29 July 2016

"Don't Go Without"

Overheard: "Trying to grasp the overwhelming love and wisdom and power of Jehovah God with our finite minds is like trying to fit Niagara Falls through a straw."

As I was thinking about that quote above, I looked online to see if anyone else had ever used that illustration, and I came across this article. Good thoughts here. 

I have included footnotes for certain terms for those who may not be sure of the meanings. I feel that sometimes just using the plain words of scripture make more sense than trying to ascribe a specially invented word, which may not only cause confusion, but maybe division as well, since certain words and phrases may be so identified with someone that we don't agree with on all things, that we wind up missing the truths of what they observe.

Have you ever had a long-distance relationship or had to spend days, weeks, or months apart from tithe one you loved? I can tell you from experience that it is no fun for either party. When you are captivated by love, the last thing you want is to be separated from your lover.  
Our relationship with Christ is a relationship of love. But it isn’t simply like the love we have for a spouse, a friend, or a child — it’s all of these and much more. They love God has for us, this agape reality, is transformative, renewing, and life-giving. It causes a tangible reaction in us; it’s like the reaction of someone who tis seeing or hearing for the first time or tasting steak when they’ve only had dried bits of beef jerky. As Jesus says, it is like discovering a pearl of great price, something for which we are willing to sell all of our possessions to acquire (Matthew 13:46). 
We were created to receive this type of love and, in doing so, become more authentic in our humanity than we could have previously imagined. Love from God is so indescribable because of his limitless and inexhaustible reality. We could say that receiving it is like attempting to funnel Niagara Falls into a straw. Realistically, it would destroy the straw, but in the true exchange, God enables, us, the recipients, to receive this powerful love in a manner that we were capable of processing. The Eucharist is the overflow of actual love, truly, personally, entirely. Jesus is intentionally concealed in the bread and wine so that we have the opportunity to receive him. He is the entirety of what we long for and the provision and conduit that assist us in making a truly authentic response. It is this exchange of his heart with ours that creates the longing.  
This encounter with God is beyond complete articulation, but he has revealed himself to us intentionally throughout time, showing us that even the limitations of creation will not hinder his generous reaching for us. God doesn’t want us to be away from him for even a moment, so the constant opportunity to receive him in prayer and the sacraments fosters love every moment. God has gone out of his way so that we can hear, see, taste, and experience him. He now invites us to bring him to those who don’t know what they are missing. 
One of my close friends was at a Marian site where he unfortunately brought little money. He worried that he wouldn’t have enough to buy something for his special someone at home if he used his funds for food every day, so he bought one loaf of bread to last him the five days. Every day he grabbed a chunk of bread and walked around the city, visiting the sites, praying, and learning about his faith. He would come home exhausted and hungry. On the last day of wandering about, he stumbled into he home in which he’d been residing, only to be greeted by the family who lived there. They said, “We’ve been wondering how you were doing. It seemed you were always on the go. We had a meal prepared for you every morning and night, but unfortunately, we missed you.” He could have feasted every day! The meals were part of the cost of his lodging, and he went without basic nourishment when he never had to. 
This is like our relationship with God. We often go without, starving because we can’t afford more. God has paid for the feast and always wants us to participate in it with him. He always sets a place for us in the hope that the will receive his generosity. Truly we go without because we are really unaware of what it means to be loved by him. The Eucharist is the feast that nourishes us as we walk about and encounter the world. The Eucharist is the beautiful fulfillment of finally being reunited with our love. 
Don’t go without. God is ready to bless you with a beautiful reunification. 

From the devotional: "Why The Eucharist Matters For Your Life: The Practical Reality of Christ's Power and Presence," by Chris Padgett (The Word Among Us Press, 2014) 

1 agape - c.1600, from Greek agape "brotherly love, charity," from agapan "greet with affection, love," of unknown origin. Agape was used by early Christians for their "love feast" held in connection with the Lord's Supper. In modern use, often in simpler sense of "Christian love". -- Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Eucharist "sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Communion," mid-14c., from Old French eucariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek eukharistia "thanksgiving, gratitude," later "the Lord's Supper," .... Eukharisteo is the usual verb for "to thank, to be thankful" in the Septuagint and New Testament. --Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

3 sacraments"outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," also "the eucharist," c.1200, from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" and directly from Latin sacramentum "a consecrating", from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred); a Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery ). 

