I’m So Thankful

I am so blessed

I flew in from a trip yesterday. I finally arrived at my home at about 9pm. This is when I began cooking my dinner. I like to prepare everything in advance and I was in bed by about 2am.

Needless to say, I was exhausted.
I began cooking again at 8:30 this morning. I had talked with a friend about making a turkey on the grill and I thought, “Why not?”
I looked up some instructions online and decided to try it out.
I read that, once you’ve grilled a turkey, you won’t go back to the oven.
I can tell you that from the response of the critics, that it is worth the effort.
I always have a friend who I invited. He has no family here, and we love him.
He’s from Senegal and has lived in this country for quite a long time. He always tells me that his mother was asking about me.
He puts everyone else off, until he finds out what our plans are, because he tells his friends, “We are his family.”
I was so tired, and had a difficult time, because of my exhaustion, but my family makes it worth it.
My mother is here this Thanksgiving and I’m reminded of how many times, I’d called her on this day, and she was all alone.
The conversation was always the same. “Mom? Did you do anything today?”
“Oh, no. It’s really quiet in my building.”
“Mom, didn’t you even have a special meal or someone to visit?”
“No, it’s ok. I don’t like to cook a big meal, just for myself.”
I know it’s just that she doesn’t know anyone, who has made her part of their family, and she was way too far, for me to drop in. But still the sadness of her solitude, seemed to creep into my own soul.
This year, there she was. Standing in my kitchen, distracting me constantly,with her chatter. As I was flitting about, I have gotten this down to a science, she’s talking nonstop.
Now my son is up with me to help. He actually did help me this year.
My brother and my mother, refuse to go to bed, when I return home, because I sense, they are excited by my arrival and long to fill me in on all the details of my absence.
When I begin to feel irritation creeping in, I squash it. “My mom, will not be with me forever, and I never know how many dinners, I can make for her,” I think.
At times, I will ask my son for a big hug, and I will tell him, “A mother only gets so many hugs and kisses, and then it’s over. I have to get what I can, while I have the chance.” He always rolls his eyes and laughs.
Now, I did it again. I made way too much food. But I know that I will be packing a ‘care package,’ for my friend, like I always do.
I save all kinds of plastic containers, so that I can send him with enough food to last.
I tell him he needs to gain weight. And he laughs. “You will make me fat!” He tells me.
Now, I sit down, and we thank God for all He’s blessed us with. At one moment, I say, “I’m thankful that this Thanksgiving, I have my mom, with us.”
I look at her and say, “Your turn.”
She says, “I’m thankful that I am sharing this Thanksgiving with believers.”
Wow, that surprised me. My mother never seems this introspective.
We went around the table. Each person giving thanks for something.
My son, of course gave thanks for the food, first. (Always his priority)
My brother was so cute. He thanked God for ‘The Packers,’ in true Wisconsin form!
As I looked around, I remembered a conversation I had with a flight attendant the other day.
I met her when I was commuting on another airline. She asked me, “Are you a believer?” “Yes, I told her.
As we talked, she shared some of her sorrow, after a painful divorce and the loss of her stepchildren’s affection.
I told her about something which the Lord revealed to me, years ago, about my own, stepchildren.
I told her that as the Lord hung on the cross, he said, in his dying breath, “Mother, behold your son.” And to John, “John, behold your mother.”
He was revealing something very powerful in this statement, as the words of a dying man, would seem to be the most important of all.
He was pointing out that, we are not related to each other by our blood, we are related by His blood.”
It is His shed blood on the cross, and our acceptance of this sacrifice, which makes us one family. The eternal family.
She began to cry, as she said, “You have ministered to me, in ways you do not know.”
“Oh, believe me,” I told her, “You’ve ministered to me as well. It is what the Lord told us, “To encourage one another.”
We hugged and exchanged info.
But today, as I look around my table, I am most thankful, for the life, He gave, to make us one!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Why Would You Go Back To the Law?

