Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Long And Dusty Road

I dropped the pack onto the ground and sat down on it. "I'm tired. This road is rough, hot, dust, long."

Well, yes, I suppose it is. 

"And this pack is as heavy as ever."

Really? I could have sworn it was a bit lighter.

"Well...................... maybe in some ways........... at the moment."

Are you planning on picking up something along the way?

"No."

Hmmmm.

"You never know, though, do you?"

Well, I do. You probably don't but you certainly anticipate.

"Yes, well, I don't like surprises."

I know. But be honest with me. You're blood pressure is down. You seem to have figured out why you've been sick for the last few weeks. You keep forgetting to eat and your blood sugar is bottoming out. Your RA, while not really under control, is not at the raging high it has been for nearly a year. You have your granddaughter living with you so you are worrying less about her.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say that."

Hmmmm. No, you wouldn't. But you are far less worried about her than before.

"I'll give you that one."

Big of you.

{sigh}

So you're going to do that?

I know but how else can I convey it? If I were really writing a story, I'd have said that I sighed and that would be wrong, too. I sighed. It is what it is.

You're still a little uncertain, aren't you?

"Maybe."

I don't break my promises.

"Was it a promise?"

Did I say it?

"Yes. But you know I never trust myself about these things."

We've been doing this a long time. And is it me or you that you don't trust?

"I don't trust the voice in my head sometimes."

I suppose in some ways that is better than listening to every voice you hear. 

"But I think I did trust it this time."

Yes. This time.

"I suppose it gets old, trying to prod me in the right direction."

I was already old when you came along and you're not the first sheep I've had to herd. You're not any worse than average. I think the secret is to listen more and argue less.

I glance down the road, squinting my eyes in the glare. 

You better get moving.You have a long way to go.





 Photo Credit


Thursday, September 4, 2014

It is NOT All About You

Have you noticed that the world is all abuzz with the Osteen's latest joke? I don't usually get riled up easily but a foolish woman is worse than an abscess. I saw the clip of Ms. Osteen a few days ago but there was this article that further annoyed me today. 

Let me clarify, I don't disagree with the whole article but I am so sick and tired the Blame the Pentecostals game. I decided to vent my annoyances here, rather than posting comments all over the place that will just get me a deluge of email notifications filled with "negative energy." Remember that when I'm done.

The mark of bad journalism is generalization and bad research. The politically operated media has perfected the art to the point that nearly all media generalizes everything. They lump whole groups into one category regardless of facts. It would be nice to think Christian writers would use more care but this article's generalization that Pentecostalism birthed the prosperity doctrine is just annoying on a number of levels. It is a generalization and based on what I found, it is false. 

The truth is that some, who call themselves Pentecostals, adopted this ancient belief of the Prosperity Doctrine but there are a whole bunch more actual Pentecostals that absolutely do not believe in the prosperity doctrine. I am one of those.

I'm a 5th generation Pentecostal and in my entire 58 years no one ever told me I could get healthy and wealthy by living for God. Had they done so, I'd have laughed. They taught me I received eternal life and the privilege of living for an awesome God who loved me even when I was unlovable. They taught me by following God's Word in obedience that God would bless me but they didn't say I wouldn't suffer and they sure didn't say I'd get rich. I suffered and I'm sure not rich. But I've been blessed anyway. The Bible says He'll supply needs but it doesn't say "wants" anywhere. I believe if you are faithful in your walk with God and obedient "Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out." Deut. 28:6 I am blessed by his grace, mercy, and his presence at all times.

Deuteronomy 28 is the Blessing & Curses chapter. I've included the link and you can read it, if you want. This chapter tells the Hebrew children that if they obey God's law that they will be blessed in everything and he clearly tells what those areas are: finances, politics, family, farming, health and even warfare. However, there is a huge BUT in there. The flip side begins at verse 15 and clearly tells them if they failed to obey God's law they would suffer the curses. They had to obey the law completely to be blessed. Ouch. Explains a lot about what is going on in the world... and our lives.

The "New Age" Church says the law is no longer in effect. You hear this comment everytime you mention the 10 Commandments: "But that is the law! We're under grace now and that doesn't count." Some grace-sayers ignore one component of Paul's teaching - until I read the Law I didn't know about sin. How do you know what is sin if the Law is ignored? You can't just toss it out. It is your teacher. And based on Deuteronomy 28, the Law still counts. But I digress.

