The Chapel Door is Open – Part 2

Click HERE to see Part 1 of “The Chapel Door is Open”.

One of the things we’ve talked about on the open threads is provided for in the Chapel in the Woods which Sundance has constructed at the lower right.  Comments and conversations about what the Bible has to say about world events have always been welcome here in the woods, and the Chapel is where we can extend those conversations.  It will be open 24/7, just like the Prayer Request thread, functioning as a “perpetual open thread.”

The Chapel is the place to drop in when we notice that our questions or statements, reasonings or fears are best expressed with a Judeo-Christian historical and spiritual context. Anyone who doesn’t care to talk about or pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is  just as welcome in the Chapel as they are in the Treehouse.

The tone and content of Chapel conversations is expected to be the same as elsewhere in the Treehouse: honest and thoughtful.  The Chapel has been built to provide a place for folks to discuss what the Bible says about any number of things~~past, present or future.

Argumentiveness and unkindness will be quickly deleted.  Anyone who comes through the Chapel door to argue against the Bible as our primary source of information about God and what He thinks about things will be ushered out by the ushers.  Anyone who comes to the Chapel for the purpose of Christian-bashing will be thrown out on their ear.

This nation has been a gift of God for well over 200 years, displaying among the nations what a fine thing it is when people are allowed to enjoy those things given by their Creator; among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The United States of America is our nation-house, and there are people trying to burn it down.

This nation is a blessing given to all of us, and there is no supposed “spiritual reason” for people who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to sit back and fold their hands and somehow assume that it would be wrong for them to stand up and fight.  We will fight and we will stand~~and we consider ourselves free to talk about, refer to, think about and pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while we do it.

So come on in.  The Chapel’s open.

 

Here are a few of the latest posts from the prior thread–which was just getting too long to access easily….these just brought over to provide a bit of transition….

 

  1. Sharon says:

    Psalm 73:38-ff

    Surely You set them (the psalmist is speaking of wicked and violent people) in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction…they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image.”

    vv. 25, 26

    Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

  2. Sharon says:

    How will God help us?

    How has God helped “His people” in the past? (“His people” may mean specifically Israel, or the church [including both Jews and Gentiles] or those nations who acknowledge God as the Lord of their nation) I keep going back to Jeremiah to see how He deals with nations.

    In Jeremiah, He deals specifically with rebellious Judah, which was neck deep in idolatry at the time. He also deals specifically with the Gentile nations surrounding Judah, some of which took great pleasure in being the tool God used to punish Judah; not anticipating that when He was quite finished using them (as His tool) that His wrath would turn on them for their destruction,specifically because they so enjoyed cleaning Judah’s clock….completely missing the fact that Israel’s God was, literally, using them. So when it was all done, He cleaned THEIR clocks.

    In Jer. 4:22 God gives this description of His own people, and it is a sharp and accurate description of our formerly/so-called “Christian nation” today, a nation which was founded on Judeo-Christian principles:

    For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

    That verse is a descriptive denunciation of our culture and our government today. Our nation has long since ceased to even pretend to be “God’s people” and has publicly bellowed against him–see the DNC in September in Charlottesville.

    On. p. 142 of Eric Metaxas’ biography Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the bottom paragraph, there is this chilling sentence,

    “Of course Hitler never publicly denounced God.”

    So there it is: the twists of evil in the Third Reich trumpeted by the evil Adolph Hitler did not include any public denunciation of God. Ever! That is quite different than the 2012 convention of the democrat party.

    Evil will adapt its own presentation according to its audience: I find it very disturbing that Adolph Hitler knew better than to denounce God, because (as another sentence in this paragraph says) “He knew well that there were many churchgoers in Germany who had some vague idea that real authority should come from their God…” Adolph Hitler accepted in his behaviors and public pronouncements that a public denunciation of God would not serve him well.

    The democrat party and barackhusseinobama suffer no such limitation: the evil that resides within them freely and easily mock God, the church and Christians. They have taken the measure of this nation and have realized there will be no significant political or personal loss of stature as a result of such statements. They bellow their opposition against Israel, the apple of God’s eye, publicly and with visible fury.

    What Adolph Hitler did not dare do in Germany, obama feels free to do in the United States in 2012.

  3. tessa50 says:

    I am having trouble posting as wordpress keeps kicking my email to diff carrier, but if this goes through just want to say thank you to sharon for letting people know the other day that this is here. I didn’t know and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read this part of the tree. Am only about maybe a third through reading and just uplifts me. I can see that many here are much more knowledgeable about the Bible than me so am absorbing the answers as I find them and feel that it would be ok here to ask questions. Thank you again sharon and I hope others saw your post.

    • Sharon says:

      tessa50, I’m glad you found the Chapel. Do feel free to ask questions as they occur to you. The CTH is not a “religious” site or a “Christian site” but when we first put it together, we were well aware that many of our readers are people of faith, and we just wanted to make a place available where they could have conversations that focused on faith issues. We thought it would be helpful to just create a separate spot for that rather than having it mixed it with other threads.

      Since you just happened to come in now, I will let you know that probably tomorrow we will be splitting this large section of comments and starting a “new Chapel thread.” You will still access the Chapel exactly the same way, and the comments that are here will still be available by clicking in an archive of sorts. The comments from the last couple of months will also be here still as a transition to the new thread. This thread has just been getting so long to scroll down, we think it will make it easier to start a fresh thread.

      What you have just posted will be here, as will my response. Look forward to conversation with you…drop in any time.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

415 Responses to The Chapel Door is Open – Part 2

  1. Sharon says:

    We found it a little awkward to see how to transfer the last several comments from the other thread–so I included them within the post above (so they look different than the usual thread).

    There’s a lot of good material in the earlier thread. Thoughtful questions and some encouraging bits from over the last couple of years. It just seemed like it was becoming a bit cumbersome to scroll clear to the bottom for new posts, so Puddy and I just opened the doors, swept things out a bit, and now we have a fresh thread. Thanks, Puddy!

    Sometimes I’ll post a Scripture here that I’ve been reading, or some thoughts from study. Please feel free to make use of the Chapel as indicated in the introductory bit above. Welcome!

    • Ad rem says:

      You’re most humbly welcome Sharon. I always get goose bumps when I’m in your beautiful little Chapel in the woods. (And…I hope you didn’t forget the piano!)

      • Sharon says:

        Did not forget the piano–and I still think you should have a pipe organ as well. Maybe we need to do an expansion? I don’t know…I figure when you’re in a virtual Chapel, you can just install the mightiest, most massively amazing pipe organ and it’ll fit just right no matter what the measurements are. That’s what I think. :)

  2. Sharon says:

    Just got done watching the videos of the Kentucky sheriff who shows such calm courage, and was reminded again how infuriating it usually is for those who want to twist things and manipulate people and events–when someone who speaks plainly shows up and just starts saying what is so. I enjoy reading The Message Bible (which isn’t a word for word translation, but is in contemporary language) and read through this bit in Matthew 5 beginning with about verse 10:

    You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

    Not only that–count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort, and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens–give a cheer, even!–for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

    There is a time and a place where the business of walking in the light (as followers of Christ do intentionally) creates an impact in the secular or everyday world–and not because these folks are trying to cause trouble. Actually, it’s the opposite. They are going what they can to have the community live in order, and under authority. But when the authority begins to break down from the top down, and those farther down the line begin to re-assert proper authority, that’s going to cause issues. Obviously.

    Very interesting times we live in. Very interesting. Those who desire to walk in the light and have proper authority working in our nation and in our communities are going to be targeted. And when they are–remind them of the words of Jesus the Christ:

    …know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have alwys gotten into this kind of trouble.

  3. Sharon says:

    Hebrews 11 describes the frustration of faith, the victory of faith, the despair of faith and the tenacity of faith.

    It’s a very different report than that which came from Adolph Hitler, who was always infuriated by Christianity and bewailed Germany’s fate in its “choice” of religion. He said,

    It’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?

    Whatever version of Christianity he was looking at that delivered that description to his thoughts was a deception and a false representation.

    Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Fame, describes people of faith on the march–

    In v. 3, by faith we understand…
    in v. 4, by faith Abel offered…
    in v. 5 , by Faith Enoch was translated…
    in v. 7, by faith Noah…moved with Godly fear…
    in v. 8, by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out…and he went out, not knowing where he was going…
    in v. 11, by faith Sarah…received strength to conceive…
    in v. 18….these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth……..

    Well, by the time you get over to verse 32, the writer gives up naming individuals with the details of their exploits and just starts to pile up the list:

    “What more shall I say? Time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David, and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens……(by v. 37 there’s a turning in the shades of the report though he still speaks of people of faith) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword….these are they of whom the world was not worthy….

    These were the men and women whom Adolph Hitler never knew even though some were in his presence, within his nation, under his thumb, fighting him to the death.

    Hitler wanted not only to conquer all of Europe, but Hitler also wanted to create a new religion and to replace Jesus Christ as a person to be worshipped. Hitler expected his followers to worship the Nazi ideology. Since Catholic priests and Christian pastors were often influential leaders in their community, they were sought out by the Nazis very early. Thousands of Catholic priests and Christian pastors were forced into concentration camps. A special barracks was set up at Dachau, the camp near Munich, Germany, for clergymen. A few survived; some were executed, but most were allowed to die slowly of starvation or disease.

    http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/fivmil.htm

    Oh, Adolph Hitler met Christianity all right, in the lives of a church that was neither weak or flabby. He so feared those he mocked that he had no choice but to put them behind fences and starve them or execute them. He faced Christianity and could not look it in the eye. He despised it, but he was indeed confronted by it. The men he faced, despised and killed live on, and live still. He didn’t like it–but he certainly met Christianity..

    Christians of all stripes, denominations and expressions are despised and mocked in the United States today, from the very seats of power and influence. But never mind. We serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Don’t mind the mocking: we follow the Christ of Galilee whose servants faced death with courage at the very weak hands of those who served Adolph Hitler.

    Never mind them. (Hebrews 12:1) …We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…

    I started this whole line of thought because someone in one of the threads mentioned Ecclesiastes 3:3…there is a season…a time to kill, and a time to heal.

  4. 22tula says:

    “The Hope of the Gospel” by George MacDonald
    http://archive.org/details/hope_of_the_gospel_j_librivox

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you for posting those great links. Even though there is not a lot of discussion or activity here in the Chapel, we can fill it with resources for those who may stop in and read without commenting. I’m familiar with George MacDonald’s work but not this series. I look forward to (some more!) reading. I’ve got so much reading going right now, I think my brain is broken. ;)

      • 22tula says:

        You’re welcome Sharon. I know what You mean about so much reading. That’s why I like the audio books. The only problem with this audio book is that Jordan has a soft voice. Two chapters and I am asleep. So this audio book may be helpful for insomniacs.

  5. tessa50 says:

    Sharon, just wanted to let you know I am here reading, but am only about halfway through the part 1. I am finding that some questions I have are being answered already in that part. So I keep reading there but will catch up eventually.

    Something that has troubled me for some time now is this…and so I just decided to skip ahead and ask you…

    I was on a blog and at that time my 17 year old son had been killed and it came out in conversation. This woman quoted scripture, and no I don’t remember the scripture, but she said basically that I had damned my son to hell because I had him cremated. I do remember the scripture said something about fire. Well I became very angry and said not so nice things back, but it always stayed in my mind. Is there something in the Bible against that?

    Thank you for your welcome to me at the chapel

    • Sharon says:

      Oh, goodness. tessa50, It always amazes me when individuals are willing to pick up a Scripture, beat someone over the head with it, and then walk away, leaving their target dazed and bleeding. I’m so sorry that happened.

      A MN friend of ours is a mortician. As a Christian she feels strongly about counseling (particularly Christians) against cremation. Her conclusions are drawn from Scripture and make a lot of sense to me, and I appreciate them; however, she would never ever say to anyone what that person said to you. There is absolutely no Scriptural basis for that. I suppose someone could find verses and pull them into some shape or other to “make them say that.” But no, there is nothing specific in the Bible against cremation. Frankly, I really appreciate some of the wonderful truths of Scripture that she brings to bear in her writing about the subject, but none of it equates condemnation.

      Those who prefer burial will often reference I Cor 15:37 where the Apostle Paul is discussing death and resurrection. “…what you sow (is not) the body that shall be, but mere grain–perhaps wheat or some other grain…” he goes on to point out that the mature wheat that results from that little grain of wheat is more glorious than the little seed that was put in the ground. In v. 42, he makes the application, “So also is the resurrection of the dead…” and makes the point that the resurrected body will be more glorious than the poor body that was buried at the time of death, as the full wheat head is more glorious than the single grain.

      Because of this passage and similar ones, many Christians hold to a tradition of burial, taking it as an illustration of “the seed that is put in the ground with the expectation of being raised again.” My family has that tradition, and we have often gone to family funerals where the casket had a beautiful design of wheat sheaves and wheat is often included in the floral displays.

      For someone to take even verses about fire–(and I’m familiar with some of the distortions that she was probably drawing on) and turn them into a condemnation associated with cremation is simply deception, aside from being amazingly cruel. Shall we then condemn to hell every person who died in forest fires? Shall we condemn to hell every Vietnam pilot who died in a flaming plane crash? Or children who die in a house fire? That’s utter nonsense. God who is able to provide us with a resurrected body because of the work of Christ on the cross is certainly able to gather together whatever atoms are needed to resurrect “my body.”

      Is some of that helpful?

      • tessa50 says:

        Yes, some of that is very helpful. Thank you
        When this was said to me it was about 2 years after my son died and I was still just broken. Don’t know any other way to say it. It is now going to be 8 years this month so the pain is not as hard to bear. In fairness I should mention that she also said another woman’s child was in hell because she had committed suicide. It was not just me she went after but I never understood her motivation, and at that time I didn’t really care I was just too angry. Just could not understand why she would feel whatever it was she felt to hurt people that way. Why not just say nothing? Like I said it just stuck with me and so I asked.

        I finally came to feel that if wrong was done then it was wrong on my part and that God would not punish my son for my sin.

        • maryfrommarin says:

          Tessa50–

          I cannot fathom someone saying that to you, or her comment about the child who committed suicide. Sharon’s and justfactsplz’s comments are right and good; I hope they can start easing the pain and hurt that was placed inside you (whether mistakenly or deliberately).

          Our God has power far beyond our capacity to understand. Shall God’s ability to raise us up bodily at the resurrection of the dead be limited by fire, or anything else? Of course not.

          God can do all things in heaven and earth. Just because we don’t understand something does not mean He cannot do it.

          • tessa50 says:

            Thank you mary, it was long while back, just stuck in my head, strange how that happens sometimes

            • Mandy says:

              Tessa,
              I know how that goes. I went to seminary and I still struggle with wrong theology I picked up long before. The brain knows, the soul believes, but the feelings sometimes twinge with doubt. So glad to read wise responses above!

              • tessa50 says:

                Thank you Mandy. I just now saw your response, I sure wasn’t ignoring it. Yes is true, we sometimes know in our hearts but our pesky heads won’t always let up.

  6. justfactsplz says:

    Tessa 50, you are in my prayers. You did not damn your son to hell. The devil wants you to believe that but he is the father of lies. The Bible talks about dying and says “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. When we die our spirit lives on and the earthly body decays. When Jesus returns for those who belong to him to take them to heaven, they are given new bodies that live forever. What a terrible thing for someone to say to you but don’t you believe it. God is love and he would not let someone go to hell just because their earthly body was burned. I pray the peace and love of God will be yours. May he comfort and ease your mind.

  7. Sharon says:

    1harpazo, I’ll repeat your query here, for others who may pop in on the conversation and wonder where we started.

    Is there a way to discern the truth and not be deceived by the false prophets and false messiahs? How can one determine if the “great signs and wonders” are from God or not?

    My afternoon might be a bit involved with family, so may I just give a quick thumbnail, and then we can pursue anything at length. That’s the other nice thing about the Chapel–it’s open 24/7 on this same thread, so we can continue one conversation over a period of days if anyone cares to.

    Yes, there are ways to discern the truth. Some involve time investment (studying the Scriptures to see what kind of heads up/advance information we are given for our safety and information) and some involve relationship (the Spirit of God is given freely as a Teacher and as a Comforter to those who have faith in Jesus, the Christ and He is our Helper–to help us “pay attention” and to help us understand).

    The vulnerability to be seriously deceived will be greater for an individual in direct proportion to their willingness to be deceived already: IOW, those who today scoff at the Scriptures and doubt the identity and work of Christ will be ripe for the picking regarding any deception that comes along tomorrow. In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep and am known by My own.”

    I know our son’s voice–his choice of words,his manner of speaking,and his way of laughing. A stranger calling on the phone and claiming to be our son would have a hard time fooling me. What Jesus speaks of in John 10 is pretty much talking about that dynamic. So it’s good for me to spend the time “hearing His voice” in times not yet completely horrible. Familiarity with His voice, His way of speaking makes it more likely I’ll be able to pick His voice out of the chaos and hear Him above the sounds of battle when all hell breaks loose.

    Your thoughts? Many things we could speak of…Be encouraged to know that we do not have to always feel like we’re “on the edge of being deceived…” there’s a sense of security we may have even in the midst of evil and mass deception on every side.

  8. Sharon says:

    I’m thinking about the business of endurance….endurance is a choice, y’know. It’s seen in those who have tested character, but is often mistaken for some easy thing attributed to personality, “Well, that’s just the way Uncle Esten is, ‘know…just keeps on keepin’ on.” Not quite. Endurance is a choice.

    It’s required in situations for which there is no immediate relief.

    Endurance includes the ideas of standing, of continuing to stand and a measuring out of strength (not using it all up at once).

    Endurance is not aggressive by nature, although it will make the opposition very angry; it’s a characteristic which stands through–whatever is going on.

    The very nature of endurance and its character sort of define why we need it.

    Despair is one alternative to endurance, although a very destructive one, because despair presumes that all resources have been tapped; that every possibility has failed; that the unforeseen has caught both me and God off guard, and that He is found wanting.

    Despair says that I am through with trusting Him and done with walking by faith.

    Despair says that I am not enough–and neither is He.

    Despair is the conclusion of an argument based on limited knowledge and fatal weakness.

    The ability to endure is not a luxury in the midst of difficult times–it’s an absolute necessity, it’s available and it’s possible…..

    ….and understanding that is the alternative to despair..

    Just some thoughts on my brain this evening.

  9. Sharon says:

    Mark 8:36-38

    Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

    I had my NKJV/internet audio Bible ( http://bible.christianpost.com/ ) playing the gospel of Mark this morning, and the phrase in the middle of this section really struck me….”this adulterous and sinful generation…”

    Good grief, does that describe these days or what? Consider the anger of Hollywood and the porn activists when anyone dares to even suggest (even if by only their own life choices) that they disapprove of and will not support industries that plan, produce, promote and market adultery, open sin and destruction?

    These evil people react violently when they sense the slightest disapproval. They are like nasty, feral children. They get highly offended someone simply opines, “That’s not very nice.” Sin is actually very thin-skinned.

    They would have us believe that they are so suave, so cosmopolitan, so above-it-all compared to the simpletons who are not ashamed of Jesus, the Christ. Oh, yes–they are so cosmopolitan…until they sense that we don’t approve of them: then they take off most of their clothes in public; then they snort some more cocaine; then they hysterically accuse us of bigotry and judgmentalism. Projection much?

  10. Sharon says:

    Over a hundred years ago, thoughtful people were writing thoughtful things about the business of living life as it is, not as we wish it was. Trusting the Sovereign God for strength and daily wisdom, they wrote a lot–to organize their own thoughts and to encourage others. This thought below was written by one of them:

    Those who fly through the air in airships tell us that one of the first rules they learn is to turn their ship toward the wind, and fly against it. The wind lifts the ship up to higher heights. Where did they learn that? They learned it from the birds. If a bird is flying for pleasure it goes with the wind. But if the bird meets danger, it turns right around and faces the wind, in order that it may rise higher; and it flies away toward the very sun.

    from Streams in the Desert, (c) 1926

    I like that.

  11. tessa50 says:

    I have finally finished reading all of the chapel and what a read. So many questions but one thing troubles me so am just going to ask flat out. I mentioned before that it is obvious that so many here have so much more knowledge than me on the Bible, and I can tell my questions are going to seem like really simple stuff to you, kinda like basic math. Are those kinds of questions alright to ask? For instance, I have no idea what YHWH means.

    I have been searching for a place that I can ask these things as sometimes what I read in the Bible I don’t understand. Which would lead me to a question, is it alright to read a version of the Bible that has been made into todays words? Or does that change what was said?

    Those would be my type of questions and just want to know is it acceptable to ask for help.

    • Sharon says:

      tessa50, wonderful questions ;)

      YHWH is the “short” of the name of God…God’s name, as written in Hebrew right to left: YHWH

      Originally, Hebrew didn’t have any vowels, so they just wrote the consonants down. It would be spelled out Yahweh. Part of Jewish religious is to show utter respect for the name of God (Elohim, or I AM–meaning all the possible characteristics of God) that they still do not spell it out. You may sometimes see something written by an observant Jew where they write God’s name as G-d. Unless someone is intentionally being deceptive, when we see that, we may know that the person we are communicating with is probably a practicing Jew who considers high reverence for the very “name of God” to be so important. The term YHWH has become sort of shorthand version that many Christians use today, not in one bit minimizing His high name, but simply using that shorthand version.

      Second question–a version of the Bible “made into today’s words…or does that change what was said?”

      Just as basic math is incredibly important to functioning in everyday life, these are excellent questions, tessa50…glad you felt free to ask. (Ask away!) The meaning may or not be changed when it is put into contemporary language. That depends on the motives of the people doing the work behind it. There are three possibilities:

      1. Someone who is very, very concerned about not abusing the Scriptures (as “the Word of God”) will do a carefully researched translation, using multiple scholars who are able to access the texts of the original scrolls, and who are skilled in the analysis of both Greek and Hebrew (and Aramaic–the language Jesus Himself used most of the time in speaking with folks). These scholars crosscheck one another carefully and have produced wonderful study Bibles and some “more readable” study Bibles that are considered trustworthy: the New King James, the New American Standard (a little laborious at times ;0), the New International Version fall into this category.

      2. Someone who is very frustrated about what the Scriptures plainly say (in any language!) may create a new version to launder the language; i.e., so that the virgin birth of Christ is described as ” a young woman gave birth”…so they can change what they don’t like. There are entire hymnbooks, for instance, that have been published for the purpose of carefully eliminating any references to the blood of Christ because their folks find it offensive. I’m not easily familiar with these translations, so will not name any specifically.

      3. The paraphrases (specifically not considered word for word translations) fall into two groups: those that play fast and loose with the scriptures and try to make them so cutesy for everyone that it ends up being no more valuable than the New York Times in terms of being a source for reading or studying the Word of God. There’s another group of “paraphrases” that are trustworthy in terms of the content, “The Message” put together by Eugene Peterson is one such. I use that one myself for casual reading when I want to, for instance, read the book of Matthew at one or two sittings–makes for enjoyable process and brings it to life. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with these, but I would never recommend them for use as a study Bible or as an “only BIble.”

      There are many solid Christians who, on principle, are highly critical of ALL paraphrases, no matter who put them together. Their concerns are understandable, but not always 100% valid.

      Many years ago I had a daily radio program on a Christian station in SoCal. I would get a few letters from time to time, and the station manager told me that (at that time) they considered each actual letter as representing probably 500 listeners; that most people don’t write letters (even then, in the 80′s). Your “simple questions” are the same kind of thing Tessa. I’m guessing some folks will read this who will say to themselves, “I’m glad she asked that–I’ve always wondered….”

      ADD: Translation normally means word for word; paraphrase might be described as “well, we would say it this way….” Either can be perfectly useful, but we need to be careful about paraphrases. Some paraphrases have been published specifically to please a market niche of those who were actually just not that interested in actual Bible study or reading the Scriptures as the Word of God, but were folks who expect to be entertained since that is what they are accustomed to.

      • tessa50 says:

        Sharon, you are a very kind woman, thank you for answering me. You may get a little chuckle from this because I did– I always wondered why people wrote God G-d, so you actually answered 3 of my questions. The Bible that my good friend got for me is the king james version so think I will stick with that and ask as I go along when I get stumped. I did attend church as a child but it always felt like a punishment, had to get up get on the bus to go not a family thing. I learned a lot but now this late in my life wanting to know more on my own, not being made to if that makes sense. Anyway thank you for answering and I will be reading and it means a lot to know can come here for clarification when I am not sure.

  12. Sharon says:

    Those who live free are not always the winners; and the winners in political battles are not always those who are free.

    The Apostle Paul said, “I do not count my life dear to myself…..” (Acts 20:24)

    The fact that he considered his life forfeit for the sake of the gospel is what made it possible for him to live so totally free up until the moment he died.

    He lived free and he died free.

    There is a kingdom that is not of this world and those who are citizens in that kingdom have a King who will never lie to them.

    We have a King who will always faithfully defend the borders of our Homeland. Our King does not threaten His citizens, lie to them or lie about them, intimidate them or sell their security to their enemies.

    Even though He is Lord of Lords He does not lord it over the citizens in His kingdom. He is a King who has laid down His life for those who are His.

    Membership in that Kingdom is the only sure way I know to maintain sanity while living as a dual citizen in both that Kingdom and this eventual-failed nation, as things are going now. Run out the continuum–failed nation is the future designation of the United States of America.

  13. Sharon says:

    If you are comfortable with the King James but the language seems cumbersome, the New King James is a good alternative.

    Here’s a comparison of a verse from Matthew 5:6

    King James: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled

    New King James: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.

    The King James translation was done in 1611 AD, over 600 years ago, so speech patterns have changed a lot.

  14. tessa50 says:

    I just double checked, mine is the NEW king james. I didnt realize there was an older although I should have, I just thought that was what it was named.

    • Sharon says:

      Excellent! That’s actually the one I use the most for study and reading–I like it very much. :)

      • tessa50 says:

        When I get stuck I will be back, I don’t post daily although I read the chapel at least every other day. Questions will come to mind even when reading other parts of the tree and I need to remember to write them down. My mind is not what it used to be, lol goodnight sharon

  15. Sharon says:

    From Proverbs 1:10-16–in an outline form so it’s easier to follow:

    What is the expected outcome for the one who seeks wisdom?

    1. Wisdom will enter the heart (v. 10)
    2. Knowledge will be pleasant to the soul (v 10)
    3. Discretion will preserve that person (v 11)
    4. Understanding will keep that person (v 11)
    5. The way of evil will not hold that person, they will be delivered (v 12)

    Who are the people from whom the wisdom-seeker will be delivered?

    –the man who speaks perverse things (v 12)
    –those who leave the paths of uprightness (v 13) because they want to walk in the ways of darkness (v 13)
    –those who rejoice in doing evil (v 14)
    –those who delight in the perversity of the wicked (v 14)
    –those whose ways are crooked (v 15)
    –those who are devious in their minds (v 15)
    –the seductress who flatters with words (v 16

    It’s startling to realize just how serious a matter it is that we let the peace of God guard our hearts, that we ask God for wisdom when we are lacking it, that we trust God for today’s needs and willingly invite His Spirit to search our hearts and thoughts.

    The benefits of wisdom are huge– in v. 21 there’s a summary line that informs us what the life of the upright (a wise man) will be like: “…he will dwell in the land and the blameless will remain in it.”

    Actively seeking wisdom is not the only option
    . The disasters and messes we are hip deep in today illustrate that there are indeed other options: there’s a heartbreaking observation from God about that very thing found in Isaiah 30:15:

    For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not.

  16. Sharon says:

    something for Sunday evening…. (sorry, don’t know why the video’s not showing–this is also the Gaither Vocal Trio with David Phelps–The Love of God)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuFac8sWOWE

  17. Sharon says:

    And another…

  18. 22tula says:

    “Hollywood is Dead”
    by Daniel Greenfield – February 25, 2013
    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2013/02/hollywood-is-dead.html

    In the movie, “The Cronicles of Narnia,” the physical trumps the spiritual.
    “Worldview of C.S. Lewis & The Voyage of the Dawn…”
    Dr. Peter Kreeft – January 14, 2011
    The Richmond Center for Christian Study hosted by St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia.

  19. Sharon says:

    Beverly Lewis has compiled a book of Amish Prayers that is helpful. Written prayers have a centuries-long proven track record of being a fine thing, so here’s one for this morning from the section titled Prayers for Strength.

    Oh, dear Father! I confess that I am so overwhelmed that I can say with David: I am withered like grass. There is nothing left in me that can refresh me; only you can do that. Yes, I must say that I fade away like an evening shadow, but you can revive me if you choose to, for your miracles are many. I cry to you with Jonah, O Lord, from the bottom of my despairing heart. I call to you with that blind man: Have mercy on me, O Jesus, Son of David! You can help me if you choose to. Amen.

    The Lord Thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing. –Zephaniah 3:17

    The phrase “…if you choose to…” as addressed to God in this prayer does not mean that the writer of the prayer thinks God is hard-hearted or lacking in compassion. It’s a declaration of humility and trust which leaves God room to work with the big picture.

    Sometimes we forget that Jesus did not prevent every death or heal every single sick person in Judah during the time of His ministry. Death did not take a holiday when He was present on the earth although it is a fact that He broke up every funeral He attended by raising the dead person.

    • Sharon says:

      The song is “In the Upper Room with Jesus”….I just noticed they cut off the intro–in which it is explained that they are going to show Bill Gaither how to write a song–that on the phrase “in the UPPER ROOM…with Jesus” the melody should go UP—which is why they are goofy on their feet at that point…little back story that left off this footage….

      Wow what fine music. I love seeing Bill Gaither’s pleasure in hearing his song done so well….he’s 75 years old old. Good grief, he’s been a blessing….he recycled a lot of the gospel music giants from the 30′s and 40′s when he got going in the late 50′s, and gave them an audience and an open door until they died, in many cases. It’s good. It’s very very good.

  20. Sharon says:

    We may be needing this. :)

  21. Sharon says:

    Psalm 116: 10, 11 says

    I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my haste, “All men are liars.”

    It’s obvious why we’re fed up. How do we pick our way through this mess?

    Psalm 73 is a bleating, fed-up cry from Asaph where he sees the wicked getting by with all manner of things.

    v. 2, 3

    As for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful when I saw the propserity of the wicked.

    Then in vv. 4-12, he lists about 16-17 individual things that he sees them getting by with. He’s sick of it. He’s tired of being sick of it. And he’s sort of had it…..

    v. 13

    Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain….

    He’s being honest here about his fatigue: “What’s the use? I’ve tried to keep my heart straight–and look at them? They’re flying down the road doing fine, and I’m standing here with my mouth hanging open….”

    Then in vv. 15-18, he begins to pull himself back from the brink, and starts to talk to himself, starts to reason, starts to settle a bit.

    If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
    Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
    When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me–
    Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    Then I understood their end
    .
    Surely You set them in slippery places;
    You cast them down to destruction.

    Faith folks need to be willing to endure for the long haul when our insides are screaming “This has to stop!” We need to be wiling to acknowledge there is a big picture that includes a final solution imposed by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–when we are about ready to demand that “this must be fixed, this WILL be fixed–NOW.”

    Unfortunately, we do not have the power to “fix” anything “right now.” If we begin to think and react and behave as though we do have such power, we’re going to get unnecessarily bruised. So we might want to be careful. No matter how frustrated we get. No matter how overwhelmed we feel with the stench of unrighteousness and duplicity all around. Talking to myself here.

    • yankeeintx says:

      Forgive me for being so bold but, No, you are not just talking to yourself. You are telling me what I needed to hear. I’ve seen so many changes just in my lifetime. Our country didn’t end up where we are today overnight. Yesterday we talked about moral decay, and I thought about the changes that have occurred through the “modernization” of religion. It is overwhelming to look around at what our country has become. Your message today tells me, that in the big picture things will eventually be okay.

      I can only equate it to when our child gets a virus. We ask the Doctor for antibiotics, we are frantic in our need to help our child, we just want them to be healed. The Doctor tells us that a virus needs to run it’s course. It is too late for us to try and resist the virus that has affected our country at this point. All we can do is attempt to stay strong, (rest and drink plenty of fluids), while the virus runs it course.

      Thank you again, for the chapel. It is a safe place to hide, and a wonderful place to learn.

      • Sharon says:

        Thank you for those good comments, yankee. Yeah, I know others hear it for themselves…sometimes I do go on, and don’t want to be thoughtless about. And I really am talking to myself! Writing is the way I process things, so just toss some of it on the table for others to consider if they care to. Thanks again for your good insights.

  22. Sharon says:

    Yankee, sorry it took me so long to get to the thing we touched on…these verses are from Ezekiel 8:

    6Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.” 7So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. 8Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.

    9And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.” 10So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ”

    These verses are from Ezekiel, chapter 8, when the Spirit of God began to communicate clearly with the Prophet Ezekiel and, frankly, showing him what he was going to be up against when he went to the hardhearted people of Israel, who had been warned and warned and warned about thei rebellion against God.

    One of the things that is often passed over by those who have little interest in investigating Scripture’s accuracy and depth is the specificity with which every subject is dealt with. The historical issues are nailed. The details of all aspects of the writing are there for the examination. One of the things that is plain in reading about the ministry of the Old Testament prophets is that God was not taking any shortcuts, and He had specifically informed the people what was going to happen if they didn’t sort of get on their knees. Now, comparing the OT with the New Testament, consider this:

    1. They did not have the written Scriptures as we do (except for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, the Books of Moses, and some of the Psalms. They certainly did not have all of “the scrolls” as were in use in the synagogues of Jesus’ time.
    2. They did not have the Holy Spirit provided freely after the resurrection of Christ, available to provide insight and teaching to individual believers.
    3. They obviously did not each have copies of Scripture as we do.

    Now, America as a nation proclaimed her allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in her founding documents, and in her setting forth of her laws.

    According to the Scriptures, we understand Israel to have been chosen by God. In a distinct and different way, although not “chosen by God,” America–chose God. Freely. Willingly. Decisively. And God has blessed America. In immeasurable ways, the byproducts of the Gospel have been a blessing to this land and the citizens of this nation. Think of the work of Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, relief sent by the churches to the Armenians in 1895 and 1915….the byproducts of the gospel, given freely to the entire world by people of faith, are the very things that the progressives (who should be called regressives) want to snuff out and bring under government control. How is it that people of faith give freely–so that people may be encouraged to stand up on their own feet again–while the government claims a superior moral position, and takes under duress and redistributes to others what does not belong to them, with the desire to weaken them–and then they call it “good“?? The distortions are stunning.

    So with all of this in mind–that God chose Israel; that they rebelled, on purpose and without the Spirit–and look how hard God dealt with them–because their rebellion was indeed deliberate, with knowledge. Now, unlike Israel being chosen by God, America chose God. And now? Spit in His face. Mock Him. Murder children by the millions. Lie about anything and everything. Obstruct the Gospel. We have rebelled, on purpose and with the Spirit. With extensive knowledge. How shall we imagine that we shall not face amazing consequences?

    I have often read Nehemiah 1 and Daniel 9 and wondered about the very honest and measured inclusion of these prophets in their own prayers, as they prayed about the sins of the nation Israel: they said “we have sinned” without affectation. They included themselves in the sins of the nation. Not because they individually had participated in those sins, but because they were standing before God on behalf of the nation, interceding. Those who are in rebellion, justifying their sins and mocking God, are obviously in no position to ask for His mercy. They don’t want it. So, those who do want the mercy of God for the nation–if they are to be intercessors “on behalf of…..”– there is a need to “identify with.” Daniel and Nehemiah, giants in the kingdom of God, demonstrate how to intercede for one’s nation: stand with the nation, in the midst of its horrible sins, and ask for mercy.

    Well, that’s more of a daisy trail that I meant to go on…sorry if it’s way too much, yankee, but thank you for your thoughtful question. Sift and take what makes sense to you.

    The point we were trying to consider is the business of God’s dealings with those who rebel against Him. The rebellion of America against Him, wholesale and blatant, when considered in the light of His great mercies to our nation from its founding, is a fearsome thing to consider. When His hand comes down, hard, on our nation, I will hide in Him. There is no other refuge.

