The Second Commandment – You shall have no other Gods

The second commandment in the long form is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6

So what did the people do at the base of the mountain while they were waiting for Moses? They were bored with the waiting so Aaron took their jewelry and made a calf out of gold. Really? I guess they didn’t know about this commandment because when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets, he threw them down in frustration at these people. I don’t blame him. He is up on some mountain with God, who he can’t really look at. We don’t know how long he is up there and he is without food, water and shelter. I would be ticked too if I came down after listening to God and find these people partying it up with a golden calf.

As I am reading up on the ten commandments, I realize that we cannot just take the commandments at face value. Like this one. Do people think that just because they don’t have some idol or make some idol that they are free and clear? I don’t think so. There is more to this commandment (and all the others) that meet our eyes.

Every time I go to a church, I wonder about the cross that is always at the front of the church. What about all the crosses that are made into jewelry? I, myself, was given a beautiful cross on a necklace and I wear this necklace a lot. But I wonder how much emphasis we are placing on the cross. We all know Jesus died on the cross for us. For me, the cross is a reminder of Jesus being punished and put to death in the most horrific way. To be crucified by the Romans was to be a deterrent to everyone. If you commit a crime, or step out of line, this is how you will pay. I know that if people look at a cross and remember what happened with it, then it is a good reminder. However, when people seem to pray before and kiss the cross, is this crossing the line?

I also wonder about Catholics and their reverence for Mary. There are so many pictures, sculptures, images, etc. of Mary that it is all overwhelming. I know she is a holy woman and what she went through with Jesus is mind boggling. But she was a human woman who obediently served God. I need to ask the Catholics, isn’t Jesus more important than Mary? It feels, to me in my opinion, that Mary is placed over Jesus. That is just wrong. All the rosary beads, which I don’t understand, the figures of the Virgin Mary with pictures, feel like she is being worshipped.

Years ago I was in Rome and was able to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. My ex husband embarrassed me with how he, as a Catholic but not a practicing one, touched everything that was made of gold and cried over all of it. I walked through St. Peter’s thinking, what would Jesus think about all of this? I felt so uncomfortable in this church. The opulence was sickening to me. How many people lived in poverty, while the church was being built and were still expected to tithe to the church to make this church happen? How many people today make do without to tithe to this structure?

Worshipping something other than God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not just limited to what I have talked about but it also means what about career worshipping, money, sports figures, move actors, singers, material items that your neighbor has and you want. The list could go on.

It isn’t just the face value of the actual commandment, you shall have no other gods before me, it is everything leading up to it as well. We are human with desires, wants, needs and we sin. A lot. It kind of has one think that we can’t measure up. You are wrong. That is why God sent Jesus to us. Jesus died for all our sins. His death was enough. It doesn’t mean that we can go on living recklessly without thought. We still need to try and live with love in our hearts for everyone. But we need to place God in our hearts and love Him with everything we have.

Purgatory?

I am now married to a Catholic man. However, he does not attend a Catholic church. His mother and sisters do regularly attend a Catholic church.

I have been confused by the term purgatory and everything that surrounds it. Also, a friend of mine, who was once a Catholic, said to me that the belief in purgatory means that Catholics do not believe that Jesus’ death was good enough.

I looked up the term purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. (from gotquestions.org).

This made me stop and take a step back. All along I thought that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins. I had to research this. I was right. Jesus did pay the penalty for ALL our sins. So are the Catholics saying that we still have to suffer for our sins and that Jesus’ suffering was not enough? How can this be?

Apparently, the Catholics look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:15 for the evidence of purgatory. It is argued that the Catholics have misinterpreted the passage to be the believer passing through flames when it should be the believer’s works passing through flames. The argument is also that Catholics misunderstand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient for all of us.

I had to look up the history of the Catholic church. Now I am even more confused. The Catholic church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The church considers its bishops to be the successors of Jesus’ apostles. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. The Bishop of Rome was appointed by Jesus and he was the sole successor to Saint Peter. This Bishop ministered to the people in Rome. I know Jesus told Saint Peter that he was building His church on a rock.

Well, doesn’t this make one think? The Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christians. The Catholics fail to see that when Jesus died, that was good enough. Is this something that the Catholics failed to see later in time? Did they misunderstand what was said in 1 Corinthians?

