Abominable Snowman

As winter approaches, we see signs of it in the red and yellow leaves covering more of the ground than the trees. We see in in the people out and about bundled up for the season.

What we haven’t yet seen this year is. . . the snowman.

In the movies Frozen and Frosty, we see Olaf and Frosty “dying” and then coming back to life.

That also describes the follower of Jesus Christ. When the blood of Jesus is applied to his heart, what was stained dark with sin becomes white as snow (Revelation 7:14). He dies to himself and lives unto God (Galatians 2:20).

What about the abominable snowman?

God also tells us that we have been made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We have our white clothes, We are the righteousness of God, How is it then that we from time to time turn into the abominable snowman?

In Proverbs 17:15 God says that he who condemns the righteous is an abomination to the Lord (just as much as he who justifies the wicked).

What do you speak?

About your brother?

About yourself?

Are you speaking condemnation? Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus.

So, Snowman, beloved of God, put off the abominable and walk in the righteousness you possess in this season of snow, the season when we first focus on all the reasons we are thankful and then celebrate the birth of our soon-coming King!

Angels Among Us?

gardenTaken from sermon streached on July 26, 2020:
In Genesis 1:31 “31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day,
On the 6th day, the world was very good. So, what happened? Is it possible that angels were somehow involved?
’What are angels? Why did God create them? When did God create them? Why did God create the devil? Are they relevant to us at all today?
What are angels? Angels are beings who have greater power and ability than humans.
Why did God create them?
He created them to assist him in a variety of ways—as messengers, warriors, and protectors; and as ministers to Christians.
When did God create them? Angels existed prior to the creation of the earth because God tells Job in chapter 38:1-7 “Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

     2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
    3 Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
     4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
    5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
    6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
    7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”

create satanThis is a question I’ve pondered for years. Several preachers have told me that they didn’t know the answer; and I respected them for their honesty. Recently, maybe within the past year, it has come to my attention that angels, like humans, were created with free will. There is the answer.
Lucifer believed he was God and no longer wished to serve the real God. For this transgression, he and his followers were cast down to earth where they immediately began to wreak havoc on the beautiful world God had created. The devil, and the other fallen angels who followed him, were created, like those who still serve God—before the creation of the world.
The first thing satan did, of course, was get man to sin. He succeeded in getting Adam and Eve cast out of the beautiful and perfect garden God had created for them.
Just after that, satan learned that God (Genesis 3:15) was going to use one of the woman’s children to strike his head (kill him). So, he set to work trying to eliminate this possibility, first by getting Cain to kill Abel thereby eliminating both of these children as contenders. Of course, Adam and Eve went on to have more children, including Seth.
By Genesis 6, there were many people on the earth. In those days people lived for hundreds of years and kept having children well into their hundreds. Imagine how many children that might have produced. These children would have included the descendants of Seth from whom the Savior would come.
According to Genesis 6:1-4, the angels who had followed satan in his desertion and had been cast to the earth chose the fair women of earth to be their wives; thereby polluting human DNA with that of angels. The offspring of the human and angels were giants who became the “heroes and warriors of the ancient past.” These were called Nephilim and later Rephaim and Anakim.
God saw that between the natural proclivity of humans to sin and the additional scourge of the presence of both the fallen angels and the Nephilim, Rephaim, and Anakim, the world he created had been completely corrupted and needed to be destroyed. Yet, there was a man in the lineage of Seth who had found grace in God’s eyes. This is the same grace God bestows on us through faith in Jesus. Noah was not a perfect man any more than we are perfect.
It is speculated, and this is not stated in the Bible, that neither Noah nor his wife nor their 3 sons had Nephilim in their bloodlines. Considering the way the patriarchs who would come later would choose their wives, this would make sense.
God saved these 8 people from the destruction of the rest of the world including the humans, angels, and Nephilim who all drowned in the flood.
One purpose of the flood usually overlooked was that it preserved the fully human bloodline from whom the Messiah would come. The fact that God put Noah’s story in the Bible immediately after the story of the Nephilim backs this up. How many of those killed in the flood were tainted with Nephilim DNA? It is not possible to know, but it could have been a majority. Those who were not were undeniably still affected in the negative by the acts of the godlike creatures because Genesis 6:5-6 says    “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.”
Do you not think God’s heart is broken today by what he sees going on in the world. Two of the greatest evils, abortion and the children kidnapped and/or sold into the sex slave industry, alone have to be so much worse than anything that was going on in the pre-flood era. But. . . to my knowledge there are no half-human/half-angel hybrids living among us.
So where do the Nephilim and Anakim mentioned after the flood in the Bible come from? Remember, Goliath whom David slew, was such a giant. Were those who existed before the flood tall enough to survive it?
That is doubtful because even mountains were covered by the flood.

flood
Although this is not stated in the Bible, consider this: What if one of Noah’s daughters-in-law carried the Nephilim blood line? Her children would also carry the Nephilim DNA. The Bible does say in Genesis 9:25 “25 Then he (Noah) cursed Canaan, the son of Ham:

“May Canaan be cursed!
May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.””