    • tessa50 says:

      Hi Sharon, I don’t mean to butt into your conversation with Yankee, but it hit a bit on something I have been trying to figure how to ask. The question is why did God choose the Israelis as his chosen ones? Have hesitated to ask as the question seems too broad. My son and I were having a conversation about politics and Israel and it came into it and I wasn’t quite sure how to answer and fell back onto, well we know he did and that is good enough for me to support Israel, but that wasn’t a very good answer. I am reading from beginning of Bible forward, but if you have a suggestion of a book I might skip forward to and then I can go back I would appreciate it. I sure do love this chapel, always feel peaceful here, not sure why but it is a nice feeling. Hope you are well.

      • Sharon says:

        I am well, tessa50. And you ask the best questions. Seriously! May I have a day or so to respond? I would like to provide a thoughtful answer and I don’t think a quick one right now would be that…I’m trying to finish crochetting a complicated scarf/neck thingy for our granddaughter hoping to get in her hands tomorrow. I appreciate our conversations, and hope later in the weekend works for you. ;)

        • tessa50 says:

          Oh Sharon, that would be just fine. I did try to think of a way to narrow the question but I just couldn’t think of one. Will check back at end of weekend or early next week, Thank you and good luck with scarf!

      • Sharon says:

        Last question first! “reading from beginning of Bible forward.…” Because the Bible is a collection of books, it’s a bit of a different kind of book. Josh McDowell in Evidence for Christianity outlines it this way: (I’m summarizing several pages of his work in this paragraph)

        It is the only book that was written over about a fifteen-hundred-year span; written by more than forty authors; written in different places; written at different times; written during different moods; written on three contents and in three different langues (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic). It is written in a wide variety of literary styles including to mention just a few, poetry, history, song, romance, didactic treatise, personal correspondence, parables, prophecies and allegories!

        One of my personal favorite aspects about it is that it focuses on reality, not fantasy. Now–I said all that to say this: Since it is constructed quite differently than most books we are familiar with, reading from the beginning may or may not be the most beneficial. Whether it is beneficial will be determined partly by how much knowledge the reader has about the Bible in general. So–without knowing your level of knowledge–these are some thoughts:

        Genesis is an excellent read as an individual book, for having a foundation for study of such questions as you have posed. (Caution: if you keep reading straight on after Genesis, expect to get bogged down in Leviticus for sure!…even longtime students of Scripture have trouble not! getting bogged down in Leviticus, that is! ;) There’s wonderful stuff in Leviticus for sure–just not a good starting point…)

        The Gospel of John is often suggested as a beginning focus because it focuses on the person and work of Jesus, the Christ, who is ultimately the point of the whole Book, the Alpha and Omega as He is described in Revelation 1:8.

        The first question: Why did God choose Israel. I will try to make brief answers, none intended to be tongue in cheek or smart-alecky, although the brevity may imply that. Absolutely not.

        1. Because He wanted to...He is God. He is purposeful. He has a plan. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” I like that–specifically because of the “kind of God” He is: sovereign, loving, righteous, merciful, all-knowing–vengeful against wickedness, but not against those who ask for mercy. Psalm 33:11 says “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generation” and then, about a thousand years later in Ephesians 1:10 Paul writes, “…that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ.” He’s working a plan, and the plan of redemption had Israel in it. However…

        2. ...He didn’t actually choose a nation….He chose an individual and built a nation from that individual. Genesis 12:1 “…the Lord had said to Abram: (one man) ‘Get out of your country…to a land I will show you…. (v. 2) I will make you a great nation….

        So He started with a man and told that man, “I will make you…(into)….a great nation. and then (v. 3) He explains why He’s going to do this, so that “…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (by the appearance of the Messiah through the tribe of Judah of the nation of Israel).

        Here’s the basic deal: God has always dealt with mankind through covenants of one kind or another. Covenants include parties and conditions: parties who agree to something, specify what is being promised and how damages will be identified/recovered. Thus it is with each of God’s covenants. So this bit in Genesis 12 is referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant.

        I’ll be interested in your thoughts and further questions. And just an encouragement–in the Chapel, you don’t have to worry about interrupting conversations! :) We can have a variety of conversations going on simultaneously so don’t ever worry about that.

        • tessa50 says:

          Hi Sharon. Hope you are well. I am going to list my thoughts in no particular order just kind of going off what you wrote back to me, that way I can keep looking back up to remember what I wanted to say.

          First, I so enjoy learning the things you, and I am sure many many others already know, for instance the 1500 year span that the Bible was written over. I didn’t realize that.

          I didn’t realize God chose one man. I for some reason had it in my head that he chose a group, large group, and I thought they were slaves, and then the covenant was made. (The covenant, made before they were slaves, is described in Gen 12:1-3 with the man Abram who was born about 2166 BC. You’ve heard the group of names “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”? 3 generations of men, Jacob the grandson of Abraham [renamed Abraham]. Jacob and his family fled to Egypt to escape starvation/drought about 1876 BC, about 100 years after the death of Abraham. Over the next 430 years, as their extended family gets bigger and bigger and bigger…Exodus 1:6-10 describes how things changed for them, and they were enslaved because they were feared for their numbers. So yes! A very large group, became slaves, they were already in covenant relationship with God due to the covenant made with Abram/aham back in Gen. 12.) I have a lot of reading to do.

          My main reason for asking the question is I am so troubled by how many people hate Jewish people and have never understood it. Sometimes it almost seems like they were jealous of them and I couldn’t understand it because I haven’t learned anything that makes me feel that anyone who isn’t Jewish gets anything less than they do, meaning life everlasting if you believe and follow. The hatred that is constant even from people I know who are Christians, go to church and are much better than me in that respect, the bias? not sure of right word, it is there. Sometimes it is a very subtle thing but comes out in conversations and you know just where they stand. (The “hatred of the Jews” you refer to is significant and is dealt with significantly in Scripture, as well as history in general. There are “God reasons” behind that hatred. May I have a day or so to formulate a concise answer? Thanks.)

          Reading what you wrote about how God said to Abram that he would make a great nation through him so that all the families would be blessed by Christ’s coming, to me means he loves all of us. None more than others, least that is what I got out of it. (Exactly. You have gone directly to one of the foundational truths of that passage in Gen. 12)

          Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I enjoy reading here even if I don’t post. I know I will be back with other questions and is nice to know I can. It is also a really nice feeling inside to know that now I can explain it to my son, if you know what I mean. (Scripture is intended to be understood. One easy principle in studying the Bible is to avoid getting tangled up in “what do I think that means” or “what does someone else say it means.” Rather, the beginning question should always be, “What does it say?” IOW, let it speak for itself. Catch you later. I’ll check in the morning for comments or questions…Sharon)

          • Sharon says:

            Tessa50, would you mind if (since I have admin access) I go into the “edit” function and answer your individual questions and respond to your comments within your comment? I think it would be more efficient for both of us–but only if you’re ok with that. If that’s all right, I will do my responses in italics and clearly mark them, so there’s no confusion.

          • tessa50 says:

            Yes of course to the day or two to answer. I don’t always get here Sharon so time is not a problem nor is it something I expect you to do, meaning I am just happy whenever you answer, hope I said that right. I tend to ramble and sometimes, well most times, what I mean to say doesn’t quite come out right, is why I post rarely.

            As far as understanding the scriptures, sometimes what it says just stumps me, so then I will ask and go from there, gain my own understanding but I get your point, goodnight Sharon sleep well

            • Sharon says:

              Sometimes the “being stumped” is resolved by pulling other Scriptures around–and they help interpret or shed light on the “stumping”—. So it’s good to get to talk about it…have a good night….what you say, by the way, comes out just fine! :)

          • Sharon says:

            Hi tessa50, as I am awake in the middle of the night (which occasionally happens!) I realize this would be the perfect time to respond to the issue you raised about why the Jews are so resented over the centuries and in every place.

            There are two facets to that issue: the God-reasons behind it (where the Jews’ consequences and God’s purposes are in play) and the hateful reasonings of secular humanity, just hating on God’s people and mocking them.

            Referencing something I mentioned to yankeeintx upthread:

            9And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.” 10So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ”

            These verses are from Ezekiel, chapter 8, when the Spirit of God began to communicate clearly with the Prophet Ezekiel and, frankly, showing him what he was going to be up against when he went to the hardhearted people of Israel, who had been warned and warned and warned about thei rebellion against God.

            tessa, idolatry was a massive problem for Israel before the Babylonian captivity. The entire book of Jeremiah (and some others of the prophets as well) is a record of Jeremiah’s efforts to “save them from Babylon” and get to them to acknowledge that their deliberate rebellion against God was a really bad idea. They wouldn’t and they didn’t. Halley’s Bible Handbook (which I would recommend if you care to check it out–it is literally a little book that summarizes each book and each chapter of the Bible. First assembled in 1927, and is an amazing and basic help)….Halley’s describes the people of Jerusalem as “hopelessly and fanatically attached to Idols.” In Chapter 11 of Jeremiah, you can read the narrative in which Jeremiah’s assassination is plotted, simply because he wouldn’t shut up about their persistent idol worship….

            Good grief! The basic rule of the Kingdom of God as defined for the Jews was “Thou shalt have no other God before me”….and that was completely unusual for the times, because “every nation had its own gods” and nations had the practice of taking to themselves the gods of the nations they conquered, just to “cover all the bases”…they would keep “adding gods” wherever they went. So for a nation to be based on “only one God” was a major departure from the cultural/religious norms. The Jews KNEW THIS full well for their entire existence. At this point (in Jeremiah) they’re about 1500 years into this business of “a God who reveals Himself through the Prophets” and they think they can spit in His face?? Yes, they do think that.

            Way back in Deuteronomy 28:48-64 (1500 years earlier) there is a specific warning of what God will do with them if they turn on Him in faithlessness. He says he will scatter them to the nations, Here’s a sample, verse 27, “…you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you….” That entire chapter, beginning at verse 15, is a detailed description of what God guarantees He will do to them if they turn on Him. Remember our conversation about “covenant”: this is part the provision/agreement of covenant: “Here’s what God promises. Here’s your part. Here’s what God will do if you violate your part.”

            Bottom line: their “scattering among the Gentiles” among the nations to every corner of the world is a consequence of their hardheartedness toward the provisions of God. God keeps His Word, both the shiny parts and the hard parts. Now the fact is that after they returned from 70 years of Babylonian captivity they have never again had a problem with being attracted to idolatry. Lesson hard-learned.

            That’s way enough for now. I’ll go back and see how much of this I can delete without losing the point. When I’m “working out my response” as I write, the words get to be too many at times.

            • tessa50 says:

              Sharon that wasn’t too many words for me, it really helped answer my question, and also gave me more places to read as I go along. I am going to skip on down to the bottom of the page to talk more with you as I almost didn’t see this post. Hope that’s ok and hope you see this!

    • yankeeintx says:

      My brain is just a huge jumble of thoughts right now. I keep thinking that we are “one nation under God”, but in reality we are more divided than ever. Are we even still “one nation under God”?
      I think as a country maybe we are beyond turning things around. “His hand comes down, hard” may be our only hope. “I will hide in HIm” is comforting, but sad that things have gotten so bad. As I sit here troubled and concerned, you have gently reminded me that God is the answer to most of my problems.

      • Sharon says:

        I don’t see much evidence that we are “one nation under God.” “Under God” would suggest a willingness to believe what He says, do what He says to do, believe what He says about sin, believe what He says about the value of all life, believe what He says about the identity of Jesus Christ as His Son. As a nation, these things are scoffed at, made fun of and mocked at every opportunity–in media, in entertainment, on twitter feeds, on websites and the pornography industry.

        To extend your thought about how sad that things have gotten so bad–it’s tragically sad that when things get worse, some will begin to acknowledge with a giant “OOPS….I guess there is a God….” Part of me will want to say, “Oh, really? Figured that out all by yourself, didja???”

        When I say “I will hide in Him” it is my declaration that I know Who’s telling the truth in this mess, and I am consciously alert to best survival strategies. Hiding in Him is not an escape from reality; it’s a need because of reality. For me, it’s a way of standing up and facing what’s coming. It’s helpful to have conversations about these things. Many Christians refuse to talk out loud about it–I’m not always sure of what their reasons are. Thanks….

        • yankeeintx says:

          I’ve been reading in Part 1 this morning. It is always amazing to me to receive answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out what I can do, what we can do, and find myself exhausted before I do anything. While reading this morning you talked about God already knowing where we are heading, and that nothing we do can fix everything that is wrong, and He doesn’t expect that of us.
          I think I will have to embroider a plaque of my own that simply states “I know”. It would be reassuring to me in times of stress (that have become more frequent), I can simply turn and look at the plaque, and understand and be reminded that He is already fully aware of what is going on. I guess I need to work more on turning it all over to God, rather than trying to do everything on my own. Sometimes I just worry if I am on the right path, because I expect it to be lit up like an airport runway at night.

          • Sharon says:

            This is why it helps for us to “talk with one another” because these things are common struggles.

            Don’t you think that sometimes people of faith slip into thinking that “if we are doing faith right” everything will just be smooth and easy? There’s no Scriptural basis for such an assumption. Some of the heroes of the faith (even those we may be able to observe around us today) walk in peace even in the middle of great difficulty, and we therefore conclude (mistakenly) that their path is always well lit and they never experience anxiety or confusion.

            • aliashubbatch says:

              “Don’t you think that sometimes people of faith slip into thinking that “if we are doing faith right” everything will just be smooth and easy? There’s no Scriptural basis for such an assumption.”

              More than that, you’re guaranteed the opposite.

              • yankeeintx says:

                Are you saying that if we slip into complacency, we are essentially letting our guard down? (Sorry, If I am not understanding correctly).

            • yankeeintx says:

              It really does help to talk, and to absorb. It is also nice to know that there are others just like me, that have questions. You (all) have created a wonderful environment where one can feel safe to ask anything.

              • Sharon says:

                Thank you, yankeeintx, and we will particularly guard that safety factor here in the chapel. We will not give over to arguments about the existence of God or the Scriptures as the Word of God or the foundations of Judeo-Christian thought. It’s a Chapel! It’s not a mosque or a university or a town square. There are certainly differences of opinions within Christian heritage and theology, but we will not give time and space for argumentation or scoffing rising from non-Christian points of view (but we leave room for good conversations with self-described athiests/agnostics who made honest observations and asked good questions, and have had some of those).

                • yankeeintx says:

                  That is probably the biggest comfort factor. As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised Catholic. I am now married to a Baptist, and we can talk for hours about the bible and it is alway an eye-opener for me. I would love to find a church that where I feel comfortable, but for now being here is providing me with an outreach I don’t currently have. It is great that people from different Christian religions can come together and discuss the bible and what it means to each of us. I’ve heard people twist a passage, but when you explain what was going on at the time, it puts it into context as far as an accurate translation/interpretation. It allows me to understand it more clearly. You are very good at that.
                  There are other websites that I can go to if I want to read theological debates, so I am glad that here, there is peace. I appreciate that.

                • Sharon says:

                  Scripture is not “simple” in that the most highly educated men in the world can study it all their lives. But, OTOH, it is very simple in that any of us can arrive at faith, find strength, gain understanding and walk in some wisdom. That’s why it’s such a satisfying study for individuals who have a heart for it, regardless of their prior understanding.

                  • yankeeintx says:

                    Very true. The bible has not changed, but I have. Because of life experiences, there are things that I understand more deeply and can relate to more completely.

  23. Sharon says:

    Lord, When I Need Comfort

    It is not incidental that the Greek word translated “comfort” in the first chapter of II Corinthians (many occurrences of it) is exactly the same word translated “exhort” in Hebrews 12:5: paraklesis, which means comforter or that which comforts.

    Exhortation means–to incite by argument or advice; language intended to incite and encourage; make urgent appeals

    I loved the insight that came to me when I was struggling with the idea of “how to acquire comfort” and realized that, very often, it is exhortation which results in comfort. Comfort is the result when the Word of God is applied by the Spirit of God, Who has perfectly discerned my need.

    Then I realized what the process actually consisted of, and how it was designed to work: when I am in need of comfort, my thought ought not to be “Give me comfort, Lord” but rather, “Exhort me, Lord. Tell me what’s going on. Tell me where my thoughts are messed up. Tell me the truth, please.”

    Lord when I need comfort, the thing that helps the most is truth:

    truth about hope that is legitimate;
    truth about mercy that is personalized;
    truth about purpose that doesn’t change;
    truth about rest for the weary;
    truth about forgiveness for my sin;
    truth about strength for my weakness;
    truth about grace for my life.

    When I need comfort, the thing that helps the most is truth.

    –Sharon, 1992

  24. Sharon says:

    Psalm 64

    Oppressed by the Wicked but Rejoicing in the Lord
    To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

    1Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
    Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

    2Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
    From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,

    3Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
    And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,

    4That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
    Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.

    5They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
    They talk of laying snares secretly;
    They say, “Who will see them?”

    6They devise iniquities:
    “We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
    Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.

    7But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
    Suddenly they shall be wounded.

    8So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
    All who see them shall flee away.

    9All men shall fear,
    And shall declare the work of God;
    For they shall wisely consider His doing.

    10The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
    And all the upright in heart shall glory.

  25. tessa50 says:

    If I did this right should play a song, hope everyone enjoys

  26. Sharon says:

    Tessa50, just leaving you a note down here to remind you that, if you’re looking for our continued conversation, it’s upthread a bit–tucked in under your questions from last week. Threw me for a loop for a minute when I came to see if there were any new comments here….I thought “what happened to my comments to Tessa50?” ….sheesh! remembered to look back up the thread then….it’s been a long day, I guess!

    • tessa50 says:

      Well I did respond just now to you but did it up there, hope that is ok? lol I wasn’t sure which way to do it. Either way you decide to go is ok with me.

      • Sharon says:

        Up there makes perfect sense! Will go peek now…. ;)

      • Sharon says:

        Hi tessa50, I see you’re around this evening…. ;) I haven’t forgotten that I need to provide some other comments. My apologies for the delays. Re the resentments toward the Jews and related areas….thank you for your patience!

        If you want to read a little, check out Jeremiah 17:1-4 (there’s the “reason” in a tight summary statement) Also Jeremiah 18:15 and 16. The message that is in these two passages is spelled out over and over and over in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. It actually is the essence of what has happened to them: God’s faithful dealing with them over thousands of years was responded to by their hardheartedness, and God basically said, “Ok, fine. Have it your way.” Now there are lots of side-trails to think about, but as a summary, that IS what has happened to them over centuries and centuries. Heartbreaking. (However, there’s ultimate good news in many ways–God has not changed His mind about them as a people–they are still His chosen people…). Lots of stuff. :)

        • tessa50 says:

          Hi Sharon. I didn’t see your post until now but I don’t expect you to ever answer right away. I am sure you get busy, just appreciate whenever you do and then will think on it. I will read those verses tomorrow. Hope you are well.

          • Sharon says:

            Doing fine! I’m in the midst of trying to push through some work on preparing Mailboxes and Old Barns to be published in book form in a few months, so that’s taking a lot of time…and I need breaks from that as well, so enjoy these chats. I finally got back to give you a general answer on the business of why the Jews are hated….upthread a bit.

            Have a good day!

  27. Sharon says:

    An Amish Prayer for Comfort

    Dearest Comforter of desolate hearts and worthy guest of believing souls, sweet refreshment and strength in our weakness, do not abandon us, but with God the Father and the Son create an eternal dwelling in us. Sharpen our dullness, cleanse our impurity, heal our infirmities, make straight the lame and the crooked, and renew those who have grown cold. Lead back to the right path those who have strayed or are lost. Amen

    By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. Proverbs 16:6

  28. tessa50 says:

    Hi Tessa, I’m answering within your comment again, so I am careful to stay on the question asked! ;)

    Hi Sharon, posted to you way up yonder but have moved down here as I almost missed seeing your post to me. I understand now why God was angry with Jewish people, basically I think because they turned against what he had taught them and what he asked from them.

    “they turned against what he had taught them”…..that’s part of it, but it goes deeper. He had revealed Himself to them in unique ways that He had never revealed Himself to mankind. “what he had taught them” speaks of information. Revelation goes far beyond information. They didn’t just toss information away: they “knew Him” and that’s what they walked away from. Check out Hebrews 4:3-19. Consider v. 12…in the context of the rest of the passage: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God…” So, first thing is, the depth of what they did is almost impossible to comprehend: it involved deliberate betrayal, repetitive rebellion (both nationally and personally), it was big, deliberate, deal and they persisted in it for centuries, mocking and killing the prophets sent to them to try to confront them (The prophets: from Isaiah to the end of the Old Testament) So: the depth of what they did was monstrously serious. God questions Jeremiah in Jer. 2:11 and basically says, “Have you ever seen anything like it? ….a nation that changes their gods???” That’s what Israel had done. The pagans weren’t running around asking Israel if they could take the God of Israel in addition to or instead of their gods….but Israel was running around constantly asking to be involved with idol worship. God was disgusted.

    I still don’t understand this hatred from what seems to me to be all quarters in this world now. There are several clear verses, written hundreds of years apart, that explain how the hatred comes as a consequence of what they did as nation. It was a consequence that flows from their actions; it is not a “separate punishment” as though God says, “Look what you did–now I’m gonna make your lives miserable.” It is a consequence that He informed them of very early on. I’m going to put that in a separate comment below so it sort of stands along. In a little while….need to do a bit of household stuff…back in a bit)You and I talked a little about how even though they are Gods chosen, He didn’t offer us any less, in fact from what I got from you if I understood it correctly it paved the way for ALL people to have his blessings. So it just puzzles me.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer, hope you are well. I will be reading and maybe one day I will come to you and say–guess what Sharon, I figured something out all by myself! Take care.

    • Sharon says:

      Re your last paragraph: tessa50, over 30 years ago my wise pastor observed that I was bending over backwards, in ways that were unnecessary and distracting, trying to make sure I never took credit for something that someone else had said. He gave me this simple bit of wisdom, “Anything that any of us understands or knows, we got from someone else.” Isn’t that a simple but bottomless thought? Anything I might be able to point you to or visit with you about was given to me by someone else. Period. It relieves of both pride and self-deprecation (which is sometimes just another form of pride). It means alot to me that what we visit about is helpful to you! I’ll leave this note here now, and work on some responses. Your questions reflect the insights you already have about how God dealt with His people…better than you yourself are aware of. We all have blank spots in our understanding, so we just keep filling them in. Be back in a bit.

    • Sharon says:

      tessa50, there is a way you should be able to notice my responses easily if your screen is displaying correctly: do you get the “new post” notifications in the upper right part of your screen? At the right margin should be your own name. To the left of it, a little memo-looking thing that turns orange when someone has responded to one of your posts. Is that working on your screen? If it is, it will always notify you when I’ve dropped a response here. If it’s orange, click on it, and you’ll see a little dropdown menu that shows each response. You can click on each one and read them right there if you want and even reply right there for a quick answer….

      I’ve inserted part of the answers within your comment above and will come back a bit later and add some other thoughts. ;)

  29. tessa50 says:

    That story on the open thread today has me so upset, the molestation one. Leads me to thinking of how sometimes when people go through horrific things they turn to God and sometimes they don’t, and I always wonder, does God forgive them when they don’t? I can see how sometimes people would have gone through so much that they might feel abandoned. I really don’t know where my thoughts are going exactly just my mind wandering.

  30. Sharon says:

    Here’s a verse that highlights man’s part and God’s response rather nicely….one of my favorites:

    Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

    Those who do not ask for God’s forgiveness (which is available to any who desire it) will not be over-ruled by God in the matter. We have free will and it will not be over-ruled. It’s tempting to try to “fix it” so that everyone will be forgiven and everything will end up “ok for everyone.” There’s no basis in Scripture for that.

    It matters a lot what we use as a primary source for information about God: millions of people who don’t like or don’t know what Scripture says about God find other sources of information so that they can shape the kind of God they want. Some of my close relatives have done this. This is a hard truth: some people do not want to be forgiven by anyone, including God.

    • tessa50 says:

      I can see where I am going to have to be careful to not wonder what God will do but rather to read and learn just exactly what he has already said he will. Thanks for that gentle reminder.

      • Sharon says:

        You have stated a major principle of theology perfectly. (theology literally just means–knowledge about God) :)

  31. Sharon says:

    Just heard this song this afternoon, and wanted to share it here as an acknowledgement of Christians being pursued and beaten and some killed in Egypt this week, and it goes on. And on.

    Their persecutors will be held accountable.

  32. Sharon says:

    As the documentation of distorted, intentional, deliberate and well-planned evil keeps flowing out to public view via legislation and court hearings, the Psalms are instructive for us.

    For those who have understood the nature of evil and the the battle waged against the righteousness of God (which has gone on since Lucifer, the Morning Star, changed his mind about accepting the status of created being and wanted to displace the Almighty), it will provide a reminder and reference point: this is nothing new. It’s ugly. It’s clearer than we’ve seen in in our particular nation and personal history, probably. But it’s not new. We are not required to react to it personally or fix it.

    For those who are experiencing an unfamiliar sense of alarm and perhaps even fear, as in, “What on earth is going on? Are the wheels ALL coming off? Why?” the Psalms provide insight to the facts about evil vs. righteousness. It won’t change what’s happening at the moment, but it may help to realize that the Sovereign God is not surprised about any of it. One of the elements of what we are seeing for ourselves, unfortunately, is the simple business of consequences spilling out, deeper and deeper. Since the evil wasn’t stopped twenty years ago, or ten years ago, or thirty years ago….since there was broad support for abortion in 1973 and it was not stopped….

    God is not obligated to step in now–now that the obvious is getting unsettling and frightening. Since God is not our servant in these things, it’s important that we have all the truths about Him in view. It is true that He may let the consequences (and judgment?) flow across our nation. It is also true that He is full of grace and mercy, and the Psalms affirm and teach that as well. We do not get to (or have to) choose between God Full of Wrath Toward Sin and God Full of Mercy Toward Sinners. Both are true. He is both. All the time.

    Psalm 11:1-3 is what really caught my attention to begin with and got me started thinking about this today.

    In the Lord I put my trust: How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? [IOW--the Psalmist is responding to those who are just suggesting that he run for cover and save his hide--he's saying, "I've got bigger problems than that--me running and hiding won't be enough. I need the Sovereign Lord's attention."] For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

    Well, we’re about to find out the answer to that last question. The remnant of righteousness that may be present across the land in the lives of faithful people may not be enough to prevent the next steps. We’ll see.

  33. tessa50 says:

    Here is where I get confused. As best as I understand it, God has said what is going to happen in the end times. Also I am under the impression that no one knows when the end times are except for signs, but for purpose of my question am putting that aside. So as I see things going on in this world I think that we can’t stop it because he already told us it will happen. Am I misunderstanding that Sharon? I may not be clear here what I mean. Trying to say that if we pray for our country but we see where it is going, hasn’t He already told us it will be that way? Hope you understand what I am trying to say.

    • Sharon says:

      Yes, I do. :) Our starting point is that God is not dishonest or unfair, He is not a bully, and He doesn’t manipulate or play games….and then comes the feeling of “Wait a minute…since He says this is going to happen, what’s the point of trying to somehow get a different outcome, whether by praying or some other process?” So we end up with this momentary dilemma: “Which is it? God has said what’s going to happen. Or maybe something else could happen…?”

      Short answer: It’s both. We don’t have to “choose” between the two. It’s both.

      Your question is from an honest heart, wanting to resolve the raw edges. Scripture has many examples of folks struggling with exactly this issue–some honestly, some not so honestly. An example from Jeremiah 18 provides an extreme example of “not so honest” but also some help in understanding how both things are true : (verses.6-12)

      v. 7, God says, “The instant I speak….concerning a nation…to destroy it… v. 8 if that nation…turns from its evil, I will relent… v. 11 God says, “I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way….” (clearly, even as God says, “I’m gonna clean your clock” He puts out the invitation “Please change your ways….please….”) v. 12 Now look at the attitude on Judah’s part! They say, “That’s hopeless! We will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.”

      They decided that repentance was hopeless (iow, they call God a liar, since He was offering repentance as an option). They play games with God by accusing Him of playing games with them!

      God is not a domineering divine bully, and He gives them both information and options. They choose to project on to Him that He is a domineering divine bully, and use that as their excuse to not respond. They are the petulant adolescent who gets mad when confronted by Dad or Mom, slams the door in their face and says, “What’s the use? No matter what I do, it’s not good enough for you anyway.” So they refuse to do the simple thing that was offered as a way out: clean your room, and then you can go to meet your friends. In this passage in Jeremiah 18, Judah responds to God with exactly that attitude, “You’re just an old meany and a bully. We’re not even going to try to think about what we need to do. What’s the use.” (sound of door slamming)

      Back to a broader thought: Context matters, always. Realtors have a little mantra about real estate, “Location. Location. Location.” There’s a similar rule of thumb for reading and understanding Scripture, “Context. Context. Context.” Sometimes that means I will be very careful to look at the verses right around the specific verse I’m reading. Other times, it will have to do with the context of all of Scripture as in your question. Scripture presents themes of repentance and judgment (in terms of principles) and also lays out some specifics about the characteristics of nations or individuals who are headed for a crash.

      The United States is never specifically mentioned in Scripture, so we understand the nature of God’s dealings with the U.S. under the general truths of repentance vs. hard-heartedness; honoring God vs. dishonoring God. General truths that always apply: God is holy. We are not. He invites individuals and nations to repentance. He lets them know what will happen if they don’t respond. …..it’s their move.

      What Scripture says about “end times prophecy” is never given as a threat against which there is no escape or hope: it’s information that can be helpful to individuals or nations in a variety of ways. 1. It helps me understand what’s happening. 2. Helps me not feel quite so crazy–because it’s laid out “When things get ugly, it’s gonna look like this–and then this might happen…”

      This article on American Thinker yesterday really provides a good summary of sorts, both historically and theologically: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/when_men_forsake_god_tyranny_always_follows.html

      Isaiah 55:7-9 is a wonderful passage for “larger context” here. I love verse 8 (partly for its massive understatement!!!!) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord!! (And my response is sort of—YA THINK!???? ;) His ways of thinking are so far beyond us…and yet in Scripture, He reveals so very much and invites us to understand…that blows my mind)

      • tessa50 says:

        Sharon, I read what you wrote and I did go and read the article you linked. I understood most of what you said I think. Some of these things just take some thought on my part. I did clearly get the part about this country can turn around if only we turn back to God. I sure don’t see it going that way but I do understand that prayer for it can only be a good thing.

  34. tessa50 says:

    I should have started with happy Easter all–sorry about that

    • Sharon says:

      Happy Easter to you as well—early Monday morning here! DS and family were with us for the day and it was such a good time.

  35. tessa50 says:

    I like this one especially the part about how he prays, because it reminds me of me and God, I just talk to him like he was right there in front of me

  36. tessa50 says:

    sorry it just won’t come up, is the song called The farmer and the Lord, but it just won’t post

  37. tessa50 says:

    Well I guess it finally worked and I have cluttered up this thread enough for one night! goodnight all

  38. Sharon says:

    (Rick Madigan posed this good question on the Writ thread, originally it was answered there. Because my reply was so long and much theology, I moved it here.

    Rick’s comment:

    Years ago, Rabbi Harvey Kushner wrote the book, “Why bad things happen to good people,” and he asserted that basically God is good and just, but not powerful enough to stop the evil that happens.

    Later, in a debate with Christian theologians Kushner conceded to the Christian view.

    I wish though that justice happen in this life, not in the hereafter. If God has the power to stop the schemers, and He doesn’t, it creates a moral dilemma for a believer!
    Reply

    Sharon says:
    April 9, 2013 at 10:09 am (Edit)
    That’s one of the “issues” that folks can go mewling around for decades, sometimes just for the fun of it, but it doesn’t create a moral dilemma for me. The core of the question implies that (1) God would, willy-nilly, over-rule the free will of man any time the “bad stuff” gets to a certain level, which raises the question, (2) who gets to decide what the “certain level” is in any given culture or situation? It also suggests that (3) man has no responsibility for choices and consequences. The question creates moral dilemmas specifically for those who have incorporated these kinds of theological “who knows???” aspects into their belief systems. The fact that the question and the Rabbi’s book are very popular in many religious circles also lets us know that there is limited interest in considering what God has already said and done about such issues; and, far more dramatically, what He intends to do in the future. There will be moral closure–the scales will be fully balanced. No worries there.

    If our theological wells are muddied, so will our theology be. Conflicting information based on confusing starting points will produce endless and unresolvable theological dilemmas like the familiar one you mention. Scriptural theology does not provide such dilemmas: they come from elsewhere.

    Whenever folks have brought this particular dilemma up, it’s interesting to explore just where they would like God to intervene: on international affairs? to what extent? on domestic affairs? where? w/re to tax laws or just on environmental issues? Should he stop the filthy mouth of one of my grandsons? How? Should He force Sandra Fluke to live a moral life? By what means should that be forced?

    If God did what people sometimes think they want Him to do on exactly this point, He really would be the divine bully that those who want nothing to do with Him often accuse Him of being. I’m not interested in such a God. Jehovah God created man in His image, which includes creative initiative and moral free will. Unlike Him, we are marked with the capacity and willingness to sin. That’s why we need a Savior. Because He is both holy and just, He couldn’t fix the sin problem without a Savior (It was a legal problem for Him. Fact.) Because He is merciful, He chose to fix the sin problem with the Incarnation and the substitutionary death of the sinless, Incarnated Son. Such a deal.

    Now I bet you’re sorry you asked a perfectly good question!!! Seriously! That is a good a question and, as you may have observed, a good conversation starter. I could have taken it to the Chapel, and still may move my response so I don’t clutter the thread with theology at 7:00 in the morning, west coast time.

  39. tessa50 says:

    Your comment above was nice. Summed it up well and easy to understand. I hope that Rick will see it.

    Sharon I am still reading form Genesis forward, but I have noticed that after some verses, there are verses after that from other books. Things that tie in with what I am reading. So I am also going back and forth with that. Somehow it makes what seems like a very long book not really so long and I don’t mean that in bad way just don’t want to get bogged down.

    I am very happy with the changes I feel inside myself. I have always believed in God but I have not been a Christian. By that I mean I try not to break commandments and to be nice but I never really studied what he has to say. Just reading has helped me immensely in that regard because I am finding that I really don’t know God, certainly not like I thought.

    I have appreciated your help and will continue to call on you for guidance but today I would like to leave this for you. It is from Psalm chapter 40. I was going to give a few verses but really the whole thing is nice and I think it fits you as you do talk of God to others and it was verse 10 specifically that made me think of you.

    Take care

    • Sharon says:

      Hi tessa50, the process you describe of “going back and forth” with related Scriptures is a very useful and wise way to read. It “slows things down” a bit but helps to be sure we are getting the whole picture and helps us avoid distortions that come from uninformed tunnel vision.

      I was reading some of your comments upthread and found this bit that I wrote awhile back:

      Faith folks need to be willing to endure for the long haul when our insides are screaming “This has to stop!” We do not have the power to “fix” anything “right now.” If we begin to think and react and behave as though we do have such power, we’re going to get unnecessarily bruised. …Talking to myself here.

      Good reminder for me. I got so frustrated with someone yesterday and got “mouthy” with them which never starts or ends well. I need to calm down and just deal with what’s in my own hands to do. I understand that “being right” (assuming I actually am) does not give me either power or authority with regard to how others are thinking. Especially in the middle of major messes, my responsibility is to control myself, not others. I find it difficult to practice that truth. :(

  40. Sharon says:

    Isaiah 35 describes the way things will be in “the Coming Kingdom.” Verse 8 says “A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool shall not go astray.”

    So “fools” who belong there (because of faith) are welcome–the unclean, not so much.

    Two minutes ago, I was listening to Gaither VB and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound singing “There’s a Road called a Holy Highway.” I wanted to find the verse about that holy highway. For perhaps the second time in my 69 years of life, I went to open my Bible (this one has over 1400 pages in it) and it opened to the exact page. (p. 709 ;) )

    I don’t do Bible Study that way or look for guidance that way, but it speaks a bit of encouragement to my heart to have that happen today. God welcomes fools who have faith in His provisions. I are one.

