Friday, December 30, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Open

What an amazing and timely prompt for me.

As I go into this new year pondering what the Lord has for me this is the feeling I have. I am beginning this new year with a 17 day trip to Ethiopia to serve. I am open to whatever God wants to do and excited for Him to work in me and through me. I don't know what to expect, but I am open. I have been open by saying yes to join in the adventure. I have said yes to leaving me comfort, my rhythm, my safety and diving into something new and big and scary.

I also feel like the last few months have been challenging to me. I have been a little off and a little different. Maybe it's been a little dark even. Now I realize I have been in a cacoon. I have been preparing for the next phase of my journey. I have felt the cocoon opening the last few weeks. I feel like i am emerging as a butterfly. There are so many amazing things stirring in me. I am taking some art classes. I am starting to dance one again. I am beginning to take all the really great techniques that i have been learning and merge them into new and interesting expressions of beauty and goodness. I feel filled with excitement, anticipation, joy, vision, and direction.

My wings are spreading. I am open to the new the God wants to do. I am open to where He wants to lead me, challenge me, and ask me to go. I see so much light as the cocoon is breaking open and the arts begin once again to flow out of me like a river.

Lord, I want to be open to all that you are and all that you want to do. Free me from fear and the desire for safety. Help me to say yes, live dangerously and wonder at how small I would make my life compared to how big a life you have in mind for me.

At the top is some of the Art coming out of the cocoon.

Putting away lying

I flipped open my bible to Ephesians and began to read. It always amazes me that I can choose what I think is a random passage to read and God will illuminate and speak so clearly to me. I know it shouldn't surprise me by now, but it still evokes a sense of awe in me. As I read I came to Ephesians 4:25 " Therefore putting away lying, "Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. It really struck me so I stopped and began to ponder.

I have read this book of the Bible a thousand times, and have read this verse over and over, but two things struck me about it. Every other time I have read this verse I have really concentrated on the not lying to one another part. I really make every effort to tell the truth and not shade it or lie. When I realize that I have misrepresented something I am pretty quick to go back, admit what I have done and ask for forgiveness. My children used to really make fun of the fact that mom wouldn't even tell a white lie. I have gotten the attitude at times from people that this is a fault my refusal to tell any type of lie. I feel like it is what God wants me to do. I find sometimes that b/c I am so careful to tell the truth I also generally assume that people are sincerely telling me the truth. Then I am really surprised and hurt when I find out someone has lied to me.

Anyway, enough about that. What I had never really pondered was the last half of the verse. For we are members of one another. I know that the body of Christ is considered members of one another, but I didn't read don't lie to fellow believers b/c we are members of one another, it read don't lie to your neighbor. So I went on a search to see if anyone else had the same thought process that I had. Was this verse saying that we are all in fact members of one another?

I found a lot of reverences to the Body of Christ, but I did also find those that pointed to all of humanity being members of one another. We are, as humans, part of the same race of created beings. We all came from the same original set of parents: Adam and Eve. What we do and say to one another effects us all. So how does that effect how we should interact with everyone. We are told not to lie to anyone. Do we misrepresent? Do we exaggerate? Do we take advantage of people's trust? Do we excuse not being completely honest and transparent in our dealings with people outside of the church, justifying that they are not a part of the family of God? But aren't they they family of God? Isn't every human being created in the image of God? Whether they choose to glorify Him or not, each and every person is an image bearer. Is there ever a reason to deceive anyone? What if we made a point to be totally truthful at all time not matter the cost?

Then Romans 13:10 came to my mind. "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Deceiving anyone is harming them. If we are out for the good of everyone else, even over ourselves we have no need to lie or harm.

This lead me to the following list of verses about how to treat people:

Galatians 6:10

10 So then, (A)as we have opportunity, let us (B)do good to everyone, and especially to those who are (C)of the household of faith.

Proverbs 3:27

English Standard Version (ESV)

27 (A)Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,[a]
when it is in your power to do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:15

English Standard Version (ESV)

15 See that (A)no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always (B)seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Romans 12:10

English Standard Version (ESV)

10 (A)Love one another with brotherly affection. (B)Outdo one another in showing honor.

Philippians 2:3

English Standard Version (ESV)

3 Do nothing from (A)selfish ambition or (B)conceit, but in (C)humility count others more significant than yourselves.

1 Peter 5:5-6

English Standard Version (ESV)

5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. (A)Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for (B)“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 4:9

English Standard Version (ESV)

9 (A)Show hospitality to one another without grumbling

Galatians 6:2

English Standard Version (ESV)

2 (A)Bear one another's burdens, and (B)so fulfill (C)the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

English Standard Version (ESV)

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Ephesians 4:32

English Standard Version (ESV)

32 (A)Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, (B)forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Romans 12:16

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 (A)Live in harmony with one another. (B)Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[a] (C)Never be wise in your own sight.

John 13:34-35

English Standard Version (ESV)

34 (A)A new commandment (B)I give to you, (C)that you love one another: (D)just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 (E)By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I John 3:11

1 For (A)this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, (B)that we should love one another.

1 John 4:12

English Standard Version (ESV)

12 (A)No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and (B)his love is perfected in us.