This curse was pronounced by Noah just after Ham had discovered him drunk and naked in his tent. So why not just curse Ham? That would cover Ham and all his sons, of who Canaan was the 4th.
Is it possible that Canaan displayed some characteristics of the Nephilim? Canaan, the son of Ham, settled in the land that would become Israel. Before it was known as Israel, though, it was known as the Promised land, and before that it was known as Canaan. Remember, in the time of Moses, the spies sent to explore this land reported that “the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” (or Anakim). Where did these Anakim come from if they were all killed in the flood?
In between the time of Noah and the time of Moses, we have the time of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember, each of them (or their parents) were very careful to choose wives for them who were not Canaanite.
Jesus was to come from the seed of the woman. Woman is called “woman” because she was taken out of “man”. Nephilim were not “men”; therefore, they were not women. The Seed promised by God could not come from them. The patriarchs themselves may not have known why they were to stay away from the Canaanite women, but God made sure that they did.
What is the relevance of angels in today’s world?
nephilimThe fallen angels are no longer capable of breeding with humans, and presumably Goliath was the last of their offspring. Clearly, though, they are still hard at work in the spiritual realm sewing seeds of evil throughout the world in whatever way is deemed most effective.
The messengers of God are also still active in the spiritual realm and sometimes are even visible to us (Hebrews 13:2).  But remember, although angels and fallen angels have more power than we do, God is much more powerful than any of them.
One of the jobs of the angels is to serve Christians, or followers of the Way. Jesus is the Way and every word in the Bible (God’s love letter to us), including the verses concerning Nephilim and Rephaim/Anakim points us to Him. He is the reason we are here today, and it is in Him that we live and move and breathe. Glory be to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

jesus is the way

I Don’t Wanna Face the Day

Today is a writing day.

A day when I can’t not write.

Because writing is part of my identity, when one of those days “strikes”, I am elated, feeling powerful and like great things will be accomplished.

Today is a writing day.

I feel neither elated nor powerful. Hopefully, great things will be accomplished despite me.

I awoke about an hour ago with a familiar song running through my head.

Others I know will wake with songs of worship on their brain the minute their brain starts functioning in the morning. I know this is true because I read about them doing so on FB nearly every day.

And it’s not just music. I am reading a story by Kimberly Rae Jordan where the heroine, an artist, awakes every morning with colors running through her mind.

What has been on my brain upon waking many mornings for the past month (and even some mornings before that, if I’m being completely honest)?

Jump back to the year 2000 and a band called Great White and a song called “Face the Day” one line of which is “I don’t wanna face the day,” being sung and/or screamed by Jack Russell. At some point in the fogginess of morning brain, the song morphs into Bon Jovi’s “She’s a Little Runaway” with the lyrics also being melodically screamed by Jon.

Ugghhhh! Triple ugghhhh!

I don’t wanna face the day with either not facing the day or running away running through my mind, especially on auto replay, the way my autistic mind tends to think things.

This is not an upbeat post, at least not the current part of it. So, if you are already feeling down, just jump ahead to the message part (beginning with CHILDREN’S MESSAGE) of this post. However, as always, one thing I endeavor to make characteristic of all my posts is transparency. That means – the good . . . . The Bad. . . and THE UGLY!

Yesterday was a difficult day.

Just the latest in many difficult days. You have had them, too, probably many of them. I’m sorry, and I pray that the days of not normal (I know, Jolie, normal is not a thing!) will end.

Many say they will not.

Many say the fact that “normal” will not return is a good thing.

I want to believe that. But “right now I just can’t” to quote Bart Millard.

The devil has been working overtime lately. Not just with COVID 19 and its seemingly infinite number of ramifications, but individually, personally, in each of the lives of those whom God loves.

Who are those whom God loves?

You.

And everyone else on the planet.

But mainly – you!

God loves you, God loves them, and the devil uses us to hurt each other.

I hate that the devil uses people as tools with which to render the most painful attacks.

I have been in defense mode against these attacks for the past 4 weeks. Right now, as I sit here typing this, my whole body feels like a tightly wound coil, or maybe a rubber band, and if I can’t have a good belly scream like I had a few days back, a break is inevitable.

I hate the thought that ran through my brain more than once yesterday of wishing my work here would hurry up and be finished so God could take me away from what at its worst feels like a nightmare. Yesterday was a nightmare. And Sunday. (Yes, I know Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, and right up until we sat down to eat the lunch I’d spent a good part of the morning preparing, it was a good day.) And many other days in the past month. (At this point in my first draft I’m hoping God will encourage me to remove some of these most dark sentences before posting this.) [At this point, in my final read-through after posting but before publishing, He has not done so.]

Not facing the day, running away from the day, or desiring to be removed from the day are not solutions; and thinking about any of those things does not improve the day.

A friend of mine has been sharing the many names of God nearly daily on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. So right now, I’m going to look for the one that has to do with God being the restorer of my sanity. If I can’t find it, I just may FB message him to find out what that is. (As of the final read-through of this, he has not responded to my FB query. The closest thing I can think of that fits this is Psalm 3:3 which reads “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head”. I looked it up in the OJB version to see if there was another word there that might be a name of God, but it also used “lifter of my head.” So maybe it’s not a name, but it is a descriptor of God.)

Both of my pastors, during the recently passed season of Ash Wednesday Lent and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday have spoken on the “I AMs” of Jesus. The Sunday before “normal” went away, it was my turn to streach at the little church here in town and its two sister churches. The I AM assigned to me was “the Way”. Here is the message God helped me come up with. I need this today more than anyone else who is reading this. I thank God we receive Water and Bread for our thirsty/hungry souls. His Word promises that that is so, not that it will be so, but that it is.

To my dismay, I discovered I’d saved the sermon on my work computer (not currently accessible to me) and not on my home computer. I have the hard copy of the sermon, though, and I’m knowing God is wanting me to rewrite its words herein so as to re-benefit from them. On a review of this before posting, I have rewritten all the words; and they were nourishment to my soul. The person who writes this sentence is not the same person who wrote those preceding. I no longer wish to escape and am ready to face the rest of the day.

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

You have probably learned enough about math to understand a few things about it. You can probably count to 10, maybe higher than that. Maybe you can read those same numbers.

Math is in everything. There are 7 days in a week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and then we start all over again with Sunday.

There is another important list that has 7 things in it. God created everything. He created the days of the week in the very first part of the Bible. And, although Genesis doesn’t specifically mention it, the rest of the Bible certainly does, so we know that He created music and the mathematics behind it.

