Opening Blind Eyes; Seeing Glory

How would you describe light to someone who has always been blind? It’s bright, for sure, but how do you describe the idea of sight? The idea of color?

Did you ever think that maybe these nearly impossible-to-describe phenomenons, were there to helps us understand what we can’t see? The spiritual things. The glory of God?

Did you ever think that maybe the glory of God, can be seen? In a color, in a cloud, in a light? ‎1 Kings 8:10&11 says “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” It was a visible sign of God, his glory manifested physically.

Isaiah 43:8 says this: Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.

We have eyes, but we aren’t seeing. The Bible says that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We can touch it, we can bring it, if we open our eyes we can see it.

Have you ever seen glory? Look through Heaven’s eyes.

Midnight thoughts & questions.

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1 Corinthians 10:23- Applied: Dealing With Anger

You’ve probably said a few bad words. You might have regretted a few. They might have made you feel better. Maybe your mom scolded you. Maybe she had you wash your mouth out with soap.

I remember the day I thought a bad word in my head. Of course, I didn’t say it out-loud, but I was mad and the word just *popped* into my head. I think I was 13 or 14. I was a prudish child, and I suppose most people might still consider me to be so, though I feel I’m much less serious these days. In the following years I began to think that bad words were really just words… A bit stronger than normal words, but it was really okay to say them sometimes. I really don’t mind when people cuss a bit here or there, one 4-letter word doesn’t bother me too much. Now every other word, I figure you’re just a bitter person with nothing to really say and that’s obnoxious.

Now, I don’t think an angry word here or there is really going to ruin your life. Because it’s not. I remember one day a while back I was talking about something and I said that it “really pissed me off.” And someone stopped me, and they said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that before, Merry.” It occurred to me, that I probably never actually had. I really just don’t use stronger language all that often, though I have before. And I see myself, and some of the friends I’ve known for a while grow more and more okay with the kind of language we use and the things that we say.

Verbatim is quite fascinating. On one hand, the difference between saying “dang it” and “damn it” is only a mere letter. Yet, I recall writing a novel a few years back and feeling guilty for writing the latter of the two, but thinking that my character wouldn’t go for anything less than that. There is a whole sort of level of using these words, they’re “off-limits” and it makes a person feel better in some regard to grab something off the shelf of “off-limits” and throw it in the expanse of space between themselves and the situation, much like pulling down a glass vase, in spite, and letting it shatter on the floor.

1 Corinthians 10:23 says: “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

These snappy, spiteful words gain a person very little. We think to ourselves, yes, I can say this, it’s not a big deal, but is it really constructive? I had recently been thinking that perhaps there was a time and place to use a fiery word. I think anyone can probably reason and say it’s not constructive to ever use bad language to a person or about a person.“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”- Proverbs 15:1. Honestly, any time you use one of those “off-limits” words, you’re playing into your own anger.

Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you about a situation that you’d previously been upset about, that when you begin to recount what had happened, your anger reappears? 

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says: Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

I believe that strong words help to provoke our spirits. Things have been piling up wood in a pit of anger, and the words we choose can light the match, even in our own hearts. Satan tempts us, especially as young Christians, into the idea that it’s okay to act on anger, even with our words. But Jesus taught us to be slow to anger and abounding in love.

I’ve heard it said that often, as Christians we ask “how close can I get to sin, before I’m sinning?” When we should really be asking “How far can I get away from sin?” A spirit of anger cannot be filled with love, it burns with rage, bitterness, and selfishness. Is not most of our anger out of spite that things have not gone our way? It is not wrong to be angry, but to be anger quickly, and to stay angry. . .  you’d be surprised how much energy you’re wasting doing so.

Working in fast food industry, Chick-fil-A, I’ve seen a lot of people lose their temper quickly over really stupid stuff. And I see myself do it. It wastes energy. It wears a person out to get angry, it brings other people down, it hurts people’s feelings, so then they get mad. Suddenly my whole workplace nearly goes up in flames in anger and frustration.

Throwing one harsh word into the mix really makes situations explode in fury. Each person knows that these particular word, though they may be only a few letters different from those considered “cleaner,” carry a lot of weight.

The Bible warns us not to be easily angered, but to be slow to anger, as God is. I know that sometimes I struggle with this. If you’re someone who struggles with anger, think about how you treat a frustrating situation. Do you tell people off? Do you say a nasty word about the situation later or even during the event? Are you stirring up the anger repeatedly by talking about the situation constantly, reminding yourself and everyone else how angry you are? I encourage you, pick one of these things to work on, and let other people know you’re working on it so that they can keep you accountable. You won’t become slow to anger in one night, but working on the language you use really does make a difference.

