Peg

The “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” concept only works so far.  How do you deal with the situation when they don’t return the favor?  I feel like I’m constantly giving out 20 dollar bills, and not getting anything back – not even a thank you.

I have often felt like a square peg in a round hole. How people treat me is often at odds with how I feel they should treat me. I asked God about this and God said that perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I need to change my expectations of the world.

God says “My ways are not your ways.”

Jesus asked his disciples to stay in the world but not to be of the world.

Jesus said to forgive people without count.

Jesus said that we should treat our enemies with kindness, and in so doing we will prove that we are children of God.

God says to me that I am supposed to stay the way I am and stay in the world as it is,

and feel that hurt

feel that pain

feel that dissonance.

…in part, so that I understand and can empathize with people who are excluded and left out. But also so that in holding my ground I can teach others how to act in a Godly way.  Sometimes we are to be teachers through our actions.

Many years ago,

I had asked God to be able to spread the messages he gave without attention to me. I want to be anonymous, and live my life without fame. This way I can go to the gym or the grocery store and live like a normal person. In the meantime God uses me as a conduit. I want to be a good steward of the gifts that he gives me.

 

So why am I upset when a message I share is taken up and adopted (stolen, in my mind) by someone who acts as if it is theirs? I don’t want fame or money, so it doesn’t make sense for me to be upset.

I brought this to God this week and got a lot of peace.  That feeling I had is the human part of me, rearing its ugly head.  It is important that I felt it, and brought it to God.  That is what God wants – to heal all of our brokenness.  But we have to take it to the Healer to be healed.

Here is what it means to be a child of God: It isn’t natural, but spiritual.  We are all created by God at birth but the true children of God, once they are spiritually awake, then choose to be further formed and shaped by God. They choose to align themselves with God and then let God work through them.  It is a two-way adoption.  God wants all of us to choose to follow God’s ways, but not all of us do.  It is our choice.

I need to give my immature feelings of jealousy (because these messages are not mine, but God’s) to God, so God can transform them into selflessness.   I need to do this in order to become a pure vessel for God’s Spirit in this world.

Sometimes for healing to take place, there has to be a reconciliation – a balancing of the accounts.

It is important to let other people know how you feel.  They can’t read your mind. It is like being a bill collector who issues the bill (with interest) ten years after it is due.  It is better to issue the bill early, to get it over with and have the accounts settled as soon as possible.

Jesus says that if we have an issue against someone, to not take our offering to the Temple, but to leave it and go make peace with that person first.

So today I wrote sent this message to a lady in a head covering group I belong to:

“Hello!  I thought it would be important to write you.  At least a year ago I mentioned something on the “Cover me happy” Facebook page about how it would be a good idea to focus on the idea of covering, instead of covering with a lot of fancy wraps.  I said that too many fancy wraps would make it difficult for the beginner, or someone who is poor and can’t afford a lot of scarves.  I also pointed out that modesty is an important part of covering, so calling attention to it with fancy wraps didn’t make sense.  Not long after I said that, you posted on the Wrapunzel page this very idea, saying that you’d read it in another group but wasn’t sure who said it.  Then it became a thing, where people were posting their single scarf wraps and tagging you.  I felt very hurt by this, since I am the one who suggested it.  I said nothing at the time, but now that something like this has happened to me in a different context, I think it is important to speak up and set things right.  I don’t want fame for the idea – it was just an idea.  I don’t want to be tagged when people post when they wear one scarf.  But I also don’t want my ideas claimed by someone else.  I think it is important to make things right, so that is why I am writing, to let you know how I feel.”

I have no idea how she will respond to it.  She probably doesn’t even remember.  Because of the message system on Facebook, she might never see it.  But I needed to write it.  It is important to balance the accounts.

Yesterday I wrote to the administrator of a group I’d been submitting newsletter offerings to, saying that she could not claim that she was writing the posts.  My first several posts were given the anonymous “from a member” credit.  I wasn’t sure about this – there was nothing saying that what we submitted would be anonymous.  But now it didn’t even say that, and at the bottom I noted that she’d said the contents were copyright (to her group – not to me).

