Maria Yeager

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Should We Blindly Follow Government Authority? Trump, the Evangelicals, and the Immigration Problem

During the past week or so, I have been in long and very interesting discussions with followers of Franklin Graham on Twitter. As these discussions continued I realized several things:

  1. I was dumbfounded by their lack of knowledge of scripture.
  2. I realized that they blindly follow Trump even when proof of his lies are presented to them.
  3. I realized that in order to push their narrative, they quote only one or two scripture passages and take them out of context.
  4. I felt like I was talking to modern-day Pharisees.

I will address each of the above in more detail.

  1. Lack of knowledge of scripture – Over and over again, they insisted that Jesus never broke the law. When I told them this wasn’t true, they asked for scripture references. Now, if these people really followed Jesus and spent time reading the Bible, they would know that Jesus broke the law…many times. Again, I was dumbfounded. First of all, why do they think Jesus was crucified? I reminded them that Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman and that he healed on the Sabbath. I reminded them that Jesus defended his disciples when they plucked grain on the Sabbath. An additional time was when he overturned the tables in the temple. All of these actions were illegal.
  2. Many of Graham’s followers insisted that most of the people crossing at the border were criminals that had kidnapped children and/or who were involved in drug cartels. They used this as justification for child separations at the border. I know where they are getting this false info – it comes directly from Trump as he has stated many times that those crossing the border are all “bad people”. I checked the facts. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website reports the following numbers: From October, 2017 to June, 2018, there were 286,290 unaccompanied minors and family units apprehended at the border (37,450 unaccompanied minors and 68,290 family units for a total of 286,290). During that same time period, 4,886 of those were criminal aliens. This means that 1.8 percent of people crossing at the southern border were actually “bad people” as Trump calls them. When I posted these stats on Franklin Graham’s site, I was insulted so much by one woman that I ended up having to block her. She clearly didn’t like to be proven wrong.
  3. The scripture passage that some of Graham’s followers use over and over again to justify their support of Trump’s zero tolerance policy is Romans 13:1-7. I would like to spend a little more time on this one. This verse tells us that we should obey our leaders and government. That part is true. However, should we blindly follow government and follow all rules without question? Here’s a better question – are we expected to blindly follow dictators like Hitler and Stalin? The answer is no. Here are some facts:
  • The word “governing” in this passage was translated from the Greek word “hupercho” which  means “morally excellent.” This word does not refer to a person who is corrupt or who is morally lacking.
  • Hitler used Romans 13 to force church compliance during World War II.
  • We have to remember that Jesus broke unjust man-made laws, and so did Peter and Paul.
  • There are many times in the Bible where civil disobedience was honored by God. Examples can be found in Exodus 1 (midwives not following the command of the King of Egypt, and God rewarded them), Daniel (he did not follow the rule to not pray, yet God saved him from the den of lions), Acts 4-5 (Peter and John arrested by the Sadducees for preaching about Jesus, but they were released because they were performing many miracles), and most terrifying, Revelation 13:13 (the dragon gives all AUTHORITY to the beast, and everyone whose name has not been written in the book of life will follow it).
  • The bottom line: We are to obey JUST laws and follow MORALLY EXCELLENT LEADERS. We must take Romans 13 in context with the rest of the scripture. There are many cases of civil disobedience in both the Old and New Testament. The disciples were imprisoned for civil disobedience. How can we tell when it is OK to rise up and resist against authority? The answer to that is easy…when man-made law is in conflict with God’s law. Some of those on Franklin Graham’s page insist that we must obey all laws, and they use this as a justification for separating families. When I told them that God calls us to be compassionate and that He also calls us to treat the foreigner as a native of our land, they insist that we must follow the law. I think you get the point by now. We must follow man-made law if and only if it agrees with God’s law. If it conflicts with God’s law, it is OK to resist authority.

4. During these conversations on Franklin Graham’s Twitter feed, it became apparent to me that these people appear to be modern-day Pharisees. No matter how many times I tried to explain everything that I have written in this blog, they kept going back to “we must follow the laws all the time no matter what.” This is exactly what the Pharisees did in the gospels. It’s as if they are deaf. Then I realized that Jesus told us that there will be those who won’t listen…those who will not hear because they are not of God. I, of course, accept this teaching, but it does make me sad. I really wish people would at least try to understand scripture. I keep posting on his site because you just never know what kind of impact it may have….some who remain quiet may be taking this all in and may be listening closely. I sure hope so!

