Something I Learned From Romans 1:20

As some of you know, I got lambasted for recommending Glenn Beck’s books because he’s a mormon.  I said to stop judging him based on his beliefs:  he still is doing great things for people and this country.

In his new book, “The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life”, he talks about how he came to Mormonism.  He asked a question,”Where’s Gandhi?”  Gandhi never accepted Jesus.  The Mormon teacher responded by saying, “Would it be fair for one who had never had the chance or opportunity to accept Him to be banished to that lake of fire?” P.148

I had been contemplating this ever since I read it.  I knew the logic was flawed somehow and now I have an answer from the Bible.  Romans 1:20:  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

There really is no excuse NOT to know Him, especially in today’s world.  We all can buy a Bible. Churches are on every street and we can worship freely.  But more than that:  God is everywhere we look.  How can a human being with a logical mind not stop and think I wonder where all of this came from? And then find the answer:  God.

I’m extrapolating here because I don’t know much about the Mormon faith but apparently Mormons take the fluffy view of, “Well, you won’t go to Hell.  You just won’t be in Heaven with the rest of us.”

But what does the Bible tell us?  John 14:6  “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Revelation 20:15  “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Mr. Beck denies the existence of this “lake of fire” in his book on P. 149 (the fluffy view of what happens to unbelievers).  I guess he missed Romans 1:20, Revelation 20:15, John 14:6, and Isaiah 40:21.

Fatima the Spinner and the Tent

Fatima the Spinner and the Tent by Idries Shah is a kids book, which I thought was a re-telling of Fatima in A Thousand and One Nights but this is a different Fatima.

In the story, she is taught by her father to spin and then she is ship wrecked and her father dies.  She is taken in by a family who teaches her to weave.  Then she is kidnapped and sold as a slave.  Her new master teaches her to make ship’s masts.  Then she is ship wrecked again in China.  But the Chinese have a legend that says a foreign woman would on day arrive and make a tent for the Emperor.  Of course, this is Fatima who uses all of the skills she learned (spinning, weaving, and mast-building) to make a tent.  She marries a prince and is happy the rest of her days.

After she got ship wrecked on China:  “She wept bitterly, for she felt that nothing in her life was working in accordance with expectation.  Whenever things seemed to be going well, something came and destroyed all her hopes.”

“Why is it,” she cried out, “that whenever I try to do something it comes to grief?  Why should so many unfortunate things happen to me?”  But there was no answer.

How many times have we thought the same things and cried out to God with no immediate answer.

“So, she picked herself up from the sand and started to walk…”

Isn’t this what we all do?

Last page, “It was through these adventures that Fatima realized that what had appeared to be an unpleasant experience at the time, turned out to be an essential part of the making of her ultimate happiness.”

I couldn’t help but think of God here.  It is so true.  We go through life, learning things along the way, lessons He wants to teach us, and every thing combines for our happiness, something God desires for us.

I’m reminded of the song, Your Love Never Fails that says, “You make all things work together for my good.”

I love books like these, especially kids books.  I love kids books I think because my mother never read to me so I get to read all these stories along the way.  My oldest loved this story.  It was the first book she picked out to read last night.

These stories are so essential for learning–stories that show how despite hardships it all works out in the end and these hardships all had a purpose–to give Fatima the skills she needed, which led to her happiness–or to extrapolate–which led to God’s purpose for her.

Everything we go through is for a purpose–His purpose.  We just have to try and remember that in the midst of heartache.

Awesome stuff!

Prayer of the Day

Romans 5:3-5  “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

So, through our suffering we have hope that love will be poured into our hearts.

Somewhere More Holy

I order most of my books off of Amazon.  One, it’s the cheapest out there and two if you order over $25 worth of stuff, you get free shipping.  So, last week I went online to order Glenn Beck’s book, “The 7 Wonders That Will Change Your Life” but I needed another book to get me over $25.

Amazon has a wish list that you can save books you want so when I find one I think I’m interested in, I save it so I’ll have some books to choose from when I’m ready to order.

One book I saved was one mentioned in Sarah Palin’s new book, America by Heart, called Somewhere More Holy by Tony Woodlief.

God knows what I’m struggling with and at this point in my life he also knows exactly what to put in my hands.  It was these two books.

Somewhere More Holy is a book about Tony’s life.  He lost his first child when she was 3 to a brain tumor and he dealt with it by cheating on his wife.  It’s about how he was broken and through God’s grace his marriage was saved and him and his wife are now raising 4 boys.

I can’t imagine ever burying a child (it’s both me and my husband’s worst nightmare).  This book will make you cry and laugh.

At one point last night, Tony tells the story of not wanting to play with his daughter because he was watching a basketball game before he knew she was sick and the guilt and shame he feels over it.  “I was unable to see how the things we love can banish like breath.”  Then, the next page, “she (his daughter) forgave everything, and so does God, and that the only person still keeping accounts is me.” P.48-49

I looked up at my two youngest children who were playing happily on the floor with dolls and cars and started balling.

