As much as I do not want to get political on this blog much in me longs to speak my truth, my perspective on a few things.
I am in mourning. Grief is again a daily companion. Since COVID hit, the pitiful displays of all areas of leadership, the loss of lives, the riots, peaceful riots turned anything but and the hatred tangible in our streets I have mourned the loss of America. It has stirred within me, its jagged edges bringing forth blood. It has wrapped its tentacles around my heart and threatens to drown me in vileness. With the future in question, (Would we even live through it?) there seemed no safe place but the arms of God. And my belief in Him could cost me my life and the lives of my family. How do I walk away from the core of my existence?
In my artistic eye I have a vision of a neglected graveyard where the headstones mark the icons that bring America to mind. I hope to turn it into a multi-medium painting. Meanwhile, as I emerge from grief and shock my question is, “What now”?
How do we salvage America? As our enemies foreign and domestic are circling like we are now the greatest feast ever in life?
Where are our leaders set aside by God already to lead us? Have people of good moral character, honesty and trustworthiness already passed from this planet? The lack of decent government at all levels is apparent. Even in our small town our mayor has been arrested for ethic violations and our city council does not have its populations needs on their radar.
People are believing what the all to powerful media “reports” even when lies and cover-ups are exposed in their own coverage. They are arrogant in their spread of false and misinformation. Journalism has become at the least a joke but truthfully a disgrace to their forefathers in the field. A thorn in America’s flesh. This group keeps doing what they do because the majority enjoys wading in the stench as it suits their agendas.
Hope is a bubble in my heart. Healing is a possibility but it will come at a personal cost for each of us. Our forgiving those who have hurt, threatened to harm, whose perspectives and beliefs are opposite of our own. We have to give up the idea of forcing people to behave in the way we want. Most of all we have to admit where we are drowning in a flood that we caused by dancing the rain dance recklessly. We can be a better America than what we are now. Who is with me?
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Once in a church our family were members of a congregation that had been without a pastor for several months. Finally we called an evangelism pastor as a interim until God showed us who to call longer term. He was a fine preacher/teacher. Knew the Bible well. Was also gifted in what we needed as far as administratively went. He was with us for over a year. After three months I realized he was bringing us the same sermon every week with different scripture to support his words.
My first thoughts were why? Every Sunday he was preaching about how to become a new Christian. Our number of attendees was dropping. As I looked around I thought, who here needs to hear this? This pastor’s gift was evangelism. He was an evangelist. Was that why? Did he know this so well he was not comfortable elsewhere in the Scripture?
We left that congregation. Not because of the pastor situation but because we felt we needed more to feed our spiritual lives. It’s been 13 years. The pastor of our church home now presented a moving sermon on Easter. It was theologically sound. It was challenging. The response from those of us in the congregation consisted of one person who went forward to pray. Like at our former church I found myself asking, “why”? Plus thinking how discouraging it must have been to invest all that time studying and preparing a sermon and no response.
Before you ask why I did not go forward it is because by the time I manage to roll myself and wheelchair to the altar every eye is upon me. Plus, the time has slipped away to respond. Maybe others, like myself, respond where they are.
Then part of my own Bible study this week lead me to Acts 8:1-40, specifically verses 4-25. Philip has contact in Samaria with a magician, a sorcerer. By the world’s standard he was very successful. He boasted about how great he was. Many people followed him. He was a believer in his own reputation. When Philip begins to preach in the area, cast out evil spirits and perform miracles many people began to follow him. Including Simon. He counted himself a true believer in Jesus Christ. I believe Simon was attracted to Philip’s “magic” which he saw as greater than his.
Then Peter and John arrived and when the new converts were prayed for and the duo lay their hands on them while praying they received the Holy Spirit. Simon saw this. Another two men whose “magic” was greater than Simons. He offered Peter and John money to teach him how to do what they did. Peter very bluntly let Simon know he had no part in the ministry they were doing because his heart was not right with God.
Simon became a true believer.
How many of us are Simon’s? We believe we believe in God. We do all of the right things. We attribute our earthly successes to God. But, when the point blank question is asked of us we suddenly see the truth. We are like Simon, not true Believer’s at all. Our hearts core is unchanged.