Music is also based on the number 7. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. . . Wait a minute. There’s no H in music! No, after G, it starts all over again with A.

In the Bible, there are many times something is done 7 times.

Moses was the leader of God’s special people. Other people were jealous of them because they were so precious to God. They treated them badly.

God used Moses to lead his chosen people away from the mean people to a special land prepared just for them. But all the people who were freed messed up and didn’t even get to go into the special land. Even Moses messed up! Only two men, named Joshua and Caleb, were allowed to go into and live in the land God promised.

Joshua was Moses’ best friend. After Moses and all the freed people had died, Joshua was finally given permission by God to go into the Promised Land.

But there were already people living there who had heard the wonderful and terrifying things God had done to people who were unkind to His chosen people, and they were afraid of them and took steps to keep God’s people out.

The first town Joshua and God’s people came to in the Promised Land was a town called Jericho. Jericho had a tall and thick fence built around it that God’s people would not be able to break through. God told Joshua to have the people do a strange thing. They were to march around the fence one time each day for six days. The musicians were to play their trumpets. On day number seven, they were to march around it 7 times! At the end of the 7th time around on the 7th day, the musicians were to give one loud blast on their trumpets and everybody else was to shout! That would make the tall wall fall down without anyone even touching it!

Surely this did not make any sense to Joshua or any of the other people.

But they had already seen God do things for them and their parents that did not make sense, and they trusted Him, so they did exactly what he said.

On the 7th day, after the loud trumpet blast followed by the loud shout of everyone who had been marching, those walls did fall! The Israelite people, God’s chosen people, were able to get into the town.

You are God’s chosen people!

Do you ever feel like there are tall walls in front of you that you can’t get through? Ask God to help you, listen for His voice, and trust Him to help you to do the right thing.

SERMON

Heavenly Father, speak Life into everyone who reads these words. If there are any words that are not from your heart, let eyes not see them. In Jesus’ name.

Numbers

What are some things you notice about this picture?

That the first list could be some of the numbers of the days of the week or some of the numbers of the musical alphabet as referenced in the Children’s Teaching?

What in the world is that last “number” in the 2nd list? When it is written numerically it contains 23,249,425 digits and is arrived at by multiplying 77,232,917 twos and then subtracting one. It is the highest number of its kind currently known to man. Its kind is the category of prime numbers.

Or, did you notice something much more basic? Something missing?

The number 1 is both a prime number and the first number when one is listing the 7 musical notes of any scale. In music it is written as Roman numeral I.

But let’s look at the second list which is also missing the number 1.

First, though, let’s back up and talking about the number right before #1, or zero.

Do you ever wonder why zero is able to be added and added to, subtracted and subtracted from, and multiplied, but not divided? Really, it can’t be multiplied either, or at least there is no reason to. One divided by zero logically should equal zero, but it does not. Neither does any other number. Why not?

chocolatesHere is a simple explanation for this phenomenon: Try dividing 12 chocolates among zero people. How many chocolates does each person receive?

Does that question even make sense?

We can’t share among zero people and we can’t divide by zero.

Merriam Webster defines zero as “the absence of a measurable quantity”.

Does this not sound like how things were before God created everything?

Zero.

Nothing.

Null.

The number one is the opposite of zero. It is the number from which all other numbers arise. It is the only number by which every other number, including the number 1 itself, can be divided and result in a whole number.

What caused the number 1 to exist?

Because of God and His creative voice, everything that exists exists, including the number 1. Number 1 would not exist or even need to without God. Nor would the other six numbers of music and days of the week, or the seemingly infinite but probably finite list of prime numbers. None would exist.

Now, think about God’s greatest creation.

Another of Merriam Webster’s definitions for the word zero is “an insignificant person or thing”. That is so sad. Yet, there are people who feel like exactly that. There are many reasons why this is so, and they are all equally sad. None of them were a part of God’s original plan for us. Thankfully, God never called any human being a zero.

If a person could be given a number of relevance, could the #1 be it? Not for the usual reason, as a means of comparing oneself to others. That is NOT Part of God’s plan for us.

From a mathematical perspective, what is the number one divisible by? Hint: this was already addressed earlier, but in case you don’t want to look back or don’t remember from your elementary math class – one is only divisible by one, or itself. There is no thing that can divide a human being, only that human being. Even the word I looks a little like Arabic number 1 and exactly like Roman numeral I. Only the person himself or herself (#1) can divide him or herself by rejecting the grace God offers. So, a human being is a perfect example of prime number 1.

What does all this mathematical mumbo jumbo have to do with Jesus being the Way?

Listen to some of these definitions of “way” and some Bible verses that can be found lining up nearly perfectly with each definition:

  1. A thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place.
    1. An opening for passage.
    2. The course traveled from one place to another

Isaiah 35:8 “a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness”

  1. A course leading in a direction or toward an objective Hebrews 10:20 (Jesus)“by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain , that is, his body”
  2. Manner or method of doing or happening 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
  3. Characteristic, regular or habitual manner or mode of being, behaving, or happening John 14:6 “Jesus answered ‘I AM the way. . .’”
  4. The length of a course (distance) Acts 20:24 “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me”
  5. Movement or progress along a course Acts 20:24
  6. State of affairs. When Jesus said “I AM the way” “I AM” speaks of Jesus being IT, all there is, the paramount and many of its synonyms including: supreme, first and foremost, preeminent, utmost, number-one, and prime.

Let’s look again at that last word of the synonyms of paramount: What phrases can you think of that include this word?

Prime rib: A cut of steak so decadent it practically melts in your mouth

Prime rate: An interest rate formally announced by a bank to be the lowest available at a particular time to its most creditworthy customers.