Meaning "a holy mystery" in English is from late 14c. The seven sacraments are baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick. -- Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

4 a Marian site - the term Marian refers to Mary, the mother of Christ, so a Marian site is a place or shrine devoted to Mary and is a destination of a pilgrimage (spiritual journey) for Roman Catholics. 

20 September 2014

I Shall Not Be Afraid ~ Sherri Youngward

This so beautifully accompanies the study that I have been doing about not being afraid.

Psalm 56:3-4New International Version (NIV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

17 September 2014

We Are Not Afraid

We are not afraid. 1

As such, we feel no need to fight 2 , shout, quarrel, raise a ruckus 3 , belittle our adversary 4 ... or pretend that danger does not exist 5.

We stand firm. 6  We trust in "a higher power". 7  We have peace of mind. 8

We have no need to approach others in order to stir up fear or anger or a desire to wipe out our adversaries. 9  We have no need to ridicule or belittle 10 , because we know we are on the winning side. 11

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses to the power of a faith of unconditional love and self discipline.  Unfortunately, we are also surrounded by shouts of fear and anger and calls to war and vengeance. And we are sad, disappointed, hurt, and misunderstood.

Because we do not fight, we are assumed to be fleeing, or hiding our heads in the sand.

Because we do not shout, it is assumed that we must be pretending to be at peace.

Because we do not agree with making fun of our enemies, or exaggerating the sins of our adversaries in order to stir up war and distrust, we are assumed to be on their side.

We are called doormats, wimps, cowards. Sometimes even "holier than thou."

And yet, here we stand. We have hope. We are at peace, as much as depends on us. We are able to weigh what is Truly Important, and let go that which merely Seems Important.

And We Are Not Afraid.

We are not afraid of the snow for our households; for all our household is clothed in scarlet. - Proverb 31:21

Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil; for the Lord God is with us; his rod and staff comfort us. - Psalm 23

The LORD is our light and our salvation-- whom shall we fear? The LORD is the stronghold of our life-- of whom shall we be afraid? - Psalm 27:1

Jehovah God is with us. We shall not be afraid. What can man do to us? - Psalm 56:11

We are not afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, we are afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. - Matthew 10:28  Luke 12:4-5

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 1 Timothy 1:7

We are on guard; standing firm in the faith. We are men and women of courage. We are strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

We believe the writing of the Apostle Peter, who asked, "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." " - 1 Peter 3:13-14

We have heard the Word of God, and in God we truly trust. These are not mere words to us. - Psalm 143:8

The Apostle John wrote: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18

Do you really believe this? Can you really place all your trust in Jehovah God? Have you died to yourself and placed your entire life and world in His hands? Or do you still struggle and fight and shout and try to hold on to your stuff? Do you still resort to put downs and pointing out others' sins and railing out against that which you do not trust? Do you surround yourself with those who spout angry words and hate for their fellow man? Have you ever considered putting everything on the line of trust - even your family, your children, "your" church, "your" earthly country? - Galatians 2:20

Throughout the ancient scriptures we read:  "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6-7  Joshua 1:5-7, 9, 18  Joshua 10:25   1 Chronicles 22:13   2 Chronicles 32:7

Does this mean that we don't sometimes doubt, or tremble, or feel afraid? Of course not. That's why we need the constant reminders. We also understand that "do not be afraid" does not mean that we are blindly oblivious to the dangers of life.

The woman who is not afraid of the snow for her household, is not afraid because she knows her family is already prepared for the time to come.

The man who is on guard is watchful for those who will come, but he does not cower, for he is strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. We know "the rest of the story", when there will be no more fear, or sickness, or dying, or war any more. - Revelation 21  Isaiah 2:4   Micah 4:3

Our great cloud of witnesses? Hebrews 12:1 "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11:13-16

Now, this world is beautiful, magnificent, complex, awesome. We are sad to see it mistreated and ruined. And we do see it happening. We are not blind.

The people of this world are wonder-full, complicated, lovely, awesome. We are disappointed and hurt to see so many like sheep without shepherds, everyone doing whatever is right in their own eyes, hurting each other, making each other cry. We are sad to see mankind mistreated and ruined. And we do see it happening. Our heads are not in the sand.

