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Archive for the ‘Creation’ Category

It has been 5 years since I regularly photographed, edited, and ‘published’ landscapes and architectural beauties.  But I can very clearly recall thinking others were very regularly over-saturating and liberally moving the sharpness meter.  I looked at photos–and I can recall thinking this of my now-husbands’ iPhone photos and edits while we were dating–and saw ‘this person doesn’t think God did well enough, they need to make more of it.”  Blades of grass were over-defined, valleys were too bright, trees showed the details of way too many leaves visible to the naked eye.

I got glasses this week.  My dad is an optometrist (across the country) AND I finally got glasses…this week.  And I learned: “Everyone else didn’t have a fake perspective, my eyes were limited to see the wonders of God’s creation, captured in the photography of others.”  I had muted God’s wondrous touch for years.

Many of us, at this point, are aware–whether from sermons, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, other readings, The Shack, relational interactions and observations, or by other personal life experiences–that we regularly perceive God through our own life experiences.  Most times we hear it as: “It is difficult for someone to call God Abba if they have/had a bad, harmful, or abusive earthly dad.”  God isn’t only a judge and discipliner, yet, for someone with a strict, physically abusive, unfair, unjust father, who was possibly ‘the town drunk’ or the guy who appeared all together to the neighbors and then behind closed doors took his own life hurts out on his wife and/or children, the image of God as anything but an unloving, disciplining, enraged, wrathful God is difficult to trust.

So, how do we clean up our viewpoint to see clearly, through our own life experiences, at the same time, withholding from judging and perceiving life through the measurement (expectations) of others and God living up/down to our own experiences (comfort)? 

Depending on where you are, the same picture looks different.

Depending on your eye sight, you’ll see through other’s glasses with ease or perhaps a splitting head ache, and may see life clearly or it may appear murky.  Either way, for you, it is a different experience than it is for the person whose prescription you’ve just tried.  We look through life, differently.  Each of us through our own lenses.  All trying to see the same things.

I always seek to see the other, yet I always find one picture in this image.  Do you see both?

There is one thing to say about taking one another’s perspectives as we approach decision-making and conflict resolution in the best interest of a friendship, marriage, or something happening in society. But rather than follow that stream of thought, I want to focus on the ‘false self’ and ‘true self.’

In his fourth decade of life, Peter Scazzero figured out how to be emotionally aware before God.  His books, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality/ Leader/ Church (and Woman, written by his wife, Geri), all focus on the foundational understanding that we are formed by the expectations placed on us, that we become who others want us to be to benefit them, to benefit the family or community from their perspective, and to benefit ‘us’ from their perspective.   In essence, we allow man to mold and shape what God has created. 

Can you remind me who is the clay Maker AND clay Shaper?

“Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7).

“O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (Jeremiah 18:6).

I want to look into any picture or mirror at myself and to see that in what should be me, there is an authentic illustration of who God has created me, purposed me, and molded me to be in His presence for His glory.

Scazzero petitions that we must begin peeling back the layers, as if we were an onion, removing the masks of ‘false self’ built up by expectations, generational sins, and societal norms, and begin revealing the nature of who God intended for us to be.  Only from the core person are we truly effective for God’s work.

“I truly believe the greatest gift we can give the world is our true self living in loving union with God.” || Peter Scazzero

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver” that as a silversmith sees his own reflection in the material after working it, and refining it for some time, You will see Your reflection in me, in us (Psalm 66:10).  O God, I hope that I do not limit your desires of Kingdom work through me.  Might I be an open vessel, available, willing, and dedicated to Your good purposes.  Might I experience life as You have hoped for me, so that I may be able to reach the people You have molded me to be effective with in Your Kingdom work.  Disciples make disciples.  I must not be mute.  I must have joy in me to celebrate the advancement of Your Gospel news to all the world.  I must have peace in me to trust in Your faithfulness, Your presence, Your shelter.  Savior, I am clean, and I am clean because of You.  Thank You, Lord.  My life is better cared for in Your hands, I relinquish control, and I ask for discernment and resilience to withhold from the temptation that says ‘praise and criticism shape you.’  I know this to be true of the world, but You have promised me much greater than the world.  I have eternal life in and with YOU. There is no greater reward worthy of my service, worthy of my submission.  I live only by Your breath that is within me.  You have purposed me from the beginning, and I hope now, to be resilient to seek out, to discern, and to live according to Your good intentions for the life I have left before joining You in heaven.  And I ask this of You today: Continue to draw me closer to You.  That I may, in my love for You, grow in the discipline to read, to know, and to live from Your Word according to Scripture, the life of Jesus Christ, and the presence of Your Holy Spirit in me.   Thank You for such a follow-up gift, Lord Jesus, for sending Your Advocate upon Your departure, so that we may have life–without a moment apart from You. Amen.

