As my mom once said: we are in the boat with Jesus. Our muscles are straining as we pull on the nets, we’re working hard and He’s there, and He’s calm. Our lives are in that boat with Him as we are called to follow Him, we are given nets to catch the fish with and we get tired and stressed because we are working hard with no resault. We repair the nets, we weave new nets, somedays we may even need to build the boat, but it all has purpose. Then when God’s time is right our nets fill to overflowing. So if you feel discouraged, don’t. Don’t get discouraged because God is in the boat with you.
We get so caught up in the mercy of God that we forget the holiness of God.
Listening to some of the soon to be graduates from seminary, there is a trend that is being pushed that even the future pastors believe: God does not punish.
It is claimed that God is so merciful that He no longer reprimands or diciplines. In fact if you spoke of the consequences of angering God to these people their response would be, ‘oh, but you must not forget how merciful God is.’ Or, ‘you must not judge your life on old testament values.’
That’s crazy people. Jesus said that He did not come to erase the law of Moses, the old testament still holds value.
Yes, God is merciful. He even says of Himself that He is the God of mercy. But. God sent rules to live by. He told us what were sins and displeasing and despicable to Him and He told us that we were not to do such things. He also warned us about continual sin without repentance and willingness to change. And that is not simply old testament; Jesus warns about these things too, but we somehow manage to skip over those verses to the nice ones where He talks about having power and peace through His Spirit. If you don’t love Him enough to follow His laws then do you really have His Spirit? That’s a little harsh isn’t it? Okay, let’s go back to the nice parts where Jesus gives us the B attitudes, yes, now we feel good. Have you ever kept reading past the nice blessings of the B attitudes? Jesus gives a famous sermon on how you can miss or gain the kingdom of God. We can lose our saltiness, we can dim our lights and we can hide behind believing that God is a God of only mercy and never anything else. All love and kindness and no power; fluffy clouds and cherubs, not keys of death and seraphim. We can’t fall into that. Yes, the thought that God will let us do whatever we please and we still get to go to Heaven is nice and relaxing, but it is a false belief. God is all powerful! I realize that for a long time the Church preached that God was a dictator and nothing but power and authority and skipped the mercy and love of God, that was wrong too, but at least with that we learned the fear of the Lord, what value does a God who lets you get away with everything and then blesses you abundantly just because you’re you have? Sounds like a trick to me. And that’s because it is. It’s a trick of the devil to destroy you. The devil has set up a big glowing version of Jesus, that blesses and loves and lets you be whoever you want to be without consequence of actions, so that you stop following the real Jesus and turn to this easy on the conscience, fake version instead.
Now. I am not in anyway saying that God is not all loving and all merciful, but He is also all powerful and He warns us that if we disobey He will punish us because He loves us. God wants every single soul to make it to Heaven, but Jesus didn’t die so you could go and have fun without worry of repercussions. He died so that the Vail would be torn and you could be a friend of God and not a slave. But. God is our father, and as a good father He does punish His kids. God’s mercy and Power seem to contrast each other so much that it makes sense that people struggle with only believing one or the other. How can He punish when He is merciful? How can He show mercy when He is all powerful? It’s because He is God. Think of it this way. A daddy lion has his cubs clambering all over him. They pull his tail, they chew his whiskers, they eat his food; but he is merciful to them because they are his kids. Yet. If they cross the line, especially if they have been warned already not to, he is going to punish them. Say one cub disobeys, again and again, the lion gives him another chance, and another, and then he gives him a swat. Why? Baby lion won’t survive if baby lion doesn’t learn. Now you could go many places with a lion annalogy, but this is not meant to be taken literally, lions are wild animals. God, however, is similar in the way that He loves us and forgives us, but when we go too far He punishes us; because He loves us and wants us to be saved. God is merciful to us because He does not want a single one of us to go to hell, God punishes us when we continually do wrong for the same reason. I know that I am grateful for God’s mercy everyday, because everyday I deserve to be punished, but I also know that I keed to repent and try to change from all my failings (and there are many of them) because I know that my father punishes and I don’t want that.
