Sacred Moments

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I was in church the other day listening to the band sing a soft Christian song, and I noticed the sun rays streaming in golden warmth from the windows up above us. It brought me to a memory with my mom, a few memories actually.

One was when I was small enough to be held on her lap, maybe two or three years old. She had soft music on as she rocked me in the rocking chair. She was brushing my hair back from my forehead, and I recall the smell of pine-sol from her recent mopping in the kitchen. She said “This will be a memory,” and it was. Another memory I have comes in two parts. In the first, I was young still and she would lay me down for a nap in her bed, and she’d nap too. I remember lying there and the sunlight coming in filtered softly through white curtains, and the world seeming so quiet around us except for her gentle breathing. In the second part, I was grown, and she had asked me for the last time to nap with her. I didn’t sleep. I just lie there beside her, listening to her breathing and watching the sun stretch across the room to touch us in the silence.

And I realized that there are so many sacred moments we experience in our lives. They all feel so… holy. They are a moment when God looks down at us and smiles. When the world is some peaceful sort of heaven, like it always should’ve been. I think we feel God’s face turning toward us in those moments, that’s that feeling you feel.

I’ve felt it when waking in the middle of the night to feed and rock my child when she was a small baby, just us and the stars. I’ve felt it when I run trails all alone with just the birds, the smell of fresh pine and soil, and the sound of my feet to keep me company. I’ve felt it in the stillness of a Sabbath morning when I’m sipping coffee and hearing the house wake up around me.

God is near. He’s in the stillness, the silence, the calm, the soft breezes and gentle sunshine.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:11-13

Do you recall any sacred moments you’ve experienced?

God bless!

The Word as Art; The Book as a Love Story

I have a passion for the Bible. I’m not deluded enough to believe everyone feels the same as me. I mean, it’s an old book with old stories we can’t always relate to. It’s huge and unwieldy! It even has sections that are only full of genealogies or lists of materials for the tabernacle or numbers of people counted in a census for tribes. What about this dry, verbose material would be alluring to anyone?

Let me tell you. If you came to the Bible as if it were a piece of art or ancient literature, you would see an incomprehensibly complex masterpiece created over thousands of years. I know part of my fascination with this work is because I’m a literature major. I love books. So, the symbolism, the foreshadowing, the repeated themes to tell a story or moral are engrossing to me. Jesus must’ve loved it too, speaking in parables all the time. Add to it that it wasn’t just one author. It’s difficult enough to have one person write one work. The Bible is made of 66 books: History, laws, poetry/songs, accounts for census or accounts, genealogy records, letters, prophecies. Yet, they all come together with the same plot, the same themes, the same symbols, the same message of love.

Which brings me to this: If I could sum up the Bible, what would I say? In one word, of course it would be love. In a bit of a longer way, I would say that the Word starts with the story of humanity living in a state of absolute love and peace, getting kicked out of that utopia, and then not being able to return. However, over the course of the rest of the Bible, you’ll learn three things: Eden is not a place; it’s where ever God is. We were not kicked out of Eden; we walked ourselves out. God has been trying to convince us ever since we left to return back. I want you to reread those three things. What do I mean?

Eden is not a place. It never was. I’m not saying there wasn’t a physically separate area where Adam and Eve lived. T hat’s not the point. It wasn’t Eden because of where it was located. It was Eden because that’s where God and humanity walked together in the cool of the day.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day

Genesis 3:8

We were not kicked out. Have you ever been told when younger that as long as you live under your parent’s roof, you live by their rules? God’s rules were simple: Don’t eat from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Really, it wasn’t even about the fruit. It was about following God’s rules. It was a fruit of death, and God was saving us from ourselves. His rules are all about love. We didn’t want that. We decided to disobey. We decided to leave God’s presence.

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

Genesis 3:11

God has been trying to convince us to return back to his presence since the moment we left it. What about that angel with a flaming sword, you may ask? Sweetheart, do you think if we wanted back in His love and grace and followed his rules that anything would keep us from Him? We couldn’t return to His loving presence as long as we lived in disobedience and darkness. The darkness doesn’t exist in the light. God is begging you to return to His loving arms (Lev 26: 11-12).

And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.

