Worship a bunny?

WHITE-RABBIT-RED-RABBIT-image-for-Q-website

My family just returned from a weeklong vacation to Cancun, Mexico. While we had a wonderful time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches and listening to mariachi music, I could not help but be fascinated by all the Mayan and Aztec culture that surrounded us.  There are temple ruins in many locations along the Yucatan and most offer tourist packages to traipse around the old, stone structures and learn about the ancient religion of Mexico’s native people.  While I am sure it is fascinating to most, I didn’t have a desire to pay money to climb hundreds of feet to the top of some crumbling rocks.

However, a couple of relics that did vex me were 2 large statues just down from our condo. Along the central expressway that allows you to move along all the beautiful resorts is a promenade park with luscious vegetation and palm trees.  Nestled among the flowering plants and trees are 2 stone images that caught my attention.  After driving past it for the first few days without any attention, all of sudden, it caught my eye.  One afternoon, I walked down to get a closer look.  One stone statuette was of a rabbit at least 12-15 feet tall and the other was a stone figure of a naked man kneeling in front which was about 7 feet tall.  Several feet away, on the other side of the park was another set of rabbit and man statues. Bunny worship

After taking a few photos with my iPhone, I walked back to our condo and began to do some research. The ancient Mayan and Aztec religions worshipped many gods.  One of the main gods involved in their worship was a fertility goddess named Ixchel.  An interesting dynamic of this particular goddess was its involvement of rabbits and eggs.  Both are associated with fertility and were reverently worshipped by these ancient people groups.  I was now beginning to understand why Mexico would proudly display stone statues of a man bowing before a very large rabbit.

A 15 minute ferry ride from Cancun lies ‘Isla Mujeres.’ Mujeres is woman in Spanish so it translates, Woman’s Island.  On the island there have been found many statues of rabbits within the temple ruins.  All part of the worship of Ixchel – the goddess of fertility.  While I certainly recognize that the people of Mexico do not still worship rabbits or follow the ancient traditions of their forefathers, I find it interesting to know where their culture and some of their traditions originated from.

The worship of rabbits dates all the way back to bible times where Nimrod’s son, Tammuz, was worshipped. The worship of Tammuz, which originated in the Middle East, is filled with a lot of similarities of Ixchel worship.  Both pagan deities involve worship of the sun and moon as well.   Ishtar was Tammuz’s mother, and where we derive the name Easter.  I don’t want to get into all the details of the particular genesis of these celebrations.  However, I will say that upon doing some diligent research on Ishtar and Tammuz you will find earie similarities to other traditions of Christianity.  Practices observed today that began thousands of years prior to Roman Catholicism.

I happen to love history so I find “digging around” in ancient cultures, religions and people groups fascinating. Since I do believe history repeats itself, there is much we can learn from going back and understanding what our forefathers did before us.  And we can certainly acquire a measure of wisdom from knowing what NOT to do or rather how NOT to repeat the mistakes of those who have lived before us.

Nevertheless, you and I are here in the 21st century and in “modern” times and about to celebrate our independence from Great Britain – July 4th.  I wonder if most Americans realize that July 4th could really be noted as a religious holiday.  A day where we celebrate our forefathers breaking free from the iron grips of the Church of England and its kingdom power over us.  A time when much bloodshed was spilled in order for us to form this great country of ours under the principles of the holy bible and God.  Where man is free to worship the Creator God in fullness of truth and precept.

I can’t help but ponder if there is any correlation between the blessings our country has enjoyed over the past 238 years and its roots and foundations on the truth of the bible. I wonder if there is any correlation in Mexico worshipping rabbits hundreds of years ago and its state today.  A country some might call “third world.”  A country that has paradise qualities but, also serious crises of education, security, human rights and health.  Sadly, a large portion of Mexico today lies in poverty and the average worker in Cancun makes just dollars a day.

During our visit, we found the native people of Mexico very hospitable and eager to take all of our American money. Yet sadly, as a people group, they are far behind other countries in development of medicine, technology and business.  And yet, they still hold onto and revere their customs of old-even paying homage to their ancient religions.  I wonder how long the grand rock structures of Ixchel worship will be publically displayed in their city.  Do the people of Cancun even notice the 7 foot naked man kneeling before an animal with large ears?

It seems absurd to us today that man could revere a four-legged creature and pray to it for blessings and prosperity.  And yet, isn’t that what so many Americans participate in with the worship of power, sex and money?  As a nation and culture, will we continue to mix our forefathers religion of Judeo-Christianity with the worship of intellect, influence, and riches?  If so, what demise will our country suffer?  How long will America’s greatness last?  Questions that need to be asked, especially for the sake of our younger generations. If we continue on the downward slide we are on, will they be able to enjoy the same blessings we had?

“I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides Me.”

