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Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’


Shopping. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. And, some of us really don’t think about it at all, we just do it.

The shopping experience is an interesting one, especially if you’re on a budget, and you’re trying to stretch every dollar to the Nth degree. Take clothes shopping, sometimes you just need a shirt, it doesn’t matter what color it is or what style it is, you just need it. So, you go looking through the racks and find one, then another, and another and all of them will fit the bill.

But, sometimes you’re looking for something in particular, aren’t you? You need a black shirt to go with whatever, and it has to be in a certain style because otherwise it won’t match. It’s that kind of shopping that is draining because no matter how hard you look, if you can’t find that particular shirt, then the whole thing has been a wash.

Then there are times when the opposite is true. You think you have a lot of shopping options. But, no matter how hard you look, you always come back to the same item, over and over, and, over and over again, until at last you just give up and buy it.

Sometimes I do a little shopping when I pray, and I would imagine that you do too. We keep going back to God with a question, problem or issue, hoping He’s going to give us a different answer from the one He’s already given us, then are surprised when it’s the same.

I don’t really like leadership positions. I try to avoid them as much as possible, preferring to stay in the Shadowlands, and help out behind the scenes. So, when I was first asked to lead a Bible study group, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

So, I went to God in prayer and got a resounding ‘yes.’ But, I didn’t like that answer, so I let it lay quietly for a couple of days and went back again half hoping He would give me a different answer. He didn’t. It was still a firm ‘yes.’ So, I left it alone for another couple of days, all the while knowing that soon I would be trying to dodge phone calls from the teaching director who needed to know what I was going to do. Again, I went to Him, prayed about it, and again got the same answer. ‘Yes.”

My shopping did me no good, which isn’t surprising at all. After all, God is God, and He doesn’t change His mind. But we would still like Him to wouldn’t we? We all want a god who is going to behave himself, a god who is going to see we don’t want to do something and allow us to dictate what we will or will not do. We want a god who will let us off the hook.

But, He’s not like that. He loves us too much to allow us free rein, and He wants a relationship with us too much to allow us to go shopping for an answer that will please us, instead of one that’s good for us. In short, there are times when we just have to accept that He is God and He knows what He is doing, and no amount of shopping is going to change that.

“But You are the same and Your years will never end.”

Psalm 102:27

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Collection of small Bungee Cords

Image via Wikipedia

Typically I’m not someone who likes to get anywhere early. I like to get to places exactly on time, which in some instances means I’m a little earlier than those others who like to be fashionably late, but there are times when I’m the one who’s late – like arriving at church every Sunday just a few minutes late -, but more often than not, I tend to be a little too early in my quest to be on time.

 Because I’m generally a background person – which I prefer – when I get places a little early even though people know that I’m there, because I fade into the background, it doesn’t bother them. I’ve found that this often gives me a bird’s eye view of what happens before the crowd shows up.

 Every Friday, I attend the chapel service at my son’s school. I’m always a little early because there’s lag time between the time I drop him off and the time chapel starts. During this time, I plant myself at the back of the sanctuary and very often listen to the praise team run through the songs they’re planning on singing during chapel.

 Typically, they’re all on board when they get there. So, it’s just a matter of running through that they already know and warming up a bit, but one Friday it was totally different.

 We have a great music teacher who also leads the praise and worship group, which is made up of three girls with wonderful voices. Although their ranges are all different with one high soprano, a lower soprano and an alto, they typically sing within the same melody, and don’t have to truly harmonize with one another.

 But, like I said, this Friday was different. Their teacher decided that they had enough time to truly harmonize and blend their voices one to the other. So, it was like pulling three disparate threads together to form one whole cord.

 When they first began to sing, they didn’t harmonize at all. In fact, even though they were all singing the same words they all sounded like they were singing with their own accompanist. From the back, I could hear each of their individual voices instead of a seamless whole. I could almost see the three different threads of sound weaving their way to the back of the room. But, as they practiced that began to change.

 With their teacher giving them a hint here and an encouragement there, the three began to blend beautifully until you couldn’t distinguish one voice from the other because the three harmonized perfectly into a seamless whole.

 As I sat and watched them, it reminded me of the body of Christ and how all of us are so different from one another. We definitely march to the beat of our own drummer when we become a part of it. On top of that, we all have such different functions in it, one is a healer, one is a teacher, one is a seer, one is a motivator, and so on and so on. Yet, under the instruction of Christ, with a hint from Him here, an encouragement from Him there, He turns us into a fully functioning, seamless whole.

 His bringing us into the body, causing us to pull together with each of our individual gifts and talents, then making a body that actually functions seamlessly is a miracle of huge proportions. He is patiently working with us making the impossibility of us truly coming together in Him not only a possibility, but a reality.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

Romans 12: 4 – 6b

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the first page from the First Epistle of John

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Truth, especially Biblical truth, is worth thinking about.

Skip Moen in his blog today, Incorrect Theology, gives many of us food for thought.

“The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:4

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Sharing Is Caring - Fotosöndag

Image by Niklas Wikström via Flickr

Have you ever seen a really good movie that you just had to share with your friends? Or, a book that you couldn’t stop talking about? Or, just about anything that was really good and you just had to share?

