Making God in our own likeness (r)

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We are built for the light.
The light of life. The light of new living.
We are built for the light.

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We are built for the dark.
The dark of night. The dark of renewal.
We are built for the dark.

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You are each built diverse.
Strength in diversity. Richness in living.
Why do we not value diversity?

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We are taught to fear.
Not good fear. We are taught bad fear.
Why do you do that?

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You are taught control.
Not control to balance. To control all-everyonething-crap.
What “diversity” in that?

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We are taught un-love.
Transaction of fear. To confuse one with the other.
And now you fear love.

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You talk of false teachers.
Those who teach unfear as love.
We prefer correctness and belonging.
We prefer a flock the same we call diverse.
A monogamous diversity all the same.
Safe to bitch and unchange.
Safe to whine and unlove.
Safe to transact “love” and “law”.
And blame “God”.
Or somethingone else.
Have no other gods … ?
We have made biblically and scripturally correct
Your new God of Gods.

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Correctness in fear (of being wrongalone)

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And so you teach correctly
To (correctly) fear and (correctly) unlove
To (correctly) seek sin and (correctly) transact grace
To (correctly) bind together those who (correctly) follow
To (correctly) out-reach those who (incorrectly) unfollow
We don’t want our (correct) bible changed (really)
We don’t want change (really)
And this is taught as correct (biblically)
And that results in fear (and unlove)
Which isn’t false teaching at all (really)
You teach
Our new God of Gods (really)

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But taught un-falsely correctly

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(r) = reproduced from “Making God in our likeness” – Just me being curious 

Love is Not a Metaphor

©susanirenefox
©susanirenefox

The Lord was drinking some water out of a glass. There was nothing wrong with the glass, but the water tasted terrible. This was in a white building on a vast wasteland. The engineers within wore white uniforms and bootees on their shoes and gloves on their hands. The water had traveled many hundreds of miles through wide pipes to be there.

What have you done to my water? The Lord asked. My living water…

Oh, they said, we thought that was a metaphor. (*(©2016, Joy Williams)

Love can conquer fear and hate if we allow ourselves to love.

At the same time, love will cost us something.

Agápē love is the highest form of love. It is the kind of unconditional love which comes from God –a love that transcends behavior or circumstance.

It is the love the apostle Paul described in his first letter to the Corinthians. He urged them to use their Spiritual gifts from this place of agápē love, and explained to them if they did not, their gifts would be useless and bankrupt.

Love is patient; love is kind. There is no arrogance in love. It’s never rude or crude; its not self-absorbed, easily upset or keep score of wrongs. Love doesn’t celebrate injustice, but truth is love’s delight. Love never gives up, never looks back and never loses faith. Love is always hopeful endures all things through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

As my focus becomes more about following Christ and pointing to him as a loving, compassionate and inclusive God, some of my own brothers and sisters in Christ have denounced me for this focus and said, “You are not my sister.” Some have even defended Christ, saying, “Jesus wasn’t a weakling!”

On the contrary, our God is powerful; Jesus is powerful and does not need defending. Agápē love is powerful. Agápē love is courageous. Agápē love is dangerous.

You cannot be a weakling or timid or a coward to love like that. It takes being filled with strength, fearlessness and sacredness to bestow agápē love.

Conversely, if you are unwilling or unable to love like God, you have not let go of powerless, fear and disapproval. You have not yet allowed the fullness of agápē love to replace those other things that choke out the love of God.

God is love is not a metaphor.

Love God is not a metaphor.

Love your neighbor is not a metaphor.

Love each other is not a metaphor.

They will know you are My disciples by your love is not a metaphor.

Love your enemy is not a metaphor.

Perfect love casts out fear is not a metaphor.

I am thankful today for my Father’s love, for the love of Jesus Christ. I will be thankful tomorrow for the fullness of His unconditional love, grace and forgiveness. I am thankful He has taught me how to give agápē love.

I pray this day that tomorrow you pray a humble and sincere prayer of thanksgiving and choose agápē love.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18:21, The Msg)

 

*(©2016, Joy Williams, Wet, from ninety-nine stories of GOD, Tin House Books)

The Rich Young Ruler in Us

‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bear false witness. You must not defraud anyone. (Mark 10:19)

broken-mirror2

Money and possessions.

