Sally

Sally is a little rescue dog. Her life up to this point, has not been good. Yet somehow she has maintained a kind and peaceful demeanour and loves Carys, my step mother. Since my Dad died two years ago, life for Carys has become very alone, and aged bones do not keep exercised as much as younger ones. 

Sally came along. She is with Carys always. She goes to church with Carys on Sunday morning and sits quietly beside her chair. When the people stand up to sing, Sally stands up too. Do you think God recognises the small gesture from a little rescue dog? 

When Carys gets up to play the piano, Sally goes too and she sits and watches her owner play the tunes for the people to sing. Such devotion…

Seems like greater devotion than many Christians I have known. We are so casual the way we approach God’s throne of grace. We seem to constantly ask for things, but never adore Him or love Him for who He is. I think maybe Sally needs to teach church people some lessons… maybe we should let dogs-that-care, into church, to show us how to care for the people in our lives. 

The Lord Jesus talked about the praise from little children… do we hear from them in church.? He loves to hear their words and songs. Children are sincere and haven’t yet learned the cynicism of a sick world. Similarly, the little dog lived with use and abuse, and yet maintained a loving heart… 

Should we wish it, we learn from humbler things than ourselves. When we lower our foolish minds to appreciate what the humble Lord of all things loves, we could make a difference. 

The spectre of abuse

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The specter of abuse is not confronted and dealt with adequately. Those who are regarded and remain lower than the accepted social structure, are vulnerable. It is easy to set the young up to become the property of those with immoral intentions. This can happen unintentionally, as the social rules are set and not questioned or thought through. Young women are groomed to be the prey of unscrupulous men and the sheltered upbringing of young people in organisations, is a hunting ground for the predator.

It appears that abuse is soft-pedaled, and women realise the consequences for them if they should talk about it. The horror of abuse become yet another horror of the possibility of your social group knowing your inner pain and heartaches. Whether we like it or not there are still consequences for sufferers of abuse and judgment of their moral values for being involved in such a situation.

Many women, are silent and carry around huge burdens throughout their lives. Even though they have done nothing wrong, they are sidelined and blamed for being attractive, friendly, soft-hearted, and other female “weaknesses.” Women read the judgmental social mores extremely well, and they know that somehow they themselves will be blamed for what they have suffered.

Abuse is not an isolated issue but is linked with other issues. The status of women, and also children within the social hierarchy of our society is the chink in the protection for them as people. Abuse is a “higher” or “stronger” person taking advantage of another who is perceived as “lower” or “weak.” It is the attitude of the predator that searches for its prey, to maim and kill and destroy. There are those who believe it is their right to take pickings from women and they regard their own immoral behaviour, as part of the lessons of life. This happens on many levels. Human history has a heritage of men using women for their own gain.

If we are to deal with this issue, we must deal with the underlying attitudes that drive it along. We must take away all perceived justification for taking advantage of another person. The mindset of the bully must be dealt with and put out from our social psyche. This will be difficult to do, since it has been there from the start of time, and is an attitude that is part of our human character. The attitude of the weak being easy prey for the strong and power hungry, is an attitude that infiltrates all aspects of our human cultures.

There was one who broke the pattern. Even though He was the Lord of everything and all power resides in His will, He humbled Himself and came among us. He showed us healing and not hurt. He demonstrated humility and washed the feet of His rebellious creation. He loved the unlovely and healed their wounds. When we turned against Him and killed Him, He loved still and paid the awful price for our rebellion and hatred. He brings all who seek Him, into His eternal kingdom, and cancels all their debt and dispels all their fears.

We are not like this man. We cannot change people, or educate them into good behaviour. Our only hope as individual people, is to repent and be changed. The purpose of this man, this God, is to save us. Only He can do it. Only He can forgive sin and give a new heart. The answer to our problems in regard to abuse, is this Saviour.

We reject our own self-righteousness and ask for His. He gives it freely to anyone who believes. He alone is the answer for the abused and the abuser. There is no other hope. Our social groups must be places of refuge and protection, and that means we must act and be like He is. We must open our eyes to our own weaknesses and face our sins. When we deal with our own predisposition to regard others as less, we will be in a good place to address this issue in our minds, families, societies and cultures.

The Woman of God

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Psalm 112:1-10 is a profile and a prayer for all women who love the Lord their God.

“Praise the Lord.

Blessed is the woman who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.

Her children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in her house, and her righteousness endures forever.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the woman who is gracious and compassionate and righteous.

Good will come to the woman who is generous and lends freely, who conducts her affairs with justice. Surely the righteous woman will never be shaken; she will be remembered forever.

She will have no fear of bad news; her heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Her heart is secure, she will have no fear; in the end she will look in triumph on her foes.

She has freely scattered her gifts to the poor, her righteousness endures forever; her horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked woman will see and be vexed, she will gnash her teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked woman will come to nothing.”

