Do NOT Become a Christian

Are looking for something to fulfill your life?  Need a list of laws to follow?  Are you a good person?  Are you rich?  Is your life put together and you want a church?  

Let me be the first to assure you, Christianity is NOT for you. 

Are you outcast because your sins are much too many?  Do you want to be dead of this life you live?  Sick?  Find this world meaningless?  You don’t fit in?

Then, for you, I may have the answer. But I will be the last to try to persuade you. In fact, I will do the opposite. Consider the cost carefully. 

Jesus himself turned away the crowd. To the rich young ruler that he loved, he looked straight to his heart and saw the one thing he could not give up, “Go and sell all you have and give it to the poor.”  There was no hug and welcome and let me lead you to the sinner’s prayer. No!  To follow Jesus, to be like him, he will have no competition!  The Lord must be loved with ALL your heart. 

This is no plan of your own. You do not approach your Maker and ask him to bless your plans. Oh!  How many curse God because He does not answer their requests!  

First, you must die. All your comfort, your identity, riches, and beauty are dead and buried. Meaningless. Rags to be offered. But you will walk in danger and not be afraid. And it will be so very dangerous. You will be mocked and count it as blessings. Monies only purpose is to be given away. Prayers are to be reserved for miracles. The miracle to accomplish a part of God’s big huge plan. 

And ladies and gentlemen, the very miracle is that God himself reaches out his hand and extends an invitation. And the church of religion kindly declines, “No thank you.  I’m doing just fine on my own.”

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I know God’s Calling for My Life

“God did not call me to do that.”

“Not everyone is called to be missionaries, so give some money and help these people tell the world about God.”

The only problem?  Jesus did not make distinctions when He said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel.”  It’s not just for a certain group of people. 

He never said, “If you feel called” He said “Go.”  That applies to everyone. 

Don’t feel the calling?  I bet Shadrach didn’t feel like being thrown into a fire. I bet Corrie Ten Boom didn’t feel like spreading the love of Jesus in a concentration camp. I bet martyrs didn’t feel like being tortured. JESUS DIDNT FEEL LIKE DYING ON THE CROSS!

Are you a Mom?  Be so wildly in love with Jesus that your children see Him as the very air you breathe!  Be so beyond patient that others notice something different about you and have to comment. And then answer!  

Are you a husband?  Love you wife like Christ loves the church. Daily die to her!

Do you drive?  Forget about road rage. Do you buy coffee?  Grab a cup for someone else. Invite a homeless person to church. Stop and chat with a lonely person. 

Be so crazy in love with the King of kings that you are a fool in love. Live like this is not your home!

And when you screw up, BECAUSE YOU WILL, the absolute biggest way that you can stand out among the crowd is to ASK FOR FORGIVENESS!  

Ask for forgiveness and FORGIVE, that is what I am called to do. What better way to preach the gospel?

Open Journal

“My sweet little bitty, teeny tiny baby,” You have never been one to really like the many nicknames that I have thrown out your way, “Mom! Don’t call me that!” And then I pulled out this exaggerated pet name and you didn’t mind. It is the first that you smile and let it be.

As I like to do, I was having coffee with a friend, who happens to be a mom of one of your friends. She asked, “how do I keep improving my life to show my daughter that she can be anything?”  She, and I, realize our immense responsibility to be the role model of our daughters. We chatted and I loved our chat so that the words have stuck with me, bringing a new realization a few days later:

Madison, you are so enthusiastically curious, so calmly friendly, ever achieving new abilities, lover of learning without the stress of perfection, independent, and SO PERFECTLY YOURSELF, that I believe others expect more out of me! This is what I mean:

Madison plays piano. Oh! I never played any instrument.

Madison excels at an exemplary private school with whatever you can throw her way as a model student. I struggled through public school.

Madison plays volleyball. I never did. 

M rides horses. I never. 

Madison stands up for others (at such a young age)!  I didn’t know how to.

Madison loves sharks! Me: scary!

On and on the list goes so that I have realized:  Caroline, your job is to get out of the way!  God is her parent, He is her Father. I have prayed for this child since I was pregnant and when she was three months old, God said in the most audible way, “She is not yours!  This baby is MINE!”  So hard for me to open my hands!

