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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


Do you ever think about the words used by different generations? Sometimes I do.

Blocks

What words roll around your mind when you think about God?
(Photo by Inga Munster Cotton)

Words, words, words, words

There are times when my mind takes flight over the undulating terrain of words throughout time. This is usually when I probably should be writing something for work. And, although the argument can be made that sitting and thinking about words is part of my creative process, in reality it probably has nothing to do with it, but should have a lot to do with it.

Either way, whether those words end up in my stories or not, my mind flies over to them,  before wandering over them slowly. What they sound like. What they look like. What they mean. Who says them. And a whole lot more.

I turn them over in my mind, and they’re  like those little wooden blocks that children make towers to tomorrow out of before they all come crashing down around them, causing squeals of laughter, or tears of frustration and remorse. I guess you can say that I love words, and none so much as the common.

What is fierce?

Today the word ‘fierce’ came to mind. As I turned it over and over, looking for its equivalent in today’s world, ‘sick’ came to mind, along with its predecessors, ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’, along with the almost unforgettable qualifier ‘totally’.

‘Totally fierce’ tumbled around my mind for a while, and with its implications of total abandon, protection and uninhibited passion behind it, I found I really liked the sound of it.

Is fierce bad, or good?

Fierce is an interesting word because it can be either positive or negative, depending on what side of the fence you are standing. I would think most people would look at it in its most basic definition of  being, “Extremely severe or violent; terrible” which sounds pretty bad, but it is also defined as, “Extremely intense or ardent” ( both definitions come from the free dictionary.

No gray area with God

So, I got to thinking that this is exactly how God is. Depending on where you stand with Him, He is either the first or second definition. He’s definitely not anywhere in between. There is no gray area with God. He either seems fierce or extremely severe and terrible if you aren’t in relationship with Him through Jesus/Yeshua, or He is fierce about how He feels for you as someone who knows Him through Jesus/Yeshua.

The fierce I AM

It is very clear throughout scripture that the great I Am is fierce. He isn’t some wishy-washy god who changes on a dime to accommodate some vision of what some man thinks He should be. He is who He is and He cannot be anything else. He is fiercely who He is, which can be a little frightening at times because we don’t ever encounter that with anyone but Him.

The intensity with which He feels, and the lengths He is willing to go to get through to us can be frightening. Then when we are in relationship with Him through His efforts, not our own, the ardent and passionate way He loves us can be frightening in its ferocity.

God is fiercely in love with you

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, when you really realize that you are in relationship with the fierce One who created it all, including you, and that He is fiercely in love with you. There is no way to respond with anything but amazement, awe, and yes, sometimes even a little bit of fierceness ourselves.

“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:39

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Our memories are strange things. We get so caught up in our daily living, and our future lives, that a lot of us tend to either bury the past as if it never happened or just conveniently overlook it, treating it as if it didn’t exist because in the present it doesn’t.

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We remember what the Lord has done when we make a memorial.

Although for some people I think this trying to escape the past by forgetting it is just that, escape, for others it’s because we’re just really bad at remembering. It’s like our brains can only hold so much information at one time and everything else past, present and future just falls out if it doesn’t fit with what’s going on right now.

Memories

The other day my son and I had a disagreement over a long past trip to Disneyland. He was only about 3½ years old when he first went and about 4½ years old the second time he went. Even though he has an amazing memory ( he actually remembers things from when  he was 1 and 2) he argued with me that the first time we went was when he was 4. I had to pull out the old photograph albums to show him that yes he had actually gone earlier than he thought.

When he saw the photographs he did remember some parts of that trip. And, it occurred to me that the photographs were a little like small memorials to the trip and every time we saw them we would remember.

Memorials to God

Every once in a while I hear of a book or a teaching about building memorials to God, which is entirely biblical and is a really cool thing, because it does help us to remember what He has done. After all, how many times does He say,  ‘don’t forget’ to His people in the Word? The short answer? A lot. This is because He knows how short our attention spans are, and how we need to remember what He has done or else we just forget about it and start walking around with the delusion that He hasn’t hardly done anything at all.

One of the issues I’ve always had with these memorials is that the people who are advocating them always seem to say they should be outside and usually made of rocks like the ones in scripture. But, I’m just not an outdoor person. The whole point of building a memorial is to remember, but what’s the point if you don’t even notice it? I mean, if I can drive over a blue can and eventually not see it, you can bet money that I’ll walk right past an outdoor memorial to something He’s done and eventually not see it either.

