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Why can't all followers of Jesus just come together around scripture?

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?


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Do You See Red When Your Comfort is Compromised?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the spiritual aspect of discomfort, especially when I find myself dripping with sweat in the Cambodian heat, or when I am running low on money,  or maybe even when I can’t find something decent to watch on Netflix.  It’s funny (and wonderful) when I run across a scripture that puts an exclamation mark on my thoughts.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

I believe the majority of each person’s day on earth  is spent in pursuit of comfort…the avoidance of discomfort.   Do you agree?  Babies come into the world howling for comfort.  “I’m wet, I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m in pain.”  Adults are just as bad.  We like to vocalize our discomfort too.   Did you know that IKEA takes a yearly survey to ask people around the world this question, “What makes a better life at home?” (you can find this information here) In 2018 these were the five results that appeared over and over again:

  • PRIVACY
  • SECURITY
  • COMFORT
  • OWNERSHIP
  • BELONGING

In scripture there is a famous story that illustrates the fact that Jesus requires His followers to step away from comfort in order to prove faith.  Jesus asked the rich young ruler to, “Follow me.”

What He really meant was…

Follow me everyday, every hour, every minute, every second.

Follow me and leave everyone you love behind you, even if they don’t understand.

Follow me with no house, no bed, no pillow.

Follow me and be hungry, hot, cold, and wet.

Follow me with one set of clothing, no soap, and lots of bugs.

Follow me and be cursed, beaten, and tempted constantly.

Oh, and sell everything you own and give it to the poor.

The scripture says that the young man sadly walked away.  (read the story here) It wasn’t just money that Jesus commanded him to leave behind.  His mind saw the reality of discipleship, and he was overcome with fear of a future with Jesus.

But there was a different reaction by the apostles when they were given the same invitation by Jesus to, “Follow me.”  Unlike the rich young ruler, these apostles didn’t care about the deficits they might be facing.  They joyfully stepped out of life as they knew it, into an adventure of a lifetime,  Jesus.

Can you apply a modern day example for your life here?  What is He asking you to do that makes you uncomfortable?  I know there is something, because scripture says Jesus continually asks His followers to deny themselves.

He’s standing at your door and knocking.  Not pounding.  Not yelling.   He’s just knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking…for as long as it takes for you to open the door.  Then the most exciting thing will happen y’all.  Scripture says He will come into your house and eat with you as a friends.  Meals are where we linger, where bonds are made.  Meals are sharing of nourishment, soul and body.  Will you be uncomfortable?  Probably.  Will you cry?  Most likely.  Will He require much?  Yes, He always does.   Will He abandon you when you take a beating?  Never.  Will His love make all the difference?  For sure.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

This life of following Jesus is hard.  To me though, every bump along the way has seemed like a paper cut compared to the deep, spiritual mentoring I have received from Him. But beware!  The enemy will do everything in  his power to keep your hand off of the doorknob.  If fear presses you to bolt the door, then you will stay comfortable, but sadness will overtake you.  Just like the rich young ruler in this story.  It won’t matter though, Jesus will keep knocking. I love that about Him.

Lord, I pray over the person who reads this post and knows in her heart that Jesus is asking her to step up or step out.  Fill her with courage to move forward with You.

These have been comments on the Words of Jesus in Matthew 19:16-22

Blessings, Alice

The picture used is our Cambodia front doors with flowers from the garden in the foreground.

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There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.


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Why do you want to go to Heaven?

Why do you want to go to heaven?

Is it to see someone that you miss desperately?

Is is to escape something terrible?

Is it to get relief from pain?

Is it to avoid hell?  (yes, there is a hell)

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

These are all legitimate desires, but not one is spiritual.  Self-preservation and self-gratification are favorite ways for the enemy to tempt the one looking too closely in the mirror.  One juicy bite of pride in the garden long ago caused the Father to leave. The God of the universe, who was once seen by two pair of eyes, is now referred to as invisible.   I wonder if Eve, after all the punishments were announced,  I wonder if she missed her intimate life with God?  Did she long to hear His footsteps in the garden?  Was the worse consequence she received that day, the separation from her Creator?

That’s all God wants of us ya’ll.  He wants us to long to see Him.  To anticipate a reunion. To love Him more than that special person you miss.

