Spiritual Weed Pulling

The weather channel said it was supposed to be 106 degrees today so, I was out weeding in the yard very early. I admit my yard had more weeds than I would like, but I was determined to get rid of them. Fortunately, I have discovered a “spiritual practice” while working in the yard. Weeding helps me converse with God about the things I need to get rid of in my life. I am speaking primarily about the distractions that keep me from focusing on my relationship with God. I am daily distracted by the world and can lose my focus much too easily. Maybe you can relate. Today, God and I had a talk about the many things that keep me from growing and focusing on my Lord…aka, all the “spiritual weeds” in my life.

There are many things in our world today that get in the way of putting God first. Facebook can be a real time waster for me. I am in a writing group online via Facebook and I’ve become more intentional about checking in with the group and then logging out of Facebook as soon as I have done that. I also don’t need the daily toxic political news either. My blood pressure is up and according to my doctor, there is no reason for that, other than the current political climate perhaps. I also don’t need to respond to every post my friends share. That’s an easy habit to get into. So, that is one more weed I will be pulling in my spiritual life.

In addition, responding to emails while in the middle of writing or other work assignments is another distraction. We are each called to work as if for the Lord, and being distracted and disorganized is not helpful in that endeavor. Sadly, we as a society have put our “phones” above one-to-one conversation and that is another weed we all may need to pull. I will put my phone away during meals or while in conversation. I will not be available to check messages or calls while I am present to the person I am with. I think you get my point.

What “spiritual weeds” is Holy Spirit asking you to pull? What keeps your focus away from our Lord and on the world? By the way, if you are interested in weeding while you meditate on the topic of spiritual weeds in your life, I still have a few more pesky weeds in my front yard. You are welcome to join me if you would like. Then again, I could finish re-reading Tom Sawyer while you pull the weeds. <wink>

Peace, Cindy

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Let Freedom Ring

It’s not too late to change the game,

Just one vote, there is no shame.

Now it’s time to make amends

Change your mind-our land you’ll mend

 

Do not bow to “the man” alone

or you will reap what you have sown

God is watching and He cares

with whom His loyalty is shared.

 

For “the man” alone  you sing?

Christian right does not mean clean

Not too late to turn around

Make the turn

Save America’s Ground!

 

Turn around and go a new way.

Save our country from his raids

Turn around and make amends

Ask God again, did He really send

“the man” who says, “worship ME!

To ME be loyal…It’s all about ME?”

 

He cares not for your neighbor or thee

He wants to take from you what’s free

Destruction, hate and filth he spews

We hear it daily on the news.

 

So you voted one mistake

It’s not too late to tell “the man” WAIT!

Wait and see as you’re on your knees

Christian right or wrong ? We’ll see.

 

Let God heal your scaled eyes

God will expose “the man’s” hate and lies

Turn around, make amends

Worship God not Satan’s friends.

 

Turn around just in time

For God knows what “the man” will find

It’s all plastic, it’s all fake

not the news…the pedestal he makes

 

To GOD alone let us ALL sing

In OUR land…

Let FREEDOM ring!

 

© C.L. Burger 2018

 

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The Gaping Wound in America’s Heart

 

I never thought I would see leaders of our country kidnap children and hold them hostage to get their legislation passed.  I never thought we would have a president bent on the destruction of democracy, making deals with world dictators all while abolishing civil rights for our own citizens. It would seem that we’ve gone mad!

The not so good news is that America has a gaping hole in its heart. For example, this morning I received a rather nasty verbal assault from a republican who believes Trump is God’s gift to the world. Sadly, this man has sucked up the lies, approved of the abusive treatment of women, children, minorities and the vulnerable elderly. “Kick em While They Are Down” may very well be the 2020 mantra on that red baseball cap he wears.

The guy who came after me this morning was a sad, angry man. At least that is what I was seeing. I even invited him to private message me so his vitriol wouldn’t spill all over a relative’s Facebook page. He didn’t realize my relative had blocked him from a previous post, and his audience wasn’t as big as his ego thought it was. Sound familiar? He kept up his abusive talk and I figured he was just following his leader and since he didn’t want to talk about the real problem (his own wounds) I ended up blocking him too.

I think what we are seeing from people who still support this president, in spite of his horrific abuse of humanity, is the majority of them are wounded in some way. I wonder what happened in their life that caused them to relate so profoundly with this wounded president. Trump puffs out his chest with bravado, while quaking in fear on the inside. Or maybe THAT’S it. Are these Americans relating to the fear? Regardless, they are waking the true conscious of America. They are rousing the previously complacent and complicit (someone explain that last word to Ivanka please.) which will ultimately save our country from democratic demise.