 

Statutes

Psalm 119:14 NIV
“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.”

“Statutes” sound very dry. They conjure up a long list of rules that must be kept. They see somehow rigid. The word sounds so solid and unyielding. “Stature” is about being large and grand and unmovable. “Statutes” sound like statues and lifeless figures. Statutes are boring.

The person who wrote these lines had a different view. Statutes are to be loved and revelled in. This writer says he is rejoicing when he thinks of God’s statutes and is thrilled about following them.

What kind of person is this.?

This is someone who loves God with all their heart. The heart belongs to God and is in nature like God’s own heart. To follow God’s ways that He has laid down in the written Word, is like being given a huge amount of money. To be given a massive treasure or great riches, enables a person to do so many things they could not do before. The doors of life open to have and to do wonderful things. The excitement of getting riches can sometimes put people in a place they hadn’t imagined. It can even cause trouble for the person because it is too much for them to cope with.

To have God’s Word and to live in the light of it, is so exciting for this person. He says it is as if he has got an earthly inheritance which has filled his life with delight. But these statutes are eternal and last beyond the grave. For the Christian believer, God’s statutes are known, loved and rehearsed every day. The following of them brings joy to the heart.

Do we know them well enough to rejoice?

Do we know the God whose heart has spoken them?

Are those statutes full of meaning and power in our lives?

Psalm 119:15-16 NIV
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

These few verses denote for us holy, victorious Christian living…

Rhetorical questions

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Were you around when I made the worlds?

Did you watch me measure it out?

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Did you notice the first stars as they sang, or the angels shouting for joy?

Who controls the almighty seas?

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Do you summon up the dawn?

Does the shape of the earth depend on you?

Have you visited it’s vast expanses?

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What decides light and darkness?

Where are the storehouses of snow and hail?

That lightning, winds, rains and thunder?

From where does ice appear and the starry constellations?

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Are you in charge of all these – can you shout and they are subdued?

Can you feed the world?

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Do it’s creatres give birth for you or depend on you for food?

Will you now correct the Almighty?

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Answer me!

JOB 38+39

 

True fasting

Isaiah 58: 5-11 NIV

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.”

True fasting that pleases God, is a whole lifestyle choice. A state of mind and heart. It is a life that is wholly set apart for God and to God. It is a daily denying of self, and a giving up to God continually. It includes everything. No part of my day is for myself. 

The Christian is switched on to the will and purposes of God. It is all about the will of God and the ministry to other people. The Word of God is clear, that if we see a need, we meet that need. We will look for people, notice people who are in need. 

We are especially to meet the needs of our own family. To serve others and not serve the family, is not true fasting, or the sacrifice of praise to God. God is not pleased if we put others before our own people. It applies to parents to children and children to parents. 

You will know you are on the right lines, because people will see your witness to God. You will see your need to draw near to God. You will want to draw nearer and nearer to Him. You will get insight, healing and righteousness and the glory of God will keep you. This is true spiritual life and the progress towards heaven and home. 

You will have a direct line to God in prayer. You will thrive on that. The certainty of the oppression of other people’s gossip and destructive talk to bring you down, will come to nothing. Do not pay any attention to this talk. 

We also must put away all gossiping, in all its excusable forms! Malicious words about other people must be reined in and put to death. Our attitude must be that of Christ, who humbled Himself, even to death on a cruel cross for our sake. 

If you put sin and blame to death in your life, you will never walk in the darkness, but in the light of wisdom. You will know what to do. When life is barren, you will be satisfied. Indeed, you will get stronger and stronger in all the blessedness of God. The things you think you are giving up will be rendered useless, and all will be for eternity.

This is fasting.. 

Ridiculous question

I read ridiculous questions regarding the suffering of Christian people…
Can Christians suffer from mind illness?
Let me ask another question…
Can Christians suffer from Cancer?

Please understand how foolish this kind of thinking is. To determine mind illness to be something different in moral value to physical illness is foolish. It prejudges mind illness as somehow “evil” and has a negative moral label assigned to the sufferer on its disclosure.

There are too many people, who think that being a person who’s mind gets sick and tired of society, is an indicator that they are bad and best kept out of that society. We do not understand mind illness, therefore we fear it, along with avoiding the sufferer. We don’t want to educate ourselves about it because we might find out something scary about our own mindset. So sufferers are made scape-goats and left to struggle and find solace in something else.

Church culture has nothing to offer, and no one will speak up or dare to point out the coldness and lack of regard for a person in trouble. No one really understands and people believe mind illness is a sign of the judgment of God.

The problem here is spiritual, not medical or mental. Christians who suffer from severe physical illnesses, are supported and regarded as some kind of heroes. If they get better, they have a heroic status that sets them apart from the ordinary. If they die, they have finished their race well.