Being a writer, I write things down, but even that necessitates digging through notebooks to find something to remember and doesn’t have that instant impact that takes place when you see a simple thing and are reminded of what He’s done. So, my writing doesn’t actually add up to any sort of memorial either.

God remembers

Because I thought I was someone who didn’t make any sort of memorials, I settled back into the camp of when God wants me to remember something He’ll let me know. This seems to be working, but what I didn’t realize is that He had me building memorials to Himself so I would remember what He’s been doing without my even realizing that He was building them.

I mark my Bible, but not in a way that I’ve ever seen anyone else do it. I’ve tried highlighting scripture only to find that the colors irritated me and I’ve tried underlying scripture that I thought was meaningful but it got too messy for me. But, about 2 years ago I started drawing lines in the margin of my bible next to scripture that caught my eye. After that, I found myself, writing the date next to my line in the margin, but only if God had given me the verse either by making it go 3-D on me, speaking into my spirit or giving it to me through someone else.

This resulted in a combination of those little lines, some just plain and some with dates next to them. What I didn’t realize when I started doing this was that those with the dates are my memorials to the Lord, and just because they aren’t a pile of rocks or outside doesn’t make than any less than what they are, remembrances of Him and what He’s given me and in just the right way for me to remember what He has done.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 4:9

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The eyes are the window to the soul. Most of us have heard this commonly used phrase at least once in our lives, maybe even twice.

But, do we ever really stop to think about what it means? I’m sure none of us would give the exact same answer to the question of ‘what does this statement mean?’. Yet, we would hit pretty close to the same mark that the eyes of a being reveal a lot about what goes on in the soul.

When we look into the eyes of another person, what do we see?

Those with kind, gentle eyes are few and far between, while those with eyes filled with sadness, anger, bitterness and even deadness are far more common.

No matter what your observational skills are, whether you notice a lot about another or just a little, chances are you have taken note of the times that you looked into another persons eyes and saw kindness, gentleness and love because the experience is so uncommon.

Yet, this is what I think of whenever I picture Jesus/Yeshua Himself.

When He walked among us, I imagine from the biblical accounts of Him, that He had with eyes full of love, kindness, gentleness and compassion, even in the face of the great pain, fear, hatred and confusion in the eyes and hearts of those who were around Him.

His eyes were so full of His great love for people that some of those same people couldn’t help but stop, take notice and respond. And, eventually after spending time with Him, it seems their eyes were changed, becoming more like His, seeing things He saw in the way He saw them.

Scripture tell us that God made us in His image, it also tells us that God breathed His own spirit of life into Adam and Eve. This is the same spirit He breaths into us when we come into relationship with Him through the redemptive sacrifice He made for us. The same life and love that He gives us that should be visible to others through our eyes.

Yet, what do you see when you look into another person’s eyes? Or, even your own in an unguarded moment? Do your eyes show others that you are a child of God who has spent time with Him in the light and love of His gaze?

“My son, give me your heart; And let your eyes keep in my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

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With the holidays hurtling towards us at breakneck speed, I have been thinking quite a bit about focus, about what our focus is and in the process rereading a piece by A. W. Tozer titled, “The Gaze of the Soul” found in his book, “The Pursuit of God”.

In light of these thoughts about focus and our oftentimes random, unfocused way of being – I am constantly amazed at how easily we allow ourselves to be dragged hilly-milly here and there – I am resharing my own thoughts on focus from a long ago written piece.

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Focus.

When I first had my son, I remember one bit of parenting advice among many. I don’t even know where it came from, but, it went something like this, what you focus on when parenting is what kind of parent you will become.

At the time, I took it to mean that if I focused on the things that I didn’t like about my own parents parenting then I would repeat those same things. And, if I focused on the things I thought were good about their parenting, along with those things that I thought were important about being a parent, then I would be able to work towards the goal of what I thought a decent parent was.

Focus.

In time, the idea took on a mind of its own to me. I realized that what I focused on is what I became, even if I didn’t like the focus. If my focus was uncontrolled, and, I didn’t make sure my focus was on what I respected or held dear, then I inadvertently walked in a direction that I neither liked nor felt comfortable in because those paths weren’t what I wanted. But, because my focus was not controlled, that was where I went.