Do not be descouraged by this post. I am not saying that God is not a loving and merciful God because He is, but He is also a just and powerful God and we must not be deceived, He will reprimand us if we need it, and we can fall away from Him if we live a careless life. Read you Bible. Get to know God better. And aim for an NIV or NLT translation when reading your Bible, they are the ones that are the closest to the orriginal text, according to Bible translators.
God loves you. And He wants you in Heaven with Him, so don’t give up, keep striving for the cross and hoping for Heaven.
Today I simply want to pray.
Jesus I thank you for the people who follow this blog I think you for the people who read it I thank you for the people who are searching after you or are just curious about you I thank you Jesus for the Lost Souls that you love and are searching after Jesus because you can find them and you can support them and you can guide them back to you I thank you for our brothers and sisters who fight alongside us and serve you and help your cause and pushing back the powers of Darkness. I thank you Jesus for my family personally and my friends and my pastor in my church, and I thank you Jesus for the families and friends and pastors and support teams of my fellow Christians. Most of all Jesus I want to thank you for you for you as God, for you as our savior and I want to thank you for your Holy Spirit. I want to thank you Jesus for loving us even though we’re on Lovely and thank you Holy Spirit that you are constantly within us guiding us. I want to thank you God for sending your son your beloved treasure to save us the we’re not worthy of it, I thank you for this God not just because it’s a great sacrifice but because I am sure I could not do the same if it came down to my beloved treasure or someone in my family who is extremely dear to me to sacrifice them for people who didn’t love me and even hated me I know I couldn’t do it God so I thank you that you sent Jesus because that is the greatest gift you could give anyone ever. Thank you for all you are and all you do God. Amen
God cares about so much!
We all get caught up in the master plan that we forget that He also cares about the little things, the day to day things that probably have no effect on the master plan at all. Like when you get a cold and ask to feel better, or when you plan to go to the park and pray that it doesn’t rain, or lose something and ask to find it. None of that matters for the big plan for your future! If you can’t walk in the park or don’t feel better from your cold makes no difference to the end resault of your life. You could spend your whole exisitance never finding your lost gold hoop earings and it wouldn’t change a thing in God’s master plan, but it matters to you so it matters to God. He care about more than your destiny, He cares about you.
Straining toward the cross and hoping for Heaven. I forget who said it, but I recall a pastor speaking on straining towards the cross and hoping for heaven. It’s such a beautiful image, and an image that we sometimes forget. We’re always straining towards the cross, because we can never actually reach it. We see the cross as lowly. We see Heaven as glorious. We think we’re straining towards heaven, but we as Christians are straining towards the cross, because without the cross you cannot reach heaven. You can’t skip the cross and get to the gates. We think because the cross is lowly it’s not something to be sought after, but the cross is the true Stairway to Heaven. Without those pieces of wood and those nails we have no hope. We must strain for the cross. And hope for heaven.