  41. tessa50 says:

    Well once again I am troubled. Read where Barnhardt said children have to be baptized to go to heaven.

    I don’t know the answer to that, I just believe God has my child. Have thought that from when he died 8 years ago and then got sidetracked by a comment about cremation.

    Sharon you and I and others talked about that. I really think I need to quit reading what people say God says and just read the Bible.

    I do not mean you Sharon because you back it up with scripture. Not only that you don’t spew hate and meanness. I have probably worded this wrong and I really hope not because you always give me peace and hope. But people like barnhardt give fear and that is the church I knew as child, you are going to hell was constantly preached.

    I am making my way little by little and I thank you for your help. Today reading here brought up about 3 questions but I think I will just think a bit then get back with you.

    I hope you are well and I am glad you had family fun a bit ago.

    • Sharon says:

      I really think I need to quit reading what people say God says and just read the Bible.

      That’s what I try to do. A lot of folks don’t because it takes time and seems like a lot of work. It does and it is–but there’s no other safe source.

      I won’t overload you with words right now, but just affirm that #1) God is not a God of confusion or a God of lies;; #2) He intends to give us understanding; and #3) is full us mercy when our understanding fails us.

      Ann Barnhardt saying something doesn’t make it so. Your sentence that I quote above is the answer for all of us. We may find encouragement and help from others who look at what the Bible says, and that’s a blessing we all need. I’m always on the lookout for trustworthy teachers and also one or two friends who have a heart for what the Bible says so that we can talk together about such things and encourage one another.

      Psalm 9: 9,10 is a good one, with a little series of statements:

      The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
      And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
      For You Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

      There’s something pretty sweet about the fact that He seeks us as we seek Him. (There are lots of sheep verses in the Psalms, as well as John 10 11, 27-29) God bless you tonight, tessa…I appreciate our conversation and know that the Lord is aware of us. Just think of that. He is aware of us and our troubled hearts. That’s huge.

      • tessa50 says:

        He seeks us as we seek him–that meant a great deal to me Sharon–thank you for that reminder

        • Sharon says:

          Good evening, tessa50. Just the past few days, reading the Word has strengthened me in a fresh way again: the strength we need and may receive doesn’t last forever!

          Just because we ate meals today doesn’t remove the need for us to eat again tomorrow, does it? And I need to remember and practice the same in terms of my spirit. Nourishment is needed. Always. Nice to see you. :)

          ADD: I don’t want to misunderstood there: faith that is exercised will always be honored by God and He is always available to us. But faith is strengthened by being fed, just as our bodies are.

        • tessa50 says:

          Now I have to say after thinking more on it, that I was wrong when I said ty for the reminder. Because it never occurred to me that God is seeking me. No wonder what you said made me feel so good. God seeking me, what a wonderful feeling, because i am seeking him too. Hope this made sense

          • Sharon says:

            Yes, it does make sense! ;) That’s why I get so much out of reading and learning more about what Scripture says, because I’m constantly “learning what is so” about things that hadn’t been clear to me before, or not as clear.

            It’s often been said that that is the one major difference between Christianiity and all other religions: Christianity is the only “religion” in which God comes down to us, looks for us, seeks us. (And He does that without stopping being the sovereign Most High God.)

            There’s a verse in Scripture that says, “You will find me when You seek me with all of your heart….” that kind of language is given as an encouragement so that we do not think that our seemingly flawed efforts have no value. They have value! He loves to be sought after. And definitely not like some neurotic friend who “demands our attention”–He is the God of the Universe…and He notices those who have a desire for His presence. Be encouraged.

            • tessa50 says:

              Seemingly flawed efforts, yes, that is what I have been thinking on as I pray. Have been remembering to pray more to say thank you rather than here is what I need help with. Always have the help me please things, but am remembering more to say thank you for what you have already given that I may have overlooked or didn’t even think of.

              • Sharon says:

                Check out Psalm 27:8–that includes both sides of the conversation–where God says, “Seek me” and the answer is, “Yes, I will…” I like that verse.

                As we notice things about truth, and what He’s like, we may adjust the way we think (because we have “figured something out”) but He never has a need for us to feel foolish for not having figured it out earlier. Jesus was the perfect revelation of what the Father is like–so it’s no wonder people flocked after Him! He challenged their thinking, and yet they didn’t have to fear being made to feel stupid (unless they were copping an attitude). This is our Creator we’re learning to know, and He created is in His image. The whole thing is way more than I can get my brain around, but it is so: He does invite us into relationship.

                • tessa50 says:

                  Maybe the whole thing is not more than we can get our brains around, maybe he just wants us to be with him …..period… he did create us. I think God wants it simple enough for us to understand. By that I mean no disrespect Sharon, just mean maybe he has made the relationship so easy and open that we don’t have to wrap our minds around it. We simply have to believe? Course you know I don’t have your knowledge so hope I have not offended with my thoughts

                  • Sharon says:

                    Not offended at all. You have stated perfectly what is so. We both did, actually. ;) I cannot get my mind around it, but I intend to participate and receive it. Sometimes I frame things sort of coming at it from a thinking it through angle just because I do get a blessing out of thinking things through as well as I can.

  42. Sharon says:

    The Bible never glosses over the fact that reality can become so impossible to process that individuals just throw their hands up and say, “No more. Can’t do it. I’m done.” Whether the thought is expressed with anger, fear or exhaustion, that place is acknowledged as being real human experience. The Psalmist acknowledges this in Psalm 27:13:

    I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

    Thank God that the Scriptures do not come with some patronizing, pat-us-on-the-shoulder “there, there” nonsense that implies that we’re just imagining that life is hard.

    This has been on my mind for some weeks, because I suspect most of us are about stretched to our limits and there’s no end in sight.

    Here’s a summary about despair that I wrote several years ago when despair very nearly ended my life.

    It’s amazing and appalling to experience in full spectrum how tenuous and delicate the threads of human determination are. The mind works on one demand and is soon shot down by another. The sweeps of frustration and failure have no regard or respect for the tiny beachheads of victory being established on little shell-pocked beaches that nobody knows about.

    Despair is a most diabolical form of pride, because it presumes that all resources have been tapped; that every possibility has failed; that the unforeseen has caught God off guard and that He has been found wanting.

    Despair says that I am through with trusting Him and done with walking by faith; that I am not enough and neither is He. Despair is the conclusion of an argument based on man’s knowledge and weakeness–and is the only possible conclusion for such an argument.

    Having God’s power and grace brought to bear on my behalf is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity.

    And understanding that is the alternative to despair.

    The old hymnwriter nailed it:

    Should I be carried to the skies on flower beds of ease, while others fought to win the price and sailed through blood seas?

    Are there no foes for me to face, shall I not feel the flood? Is this vain world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?

    Sure I must fight if I would sin, increase my courage, Lord. I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word!

    That may strike some as a bloody perspective, but the author may have also simply had a yearning to really engage the enemy. Today we don’t have to go looking for an enemy to engage: we wake up surrounded by them.

    Christianity allows us–in fact requires us–to face the reality of our weaknesses and in so doing, does not distort or destroy the grace of God. It just provides a reinforcement of the facts on the ground and presents His provision. Facing reality head-on does not equal leaving the battle or failing to endure. That’s good. Difficult. But good.

  43. Sharon says:

    Freedom-loving Germans who chose active resistance against the Third Reich saw the need for it as early as the mid-1930′s. Germany’s patriots (both in and out of uniform) had been actively resisting the darkness for years before her soldiers saw the forests of Poland in 1939. One of those patriots was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, identified as Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy in the subtitle of a biography authored by Eric Metaxas. There were many roles filled by Bonhoeffer. Two of the key ones were being a nonconformist/government-resisting/stagnant-church-poking-in-the-ribs pastor on one hand and an active dissident and saboteur who worked with generals and citizens alike to resist the Nazi machine on the other.

    As early as 1935, Bonhoeffer identified a dilemma that marked a cross-over of sorts for many of them. Here was the question it turned on: When did a form of passive resistance become exposed as not actually being resistance?

    As a teaching pastor and theologian, he had other pastors looking to him for guidance with regard to how best to frame their “confession of the Gospel” in the presence of Nazism’s co-opting of the work of the churches (the willing churches were put “under the protection of the Third Reich” early on–isn’t that special….). He struggled with his own thoughts and the instinct that drove so many Germans–churched and nonchurched alike–the instinct to take a position without taking action.

    Eberhard Bethge, German Protestant theologian and close friend of Bonhoeffer’s wrote this summary of Bonhoeffer’s thoughts:

    Bonhoeffer introduced us in 1935 to the problem of what we today call political resistance. The levels of confession and of resistance could longer be kept neatly apart. The escalating persecution of the Jews generated an increasingly intolerable situation, especially for Bonhoeffer himself. We now realized that mere confession, no matter how courageous, inescapably meant complicity with the murderers, even though there would always be new acts of refusing to be co-opted and even though we would preach “Christ alone” Sunday after Sunday. During the whole time the Nazi state never considered it necessary to prohibit such preaching. Why should it?

    Thus we were approaching the borderline between confession and resistance; and if we did not cross this border, our confession was going to be no better than cooperation with the criminals. And so it became clear where the problem lay for the Confessing Church: we were resisting by way of confession, but we were not confessing by way of resistance.

    Speaking now only of our relationship to the State….are we suffering under the illusion that we can indefinitely resist by way of confession (i.e., “standing for” conservative ideals and Constitutional truths) without being troubled by the need for confessing by way of resisting–to borrow Bonhoeffer’s phrase? If we are, is it time to become dis-illusioned?

    Our context is not the same as his was, but I think the question is similar. It’s not inherently, or only, a faith issue. Bonhoeffer experienced it first in that context, and as his conscience compelled him to stand and give an answer, it became an issue for Bonhoeffer as a German citizen..

    • doodahdaze says:

      “America always does the right thing. After it tries everything else.” I pray this is still the case. Right now we are still trying everything else.

      • Sharon says:

        Francis Schaeffer wrotes about the dynamics of such disasters in his theologies for the common man back in the 1970s. :( More reading is needed, but it might be too late.

  44. Sharon says:

    The Roman Satirist, Petronius (first century AD) said this about why deception thrives:

    Mundus vult decipi; ergo decipiatur*

    Also in the first century, Paul the Apostle addressed the same issue in his letter to the church at Thessalonica in II Thessalonians 2:9-12.

    The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    Those who want to deceive will always be found by those willing to be deceived. And those willing to be deceived will always be found by those who want to deceive.

    It’s a little frightening and highly consequential, but it’s not confusing.

    Notice Paul’s clarification about the identity of the deceived: they are self-selected. They have chosen to disbelieve the truth and they have done so for a very good reason: they like unrighteousness and because they sense that truth will interfere with their enjoyment of unrighteousness, they choose unbelief.

    That is logical and it is highly consequential.

    Here is the translation of what Petronius said:

    *”The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.

  45. Sharon says:

    I believe I need to go to the snowflake falling ground right now, and far more often. The accumulation of daily information will overwhelm if the inner heart is not straight. I wrote the following about thirty years ago.

    There is a place behind my mind~~a place where snowflakes fall; a distant forest with no roads, where none but God can call.

    A place where only God can speak, and it’s a judgment place for me — where I pass judgment and decide what I will do and be ~~ outside.

    A place where God lets me be me with all responsibility for choosing Him and asking Him to grow me to what He can see.

    There, He raises questions that no one else can raise. He searches and discerns and tests, exposing crooked ways~~and then He shows me what He’s found and asks what I would have Him do. Just He and I discuss it there, in anguish or in quiet prayer in the snowflake falling ground.

    For snowflakes fall so silently and snowflakes fall so small, but just as silently, completely, as time goes by~~they cover all.

    And later still in time they melt, and streams go rushing forth ~~bearing out for all to see what in the past was only found in the snowflake falling ground.

    He speaks with love that’s tough and true when He comes calling there and helps me choose, sometimes with strife, to purify the springs of life.

    It’s there that He becomes my Lord and there we’re often found~~my Lord and I, deep in the forest, at the snowflake falling ground.

    http://mailboxesandoldbarns.com/2011/02/20/the-snowflake-falling-ground/

  46. 1harpazo says:

    No doubt…I agree with you, Sharon, 100%. There’s a reason why Jesus called it the “great tribulation”. Not all of my eggs are in the “spared” basket, but they all are in God’s basket. Yes there will be martyrs even in this country, but the church needs to hear a message of hope that even in tribulation God will shed His grace on His children (those who follow Him). We cannot imagine the tortures demonically inspired, godless people will invent when the global leader assumes power. Even in those terrible times, God will be gracious and merciful to deliver us either through death or release.

    • Sharon says:

      I appreciate this further conversation and what you share here. We are on exactly the same page. ;) We have family stories of angelic deliverance and assistance, and of God giving us crucial information that protected us.

      It has troubled me since before obama was elected in 2008 that so many people of faith, somehow do a theological wash with regard to the US and just “assume that the US is in God’s hands” with no consequences anywhere in the future. That simply does not wash. Israel was thoroughly dealt with by God because of their sin and faithlessness and they had covenant standing that the US certainly does not have and never did have.

      Something else I’m trying to get my head around is the business of God’s dealings with nations in NT times-forward. The nations are often called out, described and named with regard to the end of times. Even though we understand that in the church, there is no consideration of nations (and that the church does not displace Israel in God’s plans) it certainly seems that in matters of righteousness and unrighteousness, we can take lessons and principles from God’s dealings in the Old Testament and understand what to expect.

      A dear friend of mine who died in 2011 in her 80s was born in Ukraine (Mennonite). She knew the history of Russia well, of course, and was absolutely convinced from her personal observations that the things that happened to Russia in the 20th century and the rise of atheistic autocractic government was directly due to deliberate decisions to cut off and put a stop to the generosity that Catherine the Great had shown toward the gospel.

      • 1harpazo says:

        We Christians in America have been spoiled with “the good life” which is a result of God’s blessings. That leads some Christians to believe that here in America, there will be no judgment, persecution or tribulation for them. These are the ones clinging to the teaching of God removing the church before anything bad happens. I don’t believe that that teaching is correct and that’s why I say that we need to learn that God can and will save us as the persecution increases until Jesus returns to cut the Great Tribulation short. I believe that’s the message of hope that America Christians need to learn.

        This country cannot escape God’s judgment. With the governmental sanction of abortion, same-sex marriage, corruption, etc., God has to judge the US. I knew that would happen, but I didn’t know when it would start. I more or less thought that it would start farther down the time line. A big cataclysmic event would herald the beginning of God’s judgment, you know, “Day 1-God’s Judgment Begins (trumpets blowing).” I guess I was in denial like so many others.

        Long story short: I bought “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn to read on a trip. What an eye-opener! The story relates how America’s history from 9/11 forward parallels ancient Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Assyrians. Mr. Cahn explains that America’s judgment began on 9/11 (actually before 9/11 when God removed His wall of protection which allowed the attack). A NY Times best seller worth the read and it puts meat on the starting time of God’s judgment of America. So now I got a grip on America’s judgment beginning. The Boston event is not a separate event. 0bama’s speech: “We will rise up again. We will walk again. We will run again” confirms yet again that America’s arrogance is leading us on the path of judgment instead of repentence.

        I’m not big on national movements but this national call to prayer and fasting on 9/11/13 is very important. I think this is the right timing for 2Chr 7:14, “…(if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This could be the last opportunity for America before her fate is sealed.

        Sharon, I appreciate your comments and especially your stand for righteousness and godliness and your love for God. May He make His face to shine upon you…

        • Sharon says:

          Your comments help to broaden the conversation and that is important. I was presented (in conservative Lutheran circles in the early 1960s) with the teaching about the pre-millenial return of Christ. I’ve never seen it seriously debunked based on Scripture. Often the pushback is along the lines that you explain, and do so very well, and I like that you laid it about, because it may some readers understand the variety of viewpoints. Some Christians will argue about them. I don’t. In our conservative Lutheran Bible school we had one professor who taught pre-millenial and another who taught a-millienial/no rapture: they both taught from Scripture and they both got a full quarter to teach their perspective. I sense that you are certainly not wanting to argue. Our Father is going to do what He’s decided to do and I’m fine with that. (edited for brevity/clarity)

          The information has been provided for our instruction and so that we may have wisdom as we move into some very hard times. In the last couple of years I have heard some previously hardline pre-trib-rapture believers express surprise and say, “Well, maybe it’s mid-tribulation??” It doesn’t matter.

          With regard to II Chronicles. 7:14: this was spoken to King Solomon with regard to Israel on the occasion of the opening of the dedication of Solomon’s temple. God made the promise, conditional on repentance, to Israel. I understand the generalized application of it (which I’ve heard all my life) but always want to be cautious about assuming that the Scriptures apply to something they were (perhaps) never intended to apply to. That said, repentance is obviously called for on our part and there are many other passages that clearly call for it, at both a national and individual level.

          Since that promise to Israel can’t be assumed to applied to the United States, the promise of deliverance from the consequences of sin, which is included, really shouldn’t be assumed to apply to the United States, in my PHO. (personal hermaneutics opinion). I’m an amateur at it, but it matters how we handle the Word.

          God-acknowledged repentance sometimes lifts the consequences and sometimes it does not. There certainly is forgiveness for Americans and America (if she wants it–I haven’t seen any evidence that she does). Such forgiveness should be not be presumed to include deliverance from the consequences. There are examples of the results of forgiveness (consequences being lifted or not, after repentance) going both ways in both the Old and New Testament.

          The book you mention sounds interesting. Is his starting point a belief that the United States is to be considered the ten lost tribes? Or a belief that the church replaces Israel in terms of prophecy? Both of those are significant issues that do raise serious questions Goodness, that sounds omninous: I only meant that his starting point matters ;). Since I’m not familiar with the book, I realize that it may simply be a thought presenting thoughts about God’s dealings “with the nations.” If that is the case, that would interest me very much. I may check that out.

        • Sharon says:

          1harpazo, I did some extensive editing on my original answer and cleaned up some poor expression. I should not have tried to respond when I did, and did a poor job of it. Had a terrible cold all week and frankly, feeling awful. :(

  47. tessa50 says:

    Sharon, I skipped way down here so I can see it, because I see no reply button.. I like how you frame things from the thinking it through angle. I very much enjoy our talks and you are helping me to learn a great deal. Take care

  48. 1harpazo says:

    Sharon, Jonathan Cahn who wrote “The Harbinger” made no mention in the book of the US being the lost tribes of Israel or Replacement Theology. He compares the national attitude of ancient Israel (which God judged by using the Assyrians to attack Israel) and the national attitude of the US (which God judged by using the Assyrians to attack us) before the attacks. What was that attitude that God hated? Both countries turned from being focused on God and His Word to totally rejecting Him. After the attacks, both countries did not turn back to God (there was a spike in church attendance…briefly in America) but determined to be better, bigger, stronger. “We will respond…We will rebuild…We will run…we, we, we. No “God save us…God help us…God protect us…We have strayed…We have sinned…” The amazing similarities between the two nations is not coincidental (Rabbis say that the word “coincidental” is not Kosher). This book is about history and how God does indeed deal with nations.

    Mr. Cahn, in his book, brings the reader to the 2Chr 7:14 verse. You gave a good summary of the context of the surrounding verses. Yes, historically this scripture passage is God speaking to King Solomon and His promise to Israel based on Israel’s repentance. But what if, as Mr. Cahn contends, God is allowing harbingers to be manifested in America to alert us to impending judgment and what if, as God’s people, as God’s children, we fast, we humble ourselves, we turn from our wicked ways and we seek His face, will He heal us and our land? What if we do repent and this verse isn’t meant for us, what do we lose? But on the other hand, what if we do not heed the harbingers and humble ourselves? What if we miss the last opportunity to seek God before His judgment can’t be stopped? Could this lead to the apostasy that Paul wrote about in 2Thes 2:3? Maybe that’s why America is not in prophecy sans the eagle wings on the lion and the wings of an eagle carrying woman into the desert.

    I hesitate to include the following paragraph lest it be misconstrued as arguing, but it explains why I said in my original post that the church in America needs to learn that God can and will save and deliver and bless His children in the midst of severe persecution at the hands of the antichrist and his minions. There is a message of victory (i.e. hope, deliverance, soul-winning, healing and, yes, even prosperity) for the church in the 70th week of Daniel (tribulation/great tribulation period).

    I remember everybody discussing the Rapture and the Last Days in the seventies when Hal Lindsey published his hugely popular book “The Late, Great Planet Earth”. Being a young Christian, I believed that Mr. Lindsey’s book was right on about the rapture occurring before the 7-year tribulation period. He was quite persuasive. Then sometime in the early nineties, my mom asked me to read “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” by Marvin Rosenthal. Rosenthal’s theory (not pre-, mid- or post-tribulation, but pre-wrath rapture) fit so easily into scripture without having to twist or tweak Bible verses. That’s when I left the “pre-trib rapture” camp. The question, “When does God’s wrath begin?” determined my view of the timing of the rapture. That question among others such as, “Who’s the “you” that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24 (esp. v. 15)?” and “Are the disciples in Matt 24 indicative of themselves or another group of people, say Israel or believers?” dogged me. And just recently I was hit with Luke 17:26-37, in which Jesus said that on the same day that the righteous are removed, God’s wrath begins and that nobody is saved once His wrath begins. For me that one removed all doubt.

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you for this, 1harpazo. I appreciate it all very much.

      Even though I have been comfortable with a pre-trib viewpoint, I have never felt that I had to defend it, probably because I always was aware of the various perspectives. We need to stand in humility with such knowledge as we have on any subject. I so appreciate that you are here in the thread just now. As you see the edits I made, you may observe that I sort of realized I was coming on like a box of rocks myself, and wanted to tone it down a little bit. Christians need to have plainspoken discussions about these things and, in fact, adjust our personal theology and sharpen our thinking as we go.

      I will read and think through what you’ve shared. Simply based on reality at the moment, including the decline of liberty and freedom and the ascendancy of deception, I’m tending towards mid-trib or something else without even doing a serious reconsideration.

      Thank you for the further comments on the parallels with Assyria as well. The book may indeed address something I’ve been thinking about for some years: how do the principles of God’s dealing with Gentile nations today reflect His dealings with the nations (Israel and Gentile) in the OT. I’ve read more of the OT prophets in the last three years than ever in my life, looking to catch the things that reflect what God is like. What He is like never changes, regardless of the covenant which is in force at any given time, and those things are going to continue to be reflected in His dealing with the United States.

      Thank you for the specific mention of him not using Replacement Theology. I think that (RT) wreaks havoc with NT scriptures re the new covenant. Good stuff. Thank you.

    • Sharon says:

      Both countries turned from being focused on God and His Word to totally rejecting Him. After the attacks, both countries did not turn back to God (there was a spike in church attendance…briefly in America) but determined to be better, bigger, stronger

      .

      So true. This week I found comfort in reading Hosea 4 and 5 specifically because God reminded me that He’s seen all of this chaos, this degradation, this deliberate sin before.

    • Sharon says:

      What if we do repent and this verse isn’t meant for us, what do we lose?

      Nothing! And I agree with the general understanding as you intended it. One reason I often push to clarify original intent with regard to hermaneutics is because over the years I’ve seen so many young believers and Biblically-illiterate believers mis-use the Scriptures, often to their great loss and harm. Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:38 are two examples of common mis-use.

      Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are, almost 100% of the time, quoted out of context and mis-applied as though God will “smooth the way” in every individual’s life. Jeremiah 29:11 will (can?) be a greater and greater encouragement to us as the judgment of God continues to unfold. (And some of what we are experiencing may be just nasty consequences, and not yet the “judgment of God” at all.) With protection removed, we can receive Jer 29:11 as encouragement. I do believe that God’s hand of protection has been removed from our nation for the reasons you mention, but I have not found many believers who were willing to say they agreed with that thought. Romans 8:28 is teaching what Hebrews 12:11 teaches: there is a need for individual believers to allow the Spirit of God to deal with things in our lives that are out of order.

  49. 1harpazo says:

    Thanks, Sharon, for the replies.

    • Sharon says:

      1harpazo, I bought The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn a couple of days ago, and did a first quick scan last night. Good stuff. He presents the historical context of the material he’s sharing, using the literary (and also generally historical) device of the seals. The applications he’s making in terms of recent U.S. history are documented and sourced precisely. He does not make a case for Israel and the U.S. being equivalents in terms of covenant. standing before God, or, as you said, for the U.S. (or the church) replacing Israel in God’s plans.

      By the time he presents his bottom line application of II Chronicles 7:14, he has demonstrated both God’s eternal character and God’s historical blessing on the United States, and is clearly not “taking it out of context.”

      I did mark a couple of paragraphs with a question mark because within those paragraphs he made “statements of fact” for which I didn’t catch sourcing or documentation. It may be there and I missed it because, as I say, I was doing a quick read. I’ve appreciated Charisma House over my lifetime for much terrific work, but have also had some concerns on occasion. The quality of this book certainly does not trigger any of those concerns.

      Thank you for your strong recommendation and for responding in depth to the concerns I raised about a possible mis-use of the Scripture.

      • Sharon says:

        Just wanted to add an update: based on twice-reading through Cahn’s book now, rechecking and crosschecking uses made of Scripture within The Harbinger, and the emphasis (or non-emphasis) of key (and generally recognized) doctrines of Christendom, I will not recommend The Harbinger though others may. I have serious questions about some foundational assumptions made by Cahn. It’s a “good read” but not oneI recommend. The need for America to deal with wickedness and a Holy God are fully apparent in the light of he Scriptures without the efforts of this book. Just my thoughts at this point. Still studying and reading, but did not want to leave impression that I recommend the book.

  50. tessa50 says:

    Hello Sharon. I have been reading the exchange between you and 1harpazo and I admit some is pretty far over my head. It did leave me with some questions though.

    What is hermaneutics?

    I remember from church as a child being taught that once rapture happened if you were still here you were damned to hell. From reading what you guys were talking about, now I am not sure that is right.

    What do you mean by pre-millenial?

    What I was able to understand from the conversation was that the question is when rapture occurs, whether before or during tribulation? Did I at least get that much right? lol at myself, hope you are well Sharon

    • Sharon says:

      Once again, tessa50, great questions. I’m going (try! :) ) to give brief answers.

      What is hermaneutics: Basically, just that just refers to the principles for reading/interpreting Scripture.

      The reading of Scripture includes looking for answers to these questions on any text: What does it say? What does it mean? How does it impact me? Then, it’s important to be honest about how the text is written: If it’s obviously written to be figurative, then it would be wrong to pretend it’s literal; and vice versa, if it’s obviously literal, we don’t want to pretend is figurative language. Here’s another guideline: (re “prophecy” in Scripture) That word may refer to things that are “teaching” in nature, laying out the business of consequences (blessing or judgement) and also includes those things that are informative about future events. Those who observe solid hermaneutics will be careful not to distort or manipulate Scriptures for their own purposes, such as taking them out of context.

      With re to the rapture: Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds vary with regard to the timing of the rapture…I had not heard the teaching that “once rapture happened if you were still here–damned to hell.” Wow. That’s a tough one. The one I am more familiar with is that any who are left post-rapture (if the early rapture were true) would very likely be doomed to a marty’r death if they chose faith after the rapture. The Father alone knows what His plan is. Some information has been provided, and there’s disagreement as to how to view that information.

      “Millenial” refers to the thousand year reign of Christ described in Revelation 20. Pre-, mid- or a- added to millenitla (pre-millenial, a-millenial, etc.) simply identifies an individul’s opinion as to when they believe the rapture will occur. Pre simply means “I believe in a rapture of believers and that it will happen prior to the thousand year reign of Christ.”)

      And the last question –yeah pre-trib/mid-trib/post-trib just mean where with regard to the tribulation. And once again, it doesn’t really matter “what I think” because God’s going to do what He’s going to do. Of course, “what I think” may inform and impact other areas of thought. So the thinking is sure ok!….but goodness me, I’ve seen dozens of brands and variations on this stuff for over 50 years. I have my opinions. God is going to do what He’s going to do, and it’s my privilege to understand as well as I can. People I respect and dearly love have other opinions. I appreciate any clear understanding I can have (and I appreciate good books on the subject). Some Christians (including friends of mine) have no opinion on any of it because they have not been around anyone who ever talked or taught about it. Our entry into the Kingdom of God is not based on knowledge, fortunately, (or agreement about all knowledge) but on faith in Christ, and forgiveness resulting from faith in His finished work on the Cross.

      I do not minimize the value of study or reading on these things, but agreement on them is not an essential. (i.e., the identity of Christ as the Son of God–that’s essential — agreeing about the timing of the rapture [or if, even] is not). Hope that makes some sense in response to your notes.

      • 1harpazo says:

        Sharon said, “I had not heard the teaching that “once rapture happened if you were still here–damned to hell.” Wow. That’s a tough one,” and “I appreciate any clear understanding I can have (and I appreciate good books on the subject).”

        You’ll appreciate that the “tough one” was actually taught by Jesus in the Good Book. In Luke 17. Pay attention to not what was happening in Noah’s and Lot’s day, but the timing of the removal of the righteous and when God’s judgment begins.

        Luke 17:26-29
        26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.”

        On the dame day that the righteous were removed (raptured), God’s judgment began. Then Jesus says that it will be the same way when He is revealed (2nd coming). Luke 17:30: “It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”

        How many were saved that were outside the ark when the rain started? How many were saved in the city once the fire and brimstone fell? How many will be saved after the rapture? The answer to all three questions is “Zero”. Notice that Jesus said that all were destroyed in both cases. So there won’t be any martyrs after the rapture.

        In Revelation 7, John wrote, “13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” There appears in Heaven a great multitude that no man can number and they came out of the great tribulation. Since nobody is saved after God’s wrath begins and these people came out the great tribulation, then God’s wrath doesn’t start until when? It begins right after Jesus returns to cut the great tribulation short (Matt. 24:21,22) and raptures the church. This all happens after the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15).

        Tessa’s early childhood memories about the rapture are pretty much correct.

  51. tessa50 says:

    It makes a lot of sense and I would like to point out that as a child when I learned about rapture and what happened after I very well could be remembering it wrong. I was sent to a Nazarene church so got my learning from there and no I do not know what they stand for, too many years ago and was just too young to know as my parents sure weren’t there helping me to learn. Now I have gone way past them not being there. What I am doing now is for me and to be closer to God, but when questions come up they do sometimes stem from that hellfire sermon thing. Talking with you has helped me to understand God wants us near him and we don’t have to be perfect, just strive to be better and set aside what we can and pray to him for help on what we think we can’t.

    • Sharon says:

      I don’t want to read into your phrase that we should”just strive to be better” because I’m not exactly what you mean, but want to encourage you to realize that He does not even ask that of us, as a method or way of approach.

      Psalm 51 is David’s prayer, written after his adultery with Bathsheba and his first degree, pre-meditated murder of her husband was exposed by the prophet Nathan. (I Samuel 12) Look how David describes his relating to God in this place of exposure and repentance: (Psalm 51:9-10) “Hide Your face from my sin….blot out my iniquities….create in me a clean heart…. ” David’s confession makes room for God’s work of cleansing. David did not “try to do better”…He went into the presence of God, confessed his sin and God forgave him. We stumble over the simplicity of God’s ways sometimes.

      Along these same lines, one of my favorite verses is Psalm 32:19 “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in you….” Our approach to Him is based on ackowledgement of His provision and our need. Never on “doing better.” When I am trusting Him and resting in His forgiveness, I definitely “do better” in so many ways, but that’s a result of my having come to Him. It’s not the method of my approach to Him.

      I John 1:9 (written by the Apostle John) says it so simply, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

      And again, your last line nails it, “…pray to him for help on what we think we can’t…..” Exactly.

      • tessa50 says:

        I wanted to share with you that I just watched a video on biography channel about david and basheba–dk how to spell that– and also solomon and sheba, kind of tied it all up for me.

  52. tessa50 says:

    That has given me a lot to think on because is not what I thought. For instance, I smoke. I have serious health issues because of it and yet I still do. Now I was taught our bodies are the temple of God and when we abuse them that is sin. So even though I know I should quit and that I am harming my body I have not and that that is a sin. So it kind of to me relates to the phrase of sin no more, since you know it is wrong, and go from there? Now Sharon and to anyone else who reads this I am not saying smokers are sinners, I am simply trying to understand scripture and what God say versus what I have always thought. I am learning, not in anyway judging anyone. It is only for myself and my understanding that I am asking, because I always have thought that the sin no more when you know it is sin matters in his forgiveness. I don’t know if I am saying this right but you are pretty good at reading between my lines Sharon.

    • Sharon says:

      The one whose sins have been forgiven stands in relationship with their Heavenly Father, which is quite different than striving to get into relationship. It has been said that this is the major distinguishing characteristic of Christianity when compared to all other religions: all other religions present demands and requirements for what man must do to get up to God, Christianity presents God’s solution in which He came down to man.

      Yes, it must be “on His terms.” (we talked about covenants awhile back–so it’s according to the covenant that He has provided) So what are the terms of His covenant? In John 6:28, the people asked Jesus, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” v. 29 Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Then He describes Himself further in v. 33, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” v. 34 they say to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” v. 35 Jesus says to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

      Look at the “requirement” put on the people, the “approach” they are told to use: believe in Him. Come to Him. and again, Believe in Him. As you mentioned the other day, sometimes we trip over the simplicity of it.

      V. 37 drives the point home: “…the one who comes to Me I will be no means cast out.”

      Sometimes, at this point in talking about how simple the message is (believe, come, be forgiven, be in relationship) the sin question is raised, “But then doesn’t it matter about sin in our lives?” Of course, it does. But that opens (at least!) two additional questions.

      First question: Is this relationship (based on the faith foundation that Jesus Himself describes) really so fragile that a sin (even a repeated sin) immediately and always destroys it?

      Another important question: what is the attitude of the sinner about whom we speak? Is it an in-God’s-face, “I don’t care WHAT God thinks…I’m going to do what I want?” Well, I doubt such a one was ever trusting God for forgiveness to begin with.

      It suggests a tender conscience that one worries about some besetting sin, something they stumble over repeatedly and wonder, “Am I in trouble with God? Is God’s heart hard toward me–am I separated from Him today because of that sinful thing yesterday?” A tender heart is usually not a deceived heart. A tender heart is usually not a heart outside a relationship. The deception, if any, comes from thinking that God’s forgiveness is so fragile! So fragile that the instant His child sins out of weakness (or out of habit–and, mind you, I’m not saying that smoking is sin. ;) That’s a whole ‘nother question)…is God’s forgiveness then so fragile that immediately it is withdrawn?? Is the Cross of Christ so shallow? No.

      Here is a hermaneutics application, tessa50: It is not right to take one truth of scripture, for instance, the need to deal with sin in the life of a believer in Jesus, and set that truth over against another truth of Scripture — (the forgiveness of sin through the Cross of Christ) — and then claim they can’t both be true. THAT is a horrible violation of the message of the Gospel. Both are true.

      If both truths are allowed to stand in all of their power, some pretty amazing things will happen in how we think about the Gospel and how we will understand the blessings we have in the Gospel. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the word “gospel” literally means “good news” because our misunderstandings almost make us feel like it’s a series of trick questions.

      Read Psalm 103:10-14 for a wonderful description of how God looks at us, what He is like and what He has done with our sins.

      • tessa50 says:

        Sharon, I am glad you gave me those verses to read. No I am not in God’s face so to speak. I do worry that I may offend but I imagine we all do. I do believe in him and I am coming to him more and more each day in so many ways, one of them being trying to be better. That is part of where I was going with that. It stretches my mind but is a good thing.

        • Sharon says:

          tessa50 — I surely know you are not “in God’s face” and that’s why I wanted to clarify that point. That is not your attitude. You show that again when you say here that you “do not want to offend.” Well, here’s some bad news and good news: we are all highly offensive in our own efforts. Sin-stinkin’ BO out the wazoo is what we are–because of sins and iniquities and trangressions–which is precisely why mercy and grace is provided. There is no other solution.

