Hello my dear readers,
I’ve pulled away from blogging for a while because I believe the Lord has been leading me to do so. I stopped blogging around the time I fell down the stairs – mid October. I injured my back, tailbone, and possibly my head (I did hit it really hard, and it was hurting a lot afterwards).
I had been stressing about keeping up with my “Read Through the Bible” posts, and the Lord showed me that I needed to stop posting, at least for now. Readers around the world who can access my blog can likely also access Bible Gateway and other similar resources anyway.
The Lord was showing me that my “ministry” as a blogger was not necessary. God does not depend on us, even though He often chooses to use and include us in His work.
To be honest, although I love writing, this leading from the Spirit was relieving and freeing for me. I was getting really burned out with blogging, and continuing to work through health issues. And the fall down the stairs really set me back (yes, I physically feel much older than 25). I still have not completely recovered.
But I’m excited to stop by and share with you all some of the things the Lord has been showing me during this blogging break and throughout the year.
1. Truth isn’t a book or something we can physically touch or own.
Truth is Jesus.
Jesus is Truth. He encompasses all Truth, and He is the Truth.
Really, Kate? You’re just now learning that Jesus is the Truth?
We all have the head knowledge, right? We know the scriptures say that Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
But sometimes it takes a knock to the head…or back…or tailbone…or all three…to really internalize the beauty and meaning of this reality – that Jesus Himself is the Truth.
As I think I’ve shared before, my sickness often impairs my ability to read, and that includes reading the scriptures.
And with my myriad assailments from Lyme disease and injuries from the fall, I wasn’t even able to keep up with publishing the scriptures online for others to read.
The Lord was showing me that I had experienced no loss in my inability to read scripture, because He is Himself the Word, and He would feed me.
It is possible to know all of the scriptures like the back of your hand and not know Jesus.
It is also possible to know Jesus while knowing very little or no verses from the scriptures.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The scriptures do indeed testify of the Truth, Jesus. But it is possible to hear the message of Christ without having a Bible in hand. And there are many true believers who do not have a Bible in their possession or who “fail” to read it daily.
The scriptures have been handed down and preserved for us as a guide, but not as our God. If we begin to elevate the scriptures to the level of God – even calling them “The Word” and “The Truth”, we must be careful. These titles belong to God alone.
Now, I know we’re used to referring to the scriptures as “The Word” and “The Truth”, and we generally don’t mean that these things “are God”.
But we often tend towards boxing God within the framework of the scriptures, assuming that everything that can be known about God is in the scriptures, and that we cannot come to know Him better outside of the scriptures.
I will likely now sound crazy (if I didn’t before?) to those who believe that a personal relationship cannot be had with Jesus Christ, or that God does not reveal Himself personally to individual members of the church.
But this relationship with Christ is paramount for knowing God.
We see what happens when people know the scriptures but don’t know God.
Those who have not personally received or allowed themselves to accept the love or grace of God – His perfect love which casts out fear – often turn the Bible into a rule book, culture into command, and blessings into burdens.
Because they still view God as a system.
Put in the coin of obedience (perfect performance in the flesh), and out will come the favor of God.
This is a fear-based system.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear [einvolves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.1 John 4:18
But what is true obedience to God? Believing in the One He has sent.
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”John 6:29
The will of God is that we would believe and walk in Love, which can only be done by the power of Jesus and leading of the Spirit, and not by our striving to adhere to our Christian checklists, even if those checklists are supposedly “Bible-based”.
All that to say, the scriptures are truly invaluable and precious. Jesus Himself quoted the scriptures. But notice those to whom He often did so: The Pharisees, who prided themselves in scriptural knowledge, and Satan, who tried to twist scripture to be used against the will and purpose of God.
But to the “common” man and woman, Jesus often actually expounded on – and showed the limitations of – the scriptures. He didn’t just say “it is written”. He said “You have heard that it was written, but I say to you, _____.”
I think Jesus was making a point.
The scriptures (which include the Mosaic Law) serve as a guide and tutor – pointing to truth – but they aren’t the way to life, and they aren’t ultimately capable of helping a person to walk in love.
Only Jesus can help a person to walk in love.
Jesus was showing people that they could dutifully attempt to keep all the commandments and rules of scripture, and yet they would still fall short.
Jesus was showing people that what they really needed in order to be pleasing to God was something they did not possess – in themselves or in the scriptures.