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

 

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Have you ever gone through something horrible and thought “Why me?” Have you ever wondered why God allows us to walk through the “valley of death”?

I’ve certainly been there. And I’m quite sure you have too.

But I have also learned that no matter what we go through, somehow good always seems to come from it. One example in my life is my ordeal with adenomyosis. While I cried my way through some of the most painful nights of my life, I questioned why God was putting me through it. But today, I can look back and see why He put me through it – to help other women who are suffering through adenomyosis today. I have written one book on the subject and am working on a second book. I sell about one book per day, and I get constant “thank you” messages from women desperate to find help for this terrible medical disorder.

As many of my readers know, I don’t like Trump. Since Trump took office, I have heard over and over again from some on the far-right that “God put Trump in office”. I don’t believe this. Why? Because God gave us free will. He doesn’t dictate what we are to do in this life. He invites us to follow Him, but He doesn’t dictate. If he put Trump into office, then He also put Obama in office, and those on the far-right aren’t going to like that much…haha! Also, if God puts someone in office, why would we have elections? The truth is that we, the American people, voted Trump into office, and God ALLOWED it to happen.

Now, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. But what I have witnessed this year personally is that those on the far-right are not nearly as Christian as they say. I see a lot of people (not all, but some) point their fingers at the left and calling them evil. However, the behavior of these same far-righters is not at all Christian. In fact, some of these far-righters turn around and do exactly what they tell others not to do. Hypocrisy has become blatantly clear in some on the far-right.

So, what if God allowed Trump to get into office in order to shine a light onto the hypocrisy in the far-right evangelical movement? What if He allowed Trump to become President in order to show the hypocrisy and non-Christian behavior in the Republican party? Like I said, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. What I do know is that God works in mysterious ways, and many times, he will use something meant to hurt us for good. After all, in the Bible, it says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

I used to be Republican, but I am now just completely embarrassed and disgusted by the Republicans. What I now see is some on the far-right that loves to point fingers at other while acting in a non-Christian manner. I see white-washed tombs. Jesus said “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” This means some love to talk all about Jesus but they live in continual sin, and this is hypocritical. These people are all talk, but there is nothing Christian inside them. That’s why I have always said that words aren’t enough. You have to truly believe in Jesus in your heart, and your actions will follow. If you truly believe in Jesus, you will turn away from sin…not to say that you won’t ever sin again (we are all human), but you won’t live in continual sin.

I don’t agree with some of what the Democrats believe, but I now see that the Democrats actually act on helping the poor and welcoming the stranger. The Democratic party welcomes immigrants and is outraged when Trump and his administration didn’t adequately respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico. The Democrats are ACTING in a Christian manner regarding these issues. Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” meaning that by ACTIONS, you will know them. I see more Christian actions this year from Democrats than Republicans.

For me, God opened my eyes this year. He opened my eyes to hypocrisy. I now understand the meaning of “white-washed tombs”. I now know that I can’t vote for a candidate based only on one issue – by doing that, we can end up in the situation we are in today. I have learned that pro-life addresses life at ALL stages, not just the unborn. Those who voted for Trump based solely on the abortion issue are knee-deep in hypocrisy as well. Why? Because they fight for the unborn, but once they are born (and many will have disabilities because a lot of abortions are done because of medical issues), they want to take healthcare away, specifically by cutting coverage for pre-existing conditions. So, we bring these children into the world, but the Republicans don’t want to take care of them once they get here. See the hypocrisy?

I think we should look back on this rough year and listen to what God is trying to show us. I listened and learned. Will you?

What is True Christianity Part IV

In a previous post, I talked about judgement. I explained that only God can judge, and man cannot. Today, I would like to look at a few Bible passages that delve into this topic even further.

How many times have you heard someone claim that only their religion is going to heaven? How many times have you heard someone say that an entire class of people are going to hell? I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard it quite a bit.  There are many different religions/groups that actually believe that their way is the only way to heaven. But there are passages in the Bible that refute this line of thinking. Let’s look at a few:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16

Let’s look at that again:

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”

It should be clear from that statement that those who are saved ARE NOT only from one religion or any one specific group of people. Let’s look at another passage:

“He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” John 11:51-52

As you can see in that verse, the children of God are “scattered”. It says in this passage that Jesus would die “not only for that nation”.