There is a choice

There is a choice

We keep doing it, over and over again, without ever realizing it. It’s so subtle. Yes, as Bob Dylan said, “The enemy is subtle, how be it we are deceived? When the truth is in our hearts, and  we still won’t believe? Shine Your Light, Shine Your Light On Me!(Precious Angel) We keep returning to the law,  which cannot save.

Now do you think that the Jews are any different from any religious system of works?They were chosen because they were the only nation that believed in the one true God. All of the other nations followed pagan gods. This is why God had to preserve them as His people and made covenant with them. He alone gave them all of these laws. And this is what bound them to Himself. He had to preserve them as His own to bring the messiah through them. God will not take back His covenant, nor deny Himself.

The Jews were blinded by hundreds of laws. Don’t you remember? They were handed down from God Himself . Were they given just to amuse Himself? Absolutely not. They all had a purpose. Here’s an example of one of the hundreds. The two goats. Only one was to be used on the Day of Atonement. The scapegoat, was released after the sins of the nation of Israel had been placed upon its head. It is of course where we get the term, “scapegoat,”  It is also the reason that you will see so many demonically inspired uses in the artwork today. I’m amazed after it had been pointed out to me. A picture of sin. An innocent animal left to die. Hmm, interesting picture.

Now all of those laws. So many and a lot just didn’t make much sense. They all were types and foreshadows of messiah. Yet, when Paul spoke he clearly reminded the Jews that if they chose to go back to the law, they would have be judged by the law and if they violated one, they violated the whole of the law. He said that “the laws had  to been given,  to point us to our need of a savior!.

Indeed, we had no desire to sin until the law was given!” Oh, I love that! Just look at Adam and Eve in the garden. Oh, better yet. Look at a little child and their innocence…until you tell them they can’t touch something. That’s when that rebellion rears it’s ugly head. Now remember how the Pharisees chastised Jesus for healing a  man on the Sabbath? How preposterous was that? He IS the sabbath! He had to ask them if it was easier to forgive the man or heal him? Then he told him to pick up his mat and walk? He was always rocking the proverbial boat of the religious leaders, but yet He was the leader and they were so blinded with religious pride, couldn’t see Him. I thought it humorous and sad.

“The law of sin and death is in the flesh.” We are born into sin but thanks be to Jesus Christ who has set us free from the law of  sin and the grave! Now, when we look at all of the man-made doctrines it is a subtle way of taking us back to the law, once again. Trying to earn our way. We must do as Paul told the Bereans to do. Question everything by scripture. My pastor taught me to do this in my church and one day I had to even do this with him once. I have great respect for him, yet the Lord commands us to line everything up with His word.

When I was in the Lutheran church I started to question the spiritual leaders. I realized that Martin Luther had split from the Catholic church because he discovered they had not been teaching from scripture the fundamentals, “that we are saved by grace not by works.” Of course there was the Reformation and many people realized that only the leadership  had a bibles, and Martin Luther found one, hidden away and saw these truths which began the split. We know that one “comes to faith by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So that changed the whole course of history, but then the Lutheran’s also erred. They also became legalistic. No different from the Pharisees of old. I wanted to know God. I didn’t care about any man’s religion. I could see as a young girl who Christ never stood in the midst of crowds and stated, “now look guys I want you to be Baptists, you to be Catholics and you to be Jews.” And Jesus was a Jew for good reason. Born into the nation of Israel. God didn’t make a mistake. I wanted to understand this convenant.

Another thing that I noticed as a young girl was that the only time Jesus seemed to have a problem was when he was confronted by those religious guys.He really didn’t spend very much time inside the temple. Here I was seeing the same thing with religious people. And when I went with my girlfriend to see Jesus Christ Superstar, something powerful happened watching that crucifixion scene. I noticed that the doctrines in my church became more ritualistic and I started to question them as a young girl. I saw things in my bible that weren’t being taught.  Perhaps because these leaders didn’t understand. I saw Nicodemus go to Jesus and ask him how he could enter the kingdom of heaven. I heard Jesus tell him plainly, “unless a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” I wondered at this and many other things that were spoken. I wondered what made our religion, “right,” and everyone else s wrong.

