Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How Were We Born... Good vs. Evil?

Are we born essentially good or are we evil sinners from the start? Many people believe that we are inherently bad and require Jesus to transform us into something completely new. They believe only Jesus can increase our value... turn us from someone despicable into someone acceptable to God.

Many of us walk around in life feeling secretly guilty and unworthy of life's blessings. We believe that deep inside our soul is darkness... if our true nature is explored we are fearful of what we might expose! So terrified of the answer we hide from ourselves... from our God.

It is not difficult for me to understand that I was created by a Perfect, Loving, All-Knowing God... nor do I ignore the feeling I am on Earth for some greater purpose other than mere existing day to day suffering from my own inadequacies and traumas. I have found myself questioning my true nature as a child of God.

When God created us He said "It is good!" And yet the great idea has never really crossed my mind... that deep down I might be good. That underneath my poor choices, self-centered behaviors & faulty thinking I could be holy and perfect... having been created in God's image. Can you imagine He would create us as anything less?

Evil and sin are not of God... they are shades of deception that we have pulled down... keeping our perfect light hidden from our sight and from shining in our lives. With our light hidden our path is overtaken by darkness. In the dark our mind plays tricks with reality... shadows masking the truth... misleading and frightening us! And yet, in the Light of Truth we are able to see we are God's perfect creation and are loved eternally beyond measure!

We fear the recognition of this truth will make us arrogant & conceited, but actually it is the most humble self-concept of all! For if I am created as perfect & holy, so are you, not by choice but by design! All of us are children of God... as our earthly children are connected to us... so are we connected with Him. To deny God does not change our relation. To run away does not change our Home.

God created us for His Holy Purpose & His Glory! He celebrates with us when we recognize our holy inheritance! Jesus is a catalyst in our transformation by reminding us of the Truth. Evil and sin are Earthly diversions that keep us from returning to our rightful place with God. With God we are perfect... we are holy... we are home.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Judge Me... And I'll (try not to) Judge You Back!

Yes, it's true... I'll have you know I've got tons of experience in this area... from judging to being judged, I've got this blog topic covered! Go ahead... judge me... but if you judge me, I'll likely just judge you right back! I'm not proud of it, but it's true... you judge ME & I'll judge YOU for being judgmental (if nothing else). ;)

This was an uncomfortable realization that occurred recently when I I felt attacked, judged and misunderstood as I posted some of my Spiritual beliefs on my personal Facebook page. I was upset at how my friends could be so mean and so judgmental! How could they be so haughty and small minded? What is wrong with people?! Then I felt the spiritual tap on my shoulder, looked around in the mirror and realized what I was doing in return. Sigh. I shook my head at myself... suddenly humbled at the knowledge I was no better than they.

I confess this because... I believe it is one of my main stumbling blocks to Peace. I've made some small progress in this area, but I have much more work to do before I can leave the painful consequences of judgemental-ism behind. I'm working on it... but it's such a hard habit to let go!

I've come to realize how we judge others often has more to do about ourselves and our fears than anything else. Judging in many ways is one of the primary sources of self inflicted pain & isolation! Because no one, except Christ Himself, is without sin... so we should have the utmost empathy and compassion when our brother or sister struggles! This should unite us as children of God, and yet it causes division even amongst believers! Why, oh why do we do it to others... and why does it hurt so much when they do it to us?!

I know, I know...I hear the Fundamentalist voice of objection! "Self-righteous judgement is 'our job' as Christians! We are judging first to help others not be led astray! Our judgements are our warnings! We judge because we love! We know our understanding of God is the right one... 100% Biblically correct... and to think otherwise (insert judgmental tone) is just wrong!" Really? Or are we just justifying our own sin... just as we accuse others of doing the same?

If only I could always remember in the moment of feeling judged that no sin is greater or lesser than any other. I would see my brother or sister as my equal and look at them through God's loving eyes. I would realize others judgement is nothing personal... it's fear in their hearts. And the best way to combat fear is with Love.

Let God be God and have Him do the judging! For only God can convict with absolute Knowledge and Truth! We can care! We can share our own concerns for others... but we are called to do so without condemnation, hypocrisy or arrogance! Love is patient, love is kind... being judgmental is neither of those. The next time I feel judged, God asks me... pleads with me...  and encourages me NOT to judge back... but to Love as He loves me!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why DID Jesus Have to Die?