This morning I happened to be reading from the prophet Isaiah. One of my favorite portions of the Old Testament when my eyes fell on the 44th chapter.  God is pleading with His children, Israel, to turn from their idol worship and seek Him only.  In verse 10, God asks man a bold question, “who would form a god or mold an image that would profit him nothing?”

Throughout the entire chapter, you can see that man had been making their own gods to bow down before.  Yet, in His love, God warns them to turn from their stone images and call out to Him.  God is pleading with His people and admonishing them that images made of stone will never profit them in any way, only He can satisfy them.  Isaiah reminds the people that they were created for God’s glory and the success and pleasures that they were craving would only be found in true worship to the creator rather than the creation.

On this holiday of July 4th, many of us will sing ‘God Bless America.’  I pray that as you do, stop and meditate on the words of this historic song and be thankful for the freedoms we all enjoy, and the truth that is our nation’s foundation.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love, Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans white with foam,

God bless America, My home sweet home.

 

http://www.lisaroitsch.com

Remembering Who You

The Buying and Selling of the Human Soul

No Sale

No two words have evoked more emotion in the 21st century than these:  SEX TRAFFICKING.  Mothers and Fathers around the globe are concerned for the safety of their children.   Entire nations are being internally destroyed by the de-valuing of women, men and children.  We hear about it almost daily in the news.  The statistics are staggering and depressing.  It is becoming an epidemic and the most exasperating part of all – it is happening right under our noses and most people do not have a clue.

For 2 years I worked at a treatment facility that served teenage survivors of sex slavery.  The pain and agony I witnessed daily in the faces of the young girls we served changed my life.  Each girl‘s story was filled with tragedy. Our youngest client was 9 years of age.  Astonishingly, her mother had sold her to pay off her drug debt. The saddest part of the stories were that nearly 100% of the time the girls believed that it was their fault that they were used this way – that somehow they deserved this kind of treatment.

Most of these girls had been brainwashed to believe so many lies about themselves.  Over time, the repeated violence, sex and drugs wrapped them with layers of shame. Apart from the goodness of God, they would be trapped in this web for a lifetime. Seeing the effects of shame in their lives was devastating.  The lack of confidence and hopeless outlook on life opened my eyes to see how the enemy has invaded our culture and has imparted his lies into our youth causing the feeling – my life has no value.

The bible warns us through Jesus’ words that a robber does indeed exists among us.  “Jesus spoke and said, the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10 NKJ

The “thief” has one objective – he wants to weave his web of deception in our minds.  One of his primary goals is for you and me to NOT trust God.  And the second is just as paralyzing: he wants you to believe a lie about who you truly are.  The tool our preying enemy has forged to use against us is none other than SHAME.  Although the enemy can be very deceptive, he is not very creative, since this is the very same tool he used in the Garden when he deceived Eve.  He begins fashioning this weapon as soon as possible and for most, it usually begins in early childhood.  Unfortunately, I have been intimately acquainted with this condition numerous times throughout my own life.  But it was never clearer than when I walked with the girls who had been traumatized by trafficking.

At any given moment, there are two forces at work — Good and Evil. Light verses Darkness.  These forces are pitted against one another and are vying for control of our minds.   There are no grey areas, and this has never been more true than in the arena of sex trafficking.  Becoming acquainted with the stories of these beautiful young girls has convinced me of the forces working in the diabolical minds of male and female pimps.  The enemy of the human soul is continually working to systematically destroy the value of every child and youth today.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as WE are” ~ Anais Nin

The bible refers to shame as being like a garment – that is placed on us and we wear it uninformed.  Shame will keep us from connecting with others.  At its very core, shame will isolate you and bury you deep in its darkness.  Your greatest fear whispers, “If other people find out the truth of what I have done or what has happened to me, then they will not accept me.  I am not worthy, I do not belong.”   And the most incapacitating of all….. “I am not loveable – for no one can love me after what has happened to me!”  These are all lies that the enemy wants us to believe about ourselves.

Shame is described numerous times in scripture.  One of the symptoms of shame is the inability to look at someone face to face – head cast down, and no eye contact for longer than a few seconds.  However, the bible also offers a remedy for our shame.  Cry out to the LORD, and He will come – He is described as the “lifter of our head”.  Psalm 3:3-4.   

Our heavenly Father picks up our head so He can look into our face.  When we have enough courage to believe the truth and trust God, our garment of shame falls off.  It is then that we are able to gaze into His eyes and see reflected back to us our true identity.  A son or daughter of God!  The most rewarding days I spent at the treatment facility were the moments when I would see the most downcast girl, turn to her heavenly Father, and realize her true identity.

“Those who look to the LORD for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”  Psalm 34:5 TLB

When someone bravely takes just one step out of the tangled lies that the enemy has woven, God meets you in your mess!  With one word, He can cut through the jumbled thoughts and bring clarity.   As you take each lie to Him, He will speak HIS truth and that is where your true identity will shine!