We are not blind, nor cowards, nor faithless. We are hopeful, and look for light in the storms, for good in the midst of evil. We are not merely optimists, we are realists. We see the evil. We may admit that worse things may come. But we will not resort to murder, to detestable actions, to lies, nor to any "idol" that comes before our Sonship to God. (see Revelation 21:5-8)

Fear may approach us, but we do not live or abide in fear, in hate, in worry, in dread. That is not the spirit we were given. When these feelings come, we turn to those of like faith and trust for encouragement, to the Word of God, like the scriptures referenced above, to God Himself in prayer and supplication, presenting our requests to Him, thinking on the good things and not the fearful things. Philippians 4:4-8

And the peace of God 
that passes all understanding
guards our hearts 
and minds 
in Christ Jesus.


Below is a listing some of the Bible scriptures on which I have based my writing. In scripture, there is also a fear of God taught - a healthy respect, reverence, and awe for the Creator of the Universe, Who has made us and Who will judge righteously. But there is a weakening, doubting fear - of the wind and the waves within our view - to which Jesus said: "O you of little faith; why did you doubt?" It is that kind of crippling fear which shows a distrust in God.

Psalm 56:4
Deuteronomy 3:22
2 Timothy 2:22-24
Titus 3:2
2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Ephesians 6:12-13
1 John 4:4
Philippians 4:6-7
Ephesians 4:29
Ephesians 4:31
Job 19:25

Remember, I do not claim to be perfect. I do experience fear and frustration. It's just that I know I don't have to live that way. Peace be with you. 

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father."

27 July 2014

Old Fashioned Ladies Aren't Perfect; Did You Know?

My life's not perfect. (Shocker.) 

Nobody's life is perfect. (Even more shocking?)

We all understand that, don't we?

Here's the thing: We mostly just post the good stuff on Facebook or Instagram or in our blogs, because it's nice to share a happiness with someone, share a smile, try to uplift, instruct, even make aware of something that you just found out that you think someone else might find interesting or helpful too.

I find it interesting that that's what God wants us to do - encourage, lift up, admonish even from time to time. Share prayer requests and answered prayers. It's not actually bragging or trying to show someone else up. (Of course, some folks do, but they're so obvious.) Your average friend is just like you, and really is just trying to share ... something. Maybe even trying to serve. But sometimes when we think too much about serving ourselves and comparing ourselves with some fancy of "perfection", we might start thinking that when someone "gets" something that we struggle with, that they're showing off.

But, see, don't ever compare yourself with scattered comments and the occasional photo on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. Those are just passing smiles or lessons shared - not entire lives. Same goes for awesome authors and guest speakers and, ahem, even preachers and their wives. Whether they're bragging or just sharing, it's just a moment or a thought, after all. And you can't strive to be Nancy Leigh DeMoss or Max Lucado, for example, because, not only are they not perfect themselves, those people are already taken. You can't be them. You be you. Imperfections and all.

Once we get that sorted in our minds - and don't berate anyone for not putting all their laundry out on the internet so you can see that they're not perfect; you just gotta know that everybody's not perfect - then we can begin to look more clearly at a big picture of a world of people, of a big family perhaps, who all are different, carrying on with their own lives, many of whom are just reaching out to connect from time to time.

Admission: I used to have trouble with all the "my wonderful kid", "my wonderful husband," "my wonderful church," "my wonderful pet," etc. posts too - sometimes - until I started truly rejoicing with those who rejoice... and mourning with those who mourn. Putting my own jealousy aside for a moment and realizing that those star jump-roping kids might have trouble with a math or foreign language or getting along with each other; those cool husbands got that post because they only cleaned that kitchen or brought those flowers ONE TIME; that really cute dog regularly poops in the backyard and has to be cleaned up after ... Now this is NOT that I rejoice in others' sorrows, but that I KNOW that we "brag" about some things because the whole rest of life is just sort of average, like everyone else goes through. That is, full of troubles AND joys. There is a time to weep. There is also a time to rejoice with others.

I wish I could thank all the moms who post cute little pictures that make us smile, thank all the pet lovers whose little furry and scaly friends make them laugh, thank all those students who keep sharing that something new they learned even if I think I've learned it before. I want to thank all those folks who share simple prayer requests, because it shows a faith in the love and prayers of friends, and the knowledge that God hears our prayers and knows what we need before we even ask or go into detail, and a love and trust for the others who they have reached out to.

