I Want to See You

purple flowersBetween the boiling of macaroni and cheese, and the shooing of a toddler out of my dishwasher, I was writing the lyrics of a song. I was reflecting on the beauty of God and the many places I saw His handiwork, and as I was hustling about the kitchen, trying to get lunch on the table for the four children, I began to pray that God would display His glory in me.

It is probably the prayer of every godly mother that they somehow reflect Christ in such a way that their children see it and follow Jesus because of it.  It was mine that day. I thought of the mothers with prodigal children, and the diligence of those mother’s prayers as they refused to give up in prayer for the salvation of their son or daughter. A mother’s love can be relentless like that. I wanted to be relentless too.

I thought of the faith of God’s people who refused to give up their faith in God in the midst of persecution and ended up giving up their lives in death as a result. I wanted that kind of faith.

I made a mess of the kitchen. Nearly burned the lunch, and frantically, put food on the table, in hopes of having 10 minutes to myself to finish the song in my head…if I could just make it to the piano without being disrupted.

Knowing my memory can be short term when raising toddlers and small children, I decided I had better record what I had so far, so I could go back later and finish, but I had nothing to record with. That’s when I remembered my son had a PlaySchool cassette recorder with a microphone. It was a toddler toy in primary colors, and it was my best shot at keeping the thoughts in my head from escaping forever.

I dug through the toy pile in my son’s closet and found the forgotten tape player. I checked it for batteries, quickly replaced the dead ones, and sprinted to my piano. I grabbed some scotch tape along the way to tape the “on” button of the microphone down, so that I could set it on my piano, in order to play and sing at the same time.

My oldest daughter was eight at the time, and she asked what I was doing. I told her I had a song in my head and I wanted to get it out before I forgot, so I was going to record. This is when the toddler noticed a new toy out on the piano and suddenly wanted it. I had to work fast. “Wait, that’s my toy!” Oh, no! My son just noticed too! Hurry Cate!

Well, I got the tape rolling on record, the microphone set and ready and I began to sing.  Two lines into the melody, I see these little chubby hands reaching for the mic. Trying not to break my rhythm, I blocked the little hands, and pushed them away, and kept playing the piano. A second attempt, now bumped the piano keys, and I again, shooed the hands away. Then came my young son, the owner of the tape recorder, and he wanted to sing into the mic. I shooed him away without trying to say any words as to not mess up my recording.

I lost my train of thought, and the little hands kept grabbing. Their voices now turned to whining and fighting over who would get the toy, and I lost it.

I turned around sharply and began to yell at my children. “Get back from the piano, take your siblings, and go to your rooms!” I don’t want to see you for 10 minutes! Give me 10 minutes!!”

My eight year old daughter looked at me with an expression that seemed to ask “What are you doing Mom?”

I looked at her earnestly and with my still angry, harsh tone said, “I am trying to write a song about being like Jesus, and everyone keeps interrupting me!!”

The look on her face confirmed everything my mind was suddenly informing me on…you just blew it!

My tone softened, and I said to my daughter, “I don’t suppose Jesus acts like this much, does He?”

Well, I had to apologize. I was trying to do too many things at once, and had expected my kids to read my mind as to what I was doing, and what I needed, and when they didn’t, I blew up. We made amends, and my oldest girl offered to take the kids in the room to play while I finished. And I finished the song.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I wrote this song, but I have to say that my prayer has not changed. I want to see God’s grace at work in me despite myself, and only time will tell the story. I guess I have no need of that grace however, if I have no struggle, and I will never know that grace if I myself do not know how to repent.

So, here I am 10 years later, a work in progress. Still praying that God shows Himself strong in me for the sake of my family, my neighbors, and the world. Maybe this is your prayer too.

Here is the song, “I Want to See You“. Click and enjoy!

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A Note to Self from Psalm 103


sunrise

Cate,

Praise the Lord with everything in you. Let every part of your heart and emotions, will, and strength bless the Lord. Allow yourself the permission to praise God in that way, and when you don’t feel like it, I want you to tell your soul to do it anyways.