Everyone experiences shame on some level, at least once in their lifetime, and others will struggle with it continually.  But there is hope!  We don’t have to wear the tattered, stinky garment of shame forever.  We can remember who we are.  By turning to the One who has the power and truth to transform us, we can make a great exchange.

  • Truth for lies
  • Honor for shame
  • Love for hate
  • Acceptance instead of rejection!

Conceivably, some of you may be wearing the suffocating jacket of shame and lies.  Perhaps the thief has snuck in the back door of your life and is holding you captive.  Or maybe you know the effects of not being loved or chosen.  Whatever situation you find yourself in, I know someone who can help you dismantle the lies and give you back your dignity.  His name is Jesus!  Allow yourself to be seen…..deeply seen by Him.  By knowing who you are and valuing yourself as a person God made you to be, you portray the confidence and self-esteem so many long for.

“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;  You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.” Isaiah 58:9

I would love to hear any stories, comments or questions you have regarding shame.  Feel free to email me at:  lroitsch@gmail.com

In love – Lisa

 

 

 

 

His Kindness Leads

Looking for the kindness of God!

love heart

Years ago, I once had someone tell me that God was the kindest person that they had ever met.  I pondered that statement for days.  I had never thought of God as kind, it just wasn’t something I expected of God.  However, today, I would agree whole-heartedly with this statement…..God truly is the kindest, most gracious individual I have ever encountered.  But I will confess, I haven’t always felt this way.

I grew up with a very authoritarian father and an absent mother.  My dad was always “bigger than life” to me and whatever he said RULED!  As a child, I rarely was able to express my thoughts or feelings on issues that concerned me.  It was expected that I would simply submit to the wishes of my father.  One year when I was away at college, I came home and found my dad a radically changed man.  There were some dire circumstances that had come into his life and in a moment, he had to make a choice……KNOW God or continuing living a life apart from God – trusting in his own arm of flesh.  As a result, my dad had a powerful encounter with the LORD where HIS will submitted and yielded to God’s.  This event brought about instant changes in my dad’s life.  As a result, there was a softness and gentleness about him that I had never seen.  My dad became very compassionate and caring about other people’s feelings and he exuded more patience than ever before.  I enjoyed being around my dad as a result of his new demeanor and our relationship grew and flourished.  As I entered into adulthood fully, I found my dad and I becoming great friends and there was an intimacy forming between us that I had always longed for.

I tell you all this so you can understand WHY it wasn’t always easy for me to see God as kind.  Oftentimes, the dynamics of how we relate to our earthly father is how we relate or interact with our heavenly Father.  I don’t believe this is something people are intentional about doing, it just happens.  Especially if you don’t start walking with the LORD until later in life or perhaps you didn’t have an earthly father that modeled kindness or gentleness.  Which in my situation was what happened.

The last 28 years of walking with God intimately has developed within me a deep appreciation of this truth.  As I have matured, I am able to recognize my heavenly Father as kind, loving, compassionate and slow to get angry.  All these attributes of God can be found in scriptures, but unless you spend time getting to know him personally, it will be difficult knowing Him in this way.  My journey with God has proven over and over, that He shows us His glory and lovingkindness on a daily basis- we simply need to look for it or we might miss it.

My pastor challenged us as a congregation to pray the Lord’s prayer and Psalm 23 three times a day for the entire month of January.   The last verse of Psalm 23 reads:  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  Because I believe that God wants His word to actually get inside of us and grow, I have taken this promise to heart.  I am actually looking and expecting God’s goodness and mercy to follow me.  As I submit to His leading in my daily life, a favor has come upon me that has unlocked miracles, joy and peace, not only for myself, but my entire family.  This is what God’s goodness and mercy looks like.  Favor is the attraction of God towards you, that releases an influence through you, so that everything you need in order to accomplish your assignment begins to be drawn to you.

In the book of Exodus, Moses, a man like us, desired an intimate encounter with his God.  He prayed and asked God to show him His glory.  As God answered this request, He took Moses on a high place and “passed” before him.  God then proclaimed all of His glory and nature to Moses.  “And the LORD proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin….”

Isn’t this powerful? Isn’t this what kindness looks like?  I can just start jumping up and down on this promise alone!  This is our God!  This is our heavenly Father, that we can know, interact with and experience kindness from.  My friend, if you do not know God in this way, I beg you to do as Moses did.  Call out to God, pray and ask Him to show you His glory.  I promise you, this prayer will get answered and you will be blown away by God’s loving-kindness.

Be intentional and expect to see God’s goodness and mercy following you every day.  Turn around and look behind you – these are HIS guideposts and promises towards you as His son or daughter.

“Father, because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will always praise You.  I ask you to show me your kindness and mercy every day.  Forgive me for not trusting in Your promises.  Change my heart so that I will desire, like Moses, to have an encounter with your compassion, grace and patience.” 

