Be Free

I found this organization after reading a Buzzfeed article. I think it’s a wonderful idea. So often when it comes to New Year’s, we become consumed with what we can do personally to improve our own lives. However, I want to continue to find creative ways to help people. This could be as simple as deciding to buy jewelry or a handbag from this company, sponsoring a child, or donating to a local cause. Mirriam-Webster defines a “resolution” as:

res·o·lu·tion

noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\

: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something

: an answer or solution to something

Since when did a New Year’s resolution become something as shallow as working out more, traveling, treat yourself more, or any of these somewhat trivial things? I encourage us all to become people who challenge ourselves with each new year. What are we doing to improve as Christ-followers? What are we doing to make an impact? What are we doing to improve the lives of others? What are we doing that has lasting success and not just temporary satisfaction?

I think these are worthy challenges and worthy New Year’s resolutions. Challenge yourself to do something more this year…I plan to.

Happy New Year.

2014 Recap

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It’s been a great year. I am so lucky to have so many visitors to my humble little blog and just talk about what God has been doing in my life.

I just wanted to thank you all for encouragement and keeping up with what I’ve been posting!

If there’s any suggestions for posts you’d like to see…please let me know!

God Bless.

Tuesday Inspiration 12.30.14

As 2014 winds down people do one of two things. They either mourn what they didn’t accomplish in the past year or strive for better in the coming year without being grateful for the small things they already have. We have all been guilty of one or both of these things. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, it is important to be thankful no matter what and to nourish what you already have. Two verses that stick out to me are:

1 Peter 5:6 MSG “Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you”

Ephesians 5:20 MSG “Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.”

Those two verses remind me that God cares for me. He sent Christ to die for me. Because of all this–I should be living freely. I shouldn’t allow the things of the world to weigh me down. If God is careful with me, I do not need to worry. This simple verse is a great reminder and a good “workout” to build your spiritual body and make sure you are strong. Also, I need to have a singing soul. I am allowed to be grateful for small things; i.e. a sunny day, my warm feet in a new pair of socks, a pretty flower, anything. God is in all things and should be praised for all things whether big or small. By nourishing what we already see and have we satisfy our hunger for more. By being grateful we do not need to be jealous or strive for more. We are content no matter what but expectant that God, being who He is, will provide more when the time comes.

Found on 3rdavenue.tumblr.com

Works-in-Progress

I had a situation from my past come up yesterday. While I dealt with it better than I would have previously there were still some missteps that I immediately confided in God about. Unlike in the past where I would allow the Enemy to torment me for not doing things a certain way–I gave it to God and weighed the victories and losses. Today’s blog post comes from the current state of my heart and I hope it encourages you.

It’s still hard for me to really fathom God’s love. I think this is the case for all Christians if you’re really and truly honest enough with yourself. We know our pasts, our current struggles, our bad thoughts, our temptations, whatever they might be. And because we are humans and somewhat obsessed with comparison, we can often wonder why God even bothers with us. I want so badly to be pleasing to God, but I think this can often manifest in unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves or what we might have grown up hearing in church. We are not Jesus. Just because we’re Christians and covered by His blood and adopted into eternal salvation, doesn’t mean we are going to make the cut all the time. We are a living oxymoron. We are still human, broken-vessels and in essence Jesus’s blood spilled on the cross simultaneously poured into our lives to cover our brokenness and also made it possible for us to be formed into a new vessel. I think the church for a long time has failed to really explain how this works. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the church expects you to poof into a brand new creation. Salvation isn’t a microwave. A lot of the time it’s a slow-cooker. Sure you can be 100% saved but that doesn’t mean that doesn’t take a life-time to walk out.

