Jesus said to His disciples, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” (John 8:58)
I’m sure you’ve heard someone, at some point, refer to a Scripture as having leapt off the page while they were reading. This is one of those verses for me. There I was, reading along, when suddenly I SAW Jesus say, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
I’ve heard this verse used to support Jesus’ divinity, as it hearkens back to God’s declaration to Moses, but the revelation I gained in that moment was entirely different.
Picture me sitting there, stunned expression on my face, realizing that He’s saying “I AM before Abraham,” that even though He was standing there talking to them He was also, at the same time, before Abraham was born!
The revelation hit me in a moment, but it took my brain weeks to process it. Throughout my days, I kept going back to the thought the way you keep returning to a pot that’s simmering on the stove. I even pulled out my concordance and sought out similar times when God made such references to Himself.
You see, I’d always heard it taught that God was saying, “I am _________ (insert your need in the blank,” meaning He is whatever you need.
I am your Savior.
I am your deliverer.
I am your healer.
I am your provider.
This is all true, and lines up with the very names of God. The challenge is that Scripture isn’t two-dimensional. You can look at it one way today and see that it means one thing, and realize tomorrow that it means that and much more. The challenge is to keep from getting locked into only one view.
As I meditated on Jesus’ declaration, God lifted another verse from the page. “Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) It was as if He were writing me a personal message.
Be still and know that I AM
It’s a fact: Time is meaningless to God. Yes, we find it hard to comprehend this truth, because it’s almost everything to us, but I’m convinced that its only use to God is that it helps us keep our own lives in order. Well, perhaps that’s an oversimplification, but you get my point.
Through the weeks, I slowly gained an understanding that GOD IS, that even as God IS with me as I type this, He IS also with Moses in the desert and Adam in the garden. At first, it was almost like a mental exercise. I’d been given a new piece of information and was slowly grasping what it meant, what its significance would be in my life. Like watching the sun slowly creep up over mountains, I knew something was coming. And I was actively watching for it.
And then the day dawned.
We’d been dealing with CPS (Child Protective Services). The report was completely bogus but, like everyone else who has ever been accused, we had been doing our part to prove wrong the accusations made against us. On “that” day, I walked out my front door, heading to the mailbox, and I suddenly GOT IT. Even as I took those steps, I prayed something along the lines of, “Daddy, you’re in all times at once, so I ask that you do whatever you have to do three days ago for there to be a letter in the mailbox today saying, ‘We’re so sorry. We’ve found nothing wrong. We’re dropping the whole thing.’”
The letter was there. It didn’t say, “We’re so sorry,” but I really didn’t care. That was the day my prayer life radically changed, the day I realized that what I call retroactive prayers are a thing.
Have you ever received a prayer request at noon for a surgery that was taking place at seven, and felt terrible because the surgery was surely over and all you could pray for was a swift healing? But you can still pray in such situations! God, who is with you when you get the request, is – at that same moment – with the person before they go into surgery, in surgery, and as they come out. Truly, since God isn’t bound by time, there’s almost no such thing as “too late” for Him. (Almost. There are definite spots in Scripture where God declares to man that time is up.) I mean that literally.
We’ve heard it said that when a man is dead he’s dead, that you might as well stop praying for him. As a Protestant who doesn’t believe in Purgatory, I understand where that teaching comes from, but I don’t entirely agree. Not anymore.
The fact is that the same God who is with me now is – even now – with a specific young lady I’m thinking of who died in a car wreck, and He is capable of reaching out to her in those last few moments and saving her soul. Yes, I asked Him to as I learned about her. It is true that, even at the end, she might have resisted Him, but I still have the ability, the right, to ask Him to try. He told me so Himself.
Be still and know that I AM.
“I go late because I don’t like the music.”
“I don’t like how our preacher seems to preach the same message every week.”
“I want to make my kids happy. They want a church with a better youth group.”
I’m pretty sure that, after decades of actively serving God, I’ve heard it all. There’s one big problem with all of these statements – the word I. Want to know a secret – that isn’t a secret? Church isn’t about us, what we want, or what we like.
I mean, seriously. Do you think every Israelite man wanted to make the trip to Jerusalem to worship as they were commanded to do? Man is the same throughout the ages, so I’m pretty comfortable saying, “No.” Some of those men didn’t want to make the trek to Jerusalem just as surely as many men today don’t want to make the trip to church on Sunday morning. So why did they go?
