So caught up in the why, never considered who …

I’ve been studied the Holocaust for some time now.  I wanted to know how one man could lead an entire country to destroy human lives as though they were cattle getting ready for the slaughter.  I also wanted to know how so many people could just turn their head to such disaster.  So I started reading Mein Kampf.

Perhaps you’re thinking that wasn’t such a good idea, and I was a bit hesitant myself knowing that the government probably now has me on some black list because I got it from the public library.  However, I felt a strong urging in my spirit to move forward.

I heard a sermon recently that told me the Jewish people face East and facing East meant facing backward.  So they move forward, facing the past, knowing where they’ve been, just like in a row-boat.  I happen to agree with this.  It’s not only been Hitler that slaughtered millions of people at a time and got others to turn their head, there’s been others.  At some point in time, we need to start asking ourselves, how did this happen and how can we prevent it?  I’m beginning to find out that, unfortunately, the only way to understand madness is to take a really good look at it and pray that God leads you to His understanding.

While Hitler’s book wasn’t an autobiography, there was enough personal information in the book to get an idea of who he was.  I was quite surprised to find that this ‘madman’ had many traits that were desirable, that he was intelligent, artistic, empathetic, and loyal to his country to a fault.  I was also surprised to read that in his own words, he tells how in the beginning, he wasn’t against the Jews.  He was a man of keen observation and not just of events, but of the effects of those events on people.  He seemed to be caught up in how he was responding to events around him and was unafraid to openly show his struggle with his internal man.  He was unafraid to show how quickly he could be persuaded to ‘change opinions.’

Despite these findings tho, there were some marked events in his life that gave me a better understanding of how he perhaps started on the path he ended up on.  From my perspective, I could see a determined arrogance that was fueled by a hate of those he felt repressed the German people and he seemed to take this battle very personally.

After getting to page 65, the last page of chapter 2, I’ve decided that regardless of what the rest of the book says, I got the answer I was looking for.  There it was, in his own words, ‘And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.’  He honestly thought he was in God’s will.

So how does an atrocity like the Holocaust happen?  Hitler was so caught up in the whys of his day that he never stopped to consider who he was following.  There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this was a spiritual battle where Satan merely needed an outlet to gain power.  Unfortunately, he found it at the expense of millions of lives.

While some may balk that I could see any positive in a man such as Hitler, I honestly believe that he had a greatness in him that was designed to be used in a positive way.  Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way.

How careful we need to be to search our hearts!  This man claimed to be doing ‘the work of the Lord.’  Yet, clearly, it wasn’t.  We don’t hear of him having conversations or thoughts asking God what God thought.  We don’t hear of him having thoughts of praying about it and seeking God’s face.  Nor do we hear of him addressing the hypocrisy of his own thoughts and actions.  Instead, he very plainly points out his faults with every intention to correct everyone except himself.

He never stopped to listen to the small still voice inside telling him, ‘this is wrong.’  Instead, he kept barreling ahead towards the voice that fed his pride, his self-righteousness, his hatred, and ultimately, his insanity.  What I get out of all of this, is that it only takes 1 human vessel for Satan to get his hands on to mess up a whole lot of other people’s lives.

And while the good news is that it only took 1 human vessel to die on a cross and save our souls, we still have to live this life out.  We still have to face the evil present in the world and we still have to face the fact that, we could be persuaded to partake in that evil just as easily as this man was.

How we need Jesus!  Not just as a Saviour for eternal salvation, but we need His leading and guiding every day!  While this study hasn’t been easy, I walk away understanding now, more than ever, just what Christ did for us and how we need Him.  Fact is, we can’t do this alone and even if we think we are, Hitler’s actions remind us very clearly, there is a spiritual entity that understands our power more than we understand it ourselves.  If we don’t use it for God’s glory, he’s more than willing to use it for his.