What they needed was Him.
Pure Truth and Pure Love, living in them.
Copying and pasting the Law into their own lives through the efforts of their flesh just created a poor imitation of Truth and Love, at best.
They needed the Source, not a system, to save them, and Jesus came to show them that and to be that Source of life, love, and truth living within them and us.
But it’s difficult to put the scriptures in their rightful place if they’re all we have for knowing about God. If we don’t have and know God Himself. We then elevate the scriptures upon a pedestal and consider them our primary portal to God.
But Jesus is the portal.
2. We Can’t Convince Others of the Truth or of Their Need For Salvation.
Now, I’m not saying we can’t share the gospel.
But convincing and persuading others with clever “reasoning” and apologetics is not our prerogative.
Convincing and revealing is God’s domain.
God is not anti-intellectual, but His wisdom surpasses that of the human intellect, and this wisdom and vision must be personally imparted.
He gives wisdom to those who ask.
There are many people today who have heard the gospel message, but do not yet see the truth of Jesus.
Maybe they’re waiting to see the proof of the gospel. The gospel in action. Which is love.
They’ve heard that Jesus died for their sins. And they probably know, to one degree or another, that they have a sin problem (our consciences bear witness to our sin). Maybe they just think that they’re unreachable by love and grace, and the actions and words of Christians seem to confirm that.
And then they are told that if they “get saved”, they then have to shape up.
The further I walk in this Christian life, the more I realize that I have absolutely no power in me to shape up.
In fact, the more I try to shape up, the worse I get.
So I’m finally trying to stop trying.
And I know that when I truly let go, the work of God – His love in me – will shine more brightly. And it will all be attributable to Him, because I clearly cannot attribute any of that light to my own willpower or efforts.
So if unbelievers are told that they need to “shape up” after they get saved, well, if they’re honest people, they’re going to realize that they can’t do this, and they might see the Christian walk as futile and discouraging.
Yes, there is a cost to the Christian life, and it’s good to count that cost.
But that cost isn’t quite “giving up all the stuff you love and choosing a life you hate”, which is what a lot of people think Christianity is all about.
Yes, there is transformation that takes place, and a replacing of many old desires with many new desires (or a tension between the old and the new).
But the major cost in following Christ is: completing the suffering of Christ (Col. 1) (that is to say, suffering in this life), and likely (if not inevitable) ridicule by and alienation from the world. Not from a reclusive avoidance of the world, but sort of being avoided or misunderstood by it.
This suffering and misunderstanding isn’t something we try to ascetically invite into our lives, but I believe its experience is practically inevitable for a child of the Father – for a brother or sister of Christ. There’s just something “weird” about us. Something “alien” that the world can’t quite figure out and finds unsettling.
I’ve experienced this many places, even where I haven’t spoken the name of Christ. It would seem there’s just something alien about me – the power of Christ living within me.
He shines more brightly than our words about Him do, and others see His light. Sometimes they hate it, because light means not only love but judgment and the piercing, all-knowing gaze of Jesus. Light is the fire of God that consumes darkness and death and the hidden things.
I’ve been considered judgmental or unrelatable even when I made attempts to show others I cared about and loved them.
I’ve felt alone many times – even among the dear family of God. (After all, Jesus was abandoned by His beloved disciples!) This, too, is the cost of following Christ: loneliness, even at times among spiritual family.
Anyway, I digress, as I am wont to do.
My point is this:
It is God who opens eyes. Apart from His timing, prerogative, and gift of sight, there can be no vision of His truth, and there can be no wisdom.
Therefore, there’s no use or good purpose in laughing at the one who does not see, or in calling them an idiot. That only feeds self-righteousness (“I get it and you don’t.”).
If we think that our knowledge and acceptance of God’s truth is attributable to our piety or superiority, a renewed appreciation of our former blindness is in order.
God reveals Himself to people in His time. Just as He will reveal – and is revealing – Himself to Israel after a time of partial blindness (Rom. 11), so He can do the same for the “atheist” or “agnostic”. Like the Gentiles toward the Jews, believers must not become conceited towards atheists who are presently blinded to the Truth. We could easily have been in the same boat.
One does not, of their own fleshly vision, willpower, or piety, behold the Truth of God.
Therefore, there is no warrant for pride in having seen and come to know God. Only gratitude, and prayer for those who do not yet see.