Every intelligent, independent thinking, God-seeking Christian has had to ask this question, even if it's pondering was brief... "Why did Jesus have to die?" Actually, being God in human form it's not so hard to understand he was going to die at some point, but the question is why that way? Why then? Actually, if Jesus is God why at all ?

Didn't God himself write the rule book? Doesn't God Himself know the ending to all stories, the victories to all the battles past, present & future? With the rule book in hand and the outcome determined... couldn't there be an easier way? Perhaps, but God chose this way... and if there is something I've begun to learn... it is: God knows best.

God asked someone else to sacrifice his son. For those not terribly familiar with the Bible, I'm referring to the Old Testament's Abraham who was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac at God's instruction. Thankfully for Abraham, an angel of God spoke at the last moment and called the whole thing off. Lesson learned. But what lesson was that? That God would always come through in the end? God (being God) knew what was gonna happen... but Abraham didn't. I believe God wanted to show Abraham something that mere words could not. God wanted Abraham to know that no matter what He would come through for us in our darkest hour... when everything felt all wrong in the end everything would be all right.

But what about those times in our lives when everything is falling apart, when we are in our darkest hour? What about the times when we've lost our way, perhaps lost our job, our home, or at life's most devastating hour we've lost a loved one to death? How are we to cope if that precious loved one is our child? What about those times when our pain is so great that death itself seems like the better way? These questions can consume us... and envelop us in despair!

I believe that God answered these questions for us just as he did for Abraham. In the moments of our questioning He wants us to remember He will pull us through! He encourages us to look towards Jesus for His Answer. The story of His death and return to life is the perfect example of His Love. He promises us that all is not lost forever... after a time ALL will be restored, recovered, resolved, repaired and returned to Love.

Jesus didn't have to die for God's sake... but for ours! I believe God knew it was the best way, perhaps the only way to show us the way towards Home. He gave to us this ultimate gift as a wake-up call to a sleeping world entranced in their nightmares of separation, sin, and pain. Jesus died a horrific undeserving death to show us... prove to us that in the end He will always be there for us to pull us through towards our happy ending in Heaven. A Heaven where we will be reunited with those we've loved... where our wildest dreams will come true... and all wounds healed, where all that is lost will be found. Jesus lived and died to show us He is the Answer to all our fears... and that Love will conquer all.

❤God is Love is God.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Who Is God?

Many people over many generations have contemplated, meditated, debated and researched who God is or even what He might be. Some have questioned his even existence, whereas others, like myself, have mostly questioned what he might actually be like. Is He a good guy or a bad guy? Does He love me or is He repulsed?

I was first introduced to God as a little girl going to Sunday school. This God was big, powerful and somewhat scary. It appeared to me via the Old Testament of the Bible that God had quite a temper and did not tolerate disobedience without revenge and retribution! I noted that He seemed to choose His favorites for extra special blessings and tolerated (if not condoned) slavery. He inflicted plagues, asked people to do the unthinkable, required lots and lots of ritualistic sacrifice and demanded strict obedience... or else! Risking rejection or placing yourself outside the realm of favor He was not just a God to be revered but a God to be feared!

And then there was God's very much approachable son Jesus! Now this was a part of God I could relate to and dare to approach for spiritual support and guidance. His Biblical description seemed so different to me than that of His Father. He loved and accepted everybody no matter what! He also told some really good stories and performed miracles without effort. He was a part of the Divine I wanted to be close to! Jesus had my back!

Where God seemed judgmental & condemning... Jesus seemed totally accepting and forgiving! If He reprimanded anyone it seemed to be because He knew we could do better... be better. He knew we would be so more satisfied with Him than without Him!

Ahhh... the perspective of youth! How much was the Grace of Jesus Christ was needed and longed for! A simple Savior with a simple plan of salvation. The Faith of a child was all that it would take to insure you were in His loving grasp forever! It was a sweet moment to have been in... alas, it didn't last beyond my younger years.

