A Small League of Unrecognized Radicals (repost)

A great story by fellow blogger Carole Sparks about Jesus’ death. Please take the time to read it. Thanks!

Not About Me

I’m not good with the crucifixion. I read and write all around it, but I struggle with the actual event. I’ve never even seen The Passion of the Christ. Last summer, however, God gave me this perspective, and I managed to get the words down. So for Good Friday this year, I offer this repost of a biblical fiction piece based on John 19:38-42 (and the other gospels).

“Get me an audience with Pilate. Now.” Joseph’s servant nodded and stepped away, soon lost in the dispersing crowd, but Joseph couldn’t move. He tried not to think about the twelve-year-old who had amazed him in the temple more than two decades earlier. He tried not to list the many who had been healed in the last three years. He forced himself to breathe again and steadied his hands.

Now for his eyes. They hadn’t left Jesus since a centurion thrust that…

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God disciplines us for our good

Michael is my youngest and most strong-willed son. Of course, he got that from his father. 🙂 Disciplining him was not easy since I didn’t always understand the ways of this child.

I remember when he was ten months old; I asked the doctor what was wrong with my baby. He bites, screams, and sits on top of his older twin siblings refusing to let them up. Even when I nursed him he bit me, then looked up and smiled when I gasped in pain.

By three-years-old, he learned how to manipulate me into taking him home when we were out shopping. He hated when I stopped anywhere. He always had to go potty. If there was no restroom around, I took him home, quickly. Soon he had to pee every time we went out. I realized his need to pee went away as soon as we got home. After that, each time we shopped, and he needed to go, I told him to go in his pants. The look on his face—shock. He never peed his pants, but he learned that trick no longer worked with me.

Michael’s strong-will has served him well as a college student. No one leads Michael where he doesn’t want to go nor is he a follower. He thinks and reasons everything out.

Because of Michael’s determination, most things turned into a fight with him kicking and screaming as I carried him out of the library or store. One time when Michael was four, I took him and my twins to the grocery to pick up a few items before dinner. This store had a supervised playroom for children under six while their moms shopped. My twins loved it but not Michael. He wanted to go with me.

The bakery gave cookies to the kids, so as soon as Michael saw the bakery he asked for a cookie. I told him no since it was near dinner time.

He screamed throughout the entire store.

When people saw me in an aisle, they turned and went a different direction. I finally took everything out of my cart placing them on a nearby shelf. I picked up my other two kids with Michael still crying and screaming for a cookie. Everyone was looking at us! He yelled all the way home, too.

As I pulled into the driveway, my husband came to the car asking me why I was home so fast. Exasperated, I said, “Your son!” (Of course, when they are bad they are his kids, not mine.) After explaining what had happened, Mike said, “I’ll take care of him, you can go back to the store.” Michael was an angel when I got home, even apologizing for his behavior.

Without discipline from my husband and me, he might have become a rebellious young man with no respect for authority. We had to teach Michael respect at a very young age—more so than my older two children who were more complacent and easy-going.

I learned I had to be stronger than Michael was. He would not have respected me unless I won more than a few battles. He had to surrender his young will to mine—not in a breaking-the-spirit-kind-of–way. My husband and I never wanted to break him; we wanted to teach him through discipline.

Hebrews 12:7 (NLT) says, “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who is never disciplined by their father?

In Hebrews 12:6 we are told God disciplines the one he loves. He punishes or disciplines us because He. Loves. Us. He punishes us now so he does not have to do it for eternity.

We are like our children in many ways. How many of us have thrown a temper tantrum because God didn’t give us what we wanted and when we wanted it? How many of us like to wait for anything?

Yet, He knows what is best. Just as we know what is best for our children, most of the time.

I believe God allows us to be parents so we can feel what he feels. The hurt, the joy, the frustration when your child won’t listen, and the pain when they leave.

God does not wish to break us but to mold into someone who looks and acts like Jesus. He wants us to surrender our will to him so he can teach us how to live for him and others and He wants us to respect His authority.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Godly discipline yields fruit. We are being trained. We can fight it or we can surrender to it.