1 Corinthians 10:23 helps us live a different way, there are things we can choose to do, things in the grey area, but this verse helps to guide us out of the grey area and encourages us to work on having pure minds, pure intentions, and pure mouths.

Pure Bride

“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure bride to him.”- 2 Corinthians 11:2

I feel like so much of what I’ve been learning recently has been leading up to this verse I read the other day.

In Hosea, God asks the prophet to marry a prostitute. She runs after other men, and Hosea goes after her every time. God asked Hosea to do this, to show him how God feels. The book of Hosea is a perfect portrayal of our relationship with God. We are his bride and we run after other gods. We run after money. We run after jobs. We run after love. Love that will never satisfy.

God loves us with so much jealousy, He died before He let us go just because He loved us so much. My favorite song “You Won’t Relent” says that his “Jealousy is as demanding as the grave; but many waters cannot quench his love.” He offers us everything. He offers life. So often we give it up for trivial things. Things that aren’t “that bad” but we’re giving up precious moments of life. We throw away moments with the God of the universe for things that won’t last, for stuff we can’t have for ever, for a love that is broken. God loves with a perfect love.

We have been promised to a Husband, we are engaged to Christ. He will forgive anything we do, but I don’t want to hurt him anymore. He’s rescued me. He took a bullet in my place and died for something I’d gotten myself into. He doesn’t deserve anything less than perfect. I will never be perfect, and he is the perfection in my weakness.

The New Testament mentions a few times that wives should submit to their husbands. I’m pretty much a feminist. This rubs me the wrong way. But submission isn’t a kind of abuse. It doesn’t mean you don’t get your say. It means you have trust. Submission doesn’t happen without trust. A husband should be trustworthy. And who is more trustworthy than Christ?

Love is hard to understand, and I don’t understand God’s love… but I’m learning, I understand more now than I did before. Why would I not want to submit to the kind of love that gives life? Why would I throw away the truest love there is so I could be independant? I’ve tried to be strong on my own, I’ve tried living without love. And it’s not life. I was dead inside, I was bitter. I can’t live alone when I have been arranged in a marriage with Christ.

I’m not forced to let go of everything I want in order to submit to Christ, but if it is keeping me from following God, then I WANT to give it up. Why would I want to gain the world, to lose my soul? Why would I throw away true love? My love isn’t perfect, but I want to give God the truest love I have. I want to be His pure Bride.

Pause.

“But Jesus was sleeping”. . . Matthew 8:24.

An interesting part about Jesus, especially his humanity, he slept at odd times. In Matthew 8, Jesus has cast out demons, called people to follow him, and healed a paralyzed man as well as a leper. Then he and his disciples get in a boat. And a storm is brewing. Huge gusts of wind, gallons of water sweeping over into the boat. . . “But Jesus was sleeping.”

This startles me. He was asleep? In a time like this? I’m sure his disciples were thinking the same thing. Really Jesus? You’re going to sleep? But I think when Jesus got tired, he slept. It sounds obvious, but I think we oftentimes work like it’s the only thing that matters. We wear ourselves out. I know I have a tendency to do this.

God invented the weekend–the Sabbath. He created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day, he just rested.

Jesus took breaks. Just when he would be doing the coolest things, healing, preaching, teaching parables, he’d just stop; it seems so sudden. He would go off alone to pray.

Sometimes I spend so much time trying to do things for God, and talk about God, and think about scripture I forget to just be with God and talk to God and read scripture.

So instead of over-speculating all these thoughts, and trying to write something just-so, I believe I will go pray.

Happy Sabbath.

Don’t Look Back

If you keep looking back you will fail to notice what is before you.

In Genesis 19 the Lord is destroying the city of Sodom for their impurity, and Lot’s family is fleeing the city. The angels of the Lord told the family to flee, but in their haste Lot’s wife looked back to Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt. Scholars speculate as to why she looked back. Perhaps she was afraid of what was ahead, perhaps she was too worried about her future, perhaps that is where her heart was. Regardless of why she looked back, she shriveled up into salt, like the rest of the godless city.

How many times do we sink into our own pasts? We relive times of struggle and also of prosper, and somehow grieve them so much that we are paralyzed. We become unable to see what is ahead of us, though we can’t go back. God is calling us out of a place that we don’t belong in.

A Song by Sara Groves says:

“I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt,

I’m leaving out what it lacks

the future feels so hard

I want to go back

But the places that used to fit me

Cannot hold the things I’ve learned

Those roads were closed off to me

While my back was turned.”

A family that believed in God, whom Abraham had fought for, did not belong in a city condemned for unbelief. We are not meant to become salt.

