Posted in Imperfect Prose, James Fowler, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Mosaic Law, Religious Deception, Spirituality, Tell His Story, The Pharisees, Torah

The Seven Dwarfs

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God’s Thoughts to Me

But I warn you – unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20, NLT).

The Seven Pharisees

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In May 2012 the movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, was released by Universal Pictures. I totally fell in love with the uber-cute real-life little dwarfs in this new release.

Who would ever forget how valiantly Gus fought in the Dark Forest and took the arrow meant for Snow White to save her life.

I had to peck away a tear or two, for just the previous night the two of them danced so beautifully together.

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As I was reading an article of James Fowler called Pharisaism, I met another bunch of seven “dwarfs”, if you would pardon my pun.

I had a good giggle when I read about how the Talmud described the seven types of Pharisees.

The first group they identified was the “Shoulder” Pharisee. These were the guys whose shoulders were never big or wide enough to accommodate all their good deeds, like keeping the Sabbath, feeding the hungry, etc.

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They tithed to the last drop of wine they owned before taking even one sip and prided themselves on the fact that they were not like the scum of the earth such as the publicans and their kind.

It seems to me they were not part of the crowd when our Lord Jesus taught the people not to let their left hand know what their right hand was doing (Matthew 6:3). Nope, they loved blowing their own trumpet!

Then we meet Mr Wait-a-Little. They were the cautious ones who would weigh all their options a few times, and then wait a little more, before they would do a good deed or help someone in need.

I think we can also call them the Forever Sabbatarians; totally ignorant of Solomon’s advice, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them!” (Proverbs 3:27).

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And then, there is the poor Mr Bruised Holier-than-Thou. They walked around with their eyes downcast to avoid looking at women, oblivious to the lustful devils reigning in their hearts, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Can you imagine how unclean they would have been if they accidentally, mind you, touched a menstruating woman; not to mention a despised Gentile or Samaritan! Gross!!!

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The fourth group they identified was the Hunchbacks. They were not Quasimodo’s ancestors, but the guys who made a big show of trying to be humble.

Perhaps they were trying to win our Pappa’s favor and were well aware that, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (James 4:6).

What better way of showing off your humility than walking with a bent back! I am sure they had to endure excruciating back pain because of their hypocrisy.

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Close on Mr Hunch Back’s heels follows Mr Ever-Reckoning. This poor guy was a useless mathematician and was forever tallying his good and bad deeds.

This gentleman never seemed to get the scales to balance and was therefore never certain of his standing before our Pappa. What a God-forsaken place to be!

If you search well enough, you might find Mr Scary-Pants hiding in the closet. These guys were forever trying to hide from the wrath of our Pappa for they were lending out their itching ears to the enemy who slyly told them horror stories about their heavenly Father.

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They were convinced our Pappa was a monster looking for the slightest excuse to annihilate them. It does not seem as if these guys were familiar with the words of King David’s beautiful psalm, “But even in darkness I cannot hide from you” (Psalm 139).

Then there were also the ones who loved their Pappa and respected Him as their God. Nicodemus and Gamaliel were thought to be good examples of this group. The Kingdom of Heaven accommodates all kinds and flavors, it seems!

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Before we shake our heads in innocence, in self-righteousness and with a know-it-all smirk, let us do some serious introspection. Let us ask ourselves how many of these evil dwarfs are hiding in the remote niches of our hearts.

When I was lost in the Kingdom of Insecurity, I used to allow my good deeds to subtly slip into my conversations in the hope of convincing my fellow churchgoers that I was a good Christian.

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I knew my alleged enemies much better than I did my Lord Jesus. In fact, I knew them each by name: the demon called Rejection … Death … Insanity … Condemnation … Illness … Unbelief … Doubt … etc … and the worst of them all; Jezebel!

I was worse than the worst Scary-Pants and petrified of my Pappa, convinced He was a mean, exacting God expecting me to earn even His slightest smile.

I was totally deceived by the archenemy of humanity, Satan, who was conquering my mind with his greatest weapon: religion!

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Let us bare our hearts to the Light of Heaven, allowing Him to chase away and destroy all the gremlins incubating and hatching in the humid darkness of our souls.

Oh, that He would capture and destroy all those pestering little foxes who ruin the vineyard of our Love!

