Your pace

 

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I was on the return leg of my morning walk. Perhaps the turtle was also. It was moving up a slight grassy incline of the golf course which ran parallel to the sidewalk where I walked.

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I cannot recall if I voiced my doubt or just thought it, but I was certain the turtle could not reach the top of the incline.

It was the first one I had seen personally, so I  drew near for a closer look, the story of the tortoise and the hare, in mind. Naturally, the turtle responded by pulling its head into its shell and stopped moving.

I resumed my journey and when I glanced over my shoulder, noticed that the turtle had not only proven me wrong by reaching the top of the incline, its pace was faster than I had expected. I sprinted back to it and captured its movement, first in a photo, then in a video.

Like the turtle, may we keep moving at our own pace and ignore the naysayers. May we also adhere to the wisdom provided in Hebrews  12:1-3 (AMP).

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of [a]witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, [b]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Identity, Purpose and Self-talk

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19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:19-23, AMP)

What we say about ourselves, most times, if not always, carries more weight than what others say about us. But what we say about ourselves can be influenced greatly by persons we listen to the most, especially those who are important to us. As such what we say about ourselves can reflect internalized messages from others.

“Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” were two of the questions posed to John the Baptist, by those who want to know his identity. John’s response is exemplary. It was clear and completely based on what God spoke about him, through the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, hundreds of years before John’s birth. At some point, John’s purpose and, in it, his identity was revealed to him. This allowed him to clearly state who he was and who he was not.

“Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Most individuals wrestle with these existential questions about identity and purpose at some point in life. “What do you say about yourself?” As it was for John the Baptist, the answers to our questions of identity and purpose are found in the words of God, our Creator, our Father. (Click here for examples of what He says about us). Any description of ourselves, anything we say (and believe) about ourselves that is not based on what He says about us needs revision, urgently. Immediately.

What do you say about yourself?”

Imago Dei and Self-evident truths

Imago Dei and Self-evident truths

 

 26 “Then God said, ‘Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]….’ 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27, AMP)

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Excerpt from The Declaration of Independence, 1776).

How do we live as if each person was created in the image of God? Is it true that the following truths are self-evident: all men are created equal; all men are endowed by their Creator with rights that are impossible to take away or give up? Rights that include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?” Do we really believe this? I wonder because true belief changes behavior.

Five Minute Friday: Blessing

Oranges have essential vitamin contents, antioxidants, protein, water percentage, and fiber. These are necessa (1)

Blessing –
“Help and approval from God”

Blessing.
Also defined as “a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being.”

That You want to bless me,
I have no doubt.

You have made it clear in Your written Word.
The equivalent of a written promise.
Many of them.

An example being the one You made to Abraham.
The one You called friend.
“I will bless you amd make you a blessing.”

Blessing – defined as “a beneficial thing for which one is grateful”
Grateful.
I am not always grateful because I do not always recognize what You have given as a blessing.

Especially when it does not look like what I asked for.
Beseeched You for:
Healing.
Restoration of a relationship.
Freedom from pain.
Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But I can testify to the truth that
in time.
With grace.
With maturity.
I come to recognize that what seemed as anything but a blessing
in fact was,
because of what You did with it in my life.

Count Your Blessings

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Blessing.”

 

 

Still desperately needed: His Light. His Love.

HIS LIGHT. HIS LOVE. (2)

With the goal of determining if there was a blog post that I could repost this week, I searched my blog using “June 2016” as my search criteria. The post, “His light. His Love,” was the first to appear. The following paragraph grabbed my attention, “In every season of life, the world needs His love and His light. And this need is, perhaps, never more glaringly evident than during seasons of darkness and pain, ushered in by tragedies like the mass shootings which occurred in Orlando, FL, in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016.”

