The Unseen and Human Biology

I decided to write on this topic as a form of just collecting my thoughts on a topic that is controversial for many. It is the topic of the spiritual realm and what we humans do not see with our eyes. It is the topic of Satan and demons. It is topic of how do these spiritual things we cannot see with our eyes affect our lives. I am far from an expert on this topic and in all honesty I never wish to be an expert of this topic. I would rather know, understanding and experience The Holy Spirit, Jesus and God the father rather than Satan and demons. But completely avoiding the topic is also unwise.

I have meet many people that do not really believe in spiritual beings. The American culture has made Satan out to be a guy wearing horns and carrying a pitch fork. We have entertainment that depicts demons as human like beings who are cleaver, bad ass but also have a certain appeal to them. These images and ideas often shape how we define Satan and demons. We have people who dress up as Satan or demons for Halloween. It makes the idea of the existence of Satan like the existence of a fairytale. It is a story we tell ourselves but is not real. I have meet people who believe in God but do not believe in Satan. I find this interesting.

But similarly I have experience the opposite end of the spectrum. As someone who has struggles with a mental illness that at times affects my behavior, personality and thinking I have been told things by well meaning Christians that implied they thought I was demon possessed or oppressed. As someone who when I am healthy often suffers from a tremor people sometimes take this medical issue and put spiritual things on it. As a doctor with medical training who understands the reason for my symptoms has a very real physical component and explanation people referring to my symptoms as demonic or need of deliverance is hurtful. But then I also understand the opposite end of the spectrum where we have numerous stories in the gospels where Jesus healed a person who was showing signs of personality changes and mental illness. These accounts say the person was demon possessed.

I do not feel like I have a absolute answer to all of these questions but this is what I have come to terms with. Is it correct? I do not know but it has helped me make sense of some of these question. I absolutely believe there is a spiritual realm that we cannot see. I absolutely believe that Satan and demons do exist and are working in this spiritual realm opposing God and his will for us his children. I also believe that we humans have very real physical conditions that are treated with modern medications and therapies. That these issues are intrinsic to our bodies and a result of our fallen world. But I also believe Satan and demons are very smart and cleaver and they know what these intrinsic physical issues are.

I like to think of it as if you have someone you are trying to hinder. Someone you are trying to prevent from being who and what God wants them to be. And you also know there greatest weakness. You know that the easiest way to prevent a person from doing God’s work would be to attack that weakness then wouldn’t you use that knowledge to your advantage? I think this is how Satan and demons work through our own biology and our own unique weakness to bring about havoc.

So for me I believe my mental illness is real. I believe there is a real physical component in my body that needs medication and therapy. I believe that one of the greatest things I can do is to work to keep this illness at bay so that I can serve the lord. But I also believe the spiritual realm is very aware of this weakness of mine and knows the fastest way to preventing me from living the life I should would be to target that weakness. I believe there is a very real physical component, emotional component and spiritual component to many of the illnesses we experience as humans. This is why I believe all illness needs prayer and God’s word. For I believe Satan likes to work through our biology

We Are An Adulterous People

Have you ever known someone whom you give gift after gift. You provide for there needs. You give and give yet they never turn their eyes to you in thanks. They never acknowledge the gifts you have given them. They never show you respect for the sacrifices you have made on there behalf. Or maybe you have had a lover who was unfaithful. You gave them all your love and devotion yet they give none of it in return. Or maybe you have had a child who like all children is selfish. They do not think of anyone other than themselves.

I think we have all known or been involved with a relationship that has some of these characteristics. It pains us. It torments our hearts. The more you care for the individual the more there lack of return in affections hurts. The more you give them and sacrifice for them the more you are left desolate from no one poring into you in return. In the Old Testament there is a book called Hosea. Hosea was a prophet who God instructed to marry a prostitute. Hosea’s wife bore him children but was not faithful to him. God was showing the prophet Hosea how his people were being unfaithful to him. God had given Israel prosperity. He had provided all these wonderful gifts and instead of acknowledging God’s provision and gifts. Instead of worshiping God and praising him. The country of Israel worship other Gods and idols. They forgot about the giver of their prosperity.