Perhaps it was good for it to be anonymous – that way one member wouldn’t stick out.  I was also still wrestling with the idea that at least my messages were getting out.  I still don’t want fame or attention.  But I also don’t want my work to be claimed by another.

It is why I say that anyone can use anything I wrote for “The Condensed Gospel” for free, but they cannot claim that they wrote it, or charge money for it.  I don’t want money for it – but I also don’t want someone else to make money on it.  I now feel that credit is a sort of money in a way.

So now I’m holding my ground and speaking up. I’m telling people that they have hurt me as soon as I realize that they have, without “charging interest”.

 

Advertisements

Stay in the path that leads to life

Deuteronomy 5:32-33 Moses speaks to Israel at Mt. Sinai –

32 “Be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left. 33 Follow the whole instruction the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live, prosper, and have a long life in the land you will possess.”

Joshua 1:6-7 The Lord to Joshua, Moses’ successor –
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. 7 Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.”

Joshua 23:6-8 Joshua’s final instructions as he is about to die –
6 “Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left 7 and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. 8 Instead, remain faithful to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.

Isaiah 30:19-21 The prophet Isaiah speaks –
19 For you people will live on Zion in Jerusalem and will never cry again. He will show favor to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears, He will answer you. 20 The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, 21 and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

(all verses are HCSB)

A Nation Under God

If we want to go with the idea of making America a nation “under God” – what does that mean? What does it mean when people say that they want America to be a Christian nation? Let us look at Holy Scripture for direction. I’ve selected some prominent ones and then boiled them down to the essentials in boldface. Read over all of it carefully, and see if what America does currently in the name of Christian values matches up with what the Bible says.

Ezekial 18:7-9 describes the actions of a righteous man –
7 He doesn’t oppress anyone but returns his collateral to the debtor. He does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. 8 He doesn’t lend at interest or for profit but keeps his hand from wrongdoing and carries out true justice between men. 9 He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.”This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.

We shouldn’t oppress anyone. We should repay debts. We shouldn’t steal. We should feed the hungry and clothe the naked. If we lend money, we shouldn’t do it at interest. We should do only good things and act in a just manner. We should follow the rules that God has given us.

The whole of chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah tells us what to do –
“Cry out loudly, don’t hold back!
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Tell My people their transgression
and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 They seek Me day after day
and delight to know My ways,
like a nation that does what is right
and does not abandon the justice of their God.
They ask Me for righteous judgments;
they delight in the nearness of God.”
3 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen?
We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!”
“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,
and oppress all your workers.
4 You fast with contention and strife
to strike viciously with your fist.
You cannot fast as you do today,
hoping to make your voice heard on high.
5 Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard.
9 At that time, when you call, the LORD will answer;
when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you get rid of the yoke among you,
the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,
10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted one,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and your night will be like noonday.
11 The LORD will always lead you,
satisfy you in a parched land,
and strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
and like a spring whose waters never run dry.
12 Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
you will restore the foundations laid long ago;
you will be called the repairer of broken walls,
the restorer of streets where people live.
13 “If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath,
from doing whatever you want on My holy day;
if you call the Sabbath a delight,
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
seeking your own pleasure, or talking too much;
14 then you will delight yourself in the LORD,
and I will make you ride over the heights of the land,
and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

God does not want us to fast in sackcloth and ashes, drawing attention to ourselves. God wants us to set people free of anything and everything that enslaves and traps them. God wants us to share our food with people who are hungry, share our homes with people who are homeless, to clothe people who have nothing, and to not neglect our families. We are to make sure that others have as good as we have, by sharing what we have with those who have nothing.

Micah 6:6-8

6 What should I bring before the LORD
when I come to bow before God on high?
Should I come before Him with burnt offerings,
with year-old calves?
7 Would the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams
or with ten thousand streams of oil?
Should I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the child of my body for my own sin?
8 Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the LORD requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

The only offerings God wants from us is to show justice and mercy, and be humble when following God’s commandments.

