Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas - Looking for the light

This year I was really weighed down with frustration surrounding how the media and our culture corrupt the sacred spirit of Christmas.  Friends, if you feel this way too, please read on. Hope found me this year. I want to share it with you.

The celebration of Jesus' birth is one of the most important holidays for us Christians. Unfortunately, it has also been tainted to reflect the epitome of our counter-christian, consumer culture - the ultimate defiance of what Christianity really stands for. The irony of this weighs heavy on my heart. It inevitably, always dampens my spirit around Christmas time. I struggle to fight and ignore the greed and gluttony that this season brings, and try with great effort to enjoy a peaceful christmas spirit, quality time with family and friends, and remembrance of the miracle of Jesus' birth and life.

But, as I sat listening to the pastor preach at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, I was reminded not to look at the darkness - but to look at the light.

"As the first Christians came to see Jesus in the manger - the 3 wise-men, the shepherds, the angels - they did not come with heavy hearts to criticize the darkness that surrounded and consumed the world. They came to rejoice and behold the tiny but great light that had entered the world."

The light. A baby. A helpless newborn baby. A small, delicate seedling. A divine light sprouting. The smallest, most helpless form. Yet, this small light would grow, and bring unending light into the world. A light that would grow so strong that it would still shine bright over 2,000 years later. And is still growing.

Is there darkness in this world? Yes.
Is there terror and horror, greed and selfishness, injustice and sorrow? Yes, of course.
Is it overwhelming? Yes.

But, there is also light.

Sometimes, I am not sure which is more common in this world - the light or the darkness. Usually I feel that there is more darkness, because I focus on it. I see it, I criticize it, I despise it, and I try to fight it. But this only wears me down. It only distracts me from the good, and in doing so makes me spend less energy doing good, and fighting for good. Ultimately, subtracting from the energy going to the good in this world.

 There is also light. And light is more powerful than darkness. 

I realize that focusing on what I see wrong with the world, our culture, the people here does no good. It is painful though, to witness so many things deteriorating what could be a better world, destroying potential for goodness and love. I cannot forget that focusing on these things brings me closer not to light but to the darkness. Such thoughts take away from the light that does exist in me, and ultimately the world. It is all too easy to focus on the darkness and feel as if there is no hope- and that only leads me closer to falling, and being consumed by the greed, evil and hate in this world. One less hopeful, faithful soul to fight for good.

I chose instead to focus on the light, no matter how small. For everyone who turns from darkness and looks to light looks to God and glorifies His work. It is better to look for the light, shed light on the good, and to remind myself and others that there is still, some inch of hope, some ray of light. Then when darkness comes I can say that it is not all-powerful, for some good still exists- and if some exists it can grow. Just like that baby grew into a man - and into a divine God who to this day still pours His love out on me and so many others. If a light that small can grow as exponentially as it has, a light any size, can grow to be great. 

This is what Christmas taught me this year. I pray in the future that I rejoice and behold the light. Fight not against evil, but for good. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What a Christian really is

It's funny how you can 'think' you really know what something means for years, and then in one instant it can finally 'hit you' just what it really means. A realization.

I recently realized what it means that "Christ Saves". What it means to truly be a Christian.

I have always felt that it's not exactly about what Church you go to or what denomination you belong to. It's not exactly about whether or not you read the Bible or don't read the Bible. To some extent I have felt for a long time that it doesn't exactly have to do with whether or not you are a 'good' or 'bad' person either, because, the Bible and Christ say over and over that all it takes is belief in Christ, to truly be saved. We are all sinners- whether we are 'good' or 'bad' in this light then, is really irrelivant.

Going to Church and reading the Bible, calling yourself a Christian, doesn't make you a Christian. It's about something deeper, something more transformative.

Now I finally know that it's not, primarily, about any of these things.

I've heard so many times that it's about surrendering your will to Christ, and letting Him guide you. About submitting to Him.

And it is! I thought I got it, but now I think I get it in a whole new way!

A Christian, is led by Christ.

You see, when you truly accept Christ into your life as your savior, He is the one that saves you. You don't save yourself. Trying to be a good person, trying to please God of your own vilition - is all in vain. Christ does the work. When you truly, honestly and fully invite Him into your heart and life, He changes you from the inside out. You do none of the work. Trying to do it yourself just hinders Him further. When you honestly let Him lead you, He changes you into a loving, Christ-like person. You can't do it! Your job is to just let Him lead you. Your job is to LET GO and let Him lead.