Witnessing this cancel culture, morally declining, hate and cruelty, lying movement attempt to wash Christianity from our world is crushing to me. I second guess my instinctive actions and often do not act for the risk exists anything can suddenly be considered the wrong thing to do. People I counted as my friends I am suddenly unsure of. Between COVID and an increase in crime I no longer feel safe in our little, rural county. Laugh if you are inclined but the day when we have to choose to die for Christ or live for evil is fast approaching. Not because of my feelings but because the signs are all there.
Why is the pastor’s sermon falling on deaf ears? Is it him or you? Do we not yet understand we are supposed to take Christ beyond the church walls and without action within the walls how can there be change outside of them?
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.'” Hebrews 3:12-15 NIV
“Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.”
Our nieces and nephews are a great source of love, comfort and joy for their funcle (fun uncle) and I. On a recent occasion we were together one of eight-year-old nieces was in a mood. She was hot. She was cold. Her hair should be up, no she wanted it down. Why was the drive taking so long? Why were we there so quickly? She was finding little happiness in anything.
I called her over and gave her a huge hug. Kissed her forehead and said, “Now what’s going on with you Miss Moody?” Nothing. No reply.
I told her, “I see something has you unhappy and I’m sorry. I just want you to know you are the apple of my eye.” From her face hidden on my shoulder she peeked up at me.
“Oh, he’s the orange,” I said.
She popped up and grinned. “The orange?”
She sat back down a happier child. Proceeded to eat her seven shrimp and five of mine, plus a piece of broccoli from her funcle’s plate. All her crankiness did not melt away but she giggled more and lunch was a happier experience for us all.
I understood how she felt. How often do I feel the need to feel God’s arms holding me and hear Him tell me He loves me? All the time. On this day whatever had our niece in mood was set right by the reminder she was extra special to me. She is extra special. Everyone of our nine nieces and nephews are special to us. We love the love and joy they bring to us and we try to give them love and joy too.
Today, look up to God and ask Him for a hug and reminder of how much He loves you. There is no shame in asking for what you need. Then pray about the person in your life that needs the same reminder from you.
Confession, this question came from a post on my church’s Facebook page. It immediately made me consider my own answer. After all, a one time opportunity to speak over coffee with one person from the Bible besides Jesus should take some consideration. Don’t you think?
Immediately I put all the major people in the Scriptures at the bottom of my list. Why? We know already, what people like Noah, King David, Ruth, Esther, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, Timothy, Mary the mother of Jesus, Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) think about their encounters with God, Jesus. There are several “minor” people we see in passing in the Bible that are ones I’d like to hear from myself.
My coffee invitation would go to Mary Magdalene. Mentioned twelve times in the four gospels of the New Testament, but with little background as to who she was. Lots of rumor, assumptions such as she was a prostitute. (There is no evidence of this accusation.) So, I’d like to know as much as I could about this woman of faith. Going to the source of the one who knows is usually the best place to start to understand the truth.
What questions would I ask her? Ordinarily I wouldn’t get terribly nosey about a person’s private life over a cup of coffee. I don’t want to bring up anything Mary Magdalene would be uncomfortable discussing. Yet, I also believe we’d both like to “set the record straight”.
Knowing already that the accusation she was a reformed prostitute has no evidence other than vaporous threads of people trying to explain her presence in Jesus’ life through a viewpoint of creating smoke to start a fire.
There is no evidence Mary Magdalene were married, that she was the Mary of Mary and Martha, Lazurus’ sisters either. Nor any evidence she and Jesus were married or lovers.
I would like to know, from a woman’s perspective, what Jesus was like as Himself in a day-to-day view. Despite the time in history when women had little legal standing in the community, were treated as property under the control of husbands, fathers, older male relatives or her male siblings Jesus did much to counter that culture.
Never before, in that Jewish culture, had a woman set at a man’s feet to be educated about God. Nor would a Jewish man speak to, much less ask help from, a Samaritian woman. Especially not who was obviously an outcast of her own community because of the time she came to draw water. Nor would a Jewish man tell a woman that her focus needed to be on God the Father, not on house keeping chores or even preparing for all the people gathering at their own home to see Him.