What are those commandments? They are in Exodus 20:1-17

Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
3 Do not have other gods besides Me.
4 Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.
7 Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
13 Do not murder.
14 Do not commit adultery.
15 Do not steal.
16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

In summation – know that God is the only God, and worship only God. Don’t use God’s name casually. Rest on the Sabbath. Honor your parents. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t want anything that your neighbor has.

Jesus boils it all down to two simple rules in Matthew 22:34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

If you love God and your neighbor (everyone else) then you will not violate any of the commandments. You won’t make idols, worship other gods, or use God’s name without reason if you love God. You can’t murder, steal from, or lie about anyone if you love them.

Jesus tells us more with a parable in Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry
and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you took care of Me;
I was in prison and you visited Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’
40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!
42 For I was hungry
and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty
and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43 I was a stranger
and you didn’t take Me in;
I was naked
and you didn’t clothe Me,
sick and in prison
and you didn’t take care of Me.’
44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’
45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We are to treat everyone as if they are Jesus – to serve them in the same way. This means that we are to give food to the hungry, something to drink to the thirsty, give shelter to the stranger, give clothes to the naked, and take care of people who are sick and/or in prison.

If we do all these things, then, and only then, can we say that we are Christian nation. Let us focus our efforts on being known for our love by serving others – feeding, clothing, welcoming. If we do that, we won’t have time for anything else which we’ve been deluded by false pastors into thinking we have to do.

(All translations are HCSB)

Blessing

Jesus says “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

The apostle Paul says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

When we align ourselves with what Jesus wants us to do, anything is possible. But the important thing is that we have to remember that it has to be what Jesus wants. Remember he says “Take up my yoke” not “Yoke me with your plans.” We are to get in line with what Jesus is doing, rather than just inviting Jesus into what we are doing.

So often we try to do things backwards. We all too often tell God what we want to do and then ask God to bless it, rather than asking God to bless us by telling us what to do.

Remember the phrase “God is my co-pilot”? I saw a church sign recently that said it works better if we switch seats. Let God be in charge. You might not get where you want to go, but you’ll get where you need to go.

On depression, addiction and following God’s commandments

Several of the many blessings in Judaism give thanks to God for sanctifying us by giving us commandments. What does this mean? We are made sacred when we follow the commands that God has given us.

While reading this week’s Torah portion (Bechukotai), I was struck by how this relates to depression and addiction. When we stray from the path of order, we get sick. The word “Sanitary” refers to being clean. Insane literally means “not-clean”. When we act in a good way, we stay clean and sane.

In Leviticus Chapter 26, God is telling us what will happen if we don’t follow the commands that we have been given.
(14-17)
14 “But if you do not obey Me and observe all these commands— 15 if you reject My statutes and despise My ordinances, and do not observe all My commands—and break My covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring terror on you—wasting disease and fever that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will sow your seed in vain because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will turn against you, so that you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even though no one is pursuing you.

“Terror, and your life will ebb away”? Sounds a lot like anxiety and depression. And we will run even though nobody is pursuing us? That sounds like anxiety too, always in a panic.

Note that this is not some random punishment. It is the natural result of dis-order – of not following the order, the commandments, of God. It is more that we are punished by our bad choices, rather than God is punishing us.

19-20
19 I will break down your strong pride. I will make your sky like iron and your land like bronze, 20 and your strength will be used up for nothing. Your land will not yield its produce, and the trees of the land will not bear their fruit.

“Your strength will be used up for nothing” sounds very familiar. Depression feels like nothing you do is meaningful or worthwhile. What little energy you have amounts to nothing.

26
26 When I cut off your supply of bread, 10 women will bake your bread in a single oven and ration out your bread by weight, so that you will eat but not be satisfied.

Depression and addiction both feel like you are never satisfied. Nothing ever makes you happy. You never feel fulfilled.

36
36 “I will put anxiety in the hearts of those of you who survive in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a wind-driven leaf will put them to flight, and they will flee as one flees from a sword, and fall though no one is pursuing them.

