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Today I changed my life forever.  No going back, it’s a done deal.  I am now tattooed.

It’s something I’ve been considering and kicking around for a very, very long time and I finally did it.  I now have a medium-small butterfly on the inside of my wrist in white ink, yay!

I drew the butterfly myself and chose white ink on purpose because the tattoo is for me and nobody else (according to the tattoo artist I had her put it on “upside down”, lol!) – I can see it, and I don’t care if you can see it or not.  I’m a pale and pasty critter thanks to my genetics and I did my research – my goal with choosing the white ink is for it to be a very subtle change in my skin tone once it’s done healing so that it’s barely noticeable unless you’re looking for it.

For me this butterfly tattoo is a reminder of how I’ve become braver and stronger and that there are still more amazing things for me to become in the future.  It’s a symbol that I am finally recognizing myself as who God created me to be – and that person is beautiful.  That I don’t have to stay locked up in the box of what other people have insisted I should be over all these years.  It is a statement to myself and to the world that I am not a doormat any longer.

My husband is not happy about my decision.  At All.  In his mind I’m already got 50 tattoos because “one tattoo leads to another and nobody stops at just one”.  He won’t believe me when I say I’m not planning to get more tattoos and become the next Tattooed Lady Circus Side Show Act.  Then he says “I don’t want a tattooed wife” and I know he’s specifically meaning he doesn’t want to be married to someone who looks like an Old Lady from a motorcycle gang but tattooed is tattooed whether it’s one tattoo or head to toe… I almost hate to break it to him but mister, ya got yourself a tattooed wife as of about 6:30 this evening!  (I know, he’s still in shock.)

He also believes that I’ve willfully sinned against the Bible because there’s a verse in the Old Testament that says not to get tattoos.  That verse happens to be right next to a verse that says “Don’t round the corners of your beard” and nobody gives a second thought about not obeying that verse anymore.  When I brought this up to him his reasoning was that the whole beard thing was not a permanent change to one’s body while tattoos are so therefore the beard verse didn’t need to be obeyed while the tattoo verse did.  Seriously?  What gives him the authority to pick and chose which verses of the Bible should be obeyed and which ones have become superfluous?  That whole announcement from him is mind-blowing to me and makes me wonder what his faith is actually based on.  My decision to go ahead and get the tattoo is based on verses in the New Testament telling us (summarized) that thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross we now live under grace, not the law.  And that if we try to obtain righteousness, or right standing with God, by following even one rule of the law that we must fulfill the entire law to become righteous that way – and it is clearly spelled out that it is not possible for any human being to keep the entire law.  Whereas if we accept the grace of God we can be saved by believing in Jesus and the rest of the world will know if we are truly disciples of Christ or not by our love for God and one another.

And there it is, the plain and simple Gospel.  Obviously different from what my husband  believes.  Our belief incompatibilities once again brought to the surface, this time because of a small, simple, nearly invisible tattoo.

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So it’s Sunday, I’m home sick and watching The Avengers.  Loki makes this statement:  “I am Loki and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”  Glorious purpose.  Glooooooooorious Purpose.  Uh huh…

In reality this is true and we should all be making this statement every morning when we look at ourselves in the mirror.  “I am BluEydButterfly and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”  because each of us really does have a glorious purpose, although the trick is to believe it… and sometimes we don’t even know what it is so discovering that glorious purpose is required as well.

Another statement Loki made a short time later also caught my attention.  Yes, I know, besides being really cute his character makes memorable statements, who’da thunk it?  But what he said this time was:  “You were made to be ruled.”, which I actually, totally, 100% agree with.  The Human Condition craves rules, boundaries, guidelines.  We want someone to lead us.  Why else would every country in the world create its own government?  This is, however, more my opinion and a lead-in to my next statement rather than trying to get everybody riled up over the ugly world of politics.  Sorry to get your hopes up but maybe another day…

OK, now let’s combine those two statements.  What if my “glorious purpose” is simply to choose who my ruler is – or another way of saying it might be, who am I going to serve?  What if it really is that basic?  Regardless of your religious beliefs almost everyone on this planet recognizes that there is good and evil in this world, although everybody seems to define them differently these days…  I personally believe in the God of the Bible and use the scriptures to define good and bad. I’m super-summarizing the verses here but the Bible says that “God is love”, 1 John 4:8; that other people will know I am a Christian “by my love”, John 13:35; and that the two greatest commandments are to love God first and people second, Matt 22:37 – 39.   These verses all define for me, in the simplest terms, good and evil.  To love, with TRUE love (which would take an entirely different blog to define), is good.  Fake love or to be unloving – either one – is evil.  This is the bare bones core of my belief, this is my heart.

We all choose, every moment of every day, what we want to think, say and do.  Are those things kind, loving and helpful?  Or are the things we think, say and do mean and hurtful?  If they are good then I am serving my God.  If they are evil then I am not.