I remember being so mad one time a year or so ago when I watched a televangelist scolding a man who asked for prayer because though a Christian who asked Jesus into His heart, he still struggled with alcohol. I think it’s a sad thing when instead of reminding people that we are all carrying our crosses daily, and that we will all fall short of perfection until we reach Heaven, that we often become the mouthpiece of the Devil. Harsh? But true. The Enemy is the King of guilt and shame. I’m not saying wrongdoings aren’t wrongdoings but we are all stumbling through life. We are covered in grace on one hand but we are like infants learning how to walk at the same time. Luckily God is merciful and instead of becoming fed up with humanity as we read so many times in the Old Testament–He brought the final act of generosity which was to send His son. To teach grace and forgiveness. To tenderly guide us, to show us the way, to show that while we fall short, He never will. A simple Google search showed me this passage which I thought was very well said:

In Colossians: 3:12-13


, God instructs us on how to deal with each other as he deals with us: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” Stan did that for me. I became one of the best cutters the company ever had. There was nothing I would not do for my boss. I continued to work for him until they closed the plant. I was one of the last employees out of 200 to be laid off when the plant closed several years later.

God deals with you and me the same way Stan dealt with me. God invests a lot of time in us and is not ready to wipe us out because of our mistakes. Instead, He encourages us not to quit.

So the next time you or someone you know makes a mistake, be gentle, kind and encouraging. Look for ways to solve the problem and don’t quit! Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were the one who goofed. Look beyond the mistakes in yourself and in others and see the potential. We will all say the words, “Oops, I made a mistake,” many times before we reach our full potential. But keep trying. Keep learning. Keep forgiving. We can all be in God’s Kingdom some day in spite of our mistakes. [http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/oops-i-made-mistake/]

I think that’s beautiful. In no way am I saying deliberately take advantage of God’s grace and do whatever you want, but I think we need to stop listening to the voice of the Devil and even the condemnation heaped on us by other Christians and remember that God’s voice is the only one that matters. God is not shocked by our mistakes. He is not stomping His feet and throwing tantrums in Heaven. Luckily He knows who we are growing to be, and since He exists outside of time, He does not grow weary of the journey we are on to get there.

God I thank you for Jesus. I thank you for your love and kindness towards me when I know I do not deserve it. In the grand scheme of things I am not special. I am not that great and yet you still remind me that You created me on purpose. I am not a disappointment to You and I am not an accident that You made in Heaven. God, help me to see my mistakes in life as bumps in the road. I can trip but I do not have to fall and never get up. Thank you God that You see me in my final stage and therefore nothing I have done, am doing, or will do in the future will ever take that fulfillment away from me. Because of Jesus I am sealed. Because of my humanity I will fall short. Teach me to fail less but also help me to forgive myself more. We are all a beautiful mess made perfect by You. Amen.

Found on dailyletterings.tumblr.com

Friday Inspiration 12.26.14

Isaiah 9:6 MSG

2-7 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

Christmas is over but the joy from remembering the birth of Christ doesn’t have to be. I like this verse because it reminds us that all of us at one point have walked through darkness. We’ve felt despair, loss, grief, depression, hopelessness, pain, confusion, etc. Some of us have seen the light and have come to salvation through Christ and His grace, but other’s are still wandering unnecessarily.

My prayer is that everyone will come to a knowledge and acceptance of the Good News so that they can travel through life less weighed down and more free. More full of life and joy and peace. Jesus was placed on the Earth to counsel us, to be our authority, our defender, and our hope. Through Him there are no limits to what we can do as His children.

So often people say the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” “I love you more than the stars in the sky”. But our God loves us in a capacity that is further than any star, planet or any other celestial creation. I hope that we never lose sight of His great love and sacrifice for us beyond the holiday season.

Found on lambchopps.com.au

ANOMALY

“We are infinite. Made for one another. Made for love. We are undone by our own humanity. By moments of nearness. But we break with distance when we are alone. It gets so dark we almost wish it was never light. And then in one moment, one precious moment, a light shines in the darkness.”

I have been waiting for this film since it was announced as a project in 2013. Two talented members of Hillsong church Dan DiFelice and Salomon Ligthelm announced their collaboration on Kickstarter. [ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/639662626/a-n-o-m-a-l-y ]

I just watched the film which has a running time of 37:54 and loved it from start to finish. It’s a different way of re-telling the classic Biblical account of the birth of Christ. There aren’t too many differences outside of the time being set in the 1960s, and instead of the Star of Bethlehem it’s the Bayt Lahm comet which will signify the arrival of the baby Jesus. We also don’t have three wise men coming to see the child and present him with gifts, and the birth of Jesus takes place in a hospital where the mother is alone as opposed to a stable alongside Joseph.