Let us come to Him with the candor of a little child assured of His waiting arms longing to envelop us in His Loving Embrace.

Much love and sweet blessings.

Mia

Linking-up with

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Posted in Chronic Ilness, Common Sense, Emily Wierenga, Faith Barista, Fibromyalgia, Imperfect Prose, Relationship vs Religion, Spirituality, Suffering, The Love of God, The Pharisees

A Monster called Fear

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God’s Thoughts to Me

To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey (Matthew 25:15, NIV).

The Gift of Grace

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I am well acquainted with a monster called Fear. Like a giant octupus, this species has not only eight, but seventy-times-seven tentacles.

Each one reached deep into the remote corners of my heart, suffocating the last bit of life, breath and hope of the little one hiding from the world.

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The Master Creator also equipped us with the common-sense-kind-of-fear to enable us to survive in a world lost in chaos and darkness … a world without a father’s hand to guide, steer and love her.

The check-the-traffic-before-you-cross-the-street kind, the don’t-do-handstands-on-the-edge-of-a-high-cliff kind of common sense, the kind my oldest son lacks completely.

My Fearless Son
My Fearless Son

Murder, rape and abuse are the order of the day. But there is another kind of invisible rape … spiritual rape! In my opinion, the worst kind, with the perpetrators usually the “authorities” responsible for the care of our souls.

Blaise Pascal once wrote,”Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction”. I am a victim of this truth!

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Fm/CFS researchers report that it takes up to 4-5 years to diagnose a person with this disabling disease. I was no exception and I’m well aware of the stigma attached to this illness. We are labelled as lazy hypochondriacs who do not have all their marbles.

But even worse, was the treatment I recieved from the religious community. When I became ill and was diagnosed with that between-your-ears disease, I went to see my pastor and his wife, urgently needing help to get rid of this nonsense in my mind.

The Sunday before my visit, he preached a sermon on the talents. According to him, the talents were the Gospel we needed to spread. You can just put two and two together and see where the poor soul who buried his talent underground was doomed to go!!

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I was devastated and angry at our Pappa and my visit to the pastor nailed my suspicions on its head. For before I could say much, they diagnosed this illness as the result of not serving in the church ministries.

My Pappa God, in my mind, was a cruel, uncaring slavemaster kind of fellow, demanding the impossible or if I didn’t perform,  sending me to hell. Quite a catch 22 situation.

At that time, when this cruel thing happened, I believed my heart was raped and to my mind, my Pappa was the rapist. Didn’t He see how very, very ill I was? I could barely take care of my myself or my family. Now I had to spread the gospel and serve in church; otherwise, I only had a one-way ticket to the hot place.

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To make a long story short, I spent hours spreading the gospel and tried to do as much as possible for whoever had a need I could fulfill. I recall experiencing my family as a burden, standing in my way to serve this God who had His knife in for me.

Until the day arrived I became bedridden for a long time. All the fear, stress and hard work caused this illness to become much worse.

That was when I seriously started seeking my Pappa and trying to understand the Scriptures. I was unable to read the parable of the talents without getting a panic attack!

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But our Pappa owns all the time in the world and patiently taught me the true meaning of the talents. I discovered the work of Mr James Fowler, an excellent Bible teacher, and his explanation of the parable brought light and love to my heart.

The talents our Pappa dispenses is the costly grace gift of our Lord Jesus Himself. Two of the servants who received the talents, were guys with open hearts to receive the availability of Pappa’s grace.

Through their grace-filled endeavours, they expanded and multiplied their initial supply and received grace upon grace upon grace. They functioned the way humans are designed to live and were led into the joy of their Pappa.

The other servant was like the religious Scribes and Pharisees who viewed our Pappa as an exacting, tyrannical bookkeeper; fearing the day of the Divine Audit.

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This poor soul would not even allow for the slightest operation of grace, but rather buried his portion in the false security offered by doctrines, creeds, rituals, morality, church attendance, etc.

The followers of this false security can only dig up the archaelogical remnants and theological tenets. They become master hoarders of religion and bury the Gospel of Grace deep underground.

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Oh, the freedom our Pappa brought to my heart when He revealed to me the truth of His master plan of redemption, “God saved you by His grace. and you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).”

He showed me that just like Adam and Eve, I was deceived by the serpent’s lie, which told me that I could be like my Pappa, able to save myself through all my religious efforts.