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Our Faith!

I have an eight year old Australian Shepard, who undisputedly, is the smartest dog I know.  When we purchased “Janie” all those years ago from a local breeder, it was because my daughters had been begging for a dog for a couple of years.  I finally relented, but considered that if I was to get a dog, I wanted a breed that was smart and would obey me!  So, I did lots of research and the general consensus of everything I read, stated that Aussie’s were one of the smartest dogs around.

After we picked Janie out of the litter and brought her home, the long, arduous task began of training this cute, furry puppy.  Guess who that task fell upon – you guessed it…… ME!  Although my girls tried their hardest to train and build relationship with their new family member, I noticed that little Janie followed me around the most and looked to me for all of her needs.  After all, I was the one feeding her, bathing her, cleaning her and buying her all those fun toys!  Therefore, I had officially become her new master!

Over the years, I have worked tirelessly in order to train Janie to be an obedient dog.  The main reason I was so concerned over this fact was that if I could get her to obey my voice instantly, I knew it would keep her safe when we were outside walking or jogging – something Australian Shepherds LOVE to do!  Since Aussie’s have lots of energy, sweet Janie needed to be walked every day.  The dangerous element of this would be is that Janie continually pulled herself out of her collar and leash to go chase cars, squirrels or little kids on bikes.  It took months, and months to break this very, bad habit.

Over the years, I have slowly weaned Janie off of her leash and now we can go anywhere and she will follow my commands by voice.  Over the past 3 years or so, as Janie has matured, and when we go for a walk, she will stay in step with me and keep pace without me having to guide her on a leash.  I trust her to listen to my voice and obey my commands.  After all, most of my commands are given to protect her and keep her safe.  I love her dearly and want to make sure she is protected and out of harms way.

Lately, I have noticed that as we are going on our walks, she is constantly looking up at my face.  Ready and waiting for me to guide her.  If she gets ahead of me, she will continually turn, pause, study my face and seem to wait on me so she doesn’t get too far ahead.  I have also noticed that I can communicate with her without using my voice.  I can look at her a certain way, tilt my head in the direction of a turn or snap my fingers, and she will know which direction to head in.  As our relationship has grown over the last 8 years, we know one another, and trust one another.  I trust her to listen, watch and wait for me and she trusts me to guide her in the correct direction of our daily walk.  It brings me great pleasure to know that Janie has developed a wonderful habit of studying my face in order to be told what direction to move in.

One day, before our daily walk,  I was reading Psalm 32, and I stopped short when I read verse 8.  In the previous verses, David had been pouring out his heart to God and then you see at the close of verse 7 the word, SELAH.  The word selah in Hebrew means to pause and/or meditate.  So, as David is pausing and meditating on what he has just said, God enters the conversation and  says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye”.  I slowed down and read this over and over many times until these words got down deep inside me.  My first response was, yes God, I want you to guide ME with Your eye!   And then my next thought was, how interesting and peculiar that God is able to guide His children with His very own eye – how does this work?

As I meditated on these verses over the days and weeks, one day it dawned on me!  Just as I am able to guide my furry, four-legged companion, Janie, with my eye and facial expressions, our Heavenly Father does the same for us.  The important part to understand in all of this is relationship.  Just as Janie and I have spent hours and hours together over the last 8 years, developing a close relationship, we must do the same with our Father God.  The more time we spend with God, studying His face, His nature, we know who He is and we learn to trust Him explicitly.  He is then able to guide us with His eye and move us in the direction we are go.  He loves to do this, in order to keep us safe and out of harms way.

My relationship with Janie has actually taught me a lot of great life’s lessons.  This one has been one of my favorites thus far.  The time I spent pouring into my relationship with Janie over the years has produced a beautiful connection between us.  We have a mutual understanding between us and she is completely devoted to pleasing me in all things.  I really believe that is the main reason why she studies my face, waiting for my eye to guide her.  She wants to please me because she loves me and trusts me.  She wants to do my will.  I am her master and she knows that I only have her best interest at heart.

I encourage you to read all of Psalm 32.  In the passage after verse 8, God exhorts us as His children to NOT be like the horse or the mule, who have no understanding; for they must be harnessed with bit and bridle, lest they will not come near.  God desires us to come near unto Him.  He wants to instruct us and guide us but, he is only able to do this to the degree we submit to Him and know Him.  When we spend time reading and treasuring His precious word daily, we become so familiar with His ways and thoughts.  It is then, that we can actually begin to feel His eye upon us, guiding us and moving us in His perfect will.

Study His face my friends, gaze into His beautiful eyes and allow Him to teach you. For in Him are all things beautiful and He is full of light!  Your path will never be darkened and you cannot stumble, for He will illuminate your path with the radiance of His glorious face.  His eye is ever on you!