In C.S Lewis’s book ‘mere Christianity’ (which is a must read if you have questions about the Christian walk and life- but do remember that nothing you read can replace the Bible itself) he talks about love and asks us not to turn off the radio because we don’t want to go there. If you’re wondering, the book is made up of four of his radio talks, that’s why he doesn’t want the radio turned off. But it is so true. The second someone gets onto a platform and starts in on loving one another we often tend to tune them out, hang on before you tune me out as I go into this. I have the same problem. I turn off the radio too when it’s talks about loving thy neighbor. Not because I hate my neighbor, I’m actually very close with many of my physical neighbors, but let’s not get into all that- I tune them out because I find what we are preached is a little too… floating orbs and fluffy lamas if you get what I mean. As Christians we are not trying to get to a higher plane, we are not opening our chakras, we are not engaging our inner eye, and walking softly and only saying nice things is not the way to love one another. But I have heard pastors speak such things before. Love hurts, love is hard and love is an action. Remeber the old song ‘love is a battlefield’? It’s true. All love is. That’s why what CS Lewis said not only felt like something all people could connect to, but it was very solid and truly Christian, not something we’ve adopted for some reason from a cult group. He says, ‘if it’s hard to love someone don’t feel it, do it. It’s not a feeling of particular liking for that person, in fact you may dislike them very much and for a very good reason, but if your actions are love then any hate you have toward them will start to deminish.’ I’m paraphrasing because the chapter on love was long and the whole thing won’t fit here. Why does he speak so boldly about people you could easily hate being shown love through your actions? Because when he first did his talk on loving even your enemies he was verbally attacked by people for saying such things, why? Because the war had just ended and people felt great hate that was very justified, hate toward Hitler. They wanted to know how they could be asked to feel love for this man. So after Biblical study and discussion with many of the great Christian minds Lewis answered. You can’t. There is no way to feel love for someone so evil. But. If there was a chance for him to change and try and make up for the wrongs he caused (though he never could. My grandparents suffered through the war, my nana had minor PTSD because of being a child in the bomb shelters, and in those horrible moments she didn’t make it to the shelters and was simlpy saved by the grace of God from the falling explosions around her. Trust me. I have no pity for this man so don’t think that I’m saying he should have been given another chance or that we misjudged him or anything rediculous like that.) would you want him to change and become a better person? Or do you hate them so bad that you hope they are the evil of evil no matter what and burn for it? That’s a hard question. You see, the soft, love everyone in a cuddly do no harm sort of way could never face this. That kind of love that says we should all hold hands and say we’re sorry and then it’s all better couldn’t fix this. Pain is deep. And evil cannot be loved. And ‘sorry’ doesn’t erase all wrong. You cannot love a man like that. Not in the feeling sense. But can you pray that a man like Hitler would change? Can you ask God to fix his mind and make him a new person? Do you see him doing something good for a change and go ‘thank God he isn’t completely evil’? Yes? That’s love. If instead you hope he never changes, never realizes the horrors he’s caused and when he does something else horrible you go ‘good. He’s still evil. I can still hate him.’ That’s obviously not love.
And you know what? That’s hard too. Because there are some people who are so evil that you hope they stay evil so that they receive God’s judgement. I know there are because I have heard people say as much, I have felt this way at times too. Love is a battlefield, and most of the time you are battling yourself. Love also means calling people out when they are wrong. Reminding them of what sin is and that what they are doing is wrong. Not because it makes you feel good about yourself, and it should never be said in a condescending way, but if you love someone then you want them to do right because you want them to please God and you want them to go to heaven. If you don’t care about them, if you don’t love them, then when they sin it won’t bother you because you don’t care if they go to heaven or not. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, or you don’t actually know them personally, then pray for them. And hope that they pray for you too. Because we all sin and mess up. And we all need someone who loves us enough to tell us when we have messed up. Love isn’t a fluffy, easy, cuddly thing, love is suiting up and doing what is hard.
I hope people love me enough to pray for me when they notice a sin in my life that maybe I haven’t spotted. Or just in general. None of us are Christs. We are all people striving toward the cross and hoping for Heaven.
There is nothing wrong with loving the Bible from the place of a broken person trying to find the heart of God. You don’t have to perfect and then come to Jesus. Come to Him first and He will perfect you. You will never get to place where you are holy as Christ, you can’t, it isn’t possible. But that’s why we chase after God, because He is the only one who is perfect and Jesus is the only way into Heaven, our greatest works, even to give until we have nothing and to die for the sake of another is nothing without Jesus, it won’t get us anywhere without Him. We are all broken people, unable to measure up to the glory and ritchousness of God, but that doesn’t mean we should run away from Him, but instead run to Him. All He wants is a repentive heart that wants to change. A heart that knows it needs Him. A broken heart knows who the Healer is and is ready to be loved and fixed and made whole. Love Jesus in your brokenness and let Him love you into a whole new person.