Praise Him for the things He has done in you. Do you remember how he brought you out of bitterness and a home of anger and hopelessness? Do you remember how He carried you through the roughest of days, and provided help and healing to you when you needed it most? Do you recall how He has assured you that He heard your every cry? Do you remember how He comforted you?

He forgives your sins, Cate–even those secret ones—those sins in your mind that you have given so much attention to over the years—those secrets. You confessed them and God forgave you. Not only that, He gave you victory over them, and a way to walk out of them.

He continues to heal your body, and cause you to have health that invigorates your life.

You could have lived in the pit of despair. You could have stayed on the road to bitterness and destruction, but God redeemed you and brought you out of that. He even gave you crowns to wear. Those crowns are  things people can see—love and compassion. People look at you and know that you are loved and have received much compassion.

There are many appetites you have had over the years, and things you thought you wanted or needed. God has satisfied your life with good things. Some things you thought you needed, He did not give you, in order that you might have the things that truly satisfy. He gives you things that enrich your life and give you hope and energy to face the day as if you were young again–soaring like an eagle.

The Lord always does what is right. He will bring about justice to all who are oppressed, even if right now you cannot see their relief. (Remember, He is eternal, and His plans do not end with the cessation of your life or the lives of others. He will do the right thing always, and His ways are just.)

Moses knew God’s ways because Moses invested his life in God’s promises. The people of Israel were able to see His mighty acts, and how He answers the prayers of a righteous man, and how He fulfills His promises.

Cate, God is compassionate. He isn’t quickly aroused to anger, as though He has no fuse or patience with us. He is overflowing in love. He is the source of love, and there is still plenty to go around. Those who know Him know this well.

He doesn’t keep a record against us forever, nor stew and fume in anger forever. (He always gives you a chance to repent, to turn from your evil.) Even though your sin is deserving of much more punishment and consequences, He gives you grace, and you do not get all that you deserve.

You can’t measure the distance of the heavens above the earth, and yet that is just how is love is quantified—without measure.

He is able to remove your sin so far away from you that you can’t find it. Just as you cannot find where east ends and west begins if you travel either direction.

Watch a good father interact with his kids. He has such compassion on them. His children don’t know it all yet, and they will make many mistakes. This is how God treats us. He knows how He made us and what we know and what we have yet to learn.

Our lives are fragile and short–like the grass that seems to have a quick growing season, and then dies off. We look beautiful like flowers in bloom, but then our time is up, and we are gone. The wind reaps the blossoms, dries the stems, and makes the field barren.

But God is not temporary like we are. From everlasting to everlasting His love stays with us. His unfailing ability to always do the right thing continues in the lives of our children, and our children’s children. All those who honor God and submit their lives to Him get this inheritance—forever.

God is firmly established on His throne in Heaven. No one can remove Him, and no one can usurp His rule. From His throne He rules over all things. Forever.

I don’t know the angels. I haven’t met those beings that surround God’s throne, but I know that they were created for God. So, sing to God all His angels! Every creature or being created by God for His purposes—sing! Praise the Lord!

Every nation He has created. Every church, and family that honors His name. Every man, woman and child who knows who their Creator—Sing! Praise the Lord!! Give Him the honor that is due Him.

Don’t forget these things, Cate. You will need to keep all of these things in mind throughout your lifetime. Always Praise the Lord. (It’s good for your soul)

Decomplimentation

Already you are wondering if I have any grasp on the English language I am sure just by the title of this post.  No, this word (The blog’s title) is not in the dictionary, but in the Morris house, it is understood alongside other words such as “availabiliwality”, and “confusational”.  We love to make up new words.

It was on a long drive with my son Chad that the word “decomplimentation” came into existence.  After my son, attempting to bribe me into buying him something by telling me I was the best mother in the world, and that I was the most beautiful of all, had to change his strategy when I was unrelenting.  It was all in good fun, mind you, and we both laughed about it as he said, “Okay, if that is not going to work, the “decomplimentation” will begin in 3…2…1.”  Then he said I was “the nerdiest mom in the world”, and my feet “smelled like cheese.”  Compliments turned to insults (in a funny way in this case.)