God is not willing that any should perish, and He died for the sins of the entire world.
We can trust Him to do His work. The work of persuading others of the truth of God is not ours.
Persuasion comes by the wisdom and revelation of God.
Some are gifted as evangelists and may proclaim the gospel to many, but opening eyes and hearts is not their work. Some plant, some water, but God causes the growth.
3. We are Saved Because We Believe, But We Also Believe Because We are Saved.
There is no “special” or “correct” way of coming to Jesus, as long as our focus is Jesus being our salvation.
We all come to Him as best as we know how, but the important part is not what “method” we use to come to Christ, but Who we’re coming to and through (Christ).
It doesn’t matter if we come to the Father through Christ in baptism, confession, etc. The important piece is Who we’re trusting to give us life.
I was watching too many YouTube preachers/speakers this year, and reading too many articles online. I had to detox a bit.
I began to believe that wrong beliefs about baptism and the sacraments are automatically damning beliefs.
But the Lord showed me that if that’s the case, I’m damned too, because I’ve been partially trusting in my performance – having confessed/prayed for salvation “the right way” as reassurance of my salvation.
Where Catholics might point to their sacraments as evidence that they are saved through Jesus, I have pointed to certain words spoken in my prayer, correct repentance, and moments throughout my life of unquestioning belief, etc. as assurance that I took the right steps to be saved through Jesus.
I mean, I’ve trusted in Jesus for salvation, but for so long, I was afraid that if I didn’t complete the “checklist” (confess with your mouth, believe in your heart) perfectly, without any doubt or questioning in my heart at the time of praying, then it might not “take”.
So I was relying on my own performance for salvation, even as I was also trusting in Jesus for salvation.
The truth is, most or all of us do this in one way or another.
We’re always trying to build our own towers of Babel to reach God. We think that our systems (sacraments with special holy water, praying the sinner’s prayer, confessing/believing/repenting the right way) will help us to reach God.
But there is only One who helps us to reach God: Jesus. He is our salvation.
And when we believe, or desire to be baptized because we believe that is the path to salvation through Christ, or confess/repent because we believe that to be the way to acknowledge Jesus, ALL of these things are evidence that God is already at work within us. In other words, we are, in a sense, saved before we know it. Our prayer, confession, desire for baptism, etc. is, in a way, our “waking up” to the work God has already begun.
And once we wake up and behold the Light, like children, we stumble toward the Light. None of us comes perfectly – with perfect faith, perfect baptism, perfect repentance, perfect confession, perfect prayers, etc. But all of us come to the Perfect One, and that’s what matters.
All of these actions (baptism, prayer for salvation, confession, repentance, etc.) center around a desire for Christ.
That is to say, our haphazard, jumbled, imperfect, fleshly, performance-tainted acceptance of Christ still “takes”, because we were already taken by Him anyway. These acknowledgments are evidence that we are His.
This is maybe sort of a clumsy way to say it, but “If you want Jesus, it’s because you already have Him.” and “If you want salvation, it’s because you are saved.”
Seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you if this is true, but I believe this is what He’s been showing me.
4. Sometimes, It’s Okay to Say “No”.
Pleasing everyone doesn’t make you more righteous. It just makes you more popular, respected, or “good” in other humans’ eyes, which isn’t necessarily a positive thing.
5. The Root of Most or All Illness is Wrong Beliefs.
Because wrong beliefs lead to stress.
Here, I don’t specifically mean “beliefs” in the Christian sense, but in the broader sense (though Christianity may intersect).
The breeding ground for disease (pathogens, pollution, genetics, etc.) is always there, but it is stress which literally suffocates the body, depriving it of oxygen – its weapon against cancer and infection.
Wrong beliefs lead to stress, debilitating the body’s neurologically appropriate stress response, and replacing it with an unhealthy, toxic, difficult-to-break fight or flight stress response. In this stress response mode, the body’s cells cannot receive oxygen.
You literally suffocate.
So what’s the solution? To just get rid of all stressors and difficulties in your life?
Unfortunately, this solution is not available on this side of life.
But what makes stressful situations so stressful?
Largely, our wrong beliefs about life and ourselves.
I must be perfect in order to be loved.
Others’ opinions of me matter.
If I don’t produce enough, I am worthless, because I’m supposed to be a “producer, not a consumer!”
I must clean myself up to please God.
I’m responsible for others’ joy.