We all have this focus problem that ultimately translates into a behavior problem. Even Paul himself wrote the things he wanted to do, he didn’t and the things he didn’t want to do, he did. It’s all about focus. Our hearts may be in the right place, but, if our focus is off, we have a problem.

Focus.

God is very clear about where our focus should be. On Him. All the time. Without ceasing. This isn’t for His good, (after all He is whole in who He is, He doesn’t need us to focus on Him) it is for our good, because He knows how we are. Where our focus is, there we shall merrily go, until we find out we’ve actually gone too far, don’t know where we are and in our wanderings have lost our focus. Again.

“Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha.”

“Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,”

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

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Tachyon visualization. Since that object moves...

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Have you seen the news lately? Not the economic news, or even the sports news, but the back of the paper news. Lately it’s been getting really wild. I don’t think I remember a time when so much of the strange, the bizarre and possibly the true just keeps popping up.

There was the excitement of finding a planet that orbited two suns very similar to that of the planet Tatooine, the home of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. A news story that was eerily like fact following fiction, except the fact was in existence long before the movie had come out, we just hadn’t seen the reality of it yet.

Then there’s been the discovery of what might be evidence in the dry desert of the state of Nevada that a Kraken, the stuff of deep-sea legends, may actually have existed.

Yeti hunters in Siberia now claim to have undeniable proof that the creature known by its more common name of the Abominable Snowman may actually exist. And, by extension all the other big creature known by that name around the world, like Sasquatch and Bigfoot, exist too. Can you imagine the crazy reactions of people if they actually caught one of these mythical creatures? I’m sure my good friend’s husband would be ecstatic. But, it would make everyone question what they thought was real.

The questioning of what is real is really rocked by the discovery that neutrino’s can travel faster than light. Let me say that again, it looks to be the case that neutrino’s can travel faster than light ( and, I’m not even getting into tachyons). According to Einstein’s theory, nothing can travel faster than light, which, it seems, a lot of our modern ideas about physics and cosmology pretty much are hinged on according to some commentators.

I’m no expert in these fields, so in this arena of physics and cosmology take what I say with a grain of salt. The only experience I’ve had with neutrino’s is limited to say the least, primarily revolving around the Jimmy Neutron show on Nickelodeon which has shown these intense and crazy little neutrino guys going around creating all sorts of trouble, including making whole cities disappear and more.

Come to think of it, if what scientist are saying is true about them traveling faster than the speed of light, they would be doing pretty much the same thing that they did in Jimmy Neutron, behaving badly, causing trouble and upsetting the norm.

But, it was a comment by one columnist in particular that really caught my attention about this possible dynamic shift in the way we see the universe that these pesky little neutrino’s may have unintentionally caused, he said we would all have to eventually change our theologies.

Change our theologies?

Now, I’m not sure whose theologies he’s referring to, it was an offhand sentence thrown into the column as a whole, but to my mind this discovery doesn’t change the theology of  Judeo-Christian’s that is contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible one whit. That ‘theology’ points to the great I Am as not only being the creator of the Universe and savior of mankind, again these thoughts are included in both the Old and New Testaments, but points to the fact that His ways are so far above ours that we don’t even understand a fragment of how it all works.

Human minds can’t understand even a thin slice of how it all works as we are discovering everyday, and this not only relates to the how the Universe works, but also how salvation works too. Because what god would come down and take the form of a human so men could be reconciled to Him? All because of love. What kind of god does that?

The answer is simple, I Am.

“Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”…God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.””

Exodus 3:3 & 14

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Rain is rare in the San Francisco Bay Area dur...

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The other day my son hopped into the Blue Beast after his junior high youth group, pulled the door shut and before I could put the truck into gear handed me a white paper.

“You need to sign this,” he said, adding “please” before I had a chance to comment on the reality that just because you’re now officially a teenager that doesn’t mean you give up being polite.

When we got home, I looked closely at the paper and immediately I smiled as I read what it said.

“It’s a permission slip,” my son informed me in a tone that only a teenager can.

I looked at him and resisted the urge to roll my eyes, like only a parent can.

“I know that,” I said, but my mind was off and running elsewhere along paths into the past.

Nowadays with budget cuts, education requirements and all around liability issues, children just don’t go on very many field trips, either with school or anywhere else. So, the sight of permission slip is a rather rare and unique experience.