God is constantly calling us out of one moment and into the next. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time both looking back, and even dreading the months to come and I’ve been pretty unhappy with this particular moment. Suddenly I became extremely stir crazy. I felt so trapped and I didn’t know why. But the truth is, I’d come to make do in a place in my life, instead of being in Christ. I’ve been so locked in on what I don’t have and where I’m not, that my heart hasn’t been open. When you’re heart isn’t open, you can’t move forward, you become a pillar of salt. It’s like your heart dries up completely and leaves you motionless and discontent and feeling trapped.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Everything else will fall away, it will crumble back into dust. We belong in Him, not in the ruins of a destroyed city or the remnants of the past. Today is alive and today is new.

Then Jesus asked, “Do you love me?”

“Yes Lord, you know I love you.”

“Feed my lambs . . . Do you love me?”

“Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”

“Take care of my sheep. . . Do you love me?”

“Lord you know all things! You know I love you!”

“. . .  Follow me!” (John 21. A conversation between Simon Peter and Jesus.)

Don’t look back. Not because you will be punished because you do, but because you won’t be able to move forward. Keep your heart open and your eyes on him. Follow him, and don’t look back, because you’re not going to want to miss this.

(Written December 2010).

Jesus Wears TOMS

toms.com

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to NOT own a pair of shoes? In my last post I wrote about how America is rich, and how owning a car makes you richer than 98% of people world-wide. I’ve seen some poverty in my own state in Kentucky, but it didn’t compare to some of the areas I saw in Bogota, Colombia last summer. Among the mountains were scattered, not run-down mobile homes and trailers, but shacks made out of scraps of metal, and bits of cardboard, it reminded me of the hoovervilles in the 1930s Great Depression. I returned for Colombia about the same time a friend of mine returned from a week in Haiti. We compared stories and pictures, and I was amazed, that many of the poorest people in Kentucky would have something to give to the poor in Colombia, and the Colombians, (who were beautiful people and often invited us into their small homes) would have had something to give to the Haitians.

At home in Kentucky, I sometimes see people who wear old, dirty, clothes, their hands are black with the hard labor they’ve been doing, and there’s integrity there, in Colombia I saw children who should have been wearing coats and sweaters, dressed in thin fabrics, obviously too small for them, but the pictures I saw from Haiti, there was hardly a child with a pair of shoes, and some of the children had no clothes at all. I’ve read about places in Haiti, like Shada, and villages in Africa, that are literally places more like garbage dumps than towns.

Can you imagine, what it would be like to live in that kind of poverty? Maybe you can, maybe you’ve been there, but that’s not a hardship I’ve ever experienced. Rising out of poverty is a very difficult thing to do, even in the United States. It’s hard to get a job when you have nothing, because first impressions really make a difference. I heard about an organization that was helping homeless men get jobs by giving them suits to wear and training them on what to say in interviews, job applications, and the like.

TOMS shoes does something similar with the “One-for-One” movement. For every pair of shoes you buy, they provide a pair for a child in need. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but often a child who doesn’t own shoes cannot go to school. Shoes can make the difference between breaking a cycle of poverty in a child’s life. They also protect the child against disease, infection, and parasites.

I’ve also thought that a new pair of shoes gave everyone’s step an extra boost of confidence, and I think in the case of these children, having a pair of shoes really does give them more confidence.

I think if Jesus had walked the earth today instead of 2 thousand years ago, he would have been wearing TOMS, and not sandals.

I wear my TOMS to school, to parties, and even for dance performances, and I think you should wear TOMS too. And the best part is, you’re wearing the same style of shoe as 1,000,000 children that TOMS has given shoes to.

Shoes for change. Shoes for tomorrow. TOMS

Watch a video about TOMS: http://www.toms.com/our-movement/movement-one-for-one

Projects.

I have this awful habit of having a lot of ideas that go nowhere, now some of them are bad ideas that never would even if I tried, but I have a lot of half-started projects. This blog project, I believe I shall try to maintain. So far, I’ve been posting quite inconsistently, I haven’t been trying to post even once a week, and I haven’t done my sunday blog posts yet. I hope to try and turn this all around by declaring:

Missionary Mondays- Posts about reaching out to others, or missionaries on the field, lessons learned from Martyrs and missionaries… etc.

Theology Thursdays-

Good Fridays- The day I will spotlight on good things happening in the world, such as organizations or movements etc.

Church service Sundays- in which I will talk about the Church, denominations, or other such related things.

Perhaps this will encourage me to be inspired on at least 4 days of the week. Of course, I reserve the right to post about whatever I want, or not post, if it does so pleaseth me.

Thus, this whole post was really, quite nearly pointless, but it made me feel better about my project, and since very few people even know about any of my projects, it’s really all how I want to go about this. It’s quite non-stressful, really.