The Power Of True Blessings

What we say really matters

Family photos surround communion for the blessings.          Photo by Karen Zanellis

On Valentine’s Day this week, I officially joined the ranks of those over 60! I am one of those different types who enjoys being, and celebrating being, older. I worked hard to get here. In order to give God the credit for lasting this long and to renew my commitment to follow our Creator, I had a birthday and house blessings party last Sunday. I have been in my new home for over a year. It seemed a perfect time to bless it to eternal purposes.

I did not make the connection at first, but after a day or two I noticed a distinct difference in me. Since the formal blessings of Sunday, I sense a lightness in the house and freedom in my spirit I have not had for a long time. Is it a coincidence? I sincerely doubt it.

In my experience, the power of the spoken word, for good and ill, is far more impressive than we usually understand. When we read the creation narrative in Genesis 1-3** we see the Creator spoke the world into existence. “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. …”

We humans are the only beings created in the image of God. And we have dominion, that is responsibility, to rule and reign over the earth. “Then God said, “Let us make man [male and female he created them] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over … all the earth….” (1:26 & 27)

As children of God and disciples of Jesus we speak on behalf of our Creator like a prince or princess  speaks for their King. When we speak negatively we can wither fig trees like Jesus did in Matthew 21:17-19. We can also wither people with our cutting words. Fortunately, our kind words can bring life and blessings just as easily.

One of several blessings.               Photo by Karen Zanellis

On Sunday several people prayed blessings for the house as well as for me. We also shared communion to recognize the work of Jesus on the cross in bringing forgiveness and freedom to His creation, and on this occasion, specifically to me and to space I live in. I cannot explain the shift in the house and in me apart from those corporate blessings.

I share all this to remind us that what we say, and how we say it, really matters. Furthermore, intentionally setting time apart to bless homes and people can also really matter.

I bless each person who reads this post, with grace and wisdom to speak words of blessings to others. May our powerful words be used to encourage, build others up, strengthen and guide each one in the love of Jesus who gave His life for us.

 

**Henri Blocher wrote a marvelous book on the biblical creation narrative called In The Beginning I highly recommend it if you are at all curious.

Winterscapes

Winterscapes

Confession of a once a week blogger: I had a post half written with clear direction to the finish then, due to technical difficulties, I lost it all! (In more ways than one?=} )

Considering the effort it took to get that far coupled with the thought of re-creating it in time for my regular deadline, you will instead get to contemplate some of my photos this week. Besides, by this time next week we will be in Lent, which was not my topic. So, try these winterscapes on for size.

Natural designs in the ice.

In all honestly, I chose these winterscapes with Lent in the back of my mind. Up where I live, Lent begins in winter and with rare exception it ends without snow in the spring. Like winter, Lent is a time to assess and re-evaluate. (This is possibly a great segue to my re-created post for next week.)

Black and white, light and dark together. A season of contrasts.

There is limited light in winter. Spiritually, Lent often feels dark as we voluntarily deny ourselves some pleasure for a season so we can draw closer to our Creator. Often for me, my self-denial, however small, can heighten my sense of the beauty of even the smallest things.

Snow gives the sense of cleanliness. Can you imagine the smell of the crisp air around this snow-covered tree?

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lordthough your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

I do not always give something up for Lent. For several years now I have prayed about if and what it might be. Sometimes it is nothing. I think I know what I “should” do this year, but since “me, myself and I” don’t really want to, we will discuss it between now and Wednesday with the only one who loves us all perfectly. If that is indeed the scenario, I already know the outcome. Obeying is always better in the long run, and more often than not, surprisingly fun in the short run.

I hope you will go back and contemplate the winterscapes. One or all may elicit totally different responses from each of us.

I pray you leave this posting with a combination of humility, awe and wonder. What does that look like for you? I love feedback=}

What Do You Expect?

Would you expect an Osprey nest on a supermarket lamp-post?

“Expect it to be different from whatever you expect it to be.”

That quote is one of the sagest pieces of advice I was given before I moved to Africa for the first time. I have found it useful in many other areas of life way beyond cross cultural living. How much of our lives do we spend rehearsing events and conversations in our minds only to find our assumptions are off the mark when the time comes?

For example: If we look back a couple of years, who in the world expected us to have a President Donald Trump in the White House? Regardless of what you think of the man, he defied all conventional wisdom, all expectations. That’s only one example of things not being as we expect. It is both good and important to know God is not ignorant of our circumstances, globally, nationally and personally or physically, emotionally and spiritually.

How does, “expect it to be different,” apply to our spiritual lives? Did anyone expect the Messiah to come when & especially how he did? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46

Human expectation demanded He be a King. One clothed in splendor. Instead, he came, clothed as the son of an average carpenter, not even as a recognizable priest or king! He was not even recognized as Messiah by his closest followers until the end of his time on earth. And then Thomas, one of the 12, needed physical proof.

Why talk about expectations? Things are not always as they seem. I have written on shifts, and shadows before. Again, I sense we are entering a different spiritual season.  One that will be hard to miss, but it can be easily mis-interpreted if we are not open to hearing from our Creator.

We can look at our circumstances up close, as we might normally do, or we can step back, way back, to “see” our spiritual surroundings. What is Creator up to? Isaiah 43 tells of new things, and I think we are there again. [Emphasis mine.]

18 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I have seen the African Sahel change in a day from what seemed like an arid wasteland after six months with no precipitation. Then one day, after one rain, there was a verdant carpet of life springing out of the ground everywhere! I did not expect that to be possible.

So what are we looking for? That’s just the point, we don’t know what to expect. So rather than looking for signs, let’s look to the one who made us. Let’s read the Bible, follow Jesus, and ask questions then sit quietly to listen for the answers.

If you hear accusations, that is not of God.

But if you feel conviction for something specific, that is the Holy Spirit. Agree with God and turn from it.

If you hear instruction in line with the Word, obey.

Then join me in one of my favorite prayers when I have direction and discernment questions:

Abba, I don’t know exactly what I should expect, but thank you in advance That you will let me know when I find it and what to do when I get there. Thank you for being more interested in me understanding and doing what you want than I am.

There is so much more to this topic, but for now let’s seek the face of God. Let’s deepen our intimacy so we can be ready when we face the unexpected.