Decomplimentation.  I’ve thought a lot about that word, and discovered a definition for it that I have observed. Decomplimentation could be defined as:  Complimenting a person in a way that keeps them from feeling good about the compliment.  For example:  “You are such a good cook.  I really hate that.” or “Well, you always were the favorite….(sigh…awkward silence…).  Or “I like you now, but I would have hated you in high school.”  You could probably insert your own examples here too.  (I have too many to list).

Decomplimentation can come from anywhere–parents “Well, at least your good at something. You had me worried for awhile.” Or siblings:  “You got all of the smart genes.  I just got your hand-me-downs.”  Friends:  “Of course you travel!  Let’s just call you ‘been there, done that.'”

Decomplimentation has less to do with the compliment than it has to do with the insecurities or jealousies of the one speaking them.  When a genuine compliment just can’t be delivered and left on the doorstep, decomplimentation ensues.  The person decomplimenting must show you that your success or happiness, or skill set causes them to feel small, insignificant, overshadowed, overlooked, or unnecessary.  And while it is human nature to compare ourselves to others, it is the surest way to live a small life.

I have to admit, I am a person who keeps a lot of good news to herself.  If something great happens to me or people close to me, you might not see me post it on Facebook.  Instead, I reserve those things in my heart and share them with people who do not use decomplimentation.  I know which individuals will take that information and turn it back to me in such a way that I feel badly for having something good happen in my life.  It sucks the joy right out of me when they do.  At the same time, I seek out my cheerleaders, and encouragers. –the ones who say “That’s awesome!! I can’t believe that happened!” or “Tell me all about it!  That sounds so good!”  These people know how to encourage me and fuel my passions.

For many years, after being “decomplimented” by someone, I would spend the next several minutes (or hours) trying to build up the self-esteem of the person who just spoke to me.  “No–you’re smart too!  I mean look at the business you developed, and how you train all of those employees…” or I try the other approach which is making myself smaller so that they feel good about me again–“Oh, I’m not really that good, its just that no one has discovered it yet, so my disguise must be working.” I have found that this drains the life right out of me, and causes me to lose confidence in who God made me to be. My time was spent expending a lot of energy either defending myself, disguising myself, or trying to buoy up the person in front of me so that their words didn’t sting.

 

 

Galatians 6:4-5 says “Each one should test their own actions.  Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”

If you are one on the receiving end of “decomplimentation”, here is what I suggest:  Let the comments fall to the ground after they have been spoken.  You don’t need to make the other person feel better about themselves in order to make their words less painful.  They chose their words, they can be responsible for them.  If, however, you are on the receiving end of these hurtful words over and over by someone, you may need to set aside a time to speak with them to let them know how their words hurt you or make you feel. Oftentimes people who decompliment don’t even know they are doing it, often it is a bad habit they have been doing since childhood.  If you want to respond to someone’s “decomplimentation”, respond in the “opposite spirit”.  When someone says to me “You are really good at such and such, and I can’t stand it…” I choose to give them a genuine compliment like “I really love this about you..(fill in the blank).”  No clauses, stings, snide remarks, or martyrdom.

Learn to celebrate others.  Give genuine compliments when you feel them and end them with a period before you are tempted to add anything else.  And when you are jealous, (and we all are from time to time), take that to God and talk to Him about it.  Allow the Lord to show you your strengths, and what He has put in you, and use them for His glory.

All of us are created unique in God’s image with purpose.  God has planned for all of us to have joy in being who He made us to be.  He Himself delights in us and who we are.  So we can’t live an abundant life if we spend it comparing ourselves with someone else.  No, we need to go to God with our insecurities and ask the Holy Spirit to give us courage to be who we were created to be.  Then, BE THAT PERSON!

1 Thessalonians 5:11a says:  “Encourage one another and build each other up…”

Hebrews 3:13

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “today”, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

There are those of us who “decompliment” and there are those of us who deflect compliments when they are genuinely given.  I’ll talk more about the deflectors in my next blog.