Do you need more proof? Here’s more:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters…” Isaiah 56:4-5

“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6-7

“I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.” Ezekiel 34:12-13

We have to remember that God is love. His love knows no bounds. He knows our hearts and souls, and no human being can claim to have that ability. No human being can possibly know even a tiny amount of what God knows. Anyone, including well-known preachers, cannot determine which human beings are going to heaven or hell. If a preacher does this, he/she is trying to play God, and that is sacrilege. This is why the statement “Do not judge lest ye be judged” is in the Bible. It is a stark reminder that only God knows all and ONLY HE can make the judgement as to whether or not someone is saved.

It’s not about race, denomination, or any other belief system….it’s about what is in your heart and soul, and your actions reflect what is truly in your heart. In short, any person in any race, religion or any other belief system has an opportunity to enter heaven. EVERYONE is a creation of God, and it’s up to each of us to choose. It’s up to us to listen to the good shepherd.

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5

 

 

 

 

What is True Christianity?

It’s funny how God gets His message across to those who believe in Him.

Yesterday, I wrote a long blog on a subject that has really been bothering me, but I didn’t publish it. It was way too long, and I went off on tangents, so the whole thing was messy. I decided to think about the subject a little bit more. I decided to write a week’s worth of short blogs.

The subject has to do with Christianity. You see, over the course of my life, I have run into so many people who focus mostly on John 3:16. They believe that all they have to do is to say “Jesus is My Savior” and they are guaranteed entrance into heaven. These people believe that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they act – they can sin all they want to, but it doesn’t matter. They say the words, “Jesus is My Savior” and they believe that is all that needs to be done.

I’ve thought for a long time how people like this came to believe this way. I thought that maybe the idea that they don’t have to follow the Ten Commandments was appealing because it means it would be easier to get into heaven. Well, yeah, if you can still get to heaven even if you continue to live in sin, wouldn’t you want to believe that – I mean that makes things a lot easier doesn’t it? Sad thing is, it just plain isn’t true, and Jesus himself said so. I will explain this in greater detail below.

Another concern that crossed my mind – are these people just listening to their preacher every Sunday? Do they ever just open up the Bible and read it themselves? Hmmm…well, that is a possibility.

Yesterday, part of what I wrote had to do with the suggestion for everyone to open up their Bible and read it. Especially read the entire New Testament. It puts John 3:16 into context.

Interestingly, my mom told me this morning that today (August 28) is the feast day of St. Augustine. This saint was born in 354 AD and had a rather wild childhood, and he even left Christianity for a while. One day, as he wept under a fig tree, he prayed and asked God for help. Suddenly, St. Augustine heard a child’s voice say “Tolle Lege” over and over again. “Tolle Lege” translated means “take up and read”. He picked up a scroll and read Romans 13:13-14 which changed his soul, and he was converted. In St. Augustine’s own words:

“By a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart – all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”

Interesting that today is St. Augustine’s feast day – the same day that I have written this blog about reading the Bible! God works in mysterious ways.

I am concerned about today’s Christianity. I believe a section of it has taken a wrong turn. I have heard preachers, some very well-known, that make statements that I know are not biblically based. So, I am going to write short blogs over the course of a week and address some of these statements and ideas made not only by evangelical preachers but also their followers.

Several months ago, someone who I knew said to me, “I guess you think you know more than Franklin Graham?” She was upset because I had challenged her on some of her beliefs. My answer to her was “yes”. Why? Because I listen to God, not man, and I told her this. About a year ago, after hearing some of these disturbing remarks by the religious right, I decided to sit down and read the New Testament from beginning to end. Although John 3:16 is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, it must be taken in context with what is said in the rest of the New Testament.