Then, something happened to me. A spiritual experience. It was so noticable that a pastor called me in to speak to me about it. He wanted to know. But how could he explain it? They all went to seminary, but were never taught that to be ‘born again,’ is an experience that the Lord was telling Nicodemus must happen to each person if they are to enter the kingdom of God. We must become like a child before this experience takes place. It is not a religion and we cannot keep the laws. We must simply have faith and know that He is the savior who has fulfilled the laws. We must know we are a sinner and cannot keep any laws as Paul says and if those laws weren’t given, we would have no reason to sin.

Now it wasn’t until Roman Emperor Constantine came on the scene, and became a Christian that Catholicism began.He became born again. He was so zealous, that he wanted the whole of Rome to become Christian, however they had all been pagans up to this point.As most people understand, you cannot force conversions. Especially since these pagans, were anti-Semitic and the Christians, for the most part, were still mostly Jewish. So, to make it more palatable, he allowed the mix of the pagan practices. The Goddess Astarte, for example was worshipped. She was the goddess of fertility. And instead of celebrating Passover, which the Romans, would not do, they used eggs and bunnies, etc. as and celebrated Easter or Resurrection Sunday.

Sunday, was taken from the Sun God( yes, even our calendars have pagan roots), and although Jesus did not celebrate His own birthday anywhere in scripture, He did celebrate the Festival of Lights, Chanukah and it was on this day that he spoke to the religious leaders when he stated, “I am the light of the world!” Claiming to be the center candle of the menorah, gives this whole new meaning when we understand this from His perspective.

Without offending anyone, as Paul has stated, “everything is acceptable, but everything is now acceptable in the Lord, since we have freedom in the Spirit, however, everything is not beneficial.” Yes, in my house, I do both. I celebrate Resurrection Sunday, yet I also celebrate the Passover, since I know that the Lord Is the Passover. I know that He did not celebrate Easter and place a basket of eggs and chocolate bunnies around his house. Although its okay. Let me tell you, if you’ve ever been to a seder, you will wonder why the Jews do not see Jesus as the messiah. I recommend every believer do this. The Lord told us that it is meant for all of us to celebrate throughout every generation They are not called the Jewish Feasts, but the Feasts of the Lord. And they are meant for believers more than anyone else and in them is a mystery;the timetable of God, unlocked only by those with the Spirit of God.

What the Lord told us to do is this: “Learn of Me Not any religious doctrine, not any man-made institution. It was in the name of every religion that He was crucified. The word religion itself means, a return to bondage. I want freedom. Freedom in Christ. Freedom from the law to know Him.But now I know, I am part of this covenant. I am no longer judged by the law and there is nothing greater than this. I want everyone to know this freedom.

He is the beginning and  the end of everything. The Alpha and Omega.

I Am A Thief

Today was my day of reckoning.

Yes, today. I was asked a question a few days ago about my past and I told them what I thought to be a truthful answer, but it wasn’t until my post, yesterday that I had a recall  new events.The Lord reminded me of my youth and how different I am now. But still, I am reminded that indeed:

I am a thief. Yes and a liar. And I am self-righteous. I had all but forgotten these events because I colored them as grey and they were so muted, that I saw myself as a “whiter shade of pale.” And so much better than others.

When I was young I was very rebellious and I thought that a life of crime would be perfect. I lived in the inner city and this is a badge of honor. You earn bragging rights for stealing.And living in a project brings a special toughness for a girl’s survival.

My brother and I still laugh about a guy that was bragging to me one day while we were walking down the street. He was telling me about the houses he had broken into and he pointed to the homes. “Yep, I broke into that one, and that one, and that one.” This is when he pointed to my house!

I was furious! “You A**! My mother freaked out!” I told him. And she did. I remember that night. She went downstairs and screamed. She said, “Get out of my house before I get my husband”, as she ran back up the stairs.