But, I remember back when I was in school, that wasn’t the case. As I looked at the piece of paper in my hands, I was taken back to that time when I would bring home different colored permission slips for different field trips, yellow, pink, blue, and, yes, white. I knew every time I brought one home that we would be going to a fun and exciting place.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, every year my school would go on a field trip to Marine World ( this was before it moved), to Angels Island, to the theatre, to the symphony, to any number of wonderful places. Just the thought of them still gives me a warm feeling as I remember getting on the yellow school bus with my friends and classmates, and chugging off to a wonderful destination.

All of those trips and the things we learned on them, along with the feelings of excitement, anticipation and feel goodness all began when I brought that permission slip home for my mom to sign.

It made me realize that many times, we consider a life with the LORD as the end of permission slips and all the wonderful things that go along with them. The excitement. The anticipation. The journey. The adventure.

On some level we think that He’s not going to give us permission to do anything we want, anything we desire, that He’s all about taking things away and not giving anything back. Yet, there is nothing further from the truth. The longer we walk with Him, the more we realize that He’s all about giving us the permission to be who He created us to be, and there is nothing more exciting that.

“Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!””

2 Kings 5:13

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The other day in church a friend of mine was telling me about the trips he’s been making since he retired. And, yes, I did say in church. Sometimes this happens. You just get to talking to your neighbor between the worship time and the start of the sermon. This is typically about the time that the collection plates are slowly being circulated around the building like mini wooden flying saucers lazily flitting between one set of hands and another.

My friend has been gone from home longer than he’s been there, and has covered quite a lot of ground since he retired a couple of months ago, traveling from California to Houston, Texas on Highway 10. The same route my son and I went on just last December. Then returning home for a few days before setting out to see the Northwest, where I’d been a few years ago. As the collection plates were passed around we both laughed at the fact that Seattle was warm and dry, not a raindrop in sight when we’d both visited there.

He definitely has the traveling bug for sure, and is planning another trip to the East Coast before too long. But he said, he thinks he’ll fly there instead of driving.

One of the great things about traveling is the fact that you see and experience all sorts of things that you wouldn’t necessarily know existed if you hadn’t gotten out of your own backyard. Of course, I think driving is the best way to really see things, because, well you’re at ground level and can see things, walk through towns and learn about all the weird and quirky ways that things are discovered and come to be.

I have a writer friend, Sunny Lockwood, who’s just started a series of travel books for the older traveler. She’s named it the “Not So Fast” series and it focuses on meandering through towns that she and her husband visit at a walker’s pace that allows you to just relax and enjoy the unique things that every town, large or small, has to offer.

Someone who has achieved retirement status herself, she said she chose to write this type of meandering, slow travel guide because there are so many people her age who want to just take it easy when they travel, not run through a town making sure they’ve seen everything there is to see so they can check it off their list, before moving to the next town like a lot of younger people do.

Her most recent publication is “Not So Fast: Meandering Through Soda Springs, Idaho” in which she takes a slow pace through the town that features a huge geyser that was discovered while someone was digging  a hole for a swimming pool, along with the historic Enders Hotel with what looks to be a zillion stuffed and mounted animal heads on its walls, including that of a white buffalo with what seems to have had a devil-may-care attitude when he was alive, among other interesting travel tidbits that you would only see if you were going through a town slowly.

A glaring benefit of taking things slowly, whether you’re traveling or not, is that you actually get to experience things, not just do them. And, this is no more so apparent than in our relationships with the LORD. It seems to be in our nature to sort of run through the motions, checking everything off on our relationship-with-God checklist.

Prayer? Check.

Morning quiet time? Check.

Church on Sunday? Check.

Sunday School? Check.

Family Night? Check.

The list goes on and on, then at the end of it when we a have a nice little line of check marks in a neat little row, we can’t quite figure out why we’re not only burnt out, but we’re no closer to the LORD. It’s like we run in circles, then look up to see that we’re right back where we started, no closer to Him, just worn out after all that effort.

Even though we’ve made a valiant effort at running around and doing what we think we should, the reality is that we haven’t given ourselves, or Him, the time we need to actually sit and be with Him. And, in the process, slow down enough to actually experience Him and what He is actually like.

A relationship with Him is not a sprint, but a slow meandering journey that will take us to all sorts of places we could never have imagined, allowing us to discover of amazing things, if we just slow down and walk with Him.

“A man’s steps are established by the LORD, and He takes pleasure in his way.”

Psalm 37:23

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