Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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God Honors Laws of Man

Panorama_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_Building_at_Dusk

From my facebook files:

Man can create laws, but God already has his laws in place and there is no higher court capable of overturning or revising those laws. Make no mistake…God will not honor any laws created by man. Have no fear, He is still on His throne! And He still loves all sinners….me included.

Dear facebook friend,

It is fortunate for you that what you have been and done for your whole life isn’t illegal. That somehow makes your past not so…sinful. Sure, you’re straight. But you got knocked up out of wedlock. And, like me, you’re divorced and remarried.   And, really, I think you have that whole thing about God not honoring the laws of man all wrong.  Your Good Book says:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13: 1-10(NIV)

 

Sounds like God approves of marriage(that’s what we’re calling it now).  So please stop making the baby Jesus cry.  Show your neighbors some love and respect, will ya?

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God Does His Child a Solid

From my Facebook files:

I truly have favor with God!!! I need a new refrigerator for the house that I am moving to next month……Home Depot now has the $1700 refrigerator I wanted on sale for $998!!! It appears Samsung is trying to penetrate the market!!! If you guys need or know of anyone in need, spread the word!!! The sale ends July 15th. Thank you Jesus!!!!!

Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Dear facebook friend,
I’m so glad God saw to it that The Home Depot had a sale on for the exact refrigerator you wanted for your dream home in the mountains. It is a miracle. Surely you have garnered more favor than those faithful believers who don’t have enough money for their rent, or medications, or food. And it is likely that God’s provision for you will become the good fortune of another as they turn the box into a home.
God is good.  All the time.


107 Comments

Broken and Spilled Out

shattered-glass-1-daniele-smith

Often when reading blog posts I’m triggered.  Not into a downward spiral of despair.  More of a remembrance.  A remembrance of who I used to be.  A remembrance that causes me to take note of who I am today in relation to that person.

As I read this post at VictoriaNeuronotes and the subsequent comments I was brought to just such a remembrance. I remembered when I thought so little of myself that wanted nothing more than to be broken and spilled out because of what my supposed savior had done for me.  I was, in my mind, such a wicked person; so evil and vile that only a perfect blood sacrifice could atone for my shame, my depravity, my iniquity.  Unworthy of such a sacrifice I would be willing to sell my soul to the one who had made such a sacrifice.

I was reminded of this song by Steve Green which used to be a sort of personal anthem:

Broken and Spilled Out

One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn

And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a prisoner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of You, Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on thee

Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee

Lord, You were God’s precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me the love of the Father
Just for love it was done

And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me, Jesus
God’s most precious treasure
Lavished on me

Broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet, in sweet abandon
Lord, You were spilled out
And used up for me

I so identified with the very first verse of Amazing Grace:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

I even took to heart that John Newton had originally written, “…that saved a worm like me.”

A worm.  I was nothing more without Jesus than a wriggling worm in the dung heap of life. As a result of being told over and over that I was born as an affront to God, his enemy, I needed Jesus to mediate on my behalf. Made in God’s image, of course.  But I marred that image from the start by my own unrighteousness.  Anything good, and noble, and beautiful were the remnants of God’s perfect image.  The blackness, the ugliness, the humanness, that was all me. And that part of me deserved eternal damnation in a lake of fire. I needed a savior. And like anyone who has ever been saved from a sure fate of hell I was enamored with the savior.

This, folks, is the prescription company defining the disease and selling the cure.

I wanted to be broken and spilled out and used up in sweet abandon for any cause to which my savior called me.   And I was.  I was broken.  Every bit of my essence spilled out.  Shattered into a million little pieces.

You see, just as Victoria states in her excellent post, this all comes at a price.  Any notion of self-worth is hijacked and jack-knifed. Why would any loving parent want their child to be so broken?  How can this be called love?  In any other setting, if you removed the super-natural being from all of this, we would see it as twisted and abusive.  How can we just excuse this and say that because this is God there is some sort of caveat that makes this all different?somethingnew

So I’ve taken my million little pieces of broken and spilled out mess and I’m putting them back together.  I’m making something new.  I am reborn.


5 Comments

Failure to Communicate

Hello? Is anyone there?! Hello?! Hello?!?CommunicationProblems

Everyone wants to hear a word from a god, don’t they?  I mean, come on, what good is a one-sided relationship?

In that spirit dutiful believers seek out how the Christian God might be speaking to them.  Most of us wouldn’t admit that we’ve heard from him audibly for fear that we’d be carted off in a straightjacket to a padded cell. We are skeptical when someone contends they’ve received a message from the ‘Almighty’ and rightly so. So what’s a person who wants to hear from the entity who supposedly created them to do?

Well, there’s an art to it, of course.  One must learn this skill.  I didn’t obtain my “salvation” and automatically think that I was hearing the still small voice of God voices in my head.  I hunted it down like a dog after a bone.

Through numerous Bible studies and time in prayer I learned how to hear the gentle whisper of God believe the voice in my head was God because, surely, if there is a God who wants to be my father – my friend – he would talk to me, wouldn’t he? In a desperate effort to hear that voice, to know God’s plan, and to have a relationship with an invisible entity I took the Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God Bible Study Course written by Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King.  It was awesome!  I really learned how to listen to God the voice in my head.

