They Hate ( by Carley Evans )


 

Anaclasis – A Haunting Gospel of Malice & Hatred

Anaclasis – A Haunting Gospel of Malice & Hatred (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This morning I realize why I don’t like church. I don’t like church because of the sometimes invisible, sometimes highly visible people inside the building who spout evil rather than good, who obviously hate rather than love. The pain I feel inside church is unimaginable. I used to try to ignore it, deny it, justify it. No more. I fully embrace this pain, this incredible disappointment in people who claim to know who Jesus is. I pause because I know how hard it is not to hate these hypocrites –right back at ya!

 

But, I recall Jesus dies for them, too. His agony on the cross is proportional to the level of their hatred.

 

Who do they hate? So-called Christians in church hate sinners. They hate “the least of these.” And they hate socialists, communists, homosexuals, abortionists, murderers, the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the mentally ill, the homeless, the lost. Oops. In short, they hate themselves.

 

Jonah’s Great Fish ( by Carley Evans )


Prophet Jonah, Russian Orthodox icon from firs...

Prophet Jonah, Russian Orthodox icon from first quarter of 18-th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever wonder what Jonah thought about right before the great fish — the whale — swallowed him whole? Maybe: “How dare my shipmates throw me overboard!” or “Where is God now?” or “I’m going to drown!” or “This creature’s going to eat me!” Do you suppose he was fine with his situation? I doubt it.

I imagine Jonah was filled with fear even though he was resigned to his fate — after all, he knew it was his fault that his shipmates were in danger. His running away from God’s will, from God’s expectations caused the storm that threatened the ship. He’d even told his shipmates to throw him into the sea. Nevertheless, he may have been surprised as he was tossed overboard and as he struck the waters below.

I can’t imagine that he was not afraid as the great fish swam towards him, opening its maul to swallow him. Once inside, Jonah was stuck there for three days and three nights. He was distressed! He was probably depressed, lonely, defeated. After all, he was “banished from [God’s] sight.” (Jonah 2:4, NIV)

Yet, Jonah finds his faith even while inside a fish in the darkness. He prays, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered You, Lord, and my prayer rose to You, to Your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7)

And God “brings [Jonah’s] life up from the pit.” (Jonah 2:6) The great fish vomits Jonah onto dry land at God’s command.

Help us, Lord to face our fears, to believe in Your goodness and to hold fast to our faith even in dire circumstances. Help us to obey You in all things at all times. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

Numbering Days ( by Carley Evans )


“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, KJV)

Wanting to understand what the psalmist means by the exhortation to number my days, I searched the internet. I discovered Noah Millman’s D’var Torah: “Teach Us To Number Our Days” which I recommend you at least skim or speed read, particularly the part about the omer and the counting of days. I can’t begin to explain this practice, but this article adds light to the verse beyond the obvious interpretation — i.e. that we should recognize we are finite and make good use of our time.

Not as Good the Second Time? ( by Carley Evans )


Ever seen a movie you absolutely loved? Of course you have — if you like movies, that is. Ever watch that same movie six months later when it comes out on DVD to discover it’s not as great as you remember? Probably.

The second time around, the movie either bogs down somewhere or clips along at an alarming pace. Moments that were funny the first time aren’t as funny the second time around. Scary happenings are no longer so spooky. And you discover the characters aren’t as fleshed out or engaging as they were the first time you met them.

Happily, this is not true with the Word of God. The second time is better than the first time you discover it. Each time you engage yourself in the Word, you find something new, something you didn’t see before; or something you didn’t fully grasp the first or second or third or even fourth time through. The Word opens up like a blooming flower, each petal more glorious than yesterday’s — a flower that never fades or wilts or dies.

The Word gets better with time.

All Alike ( by Carley Evans )


“Jesus answers, ‘Do you think that these Galileans are worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffer this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you all too perish.'” (Luke 13:2-3, NIV)

Again, here is the gospel in miniature — Jesus answers the age-old question, why do people suffer? with the absolute answer — no, people don’t suffer because they are worse sinners than others. Rather, all alike are sinners and all alike suffer. All perish, unless all repent.

Such an extraordinarily simple message: you are a sinner; you die because of your sin unless you repent. When you repent and accept His gift of salvation through the shedding of His blood, Jesus rescues you from sin. He essentially dies so that you do not.

Father God, thank You again for Your kind mercy. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Heart Movement ( by Carley Evans )


The Lord appoints, says Moses, Bezalel son of Uri, to build the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. He fills Bezalel with His Holy Spirit and “with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every kind of craft to design artistic works in gold, silver and bronze, to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every kind of artistic craft.” (Exodus 35:31-33, HCSB)

On top of God’s Holy Spirit and beyond the skills given, Bezalel’s “heart moves him to come to the work and do it.” (Exodus 36:2)

Thank You Lord for Your indwelling Holy Spirit; thank You for the skills each of Your people are gifted by You; thank You Lord for the hearts moved to do Your Will in this world. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Repairing the World (by Carley Evans)


Watching the film “BEE SEASON”, I hear the father character who is a professor mention Tikkun Olam — a Hebrew phrase meaning ‘repairing the world’ — to his classroom. He describes Tikkun Olam as finding the shards of the broken vessel in which God stored His essence. As the vessel broke, the universe was created in what we often hear referred to as ‘the big bang.’ Now, mankind’s job is to find these shards and so restore the world to its original condition — a place which contains all of the essence of God.