A Christian, is led by Christ alone. 

I am not saying it isn't work to fight against everything inside of you that goes against what Christ is trying to do to change you. That's where it is work. Submission is work. The work isn't in trying to be Christ like, it's in letting go of your own desires. Letting go of self, so that Christ can truly lead you. It's letting go of the wheel, and letting Christ take it - without trying to still be a back-seat driver!

Once you do this, if you have truly let Christ drive you, you are automatically (but slowly) changed into a person that embodies Him. God changes your heart for you, if you allow Him to, and what follows is loving others unconditionally, being selfless, letting go of the desires of the world and being filled with Godly desires. A consequence of letting Christ into your life is that you become a good person, but being a good person doesn't mean that you have truly let Christ in your life. A consequence of letting Christ save you, is that His desires become your desires by default. Not by your own attempt to force them to be. You go to Church because Christ compells you to, not because you think you should. You read the Bible to learn more about how to surrender further to Christ, to know Him more intimately, because He compells you to, not out of obligation to the Church.

I am not saying that going to church and reading the bible out of obligation once in a while is a bad thing- indeed we are all going to find times when it seems like work.

What it comes down to is; is it you who is trying to lead your life and fill your desires with what you think God wants? Or are you letting Christ lead your life and letting Him fill your heart and desires with what He wants? Even if it goes against your own?

I have been very liberated by this thought. I realize I am no longer responsible for making the right or the wrong decision, instead I am responsible for letting Christ into my heart and letting Him lead. I know that if I truly do that, I won't be the one making the decisions. I will only be the one deciding to submit, so that the right decision is made.

Now, daily I remind myself to let go, to stop trying to control my life and my 'holiness' and to daily- surrender it to Christ. I will stop 'trying' to be a good Christian, and instead just be filled with you Christ, so that you can be through me Lord.

Lord, your will be done, not mine.


The Ten Commandments - Lessons from Exodus

The Ten Commandments

Eventually the Moses calms down and stops releasing his rage on the Israelites. Then the Lord calls Moses back to the mountain to give him, once again, the ten commandments. These are the commandments, that if only we would abide by, would make the world a better, maybe even a perfect, place. 
  1.   I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods besides me.
  2.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children if those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 
  4. Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days a week you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work-you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, but rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that your Lord your God is giving you
  6. You shall not kill
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife; or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to you neighbor. 

It's obvious God wants us to only worship and love Him, to bring our trials to Him alone, and to treat Him and others, with dignity and respect.

Can you remember to abide by them, or will you too (like me, and the Israelites), forget?

 Oh yes, the rest of the book is filled with ways that the Israelites can make sacrifices to give thanks to God. It's very detailed. Almost all of the traditions are ones we Christians have deviated away from, but I am guessing that later God teaches us new ways to honor Him. I know he denounces animal sacrifices. We will see about the rest.

Until then- give thanks through prayer and faith. Go up to your neck, be brave, God will always provide exactly what you need, when you need it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reminders why God shows His power - Lessons from Exodus

Reminders- Why God shows His power

Shortly after God calls Moses to the top of a mountain, where he spends 40 days and 40 nights and is given the ten commandments. But, while he is gone, the Israelites grow impatient, lose faith, create idols and begin worshipping them. When God finds out about this He grows so angry He wants to kill them all, but Moses pleads with him and God agrees not to. God shows mercy.

 Moses descends the mountains, sees the idol the Israelites are worshiping and is filled with rage. Moses throws the stones with the commandments God had given him and breaks them, and then releases his own rage on the Israelites. A lot of Israelites are killed, but many still survive. Although I am disturbed by the massacre, it is here that I finally begin to understand why God was so adamant about showing His power in these days. The Israelites were full of doubt, and eager to follow whichever 'god' they believed would provide for them. Unlike Moses, their faith wasn't in God alone, but in whatever any god could DO for them, and if they weren't getting what they wanted, they were quick to serve whomever or whatever they thought would get them what they searched for. What shallow faith.

