God’s Calling Card – Heavenly Hints this Thanksgiving Day

It’s no secret about my love for the holidays, there is a feeling that comes around once a year. You can sense it with the music, the laughter, the smells, the overall more generous tendency. Like Andy Williams said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s the hap-happiest season of all.” The holidays for me are like a home calling card, a heavenly hint. We are the only species that experience this.

Me and my husband were in the living room watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and our dog decided to get out of bed and join us in the living room. When she came down the hallway to the tune of pitter-patter on the laminate floor, we exuberantly exclaimed, “Happy Thanksgiving Sadie!” We love our dogs as you can tell. They really are a part of the family. Then my husband said sensitively as he patted her head, “This is just another day to you, isn’t it?” It is the truth, Sadie doesn’t experience that nostalgia, or longing the way we do. God placed in us something exceptional. He made us in his image.

After watching a bit of the parade, I decided to go for a jog in our neighborhood before I digest a weeks worth of calories. As I walked, taking in God’s beautiful creation, I  began to give thanks for all his bountiful blessings, I became overwhelmed with that home calling card.  I usually take my walks around this time everyday, but today was different. As I walked down the streets, there were kids riding their bikes, laughing and playing; adults waving, and wishing me Happy Thanksgiving, families in their driveways playing games.  I could feel my eyes welling up with tears; the heavenly calling card was giving me a ring. I thought to myself,  this is what we long for, this is what we hope for. We long for unity, genuine goodness, unconditional love, togetherness, no more division, no more discord, no more dysfunction, no more derision.  The beauty and the longing are not IN THE holidays themselves, or the music, or the smells or the feelings, it just coming THROUGH it. It’s a calling card to home! The beauty is in Christ. The oneness is in Him! The harmony that we long for is in Jesus. He is the source.

As you go about your Thanksgiving today, take notice of the heavenly hints,  God’s calling card and give thanks for He loves you with an everlasting love!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Johanna

“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” C.S. Lewis

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Loving Your Neighbor in the Public Square

I have never understood when a person says they aren’t political or they don’t care about politics. I have seen so many times people turning a deaf ear to anything having to do with current affairs. They just can’t be bothered with any of that. How can they not see that by not caring they are literally giving up their rights and freedoms by just not doing anything at all. They are in a sense handing over their lives to the state. The corrupt group are hoping that more and more people won’t care that much or won’t want to be educated on history and our constitution and our roll as “we the people.”

I was talking with a friend and she said “they are all corrupt, I don’t care anything about politics. All politics are corrupt.” My first thought was this is exactly what the corrupt would have you believe, so you will just go on with your life so THEY can take over your life. My second thought was how do you know it’s all corrupt? What do you mean it’s all corrupt? I believe there is corruption most definitely, but I also believe there are people in political office that are sincerely wanting to uphold the rights of the people and do the right thing. Let’s say that even if every person in  political office were corrupt, does that give them the right to take over my life? Do I just resign myself?

Our founding fathers knew all too well about what too much power could do and that corruption is inevitable in fallen man. They knew we needed a checks and balance system. No one man or group of people should have too much power. Everyone should be held accountable.

So my next question is, if you don’t care about politics, you must not care about life, about liberty, and about the pursuit of happiness. These three things are our natural rights given by our creator. You cannot say you care about those rights if you say you don’t care about politics and don’t vote and simply want to hide under a rock. By taking this stance, you are in contradiction and quite frankly disingenuous.

This is exactly how the nazis took over Germany. The people didn’t speak up, they let it happen by their silence. I hate to say it but they played a part in the Nazi take over. Martin Luther King Jr. said,

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

We the people, have a voice and we can use it or we can abuse it or we can even worse, be silent!

This brings me to the church. I am appalled at how many Christians don’t vote. Think of the impact and the good that Christians could do if they pulled their heads out of the sand, and got involved in the public square. The argument I hear is that these matters are not what we should be worried about, we just need to be worried about the Kingdom of God, and souls being saved. Of course this is our priority, but this does not mean that we ignore the things that are happening here on earth. How can you not speak out about millions of lives being killed through abortion? How can you not speak out against religious liberty being taken away. It matters very much who gets in office. Yes God is in control ultimately, but God doesn’t ask us to be irresponsible. God uses us as a vessel, we need to make ourselves available and ready to speak for the things that God cares about. What if those that spoke out and broke the chains of slavery said oh I can’t be bothered with that?