Right living (or righteousness) is really what we hope for our children. We want our children to love and be loved, successful in whatever job they chose, and be godly people. God wants the same for you and me.

 

If this spoke to you, would you mind sharing it? Thank you!

 

God is not ashamed to be our God

I was the fifth child of seven born to my parents. I was the fourth of six girls. Here’s where most people say, “Your poor father!”

My parents had a significant age gap between them; my dad was fifty-years-old when I was born. By the time I was two months old, my brother died from medical complications from a condition he was born with. He was ten.

Before my fifth birthday, my family moved from the suburbs to a large farm in southwest Ohio.  My parents loved the country and the spacious property gave our large family room to grow and play. By my sixth birthday, my dad suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. All his dreams for that property died. Even at six, I knew my life would be different.

I was a daddy’s girl. He held me on his lap when the doctor gave my vaccines with a gun-like device that left a scar the size of a dime on your upper arm. (I think that’s why we called them “shots.”). My father taught me to ride my bike on the sidewalks of our suburban home and brought us donuts he made before leaving work as an executive chef.

Everything seemed to have changed. His personality and his body were different—broken.

The farmer, my parents bought our home from bought it back and let us live in the house for $100 a month until my parents got back on their feet. We lived there until I was twenty-one. I hated leaving that place when the next landlord gave our home to his newly married son.

My mom and the six of us girls did everything. We did the housework and the yard work. My dad sat on the porch watching us cut the grass with a push mower fearing we would get hurt. When we complained about cutting the grass or working in the garden, he would just say, “I know, I wish I could do it.” I now understand as an adult how much it hurt him to have to watch his daughters do “his” work.

He struggled with depression and feelings of uselessness.

I am unaware of my dad’s spiritual life before his stroke, but I know after his stroke his life changed spiritually.

He prayed constantly; not for himself, but for his family. My dad prayed for strength and comfort for my mom, who had to work long and hard hours to support the family. He prayed for each of us girls to know God as he did. Our salvation was the most important thing to him. Dad read the Bible to us every day at dinner and prayed over us before bed as we knelt by his chair so he could put his hand on our heads.

In Hebrews 11, the author shares the faith of many Old Testament saints. These men were righteous in God’s sight because of their faith and obedience in times of trials and persecution.

Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) says, “These all died in faith, not receiving the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:38 says of these men,”…of whom the world was not worthy.”

They lived and died for their God.

The verse that overwhelmed me was Hebrews 11:16b, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God…” This verse is not in past-tense. It is in the present tense. Why? Because God was not ashamed back then and He is still unashamed to be their God now.

No matter how we see ourselves, or how useless we may feel in our jobs or as a stay-at-home mom or how many times we have messed up and felt as though we have let God and others down; if you belong to Him, He is not ashamed to be called your God. He has a better place prepared for you.

My dad felt useless in his body, but in his spirit, he was full of the life that comes from the Son of God. We may never know on this side of Heaven the impact we have on others. But, God does.

My dad did not realize the influence he had on his six girls. Even from his wheelchair, he spoke life over us and planted seeds for an eternal purpose.

If you do not have someone like this in your family, then be that person to someone else. Your eternal reward is priceless.

My dad died one month after I married twenty-seven years ago. I am thankful God allowed him to “walk” me down the aisle. He was a good man and a great father. I thank God he is whole again.

What’s your story? I would love to hear about it.

 

 

The Gift of Gab

A few years ago, my doctor did some genetic testing to find out why certain things were happening inside me. It was nothing serious but could become a problem if not stopped. In addition to finding out about a few enzymes I was missing, I also found out I am 71% Irish/English. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the United States, but I had no idea I had that many Irish genes.

Throughout my adulthood, I have been told by complete strangers how “Irish” I look. I have even been asked where I’m from because of my “accent.” When I said Ohio, they laughed and said, “No, it’s not an Ohio accent I hear.”

I have never been to Ireland but am dying to go!

I started reading more about Ireland and things to do there. One interesting article I read had to do with the Blarney Stone located near the top of an old castle. Apparently, you have to hang upside down and kiss it to receive the gift of gab.