I am responsible for the outcome of others’ lives.
If I try something and fail, I’m a failure.
If someone calls me a “fool”, “idiot”, or “stupid”, I must be.
I am whatever other people think I am – a machine, a fool, an invalid, an infallible leader.
I have to muster up perfect intellectual belief – free of any intellectual doubt – to be saved.
I must contribute enough to receive love in return.
I must keep up with my cultural or church duties/roles/identity to please God.
(To please Man, yes, maybe, but not to please God.)
What if ___ happens?
What if I die of ___?
My worth is in my:
- children’s behavior/wellbeing/performance
- love and understanding I receive from others
My worth is in:
- the meals I make
- how clean I keep the house
- how many activities I sign up for or lead
I messed up. I must perfectly repent and confess to renew the Lord’s favor.
(The Lord’s favor cannot be unearned, because it was never earned. It is free and unshakable in Christ.)
Someone was unloving to me. I must be unlovable/unloved.
If Man is displeased with me, God must also be displeased.
We often equate the words and evaluations of humans with the perspective and evaluation of God, but we must remember that human flesh has limited vision and often twists the words of God for selfish gain, or heavily leans on certain cultural/contextual scriptures and applies them out of context for personal advantage today.
I had experience a few years ago with a person who leveraged spirituality to their own advantage. Some people know how to make anything that benefits them sound holy or right or scriptural, even if it is disadvantageous or unloving to others. Many church leaders do this. Realize that displeasing men does not always mean displeasing God.
Once we can learn to diminish or extinguish these wrong beliefs and replace them with right beliefs, we may find that formerly stressful situations seem less stressful.
We may feel less fearful when chewed out by the boss.
We may feel less defined by the nasty comment said behind our back.
We may be less embarrassed the next time a family member acts different in public.
We may feel less trapped, alone, worthless, or helpless when others misunderstand or want to use us.
We may cease to fear death.
We may cease to care that we can’t contribute or give or be or do or appear as more.
If we can respond to stressors (like the boss chewing us out or unfair weight/blame being placed upon our shoulders) with right beliefs – which leads to bold actions and healthy responses – I believe we can find the key to healing.
Decreased stress –> Increased cellular oxygen
I’m still working through these beliefs though.
6. It is Not Up to God’s People – Christ’s Bride – to Figure Out When and How the Roman Religiopolitical Exodus Should Transpire.
Earlier this year, I was working on a “Come Out of Her, My people” series (meaning, “leave the Roman Catholic Church / Babylon”). While I did add a category by this same title on my blog, I never ended up publishing any posts from that particular series. I believe it was for the best.
There are indeed people who know and belong to Christ within the Catholic Church. Some, it would seem, are called to stay within her for the time. Earlier this year, I was stressing over so many conundrums and mysteries that I believed I had to understand and act on, or warn people about.
But the Lord has been showing me that life in Him is one of complete rest. That doesn’t mean a painless life, but one free of striving. I see now that even as I was writing a few months ago, urging others to “cease striving”, I was striving myself. I believed I had to perform for God, and prove or almost earn my salvation by not living in fear of Man (and the only way to do or prove that was, theoretically, to speak up and voice every spiritual objection, concern, etc. everywhere). It was my duty to “warn people about the Catholic Church”. (Hm…sounds like there’s a lot of “me” in that perspective.) I’ve come to realize a few things, however:
- The Catholic Church is larger than the Roman Catholic Church, and there are many non-“Roman” Catholics.
- Just as Catholic teaching adds requirements for salvation, so does much Protestant teaching. But salvation boils down to this: the name and work of Jesus, which is proclaimed outside and inside much of the Catholic Church. Nobody gets all the theology right. Nobody is innocent of building those “towers of Babel” to try to reach God. But one thing we all know: the name of Jesus, and that He is our salvation. Many Catholics would agree with this, and this is the only thing that matters, ultimately. The distortions and additions (sacraments, the sinner’s prayer, etc.) that our fleshly brains add mean nothing, and will simply burn up with everything else. They are like hay that we gather, thinking it may help us pile a mound high enough to reach God. But we’re still sitting on the Rock of our salvation, and because of that alone, we’re saved. The hay will just burn up someday.
- Just as our works can’t save us, they also can’t damn us in Christ, even if we’re sort of blindly trying to work to obtain/maintain salvation. In Christ, we are no longer identified by anything we do in the flesh, even if we think we are.