None of these creative tweaks bothered me because everything critical to the story remained the same. Oliver, Anomaly’s Joseph, is shocked to find out that Haylee, Anomaly‘s Mary, is pregnant when they have not yet been intimate. Oliver’s family is unhappy with Haylee even before we find out that she’s pregnant and it is assumed in the film that they have a break-up of some kind before Oliver launches into space to fulfill President Kennedy’s challenge to achieve the longest continuous space flight to date. As an astronaut there is definitely an obstacle to his physical ability to be present during the birth and also an emotional obstacle because he believes that Haylee has cheated on him in order to have become pregnant. I think it was a smart choice and definitely a creative way to navigate how the Biblical Joseph would have felt. In Matthew 1 (MSG) it says:

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Joseph would have been torn back in that time. Even in the 1960s I’m sure many people would have still looked down upon an unwed mother. So imagine what his inner turmoil would have been like. In the film Oliver literally has a “way out” and can disappear into space–as far as you can get from Earth. However, the God of the Universe still has access to him no matter the distance. We get the idea of this through the blast of light from the comet and the rattling of the spacecraft while Oliver is in space.

As I was writing this, it also occurred to me that there was the idea of three wise men through the NASA analysts instead of the Biblical magi or astrologers. These are very smart men and you can see from the beginning of the film that they are all shocked by this comet. It doesn’t make sense to them.

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Years ago a scientist named Noel Fitz had predicted the Bayt Lahm comet and it is assumed that he was not taken seriously. I think in a way the character of Noel fills in the historical detail needed to explain the birth of Jesus and I like the idea I came up with of him being a physical representation of Biblical prophesy.

I also liked the name of the comet “Bayt Lahm” which I Googled and found to be very significant:

Bayt Lahm – a small town near Jerusalem on the West Bank of the Jordan River; early home of David and regarded as the place where Jesus was born – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Bayt+Lahm

I’m curious to see what you all think of the film or if you picked up on any symbolism or cool aspects that I may have missed.

Merry Christmas!

Monday Inspiration 12.22.14

When I saw this quote the other day I was really inspired. Just one song can have multiple meanings to multiple people. People can interpret it using good memories or use it to comfort themselves in trials. People relate to things in different and unique ways. I thought about this in terms of worship songs. People suffering might sing a song with deep pain and confusion in their hearts. Other’s might rejoice over those same lyrics. I looked up some interesting verses in the Bible:

John 4:23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

Psalm 57: 7-8 I’m ready, God, so ready,
    ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
    “Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
    Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”

Isaiah 61: 10-11 I will sing for joy in God,
    explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
    he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
    and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
    and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
    and puts praise on display before the nations.

Exodus 15

20-21 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing. Miriam led them in singing,

Sing to God
    what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider
    into the sea!

Psalm 96

1-2 Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to Godworship God!

2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!

4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.

5-6 God made the heavens—
Royal splendor radiates from him,
A powerful beauty sets him apart.

Bravo, God, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.

8-9 Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of God,
Then to your knees—everyone worship!

10 Get out the message—God Rules!
He put the world on a firm foundation;
He treats everyone fair and square.

11 Let’s hear it from Sky,
With Earth joining in,
And a huge round of applause from Sea.

12 Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
Animals, come dance,
Put every tree of the forest in the choir—

13 An extravaganza before God as he comes,
As he comes to set everything right on earth,
Set everything right, treat everyone fair.

So you see. Worship comes in all forms. You can worship in times of depression and defeat and also in times of happiness and victory. The beauty of worship is authenticity. God doesn’t want you to fake your feelings. If you are sad, worship Him sad. If you are discouraged, worship Him discouraged. The Father wants your authenticity. He didn’t send His son so you can put up a good facade. He wants nothing hidden, nothing held back, good or bad.

Found on iwastesomuchtime.com