So often we are just like Israel and just like the prophet Hosea’s wife. Everything we own, all our provisions, all the blessings in our lives, any good health we have, any food on our table, all of it is from the Lord. He is the ultimate provider of all good things in our lives. Yet how often do we fail to acknowledge the giver of these gifts. How often do we give thanks to our own skills and hard work rather than acknowledge the giver of those gifts in the first place. How often we get caught up in worshiping our TV rather than our father and provider in heaven. Oh how our sin is so ugly. In book of Hosea God was harsh and wrathful on the nation of Israel. But there was also a promise of mercy if the people would turn from their sinful ways repent, acknowledge the giver of all and praise the one true God rather than the other false idols they had created.

So for us today there is hope for us yet. We are in a time when many people are struggling from loss of income. Many are struggling with health concerns. Many are struggling with fear and uncertainty. But in the midst of these trails we can still turn our eyes to God. We can still thank him, worship him and praise him for the provision he is providing. We can still ask for forgiveness for the times we have failed to acknowledge him as the ultimate provider of all good gifts. We can still receive him mercy. So would you join me today and thanking your Heavenly Father for the many good things he had given you. Amen.

The Escape Artist and The Teddy Bear

For a dog that cannot see well, my dog Itsy is the queen bee when it comes to escaping. I cannot seem to figure out how to keep her inside the fence. How is she able to find all the tiny holes when she can hardly see enough to walk in a straight line? All she does is turn in circles except when she seems to be escaping. It is quite the mystery. I think she should have been a cat rather than a dog. But the one good thing is all the neighbors seem to adore her. So at least there is that. She is using her escape skill to make new friends. They all seem to adore her as do I. At least my other dog seems to prefer to follow me around like a love sick puppy rather than escaping to meet all the neighbors. I don’t have to worry about him so much because the only time he lets me out of his sight is when he chasing a squirrel. He is a loyal little teddy bear. I wish I was the one to name him because that’s what I would have named him, Teddy. He is so soft and snuggly. So I guess I have 2 dogs but one is an actual dog and the other is a cat in a dogs body. These two little things do provide some fun entertainment.

We as humans all have very different personalities, quirks, skills, and interests. We are all so unique. Just like my 2 little dogs are so unique and different. I think God made us this way because he finds joy in our diversity. I think he finds joy in his creations all being unique and different. It is rather beautiful. Similarly we all have different ways of expressing our love, worship and devotion to God. For God knows our hearts, minds and intentions. He knows when we sleep and when we rise. He knows way more about each of us than we even know about ourselves. I think God cares way more about our heart and intent behind our actions, praise and worship than how good it sounds or how good it looks. We humans judge based on a number of things that do not even really matter but God judges based on the heart. For pure worship and devotion comes from a heart submitted, obedient and reverent to the Lord on High. Psalms 51 has been a passage of scripture that has spoke to me for a number of years. For it is a reminder of how we as humans allow God to creat in us a pure heart so that our worships and devotion to him is pure. For when we come to God in humility and ask for him to wash us of our sins through the blood of Jesus we are able to then receive God’s strength and renewal of our spirits. It is through this process our hearts are transformed. Much like the kneading of dough until it is all leavened. God through his spirit kneads our hearts until is is all leavened. The result is a heart devoted to our Lord. And what a beautiful sight this is to see. So I pray that God would work in each of our heart, kneading our hearts to creat in us a heart devoted to him so that our worship would be pure. Amen.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalms 51:1-12

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:8-13

Oh how we are all criminals, law breakers and sinners. For none of us are capable of keeping the law. It makes me incredibly grateful that God is so merciful. Through Jesus he withholds his punishment from us. Sometimes while reading the Old Testament it is hard to see God’s mercy. When reading through the prophetic writings it often sounds like God is a wrathful, all powerful God who brings judgement and allows suffering in order to bring his children back to him. Similarly in our own lives when we struggle or go through rough times it can feel like God’s judgement is coming down on you. God is just, he hates sin and thus judges all of humanity. This is part of God’s character. But God is also love and mercy.

