Monday, 18 June 2012

Back From the Future: Coming Full Circle

Recently I asked the Lord what is it time for now?  What’s next?  On a personal level I could hear Him speaking in my heart:  “It’s time to go back to the beginning, back from the future.”  Perhaps when you see that statement you may think it means to return to living in the past or rehashing and rehearsing the past, or maybe trying to bring back the “good ole days”.  (For many people those were not good ole days.)  But anyhoooo, that is not what He meant at all.  I could tell this because I experienced a great sense of anticipation, something I’ve not had for a long time.

Going back from the future means going back to where life began to get off track so you can get back on track.  It doesn’t mean throwing away all the years and life experiences one has accumulated along the way.  But many of us somewhere in life stopped “being” in the “present” and projected ourselves into the future, so we missed a lot of “being” along the way and left behind important clues and tools we need(ed) for our lives now.  Clues to, and tools for fulfilling our purpose in life, so we can enjoy the journey of living in the now.  Because we still have time, God has allowed us to come full circle and “start over again”, but now from an elevated position.  Here is my short unfinished story, and I hope it will inspire those of you who may also find yourselves starting life over again.

I was living “alone” in my bedroom in my parents’ house – alone in and with my thoughts and plans, and life projections, childhood fantasies for an adult life, when it all got interrupted with the needs of life and living in the now.  I heard too much and absorbed and assumed too much adult responsibility for myself, first in my mind, then in my imagination, which carried me away to my first real job search at age 12.  I stopped being a child dreamer and started to become an adult worker before my time.  Even though I still dreamed of the future, now those dreams became filled with “adult stuff” – the need to provide for myself so I would not have to depend upon others.  The American Dream to become rich and wealthy and self-dependent.  I was hit by the “I will” Mac truck.  I was stung by the “I canBee.  I was bitten by the “Me-Myself-and I” snake of “I can do all things through ME who gives me strength.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was not a selfish child or person as an adult, for I had lofty thoughts and plans for our family of eight to become a large corporation of some sort.  I could not believe that God allowed us to all be born and live in that house together without a larger-than-us purpose.  At that time I did not know what we could or would manufacture and distribute, but I knew it would be important to and for the world.  Well, at least for the United States.  That was our world. J  We were a family of athletes, musicians and singers back in the day, but then we all went our own individual ways, to do other things.

I learned early, whether voluntarily or by coercion to give of myself and my resources to many others, whether or not I could afford to do so.  And this fueled my need, drive, and desire to make money – so I would always have enough left over after I had given everything away. J  I knew that in order to continue living that way I would need to become a wealthy person, but I thought I had to do it all.  I did not think there were people in this world who would be willing to help me accomplish something greater than what I could do alone in order to help others.   I thought because I was the one carrying the dream, the vision, therefore I had to do all of the work to bring it to pass.  Even though I knew God was “there”, I still had not seen Him do much in the lives of those I lived with even though they (we) prayed to Him every day.  For after I saw them huddle and plan then get into formation, they punted the ball, threw the ball, caught the ball and ran the ball.  And yes they got tackled more times than you can shake a cheerleader’s pom pom before they could make it to the end zone.  They did everything.  They were my She-roes.  I hardly ever “saw” God do anything.  Sadly, this was and still is for many Christians, the way of their world – “I am I-dependent”.

So now I’ve come full circle.  I’m an adult now living in a foreign country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.  But I’m alone in my room again, with my thoughts and adult needs staring me in the face.  What will I do this time?  Will I allow the needs of this life to take me on another 20+ year trek around the world off-track of what I was created to be and do, or will I let my dreams lead me this time?  Better yet, will I allow God to lead me by and into the dreams He has for me, but with my eyes open this time?  He’s been dreaming longer than I have and He has a bigger head and a larger turnover rate than I do. J

I’ve been spending some quality time sleeping, I mean dreaming J and I’ve met some interesting people along the way who followed their dreams through hell and high water, and also have made an impact in our world, for good.  I met more men than women, like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Solomon, Joseph (the earthly father of Jesus), and some Wise men.  Also Pilate’s wife (I couldn’t get close enough to get her name.  In and out like flint you know.), Paul, and John (he truly understands what it means to be alone with your thoughts and visions). J