Ezekiel 36:35

These are the simple truths. The Bible is full of complicated truths and hard truths as well. If you read it expecting the main characters to be only perfect and holy people, you’re going to be surprised. Not a one of them were perfect until Jesus. In fact, they were all evil in varying ways and saved only by the love of God. That’s the point. If you read it expecting the “good people” in it like Moses, David, etc. to only speak to God with positivity and adoration, you’ll be surprised. Especially David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), wrote songs and poems about every emotion and situation he experienced. Sometimes, he poured out his anger to God.

O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.

Psalm 35:17-18

Sometimes, he poured out his doubts.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”

Psalm 13:1

God can take it. He already hears your heart’s lamentations and doubts before you open your mouth. He wants you to communicate and open up to Him in honesty and truth, even hard, painful truth.

I just wanted to speak with you today about my love for the Bible. It’s a love story about the growing, changing relationship between God and His people. I guess I could say I wanted to write a public love letter about THE public love letter known as the Word.

Leave me a message below if you have anything you love about the Bible.

God bless!


Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

There are shadows in the world today, appearing and disappearing, flitting from here to there. They can be hard to grasp or understand, but their darkness has poured onto every street and home. Yet, it seems, the light of the God burns brighter for it.

One shadow is disease and death.

During the Black Plague, people would allegedly see a figure standing at the edges of towns: a dark, hooded cloak, a sickle in hand. Just after, the town would be overrun with the disease, wiping out so many, coffins and bodies would line the street because they were unable to bury them fast enough. This is where many believe the Grim Reaper image originated (Brittanica).

We are faced with a worldwide pandemic. Whether you believe it’s a real issue or not, the world is being chased down by physical death on all sides. It summons fear, and fear can summon strange behaviors in its desperation for survival.

One shadow is confusion and chaos.

“It hurt itself in its confusion!” This message in the Pokemon game appears when a pokemon, magically confused, hurts itself instead of the enemy as intended. This is exactly what evil wants: for us to be confused, hurt ourselves and our unity, and be so divided that it doesn’t have to do a thing to bring us down. There so many Bible verses about avoiding division, it would take an entire post to deal with it (maybe I should). Here’s one:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Romans 16:17-18

Is it ok to disagree, to be passionate in a cause that we may disagree in, or protest wrongs? Of course! Jesus did so in many ways, but notably, when He chased merchants from His temple with a hand-made whip. However, watch for when others push you to turn against others. It’s a typical tactic for abusers and manipulators, as when you’re apart, you’re more likely to be persuaded.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

So, here is the point of today’s post: there are many hidden powers in the world, and they’re spoken about in the Bible in many ways. They’re ancient and cunning, and they use the powerful and weak alike in their need for domination. Jesus already died on the cross; He already took away our chains to those powers. You are responsible for continuing to follow God and using His light to see through and clear out the shadows as you cross them. Speak God’s truth, live it, and don’t build your foundations on the worldly confusion and fear that is like quicksand.

God bless!

How Much More Does God

If the evil judge serves justice to the sufferers of this world, just to shut up the victims from their constant cries, how much more will God, who is just and loving, serve justice to His children (Luke 18:1-8)? If an evil man is capable of treating his children with gifts, how much more will God, who is the creator of love and holds His little ones to His heart each moment, bless His children (Matthew 7:11)?

You can look around you, pay attention to the expressions of love and selflessness that stem sometimes from the lost, the confused, the consumed, the fallen, the broken, and the terrible. See these things and know that even they understand, in their soul somewhere, the essence of God. They can not escape the truth of Him, even if they don’t know it consciously (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-20)

They are stumbling into good, so how much more wonderful is God who is the very personification of Love, Righteousness, and Peace? It’s understandable, after being steeped in the darkness of the world since your birth, to know no other way than distrust. Know this though, God is not of this world (Numbers 23:19; John 18:36)). He is so much more than you’ve ever experienced: you don’t know love. You think you do, but there is no love in this life that can compare to His.

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89:1-4

Some of you may already know of all the above, and if you do: wonderful, wonderful, and live in that joy! Some do not or only see a piece of the picture, not understanding the entirety of God’s overwhelming love and concern for us. During these times, they aren’t fully sure of Him or His promises. I write to remind and to teach when possible. Let’s not forget, especially in these days of doubt and darkness, to sing of His love and faithfulness, forever.

