October 14, 2016

Faithfully Wielding The Sword of Truth

Several years ago, while trying to put up a live Christmas tree with my girls, I thought it would be a great idea to put a hole in the bottom of the trunk so it would center on the pin in the bottom of the tree stand.  I was in a hurry and grabbed the drill and a bit.  Now the folly comes in the part where I tried to use a spade bit instead of a helical one.  And then I tried to use my left hand because of the position of the tree, while being a very right handed person.  The bit slipped on the sappy trunk and landed, still spinning, in the bone of my right thumb! How stupid was that?!

I felt really dumb and disgusted with myself because I knew better, my kids were watching, and I hate when things like that happen...because I feel sooo worthless.

Occasionally, over the years, a tiny piece of bone or cartilage left over from the damage works it's way to the surface.  It itches and irritates until I can't stand it anymore and I scratch it out like a cat.  One of those instances happened during the final lesson of a Bible study my girls and I were finishing up this week. They couldn't help but notice my frantic scratching and we had a good laugh, at my expense of course, about my careless mistake all those years ago.

A periodic reminder of an incident I'd like to forget.  Every time it happens, I feel a surge of that old "sick in my stomach" feeling that I got that day when I realized that I could very easily have severed the nearby artery, or worse, hurt one of the girls instead.  The foolish, dumb, irresponsible, stupidity that makes me feel like a failure.  Granted it's kind of a small thing that we joke about now but after our lesson, I thought about it again and realized that it is a perfect picture of what we were learning.

The Armor of God - Bible Study Book

The last lesson in our Bible study,  Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer ~ Lifeway Press (every woman should do this study!), was about wielding The Sword of Truth (The Word of God) to actively protect myself from the lies of Satan.  He loves to distract me from God's love for me and the promises that come with the grace of salvation by steering me toward believing that I am not worthy or that God doesn't really mean that He will stand by me through whatever I face.  He likes to throw me off my Jesus groove by making me think that the sins of my past leave me undeserving of God's love.

I am continually both amused and bemused by God's sense of humor and the way He uses things to help me grow.  That tiny bit of tissue that makes it's way to the surface and distracts me from what I'm doing by itching and bringing up the memories of that careless mistake was a parallel to our lesson that I just didn't pick up on until a few days later.  Satan uses the same type of tactic to remind me of sinful things I've done in the past that he wants me to think about instead of focusing on who I am in Christ. A lesson learned and reinforced by something that happened years ago.

When Satan tries to distract me with fears and memories of past sins that threaten to pull me out of rank (military reference due to the nature of the study), after donning my armor, I need to pick up the Sword of Truth and wield it in offensive battle to keep the lies of Satan on the retreat.

Ephesians 6:10-19New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

Pondering My Meanderings...
with much herbal love,

August 2, 2016

I Get It, But I Can't Do It

This year's presidential election has my head spinning!  You, too?
My father was very politically minded and would argue loudly for the 'best' candidate, in his opinion.  But my mom couldn't have cared less and often did not vote.  I would often hear her accuse him of voting party lines regardless of who was running.

As a young adult, I often found it hard to discern which candidate was the best choice and felt the need to vote as an idealist.  As an adult, I find myself leaning more toward looking ahead...so if I vote my conscience (which none of the candidates are really speaking to) am I burying my head in the sand?  Am I making a choice that will do no more for the future of this country than make a tiny, little, soon-to-be-forgotten statement whose only purpose will be to sway votes to the opposite side of the party line rather than defend them?

I get it.

But, it's not that simple.  It's not about which candidate, it's about the future!  It's about the legacy we leave behind.  It's about the issues.

As a grandma, I can see so much further into the future than I could before. What will things be like for my grandkids?  Will they be able to live in freedom?  Or will we be so far gone that they won't be able to be free in this country or any other?  Is that why America, the greatest country on earth, doesn't seem to play a part in the book of Revelation?  Does the downfall start here?  What is our responsibility?  Does it even matter?

So here I am, stuck in the middle between my head and my heart.  More like somewhere around my neck where I feel the pressure to do the right thing.  And I really want to.

If we vote outside party lines, I know what that means.  She, who shall not be named, will be our next president and we'll all be wondering why our religion, which has taken a few hits under current administration, is now being persecuted right here on American soil, more than ever before.  Churches and Christian schools closed because they are made to conform to government standards. Freedom lost.

We'll be crying over the audacity of a panel of supreme court justices, waffling on the edge of equal representation now, which will be overturned and strengthened by possibly 4-5 more seats during the next presidential term.  These appointments, for life, may last the rest of my lifetime and beyond. That's something that should make everyone sit up and take notice.

And then there's the global warming.  I'll be the first to say that God has given us a gift in this delicately balanced earth.  We should take care of it.
The present Commander-in Chief implemented law that has had a huge impact on our local and state wide community.  The coal industry has been hit hard by emission standards that had to be met and that means that companies who run on coal fired energy had to make some hard choices.  Many of them have or will be closing because the cost to change to another fuel source is too great.  Not to mention the folks who harvest coal for a living!  Many people say that this is a win because emissions are responsible for climate change.  But it was a loss to many and a personal issue for our family.
Meanwhile the Marcellus gas sites are taking over the landscape in both rural and forested wilderness areas baring acres of ground for their set up and operation, as well as injecting the ground with chemicals that are harmful to water supplies and wildlife, not to mention humans.  And its hard to tell how far this contamination goes when rain water carries it into the water sheds that feed the streams and rivers that flow through our land.  How is that better, Mr. President?
But unless you are completely off the grid, driving a horse and buggy, leaving zero carbon foot print, can you really point fingers?