My biggest annoyance is with the Osteens. I've heard several of Mr. Osteen's comments and they share one central theme... self. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about self... it is about Jesus Christ. The Osteens preach prosperity doctrine, which is really the doctrine of manifestation dressed in sheep's clothing. The doctrine of manifestation is if you believe something enough, it will come to you. You can visualize it into reality. It's central theme is self. Basically it is the theory of The Law of Attraction. Here's a few quotes from The Secret, the unofficial bible on this theory. Please note the focus is on self, not God.

  • Choose your thoughts carefully .. you are a masterpiece of your life
  • If you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life.
  • Claim the things you want by feeling and believing they are yours.
  •  When you get the hang of this, before you know it you will KNOW you are the creator
  • We are the creators of our universe
This religion, and it is a religion because it elevates self above deity, making self its own God, was resurrected by a fellow called Thomas Troward in his book As a Man Thinketh,1902. He wasn't Pentecostal as near as I could tell. He believed "the action of Mind plants that nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form."(The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, 1904). 

Another fellow and probably the real creator of Prosperity Theology, Bruce MacLelland, in Prosperity Through Thought Force, 1907 said this, "You are what you think, not what you think you are." 

Do those two quotes sound vaguely familiar? They should. They're quoting another fellow. In Genesis 3:4-5 "You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Translation: You are what YOU think... not what God says you are.

Mrs. Osteen's translation varies slightly: It isn't about God, it is about you. This further elevates self above deity. The central theme here is self. And if you know your Bible, you know this is the sin of Lucifer. It is also New Age religion at its most basic. 

How do I know this? Because Ms Osteen doesn't know her Bible. Thank goodness I am one Pentecostal who does. 

Revelations 4:11  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

It is NOT about us. It is ALL about God. We were created by Him and for Him. Not for ourselves. Our worship is to Him and for Him. Our praise is to Him and for Him because of who He is. Not because of who we are.

Romans 12: 1-2 
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 

It is NOT about us. We are to give ourselves to Him to be used by Him as He sees fit. We are servants of the Most High God. We serve Him. He does not serve us. 

Colossians 2:8-10
 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Did you see that? I'm betting that if you read that you completely missed the fact that that verse is a warning about philosophies that place anything ahead of Christ. Without God you are nothing. God is the head. His Lordship is established and I don't care who you are, what church you attend, or what creed you follow. It is all about Him. He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. Anyone who teaches otherwise is a false teacher.

When you start thinking that it is all about you, you have taken His seat. I have a newsflash for you. Once you remove God from his rightful place of sovereignty, honor and authority you cancel every promise made to you and for you from God. Remember Deuteronomy 28? You should read it. By usurping God, you place yourself under a curse. 

Romans 14:7
...saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."

Psalms 100:3-5
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

No, it is NOT all about You.






Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Listeners

What do I want?

Do you want the short list?

It isn't funny, you know.


I thought the Jag was amusing.

But I meant that one.


I know. 

I keep asking myself if I was always a miserable person or if this is just the mark Death leaves on you.


And you answered...."

I don't have an answer. You know as well as I that hindsight is always 20/20. We were always happier some other time, some other place. Now always makes the past crystal clear and the future blurry and murky.


You know, as you've gotten older, you've become quite a philosopher. 

If I'm correct, real philosophers don't usually live very long.


Well... I'd have to check the files but I suspect you're right.

.......


Tell me something, why do you think the past is crystal clear? Are you certain what you remember is actually the way you remember it? 

I'm sure. I've always been cursed with a very good memory. Children who grow up the way I did generally overcompensate there. They never forget a painful past. And any good times stick out rather clearly as a result.


You know, it has taken nearly six years for my brain to get out of bed. I had to quit my job to start the process. It isn't something I've enjoyed at all. Oh, its nice to not have to go back to that place but there are several downsides. Money is a huge pit. I'm still waiting for a way across.

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm sitting here with this knowledge about myself that I can't make sense of and I'm not happy in any sense of the word. In no way. I do the things I do to keep myself occupied but not because they make me happy. I seek out opportunities to stay occupied or I end up watching tv show marathons on Netflix.

So, what are you avoiding?