My prayer for you today is to find your value in God alone.  He who created you with purpose, passion, gifts and talents, has also made a way for you to enjoy Him fully while enjoying who He made YOU to be.  Keep growing.  Keep shining.

Have you ever been decomplimented?  How did you respond?

Are you a decomplimenter?  How could you choose your words differently?

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Begin the Journey

God, I am angry with you.  You let me go through a horrific ordeal.  I prayed and prayed and prayed that the madness would stop.  Every morning, for years, I woke up wondering what evil would befall me.  There seemed to be no end to the torment.

People told me to find joy in the little things, but honestly, I couldn’t.  My whole world was crashing around me.  Everything I thought I knew was up for questioning.  Breathing became an act of my determination as my mind was willing to let the idea of living pass away.  I despaired of life.  I didn’t want to see the lovely anymore because I knew that all too soon it was passing away from me–out of reach.

God, it was horrible!  Were You not watching?  What were You thinking as I spiraled into a world of hopelessness and bewilderment?  Where were You?

I watched something happen though, that even now causes me to think.  I saw choices.  I saw human choices.  Those who could have helped stop the madness but chose not to.  Those who reached out for me to give me comfort and hope (even though I flatly rejected it), were many.  My rejections of hope’s offerings were choices.  My choices.

These thoughts bring me back to something I learned, “all men are given a gift of a free will to choose.”

But wait, I didn’t choose pain and suffering.  That was thrust upon me.  I didn’t ask to walk a long dark road with no end in sight.  That was not my choice!

Yet, even now, I am standing on the other side of that pain.  The long dark road gradually gave way to a light that warmed me back to life.  I am still alive.  I am still me, only much has been chipped away, and much is in need of rebuilding.  I’m still here–still here with choices to be made.

I read Your story about You and Job.  Job didn’t really seem to stand a chance.  But You said something that really got my attention.  You said to Satan,“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3).  You spoke highly of Job.  You believed in Job.  You had faith in him even though he was going to struggle to have faith in himself.  Do you hold faith for us even when we give it up?

Later in that story, You ask Job a lot of questions.  You ask him if he knows how the foundations of the world were laid.  (You know, we are still arguing over that question today.  Our science books are riddled with theories.) You ask Job if he knows who gives the morning it’s orders as to when it should begin and when the day is over.  God, You might as well have been asking questions of astrophysics, or quantum order.  Fifty+ or so questions later about darkness, light, snow storehouses, seasons, animals, and life in general, you leave Job speechless. (Job 38-40)

Job just wanted to know what the heck happened to his family, and why was he being tormented so ruthlessly.  He did nothing to deserve it.  Why did You ask him all of those big questions?

Okay, so You are God and we are not.  Your ways are not our ways.  That becomes clear enough in life.  But why the riddles?

Wait a minute…in the glow of the light that warmed me back to life I see something…if I drop my angry accusations for a minute, I get a glimpse of something…

Job wanted to answers for his pain.  He, like me wants to make sense of it before he can fully grasp Your hand, God.  Are you saying something in all of Your questions?  Are you proving to Job and to me that there are millions of mysteries in the universe that I do not have conclusive answers for?  Are you exposing my lack of knowledge for what it really is?

For years (40) to be exact, I have laid my head on a pillow to sleep at night never worrying if the sun would forget to come up in the morning.  Never in my seasons of stress and anxiety has the culprit ever been my concern for where the raven would get its food, or if the stars would stay fixed in their place in the heavens.  I have “trusted” for all of these things.  Why did I trust?  Well, there was nothing I could do about these things.  (It would seem that You were taking care of all of this.)  They carried on without me (with a precise order, beauty, and rationality).

The truth is, if I want to admit it, You have ordered the universe with such beauty, design, purpose, and faithfulness that I cannot escape the fact that my whole being and sense of  “life” derives itself from the peace Your handiwork affords me.  Are You saying that I don’t have to have conclusive answers in order to grasp Your hand?  Are You showing me that You are trustworthy in all of these things that sustain my life, and can be trusted with this pain that feels life shattering?  Can You bring order and beauty out of this too?

