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Posts Tagged ‘reality’


Yosemite Wolf photographed by Karin Saunders

Although I’m an unapologetic cat person, I have always loved wolves. There’s just something about those beautiful animals that live in a structured pack family on the outskirts of man’s world that has always fascinated me.

The American Indian tales have a great amount of wisdom and truth in them and, depending on the tribe can feature an assortment of animals, tricksters and other character’s that emphasis a basic truth.

Just recently when I heard an old Cherokee tale about two wolves, I paid close attention. Maybe you’ve read it, but just in case you haven’t, here it is.

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Reading this story you can’t help but get a visual of the wolves, their attributes and the fact that which one is fed is the one that grows. And, like the grandfather, we all have this fight raging inside of us.

This begs the question, which inner wolf are you feeding?

The reality of the situation goes one step further. At some point we all must come to grips with the realization that we are in a losing battle against ourselves. The only way we can win the battle is to turn to the only One who can provide us with the sustenance that can feed the positive wolf within and in the process starve the other.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8

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Lightning strikes during the eruption of the G...

Image via Wikipedia

Every once in a while you see photographs that really make you sit up and take notice of the enormity of the natural forces in this world we live in.

We’ve seen a lot of these images in recent months, tsunamis, tornados, floods, you name a natural disaster, and chances are we’ve all seen some sort of photograph of it somewhere.

But, the images, usually awash in a mixture of multi-layered grays, blacks and whites, don’t convey the out-of-control intensity of the moment when these things hit. It’s like looking at a black and white photograph then comparing it to a color photograph of the same event. The color one is going to stand out far and above the black and white, if only because it catches our eye more, is less flat, looks more like real life, and, maybe, we can relate to these because they do look more like we see the world in all its colorful intensity.

The photographs from the volcanic eruption of Chili’s Puyehue Volcano, and the ash plume it spewed run through and perforated with lightning bolts like something out of a Sci-Fi movie are just those types of photographs. Unlike the muted grays of recent natural disaster photographs, they show vibrant colorful image’s that accurately portray the intensity of the event.

National Geographic’s cut line on their photographs of the event hits the nail on the head, “In a scene no human could have witnessed, an apocalyptic agglommeration of lightning bolts illuminates an ash cloud above Chile’s Puyehue volcano (map) on Sunday.”

You can view the photographs here:

http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTR2NCS0#a=1

It struck me as I looked in amazement at the photographs, thinking how similar they were to many of the photo’s of deep space, that many times we view the Lord in the flat black, white and gray that we see many of these photo’s in. And, because of this, although we get a sense of His intensity and enormity, our view of Him lacks the vibrancy and intensity and impact of the reality of seeing Him in color.

“Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Ezekiel 1:26-28

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Glasses

Image by 2create via Flickr

Sight is a funny thing, and what all of us think of when the topic is mentioned can vary. Yet,  on first glance, we all would probably go to our physical sight first. Especially those of us who wear glasses, or contacts, to whom people look like walking trees if we don’t have anything to help us see. But, there are so many different types of sight beyond the physical, there’s emotional sight, spiritual sight and more, the list can go on and on.

We focus on the physical because by and large, that’s where most of us live. Yet, it’s the emotional and spiritual sight where we can get the most blinded, the most deceived about what is true and real, and what is not.

For those of us who have some sort of help with our physical sight, we know how easy it is for us to see something that’s not true or real if we don’t have our glasses on. I mean really, if people look like walking trees without your glasses on, just about anyone can walk into your home, and, you wouldn’t even know they were a stranger until you got up close to them. Of course, you have your other senses to rely on, but if you just relied on your sight you’d be in trouble.

And, that’s for those of us who are near-sighted. Those who are far-sighted and need reading glasses have the opposite problem. If they don’t have their glasses on, they could think they’ve read something only to find out the words they thought were there, or that looked like they were there, weren’t there at all, which could be problematic to say the least.

When we have a problem with physical sight, we can get physical help that corrects the problems of sight and the perceptions that that issue can cause. But, what about when we have problems seeing emotionally or spiritually?

So many of us see our lives through a faulty mindset, or emotional place, that really skews what is real and true and causes us to believe lies about those very things.

How many times have you met a beautiful woman, or man, who thinks she, or he, is ugly? Or, a really intelligent man, or woman for that matter, who believe they have a less than average intelligence? Or, someone with an immense talent who thinks that it’s worth nothing? I could go on. I can’t tell you how many men and women I’ve met who believe blatant lies about themselves, because there are just too many. The thing that really strikes me though, is no matter how many times they are told the truth, they refuse to absorb it because they are unable to see it.