See, that's the thing. I generally don't avoid anything. I step right into the biggest pile of ... stuff, every time, up to my neck. I don't think I'm avoiding anything. I think I'm trying to figure out why things have turned out the way they have and what I'm supposed to do with that. Short on answers, I look for entertainment. I don't find myself caring much at all about much of anything.


Your conclusions?

Are non-existent. What do I want? A map? A guide book? Well, that'd be really nice. Yes, yes, I have the Bible. And I get a lot of great stuff from there. But honestly, if you read it the Bible doesn't speak very clearly about women who survive death at close quarters or the aftermath of their lives trying to adjust to it. In the Bible, they just married their brother-in-law or a cousin. No thanks. No, I don't have conclusions. Just more confusion. Which brings me to another thing I realized this week. I was having a horrible day when I realized how very close my relationship with death has been all my life.


What did you realize?

Do you know I can count three or four times in my life that I was nearly killed? I never thought of these in any collective way before but this week I remembered then all at one time. And I'm serious. I know of at least three times I was a hair's breadth from death. I feel like there was a fourth but can't remember that one at the moment. Anyway, the realization kind of shocked me. I figured there must be a point in that. . . somewhere.


What was the point?

I have no idea. I've been waiting for you to mention it.


You remember times you nearly died?

Yes, I do. When I was about three or four I ate a plant we call Elephant Ears. Hugh tropical plant you see in a lot of flower beds down south. They are deadly poison. They were growing in a hedge along the property line. I was standing under them watching the neighbor cut the lawn. I was so small but I remember very clearly doing it. I began to feel sick and I remember climbing a set of very high steps to get in the house. It sat very high off the ground. I remember going into the kitchen and the room going blurry. I don't remember anything after that. I told Mama about it when I was a teenager and she was stunned at how much I remembered. Mama said they rushed me to the doctor and had to pump my stomach. I survived. I even have a memory of waking up in the doctor's office and crying.


The next time, I was about seven or eight and walking up the street from our house to my mother's house, one of the few times she lived near us. It was dark and a car came barreling down the street and ran up on the curb. My dog knocked me down and was hit. He ran off. I had skinned hands and knees. Everyone came running outside when they heard the car hit the curb. I don't remember if they found the dog. I don't remember anything after that. I was relatively unharmed.

The third time was in Germany. We were in the mountains and it was so beautiful. We had approached this hill that was so green and had trees here and there. I had this huge impulse to run up the hill. Something told me I'd look silly. There were a lot of people around. So I didn't. I walked to the top and nearly stepped off a cliff. Must have been at least 300 feet down to the creek below. Scared me so bad I had to go back down and lean against a tree. No problem remembering that day at all. Every time I remember that moment, I feel the same sick feeling I did that day.

Where's your question in all this?

Why three or four near misses? Why go to all that trouble to put me right here, sick and alone and struggling to make sense of all the mess? What's the point? Wait, just wait a minute... I know I have a house to live in and maybe I'll have enough income to provide my basic needs. Not sure but whatever. I know I have family who love me... most of them far, far, away. But you have to know what I'm talking about. No one else does. I've tried to explain it and I just get a lot of talk that is frankly, annoying. I'm like that hiker I mentioned a while back who's lost in the woods. I can't seem to get across to anyone where I am. No one seems to get that I am totally lost, totally alone, and totally empty. No one gets it!


And yes, I know that every one of those times you saved my life. I'm thankful. Really.

Well, I'm glad to hear that. I was beginning to wonder. 

See, when you try and explain what is going on in your head to people, they get all bent or they offer platitudes and reasons, and I don't know what all. You get lots of advice, generally useless.


What do you want them to say? 

You know, when I am faced with something like this from other people, I usually try not to equate my troubles with theirs. It is easy to say "well let me tell you how bad it was for me." Honestly, I. don't. care.  That doesn't help anyone. Sometimes, all a person needs is a listening ear. They don't need you to understand. They don't need you to sympathize. They don't need you to pontificate. They just need you to listen. No matter how crazy, painful, illogical, or stupid it sounds.


I see. 

You'd be the first. Even I don't get any of this. I'm sitting on this log until someone finds me.


I bought marshmallows. I thought sure you'd bring the chocolate.

I'm not supposed to eat that stuff.


Well, I'll wait with you. You can talk. I'll listen.