It just makes me see how we humans can mess things up. I know the disciples messed up things a lot. They were also filled with doubt even though they were with Jesus. Perhaps the Catholics thought that the people would just party it up if they thought Jesus had paid for their sins. I mean, what would keep them living like good Christians and obeying the church if at the end, they would be saved? Perhaps to keep the people in line, the Bishops decided to tell them all about purgatory. Wouldn’t purgatory scare them into submission? And this is how I can wrap my head around all of this.

Now I have a better understanding of purgatory and the beginning history of the Roman Catholic church. I am not a college graduate. I did not have the privilege of attending college although I am applying now, with my husband’s support and encouragement. I am curious by nature. I also wonder about the Catholics veneration(?) of the Virgin Mary but that is for another blog.

 

You shall have no other Gods before me – The First Commandment

You shall have no other Gods before me. The first commandment. This is the commandment that comes before all the others and lays the foundation for the rest of them.

God had just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God told the Israelites “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3). The Israelites were held captive by the Egyptians for centuries. The Egyptians were unsurpassed by the number of gods they worshiped. The Israelites, unfortunately, with these idols in front of them all the time, started to worship these false gods. In those days, it was acceptable to have a number of gods. It was unheard of to worship only one God. Glory to God alone: soli Deo Gloria.

In order to free the Israelites, God had sent ten mighty plagues to defeat all the deities of Egypt. The magicians to the King of Egypt could not keep up to God. He is the one and only true God. He does not want to share us with anyone else. He wants to have a one on one love relationship with each one of us. There is no room for anything else. He demands it and He is well within his rights. We should be thankful and grateful for all He has done for us.

The Bible teaches us that there is one God in three persons. There is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is God the Son. He is one with the Father. So if God is the only God, why does God speak of other Gods? “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.” (Isa. 45:21).

From all my readings and what I think is anything that we, as humans, turn to. What is it that we love the most or desire the most? It should be God. But a lot of people have become career oriented, money oriented, material oriented.  A false god can be anything that we focus on to the exclusion of God. Some of my readings have even gone so far to say that even sports, recreation, hobby or personal interest can be a false god. During football season, I see people so focused on the games that they ignore everything else. So I get that.

I see too many career oriented people who are just determined to make it up that ladder to the exclusion of everything else. I was married to such an individual and he is also narcissistic. People who think they are in control of their lives and believe that they are above everyone else will have a serious crushing blow dealt to them. We need to ask ourselves what do we love and what do we desire. For me, my husband, my family, friends and pets are everything to me. Until I can get it through my head that God is above even them, I will be sinning on this commandment. I can logically reason that, yes, God is above them but,…

The other thing we need to realize is that we must trust God above all others. We need to place our worries, concerns, stresses, fear and hopes into God’s hands. He alone will help us through each step of our lives. We may trust our loved ones to help us out when we need them but God sees everything and has a plan for us. We can trust God. He will never let us down.

For further reading on the Ten Commandments, I suggest Written in Stone, The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Graham Ryken. Websites: the Ten Commandments, bibleinfo.com, what Christians want to know.

Thou Shalt Not Kill – The Sixth Commandment

The sixth Commandment is thou shalt not kill. Easy. Right? You may not, cannot, should not kill. I am informed that the commandment needs to be interpreted as “thou shalt not murder”.

Well, then I came up with the issue of abortion. As a Christian, I believe that abortion is wrong. As soon as life is conceived, it is not ours to take away. God has determined who does or does not get pregnant.  I went so far as to question the issue about rape or if the mother’s life or the baby’s life is in danger. It should be the mother’s natural instinct to protect the life of her child. God determines who lives and who dies. Again God determines who does or does not get pregnant.

I know this is going to raise the hackles of many women who believe they have the right to determine what they want done with their body. However, as a true Christian, it is not a woman’s right to end a life in her body. It was God’s decision to begin life. He alone knows what is best. As a Christian, we need to willingly submit to God’s will. He sees things we have no knowledge about. And as Christians, a lot of us just can’t submit to His will. We think we know better. We think we have it all figured out. But we don’t. We need to take all things to God in prayer. God doesn’t always answer right away but He does answer. He loves us and He has our back.

Then I wondered about defending oneself against attack or against an attack against their family or home. Yes, this is perfectly acceptable against an evil doer, especially when the intention of the evil doer is to harm or murder. The Bible talks about defending oneself against danger and evil doers. Even Jesus talked to the disciples about selling their cloaks to purchase knives. As long as the defense is sensible and solemn.