Here's another thing to think about: Some young men and women actually think that they have to look like supermodels because that's what media portrays. Now, most of us get it, that we don't have to look that, or else we'd all really look like those poor models. There's hope in that fact that we don't! We really do - most of us - know that nobody's perfect.

If only people would look at the snapshots of the lives of friends and mentors online in the same way - that we're not going to look like our idea of "perfection" on earth - and just get on with living in the great corner where we are with the great gifts we've got.

I've got a beautiful niece/cousin who needs to know that she is beautiful inside and out. Several friends who also suffer from time to time because they don't know this. People I barely know but read about and hear about who have stared so long and so hard at a fantastic unreality that they have confused that unreal place as a goal - but since it doesn't exist, they are thwarted and frustrated and depressed every day of their lives! Beauty, peace, love, hope, purity, JOY - they just are. You can't control them and make them appear at your bidding. Grasp that reality? We're just little people in a great big world after all. That shouldn't make us feel lost, but rather, as children, cared for. We don't have to have or do it all. We just don't have to.

So, does going online or watching TV make you feel "inferior"? Please remind yourself that those images are temporary, abbreviated, sometimes even airbrushed pictures of only a small part of life - but they are not the dirty, busy, troublesome, crazy and sometimes even scary life that is intricate and real and all around all of us. That life is dirty so we can clean up and find the pure and true. Busy so that we can know to strive for peace. Troublesome so that we can remember that we need each other; others need us as much as we need them, even if they don't "look" like they do! Life is crazy sometimes, emphasizing the fact that there is a sane and sober and mature standard to keep working toward. Maturity - that's what's out there. And sometimes, I think life is even scary, and unnerving, to remind us that we don't want to live in fear and anxiety, and so we'll keep on reaching and searching for the strength and goodness that goes beyond understanding because it's from beyond this place. Because there is Something More. Something Better. If this life truly were perfect, wouldn't you just want to stay here for ever? But there is a Place for us.

I could stop trying to encourage others to grow in their faith, or hope, or love, or joy or peace... because I'm not perfect, so why should they listen? And they might see that I'm not perfect and ridicule me and not listen anyway. All of us could do that. Just stop encouraging. Stop trying. Stop living. We're never going to be whatever our idea of perfect is anyway.

No. That's the problem. We aren't here to be some feeble human idea of perfect. We're here to live. To learn. To grow. To help others along the way. To walk together and talk together. To sing together, cry together, laugh together. How dare we look at one another and think, "well, they're not my idea of perfect, so I want nothing to do with them." Or to think of ourselves, "well, I'm not my idea of perfect, so I'm not worthy of anything." How haughty, really. How proud we are to think that we know so much. How dare we "put on airs," and compare ourselves with some imagined idea of perfection and decide that since no one is then we just don't have time for them, or even ourselves.

How about this: the next time someone posts about their honour student, instead of wondering if your kid could beat up their kid, why not be happy with them? Share some of their joy, since you can't seem to find any for yourself.

How about the next time you start thinking that someone else has a perfect life, you say a prayer for them, because there is something that you don't know about.  Pray for the ones that belittle you, including yourself, that we'll all find the truth about things. Pray for the ones that are giving you advice, even if they aren't perfect themselves - because you know, they wouldn't give you advice, however clumsily they do it, however off the advice might seem, if they didn't care about you. Would you remember that?

How about instead of whining about the person that keeps whining, you mourn with them. Walk a mile in their moccasins. With them, or without their knowledge even. Mourn with them.

How about you remember that your life isn't perfect and neither is anyone else's. Don't be jealous of their supposed "greener pastures". Don't be envious and try to work out how to take what is theirs away from them. Just smile with them, and rejoice with them. Remember that they may have some obstacle in their life that you wouldn't be able to handle even if you were paid to do it.

Remember that Jesus, the Son of God Almighty, went through an awful lot because God Loves You, and doesn't desire that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life.

How about you remember that this world just isn't your eternal home, nor anyone else's. It's not perfect, in any sense of the word.

Someday, our lives will be perfect, in the Creator's sense of the word perfect.

We all can understand that, can't we?


“But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”- 1 Corinthians 13:10-12.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” - 1 John 3:2
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,  if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us be of the same mind. - Philippians 3

26 June 2014

"i'm old fashioned"

As long as you agree to stay old fashioned with me...

for your listening pleasure.