February 25, 2011

Global Warming?

Political Cartoon
A friend of mine posted this cartoon on Facebook, and it generated a little bit of buzz. Nothing negative, nothing outrageous, but definitely interesting. I am not a scientist, and I don't honestly know what I believe about global warming, but I did read a book a couple of years ago that changed my perspective radically on the whole issue, State of Fear, by Michael Crichton.

State of Fear is about the scientific evidence Michael Crichton put together to dispute the theory of global warming and point out that it MIGHT (not definitely is, just might) just be yet another media-propelled agenda. His theory is that the evidence actually points, cyclically, to the probability of another ice age.

One thing that swings me toward his perspective is that he goes a lot farther back in his research of weather patterns and climate trends than the 50 to 100 years most of the global warming theorists quote.

I'm not saying I believe either theory. My point is that everyone has an opinion, but very few of those people, Al Gore included, are true scientists. I believe some major changes are coming, but they might not prove to be the ones we are expecting. There are always, always more than two options available, and I propose a third one here:

I believe in God, and I believe that we as believers do have the privilege and responsibility to rise up as the kings and queens we are and start advocating the heavenly realms to bring about the healing to this land that all people on earth are hungering for, even if they don't know that's what they're hungering for.

The answer to this is not politics; it will not come about by human effort. The only thing we can do is humble ourselves in good, old-fashioned love and passion for our Savior, which will lead us to godly sorrow over what we have been doing to ourselves, to others, and to our planet. Godly sorrow will ultimately lead us to repentance (doing things differently), and finally to the healing of our land.

February 24, 2011

A Drink of Water

Jesus & The Woman at the Well
I am in the process of moving and haven't had a lot of time to write these past few weeks. I have been doing a lot of thinking, though. One thing I've been thinking about is fear, especially overcoming fear and distinguishing between negative fear, which leads to paralysis and death, and positive fear, which leads to true wisdom from God. These thoughts, though wonderful and worth looking into later on when I'm not moving, have been eclipsed by another thought...one that I can actually focus on without much time and effort during these next few hectic weeks of moving.

Here it is: Jesus' words. Some of the things he said were downright scandalous, and I want to highlight some of these amazing and scandalous ideas He proposed. Here's one I came across today:

Mark 9:38-41 (NIV)
"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."

"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."

Okay, so first of all I see that people other than the disciples were casting out demons in Jesus' name. How does that even happen? I'm thinking that people were seeing what the disciples were doing and the freedom it was bringing, and they wanted to see their friends and family members get free, so they copied them.

And John was worried about it.

(Well, we know worry is never from God.)

So John tells Jesus about it. Not only does Jesus tell him not to worry about it, but He takes it to a whole other level...

He says, "Whoever is not against us is for us."

What??? I read that and think that this means that my neighbor, who is a different religion than I am, is "safe" from judgment because they know I'm a Christian and they're still kind to me. Am I wrong to be thinking this works for anyone...of any religion?

A Drink of Water
He goes even farther and tells me that not only is my neighbor on my team if he is for me, but also that anyone who gives me a drink of water because I belong to Christ, that person will receive their reward in heaven.

I read this and get two different things out of the passage...first of all, he's not just saying believers. He's saying that anyone who takes care of me is going to be rewarded...period...

There's another thing I read here..."receive his reward." This implies that rewards are stored up in heaven for everyone...I have heard this preached in a different way...that our names are written in the book of life, and they have to be blotted out. Every person born has their name written in the book of life! And Jesus is here saying that every person has a reward in heaven, and if someone gives me a drink of water because they know I'm a Christian, even if they have not yet made a commitment to Christ, they are going to receive their reward in heaven!

Wow! Scandalous indeed.

February 17, 2011

Something I've Been Thinking About

This morning, I was listening to a message by Bill Johnson. He prefaced this message by saying this one issue is the one that brings him the most opposition in his ministry, but he did not apologize for his views on it. It is a controversial subject, and it definitely pings my heart as I consider how I have handled situations in the past. Here's what he said:

"There are only three [spirits operating in the issue of sin]: The political spirit, the religious spirit, and the Spirit of the Kingdom. What did Pilate do [when faced with the demand for Jesus' death]? The head political leader, when it was time for Jesus to die, didn't want anyone to think he was associated with that death, so he publicly washed his hands of the guilt...

"What did the pharisees do when the woman was caught in adultery? They picked up stones, [and by so doing, they revealed] their hatred for sin by judging the sinner...

"What did Jesus do to the woman caught in adultery? He didn't scold her or rub her nose in it. [What He said was], "All right, don't do it again. Where are your accusers?" She said there were none left to condemn her. "Then neither do I," [he replied]."

