replanted

Posted: April 13th, 2016 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | No Comments »

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 MSG

There’s a constant in the chaos. A forever “newness” like replanted trees. Scripture gushes about a stream that never runs dry. A garden that won’t die. No matter how much I’m loved, I always wonder if I’m kneeling at a tapped out well. But, no matter how far I wander, the Garden ever follows.

A person can’t wither because the water line always rises. The healing waters make him forget the crippling sickness that curled him over. Waiting eleven years for an invitation, eleven years for a conversation, eleven years of maturation. The suit is tattered, the shoes are torn, the weather conditioned what the traveler’s worn. But, hope is a tidy box of well used and meticulously cared for pocket squares in a tin that’s rusting.

The child built her faith until she was a weeble wobble adult. The invisible friend with an annoyingly perpetual optimism. No matter how hard the hits, the faith would pull her up. Blessed is the woman who sticks with God.

Defiant against odds. Resistant, obstinate, noncompliant against the push backs and the stink eyes, and the self-interested heel turns. The roots dig deeper, soaking up the water. The heat pulses through the branches, but the leaves are not threatened. Feast and famine, panic and rest, the girl with the iron faith still withstands the test.

replanted


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when hate shows up in your facebook feed

Posted: December 17th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I don’t love facebook. It’s fine in small doses, but it’s not where I spend my time or share much about my life. I know that people have different relationships with their social media outlets than I do, and this isn’t about that. It’s about keeping a healthy perspective when you’re scrolling down the life-snapshots that people put out there. The potential for negative emotion is too high to not consider a few things.

Branding isn’t just for brands.

People are creating an image for themselves. It’s common to struggle with feelings of inadequacy when you’re looking at someone else’s feed. They’re showing you what they want to show you and they’re spending a lot of their time to do it. Something that a cognitive therapist will know that the average human won’t is that you will give yourself excuses for your own behavior, but will not give the same excuses to another in the same situation. This means that you are aware of what went into your own social media feed and you can see everything that no one else can, but you only see the finished product of someone else’s and believe the facade.

For example, you may freshen your makeup, mess with your hair, and take about eight selfies before posting the picture, but when you see a picture of your friend, you don’t put him or her through the same routine. You assume that things are as they appear and it has the potential to make you feel less satisfied with your own situation. The remedy for that is to look at your own feed. Spend time looking at your own “brand” and you’ll buy what you’re selling, too. It’ll make you feel better …if you’re selling “happiness”.

Be a creator, not a consumer.

You’re a leader in your own space. Someone somewhere is actually paying attention to what you’re saying. If you spend all of your time reacting to the garbage in your feed, then you’re contributing to the garbage. A tell-tale sign that you’re contributing to the garbage is if you’re post starts with, “I don’t usually post things like this, but…” or “In light of all of the negativity, I just want to say…”. It’s social media consumerism and even if you don’t instigate the negativity, you’re contributing by reacting to it.

It seems like a lot of hate and fear is circulating out there, but it’s all the same old chew. Someone picks up what someone else spits out and everybody takes turns chewing on this nasty bit of garbage like it holds answers. Move to a different, less trampled, part of the human pasture. Have you ever seen a field after a herd of cattle graze and laze for too long? It’s littered with waste and has nothing life-giving to offer. It’s needs to air out and regenerate.

Your outlook is your choice.

You can see the light or the dark. You can find the fault or the truth. You are in charge of your attitude and perspective. Your situation is not in control. Every time fear creeps in, rewrite it with gratitude. Every time hate knocks at your heart, cancel it with love.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. -Philippians 4:8-9 MSG

be positive

 


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an honest journey

Posted: November 17th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | No Comments »

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.– 1 Peter 3:13-18 MSG

Your own journey can take you through some weird places. Maybe places you never knew existed. You hate that you care too much what other people think. You let it guide you for too long and you start to notice that you’re not being you. You’re being some overworked, overextended, translucent version of what other people want of you. In this case, they’re your opposition. They are between you and who God called you to be.

You already know that you should be focusing on Jesus, but we get that idea messed up, too. You lose your vision a little and He starts turning into something on a checklist instead of your perspective. You reduce Him to “should”.

You alter yourself to meet the expectations of others because you’re not being honest about where you are on your journey. You think that if you’re not like everybody else, they’ll think something is wrong with you. Maybe it’s time that you try to articulate why you live the way you live. Form a complete thought, an elevator pitch, about this place in your journey. You’re there, so you should be able to look around you and glean the wisdom of a clear conscience.