He was not in the least offended by my terrible accusations against Him. In fact, He told me that  He also would not have served a monstrous deity such as the one I had painted in my mind.

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He enabled my feeble heart to receive His grace, mercy and compassion in abundance;  new every morning, and allowed me all the time I needed to heal while resting in His Loving Embrace.

Much love xx

Mia

Linking-up with

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Posted in Faith of a Child, Fibromyalgia, God's Father Heart, God's Favor, Holy Spirit, Iconoclast, Jesus Christ, Our Saviour God, Relationship vs Religion, Spirituality, Suffering, The Love of God, The Pharisees

Jesus, the Iconoclast

God’s Thoughts to Me

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.
(Matthew 21:12, NLT).

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:21, NLT).

For, as I have often told before and say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (Philippians 3:18, NIV).

And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles, on behalf of the beast – miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue. (Revelation 19:20, NLT).

Deceiving Idols

My husband is clever…a living, walking, talking Encyclopedia of Trivia, he modestly claims. Oh, he does not suffer foolishness gladly!! Whenever Fibrofog pitches its tent around my mind, he suffers BIG time!

Then, one day I discovered a word…a BIG word! With glee, the somewhat malicious kind, I rejoiced with a wordless scream,”Bingo!”. Of course I did not know the meaning of the word, but neither did he.

According to WordWeb the meaning of “iconoclast” is:

1. Someone who attacks cherished ideas of traditions or institutions.
2. A destroyer of images used in religious worship.

I want to tread softly, delicately in my exposition, taking off my shoes, for this is “holy” ground. I can almost see the stones flying and feel the tar and feathers! And, I don’t suffer suffering gladly!

Then, I remember my Beloved, our Lord Jesus, the greatest iconoclast of all times. He was ruthless and showed no mercy when He condemned and criticized the Scribes, the Pharisees and the religious elite. Matthew 23 paints a vivid picture of our Lord’s attitude towards the religion of the Jews, and by implication, all religion through the ages.

And!!!! He was despised by His people and far too many people through the ages as well. He was ostracized, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering and crushed for our sins. (Isaiah 53:3-5).

Religion produces enemies of the cross; for instead of denying our efforts to save ourselves and allowing our Lord Jesus to do His job, religion teaches us to cling to our rules, traditions, programs, laws, do’s and don’ts, for the whole focus of religion is on our feeble performance which at best is usually just less than pathetic and of no use.

I definitely am not a Communist, but Carl Marx did have his bright moments when he observed with unusual wisdom that religion is the opiate of the people.

Our Lord Jesus identified Satan as the father of religion, and those who misused the common people for gain through their religious practices and rules, the “children of the devil”. (John 8:44)

He labelled their religiosity as evil and as hatred of the truth He came to bring; binding the poor, the over-burdened common folk, the laity like us who are easily duped by the charisma and rhetoric
of anyone who claims to speak on our Pappa’s behalf! Spiritual discernment has become extinct!

Please allow me to be a teeny bit iconoclastic. An idolatry I have found amongst our God’s children
is bibliolatry…. esteeming the letter of the Word above the Living Word, our Lord Jesus. A dear friend of mine has accused me of calling our Pappa a liar, when I told her that the Bible is not a book of rules, but a story of redemption…pointing to Jesus, our Redeemer, not the letter of the law. I lost a dear friend in the process and it hurt…very,very much.

Currently there are about 41 000 different Christian denominations worldwide, all claiming their fame from the Bible. Common sense, which is not so common nowadays, should tell us that everything is not so kosher as far as to who has the hold on the truth!

Looking at origin of the word “Bible” we see that it is derived from the Greek ” biblion”, meaning “book”, or more accurately, “papyrus scroll”. In some aspects the Bible is just like any other book with pages and printed letters. What makes it completely different and unique is that its Author is our Heavenly Father…His letter of love! What makes it completely unique and different from any other book ever written is that it is the only book where you need to know the Author personally to understand His words and heart towards you, always wooing you back into His Loving Embrace!

The Christians after Pentecost were mostly illiterate and socially unimportant. An estimated 80% could neither read nor write and came from a slave background. They had no Bibles, but they had the Divine Teacher living within them through His Holy Spirit. They lived in Him and that was all they needed.