And after all God had done from them! After all of the plagues, after the separation of the waters, after being provided abundant food and water (food literally rains from the sky in this book); all it took was 40 days of Moses' absence, for them to turn on God and worship an idol. Really? If the acts that God had done hadn't convinced them yet, what would? What could? God shows very human emotion here- so much frustration with the people who He has done so much for. What unfaithfulness! What doubt! Understandably, He is quite angry. Had they forgotten what God had done for them? Had they forgotten His power? Quite possibly - yes. Surprising? Maybe not. 

Don't we all do this? Aren't these the trials and tribulations we all fight?

Just like me, as long as God is providing I am content and happy and worship God easily. But, as soon as I feel He is no longer there, I begin doubting. I get angry, I turn to alternatives. Don't we all do this? Haven't we learned by now that God is greater than us, and can do anything? That He was here before we were ever born, and that He will continue to be here after we are gone? That He created us and everything we know and beyond? He is greater than I, and will never leave me. It is only ME that leaves Him.

But in a way, this is our condition - not just today but a condition of the Israelites as well.  A side-effect of the fall- we no longer completely and utterly trust in God- now we have knowledge, and we try to be gods ourselves.  But this is our fight, our fight of faith. NOT to give in to the temptation of denying that God will provide- this is the hallmark of superficial faith. Not to be steadfast in love and belief in God only while things are going well, like the Israelites- but to hang on through the trials and tribulations - like Moses. My prayer is to be more like Moses- steadfast in faith. Knowing that if God put me here to do something, He WILL provide everything I need exactly when I need it. There is no need to doubt or be scared. And if I feel He is not near, to pray harder, to hang on longer, to keep going up to my neck, so He can perform a miracle. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Forgetfulness and Doubting - Lessons from Exodus

Shallow Faith
Forgetfulness and Doubting

And so God clears the path. He steps in and separates the waters of the sea so that the Israelites can pass safely, and closes in on the Egyptians who are close behind them. 

For me, if I was alive at this time and with the Israelites, had I not yet been a believer, I would love to think that after seeing this I would never ever doubt God again. Think about it. Would a huge miracle like this make you believe in God and His awesome power, had you been there to see it? Would you have ever been shaken again, had you walked along the bottom of a dry, ocean floor, with the waters held up like walls around you, only to close right after you finish walking across? 

I think I would. But, then again, the Israelites didn't. 

Soon after, the Israelites seemingly forget what God has done. They get hungry- and thirsty- and grumble and doubt God. They blame Moses instead of asking God to provide for them. When Moses prays to God, God tells him that all that the Israelites have to do is ask. God communicates here that he wants the Israelites to pray to HIM, not simply grumble among themselves and be angry at Moses, but to bring their troubles to the Lord their God, so that He may bless them and provide for them.

REMEMBER THIS. God does not want you to worry! He wants to provide for you, but you must bring your needs to Him and have Faith! You see, after Moses comes to the Lord and presents the wishes of the Israelites, He blesses them with food, and later with water. 

 The Israelites become satisfied, and stop grumbling. 
And so do I. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Moses shows what faith looks like - Lessons from Exodus

God separates the waters of Red Sea
Moses shows what Faith looks like

This is the part that everyone seems to know:
The Egyptians are right on the tail of the Israelites. The Israelites are  afraid and doubting that God will deliver them, thinking the Egyptians are going to capture them again. But God tells Moses to bring his staff into the sea, and to command the sea to part. And so Moses does. 

The Bible doesn't say this, but some Jewish oral traditions say that Moses didn't just walk up to the sea and tell it to separate. He walked all the way into the sea- until the water was up to his neck- before the waters separated. 

Wow, that's faith. Here you are, leading all of the Israelites out of slavery, with your enemy close behind, and you're cornered at the sea. Everyone is doubting you and God, and now you don't know what to do. But God gives you a commandment, a radical commandment; to part the waters of the sea. Yeah RIGHT! But, you believe God and you continue in faith. Okay, you say, 'God you said You would do this, so I will follow you'. 

How far do you think you would go in, had God put you in Moses' situation? Up to the edge of the water? Dip your toes in? Knees? With thousands, maybe millions of people looking at you like - 'you're going to get us out of this how?' 

Moses walks all the way up to his neck, and then, only THEN, only when he has gone as far as he possibly, humanly, can go on his own, only when his limits are maxd out, does God finally, FINALLY step in and separate the waters. 