The truth is this: No one is automatically guaranteed access into heaven. I know that is probably going to shock a lot of people, but just stay with me for a minute and meditate on this verse actually stated by Jesus himself in the gospel of Matthew:  “NOT EVERYONE WHO SAYS TO ME, LORD, LORD, WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” Matthew 7:21. It doesn’t get clearer than that! But He goes on, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me you evildoers.‘”Matthew 7:22-23.  Go back and read those verses again….and again.  This puts John 3:16 into perspective, doesn’t it? Yes, we can say that we believe in Jesus, but in the end, Jesus is the judge, not us. If we know for sure who is going to heaven as some evangelicals would have you believe, there would be no need for God. ONLY GOD knows what is in the hearts of men. Human beings CANNOT say whether someone is going to heaven or hell, and that includes preachers. Jesus expects us to turn our back on sin, and I think he made it very clear in these verses that you can’t fool Him. He knows our heart. Franklin Graham, Jerry Fallwell, Andrew Wommack, and others DON’T know what is truly in our hearts and therefore cannot judge. No human being can judge another. Remember, Jesus also said, “Do not judge, lest ye be judged”.

This drives home the point that by focusing on just one or two verses in the Bible, you can easily be misled. My advice to everyone is “Tolle Lege” (Take Up and Read). Don’t rely only on your preacher during Sunday service to teach you about God. Pick up your Bible and read it. It is the only way to true peace and to the absolute Truth.

 

The Red Cardinal – Love From Heaven

Since the beginning of the year, it seems like I have been bombarded with quotes and pictures about red cardinals.

The first quote I saw was in January on my Facebook page. This quote, by Victoria McGovern, gave me great comfort:

“May you come to find comfort in and remember cardinals appear when angels are near. So go now, sit outside and drink your tea. Keep a look out for the little red bird – it is there, your loved one will be.”

This quote was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful male red cardinal in the snow. I immediately thought of my dad since he passed away in 2014, but I doubted that I would see any red cardinal since it was the middle of winter. At my home, I usually see finches or sparrows, but only in the spring/summer. It was a nice, fleeting thought, but I didn’t think much more about it.

About a week later, a friend of mine who is also an excellent writer and photographer posted a picture that he had taken that day. It was snowing, and two red cardinals, one male and one female, sat in the branches of a tree outside his window. I was stunned! I knew that this was a sign that angels were near. Again, I thought about my dad, and I told my mom what had happened which gave her great comfort.

A few weeks later, another post came across my Facebook page. Again, it was a picture of a male red cardinal. The quote read as follows:

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, loves leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Once again, I thought about my dad and how no one can take away the memories I have of him. I remembered how he sat me on his lap and let me act like I was driving the car. I remembered how me held on to the back of my bicycle as I learned to ride while promising to not let go of the bike (even though he eventually did). I remembered how he taught me to calculate complex math problems for my school homework. I remembered how he wrestled with me and my brother and sister on the living room floor and had us laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. I thought about how none of these memories could ever be taken from me. I smiled.

A few days later, as I worked in my office, I looked up at my bookcase as I took a small break. My eyes immediately were drawn to a book that I had read last year – “The Gift of the Red Bird” by Paula D’Arcy. I thought about the red cardinal once again, and joy filled my heart.

Just about three weeks ago, I saw yet another post on my Facebook page. Again, it was a male red cardinal in the snow, and the quote was as follows:

“When a red cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from heaven.”

Well, I don’t have a “yard” since I live in a townhouse. But, my mom has a nice big yard, and she loves to watch the birds in her backyard. She has a bird feeder that she keeps filled all the time, and the birds come often…that is if the squirrels don’t get to the feeder first. I called her and told her what I had just seen on Facebook and told her to keep an eye out for red cardinals in her yard.

A couple of days later, I again was surprised when I saw that another one of my good friends posted a picture that she had taken of a red cardinal in some tree branches. I didn’t have a yard, but that red cardinal somehow still managed to show up. Again, I smiled and thought of my dad.

That same day, I called my mom, and her first words were “You aren’t going to believe this!” As she sat on her deck that morning, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I will see a red cardinal today.” Not long after that, a female cardinal showed up in some bushes followed by a beautiful male red cardinal. She just couldn’t believe it, but she was so comforted. I was just shocked!

About two weeks ago, I went to visit my mom, and I stayed overnight. While we ate breakfast, we talked and looked outside through the bay window in her kitchen. Suddenly, a male and female red cardinal appeared near her bird feeder. It was probably the same pair that she saw just days earlier. The first thing that I noticed is that the male was such a bright red color and was absolutely gorgeous – probably the brightest red cardinal I had ever seen. We were both quite sure they were visitors from heaven – angels that had come to tell us that we were loved.