The majority of Americans care about humanity, care about children, care about civil rights and protection for the vulnerable. There is more GOOD in the majority of Americans than not. Perhaps the people who actually care about others, have had their wounds transformed into compassion? Perhaps they have done the personal growth work of an adult and left the pain behind and healed the wounds? I’m not sure. Either way, we are called to reach out and offer to “listen” and let them “talk through” their wounds and accept healing. I tried. I offered. Instead the angry man on the other end of the post chose to verbally assault me.

Jesus offered the invitation of healing to others and instructed his disciples to do likewise.  But He also said (Luke 10: 4-6) “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Interestingly, the next verse says,  6 “So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”

The good news is, healing is possible. So, when another trump supporter wants to abuse me or lash out at me from the gaping hole in their heart, I’ll offer the invitation again. If they accept it, we will engage in conversation and perhaps wounds will be healed. If not…they will be left in the dust as I move on.

Jesus is the door to healing…not the doormat. I’m grateful the majority of American’s are beginning to figure that out!

 

©

 

 

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The Call of the Dove

It was still dark outside when I heard it. The gentle cooing of the dove woke me from my sleep. I turned over and hoped the bird would fly away, but then…it cooed again. In that instant, God reminded me of my childhood friend. I listened, breath held, waiting for the coo again. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and stumbled to the kitchen to make coffee.

My very first friend, Alyssa, was a little girl who lived across the street from me. Her front yard was overgrown with trees and shrubs and her house was set far back from the road. Alyssa first appeared at the edge of her property one Saturday many years ago. She didn’t say a word and shyly waved at me and before I could say hell-o, she disappeared into the overgrown shrubs and massive trees in her yard, which I always referred to as “the secret garden.”

Then, she showed up again the next Saturday. She was holding a garden hose and we both realized we were doing the same chore! Our Saturday chore was watering the trees in our front yards. We giggled when we held up our respective hoses and shrugged our shoulders in that “woe is me” kind of way of most children who are required to complete their weekly chores.

Alyssa was loving, kind and gentle and I considered her my first friend after I arrived at the house we lived in. I had come from a foster home setting and I really didn’t trust very many people. Alyssa was different but we seemed to have a common bond that went beyond watering trees!

She reminded me of a deer, with her big brown eyes. The children at school often teased her because of the clothes she wore. She never said anything, but I recognized her hurt feelings, just by looking into her big doe-like eyes. I decided it was my job, as her friend, to defend her when she was picked on or teased.

There was a deep sorrow or perhaps it was shame, that Alyssa carried.  It wasn’t until much later in her life that I discovered the secret garden with the house in the shadow of the large trees, was where shame was hiding. One day, she told me her mother drank a lot and fell down on the floor because she always had a bottle in her hand and her mom “got mean” when she drank. I told her before I went into a foster home, my mother had been mean too, and she drank a lot too. Alyssa looked at me with hope in her eyes for the very first time. After that, we were inseparable! We were first friends AND best friends!

We conspired together and decided that instead of doing our weekly chore, we would play instead! One Saturday I went to her yard and the next, she would cross the road and come into my yard. We even had a secret code to contact each other when it was time to play. We called out with the coo of a dove and if the other one responded with the same  signal, then it was time to play! I knew my best friend would be there when I heard the call of the dove.  It was time to meet my friend on the edge of the yard so we could giggle and laugh and tease each other until we laughed so hard we fell over. Sometimes, we tried to spray each other with the hose on those hot summer days. I loved getting together with my best friend!

The aroma of coffee filled my kitchen as the sun peeked over the horizon. Fresh cup poured, cream added…time to read my morning devotional. And then, I heard it again, the gentle coo of a dove. It was time to whisper and share the secrets of my heart with Jesus. I smiled as I sensed him calling me to the couch as He said, “Let’s spend time together today, we can laugh and play and know that we will always be best friends!”

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The Walking Wounded

I was on my way to work this morning and noticed a man coming toward me on the sidewalk. He walked with a slow gate and was limping a bit. As I looked closer, I saw a brace on his left leg. It seems he had a knee injury. As we greeted one another, I was reminded of the number of (what I call) the “walking wounded” in our churches today. Those who are grieving or hungry or unemployed or divorced or have been chastised by some well meaning Christian…or…or…well…you get my point.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in our church today are also limping through life, in a spiritual sense.  So many people attend church and carry deep hurts and wounds and yet they feel they need to put on that happy perky Christian face so they appear to have (as they have been told by the church)  “enough faith” or “a confident trust” or “true depth of Spirit.”