Yes, I’d like to know what Jesus was like interacting with the women in His life. not just in the precious few events recorded in the Bible. I believe I know. I believe I understand enough about Jesus, His character, His internal being that tells me I would not be disappointed in anything Mary Magdalene would tell me.
Jesus is the only person who has ever walked on this Earth who was perfect. He had to be flawless, pure, cleaner than clean inside in order to be the sacrifice to die upon the cross for our sins. The Old Testament speaks with no nonsense about how flawless an animal sacrifice for people’s sins had to be when they brought them as offerings to the temple. Imperfection would not do. So a flawed sacrifice is non-Biblical. Against God’s character.
Who was she? What is her testimony about how Jesus changed her life? Were her “demons” demonic spirits or mental illnesses? Jesus became the center of her life, why? I believe He still does and can do the same for us all today.
Mary Magdalene! Welcome, won't you come in and have a cup of coffee? Do you take cream or sugar? I'm so excited to have some time with you.
Thanks for reading, I am also leaving some of my research on Mary Magdalene below.
Mary Magdalene,[a] sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and its aftermath. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles and more than any other woman in the Gospels, other than Jesus’ family. Mary’s epithetMagdalene may mean that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospel of Luke8:2–3 lists Mary Magdalene as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry “out of their resources”, indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, Mary Magdalene is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women which includes Jesus’s mother, as the first to witness the empty tomb, and the first to witness Jesus’s resurrection.
For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is known in some Christian traditions as the “apostle to the apostles”. Mary Magdalene is a central figure in later Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary which many scholars attribute to Mary Magdalene. These texts portray Mary Magdalene as an apostle, as Jesus’s closest and most beloved disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic texts, or Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene’s closeness to Jesus results in tension with another disciple, Peter, due to her gender and Peter’s jealousy of special teachings given to her. Scholars find claims Mary Magdalene was romantically involved with Jesus to be unsupported by evidence.
The portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute began after a series of Easter sermons delivered in 591, when Pope Gregory I conflated Mary Magdalene, who is introduced in Luke 8:2, with Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:39) and the unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. This resulted in a widespread belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene’s wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed “sinful woman” was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church emphasized Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.
In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the “sinful woman” was removed from the General Roman Calendar by Pope Paul VI, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, and by the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. In 2016 Pope Francis raised the level of liturgical memory on July 22 from memorial to feast. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions.
Soon afterwards he (Jesus) went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod‘s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.— Luke 8:1–3
Mary Magdalene has the reputation in Western Christianity as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman; however, these claims are not supported by the canonical gospels, which at no point imply that she had ever been a prostitute or in any way notable for a sinful way of life. The misconception likely arose due to a conflation between Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (who anoints Jesus’s feet in John 11:1–12), and the unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. As early as the third century, the Church Father Tertullian (c. 160 – 225) references the touch of “the woman which was a sinner” in effort to prove that Jesus “was not a phantom, but really a solid body.” This may indicate that Mary Magdalene was already being conflated with the “sinful woman” in Luke 7:36–50, though Tertullian never clearly identifies the woman of whom he speaks as Mary Magdalene.
With COVID, my husband’s illness, my lack of mobility when I am alone, we’ve not been blessed by being able to attend church services steadily once our state government made it possible again. Until the last month when it depended on physical strength, breathing and a whole lot of wanting to.
This morning, for the first time in eight months my bass singing husband was able to stand up with the worship team and sing again. It was a tremendous faith resulting event for both of us, our church and wholly the work of God in our lives.
Not surprising, music is where God worked in my heart right away this morning.
For every day and night since the 2020 Presidential Election kicked into high gear I’ve really wrestled with trying to understand what was going on. After the actual vote I kept it up. As of this writing, the only ones sure of a winner of the Presidential Election are the national news media and the Democratic Proclaimed winner.
I still have many questions. Answers seem far away. Truth seems to have disappeared. This country, America, that I love, seems closer to peril than before the election. And yes, I really struggle with not reacting to posts, comments, and people whose actions, behaviors and thought processes are plain offensive.