The human race is not irreligious; just the opposite! They are extremely religious as we see through the ages. Looking at the religious Crusades, I can only say AMEN to the words of Blaise Pascal, “Men never do evil so cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” We are all created with the need to worship. Whom or what we worship is the daily choice we have to make.

This, in my mind at least, is a humungous, monstrous problem, for many of our Pappa’s children have been deceived by the Great Deceiver…that beast who forages through the world, trying to lure us away from our Beloved Lord Jesus! And his bait….the sometimes undetectable lie of religion.

The mark of the beast has been associated with many things, but I ask you to consider the possibility that accepting religion might just be the mark etched on our foreheads, on our minds, into our thoughts! The mark on the hand might also just be our efforts trying to replace our Pappa’s saving grace with the work of our hands.

I consider this a very serious matter and carry a heavy burden in my heart today, robbing me of all my peace. Thank you for indulging me and, Pappa, for returning my peace.

Much love and blessings to you

Mia

Linking-up with Mindy at New Equus.

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Posted in Chronic Ilness, Constant Fatigue Syndrome, Faith of a Child, Fibromyalgia, God Memories, God's Father Heart, God's Favor, Grace, High Priest, Holy Spirit, Invisible Illness, Jesus Christ, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Our Saviour God, Prince of Peace, Relationship vs Religion, Spirituality, Suffering, The Love of God, The Pharisees

The Emperor’s Image

God’s Thoughts to Me

But Jesus knew their evil motives, “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed Him a Roman coin, He asked,” Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Ceasar’s,” they replied. “Well, then give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, and give to God to what belongs to God.”(Matthew 22:18-21, NLT).

So God created human beings in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NLT).

The Hurdles of Discipline

When my oldest son, Simon, was a secondary school learner, he was a provincial 400 meter hurdles athlete. At all the competitions his doting mother caused him endless embarrassment by, to put it mildly, proudly, yet noisily, jumping up and down, cheering him along and helping him to finish the race. Eventually he had to surrender, for he, for some strange reason, seemed unable to get his mother to behave more appropriately.

Then it happened! He stumbled and heartily greeted mother earth during a race he was about to win. My courageous, brave 18-year old baby got up and finished second…and then…collapsed! This mother hen quickly gathered her precious, bleeding chick under her wing, and that in front of an enormous crowd of spectators. So completely not cool at all!!

That was one of my favorite, precious God moments. Our Pappa taught me a most valuable lesson through this incident on His love and care towards us. Like the best parent ever, He lovingly disciplines us by allowing the hurdles of trials and tribulations during our race of life to teach us godliness and complete dependance upon Him. Every hurdle presents another opportunity to stretch those faith muscles to jump clear. When we fall, He lovingly picks us up and gathers us in His arms and wipes away all our tears while encouraging us not to lose heart, for He will always be there, right beside us, jumping up and down with joy as He cheers us on, rejoicing over us with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17).

As I was reading the above Scripture, the Lord opened my eyes to a big, bad insurmountable hurdle of misconception and wrong perception l had allowed to develop in my life, hindering my relationship with my Pappa to grow, to bloom and to blossom. My frame of reference told me that all our Lord Jesus’ anger towards the Pharisees and Scribes was also directed towards me. Our Pappa was, as far as I was concerned, a very angry, abusive God, expecting me to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and polish up my poor excuse of a life.

Our God patiently taught me through one of my favorite Bible teachers, James Fowler, my perception of His character was totally wrong. My frame of reference needed to include some “zits im leben” (setting in life). It needed to be based on the truth of  whom our Lord really was referring to, as well as the culture and traditions of that specific time. When I read the text in that context, scales fell from my eyes and I looked at this Scripture with new understanding.

Allow me to give a little background information. At the time our Lord Jesus walked the earth, the Roman authorities issued a silver coin, the denarius, stamped with the image of the Emperor. It was used as the standard payment for taxes. The Romans were well aware of the Jews’ scruples about “graven images” and out of respect for their religious traditions, they issued a bronze coin without any image for the use of those devout Palestinian Jews, without having to defile themselves when paying their taxes.