What a disservice we do as Christians when we ask how someone is (in church) and they respond with a curt “fine.” Yet, we never pay attention to how the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ who is supposed to reside in Christians) may be prompting us to use our gift of mercy, or encouragement or discernment or better yet…the gift of healing!

Now some folks reading my comments here might think it’s time to buy me one of those white jackets with the sleeves that tie in the back. But quite frankly, I’m serious.

If Jesus is our model (if you are a professed Christian) then why is it that we have fallen so short in the church today, of following His ways? Why is it that we put on a happy, perky Christian “face” (façade) when the truth is…we may not be so happy? Why is it that so many of our fellow church members are willing to settle for woundedness? (ours AND perhaps theirs!) Is it because they don’t know how to deal with the wounds? Is it because they are trying to be politically correct and mind their own business? Is it because self pride tells them they don’t need God and they can handle their problems on their own?

Who knows?

My point is, if we are truly following the way of Christ and developing as disciples of Christ, then we should be using our gifts to help others. If we have been given (by God) the gift of mercy, shouldn’t we be giving a cup of coffee to a homeless person in our neighborhood ourselves instead of writing a check to a long distant mission a safe 6,000 miles away? (aka sanitized giving) If we have been given the gift of discernment and a heart for justice shouldn’t we be able to tell when corporations are cheating their investors and say something about it? Or are we so convinced that the little guy (or gal) can’t do anything about the BIG guy (corporate America) (The story of David and Goliath might be a good read right about now!) that we have somehow lost our courage to speak up when we see our own employers cheating or telling a lie?

I debated about quoting scripture in only my second blog entry, but the point is valid. Revelations 3:15 in reference to the Church in Laodicea says. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

God’s point here is that He is not impressed with the lukewarm church…the church that doesn’t take a commitment to Christ seriously. What are we (each) willing to give up for the sake of Christ? There will come a time in the future, when we are asked to give up far more than we may realize for the sake of our faith. Are we ready for that task? Are we up for the challenge? Trust me, lukewarm won’t cut it during such times.

The Message Bible reference to this scripture states the point a bit more simply: “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot-far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stagnant.”

Personally, I think it’s time for the church to move away from stagnant and seek the living water. It’s time for the church  to find refreshment by welcoming the Holy Spirit into worship. When we count the number of minutes our services are supposed to last, or we make sure we don’t choose the wrong hymn because the wealthy church going doctor might not put as much in the offering plate (because he hates that song!)…we’re doing it wrong! We have, as church, missed the mark. We are wallowing in stagnant waters.

It took courage for Jesus to turn over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. It most likely took courage for Jesus to ask the Samaritan woman for a drink of water (since Jews were to avoid Samaritans like the plague!)

If Jesus is our true model, isn’t it time to ramp up on the courage? It takes courage today to expose our wounds, to welcome the stranger, the divorced, the homeless, the destitute into our pretty pristine church buildings. It takes courage to tell our boss no when s/he asks us to falsify the data on a report. It takes courage to speak up for children who are being abused. The bottom line is, it takes courage to be a TRUE Christian!

It takes courage to admit that some folks who have never set foot in a church really have a greater anointing and show deeper love than many “Christians” warming the pews on Sundays. I’ve known (and experienced) so called “Christians” (see me making air quotes as I type this!) who (for the sake of the law of Christ) have inflicted far more wounds than offered healings…and that my friends, is not okay!  (And yes, I include myself in this accusation as well.) I am grateful to be able to turn around and go a new direction (the definition of repent by the way)  and I pray the same for our churches.

It should be our purpose to HEAL those who come to church, not create more “walking wounded.”  As members of the TRUE Church, we should do what Jesus commanded us to do. “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

I really would like some fresh water in our churches. You know, that “living water” that Jesus told the Samaritan woman about.  I’m tired of the stagnant…politically correct, let’s not rock the boat, don’t stir the (stagnant) waters church.

I suppose saying all of this takes a little courage. It’s not much, but it’s a start for this reluctant prophet.

More courage and Living water to each of you!

Peace,

Cindy

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Raising the Dead Church

 

Current world events may feel overwhelming. It might feel like you have nothing to offer, that you can’t make a difference in our country, our world. Not true! YOU CAN make a difference and God is calling each one of us to do just that!

