Why STILLNESS matters

Words like “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬a) have always been fascinating to me.

But it has only recently that I have been getting a better understanding of the importance of being still.

You see, I have recently moved to a little apartment that overlooks a river. This river has been teaching me much about life, our Maker-God, and the importance of being still.

In the picture I took this morning, a part of the river is stirred and far from still because of storms moving into the area. Another part of the river is calmer – much more still. Rhetorical question: Which part of the river is more clearly reflecting the light?

Maker God, continue to teach me these lessons on how to be still so I can better reflect the light of Your life to help brighten and warm the cold dark places of our world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Why can’t we just live there?

Thin placesSo… the other evening I was “breaking bread” (actually it was sushi – but same concept) with a few friends from my faith community.

As we sipped our wine and enjoyed half-priced Sushi night, we began to talk about worship. One of my friends mentioned how very much she enjoyed participating in communion every week and that even watching the others in our congregation being served the Sacraments is such a Holy Moment.

Another friend chimed in that truly Holy Communion is one of those “thin places“. Of course, we all were immediately intrigued and asked him to explain more about “thin places”.

He explained how C.S. Lewis (one of my very favorite thinkers and writers) would write and speak of the thin places – where heaven and earth intermingle. I made the comment that I wish we could just live in that thin place – where not so much divides and keeps us from connecting to God and each other.

It’s just that I’m not always quite sure how to get there – much less stay there. I’ve experienced thin places throughout my life – from early childhood memories of my Mom and church pianist playing beautiful songs about the Blood of Jesus while communion was being served and wondering how wordless moments could be so powerful to breathtaking nature encounters when I’ve been absolutely certain that Maker painted a particular sunrise or sunset just for me.

But, even in the much-mystery that clouds our every day lives and deters us from entering those thin spaces – I will still seek to learn what an abiding life (see John 15) – that sweet communion with the Maker of our souls -truly looks like.

So… I heard this song today….

And I’m praying for you – praying for me – that our hearts will always beat out this freedom hymn!

Sunrise by God. Photo by Tracy Mauro. Lyrics by Austin French, Kayliann Lowe, Douglas Lowe, Kyle Lee and Jacob Harrison

(Click here to listen)

 

 

I push I pull
Go back and forth finding myself pounding on a locked door
I try to make it out alone without Your help
But I know I’ll never win this war

I can never be
never be free
without You
I can never be
never be
me without You

This is the sound of chains breaking
This is the beat of a heart changing
This is a song of a soul forgiven

This is my freedom hymn
This is my freedom hymn
This is my freedom hymn

I breathe the air of freedom in knowing my life
Is better off in Your hands
The past is gone what’s done is done
Now I’m alive
I’m never gonna look back

I can never be
never be
free without You
I can never be
never be
me without You

Who the Son sets
Is free indeed
Who the Son sets
Is free indeed
Who the Son sets
Is free
I’m free

_______________________

Listen to the song by clicking here: https://youtu.be/FePrBgRAKRY

Publishing: Fair Trade Global Songs / AustinFrenchMusic / Foundational Songs (BMI) (admin. at essentialmsuicpublishing.com); Fairtrade Tunes / From The Void (SESAC) (admin. at essentialmsuicpublishing.com); Lost Slipper Music / Prize Pig Music (SESAC). All rights reserved.

Writer(s): Austin French, Kayliann Lowe, Douglas Lowe, Kyle Lee and Jacob Harrison

The Two-Step to God’s Best: A Dance Move for Your Soul

1) Let God reveal….

Listen. Be still. Be present. Be aware. (This is not an easy task in today’s world filled with these little screens in our hands).

And…. Don’t limit the way He speaks to a sermon, Bible verse, or some seemingly theological insight. He may speak to you through a friend, a movie, the top 40 on the radio, or -most often- a quiet whisper to your own soul.

2)Stay steady.

Remain consistent. Sync your every step with the Maker of your soul.

And notice…. I didn’t say (nor did the Bible) that this is a two-step plan to happiness or to the Westernized world’s version of success.

God’s best may not feel good in the moment. It may not look good or smell right or put you in the limelight.

But it will create a stronger connection to our Creator and to His most favorite creation, other people.

And… in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus, Matthew 22:37-39

The Thriver Model Of Unconditional Love

Never ever stop living out of love or giving out of love. Loving itself is not unhealthy, or codependent, or approval addiction or such. But please, please STOP hinging your own well-being on how well your love is received. Yes That, my friends, is the road to a very dark place. Please don’t go there. Take it as a gentle warning from one who has been there and almost didn’t make it back. ♥️

Quote source: “The Thriver Model of Unconditional Love” by Melanie Tonia Evans

You be present today. Let God handle tomorrow.

I have loved the book, Abide in Christ, since discovering it twenty-something years ago in Bible College. Andrew Murray’s writing and expounding on scripture is simple and profound at the same time.