God help us.  I’m sorry this has such a downer tone, but the promise and hope comes in mourning and remembering those who were a part of this and other atrocities.  That their lives weren’t lost in vain.  There are very real people effected by this garbage.  But we can’t just pick up the book and hate back.  We have to stop and say … WAIT!  That’s how he ended up down that path.  Yes!  I know his soul may be in hell; me pointing out the goodness that God put in him doesn’t change his soul status.  What it does is show that if we don’t take time to see ourselves in men like this, we might just find ourselves being led to be the monster he became.

If we aren’t careful, we might just find our own selves getting caught up in the why and never consider who we are following.

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Jesus Wept: A love story

The deeper my relationship with Christ gets, the more I appreciate what He’s done and IS doing for me.  This weekend, I was reminded of how there are times, I don’t always respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. It’s interesting because when I mess up, I know it.  If it’s a mistake, I fess up, clean up, and move on.  I take responsibility and understand that mistakes will happen.  Jesus still loves me.

Well, there are other times when, it isn’t so much a mistake that I make; I would categorize it more as negligence.  Admittedly, I am at times negligent to my responsibilities as Christ’s bride.  Times when I get caught up in my own selfish reaction or feelings.  Kind of like Mary and Martha did in John 11, when they lacked faith and blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death.

Ugh … not an easy thing to admit .. but there are times when perhaps, I react selfishly .. when I feel my needs aren’t being met by a loved one .. or overreact to something that really isn’t that big of a deal .. maybe not watching my tongue because I’m ‘having a bad day’ .. or perhaps even not being careful of what or whom I share with.  Sigh .. there really is no justification for my behavior in those moments.  I’ve literally just given over to my flesh and am creating a mess.  A mess that literally, only Jesus can clean up.  Often, I’m not even aware of the damage I’m doing because I’m too focused on ME.  After reading this particular passage this weekend, I have a better understanding that Jesus really does get upset with us when we do things like this.  It’s something that I have to come to grips with, I’m not always at a place where I am going to be pleasing to my bride-groom.

Oh how I realize my need for Him!  How did Jesus react to the unbelief He encountered?  The Word tells us He was troubled in His spirit and groaned within Himself .. but how He chose to handle it … He Wept.  I can only imagine how it must feel for Him to not have His disciples on the same page.  Here, He spends time loving, healing, sharing, caring, and even letting these ladies in on what He has in store and how do they react?  Disbelief .. lack of faith .. negligent .. completely contrary to what He’s trying to accomplish .. yep .. we do a pretty good job of mucking up His plans.  Yet still, He loves us.

What amazes me …  He doesn’t freak out on Mary, Martha, and the Jews that lacked faith.  He dealt with His spirit by weeping .. showing us how to seek His face in times of trouble or frustration .. then He continued on His path and completed the miracle.  His reaction was nothing but pure love!  He gave Mary and Martha room to grow.  The good news is, He really is all about mercy and grace.

I can’t help but feel that the stories we read are constantly Him talking to His bride trying to get her to see that He really is all about mercy, if she would only look in the mirror and realize just how much room He gives her to grow.  If we could just realize that He would like us to give the same in return, to others.  If we could just realize how much He withholds His wrath from ALL of us because He wants to include ALL of us!  Will He have to draw the line some day?  You bet.  But today, it’s mercy .. it’s grace .. it’s Love.

And even when we don’t ‘get it’ … still, Christ loves us.  He continues to draw, continues to gently correct, continues to withhold His wrath, continues to teach, continues to lead .. continues to love.

If only we truly understood how much He really loves us ..  All of us.  The Bible .. it really is the greatest Love Story ever written.  The best part, you and I both play an important role .. and Jesus is going to show us each how to play our part.  He really is an awesome God!

This is Your Life

It’s strange how hearing a comment directed to someone else can hit you like a brick.  In this new year, I started with a promise to myself to press on, challenge myself, and move onto whatever it is that God wants and expects of me.  So when I heard my husband make a comment to one of his children, it side-swiped me in a way I didn’t expect.  The comment was, ‘This is your life.’

Of course, he was pointing his child towards Jesus and his point was simply to say .. what you see is what you get.  You can’t do this alone.  You need God.

For me, it meant something completely different.