An internet search highlighted the truth that tragedies have continued unabated since June 12, 2016. They include several natural disasters. Among them were the following:  flooding in Louisiana from August 12-14, 2016, which resulted in 13 deaths and an estimated 30,000 people displaced; three earthquakes in Italy in three months, which killed hundreds of people; hurricane Matthew in October 2016, that resulted in an estimated 1,600 deaths and damages in excess of $10.5 billion. The start of the new year brought no relief. In January 2017, more than 130 million people were affected by humanitarian crises such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters and conflict. It is believed that 58 million people are displaced worldwide and terrorists attacks continue, with the people of England experiencing multiple attacks in less than 14 days.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world” we are told in Matthew 5:14. “God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” Romans 5:5, informs us.  What was true in June 2016, remains true in June 2017 – “In every season of life, the world needs His love and His light. And this need is, perhaps, never more glaringly evident than during seasons of darkness and pain, ushered in by tragedies…” We are His light to the world and His love has been “abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Father God, the world still desperately needs Your light and Your love. The heavens tell of Your glory but You have purposed that Your light be seen and Your love be shown through us, Your children. We acknowledge that our ability to reflect Your light is too often impaired, and instead of love, what is seen in us is condemnation and self-righteousness. We confess our weakness. Our sin. Cleanse us, Father, so that Your light in us can be clearly seen. Help us let go of everything we need to and allow You to remove that from which only You can free us, so that Your healing, transforming love in us can constantly overflow to others. And Abba, help us love, not just in word but in deed. In Jesus Name.

Five Minute Friday: Steady

steady

//“Steady as she goes.” This is an order or instruction given to a helmsman by the captain, to keep the ship heading “steadily on the same course regardless of gusts of wind or cross-currents.”*

“Regardless of wind or cross-currents.” You give me similar instructions, as in keeping my eyes on Jesus, “the Author and Perfecter” of my faith.

But sometimes, like Peter, I take my eyes off of You and, like Peter, I begin to sink beneath the waves. At other times, I stray off course, following things that distract my attention from You.

Sometimes, I remain on course but instead of steady strides, my knees buckle beneath the weight of grief and loss. And discouragement. And cares You never meant for me to carry on my own.

Then, as the lame man experienced, You speak to me as Peter did to him and take hold of my hand with a firm grip and raise me up. And like him, my feet and ankles become strong and steady. And I can say like Habakkuk did, “The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] //
on my high places (of challenges and responsibility).” Thank You, Abba. Thank You.

FMF steady

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community,  for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community, click here. This week’s writing prompt is, “Steady.”

*Information about the nautical phrase, “Steady as she goes,” can be found here.
(The content between //the double slashes //, was written within the allotted 5 minute time frame.)

Legacy

 

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“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22, AMP)

Legacy. I cannot recall what made me think of legacy recently; however, for several weeks, I have considered this concept on and off. Then on Father’s Day, the first portion of Proverbs 13:22, came to mind – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”

To think of an inheritance in terms of finances is not an incorrect view but it is a narrow perspective and an incomplete one. It is noted in the Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs 13:22 that, “A good man, by being good and doing good, by honouring the Lord with his substance and spending it in his service, secures it to his posterity; or, if he should not leave them much of this world’s goods, his prayers, his instructions, his good example, will be the best entail, and the promises of the covenant will be an inheritance to his children’s children.

When I think of my father (and my mother), it is the intangible components of my inheritance for which I am most grateful. Furthermore, I unashamedly hold the view that it is this type of inheritance that has eternal value, and it is the focus of today’s post.

Proverbs 13:22, highlights that leaving an inheritance for his grandchildren is one of the earmarks of a “good man,” but I recognize that every person, regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or any other demographic, leaves an inheritance or legacy. The question is, “What intangibles are we bequeathing? A strong work ethic or laziness? Deception or  integrity? A willingness to forgive or a bent toward holding grudges and difficulty forgiving others and/or yourself? Selfishness or generosity? A legacy of service or an attitude of entitlement? Gratitude or ingratitude? Trust or distrust? A victim mentality (“Everyone always does me wrong?) or the mindset of an overcomer? A legacy that is centered on God or a self-centered one?

There is a saying that, “What crawls in one generation, runs in the other.” This sobering statement emphasizes the importance of recognizing and effectively addressing hurts, unhealthy thinking patterns or behaviors in our own lives, or run the risk of them showing up with stronger roots and a more pervasive nature in our children, in some form.