I guess it comes back to choices.  I have free will to choose to trust You or to choose to fight You for the rest of my life.  I’m reminded  of the lyrics from the song Rich Mullins wrote:  “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want, than to take what You give that I need.” (Hold Me Jesus)  I’m tired of fighting You, God.

What good will it do me to spend my life as Your judge?  What benefit is there in refusing to reach for You when You are the only hope there is in life? You are the only One who has promised that You will make all things new again.  Your plan doesn’t end with my pain, but continues with my redemption into eternity. (And not just mine, but the whole world).

Would You help me surrender?  Would You speak Your hope over me?  Would You hold me Jesus?

I become the product of my choices, but You redeem my choices and bring beauty from ashes.  Will You begin that work in me even now?

 

My thanks to Ravi Zacharias’ book “Cries of the Heart” for walking me through my pain in view of God’s goodness.  His chapters on the story of Job forever changed my view of God and helped me drop my defenses and let God into my wounded places.
Also my thanks to the late Rich Mullins whose words still challenge my heart, and draw me to God.

Have You Seen His Credentials?

wwwdrummondhouseplanscom-multigenerational-floor-plan-no-2278-mail-levelIf ever I am at a hotel with cable TV, it is my weakness to be watching the Home & Garden Channel, otherwise known as HGTV.  This was the case a few weeks ago when a friend and I took a trip to Sitka, Alaska to watch my husband and the other fishermen there during the short herring fishing season, scoop up the schools (of fish).  It really is an amazing sight to behold.  But when we were not hiking, photographing, eating or sightseeing, we would be back at the little house we rented, and I would turn on HGTV to see what the shows were about.  This is where my “aha” moment began.

It wasn’t long into the show “Property Brothers” that I found myself talking to the TV.  Much like a fan watching a sporting event, I could hear myself arguing with the people in the episode.  In this show, there are people who are looking for their dream house and the “Property Brothers” are there to help them find it.  Usually what the people want is out of their price range, so the Brothers, direct them to “fixer-upper” homes where the potential for renovation will give them what they are looking for.  This is when I get talking.

The prospective buyers walk through these sub-standard homes and begin complaining.  “This kitchen is hideous!” Or “I could never see myself in this house!”

I roll my eyes.  I’ve seen this show many times before, and the whole premise of this show is that these Property Brothers can turn a mess into a masterpiece in just a few days.  They are absolutely amazing!  Somehow the house-hunters in this show don’t acknowledge that fact. (It has to be in the script, that’s all I can conclude.)  The Brothers will say, “We can take out this wall here, and open this kitchen up to the east there, and make an island here….” and the House Hunter will reply with comments like “I’ve never taken down a wall before, and I can’t even imagine doing that.”  Or, “I don’t want a fixer-upper.  I don’t have any experience in renovating.”

“GAHHHH!!!”  I’m yelling at the TV now.  “Don’t you people ever watch this show?  Haven’t you seen what these guys can do?  Who asked you about your renovation experience anyway?  Have you seen the credentials these guys have?  Have you seen their work?  Don’t you know this show is all about them?”

The Brothers go back to their headquarters and design renovation plans for the three homes featured on the show then present them to the clients for them to choose which home and which renovation plan they would like to go for.  This is when the show gets good.

“O, Wow!!”  many of them will say.  “You can do this?”  “That doesn’t even look like the same house?”  “Are you kidding me?”

The choice is made, and the clients, although excited about their choices enter into the next phase–  nervous expectation.  Some of them hound the builders.  They come during the demolition and freak out over the mess. “You’re going to fix this aren’t you?” Some of them ask.  “This is never going to be finished.”  “I had a dream that you made this house an ugly freak show, and I just need to come and check on your work to see if my dream was true.” some have said.

This is where the Brothers have to send the clients away.  The clients have to be left “in the dark” so that the builders can complete their work without the interruptions, and so that there is a surprise in the final product for them to enjoy.