It is time to set politics aside and do what is right for humanity! It is time to do what is right in the eyes of God!  It is time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. God is calling the church to pay attention…to listen…to act. God is shaking things up to raise the dead in the church. We can no longer sit back and do nothing. We can no longer avoid stepping into the realm of the “uncomfortable.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Holy Spirit comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. 

It’s time to wake up!  We can no longer do nothing. We can no longer be lukewarm (See Revelation 3:16) So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Will you risk? If so, how? Are you afraid to risk? Don’t be! God says, “I Am WITH YOU!” If you think being a Christian means showing up for church on Sunday and putting money in a plate and then going about your daily business as usual on Monday…think again!

Being CHURCH means, YOU make a difference. Being CHURCH means putting your body on the line. Yes, and often, being church means fighting for justice, whatever that looks like for you. Mine may not be marching in a protest. Mine may be through a keyboard and telephone. My making a difference won’t look like yours. But right now, right here, when you feel Holy Spirit calling you to ACT…to BE CHURCH, you will KNOW what that looks like for YOU!

Listen, Look, Learn, Ask, Pray!

 “What are you asking me to do Lord?”

Listen and then GO make a difference!

YOU can be part of RAISING the DEAD church.

Now GO!

Don’t be lukewarm!

Instead, Raise the Dead!

 

 

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 Permission to be the Bully

Perhaps part of the problem in America right now, is the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. has given all the bullies in America permission to be a bully too.

Don’t like someone’s skin color?  Be the bully

Don’t like a woman who won’t tolerate sexual assault? Be the bully.

Don’t like people fleeing violence to save their families?  Be the bully.

Don’t like disabled people? Make fun of them…be the bully.

You probably see where I’m going with this. My father taught me many years ago when I was in elementary school, that if someone is a bully, they are really just a scared little kid on the inside. They can’t handle someone not liking them, or not doing what “they” want them to do, so they threaten out of their own fear and lack of self-esteem.

What is most disconcerting about all of this “bully behavior” from the White House, is that it clearly reflects a fascist agenda. Yep, I’m talking Hitler! Read your history book. The tweets from the White House could easily come straight out of any random Nazi handbook. Stephen Miller might agree. The president will deny that of course, maybe even call me a name or discount me in some way. No matter. His opinion of me is none of my business.

So what’s my point?

If you and I don’t stand up to this bully, this scared little kid who is out of control…only God knows what will happen next!

I’m standing up to this bully. Are you?

C.L. Burger

© 2018

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Real Christian?

Kids in cages
Make the call
Tell the White House
you are appalled
Make America great again?
I don’t think so,
looks more like sin!
Bring the little ones
unto Me. Are you
Christian?  Set them free!!
Singing hymns and
pretty cut flowers?
attending church for
just one hour?
Read the Gospels
That’s not all…
Take a risk or
we ALL fall
What will it take
to follow His call?
Write a letter
Stand at the wall?
Make America great again?
I don’t think so
Make amends!
Turn around!
Go a different way
It’s not the White House
Who runs the show
Take a stand and tell
them NO!
Christian are you?
We shall see.
Bow down low
Get on your knees
It’s not the White House
who will set them free
It’s REAL Christians
Like you and me!

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Distractions or Holy Interruptions?

I prepared my “Writing Manifesto” this morning. Each day, I become more determined in my commitment to write and eventually publish what I have written. I based the Manifesto on the “Lord’s Prayer” and hung it in a lovely frame on the wall just above my computer. It looked really good! My determination could not have been stronger. I had specific goals for my writing work today. I even said a prayer asking God to help me stay focused and then WHAM!

Life happened.

My heart was already hurting for a friend with a leg injury. I was praying for him while preparing flowers for another family who just said good-bye to their beloved pet. My heart was heavy for their loss as I asked for God’s healing peace to wash over them.

I started my eighteen year old car when a noise and an odor began emitting from what is left of the engine. Oh my! I recalled the way my daughter “fixed” her bad tires when she was just out of college. “No problem Mom, if you don’t want to hear the noise, just turn up the radio!” Oops! Had I suddenly become my daughter? I said a prayer for my car as I hummed a little tune,“la, la, la, la…I can’t hear you!” By God’s grace alone, I managed to drop off the flowers and make it back home without smoke or flames pouring out of the hood of my car!

I arrive home and hear someone calling, “Hell-O?” Oh, it sounded so pitiful! Wait…that’s just the cat talking to me! He is a tiny bit spoiled by someone in this household (I’m not saying who!) and he wants my attention.

FOCUS! It is time to get back to my writing!