7. When We Encounter Hardship and Suffering, It’s Not Generally (If Ever) From a Fierce Beating by God’s Rod.
The pain of His rod is felt not from His wrath or severity, but from our stubbornness and fierce resistance to the gentle prodding of His staff. He is working on ungluing us from the sticky, familiar, unhealthy mire we’re sitting in, and we are fighting His nudging. The strength of His hand, though gentle and tender, cannot be resisted without a loss and alteration of self. We are wrestling with God, and we get broken in the process.
The Lord wants to lead us to green pastures, but we fear losing what we see. The pain often comes from our fighting, and not His angry thrashing.
Much suffering, however, is merely the natural course of this life, and something that the Lord chooses to allow and not intercept. This is not necessarily a sign of His disfavor, as we have His complete favor in Christ.
In fact, the suffering I’ve experienced, though I am weary of it, has rewarded me with imperishable treasures, the chief of which has been finding greater rest and fellowship in Christ.
Through this pain, the Lord has been removing my sense of self-condemnation (which exacerbated my illness), shame, obligation, human-dependent definition/identity, and self-destructive neuroses.
It has been a gift in disguise. My body may be decaying, but I am not my body. No harm can truly come to me, even though it may feel like harm in this life.
8. The Evidence of Salvation is Not a Perfectly Cleaned Up Life, But a Changed Life.
As long as we are in these bodies, we will struggle with the entanglements and limitations and death wrapped around them.
Sin was condemned in the flesh.
Human flesh and sin are bound together. Until these bodies fall asleep, we will wrestle against the sin and death to which they are bound. But in Christ, we are no longer identified by our flesh. We are identified by Him.
The evidence or “fruit” of salvation is not a lack of struggle, or a perfect cleaning up of the flesh.
It is love, working in spite of our ever-present fleshly baggage.
The evidence of salvation is not the absence of fleshly baggage.
9. “Ride on My Wings.”
This is a message I have received throughout this year, though more explicitly this last month of 2018. I must stop trying to conform to the culture and society’s expectations (expectations which are often, sadly, perpetuated in the Christian world). When I pursue what I was made to do, I will be provided for. When I use the gifts God has given me and stop trying to be somebody else for somebody else – when I seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, in my own, unique way with my own, unique gifting, I will be covered and cared for by Him. This concept is scary to put into practice, yet incredibly freeing. For me, this means seeking to put to use the gifts of music and writing that I’ve been given. That writing may or may not manifest in the form of blogs in the future, but I do believe it must be used for songwriting. The Lord has been giving me song lyrics, which I believe to be confirmation of this.
I don’t know where to start, other than to continue teaching/playing piano and writing and recording songs with my brother. I trust that the Lord will honor my desire – however imperfectly implemented – to follow His will, and will provide for me as He always has. I just need to rest on His wings, do what I know and love, and let Him carry me.
I got a little caught up earlier this month placing my hope in earthly solutions for provision. I was pursuing some work-at-home opportunities, as I can’t work outside the home (except some piano lessons, which is generally pretty sedentary work). And…I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with pursuing work opportunities. But my perspective was wrong, and it was stressing me. I was imagining what things might go wrong in the future if none of these employment paths worked out (loss of a sense of security, loss of necessities and no money, a further decline in my health, further isolation, etc.).
I’ve been striving for much – if not most – of my life to fit into others’ molds. To be and do things that made sense to other people but not for me. It hasn’t worked. The result is always decreased mental and/or physical and/or spiritual health.
What’s more, music often is healing for me. Sometimes I don’t have the breath to sing or the physical balance to play an instrument, but when I can play and sing, it gives me oxygen in more than one sense.
Your prayers for my brother and me as we pursue this musical journey – wherever it leads – would be appreciated. I have often noticed an increase in spiritual attack/oppression when attempting musical things.
As I pursue this work, I know I’ll never create the perfect song, blog, etc., but thankfully that’s not what matters. What matters is Who breathes through my work. The Spirit can breathe and speak through anything and anyone He wishes, regardless of their flaws.
You may not agree with everything I’ve written today, but perhaps the Lord had a small morsel of encouragement for you that He illumined and caused to stand out in an otherwise murky canvas.
Thank you for stopping by and hearing what the Lord has been speaking to me this year.
Merry Christmas, and happy 2019!!