To me, this is what faith is. Ever heard the "God helps those who help themselves"? This is what it means to me. That God has promises and hopes for you. He will work tremendous miracles in your life- but you can't just sit back and pray that He will do them, you must also act out of faith. You have to take the step, the ten steps- the leaps- and do as much as humanly possible, and then, only then, will God step in and do what you could not do. 

Remember this in times when you feel you are following God but He is not there- know that if you are at your limit, at your end, up to your neck and can't go any further without drowning- that God is close, He is near, stay strong in faith and He will step in just when you are about to go under - and he will part the waters - and your path will be clear.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

God loves to show His power - Lessons from Exodus

God shows His power

This is the book where Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt. And God loves to show his power in this book, something I found difficult to accept and read. It didn't exactly fit into my understanding of God- in Exodus, God repeatedly says that He will perform a miracle/send a plague, so that Pharaoh will let the Israelites go to the land He promised to give them - but that He will harden Pharaoh's heart so that even though the miracle happens, Pharaoh will not let the people go. All so that God can show His power and glory. I kept thinking - how egotistical! And, well, He does exactly that-

He turns the waters of the Nile into blood, He sends plagues of frogs,  gnats, flies. He diseases livestock, sends a plague of boils, sends storms of thunder and hail, locusts, darkness, and lastly, curses the first born of every Egyptian to die. Each time He sends a plague, He lifts it as soon as Pharaoh says he will let the people go- but then God hardens Pharaohs heart, so that he takes back his word and keeps the Israelites in slavery. All the while putting the Egyptians and Israelites through horrible plagues. Just so He can show His power? Goodness, this really frustrated me. This is not the God of mercy and love that I feel I know so well. But later, I came to appreciate this slightly more. All the while being very grateful that I was not an Israelite or an Egyptian at this time. 

Finally, after the last plague- the death of all of the first born sons of all of the Egyptian families- Pharaoh finally lets the Israelites go- he SHOO's them out actually. But, shortly after they are on their way, God hardens his heart AGAIN, and has Pharaoh send out his army to chase the Israelites to bring them back. Honestly, haven't you shown enough power already God? Doesn't this seem unfair? Unjust?

It makes a little more sense to me later. 

Until then,

Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I am still stuffed. It was absolutely delicious. Aside from the food, this is a time of year when we are (hopefully) reminded of the things in our life to be thankful for, like faith, family, friends and blessings of all sorts. It is good that we take this time to be reminded, because I think it is a human condition to forget. Many different philosophies and religions talk about this - Man's disposition to forget, and I think it is true. It's a curse.

 I know in my own life, I tend to forget the nice things that my husband or loved ones have done for me, the second that they do something I don't like.

In my faith, in difficult times, I often times tend to forget that God is always present, and try to control a situation. I feel so guilty for doing this, but God is definitely used to it. It's human. But, it's one of our convictions and followers of faith, to remember, and to not let time destroy our faith.

The book of Exodus makes it clear. I've shared a few ways how in the posts on Exodus.

As for Thanksgiving- it was a blessing to spend such wonderful time with family. I am grateful for so much. My family, my health, the opportunity to study what I think is the most amazing thing! The excitement that God has blessed me, and that my future is filled with discovering the ways which He has. For my friends, for the support I have in my life, for my safety and the safety of my loved ones. For forgiveness and mercy. And so much more. What are you thankful for? I'd love to hear.

God bless.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading the Bible - Genesis (Joseph and his message to me)

Before I start, I want to thank so many of you for one, taking the time to read what I have to write, and second, for sharing your encouragement and own faith stories with me. I have only been writing 3 days and have been so uplifted by encouraging feedback and testimonies from people ranging from family members, to close friends, to nearly strangers.  I cannot tell you how grateful and blessed I feel to hear all of these stories- it is exactly these conversations and exchanges that uplifts me. I want to thank you so much, and encourage you to please, keep sharing. If you don't want to post in the comments you can email me at, facebook me, or get a hold of me any way you feel necessary! I love it an am so blessed by it. Thank you.

Ok, on to the rest of Genesis-

SO Genesis is a packed book,yes it is. I will only briefly go over a few of the things that stood out to me, but wow. It's full of magnificence, wonder, beauty, betrayal, miracles, dreams, revelations, sex and infertility. You just about name it, it's in there.