My mom’s birthday was March 1. On that morning, as she prepared her breakfast, she looked out the window only to see that gorgeous male red cardinal. But this time, he was sitting in the crape myrtle tree next to the house. This was my dad’s favorite tree. The cardinal looked directly at her and didn’t fly away. He just sat in the branches of my dad’s favorite tree and stared at her. It was a moment that she will never forget and is one of the best birthday gifts she has ever received. This was most certainly my dad sending his love from heaven.

Always be on the lookout for these “angels” from heaven. Love is being sent our way all the time, sometimes through the most simple and innocent of ways – we just have to slow down and look for it!

 

Walking the Labyrinth

Several months ago, my aunt recommended that I read three books by the author Paula D’Arcy that had really impacted her. The Gift of the Red Bird: Story of a Divine Encounter really spoke to me as I recently had what I believed was a divine encounter with some finches (see my previous blog). She described how she was able to feel closer to God by being alone in nature, and this made me think. How could I feel closer to God while living in the city? Where could I go?

I remembered a special place that my friend Sharon had taken me several years ago…a Benedictine monastery. It was so peaceful there, and it seemed like the perfect place to go for meditation and prayer in this busy area. At this particular monastery, there was a labyrinth. Sharon told me a little bit about the background of a labyrinth as I knew nothing about it. Basically, it is a place to go to spend some quiet time with God away from all the hustle and bustle of the day and to get clarity for any problems through prayer and meditation.

A labyrinth is a type of maze that only has a single track, so you can’t get lost in it. It has been around for thousands of years and is present in many churches around the world. The belief is that if you walk the labyrinth, you will go through three stages:

1. Purgation – you are released from all the worries of the world while walking through the winding paths

2. Illumination – a divine revelation as a result of meditation and prayer. This occurs at the center

3. Union – reflection on what you have learned as you make your way out of the labyrinth.

Well, I thought about the labyrinth while reading Paula’s book, but I didn’t go immediately as life got in the way. I was so busy writing and working on my house that I just couldn’t find the time. Then, one night, I started to read the next book by Paula D’Arcy – Seeking With All My Heart: Encountering God’s Presence Today. Amazingly, early in the book she had an entire chapter on the labyrinth! I knew at that moment that I had to make the time to visit the Benedictine Monastery.

Several days ago, I finally went and spent quite a bit of time by myself in that quiet place. No one else was around. There were many things on my mind at the time, but mostly I thought about how my life had changed since my divorce. Five years ago, I had this life of lab work, dance, and a twenty-year marriage. Now, all of that had been taken from me. Why did that happen? I had been plagued by that thought over the years.

As I started to walk the labyrinth, the first thing that I noticed was that my mind quieted. I felt God telling me to be quiet and just listen. Just listen to the birds and crickets. Just feel the slight breeze blowing on my face. Just be still and listen.

As I walked, I began to think about how the labyrinth mirrors life. We walk straight ahead in one direction, and then suddenly we are forced to turn in the opposite direction, just like what happened to me five years ago. Do the curves in the labyrinth represent our difficult/challenging times? Was this God telling me that sometimes the path we walked previously is no longer to our benefit? Is there something on that path that could hurt us, so He is taking us in a different direction?

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

As I continued to walk, I noticed that some of the bends in the labyrinth were hard to maneuver without falling a little off the path. I noticed that my momentum brought me one direction while the path directed me another way. This made me think about easy it is to lose our way in difficult times. It is easy to get discouraged, depressed, or fall into a sinful life when challenges arise. I was intrigued.

The next thing I noticed is that the stones around the curves are very small in relation to the stones in the straight areas. This made me think about how, in difficult times, we have to take “baby steps” to get through it. For example, during the divorce, my strength was sapped and I just couldn’t do as much as I did when I was married. We talked at length about this exact thing in my divorce support group. We were told that some days, we would find it hard to even get out of bed. For me, these small stones so accurately depicted what happens to us, physically and mentally, during difficult times. We have to be patient with ourselves and take “baby steps” until we eventually get back to our normal lives (the larger stones).

Other ideas came to me as I continued on the journey. Some areas of the labyrinth have longer areas without bends while other areas are shorter. This also mirrors life as some times we will have longer periods of peace and stability while at other times, it comes in short spurts. Also, some of the bends are a complete 180 degrees (lots of change) while other bends are 90 degrees (some small change). Finally, I realized that some of the bends could actually represent good times that are also stressful (marriage, a move, etc).

