Photos

...pick one photo to sit with, according to your mood.

This week I will make you work a little harder. I am posting two photos with a few verses accompanying each one. I will emphasize some parts of those verses, but my desire is that you pick one photo to sit with, according to your mood. Please come back to the other when you feel like it, thought in the end I see similar themes between them. Let me know if you agree.

My emphases are not clues to a right answer, but possible starting points to what Abba may want to say to you today. Hebrews 4:12 tells us”For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

My prayer is for the images and the word of God to meet you where you are today, to speak to you personally through the Holy Spirit. Abba may send you in other directions. If so, find your own verses to go with the photos. Or your own photos to go with the verses. ;-} ! This week I began with the photos. Often I begin the other way around. Please let me know how it goes…. ENJOY!

Pansies of the field? And a bug finding shelter….

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And or….

Through a glass dimly

1 Corinthians 13:Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Peacemaking

 

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Here is an excerpt from Mary: When God Shares His Glory 

 

Making Peace

Pablo Picasso once said the first act of creation is an act of destruction.  Although I may not agree on how Picasso applied this statement, I do agree with the “nugget of truth” it contains.  An artist or creative person always sees what’s missing or broken in a situation and then begins the work of repair and restoration.  Because of the innate ability to see what is wrong with something, creative people often tend to be unpopular—especially with those who are invested in keeping things the way they are—the status quo.

Creative people see what’s broken or missing.

This is one of the reasons creative people are often described as being overly critical or having an “artistic temperament.”

The Hebrew word we translate “peace” is the word shalom.  A very basic definition of this word is “nothing broken, nothing missing.”  Peace is the presence of order, not an absence of conflict.  Let me say that again:

Peace is the presence of order not the absence of conflict.

If a creative person sees what’s broken or missing, then they are called to create Shalom.  Creative people are designed to repair and restore what is broken and missing in the world.   Making shalom is the greatest creative act.  Ultimately, all creative people are called to be peacemakers.

When we hear Jesus say in the Beatitudes “Blessed are the peacemakers,” we have been trained to hear “blessed are the peacekeepers.”  Making Shalom is a risky act that requires incredible creativity.  When you make peace you are attempting to find a way forward where there has not been one before—because the path has been broken or missing.   Often conflicts arise when relationships are broken or the truth is hidden or distorted.

Peacekeeping is not a creative act.  Peacekeeping forces people to accept broken systems or situations.  Peacekeeping forces everyone involved to give up something for the greater good.  Peacekeeping requires you to make do with a broken system “because this is the way things are.”  Peacekeeping makes you a victim.  At the heart of peacekeeping is compromise—each side has to give up something to keep bullets from flying.  The systems peacekeepers create are marked by their unsatisfactory lukewarm cultures.  Peacekeeping demands accepting things as they always have been.  Peacekeeping never calls into question the status quo.  Peacekeeping is a temporary fix.  Sadly, eventually people get tired of surrendering their values and dreams and the guns get loaded and the bullets fly.

Peacemaking, on the other hand, begins with “this is what’s broken or missing.”  Peacemaking requires an honest assessment.  Then peacemakers, creative people, begin the difficult task of finding a new way forward.  Being honest is unpopular.  This is when those who have “never done it that way before” begin to attack the creative person.  These good people represent the Status Quo.  In the eyes of the Status Quo the enemy is not the problem.  The enemy is the problem solver.  The enemy is the person brave enough to assess a situation and suggest a solution.  Shalom always requires us to make a change.  We have to change our thinking, change our choices, and change the way we do things.   As Seth Godin said in one of his recent daily blogs, “Change begins when you imagine a different kind of future.”  That’s pretty close to what the Bible calls “repentance.”

The Ability to See

One of the important lessons I learned as an applied artist was the ability to see.  A good draftsman can look at an object and break it down into its component shapes and “see” what is really there.  Drawing is not creating a bunch of lines.  Drawing is laying down boundaries around shapes and shadows.

Repeatedly creative artists are called “prophetic” individuals.  They tend to run ahead of the crowd and forge a way forward.  I think it is interesting that the original word for prophet in Hebrew was “seer.”  The prophet is the one who sees.

A good artist immediately sees what’s wrong.  This is why many creative people are so grumpy—and why so many suffer from depression.

Without the freedom to acknowledge a problem and find a solution an artist will get stuck in the destruction phase, and that destruction will turn inward.  First, it becomes depression and then worse.

Being an artist has taught me another thing: Many people can look at something all day long and not see what is really there.  The conventional crowd is often blind, and can be deceived.  This is the realm of the illusionist, magician, and the modern politician.   People look at things based on their preconceptions, and this weakness can be used and abused.   This blindness is part of what drives peacekeeping.   To a person without the ability to see it is much safer to live with the way things are.

All people have a God-given desire to make things better, but most believe that they are powerless to do so.  In order to get along people try to keep peace and not make waves.  Making peace requires the ability to see and the courage to make change.

When we make peace, find a way forward, and come up with a creative solution, we suddenly find that God has been doing a work of healing and transformation in our lives.

——————–

Where and how might Abba want you to go beyond keeping the peace to use you to help bring true shalom?

Prayer To Move The Hand Of God Or …?

Sometimes prayer is about repositioning our hearts

Sometimes prayer, talking with God, is less about moving the hand of God to action than it is repositioning our hearts to be in sync with His will and promises.

Abba pours abundantly

I was in several prayer meetings the last couple of weeks. Sometimes people prayed fervently for things God has promised to give freely. Love, joy, mercy, grace, boldness and unity just to name a few of the requests. Some of these, especially unity, do need to be ‘fought’ for in prayer because there are people involved who see spirituality and many aspects of life differently. But what about love, mercy & grace?