I am glad I am re-reading the book now and came across this quote. I so needed this reminder of the fact that it’s God’s job to hold tomorrow and not mine. How often have I neglected what is right in front of me that I CAN do today because I am trying to figure out so many tomorrows that Father has already promised to handle?

Perspective is EVERYTHING

(I originally posted this last fall – but I again find myself in a place where I very much need to focus on the very Names and Nature of my amazing Maker).

The thoughts below from Names of God (a 14 Day Devotional Reading from Rose Publishing) on the YouVersion Bible App was a much needed perspective reset for me! May your soul also be uplifted today as you wrap yourself up in the “foreverness” of your Maker!

Alpha and Omega

The First and the Last

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote that God was there in the beginning—“with the first”—and He will be here “with the last” (41:4). In other words, God serves as bookends for history. What a comforting thought in a world where nothing lasts and everything constantly changes! The One supervising when the world began will be the superintendent at the consummation of all things.

The Bible emphatically states that nothing happens outside the purview of God’s sovereignty and power. Nothing happens without His permission or without His authorization. Nothing can thwart His eternal plan to restore all things to perfection. Saying the Lord is the Alpha and Omega is essentially saying this: If human existence were a movie, and we got to watch the credits, God would be listed as creator, writer, producer, director, and star. As the author, He’s the ultimate authority.

In the final book of the Bible, at the conclusion of history, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. With that phrase, Jesus is essentially saying, “I am the whole story. I am the God of creation, the God of the Old Testament, the God that Isaiah wrote about, the God who has been here since the beginning and will be here evermore.”

Whatever is going on in your life today, here’s a fact you can cling to: The One who is the Alpha and Omega controls the outcome of this world as well as the details of your life. He knows where your story and His story are going, and nothing can alter His good intentions or perfect will.

The Alpha and Omega isn’t bothered by the past or worried about the future.

How does the idea of God having “the whole world in His hands” affect your mood and actions today?

Prayer

God, You are before all things and You are the end of all things. You are found in the person of Jesus Christ, from the first verses of Genesis to the very last verse of Revelation. I praise You, for You are uncreated, infinite, and eternal! Amen.

Bible References

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”‭‭ – Revelation‬ ‭21:6‬

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” -‭Isaiah‬ ‭44:6‬

‬‬“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am He; I am the first, and I am the last.” –Isaiah‬ ‭48:12

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”” -‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:13‬

Worship Soundtrack for this Reading

 

Easter Egg Hunts?? Or Church All Day?? This year I’m Celebrating Resurrection a Different Way.

There’s been debate in “Christiandom” for years about whether or not good Christian parents should tell their children stories of Easter Bunnies and send them off on adventures to find hidden eggs.

Some would argue that the remembrances and celebrations of the Easter Holiday weekend should all focus on our Risen Savior and the empty tomb He left behind. “Behead the bunnies and burn the baskets!” might be their mantra.

But I would argue that a single day – or even an entire Lenten season – cannot adequately celebrate our Risen Redeemer – whether filled with chocolate bunnies or fervent fasting. You see, the whole point of that ancient crucifixion and resurrection of our Serving Savior was not for focus to be fixed on an empty tomb or for feasting on baskets full of candy.

The point of the God becoming man, dying, and rising was not to create an empty tomb for generations of faithful pilgrims to gaze into – as awe-inspiring as that may be. The beauty of what these over-crowded Easter Sunday services are trying to Celebrate is so much more than one day and a family dinner. Rather, the true Resurrection Celebration is the sudden and sustained appearance of the light of hope and life in the eyes of a person who had previously been daily trudging through a living death of hopelessness.

So eat that Easter Candy if you want to. Go to church and slice the ham. But you are only witnessing a true Resurrection Celebration when you can daily look into eyes and see a changed life.

For me, this Easter weekend was one of my best yet. I shared the weekend with a dear friend who has navigated through very similar life struggles as me. As we hiked some beautiful West Virginia trails and spoke of strong and confident personal and professional steps we would have never taken in prior years, we realized the very lives we are leading are a beautiful resurrection story.

And the weekend was summed up with a beautiful reminder of this at the close of the service of a little church we visited in West Virginia today. Unlike the larger highly-produced church services many of us experience these days, this one was small and intimate – opening with the pastor querying the entire congregation for any prayer requests and closing by asking if there was anything else on their hearts. It wasn’t focused on a celebrity-style preacher but on the simplicity of God’s love poured out on all the people as they ministered to one another. And it was that sweet atmosphere that provided the freedom for a woman near the back of the church to stand at the close of service and say, “I know He’s alive because He Lives in me!“.

And that – the unending and uninhibited passionate spark of a changed life – is way better than an Easter basket or a sunrise service.

So, not just happy Easter to you. Our Father designed us for more than just an occasional celebratory day.

Happy Resurrection Lifestyle!

Growing with you in Him,