Obviously I am not trying for any deep, contemplative discussion here.  I’m not even talking about Salvation or Heaven.  This particular blog post is to capture simplicity itself, nothing more.  Why?  Because I believe faith should be simple.  Because I believe faith IS simple and we just over-complicate it.  Let’s get back to basics people!  We’ve lost so much to complicity, we’ve fought so many wars over inconsequential details and we’ve destroyed so many relationships in the name of this god or that one… so often without even knowing what the god we serve is really, truly like.  My God is love.  He loves me.  He loves you.  And because He loves you I love you.  Because He loves you I will do my best to help you when you need help or be sad with you when you are sad or be happy with you when you are happy.  This is my faith, my “religion”, to use what feels like dirty word…

Many Christians have lost sight of this and because of their distraction have given Christianity a bad name.  A very bad name.  So bad I’m hesitant at times to say that I am a Christian or that the God I serve is Jesus Christ.  Not because I am ashamed of Christ or the Gospels, oh no!  But because I am ashamed of the people who call themselves Christians and do not love anybody but themselves.  Because those people have the loudest voices and society believes that they are Christians… but they’re not.  Not according to the Bible.  And yet I am a Christian, there is no other way to describe it because I follow Christ and Christian literally means “Follower or disciple of Christ”.

All of that to say – I AM burdened with Glorious Purpose and my choice is about whether or not I will LOVE others as God loves me.

How about you?

My family has been working our way through the first season of the TV series, Once Upon A Time, which is more or less about fairy tale characters living in the real world not knowing they are fairy tale characters and it winds it way back and forth between the fairy tales (with many very interesting twists) and their modern-day lives in a tiny town “somewhere” in Maine.  The focus of the series seems to be on finding your “True Love”.  The characters say things like “True Love’s Kiss can break any curse” and “Nothing is more powerful than True Love’s Kiss”.  Fairy tales are intertwined making various characters the main role in multiple stories (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are the same person in this series as are Rumplestiltskin and The Beast, etc.)  Aside from the first two episodes this show is very family friendly (it’s a bit gory in the beginning) and has plenty of action/adventure scenes to please boys and men and family-appropriate romance for the female heart.  Once Upon A Time is well done and has fascinating twists and turns and it’s really made me think about True Love.

I’m watching an episode with my husband and it’s where the Snow White character and the Prince Charming character are falling in love in the real world, with no memories of their fairy tale life and love, photos of them together were taken and shown to Prince Charming’s real-life “wife” (they weren’t really married but it’s complicated so let’s just skip to the point…) and she looks at the pictures and asks another character “Have you ever been in love? Because I’m beginning to realize that I haven’t.  The way he looks at her and she looks at him, that’s True Love and I’ve never had that…”  So my husband looks at me and asks “Are we In Love?”       Really Awkward Moment!       I tell him yes we are but we’re still working on the mushy-gooshy part of it, which is true.  He is content with my answer but his question inspired me to investigate “True Love” a little bit more.

Dictionary.com defines “Love” as:  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.  3. sexual passion or desire.  4.  a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.  5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

Given these definitions I should have “feelings” for my husband and children (or anybody) to qualify me as “loving” them.  I think my feeler is broke but does that really mean I don’t love them?  As Stephanie pointed out in her comment on an earlier post (“Do You Miss Me”), and I’m going to summarize what she said here, I do lots of stuff for my family, including sacrificing my own wants and desires to meet theirs – so my actions say I love them even if my feelings don’t.

The Bible says in I Corinthians 13:4 – 8:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

This definition of love is all action.  Love Does Stuff for the one(s) it loves.  Feelings don’t really even enter into the picture here, whereas in the dictionary definition you pretty much have feelings only.  Hmmm…  I definitely have one but not so much the other…  I’d like to have passion and affection in my family relationships.  And just to clarify – I want passion to and from my husband and affection to and from my kids and other family members and even friends.  I don’t want to run for public office in the future and have some weirdo out there misquoting my blog…  I will continue my actions of love towards others but what I really want at this point is feelings to and from other people.  I want to feel again.  I’d like to have passion for my husband.  I wouldn’t mind having passion for my art and my music again either.  I want my feeler fixed but that’s probably another blog.

So which one is True Love?  I think Hollywood places too much emphasis on the feelings part of Love and not enough (or hardly any emphasis at all) on the actions of Love and that one little re-definition has destroyed more relationships and marriages than could possibly be counted, in my humble opinion.  Gazing deeply into each other’s eyes and giving way to rising hormones is only creating feelings which come and go based on your circumstances.  The pursuit of “True Love” is really just like my dog chasing the red laser beam light.  He can’t ever catch it but it flashes over him in quick bursts.  Feelings, like a wild animal, cannot be caged and contained.  The whole point of a reading a romance novel is to experience the feelings of the heroine when her suitor finally captures her heart.  When the book is over the feelings fade and you need to read another one, and then another one…  That is not True Love.