I’ve never heard this phrase — which is not surprising since I am not Jewish and do not know Hebrew.

I’ve never believed mankind is able to repair the world. Social justice, though important, is not the solution to our fundamental problem — sin.

Rather, the ultimate solution comes not from our self-efforts, but from God’s. He plans even before the foundation of this world, the manner in which He will solve its problem. He’ll leave His home — heaven — come into the world as an infant, grow into a man, preach ‘the kingdom of God is near,’ die on a cross carrying the entire weight of the world’s sin, and finally rise in glory from the grave, returning to His home to intercede for His people as long as it takes.

Repairing the world is not our task. Yet, called to love one another, we do.

Thanks God for the paradox — You only can fix the world You made, yet You expect us to participate. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Who Is Going To Hell? (by Carley Evans)


People seem determined to pronounce someone as condemned to the “lake of fire.” Some Christians believe they can see inside a person’s heart by looking at the outside — God says not to judge by appearances — but He also says you can know people by the fruits they produce. So, who is going to hell anyway?

Saul knew the scriptures better than anyone of his day. He persecuted the early church body diligently, fully believing Christians were evil and ‘going to hell.’ Any Christian of that day — looking at Saul from the outside — would have certainly condemned him to the “lake of fire.” But we know, looking backwards in time, that Saul converted to Christianity and now resides in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ, his brother and his God.

An encounter with Jesus along a road made all the difference. And yes, Saul’s appearance changed. His outside began, almost immediately, to reflect the inside transformation.

Nevertheless, God does not call us to condemn one another. Each servant of God stands because of God, because God is fully capable to make His servants stand. And those who deny Him; those who vocally state, “No, Jesus is not the Lord God” or say like a recent commenter “Jesus is a sun god”; these people are those we who call ourselves Christian should pray for. Praying for someone’s salvation is not condemning them to hell; it is inviting their soul to paradise.

Keeping God (by Carley Evans)


Driving by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, I speak — to those in the car with me — of the blessed sacrament displayed in an antechamber to the right of the sanctuary, of how the ‘host’ is never left alone, because Jesus is believed — by many — to be present wholly in the wafer displayed in a gold circle on an intricately carved stand — this wafer having been blessed by a priest and so transformed from bread to body of Christ. And of course, as the actual body of Christ, the ‘host’ may not be left alone because God can’t be left alone in a gold circle on a stand unless the wafer is locked away in a cabinet behind the altar. Volunteers, therefore, sit with the ‘host’ usually for an hour at a time 24/7. I’ve kept watch — yes, as a non-Roman Catholic — while others, usually women, come into the antechamber and fall onto the floor before the ‘host’ to cry or pray or worship the God kept there.

If you are not Roman Catholic and have not been to high mass, then you may not realize the intricacies — the complications of the wafer and the wine becoming the actual body and blood of our Lord. The priest must wipe the chalice of all traces of the wine become blood — the wafer crumbs which are now flesh must be gathered together to be consumed by the priest. Any trace of Jesus must be taken care of, so to speak.

If in your mind, this sounds somewhat ridiculous and even a bit cannibalistic, it is!

However, today as we drive by, I also imagine — quite suddenly — how confining for God to be kept locked in a small cabinet in an antechamber of a building, even a building dedicated to Him. How disturbing to be kept for people to visit for a few minutes or a few hours. And, in my mind, I hear God say, “Sorry you guys, I gotta get outta here!”

God makes tracks! He is never confined.

Casting a Literal Weight (by Carley Evans)


A few days ago, I experienced a literal weight on my chest — no, I’m fairly certain I was not having a heart attack. The weight was a tightness above my rib cage at body mid-line. Uncomfortable, for sure.

Up to that point, my profound disappointment that my daughter’s dream was crushed had been expressed, yet not to anyone other than to her and to myself and to God. I’d certainly spoken of and written of my disappointment, but I’d not released any emotion to any one other than those three — i.e. to my self, to my daughter, and to our Lord. Speaking my disappointment to the Lord is always tricky for me — I admit that I have in the past expressed anger toward God, but this time I have held back. I feel I have no right to be angry with God, not this time! As to whether anyone ever has a right to be angry with God — well, that’s a whole other post, isn’t it?

Yesterday, at work, I spoke to someone I like very much — a fellow Christian and work colleague and friend — about my pain that my daughter’s dream was crushed; and I cried oh so briefly — just a rush of emotion and a slight watering of the eyes. Since then, the weight is lifted from my chest and I no longer feel the same sadness I did the day before.

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, HCSB) “There is no division in the body [of Christ], but that the members should have the same concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25, HCSB)

Thank You, Lord that You understand our need to express pain to one another so that we may pray one for the other. Help us to fully let go of our hurts so that You may heal us completely. In Jesus’ Name, amen.