And I can't look at my little granddaughter and say that in any way should abortion be glossed over as a non issue.  How could anyone think it's okay to do that to an unborn child even if studies show that the numbers are down from where they were?  I guess that's part of the issue.  We know from her own words that the female candidate from Arkansas thinks that unborn children have no constitutional rights until they leave the womb.  How scary is that? I get that there are special cases but those cases shouldn't be law for folks who just don't want the responsibility of their actions.

Maybe one of those aborted children would have grown up to be the one who finds the answers to global warming!

You may say that life will go on regardless of who's in the White House.  And I'm sure it will but you may not like the direction it takes.  Is God in control?  Of course He is!  Can we overturn His plans for this country?  Nope!  But what about the responsibility we have?  The mandates He's given us about honoring our leaders and following their laws?  We can have an impact on what that looks like for the future by casting our vote.  Withholding your vote because you are not thrilled with either party candidate is not the answer.  Look at the issues for the future. And then humbly pray.

I get the whole idea that evangelical leaders throwing in their lot with the candidate on the right seems totally wrong to some and that millennials are feeling like our generation doesn't get it.  But I think you are missing the point.  My generation has lived through all of the things you have experienced in war and change and progressiveness for ethnic groups and women.  There were wars before you and there will probably be wars after you where people fight for this country, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice.  For those and their families I humbly say, "Thank you!"
The past century has seen so much change and for all the good things, there will be bad...abuse of power and inventions, privileges and rights.  Progress is good and with it responsibility is required.  So I get that you feel your generation thinks it has the most to say and that any one older than you who holds to some of the old things instead of wishing for so much progress is outdated and looking back with rose colored glasses at a time when things don't look so good to you.  But we have experience you don't have.   We've seen things and lived through times that you will never know except from a history book and there's something to be said for solid values and simpler times.
I get what you're saying but I can't agree with all of your conclusions.

When evangelical leaders choose a side, you feel abandoned.  But maybe they are trying to make you see that the changes in the next presidential term are going to be much more far-reaching than you realize.  Idealists will be further from reach than ever if you don't vote, vote for independents or vote left in this election even more than elections past.  Maybe you don't agree that voting for the candidate on the right is a sound moral choice.  I get it.  But I ask you to seek God's voice on this.

So how does that look on election day?  Is it worth making a ripple in the pond that will soon be absorbed into the shore or do I want to be part of the wave that may not be all of my ideals in one but looks a far cry brighter than the other choice?  WWJD?  I'm not sure so I'll certainly be praying about all of this until I cast my vote.

I'm just touching the surface here but these are things that I'm pondering.

June 15, 2016

Cages of Bitterness

This will seem abstract to some and not make a bit of sense but these are things I've been wondering about.  And thinking about and pondering because sometimes, when this happens, the results impact a lifetime...generations are affected by this and they don't know what to do with all the feelings and self-image that comes with them.

There is an anger that lurks deep in the heart.  A bitter wall of longing and separation that eats at the soul and mind until an impenetrable shell with barbs and flashes of stinging words effectively exclude the very affection the heart desires.  The enemy has defeated the senses, filling them with only self inspired loathing and hurt which spews from the mouth without care or discretion in an effort to cast down and belittle anyone who dares to reach out without complete abandon to the opinions and understanding of the dictator.  All things done out of kindness are twisted into malicious intent...all questions into hurtful accusations...all pleas for approval and love, dashed in a topsy-turvy effort to keep ANYONE from getting inside, all the while blaming them for not caring.

Requests must be met in exact detail, immediately without any hesitation... no thought for the responsibilities of others ...no variations allowed.  There is no way to understand or consider the feelings and actions of others, except to see their weakness and stupidity.  No compassion, no forgiveness, no mercy, no compromise, in spite of the fact that all these things are either expected in return or believed to be unnecessary for their own hurtful actions.  There is only one interpretation, only one possible meaning, one intention...to somehow hurt or take advantage of the being inside the shell.  The cage that shrinks with every nasty, hurtful thing that's said in response to others who are trying to please or help until the confines have completely cut off any outside influence.

The bitterness wins.

The enemy triumphant.

The captive...alone in a prison of their own making...because of bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and hate.  A pitiful multifaceted personality that can change with little provocation into a prodding, vengeful, hedgehog of a being that feels unloved because they won't allow anyone to love them.

Where did this bitterness come from?  I think I know.  The hurt of a parent who strikes out and takes away childhood...uses their fists and body to make people do what they want...thinks that their needs/wants are the only ones that matter.  Do dictators create dictators?  Are the actions of a parent responsible for forming the worldview of the children?  Do personalities influence how the dictatorship affects the children?  Why do some rise above while others are oppressed?  Are words and actions as hurtful and influential as fists and physical domination?

Unconditional love says that even though this may be the case, we are to love anyway.  How does that look?  At what cost to ourselves and our family?  Can we fix it?  Sometimes the best we can do is love from afar. Much like the gift of salvation, love is a gift that can be accepted or rejected.  Does the rejection mean the love is faulty or unreal?  It's a struggle that's been raging for the biggest part of a century and as time and age take their toll, the walls become thicker and the rejection more bitter.

The irony of the situation is that the very desires of the heart are the ones that are rejected the most.  It's not logical but most dealings of the heart are not ruled by logic.  The downward spiral of a self defeating spirit cannot be changed from the outside...change is a heart issue that begins within.

Pondering My Meanderings...

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