This morning though messages I received that eliminated part of the struggle for me came from the lyrics of a song, “In the Father’s House” as sung by Cory Asbury.
"...my failure won't define me
That's what my Father does...
Ooh...lay your burdens down.
Ooh...here in the Father's House.
Check your shame at the door,
'Cause it ain't welcome anymore,
Ooh...you're in the Father's house..."
If in my quest to avoid conflict, confrontation with people I consider friends and even some of my family members, I kept the “peace”. Had it come at a dreadful cost? If so, I found assurance that it’s a failure that won’t define me. I know I voted the way I was lead to by God, the Father. Yet, I also know people who would say the same thing about themselves who voted exactly opposite of me.
If God was leading all of us, then how did we end up at such radically different decisions when our pens touched the ballots this week? If anything should absolutely mirror us the exact same, it should be the Word of God.
Now if you don’t believe in God, or His Word and have no respect for either or anyone who does, that would answer the question immediately. I’m not talking about those who choose this way to live. I’m talking about those of us who claim we do.
"The story's never over,
If the story isn't good,
Failure's never final
When the Father's in the room."
This portion of the son brought load of tears to my eyes. If I am the one who has sinned and refused to listen to the Father’s directive, “the story” isn’t over even if it isn’t good. God will take my failure and make something good out of it. That’s the kind of God He is. Now, He won’t remove the consequences of my sin (if in this case I am the one who is wrong) but He is prepared to help all of us through the next four years. The story doesn’t end here, in these moments.
After investing a lot of time into researching a lot of the candidates and their respective parties, I have come away with a cynical, very cynical view of main stream media. Plus, so many of the alternative sources as well. Add to that the candidates themselves.
For example, in my home state we had a long-term Democratic senator on the ballot for re-election. Not sure of the reasons why exactly the Alabama Republican Party put forth a former instate SEC football coach to challenge him. In my research this coach was a decent coach but he has no political experience and at the time of his nomination was a resident of Florida.
Was this the best we had? Maybe so. Would you run for a political office given the cess pool politics has become? I sure wouldn’t. Maybe that’s why our pool of choices was so limited.
I voted for the coach simply because my conscience wouldn’t allow me to vote for the now outgoing senator. He was the least of two evils.
"Miracles take placeThe cynical find faith And love is getting through When the Father's in the room. Jericho walls are quakin' Strongholds now are shakin' Love is breakin' through When the Father's in the room..."
With those words I could picture all of our prayers combining this morning, upholding one another, a crowd of around a hundred people (and more not knowing how many were viewing our service on Facebook or YouTube), lifting our hearts and voices in prayer.
I could almost hear the steady thump, thump of the feet of the children of Israel as they marched around Jericho in silence until the last day. Or were those our feet marching around Washington D.C.? The strongholds shaking were those of the past or of the current? Right down to the private ones we hid in our lives?
We were certainly reaching God. I could almost see the movement between us of the Holy Spirit. Was this same uplifting happening in every other House of Worship this morning? If not, why not? If we’re all worshipping the same God, how can we be so divided?
Not just on abortion, healthcare, taxes, jobs, foreign relations, racial relations, education to name a few, but on the foundational stones of our society and our lives? Things like truth? Trust? You absolutely cannot build any relationship if there is not 100% honesty so there can be 100% trust.
I’m blessed again by being able to say, I was able to understand all this even before our pastor preached. He too brought the Gospel and the truth.
Anyone in America that claims not to know there’s a presidential election on November 3, 2020 must have been off the planet since 2014. Following that election those on the losing side have been trying to undo the results of that election. It doesn’t set much hope for this election either.
As a country we’re electing a president. His running mate is going to be vice-president. The President and Vice President of the United States of America. Regardless of who I’m voting for tomorrow, the most important thing is to know who I’m voting for before I enter the poll. This is no time to feel pressured to make a decision. I’m sickened by it all and sick of it all. Can’t we just vote?
Who you’re choosing to vote for, in my opinion, doesn’t matter as much as you voting. Exercise you’re right to vote. It could save your other rights. “Please, please vote. I hope you VOTE. Fulfill your obligation”.