I also wondered about the end of life and DNR (do not resuscitate). Doctors make mistakes all the time. This is not an easy issue to deal with and I have been told that every case or situation is different and needs to be looked at individually. I know a person should not be given the choice to end a life but there are so many issues to consider. As Christians, we must remember that life is precious. When a decision needs to be made, we must err on the side of protecting life but this is so difficult. When, we as humans are given the power of deciding to end a life, how far is acceptable before it becomes unacceptable? I know, for myself, I have told my family that if something happens to me and there is no hope for my recovery, I would like for them to take away the machines that are keeping me alive. I would wonder if I am present in my human body, at that point?

Another question I have is what about the death penalty. I know that in the Old Testament, God demanded the death penalty for many crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, bestiality, adultery, homosexuality, being a false prophet, prostitution and rape, and several other crimes (I did not know about some of these). Both God and Jesus did show mercy when capital punishment was due. However, the death penalty is acceptable in God’s eyes, especially when murder is committed.

I know I have raised issues with this blog. These are all my opinions, my thoughts. I am a Christian but this has made me seriously think about the meaning of being a Christian. I do not attend a church because, both my husband and myself, have been turned off by churches on the whole. Too many churches have let themselves become so large that I wonder how anyone can connect with others or the pastor. Too many times, it feels like churches do their best to accommodate people and make them feel good. The Bible has been twisted to accommodate what people want.

Yes, Jesus revolutionized a lot of rules from the Old Testament but He was serious about keeping the laws of God.  He did not sway from the laws. He upheld them. Instead of telling someone they were wrong, He loved them and showed them what it meant to submit to the will of God. That is what we need to do. Submit to God’s will. It is not giving in. It is giving your heart to a God of love and compassion and grace. He will never leave you even if you are uncertain.

 

 

Coexist

The Coexist image is an image created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding and Coexistence. The original version was one of dozens of works displayed as large outdoor posters in Jerusalem in 2001. (From Wikipedia)

I keep seeing this symbol on a number of vehicles as I am driving around. My first thought was, wouldn’t that be nice, but it is unrealistic. I don’t know why that was my first thought. But I do know that living side by side with people who have different ideologies would be difficult.

Let me see if I can explain how I think this way. I am a Christian. I am not a bible thumping, better than you, Christian. Oh boy. I think I have already smashed the coexist thing. I am a Christian with faults. I have sinned and I keep sinning. So I need to pray a lot and ask for forgiveness. A lot. I try very hard to not look at the skin or outward appearance of a person. I truly value a person for their thoughts and actions. I try very hard to love my neighbor and treat others with respect. I know I fall short of that too often. Most of the time, it is unintentional. My brain has a very short attention span and so many times, I finish one thing and I jump full force into the next item on my list so that I forget that I have left someone or something very abruptly.

As a Christian, we are told to be disciples of God and to spread the good word. We are supposed to tell everyone we meet about Jesus and the love of God. I am not sure how well a Muslim would receive that message. Then I don’t know how a Jewish person would receive the news about Jesus. I already know agnostics and atheists have a low opinion of Christians and how our message is received.

Then my brain went a little further and I questioned how many different religions are there in the world? I googled that and the answer came back with 19 major religions which are divided into 270 groups. Could we fit all those religions into coexist?

If we are to coexist with our different ideologies and religions, how would we be governed? Who would decide the laws and rules of the land? I mean even as Christians there are different groups. We have the Catholics, who started it all. Then the Lutherans broke off from the Catholics because they didn’t agree with their rules. Then we have Protestants, Baptists, Methodists and so on. Right now, there is bickering going on between these groups. We also know how many horrific wars have been fought because of religion. When one sect doesn’t agree with the other, there are battles fought in the most horrible of ways. So I would like to know how it would work to coexist.

Some times, my brain works in strange ways. I will go and coexist with my cats, dogs and horse. At least they know I am the boss. Or do they let me think that?

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are also known as the Decalogue. From what I remember in the Bible, they are rules God gave to Moses and they were printed on stone tablets. Moses was supposed to deliver these commandments to the Israelites when he left Mount Sinai. I also seem to remember that when Moses came down from the mountain, he threw the stone tablets to the ground and broke them because the people had gotten out of control, bored and, quite honestly, stupid by making themselves idols. Honestly!