Here are the seven realities of experiencing the Christian God.

1. God is always at work around you.

It’s a given.  If God created this joint, and all the stuff on it and around it, he can’t be done.  He’s still working.  It’s obvious. So first things first; assume there is a God, it’s definitely the Christian God of the Bible, and he’s pulling the strings like Mister Geppetto.

2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

Oh boy!  The same God who spoke all this into being wants to be in a relationship with me!  And he’s doing the pursuing.  Never mind that he’s invisible.  Never mind that I’m the one in hot pursuit. Never mind that I’m there by invitation of the teacher of the class.  Just know that he’s not going to talk to you about anything else until you succumb to his wooing.  Why, you wouldn’t even be here in this class if he hadn’t beckoned you to come.  Doesn’t this prove to you how much he loves you and how hard he’s pursuing you?  He had the teacher invite you!

3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

Once you accept God’s proposition he’ll start talking to you about other stuff; he’ll start telling you some of his secrets.  Now you’re really getting somewhere because, not only does he want to the lover of your soul – your savior, he wants you to do things for with him.  He doesn’t really need your help, but it sure would come in handy.  This is, after all, how he works; through his people.  How else could his work get done since he doesn’t do magic anymore?

4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

fishfarts

Red Herrings, that is.

Ah, now we’re there.  This is how God speaks to his minions people.  If you want to hear God’s voice this is the way.  Those voices in your head have suddenly transformed.  No longer are they your own thoughts. No, your thoughts have been replaced and they are God’s Spirit communing with your own.  Those Bible verses that are bouncing around in your head during your prayer time? They’re not just Bible verses anymore.  That’s God speaking to you.  And just so you don’t go off half-cocked thinking you’ve heard a word, you look for other “evidence”.  Do opportunities you’ve been working on suddenly fall into place? Did the sermon on Sunday Morning seem to coincide with what you’ve been praying about? Was it seemingly pointed directly at you? Did your friend from church say something that was particularly poignant at the time?  Well…God!

Never mind that you could be reading meaning into things that aren’t even there.  When you’re looking for meaning everywhere you’re bound to find it everywhere you look.

5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.

Poop or get off the pot!  Put your money where yourconditioned-response-cartoon mouth is!  This is what you’ve been waiting for – what you’ve been created for.  God has communicated with you and now you’ve got to decide whether to obey or not.  To obey or not to obey?  Is it really even a question at this point?  If you don’t are you really even saved?

6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

Sacrifice?  After all that God has done to get you here, after all he’s sacrificed for you, how can you say no?  Just do it!

7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

Once you’ve obeyed and accomplished whatever purpose you thought God was communicating to you, you feel closer to God, you feel as if God has spoken to you and you really are in a relationship. You’re a real boy now, Pinocchio!  If it all went to hell in a handbag you obviously heard something wrong.  Go back to number four, or possibly even number two, because God doesn’t tell people wrong – they listen wrong.

This is what most Christians mean when they say that God speaks to them.  It is a giant cipher and now you have the decoder ring.  You look for God everywhere and you look for answers to prayer in every little thing.  In this way, yes, I believed that God spoke to me.

When I didn’t sense God speaking to me I assumed it to be a massive failure on my part.  As is posited in the study, “If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the heart of your Christian experience.”(p. 43, Experiencing God Workbook).  The implication is that if you don’t hear God in these ways there is something wrong with you; that you must be doing something wrong.  Another self-check. It feels like you’re stuck in that episode of House where the patient has CIPA. Always with the self-checking, re-checking, examining.

But wait…I thought it was God who was doing the pursuing. If God is pursuing me why does it feel as though I’m doing all the chasing?  And if he’s pursuing me and I’m chasing him why haven’t run into each other? There you are, left with that big, fat circular reasoning.  Zero. Zilch. Nothing.  This might also explain why many never question their faith.  People who believe they are hearing God’s voice have no desire to question their belief and those who aren’t are too busy chasing their tails to ever entertain the questions.

When questioning the object of your affection is viewed as a sin, in and of itself, there you have it – God’s spirit has been “quenched” in you, else you wouldn’t be doubting.  Again, the implication is that you have done something to cause this.  If you are hearing from God it is because God is good and kind and if you’re not it’s because you’ve been a bad little puppy.  Because in the mind of the believer God is good all the time and all the time God is Good.  Imagine my relief when I discovered that this failure to communicate was due to the fact that there just isn’t a god; with a big G or a little g.  I could finally stop doing the crazy dance.


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Splat!

Image

What does it mean if you go splat?

I know, I know…it means you went you’re own way.  What if you have no control over the journey, the destination, or the wreckage?  What about when you’re diagnosed with cancer?  What about when your child is diagnosed with cancer or born with a disability?  What about when you lose your job through no fault of your own? What about when the hurricane hits or you’re trapped by a wildfire that burns out of control? What about when you’re born in a third-world country with no resources, no choices, no options?

What about that, huh?

Splat!