember that the potentials for love and hate must still generated in equal capacity.

I think the opposite direction is something more Godly in nature, like blessedness, sanctification, holiness, righteousness, or simply spiritual-mindedness. That now takes away our selfish and self-centered influences on love and hate and moves our hearts to be Spirit-directed. There will still be love and hate, but it will be God centered. What makes so many Christians angry might only be a symptom of our lack of depending on or having faith in God!

So now when I have ongoing anger I ask myself why. Is it because of an expectation I had that is not met? Am I just over tired and irritable? Is something stirring the Spirit within me? Or is it that I made a choice to allow anger be the force of my circle instead of staying spiritually minded? 

My Lord, please forgive me of my anger. Let me not my lack in my dependence on You or faith in You. Let anger not be a force in me but only Your Spirit.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Christians Picking Sides

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. -1 John 4:7-8

One of my dearest friends, who is also my muse, has been rather vexed because of the volatile pressures building within Christendom and widening divide between conservatives and liberal thinking polarizing God's people. Which one is the more morally right? I tend to think both are right and both are wrong. Speaking strictly of Christians, both sides could have the right heart, but tackle the problem from a completely opposing and even combative mindset. Both prioritize, focus on making a change for the better as they see it, and push aside all that has less value or is inconsequential to them.

Before I continue I will confess that I am conservative, but at times faced with the problems it can leave in its wake, I wonder if I melt into the shallows of being a somewhat closet liberal. (I said this to my husband once and I thought I was going to have to do CPR.) However, I know that there really is no middle ground. People in the middle are just too wishy-washy for either side.

I used to not like to pick sides. It reminds me of picking team members for a playground game and someone always is always left feeling hurt. There are the firsts, the seconds, the lasts as in the ones nobody really wants...and sometimes ones who are just plain left out. Would I be picked on the liberal team? No! Would I be left out? I think people realize I am very conservative, but I am probably not outspoken enough to be a first pick, which means I am also not as much a target or threat to the other they would think. They may even think I can sympathize with them, which is true.

No, I am not definitely liberal, but I can see the liberal side of thinking. I can understand it, but that does not mean that I can tolerate it well all the time, especially when liberal interpretation is applied to scripture. I once had this long and rather lively discussion on a local message board when one liberal Christian wrote "love is God." In the scriptures, it is written, "God is love."

Now the liberal sees this in the simplest form: if God = love, then love = God, perhaps even God is all love so all love is God. Sounds truly heavenly (with angels singing) and simple. It even portrays a child-like innocence.

The conservative analyzes the complexities: "God is love" was originally written ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν, meaning God = the highest form of love, therefore love (in ALL its forms) ≠ God.

Which is true? Both sides can be debated. God first loved us with the highest form of love so all love first came from God. However, we live in a fallen world and sin tainted God's love, at least our perception of it. To sharply point out the problem with these differences, I will use a word that might make this post avoided by some search engines: sex = love. Now whether you are liberal or conservative or even in the murky middle, your mind immediately began working out that sex does not always mean love is involved and likewise not all forms of love involve sex, or at the very least should not. I believe that God designed ἔρως,, intimate form of love, to be reserved for marriage of a man and woman. I think most Christians can agree that is NOT the form of love that is referred to in "God is love," although some cult leaders have used it that way.

The divide in Christendom begins and ends with the interpretation of "love." (Actually, it goes even deeper to our understanding of God, but for now....) We all agree that we are suppose to love everyone so what do we do with that?

Jesus lived in a time when Israel was a conquered nation. Rome controlled it and there was inequality, corruption, and brutality. Jesus did not incite his followers to protest nor did He Himself even speak out against the Romans. He simply healed people and taught that God's Kingdom, the Highest Kingdom, was at hand. He change their hearts, their perspective, their love.

I agree that we live in the land as it is now and that we have rights in free countries to voice our opinions about inequality, corruption, brutality, and more, but Christians can quibble with each other about so many things that really are irrelevant to the Kingdom. I have done this myself, because I think things should change too, but in the end, this is God's world. I watch in amazement how some Christians are willing to try to destroy people in order to try to save the planet or something else thought to be just as noble—think about this! God warned us this world is going to end and the ending is going to be terribly horrible, like watching a dying child violently struggle for each one of his last painful breaths.

I just think we Christians can do better on that loving each other thing while we are still here on a fallen world because we are a part of the Highest Kingdom. How well are we going to fit into that loving, peaceful kingdom after we have been practicing anger and hate here for so long, I wonder.

My Lord, sometimes we get so caught up in the world that we fail to see You and the Kingdom. Help Your children love You and each other.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Our dog Hanah has been fast getting to the point she cannot use her back legs well to walk and just this week she began needing assistance going up and down steps. It seems the end of her life is now at hand. Of the dogs we have had, Hanah latched on to me more than any, probably because she was trained by a woman who had similar features, so I was her alpha. I did not take to Hanah as easily as she did to me, although I often thought it funny when my husband, who is usually seen as the alpha in our home, would give an order and Hanah would look to me for the final approval.

Hanah was Schutzhund trained so we had to command her in German mostly, although she also remembered some Czech commands from her homeland. She was brought from Czechoslovakia by a breeder/trainer in Ohio, the one I resemble, where she was further trained. Unfortunately, she has always been a very hyper dog and a bit clumsy even though well past the puppy years. She had been sold to an older couple who found her too much for them and brought back to the breeder within a few weeks. She also worked as a border patrol dog in Texas for some years but again was sent back to the breeder because she was having problems with her eyes. You can read about more about that in Who Let the Dog Out?

This picture is of her when we went to north Georgia in October last fall in her calmer state, or a bit worn out, perhaps. You would never have known that Hanah's nickname became Tail of Destruction, but it sometimes was Head of Destruction or Body of Destruction or just plain Dog of Destruction. I honestly cannot tell you how may times in her exuberance that she knocked things over with her tail, or turn too fast and hit her head into a corner of the wall or furniture, or just practically knocked me down on the stairway. She always had this habit of wanting to go before me so she did not follow me as much as walked fast to get in front of me and then stop or turn to see where I was going from a particular pivotal point. If I was going straight without stopping also, I often nearly tripped over her. She had a true knack for being in the way and I do not think I have ever said "move" so much to all the pets of my life summed up as I have to Hanah. I just never could get her to follow or even just stay along side of me, unless I put her back into her duty mode to make her "foos" (heel).

Our time with Hanah has been short because she was six years old, the height of a GSD's prime, when she became a part of our family. Now she is thirteen. As she aged, her hyper activity calmed down some. I used to say I could just tap a toe lightly and she would be on her paws ready to go. Honestly, any move I made she would jump up as if on duty. She did not do this with my husband or daughter so much.

Although she loved to chase things in the begining, she has not been a very playful dog, everything seem to be about duty with her. I would remind her that she was retired and to relax. She always followed me from room to room, mostly trying to get a head of me, but with her hyper activity and clumsiness, I found that irritating much of the time. She always has looked to see where I was; if my husband fed her, as soon as she scarfed down her food, she would be searching for me if I was not in sight. Whenever I would go outside to garden without her, she would look out the windows for me, going back and forth until she could see me, but for the last couple of months she would lie by the front door as that is the one I use the most. Although the past couple of years I have enjoyed her more relaxed attitude much more where I can step over her now and then, now I am realizing that the past few months, she is not just more relaxed but incapable of doing what she used to do.

Funny how the very things that irritated me are now the things I am beginning to miss her doing, but that is how it is with loved ones.

My Lord, thank you for the times we have had together with Hanah.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fighting Weeds to Fighting Infection

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. ~Doug Larson

What happened this week was not in my plans. My plans included repairing and painting the cabinet in the master bathroom, while my husband was gone so he did not have to deal with the disorganization. I could have, should have, and would have had it all done, hopefully, before his return and most things back in place, but that did not happen.

Monday was Independence Day and I woke up to being called to my herb garden in the cool of the morning, although it was not all that cool. There is a spreading, low growing weed that I finally identified as Virginia buttonweed, and Virginia can have it back! I know it looks almost pretty in the picture I choose to post here, but it really is as invasive as mint and harder to get rid of! I have been fighting against this weed for the last few years that makes me unhappy every time I look out the window or water my plants, so I am determined to take out completely this year, but it is a very tough weed to eradicate. It is nearly impossible without tearing up the entire garden covering it for a year or two and then starting over, but even then...?