Here God starts speaking to me.  While I am yelling at the House Buyers and telling them to just shut their mouths and trust the Brothers, I realize that my life can be mirrored in this show.  With God as the Master Craftsman of my life, I can be found arguing with Him, freaking out at my circumstances, and re-iterating over and over to Him my lack of credentials to improve the mess I am in.  I question His motives, nervously check His work against my imaginations, and impatiently wait for something good to come of my trouble.  I get mad when He leaves me “in the dark”, and I don’t have the answers to all of my questions.  I am impatient.  I am afraid.  I am Cate.

Somewhere in my spirit I hear the Holy Spirit asking me, “Cate, have you seen His credentials?  Haven’t you watched this show before?  Don’t you know He brings beauty from ashes?  Who said the outcomes are up to you?  The Expert is in full control.”

Yeah, I’ve seen His credentials.  I’ve seen His splendor in the midnight sky.  I’ve given birth to four of His finest creations.  I’ve watched Him transform my life from bitterness and fear, to faith and trust, and I’ve watched Him transform the lives around me.  And I am reminded of this scripture from the Psalms:

Psalm 127:1

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,

the builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the guards stand watch in vain.

Yes, Lord.  You are to be trusted.  Yes, Lord you have my life in your hands.  Yes, Lord I put my faith in you.

As the show ends with amazed clients looking at the most beautiful home they have ever seen, I too, will stand in awe of God’s goodness when this life is over, and I get to see the plan He unfolded, and the miracles He performed to bring it about.  He can make a mess a masterpiece!

 

Click the link below to hear my song:

I Want To See You

Peace in the Calm, Peace in the Storm

If you have ever experienced what I am writing about, perhaps you will add your comments to what I say.  The feeling that inside of you is a time bomb ticking away– waiting to detonate.  You feel desperate, and unable to handle what life has thrown at you.

Some may call it a burden, or a heaviness, but I call it a need for prayer.  Like the feeling when you have held your breath for as long as you feel able as you are rushing your body to the surface of the water for the gasp you so intently need–that frantic, desperate search for the oxygen you are in short supply of.  You have crossed the line of needing advice, needing to “talk it out”, or even needing some fresh air and exercise.  None of these things seem even remotely capable of handling the desperate need in your heart for relief, for hope, for comfort.

It was how I felt 8 years ago, when the mammogram showed an unusual growth in my breast, and the surgeon warned me fiercely about letting too much time pass when weighing my options of biopsy or removal because if it was cancer, at my age, it would be the most rapidly spreading variety.

I needed time to think.  I needed time to find the right solution.  My time was ticking.

My desperation for help made me feel like stopping total strangers on the sidewalk and asking them to pray for me.  Every person who told me to “have a good day” I wanted to say “I want to, but I am scared!”

There is so much to consider when so much is at stake.  It’s why I don’t believe that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Sometimes life is unbearable.

What do you do when everything inside of you is imploding, and your world as you know it is crumbling?  What do you do with the fear that grips you and tells you that your future is grim?  You pray.

I’ve heard religious gurus say “If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will not find it anywhere.” But I disagree.  Peace can never be found inside yourself unless the Prince of Peace is ruling there.  Calm, on the other hand, that can be produced.   Calm is when things are not in a haphazard state of being.  Calm is not showing nervousness or feeling nervousness, anger or strong emotions.   I know what calm is and I can find that within myself on good days, with chocolate, and sunshine.  But peace? No, that is something supernatural. Philippians 4:7 says it this way:
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Peace is the removal of fear and it’s threats.  Supernatural peace feels like your soul which has been cold and distant, now drawn  closer to a warm sunshine, melted, and warmed back to life.  Peace doesn’t need a sunny day, coffee, chocolate fondue, or good circumstances.  Peace surpasses understanding and can find you in the middle of your calm, and in the middle of your storm.  Peace comes from God alone when we pray.

I’ve experienced this peace.  Two days before my lumpectomy, that peace rolled in as a result of people praying for me.  The kind of peace that said “whatever happens, I’ll be okay,”  and gave me the ability to sleep at night.  I couldn’t find that peace on my own. I couldn’t manufacture that even if I were calm.  No, that peace surpassed my understanding.