          Some years ago I was visiting with a friend who was struggling with forgiving her husband’s sin in violating their marriage vows. He had deeply repented, in very real grief, and had clearly demonstrated sorrow and remorse. She was really troubled, in tears, and said, “If I ‘forgive him’ it’s like I’m saying that what he did really didn’t matter!” Oh, no! It’s the opposite! She didn’t understand forgiveness at all! Our sins (including her husband’s) are so serious that there is absolutely no “fixing” anything. There is no way to “make up for” what has happened. Grace and mercy and forgiveness have the effect, actually, of showing how great our sin is. Grace and mercy come from a holy and just God Who has Himself arranged for the grace and mercy by legal processes–(the Cross actually was a legal process [it wasn't because He felt sorry for us]).

          Now because I’m forgiven, I certainly do want to please Him and do better, but that desire comes as a result of being forgiven, not as a way to get forgiven. If “doing better” is built into the formula at the front end, we’ve set for ourselves an impossible task that will wear us out for the rest of our lives and leave us hopelessly dragging ourselves forward one inch at a time. That would be ok if the distance required was only 18 or 20 inches, but the distance between us and God’s purity and righteousness, between where we are and where He intended us to be, is more like 80 jillion miles. One inch at a time is not going to get it done.

          Here’s what Jesus said about His solution, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24) and also John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (v. 18) He who believes in Him is not condemned;….” Like you’ve mentioned before — actually very simple.

          There is good reason that Jesus spoke so plainly about His identity and His methods: He knew that “striving man” would prefer to “do it himself.” Jesus wasn’t kidding when He says in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Well, if we come “through Him” it’s going to be based on what He did for us, not on what we do.

          We do have the option of doing it His way: see John 6:35) Thanks again, Tessa, for good conversation!

          • tessa50 says:

            So when I asked that he forgive me he really did. See, I keep thinking I have to do everything so much better. Let me explain that just a bit. Sharon I know in my heart that some things I do are sins, at least I think they are, right or wrong, like the smoking thing. It is those sorts of things that worry me. I do realize that God KNOWS I am not perfect, but that fear thing from childhood is hard to shake. I tend to remember the you are going to hell things that were taught. We have touched on that and I don’t want to dwell on it but it is something that is there inside me.

            I don’t know though. Reading God’s words that you have been showing me I am starting to realize that I better adjust my thoughts and feelings, or else in a way I could be in God’s face simply because I am not trusting his word enough to believe what he says.
            Going to work on that.

            Sharon, I enjoy our conversations more than I can say. Thank you for taking the time to find and give me the verses to read.

            • doodahdaze says:

              Don’t feel bad. I have to ask every night. Big time.

            • Sharon says:

              The things that you share in this comment, tessa50, are precious to me for reasons similar to what you explain about yourself, some old fears, etc. This is why truth, itself, TRUTH — is so precious.

              “I could be in God’s face simply because I am not trusting his word enough to believe what he says. Going to work on that.” Yes. I stand on the same ground. These kinds of things are not uncommon. God bless you tonight! :)

              There is a separate conversation we can have about smoking when we want to. (And it’s good….it’s not finger-in-your-face bad!) There are some things that we can understand, directly out of Scripture, that can bring some relief for some common sort of “endless guilt” trips that folks who have a heart for God struggle with.

              Your heart is full of good things to meditate on right now. There’s plenty of time. Do be at peace….lots of good things to talk about! ;)

    • howie says:

      Do you remember now I lay me down to sleep? You are just a human. Weak. We all are. Just keep clawing away and try.

  53. Sharon says:

    In the back row at left, in faded levis and light tan sport jacket–Larry Gatlin, of the Gatlin Brothers, good friend of the Gaithers, and co-writer on some of their music.

  54. tessa50 says:

    I had put a couple of songs on the open thread which of course made me think of Bill Withers and so made me think of this song, my favorite of his

    hope all enjoy

  55. tessa50 says:

    I am struggling with anger at the moment. Well more than just the moment but it came to a head today, in my head and heart not in words yet. I don’t want to go into details as is not necessary for understanding. Basically what it is, is that I have one to the left of me and one to the right, both of whom I love dearly. Kind of like the stuck in the middle again song? The anger comes from I am getting very very tired of trying to fix these two. Frankly by doing that I end up in the wrong somehow and hence the anger. I keep telling them both don’t tell me tell them, leave me out of it. I have decided to give it one more talk, this week to both after that I am done. I could just cry and I am not someone that does that very often. Now please know that these problems are not life shattering, I just worry for their relationship. I guess is like I said, I am just tired. I just wanted to get that out and I hope that’s okay. One part of it I did ask God to please take this part because I didn’t know what would be right, but the rest, yeah I know I just have to say.

    Sharon wanted to let you know I have been watching a series on PBS about the first 5 books and it sure does raise questions. Very interesting though and maybe later this week will ask you about that. Hope you are well, take care

    • tessa50 says:

      And I hope it was okay I vented

    • Sharon says:

      Just a couple of broad thoughts for now:

      Accepting responsibility for fixing things in others sort may set us up for some weariness. Of course, the issue is somewhat dependent on their ages and relationships to us. Sometimes some involvement is proper, and sometimes (as most of us experience sooner or later) we may get involved as “fixer” in something we have neither the power nor responsibility to fix. (Especially if the folks who need fixing don’t want to have the thing fixed. That’s quite common.)

      I look forward to your questions about the PBS material–again-broad thought: their starting point does not include acknowledgement of God as He is, nor of the Bible as His Word, so while they may provide interesting discussion points, they are not a viable source for insight into Scripture.

      • tessa50 says:

        I guess the thing with me is the one who I think can fix it won’t, so I am supposed to and that is the part I am growing very tired of. No way you could understand this because I am not spelling out the problem but I appreciate your thoughts.

        Okay, you lost me on the PBS. What do you mean by they don’t acknowledge God as he is or the Bible as his word? Hmmm, the series I am watching quotes the Bible, so I am missing something. Was just looking back at your comment and realized you said their starting point. I just went back to check what series I am watching and it is A and E not PBS, but that may not change what you are telling me.

        • Sharon says:

          OK, I’m probably not familiar with the series you’re referencing….so I’ll wait until you have a chance to lay out your questions. ;) I watch very little TV, so am not familiar with the content of A & E programming…..

          I’m off to bed now. I think. Will look for your comments here in the morning…..thanks, tessa.

          • tessa50 says:

            Sleep well Sharon, my brain is scrambled so will get back to this with you soon, thank you for listening.

  56. Food for thought: here is one reason why church attendance in America is shrinking–institutionalized heresy:

    http://anglicanink.com/article/diversity-not-jesus-saves-says-presiding-bishop

    The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the US–the highest-ranking official in that denomination–makes this statement (amongst a number of other heretical comments, in a SERMON):

    “Salvation comes not from being cleansed of our sins by the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, but through the divinization of humanity through the work of the human will.”

    “Salvation comes…through the divinization of humanity through the work of the human will”? It doesn’t get much more progressive than that, folks. Needless to say, this is NOT Christianity. Not at all. But sheeple are to be found anywhere–in the voting public, and also in pews in mainline denominations.

  57. Sharon says:

    The little book of Amos in the Old Testament was written by a shepherd, one of the “shepherds of Tekoa.” Amos is among the minor prophets (only called that because they are only three thousand or five thousand words or something, as opposed to the thirty or forty thousand words of Isaiah or Ezekiel). God, through Amos the prophet, goes into some detail in “explaining” the sins of Israel to them, whether they were willing to listen as individuals or as a nation. Good grief, we have a hard time recognizing our own sin, and it was no different with Israel. In chapter 5, Amos is making an effort to get through their heads Who, exactly, it is with whom they are dealing. How big He is. How small they are. How sort of Creator-Jehovah-Holy God He is; and how Creature-Unholy-Bent Ones they are.

    He’s trying to get them to see:

    Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar and stomp righteousness into the mud.

    Do you realize where you are? You’re in a cosmos, star-flung with constellations by God,
    A world that God wakes up each morning and puts to bed each night.

    God dips water from the ocean and gives the land a drink.
    God, God-revealed, does all this.
    And He can destroy it as eawsily as make it.
    He can turn this vast wonder into total waste.

    People hate this kind of talk.
    Raw truth is never popular.
    …..
    I know precisely the extent of your violations, the enormity of your sins. Appalling!

    You bully right-living people, taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.

    Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
    Decent people throw up their hands.
    Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.

    Seek good and not evil — and live!
    You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend.
    Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen.

    Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square.
    Maybe God, the God-of_the-Angel-Armies, will notice your remnant and be gracious.

    The prophets of the Old Testament were, very often, addressing the leaders: the judges, the kings, the priests (and the false prophets) although their message was for the people as well.

    Such passages remind me that God KNOWS. He KNOWS. He knows what human corruption is like, what it is like for normal people who want to live right to have to face every day, knowing that the tire tracks of the powerful and awful ones will be on their face or on their back before the day is over. God KNOWS.

    Secondly, God NOTICES. He keeps track of who’s doing what to who. In our frustration and weariness, part of what we wilt under is that discouragement that George Zimmerman gave voice to when he said, “They always get away…..” We get flat tired of the sense that “they’re always getting away with it.” If we identify as people of faith, then it is incumbent upon us to notice our runaway thoughts that actually deny that God NOTICES. The truth really is –God NOTICES. He NOTICED precisely where obama was the night of September 11, 2012. He NOTICED precisely who gave the order to do some lawbreaking at the IRS and terrify a few hundred people across the nation.

    Thirdly, God JUDGES. He JUDGES between those who are right and those who are wrong. He JUDGES between those who are holy and those who are unholy. God JUDGES and that’s a very, very good thing. (And “judging” does not always have to do with the deliverance of punishment only. It includes the idea of God being smart enough to know who’s telling the truth and who’s lying; which fault arose from deliberate deception and which one was a result of momentary weakness.

    IOW: GOD IS NOT A STUPID JUDGE. He’s using hard information. He’s not just reacting to stuff He sorta doesn’t like and then, in a fit of pique, slamming His shoe on the universe’s table top. That’s very silly and very wrong — Far too often, and dangerously for those who do it or are deceived by it, God as JUDGE is portrayed as a petulant, out of control Deity who’s just an almighty control freak.

    Now, we do believe that God KNOWS, NOTICES and JUDGES. Generally. I’m realizing more and more, on a personal level, that I had better know that God KNOWS, NOTICES and JUDGES specifically. General faith is not going to cut it: specific faith, specific confidence, specific believing is necessary in order to have peace of mind and the ability to function with self control in the middle of this man made disaster we are enduring.

    Psalm 73 lays out a great example of an individual who is sort of going to seed on “being worn out and frustrated” and then pulling himself back into line with what his faith-gut really knows: that God KNOWS, NOTICES and JUDGES. In the first 14 verses of Psalm 73, there are at least fifteen infuriating things that the ungodly peeps are doing that are driving the psalmist crazy, and he’s wailing, “They ALWAYS GET BY WITH IT.” In verse 13 he gets into full whine mode, “Surly I have cleansed my heart in vain..(IOW what’s the use) and washed my hands in innocence….

    But then in verse 15 he pulls himself together and says….”listen to the rest of my story….”

    The last half of Psalm 73 is his clear thinking after he backs away from where he was, a cliff he was about to go off, where he was acting and thinking as though God did not know, or notice, or judge. His bottom line in v. 28 is quieting, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.”

    Yeah. Good stuff. There’s a phrase I picked up some years that had to do with this idea — “converting the unconverted heart of the believer.” the point being that while we do believe, there are parts and corners and dusty tired areas in our hearts where we actually are not acting as though we believe. Probably 90% of life can be lived out fairly well with those dusty, tired parts not creating too much of a problem; but when it comes to crisis attacks, full-on destruction like what is washing over our nation today, the 10% of our hearts that is tired and dusty is gonna git us to some extent, if we are unaware of it, and don’t think to challenge ourselves.

    We are not the nation Israel, and God does not have a covenant relationship with the United States like He does (to this day) with past, present and future Israel; but there is much to be learned from the prophets of the Old Testament.

    God is the same — He never changes. He’s honest. He won’t put up with crap and won’t play games. And sin and rebellion is the same — the impact it has, on either individuals or nations, has not changed. We will benefit from dialogue with what is so — talk to the TRUTH and interact with it. It will help.

    Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Exactly the same line was spoken by the OT prophets. God’s always on the lookout for those who are able and wiling to hear. I’ve been trying to hear Amos.

    • aliashubbatch says:

      That is good to know, but what concerns me is how long must we wait for God to do something. I can’t stand Obama or anyone in government always getting away with their crimes. It is becoming very difficult to tolerate liberals and I’m getting to the point where I would rather take issues into my own hands rather than wait on God. :evil:

      • Sharon says:

        He’s not actually that much into solving problems on our time tables. That’s why the last half of Psalm 73 matters a lot. He may not fix it all up in this lifetime, and He never said it would.

        All of the people murdered in Pol Pot’s killing fields, the people being murdered in Egypt and in the churches of the Middle East today, the millions murdered by Stalin’s government, Hitler’s forces, the millions murdered by Stalin in the Ukraine in the years of starvation, the Apostle Paul murdered by the Roman government, the Apostle Peter murdered by the Roman government, the mothers whose babies were murdered by Egyptian Pharaoh and Jewish King Herod, …. none of them saw justice in this lifetime.

        During the time that Jesus, the Christ walked the earth, the Roman government had a seriously large footprint across the world, and people were tired. They were sick of it. They were sick of the intimidation. They were sick of the tax burden. They were sick of being lied to and manipulated. They were sick of their own crooked leaders (among the Jewish kings and high priests) and they were sick of the occupation of the Romans. Sick of it.

        So the rebellions and insurrections of Judea were frequent. Rome was sick of them, too, so came down on them harder and harder. Jesus’ birth and entire life and ministry were under Roman occupation — that is seldom mentioned or acknowledged by Christians of any stripe. Many of his followers wanted him to be the guy that took on Rome–once they saw what He was able to do at the movement of His hand, “Oh, yeah, this is our guy! Come on, Jesus! Let’s go take Rome down!” That’s why He had to remind his followers, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And when they figured out that He was not going to set up an earthly kingdom at that time, many of them left off following Him.

        I’m afraid we still have some of the same problem: we want the Kingdom of God to be a kingdom of this world. Ain’t gonna happen.

        That does not mean that we ought not to stand for truth and push back. Good grief, if we take that position, then we have to say we don’t want truth tellers in government or in places of authority. What it does mean, however, that as people of faith, we need to pay attention to what our expectations of God are.

        If we are ‘believing” for things that He never said He would do, we will not only be frustrated by events around us, but disappointed in His failure to act.

        Good questions and good points, alias, and there’s a lot to think about, which we really need to THINK about!! Your last line, “I would rather take issues into my own hands rather than wait on God.”

        Well, yeah. You and about 50 million other people. But also…it’s not a matter of either/or: There are issues we can “take into our own hands”….so it’s not all one or the other. Either/or thinking isn’t always safe.

        That’s part of the reason I spend time thinking and reading on these things, because I’m trying to deal with my own head and my own attitudes and my own spirit.

        • tessa50 says:

          Sharon, this is about the shows I told you I was watching? They are A&E, PBS and History channel. The one thing that I noticed which I wanted to ask was this. It told in some of them how past civilizations thought they were in the end of times. But they were not. My question is this– I had thought that the end of times started when Israel became a nation again or at least that that was part of it. Now I realize that none of us know when He is coming back, but did I get that part wrong? Doesn’t that mean end times are here?

          • Sharon says:

            hi tessa50….that phrase ‘end times’ is really a very broad one that was actually being used, in some meanings, even during the life of the apostles. In terms of interpreting what this passage or that passage means when using the phrase, there are different understandings. The understanding that Israel becoming a nation in 1948 is tied very closely to Scriptures referring to end times is a widely accepted one. It’s what I have been accustomed to hearing much of my life and is what I believe is the case.

            However, here again, I don’t spend too much energy on trying to deal with specific points. God is going to do what He is going to do. The Kingdom of God will be established. And how He does won’t be based on my understanding, but on His decisions, already made eons ago.

            II Peter is a helpful book, pretty much focusing on “end times” events, and the Apostle Peter trying to get the church to focus on the important stuff, frankly. He reviews much of the general information and then, in 3:8 says, “…don’t forget this one thing–that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” so even in the midst of this intense instruction to the church, he cautions them to relax and let God be God as these things unfold. 3:13 is a nice over-arching summary for us…”Nevertheless (even if we have trouble understanding it all!) we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

            Past civilizations have thought they were right on the edge of last days, yes. Last year some goofy pastor from San Francisco said that last October 19 or something was the day it was going to end. I would generally agree, based on Scripture, that the “end times” are certainly here. Look at II Peter 3:3 and I Peter II Timothy 3:1-5. Now even if it “turns out” that things don’t wrap up as soon as we might think, that’s ok. We’re just understanding as we can about the specifics, and choosing to believe God about His plan, however He chooses to do it.

            I do find that those things I clearly understand are quite enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I don’t say that with any sense of rebuke to anyone trying to understand these things, but as a reminder to all of us that we don’t need to get ourselves under a burden of “I have to figure this out.”

            • tessa50 says:

              Thank you for your response and I did not take it as a rebuke. One thing I clearly remember is that somewhere in the Bible God said no one knows exactly when He will return. At least that is what I have been taught. Yeah, I don’t know why this is on my mind but I guess given everything going on politically in many countries and also the sheer horror of things we are seeing happening it just makes me wonder. You are right though, God will do it when he chooses and you had mentioned that before.

              • Sharon says:

                tessa, I’m going to go wide at the bottom of the thread…just leaving this note here, so you’re aware that I’m posting a response.

                • tessa50 says:

                  Sorry Sharon, I just now saw this and I have already posted something up here.

                  • Sharon says:

                    That’s fine…no problem at all. I’m going to your 10:31 comment and hope it will not be confusing that I answer “within the text” so that my replies track right with your questions.

            • tessa50 says:

              Tessa, I made my answers italic and bold for easier reading.

              I wanted to talk with you a bit about these shows I am watching and to give you an example so that you could better judge if it is accurately portrayed.

              One of the stories was about Job. I had heard of Job but would not have been able to tell you the story. The book of Job is right before the book of Psalms in the Bible. Most scholars believe it was written during “the time of the Patriarchs”, iow, around 2000 BC, during the period of time when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the Patriarchs) were around. During the book of Genesis.

              The story said that Job was a very good man and a wealthy man. This statement is correct. Job 1:1-3 describes his wealth.

              The point was that because he was a good man he was rewarded here on earth. This statement is not correct. Nowhere in the book of Job does it say that he was rewarded because he was good. The story of Job says that he was a wealthy man and (not “because” — “and”) that he was a wealthy man, very likely because of hard work, skill and experience in matters of managing agriculture and animals. The focus in the book of Job has nothing to do with the reasons for his wealth. The focus is on “a good man, who suffered fearful reverses that came on suddenly and overwhelmingly that it stunned all that part of the then known world.” (that quote from Halley’s Bible Handbook”, describing the book of Job)

              Then through a series of things happening he was left with pretty much nothing and so the question arose. “Through a series of things….” that is a very key phrase. What was that “series of things”? The text of Job tells us exactly what they were. Read chapter 1:8 “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

              And then, immediately, in verse 9, Satan basically says HA! “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him….You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased….(v. 11) but now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

              You see, it was Satan who created the idea (out of thin air) that “because he was a good man he was rewarded here on earth.” And, apparently, that false cause and effect was picked up in these programs you saw? Therefore, the starting point of whatever “reasoning” followed was false. If the starting point is false, whatever follows is also distorted. Can’t be helped. That’s why such programs should not be used as primary sources.

              Does God promise to make our lives here on earth good just because we are good or is it that we are to strive to be good for what is after our death here on earth? Neither. There are very good people who have suffered awfully. (Read Luke 13:1, 2 where Jesus addresses this specific wrong assumption) And there are very bad people who do very well in terms of accomplishments and possessions. (Back to Psalm 73 again, the opening verses) We do not “strive to be good” because of what is later: to extent that I “strive to be good” it is because my thinking has been changed (Romans 12:2) and I want to please God. That’s not the basis for my relationship with Him, but a result of my relationship with Him. Doing good things is certainly of value, but not to gain heaven. James 2:20 says “Faith without works is dead.” So the works themselves are good and, in fact, expected. But not in place of faith. As a result of faith.

              In other words that God has made us no promises about here on earth, but the promise of everlasting life is always there. Now that is what the episode taught me. That there was a shift in thinking at that time. By “at that time” meaning at “that time” of Job’s life? There was no “shift in thinking” in terms of God’s perspective. It is common that those who want to make use of Scripture for their own purposes sometimes suggest that God sort of kept changing His mind about how to deal with man and to accomplish salvation ultimately, that He kept working one idea after another, and that as each idea failed, He had to come up with another one. That’s pretty insulting to suggest that God is that incompetent. Such a God really can’t be trusted for anything. Salvation has always been offered based on man’s repentance and God’s mercy, beginning in the Garden of Eden, and extending all the way through both the Old and New Testaments. God dealt with man through different Covenants, but every covenant offered salvation as a result of God’s mercy. None of them said, “Be good and you’ll get heaven.

              I enjoy these shows because they do quote scripture but I sure don’t want to be led astray. Be careful. Just because shows quote Scripture is neither a recommendation for them or a guarantee that they are truthful at all. In James 2:19 there’s a piercing statement, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” Scripture can be used, very easily, in a way that is false. The material you’ve shared here that was presented in the show about Job is a glaring example of that. They do seem to be general in the sense that you get the gist of what they mean and they have pointed you to the Bible scripture to back it up. Trying to learn things that I don’t know for sure, sometimes general is good for a starter.

              Hope this was clear and hope you are well.

              Tessa, there are mistakes in my bolding in some of this, but I’m not going to try to fix it right now. I get confused and might mess it up even more. The italics are my answers to you. My suggestion: copy and paste this comment and print it out so that you can go through it line by line. There’s an awful lot covered here! Like I’ve said before, you ask the best questions, but that sometimes means the answers just can’t be brief and real simple. There is a LOT of material here….if you print it out, it might be easier to study through.

              • tessa50 says:

                Oh my. Two things right off the bat. I never meant to imply that God’s thinking or words shifted. I was trying to say that the story said mans changed. Changed from do we live for here on earth or do we live for the afterlife. I now understand what you mean by the starting point. I also now understand what you mean about faith and striving to do better. Works are good but faith is first. Sharon I am going to read through your comments again in the next few days. I am struggling with the Bible in that verses I read I simply do not understand. So I thought these shows would help me know the stories.

                Maybe it would be best for me to just ask when I am stumped on a verse. I thank you for answering and just to let you know my orange thing is not working so if you typed this long before now I am sorry, but didn’t see it.

  58. 22tula says:

    St. Joseph of Cupertino, an Italian Franciscan Priest, is the Patron Saint of Pilots and Air Force.
    St. Joseph of Cupertino: The Dunce – 1603-1663
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/joseph.htm

  59. Sharon says:

    In Matthew 24:36 Jesus says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only,….” And a little further in the same conversation (v 42) He says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” and again in v. 44, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

    That section of Matthew includes much of the teaching of Jesus regarding end times, as He was answering questions raised by the disciples.

    v. 27 of the same chapter assures of something else. His arrival will not be a secret. There will be no confusion about it. It will be a very big deal. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” and in verse 26, the previous verse, he cautions them, “Therefore, if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”

    Jesus Himself knew that high interest in the details and timings of end times things and the timing of His return would produce alot of opportunity for those who wish to deceive, for those who just like to stir people up and get everybody freaked out. So he repeatedly says things in this chapter and in other areas that are designed to reassure individuals and basically just say, “Calm down, folks. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. Don’t worry about figuring it all out. My Father has it figured out. Your part is just this: be ready.”

    And, as we’ve talked about before, “being ready” has to do with faith in Him, based on the work of the Cross. A former pastor of ours used to say, often, “Christianity is not a religion: it’s a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” He’s right about that.

  60. Sharon says:

    Ok, thanks, Tessa for the clarifications. No, man’s “thinking” didn’t really change either. The struggles and the promises were/are the same.

    Suggestion regard an easier understanding. If you are able, you might want to get a copy of The Message Bible. That is actually a translation (it’s not a paraphrase, it’s not some man “saying what he wants it to say”…). It was a work of about 25 years or so that a pastor (who had training in the original languages of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) put together because his congregations were discouraged for the reason you describe–they had trouble understanding the flow of ideas.

    Some folks highly object to any “translations other than the King James” for fear that later translations are inherently corrupted. That’s a baseless fear, because the scholars who have done later translations are in fact better trained than King James’ guys in 1611 were!! The scholars today have access to many original manuscripts that were only discovered in in the 1940s/1950s, the Dead Sea Scrolls: http://www.deadseascrollsfoundation.com/ The value of these discoveries can hardly be exaggerated. There were hundreds of original scrolls (including much of the major prophets such as Isaiah) in the original languages. The scrolls were rolled up and stored in clay jars in caves, and in the dry desert conditions, very well preserved. They had been concealed for 2,000 years or so. When scholars got into them and examined them, and compared them to the Scriptures as we have them today, the levels of accuracy was beyond astounding. The point being–information and confirmation like this was not available to the “scholars” of King James Court! when he commissioned the 1611 King James Bible. I understand the fears and traditional concerns of those who insist on King James, but their concerns are unnecessary.

    So, my suggestion would be to get The Message Bible to read along with your New King James. I think it might be helpful for general undersatnding. Another thing that is always best is to read passages and/or chapters, as opposed to a single verse. That way we can easily be more careful not to distort the meaning of a verse or a situation. Those who have studied their Bibles all of their lives never say they are done. The Bible is really quite a book! There’s much more I could share along those lines, but won’t right now. Your plate is full enough!

    Ask specific questions any time you want, that’s perfectly fine. I’m sorry your “orange thing” isn’t working! That’s frustrating! It happens from time to time, and we’re never sure why. Have a good evening.

    UPDATE: Tessa…I had mentioned the Qumram Caves scrolls. They were important, but it was the Dead Sea Scrolls that are the Old Testament manuscripts, so I’ve changed the link above. Sorry. :(

  61. Sharon says:

    The thing about dealing with those who are experts in deceiving, and discovering we have been or are being deceived, and dealing with it day after day, after day after day, is that there’s always more where that came from. It’s exhausting. It takes both an immediate and a cumulative toll.

    The action of endurance is illustrated again and again through the Scriptures, in both the Old and the New Testaments. If we read honestly and accept the plain presentation of the thing, we will know that endurance is absolutely not some kind of disembodied decoration for the soul but a sweat-soaked headband that is also used to wipe away blood and tears….and I suppose all of that is why I haven’t been able to get this off my mind these days.

    The very nature and character of endurance, to some extent, defines why we need it. Endurance is a measuring out of strength — using what is required in order to keep on standing. To keep on keeping on. Endurance is not aggressive by nature. It stands. And it stands fast.

    Endurance is not just a parlor game in life by which we measure one another’s pain tolerance, sort of playing chicken with things that come hurtling toward us out of the darkness. Endurance is a method of dealing with situations for which there is no immediate relief in sight.

    Endurance is clearly a choice, because there are alternatives. Instead of enduring, we can quit, we can collapse, or we can swerve off the road through the ditch and into a convenient grove of trees. It’s clearly a choice, because it requires our participation — it’s not an attitude or a reaction, although attitudes and responses are apparent in one who is enduring.

    Endurance is a choice that has a harvest. There is serious and deep encouragement for the child of God who has learned something of endurance, who has understood that God’s work with and through us is not intended to set us up with a sabbatical from life, but is intended to propel us into a life with purpose and focus and ability. That ability will be made use of. God does not so equip us for no purpose. He knows how to use His own power where it will do the most good — for us and through us.

    In Colossians 1:11, endurance is identified as a testimony to God’s power and strength:

    ….(that you may have a walk worthy — in v. 10)…strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power*, for all patience and long suffering with joy;….

    *i.e., choosing to endure displays His glorious power, and that is specifically so when the thing being endured is something that opposes God. I think this is why Americans who “simply stand” in the way of the ungodly who want to destroy things and people and our nation are viciously attacked. It really drives the deliberately unGodly violently bananas. Think of that: just standing where we are and refusing to get out of their way drives them to hysterical fits of rage and all manner of vile language and accusations. Very interesting.

    In Romans 5:3-5 endurance is identified as the forerunner of genuinely hopeful character, faith about the future (very different than faith in the future) that is developed within us based on truth, not on personal power or winning at all costs or at all times:

    And not only that (read verses 1 and 2 to find out what “that” is! ;) ) but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that [it matters what we know] tribulation produces perseverance [endurance], and perseverance [produces] character; and character [produces] hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

    James 1:12 is a good promise:

    Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive th crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

    Thumbnail thoughts for that verse: I Corinthians 10:13 says that all of our temptations are of a common type. Personal temptations when we are near despair, in exhaustion, or coming to the end of our resources sure don’t feel common: they seem uniquely designed to absolutely destroy us. That’s why James 1:12 is a precious promise for the one choosing to endure. Not everyone does, and the Sovereign God wants us to know that He will take note of those who do.

    Many thoughts about the need for endurance in the middle of the messes we are all facing have been on my mind for some time, nudging to be posted here in the Chapel. There’s much to be considered and sometimes it’s hard to sift out what might be useful.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      When I am struggling to endure I just suffer needlessly because when I stop.struggling.still.quiet I see I’ve lost faith in the source of all power whose arms are there to sustain me if only I let myself rest— when I let go things can begin to work out, I start to see the wires and pulleys which have gulled my attention, and my envelopement in the situation begins to evaporate– then true endurance is possible for me, and courage if need be…Spar

      • Sharon says:

        Yup. Endurance is a choice, but ought not to be a struggle… needed when we are dealing with situations for which there is no immediate relief. But enduring is best done in the place of rest.

        Spar, are you acquainted with Michael Phillips’ book, A God to Call Father? I was reminded to get it out and review again…reminded by your comments about Jesus’ primary goal to take us to the Father, a simple and monstrous fact that is often overlooked, especially by the busy faithful ones.

  62. tessa50 says:

    Endurance is a method of dealing with situations for which there is no immediate relief in sight.

    Sharon, I don’t know how to let you know other than to say, but those were your words that I typed above. I really really liked that sentence, because sometimes it is how we feel and is good to remember just to keep your head down and plow through.

    I was reading parts of the tree today, stories from a few days, and I have to say I just feel troubled. I just don’t understand how illegal acts continue from this administration unstopped. I just keep thinking back to the fact that God will come back and I don’t know if this country will be in a good place or not but like you say, what He says will be and will happen. Also, I am not sure if any country will be in a good place or not, not in those times. I think all countries are going to be in peril and that it will come down to individuals being saved.

    I have other thoughts on my mind but I see that they really are political probably not things I should bring to the chapel.

    I am working towards getting the message Bible, thank you for telling me about it.

    Hope you are well Sharon

    • Sharon says:

      Hi Tessa 50…lots going on, isn’t there?

      You can bring “political stuff” to the chapel if there are issues that might be discussed there. We’re flexible~!

      All countries are definitely going to be “in peril.” God will wrap up “time and place” and there will indeed be a new heavens and new earth.

      I love that He has never changed His mind about what He intended creation and mankind to be. Scripture repeatedly says that He is going to create a new heavens and new earth. It does not say a “different heavens and a different earth.” There was nothing wrong with His original idea. A” heavens and earth” without sin is gonna be something special!

  63. Sharon says:

    http://www.redstate.com/2013/05/31/the-victory-lap/

    Eric Erickson with an excellent summary and big picture that actually grabs bits of three or four things: the Boy Scouts and gays; the intolerance of those who demand tolerance; Christians’ perspective on the big picture and ‘getting through the week’. I’m putting this here in the Chapel because I’m thinking it’s good to have it for reference for the long run.

    There’s a lot of anger out there on both sides and a lot of intolerance from the tolerance peddlers. But there is no need to be angry.

    Since the moment that rock was rolled back from the tomb we’ve been running a victory lap. There will be a last day. And on that day Christ wins. It’s already locked in. Every knee shall bend and every head shall bow. Every. Single. One.

    So there’s no need to be angry. Just laugh. Most of these people cannot seem the grasp the difference between “your” and “you’re”.

    If the world loved you, you’d be doing something wrong. Victory comes though we know not when, so we must be happy warriors until the end.

    If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. — John 15:19 (ESV)

    All the invective and hate just affirms for me I’m doing something right.

  64. tessa50 says:

    Want to talk a bit about hatred. That is something I struggle with. I know I am supposed to forgive, which to me means don’t wish them harm.

    In order to be careful that I’m understanding you, can we clarify: do you spend time actively wishing harm on others?

    Forgiveness is deeper, but also simpler than just “not wishing harm on others.” Forgiveness does not mean that we need to feel a certain way — sunshiny instead of dark or trusting instead of untrusting. Forgiveness at its core is not a feeling, tessa. It’s a choice, a decision. It means I no longer hold someone accountable to me for something they have done. Period. It’s understandable that we struggle with feelings (especially if there has been deep hurt) but the existence of the feelings is not always directly tied to whether or not forgiveness has been extended.

    My feelings about a person and whether or not I have forgiven them are not always exactly the same thing. If we assume that negative feelings or fearful feelings equal unforgiveness, we carry a burden based on false assumptions.

    Whether they are dead or alive I should forgive what they did way back when. Maybe not for them but for me. That is a very hard thing.

    Your statement here is very honest and very accurate in terms of how things seem to us. Often though, our problem is not that it is hard to forgive: it is that we don’t want to. I don’t say that as rebuke, but because it’s important that we recognize where our hindrance is. Even as we say “we should” or “I know I should”…. those sayings don’t stand a chance if we don’t want to. As human beings who act as free, moral agents (in extending forgiveness) if that part of us that says “I should” is being ignored by the part that says, “I don’t want to” we’re going to be “stuck.”

    Sometimes our problem is not so much what they did–but that we are afraid that somehow God is going to let them get away with it, and out of concern that “somebody had better make them deal with what they did” we continue holding it “just to make sure.” Of course, we don’t have the authority to deal with their sins, any more than they have the authority to deal with ours. So if we choose to enter into that dilemma, we are going to wear ourselves out.

    I hear and see people say when you forgive you are released from those memories and that you have power over them.

    Forgiveness and dealing with memories are two different things. We can be at peace and not be exhausted by painful things of the past, and they don’t have the right to control me, but the blessings of those things are found by resting in Christ and receiving from God Himself what I need for my shattered heart and old scars. I don’t “get those things because I forgive someone.” Refusing to forgive does make it difficult to receive peace, not because of what they did back then but because of what I’m refusing to do in the present.

    I don’t know how to do that and I say that because in my heart I know I haven’t done it.

    Could use a bit of guidance on scripture to read for that.

    A reminder: Jesus Christ, our Savior who died so our sins could be forgiven, and rose from the dead victoriously, has the authority to forgive sins, those of others and my own. When we get into this business of not wanting to forgive (which I say bluntly, not out of any rebuke to you, tessa, but because I know that place full well. This is nothing unusual for the honest heart, to say, “I know I haven’t forgiven them…..”)…when we get into this business of not wanting to forgive, then we must deal with our sin. But then how do we do that? By pummelling ourselves? By accusing ourselves? By saying horrible things to ourselves or demanding of ourselves something we cannot do? No.

    Return to what the facts are, what God has already said about our dilemmas and our brokenness and our very real problems. Remember that Jesus Christ is a Person. Yes, He is God Almighty, but He is a Person who thinks and hears and knows….and is willing to hear our heart cries.

    Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” That’s New King James.

    I think I mentioned to you that The Message translation is helpful sometimes. Here’s how that reads in the same verses:

    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” I like that.

    Don’t complicate it, tessa. Let God say what is so. He’s willing to teach. He meets us where we are. Sometimes I think we make it difficult for Him to teach because we decide…. “I need to learn THIS”….when He would say, “Oh, no, my child. You need to learn THIS.” Here’s what I mean by that: Sometimes when we think we need to learn how to forgive, I wonder if His heart is yearning to have us understand that we ourselves are forgiven. If we know that we are forgiven, deeply and “for real”, the business of forgiving others seems to fall into place more easily.

    So many words, Tessa. I’m sorry…..just sift through slowly and see if any of it is helpful to you. I’m on my way down for the night now, and will be gone much of tomorrow for appointments some distance away. So I will look forward to what you have to share and will read as soon as I can.