All of these . . . dreamers’ (visionaries) lives were changed because they paid attention to God speaking to them in their sleep, and waking moments.  They believed the images God imprinted on their souls were possible for they did not allow the tyranny of the urgent, or the necessities of daily living dictate how they would live.  They lived from another dimension enabling God to manifest His plans not only to them for their own lives, but through them for the positive effecting and affecting of generations to come. 
I never met him personally, but many still living have met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He said “I have a dream . . .” and because he believed his dream was possible, we are living his dream today, all over the world, not just in America.  His dream became the standard for equal rights all over the globe covering all phases of humanity, not just ethnicity.  Steve Jobs said it differently and our way of communicating through the internet will never be the same.  So many in our contemporary times known and unknown to us are living their dreams and some of them are turning our world right side up (with much difficulty too), while others are revealing to us that their dreams are really nightmares, turning our world upside down spinning in the opposite direction on its axis.  God forbid!

Full circle.  Back from the future.  I’m back, starting over again, but this time I won’t let fear – the fears of others becoming my fears (no thank you very much) – dictate how I Won’t live my life.  Some gifts we just need to refuse adamantly and fear is one of them, because fear disables.  Faith and love empower and enable us to live above our needs (not being constricted and controlled by them), by-passing the temptations of greed, to rise above our one-dimensional desires to sit with Christ and see ourselves from His perspective.  A place where all things are possible with God, in the plan and will of God.  (Yes, that place is somewhere over Noah’s rainbow.  Can you say “covenant”?) J  “And He raised us up together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” Ephesians 2:6 (Amplified Bible)

Keep dreaming.  Keep seeing.  Keep hoping.  Keep believing.  Go back and get your dreams and ask God to help you make them happen.  Better yet, ask Him to fill you with His dreams for your life.  Because we have today, we still have time.  I still have a dream.  Rinnnng!!!!  It’s time to wake up!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Life Is More Than A Cliche

It seems that more and more we have become a society that builds our life’s decisions and choices on quick sayings to take the work out of living – to make the more challenging aspects palatable, doable, quick, easy, and mindless.  But I don’t believe God does anything quickly, easy and mindless concerning us, and since He created us in His image, we are to do everything that we do with thought and intention, as unto the Lord.  One of my favorite movie trilogies is The Lord of the Rings.  In part two The Two Towers Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs just to fall into the branches of Tree Beard, the leader of the Ents (trees).  They explain to Tree Beard the war that has engulfed Middle Earth and they need all the help they can get to fight the enemies Sauron and Saruman.  Well, Tree Beard calls a council meeting of the Ents to decide if the trees will join the war between the humans and physical manifestations of evil spirits, and he says it takes them a long time to say anything that’s worth saying, so the meeting of the trees could take some time.  I always laugh at this part no matter how many times I watch it because it’s so funny.  To me. J  Anyhoooo, you get my point, and so does Tree Beard:  if anything is worth doing, then it is worth the time it takes to do it and to do it well, and to do it right, with gusto and with all of one’s faculties present.  This is the character of God.  He put His entire self into creating earth and the creatures inhabiting earth.  He actually breathed Himself into the man, something He did not do to the animals, so that should tell us how valuable to God we really are.

But if God could ever be said to have operated according to a cliché, I would dare say it is found in Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31-  And God saw that it was good (fitting, pleasant) AND He approved it. Amplified Bible.  The King James Bible records that God said It is good.  Now that’s a real cliché!  Hmmmm.  But this was after each instance of doing something creative, some kind of work.  Not before, not in place of it, not to make it easier or to get it over with or to get through it mindlessly.  God put His heart and soul into everything He did and He continues to put His entire self into the affairs of His creation.  So when did we begin living off of clichés and acronyms?  What is the purpose of them?

I understand that many of the Psalms in the Hebrew language are written in, or as an Acrostic in which the first letter of each sentence or phrase, or verse form a special word or phrase much like an acronym, but I cannot speak more in-depth about the Acrostic because I am not an expert.  Therefore we know that the idea of the acronym is not new, however our fast-paced society often moves us to cut things short so we can move through life at lightening speeds.  This is not the purpose of the Acrostic.  Anyhooo . . .