The gift of gab is defined as the ability to speak with eloquence and wit.

I need to kiss that rock!

 The Irish American Mom, whose website you can visit here, quotes John O’Connor Power, an Irish politician.

“Blarney is something more than mere flattery.

It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.

Those who mix with Irish folk have many

examples of it in their everyday experience”

~ John O’Connor Power (1846 – 1919)

I really love to talk but write, uh, not so much.

I want to speak with eloquence and wit. But, I’m not sure that is me.

Sometimes I write like I talk, too. Ugh!

So, when God called me to write I felt obligated to explain to Him that I was NOT a writer. He seemed unconvinced.

I wrote and taught a Bible study twelve years ago on Revelation. It was okay and my class seemed to like it. Soon after that I felt led to write a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. I included Spiritual warfare since it is covered in Ephesians 6 and I titled it The Few, the Humble, the Church;  A Study in the Book of Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare.

I self-published it 11 years ago. Since I am inexperienced in marketing, I did my best to get it into churches and bookstores. I got very discouraged when it proved to be difficult.

I knew I was to keep writing, but I really had no interest in it. I avoided it for many years until 2017.

The Lord led me through the book of Hebrews during my quiet time. When I wanted to move past it, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write a Bible study on it.

I didn’t want to!

“Who will read it?” I asked. “What’s the purpose?”

He replied, “I can’t do anything with it if you don’t write it.”

“Okay, fine!”

It has been quite a ride writing this study. I have learned so much from Him and His Word. I have begun small Bible studies as well as attending writers conferences and a critique group while I finish it. My sister has been a great help by reading and working through it as I write each chapter.

Its title is: YESHUA, God’s Son, Our Treasure.

Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone, like amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, plus many more.

I hope you will see the beauty of our Savior in the reflection of these magnificent jewels.

You will also STUDY the Bible! I take you through the Torah, or Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament as we study Hebrews. It is a mixture of reflection, teaching, and fill-in. I pray God will use it to set people free and reveal His Son to everyone who reads it.

It is not published, yet. That’s my next step.

But someday, Lord willing, I will be able to gab with you through my book while you read and study God’s Word.

I may not be the most eloquent or witty, but my desire is to teach you about Yeshua through my studies.

Be on the lookout for it!

God’s Favorite Christmas

Who doesn’t love Christmas and the memories it brings?

As you think of your favorite Christmas, what makes it memorable for you? Was it where you spent it, who you spent it with, or the gift you received? Maybe it was unforgettable because of the gift you gave to someone special.

My favorite Christmas was the time I put my name on every gift under the tree. I have a large family with five sisters plus my mom and dad. My aunt and uncle came over Christmas Eve to stay the night with us. While everyone was busy preparing for Christmas Day, I sat on the floor by the Christmas tree with wrapping paper, scissors, and a pen, making new gift tags with my name on each one. I added those to every gift under the tree. The next morning, while my uncle handed out the gifts, the pile in front of me grew larger and larger as I got most of them. The expressions on everyone’s faces were priceless. My mom knew something was not right and as she looked around the room, her eyes stopped on me. I confessed my deed, and she gave the packages, unopened, to their rightful owners. We all laughed and my family still reminds me of that Christmas. It is a fun memory for us all.

Have you ever thought about God’s favorite Christmas?

Which parts do you think He most fondly remembers?

God created us to have fellowship with Him. But, sin penetrated His perfect world and separated us from Him. We could no longer experience life with God, only death without Him. Alone. Heaven must have been lonely with only the Godhead and a mere myriad of angels, and not one human being in sight. He wanted us to live with Him in His home.

God knew the Way to make that happen.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,

that whoever  believes in Him

should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)

The Father entrusted a young girl with His only Son—a human carrying deity. She wasn’t the richest or the most experienced or even married. But, Mary loved God, and she was the perfect mother for His Son. Even knowing His Son’s life would be threatened before He was two; God sent Jesus to be born in a dirty cave and laid in a manger of straw in the company of sheep and shepherds. Imagine how proud He must have been on that day and how bittersweet it was when Heaven became even lonelier.