Unfortunately, my Faith became much more complicated as I developed into a teen. Life seemed to become more difficult... I began to look for spiritual answers to these new problems. I was "educated" by the church on "the rules" of the game. The Apostle Paul's letters had me especially stressed out! Wearing a mini skirt might cause someone else to sin, so that was out! "Secular" music was filled with error and temptation! So, that was a no-no as well! Legalism replaced love and my Spiritual anxiety soured. Would I, could I ever get it right?! What was the "it" anyway? Christianity became more and more confusing! I began to lose faith that I could ever feel like I was one of His children... I wasn't sure I could trust Him to lead my life. If I didn't comply perfectly would I still be "in" or was I one sin away from condemnation?

I began to question... why would a loving God put the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden anyway? Knowing we would eventually succumb to the irresistible temptation to create just like God did... knowing we would chose to be separated from Him and try this thing called life on our own without God. Our Creator no longer super close, the great deceiver (aka Satan) was able and free to have his way with us... torturing us, lying to us, and causing us perpetual pain in hopes we would be so distracted we would forget how we got into this predicament in the first place! Well... (sigh) it looks like it worked.

Who is this God I yearn for? Who is this Jesus that came to save me from myself? Now separate from God I yearned to meet Him again... to walk with Him and talk with Him like Eve did before that blasted apple was in the picture! I wanted to know so many things! What was God thinking?What's He like? What's He all about? Did the Bible get "it" right? Is that all... or is there more to Him than that? The more I tried learn & look for the answers the more complicated it became!

Who is this mysterious invisible God that sent His son so that we may know Him? And there it was. There laid the answer. Jesus is the answer to who God really is... Loving, Forgiving, Full of Grace & Acceptance. He was sent to us in Human form so we could know Him. And He is forever calling us to Him through the power of the Holy Spirit... Jesus' parting gift to us from above! His Voice answering in our darkest moments... with Love.

One thing seems to resonate with my soul and seems very clear. We may be vessels through which His love can reach others, however God is the Source of "it" all. Like an eternal well, always flowing... His love is abundant and never ending. To learn to love is to learn about God. To know love is to know God. It's simplicity returns me back to the simple faith of a child... the desire for unconditional love that calls us Home to Him. Simply, God is that Love.

❤ God is Love is God.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jesus Loves Me This I Know... For the Bible Tells Me So?

Have you ever thought about why you believe what you believe... I mean really thought about it? The chilhood song begins to sound in my mind: "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" So that's why, huh? But then why do we believe the Bible is anymore true than the Torah, the Diamond Sutra, the Book of Mormon, or any other Holy book?

I know it may feel blasphemous to even ask, but I'm convinced Jesus would want us to! After all we were created with the ability to discern and are Biblically encouraged to! All of the warnings about false teachers and false doctrines clearly shows He wants us to follow Him with a spirit of discernment and to not just "go with the Christian flow" or even just maintain the status quo!

Many (Fundamentalist) Christians feel the Bible is the basis and justification for all their Faith. If God speaks to their heart, but it doesn't fit perfectly in their previous understanding of the Bible's teaching then they reject it! They are Bible literalists that leave little to abstract interpretation and denounce differential Biblical understandings. There seems to be so much wrong with this approach to Bible based believing!

First of all He tells us to not lean on our own understanding but to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5). When we read and process what we read, aren't we just trusting ourselves to understand Him? If He is guiding us, instructing us and speaking to our hearts... should we ignore His call simply because it doesn't fit nicely into our preconceived Bible box?

I'm all for requesting confirmation before reading the Bible and even after receiving Divine guidance in Christ's name but it still feels slightly superstitious to feel compelled to do that every single time He speaks to us directly. Are we just that bad at recognizing His True Voice? Without the Bible would I even really be able to know Him?

It's a dangerous call... do we believe in Christ just because it is written in a century old religious book or because our souls respond to His call to our hearts and the Bible confirms that call? If the Bible didn't exist would we, could we still be saved? Is the Word of God only in the Bible or is that our understanding of His Word's location and content?

I believe there is much about this my Earthly mind doesn't understand. I also have to admit... if seeing is believing then I'd be in big trouble! Yet, I do believe... I believe because of Faith. Faith that has been questioned, contemplated and deepened by His answer to my prayers. Faith that is confirmed by my Biblical study and renewed spiritual understanding, when I am seeking Him with an open & earnest heart. I seek and find God... not by mindless believing or because it is written in the Bible but by Faith confirmed by the Holy Spirit and a Knowing in my soul.