God bless!

What Remains

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already read too many articles about the era of history unfolding before us. It’s a strange time to live, and it came so suddenly upon us, I think most of us are still reeling from the changes that this virus, the lockdowns, and just the fear have brought to the world. That’s the thing though, right? This concerns the entire world. I know I’m young(ish), but I don’t recall any single event affecting the entire world so abruptly and at the same time.

We’re all realizing how connected we all are. If such a terrible thing like this virus can spread so quickly from person to person across the globe, then so can a wondrous thing like love, kindness, compassion, and hope. What if, when you serve your neighbor, that joyful servitude spreads, infectious with love, to a child in Japan within a month or two? We usually never know because the CDC doesn’t report spreading acts of compassion, we don’t pause our daily lives for the bellies filled or the smiles created, and we don’t have world-wide counts on the re-born rates of children of God.

I lay in my hammock yesterday realizing something about all of this. I’ve never felt more like a child since I was an actual child. It’s a weird thing to feel, now, during all of this. I used to play all day, from sunrise to sunset if I could, outside, barefoot and dirty. Now, when I step outside I notice that the world of nature hasn’t changed in the face of the news. The birds still sing over the warmer weather. The flowers have been blooming, bringing the joyful buzz of bees. Some days it rains, and the smell brings me back to memories of sitting on my parent’s porch with the wind chimes ringing in the storms.

I always feel closer to God when in nature. When I’m inside, I feel Him too, but I’m distracted by all the man-made stuff, chattering TV, the chores left to do. When I’m outside, I sense Him in His creation, things going on as they have been when He set them in motion. He can be seen in His creation, too. His hope in reflected in the erupting colors of spring, His calm in the gentle, warm breeze. You can feel how solid He is if you stand, barefoot, on the soil and watch His smile in the cotton clouds above.

I guess I’m writing this to tell you that we’re all feeling super complex feelings about this. It’s temporary; this will pass, but difficult times always feel like they’ll last forever. We’re all grieving the loss of control we thought we had over our lives. We’re all anxious sometimes of what tomorrow will bring. The emotions sometimes hit me out of nowhere. You’re not alone; but you’re probably just realizing this more than ever. Everything you do affects the whole world, at some point. We’ve never been in control. God has been this whole time, still is, and He is calm, hopeful, loving, and reaching out to you whatever you’re feeling. Even if all else fell away, He would remain.

Maybe step outside, take your shoes off to feel the ground beneath your feet, and speak to Him.

God bless!

Lost that Loving Feeling

Have you ever heard someone say that God is silent? Or maybe He doesn’t answer his or her prayers? Did they say they’ve been searching for Him, but He seems absent?

The fact that they feel a lack is a good sign they haven’t grown complacent to a distant relationship with God. If they’ve been searching and praying, God has been showing up and answering. The question is, why don’t they see or hear Him in their lives? Why can’t they feel Him anymore?

He exists and loves you external to and despite your feelings. Whether you perceive Him or “feel” anything in relation to Him doesn’t change the fact He is there, always moving, speaking, and reaching out to you. Consider the oxygen around you. If you didn’t know it existed, would you be unable to breathe? Does it change its existence. No, the truth remains outside of our perception or acceptance. It just is.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

The hard fact about God’s love is that more than just a feeling. It’s an action. If you don’t sense God or feel as though He’s distant, consider that maybe you’re the one who walked off. Walk your way back, and the best way to do that is be called into action to show your love for Him and His creation. Volunteer, donate, spread comfort, love, and cheer to others, tell others of your love for Him, whatever you do, do it in Love. You’ll find Him there.

You should be aware that you’re not the only one to have felt this way. In fact, it is said David (God said he was a man after His own heart) wrote this psalm:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!
Psalm 22

God answered many times during David’s time, which he speaks of in his other Psalms. However, He answered again, this time to all of humanity who felt this way. Notice Jesus mentions this psalm when He hung on the cross:

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Matthew 27: 45-46

He feels the cries of countless souls who suffer in this fallen world, and in answer, He dies to save them from the darkness. Know that although David felt unheard at times, God heard and remembered.