    Hello to all in chapel- hope all are well

    • Sharon says:

      Once again, you raise several very important issues around a single subject. tessa, I’m going to provide some brief responses within your comment (I’ll use italics and block to make it easy to see). Then we can continue the discussion in any number of ways.

      Always glad to see you drop in. :) In my initial comments, I am going to suggest some correctives to your starting points. Remember the conversations we’ve had before about “starting points.” They matter so much. If we “begin” off balance or with things that are not so, it will always be difficult to proceed in a solid fashion.

      Now to your comment…I’ll post this, and then begin to share some thoughts within your comment.

    • tessa50 says:

      Don’t ever say so many words like it is a problem. I really appreciate your responses. I will be reading back through this for a bit and thinking on it. Thank you Sharon for your response, hope all goes well with appointments.

      • Sharon says:

        Thank you, Tessa. I was just looking through an old journal (I fill “blank books” with writing and efforts to think!) I found this poem that I wrote 30 years ago, taped to a page where I was writing notes 3 years ago… but came across it today. It seems to go along with what I was trying to get at in some of the comments above.

        9-13-1983

        Humility that’s asked by You, O Christ of Galilee,
        Is that which faces You in light, knowing You can see
        My brokeness, the failures, the sins, the faults, the pain–
        And seeing all of that, you still would die and live for me again.

        This humility transforms from self and pride to grace;
        Changes “perfect plans” to resting as I run the race;
        Turns my eyes from my own pain to seek the comfort of your face,
        Stops the angry flowing tears and heals the broken heart.
        …looks first upon the angry blot…
        …and then I learn it’s been forgot…
        …and then I walk in gentler love…
        …in the grateful servant’s lot.

  65. tessa50 says:

    I understand what you are saying about forgiveness. I think. I guess I need to forgive and tell God that I do forgive them but I will still have bad memories. That me telling God I forgive them doesn’t mean that I absolve them? It is tricky for me Sharon and I am going to keep rereading what you have written to me, so need a little time to absorb it. I have lived with this hatred for a very long time and never have understood how people say so easily , well seems to me anyway, that once you forgive you are set free. But what you say makes a great deal of sense, I just need a bit of time to ponder it.

    • Sharon says:

      Does it help to understand that it’s not up to you to absolve them? You and I don’t have the authority or the power to extend absolution for sin to anyone. That’s a God-thing. We are able to forgive sins against us. That does not release them of accountability before God, which is an entirely different matter.

      I fully understand the needing time to ponder. Meditating and pondering is needed when we discover that we’re standing “over here” and the truth about where we need to be standing is “over there.”

      Tessa, that’s why the word “meditation” is used so often in Scripture, and particularly in the Psalms. It simply means to take time to think about things.

      Yes, people say “once you forgive, you are set free.” Lots of times people don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s a fact. There’s something more specific to certain Scriptures (with lots of examples of exactly this kind of situation in the lives of real people) that I could share with you, but I’m not quite sure how to do it in a useful way.

      Let me meditate on that for a couple of days and see what I can come up with.

      • tessa50 says:

        Okay Sharon, and I will keep thinking on what you have already said.

      • tessa50 says:

        Still thinking on this, as this subject is hard for me in the sense that I think my problem may lay in the fact that I don’t want to forgive, I am going to have to work on that.

        • Sharon says:

          If that’s the hinge where the issue is, identifying it will help. Don’t try to “work on it” too hard (although I understand that you are probably referring to thinking about it, trying to understand, needing to process feelings about memories, etc.)

          The bottom line is this: forgiveness is a choice and does not have to do with how we feel about something or someone. That’s actually a benefit, because it does mean that we are “free to forgive” at any time–we don’t have to wait until it makes sense or “feels right.”

          A related point: forgiveness does not mean I would suddenly trust those people again (although I realize you may be referring to folks who are gone from this life). It certainly does not mean — if the people are still alive — that if I forgive, therefore I must resume the relationship. Tessa, I have forgiven several folks for betrayals that were deep and full of iinjury. Would I want to trust them again or feel compelled to resume the relationship? Absolutely not, not based on what I’ve learned about them. That would be foolish.

          It doesn’t mean I absolutely wouldn’t under any circumstances, but it’s a huge mistake to equate forgiveness with restoration of relationship: two different situations. You are not obligated to somehow “think yourself” into “being willing to trust” the people who betrayed you (even if they are no longer alive).

          I have not forgotten what I mentioned about some other Scriptures. I’m sorry I haven’t dug out what I need to dig out–will try to get that done asap.

  66. tessa50 says:

    I was praying a little while ago and was telling God that most of my shortcomings in not knowing how to ask for things is that maybe I am asking for wrong things and that was my fault because I do not know my Bible like I should.

    That made me realize something. Just think if we didn’t have the Bible like many way before us didn’t. They had to rely on word of mouth. I don’t know how to say what I mean except that was some kind of accomplishment on their part.

    Hope all are well

    • tessa50 says:

      I guess that I should have said also that I know how to thank God and I do, daily, just when asking for something am not always sure is okay.

      • Sharon says:

        Just leaving you this note so you get an orange alert. I started a new comment at the bottom here, with one of those examples about forgiveness between people. There are many others. We’ll do one at a time. They vary quite a bit.

  67. Sharon says:

    tessa,here is one example I wanted to show you about the business of forgiveness between people and the relationship not being automatically restored immediately. Read these three specific and short scripture passages in the book of Acts. (1) Acts 12:25; (2) 13:13; and (3) 15:36-39.

    The first describes Barnabas, Saul (the Apostle Paul) and John Mark leaving on a preaching trip.

    The second lets us know that John Mark bails out on the two older men (his age established elsewhere–he’s quite a young man).

    The third lets us know that, some time later, Paul was not ready by a long shot to forgive. He was ticked that John Mark had bailed on them.

    In II Timothy 4:11, some years later, we read that Paul says to Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” So he finally worked it through…..

    This is a simple example of disruption between individuals that took some time before forgiveness occurred, and even more time before the relationship was restored. In the meantime, it’s important to intentionally notice that God did not put any of them on the shelf. He didn’t get mad at them for not working it out sooner.

    Psalm 23 describes how well The Good Shepherd knows the needs and problems of His sheep. He is perfectly willingly to deal with us as fully human! Just because we have faith in Him and are seeking Him, He does not suddenly say, “Well, now that you’ve figured that out–snap out of this being human silliness and straighten up!!” He has mercy on us at the outset of our seeking Him, and He has mercy on us after we have trusted Him for years and years.

    At this point in my life, I am far more aware of my limits, my foibles, my weaknesses and my failures than I was when I started trusting Him, but I also recognize more clearly that He knew those things about me all the time. And because I know that, I also know that I don’t have to pretend or hide from Him my wretchedness on some days, my fears on other days or my pride on another day. He knows.

    That’s how living in grace and acceptance is experienced: knowing that He knows.

    Anyway–read those different passages describing this one situation,…and if you care to, read all of Acts chapters 12-15 and let the whole story unfold. Some pretty amazing stuff was going on even while the great Apostle Paul was struggling with issues of not wanting to forgive John Mark. Our heavenly Father does not hold our lives hostage when we are honestly struggling with serious issues.

    We are not weird or “alone” in the struggle with forgiving others. It’s a common one.

  68. tessa50 says:

    “‘Sometimes when we think we need to learn how to forgive, I wonder if His heart is yearning to have us understand that we ourselves are forgiven. If we know that we are forgiven, deeply and “for real”, the business of forgiving others seems to fall into place more easily.’”

    Sharon, those were your words to me way upthread. Finally it got through my head. I have been rereading all that you said and I finally get it. It’s not wanting them to be punished because that’s where I was well and truly stuck. But remembering that we have all sinned and so we forgive them as we want God to forgive us. Sounds very simple but just a bit ago it got through my head. Doesn’t mean I will ever be happy about what happened, but let it rest with God.

    Sharon I hope you are well and thank you for your help here, it took me awhile I know, was just one of those things I just couldn’t get.

    • Sharon says:

      I’m so glad to hear from you again. These things that we consider and think through–it seems like there will always be something! But it is a satisfying work to do, isn’t it? We do sort of “get hold of a thing” and as we move on, we do actually know something we didn’t know before.

      I’m so grateful that the SPirit of God is a kind Teacher in all ways. Always. We are well, although Oregon weather is hot at the moment — 95 today — that’s a bit unusual even for July here, so it won’t last like it does in many area sof the country. Thank you for your note…lots going on these days, isn’t there? We will keep looking to our Heavenly Father for peace and direction and understanding…..

      • tessa50 says:

        Sharon, my orange thingy isn’t working so if I don’t respond quickly you will know I am reading around a bit.

        This was a really big thing I needed to come to terms with and yes it took a lot of considering and thinking, but well worth the effort and I do thank you for your help. Funny how one little sentence out of many can just get through.

        Very hot here too, but at least the rains are cooling things. Yes many many things going on.

        I am still reading, did get sidetracked, but life sometimes intervenes. Frankly I needed the time to ponder what we had talked about as I really didn’t get it, I am very happy I can now move forward from there and onto new questions.

  69. tessa50 says:

    Hello. Sharon I would like to talk about the gospels.

    I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the Bible was put together by men, that chose what would go in it. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    So I am wanting to read the gospels that did not make it in the Bible. For instance the gospel of judas. Also the the words of mary of magdaline. Now, my mother told me years ago that anything not in Bible is not his words so I was being sacreligious. But to me it is words from people there then just not in Bible. What do you say?

  70. Sharon says:

    I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the Bible was put together by men, that chose what would go in it.

    Stating it in those words may be accurate, depending on the intention of the phrasing, but it’s a bit like saying, upon the birth of a baby, that the baby was put together by its mother.

    Taking your last paragraph first: it sounds like you’re just curious about those other writings. What I have to say doesn’t matter one bit. Anyone who wishes to satisfy their curiosity about extra-Biblical writings is perfectly free to do so.

    If by your phrase “the Bible was put together by men” you mean that it is sort of random gathering of stuff that could have gone in any direction….so they could just have well have tossed in some of these as well some of those..,that reduces the Bible to just one more religious book that is barely worth the paper it’s written on. Like the Koran. Or a thousand other religious books. Is that your meaning?

    • tessa50 says:

      I get the feeling I worded my question rather badly. Let me try this again.

      Yes, it was my understanding that the Bible was put together by men, religious men and they did decide what went into it. By that I mean it was my understanding that they took the writings of many men and also God’s words to men and pulled them all together into 1 book, the Bible. May we start there?

      I certainly meant no offense and am wide open to being told my thinking is wrong. To me the Bible is the only Book that is God’s words to us, but knowing that other people at different times had written things was something I did want to ask you about. I realize it doesn’t matter what you think in the sense that I am free to read whatever, but I really was asking your opinion on reading those, as I do value your opinion. I do not word things well often and I hope this is clearer.

      • Sharon says:

        I spoke as bluntly as I did, tessa50, because I didn’t want to presume to change what you meant, and I actually wasn’t sure what you were thinking. Your comments here fill out your thoughts very nicely….thank you. I intended no offense either…but neither do I want to assume what someone means, so sometimes it’s best to flat ASK.

        Excellent thoughts and questions….I will do better at responding tomorrow, I think, if that seems ok for you. I’ve been ill over the weekend as being exhausted generally. Thank you for your kind understanding if we may wait ’til tomorrow, and for your kindness in answering my blunt query. ((hug))

        • tessa50 says:

          Sharon, I don’t talk with you because I am looking for someone to always agree with me, this is far too important. If I am wrong about something I want to know. Your bluntness if I am going far afield will never be a problem.

          I realize you are very busy right now at the tree and your response will be appreciated whenever you can get to it. I am not here daily so please don’t ever rush. I am sorry you have not been well. Please take care–bye for now

      • Sharon says:

        Hi Tessa, I’m putting this reply here to keep it a little wider and more readable.

        I have an excellent book that really lays out, in summary form, the answers to your (again) excellent questions.

        As a starting point on discussion (re the sourcing/contents of the Bible) would you mind if I refer you to that book? It is Evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell. The first chapter gives a lot of details that might interest you, re all the ways the Bible has been “tested” over the centuries, and all of the things about it that are very different than any other book in existence. (literally–very different than any other book in existence)

        Chapter two, at pages 42 – 44 (in 2006 edition) contains a discussion that perhaps gets at the specifics of part of what you are asking. I will be back in a bit to type those pages out for you….with excerpts from the book. Sorry I’m so pokey! :(

        • tessa50 says:

          Hi Sharon. I am looking into ways to get the books you have recommended, the message Bible and this one. I know that I have seen books very inexpensive and am thinking that was at amazon? I can’t remember but my son will, when he is next here I will ask him. They sell them used so not too difficult to get.

          I got sidetracked by life so my reading of the Bible had slowed, but am back to it now full speed. Which still means slowly because I am not reading it as I would a fictional book.

          If you have responded to me anywhere else here I am not seeing it, my orange thingy doesn’t work all the time. I hope you are feeling better and will talk with you soon. Take care.

        • tessa50 says:

          I typed out a comment but I don’t know where it went, can see the site is wonky going to wait a bit and maybe it will appear.

        • tessa50 says:

          Sharon, you don’t need to type out those pages, I will be buying the book. Am just waiting on son to get here to help me do the ordering.

          I didn’t realize until the other day that I am sort of monopolizing this thread. That was not my intent. I am going to step back and just read for awhile. Like before. If I get well and truly stumped on my reading of the Bible I will come and ask you for help.

          I hope you are feeling better, will see and read your comments even when not commenting myself and that is always nice. Take care

          • Stormy says:

            tessa, I think you are asking questions that many others reading at The Chapel might want to know, but perhaps are too timid to ask. I would encourage you to keep asking… I wonder if you know how much your questions and Sharon’s answers are ministering to others? :)

            • Sharon says:

              Tessa, be encouraged by Stormy’s thoughts. I am. :) .

              • tessa50 says:

                Oh Sharon and Stormy, thank you so much, because I really was thinking I just needed to be quiet. I just can’t tell you how much it means to me to come here. It is nice though to see others here again!

                • Stormy says:

                  Tessa, It is like it is your ministry right now… to be the one who is humble and yet bold enough to ask questions. It is a very good thing. Matthew 18: 1- 4 :)

  71. Mike Bowers says:

    Hi Tessa! I can sense that you are seeking the things of God. Here is a link so you can take the first step if you haven’t yet! http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/god-so-loved-the-world/ If you do this things will become more clear as you seek the Lord daily. Blessings to you Tessa and Sharon, Mike

    • Sharon says:

      Hi Mike…that’s an excellent presentation of the heart of the gospel. Thank you so much for linking it here.

      I peeked at your FB pages–beautiful photos. We live in the Willamette Valley some south of Portland, and it looks like you’re in the beautiful state of Washington. My brother lived for many years at Olympia in his retirement.

    • tessa50 says:

      Thank you Mike for your words. I have indeed taken that step, and feel very very good about that part of it. There is much that I feel I need to know and also want to know about God and what is expected of me and also what He says will be. I struggle with understanding the Bible sometimes and Sharon has been a blessing in that respect. Doesn’t seem to be a question that throws her, and I know some of mine are so simple she must just sigh. Others are difficult for her because they can be complex and she is trying to make it clear. She does that very well.

      It is a pleasure to be here and read others thoughts and was good to meet you.

      • Sharon says:

        ((hugz)) to you, tessa….I appreciate our conversations. Am unable to contribute much right now for reasons mentioned to Spar below….

  72. Spar Harmon says:

    I was lost then I was found
    Literally
    I was found
    I was desperately seeking. My life was a stake. I was dying and had no hope. I was full of self-loathing and self-hate. I wanted relief from the misery of my life; I wanted to die. But
    I was seeking
    Because the idea that I could help myself was bankrupt; I had thoroughly proven I could not
    Because my great learning and many talents had only more thoroughly broken me
    Because, homeless and hurting, lost and confused,
    I was a prisoner in the rag and bone shop of my inmost heart
    And there I was found
    By a small mouse of truth, whose tiny, clear, gleaming eyes looked quietly into mine
    And possessed me utterly
    And I Saw…..

  73. Spar Harmon says:

    ….well…
    it did not matter, at first to wonder what it was…I was too awestruck, blinded with wonderment…to even want to pollute It with words, definitions…could only experience, childlike…take it in…the next day seemed brighter…everything shimmered with meaning______________
    Perceiving what had happened, a wise friend presented. I somehow knew I could trust this person, so I listened…he said don’t try to define it; concentrate on reentering that space every morning, practice carrying that space with you all day; practice, practice, and all else will come to you unbidden…and serenity and sobriety will be yours,,,…!!! And so it has been.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      Over the next few years, with the nurturance of that small mouse, my path cleared before my feet…to the extent I kept to knowledge of my blindness and total surrender to Its gentle guidance…when I got frustrated, tried to take back control, I would suffer to consequences of my self indulgence…and of course I stumbled and fell a lot: the stubbornness of Self “Master of My Fate…etc” is a hard thought addiction to break..I had always thought I was how I was supposed to strive to be.
      Lots of self-study, lots of spiritual study, lots of practice, practice before there was much of any steadiness in me…and if course I still limp badly…I had no idea how deeply arrogant I was– hard to root out, that
      But cultivating Faith in that small mouse, learning to recognize the daily miracles in my life when I Am in a state of humble surrender, a free Self is beginning to emerge…a greater Self than I could have imagined. So I practice, practice humility and Faith and all my needs Are met…free of the burden of self absorption, I see small miracles attend my efforts to help others– not my motive though, the exercise of compassionate empathy carries its own reward– as I learn to love this me my creator made, the more unconditional the love than flows from me becomes– It gives me chills to hear or read the “trespass” lines of the Lord’s Prayer– that conditional plea is my battle cry in the effort to root out my own inner evil– once I become aware though, I must forgive myself and step back and allow that small mouse to “fix” me, because I cannot fix me…
      It is my intention to ‘let’ myself grow, be amazed at how I unfold in the journey, and praise the small mouse who leads me—- it knows The Way better than me.

  74. Spar Harmon says:

    I was brought up a Presbyterian. I was apostate and an agnostic seeker for nearly all my adult life. Along the way I have had many spiritual encounters: Christian, Zen Buddist, Lao Tzu, Pueblo Native American, attempts with brothers and sisters to form intentional communities, the Sufi mystic Rumi, and like a rope binding all together: My Father, who Jesus was directing me toward when I was a child , Our Father… Jesus said, giving me permission to take a place at his side as a brother…
    When I seek fellowship for worship, I seek AA’s rooms, I seek Quakers, and now I include you, Tree-dwellers. Above I offer an outline of my spiritual understanding: I believe The Creator is greater than any human can know, but since all of Creation is filled with Spirit, it is within each one of us, and if I still my ego-self and wait expectantly, a small mouse of Truth will be revealed nestled quietly in my heart and expectant for the moment I become small enough to see…
    Love to all Treepers, Spar Harmony

    • Menagerie says:

      I am so glad you found us here in the Tree Spar. Thank you for sharing this. Parts of it truly reflect my own struggles.

    • Pam says:

      Hey Spar, I know how you feel when you let your real self come out like this. Don’t worry–it’s all good. I have traveled your path. How many years do you have, friend?

      • Spar Harmon says:

        I started in 1982 in Chicago. I finally made honest Contact in 2009. Drinking never even enters my mind after 3 months; the obsession simply faded away, by Grace, through no accomplishment of my own. Thanks for asking. The feeling of being on sustainable path of sobriety and serenity is astounding. Spar

        • Pam says:

          My dear AA brother, sometimes we walk a long, long path to Him, don’t we? The beautiful thing is that He lets nothing go to waste. He turns even our shame and disgrace into something He can use to touch others. You never know who might be watching or hearing, or what one sentence or act might mean to them.

  75. Spar Harmon says:

    I appreciate your response. I find, when I reach out to others, only by staying grounded in my own experiences am I able to ‘connect.’
    So thanks for your statement of connection. Spar

  76. Spar Harmon says:

    Boy! that really came out stiff! I guess I feel a little naked, exposed…you know, fear of looking foolish stuff….

    • Sharon says:

      ….that I understand…. ;) I won’t be on much for a few days…but am reading. Dealing with some medication for nerve pain that is nasty stuff.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!
        Bruised Sciatic Nerve bundle for me. No medication for me. I left a note for you up thread after your discussion about endurance. I cannot afford the risk of addiction with pain killers potent enough to tick mine, so I’ve learned about endurance……designing and carving a walking cane/shillelagh… you know, for when I go downtown n’ stuff… Spar

        • Spar Harmon says:

          Open thread, july 27 was packed with challenging material for me. Most challenging was the movie Agenda…
          I participated in the 60′s in many of the areas of movement revealed as being part of a hidden Agenda to corrupt the foundations of American society. By ’68 I had parted from them all and had formulated my Pacifist Warrior stance. “Resist not evil, but seek to DO that which is good”.
          I was involved in a social experiment with other seekers who were asking the same questions. All authority was in question for us. All of us were experiencing personally ‘arresting’ spiritual inner events. We were sharing with each other.
          Speaking for no other, my entire life shifted as a result. I found that certain of Jesus’ teachings came readily up in me to frame what I was experiencing.
          ’68 to ’71 I grew and much power flowed through me to others. But subsequently I lost it, swamped in the mundane tasks of making a living and providing for my family. My inner life fell into solipsism and self-centered thinking as I steeled myself to meet my assumed, vowed commitments to love, honor, and protect. And since I thought it was up to me to measure up, I failed and descended into alcoholism and self-loathing. I was a ‘functioning’ alcoholic for 20 years, before I finally gave up on my marriage in order to survive; I was sober for 14 years and was able to contribute to the support of my daughter until she graduated from Oberlin in 2005. Exhausted, I retired. Lived with my partner In Lincoln City, OR until 2008, when we parted company and I moved back to my hometown in Appalachia. I was drinking heavily, as a more or less conscious form of suicide. Mid-summer 2009 I crashed and burned…
          Though I have been saved by Grace, and there was much inner work that I had to ‘struggle’ to allow to be fixed, yesterday something opened up for me and I was able to see my stubborn self-centeredness and see how I was stopping the outward flow of My Father’s work: the hollow reed flute
          that is me has been plugged up, My Father can only play a soft music through me. Pray for me friends, I need help again…

          • LandauMurphyFan says:

            Pray for me friends, I need help again…

            Prayin’ right now, Spar. It’s so easy to descend into self-loathing, isn’t it? We know how riddled with faults we are, and how far short we fall. We know there’s no logical reason for our Father to love us as we are – and yet He does. He does, Spar, He truly does. He loves us – he loves YOU – and you know it. It’s a mystery, and yet…think of the people *you* love, Spar. Are they perfect? Do you expect them to be? Or do you love them anyway?

            And if you, as a flawed human being, can love others despite their faults…we can only imagine how much the creator of all human life loves each of us despite OUR faults. He doesn’t love us for what we do, nor does He love us for what we resist doing. He loves us because that’s who He is and that’s what He does – indeed, it’s what He can’t *help* doing b/c He is the very essence of love.

            I’ll check in again in a day or two, but I’ll keep praying for you in the meantime.

          • Sharon says:

            Spar, follower of Jesus, praying for you this morning. Although the details of our journey may differ, I recognize some of the postcards you send…

            As I was praying for you a few moments ago, I was reminded of the words Jesus spoke to a thirsty soon-to-be follower, “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

            He pays attention to thirsty hearts and has the ability to give water that satisfies. He also has the willingness to give it. You haven’t walked with us in the woods so long, Spar Harmon, but your companionship is important to us.

  77. Spar Harmon says:

    Thanks to both of you………………..I’m very agitated and my mind is noisy. I’m finding it hard, to get to that quiet spot, to quit trying to make sense, still the rhythm of my heart…and yeah I kinda like the drum roll, inner drama, the adrenalin….an insidious addiction…
    But then Rumi reminds me ‘don’t insist on going/ where You Think you want to go./Ask the way to the spring…’
    Lord of all, Open through me a clear channel of thy Peace…On still wing in clear light, give me sight…not my will but Thine be done…break through the obstructions which clog the expression of my soul, Thee in me…help me Lord, for without Thee I am lost, of myself I am nothing…
    Thank you for friends, thank, you for guidance, thank you for your Ever Presence, even when I founder…Bear me up Lord, I am stumbling and the darkness is great….

    • Sharon says:

      The One who holds you makes it safe to dare to be at rest. It’s the strength of The Strong One…not your strength…that makes you safe on your best days, Spar. Just as it is for me.

      My faith expressions are a little different than yours, Spar, but we’re both expressing faith in the provisions of our Father. Here’s something I wrote, trying to explain what it is like for me to trust, in the middle of the storms.

      http://mailboxesandoldbarns.com/2011/04/01/battlefield-jesus/

      Sift anything I share to find the things needful…you are safe in this moment. We can’t “fix” anything and wouldn’t presume to try. You are not alone.

      This verse is in there:

      Faintest thoughts, I find (when trusting) see me through the darkest place
      While the grandest schemes (untrusting) nullify and cloud your grace.

      The faint, trusting thoughts are enough.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Your MBOB for today was great, Sharon. From an early age, I had a passion for finding and picking fruit. At this time of year, I would have every blackberry and raspberry patch around spotted and would excitedly wake on weekends in the pre-dawn and be back before break fast with a full pail for every body’s cereal. Mulberries, huckleberries, plums, wild cherry and grape…God I loved foraging.
        You and LMFan helped me, plus a meal, housekeeping and a long bath… Yeah…I often forget to help me.

  78. tessa50 says:

    Stormy, your comment to me troubled me a bit until I read the verses you left for me. It was the my ministry thing that troubled me. I understand now what you meant, so thank you. Also just so you know, I kept reading and that tied nicely into something Sharon has been trying to get me to understand. Forgiveness of others. I know we all struggle with life, but coming here helps me so much when I just simply am not sure what to do. I have thanked God for giving me this place to come and many times for Sharon, because she has so much patience.

    Hope you are feeling better Sharon, take care all, you too Spar!

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you, tessa 50. I’m doing fine..but still have three days to go on this most unpleasant medication.I find it difficult to think clearly and sort of can’t trust my level of clarity from one hour to the next depending on the level of stuff in my system. Things should be better next week. I’m glad I saw your note.

    • Stormy says:

      Tessa, I’m so sorry that my comment troubled you. I think you realize now I just meant to encourage you to feel free to keep asking questions. The Chapel at CTH is so blessed to have someone with as much wisdom (life smarts), knowledge (book smarts), and such a sweet spirit like Sharon does… I just didn’t want you to think you were monopolizing her time.

      I’ve first came to CTH a little over a year ago, but I couldn’t figure out how to to the comment thing through wordpress… so I would just read. A couple of months ago, I realized before the trial started that I would want to participate fully… so I figured it out. (I wish I had used the search feature… I’ve since found out there is a great how-to on there.) Anyway, I had looked at the prayer request pages, but I just thought The Chapel was a picture… until last week. (silly me) I was reading down through all the various questions and posts… and then when you posted that I didn’t realize until the other day that I am sort of monopolizing this thread. That was not my intent. I am going to step back and just read for awhile. I thought, “Oh, no… don’t stop, tessa !” I think I even prayed about commenting on your post for a day or so before I actually did.

      I go to a very large (huge) church. They actually discourage people from joining… but they still do :) If someone wants to join they have to attend a group meeting with the Pastor, and he explains to them that they don’t need to join… if they keep coming as a guest they get the best parking places and there are no expectations for them, but if they join, they will be requested to do 4 things: commit to going to church regularly, do something to help yourself grow in your faith, find some way to serve, and to give to the church. People keep joining… hundreds every month. They offer lots and lots of different Bible Studies, but they discovered that most people didn’t know the basics of the Christian faith… even if they had been raised going to church. So they started to also have an “Introduction to Christianity course” and they now encourage every new member to start there.

      I have been a small group leader with that course for about 5 years. Interestingly, the course covers pretty much ALL the same topics that I saw you asking Sharon. The class runs over a 10 week time period, and there are various ages, different amounts of prior Christian knowlege, and even had class members from different faiths… just wondering what Christianity was about. The one thing that ALWAYS made a small group “click” was if we had a good “questioner” in the group. I have had SO many participants say at the end of a ten week session that “So and So” asked all the questions I wanted to know, but was too (embarrassed, scared, worried, anxious) to ask.

      So, I was enjoying reading all you questions, and enjoying Sharon’s answers so much that I just really wanted to encourage you to keep asking, because in my own experience, you “questioners” are SO vital. I didn’t want to put a burden on you by saying it was “your ministry”, I wanted to encourage you, if you didn’t realize, that you were not just here taking up all of Sharon’s time, but you were actually being a HUGE blessing to lots of people who were following along having the same questions, but weren’t asking them… but were learning right along with you.

      Not everyone has a “Sharon” available… I think we should ALL take full advantage of her :D
      (After she is off those meds, anyway ;) )

      • tessa50 says:

        Thank you so much Stormy for your words, and yeah, I did figure out what you meant. You are right we are lucky to have Sharon and the wisdom of others who comment who get us to thinking and understanding, including yourself!

  79. Pam says:

    Good morning, folks. I am fairly new here. Have been posting, but not many know me yet. I am asking for prayer assistance. For those of you who believe that the powers of darkness will continually assault any who try to follow the Light, you will understand the more specific prayers needed.
    Last year, God placed a young man in our lives. His name is Michael (and his patron saint is St. Michael the Archangel). My husband and I took this young man into our home. The details of how this happened and his background story are way too long to go into. Suffice it to say that the whole situation was so completely and totally “abnormal” that it was obvious this was a God thing. Because of his life, the people who raised him for 18 years, the environment in which he lived, Michael was at the tipping point of total destruction. The darkness had almost consumed him. God gave me the grace to be able to see into his heart. I knew what we were supposed to do, but I didn’t know exactly how it would play out day to day.

    There came a point in time, one day, where I experienced a moment of such clarity and God-given insight. I knew that I was being asked to take a stand for him against the darkness. I knew that I was being asked to agree to do whatever was necessary. I knew that it would be extremely difficult. I knew that God wanted this young man. He is an extraordinary human being. He has a warrior heart. God wanted him. I agreed.

    That day occurred last October. Since that day, the assault has been constant and unrelenting. I do not pray intercessory prayer. I live the intercession. This boy is so in my heart that I can’t explain it. He has lived with us for 13 months. By the 3rd month, I already loved him with everything in me, just as I love my two children who were adopted at birth and are his age.

    My husband and I are used to the attacks of the enemy. We have lived with them for many years. But what has come against us in the last year is so above and beyond. We are 65 years old, with three young ones – two are 19 and one is 20. Two of them are with us. My son Tim is in, of all places, the suburbs of Detroit. That’s another long story — we were told he was bi-polar. It turned out that he was brain damaged from abuse by his birth mother. We didn’t get him until he was 10 months old. We just discovered his real problem last year. He needs prayer also.

    I have had complicated health issues for the last 20 years. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dysautonomia, Asthma — all of these have combined to create a perfect storm in my body and brain. I am at the point of being pretty much bed-ridden. I go out of the house only to see doctors and to go to mass. My chronic pain never, ever leaves me, even with the pain meds I have been on for 15 years. It’s somewhat of a mystery to me why God picked me to do this job. Nevertheless, here I am.

    I took Mickey on a pilgrimage to The Cross in Texas last February. It was the trip from hell. Anything and everything that could possibly stop us from getting there..well it happened. But we kept knocking down the walls as best we could, and finally made it. We drove to The Cross from a little motel room 20 miles away. It was midnight when we arrived, freezing with wind blowing to knock you down. We went back the next morning to see it all in the daylight and pray some more. The focal point was the statue of Jesus holding the aborted, unborn baby. You will understand why that was the reason we went. Just know that his heart broke the day his baby was aborted and that it took him down to the depths of hell.

    The day we returned was the day that both of us became extremely ill. Mickey had to be taken to a hospital 30 miles away. We were in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t even drive him, so we waited 2 hours for an ambulance to get there. They said “stomach virus”. Right.

    We were so sick that my husband had to leave work, fly to Dallas, rent a car, drive 5 hours to reach us. Then we had to drive two cars back to Dallas so we could turn in the rental. We got back late at night. I had to drive our car, following him to try to get to the airport to the rental car place. He got lost, even using GPS; over and over we drove around in circles on the huge interstates. I was still really sick. I almost had 3 accidents. I have never been so scared in my life.

    It took us almost a week just to get back home to Virginia. Since that point, my health has gone downhill quickly. I have not been able to get back even to my “normal”, and my normal isn’t good anyway. Then my husband started having issues. He has always been healthy as a horse and is not used to illness. He may have Myasthenia Gravis, but they are having a hard time figuring it out. Now he has blood pressure problems and I got him to a cardiologist. He has a stress test scheduled soon. He needs prayer.

    I went to the ER two weeks ago with weird, new issues. I may have Meniere’s Disease, or something like it. Have to see an ENT next week. Yesterday, I saw my neurologist and went over the problems I’ve had since Feb. He is scheduling me for an MRI to see if I’ve had a stroke. Needless to say, this, on top of everything else, has knocked the stuffing out of me (as my Grandma used to say).

    God is slowly winning the battle for Mickey’s soul. But is is long, hard and very, very painful. He is so damaged in his thinking and his views of God, life, people. He lived a total nightmare for 18 years and was..well, just brainwashed. Everyone is his former household which includes 12 children and grandchildren, ruled by his Grandfather who is a M**ia G*df***er, was baptized, catechized and confirmed in the Church. But not Mickey. He was only baptized. I got him to a priest. He is to start RCIA this fall. Please, please pray for him that he gets through this. It is important.

    And please pray for me and my husband, Robert. We need every bit of help we can get. Thanks to all who had the patience to read this long, long post. Pam

    • Spar Harmon says:

      Well I guess I’ll do what I can, Pam.
      You seem swamped in malign presences. When I am feeling that way just reaching out, as your post does, can start the process of restoring faith. The Power within you is greater than all that seems ranged against you, but I learned that I have to reach inward in faith before my Father’s arms can reach me and give me heart’s ease…
      My Christian friends say much the same thing. So your help is ‘closer than hand and feet’, Pam, seek within for the Great In-Dwelling Light…..

    • Sharon says:

      Pam, I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier. I can’t add much to what Spar said…our hearts embrace you. We know, along with you, that our Father does not under-estimate the things we face, either the foes within or without. You’ve paid a high price for laying your life down for all of your loved ones. Praying for Mickey, and you and your husband.

    • tessa50 says:

      You are going through a great deal and I may not know these specific prayers you are asking for but I will say a prayer. I figure God will know what I am praying for.

    • Stormy says:

      Pam, I will be praying.

      I also wanted to suggest to you, as I do with all of my patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome to totally abstain from any and all artificial sweetners. (I am a dental hygienist, not a doctor or a nurse, but I do have a minor in nutrition). I have had many patients that have had total symptom remission from fibromyalgia and CFS, from eliminating artificial sweetners from their diets.

      After being ingested, aspartame breaks down into several residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, and further breakdown products including formaldehyde and formic acid..

      Some naturally occurring foods also follow the methanol — > formaldehyde route, but at much, much smaller levels, and definitely infinitesimally smaller levels that the regular consumption of aspartame in soft drinks and other products on a daily basis causes. I do not advocate the use of stevia, either.

      I have worked in hospital settings, and am good friends with a man who runs one of the regional FDA labs. He was a researcher who was promoted up through the FDA to his current position. I know of many instances where the actual data that goes across his desk does not line up with what is told to the public. There is a great deal of money being made by companies in the diet soft drink industry. They also are a powerfully lobbying group in D.C.

      I will be praying with you against the powers of darkness. I would also encourage you to drink water and eliminate any and all artificial sweetners from your diet, and see if this can give you a bit of relief, healthwise.
      ————————————-

      I also wanted to suggest to you, as I do with all of my patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome….