Is there an experience from your childhood that is still unhealed? Still shaping how you relate to others and/or other choices you make? Subtract the age you were when the wound was inflicted from your current age. It can be sobering to realize the length of time an experience has affected us negatively. If we have children and/or grandchildren, they are also feeling the impact of that unhealed hurt in some way. Even if we do not have children or grandchildren, people in our lives are feeling the impact of that wound. Thankfully, we have a heavenly Father who is able to heal us in every wounded and broken place, no matter how long ago the wound was inflicted or has been infected … if we allow Him to do so. And if we do, in that moment, we can begin to change our todays and the legacy we will leave behind. I pray that we will make this choice repeatedly and  often, for however long it takes for us to whole.

 

Five Minute Friday: Worth

Vintage +Modern Mix& Match

//“Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin…”

So begins the beloved poem written by Myra Brooks Welch in 1921. It is, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” It tells the parable of an old violin that was devalued because of its condition. It was going to be sold for a measly amount of $3.00, until a master violinist picked it up, wiped away the dust, tightened its strings, and played, “a melody pure and sweet, as a caroling angel sings.” With his touch, he changed the worth of the old violin. Its final selling price? $3,000.

The poem demonstrates that the violin is a metaphor for the life of a human being who is “battered and scarred with sin,” his or her life out of tune, and sold for little or nothing. That is, until touched by the Master. Touched by the Potter who turns marred clay into vessels of worth. Turns shacks into temples that He puts His seal on. That He appropriates and certifies as His. //

Gives us His Holy Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. Like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life. May we never again insult Him by allowing flesh and blood to define our worth.

Capture

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community,  for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community, click here. This week’s writing prompt is, “Worth.”

(The content between //the double slashes //, was written within the allotted 5 minute time frame. The complete poem, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” can be read here.
I also wanted to share a beautiful song, “Worth,” by Anthony Brown & Group Therapy.)

 

Expecting Jesus

expecting JESUS

“It would make a difference to live with more of a focus on expecting Jesus.” This statement was part of a comment a fellow member of a writing community made in response to my recent post, “Expect.” Her words resonated with me, especially the phrase, “expecting Jesus.” I continue to reflect on the words and on one of the definitions of “expect” – to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of. “Expecting Jesus” – To anticipate or look forward to the coming of Jesus.

This anticipation can be connected to Him “showing up” in our lives, that is, accomplishing what we are incapable of doing ourselves. But as welcomed as such occurrences are, I turn my attention again to His return, which is a promise recorded in John 14:1-3,”…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (emphasis added).

The promise of His return is reiterated many times in Scripture; for example, in Acts 1:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and Hebrews 9:28. As I shared in the previous post, I want to begin to anticipate His return. But I do not want to long for His return just as a way to escape the pressures, pain, and tragedies of life (examples of which abound in the USA and around the world, just in the past two weeks).

More than wanting Him to return to put all things right, I want to long for His return because He has become the Lover of my soul. Because I believe in His love for me. I want to long for His return because I have come to love Him with my all of my heart, mind, and strength, because He first loved me. I want to long for His return because an ache has developed in my soul to see the One Who willingly laid aside His glory and became flesh for me. The One Who suffered incomprehensible agony, was crucified, buried and rose again for me. To see the One Who ascended on high and is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me. For us. These are the reasons I want to live “expecting Jesus.”

I am not yet living, “expecting Jesus;” Oh, but it is the longing of my heart to do so. I know that when I begin to do so, this mindset will not make me so “heavenly minded that I am no earthly good.” Instead, among other changes, my priorities will change so that pleasing Him will take precedence over pleasing people and, what matters most to Him, will be what matters most to me.

What are some of the things we can do to develop and maintain this mindset of “living, expecting Jesus?” I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts in the comments.

 

Five Minute Friday: Expect

the northern

Jesus is coming again. Not as a babe. Not as the Lamb. But as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is coming again. I believe this to be true and to this degree, you can say that I expect His return. But do I expect, that is anticipate or look forward to His coming? I have to admit that I do not believe so. Why? Because true expectation changes behavior.

I think of what happens when I am expecting something, for example, a call or a package. When it is a call, I keep my cell phone close. Make sure the ringer is on and I listen for the ringing even when I am engaged in other activities. When I am expecting a person, my behaviors are similar but I also make preparations for the visit. True expectation changes behavior.

And so I long to long for His return because I know when I begin to truly expect His return, my perspective on life will change. The choices I make will change. What I value will change. For true expectation changes behavior.

expect

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community, at our new home, for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community, click here. This week’s writing prompt is, “Expect.”