But there are NO WORDS that I can write to fully illustrate the overwhelming JOY and PRIVILEGE to see God Himself take my nine year old daughter by the hand and whisper softly,

“Little bitty, teeny tiny baby, I have one big huge, God sized plan for your life!

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 4

Her death was an emptiness that would haunt my life and I did not know how to fill that void.  My father shut himself off inside his church.  He was a pastor who was closed off to his children.  We were now nothing but a reminder of the wife he lost.  We were nothing but a burden like predicted.

My father hid in his work, not knowing how to deal with his own hurt.  Loss of love hurts so badly.  When he was alone, he would think about us and how he wanted to love us and help us.  He thought about how much we must be hurting also.  That is because his heart was good.  He would promise himself that he would do things better.  He would be a better father.  But he did not pray concerning us.  He did not call on God to be our father.  He tried to do it in his own power.  And whenever he was in our presence, Demon Suffering squeezed his throat so that the right words would not come out and my father would run from our presence to seek relief from that pain that he always felt when he was around us.

And then a new demon joined my father:  Demon Regret.  Now he could never be a father again.  He had messed everything up in our family.  He quit trying.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 3

The funeral of my mother at the age of five altered my life forever.  We had been a happy family.  I was not only provided for, but I had been invested in.  I had been the child of my parents’ happy marriage which had spilled over into a happy home.  My father, a manly man, had been so pleased to work hard to provide for his wife and children.  He felt he was good and he felt God was repaying him with this happy life.  With the death of my mother, I also lost my father.  He could not be father and mother, so he decided to be neither.  I lost my childhood.  I lost my innocent happiness.  I stood at her funeral, holding the hand of an aunt that I did not know, and so unsure of the new emotion that I felt:  fear.  I was a motherless child.  

After the ceremony, the few people my family knew in our little town gathered at our house.  It was a small simple farmhouse but my mother had made it a home.  With her death, even our home died.  Now it was just a house.  It suddenly lacked the charm that comes when there is happiness in the air.  I stood in the corner near the staircase.  I was blocked by a wall, but around the opening I could hear relatives whispering, “What will Matthew do with these children now?  What a burden for him.”

No, I was not the only child of Matthew and Grace Parker.  I was one of three children.  I had a brother, David, who was four years older and a sister, Fern, who was two years younger.

The whispers continued, “She always spoiled them and now he is going to have to pay the price.”

“Well, I think he deserves it.  He should have taken better care of her.  It is his fault this happened.”

“All I know is that children are expensive.  He doesn’t have any money.”

“Well, I happen to know where he can find a new wife.  That is the only solution I know of.”

“You are exactly right.  I mean it.  I agree with you.  And he’d better come to terms with that sooner than later.”

This was followed by small snickers.  They were not possessed by demons.  These people had been saved by God.  But they had been stopped in their footsteps.  They refused to fight.  They stood in their comforts of life and did not want to be burdened by the troubles of this world.  When they were tempted, they quietly gave in and kept it hidden.  When demons told them to judge, they gladly obliged.  They were modern day Pharisees.  The demons could not enter their bodies, but they could sit on their shoulders and whisper into their ears and influence their thoughts and actions.  The demons promised comfort in this world in exchange for their cooperation.

This is how the community felt about their responsibility to fill in the motherly gap that we now inherited.  There was never a solution or an attempt at one.  Our happy home was never happy again.  We had lost Eden.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 1

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

My life is a meaningful story.  The author is God.

On the night I was born, in response to the miracle of life, an army of angels gathered in the heavenly realms.  They were great in number and they were fitted for battle, covered from head to foot with thick gold armor.  They resemble men of great strength but they are fairer with a heavenly translucency that shines from within.  They march with organized strength and determination toward the spiritual forces of evil awaiting them.