There's Noah and the flood, God's promise never to flood the earth again. Abraham and Sarah giving birth to Isaac, and subsequently to a nation after lifelong infertility. There's so much genealogy recorded that it's hard not to get lost in all of the names (disappointingly, none of which I like as prospective names for our second child). A sketch of this family tree can be found at

In summary, Isaac gives birth to Jacob, who gives birth to Joseph (Joseph and the technicolored dream-coat anyone?), and 11 other sons (his 12 sons' and their offspring become the 12 tribes of Israel (thus the father of the Israelites)). The book ends with Josephs's death, while his brothers are servants/slaves to the Egyptians. Knowing God's plan, he makes his family promise to carry his bones with them out of Egypt.

"Then Joseph said to his brothers "I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." So Joseph made the Isralites swear, saying "When Go comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here." And Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; he as embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:24-27)

That's a very large understated summary of the book. As I read it a few weeks ago, I can only remember a few details.

 First, lets talk about the ages people lived to be. Everyone in Genesis seems to live an extremely long life (some up to over 600 or 700 years old). I don't know of an explanation for this, but surely time was different back then somehow. One explanation I have heard is that years were measured by wisdom, rather than by actual years. Others are that the calendar they abided by was also different. But, somehow, as the book of Genesis goes on, people start living more realistic lengths of time, going from well over 500 years old in the beginning of Genesis, to Joseph dying at 110 years old. Today, that's a conceivable age to die at (although rare!), but it's not at all what we would expect to be conceivable in in the B.C. years of Joseph's life. If anyone has any light on this issue I would be interested to hear more.

The second thing I remember thinking about most vividly, that I probably took away the most from the second half of Genesis, was Joseph's dedication to God's will, and his un-dying faith.

Joseph's story is full of extreme ups and downs. Maybe you know it, but for those of you who don't I'll summarize it.

First, he is his Father Jacob's favorite son, his brothers don't like this very much. Then he has two dreams in which his brothers and his father bow down to him, and his brothers don't like this either. So they sell him as a slave and tell Jacob he died. After being sold as a slave, his master takes a liking to him and assigns him a prestigious post in his household.  Joseph praises God for this. But, his masters wife takes an interest in him, and throws herself at him. Being a Godly man, Joseph turns her down every time, and after a while she gets angry, almost caught by her husband, and tells her husband, the house master, that Joseph made a pass at her.  Joseph's master is enraged and has Joseph imprisoned.

Had this happened to me I would have been so angry! Here I was trying to do the right thing, and God let it turn on me, and now I am back to worse than a slave, in prison. But Joseph is not disheartened (at least not as far as I can tell). He still stays steadfastly faithful to God. And God, it seems, used this scenario to see if Joseph was prepared to serve in an even more prestigious household.

In prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of two of Pharaoh's servants who have been imprisoned. One he tells will be restored to serving Pharaoh, the other he tells will be executed in three days. Both of these interpretations come to pass as true. He asks the man who will be restored, to tell Pharaoh about him, so that he can be released, but once the man is restored to his post he forgets about Joseph. Again, I would have been discouraged but Joseph isn't. Joseph spends several more years in prison, seemingly forgotten about, but all the while being faithful and steadfast to God. Years pass and pharaoh has dreams that no one can seem to interpret for him. The servant whose dream Joseph interpreted, finally remembers Joseph, and tells pharaoh about him. Joseph interprets pharaohs dream, and pharaoh is so thrilled that he puts Joseph in charge, second only to him. Joseph has been re-stored to glory, only after staying steadfast to the Lord, and because he stayed steadfast, God made his position even more glorious than the one that was taken from him. The story goes on, his brothers do bow down to him several times later in the story, you can read about it yourself if you wish. But what astonishes me is how God worked with Joseph.

Joseph was so patient, and so dedicated to the Lord. Never did he doubt the Lord or what had been revealed to him in his dreams (I especially like the use of dreams). Joseph was betrayed by his family for sharing what God had revealed to him, then once given an honorable position he was tested by the temptress- did what was right and was still condemned! He was stripped of his worldly glory and honor, and had to wait so long for God to come through, but he abided by his moral compass trusting in the Lord that if he did what was right, God would redeem him. And He did.