They were the stumbling blocks for the rich young ruler. But let’s begin at the beginning.

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

Jesus told us to ask and we would receive; seek and we would find (Matthew 7:7). But just because we knock and the door is opened doesn’t mean we will step over the threshold. When God gives us answers, it doesn’t mean we will respond to His call, for we may not like what He has to say or think we are capable of doing what He asks.

 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bear false witness. You must not defraud anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” (Mark 10:18-19)

Acknowledging all humans sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), Jesus goes on to list several commandments the young man must obey. However, notice one of these is not one of the Ten Commandments: “You must not defraud anyone.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminds us that although “You shall not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments, he removes the legalism and expands the commandment to include the heart: “But I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:22)

How many times do we find ourselves angrily calling people names, whether on social media, gossiping to a friend, or just inside our heads?

Here he expands ‘Do not steal’ and ‘Do not lie’ into “You must not defraud anyone.” Could he see into the rich young man’s heart? Can he see into ours?

 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Mark 10:20)

How often do we, legalistically speaking, comfort ourselves into believing we have kept all the commandments? If we do a heart check, what is our own prognosis?

  • Have we given anger to someone instead of grace?
  • Have we coveted something we don’t need or someone we shouldn’t desire?
  • Have we taken something that isn’t ours to take? If not a possession, someone’s dignity, innocence or sense of accomplishment?
  • Have we lied instead of owning up to the truth? Have we told a lie out of convenience or pride?
  • Have we defrauded someone simply because we could?
  • Have we honored our parents, even if they were not the parents we wanted?

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The young man went away sick at heart at these words because he was very wealthy and had many possessions. (Mark 10:21-22)

Why did Jesus feel ‘genuine love’ for this man at this point in the story? Because he knew the rich young ruler actually believed he had kept all the commandments. The young man actually believed he wore the clothes of a righteous man. He didn’t know any better. And because Jesus was about to strip him of those clothes with two sentences, the young man would choose to walk away.

How do we feel when God speaks directly to us? What is the feeling we get in the pit of our stomach when we are suddenly made acutely aware of our weaknesses and offenses and are humbled before God? What do we choose to do?

We have three choices:

1) We can become so mortified and feel so unworthy we feel like a failure. We can decide we have fallen from grace and begin to believe we have to work and perform to get back into the good graces of God.

2) We can become confused, grieved or angry at God for pointing out our faults and simply walk away from Him. We can fiercely hang onto our own ideas, convince ourselves that other people are far worse off than we are and begin to point out their weaknesses and transgressions.

3) We can choose to accept we are human and take an honest look into the mirror. We can lean into Him for strength and guidance, knowing we cannot change on our own. We can accept His forgiveness and mercy which are new every day. We can rest assured in our Father’s unconditional love. We can continue to ask him to search our hearts for anything that is faulty. We can abide in the Spirit who leads us onto the path of doing the right thing and being the image of God.

Looking at [his disciples], Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

Where is the Love of God?

6081c43833367e34ec2fce1125603211American seems to have forgotten the lessons taught to us by Jesus, to love everyone, regardless as to how you are being treated. Dr. King knew this lesson well, and it was the keystone of a movement that changed America; sadly, not for long.

Two movements for equality existed at the time of Dr. King, his to bring justice through peace and love; the other to attempt the same through rioting and violence. Great men have changed the world through peace and love – Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi. Forcing people into your way of thinking never works – Roman Empire, USSR, Nazi Germany.

So why do people go for force instead of peace? Why do we not show each other love instead of hate? Why is our first go-to to riot, burn, kill? Continue reading

Back to Basics, Part 1

©SamanthaSophia
©SamanthaSophia

I don’t know about you, but I find the more I hear disparate (and angrily stated) points of view about politics, values or theology, the more I feel my heart and mind under spiritual attack.

The more I recall this country’s history, understand and see evidence of our division, the heavier my heart is. Still vivid in my memory from 24 years ago is the vicious beating of Rodney King, the subsequent, atrocious beating of Reginald Denny and the riots in Los Angeles. We have not come very far, and I cannot simply let go of the events of last week. I cannot simply forget and move on.