You see, I tend to think sometimes I’m a bad mother.  I think I don’t spend enough time with them.  I tend to think I could be better.  I tend to think I am scarring my kids for life with all my junk.  I even think I am unworthy of them.

This book will make you feel like you’re not alone, remind you how God does forgive and how much He does love, and make you see how important your family truly is because one day they may be taken from you.

It’s not an easy read but I got up this morning and couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

“I think it’s time to just accept it (the love of his wife), to accept the love of these children and this God I don’t understand.” P.201

I have been moved more in the last five days than I have been in a long time.  Moved to deal with my past. Moved to accept it.  Moved to follow my true north.  Moved to follow God’s.  Moved to be all God has called me to be, to be more like Jesus but to know I will stumble in the process.  And moved to love and to accept love.  And to know all things work together for my good.

I cannot recommend either of these books enough, especially if you think you have more to give to this world and something is hindering your progress.  I guarantee you will learn something.  You may even be moved like I am to see what’s important in this world and what is not and to pray for the will and fortitude to make life changes for the betterment of all.

There is Something Inherently Wrong with Me When…

I go to Sam’s Club the other day with the sole intent of buying a winter jacket.  I had seen a couple I liked a few months back and the zipper on my winter jacket just broke so I need a new one.  I take my two youngest with me and we spend probably 30 minutes looking and trying on.  Nothing fit.  The one I remembered is gone.

So, dejected, I prepare to leave without buying anything.  But then….

I walk down the book aisle and this book jumps out at me called “Atlas of the Bible” by Carl G Rasmussen by Zondervan.  It’s a thick book with a picture of some ruins on it and maps below the picture.  Now, as you can tell, I LOVE maps so I picked it up and glanced through it.  I opened to the pages on Hezekiah’s reign and there are timelines and maps and pictures AND an explanation with biblical quotes of passages, tying together all the parts of the Bible that discusses Hezekiah’s reign.

I hadn’t been interested in a Bible Atlas before even though our BSF leader recommended one because I don’t like just a book with maps in it.  I like the explanations and pictures–exactly like this book.

I look at the price and it’s $25 bucks.  So, I put it down but only momentarily.  I thought, “Well, I was going to spend that on a coat and now I’ll spend that on a book.”

I do this ALL THE TIME.  I’ll buy something for me, justifying the expense by giving up something else.

So, I proceed to the check-out, happy as a lark.  The winter jacket will wait until next fall and I’ll enjoy a cool book that will help me understand God’s word much better.

Good trade-off, don’t you think?

Trying to Discover God’s Path in My Life

I’m not a people person.  I’m just not.

I don’t like idle chit-chat.  I don’t like talking about things that don’t concern me (weather in NY, celebrities, hair trends, etc).  I have no patience.  Wasting time is one of my biggest pet peeves. Self-control is my hardest fruit of the spirit.

But, I feel prompted by God to start something–something that involves people–but I don’t know what.  I’m thinking a homeschool group when/if we move or a Bunko group or BSF or something.

Some days I’m gung-ho on this.  It’s all I think about (besides finishing my novel, kids, life, etc) and run through the numerous benefits and psyche myself up for it.  Other days, I have a melt-down or do something stupid and think, “What am I thinking?  I can’t work with other people!  I don’t even like these other people!”

So, I don’t know if God wants to stretch my comfort zone and make me more of a people person or if He’s trying to say, “Stop! Go back to book writing and leave the world of people to someone else!”

Any advice out there on interpreting God’s messengers?  Or maybe from someone like me:  a non-people person who thinks they might want to become one?

“As God Wills”

Finding kids books these days with God even mentioned is a challenge.  Finding good kids books with God mentioned is an even bigger challenge.

I’m reading Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, an adaptation of the original by Miguel de Cervantes by Margaret Hodges for kids.

In chapter two, Don Quixote famously takes on the windmills, thinking they are giants.  Sancho, his faithful companion who thinks Don Quixote is crazy but goes along with him anyways, being promised a kingdom as his reward.  He’s the king so his wife would be the queen.

“My wife wouldn’t be worth two cents as a queen,” replied Sancho.  “She would do better as a countess, and even then, God help her.”

“Leave it in God’s hands,” said the knight, “but don’t be satisfied with any title less than governor.”

After his fight with the windmills:

Don Quixote:  “In the end, my good sword will prevail over his (the magician who turned the giants into windmills) evil arts.”

“As God wills,” Sancho replies.

Later, Don Quixote tells Sancho to not defend him against knights he fights as it’s against the laws of chivalry.

“I promise,” said Sancho.  “I will keep that law as strictly as I keep the Sabbath.”

I wish every book I read that these truths in it.  I wish I had some of these responses in my life’s situations.