This story reminds me that, although it is hard to do what is right sometimes, and although others may not see that you have done good and instead judge and condemn you according to wrong-doing, God's judgement is most important. And if you stay steadfast and loyal to what is right, God will redeem you. Sometimes He will take things from you so that you can be put in a more glorious situation. He might take things from you just to see if your heart is good, or to remind you that He is God, and of what is really important in life. But He will not close a door without at least opening a window. I know each one of these 'take away' possibilities have happened to me before. And it is so disheartening, but God does always come through. You must remain steadfast even if it seems in vein, and you must be patient. SO patient. I remember learning about patience in my secular studies, and patience is one of the biggest virtues. And yes! Here in Christianity it is too. You must be patient, because God will come though, in His time. It might take years, and years, and lots of patience and lots of let downs, but He will come through.

The question is, will you stay strong and true?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reading the Bible - Genesis (Creation and the Fall)

Wow, there is so much to be said about this book, it's definitely loaded.

First, there is the creation. I was always confused as to why there are two separate accounts of creation. Both are beautiful. And, surprisingly, they both seem to roughly follow how evolution hypothesizes the world was created. I know a lot of people struggle with the idea of creationism vs. evolution but I don't get why. I wouldn't deny either. I do disagree that evolution happened by chance, I think it's just too amazing and intricate not to have been led by the hand of God. Same goes for science (molecular, anatomical, physical etc.) - in my humble opinion.  Just because we understand a mechanism that God works by, doesn't disprove that He is the one who created it, designed it and drives it. At least not in my opinion.

Then there is the fall- the temptation by the snake and the attainment of the knowledge of good and evil by Adam and Eve. For a long time I struggled with this too. I didn't understand the significance of this sin - why is knowledge evil? As I grew older and studied more, especially in college, I started to understand more. Especially having been a science major. There are so many amazing, baffling and powerful discoveries going on in so many scientific fields right now. Take stem cells, nuclear physics, and biochemical engineering of human organs as just a few examples. There are many more, I am confident. But we discover all of these things, amazing things - but we act on them before we really think them out. Just because we have discovered how to do these things, does it mean we should? We don't know the repercussions of our actions- take the industrial revolution and global warming as another example. Sometimes I wonder if the world would actually be a better place if we didn't have all of these discoveries. If we just lived in harmony with nature (here's my tree-hugger side coming out!), and ultimately in harmony with God.

Now I am not going to deny that I most likely could not survive today without the comforts of the discoveries and inventions of human kind. To be honest, by now there are most likely several occasions where I probably would have died had I not had antibiotic medication. Not to mention heat to survive the horrible MN winters (why do we live here again?). But I am just entertaining the possibility that, perhaps we were never meant to discover these things. Perhaps we were all meant to live in ignorant bliss of things and let God alone lead us. Perhaps humankind was never supposed to know all of these things the way that we do. Us thinking we can figure things out means that we don't rely on God for everything, instead we rely on our intellect - and really we were never supposed to have such capacity because we lack divine wisdom.

Once I started thinking this way, I started understanding 'The Fall' in a whole new way. So many of our problems today come from thinking we know, we understand - when maybe we do understand the mechanism but we have no idea the repercussions of such knowledge. On macro and micro scales I see this as true. I know in my own life I feel most distant from God when I try to control things. It's so scary, SO scary to let go and let Him lead me with His will through things. Sometimes I don't even know how to do that!

That is the fall of man, that we are no longer by default abiding by His will, instead, now that we have this knowledge, we have choice. And now, we have to fight, work, and strive our entire mortal lives, to re-align our will, with His.

Isn't that at the core of what we really struggle with? If our will was His will, would we have to have all of these debates and discussions of right and wrong? Of good and evil? Of sin? Or would we be living in perfect harmony, the way that God wanted it to be, had Eve and Adam obeyed him?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reading the Bible - Reflections upon getting started

The story of Christ always made sense to me. Despite my disagreements with many Christians, and Christian views over the years, I have always stuck with Christianity because I believe that the best way to live life is to try to live the way Christ did. No other religion offers it, so I have called myself a Christian. 