I know many are having a hard time lately with all that’s going on in the world, but know that despite your feelings, God loves you and is still reaching out to you. Know in your heart that He hears and answers. It may not be the answer you like, and it may not come when you want it, but God knows better than any of us. You’ll find it was the right answer and the right timing. Please love one another in action, not just emotion. We all need each other more than ever.

God bless!

Finding Eden

God spoke through me this past weekend.

I’ve been listening to a Podcast (The Bible Project, if you’re interested) in which the hosts have been speaking about the Sabbath, the number 7 as reflective of the Sabbath day, and the repetition of both in the Bible. The first time the Kingdom of God was recognized was within the Garden of Eden. During this time of bliss, we were in complete harmony with each other, with nature, and ultimately with God. It was there where work never exhausted our souls, and we never depended on our blood, sweat, and tears to ensure our survival. We depended only on God and never doubted that we had enough.

The Sabbath, a day of rest, existed even then, but it appeared to be more of a reminder of God’s providence than a necessity. In a way, every day was Sabbath. The 7th day is a microcosm of the Kingdom of God, and now that we no longer live in the Garden of Eden, we need that reminder of God’s promises more than ever. Plus, we need the rest.

Over and over, God reminds us to rest. There first was the weekly Sabbath, then as festivals and holy days were added to the Hebrew calendar, there were yearly Sabbaths, and Sabbaths which came every 7 years (all slaves were freed and debts forgiven as the ideal God wanted every day). Every time the number 7 comes up in the Bible (and I dare say elsewhere in our lives), God is reminded us of this:

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Psalm 37:7

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10

I can’t put here all the times God told us to rest. We’ve been out of Eden so long we don’t even realize how hard we toil, but God does, and He wants you to stop, be still, rest. However, we no longer live in Eden; we no longer live in the Kingdom of God… or do we? Where is the Kingdom of God? People throughout history have searched for the elusive Eden that used to be between the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. If we found that place, would we find the Kingdom of God? Or maybe it’s in the land of Israel, the promised land the Hebrews wondered the desert for forty years to find?

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:36-37

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

I need for you to understand this thing God has revealed to me. Eden is not here or there. Eden is wherever God is. Is it not with Him that we are provided for, in Him we rest with peace and joy, for Him that we raise one another up in love? The Kingdom of God is here, amongst us, and those who have faith and live in love live also in the Kingdom of God already. We have enough, and we are enough through God.

As you reflect on the Christmas season that’s upon us, notice the “Christmas Spirit,” as people call it. We should be living it daily. Can you imagine the dark corners of this world that would be illuminated with the light and joy we could spread? When Jesus walked on this Earth, He lived as a person already in the Kingdom of God. One day, there will be a new Heaven and Earth, and the whole of humanity will live without the storms and darkness we have now. Until then, live as if you already are in the New Heaven and Earth because the Kingdom of God resides wherever the King does, and that’s here and now.

It is by Him, not our own toils, that we live and die. So, rest.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

God bless!

Sources other than the Bible:

God on Warfare

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:8

As the author of Ecclesiastes says, there are times when love is appropriate and times when hate is appropriate. Cue the sound of screeching tires as we slam on brakes. What? I thought that love was always the answer. Then, he says there’s a time for war and a time for peace. Why would a God of love ever want war and death?

That’s what we’ll be taking a moment to think about today. As always, let’s go to His love letter (not hate and war letter, right) and seek a discussion with the Most High on this topic.

“You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms; -Jeremiah 51:20

Oh, well, ok Jeremiah, calm down.

And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, each against another and each against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom; – Isaiah 19:2

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ – Deuteronomy 20:1-4

The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name. – Exodus 15:3

What in tarnation? Oh, I guess I can’t tell God to calm down.

There are many examples, especially in the Old Testament, where God called out Israelites to destroy entire cities and nations. We can agree that God hasn’t called us believers to do such a thing in a long, long time. Ok, so maybe we can’t all agree on that. There have been wars that Americans consider righteous (I assume other countries are similar in this regard). Let’s say for example, World War II… at least we consider it righteous now. We were hesitant to enter the frontlines and joined late; many were heated over the fact we ever joined. The battles in Europe felt like a movie to so many in the mainland of U.S.A., divided by seas and lack of instant communications. Now, we can look back and say we’re happy to have overthrown such an obviously evil overlord and the hell he inflicted.