Today my dog and I became lost while hiking. I was sure I knew where we were…until I didn’t. Down a trail overgrown with trees and weeds we ended up in a field. I thought I knew which field…but I didn’t. We walked and walked and all I could see was rolling crops and a shed and a tractor. I reasoned that a tractor meant life, but how far away was that life. We had two hours till dark and I knew I would rather be caught in the dark in that field then back down the trails where we get bears and cougars, and ghosts and monsters if my old camp leader is to believed. We had seen tracks that could easily have been a cougar earlier that day and though I figured it probably wouldn’t bother us I also knew that my JRT would make it his mission to catch said cougar if he saw it and that could be bad.
What’s my point in this story?
There were moments when I felt nervous. Moments when I was sure we might spend the night in that guys crops. However I never felt alone. I find hiking is where I talk to Jesus outloud. No one around. The beauty of creation filling my senses. I spent the time talking with Him and knew I was safe even if we spent the night out there. He knew that beyond the second grove of trees was a road that would take me to the main road and lead me back to camp, but I didn’t know that. I simply had an uncanny sense of peace as I walked with Him.
When you are lost and don’t know where the road is, trust Jesus, talk with Him, He knows the way home.
It’s so hard to tell people when you are not okay, and then have them giving their opinions or not fully understanding you hurts so much. But when you give it to Jesus- sit down for a moment and talk with Him, telling Him that it hurts, why it hurts and how much you need Him and His help- it doesn’t hurt more, it might hurt less, and now you have someone you can talk to about it who won’t judge or condem, and He actually can help where people cannot. Isn’t it funny how when you talk to people about your pain they give you a speel about how your Faith should be bigger, or you need to read your Bible more, or you should be praying like this- but when you come to God He just listens. He knows where you are at in the journey and how tired you are and how long you’ve been stuck in this same place. He knows how hard you are trying and how much it hurts. He doesn’t say ‘read more of your Bible, pray harder, grow your Faith until it hurts no more!’ He simply says, ‘come here. Let me hold you. I’ll take care of it all.’
Talk to Jesus. He’s waiting for your call.
Um…no thanks Jesus, I’m good.
Recently I was in church with my cousin. The preacher mentioned the healing of the blind man. You recall that healing? Jesus spat in the dirt and then rubbed it on the man’s eyes. It makes me cringe a little thinking of it, seeing as I’m a bit of a germaphobe. My cousin laughed at me when I rubbed my arms in horror at the thought of having spit rubbed on me. “Ya.” She said, “It’s like. Thanks but no thanks Jesus, I’ll just stay blind.”
She was joking, but it made me think, how often do we turn away Miracles that Jesus wants us to have because we don’t like the way that Christ is going to make the miracle happen? How many times does Jesus spit in the dirt and we draw back because we don’t like it? The miracle that’s coming doesn’t outweigh what we have to go through to recieve it, in our minds it doesn’t at least, if we waited and had the miracle happen despite the spit and mud, we would realize the value and gift of that blessing. How many times has Jesus said, “let me take you through this and I will give you this blessing.”
Or, “if you give up this, I will give you this instead.”?
And so on and so on. But we don’t want to go through the pain, the illness, the fear, the move, the new job, the outreach, [fill in the blank]. What came to mind when you were given the chance to put down your own draw away reason? I know what came to my mind. But as John Wayne once said, “courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyways.” The cause before the effect of the miracle may not cause suffering or pain, but there is always a little fear. It would be strange if there wasn’t, because we are dealing with the ultimate power. God. And His love, grace and blessings. And when dealing with God there is a lot of unknowing. We run headlong on Faith and that can be really scary. But perfect peace comes from knowing that you are trusting what you don’t know to the all knowing, one true, God.
Miracles aren’t always easy. Sometimes they are hard. Sometimes they take sacrifice. Sometimes you have to have spit rubbed in your eye before you can see. But know this. God always, always, always, has your best in mind as He works His plan for your life.