If there is outright evil acts going on, is it not the right thing to speak out, to make my voice known. Oh I hear, well what can just one voice do? For as many times as I have heard that, and if those people decided to be proactive, that one voice turns into multiple voices really fast! On a side note, who are you to say that your voice won’t make a difference!? God has used one voice many times throughout history to make huge impacts. More and more our liberties are being taken away, we can’t afford to be silent.

I plead especially with Christians, if you truly love and care about your neighbor as we are instructed to do, please think about the importance of your voice and take action. This does not mean you have to run for office, but maybe that might be your call. We need more Christians in the local offices and in the school boards, but even if this is not what your called to do, we are ALL called to love our neighbor and loving our neighbor includes helping to protect their life and liberty. If you saw someone stealing from your neighbor, would you not immediately speak out? Well the government is stealing from you and your neighbor, so what are you going to do go back inside your house, bake a pie and take it to your neighbor?

Please don’t turn a deaf ear!

 

Prayerfully,

Johanna

 

A Conversation With a Friend- Religion and Spirituality

The word religion is not a popular one today. It seems many people look at it with a negative connotation. Even Christians want to steer away from using the word, saying things like, “it’s a relationship not religion.” There was a video that went viral a few years ago called by Jefferson Bethke called, “Why I hate religion, but love Jesus. I have even found myself trying to avoid that word when speaking of Jesus or Christianity. I hear people say, “she/he is very religious” another phrase I hear a lot is, “I am not religious, I am spiritual.

I had lunch with a good friend. We got into this conversation. She said she saw herself as spiritual but not religious. I asked, “what does that mean to you?” I really genuinely wanted to know because I myself did not know what that really meant to her. She said, “well religion had a negative association, and she felt “religious” meant rigid and set in their ways not willing to budge. This was a paraphrase from what I recall. Anyway she saw it as strict and unwavering. She also said she did not agree with being held to a man-made set of beliefs written out and using that as your only guide, and she mentioned the Bible. She did not like “organized religion.” I hear that term “organized” and never understood it. If you don’t like religion just say you don’t like religion. Why put the organized part in front of it? It sounds like you might consider chaotic or random religion.

My dad asked me the day before I met with my friend, “How do you keep from worshiping the Bible instead of the God of the Bible?” I thought for a minute, and I said, “prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to search my heart and worship in spirit and in truth. I mentioned this to my friend. A side note, my friend grew up in a very legalistic, religious home, they attended a church that is considered now to be a cult. She even admitted to having deep emotional ties to the topic and even having a distorted view of these things. Can you blame her?

So Back to the story, I told her it’s about spirit and truth. My view of when people say they are spiritual is they are really attracted to the spirit side, which is where longing and desire resides. We all have this deep within our spirits. We have a need to understand our origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. These questions as Ravi Zacharias  says, will have to be answered at some point in our lives. Our spirit longs for these things to be answered. Worship in spirit is only part of the equation, the other essential part is truth. I expressed to my friend to ask herself what she truly believes, and if what she believes is true.  It’s only rational to test our belief systems. She in essence said well, we can’t really know, because our perspectives are all skewed based on our experiences and our emotional attachments. I have heard this argument before, that we can’t know for sure. This doesn’t add up, I told her if we can’t know or if it is not possible, we should have never found out that it was impossible, we should just exist. CS Lewis said, “If the universe has no meaning, we should have never found out that it has no meaning. We humans have something different in us than every other species. We need the questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny answered. This is essential in our human need. She is right when she says our experience and emotion can take over and lead us but I don’t think it’s impossible to see through it. I believe the Holy Spirit can knock the lenses right out of our glasses so we can see the truth. When we are really open to finding the truth and seeking the truth genuinely, I believe God honors that. “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.” At the end of the day, if someone asked me are you religious or spiritual, I would say both. Religion is simply a system of beliefs that we adhere to make our decisions on origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. I definitely think we are made for an organized system, because our origin is organized, our meaning and morality is organized and our destiny is organized. We aren’t made for randomness. The only organized set of beliefs that seem to answer these questions rationally, logically and experiential is Christianity. So am I religious? Sure. Am I spiritual? You bet. I am a spirit. This body is wasting away but my spirit is being renewed daily and preparing for eternity. My spirituality is how I commune with God. It is where my deepest longings and desires are. It’s how I can have a thriving relationship with Jesus.

What are your thoughts on this? I would love to know how you would respond in this context.

Blessings,

Johanna