The Bible also says:  Perfect Love casts out Fear  (I John 4:18) and Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  So add that to being patient, kind, not envious, not proud or boastful, honoring to others, not self-centered, hard to make angry, doesn’t hold grudges, happy with the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, perserving and never failing and I think this is what I want to be my True Love.  How about you?

While on our Christmas travels this year we drove hundreds of miles on the freeway and I couldn’t help but notice all the tumbleweeds caught in the fences that lined the roads. A simple, four strand barbed wire caught so many tumbleweeds that it appeared in places to be a solid wall of tumbleweeds, you couldn’t even see the barbed wire or the posts.

Tumbleweeds are fascinating, although annoying, plants. Oddly enough a tumbleweed is not a specific plant but rather a generic term for any plant that, once mature and dry disengages from the root and is blown about by the wind. So a tumbleweed starts out as a green, living plant but when it dies, it becomes a nearly indestructible nuisance, blown about by the whim of the wind. You can run over a tumbleweed with a car and the darn thing keeps on rolling. They’re tough, wiry, resilient and crazy hard to get rid of.

My thoughts feel like tumbleweeds rolling through my mind – I frequently wonder how do I catch them? How do I stop them? How do I change them? Which thoughts are OK to think? Why are some thoughts OK to think and some aren’t? Who decides what’s OK to think? And on and on it goes…

I think the church we attend is trying to tell us what we should think and say and what we shouldn’t. The pastor of the church we attend gave a sermon this last Sunday that defined its mission as four very Biblical steps: Win, Connect, Disciple and Send, based off of the Great Commission – Go, Make Disciples, Baptize them and Teach them to Obey Jesus’ Commands (Matthew 28:19 – 20). One of the final slides of the PowerPoint was “The Chief Challenges” (to accomplishing these goals). Copied directly from the photo I took of the PowerPoint they are:

“The Obstacle: Unbelief.
UNBELIEF is doubting questions or negativity that destroy faith leads to lost joy and an unfaithful heart.

“The Challenge: Faith.
BIBLICAL FAITH is not being willing to ponder any fact of life or circumstance that opposed the revealed will of God.”

Given those guidelines what on earth can I question or think about then? I feel like any question I might raise to another church member or the church leadership will be seen as doubt or negativity and talking about my actual life circumstances without sugar-coating them will instantly label me as not trusting in God. Does anybody else get that too or is it just me and my desperation to leave this church that is seeing things that aren’t there?

Like the four-strand barbed wire fence caught the tumbleweeds on the highway I need a fence of my own.  Here, I think, are the essential principles of being a Christian and there are more scriptures than what I listed but in effort to keep this post short(er) I’m just going to put forth a few for each category:

Strand One:  BELIEVE.

A)    John 3:16 says:  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
B)     John 20:31 says:  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
C)   Romans 10:9 says:  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
D)    1 Thessalonians 4:14 says:  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again…

Strand Two:  LOVE.

A)   I John 4:8 says: “God is Love”.
1)  I Corinthians 13:4 – 8 says:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It does not
dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.
B)   Mark 12:30 – 31 says: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”
C)   Matthew 7:12 saysSo in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
D)   Galatians 6:2 says:  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Strand Three:  KNOW PEOPLE BY THEIR FRUIT BUT ONLY JUDGE MYSELF.

A)    Matthew 7:18 says:  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
B)    Matthew 7:20 saysThus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

  1. Galatians 5:22 – 23 says:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  2. James 3:17 saysBut the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

C)    Luke 6:37 says:  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
D)    Colossians 2:16 – 19: says:   Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
E)     Corinthians 11:31 says:  For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
F)     Romans 2:1 says:  You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Strand Four:  OBEY

A)    John 14:23 says:  Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
B)     1 John 2:5 says:  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him.
1)  Titus 2:1 – 10, 12 and 15 says:  …teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.  Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of
respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way
they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to
love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their
husbands…  Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you
may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.  Teach slaves (or employees) to be subject to their masters (or
bosses) in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be
fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  …teaches us to say “No” to
ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, …These, then, are the
things you should teach…

2)  Ephesians 5:21 – 22, 25, 28 and 33  says:  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to
your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for
her.  …   In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. … each one of you also must love his wife
as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

And that is the essence of what I found while searching the scriptures today for “rules” on how to live a Christian life.  Nothing about “don’t ask questions”  or “you must sugar-coat all your problems”.  Indeed, how are we to “bear one another’s burdens” if we don’t share what our burdens are with each other?

I don’t pretend that I am a perfect Christian by any means but I do believe in Jesus, I do my best to love the people around me and I try my best to obey what the Bible says.   Can anybody give more than their best?