I didn’t know the ten commandments were also known as the decalogue. So I looked up the definition of decalogue and found “In decalogue the root deca- is combined with logos, Greek for “word”. In the Biblical book of Exodus, the original Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, was handed to Moses by God atop Mount Sinai.” We know that the ten commandments were found in the books of Exodus and in Deuteronomy.

I belong to a number of different Christian groups like Christian Readers and the Christian Theological/Philosophical Book Club  on Goodreads. There are a number of discussions going on led by very well read, intelligent people who discuss a great number of issues.  The discussions that these people have are way beyond what I know from the bible. But I love to read the discussions. One of the topics was on the ten commandments and are you living them or can you live them.

When I researched articles on the ten commandments, the first thing I found that was interesting, was the concept that most people think that everything starts fresh in the New Testament. But that can’t be right. Since Jesus was a Jew and the apostles were all Jews, then one would have to assume that all the old traditions and habits would continue. It was the translators who divided the Old Testament from the New Testament (and this was not something that I knew). So one would have to assume that everything from the Old Testament would carry through into the New Testament. There is nothing in the New Testament that says the commandments are no longer valid or that even one of the commandments are no longer valid.

If you look closely at the New Testament, you will find the ten commandments in various verses and books. The ten commandments are not listed all together in one book, as in the Old Testament, but they are spread around throughout many books. Jesus reminds us that He did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but He came to fulfill the laws.

The commandments were made by a God who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. He knows us. He knows how stubborn, silly, out of control and just plain stupid we can be. We think we can govern ourselves and control our destinies. But that just isn’t true. God knows exactly His plans for us. And we should be comforted by that.

The ten commandments are pretty awesome. I noticed quite a few blogs from people who have explained the commandments in simple terms. I think I will read up on those blogs and go through each commandment on my blog. I hope I will raise different perspectives and get people to think about the ten commandments. God never intended for us to forget about the commandments. They should be a part of our daily lives if we truly believe ourselves to be Christians.

 

 

Having It All

Today’s discussion on K-Love Radio was about having it all. Having it all meant so many different things to different people. I listened for a while and then thoughts went to – what does it mean for me to have it all?

I immediately thought of my children and grandchildren. I want them to have healthy lives. I wish for them to have safe and loving relationships where they talk and listen to each other. Relationships should be a matter of compromise. Something that will work for both people. Not where one person is giving in to the other just to keep peace. Soon that person will resent the situation and wonder, will there ever be a compromise?

I thought of my husband. He is a truly good and loving man. He has quite the past. He was never without a girlfriend for any length of time. I sometimes wonder what sets me apart from all the others. Why is it special this time? When a woman is married to a truly handsome man, all she sees are her shortcomings. But I have to let that go. It isn’t easy, though, when I have gone through cancer and my body is now slowly healing itself. I have fallen head over heels in love with this man. He means everything to me.

Lastly I thought of Jesus and praying. I wish I could get it right. What is the right way to pray? Can I be sitting or do I have to kneel on the floor? My poor knees aren’t happy about kneeling. And how do I know when Jesus has heard me? There are a number of things I am praying for and this patience thing is for the birds. I want things fixed now. I know it has to happen in God’s time. He knows best. But there are times when I have said to God, I can’t handle any more. I just can’t. I don’t want to.

What would having it all mean to you? For me, seeing my children and grandchildren safe and healthy and in loving relationships. To be happy and content with my husband, knowing and trusting how much he loves me. And to know that I am a child of God. That nothing will happen to me that He and I can’t handle. Then I would have it all.

At the Breaking Point

I think after all the decisions and events I have gone through since January, I seriously need time away. Let me think what has gone on in my life since the beginning of the year.

I have found this truly wonderful man who lived a fair distance from me. I made the decision to move closer to him as I was tired of the constant commute every weekend. It was also time to strike out on my own without my youngest daughter. But not only did I have to find a house for me, I needed to find a good barn for my horse.

The barn and then the house was found. Then this truly wonderful man decided to propose to me and move into this new house with me. Our wedding date was set for June 24th. Of this year. Wedding preparations. We decided to keep our wedding small but still, wedding preparations.

Then my oldest daughter got engaged. Wonderful! Fantastic. Except she announced that her wedding would be May 21. Of this year. Before my wedding. In Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She announced this to me after I had registered for a writer’s conference that was to begin May 21 and go until May 25.

Oh, and my son called to announce his graduations. Yes, two graduations. One on May 27 from his MBa program and the other one on June 11 from law school. I could only make one graduation, I told him. I asked him to ask his father which one he would be going to and I would go to the other one. Only my son called to let me know that his father would attend both. I picked May 27th.