Acronyms and clichés do have a good purpose, but my argument is that as usual we tend to go overboard with a good thing.  Many of us have taken normal and good things (and some not so good) in life to the extreme, creating disorders and addictions all over the place.  For instance, to deal with FEAR some Christian created his own definition of FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real.  But God created the fight or flight response to help humans stay alive in the face of REAL dangers.  So now why in the world would we want to shut down a perfectly good gift with an acronym and cause ourselves much harm by saying all fears are to be treated as false evidence?  Maybe there really is a truck coming and the flight response needs to be triggered by fear to get you to move, quickly! This is just one simple example.  Also, what about fire?  We need a healthy respect of this much needed tool and reality in society, but respect in and of itself is not enough when fire becomes life-threatening.  To avoid injury and harm we need another trigger called FEAR to put some direction, action and speed to our feet so that we can live to respect (and not fear fire), another day. J  

Everything has its place and purpose on the earth, including FEAR.  The wisest man in the world, King Solomon said To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1.  And he goes on to list several of the see-saw scenarios of life – a time to be born, a time to die, etc.  Even though he does not list fear and a time not to fear, he does list those real life incidents which for many years have caused humans to not just operate out of fear, but to live in a state of fear.  Fear of what may or may not happen.  Fear of the worst case scenario.  So because of the state of fear we have to have insurance (l’assurance en Francais) for everything, a Backup Plan (i.e a Plan B) and a backup plan for the backup plan.  But what happens when all of the backup plans have been backed up against a wall and you find yourself between a rock and a hard place?  Just boxed in?  And what happens when all of your friends and family are also backed-up and hemmed in?  What happens when the bank can’t give you a loan because their loan (What is Bail out Alec for 200? Euros, dollars, yen, pounds, francs) J has been denied because the Federal Reserves are now depleted?  FEAR?  But why?  Whatever for?  (I know, I ended that question with a preposition.  Ugh!)  What will it accomplish?  Can someone please send me an acronym or cliche to save me?

Well, hopefully it will drive us to the feet of Jesus where we will learn (if we would learn to stay there like Mary did) that God has not given us a SPIRIT of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  [II Timothy 1:7]  The Amplified Bible describes FEAR as timidity, cowardice of craven, and cringing and fawning fear.  But is the evidence false?  Non, pas du tout.  We would be irresponsible to treat it as such because this situation is bleak and impossible on the human side.  But there always is a way out, even though we may not see it with our natural eyes, for the only way to see it will be by the Spirit of God, Who gives power (enablement), love, and a sound mind (keep your head on straight, don’t panic.).

It is true – living in a state or spirit of fear will not help us at all for we are not created to live this way.  But neither does regarding our situation as false evidence appearing real when it is in fact very real.  When the worst case scenario is the REAL scenario, it is not just appearing real.  It must be FACED = Faced, Addressed, Confronted, Evaluated, and Dealt with. J  And all of this takes time and work of some sort.  It cannot be mindlessly or quickly and flippantly treated like singing through the ABCs song.  FEAR is just an acronym revealing the problem, a noun.  If we’re going to live by clichés and such let’s create ones which provide solutions.   (I need a verb please!!) So here’s another acronym for dealing with Real LifeFACE+D it head-on in the presence of God and receive His instructions.  But then you must be willing to do what He says, otherwise don’t ask Him for His help.  Why ask for help from God if you’re not going to do what He says?  Will the real Megamind please stand up?

Daniel found himself in a difficult situation, between a rock and a lion.  The three Hebrew boys found themselves in a heated situation, but could not take a sauna because there was no water for steam.  David was a runaway king before he could sit on his throne (playing musical chairs without his flute).  And the list goes on.  Each of them had experienced fear – the Bible records this in several of David’s Psalms.  But neither of them ignored it, neither could they treat their circumstances or their fears as false evidence, for they were real.  But because they knew their God (Daniel 3:16-30) they did exploits!  And really, all they did was just BE there and FACE it in the presence of the Lord, making a stand for God in their crisis.  Not creating the problem themselves, but yes seeking refuge in the character of God as their shield.  For Thou oh Lord art a shield for me . . .; He/She who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1.