It’s our daughter’s first time to vote, period. We know she’s backing another candidate rather than our’s. That is her privilege, her decision, her right. But, the agony of waiting my turn to vote in person is gnawing at me. Really it’s the unknown of what either side will do or leave someone else to do that is frightening.
Remember 2016 when colleges had to call classes off because kids were so upset President Trump won and not Senator Hillary Clinton? Crayons, coloring books and pizza were brought in. Students were wailing on campus lawns. Professional counselers stood ready to help.
Who or what will they do this time?
You’re getting close to the deadline to vote. This time tomorrow it will be over.
VOTE FOR WHO YOU BELIEVE TRULY CARES ABOUT OUR COUNTRY!
Recently I was blessed to be able to go to a local retailer. For the last year with COVID-19, my husband’s health crisis and all the details around them including my mobility issues, getting out to do anything is a huge treat. On this exploration I found a unique tree that stirred my imagination.
Yes, it’s a Christmas tree. Yes, all the branches are pointed downwards and fluffed outward. Yes, it’s a silver wire sparkled up half of a dress form. Yes, it has angel wings. Yes, she’s leaning to one side. Yes, that’s it’s name, Lighted Angel Tree.
I have for years made angels without faces because the Bible tells us to be careful because we often entertain angels unaware of who they are.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers; for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing.”
Hebrews 13:2, New International Version, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
My angels also always have a gift in their hands because no angel comes into our lives without some gift. But, I never make them without a head. They may be bald, yet never headless.
About an hour and a half later we went to see Coco. The story line was valuable. Remembering who you come from, your ancestors, has real value in helping you decide on your present life. Sometimes what we think we want, or who we want it from lacks all or most of the truth. Those blind spots can kill a dream. Or open up a door you never thought possible.
I was also struck by the colors. Bright, neon colors in the land for those who have passed away from this life and are still remembered where they because their business in this life is finished. If they go unremembered, eventually they fade completely. These beings live in a fantasy like world in amazingly colorful homes, clothes, spirit guides and the city itself is like a Christmas present on steroids with color, fireworks and color, so much color, patterns and textures.
Many thoughts entered my mind. One query I felt compelled to resolve was what kind of topper would you put on a silver angel tree with wings and no head?
A big red bow?
A big silver bow?
Rudolph’s red nose?
A face mask?
Silver or gold star?
Purple and gold star?
A rainbow striped unicorn horn?
This is no traditional holiday tree. It made me laugh initially. Later, as I pondered the topper situation, I laughed even more. Yes, the head of a lovely woman, even in silver, with a halo would be quite acceptable. But, expected. A less traditional form of that would be a wig stand, in silver, with a golden halo.
There’s also a top hat hung recklessly on the neck. Maybe add a cane and she might pass as a Rockette from the tinsel tree era.
Sometimes we ourselves have great ideas but we leave something vital out of the execution of it. Paul wrote something that reminds me of this situation. Saul, before he became Paul, had spent incredible energy on trying to rid the world of Christians. After his own conversion to Christianity he wrote:
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect. No I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (Emphasis mine.)
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 New International Version of the Bible, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
Maybe you’ll never design a headless body form as a Christmas tree leaving the rest of us to try and figure out what topper to put on it. Hopefully you’ll never try to eliminate Christians because you expect everyone to agree with you and your point-of-view. Yet we all make mistakes. We all need grace.
Mistakes sometimes mean you didn’t intend to do what you did. It was an accident. And sometimes it’s a mistake where you made a choice and you chose wrong. “But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect.”
Now you have a choice. Do you dull down your bright colors, flatten your presence out by being safe and believing you’re living in the grace of God? I challenge you though to consider how God’s grace in making you was “…NOT WITHOUT EFFECT”. You are who you are, flaws, mistakes and all.
“In his great mercy he has give us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or face—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
I1 Peter 1:3b-5, New International Version, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
God needs serious thinkers, humorous people, creative people, He needs people from every part of humanity. His grace allows us to be His effective witness to a world muddy and nasty with wrong, with sin.
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