Prime numbers: We’ve already covered that one pretty well.

Prime location: When buying a house there is a saying among realtors “location, location location” the best of which would be the prime location.

So, it would appear that, no matter its application, prime is a good thing.

In the case of Jesus, the extreme reaches of His primeness cannot be fully understood and certainly not explained. Jesus, THE WAY, is the absolute best. The THOROUGHFARE was not available to mankind as a COURSE to God until the hour of Jesus’ death when the veil was rent in the Holy of Holies making the WAY to the throne of God open to all. Jesus’ sacrifice delivered this way to us. Taking it a step further, His resurrection gave us a glimpse of where following Him would lead us. This is a glorious RACE indeed where everyone who runs and finishes it receives the gift of everlasting life with He Who is the Way and made the race possible.

Knowing that Jesus is the very best of the very best, the primest of the prime, why would anyone not want to run the race by following the manner and method Jesus taught us?

Did you notice there were 7 definitions to the word way? These were Merriam Webster’s definitions, not anything from the Word of God, but it is interesting

Music has 7 numbers. According to vocalprocess.co.uk “When we organize our thoughts into words and form vowels and consonants that is mostly the cognitive side of the brain (left) but for singing we also need melodic shape and that requires the creative side of the brain (right). In fact, singing is good for us because it uses both hemispheres of the brain.”

The Bible teaches time after time us to sing, including in 1 Chronicles 16:23 which is, in itself, a part of a song sung by David.

David sang a lot. Many of the Psalms were written by him, and he is called, regardless of his many foibles, a man after God’s own heart.

However, consider other words you might have sung, even as far back as your youth. Chances are good they included songs that were not praising God. What if they were songs of praise to self, other people or things of God’s creation – or worse, the devil himself? According to Ezekiel 28:13 NKJVV satan was a musician, maybe even a worship leader before his fall. Music is a good thing, just like everything else in God’s creation; and just like everything else it can be illegitimized by the enemy of our souls. (The words within this set of parentheses were not part of the original message, but think about the songs I referenced in the first part of this post. Had I not sung them at some point in my life, they would not now be so firmly entrenched in my neural pathways.)

If, as indicated by the article previously quoted, sung words are more powerful than spoken, we should be more cognitive of those words we sing than those we speak. Perhaps that is also why God so greatly encourages “singing” words of worship to him.

Now, hear these words from Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!

Now on to the days of the week: “On the 7th day, God rested” (Genesis 2:20)

This established the pattern for us

Have you ever noticed this pattern? Does it seem like Sunday afternoon is the ideal time for a nap? Do you try to eliminate every unnecessary chore possible on that day?

This was a way of life necessary for us humans established by The Way way back in the beginning.

What is it about the number 7?

The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). Revelation is the last book in the Bible, thereby completing the Word of God in written form. Seven is the number of completion, or a work being finished. Remember, the meaning of complete is remarkably close to that of perfect.

Many sermons are based upon these last two lists. For that reason, only the lists, and a brief explanation of the first will be shared today.

7 churches

These are the 7 churches listed in the early part of the book of Revelation. They were real churches in existence at the time of the early church of the Way. There are many different theories on what relevance they have to today’s church, but that they have relevance cannot be denied because God chose to put their stories in His Written Word.

The last list of 7?

  1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do Luke 23:34
  2. Today you will be with me in paradise Luke 23:43
  3. Woman, behold your son. John 19:26
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken men? Matthew27:46
  5. I thirst John 19:28
  6. It is finished. John 19:30
  7. Into your hands I commit my spirit Luke 23:46
  8. Into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

Guy Singers

I live in a rural county in downstate Illinois. So far, we’ve only had one reported case of COVID-19, and zero in our village of 300 souls. The virus has affected my job and my social situation in that I am isolating at home with my mother.

For most people, the hardship comes from not being able to be around other people.

For people on the spectrum (certainly for me), it is not ever being able to be completely alone! How to decompress?

I’ve started walking a couple times a day, not long, just 15-20 minutes which is about all it takes to traverse the thoroughfares of this bustling metropolis. While walking, my Spotify will be set to play some of my favorite songs.

The playlist is comprised chiefly of CCM material covering the last 50 years! There is one secular (non-Christian) song on my list; that’s because it’s my ALL-TIME FAVORITE and has been so for over 40 years. This song was one I listened to this morning.

Another song from this morning created the germ of this post. It is a song released in 1997 by Christian rock band Petra. Petra’s lead singer, John Schlitt, is joined in a vocal trio delight by 2 other men who were lead singers in their respective rock bands (Foreigner and Kansas) in the 70s and 80s. John Schlitt was, of course, lead singer for 70s rock band Head East.

These guys all have amazing voices. There are several songs by John Elefante (Kansas) on my playlist – that guy can wail! Lou Gramm (Foreigner) has not released any CCM music to my knowledge, and my understanding is that his vocal abilities have suffered due to some health issues. John Schlitt came to a celebration at my church several years ago, and I was blessed to get to talk with him at some length. I was so glad to hear that Lou had given his heart to Jesus!

My favorite thing to do when listening to this song is try to pick out which lines are sung by which guy.

Lou’s lines are pretty easy because his voice is “smokier” for lack of a better word than the other two. It is more difficult to differentiate between John and John.

And I wonder, why is that I would rather listen to a guy sing than a girl? Is it because I’m a girl? All you other females out there, do you find this to be true? Or is it an Aspie-girl thing?

There are a couple female artists on my playlist. Natalie Grant is my favorite, especially when she’s rocking it out like on “I Will Not Be Moved”.