But the biggest lesson I learned that day is when I walked into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that no matter what we go through, if we stay on the path to God, it will lead us to salvation. The little bends in that labyrinth cannot even be compared to the beauty of walking into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that if I stay on that path, even through the difficult times, it will ultimately lead me to God. Straying off the path into a sinful life is not an option. I just have to trust in Him, keep my eyes on Him, and walk through that narrow door.

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

 

 

 

Hearing God’s Voice

When I pray, I always ask God to speak to me through His Word. When I open the Bible, I assume that God has me open it to whatever I am supposed to read that day. I have always done this, and I usually read something that really speaks to me that day. This is just the way I do it, and it works for me.

Today as I prayed, I felt like God was asking me to be silent. To just sit in His presence and listen to His still small voice. I have read some books recently which taught me this concept, and today, I felt like I just needed to listen to Him. Well, something came to my mind almost immediately. This had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but today, I felt as if God wanted me to delve in and understand this event in my life on a deeper level.

In 2011, just months before I found out that my husband had been having an affair, I began to have dreams that I was divorced. If you have read any of my past blogs, you will know that I had occasions of premonitions through dreams. My dad had this happen to him too – he dreamed that his brother was killed in a car accident, and a week later, it actually happened.

The first time I dreamed I was divorced, I just blew it off. I woke up thinking how ridiculous the dream was as I had no intention of ever getting divorced. When the second dream happened, I was a little bothered and wondered why in the world I would dream about something so crazy. When it happened a third time, I woke up confused and worried. I told my husband about the dream, and I asked him point-blank if he was going to divorce me. Although he denied that he would ever divorce me, his response was anything but convincing.

If that isn’t strange enough, around that same time, another amazing thing happened (although I didn’t understand it at the time). On at least three occasions while falling asleep, I audibly heard a voice say “Maria!” I opened my eyes, sure someone was calling my name, but no one was there. My husband was asleep next to me, and he didn’t move at all so I thought I had dreamed it. When it happened again, I thought that maybe it was an angel or even God trying to say something to me. Each time, I heard “Maria!”, clear as day, and when I opened my eyes, no one was there. My husband never moved, so clearly, he never heard it.

As I thought about these events this morning, I wondered if this was some kind of warning about what was going to happen to me later in 2011 when I found out about the affair. Was that God’s voice speaking to me?

I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:

“Listen to me in silence…” Isaiah 41:1

This was interesting enough. But it went on:

“Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced….For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-13

When I look back on these events, I now know that God was right there. I believe He was telling me that He was watching everything, and he knew every detail of the affair even when I had no idea what was happening. I believe this was His way of telling me that He never left my side during that time, and that even though I was going to be divorced, He would bring me through it. Even though I was about to go through hell and be yanked out of the life I knew, He would ensure that I would get through it and would end up in a much better place.

Always know that God sees EVERYTHING. He sees everything that is done in secret. He knows every insult, every lie, every betrayal….everything. Nothing can be hidden from God. On the other hand, He feels every single pain of betrayal. He sees every teardrop, feels every hurt, and goes through all the suffering with us. Remember – God was betrayed by Judas. He knows full well the pain of betrayal of someone who He believed loved Him.

He will always be with you, even when you think He isn’t there. God never leaves our side…EVER! As it is written in Isaiah 41:13, “Do not fear. I will help you.”

Taking on Andrew Wommack….Again!

 

Yesterday morning, as I was channel surfing while eating breakfast, I once again stumbled across Andrew Wommack’s show. This time, he was teaching about prayer. I listened for a few minutes but was so disgusted by his remarks that I quickly turned off the television. Just now, I decided to listen to a little bit more of speech on prayer online because I wanted to address his remarks in this blog.

I was raised Catholic. Although I currently attend a non-denominational church, Catholicism is near and dear to my heart. I personally don’t believe there is any one “right” religion – I believe it depends upon what is truly in your heart and soul. Some of the finest people I have ever known were Catholic, so I’m sure you will understand when this man insulted Catholics during his show on Monday. No, he didn’t actually say the word “Catholic” – he actually said that he didn’t want to point out any one group, but he talked about how some Christians would use beads and say the Hail Mary repeatedly and how this wasn’t real prayer. Clearly, he is referring to Catholics. His attempt at saying he didn’t want to point out any one group was pathetic and just plain mean. We all know who he is talking about. He went on to say that some prayer is bad if it isn’t done “correctly”. He talked about how prayers aren’t answered because we aren’t praying the right way.

