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paradox

Jesus taught us that “the Kingdom of God is within YOU!” He taught us to look inside for our answers. He abolished the “law” so men and women would cease to look outward for God and begin to look inward- the place where we are most afraid to look.

I have personally experienced all in the following list. The sad part about these subtle and not-so-subtle contradictions, is they create a dishonest person. Most members see these things, but fear and insecurity cause them to turn a blind eye. They are told their heart is honest because they listen and obey their message, all the while, leveraging the fear of “disobedience and rejection of God,” they create inward conflict and dishonesty to their own conscience.

  1. An unhealthy religious body will applaud your personal reasoning as long as you are listening to, and agreeing with their message, but they will question your reasoning if you are looking elsewhere.
  2. When tragedy happens to a member of an unhealthy religious body, it is a gift from God to help them grow. When tragedy happens to someone outside their group, it is a punishment or consequence of sin.
  3. A “message” is judged good or bad according to whom delivers it rather than on it’s soundness.
  4. Breaking a church rule is like breaking the fellowship, unless you are a long-stander or high-tither.
  5. “Right” or “wrong” is nebulous, shifting from pastor to pastor, member to member, and congregation to congregation.
  6. Answered prayer is from God when among members, but from Satan when among outsiders.
  7. Their church has been in existence since the time of Christ, but “so-and-so” brought it back to light in more recent years.
  8. Jesus Christ is the head of the church body, but you need the pastors permission to before making any moves.
  9. The building is not the church, just a convenient place to gather- but don’t you dare gather together anywhere else- unless its with them of course.
  10. To destroy someones reputation is like murder-  except for the reputations of those who have left.

Don’t be afraid to listen within to what your heart is trying to tell you- even if it is direct opposition to what is being taught to you from without.

My child, pay attention to what I say.
Listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them.
Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them,
and healing to their whole body.
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Avoid all perverse talk;
stay away from corrupt speech.

~Proverbs 4:20-24

(NLT)

I love myth debunking- especially when it comes to “the word of God,” because so many religious organizations hold people in spiritual captivity by misappropriation of the “WORD.”

Fifteen Myths about Bible Translation.

Here is a great site that gives you a comparison chart to the versions of the Bible, including when each version came out:

Translation Comparison Chart

For a deeper look into what the “WORD” really is, see the chapter in my book, “The Voice of God Within” titled: “For the Bible Tells Me So.”

This is such an excellent post that breaks the stigma against “those who leave church.”

What Church People Really Need To Know About Once-Churched People.

Don’t Judge Me

dont judge

Like my new FB page: High Vibes Life

“Don’t judge me” is probably one of the most common phrases thrown out there by humanity. People do not like to be judged by others because they feel like others lack real insight into their own personal situation; and for the most part, this is absolutely true. Even the bible admonishes us about judging in scriptures such as Mathew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye may not be judged” and Romans 14:13 “Let us not therefore judge one another any more.”

But the reality is, we all judge. Insomuch as you declare, “do not judge me” you are judging; you have judged those you believe are judging you.

Judge: To form an opinion about something after careful thought; to regard as either good or bad

There really is no escaping judgement- neither giving or receiving it. So what are these scripture in the Bible about? Let us look at the amplified version of Matthew 7:1-2:

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

A problem arises when we sit on a pedestal, believing ourselves to be more special or deserving than the hypocrite, the murderer, the thief, the adulterous, the one who disobeys… We cease to see our own spiritual infidelities. Our hearts become unrepentant. We forget that we are all made of the same dirt and will all return to that dirt. Thinking we have judged rightly, we will find in the end that we have misjudged our own position before God. This also carries over to putting some people in higher esteem than others.Love3

You see, the one condemned in your eyes, is the one Jesus Christ died for. The one whom you think yourself superior too, this is the one that “God so loved, that he gave his only begotten Son” for. That one that you have disregarded? That is the one that Christ is seeking to save.

Most people believe they are not judging. But let us consider some trigger words. What sort of thoughts come to mind when you read these words. Ponder them each individually and slowly:

Homosexuality. Muslim. Abortion. Christian. Jesus. Buddha. Science. Family. Gandhi. Mother Theresa. Baptism. Salvation. Heaven. Hell.

This list could be infinite. Each word will conjure up something within your heart, and for each word, you have a personal judgement made about it. The problem does not lie in what your personal perception and understanding of these words is. The problem lies when you attach these labels to people and consequently praise or condemn, befriend or avoid them.

dont judge meOne of the most damaging thoughts out there in our time is the thought of “toxic people.” Many quotes are being circulated in our world about staying away from these toxic-humanoids. Yes, you may as well call it something different than human. This thought process is loaded with judgement and condemnation, because as soon as you have labeled somebody “toxic” you have judged them.

Does that mean that staying away from someone that may harm you or pressure you to go against your own conscience is wrong? No! That is healthy. But, remember, those that deserve our attention the least, may need it the most. If we must, for our own safety, put distance between us and another person, do so with love, praying that this person may get the healing and help they so desperately need. But pushing people out of our lives just because they are different, difficult or not what we expected, is harmful.

Life is not easy- no matter who is in it. This life is meant to teach us lessons and lessons are not learned through ease. We all have a powerful inner-critic at work all the time. Let us not be found guilty of strengthening the inner critic of others.

“Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my shoes.” 

Too many wear this like a badge of honor, yet do not honor this in others. We cannot sit a critic and condemner and love at the same time.