1 Peter 4:8

English Standard Version (ESV)

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since (A)love covers a multitude of sins.

I know that is a long list of scriptures. I guess the point I wanted to make is that we are to love everyone and put their needs above ours. We are to prefer them over ourselves and refuse to do any harm to anyone. That includes deceiving, gossiping, ignoring or looking down upon. Galatians says to do good to everyone and especially the household of faith, but lets not rush into the household of faith part ignoring the do good to EVERYONE. Just like we wouldn't intentionally harm our own bodies, since everyone is a member of everyone, we are to care for, bless, nourish, cherish and do no harm to anyone.

Very quickly the other things that stuck out to me was that the "Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor," in the verse is a quote b/c in the verse it is in parenthesis. So I went on a search for where is was being quoted from. I found it in Zechariah 8:16 "There are these things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgement for peace in your gates."

How much peace would there be internally and relationally if we simply always strive to tell the truth and do no harm to our neighbor no matter the cost to us or what we might have to let go of gaining for ourselves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Let love be without hypocrisy

Romans 12:9 (KJV) days Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

I really got stuck on Let love be without hypocrisy. The ESV says: Let love be genuine. I meditated and journaled on this yesterday and today and thought I would share.

When I seek out a definition for love, I am usually led directly to 1 Cor. 13. As most people probably are being that it is called the love chapter.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)

That is a tall order to do with people whom we spend our lives with, whom we have emotional attachments to. We fail over and over miserably with them. Most of the time we don't even try to do that with others we don't know; we do even less of it with people we don't care for or whose who are not like us.

But who are we commanded to love?

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another fulfills the law.

Romans 13:10 Love does not harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Matthew 5:43-45
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Loving without hypocrisy, loving genuinely is not easy. As a matter of fact it is impossible in ourselves. It is only possible through His Spirit dwelling in us. Only when we are full of Him, when we have brought all of our needs to Him and we are not seeking to have them filled any other way, can we poor out unconditional, overflowing, never ending, genuine love. He is the only source of love. We cannot manufacture it or find it in ourselves or anyone else. We can only receive love from Him and give genuine love out to others from the river which flows out of us by His Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We can be fulfilled in Him and then seek to give or serve with no thought of return because He is our source and we are always full in Him.

He is the only source of unconditional love. Our love always contains conditions. We always have mixed motives and in our giving love we are seeking to receive something back. Perfect love originates in God and exists in us only as we exist in Him and He in us.

I John 4:16
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

I John 4:19
9 We love because he first loved us.

As He is the only source of love, as He is love, we can only love through Him. His love abides in us and flows out of us. This means that those who do not know Him cannot truly love. Love involves sacrifice; it involves placing others above oneself. The world does not and cannot teach us that. Sin causes us to love only self. The world does not understand it; the world sees this type of behavior as foolish; love comes only from God. Anything called love which does not originate from God is not love no matter what it is called. Love outside of God is hypocrisy.

I John 4:9-11
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Parable in the form of ornaments

I have bee working on these ornaments I am making to raise money for They ended up being much more popular than I thought they would be. Because of their popularity I have ended up spending a lot of time making them over the last month or so. As I have been making them, God has shown me different lessons.

The first lesson that came to my heart involved the materials they ornaments are made out of. They are made out of scraps of material woven into latch hook grid material. The idea for the ornaments came from a book, so the original idea was not mine. I just took the concept and made it my own. All the materials I have used with the exception of the grid are recycled materials. I have a hard time throwing much of anything away b/c I know almost anything has the potential to be made into art. I have a drawer that I have been throwing material scraps into since I started sewing. I didn't have any idea what I would do with it, but I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away. Now it's so funny that what most people would have sees as rejected, useless fabric has become beautiful in the hands of the artist. Trash has become art. It occurred to me as I was working on ornaments that this is what God does so many times. I know in the case of me, no one else really saw anything of value when they looked at me. What people saw was a dirty, homeless punk rock girl. God picked up the trash and turned it into art. He took something that seemed to have no value and wove it into something beautiful. How often do we overlook unseen potential in a person or even a situation b/c we don't take time to change perspectives. Maybe what we are looking at just needs to be woven into something different, something bigger-like the church.

Five Minute Friday: Color

This will be my first time to participate in this exercise. I have been following, but never get around to doing it.

So Here Goes.

Color is beautiful. I love bright colors. I love combinations so complementary colors. For so many years I wore only black with maybe a splash of red. I spent years working in the makeup and hair industry and found that to be a perfect excuse to wear only black. I tended to toward a more gothic type style and so black and red worked for me. That also bled into my art. It was very dark, black, red and gray color schemes.

What color represents in my life now is the healing of God in my heart. I have begun to phase the blacks out and slowly add color. My wardrobe is changing slowly. What is really changing is my art. My art has become so lively, bright. So outside of the box. I am becoming so much more adventurous. The timidity of being scared of the artist in me and scared of failing has been so stripped away and healed. My art is life and color and a stunning example of God's power to heal and change and restore.


That wasn't very long. and it also wasn't very hard. Maybe if I would commit to this every Friday I could find more time to use the gift of writing God has given me.