Maybe we were supported by God for this decision, maybe we weren’t. It was difficult to say in the moment, and it’s not clear now because God can turn any bad thing into a good thing at His will.

Most of what God or His people say on the subject of war is that of condemnation and a message that He is working toward a world of peace forever more.

He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. – Isaiah 2:4

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” -Romans 12:19

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? – Matthew 26:52-53

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9

Wait, what about this?

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. – Luke 12:51

When drug addicts and alcoholics decide to change their lives and let go of drugs or alcohol, they usually go through a period of great division. They have to separate themselves from friends, sometimes family, many times their homes, in order to be successful in disengaging in the behaviors that those loved ones still encourage and perhaps in which still are enmeshed.

After Jesus there was a division. Friends and family were at odds because of this new radical Jewish movement that eventually separated into Christianity. At that point, there was a time for hate and war. That doesn’t mean God wanted it. However, in a time of growth, there are growing pains because, in this case, many people fought change.

I believe, from what I’ve read, that God never wants war or hate or anything bad. Like a father, He would have us be at peace and joyful, but we’ve fought Him on that since the beginning when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Due to that, now there is sometimes a time for tears and bloodshed. Why? Because we chose to create a world where there are valleys of darkness to walk through in order to get to the mountaintop.

So, why would God ever order warfare and lead an army toward murder of others?

We chose to bring evil into the world, and because of that, we must fight against the spiritual powers of darkness. We can’t win the fight alone. We have to push them back to where they came from so we can claim victory in a new reality without them. If we ever actually declare war, I believe God would want us to be darn certain He is asking for it. As His commandments clearly state to not murder, we MUST know first when He is making an exception.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. – James 4:1-2

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. – Revelation 12:7-11

As for some details concerning war, God shows us, if it is to be carried out, how it should be done. See Deuteronomy 20 for Rules of War. It explains that if anyone has unfinished business, is newly engaged, or is too afraid to fight, that they should go home. That rules out the draft. It specified to not cut down fruit trees, as “these trees are not the enemy, so don’t make war against them.” It also says a few messy things our civilian ears may have difficulty reading such as enslaving those cities who make peace with you and killing all of the people in others. This is so “they will not be able to teach you to sin against the Lord your God or to do any of the terrible things they do when they worship their gods.” They were corrupt, murderous, and dark-minded people who God didn’t want to tarnish His people. Are those specific people listed in these verses still the same people they were back in the day? No, much has changed, and so have God’s children. We are not called to kill every living person now in war. It’s good to understand context.

In conclusion, we brought evil into the world from the beginning and yearn to return to our Eden, full of peace and life. Step-by-step, God is bringing us back, but that means that sometimes He has, in the past, called us to seek war against other nations. Those instructions were for specific people in specific times, and they had meaning and purpose when they were ordered. Unless we KNOW that God is asking for us to disregard one of His commandments, we really shouldn’t seek all out warfare. Defense is one thing. Offense is another. We are called to be peacemakers, to show the world what God’s Kingdom will be like on Earth.

God bless!

God’s Hygge

In Me, you may have peace, but in the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

If there’s something that the world is in deep, desperate need of, it’s peace. An Earth without war, sickness, division, abuse, and darkness of other kinds is coming. However, in the meantime, there’s a kingdom of God that can live in and through you if you let it.

Sometimes, trends are just a mindless scrambling for something otherwise missing in our souls, but sometimes, they stumble into a lighter place, allowing people a glimpse of what can be with God.

Hue-gah – Danish word

Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down (2017, p. vi). – The Little Book of Hygge

Hygge is a semi-new trend, but it started with a Danish and Norwegian concept. No doubt this concept has always existed in some form throughout the world for ages now, but it’s now been commercialized and deemed “in.” It’s a nice idea. Most people imagine fireplaces, fuzzy socks, a warm drink in hand, and family or a book to keep you company. It can be part of those things. It can also be part of a warm summer’s evening, a dark front porch with the stars overhead, a crowded bus station, a DMV lobby, or just another day at work. Why? In reality, it exists within you, not in your environment. It’s peace and joy.