      The CTH is not a source for health information of any kind. General discussions regarding opinions on such things may well be engaged on the open threads. It is neither safe nor wise for us to be seen be seen as a source for medical or health information advice and will not accept commenters providing such advice in response to specific comments. –Admin

  80. tessa50 says:

    whitney houston and mariah carey when you believe

  81. tessa50 says:

    Lightning took out my Vista computer, yeah that old, so now on windows 8, I wanted to put this song here but it is not working for me, Something else for me to learn. The song is really good and is on you tube, kind of fits today’s threads. Well hope you enjoy if you find.

    • Sharon says:

      Hi tessa50, ….

      just a note to let you know that I think (I think.;) ) I’m beginning to get my feet back under me. It’s been a couple of days now that I’ve been able to start getting that prescription out of my system, and that’s a relief.

      This is probably as good a time as any for me to share this :

      We are fully aware and appreciate so much the variety of faith-folks we have at the CTH. Judeo-Christian heritage, traditions and teachings are alive and well in this place. The undeserved blessings of heritage (Psalm 16:6) come packaged differently in different lives and families, and each of us carries reflections of the wrapping as we learn and walk out faith in the Sovereign God through our lifetimes. My heritage came wrapped in very high value being put on the identity of Christ as the Word made flesh, and the written Word that reveals Him and His work, and my sharing will reflect that.

      The Kingdom of God is ruled over by God Himself (obviously!) .. and each of us who are citizens of that kingdom by His grace and mercy have contributions to make.

      My ways of sharing about these things, the sources of my information, and the faith convictions I hold are mine…but the Chapel is CTH’s. Because I talk alot here in the chapel, the lines might get blurred so I think it’s good to occasionally say stuff like this to clarify.

      Occasionally I’ve tried to make a “name list” of individuals who have blessed my life with spiritual instruction and fellowship and strength: I usually bog down somewhere after the count gets past 50. Some amazing people have criss-crossed my paths over the last 60 years (I figure up until age 9, it was mostly my parents…and Sunday School teachers)….so anything we can share that is of value for any…has come from many others.

      The Kingdom of God is not a small place, although relationship with the King is an individual experience. Amazing.

      • tessa50 says:

        Hi Sharon. I hope you are feeling well now.

        Yes I do know the chapel is CTH’s, I just usually talk with you as you are here.

        I am going to scroll back up a bit and read what you told me about forgiveness because apparently it didn’t stick. That is the hardest thing for me. I was reading a thread here today and it just made anger come. I would imagine if I have forgiven things in my life then that wouldn’t happen. I truly just don’t get that. Going back up to read. I figure sooner or later it will stick.

        • Sharon says:

          Hi tessa50…I should not have included some of those staetments in my comment to you—I knew that you understood the relationships re the Chapel….just in case there were other readers….thanks for your understanding. ;)

          Re lessons we learn (such as forgiveness): I don’t know that’s it’s ever a once and done proposition. We may gain insight and understanding as to what is available for us–then putting into practice is a lifetime of learning.

          It is not so simple as saying, “Ah. Ok. Got it.” And then from that time forward being able to internalize it and live it out easily.

          Very much of the New Testament is written to Christians who fully “agreed” with the teachings of Christ and of the apostles, but they had a flat dreadful time trying to implement what they “knew.”

          That is the lot of any who take the business of faith walk seriously. Which is why I love Psalm 25….one of the reasons. Psalm 25 talks about God’s willingness to teach us.

          That’s flat amazing–and is part of His amazing grace. He is never surprised by the moral difficulties of dealing with us. Again, that’s the beauty of God always designing His dealings with men to be contained in covenants–not by our effort, but by agreements (which are legal agreements in essence) set forth in which His grace works on our behalf. Nice to chat with you here again! I’m doing much better. Thank you!

          • Pam says:

            Sharon, I have been praying for you. I’m glad you feel better.

          • tessa50 says:

            Yes, teaches us and forgives. I kept reading and lit on Psalm 27 10. Had never seen that verse before but glad I did. Sort of ties into things with me. I need to remember He is there when no one else may be and if He can forgive all my sins I need to work on forgiving others, still. Not be perfect as I never will be but keep trying.

            • Sharon says:

              It is not that we “work on forgiving others” as much as remember that we are able to choose to forgive. If we think of it as “working on forgiving” something seems to happen that turns it into an endless process. Forgiving is not a processit’s a decision.

              The fact that we struggle with the decision after choosing to forgive a time or two or three just reminds us that we’re learning something that we haven’t learned before. It feels new and unpracticed because it is.

              Remember that our relationship with our Father is based on the finished work of Christ, not our success at “doing really good” at stuff that seems difficult. Our being at peace is based on what He has already done; not on how well we’re doing at the moment.

              • tessa50 says:

                I guess for me the bottom line is I haven’t chosen to forgive, otherwise it would be done and over with in my thoughts and it isn’t. That is what I mean by working on it, that I have to get to the place where I can without reservation say I forgive them and that when I say it God knows I truly mean it. It is a scary thing for me Sharon because I know I need to do this.

                I just reread your last paragraph for the third time and I think I understand it now. God has already said he will forgive our sins imperfect as we are once we come to him and ask, so yes I need to forgive but he knows already I am not perfect.

                I hope I understood that right and I am going to drop this now, is just one of those things that troubled me. I am glad you are feeling better Sharon.

            • Pam says:

              Tessa, I hope you will not feel I am butting in on this forgiveness thing. Here is what I learned in AA, then later on through the Church. Your will to forgive is the key…not your feelings at the time. AA says if you have resentment and unforgiveness in your heart you say to God “Lord, you know I still feel resentful, but I give You my will and I will to forgive this person.” You don’t have to feel it or even want to do it. You just will to do it and say it. Over time, He will release you from the bad feelings if you are willing to persist. I have learned to say “I pray that this person has every good thing from God in his life and every good thing I want for myself.” If one is still really angry or hurt, it’s amazingly hard to do this, but it works.

              • tessa50 says:

                Pam, not only do I not feel you are butting in, but here, there is no butting in. People help when they can and are very willing to do that. I tend to ask questions of Sharon as she has been helping me along with my learning, but what drew me to the chapel was everyone’s comments, including part 1.

                I understand what you wrote and I appreciate it.

                I hope you are feeling better and life is going better for you. I need to check the prayer request section as I believe that is where you were going to post last I saw you. Will check that now. Take care

              • Spar Harmon says:

                Ditto on Pam’s AA comment. Attached to that discussion, my sponsor cautioned me to remember always that in the Lord’s prayer there is a conditional relationship to the forgiveness clause. In AA a sort of double vision is advocated when you think you have been wronged by another, that you need to thoroughly examine yourself for ‘your part’ in the matter, forgive yourself first before you truly can open to either forgiving or receiving forgiveness.

  82. Pam says:

    My friends, I have need of your prayers today. This morning, I will see the ENT who will hopefully figure out whether I have a middle or inner ear problem. This afternoon I have to go for an MRA. The MRA will consist of 3 parts and they will use the contrast dye or whatever that stuff is. I am very weak and my body is so reactive to medicines and substances that I am pretty nervous about it, since this test will take 1 1/2 hours.

    I am so grateful for your kind responses to my long post the other day. I had a problem with WordPress when I tried to submit the post, and I thought it never showed up here. Then, God gave me a miracle and my husband and I were able to get rooms for a weekend retreat at a nearby abbey (they are usually booked 2-3 months out). Another miracle – the priests who are usually on duty to be of help to those seeking assistance were both called away last weekend. But one of them was able to return early, and I had an hour with him Sunday morning. He is a wise, discerning person. He told me I was not crazy. That was such a huge relief to me. He is seeking help for us. Thank God! And thank you for your prayers.

    • Sharon says:

      Pam, I’m going to repost this comment here in prayer requests. I hope that’s ok? I know we have many folks who will check to see how they might pray for a Treeper when they see new prayer requests.

      • Pam says:

        Oh thank you, Sharon. I am still learning about all the places to go here. I missed the prayer request part.

        • Sharon says:

          No problem, Pam. I’ve been here since the beginning, and still get lost. It’s the pretty candle at the top of the right hand margin….it’s an ongoing thread like the Chapel…it’s not new every day, but open-ended. ((hugz for your day))

    • tessa50 says:

      Pam you have been in my thoughts, I hope you are well.

      • Pam says:

        Thanks so much Tessa. I will post in the prayer request section, because I think that’s where I’m supposed to talk about this stuff (?), but last week was the week from h**l for me. I am actually not too ok, but I think I WILL be ok in a few weeks. Will put details in the prayer place, but I am leaving Thursday for Cleveland Clinic and probably will have vascular surgery for carotid artery stenosis. It’s a long story. Amazing spiritual things have been going on for over a year in my life. Part of the amazing stuff has caused fallout in my physical health. But God is good, and I believe He has it all in control. I, however, do not feel in control at all. Crazy is all around me, except deep down in my spirit.

  83. Spar Harmon says:

    Sharon, I’ve been trying to send the Rainbow sunset picture to Email address TheLastRefuge@reagan.com and the mail daimon says it is not being accepted. What do you suggest?
    The world o/s the internet seems seamlessly blanketed with lies. Keeping faith within is my constant prayer for me and for all ye… the Light within is all that keeps me grounded.

    • Sharon says:

      I don’t know what to suggest on the email, Spar Harmon. Troubleshooting such things not comfy for me…will ask other admins and ask them to comment.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Thanks for your response. I had sent to the given email address and since it wasn’t working, I thought there was some straight forward protocol problem.
        Fundamentally, I would rather simply post it as a comment like you and others do pictures and videos, but I don’t know how you all do that. I never had a reason to master Cut and Paste and I suspect it must have to do will that sort of action… So never mind, I’ll just muddle through…I’m learning to be accepting of my limitations.

        I have been somewhat silent of late because I am re-searching the foundation works of the framers of our Constitution and their antecedents. I am specifically looking for evidence of the Hand of the Creator. It strikes me as odd that so few seem to note the significance of location: Philadelphia. Of course the practice of Quietism by Quakers explains a lot, but it still surprises me that scholars in this area seem to have totally missed the influence of Quakers, so I began researching in Quaker literature and scholarship…I’ll be reporting what I find. Seek and you will find. Ask and you will be answered. Knock and the door will open. The Kingdom is there to be found….So He promised. Love to you all.

  84. tessa50 says:

    If this works this is the song I wanted to leave for everyone, hope you enjoy. Hope all are well.

  85. Spar Harmon says:

    I have tried, on my spiritual journey, to walk a guided path. What little I know of God is built up from contemplating the experiences I have had. Some of the results of such contemplations I have journaled; others came out in AA shares when the atmosphere was full of light and truthspeak had become the norm. During an after meeting intense discussion someone mentioned a book they were really excited about, and several others affirmed that they also had found the book enlightening or that their sponsor had recommended it; it was by Emmet Fox and called THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, first published in 1934, co-incident with the founding by 2 men of what eventually became AA. After the main text, there is a short, intense study of THE LORD’S PRAYER.
    There is nothing in this little study which hasn’t afforded me many hours of contemplative digestion and lasting illumination. It has helped me see more deeply into my own experiences, and has help to steady me on my path, and bolster my faith/trust in God as the only source of sanity and peace. I feel drawn to repeat this study now because there is a deepening sense of gathering disaster, dread, danger and I feel that need to touch bedrock again as a man who loves and trusts his Father. I have reviewed my journals and re-read Fox’s little study and that has been in my thoughts for several days now. Yesterday I entertained the idea of journaling the process here in the Chapel but felt shy, like I would be imposing, etc. and I had several false starts which I deleted… But then I realized the reverse arrogance, for if I am honest and sharing, and if I guard against hubris, didacticism, and stay centered on what I have been given as experiences, someone may get something they really need from it; I may be a vessel for God’s voice to reach someone in need. SO In all humility I offer my experiences as they relate to THE LORD’S PRAYER.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

      THE LORD’S PRAYER

      OUR FATHER…
      So it begins. Jesus invites me to hail, with Him, Our Father; our Parent; our Progenitor. So we are His children. From my very first experience, there has never been any word or words to frame the enormity which answered my agonized plea for help. My onboard computer crashed, ever-present critiquing Observer gone silent, ego stunned, my whole ship wrecked, but not sinking, instead caught in a timeless, silent moment of restfulness and loving, healing renewal and nurturance. Jesus gives me a Word which encompasses what I CAN know of that Enormity which I can never encompass as a mere human consciousness. But having that experience of what is beyond my knowing is the foundation of my humility; sometimes I am able to just Be in that place and just drink it in, breathe it in, every sense flooded, but that is a Grace I am not often humble enough for.
      Our Father is, for me, His most accessible aspect. It links me with Jesus and with every human on the planet as brothers and sisters of our Father’s family.
      Oliver Wendell Holmes said that his religion was summed up in the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer. I am claiming sibling relation to all of humanity, so I pray not just for me, but for all; I used to wrestle with whether I should, when alone, do the prayer in first person singular, but after thinking about it, I realized I could include all with an honest desire that all would benefit as much as I from my prayer and that doing so with that awareness gave ‘heft’ to my efforts. I makes me feel cleaner, somehow. I have a big load of self-centeredness to let go of, folks, and it helps me to give out consciously instead of always, habitually taking.
      Also, if God is our Father then we are in our nature somehow akin to Him. My parents had many failings, but they never ceased to love me, no matter what I did, and I knew that whatever I admired in them was in me too. Kinship. Unconditional love. We also partake in the Divine He Is. Because my initial contact experience came when I had been completely humbled and lost in terror for my life, when ever I feel remote and out of contact, feeling swamped again in consequences, and fearful, I know I must drop every concern and re-establish contact; until I do that, nothing is going to work out…
      So there it is OUR FATHER…

      • Sharon says:

        Because my initial contact experience came when I had been completely humbled and lost in terror for my life, when ever I feel remote and out of contact, feeling swamped again in consequences, and fearful, I know I must drop every concern and re-establish contact; until I do that, nothing is going to work out…

        This means a lot to me today, Spar. Over recent years, I’ve seen some dots connect having to do with the practical value of choosing humility. When I’m afraid, choose humility; when overwhelmed, choose humility.

        Humility not meaning “giving up” or becoming a phony and compliant defeated person–but standing in the light where reality and grace meet, not pretending to strength or insight or wisdom I don’t have.

        I heard this song this morning and thought you might appreciate it as well:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iknx8G6jGs

        • Spar Harmon says:

          PERFECTLY BROKEN… in AA it’s ‘hitting bottom’… where the door stands open, a open hand beckons, a radiance shines all around…feeling gathered to the warm bosom and Love works the wordless healing…Welcome Home, my beloved…
          Your responsive share makes me cry with gratitude for such a clear sister touch. Thank you thank you for meeting me on that ground of humility…Holy ground, indeed!
          A personal rule(when I remember): If I’m walking down the road feeling bad/ Somethin’ ain’t right ‘tween me and God. Time to Stop and feel my way back home…
          Love blessing to you and yours, Spar

  86. Spar Harmon says:

    OUR FATHER,
    WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,…
    My simplest understanding of this is to remember when I was a child playing heedlessly in the protected world my parents provided me, but not comprehending the larger world in which they moved. The divide between what I can know and experience of our Father…life on earth… and the full Reality which is the un-nameable, unknowable Holy One is even greater… infinitely greater…
    That is my sense of Heaven in light of the glimpses so far granted me– the Source of all Being, Power, Light, and Love flowing through The Father to each one– that is the gist I sense. I ask in full surrender that The Father guide me through the day and use me; to the extent I am humbly honest in this request, The Father speaks to me and teaches me using the language of my experiences. Our Father is beyond merely human, and His dwelling place is Heaven. I am humbled that such a being would Love me. Yet my experience is that if I ask I receive…If I hunger, I am fed…If I lack, I am filled.

    • Pam says:

      The thing I have learned through many years of asking God for help is that one of the first and most important choices we make is the choice to surrender. Spar, I believe you are quite in touch with that concept. Surrender goes on and on, year by year, reaching through all our humanity and all our stuff, level by level. I very well remember one crystal clear moment in time, when I asked God to completely take me, my life, everything….and to do with it as He wished. I think I said something like “even if I try to take it all back, don’t let me. Keep going until the very end.” I really think He took me at my word. My lessons in humility came through God’s allowing me to let my ego and pride hang out there and cause me intense embarrassment until I learned. It was painful and slow, for me at least. I was so full of myself. Even when I saw it, I still had more waiting in the shadows. Little by little, it has been changing, by His grace and only by His grace. I have no idea how much is left. I’m certainly not perfect yet. :) But, He says that’s what our goal should be. So now, I know that He takes his time and does it His way. I just try as best I can to stay open and willing.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Sister, you touched point by point the essence of my story since my 3rd step action. That Surrender was my first act of true Humility. Since then there has been an underlying sense of Being sustained, that feeling takes away my killing obsession to drink, that feeling shortens my times of wallowing in character defects, and I know that as long as I practice, do the work I am given, I will continued to be sustained…
        And that Grace, God knows I didn’t deserve it, I sure didn’t think this up, I still don’t know how it works… but nevertheless, I was lost and now I am found…
        Such a sweet sister touch, you and Sharon both, my heart is of gratitude…
        Peace in your realm, Spar

  87. Spar Harmon says:

    OUR FATHER,
    WHICH ART IN HEAVEN,

    HALLOW ED BE THY NAME.
    In modern English this would be Holy be thy Name, or Whole, Complete be thy Name. And we need to include the knowledge that Jesus, as a Jewish Rabbi, would assume they all understood that Father, God, Jehovah, Yahway, Tetragrammaton, whatever, are convenience words, for what it is not possible to encompass in a name: The Un nameable, Unknowable Holy One. So our Father, which art in heaven, the whole, complete, Holy One : the I That Am.
    So I should be clear with myself, and fundamentally humbled that I am addressing the Author of All That Is: the Source of Everything. Often in the bible it talks of ‘fearing’ the Lord. After my first actual experience, this bothered me, but then I remembered a seminar on the English of the King James Version, which is basically Shakespearean English, wherein I learned there was no exact equivalent in English for the word in the text, but the nearest was ‘awe, ‘ but ‘awe’ proved awkward in English syntax so ‘fear’ was chosen. ‘Hallowed’ ( 3 syllables, not 2) just Does it for me, it takes me to that shiver down the spine AWE place.
    So this is The Invocation. This should place me in my inner temple: the heart of who I am. I like to do this prayer aloud in my strong, clear performance voice with a slow cadence so that the mindfulness of the saying replaces all other thoughts. By the time I am done with this 1st sentence, I am usually ready for the Declarations, but if I am very agitated, I will keep repeating the Invocation until I truly feel ready to go on. At times of great need or just because I want to I will chant or sing this prayer over and over; in the end my heart is always eased…

    • Spar Harmon says:

      THY KINGDOM COME
      THY WILL BE DONE
      IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

      By Grace, The Father stepped into my humbled, surrendered heart and gave me the nurturance I needed. Strong medicine which opened my eyes and unstopped my ears. He strengthened me enough to be able in subsequent days to begin a journey as a conduit of His will on earth. There was much housecleaning to do at first. For a long time, every time I walked out my door, I would have encounter after encounter with people who gave me something more than I felt I gave them. But many ups and many downs. I wasn’t always able to keep it up. I had to let God help me deal with the discovery that I was my worst enemy, then that I was my only real enemy, then that I was a strong and wily evil person. Always having to rediscover that I could not fix me or anyone; only God could do that, and that He would if I asked. And gradually there has been a steadying of humanity on this focus… I declare my alignment with Thy Kingdom Come in this, my Present.
      I declare my alignment with Thy Will Be Done In Earth As It Is In Heaven in this, my present. By Grace I am witness to this Truth; I must not fail to declare it in word and deed. Whether I am walking in the Father’s guidance or not His Will Is being done. It is My responsibility to allow Him to use me; it is the only Right use of my will to let it be His Will
      be done through me. I ask protection from my own selfishness, my own arrogance, my own fears, from wallowing in comfortable old behaviors, from everything in me which separates me from His use.
      And that is what these declarations mean to me. Jesus does not define God for me. He says seek, find, ask, hear the answers, go forth, do. Love the God you find, share the Love freely with others, and don’t forget to Love your self; for me to do other wise is to insult He who gave me Life.
      When I am strongly attuned, making these declarations sends a thrill of powerful energy through me, always at least a little bit, because thereby I am and we are grounding The power on earth, establishing the Kingdom, releasing the Will… heady, heartful stuff.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        From AA’s TWELVE AND TWELVE, Step 7 discussion– “So it is that we first see humility as a necessity. To get completely away from our aversion to the idea of being humble, to gain a vision of humility as the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit, to be willing to work for humility as something to be desired for itself, takes most of us a long, long time. A whole lifetime geared to self-centeredness cannot be set in reverse at once. Rebellion dogs our every step at first.”
        From AA’s BIG BOOK, 7th Step Prayer before action— “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Give me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”
        If it is MY will to be a conduit of GOD’s WILL, I have to prepare myself by becoming humbled and acknowledging the Supreme Power , as I have been graced to know it, as the Strength of my life. Then I gird my self for action by calling on that guidance and strength to use me as an instrument of “Thy will be done” as I walk the earth.
        And reminding myself that this is a WE prayer, This is that declaration of alignment with God’s Purposes, that we understand that is our task to allow ourselves to used to ground God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. This sentence is a statement of our job as God’s servant and ambassador.
        Well, that is how it is for me, at least. Blessings.

        • Sharon says:

          Humility is choosing what is so, isn’t it…. when I do that, I find that time slows down. I see more clearly and think more clearly. Accountability and action come more easily. And there is that within in that doesn’t like humility one bit…”rebellion dogs our every step at first….” (and sometimes later)….

          I appreciate the counsel of Peter when he says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.…” This is not just a generic humbling/denigrating of oneself, having to do with self-destruction or lousy self-image. It is a humbling…under the mighty hand of God.

          And the line in the chorus, “….You alone are my strength and shield; to You alone may my spirit yield….”

          • Spar Harmon says:

            Sharon, I have to confess that it has been a terrible struggle in me to separate my humiliation over being me, see it for the self-hating it is….then to see the good that has come, in experience after experience, when I am humbled by being a mere human yet so lovingly supported and nourished by this Power beyond Naming. My ability to be humble is my freedom. It is truly the freedom of a child. And so I see how it is that the meek inherit the earth. It is the gift of our Father.
            And what I was trying to say above about the importance of the 2nd sentence of The Prayer:
            This is our purpose. To bring the kingdom of the God who sustains us, by allowing His will to express through us, To Earth as it is in Heaven. Only through our willingness to be humble do we open that channel.
            It may be this is what God most intends me to witness to. Certainly I know my life depends on this Truth. Certainly there is some virtue in keeping things simple. It is a common saying in AA is that the 12 Steps are a simple answer for complicated people.
            And your willingness to engage me the way you do, and your MBOB thread, and so many of the ways I see you walk your walk, and your humor–you inspire in me a loving admiration. I rejoice in every encounter because You are Really There. Blessings, Spar

            • Sharon says:

              Your comments on the Lord’s Prayer give so much for reflection. I’ve got my eye glued to one particular knot-hole as I look through the fence at a beautiful and inviting scene.

              It’s the the knot-hole of “Your will be done on earth,….” and the conscious choice to respond to that.

              It reminds of one two letter word in Ephesians 1:12 “….that we might be for the praise of His glory…” Just — be.

              More evidence that God’s work among His people through who-knows-how-many-different templates over the centuries (and here at CTH) always has at its core a simplicity that is unwavering, that reflects who He is and what He is doing. He’s not baffled by the variety of parachutes we come swooping in on if the heart is set on Him —

              Like Pam expressed somewhere else in this thread, and as you’ve expressed, there is something very appealing about the Quaker intention of worshipping in silence and in that silence, speaking to one another. I’m comfortable doing that, but seldom find others who are. I understand why the practice is not common in many faith groups, so that’s not intended as criticism–just saying what’s so.

              Spar, even though you are continuing your same theme and thoughts on the Lord’s prayer (and maybe you were going to do this anyway…) suggest that you go to the bottom of the thread and start a new (wide) comment with each entry. Unless we happen to notice a new post here in the Chapel, it drops off the list on the front page pretty quickly, and it’s not always easy to find most recent postings. Thank you again for using words to break loneliness.

              • Spar Harmon says:

                “He’s not baffled by the variety of parachutes we come swooping in on…”
                What a delightful image of a true thing! I immediately free-associated this with the sense I have of how CTH has become a fellowship of like souls, and you reference that as well. I well remember when I started an AA meeting here in the Village and in 6 months no one came, how my 2 supportive AA friends attended every Tuesday with me and we had a full meeting just we three, and their patience as they waited for Me to recognize the message God was giving me: not My will but Thine be done…
                Later, I volunteered to moderate a study group meeting and was astonished to find that every week more people were coming. My sponsor showed up after about 6 weeks and took me aside after the meeting. He said I had a rare gift of inspiring a quality of sharing which lifted the whole room…stay humble and keep going, he said. It is the over all quality of sharing here that inspires me, en-courages me, and opens me to hope…. A blessing you all are…

        • Spar Harmon says:

          SEE DOWN THREAD FOR CONTINUATION OF THIS STUDY…SPAR

    • Sharon says:

      I need all these words. The words themselves and the meanings are not new, but my need is.

      I have to set out these lines:

      Jesus, as a Jewish Rabbi, would assume they all understood that Father, God, Jehovah, Yahway, Tetragrammaton, whatever, are convenience words, for what it is not possible to encompass in a name: The Un nameable, Unknowable Holy One. So our Father, which art in heaven, the whole, complete, Holy One : the I That Am

      The fellowship of using words to say what is so breaks the loneliness. Thank you, Spar Harmon.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        …Ahh, yes! …and I bet you know the fearfulness of putting my poor heart stuff out there, the struggle to stand only on what I have been given to understand, the raw unvarnished experience of My encounters with Him… sure I could actually quote loads of scripture and commentary, I mean I am capable of that, but none of it ever convinced me. God came in answer to my need and convinced me. The Quakers say that they are Friends by convincement, by which they mean by virtue of just such an experience as mine, and further more all their readings in scripture are judged against such a core experience… not the other way around. That given the Grace of such an experience is the Key which unlocks the Truth in scripture. Even Jesus says seek FIRST the Kingdom; once found everything else comes. I discovered the Truth of that teaching After the Experience.
        But, Sharon, isn’t this prayer a marvel? A miracle in itself which we can take into ourselves and learn and learn and learn… You literally make me tear up with the joy of your sharing, it breaks My loneliness…Bless you, bless you, sister on the journey….Love, Spar

        • Sharon says:

          …I bet you know the fearfulness of putting my poor heart stuff out there, the struggle to stand only on what I have been given to understand, the raw unvarnished experience of My encounters with Him

          Yes, I do. That’s why I mentioned the loneliness.

          all their readings in scripture are judged against such a core experience…

          I appreciate more than I will say that you shared this particular insight into Quaker thought and walk, right now. Looking at the MBOBs of my own spirit, Scripture was the tool by which He taught me, and my experience was brought into the place of grace as I learned Truth. Where it had lived for twenty years was not a place of grace. It was dark* and cold and increasingly deadly. I smile and have a bit of a dusty keyboard as I tell you this — the day before yesterday as I was praying about many things, I was specifically reminded of Matthew 6:36, and said to Him, “It’s never changed, has it? You still say to me, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…..’ That’s still where You asl us to stand, isn’t it?”

          Glossary is less important than that of which it speaks. I appreciate your sharing about Quaker perspective and it makes me think. I had been grounded in the Scriptures from a youth, but until my heart was convinced, I couldn’t walk in peace. I still don’t, all the time, but when I don’t—well, you covered that in your comments a day or so ago.

          Your persistence in sharing and your way of sharing is giving me much. Thank you, Spar Harmon.

          *if those twenty years had a title it would be Living on the Dark Side of the Moon

          • Spar Harmon says:

            ….For a time after my I was opened to the Light within, I had a hunger to find record of the experience in others: my sponsor in AA helped direct me by sharing his experience and how his sponsor had guided him. I began a practice of opening myself to contact, to surrender afresh, affirming a willingness to be used, asking for help in my growth, ….every morning… every evening. I went to meetings every evening and immersed myself in the shares of others, and disciplined myself to truthspeak. (…and to not ramble. My worst failing. ‘get to the core, Spar, get to the core. there’s a roomful of people filled with an urgency to speak. get over yourself. widen your awareness of others. etc etc) The 11th Step of the Twelve is the cornerstone of my daily practice:
            “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
            But still I looked wider and wider afield. I found certain of Jesus’ teaching coming out of my mouth in shares and intruding in my thoughts in meditation…You know what they are, my discourse goes over and over them, but especially The Lord’s Prayer which we say in a hand-linked circle at the end of meetings…and Oh the Power! When I rediscovered the Quakers, I felt like I had found Home: a people who had since 1647 evolved a practical way of living in fidelity to the central experience of their lives, quietly and without pretense. The first Quaker was George Fox, a man of humble beginnings but steeped in Scripture, the only book he knew. In 1643, at the age of 19, he abruptly left his shoemaker trade and began to wander throughout Northern England and as far south as London speaking with priests and ministers about the condition of misery and emptiness he felt. Stifled in the Letter, bereft of Spirit. He would be answered with scripture or pontifications to which he would famously ask: “Yes, but what sayest Thou???” Then he went amongst the dissenters, of whom were many in that time. Some seemed to have at least a hint of what he was seeking, but still failed to answer his question. Basically he was asking ‘by virtue of what experience do you speak?’ Then in 1647 he had his first opening. He had a primal encounter with Jesus Christ, who Could speak to his condition. The history from there to the present is a fascinating journey of the tension between Primal personal experience, grouping with like folks, resisting rigidification into Doctrine, Hierarchy, and external moral codes. There is a traditional Quaker meetinghouse in Knoxville, but I can’t reach it, so I content myself with email fellowship for now. Actually it is a comfort to just know they are there .
            Thanks for the opportunity to share all this. Like you most Quakers come already well equipped with a Christian upbringing and comfort with one tradition or another, yet still feel the need for a more primal, fundamental foundation and who break with their tradition in order to find it. But I now have met many of all faiths who have found It within their faith, and who witness accordingly. And amongst Buddhists, Zen, Shinto, Hindu, and Hebrews– God is every where possible to the Seekers of the planet, I am convinced.
            I am thankful at the blessing which the Tree House people are to me. The fellowship of like minds, the debates, so much to be learned from others, the encouragement and confidence – building of sharing my own thoughts, my cup overfloweth…and all over the floor too sometimes… Love Blessings to you and yours, Sharon

            • Sharon says:

              And amongst Buddhists, Zen, Shinto, Hindu, and Hebrews– God is every where possible to the Seekers of the planet, I am convinced.

              Don Richardson’s book Eternity in Their Hearts bears witness to this statement. Published 35 years ago or so, he was compelled to explore the phenomena you mention, which he first stumbled over in his work as a missionary in Papua New Guinea (that amazing first example was written about in Peace Child a couple of years before the title already mentioned).

              Thank you for the primer on Quakers’ heritage. I’m familiar (surface) with George Fox, now will pursue and be on the lookout.

              It means a great deal to me these days that those whose traditions and faith practices I don’t understand are willing to talk about them. My tendency is start to answer George Fox’s question (on the part of friends and acquaintances) before they’ve had a chance to ask it, or when it is asked, to answer with far too much certainty when some humility and inner confidence in my own story would be wiser. You are a gift to the Tree House, make no mistake about it.

              Perhaps I can touch on a Quaker-ish thought process when I say that I can testify to THIS – from experience – and Scripture affirms it: that Jesus Christ builds His church. We don’t. No matter what our heritage. I HAVE observed that over my life…that He’s quietly working, working, working through those who are willing to hear and think … and sink. No matter what their own heritage or wrapping.

              • Spar Harmon says:

                Setting aside my struggle to get Adobe Flash to work…
                There is a Quaker College…not a seminary– which you can google, and where you can find archives of documents from Quaker history– most especially the work of Liard Robert Barclay, a peer of George Fox, and the first to attempt a Tractatus of what the Society of Friends was about; Fox, Penn, and all the other founders praised and endorsed his effort which he had submitted to them in a London Meeting prior to publishing. And it stood for almost 100 years as the standard statement of the Society’s Beliefs as a group.
                More accessible is a work by Geoffrey Hubbard, an agnostic humanist until he was convinced in the 60′s. He felt there was a need for a book for people who were interested in Quakers in a serious-minded way. QUAKER BY CONVINCEMENT ; Part I- Brief History; Part II- Fundamental Beliefs; Parts III and IV more derivative stuff. I’m pretty sure Hubbard is dead by now, but the Quaker Home Service may still be publishing this excellent work; QHS is in London. I found Part II a wonderfully exciting read. I found my 1985 copy in a local used-new book store; I bet you could Google up a copy.
                And yes, yes to that last paragraph. Amongst other ‘heresies’, the Scotch Presbyterians, whipped, beat, imprisoned and hanged many Quakers for holding Them in error that they believed Jesus could not awaken in the hearts of the heathen; that any not reached by the delivery of the Gospel were damned. You cannot limit by your word what God can do was their straight from experience testimony. George Fox was arrested in England for his testimony; at the arraignment he was questioned and his answers were his confession for which he was beaten and imprisoned for 3 years for blasphemy. At head of his blasphemies were these;
                Do you say the you have seen Jesus Christ? Yes.
                Do you say that you have seen the Face of God? Yes.
                Well, well…I love sharing this stuff; I have lived alone with it so long… My face to face ministry is directly guided and I do as I am directed, sometimes startling myself. One time in particular still moves me to remember, and I thank God that he sometimes does not give me time to think or self-doubt:
                I had gotten on the bus to downtown from The Village and a neighbor who I knew was already on the bus and by the time I slid into the seat behind her I knew she was crying, and she was all hunched over, shoulders shaking, clutching her misery in… and I reached out with both hands gently resting on her shoulders, bowed my head and prayed in a low, clear voice– May the Lord Bless you and keep you, May the Lord make His Face to shine upon you and give you Peace; both now and forever more. Aa men.– gave her a light squeeze and sat back. She straightened, turned and looked back at me, tears streaming, but face bright and mouthed a Thank You; and turned back, shoulders still and we rode silently and companionably on… I was stunned. This was a miracle straight from God to her through me! And as a corollary of being so used, I went through the rest of the day like a child lost in awe-struck wonder…
                Bless you and all your house—- Spar

                • Sharon says:

                  http://www.georgefox.edu/about/history/index.html

                  Our granddaughter has visited George Fox University in Tigard (Portland west…) and is considering attending there. Until you began discussing the heritage of the Quakers, the dot-connection wasn’t on the surface. Thank you for the additional comment…haven’t read yet. Wanted to share this link.

                  • Spar Harmon says:

                    Sharon, here is the link to the Quaker digital collection:

                    http://dqc.esr.earlham.edu:8080//xmlmm/login.html

                  • Sharon says:

                    Thank you for that link. I will read and learn with interest. I did find Fox’s journal (with commentary) and have been reading some of that this evening. Blessings to you, Spar Harmon

                    ADD: I want to acknowledge also that if I were trying to become a Quaker, several issues would be problematic. I won’t feel compelled to address such, but just appreciate what I learn, some of which I now realize are already part of my thinking even though my heritage is not Quaker. Thanks again. :)

                  • carterzest says:

                    I did not realize that George Fox had sattellite campuses now. I grew up in Newberg and as a result, had many Quaker friends. At one point, NewbergOregon was in the Guiness Book of World Records as having the most churches per capita of any city in the world. Definitely a great exposure for a young lad to have

                • Menagerie says:

                  Spar, thank you for sharing that story. It is so awesome to start my day off with something like that.

                  • Spar Harmon says:

                    I know, it was pretty amazing to be a party to it. Are you aware of the project I’m attempting of sharing my understanding of the Lord’s Prayer? I am through the 1st 2 sentences above and will be continuing below. Sharon and Pam have shared and Carterzest…feedback along the way helps keep me honest and my energy dedicated to a Higher Purpose than my own…Blessings

  88. Sharon says:

    We recently got acquainted with this song. It’s our new theme:

    from the chorus –

    There is a God, He is alive,
    In Him we live, and we survive….

    • Spar Harmon says:

      For the past 24 hours I have not been able to get any videos to play. The video window demands that I install Adobe Flash, which I have and which is enabled. Links to video or print content work fine. So could you send me the link to that video? Appreciate…

    • Spar Harmon says:

      I don’t feel at all guided to become a Quaker in any formal sense. I would love to experience their group worship though, because I know from AA what I experience when 2 or more God centering people are together in that practice at the same time; The Holy Spirit comes and with it a clarity hard to get to alone.
      We are each individualized centers of consciousness; how God will use me I cannot predict; it works best for me to avoid any but the most obvious planning, get in contact every morning, then walk my walk in surrender to His will. But I still mess up a lot, so practice, practice… God bless, Sharon

      • Sharon says:

        I understand. Over a lifetime, I have had a handful of friends with whom such fellowship was intentional. There is clarity that brings peace when God orders our thoughts. It takes time to think such thoughts individually, and more time to think such thoughts together.

      • Pam says:

        I have always thought the Quakers were very interesting and wondered how, over the long term, the fellowship worked out. The Methodists actually started because of “supernatural” Holy Spirit manifestations which no one could figure out at the time. Today, they are so far away from their beginnings.
        I began as a Protestant (Methodist, actually), and went down many paths in my search, including some of the New Age stuff, different denominations, dipping into occult (not a good idea). After my own experience of the Holy Spirit in 1994, I was in a church with many people who had started with the Charismatic Movement. I couldn’t swallow the Word/Faith stuff though.
        I finally found my home in the Catholic Church. The contemplative tradition and the history and experiences of some of the saints guided me to my resting place. Sitting silently in the Presence of God goes way, way back. It can go beyond the ability of words to express.

  89. tessa50 says:

    Am enjoying reading as opposed to commenting. Good to see all here

  90. Spar Harmon says:

    SURRENDER IS THE ACTION KEY WHICH OPENS THE DOOR TO PARADISE ON EARTH IN ME.

    THE LORD’S PRAYER…3RD SENTENCE

    GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.

    My Father has been feeding me, my whole life, but I didn’t know that. Because of my own failures running my life, I have experienced LACK; it was delusional to the point of actual insanity, but I can only see that now. I thank God that I became an alcoholic. Without the total collapse, even unto death’s door, that alcoholism took me to, my life might have wound down to nothing…I would have starved to death in the midst of plenty, simply because I would never have Thought of just surrendering my will!

    I know me. I know my stubborn willfulness. I know my slothfulness, my sneakiness, my evil.

    Everyday I must ask my Father to meet my true needs. Not because otherwise supply would be withheld, it wouldn’t. But because I need every day to acknowledge The Source as such, because I very easily forget, and when I forget I don’t appreciate the gifts, even down to each breath, I am given; when I forget I cease experiencing the joy of being alive in Paradise.

    I was born into privilege and entitlement; I was born with many gifts, talents; I spoke in complete sentences and an extensive vocabulary when finally I spoke at just shy of 2. By my 4th year I was vacuuming in books, I was in love with print: cereal boxes, labels, instruction pamphlets, signs. The whole world was a wonder of fabulous details and patterns of unfolding and shapes morphing and exploding and imploding and the synthesizing of patterns into ever larger and more encompassing Forms and Movements…no end to this.

    But I was also shy, lonely, fearful of others, so to protect myself I created a secret cave in my head furnished lavishly by my senses with limitless dimensions. The world of others was full of Limitation; my ego’s arrogance is to reject limitation. This is the world of an autistic child born into a family culture of high-functioning autistic adults, but lacking any consciousness of this reality.

    My choices in response to my environment were made in fear. Defiance and arrogance were all rooted in fear. My mask of presentation to the world was armor against the world, which became my identity and which I could not crack open or remove, and to which I became habituated. The inner world became infected over time, ingrown and ultimately malign, and self-murderous. When finally I popped the cap off alcohol I was fearless and in a bliss of apathetic self-indulgence…Of course I am wallowing a bit here on the negative. In fact, God simply would not give up on me and Jimmy the good boy loved by many and amazingly gifted and attractive/charismatic was what most people saw. Nobody could understand my breakdowns into sothood, least of all me.

    The mundane, everyday aspects of life, routines, TV reality, all that kind of pressure…Habitual response: retreat into hiding in my inner place where I could maintain the delusion of being OK.

    At Self-reliance I was a failure, at providing for others I was a failure, I was a failure and saw no way to be anything else.

    September 15th, 2009, I finally surrendered, admitted my powerlessness, and reached out for help toward I knew not what….And It came and filled my cup and bade me drink freely, and filled my bowl and bade me eat freely, and it has generously fed me ever since with all that I need. My soul was released and I experienced Liberty for the first time. But it only in The Father’s world that I am a free man. So it is my Work to keep that awareness alive in myself; that is My responsibility: to keep exercising my will in doing what I am guided to do and grooming my awareness of The Father daily.
    Gratitude is an attitude I have learned to foster in myself to fight sinking into the mundane. It is only me and my habits of thought which are of any Real threat to me.

    Give us this day Our daily bread. Here we acknowledge our supply is in The Father’s Reality. It follows that we must keep ourselves In That Reality to receive it. That is the one thing our Father will not do for us. I think my experiences have proved that over and over: If I perceive lack, there is something I am or am not doing which prevents supply.

    Oh Joy to be alive in God’s world! Joy to be able to make this affirmation! What a blessed assurance to know this!

    • Pam says:

      This one is really, REALLY good, Spar. I so identify. Until I picked up that drink I was the “good” girl, the A student, but inside — desolate, lost. The world and people around me seemed so shallow and senseless. Inside, I fostered an arrogance that put me above everyone. Outside, I was sweet and nice. I was my own higher power, and I did a miserable, rotten job of it.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        I bet I did a more miserable, rotten job of it than you! I am the all time champion of BAD… Let’s see, what other silly comparative statements can I make? A favorite AA joke, yes? before saying Hey, lighten up, man, Easy does it! It takes what it take to get you here. One day a time, Stay Surrendered.
        I treasure your response. Spar

    • Sharon says:

      I would never have Thought of just surrendering my will!

      Someone else has said about our mistaken notions regarding the will,

      So often we say we need a stronger will, when what we need is an immediate will.

      The weakest bit of “I will” is an astounding thing if it is immediate. Think of a baby screaming for food or a diaper change. When I get caught in “feeling unable to assert my will” in these things, it is often just because I don’t have an immediate will. If I did, I wouldn’t have gotten caught in the frustration because God freely gives.

      In Proverbs yesterday, and this in 4:23, “Guard your heart…for out of it are the issues of life.” The truth is powerful and simple. And it can be diluted by either arrogance or fear.

      it (is) only in The Father’s world that I am a free man. So it is my Work to keep that awareness alive in myself;

      Me, too, Spar. Me, too. Attention and participation is part of being free. Mark 4:19 mentions the fact that the cares of this world choke the word and it becomes unfruitful. We do need to participate—the Grace and the Glory are His but as you described, we can starve to death in the middle of His provision if we don’t choose to ask.

      A refusal to choose is powerful even if it is wrapped in dullness and avoidance. And all of this is why I really, really hate deception on a personal level, certainly coming from others—but far more dangerous when coming from within myself.

      This link is to a post in my MBOB blog. http://mailboxesandoldbarns.com/2013/04/17/its-not-a-play-on-words-there-really-is-strength-in-weakness/ This post describes what I learned (clearly for the first time thirty years ago) how the appearance of strength can be deception, and how real strength may be wrapped in seeming weakness)

      Thank you for words that break the loneliness. I am probably going to keep saying that…and sometimes will be thinking it when I don’t say it. (It’s easy to become a caricature, and I don’t want to do that, but there’s no point in spending all of our time avoiding being a caricature either)

      These truths have been my conscious pursuit for many years, but do you understand why hearing them again, sharing in them with others again and always, is still and always a drink of cold water to my heart?

      • Pam says:

        The AA founders were such wise men. 3rd step “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.” It was years later that I thought “Oh! What is the biggest thing God gave us? Free will. So we give it back to Him”. So simple.

        • Sharon says:

          Yes they were–and wise enough to dig in to what was already true. Good good stuff, Pam, and I’m enjoying this conversation along with you so much.

          I was just thinking about leaving a note here for you along those lines….I read your comment yesterday giving a bit of your spiritual bio. Isn’t it interesting the meanderings we take but, to the extent that we yearn for the truth, we’re all headed right for the center of the wheel, wandering along the little spoke of life that we discover ourselves to be on.

          Here’s I Cor 1:30 — about Jesus, the Christ, He became for us “wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—” Yes. That!

          • Pam says:

            He is like a magnet…a Force forever pulling whatever tiny part of us that can respond, closer and closer until we can “see Him face to Face”

      • Spar Harmon says:

        There is so much good stuff here, Sharon, except I’m having trouble understanding what you mean by “immediate will.” My personal sense of will may be exercised with attention and foresight or may be spontaneously exercised prompted by anger or fear, say. But if it is only My will, I have no protection from consequences intended or unintended; I have no protection from doing harm to others; I have no protection at all. So I put much work on keeping my will surrendered and asking for the Father to move , as He wills, in my life. I am by no means perfect at this, but the next section of The Prayer addresses this.
        I loved your poem and intend on transcribing it for my wall. It very much resonated with my own experiences. Sharing what we experience as human is SO much more powerful than theories, or ideas about– Life.
        Not choosing is a choice. Not acting, an act. Yes, there is no Exit.
        In weakness is our strength. In humility, our power. In surrender our access to ALL.
        Thanks for the nice cold glass of water from your Spring, it relieves the loneliness of my heart.

        • Sharon says:

          The phrase “immediate will” is something from another’s thoughts. When I first read it, (and how I understand it) is the idea that very often when individuals are fussing about “lack of will power” in dealing with things in their lives that need to be dealt with is that it is not a lack of will power, but not making the choices. Not yet ready to surrender their will at all. They make “measuring the power of their will” and lay the blame for lack of choices on the idea that “it’s not strong enough.” The writer was pointing out that was not the problem.

          Does that make sense? My application of it might be clumsy. It’s not significant for our discussion—it just came to mind because it was helpful to me at the time I first read it. Thank you.

          • tessa50 says:

            If I understand you correctly, you are speaking to us needing to not think it is our willpower or lack thereof but rather turning our will over to God? Did I understand that right? Have only gone this far along in the reading, so nice to see all here.

            • Sharon says:

              Actually, I mean something a little different:

              When we fuss about our “lack of will power” very often the problem is that we are not actually will-ing whatever it is we say we want to do.

              So even as we may claim we lack willpower, we aren’t using our wills in an active, engaged way. Doesn’t matter how powerful the engine in the car is if the transmission does not allow for the gears to engage.

              “Turning our will over to God” can become a wiping out of how we were created. We are created in His image, which certainly includes “having a will to do” this or that.

              I’m actually saying that we need to not cop out by acting as though our will is not useful or strong. It is! And it can be used, as Spar as discussed, to choose that we want the will of God to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

              Our wills are not somehow “inherently bad” and therefore should be subdued and put down. What we use them for the issue. Yes, we surrender our will–but in doing that, we are still will-ing that action. I think there’s a distinction there, and I probably need to be careful how I try to describe it.

              There’s something called gnosticism that is a nasty distortion on the business of how God created us—it suggests that everything that is human in us is inherently flawed and of no value, so we don’t want to go to a place where anything that is “of us” (our wills) is something to be suppressed and considered of no use.

              Don’t know if that is helpful or not…again, not a matter of “turning our will over to God” but a matter of making use of our will in response to God. Parts and pieces….once again, tessa, your questions,are really seriously excellent ;)

              • tessa50 says:

                Okay, I understand what you are saying. I totally misunderstood the conversation. I thought you guys were talking about prayer and how to do it so to speak. What I mean by that is this. I struggle with prayer as I know just what I want to ask God for, and I do ask Him, but then I think to myself, should I ask for that, or say to God, your will be done. Is so easy to ask for what I want and think I need, but I am learning, thus far anyway, I pray and ask God for the help I think I need, then I find myself pausing and simply saying to God, Lord you know my heart and mind and all in it and what I am asking. Still, your will be done. Hope that makes sense.

                • Spar Harmon says:

                  Tessa50, I can see you may not have read what it is I am attempting with this series of contemplation/sharing/experiences centered on Jesus’ answer to the question how do You pray? The answer is unutterably profound, yet clear and simple. I personally find there is no end to plumbing the depths of it’s meanings. So I am again studying it in depth and thought ( Since it is OUR FATHER after all) to share my efforts with others. Since no one is objecting, I continue.
                  I think this is a model for what prayer is: an attunement of my poor human self with the Holy One who created me. Jesus said if I sought the kingdom of God, I would find it within me, and all else I needed would come; and so it has been for me. But a daily practice of prayer and contemplation has proven necessary to make my life an expression of God’s will on earth. This Prayer can be more than sufficient, in my truly humble practice.
                  Tessa, if you scroll far enough upthread you will find the 1st page. OUR FATHER in caps might help you spot it.

                  • tessa50 says:

                    I did read your words Spar, just sometimes I don’t understand stuff so I ask. What I think is that you are way ahead of me, because I just break it down to it’s simplest form. Mainly because I don’t think God wants it to be hard for me. I really do think though that I misunderstood this whole conversation, sorry.

                  • Sharon says:

                    tessa50, I’m putting a comment below for wider margins….

        • Spar Harmon says:

          Oh, and Pam, thank you so much for sharing who you are. I can recognize you in me. It is a beautifull thing to not be so lonely…. Blessings to all

          • Sharon says:

            Spar, I should have said I will add a more thoughtful response later…this immediate one was/is “on the run.” Will revisit a bit later.

  91. Spar Harmon says:

    Yes, well I see where that idea is coming from, Sharon, and I have certainly had thoughts along that line. I have wrestled with the problem of Right Action for most of my adult life, which is to say Right Use of Will. What I never noticed was willy-nilly…–that we cannot help but express our will, OR what I express IS my will. I cannot be absolved of responsibility for the contents of my life, willy-nilly. As far as I can tell, this is one of the rock-bottom facts of the human condition. No exit.
    I was lucky, I had my first undeniable experience of God by simultaneously surrendering and reaching out for help. I have heard the sharings of others who were humble enough to reach out for help, but who did not yet surrender their will. Some spend years before they can let loose of self-will; A horror I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
    Maybe it is just one of my particular life problems, but the problem of Right Will/Action is flat out HARD for me. Sometimes I feel like when I was a kid– I loved long-chain swings and would spend hours at it, but when Mom would call me in, I couldn’t just stop and come in; I had to stand, put my fists together and Peel my fingers off the chains, and it Hurt! Don’t you have stuff like that? Stuff you clutch so hard to hang on to, it hurts to let go…Your poem reminded me.
    Letting God move me costs me constant practice. It does not come easy. I fail a lot. But the reward of surrender is great…!!!

    • Sharon says:

      THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY WORDS HERE, SPAR. I’M NOT USED TO TRYING TO EXPRESS THESE THOUGHTS. SIFT AND IGNORE ANY OR ALL. ;)

      Your further comment here pretty covers what I got out of that phrase when I first read it. One way I have noticed it in myself is when I am struggling and check out the core of what I am struggling over. Nine times out of ten, it is an item that I actually could have gone ahead and done. That’s why it was important to me to come to grips (many years ago) with the fact that a refusal to make a choice was still a choice, and I had to admit that. Then I also had to admit that (nine times out of ten) it was not that I could not do the thing I was struggling it. It was simply that, apparently, I really had not yet decided to.

      Real willingness is practical, that’s all. If I say I want to “pray more” — well, what’s stopping me? Absolutely nothing. Nothing except that I apparently actually don’t want to, because if I did, I could.

      If I say I should give more time to loving my neighbors — well, what’s stopping me? Absolutely nothing. Except that, apparently, if I’m not doing it, it illustrates that I haven’t yet decided to.

      It’s not truthful to claim I want to do something that is actually within my hands to do and yet not do it–and then still want to be seen as wanting to do it. Now, if I am willing to admit, “Whoops. I see that I really don’t want to do that. I thought I did.” OK. That’s fine. But the bent thinking has to be dealt with. And the willingness to deal with bent thinking will be met by great Grace.

      On a couple of occasions when family members have whined about not being able to lose weight, we have had really good conversations following a simple (appropriately stated) observation, “Well. Your problem is that you haven’t decided to lose weight yet. Because losing weight is simple. Take in fewer calories than you burn. And the reason I know that is because I live it.”

      They get a shocked look on their face as they realize I’m not trying to be unkind, they start thinking, and after twenty seconds or so, the “Oh, good grief – ah ha!” things shows up on their face. Most of us actually do know our own metabolism well enough that we “know how to lose weight.” Knowing how to do it is seldom the problem. They readily acknowledge that their daily choices run absolutely contrary to what they say they want to do! And I never will use that to be unkind to them…good grief. I’ve lived the difficult of self-deception, and it nearly cost me my life. But it’s fun to be able to unpack the principle in every day life…and then even more fun sometimes to take the principle learned and watch how it works in other areas. All I’ll say is, as you have shared, there is flat POWER in humility that comes with straight thinking, and it requires effort to practice such straight thinking. I feel a little exposed talking about these things here, because I’m sure that a person wouldn’t have to hunt too hard to find faults in my comments that could be used against me, when I get disgusted or short with folks.

      These things are why I don’t believe I ever say things along this line, “I’m really better than that!” after some kind of crash and burn. Because my thoughts instruct me immediately (if such a faux-thought were to cross my mind) — “Well, no. Obviously you’re not better than that. Because if you were, you wouldn’t have done that or said that.”

      It has been most difficult for me to keep my head above water with regard to these things in the last four years since I consciously began to try to practice expressing myself on public issues. I was accustomed to staying silent and just thinking thoughts, and trying to keep surviving as an individual. Trying to survive as an individual while also learning how to participate in the public chaos of ideas as bad things are happening is more than I can handle on some days. The fact that I keep on trying is a deliberate choice. Made repeatedly. Thank you.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Checking out the core of what I’m struggling over–real willingness is practical–But the bent thinking has to be dealt with. And the willingness to deal with bent thinking will be met by great Grace.—Self-deception, denial, honesty?—-life threatening, suicidal—the flat Power in humility that comes with straight thinking. requires effort to practice straight thinking—-sharing self…feeling exposed—”trying”—public chaos of ideas vis a vis “trying” to survive as an individual—a deliberate choice, made repeatedly—–

        Oh praise, Sharon, with breakneck typing and typo’s strewn like raisins in the dust: that is just Raw You! The passionately living fierce you! I love it. Now I know I have to get to the next sentence in The Prayer. Above are check points, more like high impact points from what you shared. The phrase–
        …the furnace of the brain… floated up so I have to share this from Blake’s SONGS OF EXPERIENCE–
        TYGER TYGER, BURNING BRIGHT,/IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT,/WHAT IMMORTAL HAND OR EYE,/COULD FRAME THY FEARFUL SYMMETRY?////IN WHAT DISTANT DEEPS OR SKIES,/BURNT THE FIRE OF THINE EYES?/ON WHAT WINGS DARE HE ASPIRE?/WHAT THE HAND, DARE SIEZE THE FIRE?////AND WHAT SHOULDER, & WHAT ART,/COULD TWIST THE SINEWS OF THY HEART?/AND WHEN THY HEART BEGAN TO BEAT,/ WHAT DREAD HAND? AND WHAT DREAD FEET?//// WHAT THE HAMMER? WHAT THE CHAIN,/ IN WHAT FURNACE WAS THY BRAIN?/ WHAT THE ANVIL? WHAT DREAD GRASP,/ DARE ITS DEADLY TERRORS CLASP?//// WHEN THE STARS THREW DOWN THEIR SPEARS/ AND WATER’D HEAVEN WITH THEIR TEARS:/ DID HE SMILE HIS WORK TO SEE?/ DID HE WHO MADE THE LAMB MAKE THEE?////TYGER TYGER BURNING BRIGHT,/ IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT:/ WHAT IMMORTAL HAND OR EYE,/ DARE.FRAME.THY.FEARFUL.SYMMETRY?
        There is a certain fierce beauty to daring live a conscious life, and I see that beauty twinkling in the branches here. When my Mom called me in from the big swing, after peeling my fingers loose, I would trudge into the utility room, wash with the bar of L>A>V>A soap hands, face, ears and dry, go in and sit down amongst my siblings, bow for Grace, and I would eat my fill at my Parents Table and be Satisfied.
        Now my keyboard is dusty…
        So the Tyger is Symmetric to the Lamb– a rich, evocative mystery.
        And Hi Tessa, your ears are welcome. Love and blessings to all…Spar Harmony

        • Sharon says:

          I have read this poem several times now and know I’m only getting the surface of it, and your comment following. You are an artisan of language beyond my reach at times, which is not to say that the effort made to reach anyway is not worth it. Obviously, it is. Thank you.

          • Spar Harmon says:

            Well, it was your share which knocked me up into that aerial display. My best poems have always come from that space…so you served as Muse and I was triggered into ecstatic flight…
            The energy of your writing triggered my response. One of these days you’re going to knock a full blown poem out of me I bet, Sharon….

  92. Spar Harmon says:

    Somebody once, to illustrate a point, said “Try to pick that pencil up off the table”…So I reached out to do so, but before I could touch it he said STOP! What are you doing? I said I’m picking up the pencil, what’s your problem? No, he said, I said TRY to pick that pencil up…
    Well not to belabor it . Try means to test or attempt, but the way we mostly use it is empty of meaning- full content–an excuse word. Not a criticism, just something that has stuck with me over the years. Actually it quite annoyed me and I dismissed it a semantic pun.

  93. Sharon says:

    Well, then, I used “try” in exactly the way I intended (not so much here in the chapel or on MBOB! but in the threads about ideas and events and conflicts). That is “test” or “attempt” for me in terms of the effort to participate and be productive.

    “…typos scattered strewn like raisins in the dust….” That’s funny. ;)

  94. Sharon says:

    if it is only My will, I have no protection from consequences intended or unintended; I have no protection from doing harm to others; I have no protection at all. So I put much work on keeping my will surrendered and asking for the Father to move , as He wills, in my life.

    If it’s only my will–I am exposed and vulnerable. However….if it is the Father’s will…..very different dynamics. There’s protection in doing the Father’s will……

  95. Sharon says:

    tessa, you are perfectly fine here. I think it’s not so much that Spar is “ahead of you.”

    Each of us has different cadences and expressions, coming from different experiences and spiritual heritage. Those differences will be noticeable in the way we talk about stuff. His way of expressing familiar truths is quite different to my ears., but there’s a freshness and an encouragement in hearing the old story from a new friend. Each of our stories will reflect where we started from and how we got to where we are, and that’s ok. I don’t think any of us are ahead or behind—we’re on the move is all. :)

  96. Sharon says:

    Anticipating the next phrase…”give us this day….” earlier in the day trying to get at a thought that was under a rock…There’s contentment in the willingness to live limited. Live only in the present. With regard to either strengths or regrets, give up the illusion of omniscience. That characteristic never was ours. Immediacy in both strength and weakness.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      Oh yes! Humility is not groveling. My Father nurtures and bids me stand tall. I am physically in pain, bent over, and hobbling about, when I am allowing the Father to move freely through me to another, all of that rolls away. My experience is not that of collar and leash when I act in alignment with my Father’s Will. My experience is that of joy and love for the other, deliverance from the bondage of self, a marriage of Heaven and earth, the power of unconditional loving.
      Suddenly it occurs to me to ask– where did I get this idea that we have Free Will? Light bulb! Wow– this is merely a construct in my thinking. As I have matured into an independent entity, a strong formative reality is that the consequences of poor choices and actions are often extremely painful, so afterward I tend to become tentative about making choices, indecisive about acting. Fear of failure, and lately, fear of my capacity for self-destruction and perversity: Delusion! A tightening spiral of thought, knotting on itself. So self-important! So humorless and grim!… All the signs are there: Here is a collar and leash thought process…
      Father teaches me through experience what can not be expressed in words. Habits of a lifetime reassert themselves and separate me from the conditions necessary for me to learn how to Be. I can not express what I know of God or what I have learned from walking in the Light of His Presence. It is a Knowing beyond the reach of my language to express. What I try to do is artfully suggest, using my experiences as a basis, that there is meaning there which human to human we might share…
      I am not going to edit this, but I hope it is coherent about the incomprehensible… Love to all

    • Spar Harmon says:

      Oh truly, living in the Present Presence is not “living limited” in my humble experience. I have seen no limit in God’s Infinite Space! Freedom….
      jus’ sayin’…

      • Sharon says:

        That’s true. Thank you. It’s my poor perception. Trying to see the thought under the rock and discovering the rock is too heavy for me to move. Some days life has sharp edges.

        • Spar Harmon says:

          We both have that dog-and-bone, squirrel-and-nut thing, but when I relax into that inner place and rest there a bit, the knots have a way of unraveling of themselves. my last long share, above, has just such a sighing ah-ha moment around the question of will….amazing new, to me, insight…

  97. Spar Harmon says:

    I am waiting , no not procrastinating…much, until I get that Right Now feeling before I “attempt” the FORGIVENESS sentence of the Prayer— so daunting, presumptuous, you know, all that… God bless us all…

  98. Sharon says:

    Spar has reinforced my desire to recognize and act on bottom-line thoughts. I know enough of self-deception to know that my own thoughts can’t be trusted. The Spirit of God and the Word of God confirm or expose my thoughts as to value….so as I’m enjoying this conversation, I’m reminded of these true things where there is peace in knowing. (I didn’t notice until after I posted the comment that the word “will” appears in each line)

    Be sure your sin will find you out. (nationally or personally)

    What is sown is what will be reaped. (nationally or personally)

    He who humbles himself will be exalted. (nationally or personally)

    He who exalts himself will be humbled. (nationally or personally)

    He who comes to me, Jesus said, I will in no wise cast out. (this one’s personal in terms of response)

    Just some thoughts. Many thoughts these days. And my brain is like monster pick-up-sticks game with scarcely a single stick that can be touched without moving the others.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      I am humbled by this, Sharon. My heart says Yes, Yes, Yes! What a creative personal response to my personal little “will” insight. It affirms my sense that it was an extraordinarily direct answer to my need for an answer and produced a great calm in my inner world, a blessed serenity. Your share strengthened the bond developing between us. Makes me hope there are others listening in and participating in their hearts. Maybe this evening I can trust the Father enough to release myself to action on the next sentence of the Prayer. Assist me in your heart’s prayer all who will.

      • Sharon says:

        There are always readers here in the Chapel, some days more than others. And the fact that what we type here stays here in perpetuity reminds me that it will be here in the future as long as the site is up whether any of us are or not.

        It’s been an interesting thought from the beginning of the CTH—exactly how we would see the Chapel. I think the original “definition” of it was and is good enough. It rises out of an acknowledgement that there is God who reveals Himself to those who will respond, and that He has the final say.

        Any who are interested in talking about that with an honest heart are welcome to join in. In one sense, it doesn’t exactly mean “anything goes” because untruth and deception are not welcome here. But we won’t have religious or doctrinal fights here; we acknowledge that it is God Himself who works in those who are willing to respond (and, therefore, none of us get to dictate how He will work in another’s life…His ways are beyond our ways, and His thoughts beyond our thoughts). It’s just interesting. Again I’m reminded of Don Richardson’s books (Peace Child and Eternity in their Hearts). And what’s going on in the Sudan today.

        Jesus offended several of the religious collectives of His time by not imposing what they thought He wanted on everyone who came to Him—a few of their number would get interested in Him, and then they would discover that He was not worried about imposing religious details on all of His followers. There were other followers of Jesus who came from a different heritage and thought differently, so some got ticked, because they assumed that others who claimed to be followers of Jesus would think the way they did about the details.

        Clarification/confession: I have fixed convictions about many doctrinal-type issues, but I won’t fight over them. I will practice them according to my understanding and faith. Disagreements don’t have to be used as a test of fellowship. Our individual yielding to the Spirit of God is essential: unanimity of experience and heritage is not.

  99. Spar Harmon says:

    OF MYSELF, I AM NOTHING.
    WITH THEE IN MY HEART,
    ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

    THE LORD’S PRAYER

    …FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES,
    AS WE FORGIVE THEM THAT
    TRESPASS AGAINST US.

    Here we are at the core of the prayer. Jesus has carefully moved us here, in this perfectly complete answer to the disciple’s plea for illumination, to the doorway to a living, sustainable, functioning relationship with the Father. For me, this is where the rubber hits the road. Jesus beckons to me, but clearly the work is for me to do to step firmly on the path and follow Him.
    We ask for what we all want: forgiveness for our many mistakes, failures, perversities, and willfulness;
    But we must acknowledge and understand that what we can not forgive in others has bearing on what we can accept of forgiveness. There is no getting around this; I know, I have tried.
    At first, I knew exactly who and what I had to forgive, and, yes, what I wanted forgiven was forgiven; and I felt great relief and felt much better about myself. I was following a program of recovery from alcoholism which in the 4th Step, recommended an attempt to recall my whole life and review the events and choices which had formed who I was; not just think about it, but write it down. The idea is to become aware of the role of fear, anger, denial, immaturity, sex, conflict…and the tapes of programmed response we evolve to cope and survive… childhood choices often ruling adult choices. Know thyself.
    By far the hardest thing I have ever attempted. In fact it took me over 25 years to even begin. But I was in live or die mode when I began, and I had been told through the personal stories of others that there was no long term recovery possible without this step. It took me 6 months. It was a very painful journey; I have little ability to laugh at myself; that came later.
    This was confession. First to myself. Then to make it stronger, to another person. Then to God. No skipping the middle term in the sequence. Everyday, in the morning and at the evening meeting, I would do the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes I would experience great relief from the forgiveness clause. Other times great anguish. Soon it was clear: where I have things to forgive, I must, or not receive release. Moreover, If I don’t feel release, I need only examine myself and I will discover a forgiveness I am avoiding giving. Eventually I discovered a huge reality: –I am the biggest trespasser against me and others. I know that many have been deeply wronged by others and find forgiveness virtually impossible, but until they do they either crash and burn or limp along making do with a limited life; this is observation speaking– my tendency is to try to rescue and my sponsor more than once had to pull me away before I was consumed in another’s wreckage. It was their choice, Spar; it is arrogance to think you can save anyone from choices which are necessarily theirs. And so it is with me too.
    So recognizing this hidden aspect leads me to the biggest barrier to growing on the Path, the Journey—ME! What I will not forgive myself, I cannot be forgiven. Tough lesson. Know thyself. Dig. Dig deeper, deeper still…
    It is not so hard now to forgive what I become aware of, but keeping at the task of becoming self-aware remains hard. Learning to have some perspective and being able to laugh at my mistakes helps. Returning to my child-self, teen-self, young-adult self and forgiving choices made in innocence, ignorance, and immaturity has changed my perspective on my younger self and has allowed me to appreciate how much was good, how free and joyful I mainly was, how lucky I was in my parents and siblings, and more that I can’t begin to verbalize…
    So experience in the process and the rewards from the effort so great, it gets some easier…less time wallowing in resistance…
    Huh! but it still took me almost a week to get to this little essay, didn’t it?
    Sin is separation from God. To refuse to forgive is the only unforgivable sin, because that refusal blocks the forgiveness waiting to be given. It is our choice. I am grateful that by The Father’s Grace, I have been able to make the choices which have brought me the Peace of being forgiven. God accepts me and uses me with all my flaws, but I first had to lay them down and humbly ask to be made whole. Surrender was that act of self forgiveness. The more of myself I know and surrender, there more filled with Light I become. No end to this. Spiritual progress, not perfection is all I can claim.
    Humans living in separation from God is the source of all evil in the world, I am convinced. I see no need to construct a Satan to explain evil. God did not create evil, but He did create us, gave us “free will” and creative powers, and what we see is the result. My process of taking responsibility for the contents of My Life has taught me that. ‘Nuff said….—Love blessings to all…

    • Sharon says:

      This is the phrase that I am meditating on:

      what we can not forgive in others has bearing on what we can accept of forgiveness

      Yes.

      less time wallowing in resistance…

      Yes.

    • Sharon says:

      Jesus has carefully moved us here….to the doorway to a living, sustainable, functioning relationship with the Father.

      This is so fine, Spar. Jesus Himself repeatedly asserted and demonstrated that His goal was, indeed, to bring us to the Father.

      In my spiritual heritage, there is high emphasis on the identity and work of Jesus, the Christ, with regard to the Cross: and that is a firm and fine foundation. I’ve noticed over a lifetime, however, that in experience and understanding sometimes the work of the Cross is experienced and referenced by individual believers as an end in itself, completely overlooking the reality that the whole point is to bring us to the Father; i.e., overcome the obstacles, open the way, establish covenant relationship that will bring us to the Father.

      Ephesians 1:18 is a great summary of the thought Paul has been building in the first 17 verses of the chapter, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Such a “big picture view” of the Cross in no diminishes its work but acknowledges it and makes much of it.

      We desperately need to get to the Father at all times. The words are simple. The reality is not always so simple, because of the things that conspire against it.

      There really is a reason that not many, even among believers, actively enjoy a functioning relationship with the Father. There are many things that conspire against it.

  100. justfactsplz says:

    I don’t mean to intrude here. Sometimes I read here. I don’t have anything to contribute but I learn a lot here. There is much wisdom here. I just wanted to say if any of you have been following Pam on the prayer thread there is a post from her after her surgery. She and her family still need our prayers.

    • Sharon says:

      Hey, jfp! No intrusion!! Good grief, sometimes I feel like I’m hogging the conversation here, and wish others would jump in as well…..thank you for the update on Pam as well.

      This thread is not supposed to only be a monologue or dialogue that must have me in it! :) It doesn’t have to have me in it at all. I know from watching the site stats that there are folks reading here always, and not having any idea who they are for the most part, desire to have something fresh for them to read on a regular basis. Thank you…

  101. Sharon says:

    The September 10 entry in Streams in the Desert devotional book, is based on Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” I thought it reflected and touched on Chapel comments from recent days, so here ’tis.

    There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask God to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.

    It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still, and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”

    The imagination stops building air castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can offend it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can get in its way; for, let the circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will, and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.

    Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus—Soul Food.

    The great thing is to suffer without being discouraged. — Feneton

    The heart and serves, and loves, and clings,
    Hears everywhere the rush of angel wings.

    A related thought: sometimes our suffering is caused by others or by random events that simply impact our lives; at other times our suffering is clearly a consequence of our own failing. Regardless of which it is, the blessings that these writers note within the suffering come through fully intact—regardless of the bucket in which they arrive. Hebrews 12:11 speaks of the peaceable fruit of righteousness that comes to those who have been trained by chastening.

    It doesn’t come to all who have been chastened—but to those who have been trained by the chastening. And such training is available as a result of the chastening regardless of what necessitated the chastening.

    I appreciate the logic and ultimate fairness of God’s dealing in our lives. He doesn’t play games. He’s not petty. He’s not manipulative. He is for us…and that is astounding.

    • Pam says:

      Ah, yes. Suffering has so many faces, so many facets, so many reasons and outcomes. But one thing I know now–”to live is Christ..to die is gain”. This has to do with the crucifixion of suffering. Suffering crucifies the “flesh”, that human, pride, ego part of us, that part where “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” What a bad poem that is.
      Many saints were able to come to this ultimate place and really not care what happened to them. Many were eager to die physically for Christ. When we read their words, our minds have a hard time taking it in. It sounds so bizarre, so “out there.” Maybe we are not called to their level, but we are called to whatever place God wants us to be to experience His way for us.
      I feel sad when I see so many Christians fighting the idea that we can suffer. I will say to them “what happened to the Apostles? What happened to Paul?” Didn’t they suffer? Why do we think we shouldn’t?”

      • Sharon says:

        Yeah. I think that general expectation (which is not Scriptural) that somehow the “successful life of faith” is one in which God “fixes everything” is such a devastating deception. If for no other reason …. that it sets up the individual believer for unnecessary.

        Pam, do you have a copy of Packer’s Knowing God?

        I think we talked about it earlier…but I don’t remember if it was you who said you had a copy? Let me know. There’s osmething I came across there yesterday that I’ve been chewing and chewing on….so excellent. if you have it, I’ll get my copy in here and give you the page #s. I’m actually thinking about breaking a couple of pages into bits and sharing them in comments.