I kept thinking, I will first concentrate on moving my horse to her new barn. That happened in April. Then concentrate on moving into the new house. That happened one week after I had my horse settled. Next I would concentrate on my daughter’s wedding and the travel to the wedding.

My daughter’s wedding was beautiful. It was rainy and cool that weekend but the wedding was beautiful and my daughter was gorgeous. My daughter and her husband are more or less settled, considering the fact that he is in South Sudan on a contract with Unicef until March of 2018. My daughter has chosen to stay in Canada for a while. We will see how long she can tolerate being apart from her new husband.

Next was the writer’s conference. Travelled there and back home in time to catch a flight to my son’s graduation. The graduation and time spent with my son and his wife was fantastic. We weren’t rushed or overwhelmed. Just spent time with my son and his wife.

Now I am back home and can finalize the details of my wedding. Air plane tickets have been purchased for my oldest daughter, my son and his wife. We have places for them all to stay and I am looking forward to the short time I can spend with them.

My fiancé and I are not going on a honeymoon right after our wedding. That can wait until later in the year. But July can’t come soon enough. If my youngest daughter announces her engagement, a wedding in the year 2020 sounds good to me.

Words of Encouragement

My son is busy studying for his bar exam. It isn’t until July but he, and his friends from law school, are all studying and have worried expressions.

I know my son will do well. This is his dream. This is his goal. He is studying eight hours every day. I have chosen to support him and send him words of encouragement every day. I do pity his wife who will have to be mindful of his stress and worry and fear. Fortunately, she has a full time job so she can stay out of the house nine to ten hours Monday through Friday. Hopefully, my son will take a breath and not study when his wife is home.

I will enjoy looking up quotes of encouragement for him. I will try to remember to include them on my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. For all those students who are busy studying for whatever upcoming exam – I wish you well. Remember to eat well, get your sleep, exercise and let yourself take some time off to breathe. I wish you well.

Fresh Beginnings

 

This is my fiance, Bill. The love of my life. My new beginning. A fresh start. Someone I will spend the rest of my life with. The man I will grow old with – okay, so we are already old but I want to grow older with him.

I separated in August of 2013 from my first husband. Our divorce became final in August of 2016. I met Bill in September of 2016. After many rough online dating scams and really not wonderful dates, I found Bill. I have heard from a number of young people how successful they were with the online dating thing. But not me. It seemed like there was a target attached to my picture and I seemed to attract all the eastern European con artists who just wanted to love me, never meet me, empty my wallet and run for their coffee shops.

I met Bill through It’s Just Lunch. They interviewed me, asked me how far I was willing to drive. Being from Canada and making twice yearly drives up to Ontario, I told them a 2 to 3 hour drive was not a problem.

It’s Just Lunch makes arrangements for you to meet your date for either lunch or dinner. You meet and the two of you decide if you want to continue meeting or not. They made arrangements for me to meet Bill in Charlotte at Dean and DeLucca for lunch on a Saturday. At the time, I did not know that I was supplied with a picture of Bill, He was not supplied with a picture of me.

Unfortunately, I had been suffering with an inner ear infection and when Saturday rolled around, I just was not feeling well. I was still feeling dizzy and thought that making a 2 hour car drive was not something I was up to. I called the It’s Just Lunch office but no one is there on a Saturday. I called Dean and DeLucca and left a voice message. Apparently Bill never got the message.

I called It’s Just Lunch on Monday and apologized profusely. They asked me if I would still like to meet Bill. I said I would. They told me they would call him and see if he felt the same way and then would call back. They called back to say we would meet the following Saturday.

To this day, Bill reminds me of how I stood him up. He wandered Dean and DeLucca for an hour. He kept watching all the women who came into the cafeteria area. But a lot of them were with someone else or were just shopping. He couldn’t approach any of them as he didn’t know what I looked like. He told me no woman had ever stood him up. He had to meet the one and only woman who had dared to stand him up. I am pretty proud of that.

We both have hurtful pasts but we support each other. We laugh together and do silly things together. We enjoy the same type of music. We enjoy the same types of activities. We enjoy each other’s company. And we are head over heels in love with each other. We are building a new house together. We will be getting married on June 24th. That will be the happiest day of my life. Even at my age, one can find love. Real love. A lasting love. I want to spend the rest of my life with this man and I can hardly wait.