But the majority are men. If you are reading this and are bored out of your mind, check out the music of the following (in addition to the men named above):

  1. David Phelps
  2. Michael English
  3. Keith Green
  4. Bart Millard (Mercy Me)
  5. Tauren Wells
  6. Bryan Duncan
  7. Quentin Brackenridge

These guys all have several things in common (aside from being guys). They all can carry a tune. They all (especially David Phelps) have astounding vocal ranges. They all can belt (the correct musical term for what I used to call “screaming in tune”).

I’ve attempted to attach the Petra song to this post. If you like it, why not check out some of these other gifted singers with their powerful messages?

I hope you enjoyed this post devoted to my favorite music. If you don’t like music, you are probably not reading it.

God bless you and keep you in the shadow of His Love.

ESCAPE!!!

Today, as is the case on many Sundays, I had the blessing of listening to messages by two Spirit-led preachers.

The first was by a well-educated and extremely intelligent man of God who, in addition to his being a lifelong preacher, has been a lifelong EMT and firefighter. He has also become a good friend and a wise spiritual mentor.

His sermon today was a preface to a series of sermons which will be given each Sunday between Lent and Easter about the “I AM”s of Jesus. Today he spoke of the “I AM” encountered by Moses at the burning bush.burning bush

He stated that people are attracted to fire.

Fire is fascinating.

Beautiful and destructive.

Refining and consuming.

Pastor Dave brought out the fact that Moses was not attracted to the bush; he was attracted to the fire and then to the fact that the bush within the fire was not consumed.

While Pastor Dave was speaking, it occurred to me perhaps this a reason people are attracted to sin. When they are attracted to it, they are in reality being drawn to the fires of hell.

hellfire

This was the destination of Adam and Eve after they sinned and suffered spiritual death.

This was my destination.

This was your destination.

But God. . .

Escape Route

Loved us so much He had already prepared a way out. This way was prepared before the foundation of the world. This way was a narrow way, but it is the only way, the only escape route for us.

The second sermon I heard was also preached by a well-educated and extremely intelligent man of God. His sermon brought out the sinful will of man and both the permissive and perfect will of God. He mentioned, as I’ve learned so much about recently, that perfect means complete. He used Romans 12:1-2 as his text. Are we presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice? Are we casting down all our idols to make them so?

The cross of Jesus was the only way by which we could once again enjoy the Presence of God. Once we are walking in the Presence of God, it also becomes possible for us to find the “perfect will of God.” Possible, but I’m not sure any human being (outside of Jesus in His human form) has ever completely achieved this.

Perfect Will of God

Only Jesus lived that “Perfect Will of God” life. He was God.

My life might look more like this (red line indicating my life):

In the Will

At the very top of this picture, you will see two pathways. I wish I could say that I am in the perfect will of God pathway. Finally.

But, knowing there is one (at least) area of my life that is not completely yielded to him, I don’t think I can in all honesty make this claim.

How can you make sure you are staying in the perfect will of God?

Previous blog posts have described in varying details “my own efforts” to accomplish this and the varying levels of success of those endeavors. You will note I placed “my own efforts” in quotes because therein lies my biggest fallacy.

Walking in the light, being led by Holy Spirit, consistently is the only way to stay in the Perfect Will of God.

You might also have noticed my overuse of the word “only.” If you’ve read any of my writing, you will know my intense dislike of overuse of any word. So why did I use this word 6 times (counting this one)?

That is one benefit to my being a Christian Aspie. Sometimes black and white thinking can be a good thing. If you are an Aspie, go back and count the “only”s—you know you want to!—and let me know if I made a mistake

Here’s another one: Jesus is the ONLY way.

So that just about covers my thoughts (for now) on the two sermons I was blessed to hear today.

 

But it was the sermon in the middle. . .

 

Still working on my writing for that one. Come back soon. . .

What is My Purpose!

What is My Purpose?

From July 14 through July 25, 19 students of ages between 21 and 64 listened, talked, participated, wrote, conferenced, laughed, cried, argued, and probably a couple of other verbs the variety of methods used to learn the subject matter the instructors were trying to teach.

Why?

Not too long after Rod died, God revealed that there were individuals who had spent the decades of their earthly lives on a church pew without understanding the most important reasons why.

How could they be helped?

Who would help them?

So began the journey to Licensed Local Pastor School.

Was every one of those 19 people there because they felt a similar, strong directive from God to be there?

Did everyone know the journey might be in vain—there was a chance licensing to pastor a small church, the chief reason for enrolling in the school, would not be the end result?

How many of them started with the initial mark against them of a faith journey thus far walked closely with and wholly trusting in Jesus alone that was different from that expected by the school?

Were any of them “different/weirdly wired” in the way they thought?

What did they each learn? Did they further their education in things for which they already had an elementary knowledge?

This would include the 9 spiritual disciplines:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Fasting
  4. Scripture (Bible reading)
  5. Study (Bible with supplementary resources)
  6. Stewardship (tithing—not just money but talent)
  7. Solitude
  8. Fellowship
  9. Service

Did they learn that the 9 spiritual disciplines don’t just “happen” to a believer; rather they should be “intentional” acts on the part of the believer? Most of these intentional acts can and should be practiced frequently. Some are easier than others, and some will need constant vigilance and reinforcement to be fully engaged.

Did they befriend those with whom they might not ever have otherwise crossed paths? The love of Jesus was clearly and deeply experienced both through other people and through the work of Holy Spirit when human frailty raged within and without. Did they feel that? True, faith isn’t based on feelings, but God gave us feelings.

Did they learn about communication? When one speaks, it is not the words alone which are important; indeed, they are of minimal importance. The tone with which the words are spoken bears more weight, and some would say body language is of the utmost importance! Body language is difficult to alter (for reasons fully addressed in previous posts and implied in this one). Learning to speak with a tone which conveys kindness, encouragement, and the love of Jesus is an achievable goal. Although this is not one of the spiritual disciplines, in this writer’s case, it will be made so.