The mind sufferer is not regarded in the same light. They are relegated to the lowest spiritual caste, and their profound wrestling’s with deep hurt, pain and loss, is not recognised. Nor do we want to recognise it. Let someone else sort it out – it’s not our problem. There are professionals to deal with this – let them speak to them…so the outworking of our thoughts is exclusion.

If the mind sufferer manages to overcome, they are a kind of Pariah. We don’t want to get too close, as they might say something to disturb us. Again, we might discover an emotional problem of our own. If they don’t survive the trauma of prolonged pain and distress, well, that proves mind sufferers are not Christians..!!

We do not notice our inconsistent and discriminatory attitudes to other people who we think are not like us. We “forget” the hero’s of faith who suffered so greatly with these kinds of mind-hurts. More to the point, it is never pointed out. There are Bible characters, who’s writing accurately describes emotional and mind pain. But we don’t assign them the indignity of “mad” people. Those who are deemed “holy” cannot possible suffer from this kind of thing..!

We don’t realise that it could easily be us that suffers and psychiatric hospital is just up the road..!

Godly Christians who suffer, also have the pressure of not being able to talk about or admit their pain, lest they be relegated to the bottom of the religious pile. They struggle alone, until it gets so bad, they suffer a crisis in their thought life. The interpretation of this is that they have not “overcome” and are therefore “dubious”

So, mind sufferers must do what others seem not to do… they must lean heavily on their Saviour, and get to know Him better. Of course, the Lord Jesus draws near to all who seek Him with true hearts. He knows His mind sufferers who suffer so much, as He did. He identifies with every pain and enlightens the mind that is in trouble, to understand His Word in a deep way. Love grows.

When all others fail, to find the love of Christ is the most wonderful thing. The sufferer realises that Jesus is so real. His Word is true. The reality of a daily close walk with Himself, is for them.

The mind sufferer discovers that “church” actually hurts, not heals. The environment of “fellowship” is false and it troubles them. They start to doubt that they are Christians, because they don’t fit in with the system. They are troubled because they are told they have to come to church and do whatever they are told, otherwise they will fall and fail….

But the sufferer has been there already.!! There was no comfort from the pew. There was no kind council from the leaders. There is surely no acceptance in the fellowship – felt or not…

This is the crunch…

The mind sufferers in the “church” are the ones who are hurt by the double standards and false friendship. They see through the coldness and the lack of love – it hurts them, and they blame themselves.!!

The situation in the “church” culture actually exacerbates the pain they feel and the sense of isolation. The person goes down and it takes a long time for them to realise the links in the chain. “Church” hurts people. Christians are not like Christ. There must be more than is seen and displayed.

In fact, the mind sufferers are the litmus paper of the spirituality of the social situations around them. If the powers that be would educate themselves by talking to sufferers, the whole church could be helped. What if someone who knows their own mind and it’s dreadful chasms of darkness, and also knows the light of Christ, big time, we’re allowed to minister..! Resurrection might ensue… the lost might find a voice of salvation.

My personal situation as a sufferer, is that I stay away from the organised, prestigious, churchy structures. They will never accept me, and it took me a long time to accept that. Of course, I blamed myself. Then I discovered that “church” doesn’t actually want people like me. Also, I don’t need it..!! I realised more and more the power of the Spirit of God within me and as I kept close to Him, He taught me more and more. Then I realised this has been going on my whole life.!! I started to see my true love.  Then I started to realise I don’t need the acceptance- I am already accepted by my beloved – Jesus is all I need.

God took me into a variety of different situations and started to teach me to be a Christian in real life. It was real liberty. I started to find my feet like never before. I learned how to relate with all sorts of people and talk about Jesus to anyone. Courage grew and I discovered a holy boldness to reach out, branch out and trust in the living Lord Jesus,

I shed the dead feathers of religion, in a catastrophic moult. Foolish ideas that bore no fruit and were dragging me down, I left. Underneath was a suit of armour fit for my life as a Christian, to serve and fight to become more like Him. The Lord Jesus became my dearest friend and as I walked closer to Him, many earthly friends fell away. It is difficult to give your life to Him. He will take it all and give you love and courage and glory. Others might not like it.

To have a psyche that understands and can exercise wisdom, discretion and to face life with the holy boldness that comes from the Spirit of God is the Way. This is living…!! Heaven comes close and never seems far away whatever the circumstances. To survive and thrive in the fight against the oppression of the mind, is life’s great conquest. I now look back and view the pathway so differently than I once did. I hope never to get entangled with the pointless chains of religion again. When you experience the freedom of walking with Christ, it all fits into place and every part of me has joy and peace.

I still fight, but my armour is ready and I use it. I pray to go home to the Lord, full of good works and with many souls won for His glory. The pain and sickness are for His glory and my good.. I never dreamed I would ever say such a thing…

Too many Christians hover in the dark land of the mind. Turn to the Lord. He will save and keep you and show you how to fight and live. Give yourself to Him and you will not fail…

Women who glorify God