Most of religion is set up with walls- enclosing people, codes, regulations, laws, hierarchy and tradition inside walls and judging and excluding those who stay without them. There was a letter written to the Galatians dealing with this very thing in chapter 2 we read:

Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really[b]—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. . . 14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? . . . And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law. . . I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[e] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Many times those who sit in judgement get angry when you highlight these scriptures, because they have turned the Bible into their God and have dissected its words and created another system of laws which was never the purpose of Christ. His purpose was to come and light the way of every man. His purpose was to turn us away from the incessant struggle of habitual fleshly sins, and to allow his light to come into our hearts and lead and guide us.

“Don’t judge me!”

This is impossible. No matter how you live your life, someone here will judge you and condemn you. But as we allow the light of Christ to illuminate our hearts and draw closer and closer to this unconditional love, we will no longer feel the need to defend ourselves, nor to judge others. God’s grace and love will suffice us!

Morning Sunlight

Good morning

Waking to Sunlight stretched across my bed
God’s creation merrily dances
To the songs that the winged creatures bring
In the dawn of hope and more chances

All of my senses are born on a prayer
The tiniest speck twinkles with delight
Time to arise and face a new day
God lifts me into the sunlight

“You are doing well, you’ve grown more than expected”
Spirit whispers strength into my soul
The voice within speaks the wisdom of sages
And mirrors the way to live life to the full

“Children run before thinking and stumble along
Careless of life till they fall
Masters think before acting, and all that they do
Is authentic and considerate of all”

Awake to the calls in the greeting of day
The sunlight of Spirit shows no form
Yet a peaceful calm sweeps over my being
Sustained in the eye of the storm

No word of man, no scornful eye
No judgement or wrathful requite
Nothing can separate me from God
Or His gift of the morning sunlight

Written by blog author

Elizabeth Van Cleve

shane on piano2B

About 17 years ago I asked my two young children if they would like to learn how to play the piano. They enthusiastically agreed. There was just one problem- we did not own a piano. As a stay-at-home mom, our household income had an extremely tight budget. But I was undaunted, for I was acquainted with the God of the universe and I had found this God to be loving and generous to those whose eyes are upon Him. So I simply said to my children, “lets pray and ask God for a piano.” The three of us knelt down and made our petition known. Almost a year passed before a piano became available for $115. It was an old, black, student piano- but it worked and was in tune and that was all we really needed.

Shane and his sister getting ready for a piano recital. Teacher is on the left.

Shane and his sister getting ready for a piano recital. Teacher is on the left.

Now, lessons can be quite expensive. I started my daughter out first, because she was already at the recommended age of eight and I told my son he could start lessons as soon as he was eight too. Being a mere 18 months behind his sister was not too long of a wait. Lessons started in summers only, every other week. This was affordable for our income. I was able to procure a young teacher for a fraction of the standard cost. My kids were eager to learn and were soon performing songs both independently and together to the delight of all our friends and family. The lessons increased when the Charter school they were enrolled with was willing to provide for the classes. They were then able to take them all year long on a weekly basis.

As a toddler, Shane would tap his foot to musical performances, and loved to listen to a variety of music and his love for learning more was insatiable.

Shane at around 8-years, filling glasses with water to create a perfect pitched musical scale

Shane at around 8-years, filling glasses with water to create a perfect pitched musical scale

When Shane was in his teens, the church we attended lost their student organist and petitioned us to see if Shane would be willing to learn. Every week I would drive him the 15 miles both to and from the church where he learned from a renowned teacher both how to play the organ and advance in his piano skills. He also attended a local Jr. college and passed all their Music Theory classes with A’s.

Soon, his talent was in high demand. I quietly sat on the side-lines and watched my son give so unselfishly of his time and his talent to practicing and performing musical pieces for church, for vocalists, for instrument accompaniments, for plays, and even for elderly assistant facilities.

Shane on pianoB

Shane playing for Christmas Singers at Elderly Care Centers

There have been very few instances where he has actually earned a little cash in performing for a wedding or other event. But for the most part, Shane has unceremoniously offered his talent as a gift of love.  In between his work as a volunteer fire-fighter, his full-time position as an EMT, and his side jobs of yard maintenance for the elderly, Shane utilizes his spare time patiently working on music projects as an offering at the church he attends.

In the past few years, many people have asked him for a CD of hymns. Shane invested his own money, time and talent into producing a collection of his most requested hymns. He came to me and asked if I would read his web introduction for his CD’s debut and suggest any changes that should be made. My heart swelled with love and pride as I read the words he wrote, for his utmost concern was to make sure his audience understood that the $12 cost of the CD  was not to make a profit, but rather to cover the cost of bringing this work to fruition.

shane on piano 1B

I urged him not to worry about justifying the cost. Money is just an exchange- a tool. When we work at something and we put our best effort into it, we should expect a return. That is how life is sustained. The price of the CD is so very minimal- but the love and sacrifice he puts into his music and sharing it with others has been phenomenal.

I couldn’t have ever asked for a more humble, wonderful. awesome son; I feel especially blessed to be the recipient of live concerts while he continues to play and perfect his talent on that old, black, student piano we prayed for so many years ago, and to offer his talent back to the the great Giver of all life!

To listen to samples and/or order one of Shane’s CD’s please click on the following link:

Follow Shane on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/shanevanclevepiano?fref=ts

The Light Within

IMG_2596BAPhoto by Elizabeth Van Cleve, taken at Drakes Bay

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