How many times have I wished I said or even had the attitude or belief in challenging situations of “As God wills”?  Or “Leave it in God’s hands and don’t be satisfied with any less”?  How many times should I have responded “But God knows me, and that is enough” to a situation instead of with anger, resentment, and hostility?

This is great stuff for me.  I recognize it when I read it but my kids only absorb it subconsciously, storing it later for future use.

This book has constant references to God:

“May God guide you”, “God be with you”, “God speed you”, “May God preserve you”, “But God knows me, and that’s enough”, “Liberty is one of heaven’s best gifts.  A man should risk even his life for liberty”, “In God’s hands be it”

Don Quixote gives advice to Sancho:

“First, fear God.  Second, remember  who you are…”

“Remember that you have not earned this favor by your own merit”

“Don’t speak harshly to the man you have to punish; the pain of the punishment is enough…” [I substituted kids for man here.]  “Show mercy, for the mercy of God shines more brightly in our eyes than His justice.”

Why do we have to go back 400 years old to get such rich stories filled with God-fearing characters as memorable as Don Quixote and Sancho?  Characters who live out “As God wills”.  Characters who everyone else thinks are wacko but they themselves have the strength and conviction to stick to their beliefs.  Neither care what others think of them.  They are the butt of practical jokes but both adhere to their beliefs better than superglue.  They follow their true North.

They live their lives following their hearts and God is in their hearts.

I pray I can write such stories; ones that will reflect God’s will yet make an impact in young people’s hearts. My goal is to make Him known, subtly, through my character’s struggles and responses to life situations and live out “As God wills.”

What Does it Mean to “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus?”

I’m reading my Bible (part of my goals this year is to finish the Bible) and I’m in Mark.  My Bible is an NIV Study Bible so periodically, it offers explanations, insights, and questions.  One question is “For you, what does it mean to ‘take up your cross’ and follow Jesus?”

I have often heard this asked and wondered myself.  So, first thing I usually do it google whatever I’m curious about.  What a great tool–the Internet!

I found an awesome explanation about what it meant back in Jesus’s time and how it’s meant today:

http://www.gotquestions.org/take-up-your-cross.html

In sum, it means are you willing to lose everything to follow Jesus.  Not that you have to give up everything. Not that this will happen.  Just are you willing.

From our BSF study of Isaiah so far, we’ve learned it’s more about what’s in your heart rather than actions or deeds.  You can go through the motions of doing God’s work but if your heart is not in it, then it’s meaningless to God.

I just finished Matthew and half of Mark and the Pharisees figure prominently in these books.  They are the Biblical men who are always trying to trip up Jesus.  Jesus chastises them over and over again for their empty actions.  Their hearts aren’t in their work for they do not care about the people.

This is a great question that is often misunderstood.  People, some of whom are defined by their things, have a hard time with this one.  But it’s not about the doing of giving up your things.  You can give up all you have and still not have a heart for Jesus.

It’s about having the heart for Jesus and striving every day to be more and more like him. This is our calling and what God desires for each of us.

And it’s a challenge.  Usually every day I must repent for something or other.

Luke 9:23:  Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

We must deny ourself, die to self, and follow Jesus, His will for our life, every day.  His will not mine.

Today is a new day and as long as God is the one in front I can do better.  For my heart is with Him.

I Believe in You

This is the title of the new series at church.  I had to fight tears the whole time.

Our pastor may not be the most eloquent but he has one thing going for him:  he is authentic, God-centered, and heart-felt.  He often cries when he speaks about God and one can’t help but feel his passion for the Lord.

At some point or points, one person or persons believed in you. They told you, “Yes, you can” when others (including yourself) believed otherwise.  Our pastor related his personal story and gave credit to his wife who admittedly he said he wouldn’t be here without her.  She believed in him when he didn’t.  He founded our church 28 years ago with 7 people and now it’s in the thousands.

We need to believe in others.  We need to believe in our spouse. We need to invest in those nearest us–someone. We need an older mentor. We need an encourager.  We need to give of ourselves in order to live.

God wants us to quit settling.  God wants us to have all He has given to us; to seize it.  Satan will try to talk us out of everything God wants us to do.  He will lie to us.

Jesus commissioned his 11 disciples to spread his work.  Jesus believed in them.  He believed in Peter, who denied him 3 times.

God believes in us.  He wants us to follow His call on our life.  God believes in us when we don’t know if we want to go on.

Romans 8:31  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Several songs popped in my mind:  Our God by Chris Tomlin, The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets, and You Never Let Go by Matt Redman

We need to believe we can do whatever our calling/purpose is in this world.  This gets me through when I’m stuck.  I tell myself, “This is God’s work.  It’s for Him.  It will be all worth it when it’s done.”

When was the last time someone told you they believed in you? When was the last time you told someone you believed in them?

You might not remember.  But I bet you remember the last time you needed to hear it.