Dwelling in the secret place is not passive, but it is actively obeying God from the inside out.  Planning in your heart and soul to obey His every command whether He says yes or no, wait or go.  You have no Plan B based on what you want or can see, for if you do, then you are not dwelling in His secret place, but in your tree house.  It is in the secret place, as we abide that we are empowered by His love for us and our mind is renewed to FACE our situation with the eyes of God.  FEAR cannot stay in the secret place for perfect love (and God is Love) casts out all fear.  Yippee!!!  Feel like swinging from a tree limb now.

WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?  I do love this Acrostic because it stops you in your tracks to think on Jesus.  But for most of us it motivates us to DO something based on not only the character and actions of Christ, but on what we know is right.  However, rarely have I ever seen or heard this acrostic answered in this way:  Jesus would spend time with the Father FIRST to SEE what the Father would SAY, because Jesus DID ONLY what He SAW the Father DO.  He would not lean unto His own understanding, and neither would He allow His divinity to take over and carry Him away.  No, He would wait on the Lord too.  He would commit His ways to the Father and allow God to direct His steps.  He would trust in the Lord and acknowledge God in ALL of His ways.  He would not live depending upon acronyms, clichés and acrostics to get through life.  He would seek God with His whole heart, soul and might in everything and come through every situation victoriously accomplishing the will and purpose of the Father all the way to the cross, through the grave, down the hell (yes I meant to say it this way), and back up to heaven.

Let’s not cliché our lives away, or rollerblade and surf on acronyms.  Let’s live intentionally in every moment no matter how difficult or boring, fun or delightful.  Life is not meant to be escaped so savor the moment, for this too shall pass.  FACE+D it. J

Thursday, 7 June 2012

More Fabric Softener Please! :-)

I remember back in the late 70s when fabric softener sheets made their debut in our house.  My favorite brand became “Cling Free” right away because they were not made of perfumed paper but of spongy sheets. J  And of course they smelled oh so good.  I was hooked.  But as time passed, and not too much time I might add, the amount of product in the sheets decreased and also the fragrance did not last in your clothing as when the sheets first hit the market.  Yet the price did not reflect the decrease of product in the sheets.  Pas du tout.  I felt like I was being cheated so I switched to liquid fabric softeners, and I fell in love again.  Ah, love affairs.  LOL!! 

Well you know what happened there too because perhaps it has happened to you.  You find a fabric softener you like for the right price and all is well for a while.  Then new names pop up with new fragrances and you get the roving eye and nose, and gradually your favorite is not the only one you love. J  You now have multiple lovers in multiple colors, sizes, and shapes.  So you make your rounds, sometimes buying more than one at a time because there are just too many to settle for just one at a time.  Ahem.  Then the prices rise and the sizes shrink, and now it’s more economical to buy refill tubes.

So, with these tubes you are instructed as to how much water to mix with the concentrated liquid, which means you now control the strength of the product.  Hmmm.  Not a bad idea eh?  More softener please.  Maybe some people will take this to mean if they add more water than instructed they can make the liquid last longer, and you would be right.  But would the results be as satisfying?  Watered-down fabric softener makes for . . . You get the feeling don’t you?
On the other hand maybe some people would use less water in the mix thinking this will make the clothing softer.  This too may be correct, but of course the product will not last as long as it is supposed to and you will be refilling more often than you had planned.  Not really sure if it’s created to work best that way, but hey, not sure it would hurt either.  It’s your call bien sur. 

Well, I’m of the old school that if you’re going to read the instructions at all, you might as well follow them to the letter.  So I usually mix the right amount of water with the concentrate.  But I noticed that without the usage of a clothes dryer, air drying ones clothing, even when using fabric softener in the right amount does not always result in soft clothes.  This is absolutely no fun.  And en plus, where is the fragrance that caught my nose and desire causing me to two-time my previous fabric softener choice?  So I decided to add an extra cap or two of fabric softener, but then I forgot about it. 

While folding the towels I noticed that they were softer and I wondered how is this possible?  Then I had a duh-aha-voila-eureka moment.  I had added more fabric softener.  Hmmm.  And the fragrance was there too, which made my normal chore of folding clothes fun again.  Fabric softener truly can make washing, drying and folding clothes a fun passing of time.  It doesn’t have to be a boring chore, or a chore at all.  But something else happened while I was savoring the feeling and fragrance of clean clothing.  I heard Holy Spirit say “This is what YOU need, more softener in your soul.  It will change your character.”  Wow!!  Ouch too.  LOL!!  Talk about a eureka moment.