I already have God.  I already have a strong relationship with Him.  Not that we can’t all stand to have a reminder or two to get back on track, but it would be just that, a little reminder.  Forgive me for being real here, but it turns out, life isn’t much different with God as it was without God.

I’m referring to the problems and challenges that I had before.  I still wrestle with insecurities and I find that I still have a list of faults that I’m working on improving.  My children are still rebellious at times, I still have debts, arguments, get mad a time or two, and well … life still happens.

I’m not really sure what I expected.  However, admittedly, I often find myself seeking inside wondering when I will have that big God moment where He speaks audibly telling me exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  My husband’s comment was like that voice telling me to simply … live your life.

I can only imagine that it had to be similar for the Israelites in the Wilderness.  God rescued them and performed miraculously wonders proving that He was for them only to put them … in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sure, God was still caring for their needs, but boy, life sure was different.  They were rescued to wander around aimlessly?  We look from the outside and say they brought it on themselves, but if you think about it, we do the same thing.  At least I know I do.

I’ve got all my needs met.  God constantly provides me with manna from Heaven.  I always have just the right word when I need it and it never comes from a source I would have expected.  And what’s my response?  To complain that I’m wondering around in circles waiting for some direction to the supposed ‘promised land.’

After my husband’s comment, I thought, what if this is it?  What if there is never any BIG call other than to simply do what I can where I am at?  To simply move forward?  What if nothing out of the ordinary happens?  What if I am expected to simply ‘live my life for God?’  What if there is never any ‘Moses’ moment for me?  What if I was called to be one of the unmentioned disciples?

Wow!  Talk about a reflection!  I had to confront that Passion I feel inside and truly face  … dare I say it … pride.  Do I chase God’s work for His glory or mine?  Not to say that I don’t think we should do great things for God.  However, I honestly believe that we neglect the bigness of simply being a reflection for God.  The bigness of being one of the unmentionables.

I also think we forget that living life is a miracle itself.  How difficult it is to live life and NOT focus on the problems?  With God, we have a new perspective and living daily, being content with where He has put me, with a smile on my face, or getting back up each time I fall is a BIG deal.  This IS being a light.  It does make a difference because those around me who don’t know God have a reference point to see, the right way IS towards God.

I don’t think it means that I have to give up on the Passion that I feel to do something great for God.  I think it means facing up to just how big that job really is.  A kingdom isn’t built on just a few souls, it’s built on a whole lot of people doing little things daily which amounts to a whole lot of light reflecting God’s glory.  Not my glory .. God’s glory.

So this is my life.  Turns out I’m okay with simply living it.  If I never get to be a Moses, a Mary, Ruth, Paul, or David, well … that’s okay.  I’m a Dionne.  My part is not mentioned at all in the Book on your shelf, but it turns out, there’s another book that I am found in and well … that’s the one that really matters.

I’ve got Big things to accomplish.  Love that needs to be given.  Laughs that need to be had.  Fights that need to be fought.  Tears that need to be shed.  Struggles that need to be faced.  Faith that needs to be shared.  I’ve got a life that needs to be lived!

Turns out, the promised land is     ….    Life.

Reflecting on Expectations

This last Sunday, Pastor gave a great message.  It was one on reflection.  It was one of those messages where God is diving deep into your heart revealing some un-pleasantries that were hiding in a dark crevice tucked behind a bunch of justifications.  Since then, I’ve been doing my best to confront this particular dust ball head on.  Today, I realized that perhaps what I’ve really been doing is hanging on to expectations.

I don’t think it’s bad to have expectations.  As a matter of fact, they can help people.  Expecting good things is well … a good thing.  But I’ve found that personally, when my expectations are repeatedly returned with disappointment, I tend to go in what I would refer to as, hibernation mode.

Maybe it’s because I’m not really sure how to handle the situation.  Actually, I know that’s part of it.  I tend to look at what I can do differently so I tend to withdraw believing that it’s best to think on it before reacting.  Problem is, the repeated disappointment results in growing distrust and disgust that, unchecked, seeps out as sarcastic anger.