I have personally had heaven issues in the past, one of the reason for this post.  I artfully hid this secret from my inner self.  The fact that Jesus was in heaven was just secondary to the reason I really wanted to go.   Thankfully the Holy Spirit specializes in wake up calls.

So exactly what did my repentance look like?

Honesty came first.  I didn’t love God as He commanded…with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.  I was a halfhearted lover.  And y’all, that’s never good for a relationship.  (I wrote a post about that here) Next I admitted to myself that I was helpless in knowing how to drum up this kind of passion in my love for God.  Finally,  I turned to the Holy Spirit for help.  He helped me change my behavior toward God.  And let me note here, the behavior came first, the fervor came later… a miracle performed by my friend the Holy Spirit.  I began drinking in scripture, praying with purpose,  making time for solitary praise and meditation, and I started talking about Jesus to everyone…just as if I couldn’t live without Him.  Soon I discovered I couldn’t.

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

Now… HIS face is the first one I want to see when I step out of my earthly body.

In my imagination,   this is what heaven looks like to me.  Upon my arrival, those I love are close but not in the forefront.  They are to the side eagerly anticipating  the moment I catch the first glimpse of the One who died for me.  My eyes are locked on Jesus as my mother and father take my hands.  Together we worship Him, joining our voices as a family united in our joy.  He is the center of our attention.  As it was in the beginning.

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  taken on my 2018 trip to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.

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Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...


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God’s not Mean

During times like these, where tragedy  is falling consistently upon humanity with floods, earthquakes, shootings, and other violence, Internet trolls love to make fun of God by posting demeaning statements about Him.     Beth Moore, in her recent simulcast, said that when bad things happen, people tend to fill in the blanks with one of two things:  God is mean, or my life is meaningless.

 

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

With all the negative noise, sometimes it is hard for a follower of Jesus to not get a bit distracted.  I will never forget the funeral of a beloved husband, where his wife was A-N-G-R-Y at God.  In her grief she blamed God for not answering her prayer of healing for her one-and-only love.   She was bold in her fist shaking, unlike those who tuck disgruntlement toward God into the heart in order to appear strong, but silently holding a grudge.    Sorrow catches all of us off guard.  It rarely gives warning, and if it does, we are never ready for it….EVER.   We just have to be careful that the unanswered WHY that sorrow brings doesn’t create a barrier between us and God.   Pssst…that’s just what the enemy is counting on.

The key to passing through the fire with purity of heart, is found in the example of Job in the old testament.  Job lost a lot.  He lost all of his children.  He lost all of his wealth.  He lost his health.  And Job lost the support of his wife.  She advocated suicide.  And what did Job do when news of sorrow reached his ears?  He fell down on the ground and worshiped.  Job 1:20-22  He worshiped because he knew the God He served.   He knew.  In contrast, my prayers of sorrow begin with me.  Me, me, me.  But Job celebrated the fact that God is worth his worship, even while in extreme pain.

This is where scripture comes in.  What does scripture say about God as opposed to the lies of the enemy?  How can I know  my God, just as Job did?

I have prepared my Bible for the day when I am faced with emotions of confusion…for the day when the enemy accuses God of misdeeds.  This helps me take captive every false thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5   This helps me know who I believe in.

Here are a few pictures of scriptures from my bible.   I have made these easy for me to find, even through tears.

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

God’s own words describing Himself.  Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

2 Timothy 6:15-16

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Yellow representing unapproachable light.  2 Timothy 6:15-16

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The word IF is a testing word that usually shows up in the middle of despondency. Somehow, we think that a harmless little test will somehow increase our faith.

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.


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Why Our Family DE-emphasized Santa

From the earliest of age I have not been very impressed with Santa.  I remember laying awake terrified that a strange man would be lurking around in our living room, and worse, that my parents would let him.  Later, the idea of presents dried my tears when sitting on the mall Santa’s lap, but I still didn’t like it and I have pictures to prove it.