A friend of mine is totally like this. Whenever she sees a good movie, reads a great book or goes to a really good restaurant, she tells you all about it with no hesitation whatsoever.

This sharing of hers goes all over the internet too. She makes comments on blog posts she likes, news stories she thinks are worth commenting on and just about anywhere else where she can provide encouragement for the one who has posted the work.

We were talking about this propensity of hers recently, and, she said she and her brother and sister were always sharing all the good things they liked with each other and others from an early age. It was just a part of their family dynamic to share. But then she said an interesting thing, she said that what all of them have found as they’ve gotten older and seen how people are, is that most people don’t share.

I asked her what she meant. She said that she’s found that most people don’t share if they’ve seen a good movie, read a good book, gone to a good restaurant, they just stay quiet and don’t say anything about it at all, which is really foreign to her because there’s no risk in sharing those sort of things.

She said she and her brother ands sister have often discussed this and they just don’t understand it at all, as she put it ‘Why wouldn’t you want to share good news?’

I don’t have an answer for that, because when you’re excited about something and it’s good, you naturally want to share it with someone, whether it’s a really good friend or just an acquaintance. But, for many of us the reality is even if we have the inclination to share something stops us, and, I’m sure for each of us that something is a little different.

Sharing good news should be as natural to us as breathing because it’s an exciting thing to share something good that we’re excited about with someone else, which includes sharing the good news of reconciliation with God through Christ. I mean, it just doesn’t get better than having a way to be in a relationship with the person who created everything, and the LORD is just so amazing that sometimes it’s hard not to talk about Him.

Yet, the reality is that we don’t talk about Him, or, for most of us, very much that we we’re really excited about and think is good, which makes you really think about the question, why don’t we share?

“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”

Mark 1:1-3

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Laugh

Image via Wikipedia

There are times when you just know that God just has to laugh.

For many of us, we have always carried around this picture in our minds of this stern God sitting on His throne, one that doesn’t crack a smile or take joy in, well to put it bluntly, anything. If everything good comes from Him alone and we enjoy smiling, laughing and taking pleasure in one another’s company, wouldn’t it stand to reason that He does too?

This point hit home with me when I went on a women’s retreat a while ago. The whole group got together and began to worship. Having no music, along with no one who had natural leadership abilities in the singing realm, the results were comical to say the least. Even though there are women in the group who have wonderful voices, they were not enough to change the way the whole group sounded which resembled the disjointed noise that ravens make when they’re disturbed.

The disturbing sound that rose up from our group could only be really described as a joyful noise unto the Lord. As we were traveling from song to song getting worse, not better, as we went along, it was all I could do to keep myself from laughing. Then I realized I wouldn’t be surprised if God was smiling, even chuckling a little bit, at our attempt too.

So many times in scripture we are told that he loves and delights in His children. Yet we seem to forget this in the face of the stern overbearing God we seem to want Him to be, we seem to miss the point that this relationship we’re in with Him is an enjoyable thing and yes, even though it can – and often does – include times of teaching and correction, it also includes times of great love, enjoyment, and yes, laughter.

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.”

Psalm 149:4

 

 

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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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View from an ancient prison

Image by Natasha Lloyd via Flickr

Sometimes you just need to believe God.

We’ve all been there, hit that wall where it looks like nothing will ever come around to what it seems like God has said it will be.

I’m thinking of Moses. He, a prince of Egypt, ended up tending sheep in Midian for what must have seemed like forever to him. From Egypt, the super power of the ancient world, to the backside of nowhere in what must have seemed like a split second. Then staying on the backside of nowhere for over 40 years.

And, basically what was he doing? Waiting, learning and maybe even sometimes trying to believe this God of his people.

Just like Joseph in prison. Joseph who despite some youthful arrogance, that we all can claim quite frankly, did everything right, and still found himself in prison after he had been promised in his dreams that would be a leader.

Even though Joseph was in prison, taking care of the other prisoners and rising to prominence within the prison system, it must have seemed like he was on the backside of nowhere.

And, like Moses, basically what was he doing? Waiting, learning and sometimes even trying to believe this God who had sent him dreams.

Sometimes there is a close relationship between being put on the backside of nowhere, learning skills that seem meaningless at the time, and trying to still believe God. The wall of unbelief is sometimes so high, so wide and so long, that there is no way we can see our way around it, and I’m sure that both Moses and Joseph felt the same way.

The funny thing is that in their waiting they received the training that they needed to do what God wanted them to do. Moses, a shepard, had to lead God’s people out of Egypt and then take care of them for 40 years in the wilderness, while Joseph learned administrative skills both in Potiphers house and in prison that would help him to take the reins as overseer in Egypt.

These are the more obvious things they learned that played directly into God’s plans for them all along, but the less obvious lesson was that God was bigger than their doubts, their fears and, yes, their unbelief when everything looked dark and despair must have certainly set in.

They learned that although their unbelief must have seemed insurmountable, that didn’t have any affect on the God they served and His faithfulness.

Sometimes it is in our Midian’s when we find ourselves on the backside of nowhere,  that we learn who He truly is.

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!””

Mark 9:24

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