I have wondered why politicians and religious leaders often seem to be bosom buddies until I saw the truth of Solomon’s words, there truly is nothing new under the sun! (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The Pharisees and Scribes were hand in glove with the Herodians, inviting them along when they tried to soft-soap our Lord Jesus by commending His integrity. As if they were qualified to be judges of integrity! They tried to force Him into a Catch 22 situation by asking Him the famous question about taxes. These highly religious and righteous Jews, as they considered themselves to be, had no reason to defile themselves by touching a denarius, but when Jesus requested one, they provided the denarius from their own pockets!! I wonder if all the bronze ones went to the poor!

Our Lord saw right through their evil intent into their greed for religous power, position, prestige and money. They were unwilling to give it all up and to give themselves wholeheartedly to our Pappa. We are all familiar with the outcome of this story.

A question started to form in my mind, “As humans, whose image do we bear?” Our Pappa revelaled to my heart the precious truth that we are all created in His image!! He created us as spiritual beings to lavishly love us and enabled us to love Him in return. That privilege was forfeited in Eden and bought back on the cross at Golgotha. If only I could rid myself of that brood of “Pharisees” joyfully lodging in my heart, suffocating the loving relationship between my Pappa and me. Our Lord’s words became crystal clear to me, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this eternal life” (John 5:39-40, NLT).

I rejoiced when we together chased the slave woman and her son from my heart as Paul instructed us to do. (Galatians 4:30). Good riddance indeed! But little did know of  all the son’s siblings, cousins and cousins-twice-removed still stealing and feasting on the delicious fruit our Lord was producing in my heart, keeping me imprisoned and chained to the system of religious performance. I had cordially invited them in when I had gobbled up many false teachings in the past. The stone tablets of my heart had many laws, over and above the Ten Commandments. As the years passed by, I kept adding more and more, as well as erasing a few outdated, old ones.

The slave woman and her son

I never was certain what the current religous modus operandi would be and was horrified of being rejected one more time, so I kept my list up to date, I never knew our Pappa could be so finicky for He seemed to change His mind from day to day, from denomination to denomination and even from congregation to congregation! Just to name a few of the silver denari, stamped with the image of religion, I was carrying in my pocket:

1. Only the Psalms and organ music are suitable for our Lord’s ears.
2. Communion must be served around a big table where everyone drinks from a humongous silver communion cup.
3. Tithe your gross income if you want to ensure God’s gross blessings.
4. As proof of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues.
5. Serve, serve, serve and then serve some more; give, give, give and then give some more.
6. You have to be under the church’s covering, submitting to their authority. Failing to do that is proof of habouring a Jezebel spirit.
7. Wives submit to your husbands even if it kills you or be warned of the danger that you might turn into Jezebel herself.
8. Never mention someone’s name while praying for them in church for that borders on idolatry.
9. Do not disagree with your pastor, or if you do; zip the lip!
10. Do not always be the one suffering from an illness, for that shows your lack of faith and without faith you are not pleasing God. So rather suffer in silence and pretend to be well.
11. Spread the Gospel. Failure to do so will hinder the growth of your fruit supply and if you are empty handed when you meet the Fruit Inspector one day, you might be in BIG trouble!

And so the list went on and on and on!! Keeping them caused me endless spiritual pride and I could teach the Pharisees and Scribes a lesson or two about hypocrisy. Today I realize that it was all due to my extremely poor and shame-based self-esteem for I always used to measure love, anyone’s love, especially God’s, as something earned through my performance, yet mine always seemed to miss the mark!

Although some of these practices are not wrong in and of themselves, they do become law the moment they become rules and therefore replace grace, bearing the emperor’s image. I realize now that the Great Deceiver, the Father of Religion, played dirty tricks on my mind.  Our Lord Jesus did not mince His words when He told the Pharisees, “For you are the children of your father, the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth.” (John 8:44a, NLT).

Dear Ones, even though Fm/CFS takes us through deep, deep valleys of suffering, I can now see and appreciate our Pappa’s hand of love and wisdom in my life, providing the hurdles of suffering to draw me away from the law-based road to destruction and steering me gently into His kingdom of light of love, of freedom and peace. He will personally carry you over all the many hurdles this illness and life in general bring into your life, looking forward to the beautiful butterfly that will eventually emerge from your cocoon of suffering.

May our Lord bless you and keep you secure this coming week, snuggled warmly in the safety of His Loving Embrace!

Hugs and blessings

Mia

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