In the Old Testament it is sometimes hard to see God’s love and mercy. It is there but ultimately Jesus coming to this earth was the ultimate display of his love and mercy. It is gift God wishes to be extended to all of humanity. This scripture reminds me once again that we are through God’s strength to attempt to keep his laws and commands. We are called to live Holy lives. But we have to realize we will fail. We all fail. I am incredibly thankful for God’s mercy. It is because of God’s mercy given to me a sinner that I attempt to not judge others and be merciful to others. I like to say I am not the judge. Because it is the truth. I am not the judge. Thus I do my best to show mercy even when I struggle inside myself to judge others or lash out to retaliate when someone has done something to upset me. Do I fail. Absolutely and I am grateful for God’s withholding his punishment each time I fail.

Do you see God as a merciful God? Are you attempting to show mercy to others? God is perfectly capable of disciplining his children and carrying out his judgements without our assistance. For he knows far more about each of us, our lives and the state of our hearts than we even know ourselves. That being said there is a difference between judging people and holding people accountable with love. It is possible to show mercy to others but also hold them accountable in love and kindness.

Those Dollar Bills

For whatever reason the topic of tithing has come up on several occasions recently. Since it kept coming up I decided to take some time to think about the topic of tithing. If there was ever a touchy subject it would involve money. So much of our lives in centered around money. We humans fight over it. We worry about it. We horde it to save for the future. Many of us love money and idolize wealth. Similar God has a lot to say about money. It is discussed many times in the Old Testament and New Testament. Money is a issue for us all. For we cannot escape the topic.

Traditionally tithing is the act of giving 10% of our income to God, ie the body of Christ. There are numerous scriptures in the Bible that discuss giving 10% of our income to the church. This has brought the question in me of why? Why do we tithe? Well obviously the church needs money to be able to do God’s work and they have to be able to get money somehow. That is the obvious answer but I believe tithing goes much deeper than just giving money to the church because they need it. For tithing is not just a gift to the church it is a gift to us the givers.

My 2 little dogs like bones. They chew on them. They attempt to bury them. They hide them for later use. The bone is there treasure. Similar they dislike sharing the bone. But what if my dog Coco decided to bring the bone to me. What if he entrusted me to keep the bone for him. He would be acting in faith that I would be a good care taker, user and keeper of his bone. I would like to think this is what tithing is for us. By giving 10% of our income we are saying God I trust you. It is an act of faith that despite the loss of that 10% he will provide the means for our survival. It is an act of submission to God our lord. It is an act of obedience. And I would go as far to say if you are not willing to give 10% of your income to the church that you are worshiping money rather than God. For tithing is a act we take to show our worship is to God rather than money.

So to me tithing is not really about the money. It is about trust, faith and submission to God. It is a simple act with big consequences and it is not just about giving money because the church needs it. It is just as much about the state of our hearts and souls as it is about the money. Are you tithing? If not I question your faith.

The Church Is Not a Building

As much as I am saddened by the effects of this pandemic on the world I have to say I am excited to see people more vocal about the church not being a building. I guess this has been a pet peeve of mine for many many years. The rebel in me has been ranting to people for years about the church not being a building. I think I gave a 15 min speech to one of my doctors and fellow patients during a group therapy session while in a mental institution on this topic. It was rather animated speech although I was in a mental institution at the time so there was that but all the same. The church is the people. We are the church. Never has that been more evident then right now where the church is finding new ways to connect, gather electronically and teach through different media. It makes my heart leap inside. I guess we are being connected through electronic virtual means rather than a physical building. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit inside us that connects us despite our location.