These things get set so early on in our lives, and to truly shake them is pretty much impossible without the help of God.

I know that there are some that would probably take me to task for such a statement, and tell me that they have shaken their insecurities without the help of an unseen God. They would say they that because of their own work on themselves, they are ‘healthy’ and ‘well’. I would reply that that too is a deception, a lack of seeing clearly. Because when your world turns upside down, and you are not clinging to the One who is truth and reality, then all those deceptions and insecurities come roaring back with a vengeance, probably far worse than they were before because they didn’t actually go away, they only went into hiding for a while.

One of the realities and truths that is so hard for our independent, ‘I can do it all’ natures to grasp, is that when our sight starts to go physically, or is gone spiritually or emotionally, there’s absolutely nothing we can really do about it without help from someone else.

We go get glasses or contacts or lasik surgery to help our physical eyes, but even these band aids cannot permanently fix the problem that is actually occurring with our eyes themselves.

And, even though we are open to getting help from someone else for out physical sight, for far too many of us we are not so pragmatic about the lies we believe, the spiritual and emotional blindness we carry around with us. We would rather try to help ourselves, instead of going to the only One who can truly cure our fuzzy, darkened vision. It’s kind of like if we chose to make our own glasses out of the bottom of glass bottles and wore them around believing that we could see clearly with them on.

Each of us probably has a million reasons for not wanting to go to Him and be cured, but the reality is every moment that we delay is one more moment of unnecessary blindness that we choose to live in as we walk around with our paltry homemade attempt at seeing truth, and fooling no one but ourselves.

“A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!””

John 9:24-25

 

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Truth


Gallery of the Tapestries

Image by Storm Crypt via Flickr

Truth, we all have a slightly different version of it, don’t we? The old adage, ‘there are two sides to every story, yours and mine,’ is very true, but, I always think there are three sides to every story, yours, mine and God’s.

My son, along with others like him who really do live in a black and white world, has a highly developed sense of truth, which really comes out when he feels that an injustice has been done. He is emphatic in his arguments about the truth of what has happened in a given situation, and what should be done about it. But, if facts change, then he must change his view of the truth of the matter and what can or should be done. This is just what he did when he was young and wanted to blow up the Funyun factory only to discover later that he actually enjoyed the little oniony treats.

I, on the other hand, live in a world full of the multiple shades of gray. This includes looking at everything through the glasses of at least six different possibilities with every situation at hand, making justice a somewhat fuzzy anomaly for me to grasp. After all, how can justice be served when  there are so many variables to the actual situation itself? This way of looking at things also has the disadvantage of seeing the many roads to man’s  ‘truth’ that one can take.

Truth can be difficult to grasp especially in this world where most people want to believe that just because our truths don’t match up, doesn’t make any of them less true. Most often this comes in the form of, you believe what you want to and I’ll believe what I want to, and it will all be okay.

The problem is that it won’t be okay.

We live on the sufferance of God, He provides the oxygen for us to breathe everyday that we exist on this beautiful round ball He gave us to live on. And, if you don’t somehow comprehend that and connect with that, it just won’t be okay. Because there will come a time when He just won’t provide that anymore for those who don’t have a relationship with Him.

Truth is truth, and there can only be one actual version of it. This has little to do with the observation of the observer and more to do with actuality of reality than anything else.

Enter God, the I Am who is the totality of truth even if we don’t actually acknowledge that. The reality is that truth does survive, He has thread Himself throughout the entire time-line of  human history in such a way as to be undeniably there, even if many would like to ignore that to pursue their own version of truth.

The reality is that God, I Am, has played a part in human existence since He created our troublesome race and instead of scraping us all because we are schizophrenic in our view of truth and want to claim that our truth is reality, He instead chose to stick with us and provide a loving escape clause for us to actually know truth through His own sacrifice made for us.

Truth, there’s your version, my version and God’s version. The problem is that we hear each others version’s and either don’t bother or don’t want to listen to God’s version, but if you unplug yourself from the epitome of truth, then how do you know what reality is?

“Into your hand I commend my spirit. You redeem me, Yahweh, God of truth.”

Psalm 31:5

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Not too long ago I found myself challenged by a video I saw on -where else?- YouTube. In it a bible teacher, whose name escapes me, challenged the group of people he was leading through the ancient Roman ruins on a biblical tour through Israel, to spend at least 15 minutes in scripture everyday. Not only that, but to read one chapter in a gospel every day for the rest of their lives.

His basic premise was that the Jewish people were required to learn the Word of God, memorize it, by the time they were young teenagers, and by learning the Word of God, you learned about your God.

