Tag Archives: God

Artwork: Guarding His Herd

I have finally finished the oil painting that I have been working on for the past six months.  It is a large canvas…24 X 30.

The vision for this work began as a challenge to myself.  I wanted to paint a thunderstorm over the Badlands.  My goals were to create distance; capture the back glow of light in a storm and the roughness of the Badlands terrain; and to improve my drawing skills by including animals….Hereford cattle.

The biggest challenge of this painting was the sky.  I just could not get it right.  Then, I realized I was painting a Minnesota sky.  The clouds were too close.  Once, I got that right, the painting started to work.

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My goal with the cattle was to paint a very strong bull lovingly guarding his family.

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That is how I think of God.

 

 

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What Is On My Mind Today? Fear, Hurricanes, Fires, Earthquakes and God

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As a two-time cancer survivor I know a thing or two about fear.  One thing that I have learned is that fear can be addictive. The adrenaline rush of fear acts on the body much like an opiate.  Your heart and breathing rates increase as your fight and flight reflexes engage.

Sometimes,  fear feels good. Like the thrill you get when going on a carnival ride, riding a horse at a full gallop, or are jumping out of an airplane.  At other times fear can be overwhelming, such as when you get a cancer diagnosis or see your country ravaged by natural disasters or war.

Living in constant fear is awful, because fear is the worst of thieves.  It steals precious treasures…happiness, peace of mind and time.  What is worse, fear is contagious and has been weaponized.    Governments, religions and individuals often use fear to increase power, control people and receive attention.

Calamity begets fear. When disaster strikes, people, even unbelievers, feel the immediate need to put the fear of God in hearts and minds by communicating that the crisis is God’s fault, divine punishment for sinful living, or that the end of the world is coming and coming fast.

Whenever I hear that something is a sign of the end times, I find peace by turning to the Bible and re-reading the comforting words of Christ Jesus when he clearly states that no man will know when the end will be.  Only God knows, not Jesus, not any human.

Jesus further reassures us by instructing,  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24: 4-7.  

There have been many, many wars, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes since Christ spoke those words almost two thousand years ago and humans are still here.   Are these the end times? I don’t know, nobody does.  What is important, is to believe that Jesus Christ is your personal savior, then, there is no reason to fear the end times. What is there to fear? Going to heaven and experiencing perfect love?

Can natural disasters be signs from God?  Absolutel!  The Bible tell us so.  The question is what is the message that God is sending?

Human’s cannot surprise God, he has seen it all before. I am pretty sure that:

  • God has been aware of humanity’s sinful ways since Adam and Eve disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden and then to make matters worse a jealous Cain put Abel under with a rock upside the head.
  • There have been hurricanes hitting coastal areas for as long as there has been oceans.
  • Forest fires have existed since lightening hit its first tree and man learned how to make fire.
  • Earthquakes in Mexico, or anywhere else, are never a punishment from God due to United States presidential election results, no matter what a Hollywood actress may believe.

This “disaster is a punishment from God” philosophy reminded me of when I was battling my cancer. I remember someone asking me what I thought I had done that God was punishing me so harshly.

After this empathy challenged person, who felt greatly blessed with good health and substantial wealth when compared to myself, a fifty year old woman stuck in a body cast, trapped in pain and a hospital bed in her living room, full of cancer and without a lot of good options, had finished suggesting that self-reflection and repentance on my part was necessary to appease an angry God, I responded.

My response then, would be the same as today, to those who suggest that disease and disaster are signs of an angry God.  I agree.  God gets angry.  He may use illness and other trials to test people, but, maybe, just maybe, he does not punish or test the sick, traumatized and devastated. Maybe he is testing the response of those around them.

Why do I believe this? Because, Jesus clearly tells me so in Matthew 25: 31-46

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I am a strong believer in the power of prayer.  God can and does do miracles through prayer.  However, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”   James 2: 14-17

God promises to never leave or forsake us. He always keeps his promises. Christians need not live in constant fear of the end times, physical or natural disaster.  It is during those times that we should look to our Heavenly Father and take stock of our blessings. Call on him for faith, strength, courage and to grant us the peace that passes all understanding. Then, it is time to bravely roll up our sleeves and get to work helping those who need assistance.