Suddenly, I remember another friend asked for my help with a reference letter. I promised I would write it today and mail it to her before the end of the week. Monday is Memorial Day, no mail delivery! I had better get going on that one!

A ding and a message on my phone from my friend in Oregon. Her best friend’s family member committed suicide on Sunday!  This is the second suicide in that family in less than two years!

The most powerful, yet shortest verse in all of Scripture is found in John 11:35. “Jesus Wept.” I write a note in the sympathy card as I grieve and pray with Holy Spirit. By doing so, I am sending God’s comfort and love to her over the miles.

This morning, one of the members of our Christian Authors and Writers group shared a word of encouragement with us:

Whatever God has laid His hand upon you to do…

Do it with all your strength

Car noises, cat’s craving attention and framing Manifestos are distractions.

Praying, loving, helping and weeping as Jesus wept…is God laying His hand upon me with Holy Interruptions. And today…I’m doing it with all of my strength.

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Higher

Her laughter was contagious. My little granddaughter was thoroughly enjoying her adventure on the swings. The whole time I was pushing her, she kept saying, “Go Higher Grandma, Go Higher!” What joy to hear my sweet little baby girl repeating the same message that God has been whispering in my ear these past few weeks, “I will take you higher.”

I believe God is calling each of us to go higher.

We are being called to return to a time when speaking the truth in love was not only the best way to be, but critical to civility. In a world full of injustice, we are called to stand up for the oppressed. Today, in this country and around the world, we are being called to return to honesty and more compassion toward the walking wounded, whoever they may be.

As the world (or its leaders) ask us to say no to the stranger, Jesus reminds us to welcome the stranger. When we see world leaders tell lies or inflict injustice, we are being called by God to go higher…to fight for the oppressed, defend the weak and uphold the truth.

When our children are having to defend their very right to life in their schools, we adults are being called to join them. We are called to care more…not less.

In these times, we are each being called by God to go higher!

Healing change in our country will come when we turn with a smile and laugh toward the heart of God and say, “Push me Higher Lord…Go Higher!”

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One Body

I just returned from a women’s retreat. At the end of the retreat, we closed with a beautiful song, “One Bread, One Body.” After I returned home, the words “one body” kept floating through my mind. Along with it, I felt a deep sadness. I sat before God and realized the sadness was not just mine, but that of Holy Spirit.

“What is this sadness Lord?” As soon as I asked the question, the answer came.

When did Jesus tell us to follow him, but be sure to divide up into separate denominations and congregations and sects and God forbid, cults etc? I don’t see many followers of Christ in the world today. What happened? Where did they go? Who told them to pack their bags and leave?

The truth is, we have folks who call themselves “Christians,” but they certainly don’t live the way Christ taught his disciples to live in the world. Or if they DO live as followers of Jesus, news reports seldom tell those stories. I think it’s time we change that, don’t you?

I think we’ve had enough horrific wars, daily killings, decimation of values and morals, lies, destruction of our planet and politicians who vote out of “fear” of losing their campaign money rather than truly living and voting from a place of “faith in Christ” as so many claim to do. What I see today in our country and world, is more separation and divide.

I can tell you right now my friends, our Lord did not come to destroy, but rather, to bring LIFE! Where do we find the news about THAT story?

Now, I’m not suggesting we become Polly Annas and pretend all is right and bright with the world. It’s not that easy. What I AM suggesting, is the American church stop living from a place of “fear” and start living from a place of “faith,” that God is still with us!

Maybe we need to quit listening to those who suggest we, for our own safety and survival, remain divided  out of “fear” and start listening more loudly to GOD who came, not to divide…not to separate…not to destroy, but to bring life! Maybe it’s time that followers of Christ start “uniting” rather than trusting the world’s command to fear the stranger and remain divided so we can be safe from an unknown enemy.

The truth is, The Good News is still alive and true followers of Jesus (those folks who follow the command to love others as God has loved them) are waking up!

God is waking up the dead church. God is breathing life back into those dry bones. God is calling us to become ONE body, not fractions of the body, not parts of a body, but ONE Body!

When Christians start living more from a place of faith, rather than from a place of fear, I believe the parts of the body that have gone off in the wrong direction, just might come back home to the heart of God. Perhaps then, our country might once again, become the UNITED States of America!

Are you uniting or dividing as you follow Christ? Or, are you a Christian in name only?

It’s time to pick up those packed bags and come home again “Christians” and become true followers of Jesus.

Christian churches, it is time to wake up! It is time to act as One Body and return home to the heart of our Lord.

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