Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making a Peace-treaty With the Devil

Everyone has a sense of justice, of right and wrong. Atheists, agnostics, people of any religious persuasion all have a strong gut-reaction when they see injustice happening to them or those they care about.  Whether they know it or not, that sense was instilled in us by God, so that we could live by His principles.

But what happens when someone who cares nothing about God tries to take action against injustice?  They act on a God-given instinct without any consideration for God.  Taking it to a more personal level, a woman who has been cheated on immediately knows this betrayal is wrong and needs to act.  But with no godly principles to refer to, she consults her raging emotions, her past experiences, the movies she's watched, Desperate Housewives episodes, and the attitudes of friends to know just what action to take.  She then, (I've known women who have done this) calls the woman who has been seducing her husband and threatens her, texts her constantly, curses at her and becomes obsessed with her every move.  Then she throws a violent tantrum with her husband, throws a few vases at him and kicks him out of the house.  But in a day or two, she's crying and begging him to leave that woman and be faithful to her.  She'll wear more makeup, more suggestive clothing, try to make him want her, and not succeed.  She becomes more clingy, more needy and an explosive bomb.  She'll confess her undying love for him one minute, and be ready to kill him the next.  This may sound extreme, but it happens.  A lot.  Meanwhile her rat-of-a-husband's inflated ego has gone through the roof, enjoying his new status of having two women in desperate battle for his manly attention.  (Excuse me while I throw up…) 

Seeking justice without the God of Justice turns us into fools.  

Psalm 101 is right on the money when it teaches us not to tolerate evil.  When our home is being infiltrated by demonic activity - spouses or children who are succumbing to addictions, cursing, pornography, immoral behavior, affairs - God wants us to have a zero-tolerance stance.  Does that mean we kick spouses or kids out of the house when we find them involved in any of this?  No, zero-tolerance means, we take action immediately to find a way to rid our homes of the evil, out of love for the people.  We get our kids to counseling, ban them from certain activities, pray stronger, ask God for specific guidance, change our own behaviors and habits if necessary, take them to rehab if we have to, but never give up on helping them.  Mothers can easily throw their hands in the air and assume that they've done all they can after a few groundings or scoldings or threats to take away their cellphones. Their kids get worse, and they make a peace-treaty with the devil.  "Well, as long as my son finishes school and doesn't get into trouble, what can I do?  Kids are kids…"  These mothers fear that if they insist on breaking their child free from addictions, their child will hate them and life will get worse.  So the focus of their concern is themselves, and not the wellbeing of their kids.  They make evil welcome in their house and in their own children - and then they wonder why God doesn't answer their prayers.

There are times when zero tolerance does mean letting that person leave, and face the terrible consequences of their own choices.  When you try to rid your home of evil, and the person you want to help loves that evil more than himself, he may need to be removed too.  But God is faithful.  In the midst of their suffering, your prayers and faith for them will be a protection, a constant presence of God to draw them to Himself.  But do you have the faith to believe that God can do what you can't?  Do you trust that your prayers are powerful enough to accomplish a miracle in your loved-one even when they have gone back to the gutter?  Do you believe that you can do battle against the demons in your family even when you don't know where they are?  What if it's an unfaithful spouse who refuses to change?  Do you have the faith to let him go and know that God still has an amazing life prepared for you?

The God of Justice demands one thing, that we love what He loves and hate what He hates.  He is relentless in His desire to see evil defeated in this world, and when we as His children are tolerant of evil, we go against His will.  We can love our families more purely when we fight whatever evil wants to destroy them.  When we follow HIs path, He shows us how often we are part of the problem.  Many mothers helped create a spirit of disrespect and coldness between themselves and their kids to the point that they lost control.  But these women can learn to change if they really want to follow God's wisdom.  A woman with a straying husband may have to let him go, but God can reveal her own blind spots and flaws that contributed to this problem.  Even loss can be turned into gain when God's ways come first.

Read Psalm 101 today, and pair it with Romans 12:19-21.  Zero tolerance for evil, yet love your enemies.  God is the God of vengeance and justice, but He can only step in when we get in line with His ways.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brain Boost - Social Graces

Do you close doors on yourself?  There are lots of ways to do that, here's one you may not realize you do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Being Paranoid

The simplest things can get us all tied up in knots… Be easy on yourself and stop the paranoid thinking!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

God’s Invitation to Enjoy Him

This is on my husband's daily devotional blog for July 19th. After witnessing the inauguration of our beautiful Temple in Brazil this morning, I thought this would be a perfect time to repost it here.

Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with joy!
  Enter his presence with joyful singing! 
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  
He made us and we belong to him;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
  Give him thanks!
Praise his name!
For the Lord is good.
  His loyal love endures,
and he is faithful through all generations.  
(Psalm 100 ESV)

What comes to mind when you hear the words “praise and worship the Lord?” In churches around the country you can find a wide variety of worshippers enjoying lively performances and catchy tunes.  Among them are:  sincere believers who want nothing more than to praise their Lord and seek a deep relationship with Him, somewhat sincere believers who love to sing praises but aren’t interested in any correction from God, half-hearted church-goers who really like the cool band and hope to get to know the good looking date opportunities on the other side of the room, and absolute hypocrites who want to impress everyone with their superior spirituality for mere personal gain.

So in light of that, delete any preconceived ideas you may have of what praise is supposed to be.  True praise can only come from a true worshipper, and only you and God can know the motives and desires of your own heart.

C.S. Lewis, who became a Christian after years of atheism, dove deeply into studying the Psalms.  He wanted to know what God expected of him when he prayed.  He had no problem with prayers of thanks, or of confessing sins.  He regularly interceded for others and made requests of God.  But the type of prayer that was the hardest for him was praise.  He found that the Bible was constantly encouraging us to praise God.  Many times a day, every day, and without fail.  It was a command.

Does that mean God is egotistical?  Not in the least.  Lewis discovered that God is showing us one direct way to participate in all the beauty and wonder and amazement of His presence and His goodness. When we praise Him we learn to enjoy Him.  When we focus on all He is and has done, we stop looking at the small finite things of our limited lives, and begin to expand our minds to see His infinite power and love and mercy towards us.

Praising Him can heal us of our fears and worries, because we are looking to Him and not at ourselves.  Psalm 34 says, “delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Delighting, enjoying, celebrating and magnifying Him with our mouths, with shouts, with a joyful noise, is a powerful spiritual experience.  Praise demands that we become humble and recognize Him as far superior to us. We are sheep in His pasture, and grateful for it!  Without humility, true joy is impossible. Without praise on our lips, a bond with God is also impossible.

Praise is a natural part of our everyday lives.  We enjoy spreading the news of a great movie, a great bargain, a good restaurant, a funny story.  We tell whoever will listen all about the things our children have done.  Facebook and Twitter sing the praises of our friendships and families with each picture and comment we post.  Praising each other draws us closer to those we care about, and we don’t think twice about it.

So what does it say when we struggle to mouth a few words of praise to the God we claim to believe in?  When we’re embarrassed to sing to Him or raise our voices to heaven?  It shows that the most natural things that we do for the very flawed people we love, we can barely bring ourselves to do for the One who loved us so dearly that He gave His life for us.  If we really knew and loved Him, praise would naturally flow.  If we want to learn to love Him, we need to begin to praise, even when we don’t yet feel we can do it well.