More anxiety and terror, even though there is no discernable reason for it. Once again, this is part of depression and anxiety.

43
43 For the land abandoned by them will make up for its Sabbaths by lying desolate without the people, while they pay the penalty for their sin, because they rejected My ordinances and abhorred My statutes.

And this is all for when we choose to disobey God.

Yet, even though we abandon God, God does not abandon us.
44-45
44 Yet in spite of this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject or abhor them so as to destroy them and break My covenant with them, since I am Yahweh their God. 45 For their sake I will remember the covenant with their fathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God; I am Yahweh.”

We can turn around right now, and start acting correctly. We can be like the prodigal son, and return, right now, to obeying God.

Jesus boils down all of the commandments to two – Love God, and love your neighbor. Treat your neighbor how you like to be treated.

(All translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

God or man?

As followers of Jesus, we are told repeatedly to follow God and not humans.

We are not to have religious leaders.

Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 43 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

We are to treat everyone equally.

John 13:13-15
13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

Only God is above us – we should not take on airs and call or be called by titles. We are to be equal.

Matthew 23:8-12
8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven.10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus tells us that we aren’t even supposed to follow our own family.

Luke 14:26
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple.

We are to follow human laws, however.

Matthew22:15-21
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap Him by what He said.16 They sent their disciples to Him, with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that You are truthful and teach truthfully the way of God. You defer to no one, for You don’t show partiality. 17 Tell us, therefore, what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But perceiving their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing Me, hypocrites? 19 Show Me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought Him a denarius. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” He asked them. 21 “Caesar’s,” they said to Him. Then He said to them, “Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 3:13-15
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him,“Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized.

Matthew 17:24-27
24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the double-drachma tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the double-drachma tax?” 25 “Yes,” he said. When he went into the house, Jesus spoke to him first,“What do you think, Simon? Who do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes from? From their sons or from strangers?” 26 “From strangers,” he said. “Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him. 27 “But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”

Peter and his fellow apostles understood this message. The Jewish leaders ordered them to stop telling people about Jesus.

Acts 4:19-20
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

And later, when they persisted in teaching about Jesus, they replied the same way.

Acts 5:27-29
27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.

So why do the vast majority of today’s churches have ordained ministers, bishops, or elders? Why do we separate and elevate? To elevate certain members of the church over others means to make the others unequal, lesser-than. This is in direct opposition to the instructions of Jesus. If you are in a church that has leaders who are above you, be sure to follow God first and foremost. If God speaks to your heart and a minister tells you to not talk about it or to not do what God said, then you must follow God and not the minister.

(All verses are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Don’t worship the door.

“Jesus once said ‘I am the door’ – and he was correct. A door is something to go through. The church, however, has remained at the threshold of the door, worshiping it, afraid to enter.” – former Episcopal priest Peter Calhoun in his book “Soul on Fire”

“We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of ‘belonging and believing’ instead of a religion of transformation.” – Richard Rohr

“A rich young man approached Jesus, and kneeling down before him, said ‘Good Teacher, what do I have to do to attain eternal life?’ Jesus asked him “Why do you call me good? There’s only One who is good, and that is God. If you want to have eternal life, then keep the Commandments. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie about anyone, honor your parents, and love your neighbor as yourself.” — Matthew 19:16-17, Mark 10:17-19, Luke 18:18-20 (from The Condensed Gospel rendition, in “The Rich Young Man”)

Jesus never wanted us to worship him. Jesus wants us to follow him to God. Only God is above us.

Remember all the times that Jesus walked away from the crowds who were trying to make him king? He didn’t want it. Even today, the Jews use the fact that he wasn’t an earthly king to prove that he was not the Messiah. They also say that it is idolatry to worship Jesus as God.

Jesus would agree.

Remember the commandment to “have no other Gods before Me”? That includes Jesus. He constantly pointed people back towards God. He didn’t want to be worshipped. He wanted people to follow him to God.

Christianity has made an idol out of Jesus, rather than seeing him as a teacher and a guide.