Opposing them is an army of demons.  In form, demons are terrifying creatures.  They were not protected by armor but they stood in height much taller than the angels even though they stand hunched over at the shoulders, a mix of human and beast.  Most of them are mangled and injured in some form.  They have bite marks or bleeding open wounds.  This is from the many times they have turned on one another.  They are a noisy and uncontrolled army.  Sometimes it appears that there is a dark cloud that moves with them, but upon closer inspection, it is their constant transformation from spiritual to physical.  They outnumber their opposition in mass so large that their number can not be counted.

At my birth, the demons hissed and shrieked and cried out.  Dark powers know the potential of a small baby.  A seed grows into an oak tree.  Tidal waves are made of small drops of water. Revolutions begin with a single being.  The dark world seeks to destroy the human race one life at a time.

In response, the angels began a beautiful song that started in a soft whisper but grew in volume.  It was a message, a statement of power.  The angels were not opening their mouths but they were glowing, and the light around them and through them grew brighter and brighter.  The demons held their ears and shielded their eyes.

With a great crescendo, there was complete silence.  An angel named “Life” stepped forth.  He spoke with a deep booming voice that commanded attention, “Turn to me.  Give me your regard!”

The demon crowd continued to shield their eyes.  Among the howls and expressions of pain, an authority among them hissed with a painful scream, “We loath your light.

The light dimmed until the demons slowly turned their heads and gave their notice.

Life continued, “Show me an opponent.  Give me an equal.  I will crush you.  I fight for the Lord, the God of Heaven and Earth.  This child has been claimed since the foundation of the earth.  You fight in vain.  Dare to stand against me and let me remind you of when my God crushed your god and flung him into Hell.  And let me foretell of macerating you for eternity.  My Lord God will reign forever.”  He paused a moment and then his voice boomed again with an intensity of authority and frustration, “Is there no one?”

A demon stepped forward, leaving the cloud, and assuming a more stable form.  Demons alter between many appearances.  A dark cloud is their appearance when they stand in a group in the heavenly realms but while roaming the earth, they inhabit beautiful human forms.  They prefer the company of other demons.  When they stand alone and the spiritual eye sees them for what they are, they are seen as individual tangible grotesque beings.  This outspoken demon was smoky in color.  He looked like a mangled and deformed tall brown bear fused with a man.  He had patches of missing fur and scars and mutilations covering his body that did not make him look weak, they only added to his hideousness.  He moved as a creature of strength.  His presence commanded respect and fright.  He spoke with a low guttural sound of hostility and a dark vapor escaped from his mouth and nostrils when he talked.  “My names is Death.  I was there with Cain while he slew his brother Abel.  I drank the blood when infants were sacrificed in Peru.  I shriek with delight while families are slaughtered during present day genocides in Africa.  I stand as a proud parent while followers rape young women in the Middle East.  I find glorious excitement while politicians waver under personal glories to the downfall of a great country in the fragile United States of America.”

“America,” he hissed, “bites the hand of God who has blessed her.  Oh so soon will be her downfall.”

“I am your equal opponent.  Me!”  He snarled.  “Me!  I will fight you.  I will find pleasure in her suffering.  I will add her to my trophies.  I will slaughter those she loves.  I will abort her children.  I will begin by killing her mother!”

The army behind him joined him in taunts and shouts of approval.  Encouraged by them, he shouted, “I will tear her husband from her!  I will spit in her face!”

He turned back toward the host of angels, “I will claim her to suffer for eternity by my side.  I will drink plentifully of her pain and it will satisfy my lustful desires of human sin and suffering.”  Excited with the satisfaction he thought was soon to come, he cried out, “I am hungry!  Hungry!  I will bring agony and torment and I will…”

“Enough!”  Angel Life interrupted, “Enough!  You speak with pride but you lack authority. This child will be protected by me.  I was there when God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils.  I was there when the human baby, Jesus Christ, came into the world in a small stable to conquer you and your army and your god forever.  But you only speak of the past and soon to be because you fear the future and you know what is to come.  In the future, I will be there at the side of this baby when she crosses over from that world into eternal life.  And in the future, I will be there when my God conquers Death and Pain and Suffering once and for all and claims the victory over this war.  And I will be there for all eternity praising Jesus Christ as God and Savior over all humanity.  This is already certain.  Her pain will be temporary and I will guide her in life.  You forget that you cannot persuade me with your empty lies.  Another has been chosen to be joined with her in life.  He is guarded by Angel Victory.  You can hurl on them physical pain and suffering and even death but you can only battle for a short period.  How pathetic you are when you stand against Life and Victory!  These words are trustworthy and true.”