On the original draft of this blog, the word “I” appeared more than 40 times with other words such as “my” not even counted but present. Since not using personal pronouns is grammatically unwieldy (see above reference to “this writer”), the rest will include the to-be-avoided-at-all-costs pronouns.

The previously mentioned end result? Mom, sister, son, daughter-in-law, 2 granddaughters and Pastor Dave all came to the ceremony Thursday evening to cheer encouragement as I received my graduation certificate.graduation

I was told more than once that the certificate was just a paper saying the classes had all been completed with a passing grade (one of them barely), but it would be strongly recommended a license not be issued to me at the time the other students receive theirs in one to two months. In part, this was due to belief differences which I admittedly didn’t wish to change, and I believe God would have been displeased with me if I had. The major hindrance was, of course, the ASC which many don’t even believe exists because of adroit masking practiced and nearly perfected over the past 50 years. It was the black and white thinking, however, which was my downfall.

God had me take the schooling for a reason. Of course, I tried to figure out just what that reason might be. Could it be that it was to encourage one of the other students in some way? That happened, so possibly that was the correct answer. Did one of the other students need to see a fellow student “on the edge” most of the time and “over the edge” a couple times, but by the grace of God getting back up every single time? That happened, too.

It is about God. It’s not about me. It’s really not even about other people, although some would disagree.

He told me long ago my purpose in life is to glorify him (confirmed in Isaiah 43:7), a fait accompli in my own unique way with regard to Licensed Local Pastor School. I am, as always, grateful to him for his greatly needed assistance.

Now waiting patiently for his next direction, I will continue to learn about the love with which he has loved me so that the love can be given back to him and to others.

Reader greatly loved by our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, may he bless you in all you say and do and in everything your hands touch. In the precious name of Jesus Christ.

Life on the Spectrum

 

 

puzzle brain

Famous Ones Currently Living With It

There are many. Here are a few that appear on just about every list I found:

Dan Akroyd – Actor/Comedian

Susan Boyle — Award-winning singer

Daryl Hannah — Actress

People Who are Famous Because of It

Temple Grandin — Author

Historical Figures Believed to Have Had it

Abraham Lincoln — President, The Great Emancipator

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Writer

Albert Einstein — Scientist

Famous Christians with It

Brent Hansen – Christian radio host

Perry Stone — Pastor/Evangelist

Fictional Characters appearing to Have It

We are talking about Asperger’s, or as it is now known high-functioning Autism.

For years I have suspected I am an Aspie. There are too many signs of it starting with fairly significant bullying when I was a child. I won’t go into detail on that here–maybe in a future blog. There were some hygiene issues which at the time were attributed to laziness but which recently (just this past week) I was surprised to discover are fairly common among Aspies. One of them I still struggle with to this day, but I’ve learned a workaround for it which sorta works.

As an older child and an adult, I experienced social difficulties that cannot really be explained by simple shyness. I have no trouble speaking in front of large groups of people, providing I am speaking something I have previously written and carefully edited to remove comments others would consider inappropriate. And I can do okay talking to one person at a time. groupBut bring in a third person, and I will shut down – even with my sisters whom I am closer to than probably anyone in my life. I remember one time as a young adult being in a car with both of them on the way to see a movie and them both jabbering away, and feeling a little lost because I didn’t know how to enter in.

Over the years I’ve gotten fairly good at “appearing to fit in.” I suspect the people who know and love me the best are so used to my quirks they no longer even notice them.

But. . . there are some problems with pretending to be normal. towel

“Normal” and “perfect” are 2 words which need to be taken out of all dictionaries!

Which brings up another trait of Asperger’s. We have to have alone time, much more than the average person. This is not selfishness. It is alone time.pngnot self-centeredness as many well-meaning people believe. It is an aspect of the way our brains are wired. When I was married to Rod, a wonderful man who didn’t have too many difficulties with my oddities, and no problems whatsoever socializing, he understood this about me. He didn’t believe I had Asperger’s, although his daughter did. He simply thought I’d had too many bad things happen to me and it had altered my personality. It that were true, his personality would have been way more shut down than mine. It was not. He was larger than life and loved by everyone who met him.

In the past couple years I’ve become involved with some Christian online support groups. Even with them the communication issues are readily apparent. A previous group leader admonished me more than once about my black and white thinking. I believe my current leader gets amused by my unusual way of sharing my thoughts. When it’s my turn to speak I try to get everything out in one rush of words so they can move on to someone else. After I finish speaking I will always mute myself so they can’t hear anything else that might slip out inadvertently. I don’t know how to insert myself into a conversation between the other people in the group. This group is actually very good. The women in it are super kind; they each struggle with their own things and aren’t bothered by mine.

This is not the case with other groups I’ve been in, as alluded to previously. Often when I try to communicate I usually start speaking at the exact moment as someone else, and I will let my voice fade away and not be heard. Clearly the other person’s opinion is more important.

How does being an Aspie fit into my true identity as a daughter of the King?

Not easily.

But it isn’t impossible.

Asperger’s is not a disability. Asperger’s is not a birth defect although one is born with it. It is simply a difference in the way the brain is wired. This can be a good thing.

First the bad:

It is difficult to mingle socially with other women, including, or maybe especially, Christian women. A group of women from my church is currently on a lady’s retreat. I look at the pictures they post on Facebook and think how much fun it looks like they’re having. Then I remember how hard it would be to have a conversation with any two or more of them, and I quickly remember why maybe it wouldn’t be so fun. But. . . I am no longer envious as I would have been not all that many years ago. I can enjoy the fact that they’re enjoying themselves, and I can sit out on the back deck and watch the month-old kittens playing with each other and truly enjoy that as much as what the women appear to be doing.

One big thing about Aspies is they usually have one thing they are intensely interested in, and it consumes a great deal of their time and energy. For a lot of my life, my interests were not at all productive. For another part of my life, my interests were my children and my husband. For part of my life it was learning how to get my life back after colon cancer.

The good?

Right now, with Rod gone nearly 3 years, my principal focus truly, and perhaps for the first time in my life, is on Jesus and my relationship with Him. 

You, see He doesn’t care that my brain is wired weird. In fact, I think maybe He even likes it, especially jesus loves menow that I’m focused on Him. Black & white thinking, overthinking, talking to myself (or is it thinking out loud?. . . or . . . am I actually talking to Him when others think I’m talking to myself?) don’t bother Him at all. If the words I speak to Him don’t come out exactly the way I intended, do you think His feelings might get hurt? Of course not. For one thing, He is perfect and therefore, cannot get His feelings hurt. Then there’s that little thing about Him knowing what I’m thinking and feeling before I say it or even before I think it. No, my Aspie quirks doesn’t bother him a bit.

One more reason to love Him!  i love jesus

Another advantage: I have to pray really, really hard before I speak at such events as Walk to Emmaus, churches, and book signings; otherwise, who knows what might come out of this mouth? People are not as understanding as Jesus, and they have no way of knowing that what I’m saying is not always what I mean to say. Sometimes I’ve had the delightful experience, usually at Walk to Emmaus, of having God actually take over when I’m speaking. You can’t imagine what a blessing that is on so many levels.

Another one: Truly great friends. I didn’t have my first non-relative best friend until I was 48 years old! But she was wonderful! She had Alzheimer’s so she could not remember any of the crazy things I said. The other good friends I’ve had have also been exceptional people; they have to be! That includes my sisters. I know of many sets of sisters who aren’t friends at all—they’re more like enemies. My sisters and I have always loved and supported one another.

God puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). For His reasons, he decided to wire me up with Asperger’s, so he knew I’d need the exceptional sisters of Jessie Alice and Jamie Jean, born when I was 1 and 5 years old. I will always be grateful!

Diagnosed at last! One month ago, I received the diagnosis of Asperger’s (also known as high-functioning Austism) along with PTSD & BED from my counselor. By the way, both of those can result from Asperger’s and the social fall-out from weird wiring.

Look at this statement I just found on http://www.lifeonthespectrum.net/blog/?page_id=1001 and wow! this whole blog is FANTASTIC!

Some other great websites:

http://www.aspergerministry.org/

http://christianaspie.com/

“I am no longer a failed normal person. I am a successful aspie.” And I would add to this “loved by Jesus!”.

The Woman at the Well

woman-of-samaria-at-jacobs-wellAlthough the Bible is called the Word of God because every word in it comes from God, in many Bibles every word that Jesus spoke is written in red ink. The 4 gospels are full of red-letter words, and they appear elsewhere in smaller quantity.

There are several instances where the red words of Jesus are interspersed with black words spoken by one or more people. Among all the one-on-one conversations Jesus had, one is longer than any other.

  1. This conversation was with a woman.
  2. The woman’s name might have been Mary (in fact, her name was not given, but it could have been Mary). Side note: Whenever I think of Mary’s in the Bible, I always think of that poor woman at Jesus’ tomb in Matthew 27:61 who is called simply “the other Mary”. Maybe the woman at the well was the other Mary.
  3. She is probably just about the last person anyone living in that time would have imagined Jesus speaking with.

Something else you might notice about the Bible and every other book. The writing does not go clear to the edge of the page. There are white, blank spaces at the sides, top, and bottom of each page. Sometimes there might be footnotes, but even then, there will still be a blank space before the very edge of the page. There are spaces like this at the edges of this blog. These are called margins. You probably don’t even pay any attention to them, do you?

Margins are defined as being the edge or border of something, or the area outside the space where the action occurs. So, when a person is described as a marginalized individual he or she is someone on the outside looking in. This person lives in a place of loneliness. It can be a place of despair. It may be that no one even really notices the person.

The woman at the well, although clearly of at least average intelligence for a woman judging by the conversation she had with Jesus, was a marginalized person.

Was she born that way, destined to travel the road of life emotionally and spiritually alone?

I can see 3 possible reasons for her to live in the margins of life.

First, she was “the woman at the well”. So, yes, to some degree for that time in history she was marginalized simply due to her gender.

Second, she was a Samaritan, marginalized by her ethnicity. Again, born that way.

Lastly, she was living an immoral lifestyle.

Jesus was known for doing the opposite of what the religious leaders expected of Him. The Apostle John illustrates this fact through this account perhaps more clearly than any other.

Why was Jesus in Samaria?

It was the shortest route to his destination, and the reason John even mentions this becomes clear as we read further in the account.

Why was this such an odd thing? The Bible tells us Jews, particularly the religious Pharisees, tended to avoid going through Samaria at all.

To understand this, you have to go back nearly 1000 years. Although the trouble betweenisrael the Israelite tribes started all the way back in the days of Jacob (Israel), it was after one of Solomon’s servants rebelled against David’s son that the northern kingdom broke away. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained, and if you read 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles, you will see that the southern kingdom was maybe slightly more faithful to God than the northern kingdom, and thus existed for a longer period of OT time. The capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem. The northern kingdom had 3 capitals, of which the last was Samaria, and its people came to be known as Samaritans.

The traditions and religious practices of both kingdoms were still in existence in Jesus’ earthly time.

Jesus was of the southern kingdom—the Samaritan woman (and other Samaritans mentioned in the NT) are from the northern.

If you think about it, analogies can be made between the interactions between the Jews & Samaritans and the racial tensions and religious wars taking place today.

Jesus and the woman at the well are 2 people who should be enemies but instead have a deep and lengthy conversation.

Why did Jesus stop at Jacob’s well, in particular?

He was tired.

Jesus was at this exact location at this exact time because it was a shortcut to his destination — and he was tired. Those are the logical explanations.

But faith and logic often are not the same thing. Sometimes . . . they are opposites.

What was the ultimate result of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman?

Verse 39 “Many of the Samaritans believed. . .”

The first of them was the woman at the well.

She had been married 5 times. Since women were not permitted to divorce, that means 5 different men had divorced her. The reason could have been as simple as the husband tired of her. That still happens today. Whatever the reason, she had been rejected 5 times. My guess is her self-esteem had to be about nil after all that. It’s little wonder she was not married to the man she was living with at the time!

She drew her water at noon, the hottest part of the day. Possibly she had once drawn her water at the same time as the other women, the more normal and comfortable hour. Maybe the other women had scorned her which led to her eventually going to the well at a time she would not be judged. Yet Jesus, a man, a Jew, and a completely sinless human being, deigned to speak to her without contempt.

They discussed the differences between the water in the well and the water Jesus had. Since the well was “Jacob’s Well”, and Jacob was considered the father of the northern kingdom, this was considered the best water available. Yet, Jesus said the living water he offered was superior. If she drank of it, she would never thirst again.

The woman wanted this living water. She didn’t want to keep going to Jacob’s well every day at the hottest hour of the day. Jesus told her to go and get her husband, even though he knew she didn’t have one.

The woman was honest, and Jesus spoke, knowing everything about her, stated the facts of her life he knew would capture her full ate attention; but. . . there is no indication he was condemning her for her lifestyle.

Then followed a discussion of the proper place to worship with Jesus stating there is no one place to worship, all that is required is the attitude with which it must be done, that being in Spirit and in Truth.

Lastly He revealed to the woman that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

All these things together kindled the fire of the woman’s faith in Jesus.

Then the disciples showed up. They were surprised not to see him talking to a Samaritan or one who practiced immoral behavior, but to see him talking with a woman.

This brings up something interesting I noted when researching this.

bible skinny

Nearly all the translations read that the disciples were surprised only because he was talking with a woman. However, The Message translation/paraphrase, a current favorite of many people, reads as follows: “27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.”

Most of the other translations say nothing other than “a woman”, and none say anything about the disciples’ countenances.

The Passion Translation/Paraphrase (one of my favorites) reads: “27 At that moment the disciples returned and were stunned to see Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman. Yet none of them dared to ask him why or what they were discussing.”

Again, the translator was taking some liberties. The “Samaritan” in front of woman is not too much of a stretch because they were, after all, in Samaria. But “dared to ask him”? Were the disciples really that afraid of Jesus?

Here are a couple other translations:

KJV: 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”

Mounce Interlinear:

27 Just then his disciples came back. kai epi houtos autos mathētēs erchomai.

They were astonished that he was talking with a woman ; ho · kaithaumazō hoti laleō meta gynē;

however, no one said to her, mentoi, oudeis legō,

“What do you want?” “tis zēteō?”

or to him, “Why are you talking with her ē, “tis laleō meta autos

This is why we Bible readers must be careful when using a contemporary version of the Bible. Although the creators of The Message and The Passion Translation were more than likely correct in their speculations, they are speculations because they are not found in the Greek text.

Whatever the case, as soon as the disciples showed up, the woman left so quickly she forgot her water jar. Or. . . Maybe she thought she would no longer need it? She had, after all, just drunk of the Living Water.

A couple chapters earlier, in John 2:23, we learn of the first Jewish believers who had been at the Passover. The woman at the well became then in chapter 4 the first non-Jewish evangelist of the Good News when she asked “Could this be the Messiah?” Could this have been aa rhetorical question, asked to whet the appetites of those already thirsty for the Living Water?

Meanwhile, back at the well the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat something. He told them he had food to eat of which they knew nothing. The disciples, humans, were thinking with their human minds that someone had brought him something to eat. But Jesus responded His food was to do the will of His Father which was to harvest the crop for eternal life. This harvest started with the Samaritan woman and the scythe extended to everyone she came in contact with.

She was such an unlikely first evangelist!

Or was she?

1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us “But God chose those the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise; and God chose the puny and powerless to shame the high and mighty.” So, although it may have seemed like Jesus was at the well to take a shortcut and because He was tired, He was actually on a divine mission. It doesn’t sound like He ever even got a drink of the water from Jacob’s Well.

In fact, His true reason for being at the well is found in v.34 “to do the will of God”. Since Jesus is God, He’d already known since “the beginning” about the woman at the well and what her purpose was to be.

This gives me hope. I have no letters after my name; I have and am nothing to make me of high societal standing. The woman at the well was clearly a marginalized person of her time due to her gender, her race, and her lifestyle. I have often felt marginalized, and I suspect some of you have as well at one time or another. How wonderful to know that we are the people God can most easily use for His glory and to know we have each been given a place in His grand plan from “the beginning” (see Psalm 139:16).

I’ll end with this “This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95. (This is an apocryphyal story, but still useful for illustration.)

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

The Samaritan woman tried to argue with Jesus. When she realized that He was her lighthouse, she changed her course.

Ask yourself: Am I arguing with Jesus about the any of the circumstances of my life? When we drink His Living Water, and as long as we stay within His light, we can be sure that we are not off course.

prayFather, I pray for the weak and powerless ones, the marginalized, remembering that these are the ones it is easiest for you to use for your glory. Help them to learn of, accept, and internalize the true value You place upon them. The details of Your plans for our lives have been known by You since long before we ever drew a breath. Quench our thirst with your Living Water. And help us to look to our Compass, our Lighthouse for our direction when it’s too dark to see our feet in front of us. Be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. Amen.