        I think the resistance to the question “Why shouldn’t we suffer?” doesn’t have to do so much with the intellectual idea, but with never examining our expectations and our reasons for recoiling (i.e.; we do not know how to suffer in peace….why is that??)

        • Pam says:

          No, it wasn’t me. I don’t have Knowing God. But I guess I will be getting it soon. On to Amazon! :)

        • Pam says:

          I guess if we already knew how to suffer in peace, we’d be further along than we are. I was more like Job. For a long time, I just loved Job. All that complaining and questioning. Yep, that’s me. And his crummy friends, all so full of themselves and lecturing him with their enormous pomposity. There you go, Job–have some more suffering. Would you like that with a side order of hemlock? :)

      • Pam says:

        That said, as you guys were discussing somewhere above, suffering is not the goal..just the means to the end…a way to get us to the goal.

  102. Pam says:

    I’ve got to learn how to put music video in here. There are some beautiful songs I found while I was going through all this artery stuff and tests, etc. I made a CD and would just listen to them during the day while I was lying around in bed. Some of them were the perfect thing for discussions that were going on here.

  103. Spar Harmon says:

    PAM!!!! So happy to wake up and see you Back! I see you have been acquainted with suffering. Welcome to the club…not of the suffering, but those who know where to go when body and mind cry out….
    What amazes me is that , though my body hurts and I am semi-crippled, and though my mind and heart wails and gnashes teeth and magnifies what real pain exists, when I turn to My Father and surrender to His care, He fills me with peace and activities of worth start occurring, like Fix a nice dinner, that’s hunger you’re feeling, son…and I painfully hobble into the kitchen, form an idea, everything I need is there, start something, wash dishes, tend stove, smoke, tend stove, thinking of something I want to speak out on CTH, …feel much better, serene… hurt is hell but I needn’t wallow in it… try to keep my restive mind stayed on My Father’s World: the Kingdom Ever-Present, Ever-Available when ever I am ready…
    I am humbled that I physically crashed, narcoleptic onto my keyboard. I was in middle of some reply to Sharon around Ephesians 1:18 which I had had a warm response to, but some exasperated from trying to get context by reading the prior verses so full of knotty Pauline ego ranting. I mean I love what I love of Paul’s but much of it has only produced some of the more negative teachings of succeeding generations of church doctrines. A Calvinist minister loves to preach from Paul and send damnation missiles in every direction. But then there is I Corinthians: 13 which flashes directly to my heart and channels that unmistakable strength from The Source.
    Anyway, I shut the computer down and crashed in bed for 10 hours. Judge not that ye be not judged, Spar. Sorry about the rant, Pam. It is my own faults that kept me from the Truth so long, so I reaffirm my release of Paul from my ire, and reaffirm my love for him as a human man who Has Given Me much in Truth and increased my understanding and opened in me pathways to Blessing.

    I look forward to your presence with us. Love to all and blessings, Spar

    • Sharon says:

      I hate hearing about damnation missiles and I don’t know what to do for those wounded by them.

      Those who take truths and turn them into spiritual terrorist weapons are revealing much about themselves and nothing about the heart of God as revealed in scripture.

      Hermaneutics matters. Spiritual terrorists don’t think it does. That’s a heart-rant, Spar, and I believe what you say. :(

    • Pam says:

      Spar!! It is so good to be back with you guys. I looked through all yours and Sharon’s stuff that had been going on while I was gone. You have given me too much to do. Now I have to read and catch up on all of it, and try to think of something suitably intelligent to say. Darn!

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Please spare me suitably intelligent somethings– too removed from the heart, my dear. We are bonded through our sufferings and what we have experienced, and in that you have no equal in what you have to teach me.
        On my list of the most powerful poetic voices in our language is a frail, lifelong recluse, intensely spiritual in the New England Congregational/Transcendental tradition, whose work was virtually unknown except post-mortem: Emily Dickinson. I have a sharing from her below. Blessings, Spar

    • justfactsplz says:

      Spar, I too had similar feeling about Paul’s teachings. In my case I felt it was satan trying to get me not to study Paul’s writings. Coming against that is what helped me.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        I am so happy, jfp, to hear from you, and happier still to see satan uncapitalized. I really meant my prayer at the end of that post. 1st Corinthians 13 is posted on the wall over my computer monitor as one of the “guideposts” of my current life. Remembering Jesus’ enunciation of the Greatest Commandment, Paul’s delineation of Love towers in importance in my life. As far as satan goes, it is everything in me which separates me from God; it is my own evil and I must own it, know it, forgive me it, in order for the Father to cleanse me of it, and what I fail to drag into the light of awareness from the cesspool of my darkness, continues to plague my efforts to grow. God protects me from drowning, but it is my work to dig it out and let it go. I am human and I have developed serious disease of heart and soul and I must find the willingness to do this inner work, overcoming laziness, habituation, comfort zones, denials, and on and on, but without the Grace of the Father’s sustenance and support and LOVE, I would already have died—no question. Satan is a convenience term and should be given no power in and of itself as if it were some Super Entity able To Challenge God on an Equal basis. Some even assert that Satan is God’s creation who went astray, in effect that God created Evil.
        NOT THE UNKNOWABLE HOLY ONE I HAVE EXPERIENCED. Mankind created satan and gives it all the power it has as a mass delusion of evil. It just gives us a defeatist excuse in ourselves to not confront our own inner demons: Oh well, da Devil made me do it…..Been there, done that… wasted my years in such wallowing.
        That rant was for me, jfp….rallying my inner troops. Bless, dear one, Spar

        • justfactsplz says:

          I always remind myself when that evil comes around, that greater is He that is in me. God gave us power over that evil but we must tap into that wonderful power and light. I so enjoy reading the beautiful post by you and Ms. Sharon.

        • tessa50 says:

          “Satan is a convenience term and should be given no power in and of itself as if it were some Super Entity able To Challenge God on an Equal basis. Some even assert that Satan is God’s creation who went astray, in effect that God created Evil.”

          I don’t believe that satan has more power than God, but he certainly has power and just so I am clear, of course he cannot challenge God on an equal basis.

          “Mankind created satan and gives it all the power it has as a mass delusion of evil. It just gives us a defeatist excuse in ourselves to not confront our own inner demons: Oh well, da Devil made me do it…..Been there, done that… wasted my years in such wallowing”.

          Maybe I am missing something here but I sure didn’t think mankind created the devil. That goes against all I have been taught.

          • justfactsplz says:

            It is not what I have been taught. He is the powers and principalities that wander through the earth seeking who he may devour. He was at one time a good angel the way I understand and he was cast out of heaven with other angels who followed him (demons). The Holy Spirit gives us power over him. We are told to resist him and he will flee. There are many in the world who don’t believe he or demons exist. I beg to differ. This is what I believe. At the end times he will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.

            • Spar Harmon says:

              Below you will see my reply to Tessa50 who expressed similar objections. I don’t dispute you about what you believe. I haven’t the arrogance to think I Know What is What better than you.
              But I share my experiences on The Journey we all share toward God, with you, my brothers and sisters. What I shared is a working construct about the problem of evil which keeps me firmly centered in taking personal responsibility for the evil I find in myself. When I look outward I see my personal struggles writ large in the world. I decline to pass judgment on another person’s Spirit journey; it profits me nothing to do so and could do harm; so I pass on that. But I also gain by your shares about your journey. It breaks the loneliness, as Sharon says. I don’t have to be right. It is a very great danger to think that I am. So I depend on the honesty and goodwill of others to help me by their honest shares.
              There an excellent study of where the ideas of Satan came from, and how they evolved into the present forms we are familiar with. Dr. Elaine Pagels’ THE ORIGIN OF SATAN is a fine piece of dispassionate scholarship, all sources noted, and absent judgmental statements and experts code language. Very clear writing style. The story of Balaam’s Ass is hilarious.
              I do thank you for expressing your concerns about what I said. I am your brother and I love you and I doubt the differences in the details of our spiritual beliefs is of much significance beside the Unity of the Lord of all Creation who commands us to Love one another. Blessings to you, Spar

              • justfactsplz says:

                You are on a wonderful path and journey with your Lord. We are all on this same journey and same goal even though our individual paths may be different. I did not mean to offend but was speaking of my own journey. What matters is where the journey is taking us. God bless and I love you in the Lord, like all brothers and sisters in Christ.

          • Spar Harmon says:

            Tessa50, that you for challenging my assertions. I claim no more validity for those assertions except that it is where I have got to so far about the problem of evil. All my life I have had Devil talk spouted at me, much of it right in the face , hate-filled and in the manner of it’s delivery blatantly false. I come from the Bible belt, sister, and the Devil is alive and well in many churches sad to say. But I am also experienced in the calmer, pious, teaching that most of us were given and , yes, Lucifer/Satan/ Devil is certainly taught as a fallen angel cast down from heaven after losing a war with God, into the Fiery pit from which he attempts to corrupt mankind and receive those judged unworthy of heaven for whom he has arranged eternal torment, etc. Certainly the Gospel writers seem to support such views along with fabricating many other features of the Christian mythos. That is why I try to steer clear of sayings attributed to Jesus which are clear storyteller’s license, for instance the dialogue between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness. Jesus’ Truth is clear and strong, and the Satan story is not necessary to an understanding of that Truth. But I am aware that many loving people may fear for me being on shaky ground, or even as being blasphemous. No blasphemy is intended nor any desire to be anybody’s iconoclast.

            Since sept.15,2009, when in the depth of my personal hell, I surrendered and was made humble by what I was given to witness. I can not deny that experience and live. And step by step, day by day I have learned to live in the constant Presence of Our Father. THEN I discovered the words of Jesus and He laid out a Path for me, stepped onto it and bade me follow, forsaking all else….
            So, Tessa, I at this point just don’t find the traditional Devil mythos very real or helpful on my journey. But I don’t think the Loving Father I know is going to punish me should I be wrong, Rather I would expect an illuminating experience will set me straight. Neither do I fear hell or death. Jesus says walk the Path I have shown you and FEAR not, for I am with you. I have no bone to pick with anybody’s belief system. God is way bigger than I can comprehend, and I pray you are safely under His sheltering wing… Love Blessings to you, Spar

            • tessa50 says:

              I did not mean for you to take that as a challenge, just was simply something that I hadn’t believed, the devil being manmade and so said what I did.

              Spar, what I should have done as I have done before was asked for the scripture that you used to base that on.

              I see now, at least I think I do, that you aren’t talking scripture but something else.

              Spar I truly enjoy reading your thoughts and I hope I have not offended you, as that surely was not my intent.

              • Spar Harmon says:

                Perhaps I should have said I found your response challenging to address.
                As far as offense goes, I am not easily offended, and saw no offense being attempted by you anyway…
                Trying to rise to your and, jtf,p’s, similar responses led to good things and I hope you are clarified about how I work with it. Sharon also shared a similar view to yours.
                With my hand in My Father’s, step by step, and day by day I am led along the Way and my trust is in He who leadeth me and no other. My love to you, sister, and bless you on Your path.

      • Stormy says:

        I have a Life Application Study Bible, and I have found that reading the introduction page it gives before every book, especially those written by Paul has helped me increase my understanding immensely.

        For example, on the intro/vital statistics page for the book of Romans it mentions that Paul had heard of the church at Rome, but he had never been there, nor had any of the apostles. Evidently the church had been begun by Jews who had come to faith during Pentecost. They spread the faith on their return to Rome, and the church grew…. He sent this letter to introduce himself and to make a clear declaration of the faith… Paul presents the Good News… that we are save by grace through faith in Christ and His finished work…Speaking directly to his Jewish brothers and sisters, Paul shares his concern for them and explains how they fit into God’s plan.

        This is just a few lines from that intro page, but it helped my understanding of the entire book, know more about the Church in Roman, and Paul’s purpose in writing to them.

  104. Spar Harmon says:

    Henley was a very good poet, but pretty corrupted by Victorian convention and melodrama, Empire Uber Alles! Many a patriot, even still goes off to war with such thrilling thought only to be simplified to their bare humanity by the flensing reality of war. I have been much guided in suffering by the shares of suffering survivors…
    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all.

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chilliest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.——–Emily Dickinson, whose poems record with amazing simplicity and fidelity, one soul’s journey to God. All thanks to Him for the gift of her.

    • Sharon says:

      A little blue velvet-covered volume of hers (Favorite Poems of….) that I purchased 32 years ago is falling apart. With its loose pages, it falls open to this:

      I like a look of agony,
      Because I know it’s true;
      men do not sham convulsion,
      Nor simulate a throe.

      The eyes glaze once, and that is death.
      Impossible to feign
      The beads upon the forehead
      By Homely anguish strung.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Oh. Amazing. She is so Powerful and so intensely truthful. Consistently beggers my own poor efforts. Thank you. It has been many years since I last read that one… Love, Spar

        Because she was a spinster and recluse, her family routinely called on her to sit with the dying of the extended family. Many reflections on suffering, dying, and death, judging by her letters emanated from these assignments which she dutifully performed. Given her promise as a youth, and her refusal to marry, many in her family considered her useless, and selfish, and self-indulgent, an apostate sinner, and she did nothing to defend herself…..

  105. Sharon says:

    Some general thoughts about the experience of disagreement. And about 20 inches down the page, this essay ends with these words:

    Way too many words, and I’m probably in over my head, but I appeal that we desire wisdom, lay hold of discernment and let the heart of our Father pursue our hearts…

    My spiritual heritage and convictions are sourced in Scripture. Unlike what Spar has described up-thread about his journey (including some Quaker perspectives and the good work of AA), I am very, very leery of using my own thoughts, my experiences, or seeing my insights as any sort of anchor. My life was dramatically redeemed in the early 1980′s by the work of the Spirit of God using, solely, the Word of God. I didn’t trust myself. I certainly didn’t trust anyone else. I trusted God not to lie to me and therefore, I would accept no other source than Scripture to help me decide to continue living. My own thoughts and my own “wisdom” horrified me and had nearly destroyed me. And others had deceived me deeply. (I got to the point where I wouldn’t even allow my pastor to speak counsel to me except in specific answer to a specific question, even though he was completely trustworthy)

    In later years, I was often asked to “give my testimony” and I only did so one time, because I was very, very concerned that some folks were far to eager to latch on to my story instead of seeking God for themselves. That’s easy to discern, when the prevalent response to a testimony is somehow just squeals of excitement. I call it Christian True Confession, and I want nothing to do with it.

    And now I will mention what I notice in Spar: His life and his story gives every evidence of having been redeemed by the intervention of the grace of God, as a result of Jesus getting Spar into the Father’s presence.

    Essentially that’s my story: redeemed by the intervention of the grace of God, as a result of getting me into the Father’s presence.

    I can illustrate part of what I’m trying to express here by quoting how he describes his perspective on one issue (working def. of evil):

    What I shared is a working construct about the problem of evil which keeps me firmly centered in taking personal responsibility for the evil I find in myself.

    Now my working construct would be pretty much parallel to what others here have described, satan as a personality, a being created with free will who chose to rebel against God; that God certainly did not create evil but, as with man, the angelic beings were created with free will. Just like man, they got to choose to have as much of God as they wanted.

    Ok. So there’s a divergence of opinion specifically because our sources are different and our starting points are different. I will not minimize the importance I place on Scripture as being my only source. That is what anchors me. That is what stabilizes my life. Scripture teaches me to take personal responsibility for the evil I find in myself. Scripture “got me to the Father” and redeemed my life, both in time and in eternity.

    Our heritage, our starting points, and our wounds do impact us and how we walk out our lives of faith will reflect that impact. But the eyes of God roam the earth, looking for the humble heart and for the thirsty heart, and He responds to those hearts. That is clear in both Old and New Testament. In no case is any version of the Bible mentioned as a filter. In none of the verses that speak of how God is attracted to the humble heart is their doctrine of satan mentioned.

    I am completely intrigued by what I know for a fact (having seen it in lives other than Spar’s as well): that the Spirit of God is drawn to and responds to the pursuit of a heart which may not have the same perspective on Scripture that I do.Imagine such a thing! That complete intrigues me, because I know that I have tested and known Scripture in a way that sets my feet on the firm foundation, and I will never step aside from standing on that sure foundation….but yet, I see in that other humble heart that they are standing in the presence of the Father, just as I do; pouring out their heart, just as I do; asking for and accepting forgiveness, just as I do; being strengthened and encouraged to press on toward home, just as I do. ….

    …their starting point was different;
    …their convictions are different;
    …their practices are different;
    …their wounds are different;
    …their heritage is different…

    and yet, here we stand together, in the presence of the Father. What I am to make of that?

    So sometimes our hands frantically poke into the air as we ask for The Teacher’s attention, because our anxious questions must be asked, “But Father…what about….??? I heard him say….” And the Father often just says to me, “Shhhhh….Child. I know. But now….someone else is raising their hand about something you said….”

    Obviously, none of this means that “everyone’s right.” But what’s right isn’t going to be decided by us coming to a consensus, and it’s silly to act as though it is. The stuff Jesus said that is true (and all of it was, of course, otherwise He’s a liar and then the whole thing falls apart) didn’t become true because He said it. He said it because it was already true and continues to be true.

    I’m absolutely not a believer in “everyone can believe what they want”….that’s way too ego centric for me. God is not a God who invites us to draw on to Him any form of “God-stuff” we think is nifty: how arrogant would that be. That’s no different than obama inviting everyone to draw on him as the blank slate.

    But neither do I think that others who are actually pursuing the company, the presence and redemption that comes from the heart of the Sovereign God have to pass muster with me. And I won’t participate in arguments about it. Unfortunately, many times we are completely unaware of how much we depend on the bucket in which truth came to us and forget that the contents of the bucket is what brings stability, not the bucket.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to keep them separate, especially when we deeply disagree with someone whom we cherish in faith fellowship.

    We don’t have to be in agreement. It’s all right if any one of us (or ten thousand of us) turn out to be flat wrong. We are dependent on the grace of Almighty God to touch our lives and our hearts, not on one another.

    Bottom line principle that I’ve learned the hard way: I will be very very careful about presuming how I stick my fingers into the heart of another, poking around and touching things I can’t see and know nothing about. Dietrich Bonhoeffer made a very strong statement about the dangers involved in such careless dealings.

    Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. –from Life Together

    The work of our heavenly Father far exceeds our capacities to define it. His work in others will not be the same as His work in me, because their starting point was different, their wounds are different, their heart cry is different. What HE does will essentially be THE SAME, and I believe that is illustrated by the fact that each of us stands here in His presence, amazed at His grace, and wondering how on the earth did He get us to THIS PLACE, on THIS DAY.

    Way too many words, and I’m probably in over my head, but I appeal that we desire wisdom, lay hold of discernment and let the heart of our Father pursue our hearts…

    You alone are my strength and shield
    To You alone may my spirit yield.

    Spar, I truly hope this is not uncomfy for you that I take the occasion of perceived divergencies to address how we function with one another. Email me at the site email if you have concerns or want me to can this whole thing. The fact is, this is something that has occurred to me before (since we very much a mixed-faith site)…we sort of need to walk like grownups in the faith to some extent and leave room for the Spirit of God to work as He will in others’ lives, so I took this opportunity. I did not and do not think you need defending. That was not the point.

  106. Spar Harmon says:

    To all my brothers and sisters of Jesus the Shepard; to Sharon, Tessa, jtf,p , pam, stormyeyes, those I am forgetting, and silent listeners: my simple love to you all. Sharon, no I am not discomforted, on the contrary you brought me great ease of heart…
    I have been feeling, as my little project grows, a growing uneasiness that I am missing something vital. Through our interlude of discussion a question has arisen in my heart: why is it I feel so Protected on my Path? Why do I feel safe revealing here what I have never revealed to anyone but my Father? What is so deeply embedded in my experience of The Prayer, it does not even occur to me to speak of it? What was so deeply affecting about Sharon’s long share and the shares of others?
    Why did Bonhoeffer’s words resonate as if coming from my own mouth? Well because they have come from my own mouth. Because others often say what I meant but failed to say, or same-same thought recast in different words. Because there is commonality born of True Encounters with Truth. Because I find validation here. Because I find Love here.
    And Love is what has been missing from my speaking.
    THE WORD “LOVE” DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE LORD’S PRAYER.
    In Paul’s great celebration of Love in 1st Corinthians 13, he does not define the word. In the citation for Love in the Oxford Unabridged (33vol.)Dictionary of the English Language no real definition can be found. I know I have a copy.
    I have heard it said: God Is Love. I don’t know if that is scriptural, my concordance fails to deliver a confirming passage. But God is also undefined.
    I think it is no accident that I feel unfinished talking about forgiveness because Love is inextricably involved, isn’t it? How could it not be? Jesus commands me to Love God, Love others, and Love myself. In the Prayer, we ask for forgiveness, conditional on our forgiving others, and find that involves forgiving ourselves. Same pattern.
    Paul delineates love by describing the acts of love. He does not say love is forgiving, or that it is forgiveness. This is the equation God=Love. God substitutes perfectly with Love in Paul’s great dissertation. Forgiveness is an act of Love.
    When I first experienced my Holy Parent, I was smashed flat to the ground by a heart swelling flood of Love. Is this what they mean by washed in the blood of the Lamb? To paraphrase Blake: did He who made the Lamb make me? When I came to myself I felt clean. I felt clean for several days in succession. I received very loving instruction from a friend to keep it simple and to just seek that experience everyday. Jesus’ words from my past kept popping up in my mind, soon I was thumbing madly through the gospels, searching for just certain passages. I sought and I found, and My Father kept making His Presence known. I knew LOVE. I felt FORGIVEN. I was aware of my proper Work. I was empowered to LIVE. I knew a Truth I never thought I would: HE ABIDES WITH ME.
    This is why I feel protected on my path. This is why I feel safe to reveal myself with all the honesty and Truth I can muster: I am in the presence of brothers and sisters on a God-path, am I not? We live in the Light of Love given us through Grace, are we not to share it without stint. For sure I am just little quirky, monkey, kitty me, often foolish, graceless, So So self- serious and important, didactic and vainglorious, I know, I know but I am forgiven being me and my Father tells me I must share what I have for I will never run out as long as I share for LOVE. And it is unfair for me to judge what you may need of what I have been given. Never never never must I presume to preach or proselytize to another. The consequences are agonizingly em bare assing,
    as I have recently demonstrated to myself.
    In the solitude of my room, I pray the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave me this Love gift which is expressive in every word of His Father’s Love for Him, for me, for all of humanity. So Our/We/Us pray and return that Love to the Source and the choir of our intent is One Voice raised together, and All of Creation Rings as a Bell.
    So that is what was missing: LOVE is what gives it all meaning. I am filled with gladness to live in The Father’s world/ kingdom/ realm/ Heart with you all.

    • Sharon says:

      Yeah, all of that. The love of God….

      When I first experienced my Holy Parent, I was smashed flat to the ground by a heart swelling flood of Love….I was empowered to LIVE. I knew a Truth I never thought I would: HE ABIDES WITH ME.

      The name is not connecting at the moment, but years ago I read the report of a well known Christian writer. He describes the day he was driving on some longish trip to a speaking engagement and the Father caused him to understand how he was loved–by the Father. He reported it as the most disabling experience, requiring that he get off the road and stop, quite unable to process what he saw and knew in those moments, both unwilling and unable to escape the raw impact of Father Love.

      While I have made the point that we do well to avoid confusing our precious buckets with their precious contents, that must not be taken to mean that I diminish the value of the bucket: It is God Who deals with our lives. When my MBOB book is printed (the publishers moved it to design stage a few days ago, so it’s still on the road… ;) ) that will be a documentation of the bucket that is so precious to me–in which God brought to me His love, took me to Calvary, showed me my sin (and didn’t beat me over the head with it or threaten me) and taught me how to experience forgiveness.

      On this Interstate of High Speed Christianity in Western Civilization, we are skilled at giving one another directions and not so skilled at traveling together

      That’s what Bonhoeffer was trying to get at in much of his training of young theologians before the war in Germany. He saw first hand how their self-centered experienced of the Christ had isolated them–alone and with one another, unable to effectively be with others (unless others met them where they desired to be met). Watchman Nee addresses the same issue in The Release of the Spirit.

      This from my blank books from August 11, 2010.

      Humility will make it possible to stand openly in grace, moment by moment to be kept in His love–Spirit, give me understanding about your keeping.

      I didn’t write about humility because I understood it (I still don’t). I wrote about it because my slight experience of it makes me thirsty.

      • Spar Harmon says:

        Ah yes, the thirst never quenched,
        The desert of life without, without–
        And so hard I make it, my pride, my delusion,
        Keeping me trudging needlessly in the dust.
        Lord how I weary myself in wasted stuff,
        And I don’t even know why I must,
        But I do.
        Thank you Father.
        You lifted me, you loved me,
        When I gave myself up for lost,
        And cast out one last cry of hope,
        You came.
        And met my direst needs,
        Bathed me, fed me,
        And wrapped me in thy boundless Love.
        Beyond my poor understanding to contain,
        Thy Grace just sustains
        Mere me.
        And always was there, sustaining,
        Though I was lost and rejecting,
        Twisted with ego strife, He waited,
        Sustaining patiently my life.
        ‘Said I’m so undeserving!
        ‘Said who are you to judge?
        ‘Said look at all I’ve wasted!
        ‘Said compost for my garden
        Of blessed redeem-ed souls
        Like yours.
        So finally I surrendered
        And let my hand be taken,
        I knew I needed guidance,
        For I was a lost man
        And knew not how to Walk with Him
        Into the promised Land…

        And this is my offering, this is my prayer, that each of you will also dwell, in the Peace of His Presence by the side of His Well.

        • Sharon says:

          …again, words break the loneliness

          • Spar Harmon says:

            LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
            BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

            For many of us who work with this Prayer, who attempt to truly Pray with it, being mindful and intent and intense as we pray, sooner or later an uneasiness creeps in about the 1st clause. It seems to imply that if we don’t not specifically ask otherwise He might lead us into temptation. Some have suggested a rewording to avoid this problem; translators have examined all available manuscripts to see if some error of translation or copying might be to blame–nope………..
            In the beginnings of my journey I would fervently ask for this fail/safe protection; I was freshly impressed with my vulnerability to messing up. About the time I was being bothered by this wording I suffered serious missteps which resulted in immediate and painful consequences and I became very ginger and timid in my walk, more self-centered and protective, my practice fell off, my shares in meetings felt off, and my whole world was graying, I became more and more obsessive and finally after a particularly whiney, poor me share; An old-timer in the program came up to me and looked into my face with great concern. He said Man. you ridin’ for a fall. I don’ know whut’s gotcha on th’ pity pot, but if ya keep ridin’ it ya gonna fall in…Read page 85 , man ‘n’ think aboudit…
            I’d sure hate to see a good man go down…and he turned and walked away. He was talking about what AA’s call the Big Book. Here is what I found on page 85:
            It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. WHAT WE REALLY HAVE IS A DAILY REPRIEVE CONTINGENT ON THE MAINTENANCE OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION. Every day is a day when we must carry a VISION OF GOD’S WILL INTO ALL OUR ACTIVITIES. “How can I serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.
            That evening I had a powerfully healing communion with The Father and took Step 11 as my Basic Daily spiritual practice. I quote it in full upthread in this study.
            The question about the wording became moot. In fact the question illustrates the answer. It is a trick question which arises as we grow: as we grow we become more sensitive and aware and more vulnerable to our own mind tricks. God is not playing a trick on me here; my worry is a lack of trust in him; and this sentence is all about TRUST in His protection and care. We are asking to be protected from being led astray; and if we lose our way and get caught up in evil, we pray for deliverance.
            Somewhere Jesus says—-Nothing shall by any means hurt you. Behold I am with you alway.

            Who we were before God found us, is still with us. We are never cured of being us. The defects in our character want to express and are subtle and powerful and patient. The Father uses me anyway, and many bad things in me have been transformed, but there still is plenty there to be worked on. It is the Father’s pleasure to give me plenty of work to do.
            I am but a child asleep in the lap of the Lord. Lord Bless and keep us, Amen.

            • justfactsplz says:

              Spar you really hit a chord with saying we are never cured of being us. How profound and true. God has done so much in my life and when I seem to be struggling He reminds me that He is not through with me yet. I am a work in progress. Everyday I need his help to be what He wants me to be.

              • Spar Harmon says:

                jf,p, It’s you! …A work in progress…we been hanging out in the same kind of places, for sure. I’m glad you are on the journey to. It all goes better with companions. You can lean on me when you need to. I hobble on the right side but my left is still stringy but strong. God’s Love to you…Spar

                • justfactsplz says:

                  We will all make it if we lean on each other and depend on God to sustain and keep us. Some times I am strong and others can lean on me. Other times I am weak and need others to lean on.

            • Sharon says:

              WHAT WE REALLY HAVE IS A DAILY REPRIEVE CONTINGENT ON THE MAINTENANCE OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION.

              The simplicity of doing daily what we’ve learned to do. Yes. That truth applies to fear and despair, too.

              Spar, when I discovered in my early 30s that I had finally found alcohol that tasted good to me (strawberry margueritas) I was terrified. I had felt protected from ever abusing alcohol because none of it was “good” going down. When I had that first double marguerita, and then a few weeks later had another, I knew I had a decision to make. (And bear in mind, I had never been even a social drinker–it was just that my co-workers at Lockheed were always trying to get the Sunday School girl to drink–anything–and I could always say–”Oh, yuck, I can’t stand alcohol.” As a result of those wonderful margueritas, I knew/decided I would never, ever participate or choose to think I could safely drink. And that was the end of that. I knew it was very dangerous for me because of other factors.

              However…..another point: the truths that you share in these things apply to other vulnerabilities rather precisely, in my experience. I must deal firmly and stringently with any onset of fear or despair. If I don’t, rather quickly, everything is at stake. When I talk about my life being redeemed (and that’s why I love that song I posted early, “Moment by moment, I’m kept in His love; moment by moment, I’ve life from above….”)

              There’s nothing in the bank, and yet, I’m completely safe, because like you said….cared for in His arms.

              The humility with which you share…..peels the layers off and I stand in His presence.

              • Spar Harmon says:

                A vulnerability to alcohol can be genetic or arise from a family culture marred by a member or members who succumb to the disease. I am a “made” alcoholic who used alcohol to numb my reaction to a devastating marital betrayal. I too was in my early 30′s but I had had many warning experiences that I could not handle alcohol like normal people and I had no anchor to resist the desire to be just swept away. I was a suicidal drinker from the start.
                Whatever warned you off that route was a profound Blessing. I would not wish the agony of that affliction on anyone, and I rejoice you were saved from it. And I sorrow for who ever in your life, by their example, taught you to be wary.
                Sharing with you all in this simple chapel fills a great need for me. I am isolated from AA and have keenly felt the loss, discovering CTH has been a God Sending, for sure. But it is you who are here, all of you, who make the congregation of this great open chapel in a TREE.
                Peeling off layers is so much harder alone…God Bless you all….

    • Sharon says:

      Spar, I John 4:16 and the several verses of context….wonderful confirmation in light of your discussion about God being love. Good good stuff.

  107. Sharon says:

    I think we will soon need a new chapel thread. We are at 400 comments and it’s getting pretty slow to load…will try to get that done.

    When we create a new thread, the old ones are linked at the front end so that anyone can return to read previous conversations as they wish.

    • Spar Harmon says:

      Sharon, since my little project constitutes, along with the comments, a unity, it occurs to me that perhaps you will be wanting to do some manipulating, rearranging, or editing. For the record I have complete trust in your judgment and encourage you to feel free as far as I am concerned. I am done with the project except for responding to any comments coming up. I can only speculate about the task of starting a Part 3, but it doesn’t sound easy and I express appreciating ahead of time.
      Yours in Our Father’s care, Spar

      • Spar Harmon says:

        I do intend to PrintScreen the whole thing, with dialogue, and paste it into one of my notebook sized journals. Just in case there is some distruption of the Treehouse resulting in archival losses.

  108. Spar Harmon says:

    I feel like I’m wandering onto a stage in an old theater which has just staged the last show it will ever do and is slated for abandonment….It is just a mood in a place of already dear memories…

    FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM
    AND THE POWER
    AND THE GLORY
    FOR EVER
    AND EVER
    A M E N

    And now the hymn of joy unending…
    The Kingdom is all that is on every plane known and unknown by human mind, the Creation, the All in All, unbounded by definition, God manifesting, God expressing, The Doer, The Doing, The Deed— The Presence made manifest and sensible….
    And by virtue of That Reality that Is Everywhere Present, it is present In each of Us! Amazing Grace.
    There is no power that exists outside the power released to us humans to use. God is the source of all the Power that Is. When I fear, I am forgetting this. When I feel great dread at gathering storms on the human stage, I am forgetting this. It was Our Father’s Power that sustained me through my whole misdirected, willful life and who delivered me to Salvation. And for me, it took every detail of my story to get me here, and it is my story which is uniquely mine to share in witness: It is the story of the working of Our Father’s Power in this, my life. And that is what I cling to when viewing external events, because, really, there is no external event, the thread of God connects each with each and all with all in the planetary story of humankind. All with eyes to see can observe and bear witness from each unique viewpoint. CTH is one of the best viewing platforms I have ever experienced: So wonderfully human and Loving and Real. The Core CTH family keeps putting the unfolding world before us and we witness and share. I sure helps heal MY loneliness…
    There is such chaos of misdirected, ill intended, vicious energy loose in our world…to be aware and try to face it alone, impossible. Sharing in this refuge is God send…Balm.
    I was very insane in misuse of my power. So, Not being helpless, hapless that way any longer, yet with my memories of that horror ever fresh, I find grounds for compassion when I witness the turmoil around me, and I find myself at one with Jesus, who in His agony, begged forgiveness for his tormentors in their ignorant wallowing in the hell of their insanity…they know not what they do…neither did I and I am forgiven. The Father expresses his power in everything I do or have ever done; through His Grace, I can be aware of His Power expressing through me. It is often a mystery which defies my personal understanding, how He is working, then I have to just Trust.
    I try to remember that when viewing external events. Trust/Faith. Hope. Love. He Abides In Us.

    When I was a child the English Language was my favorite toy. It still is. I trained myself as a word- crafter, in college I studied the language as a language, the linguistic history, the evolution of present syntactical forms, all the theories of language, logic, meta-languages…but most studiously the history of our vocabulary. I made myself a student of the oral tradition: the rich poetic history of our dear language. I read poetry on the university radio station for 5 years and developed a vocal following. For years I have performed poetry at whatever open mics might be around. I love the feeling of getting people wrapped in the flowing sound-sense of a poem. I learned to use the Irish/Welsh survivals of singing/chanting poems, not just reading them with dramatic intonations. Poems are meant to be experienced with the mouth and vocal chords, they are essentially musical compositions: the vowels, consonants, and rhythms inseparable from the meanings of the chosen words; in fact the meaning of a poem is the whole.
    I say that by way if explanation for certain of my sensitivities. When I first started sharing about my spiritual experiences, I was very frustrated that the traditional vocabulary was so attenuated of meaning, the key words so hackneyed by careless and unmindful usage that I just could not comfortably use them. Here is a short list: God, Love, Faith, Glory. I have an extensive library of Dictionarys, Thesauri, Usage manuals, etc. Plus online etymological sites, etc. The first word I was able to resurrect into my language was FAITH. I found that this word was totally empty of meaning content because so carelessly used in my hearing from early childhood. I simply could not frame a meaning for the word. After extensive mining in my reference works, and feeling I was simply going to have to find some other way to express what ever it was. My go-to ready- reference sitting by my keyboard is a small, but thick, delightful to hold book THE POCKET OXFORD DICTIONARY, dark blue , hardbound. And there I found my clue, and some back checking confirmed that there was a linguistic twin for Faith, a true synonym: TRUST. I did not understand Faith, but I powerfully understood Trust. Now I can use the word Faith where ever it feels right, but Trust is what I mean.
    Glory is another attenuated word, not so easy to rehabilitate, But here the working core I’ve come up with : resplendent majesty and beauty. Thine is the resplendent majesty and beauty in all that is.
    For
    Ever
    And Ever
    And Ever
    And Ever……
    Amen

    May our Father bless us each one…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s