Love, mercy & grace are only a few aspects of God’s character that He offers freely & fully to us. So why do we need to ‘ask’ for them? Or maybe another way to pose the question is: Why are they so elusive if they are offered freely from God’s infinite resources?

Sometimes prayer is more about repositioning our hearts to align with God’s heart. We are flawed people with wounds that come from generations of other flawed people behind us and in our lives now. Then there are our personal choices. We often wind up protecting ourselves to the point of closing off from people. That in turn adds another brick to the walls we erect between us and our Maker.

This weeks photo is trying to visualize what happens. The love of God and all His other amazing qualities flow from Him unendingly like a broad, endless flow over a waterfall. Now take a look at the bottom of the photo. Rocks are in the way and no water flows over sections below the vast flow.

By praying to receive and give mercy, a shift begins inside of us. Like removing or at least moving the rocks, prayer opens channels in our hearts. This allows the good things of God to flow into us and through us to others.

Abba is faithful and His attributes are unchangeable and unending. We do not need to beg because God gives freely, but as we ask, we to begin open ourselves, allowing the flow of is goodness to affect us. With grace, truth and time the flow increases and we become more like Him.

Prayer is part of the life long process of transformation, step by step by step. Removing the rocks is often not easy, however, it is the power of His great flow that does the lions share of opening us up. We just ask and l agree with His work in our lives. We are all invited to the process and we are rewarded often along the way.

Abba, I want to become more kind, gracious, merciful… like You. I ask you to increase the flow of your complete goodness through me. I choose to cooperate with your work in my life. Give me grace, truth and time to remove the things in my life that block You from flowing through me to others. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

How Do We Measure?

Measure up; measure against, the standard is important

I have been in a long season of re-tooling and transition. Most of what I used to measure myself by has been stripped away or reoriented. It seems like I come around to these same sets of thoughts every few months…for years now. Each time around I get a bit farther away from my old measures and a little closer to how our Creator measures.

So how do we measure? It all depends on what we are measuring. One of the first things we need to do is to find the right unit or system of measure for what you are trying to quantify. There are U.S. and metric measure units for size and volume, but what about significance and character measurements? We can always find someone to measure ourselves against that will make us look bad or good. That is simple comparison.

I hope we can agree that comparison is not the most honest or accurate way to measure significance and character. I have spent way too much of my life trying to figure out where I “fit.” I suspect I am not alone.

What measures are acceptable for evaluating significance and character?

Performance? If we achieve a certain level of excellence in any given area we naturally gain a level of recognition, at least from those who try similar things. I am no longer at ease with that though. Yes, it touches on what we can do, but it does not always speak to who we are?

Performance and achievement can lend us value in a particular circle of influence, but they are only shadows of what it real. What if we are no longer able to perform at a high level, or at all? Do we become worthless? Life experience and God’s word tell me otherwise!

What then is our system of measure? I propose, it comes from our Creator. Each time I come around to these questions, it is usually because I am asked, “What do you do?” I do not have a tidy answer like I did for over 30 years. I do a lot of things, but they do not define me.

In the end, we are all defined and measured in relationship to the one who made us. We are all created in the image of God. We all have infinite value because of that fact alone.

I know that is true, but there is still a part of me that desires to be noticed and acclaimed for something “important.” [by what measure=}?] Yet I am slowly finding increasing peace with the fact that The Creator of Everything made me like no other, and delights in me no matter what.

Can you let that sink a bit deeper into your being for a bit? The Creator of Everything made you like no other, and delights in you no matter what….

Pause….

How do we measure? We measure ourselves and others gently. We measure full of the grace and mercy God has extended to each of us. And we measure with the help of our Creator who knows every day of our lives before we live it. This is the same one who is with us in all the joy, grief and turmoil of these crazy days we live in.

Be blessed to know you are made, called and chosen as children of the Almighty. You are never alone and you are always loved and accepted.

Be Still And Move On

Being still & moving

Life these days is so frenetic that the concept of stillness is almost foreign. Technology has made life easier in many ways, but it often presents us with too many choices. How can I truly be still when I am bombarded with options and choices? Survival takes on a different set of choices in our age and cultures. Resting, being still, is a choice that encounters a lot of opposition.

The interesting thing about being still is that true stillness has little to do with what we are physically doing and more about our inner life, how and what we think about. I have not arrived! I want to be clear on that point, however, I have made progress. I am sure I will be in the progress process until I graduate to glory.

We seek and develop the stillness that is best found in our security as children of the mighty and perfectly loving God. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” [PS 27:4-5] Finding and focusing our identity in relationship to the one who made us is the foundation to stillness.

Being still is not an end in itself.

We are all made to live out our unique talents, trainings and callings. Our relationship with God becomes our secure base. From there we move out into a world of people who are lost without Christ. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but we are all called to give an answer for our hope and to reflect our Creator though our abilities and character in our spheres of influence.

We do not live for ourselves. We live for the one who made us and redeemed us.

We move on, press on, go forward, following the will and the call of our Maker. Our Maker is not a hard-driving slave master, but rather a still small voice inviting us to be our authentic selves. Yes, there are challenges and sometimes failures, but nothing is lost in the process of our journey with the one who loves us most.  Often when others watch us fail, they learn more about us and who our God is than in our successes!

Abba, our hearts hunger for significance, but too often we live in fear. We want to be known, but have been hurt too often when we have risked being vulnerable. But You, You know us from before we were born and you know the choices we face every day. I choose to be still in your presence even as I move on. I choose to seek Your face more than Your hand. I cannot hide from you so I choose to go with You, because you have proven to know best. Thank you for calling us each by name. Grant us the courage to move on from here because your plans are not for fear and evil but for peace, a future and a hope. Amen