I had the revelation that the real problem I was contending with was holding onto expectations that I should really just turn over to Jesus.  I’m not quite sure that this will solve my dilemma, but I do feel as though it’s a good place to start.  I also feel it’s a much better option than attempting to simply manipulating myself or anyone else into believing that things are ‘just fine.’

Perhaps the distrust that I experience has more to do with the expectations I put out rather than a real trust issue.  Turns out however, that I can not deny the fact that distrust ultimately means a lack of faith in God’s ability.  I would never willingly say that I didn’t have faith in what God can do, however the repeated issue of distrust tells me … yep, there’s a malfunctioning wire that needs correction.

Ugh .. the double-edged sword of cleaning up your heart.  Feels good when it’s done, but dang .. it’s a lot of work to get there.

I’m not completely sure how to sort out all these expectations quite yet.  Turns out I’ve a heap of them that have been collecting for some time.  Maybe in the end Jesus will tell me that there are a few I should keep, but in the mean time, I really need His help to determine which ones to toss and which ones to give Him for safe keeping.

Oddly, just talking about the job is making me feel better already.  I’m okay with a little work.  Especially if it means cleaning up that sess pool that was seething at me in the mirror the other day.  Yikes!

Speaking of reflections, turns out it was a good thing I put that reminder on the mirror to not forget my smile.  🙂

Divine Encounter

Sometimes these happen .. and when they do, you know, God’s talking directly to you.  No mistake about it, you heard His voice.  I’m speaking of divine encounters.

Yesterday, I had this urge to call and make amends with someone, but the only way I knew to connect with this person, was professionally.  I really didn’t feel comfortable contacting the person from the perspective of me being a fellow client.  Seemed to set up the wrong scenario.  After all, our last encounter hadn’t gone so well.  Certainly wouldn’t be fair for me to expect him to be receptive to my apology if I’m approaching him as a client.  He’d have to accept simply because of how I approached.  I didn’t like that thought.

So I ignored the urge, but kept the thought that given the chance, I would make amends.  Then left it at that.

Of course, I never see this person.  The last time I had seen him was at his job, so the likely hood of me encountering him without trying was pretty slim.  I mean seriously, it probably just wouldn’t happen.  But wouldn’t you know it, I go to the grocery store after work and guess who I spot .. him .. the guy .. the one I just promised God I would make amends with.  Well, technically, it wasn’t really a promise because I counted it more as just a thought.  Sigh .. 

Maybe it wasn’t him.  No, it sure looked like him.  So before I gave it too much more thought, I just walked up and asked him if it was him.  Yep.  It was him.  .. gulp

I introduced myself .. he didn’t seem to remember me.  This was going to go better than I expected!  I refreshed his memory about our last encounter and while he played like he didn’t recall, I could tell, he recalled.  Uh oh ..  However, thankfully, God’s grace somehow got me through because he quickly took the hand that I held out, shook it and said that all has been forgiven.  I thanked him and wished him a good day.

He moved away rather quickly.  I’m guessing the reminder of our last encounter was probably not pleasant, but I did what I had set out to do and somehow, God got us both through.  And now I know, the next time I see him in town, I can walk without trying to hide my head if I see him headed my way.

Divine encounters .. maybe God has a sense of humor.  Or maybe He really does care about cleaning up the condition of our hearts.

Either way, I’m grateful for His mercy and grace and His unmistakable voice.  🙂

Back in the garden ..

I often joke about what happened in the garden of Eden .. you know the part where they blamed someone else?  However, truth be told, what happened was pretty serious.  Now I know that Eve is the one who took the first bite, but for the purpose of this blog, my focus is on how they .. specifically Adam, reacted.  He lost his proper perspective and blamed God.

God calmly handled the situation.  There were some things that needed to change.  There was a very serious lesson that needed to be learned and God was going to have to administer some tough love to do it.  Up until this time, God had provided everything.  All man had to do was enjoy.  He didn’t have to work for any of the things God provided.