You don’t have to defend your reality with God when someone else’s reality looks different. You, do, however, have to be ready to respectfully speak up about it. It’s okay if people oppose you when your conscience is clear. You’re so worried that they’ll judge you that you completely miss an opportunity to be a voice that echoes God’s to them. They could end up learning something from you.

an honest journey

“Journey” by electroncloud


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God Doesn’t Live in a House

Posted: October 28th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith.” – Hebrews 4:1-3 MSG

I see people wearing guilt like a weighted suit or an iron scarf. You wear it like it’s the only thing connecting you to your faith. You know you’re not as good as you should be, so at least you can feel bad about it. You are wrong, but not in the way you think. Think of all the ways you know, for a fact, that you’re not living up to your moral standards and understand me when I say that all of those things are not what is keeping you from a relationship with God.

I understand the fear associated with being a Christian. It’s the fear of “being disqualified”, and it is such a thing. People are capable of being disqualified. It has happened before, to the Israelites, and it still happens. This passage in Hebrews is talking about being disqualified from “rest”. It’s the kind of rest that pulls you toward God’s goal for you. God talks about people who fail to “receive the promises with faith” when He says this:

Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” -Hebrews 4:3 MSG

God was exasperated because He had already done His part. It’s Jesus. Our part is to believe it and then to rest in it. But some fundamental breakdown in the faith department causes people to miss the “rest”. The promise is still out there, though. And it has no expiration date…

 God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today… -Hebrews 4:7 MSG

The question I asked myself at this point was, “What does ‘rest’ mean?” As translated, it is talking about putting something to rest or causing it to cease. The ESV translation uses the phrase “Sabbath rest” when talking about this “rest”.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. -Hebrews 7:9-10 ESV

Stephen uses the same word and meaning when quoting God in Acts 7. This is the message that got Stephen stoned.

“Heaven is my throne room; I rest my feet on earth. So what kind of house will you build me?” says God. “Where I can get away and relax? It’s already built, and I built it.” -Acts 7:49 MSG

God rests, but where?

We’ve always set aside a “House of God”, even to God’s specifications. Moses made a tent, Solomon made a temple, and we build them on any available street corner. They get bigger and bigger. They become a tax free business, get declared “holy”, and become filled with bodies on a specific week day. Many of them are even done to God’s specifications. But God does not live in a “house” made by hands. He never has.

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands. – Acts 7:48 MSG

God does not live in a building. So where is He on Sundays? Or Saturdays… (whichever your “Sabbath” happens to be)? This is where I ask what “Sabbath” actually means. According to Vine’s, the Old Testament’s regulations were such a burden that the “Sabbath” was a time to rest. It was a time for people to “rejoice”.  But, like everything else, religion got it’s hands on it and shrouded it in regulations. It was, and still is, so off that when Jesus didn’t recognize the rules layered over the gift of “rest”, He got called out as a sinner who “broke the Sabbath”. There is no specific day. That’s a construct created by people.

This “promise of rest” is a “perpetual Sabbath” (Vine’s). It is a perpetual time away from the burden of Law and the freedom to rejoice. Believers enter a perpetual Sabbath through faith. People who do not believe, do not rest. It’s the only way to get disqualified. They wear suits of guilt instead of the bare skin of freedom.

God doesn’t live in a certain house on a certain day. This doesn’t mean that going to a place of worship on specific day every week isn’t beneficial or even your act of obedience. Romans 14:5 and Galatians 4:9-10 both recognize that this is how some people express their faith. But putting rules around it and policing people with fear, disclusion, or guilt is completely wrong. It’s evidence of unbelief.

God lives in us and the Sabbath is every day.

House of God


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private act of worship

Posted: August 3rd, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | No Comments »

In the timeline of being a human driven to find purpose and leave some sort of beauty in my wake, I’ve found that it’s mostly bored waiting and frustrated effort. I want to spend all of my time hunting the mysteries of Truth, but my days are filled with the business of taking care of my responsibilities. Working all day to move an inch forward.

Being a human in a technological era is a new terrain of life comparisons. People are still overcoming the tendency to believe everything they see. It’s all written and photographed to mold your thoughts or guide your decisions. Staged lives can make people look like they’ve figured out something that you haven’t, but it’s all play acting for branding and sales.

 

“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”– 1 Samuel 16:7 MSG 

Don’t let anyone groom you into thinking that they have something you don’t. Don’t believe everything you hear, no matter how polished the delivery. Some of the most beautiful flowers are never seen, the best talent never shared, and the best ideas never heard. Your worth is not determined by the way your life looks on the outside. Be who He’s created you to be as a private act of worship.

private act of worship by serena woods


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