Friday, September 19, 2014

Feathers

 

 It is like a man who goes up on a tall tower - like the empire state building and rips open a feather pillow shaking all the feathers out. A few, fall at his feet and are easily recaptured, but most travel far and wide, to places unseen, unknown. 
 
Feathers aren't going to cause you pain when you run into them in a few years, they aren't going to stop you from fulfillment of a dream or making a friend. But gossip, just like those feathers, can never be re-gathered, it can never be taken back, you can never get back the spill of gossip - it will go to places unseen and unknown and when you encounter it again - it will cause pain. 
 
I am pretty sure everyone has experienced gossip coming back to them about themselves. When that happens, it is always tempting to correct the gossip, to identify the originator and to put them in their place.  But if I try to run it down I will never find rest or peace, it would be just as impossible as chasing down feathers dropped from the tower spire.  Imagine how ridiculous someone on the ground would look chasing these floating feathers and becoming upset when they could not gather them all.    I have grappled with this and realized that...
...when I  accept God's estimation of me, I stop worrying about what people say about me.
 
 Esteeming the praise of men, over the praise of God, creates in me a bondage of fear of men. (and women)

I am certainly not saying that we should live irresponsibly or disregard instruction, wisdom or correction. We should simply live our lives the best the Bible tells us how to. To love God, love people, submit appropriately, live humbly,  and try not to cause others to stumble through our behavior.
 
When I know I have been the topic of gossip, I often pray that God will recapture all those feathers for me. There is no way that I will ever be able to address it, no way that I could recapture feathers and convince others of the untruthfulness of the words spoken against me or my family. And in trying to undo the tangle of someone else's web - I too would need to climb a tower and rip open a feather pillow - I too would be guilty.
 
And one of my very favorite quotes from Mother Teresa
 
            People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis...
it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
 
 
 
Psalm 62:5-6 NLT
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
 
Goodnight,
Amanda
 

Monday, June 2, 2014

40 days without Facebook

 

April 20th - Resurrection Day- (commonly called easter) I decided to do something a little different. 

We have been exploring our faith from a different perspective this past year or so... rather than just blindly accepting the things we have always been taught, we have been researching them, studying them, to see if they prove true. 

Most of what I have practiced as celebratory for many years may actually have roots in a very old religion, the religion of the Sumerians. When Drason and I discovered this, we immediately began changing some of our practices to either eliminate the elements which appear to worship another deity, or to stop calling some fun days in our culture a Holy day or a day for worshiping God.  God's will is not a mystery, he gave Holy days to the Israelites and then gave instructions to the apostles in how to worship and celebrate Holy days in a way which honors God.  I have come to realize that it is only through thorough study of scripture, understanding the day as they were originally commanded, their meaning, their fulfillment by Jesus, and Jesus' commands to his believers that we will ever understand worship.  That sounds legalistic even to me - but - it is not rooted in the desire to change others to conform - it is the desire to learn and grow in the understanding of God - to understand how even the feast days pointed to the coming Messiah and to grow closer to the Lord as a family that worships together. It's about love, not legalism.

If you are interested in learning more about this - you might try this book

http://www.amazon.com/Celebrating-Jesus-Biblical-Feasts-Significance/dp/0768427371/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER


So what does all this have to do with Facebook?

Some of my friends were a little bit confused as to why I would stop using Facebook and why 40 days AFTER Christ's Resurrection, and not the 40 days prior (aka Lent)

The origins of Lent are somewhat muddled....
There was a man named Nimrod, who was the grandson of one of Noah's son named Ham.
Ham had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis. Cush and Semiramis then had a son named him "Nimrod." After the death of his father, Nimrod married his own mother and became a powerful King. The Bible tells of of this man, Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8-10 as follows: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad,and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." Nimrod became a god-man to the people and Semiramis, his wife and mother, became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon.  When Nimrod was killed his Queen retained power by claiming that he became the sun god 'Baal' She taught that she was the moon and a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when the moon was full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. Semiramis became known as "Ishtar" which is pronounced "easter", and her moon egg became known as "Ishtar's" egg." Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive. The son that she brought forth was named Tammuz. Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal. Tammuz, like his supposed father, became a hunter. The day came, in the spring, when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal. She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten.  (This is mentioned in Ezekiel 8) Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made at dawn. It was Ishtar's Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs - both symbols of fertility. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday.  Most of this information is widely available online from a variety of sources including Wikipedia and others.  Through this story you can see the origins of lent, easter, easter eggs, rabbits, sunrise celebrations, and even easter ham!  These are items which we have removed from our celebration of Christ's resurrection because of our own convictions.  
Why then would I choose to participate in a 40 day fast AFTER Christ's Resurrection?

After Jesus death his followers were scattered and in mourning.  Some had denied him, others returned to their old lives as if nothing had ever happened, some locked themselves away in fear. Jesus took this scattered group, the doubters, the deniers, those cowered in fear, all of them - and transformed them into the pillars of the Church.  Not a church, not a religion, the Church, the Army of the Living God Church, with Jesus Christ at the head, His Church which stretches throughout human history.  Hebrews 11 tells us that by Faith people are added to His number.  Jesus spent 40 days on Earth AFTER His death to teach and instruct His disciples, to give them hope and a future, to encourage them, uplift them, and TEACH them how to be His.  A good place to read about this time is Matthew 28, Luke 24, John 20-21 and Acts 1.

Jesus used 40 days to bring hope, to bring purpose, to overcome fear, to bring acceptance, to show love and compassion, to encourage his followers to spread the gospel, to restore the doubters and to cement the foundation of the era we know as the church age.  The church age, or the time between Jesus first and second coming where God shows mercy to mankind, and allows for our redemption. 

For me, 40 days without Facebook was a celebration of the 40 days of Jesus on Earth, after His resurrection.  It has been a time for me to look forward to the bright future that He has planned and my own transfiguration.  It was also a time to be renewed, as I imagine it was for the disciples, and has brought some clarity to several situations which, when viewed through the lens of life without Facebook, seem rather trivial.  Ending Facebook interactions actually eliminated a source of attack and discouragement in my own life and left me with more time to interact with the people I love and to re-discover some very wonderful friendships in real life =) I have a better sense of peace, purpose and belonging than I have felt in some time - I imagine this is what the disciples felt after their 40 days with Jesus.

How amazing it must have been to see Him alive and well.  I can't wait!

Blessings,
Amanda