Unlike the distracted demon, unable to concentrate because his mind was preoccupied by his own lustful cravings, the angel stood fixed and tall and peered straight toward the demonic murky cloud, with resolute confidence never turning to the left or right or looking for support from the military force that stood organized behind him.  With confidence in God he served, Life raised his sword and cried out, “Defend this child of God!”

The multitude of angels raised their swords and spears in unison and cried out, “Amen!

To be continued…

 

Dust and Shadows

9 years old and it is simply amazing what she can accomplish. I know that little girl inside and out, her strengths and limits, how she ticks, and what she can accommomplish. 

Summer days are our contradictions. Each day can be the extreme opposite of another. In order to defend myself in what I am about to tell you, I will first say that we just returned from a week’s vacation at the beach. There was nothing except play, family memories, and fun to be had the entire day. 

And then there was yesterday. Yesterday, my girl woke up to a list. Beside her list was my list. The two of us worked pushing out speed, racing the clock, accomplishing task after task after task. She is 9 years old and what she accomplished is impressive!  Get herself ready for the day, make bed, read two chapters of honors reading book, feed fish, give water to gecko, walk around the house and clean up any mess that belongs to Madison, practice piano, pass 1 level of rocket math division, read one more chapter, make a birthday card for Nana, a Father’s Day card for Grandaddy, vacuum, mop, set the table for dinner, and read another chapter from her book. 

And why do I make her do it?  Don’t I love her?  Am I not older?  Could I not accomplish these tasks with greater speed?

She is quickly catching up to me, but there have been nine previous years where I took double, triple, 25 times the time to involve and teach Madison in the daily chores that need to be done and the lessons that need to be learned. And why?!  Why would I have a three year old help me carry her laundry to the washing machine?

And you all know the answer. Because it is good for her. Because it is my job to teach her to be an independent adult. And that baby girl is going to make one amazing grown woman one day!  Because as she works, she learns to love work. And this is what Madison’s typical day looks like. But then sometimes, as happened yesterday, she puts a cherry on top and she goes above and beyond. Lastnight, Madison made a homemade apple pie for the family. (Not on her list) and then she picked up another book and asked her Daddy if she could read a chapter to him. (She did.)

And my day to day can be such a struggle. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I get a little glimpse of the woman that all her hard work is raising her up to be. And in these moments, I get a little “ohhhhh, I get it.”

Why does God make me work so hard every day?  Why do I hurt and suffer?  Why can this life be so tiring and painful?

Because he is making a list for nine year old Caroline and look at all the things I can accomplish because he is teaching me how to help this world. Once I was three years old and my tasks were so little as I did them with my Father. Now he expects more. And now I want to bake an apple pie for my family. I want to share the gospel wherever I go. I want that to be my priority and the center of my life. I want it to dictate where I live, what I say, and how I spend my time. 

My little girl is starting to dream. God has big huge plans for her. If you asked her today, she says when she grows up she wants to train dolphins. Give her time and she starts throwing in other animals that she wants to train as well. Point is, she has some big dreams. And if you ask me, she is firmly on track. 

What do I want to accomplish?  Is it to have lots of influential friends that like me?  Is it a newly remodeled wow inspiring home?  Is it finances of extreme comfort in the bank?  

Is it to welcome homeless people into my home?  Is it to be put in harm’s way so that I can help when emergency strikes?  Is it to tell other hurting people, no matter what the cost, about the amazing love of God their Father?

Oh Holy Spirit, I long so much for your presence. Give me hurting people in my path so that I can show them your love. Guide my steps so that I can serve the church. And then I will be a mature Christian, finally maturing into who you made me to be and then I will have intimacy with you as you accomplish the impossible in me. 

Everything else is dust and shadows. I will not settle. I will grow up one to do list at a time.