The Devil Is a liar

Soon the music will fade away, and I will fade into His arms. Through the one thing that I grasp onto, He will take away, to create a deeper, more penetrable relationship with Him. Without even a whisper or a prayer, it was there in my heart. There was no screaming, or crying. I am no longer expecting easy. Crucifixion, circumcision of the flesh, refining and fiery furnaces. We must sometimes spend periods without the things we hold onto, so we can hold onto Him.

It has been many weeks that I have been tempted. Many days the enemy has sought to rule over me. I didn’t move this time. Not because I am strong, but because I am weak and know God will fight for me. Know God has a plan for me. Know I still have so many things I myself have to work on. The attacks, they kept coming… relentlessly. Ahhhh but the sweetness of suffering for my savior. The depth and breath of wanting to get it right. Trying to understand Him and His vast and unending love for me. It is not conditional or political or the like. It does not have a color. It is not romantic or overly dramatic. It is pure like the whitest of snow, breathless and highly addictive. It is the only place I want to be. 

It is amazing the lengths the enemy will go to keep you from where God would have you. And when he can’t get to you through his usual avenues, he inhabits and plays with your mind. How ghastly and disastrous to use your past against you, your weaknesses against you. This time, I didn’t believe him. He used scripture, so did I . I refused to miss the blessings. In a culmination of pure bliss, all of my children were baptized on Sunday. All accepted Christ. All are now covered in His precious blood.

How would I or could I think that the enemy would not go on the attack? For every step we take in righteousness, satan is there to wreak havoc. But this time I stood still, this time my thoughts were, I’ll praise you anyway, this time the answer from my heart was, Lord you have counted me worthy to suffer for your name! And all the while in my soul I was barefoot and dancing, singing to the music that He provided.

Don’t move because the enemy does. Don’t announce your suffering. Know its happening and claim it. Let satan know you’re moving on despite. Act as if. Keep walking. Hurl the Word back in his face. Kiss the precious feet of your savior. He will wipe away your tears.

God must think I’m special, and ready to endure. I am not who I once was. The world, it is a liar. And I know now, there is only one truth.

To Christ be the glory forever and ever Amen! 

I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

(Listen while you read)

I am an outcast. I am not like anyone else. I am not accepted in so many places.

I am different and misunderstood and at times challenged.

I have gone against the grain, I have traveled, I have journeyed, I have cried.

I have lost the person I loved the most.

I have lost many, many friends along the way.

I have walked down long winding pathways and through valleys and up and down the tallest of mountains.

I have followed a God I cannot see.

I have continued to follow Him, giving up everything for Him, understood or not.

And the longer I walk, I run, I climb, I pant, I chase after this God I cannot see.

But the longer I chase, the clearer I see, the more I need Him, the more I understand why I was even born.

And I’d walk it all again, get spat at again, lose every friend I ever had just to be in His loving arms.

In the depth of my soul He is more real than any tangible item I have ever touched, His peace the blanket of my soul.

And I can get to him anyway, anytime, anywhere. Eyes closed, open, tearful, mad, cursing Him, loving Him, He’ll never leave.

He is the King of my people, the human race. And I’ll love you and forgive you and show you mercy because it feels good, it feels right to extend the same hand that was extended to me.

And I am ok with all of it. I accept all of it. I take all of it. And so does He.

And my greatest hope is that I’ll get a chance to say I’m sorry to you, to love you the way God loves you, to always have an open hand, an open heart, and to pour out His mercy all over you.

God, the Lord of the Universe, the great I AM. I will follow you on this earth until you call me home, whenever that glorious day is. And I’m scared to die. But I am more scared to know any life without you.

Let my feet keep walking, let my arms stay open, let my tears flow. And let me keep walking in your great and mighty name, in your power and in the hope of the resurrection.

I’m still walking…

Mary

The Baptism of Silence

“John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4

“A happy life is not lived in anger, it is lived in peace and mercy.” 

John

This is definitely a word for someone, I have no idea who, but that is none of my concern. I, like John am simply a messenger, carrying forward words for someone to hear.

John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, was unpopular amongst the religious elite. He was truthful and  righteous and told it like it was, not how it should be. He wasn’t concerned with people’s reaction to him, he was only concerned with relaying the message that God had given him and fulfilling his role as the one who would prepare the way for the messiah, the one that the Jewish people had been waiting for.

John, like Jesus, was not what the people had expected. He didn’t fit neatly into the culture of the time, actually he didn’t fit in anywhere. He had a clear vision and goal from God, was born for that purpose, and did not concern himself with anything else. We mostly hear about John in the shadows of the Lord, but today I hear his message, renounce your sin and you will be forgiven.

In our culture, we don’t like to talk about the unpopular point of view. You are flat-out wrong if your opinion differs from pop culture’s idea of what is right and what is wrong. If you are not guided by a stable, real truth, what do you rely on? I am not quite sure Vanity Fair, Fox News or twitter qualify as vessels for truth.

In a culture of unforgiveness and pain, people believe it is ok to be angry when you feel like it or not forgive someone when you feel like it or indulge yourself in the next best thing because you feel like it; we are swayed by the world’s promises that you can live your life however you choose. But you were not created by yourself for yourself, and I imagine that indulging yourself in cruelties is not bringing you joy, no not at all. 

The repentance for the forgiveness of sins has a harsh tone to it and is often preached in a harsh and unloving manner. It is associated most times only with Christianity, the religion of hypocrites, and there is no incentive for those that are seeking the truth of happiness and fulfillment to even look to Jesus for an answer. That view is oftentimes troubling to me, as I reflect on my own life and journey as a Jewish person whose ultimate truth-seeking found me in Jesus’s loving arms. He never scolded me for the things I had done wrong. He loved me in the midst of where I was, the last place a saint would be. 

It is a tragedy that so many are looking for ultimate fulfillment in life and cannot find it. It is a tragedy that those who live in truth and peace do not know how to extend a hand to those who are hurting. We are afraid as Christians to offend those who don’t want to hear about Jesus. But I find that it is not so much in the telling then the living that people understand and respond. John made no apologies about the message God placed so deep in his heart. And as believers, we all are aware of our purpose and message that God has placed deep within us.

The humans I encounter day in and day out are in critical condition. I remain silent. I listen and respond when they reach out, and in some cases reach out to them when I know the time is right. I don’t have to preach about Jesus or relate John’s message, I just have to be it by simply reaching out my hand and picking them up off the floor. No words are necessary.

Preach John’s message of repentance by focusing on the forgiveness. In forgiveness there is love and mercy, and repentance is the brother of forgiveness, sure to follow. John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of sins. Read Mark 1:4 again, this time with love in your heart.

Christianity- The religion of prostitutes, beggars and sell-outs

A long long time ago, there was once a blogger who “happened” upon my blog. Said blogger was an atheist. He came specifically to challenge me on my faith and had a lot to say about my “kind” of people, those being the “broken” ones. I told him that I wasn’t an apologist nor would I engage in any kind of scripture war with him, but rather tell him what I know, my story, ugly as it was in all of its glory. I told him about what had brought me to Christ and the things I had experienced in my journey to get me there. He laughed at me.

I am not quite sure why sexual abuse, divorce or the like is funny, or how it lends itself to criticize and mock someone for believing that God saved their lives, but he managed to do it. He then went on to post on his own blog about how “all of these broken people” find Jesus and how their stories are all the same. I think he may have lumped drug addicts and alcoholics into that category, but he basically said the common denominator was that we were all messed up folks. I don’t think I was quite ready to hear that, from someone I didn’t even know nonetheless and although many people answered him back, I did not, because, well, I didn’t know how to.

Time went on and life went on and I wasn’t quite sure why he bothered me so much. Yes, I had all the answers in my head but they were mixed in with my emotions and love for Jesus and I felt sad that someone would say what he said. So I put that in my back pocket and moved on.

You see, we are quick as Christians to say “well the bible says this, and the bible says that”, and yes these things are truth in our eyes, but alas we are human, and when a perfect stranger tells you that your common denominator is brokenness and your God is not real, well… it hurts. It doesn’t hurt because I’m not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to take it, it hurts because the beginning, middle, end and continuation of my recovery depends on Jesus and Him alone. And that’s where I was. Someone telling me I’m broken and that the God that healed me is not real. For anyone who has ever recovered from anything- sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction you name it, you very well know that recovery is a life long process. And ANYTHING can make you backslide at anytime, even when you have the strongest of success stories.

So this morning when I read Luke 7:36-50 and saw when the “righteous” man invited Jesus to eat with him, my wheels were spinning. The text says that he was a “Pharisee” but my insides told me was a self-righteous bastard. A prostitute then comes along into this house where Jesus is and then…

“Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

And here goes nothing…

Jesus goes on to tell a parable about two debtors- one that owed significantly more than the other. He asks the “righteous” man, if the creditor forgives both of their debts, “Which of them will love him more?” and the man says, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

Jesus tells him he’s right and goes on to say something simply profound. I’ll let him say it because this part just cannot be paraphrased,

“He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(You can find the scripture here, go to the bottom of the link)

And it hit me, all at once. The atheist was right. He was right about so many of us who come to Jesus being broken. It’s right there in the story. Jesus told a religious fanatic that a prostitute who came begging for mercy was the one that understood mercy and forgiveness more than he ever would. It’s the gospel in its purest, most beautiful form. That “Pharisee” was not just symbolic of religious hypocrites, but also symbolic of people whose pride blinds them to truth in its purest forms. And we, we the broken people are the prostitute, begging God to save us from ourselves. Because we’ve discovered and admitted that we need help, that we just can’t do it on our own.

The flood of emotion I felt after reading that today was real, and palpable and so very hard to write about. To remember being in the darkest of places, begging this God I did not know for a way out. You can call me a moron, broken or stupid, but I can tell you, in the middle of a dark hole when I knew that I could not help myself, God , He was there, picking up the broken pieces of my life, and like the prostitute, gave me a new one. It’s the truth. And there is no other plausible explanation.

So if you are the prostitute, the homeless man, the beggar, the drug addict, the adulterer, the prideful bastard, the sell out- Christianity is for you. It may not seem that way in the world, but it’s the truth. And if you don’t feel like you belong in the church, you don’t, none of us do, including me, you’re in good company. Jesus never fit in anywhere either…