My rebuttal:

First and foremost, I would like to point out that Andrew Wommack isn’t God! He cannot say at all if someone’s prayers are right or wrong. Only GOD know what is in someone’s heart. Only GOD knows how someone was raised and what they were taught. Only GOD decides if a prayer is genuine or not. Andrew Wommack doesn’t get to decide how you must pray. If you reach out to God with all your heart and soul, He will respond. He doesn’t need anyone’s permission here on earth. Don’t be deceived by this man.

Second, it is of utmost importance to not compartmentalize religious groups – any group, really. I have been very active in the Catholic church, especially in my youth. Yes, there are some bad people, but there are many, many wonderful people in this denomination who believe in Jesus with their whole heart, mind, and soul. What about Mother Teresa? What about Padre Pio? Andrew – are you really saying that these two people, both of them Catholic and both who prayed the rosary constantly, were not really praying? Are you saying that their prayers weren’t heard by God? You’ve got to be kidding! And there are so many other examples! There are bad and good people in every religion. Judging an entire group of people based on the actions of a few is very dangerous. Remember, Andrew – the Bible also says “Do not judge lest ye be judged”.

Third, it is extremely important to realize that prayer will not always be answered according to how you think it should be answered. Sometimes what you are asking for is not God’s will for you. Andrew leads you to believe that if you pray a certain way, your prayers will be answered according to how you want them answered, and that is just not true. The key is that you pray, just as God taught us to, and then you submit to His will. His will may not be the same as your will, but you have to trust in Him.

I believe it is a very dangerous teaching to tell others that they must pray in a certain way or God won’t hear their prayers. If the prayer is truly coming from your heart and you believe in Him with all your heart and soul, He will listen, no matter how you pray.  Remember – Jesus himself taught us how to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. He wants us to pray – listen to Jesus, not Andrew.

Finally, Andrew tells of a story where a woman asks him to pray for her husband. Andrew said “no” because in his mind, this lady wasn’t praying the right way. This is horrible. We should all pray for one another, no matter what. It is not up to us to judge how someone else talks to God. Shame on you, Andrew Wommack!

 

 

Once Saved, Always Saved? Part 2

 

This question is certainly a hot topic of debate. After writing my previous post on this same topic, I was contacted by a friend of mine who didn’t agree that our salvation can be lost. She talked with her pastor about this issue since my post made her think a little more about this subject. His explanation was good. He said that if someone turns against God after becoming a Christian, they were never Christian. There is truth to this statement. According to 1 John 2:19:

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

I am glad that my friend enlightened me in this way. That makes a little more sense to me. However, I was still troubled by a few things.

First of all, God gave us free will. If, once we are saved, we are always saved, then doesn’t that take away our free will? Also, the way that some preachers are passing on the message of “once saved, always saved” sounds to me like they are saying that sin isn’t a factor since our works have nothing to do with our salvation. I do know of people who truly believe that you don’t have to do anything except to say “Jesus is my Savior”. They truly believe that they can lie, steal, cheat, or do whatever they want, but as long as they say “Jesus is my Savior”, they are guaranteed salvation because salvation is a gift, and our works have nothing to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe that our salvation is a gift and that Jesus died on the cross to save us. There is no doubt in my mind. What I worry about is that people are getting an incomplete and twisted message. I believe the error occurs when one or two passages in the Bible are the main focus, and the rest of the Bible is ignored. Let me explain further.

There are many passages in the Bible that point to the fact that you can turn away from God and possibly lose your salvation. First and foremost is a passage that I referred to in my last post:

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” 2 Peter 2: 20

Peter also refers to Proverbs in making his point:

“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:22

As per the book of Hebrews:

“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift….if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 6:4-6

“We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:14

“See that no one is…godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.” Hebrews 12:16-17

As per the book of Timothy:

“If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.” 2 Timothy 2:12

From 1 John 2:

“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF IT DOES, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24

But the one that stands out most to me is from 2 John:

“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9.