Because they knew it wasn’t about them, that it was about God and the worship He deserves as God. No matter how many miles they had to walk hauling livestock for sacrifice, no matter how much they hated crowds and noise, no matter how long they would have to wait in line, no matter if they knew going in that they wouldn’t enjoy themselves at all…IT WASN’T ABOUT THEM.
In 1 Cor. 12:18, we are told that God plants us in the church as He wills. We want to pick and choose our churches like we select our food at a buffet. God wants us to attend the churches He has selected for us. And yes, we may at times disagree with His choices.
We may think the church is too far away, we may not like the music at all, we may resent parents letting their kids be noisy in service, we may feel we could have found a better sermon on TV… None of that matters. What matters is that God has told us, “Here. This is your spiritual home. LIVE in it.” If He hasn’t told you that, didn’t lead you to the church you’re in, go talk to Him about it. Now.
If He did lead you to your current church, He put you there for at least one reason. Just like a good gardener studies soil content, sunlight, and other factors before setting a prized plant in the ground, God carefully selected where He planted you. If you dislike things about where you are, don’t whine about it to the other plants or, worse yet, try to dig up your own roots and move. Talk to Him about it.
You may well – probably will – be surprised by what He has to say. He may be pointing out needs in the church that He wants you to help meet. He may be working on expanding your horizons of what you like. He may point out that you don’t eat only two meals a week and shouldn’t rely strictly on your pastor for your spiritual nourishment. He might simply explain that it’s time you get over your self because church isn’t about you at all.
It’s about Him. It’s about bringing our week-wearied bodies to the sanctuary as a sacrifice of worship. It’s about lifting our hearts to Him in worship and praise whether the song is a hundred years old or ten minutes old. It’s about intentionally ignoring distractions and focusing on what He is trying to say to you – not only through the sermon, but through every part of the experience.
When we shift our focus off ourselves and whether or not someone in pre-worship fellowship took the chocolate-covered donut we wanted, and turn it to the One who is the whole reason we are on this planet in the first place, our walks with God will change radically.
THAT is what it’s all about!
The answer is, “Yes.”
It’s also a gift from God that the devil has done his best/worst with to make Christians stay away from it.
It’s CBD oil, and before you get antsy let me say that, if you’ll ask my husband’s primary care, he will be delighted to tell you that Jack has come off several medications since we put him on it. CBD (cannabidiol) is a tremendously beneficial part of cannabis plants (Yes, hemp and marijuana are both cannabis). It is NOT THC, which is the part of marijuana that makes you high; and CBD oils contain no more than trace elements of THC. CBD counteracts THC, so those traces can’t affect you. And, again, it is legal throughout the US. I first picked it up in the health food store down the street from my house.
I’ve been considering blogging about it for a while, because of the tremendous strides Jack has made medically in the past year or so that he’s been on it. I kept putting it off, but then our local health food store went out of business. (Where’s that eyes-wide-open emoji?!)
That was when I realized just how serious I am about it. I am careful about all of his prescription medications, and I consider this to be every bit as important as the ones the doctors have put him on. I’m not kidding, people. He’s come off of blood pressure medications, Metformin, Humalog, and an antidepressant triad he was on. Yes, he’s still on several medications, but he is doing better than he has in many years. In fact, he recently started occupational therapy again with a therapist he used two years ago, and she is completely blown away by where he is today; it’s like she’s working with a totally different man.
So, when the store I’ve been going to closed down, I got online and started researching – to find that the CBD world is huge and can be terribly confusing. I have a budget, and some of the great oils I found are totally outside of it. I finally narrowed my options down and researched a few specific companies before settling on one that offers not only what looks like an excellent CBD oil that meets my quality criteria, but several very promising CBD-based products as well. I placed my first order yesterday and we shall see.
This company, CTFO, also offers a unique opportunity – the chance to sign up as either a customer or associate for free while (as either) earning commissions on the purchases of those you refer. I’ve been referring people to my local store for years and benefitting nothing but satisfaction, so I decided I might as well to refer them to “me” now. If you’re interested, just click the link below and check it out.