God watched as the angels rejoiced at His perfect plan. Their instructions were to proclaim the good news to the lonesome shepherds in a field guarding their sheep that night. God didn’t tell the wealthy or the well-known. Instead, He sent His angels to the shepherds, the ones who protected their sheep and looked for the lost lamb.

They would understand his King.

How the Father must have loved the expression on their faces when His angels ignited the dark sky! I imagine His eagerness for them to behold His Gift.

God looked forward to the day His Son returned Home ushering men, women, and children to live with Him forever. Yet, how grievous the sting God felt knowing what Jesus must endure so we could be welcomed into Heaven.

 God put His name on His present, too—Immanuel, God with us.

All He wants is for us to accept His gift. Don’t leave this precious One unopened. God’s favorite Christmas is the most unforgettable because of Who He gave us.

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15. (ESV)

The Mountains

           The cold crisp air took my breath away as we climbed higher and higher.

The white caps, blue water, and evergreens made my pictures look as though

I was a professional photographer.

The view from my camera warmed my heart as I thanked my

Creator for the landscape.

As my finger clicked away at the sight,

It was no longer the cold air taking my breath,

But the wonder my eyes beheld.

 

During a recent writers conference, we were given ten minutes to write several lines about a recent vacation. I wrote part of the above “poem” in those minutes.

My husband and I went to the Canadian Rockies in September with friends. It is a beautiful place to see. The mountains are gorgeous, but my pictures don’t do them justice. The water from lakes, rivers, and streams is blue from the “mountain flour” deposited in the water as it runs down the mountain rock.

We explored a blue glacier, ice fields and saw many fantastic waterfalls, not to mention the MOUNTAINS.

I must have taken over 500 pictures!

God’s creation is something to behold. With every picture,

I thanked Him under my icy breath.

The cold was no distraction to our site-seeing, though. We had warm, comfortable seats waiting for us as we loaded our tour bus after each excursion.

We went into Glacier National Park in Whitefish, Montana and as far north as Jasper, Alberta, Canada, over an eight-day stretch. Banff, Canada was a beautiful (and expensive) ski town surround by mountains. We had some of the best Greek food there and coming from my Greek husband, that says a lot.

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Waterton, Canada was a quaint little town with shops and a great view of the mountains. It was where we saw our first waterfall and wildlife. The deer are used to seeing people and had very little fear coming quite close to us.

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We met many Aussies on our trip, most in town for the season working at various restaurants and shops. Didn’t even have to go “down under” to get to talk to them and listen to their awesome accent.

Glacier National Park in Whitefish, Montana was amazing! We rode in red jammers to travel up the mountains. These vehicles are from 1936 and were restored by Ford for the use of this park. Their top was a canvas-type material which the driver rolled back so we could “prairie dog” it to take pictures. Believe me when I say it was cold in those jammers. Luckily, they were prepared with wool blankets on each row of seats, but you had to share them with the people next to you unless they “hogged” it, first.

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Jasper was another small town surrounded by beautiful mountains. And another Greek restaurant. Lots of shopping, too. I found some great prices on jewelry and other gifts for myself…um, family.

We traveled a lot throughout those eight days and saw incredible scenery while staying at five different hotels. Let’s just say I was tired when I got home. I think it took five days to recover. But, it was worth it!

 

 

Is Yoga for Christians?

There are a lot of people doing yoga these days. But is yoga for Bible-believing followers of Christ? I can’t speak for you nor would I try to tell you what to do. However, I would like to explain what I believe and have experienced.

We live in a world with two dimensions, physical and spiritual. We live where these intersect. For instance, most people don’t have a problem with angels. Hearing stories concerning angels who protected someone from an attacker, who pulled another to safety after an accident, or ministered to one who was sick encourages us and makes us feel good. It gives us hope.

However, if there are angels, then there are demonic forces at work around us, too.

We can’t have one without the other.

Angels are God’s messengers and helpers. They are even our guardians.

Demons are the exact opposite. They hate us and wish us harm. They are never benign. 