Speaking with a friend of mine early this week, I listened to stories of her upbringing in Mississippi. Her childhood memories still vivid of walking past black men swinging from trees on her way to school, she visits a different world when she travels back to see her mother who still lives there. She tells me,

“Signs on public bathrooms still say, ‘Colored’ and ‘Whites Only.’ And when you walk into a restaurant, it’s understood which section of the restaurant you can sit in. You might legislate integration, but you’ll never legislate the heart.”

This is when I must go back to basics. This is when I go back into the heart of the One who was lynched for all of us. This is when I reread the Gospels for the actual words of Jesus. As I do so, I keep in mind what I have learned in a wide variety of Bible interpretation classes, studies and books:

  • Recognize and appreciate the frame of reference – the history and the audience being addressed.
  • Understand the context; never read just a verse, read the entire paragraph or chapter.
  • Don’t rely on just one Bible version or translation; compare and read parallel versions.
  • Repeated statements are the significant principles requiring our attention.

I cannot read the Sermon on the Mount or the Parable of the Two Sons or the Allegory of the Sheep and the Goats without being reminded of the paradigm shift in thinking Jesus brought to us from our Father – the thinking we still seem hesitant to adopt.

Contained in these words are principles of humility, forgiveness, grace, generosity, compassion – and most of all love. This is the paradigm shift of which Jesus spoke, and He put His actions solidly behind His words. He did not raise a hand to anyone; He extended His hand in invitation and empathy.

I don’t know how long this series will span; I will follow where my heart leads and where the Spirit takes me. I just know I must lean in, dig in, and go all in; I must surround myself with His wisdom and surrender to His will. I must rediscover, not the whys, but the Who in all of this, and allow Him full access. I must acknowledge that I am His child, and so are we all.

“You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.” (Matthew 10:30-31)

Black parents across America have been having “the talk” with their children for quite a while. It’s a painful family discussion necessary to have about ways to act – and refrain from acting – if stopped by white police officers with a gun, about how to survive in America unlike Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Maybe we all need to hear this to understand the fear and pain Black parents feel every time their children walk outside their homes.

Shadow

Shadow-Man

When we are faced with choosing love

Our gazes do not see

The precious ones God placed on earth;

Our heart gives breach entrée.

 

A neighbor we ignore today

Expands the fissure’s gap.

The less we love, the more we’re prone

To Shadow’s fearful trap.

 

The less we love, the less we love

‘til friends and kin laid bare.

Susceptible to darkened heart

We even cease to care.

 

And enemy – well, who could love

Such wretched sinners strayed.

Yet, Jesus did; forgave them, too.

Could he your heart persuade?

 

We boast of being Christians, but

Our acts his words demean,

His call to love, to walk his will

Create a vast ravine.

 

Shadow-personAs shadow overtakes your heart

And chasm seems no end

The answer is to love and hear

Both enemy and friend.

 

The more we love, the more our heart

Desires to love free.

The love of God takes over and

We love our enemy.

 

We see beyond the surface; yes

We see the tears below.

Our heart sees pain and hurt and wounds

The heart denies to show.

 

And as we’re willing to accept

God mercy, love and grace,

Outside of Shadow’s grip we rise

Into the Light’s embrace.

 

Thank you, Little Monk, for the inspiration for this poem.

Give it Away

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

©susanirenefox
©susanirenefox

When your love came and healed my broken heart

You lifted me up, gave salve to each bruise,

The promise of granting a brand new start.

I was flat on my face, how could I refuse?

Heart to heart you said you’d never depart

And I wonder what in me made you choose

To hold me so tightly, to embrace me;

To hold me so tightly, to embrace me?

 

Your love did snatch me from death’s calling door

And poured in me the Holy Spirit’s guide.

Now I, with his eyes, can your words explore

And meaning becomes clear as I abide

And see your love’s the answer evermore,

Yet I wonder still when did you decide

To forgive me so completely with grace;

To forgive me so completely with grace?

 

As I ponder your love, vital, profound

It leaves me in wonder times I am in doubt.

Your gentle grace speaks in ways that astound

I don’t worry what your thoughts are about.

With no condition or laws to confound

Your love is forever there to give out,

To love me so boldly, without restraint;

To love me so boldly, without restraint.

 

FlowerHeart

 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)