Living life in servitude to others, acknowledging that nothing that you do really is done by you if you allow yourself to be truly filled with divine energy,that each of us has a divine spirit connected to God.. These things always struck home with me. I have always wanted to strive to live my life like that, free of the ties of this world -money, fame, greed- and giving back to others, equally receiving. I think that the real beauty of humanity is able to really shine through in those exchanges, and truly believe that if everyone could truly live like that, free of ego and self-absorption, living in the moment free of attachment, the way Christ lived, that the world as we know it would be so profoundly different it would be unrecognizably wonderful. And Christianity teaches all of these things in such an amazing way, and every time I pray to God or Christ with a pure heart and good intentions, my prayers are always answered. I have had too many horrible things turn out just right, with nothing else to explain it but divine intervention, to deny the existence. I am so excited now to be learning about it from a more dogmatic perspective, even though I have feared it for so long. 

But for a long time I resisted Christianity because I didn't agree with or like the way that I saw Christians. As I mentioned earlier, I resisted the Bible. So instead I turned to Buddhism, and other philosophies to learn how to live the way Christ lived. I learned so much, but always felt pulled back to Christ. There was something about Christ I couldn't let go of. It was all of those times He had revealed himself to me as my brother, and God as my Father. I knew He was real, so I yearned to come back to know Him deeper- and so I am learning more about Him through reading the Bible. 

I am encouraged to find that so much of what I have learned from my new-age studies and Buddhist studies, and most recently Taoist studies, is embedded so strongly in what I read in the Bible. After reading the 4 gospels, I felt compelled to start at the beginning to really understand. So naturally I started with Genesis, read through Exodus and am now on Leviticus. 

I have been learning so much! God in the 'old testament' of the bible is so different from how I know God today, I am interested to see how he evolves throughout the BIble. I have also gained more insight into how Judaism, Islam and Christianity separated, and even a little bit about Hindu background, it's pretty amazing. These really profound thoughts come to me as I read, and I feel like every day I am understanding the human condition more and more, and how God relates to us all. How incredibly universal His energy is, and how amazing it is that He radiates through everything, from conversations to flesh to atoms to sunsets. It's been great to bring my own self-discovery of God from the past few years, into the light of something I so fervently resisted for so long. I hated religion for so long, especially 'Christianity', and to this day there are parts of it that I strongly disagree with, and there are things about it I think are extremely weird, but I have been learning to accept that nothing is perfect, and that the very reasons I wanted to run away from Christianity are the reasons I should stay- to be the change I want to be.

I'll share more on Genesis and Exodus in separate blogs. 

Please, share your thoughts and encouragement.


Reading the Bible - Breaking down my own resistence

For a long time I resisted the Bible. I saw it used so often as a weapon to hate and to discriminate against others. It seemed to me that so many who based their faith only on the bible, lost the compassion that God fills in your heart when you experience Him through the holy spirit. These "Bible-Based Faither's"(as I had labeled them), were often too uptight for me.  As far as I could see, many of them were not able to see past the rules and regulations laid out in the Bible, and simply love their neighbor.  I felt strongly that knowing God through prayer and life experience was much more well suited for me,and much more powerful. I had no desire to read the Bible what-so-ever. To me, experience with God was what was most important to me. I could not stand it when people threw Bible verses at me to prove a point or show how close they were to God. 

My husbands faith was exactly the kind of faith I am talking about. He learned much of what he knows about God by reading the Bible, and like so many others, grew close to God through his time spent in the Word. But I knew my husband was a God-loving man, and respected his faith so much. His faith  wasn't what I expected a Bible-based faith to be like. He wasn't hateful, and didn't use it to discriminate. Yes, he could be up tight, but I started to slowly realize that he actually had an amazing and respectable sense of right and wrong, and usually once he explained things, I saw myself agreeing with him where I thought I disagreed. Are you following still? 

Needless to say this was a huge struggle for me in the early days of our relationship. I was always yearning to hear of his experience with God, the individual experiences he had by spending time with God, and he always had bible verses to tell me about. I got so frustrated by this! I wanted holy-spirit divine intervention stories, the kind that set my faith on fire.  I kept saying "NO, how does God speak to YOU?" And he kept saying through His word. I just didn't get it.

Finally, I decided to try to understand what he was saying. 