I did not grow up going to a traditional church. I used to say the gymnastics gym I trained was my church because it was the only source of Christian fellowship, worship and teaching I had access. After graduating from high school I started attending church regularly. I attended regularly until several years ago. I went 3 years where I only went to the church building less than a handful of times. There were a number of reasons for this. But the short answer is going to church was causing me anxiety, panic attacks, was overall stressful and I was getting nothing positive out of the experience. I was exhausted and in prayer I felt like the lord reminded me that what was most important in this season was for me to rest in him. I had few days off from work so I took my sabbath at home. Although I did not attend the church building I would not say I was not a part of the body of Christ. For Jesus said…

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

Through my 3 years of not attending church it made me do a lot of soul searching regarding the meaning of church, why we go to church and why we should attend. I had to do a lot of prayer and thinking about the topic. Why should I go to church when I have other means of fellowshipping, serving, worshiping, learning, etc? If I can listen to sermon online why go to a physical building? Of course right now we all have a mandate to stay home but what about when things are back to normal? Why should I go to the church building? Similarly going to a church building is not what saves us, Jesus is our means of salvation. As an introvert, contact with people is needed in small doses but it is overall draining. If I am only thinking about my own needs, quiet time at home is more beneficial and restful to me than attending church.

I have wrestled with these questions. I would say I am still wresting with these questions particularly right now when I am in a season of change and uncertainty. But for me I believe I need to go to church because it is a place I can serve the body of Christ. It is a place I can love the body of Christ. It is a place I can help others through there own journey with God. But mostly my gifting given by God will not be fully utilized to build God’s kingdom if I am not at church using the gift. I do not go to church for the music. I can do that at home. I do not go for the sermon. I can listen at home. I do not go for the prayer because I can text others to pray for me. I do not go to tithe because I can tithe online. But there is something that can only happen in person, the interaction and rubbing of each other to facilitate growth only occurs with in person contact. Similarly the gifts God has given us take us meeting together. Life is found with the body of Christ gathering together. So why do we need a building? The only reason I say we need a building is for shelter and physical needs. We need a place to meet and most people do not like going to the bathroom in the bushes.

We as God’s people are the church. The church is not a building. But God also designed us to gather together so that our different skills and gifts are used to build up the body of Christ. We do not need a building for this but it is nice to have shelter from the rain and a bathroom to use. We are the church and I pray God will gift my current church home it’s own building in God’s perfect timing. I went 3 years without attending church and I am glad to say that I WANT to attend again. I have not had a panic attacks or severe anxiety at church in awhile. So as much as I am excited to see people vocal about the church not being a building I look forward to the days we will all meet in person again.

He Is The Source

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8

So often we face difficulties in life or experience something new we have never encountered before. It makes us pause. I normally have the response of, “what in the world am I supposed to do with this?” Typically I am in a little bit of freak out mode inside myself. We are in a time where the entire world is doing just this. Freaking out because we are experiencing something we are not accustomed to. This pandemic is a large event but even within our individual lives we often face circumstances that makes us look around for help because we do not know what to do. It is a situation that is something we have not experienced before and we are at a loss of what to do. I personally like to set rules for myself as a way of self protection so when I come across something that does not fit into any of my rules I start to freak out. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS?

It is in these times that we should be seeking the lord and asking for wisdom. For it is the wisdom from God that will navigate us through the unknown. God promises wisdom when we ask with faith and no doubting. We humans like to turn to many things for wisdom. We turn to other people who are experts in the area we are struggling. We turn to mentors and friends. We turn to the Bible. We turn to media. We turn to books and research. We turn to a variety of things for wisdom. Similarly it can be difficult to navigate because these different source may be giving you conflicting information. So which is correct? Who do we believe? What do we follow? Which wisdom is from God?

But my personal belief is that all true and good wisdom is a gift from God. God is the ultimate source of wisdom. But similarly there are many things out there that are not good sources. Therefore it is difficult to filter through all the information.

So next time you are in need of wisdom, before you start looking to other sources, look to God. Ask in prayer for him to provide his wisdom and to show you what sources are good sources of information. Ask in faith and do not doubt his provision of wisdom. For God is the true source of all wisdom and everything else is just trash.