Well, after he realized how mad I was, he was so scared, he said, “Hey listen, I need a brown bag. I’ll pay you $30. “Ok,” I said. That made up for it, I guess. That’s how we did things in the ghetto. My brother and I thought he was a little slow anyway. Why would you rob from poor people? It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, we didn’t break into homes, but we did steal and it seemed it was acceptable. Me and my friends would go out on sprees and it just was a part of life in the ghetto Somehow stealing from stores rather than a person didn’t seem the same. And it was with those pastor’s kids that Iremember first learning some of these tricks, as well. Remember,(as I stated below) that they felt they had something to prove and the peer pressure is terrible at that age. I think of this and watch my children carefully. Our conscience didn’t seem to bother us. A few friends had been caught,(including a couple of those pk’s) but I wasn’t, and was almost proud of that.I’m reminded of the scripture, “They glory in their shame.” I quit before I was caught, but not because of my conscience, but more out of fear.

But, I realized today, I am exactly like those people who I have been so angry with. Those executives that have robbed me, are just of a different caliber, yet the heart is still the same.People working in big corporations look at the up line and almost believe that if “they’ve had things stolen from them, it’s acceptable to steal.” I’ve heard them say this. They believe they are taking back what’s been stolen from them.

I remember when I worked for Eastern Airlines and the employees were told to call Wackenhut Security if they suspected anyone of stealing. They were given a 1-800 to call. This was after we had been asked to give a 20% wage concession, which wasn’t to wise on the company’s behalf, as the phone lines were flooded with calls from employees reporting theft. “Yes, I’d like to report a theft.” “Can you tell me what was stolen?” “Yes, 20% seems to be missing from my paycheck!” The company was so irritated with this ingenious strategy from the employees, that they shut down the Wackenhut lines. It’s rather humorous, but as the saying goes, “there’s no honor among thieves.” They couldn’t really expect that to work.

The Lord has shown me this day, that whether it is me, or it is the corporate managers that have been driven by greed,

He died for us. We are all thieves. We are all liars.We are all sinners. I have been so angry because I felt these people and their greed killed my father.

But the Lord showed me something about those thieves on the cross. My father was the thief too. My father would have been next to the Lord, on the cross too. We all crucified Him. It is the reason that we have been given this picture of Him at Calvary.

Two thieves. One on each side of Christ.The only difference is that one of the thieves recognizes his need of the savior and accepts His free gift of salvation and the other  does not. The other was still trying to justify himself, even on his own cross. Unwilling to humble himself.

The other hurls insults at the only one that can save him. Never the less, they both are still thieves like us. They both are lost without a savior.

So I must be reminded, that I am a sinner, saved by grace. As Paul said, “I repent daily. I must be reminded that Paul, Murdered Christians, Peter denied Christ, and all of the disciples were tragically martyred for their faith, so who am I? To be counted amoung such great men and women of faith?

“We all like sheep have gone astray.” Isaiah 53:6

The Lord told me this day, that until I realize that “I am the thief and the liar,” He cannot use me to bring others to the knowledge of Christ. Until I realize that I’m not any better than these men. I’m not  more saved. We have the same free offer. There is no degree of sin in the Lord’s eyes. It’s not to say, that we aren’t accountable. He will see to that in His time. We have all paid the price for our sins, but the Lord comes to show us the way out of captivity.

I will hold no anger, but I will strive to have love and peace.

I felt so justified. But I cannot be justified. But I can be forgiven. And I want these that do not know Him, to also know what it is to be forgiven. To know what this means. To have the slate wiped clean. The peace that this brings.Finally…the cessation of lust. True peace.

And the most beautiful picture of all. What did Christ say to the thief that asked, “Lord, will you take me with you when you enter into your kingdom?” He answered, “I tell you the truth, this very day you shall enter with me into paradise!”

There you have it. Everything in this man’s life. Under the blood.

All is forgiven.

He is the Prince of Peace!

We all crucified Him

We all crucified Him