After much encouragement from my husband, and a lot of self-work, I have decided to start reading the Bible. I fought long and hard to avoid it, and have realized my resistance was out of fear. Fear that my faith would be de-valued, or turned on it's head if I actually knew what the Bible said. 

A big theme in the past 2 or so years of my life has been facing my biggest fears; Getting married (not that I got married out of fear, but had I given in to my fears I know I would not have gotten married), having a child was definitely one (also a fear I fought and conquered), cutting my hair was a huge fear, having a second child also a fear but not as big since I have one already and see how great a blessing she is! But I have chosen not to let my fears conquer my desire. All of these fears were out of fear of failure, or lack-of-faith in something completly natural and God-given. They were the kinds of fears that tell you you will be a failure in some way shape or form, if you try to even attempt them. And that is not the kind of fear that protects you (like a fear of venomous snakes, or strange men in dark alleys). It's the kind of fear that destroys you and limits you from reaching your full potential. SO what I am trying to say, is my next conquest with conquering my fears is reading the Bible for myself. Having seen it used as a weapon so often, and having been so angry and so afraid of it in the past is no longer going to stop me from discovering it's divine wisdom for myself. No more. I have begun to read for myself. 

 I began with the new testament to know exactly what Jesus actually said. But as I began with this, I realized I don't know the history, the context of what Jesus was talking about it so rooted in the Old Testament. So, I have decided I am going to read through the Old Testament. I'll keep you updated on how it goes. I will label the post with the book out of which the ideas, thoughts and questions spring. I hope you share with me too.

On that note, what do you think about the Bible? Have you feared it? Or has it been your refuge?

A History of (how I know) God - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

I began to know God in Sunday school at a humble church called St. Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church, off of West 7th Street in St. Paul. It was in walking distance from my house, and filled with a handful of mostly old, fellow neighbors, led by an amazing and humble pastor, Pastor Walt.

I remember sitting in the dusty sunday school rooms, singing "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so". This slowly became the theme song of my faith. I knew no matter what that Jesus loved me, the later line "for the Bible tells me so" was something I always struggled with. Yes the Bible said so, but Jesus also showed me every day by answering my deepest purest prayers.

The second most pivotal thing I learned about God was that He was my Father. Not just MY father, but EVERYONE's Father. That was huge for me! My dad was never around growing up, he struggled with a drug addiction, and thankfully decided to distance me from him because of it. God being my Father meant I had a Father who WAS always with me. Not only that, but it also meant that everyone was my brother or sister! Another thing I lacked growing up with in my home. My only brother is 18 years older than me so I was raised as an only child and also longed for siblings. SO bada bing bada boom! In one revolutionizing thought all of my deepest prayers were already answered by God, I did have a father! And I had brothers and sisters everywhere! One of them, had died for me.

An open journal

Dear friends and family,

So yes, I have decided to start a blog. My husband is so excited..

Really, what this is, is an open journal. I have found that in the business of my life I have not been able to share the stories and developments in my life with those I love, as much as I would like to. So to solve the problem, I have decided to also fill the writing void in my life by starting a 'blog'. Most specifically, I am going to stick to writing about my development and a Christian woman and a Christian wife. This the name, Divine Developments.

Ever since a good fried of mine (and family member!) put the bee in my bonnet, I have not been able to shake the idea of sharing with you the developments of my faith publicly. I find I am so often filled with wonder, enjoyment, ideas and questions, that I need to begin writing about it. I also desire to share and engage with the community around me regarding my faith, so what better way to do it in the 'age-of-technology' than by starting a blog.

I will be writing most candidly about the way that faith deepens my marriage, as well as my personal self-discovery of God and His nature. I hope at the very least you find it entertaining.

Please remember that I am no theologian, my spiritual development up until now has been mostly based on a childhood root in Christianity, most notably summarized by "Jesus Loves You" and "God is your Father". I personally discovered much of what I understand about God through a personal relationship in prayer. Later, in college, an exploration in 'new-age', Buddhist and Taoist philosophy interested me, but I always stayed to to loving Christ, it was those I saw as 'so-called-Christians' I struggled with. I will share more about this in a later blog. For the record though, I do call myself a Christian too. Most recently, I have begun to read my bible for the first time and, am surprised to find, that I am enjoying it very much. This space is for my own record, as well as to share with you my personal journey.

Hopefully you will feel compelled to read, share, and help me along.