As far as the teaching of current pastors regarding the fact that our actions (works) have nothing to do with our salvation, the most important passage comes from James:

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14

“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not be faith alone.” James 2:24

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

There are also many different places in the Bible where Jesus Himself states that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. One such verse can be found in the gospel of John:

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:21

Another one can be found in 1 John 3:

“Those who obey His command live in Him, and He in them.” 1 John 3:24

Now, regarding the idea that people can just say “Jesus is my Savior” and still lie, steal, cheat, etc., the Bible specifically warns against this behavior. In fact, the warning are stern:

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessolonians 2:8-10.

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22

So, here is my opinion on this subject. Based on the above scripture, I believe that if you are a true Christian and endure to the end, staying true to God’s Word, you cannot lose your salvation. As it says in John 10:28, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.” 

Is it possible to be a true Christian and then turn away from God? Yes, I believe it is possible based on the above scripture. If it wasn’t possible, why would there be so many warnings? Remember, Judas was once an apostle but then later betrayed Jesus. Is that because he was never a true Christian? Was it because he was Christian and then turned his back on God? We will never know as only God knows what is truly in someone’s heart and soul.

As far as being a true Christian, I believe that actions will show what it truly in someone’s heart. I do not believe that you can say the words “Jesus is my Savior” and you are guaranteed to enter heaven while continuing to live in sin. I believe that you have to truly give your life over to God, truly believe in your heart that Jesus died for us, and live by His commandments. I think that so many people want to believe that actions don’t matter because it’s easier that way. I also believe that people are being led astray by focusing on one, two or three verses in the Bible. If you truly want to learn the teachings of God, you must read and accept all of it, not just some of it. The Bible can easily be twisted into what you want it to say if you only focus on a few verses. I challenge all who read this post to open up a Bible and read it – not just the gospels, not just the New Testament. Read all of it. Only then will you have the true knowledge of what it takes to be a true Christian.

And that’s my opinion 🙂

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Will Call Them My People Who Are Not My People”

It is amazing to me how I always receive a new message each time I read the Bible, even when I read the same passage repeatedly. My own mother has remarked on this also.

Yesterday, as I read Romans, I thought about all the times that I have encountered people who strongly believe that their denomination is the “right” denomination. I have seen persecution of and by Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, and many others. There are many people out there that think in order to save someone, they must convert others to their own specific denomination. I would like to take time to address this issue today.

I have never believed that a specific denomination will guarantee your entrance into heaven based on the following statement that Jesus says in the gospel of John:

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16

However, I received more clarification on this subject as I read Romans, beginning in chapter 3.

“Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:29-30

This brings up the issue of following man-made laws in the church. Will God punish those who receive communion in a church when they are not a member of that church? No, I don’t believe so, based on the above statement. The real purpose of receiving communion is to spiritually connect with the Almighty and to remember His death on the cross for the salvation of our souls. This can be done even if you don’t receive communion physically. It is solely dependent on what is in your heart, and if you truly believe and accept Jesus as your Savior, these man-made rules have no power over you. God has the final say.

Continuing on to Romans, Chapter 9, it says “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” Romans 9:6

Paul goes on to explain, “In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Romans 9:8

I take this to mean that the choice is ours. We have to make a conscious decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and truly believe it in our heart. This offer is open to all – Catholics, Jewish, Protestant, etc. It is not limited to one denomination. This is clarified even more in the same chapter in Romans.

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one” and “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not my people’, they will be called  ‘sons of the living God.'” Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”Romans 9:25-28

Although this can sound a bit scary to some, it is actually great news. Anyone from any area, denomination, class, color, etc. can be saved! It is open to everyone! The door is open – all you have to do is walk through it and allow Jesus into your life. This promise isn’t just for a certain group of people – it is for ALL people, regardless of who you are or where you are. Take His hand and allow Him to enter your heart and lead you on the path of righteousness!

“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith, but Israel,who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33

Do not fool yourself into thinking that other denominations are “wrong”. Each denomination has issues that they deal with – issues that can be improved. To think that only one denomination is “right” is akin to believing that you can only get to heaven through “works”. The only way to heaven is complete faith and trust in God. Always remember, “Do not judge lest ye be judged” and “all things are possible with God”.

 

 

 

 

 

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