While God loved Adam and Eve, I’m guessing that He understood from the beginning, the relationship He desired with man would never work if man blamed God for choices man himself had made.

So after handing out the sentence, God covered them, and gently ushered them out of the garden.  They had to learn personal responsibility.  Blaming God for problems that exist will always create a gap in the relationship.

Adam and Eve would have to learn that power lies in taking responsibility.  Power lies in accepting responsibility that it was our own choice that led us to do what we do .. regardless of circumstance, regardless of our past, regardless of how we arrived to do what we did .. we made a conscious choice.

It’s then that God can offer reasoning and understanding and use the situations to teach us why He told us not to take those actions in the first place.  It’s then that the relationship can be restored to what it was designed to be.  It’s then that God can use those things and work them for the good .. to those that love Him and that are called according to His purpose.

Sometimes tough love doesn’t feel good, but God uses our mistakes to teach us why it really is best if we just let Him BE God.  When we blame Him, somehow, we put ourselves at His level.  We are not gods.  Nor are we His equal.  We call Him our friend and His grace allows us to feel His nearness, but really, it’s important to keep a proper perspective of who He is.

When we take personal responsibility, we really do get a chance to see how God can turn ugly things into blessings.  Taking personal responsibility allows us to see from God’s perspective, which is always positive .. always good .. always on the ways of love.  Even if that means tough love.

God is good.  ALL the time.

.. sometimes I, personally, need to be reminded ..

I may not understand.  But the moment I blame Him for my choices, I’m making myself His equal.

gulp  ..  

Yeh .. not such a funny thing when you look at it like that.

Like I said, God is good.  ALL the time.

Spiritual workover

As a massage therapist, I have a very unique perspective of the human body.  I treat pain management .. both acute and chronic pain.  My specialty is deep tissue.  I cringe when I hear it, but some of my best customers will promote me by saying things like, ‘She’ll get you alright!  You’ll hurt for days when she’s done with you!’

Of course, these well-meaning clients have an understanding that sometimes, in order to get better, there is pain to break up old patterns in the body.  While it may sometimes feel like I’m simply digging my bony elbow in their flesh, there is much analysis going on at my end.  I’m feeling for inflammation, scar tissue, muscular tension, range of motion or the lack there of, and not to mention, paying attention to their response to my work.

I was reminded yesterday of what it felt like to be on the end of my client.  Truthfully, I’m always doing a lot of self-adjusting and stretching to counter act what I do, however I’m always reminded when I get on the table that sometimes, it really does take someone else poking and prodding to break through some of the patterns my body is creating.  Ouch!

Spiritually, I find that to be the case as well.  After all, Christ does describe His church as a ‘body.’  Even when we are doing all we are supposed to be doing .. witnessing, praying, fasting, stretching ourselves, outreach, reading, studying, teaching .. God will remind us that He wants to get us on the table and give us a good work over.  He wants to keep us healthy and active, not restricted and in constant pain.  Let me explain how He works as our personal massage therapist.

Even though we didn’t realize that we were sore in a particular area, He was able to recognize how our walk was becoming a bit skewed by our compensation.  Maybe that little trip up on the curb left a trigger point in our gluts and we started becoming a bit short to those around us.  Perhaps battling several days on that irritating problem created such a ball of tension that your smile became locked upside down.  Perhaps dragging that cross around put a kink in your neck and resentment was attempting to create a permanent barrier between you and your head, i.e. Christ.

Needless to say, I was cringing a lot on the table yesterday.  The good news is that massage stimulates the body’s natural healing process and in effect, forces the body to re-balance itself.  So it goes with our spiritual bodies.  When we allow God to give us a work over, He knows exactly how to find those sore spots, release tension, stimulate our lymphatic system, and reduce the inflammation process.  While it may take a couple of days for the re-balancing process, a spiritual massage will do wonders to help achieve a more active, pain-free spiritual life!

I’m still recovering from my spiritual massage, but I know in a couple of days .. I’ll be feeling great.  If you need a good therapist, I can get you His number.  He’s good.  Really good.

Did I mention that I love what I do?  Oiy …