Pastor Johnson explained that the motivating factor behind the responses of both Pilate (political spirit) and the religious leaders (religious spirit) was fear of man. He said that we can easily test the spirits behind any group of people. He recommended observing what happens when a person who has "fallen from grace" is set before a group of believers these days. He said that some in the group will likely vote for stoning (public display of displeasure), and others will wash their hands of the person (separating themselves because they are too controversial). Jesus, though set a different precedent. He covers the sinner with His blood, His grace, His mercy, and His LOVE!

test the spirits
Here are the verses that come to my mind in this matter:

"And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."

"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world."

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins."

Love Covers

February 4, 2011

Mourning into Dancing

"I am under the darkest cloud ever right now. I see glimpses of it lifting, only to find it back over me after a few minutes. At first I thought it was intercession for others, but now I realize it is my own cloud.

I am very stressed about the packing and preparations that have to be made to get us ready to move. I have no enthusiasm. It's like all the joy has been sucked out of me. I am plagued by fears that we will get to Redding and things will be worse than they are here financially. I'm afraid that we won't be able to get an apartment/house because of our poor credit and sketchy job situations. I'm afraid that I won't find enough work to pay our bills each month. All this fear. I don't want it, but I can't seem to break through it on my own.

I feel so desperate to be gone from here. I know that if I stay in this desperate place I will miss what God is trying to show me while we are waiting for Him to open the doors. It feels like there are so many loose ends here that I don't have any idea how to tie up, and there are so many things clamoring for my attention and I don't know how to prioritize anything properly. Anyway, this is my desperate cry for help here!"

Psalm 18
Just after I wrote this and sent it to some dear friends this morning, I made a good decision. I sat down with God and asked Him to speak to my heart in the Scriptures. He took me to Isaiah 54:

"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband..."

How did He know? How did He know when I wasn't even sure what it was that was getting me down? As soon as I read it..."you will not be humiliated...you will forget the shame of your youth..." I knew this was my great fear. I fear that I have not changed. I fear that I will just move to a new place and be exactly the same as I've always been. I fear myself. I fear that His love has not changed me. I fear that the healing won't stick. I fear that I will get where I'm going only to find that I'm still there. He spoke to my fears, and He promised me that I will not be humiliated. He promised me that I will not remember the shame of my youth. I remember it right now. It is stark and clear and fresh in my mind. I've made mistakes. There are things I've done that I can't set right. But these are not the things that Holy Spirit spoke to me about.

He said, "I [lead] you with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. I [am lifting] the yoke from [your] neck. [I am bending] down to feed [you.]" (Hosea 11:3-4, paraphrase)

It was only a few minutes with Him, but it made all the difference.

Cords of Human Kindness
My friend came over and talked with me. I shared my burdens, and with words and deeds she lifted some of the burden off my shoulders. Before she left, another friend called to check on me. She got my prayer request, and she called to make sure I was all right. Soon after that I read her words that she sent in an e-mail as well: 

"Sometimes we just need to keep going~don't lose momentum do the next thing. In each situation we need to ask God to show us how to live. P.S. You can do this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then shortly after that, another e-mail rolled in from another friend:

"Remember what Father said last to You, and hang out there in thankfulness and confidence, with a worshipful stance… and breakthrough has to come! ... the absolutely worst thing that could happen is for you NOT to hear His voice, or to be so other-focused that you miss something… The worst thing is not that he might be telling you to do something you don’t want right now… that’s just the beginning of a glorious testimony later on… So I declare that we will rejoice in breakthrough tomorrow. I also want to say a mundane thing. The logistics of moving is NEVER easy. I read a cartoon in a newspaper once that said the first punishment God gave was to make Adam and Eve MOVE...You are a lioness, Angela… Today you have experienced discouragement, but I reckon it’s a passing feeling and not a lasting spiritual state. Just a little black raincloud… maybe it’s meant to take you out… but that dog won’t hunt. You were created masterfully and equipped specifically to handle every challenge you face; God knew who you were and where you have issues and what stuff you were going to have to face, but he put within you everything you need to be victorious! I love and bless you honey. Peace to you!"

We All Need Friends
Then shortly after that, another friend wrote to me:

"Keep your eye on right now, praise God right now for the goodness he has shown to you today. Let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. God has taken care of you, he will always take care of you. Remember we are studying that we have power and wisdom that comes directly from our Father, ask him for some power!! You have to let go of the power you are trying to have to control this whole situation and turn to you Father to give you his limitless power, he is in control. I love you and I will continue to pray you through this, you can do it. Ask for help from those around you, remember we are all the arms and legs of the body of Christ!!"

And if that wasn't enough, I got a job offer. I got some packing done. I got some cleaning done. And most importantly, when my husband walked in the door I had great news to tell him on many fronts, and I was exuberant! He left me in despair and came home to me in joy!

Finally, God spoke this one last thing to my heart, inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:10-12.

Diamonds never go back to being coal.