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Without any theological backing, I began to give much attention to this stream of thoughts.  I began to consider, “do the Northern White Rhinos know they are the final 6 in all of existence?  Is there anything in them that can sense they no longer have family?  I assume not, since they chose not to breed with one another.  But as humans, we hear people say, “I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man/woman on earth,” but really, would you?

God sent Noah two of every kind so that when the boat landed the animals and humans would continue in existence, as He initially designed.  Now we see extinction occurring, and mankind is to blame for crimes against creation and also the efforts in saving the species currently present on earth.

As Christians we believe that Jesus will come before the end of mankind, but for the secular world, is reproduction an importance?  Is reproduction a direct act of obedience to God’s creating us to live in community?

We look at environmental issues and consider that peoples across the world go without enough resources for the population.  China made perimeters to control such an end.

But really, if you were the only individual of your sex, would you take the responsibility upon yourself to continue the human race?

What does your answer say about how we consider our role and influence upon the good of humanity in modern life?

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August 28, 2014

During my scuba certification dives, my instructor, Elliot, motioned with two fingers to look up when clearing our masks.  It was as if he held a peace sign directly in front of his face and drew his wrist upwards.

I now think of this rather frequently. However, today the Lord drew a new illustration. As we looked up towards the surface to clear our masks, HE spoke, “Who’s eyes are you using?”  Had I been looking at my day through my own perspective or through the lens of the Gospel, of God’s Truth? As I looked up–I was stopped at a red light–I saw how beautiful it is to view life through a lens of compassion and gratitude.  I was awe-struck. Simply awe-struck.

Often times, I find myself judging superficiality and the materialist modern world.  How hypocritical of me.  Although my sight wasn’t blurred by dollar signs, fashion, or technology, I too was blinded.  I had my preconceived notions  and it was time for me to clear my mask.  To take off the mask, swim to the surface, and authentically live as God created me.  I am forever grateful that God continues to work on me from the inside out, as Paul has prayed over us, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

In the midst of this lesson, I studied the cycle of morning prayers and night songs.

From the very beginning, before Adam and Eve, God created day and night, God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day,” which He then added stars to “to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:5-18).

He knew that there would be a collision of darkness and light, good and bad from the very beginning.  He created a visual prompt for all of creation to see that they are separate.  To know that the way of God is good. And only God is good.  We have the opportunity to be mesmerized by appreciating the sight of His magnificent creation, the sky.  A distinction necessary to the human eye only, for “even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you” (Psalm 139:12).

“Each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life” (Psalm 42:8).

Our anxieties shall not keep us from rest.  Our day’s work shall not keep us from rest.  God includes such a warning through story to be incorporated in His text, “Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:23).

Rather we know that God is victorious.  We believe that enemies cannot penetrate the walls of our Fortress; we move in courage and in trust. “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me” (Psalm 3:5).

We know that there are nights to devote to God not through rest but through prayer and meditation, perhaps.  As Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night” in choosing the twelve disciples” (Luke 6:12).

Remember the separation of darkness and light, of night and day, “for you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Cling to what is good, draw near to God.

Rest in Jesus. “Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light'”(Matthew 11:28-30).

Nothing should keep you up.  No trouble is too big for Jesus to lift from your shoulders.  Rest tonight, and in the day, serve the LORD, “work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23).

As morning comes and the day begins anew, cry out to the LORD, “I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words” (Psalm 119:147).  Devote yourself; for you to can say, “The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will” (Isaiah 50:4).

Quite literally in my life, I wake up to the birds singing what sounds to be songs of praise and gratitude for the blessings of shelter, light, food, and drink. Also, to the sound of winds burring, reminding me of God’s balance in great strength and tender embrace. Or if nothing else, I awake to worship, celebrating the time of God’s delivery of me into this earth.  All call for celebration, time of devotion, time of solitude before the Creator and my Guide.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (119:105).

Know that God’s promises from the Old Testament are reassured through the life of Jesus, as he is listening when we call upon His name (Psalm 18:6).  Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

It is victorious, for we can shout,

God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

May you too go about your day, praying.  Continually speak with God, knowing that He is constantly near.  His ears are open and His heart is eager to hear from His child, His friend, His creation.  To have the courage to remove the mask and sit in vulnerability, presented before the King.  Make plans that serve God and glorify His name, that bring attention to His kingdom.  Pursue relationships that spread the gospel and deepen your understanding of the character and presence of God.  And when you speak, expect God to lead you, to speak to you, to teach you (Psalm 5:3).

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