As I moved in closer to receive this great revelation from Holy Spirit, He said to me that time with Jesus, day in and day out is like adding fabric softener to the fabric of our characters.  The texture of me (and you) becomes changed and easier to “wear”, like lamb’s skin. J  You get the picture don’t you?  Romans 12:2 states,  “. . . be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” [Emphasis mine.]  Can you say “Transformer?”

I Corinthians 13:4-8 describes for us the many facets of God’s nature and personality – Love.  God IS Love, and Love is patient (God is patient), Love is kind (God is kind), Love is . . . etc.  Also Galatians 5:22-23 gives flavor to our Lord (“oh taste and see that the Lord is good”)[Psalm 34:8] calling His character traits “The Fruit of the Spirit”.  We know that we become like the ones we spend the most time with, whether we socialize with them in person, through books, through the internet and television, etc.  We take on the mannerisms of others and they take on our mannerisms too. 

You notice how two strangers can meet, spend some time together, fall in love and then marry.  Then after a few years they begin to look like each other, talk like one another, maybe even walk with the same gait especially if they have taken many long walks together.  They may even finish one another’s sentences or say the same things at the same time because they are thinking alike.  They can feel when the other one is upset or happy even when they’re not in the same room or city; Because their hearts have become one.  The textures of their personalities have become intertwined changing their original single way of being, creating a whole new tapestry, but yet somehow still maintaining their own uniqueness.  Yes, this is spiritual for sure.  Heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul. . .  And this is what God desires to have and be with us.  One.

I noticed that the more time I spend not just reading God’s Word but letting His Word read me, I see me like I’ve never seen me before. J  I begin to see me like God sees me, the good, the bad and the ugly.  The good He uses to encourage me that I am not a bad person and that He loves and accepts me just as I am, so when I see the bad I don’t become depressed.  And whoa when the ugly rears its ugly head that I don’t give up, throw in the towel and call it quits.  The Lord is not about just identifying what’s wrong with us, but He’s about revealing to us Himself in us, who and what we are to become in and through, and by and for His Son Jesus the Christ, the Ultimate Soul Fabric Softener.  See, when we are impatient and unkind to ourselves, we have really rough personalities.  We can smile all the time and say nice things in a sweet voice, but there is always an edge to our disposition which is cutting and biting, and sensitive people can sense it (and see the bite marks in our personality) and they may even move away from us in advance, because they don’t know when we might strike. 

When we are impatient and unkind to ourselves it means we lack . . . Love, Which is patient, Who is kind. . .  I know that’s kind of tight, but it’s right.  When we don’t exercise the Fruit of the Spirit towards our own selves (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance) then we have not been very nice to ourselves, which means we will not know how to be nice to others.  We are “softless”.  J  Just rough not only around the edges, but throughout our entire personalities.  We can’t give to others what we don’t have. We cannot take others where we’ve not been.  We cannot teach others what we have not learned.  And we cannot give until we have received. 

God desires for His love to be a reality in our lives, not just an abstract principle we read on a bumper sticker or lapel pin, and not just something we say to people when we don’t know what to say, “God loves you.”  He wants us to know exactly what it means (feels, sounds, tastes, smells like) in our everyday reality and interactions first with ourselves, then with our families, friends, coworkers and the world beyond our world.  But this can only happen as we continually make time for Him as our priority 24-7.  He cannot be secondary and His Word cannot be an option. 

To be honest with you, I did not know how mean to oneself one really is when he or she is impatient.  Maybe we react impatiently towards others on a daily basis, but that means we’ve first been impatient with ourselves.  Life is so much more calm and peaceful now that I am exercising patience with myself (and eating the other Fruit too).  No more internal stress, less injuries, and the roses smell oh so nice. J  I didn’t have to water down the fabric softener to make it last longer because there’s a never ending supply from where that comes.  Jesus never runs out.  Neither did I have to use less water to get the softness I desire.  I can follow the instructions to the letter and still get what I need and want.  (And no static cling!!)  All I have to do is add more fabric softener, and enjoy the feeling being soft brings.  You can never add too much of the Ultimate Fabric Softener, Jesus Christ.  So go ahead, pour Him in and see what happens.  I’m sure you will love the results.