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

When I had children of my own I decided that there would be no more white lies about Santa.  Here is my reasoning.  I spent a good deal of time training my kids to know the difference between real and make believe, especially from the Bible.  Let’s face it, there are plenty of crazy stories in the Bible that seem like fantasy.  When we opened the  Bible together, everything they heard…snakes talking, arks floating, men in fiery furnaces, Jonah being swallowed by a fish, God being born in a  manger…no matter how fantastic…all of it was TRUTH.  I was determined that my children would be able to trust me to tell them the truth, even about Christmas.  I would stop the innocent Santa lies of my mother, and my grandmother before her.  I would never tell them that there was another man who had the same omniscient qualities as God…someone who knew everything about them…when  they  sleep, and when they are awake. I just couldn’t do it.

Lest you think we were opposed to Santa altogether, let me be clear that Santa still came to our house.  We still had all the fun of Christmas morning that the rest of the world did.  The only difference was that the kids knew the real origin of all the gifts under the tree.    Our children enjoyed talking about Santa as if he were real, much like my granddaughter imagines she is having conversations with her stuffed animals.  We never had any problems with our children revealing this big secret to their classmates once they were school-aged.

I know this idea is not for everyone, but it worked for our family.  My daughter is now a mother and she and her husband are putting more emphasis on the birth of Jesus than I ever did.  If I could do it again, I would use this time of year for our family to grow spiritually together with an emphasis on giving.

Blessings for a wonderful Christmas, Alice

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

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There is pretty good evidence in scripture of a pattern that shows that by the third generation a spiritual forgetfulness has emerged. Most turn from their parent's God to worship the gods of sensuality. I am making plans to do everything I can to thwart this cycle.


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The Lost Generation

There is pretty good evidence in scripture of a pattern that shows that by the third generation a spiritual forgetfulness has emerged.  First a person, or a group of people, are called out from unbelief to belief, many times due to suffering.  This first generation is thrilled and genuinely grateful to know God.  The second generation, is caught up in the zeal of their parents, but suffer less conviction, because they experience God in a different way, by second-hand news.  The third generation is disconnected from the original story, treating their grandparent’s beliefs as inconsequential and myth-like.  They lack their own identity and most turn from God to worship the gods of sensuality.   Now re-read this paragraph  in context of 2016.

I heard a Bible scholar refer to this phenomenon as the law of the third generation.

There is pretty good evidence in scripture of a pattern that shows that by the third generation a spiritual forgetfulness has emerged.  Most turn from their parent's God to worship the gods of sensuality. I am making plans to do everything I can to thwart this cycle.

The cycle moves as such:  DESERTION OF GOD – SUFFERING – FAITH – PEACE – DISCONTENTMENT – DESERTION OF GOD  and so on.

Tragically, based on Biblical evidence, humanity seems to  lose our next generations during the peaceful times.  Do we talk less about God during these times?  Do we cry out to Him less when life is smooth sailing?  Do we fail to remember the family stories of deliverance, and that peace comes out of struggle?  Do we remain silent before our children to spare them, when in reality we damage them?

I personally have a gory history that I would love to spare  my granddaughter, but which I won’t.  When she is old enough, she will hear from an eyewitness (me) about the graciousness of God and the faithfulness of my mother.  I will explain how hard it was to forgive by showing her my heart and the aftermath of confronting evil.  She will hear the countless struggles I have had with my faith, and she will be shown how God has been compassionate to me and all those I love.

I plan to accomplish these goals by leaving behind my journals to the generations to come, and by adding to my gratitude corner so each answered prayer of anguish and trust will become part of our family history.  And, most importantly, as long as I have breath, I plan to speak the name of my faithful Father, worship the Son with enthusiasm,  and be a living example of keeping in step with the Spirit, even when it’s hard.  The important idea is to not let the generations to come fall into the desertion cycle.  I reject this thought.

A perfect example in scripture comes from Deuteronomy 11.  Moses points out to the people, the first generation,  that their children did not see the wonders and miracles. The second generation did not see how the Lord cared for His people in the wilderness,  but that THEY have seen these things with their own eyes.  vs. 1-7   Moses warns the first generation to be careful because consequences will follow those who forget Him.  vs. 16-17  Moses explains the ONLY way to keep our children faithful…

There is pretty good evidence in scripture of a pattern that shows that by the third generation a spiritual forgetfulness has emerged. Most turn from their parent's God to worship the gods of sensuality. I am making plans to do everything I can to thwart this cycle.

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.”  Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NLT

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