I will always have a healthy fear of God, but I have no interest in being a “Chicken Little, The Sky is Falling!” christian. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” 

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Prayer is a powerful. Please pray for those affected by the hurricanes, wild fires and other natural disasters.  Then, volunteer, give blood, or donate at:  

The Salvation Army Disaster Relief   https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/

Red Cross Disaster Relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/disaster-relief?scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=CjwKCAjwos7NBRAWEiwAypNCe1F5-3X-x10xxZ_UJsDexvntU8pdxkfDJIPYaFVxOIE98y5BQb92uRoCK3EQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIGEldnxmNYCFRU5Twod-6cAMQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is On My Mind Today: A Good Habit to Have….Reading!

In addition to working on the same oil painting for the past six months, I have been reading lots of books.

Many of the books I have been reading are historical diaries.  It is fascinating to read first person history to learn about the situations and challenges faced by past generations from those who were actually there.

As a college-educated woman, I took several courses dedicated to instilling fear into the hearts of historians regarding the twin bogeymen of bias and braggadocio and how they taint first person historical accounts. Being able to discern fact from fiction is a good skill for any reader to have…especially historians. It seems to me that too few of today’s “historians” or historical experts immerse themselves in primary sources before diving headlong into the the shallow water of secondary sources such as the ever present, easily accessed and factually challenged internet.

A good example of this type of study would be of the Christian who reads a lot of Facebook posts about scripture and who can expertly google biblical verses required to further a narrative, but who neglects spending time reading the actual Bible.

While I do read my bible frequently, I must confess that I have never read the whole Bible from cover to cover.  After applying some thought to the matter, I found the situation unacceptable.  So,  I have spent the past several months doing just that.  I am through the New Testament and am in the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

What a wonderful experience it has been!  I have learned so much.  There is definitely only one God and he’s it;  Jesus is the Messiah; and creating us humans and giving us free will must make God constantly bang his Holy Head against a heavenly wall. And yet, he still loves us.

In addition to working through reading the Bible, my reading list from this summer has been somewhat extensive and I must say there has not been a dud in the bunch. Well, one was close to being a dud, but I muscled through.  I strongly recommend picking up any of these books and giving them a read.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This World War II story will clue the reader in pretty quickly as to why you stand for the national anthem and our flag.  This book puts you right along side the downed airman and his trials adrift in the ocean and vividly describes the horrors he experienced as a Japanese prisoner of war.

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The Classic Slave Narratives edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr.   This book includes:
The Life of Olaudah Equiano; The History of Mary Prince; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  These accounts are real and heartrending.

Eyewitness to the Alamo by Bill Groneman.   I may have never physically been to the Alamo nor seen the American’s fight to prevent the Mexican Army from taking the fort; however, after reading this book, I have in my mind.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel.  This is a thoughtful read even though about two-thirds of this book is dedicated to Ms. Schlissel advancing her theory that women were the great bulwark and victims of western expansion. According to her, they did more than their share of the work and suffering.  Not only do statistics undermine her conclusions, but so do the actually women in their diaries. This book is a good example of a modern Monday morning quarterbacking type of historical bias.  As to  her repeated claim that women cared more for the dead along the Oregon Trail than did men, because women kept count of the graves in their diaries and the men just noted the death.  I would like to point out that the men were driving a large oxen team and the women were riding in the wagon or walking behind it.   Once the gals made sure that all of their kids were accounted for, and not likely to fall out the wagon, what else did they have to do?  It’s not like there were telephone poles to count.

These Is My Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1902, Arizona Territories, by Nancy E. Turner.  This book is a fictional adaptation of the author’s great-grandmother’s diary.   For those who are familiar with the desert southwest, this is a quick must read.  Good story.

The Ox Team on the Old Oregon Trail 1852-1906 by Ezra Meeker.  Ezra was there, did that and then, many years later, did it again to teach a nation just how hard pioneers on the Oregon trail had it.  It is a great read and a “how to” book on going west with oxen. Theodore Roosevelt even gets a mention.

The Fetterman Massacre by Dee Brown.  This is a military history about the second largest massacre of United States troops by Indians where no white soldier’s survived.  I had never heard of this event and thought it would be good to learn about it. The battle of Little Big-Horn where General George Armstong Custer died was the largest Indian Battle with no United States military survivors.

Captivity of the Oatman Girls by R. B. Stratton.  The Oatman Family was massacred in 1851 by the Gila River while on their way to California.  Two of their daughters, Mary and Olive, were taken captive by those who had slain the rest of their family.  One brother, Lorenzo, also survived the attack when he was left for dead.  I decided to read this book, because I saw a picture of Olive Oatman and her facial tattoos.  I wanted to know her story. It’s quite a story! It includes Mormon church history, bravery, love, cowardice, slavery, and freedom.  What a strong beautiful young woman!

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Olive Oatman

Adeline and Julia, edited by Robert Myers and Janet Coryell.  These two sisters kept diaries.  The younger girl describes a very thorough picture of what growing up in Victorian times meant for a principled feisty female child who liked to be a tom boy. The older sister and a couple of her friends, decide to try their luck at homesteading in Kansas Territory.  These girls have a good time, survive hardship and always seem to make money in their business adventures including running a sod house boarding house.  This is a great book and should be required reading for all young women.

Butter in the Well by Linda K Hubalek.  This sweet bit of fiction is based on the Swedish homesteader’s experience.  It even comes with traditional recipes.

Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.  This is the best woman’s diary I have ever read!  I read it a second time, because it was hard to believe that it is a real account of Elinore’s life, but it is.  Ms. Pruitt-Stewart has many virtues that I admire: bravery, independence, kindness, practicality, a sense of adventure and excellent marksmanship skills. I strongly recommend this book.

 

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Elinore Pruitt-Stewart

Life in the Far West by George Fredrick Ruxton.  After reading so many stories about people who decided to leave everything behind and go west.  I decided to try and find one of the books that these early pioneers had read that inspired them to take on such an adventure. Mr. Ruxton, an Englishman,  died before reaching the tender age of thirty, but he packed a lot of living into those few short years.  This book was first published in 1849 and describes the life of a fur-trapper in the Rocky mountains.  Surprisingly, this book is written like a novel using the vernacular of time which has been sprinkled lightly throughout with wit and where the author adds a pinch of  ironic humor and observation now and again.  It is a book that is hard to put down once began. He ends this account of his life in the mountains on a surprisingly pleasant and happy note.

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I also have read a book on German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and a rather long history of the Rothschild banking family.  My current read is a book called, “A Woman in Berlin.”  It is an anonymous diary that a woman began keeping in April of 1945 just as the Russians entered Berlin at the close of World War II.  This book graphically tells about the fall of Berlin from a woman’s prospective including her victimization by Russian soldiers.

I hope you find time, even if it is just a half hour a day, to pick up a book and read!

 

 

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What Is On My Mind Today? I Just Don’t Believe It…

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There are some things in this world that I am never going to believe.

That there is no God.

That trying to follow the ten commandments would be a bad thing.

That Bible and science are contradictory.

That vaccines cause autism.

That essential oils are essential to anything except the plants from which they are extracted.

That homeopathic medicine is equal to modern medicine.

That what pharmaceutical companies charge for drugs isn’t larceny.

That social media has been good for humanity.

That video games are better for young people than going outside and playing.

That texting isn’t the kiss-off of personal communications.

That the United States is not a great nation.

That Russia looked at all the 2016 Presidential Race candidates and said, “Trump, now, he’s the pony I’d put my money on!

That Russia doesn’t always try to meddle in our elections.

That Congressional Republicans support the president.

That Speaker Paul Ryan’s Healthcare plan has anything to do with either health or care.

That repealing and replacing Obamacare would be better for the people who need affordable healthcare than fixing it. Especially, since Republican leadership tried to repeal it time after time, year after year and all the while no one in leadership saw fit to draft a humane, fiscally responsible, workable, passable alternative.

That there are not current democratic members of Congress, and in state legislatures, from south of the Mason-Dixon Line, who had ancestors that were confederates.

That historical statues are more of a threat to a person’s mental, emotional and physical health than what is viewed on television, in video games or at the movies.

That black on black violence is less news worthy than statue intimidation.

That the average person under the age of fifty could tell the difference between a statue of a Union or Confederate General if they were placed side by side.

That the democratic party has the best interests of minority groups in mind.

That it is ever a waste of time to vote.

That sexism doesn’t exist.

That there is such a thing as a “woman’s” brain.

That female genital mutilation is ever all right.

That female subjugation is ever all right.

That all cultures and ideas are of equal value.

That law’s weren’t meant to be followed and enforced.

That there are not bad laws.

That bad laws do not need to be repealed.

That peace can be found through violence and intimidation.

That the generations that passed civil rights laws and spent a lifetime teaching children and grandchildren not to be racist are now all of a sudden racist.

That racism doesn’t exist.

That only white people can be racist.

That all police officer’s are racist.

That Antifa is peaceful and law abiding.

That white supremacists are not a threat to minorities.

That the age of enlightenment is now.

That any higher education institution should receive federal funding if they support segregation of any kind including “safe zones.”

That any higher education institution should receive federal funding if they discriminate against any group…minority or majority.

That past generations should be known only by their faults.

That the people on earth now are just the smartest ever.

That freedom of speech is not under attack in our public squares, institutions and places of work.

That political correctness hasn’t gone off the rails.

That ideological social media censorship doesn’t exist.

That theater arts majors know how the run the world and what’s best for everyone.

That mainstream media strives to report news factually and without bias.

That truth is not close to being declared officially dead.

That everything is relative and there are no longer any absolutes.

That our society suffers from an excess of personal responsibility.

That our society suffers from an excess of self-determination.

That our society suffers from an excess of humility.

That anyone who has been married to Bill Clinton could honestly be creeped out by any man in shoe leather.

That diet Coke tastes as good as regular Coke.

That margarine tastes like butter.

That Elvis is still alive.

That if the people supporting Kaepernick don’t watch NFL football and those offended by players not standing for the national anthem continue to boycott the NFL, that it would be wise to buy advertising time during the games.

And, what set me off today….

That anyone wants to see Amy Schumer or any other member of the Schumer family naked.

Just saying….

 

What Is On My Mind Today? I Have Climbed the Mountain…The Trip to Montana

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Yellowstone Mountains

I remember the call from my oncologist so very clearly.  After months of battling brittle bones and being injected daily with bone hardening drugs into my stomach, just as I thought I had begun to make progress, he called me to tell me that my bone marrow biopsy was positive for multiple myeloma…a bone marrow cancer.

My first thought was thank God they finally know what’s slowly killing me.  My second thought was like the words of the song says, “Lord, this time you gave me a mountain. A mountain that I may never climb.  It isn’t a hill any longer. You gave me a mountain this time.”

It isn’t surprising that my first thoughts were of God and mountains. Throughout the four years that I battled multiple myeloma, at first just to survive, then to get mobility back, I would often mentally picture walking in the mountains of Montana.  Mountains have always been where I have felt closest to God and found peace.

Multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, destroyed my bones.  They became so brittle that all of my thoracic and lumbar vertebra sustained compression fractures.  I once had six new fractures in my back at one time. I also endured several cracked ribs.

I would break my back doing the simplest of tasks including flossing my teeth, lifting a toilet lid and trying to pick a shirt up off of the floor.  For over 18 months I was imprisoned in a chin to hip hard body cast.  I spent over two and a half years confined to a hospital bed in my living room staring out of my living room window at a small oak tree in my front yard.  I was unable to stand or walk without using a walker for over three years. So, being able to hike in the mountains of Montana was a pretty far-fetched goal.

If in reality I couldn’t get to mountains, I could in my mind. I dreamed, I was in those mountains, often.  I was there when I was encased in that body cast. I spent time in them when imprisoned in the hospital bed in my living room. I was climbing those mountains the day they put the Hickman chemo port into my chest.  I visited those snow covered peaks each time they bored holes into my bones using only local anesthesia before they used a massive syringe to suck out bone marrow samples.

Those mountains were in my nursing home, rehab and hospital rooms. They were there the day I watched, “the nuclear bomb” of chemo for my stem cell plant slowly enter my body.

There were times during those years of battling cancer, fear, depression, chemo therapy and stem cell transplant side effects, mobility loss, and pain when my only contact with the great outdoors, for this outside farm girl, was dreaming of mountains and their meadows.

To beat my cancer I did everything the doctors asked me to do, except for one thing. I refused to use a wheelchair.  I had no intention of being trapped in one of those. For, I had decided, like Winston Churchill stated in his greatest and shortest speech to  “Never, never, never give up.”  In fact, I bought a silver dog tag engraved with those words to always wear around my neck on a necklace that included my cross, a silver family tree given to me by my grandson on a Mother’s Day long ago and the first ring my husband ever gave me.

After making the decision to fight on, no matter how sick I was, whenever someone helped me out of bed, I would push my walker around my kitchen island until I was too tired to go any further. First one, then five, 10, 20 and eventually a 100 laps a day.  I wore a trail into my hardwood floors.

During the long months that stretched into years when I was too sick and weak to leave my home, occupational and physical therapists would come to bathe me, and help me relearn the simplest of tasks.  First, I had to learn how to get out of bed without breaking more bones.  As I would sit up I could feel my weak spine bend sideways just like a willow branch and would pray that it would not snap and paralyze me.  It didn’t.

Eventually, I re-learned how to do stairs. Then, after months of being totally house bound, with two therapists, one on each side, I was allowed to go outside and push my walker to the end of my driveway and back.

There were many trips to the end of my driveway.   I can still remember the sheer terror of trying to step down from the driveway to the street for the first time without jarring my spine.  I did it, though, and my world began to grow. First just to the edge of our property line, next came the end of our street and eventually laps around the block pushing a walker with tennis balls on the bottom.  As I grew stronger, I mastered using a walker with wheels, next came two canes and eventually just one cane.

I walked and walked. I walked with shuffling feet, bent over, with a broken back.  I walked sick and exhausted from chemo. I walked bald.  I walked masked.  I walked on flat streets, inclines and hills.  I wore out many tennis balls.  I have worn out many rubber stoppers on the bottom of my canes. I climbed stairs many times a day just to strengthen my bones and leg muscles. Each step I took was me telling my cancer to go to blazes.

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Pushing my walker on a hiking trail at William O’Brien State Park

After such a hard and long cancer battle, you cannot imagine the joy of traveling out of state for the first time in almost six years; being in Great Falls, Montana, to visit and hug my dear Aunt Margaret who faithfully called me weekly throughout all of those years to lead me in Bible study; and to at last stand on a hiking trail in Montana and see a horizon filled with snow and wild flower covered mountains.

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Uncle Klynn and Aunt Margie

As I stood beneath a snow-capped footstool of God, the bible verse that I clung to throughout my cancer battle was again prayed.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

It did not matter whether I could only lift my eyes to the top of a small oak tree in my front yard, or the summit of a great mountain, my help always came from the Lord….who never left me or forsook me.

With baby steps, a bit a grit and by the grace of God, I climbed the mountain!!!

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I hope you enjoy these vacation pictures!


Lots of Wild Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

 

Beautiful Wild Flowers

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Animals galore! Bear, wolf, elk and antelope too! 

 

Geyser basins.

Waterfalls 

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Mountains!

Doug!

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Me!

It was a great trip. We hiked from sun up to sundown and I never even got sore muscles….Bully!!!!!

What Is On My Mind Today? What Kind of a Wondrous Love is that? Happy Easter!

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While I have taught Christian Education and read the scriptures for most of my life.  I had never actually read the entire Bible cover to cover. I decided last winter that if anyone asked me, if I had read the entire Bible, I wanted to answer in the affirmative. For the past several months, I have been reading the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse.

The New Testament went fast, but the Old Testament is a much slower read.  At least for me.  I am over half way through and am now about midway through the chapter of Psalms.

I have been a very good reader of the New Testament, but whenever I read the Old Testament, I get overwhelmed and a bit freaked out. Parts of the Old Testament truly test me.   One of the stories that has always troubled me was the story of Abraham and Isaac.
That story is about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to test Abraham’s faith.

The very idea of sacrificing a child is repulsive and terrifying.  As the scriptures tell us, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”  My treasures are my children and I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to lose a child, let alone be party to their death.

That is now thinking, not then thinking.

For much of ancient human history child sacrifice was considered the ultimate offering to appease or please an angry God.  At the time that the Old Testament was written many cultures practiced child sacrifice both in the old and new worlds.

The Bible sites many examples of this practice.

2 Kings 17:31 
the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.

Psalm 106: 38 

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Personally, I will never forget a trip to the Papago Indian Reservation, with a member of that tribe, to visit a site where four small children had lost their lives during a ritual human sacrifice.  As the legend was told, there had been an big badger who had dug a hole so deep that it had tapped into a natural spring.  Water was gushing out of the spring into the dry desert.  Fearful of their world being flooded, it was decided to sacrifice four small children to save the tribe.  The children’s small bodies were shoved into the hole, the water stopped, and the tribe saved and therefore, the sacrifice had worked.

Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac would not have been considered unusual. What is unusual is the strength of Abraham’s faith.  Abraham had been promised by God that he would be the leader of a great nation, have more descendants than there were stars in the heavens and that these descendants would be the result of his union with his very elderly wife Sarah who was past menopause.  Isaac’s birth and life was a promise fulfilled by God.

Genesis 17:19

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Genesis 17:21

But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”

Genesis 21: 12 

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

Genesis 22: 2  

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

After reading this Biblical passage more than once, it occurred to me, that Abraham told his servants that “we will come back to you”.  Regardless, of what Abraham had been asked by God to do on that mountain, he believed that both he and Isaac would be returning.  His faith in the promise made to him by God was so strong, that even if Isaac had been sacrificed, he believed that the boy would be returning with him.  God would not break his promise that through Isaac there would be an everlasting covenant, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead.

God providing the ram for a sacrifice instead of Isaac, certainly symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ.  However, while God was making an example of the unfailing faith of Abraham, God was also setting an example of ending human child sacrifice. In fact, God abhorred child sacrifice and has a history of destroying  nations who practiced it.

2 Kings 17:17 

They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


2 Kings 16:3

He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.


2 Kings 17:31 

the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.


2 Kings 21: 6

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritualists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


Ezekiel 23:37

for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.

Not only did God abhor child sacrifice, he preferred obedience to sacrifice period.


1 Samuel 15:22 

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1:11

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

Psalm 40:6
 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
  but my ears you have opened
  burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Psalm 51:16

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hebrews 10:8
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with
the law.

Mark 12:23

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Even after being raised in a Christian faith that believes in the trinity of God….Father, Son and Holy Ghost…in my mind God the Father was a much tougher guy and quite different in temperament than God the Son.  Christ’s description of his heavenly Father, I must admit had fallen on deaf ears.

John 8:19 

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

Luke 10:22 

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

John 14: 7 

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

These past few months as I have read through the Old Testament, it has become very apparent to me that the God of the Old Testament, is not nearly as angry and blood thirsty as I had believed.  He is, in fact, just as loving and tender as his son Jesus.
The violence of the Old Testament was never the wish or will of a just and loving God, but the result of humankind’s transgressions.  We are the angry, blood thirsty, immoral and vengeful.  Not God. Never God.

The Old Testament clearly demonstrates time and time again that having free-will and the ability to defy God and commit acts of rebellion (sin) has consequences.  As the very first couple learned in the Garden of Eden.

Isaiah 50: 1 

This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.

So, it seems to me that Isaac on that mountain is us asking,  “Father?”

“Yes, my child?” 

“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my child.”

God did provide a sacrificial lamb for Abraham.  Just like he provided the sacrificial lamb who gave up his life on the top of another hill, shaped like a skull-cap, called Golgotha. There, God kept his covenant with humankind when he provided his own son as the sacrifice to wipe away the sins of the world. Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Jesus always knew that his destiny was to die on that cross.

John 10:15 

just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the greatest expression of love.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

When I think about the Trinity, Jesus was not the only one on that cross at Calvary.  God the Father was right there with him.  It was a combination of child sacrifice and self-sacrifice.

John 3:16 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is awe inspiring to know that God, who abhorred child sacrifice, sacrificed his only son, because of his great love for me, to forgive my transgressions and rebellion.  Really, what kind of a wondrous love is that?

Hymn: “What Wondrous Love Is This” 

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM –
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Tomorrow morning is Easter.  A day to celebrate the risen Lord, and his victory over death and the grave.  He has risen!  He has risen indeed!

Happy Easter!