I would dig it all out and have but it has these runner roots or rhizomes that are three to six inches down, so they are growing even under my stepping stones and borders, and I have found from experience I don't get every bit of them, they come back with a vengeance. I find that the leafy parts pull out easily from the rhizomes so it just grows back. Since I have identified it, I have read that everything I have experienced with this weed is true: Virginia buttonweed can even reproduce from small pieces of the stems or roots. I have had to carefully paint an herbicide on its leaves on the ones in the pathway area were I do not plant the edibles but just pathway fill-in plants that have not completely filled in yet, thanks largely to this weed. That actually worked and they have not come back, as much as I hate using chemicals, between this weed and poison ivy, I have an appreciation of them more now.

I was digging out the beds...again! Then laying down a thick layer of newspaper to cut of their sunlight, even though that only cuts them down in the numbers I see and not their roots so does not seem to kill them off. Moving some plants to other areas just because and planting some that have been sitting in pots for weeks. Of course I only got about a third of the garden done, but it is a very good start.

While I was working in the garden, I noticed that an area on my neck that was a bit sore the day before, which I thought was from lying wrong, was becoming quite sore. Every time I bent over I could feel it and a lymph gland was swollen, but usually these things correct themselves in a day or two and I ignored it because I was gardening! (Yeah, I really like it that much even though the heat of the day approached.) Later we all ate and went to see Independence Day: Resurgence in 3-D.

The neighborhood was filled with fireworks that night. Although less than the night before, it was enough to keep us up later. On the morrow, Tuesday morning, my husband left for the airport to work out of state and I prepared for our errand day, but the Princess had not been able to get to sleep until around 3:00 AM, so she was not getting up even after I woke her twice and then she complained of not feeling well. Then I just gave in and decided that we could try move her piano lesson to another day this week, as it is easier to do now since her teacher has fewer students in the summer.

It was a good thing I did because by noon I had a fever. The soreness in my neck was probably an infected lymph gland and now my immune system was trying to fight the infection full on. The fever battled on for the next two days while I stayed in bed for the most part. The fever was not particularly high but the dizziness was quite disconcerting. I do not think I had an inner ear infection, but because this lymph gland was not draining, I believe the inner ear was also not draining fluid, which added to the dizziness and not quite nausea but certainly not hungry feeling.

Thursday I had no fever and the swelling had gone down, but I still did not feel up to doing much of anything. I still got dizzy when I was up so I canceled the piano lesson. Today I am mostly fine and annoyed that I made no progress on the master bathroom all this week, but I hope to do a few things today. I am thinking of painting a bit of herbicide on that bottonweed and looking forward to welcoming home my husband.

My Lord, thank you for the days of good health so that I can garden, and work my house as I tend to take it for granted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Personal Prophesy and Phariseeism

Prophecy and miracles argue the imperfection of the state of the church, rather than its perfection. For they are means designed by God as a stay or support, or as a leading string to the church in its infancy, rather than as means adapted to it in its full growth. -Jonathan Edwards

A couple of weeks ago, when my husband was still in Florida helping with his mother, I went to the associate pastor after the service to get our gift assessment tests as they were handed out the week before when we did not go but were preparing to leave for Florida to help my mother-in-law after her fall. At that time he told me that he had been given a word about me during the service. The first part is something I have heard many times, from God directly and people. He told me that I was spiritually mature beyond my years. At that point I wondered if the message was more for him than me, but later I wondered if that was to get my attention and be willing to accept the next part.

The exact words escape me, but it the gist of it was that the gift of prophecy would be heightened in me. I wish I could fully explain my deeper concerns and hesitations about prophecy, particularly while we are in this church. First, there are those in the office of being a prophet and then there are those who have a prophetic gift. The first, I believe, speaks with authority (of the good and the bad) to right the wrongs of the church or a nation and it is a necessary but seldom welcomed message. I am thinking of Nathan with David, Jonah with Ninevah, etc.