Joy is not necessarily related to happiness, as it’s defined by the Bible. This emotion and mindset settles into the marrow of your being as an ever present hope and solid rock on which to stand during the crashing waves of life. It’s the knowledge that, no matter what else you may be feeling and experiencing at the moment, there is a true love that has prepared you for a home with many rooms.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. – Psalm 47:1

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. – Ecclesiastes 9:7

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:8-9

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. – Psalm 27:6

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, – Romans 14:17

The kingdom of God resides in the Children of God and among them, in their fruits, in their peace and joy, and in the light of truth they spread with His Word. During our last blog post, we spoke about how making a change externally must begin with a change internally. This is what God is doing to heal the world. He brings His love and light-filled kingdom to our hearts first and, eventually, His kingdom will be on Earth.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. – Luke 17:20-21

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15

Gratitude is a large part of hygge and the joy we find in God. We are surely thankful for all of God’s blessings, including a warm, safe home to come back to, even if that home only exists as the kingdom thriving in our souls. It’s good to take a moment to disconnect from the rat-race and connect with the moment you’re in. You may hear God speaking. May you find God’s hygge waiting for you.

Turn the Other Cheek: Rebellion Tips by Jesus

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil: If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile with him, go two. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you . . . . Love your enemies, for if you love only those who love you, what merit is that? . . . Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:38-42, 46, 48)

Ah, the verses of peace, forgiveness….weakness? Of course Jesus supported whole-heartedly a life of forgiveness and love, but was He condoning abuse or being a doormat? Please, take another look at the context in which He spoke the above words.

Let’s first look at turning the other cheek. In the times Jesus lived in, the Roman government ruled over several other peoples, including the Jews. If a Roman soldier gave orders that a Jew disobeyed, it was typical of the soldier to backhand him or her across the face. The slap became known as a symbol that they looked at the Jews as inferior. Since most people are right-handed, if they backhanded someone, their right hand would strike a right cheek. However, if a soldier was ready to strike an equal, he would usually punch, which would strike a person’s left cheek. This practice of slapping was so pervasive that Jesus gave Jews advice on how to deal with it.

Don’t fight them and don’t meekly accept their behavior. Turn the cheek. It was a sign of passive defiance. It’s saying, “I demand to be treated as an equal.” It forces the soldier to either hit them as an equal (instead of as a superior) or at least take a moment to realize how they are treating another human being.

Next, what about handing over a coat when a person only sued you for the shirt off your back? Basically, that’s a way of saying that if someone sued you for a great sum, voluntarily give them literally everything. Why on Earth would we do this?

An outer coat also served as a poor person’s blanket, and it was illegal to take someone’s coat overnight as they would be possibly exposed to the elements. It was inhumane. Also, by the way, if they had your shirt AND your coat, you were left naked. Nakedness was taboo in Judaism, and if creditor actually went through with causing a debtor to be naked just to repay his debt, it made the creditor look bad. It was a peaceful way to expose the evils of their greed and corruption. It flipped the humiliation to the other party as the debtor stood unashamed.

Now, concerning going two miles when you’re forced to go only one: Roman soldiers had to travel many miles for various reasons, and to make that work without wearing out the soldiers carrying heavy equipment, they could force Jews, or any foreigner, to carry their backpacks and belongings for a mile, legally. A person being forced to do this had to stop whatever else they were doing and take time to walk a mile there and a mile back. However, Jesus is exhorting people to “go the extra” mile.

There’s actually a good reason the soldiers needed help with carrying things, but Jesus didn’t want the Jews to act like this was a pain to help. He wanted Jews to recognize that even in their protests, they were reflecting their God. He wanted them to go above and beyond. In this way, the soldiers saw they weren’t going the extra mile because they were legally forced to but because they had genuine desire to assist others. Maybe in this way, the soldiers would see beyond their own pre-conceived prejudices and superiority complexes and see the good that came from God’s people.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is a cycle that never really ends. Violence begets violence and vengeance begets vengeance. Yet, paying back evil with good is the way of God, and it’s a form of glory and peaceful protest. I believe Jesus was saying that you should never stand for being abused or subjugated, but you should never react violently either. Your rebellion will be heard better when you stand above the cacophony of anger and revenge.

Sources other than Bible: