God: The Punisher?

I grew up in the 90’s, and so one of the things my dad and I did together was watch professional wrestling. I’m talkin’ WWE Smackdown, The Nature Boy Ric Flair, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels-kind of wrestling.

I believe it shaped me into the strong, dramatic, theatrical, ridiculous woman I am today ;P

A lot of wrestlers had names that attempted to explain who they were. Big Show obviously was enormous. The Undertaker had that weird death vibe. Hulk Hogan was ripped like the Hulk (Side Note: in my family-we are big Ric Flair supporters, so even just TYPING Hulk Hogan’s name could be taken as Pompell treason ;))

I read 1 Chronicles 9 today and was reminded that in SO many people’s eyes, God’s wrestler name would be

“The Punisher”.

And I totally understand why! Verse one ends saying, “And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith” and there are SO many verses in the Old Testament about the consequences God bestows on people due to their sin. We may be tempted to believe that God still functions this way. When something negative happens in our life, it is an easy thought to jump to- “God is punishing me”.

Here’s the thing, though. He isn’t. God is immutable–meaning he is unchanging, BUT this is an aspect of his character that shifted after the cross.

Per God’s perfect plan, Christ took upon himself ALL of God’s wrath on the cross. ALL OF IT.  ALL of the punishment. ALL of the payment for sin. There is NO punishment left for us to bear! Yes, there are natural consequences for sins. And yes, God allows unfortunate things in our lives for our good and his perfect purpose–but HE IS NEVER PUNISHING YOU. That’s not how he rolls. Absolute pardon and forgiveness is ours, and God did it completely, unequivocally, and solitarily.

How sweet that truth is. Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as soon.

Birthday Bloggggggin’

First of all-I just want to say thanks to everyone who is reading 🙂 I’m excited about this month of writing! My sister complains that my blog is “too serious” 😛 so I decided to start out the month on a lighthearted note (and then be intense for the rest.) (JK!) (But maybe I’m kind of serious…) So here goes!

There’s a running joke in my family that my mom doesn’t know my birthday.

Now, in her defense-I was adopted, so it’s not like she was THERE, but still. Come on Mom. 😉

My birthday is the last day of July-July 31st (just like Harry Potter’s!) and FOR THE LIFE OF HER she can never remember if there are 30 or 31 days in July. How many insurance documents, school papers, and random things during my childhood had the wrong birthday date of July 30th filled in? Juuuust enough to allow us to tease her about it for the rest of her life. (Love you, Mom :D)

 

We also are notorious for not being able to celebrate birthdays on the actual day. Or month sometimes. I’ve had a handful of August celebrations, a few September ones, and one October one. We are busy people, the Pompells.

One of the BEST things about birthday celebrations-of course-is the cake! Every year I ask for an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen-the fudgey cookie crumble crunchies middle is a manifestation of everything that is good in this life. Okay, that’s a bit much-but seriously it’s DELICIOUS and I love it. I only have it once a year, so it’s a special lil’ treat yo’ self moment.

Also, let’s take a pause and appreciate how true this post is:

Oh my word, I love it haha. But actually I still get money every year! My younger brother, David, gives everyone $25 for their birthday. Without fail. Last year I convinced him to give me $2 extra so it’d be one dollar for every year I had been alive, and some how it worked! I’ve told him I expect that for the rest of my life and he seems VERY adamant against it–like it was a one time deal/miracle. I don’t know…it seems like a special tradition to me. I’m going to remind him that this year he’ll need an extra $3…I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Here’s the take away for today’s ramblings by Betty: In James, the Bible says that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. So when I enjoy the laughter of teasing my mom, the utter delight of the taste of ice-cream cake, or the sweet satisfaction of getting an extra three bucks from my little bro (fingers crossed)–how do I respond? Who do I thank? Our heart’s response for all the little & big joys in life should be praise (thank you God!) and worship (you’re AWESOME!!!). Our God-the Father of everything that is good in this world, who is constant, steadfast, immutable, and so incredibly kind- gives countless wonderful gifts to us. We so often forget to say thanks for his graciousness.

My mom engrained in me to write thank you notes after receiving gifts-it was rude not to! What gifts from God are you enjoying today that you haven’t thanked him for? I know many of you reading may be in a season of deep suffering, and it may be SO difficult to see anything with color in the midst of your very gray days.  I want to encouraged all of us to take some time today and thank God via prayer or journalling for good gifts in our lives-they are there-and I know He will forever cherish your little thank you note <3.

How Do You Stay So Positive?

happiness

It was a question via Facebook messenger, completely out of the blue from a high school girl from our Youth Center. She simply asked,

“How do you stay so positive?”

I wanted to hug her.

It’s such a simple, little question packed with SO much.

I remember what it is like to be a teenage girl. It’s overwhelming. It’s difficult. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. I love that this young lady feels all the feels and wants to fight negativity. Fight lies. Fight cynicism. Fight apathy. And have positivity.

Here’s how I responded to her that night (it was late, and a little jumbled :)):

“I know it’s a little cliche-but honestly, it’s my faith. Faith and age 😊 I wasn’t always like this-when I was your age, I was on depression medication, Zoloft, and definitely had breakdowns and felt despair. I’ve even had those in the last couple of years (though the older I get, the less and less frequent that happens). My faith keeps me positive for 2 main reasons: one, I believe that absolutely everything that happens, God can use for good-to grow me into a better woman. He is doing a million different things in my life all at once, for me- for my good, and I only can see a few of them. I believe He is good and patient and kind-so that helps a lot. And secondly, I believe that no matter what happens in this life–it’ll pass. I know it will. And eventually this life will be over and the best life will begin! And that helps me maintain a positive perspective too.

It doesn’t come naturally always. A lot of times i have to “walk myself to truth” and journal out what I know to be true, and what lies I may be believing that are causing my heartache. It doesn’t just happen overnight; it is a journey. But I can say for fact, that choosing joy and fighting for positivity now, is sooooooooo much easier today. So wherever you’re at-keep fighting for joy. Figure out truth and preach it to yourself and have others speak truth to you too! God really is the great Comforter and believing in him-his power & goodness & control- is the only way I’ve found to really BE positive!”

Questions About Satan

questions

I love it when the Youth Center teens ask me random questions. 🙂 Here’s one I got the other day:

“Why does Satan punish sinners? Wouldn’t he be happy you “turned your back on god” and like went to the dark side? Alternatively if Satan punishes sinners why isn’t he considered good?”

Such a fantastic question, right?!

It all boils down to the nature of who Satan is. Is he anti-God, or anti-people? It he a just punisher or an embodiment of total evil?

I was falling asleep last night thinking of this question, and this analogy came to mind:

Imagine I take you on a vacation to the most amazing resort in the world. I pay for the plane ticket, book the rooms, and spend the whole 10 days trying to get to know you and spend time with you and love ya well with a vacation. It’s not perfect-you get sunburn, some bug-bites, etc. but even so, it’s an amazing, incredible trip. 

When the vaca is over, I say to you, “Alright (insert your name). It’s time to go home. Pack your bags and lets go!” I grab my duffle, knowing how much time, money, and energy I’ve spent on this resort-I was HAPPY to do it, because I FREAKING LOVE YOU, but I’m ready for us to go home. I’m at the door with my keys out, and I look behind me and see you lying on the bed playing with your phone. “______, ” I say, “it’s time to go. What are you doing?” 

What you tell me next, is a shot through the heart. You tell me that you don’t want to go home with me. That you’re thankful for the nice room, and the delicious food, and the scuba-diving lessons, but you are pissed about the bugbites, and don’t really enjoy my company. You tell me that you find me boring-or really just not all that important and that you’d much rather just be by yourself than with me. Beside, while I’m there you can’t do the things you REALLY wanna do here in Florida. You tell me I’m a killjoy. Me, the one who took you parasailing and snorkeling and to the best Indian Restaurant you’ve ever experienced -think I’m a killjoy?

I implore you-please come. Don’t stay here-it’s not safe here without me. This is an amazing resort, but the owner is absolutely insane. Without me here to keep you safe–

but you cut me off. “No, Betty. I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to get to know you. I don’t care if you did all these “amazing things” for me. I don’t care. I just want to be here. Without you. Doing whatever the heck I want. So back off and just go home. And I don’t even believe that @#$% about the owner being a sociopath. He’s probably not all that bad. He’ll probably understand why I didn’t want to go with you.”

We argue for hours. You’re being ridiculous and hurtful. But, you’re an adult. You can make your own decisions. You clearly don’t really know me. You rejected me. So I leave. 

What you won’t believe is that the owner of the resort not only hates me-but he also hates you. He hates everyone. He is a sociopath. If you would’ve loved me-he would have been furious. You hating me makes him a little less mad-but he still hates you. When you choose to stay at the resort-he doesn’t pat you on the back and welcome you to the family of “Betty Haters”–he, evil to the core–begins tormenting you because that is who he is and what he loves to do. 

Do you understand this whole little story? God has given us time here on earth (the vacation)-HE made the earth perfectly habitable, HE gave you gifts and passions and joys, and relationships (snorkeling, etc.) and yes-there is such awful stuff here too, but Satan (the owner of the resort) is the ruler of this present world (2 Cor. 4:4) and brought evil into it. When it’s time for you to die (go home from the vacation) and you choose to NOT go with God, the only alternative is to stay with him. And he is awful. Absolutely awful.

So, Satan doesn’t “punish sinners”-he hates EVERY human. Attacks the righteous ones on earth especially, and then in the afterlife, continues hating all people, whether they were really good or really bad, as long as they rejected Christ-they are with him, and he will do what he loves to do. You “going to the dark side” only brings him joy because that’s one more person to torment, one less person worshipping God is complete fullness of joy in heaven.

Satan is a little bit of a joke in our current culture. And I think he prefers it that way. Laugh about him. Don’t take him seriously. Think he’s harmless. But that is not true my friends. He is real. He is awful. He is heartless.

Two Spurgeon Quotes For Sufferers

I was surprised at the Passion Conference I attended earlier this week, with how much the speakers taught on suffering. They prayed we would thank God, and even one day cherish “the nightmare” he allows in our lives. Thinking about that [difficult] concept brought these two quotes to mind. I pray they bless you, and that God gives us eyes to see!

“I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days. And when God has seemed most cruel to me he has then been most kind. If there is anything in this world for which I would bless him more than for anything else it is for pain and affliction. I am sure that in these things the richest tenderest love has been manifested to me. Our Father’s wagons rumble most heavily when they are bringing us the richest freight of the bullion of his grace. Love letters from heaven are often sent in black-edged envelopes. The cloud that is black with horror is big with mercy. Fear not the storm. It brings healing in its wings and when Jesus is with you in the vessel the tempest only hastens the ship to its desired haven.” ―C. H. Spurgeon

“No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”
― C.H. Spurgeon