The prophetic gift is a bit less defined...and yet leave it to people to add definition. The church we are attending has a school and prophecy is one of the courses offered. A few months ago, I sat in on a three-Sunday-mornings introduction to the course and here are some of the things that were told to us that highly concerned me:

  • Personal prophecy is ALWAYS edifying. If it is not edifying then it is not from God.
  • You are to speak in tongues to activate the gift of prophecy.
  • Once you take the prophecy course and are approved, you MUST be on the Prophetic Team in service to the church, with the exception of students from other churches.
  • Parking lot prophecy is NEVER allowed. These are words spoken outside of proper spiritual oversight, namely the church. It must be submitted to church leadership before it is given.

My first thoughts were: "I am just not seeing this list in the Bible."

My second thoughts were: "No. What? Why?" and then "You have got to be kidding, right?"

Even after some prayer, my thoughts were in that same perpetual loop, because I just cannot believe this list is from God. No supportive scriptures were given that specifically addressed these rules. This is church leaders trying to govern men and their sin natures coming through in the name of a spiritual gift. Worse, to me this is modern Phariseeism.

The last Sunday of the introduction classes, some members of the prophetic team came in to give each of us our personal prophecy. They were instructed to pray in tongues and then told when to stop and prophesy. The first woman that called on me said that God wanted me to know He has has hand on me and that He has never left me. I translated that to mean that even though I was finally feeling that all that had been going on with the Princess and our family was calming down and that I had calmed down considerably, I still was dealing with aftermath of the storm. I knew that my expectations of homeschooling my daughter had changed and my trust in and reliance on God was stronger than it had been in the past year.

Another woman came forward telling me not to sit down, She told me that she could see me just warring in prayer for my family and that I seemed quiet but a lot was going on in me. She got the words "quiet storm," and said I was a quiet storm and that I was "dangerous," which made everyone in the class giggle. I assumed that she meant that when I go after something in prayer, I do not let up until the war is won. This was how it had been from September of last year up to just weeks before then.

Now, my first thoughts were that neither of these messages were particularly about my future. They were more about where I was presently and who I am. I would consider them to be more like words of knowledge, but that is just me. Personally, I do not think all messages from God have to be categorized, but again leave it to people....

Putting aside my personal prophecies and going back to the list, I am struggling with the rule that all personal prophecy must only be edifying. I disagree. Nathan approached David quite wisely so that David condemned himself, but it was not edifying, it was to point out his sin, and there was a punishment for his deed, the loss of his first son with Bathsheba. I feel that prophecy, even personal prophecy can be corrective. I think their concern is that personal prophecy has been used abusively: telling a person he should give x-amount of dollars to the church or a ministry, he should take a job that in the end works out disastrously, he should marry a certain person and it is a horrible relationship, and things like that.

I flatly do not believe that the gift of prophecy must be activated whether by tongues or any other method. Now as to preparing your heart to hear the Lord clearly, obviously that is necessary, but I still do not think it is done by any certain method. Some people just walk with God and some people prepare by praying alone in silence and some by fasting and perhaps some by tongues. It is not the method, it is what prepares the heart and there is absolutely no place in the Bible that states tongues is required. How many prophets were there before Pentecost?

I might have been open to taking the course—well, most likely not after I sat in on the three introduction classes—but, after reading the contract for the course requiring the student to be on the Prophetic Team, I definitely was hearing "no" from God. I probably would have not passed anyway, because I just did not believe in the Pharisee-like add-ons that they would teach.

Now the last one, parking lot prophecy, I would get that if someone was given a prophecy for the church that it should be confirmed or one had been abusing the use of prophecy to control people, he should submit to the church's authority for correction. However, a friend of mine, who I met through the church, has this gift and asked if it was considered incorrect for her to give a prophetic word to a waitress as she had done just that week. The answer was that she should have submitted it first. Sorry, but no! God is the authority over the church. He provides the moment of contact. So, if He leads me to give a prophetic word to someone so strongly I have no doubt or it comes out of my mouth without a thought (which has happened a few times), I am not going stop and to take it to a church leadership committee for preapproval! the same time, we were told that it is okay if we get it wrong, so we should not be discouraged by that or not use it because of that. Isn't this a conflicting message?