From the beginning, Satan wanted to be like God. Isaiah 14:12-14, describes Lucifer’s descent to hell. There are 5 “I will” sentences spoken by Satan in this passage. The last one says, “I will make myself like God.” This is why we have false gods in our world. Satan wants to be worshipped as God. He will do anything to make it happen by deceiving mankind.

Now for my story:

Recently, I was invited to a women’s event at a small fitness studio. The owner was a sweet, young woman and a relatively new believer in Christ. She had Bible verses around her place with Christian music playing as we followed her exercise routine on mats on the floor. She was encouraging, she even stopped to pray for us at various times. A couple of times, I wondered if we were doing yoga. The thought came and went many times throughout the routines. She didn’t call it yoga, nor did she use any familiar yoga terms, so I continued going along with her positional stretches.

It all seemed well and good, until a few days later….

I woke with the worst pain in my abdomen. Assuming it was something I ate, I spent most of the night trying to take the pressure off my stomach. The pain went through to my back and made any position in my bed uncomfortable. I felt a little better in the morning, but it came back. Trying everything to rid my body of the pain, I changed what I ate thinking I was having a reaction to dairy products. I ate little food some days hoping it would help; even fasting for a few days, but still, the pain continued.

After two weeks, I was convinced I had cancer growing inside my gut somewhere.

 Fear overtook my rational thinking and told me I was dying.

Fear overwhelmed me. 

I told a friend from my church I needed prayer. I intended to go to church on Sunday morning and have our prayer warriors pray for me. But Sunday morning, the pain was terrible. I told my husband I could not go.

The Holy Spirit reminded me I could not get prayed for unless I went. So, I asked Him to help me feel good enough to go to church.

He did, and I went.

During prayer time, I was prayed over by three people. At one point a friend said she felt impressed by the Spirit that it was something I had done at the women’s event a couple of weeks earlier. She told me it was not physical, but a spiritual issue and to pray and ask the Lord to show me what it was.

I did just that.

He clearly showed me it was the “yoga” I had done.

During prayer, my friend rebuked the pain and the spirit associated with it. I was healed at that moment.

No more pain and no more fear.

Later during prayer, I asked the Lord to forgive me for taking part in the yoga routine.

He taught me a valuable lesson about the power of something which seemed so innocent. Yoga is far from innocent.

An elder at our church, born and raised in India, taught a class on Eastern Religion two weeks ago. He was raised in a Christian home and did not experience any of the Hindu teaching or rituals. Deciding he needed first-hand information about yoga, he sought the Lord and counsel from his pastor and elders. After receiving permission from the Lord and knowing he would be protected, Doug’s pastor released him to join the Yoga school in order to teach others the dangers of this practice.

Doug explained what I had experienced was the Kundalini spirit. It is a snake-like demonic spirit associated with yoga which sits at the base of the spine. It causes tremendous pain.

Putting on Christian music and adding prayer does not make this ancient practice a Christian exercise. Dismissing its foundations by trying to turn yoga into a sanguine practice is impossible. An evil spirit doesn’t leave because you call something godly.

ROOTS

It’s about the roots.

Just because I cut down a tree does not mean it cannot grow again. Its roots are still in place. My husband had to cut down many live trees on our property. Believe me when I tell you getting rid of the roots is NOT easy; they go deep.

That’s what roots do.

They travel far and deep to find water and nourishment for the tree. You can only kill roots by pulling them out of the ground.

Yoga’s roots are similar to a tree’s. It is based in an ungodly religion with many false gods. It was created as part of a ritual to serve and worship these gods. Practicing yoga opens up our mind to other spirits, even if you are meditating on God.

You cannot remove the roots from yoga.

They are firmly in place. 

We must seek God and His wisdom regarding yoga. What is the worst thing He can say?  “No?” He wants what is best for us. He wants to protect us. He is not taking away our fun.

He was trying to protect me, but I did not listen. There were consequences for not listening.

I realize what happened to me is not the norm. Some of you may comment negatively, saying all this is untrue. You may have never experienced anything remotely negative doing yoga. That’s fine, and I am glad you haven’t.

I felt led to share this on my blog. If one person gets something out of it, then it was worth writing.