I’m so happy I found this company, and look forward to seeing even more improvement in Jack since it appears that this oil is considerably better, even, than what we’ve been taking (Yes, me too. I started taking it for brain fog when I realized how much more clearly he was thinking.). I’ll keep you posted!
VITALLY IMPORTANT: I AM NOT MAKING ANY MEDICAL CLAIMS!!!! All I’m doing is telling you what CBD has done for Jack. There is always a possibility that his dramatic improvement in so many areas could be a result of something else. I’m guessing you know how likely his PCP and I believe that to be.
If you’ve never hung clean laundry out to air dry in the sun, you’ve missed a unique satisfaction. As a kid, few things were as pleasant as the smell of clothing and sheets that had just come down from the line. Everything was crisp and obviously clean and fresh. I loved it.
With this in mind, I can’t currently think of anything less satisfying that air drying, or airing, dirty laundry. First, I’d never want the neighbors to see me doing anything so foolish. Second, WHY?! Pulling it off that line would give something far from the satisfaction I got from pulling clean laundry, and even as I took it down I would know my work had just doubled or worse: Dirty laundry that has been aired is even harder to get clean because all the dirt, soil, and stains are baked in.
The same holds true on social media. It seems to me that airing our dirty laundry has become the order of the day, and I find it appalling on many levels. It flat out makes the person doing the talking look foolish and wrong, especially if later on it turns out the facts weren’t quite as they thought. Even worse, though, it can completely destroy relationships that could have been saved if the parties had come together instead of one or both airing their problems in public. And for the Christian? Frankly, it’s dangerous.
God’s Word presents the concepts of love and forgiveness repeatedly, and love in particular is something I think we truly don’t understand. One line that took me years to comprehend is, “Love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
The full verse is this: “And above all things, have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”
Who is He talking to here?
What is He saying?
Our brothers and sisters in Christ WILL sin. They WILL do us wrong. They WILL make mistakes. They ARE NOT PERFECT no matter how much anyone thinks they should be. (The absurd belief that Christians should be perfect is fodder for another post!)
What else is He saying?
It is our responsibility to LOVE ANYWAY. It’s our responsibilty to cover their mistakes and, yes, even their sins, with love.
Example: When, as a young wife, I felt my husband had done me wrong, I did NOT go running to my mother to tell her all about it. I chose not to because I knew he loved me and I didn’t want to say something to her that would ruin his reputation where she was concerned. Instead, I took our issues to God and we dealt with things privately.
God IS love, and He expects us to work on becoming more like Him all the time. He doesn’t just ask us to love one another; He commands it. As Christians, when we’ve got a load of dirty laundry, we are responsible for making the right decision on how to handle it. Tossing it out to bake in the light of public opinion pretty much guarantees it will never be cleaned and the damage will become permanent. It is the exact opposite of what Scripture commands, and it makes us look bad as individuals and reflects poorly on the community we live in, the church.
Let’s trying cleaning it instead.
This has been my view several times a week for months. MONTHS! At first I thought they were allowing time for the concrete at the other end of the road to cure, then I thought they were waiting on the lights to be installed, then…
It’s been like this – just like this – for…again, I say…months. It’s paved. It’s striped. It’s got lights ready and waiting at the other end. Only God knows why this road is still closed. It’s that way in life, too. How many times have I been at a crossroads, looking at a path that was obviously ready to be traveled except for one thing – God’s great big “Road Closed” sign?Why? What reason could He have for keeping me away from that particular path? Only He knows, in truth, but I’ve learned to trust that He inevitably has a better plan in mind, a better road for me to follow. If He wants a road to stay closed, so do I. (I’m still not sure about what the city or whoever is doing here, though.)Celebrating Jesus!Tammy C
I don’t know much about palms, so when I saw how hard this one had been hit by a freeze I was concerned. A friend assured me that sago palms are hard to kill, and it would be fine. Sure enough, I noticed this past week that all this new growth had burst forth seemingly overnight.
Children of God are much like this. We’ll be hit with bad weather, and even hard freezes. There will be times in our lives when someone looking on from the outside might think we are done for, ready to be dug up and tossed. The Master Gardener knows better. He nurtures us and, sooner or later, we’ll have a burst of new life. We’re hard to kill.