Several weeks later, my biopsy results came back clear of cancer.  While I am so thrilled that I did not have breast cancer, I have to confess, that the peace God gave me then would have carried me through the fight if the biopsy results were different.  And you can be sure, I would live out my days then as I do now–in prayer.

Are you struggling for breath?  Is your world crashing around you?  Pray.  And I don’t mean toss out good “energy” or chant words to the universe.  I mean talk to God.  Ask God to meet you right where you are and give you peace.  Call a friend or pastor who knows God and ask them to pray for you too.  Prayer is only as powerful as the God it is directed to, and there is only One with power to heal, save, deliver, calm, restore, and give peace.  He is always listening.

 

 

 

Faith and Information

When I was in Bible school, I had a professor who recounted a story of a dream someone had that made an impact on him.  Consequently, all these years later, I have to say that it had a profound impact on me as well.  Here is the scene:

“The scene was the depths of hell.  With minimal light, a man could be seen rushing through the dark corridors of hell in frantic search of someone.  Amid the screams and cries for mercy, this man would plunge into the dark corners, grab a man from the shadows, pull him into whatever light he could find, and then throw him back into the shadows.  From cell to cell and dark shadow to dark corner, this man was reaching, grabbing, and searching.  The man who was having the dream and observing the behavior of the frantic man in hell, somehow asked the question, ‘who are you looking for?’  The man’s quick reply without pausing from his quest was this: ‘I am looking for the pastor who lied to me.'”

This scene can evoke a million questions which I will not address in this blog, as I want to focus on one:  “Are there consequences for what we believe or disbelieve?”

James 3:1

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

In this age of information with authors, televangelists, radio personalities, bloggers, and even spiritual gurus at the public gym, I find that information about spiritual and eternal things becomes passed around so casual as one exchanging recipes.  For much of the spiritual advice, I find there are no tangible or real consequences for belief or disbelief “just as long as you believe something.”  Some of my “Christian” Facebook friends subscribe to horoscope posts, and talk about their karma, while my non-Christian friends post scriptures like “Judge not lest you be judged.”

Everyone dipping into the belief systems of another, choosing the things they “like”, and calling it their beliefs, makes for a flavorful stew, but sadly, has little to do with truth. Truth by definition is exclusive.  If one thing is true, it has the ability to call other things false.  Through the lens of truth we are able to see the things that are counterfeit.  But it gets tricky when truth is extracted from context, mixed with myths, or taught only in part–leaving the consequences of belief or disbelief, obedience or disobedience out.

Here is some criteria I use when evaluating “spiritual truths” from authors and teachers who claim to be Christians:

1. If they have to discredit or re-make the Bible or Jesus, the Author of its message in order to make their truth work, they have walked away from the “truth” they espouse.

2 Timothy 4:1-4

4 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

2. If there is a clear spiritual penalty for the disbelief of, or disobedience of a spiritual principle and they do not teach it, they are contributing to a dangerous lie.

3.  If their teaching pads their wallets by emptying yours, they are likely insincere in their care for you.

Matthew 10:8

8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

4.  If they say they love you, but do not attempt to turn you from a known path of spiritual destruction, then they are double-minded and unstable, and you are not the better for it.

James 5:19-20

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 

5.  If they do not lead you to scripture in search of your answers, but opinions instead, they are their own religion, borrowing only in part from the faith they claim.

1 Timothy 1:3-7

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

6.  If their lifestyle and behavior, or the lifestyle and behavior they espouse wouldn’t look good on Jesus, then it likely isn’t the model for you.

Titus 1:16

16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

1 John 1:5-7

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

7.  If they deny that Jesus is God’s Son, the Christ, then they are liars according to 1 John 2:22-23

22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

There are consequences for beliefs, and consequences for disbelief.  The Bible couldn’t be any more clear on this.  So please, as much as you may read blogs or Christian books, or watch Christian television, please read that much more of God’s Word–the Bible. You and I need to have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus.  Our lifestyles need to be lifestyles of repentance and humility before God and before one another.