In other words, how can we claim to know who our God is if we don’t even know what He says in His Word?

So, I took up the challenge and since that time have read a chapter in the gospels every day. I go through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and when I’m done I start all over again. It’s not easy, in fact there are days that I feel like I’m just reading, then there are other days when something just jumps out at me.

By reading it in this way it certainly has given me a chance to see who Jesus was, and is, which is a little different from who many people think He is. I have always liked the saying that when you really read the gospels, and what Jesus had to say, you either decided that He is who He claimed to be, God, or you have to come to the conclusion that He was a madman. If you take Him in his totality in scripture and don’t carve Him up into what you want Him to be, He is either one or the other, there is no viable third option as to who He is.

He is God, He is the Word come in the flesh in order to do what we cannot, make a pathway that we can walk along with Him, so, we have a relationship with Him.

God’s Word is God’s Word, it is Him wrapped in words, it’s His breath caught on paper. How are we supposed to have a relationship with Him if we don’t even know His Word?

“‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'”

Jeremiah 31:33

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Kohi Sunrise

Image by Chris Gin via Flickr

I am. Two little words that pack a punch, and we use them all the time.

Of course, typically we shorten them to ‘I’m’.  “I’m going to the store.” “I’m walking over to the cookie plate because I love chocolate chip cookies.” “I’m going to apply for that job.” “I’m happy.” And it goes on and on, ‘I am this’ and ‘I am that’, but are we?

I just went to the Women of Faith Conference this past weekend.  Beyond all the great speakers and wonderful musicians, there were booths out on the concourse for World Vision.

World Vision is an organization that allows you to sponsor a child living in a third world country. Your donation allows that child to have food, clean water and an education, all for about $35 a month. When you sign up to sponsor a child, it’s a commitment to continue that support until they are at least 18 years old, sometimes longer if you choose to do so.

As I passed by these multiple booths with their descriptive cards, each showing a photograph of an individual child in  need of sponsorship along with a description about what country they were from and other information about them, I couldn’t help but think that any of us could just close our eyes and pretend they didn’t exist.

But that wouldn’t change the fact that they do exist. That they are. That each of them, like us can say, “I am” and it would be true because they exist independently of whether we want to acknowledge that fact and do something about it, or not.

It struck me that this is what we do with God on so many levels. Even though He is, we act as if He is not. Even those of us who call ourselves believers sometimes like to close our eyes and pretend He doesn’t exist. Especially if He’s asking us to do something we don’t want to do, or don’t think we have time to do, or something that is just way past what we are able to do, or even something that just makes us too uncomfortable to do.

Instead of saying, “here am I, send me,” like Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8), we say things like  ‘I don’t really know if that’s the Lord speaking at all’ then we close our eyes, and hope He’s still not there when we open them back up.

The reality is that He is, and He is in a way that is much more than anything else that exists. Instead of existing in the same way that an individual person exists, He exists in and of Himself, not because someone created Him. He is literally the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, you can’t exist anymore than He does.

He is the ultimate reality and try as we might to close our eyes and pretend He doesn’t exist, every time we open our eyes He is right there, because He doesn’t just say “I am”, He is the only one whose name is “I Am.”

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:13-14

 

 

 

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The other day a friend of mine and I were talking, and she was telling me about something that had happened to her when all of a sudden she stopped and said, “You know I just realized recently how self-absorbed I am.” It was such an unexpected comment that I started to laugh. She joined in and we both laughed for a bit letting her comment sink in, before I asked her what she meant by that.

She said that no matter who she talks to, or where she is, that her conversation always ends up going back to herself. She ended her explanation by saying, ‘I guess it’s just that I’ve had such an interesting life.’

The funny thing is, compared to most people, she has had a really interesting life. So whatever she talks about, even if it does directly relate to her, is interesting to listen to. But, her comment got me thinking about myself and how I do the same thing. I also started paying attention to other people’s conversations with this self-absorption in mind and found that other people do it too. No matter where the conversation starts, we all try to make it about us.

We all do this, whether we’ve had objectively interesting lives or not, we always seem to bring everything back to ourselves. We are all self-absorbed to one degree or another, which is a more than a little disturbing when you consider that if you are a follower of Christ you must come to grips with the fact that it’s all about God and not you.

And it’s not all about God because He’s some egomaniac of a god who needs all the attention and worship, it’s all about God because it just is. He’s the One who gives us our air to breath. He’s the One who has provided a way for us to have a relationship with Him through faith. He’s the One who gives us that faith. He’s the one who provides for our needs, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I could go on and on.

The basic reality is that it is all about Him.

“For in Him we live, and move and exist,”

Acts 17:28a

 

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