I have this gift of just knowing the path a person is taking and of what lies in his future, perhaps it is spiritual wisdom, but I cannot say that is all edifying. It is more one of giving some assurance, pointing out choices, and guiding. I want what God wants for the person and to help them get there, but it is not always a message that gives the warm fuzzies. So, here I am again thinking against the grain of the church, wondering which is right, and what I am supposed to do with it either way, but especially if I am right.

Ironically, only my friend signed up for the course so it was cancelled. I had been given a vision when I first saw the woman leading the class and teaching the course. I would have liked to tell her about it, but I also know she is not open to receiving it yet. I do know that I have been constantly reminded that my ministry, at this time, is not within any church.

My Lord, thank you for keeping Your Hand on me and that You have never left me. All that is good in me comes from You; I can take no credit for it. Guide me continually to use all that I am wisely.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Testing For Gifts

God tests and proves us by the common occurrences of life. It is the little things which reveal the chapters of the heart. -Ellen G. White

My church asked us all to do a gift assessment test to be handed in so that they have a better idea of where to place people in service so it really is more for the church leaders to know us than we know ourselves, at least from my point of view. I have to say the idea alone causes me to have two conflicting views: First, I think such tests tend to categorize too little and too much at the same time. Second, I am always curious about my own results anyway. Having taken the Modified Houts Questionaire, I have a few more specific views to add.

There are four answers: much, some, little, and not at all, and how a statement is framed can make such a difference in the answer. For instance, here is one that does not happen to me much: "When in a group, I am often the one others often look to for vision and direction." I added the emphasis here because it frames the statement. This was referring to the gift of faith.

Now on other evaluations my results on faith have been quite high. In fact, close friends would say it is one of my most pronounced and strongest of gifts. At the same time, I pretty much am looked over when in a group so this happens little. Now after people come to know me, that statement is very true. This statement is not descriptive of recent years because I have not really been in service within any church and gotten to be known by other people. It can be an advantage yet a bit on the strange side when you know the core of a person before they get to know you and you, them for interests in common. In the recent past, my Lord has guiding my ministry to be not as much within the church as outside of it. My score on faith was 12 out of 15. Had the adverbial phraseyou did know I homeschool, right?—not been a part of this statement, I would have answered differently. I decided to tweak the adverbial phrase in my mind and go with what a group of my friends would say, so now I am at 14 on faith.

Another one that messed with my mind was discernment. In other assessments I have been particularly high in that also, but not so with this one evaluation and again it was the framing of the statements. Now, I am empathic, not a gift so named in the Bible, but if I were to categorize it, it is a unique combination of knowledge, discernment, healing, and perhaps intercession, but certainly being highly receptive to the spiritual realm and its truths. The first statement read: "Others in the church have noted that I was able to see through phoniness before it was evident to other people." That is definitely me whether others in the church recognize it or not. That has been confirmed to me time and time again. However, another question in discernment read: "I can tell whether a person speaking in tongues is genuine." I honestly do not recall any time that I knew someone was faking it and maybe that is because I have never come across anyone that was yet...?

As an empath, I can know much about a person's physical, spiritual, and emotional state. I can and have been able to discern the spiritual state of a person, know when a person is lying, hiding something, willfully sinning, even when a person is deceiving himself such as believing he is Christian when he is not—not yet, anyway.

So in the end, with a few tweaks in my perception of the statements regarding faith and discernment—that is not being so literal and staying within the spirit of its meaning of each statement. My score come out as follows:

15 - Wisdom  This one really surprised me!
14 - Teaching
14 - Knowledge
14 - Faith
14 - Healing
13 - Prophecy
13 - Discerning of Spirits
13 - Intercession
11 - Exhortation
11 - Miracles 
10 - Evangelism
10 - Hospitality
 9 - Pastor
 8 - Giving
 8 - Helps
 8 - Mercy
 8 - Administration
 7 - Leadership
 6 - Missionary
 6 - Service
 5 - Voluntary Poverty
 4 - Tongues
 2 - Interpretation
 2 - Exorcism or Deliverance Ministry
 0 - Celibacy

I believe this is pretty accurate, although I am still shaking my head on the wisdom thing.

My Lord, I already know who I am and what You have given me. Thank you for the confirmation.