Thoughts to share received in prayer and study of the word

Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Like, What?

likeIt’s been a while since I’ve written and I find these days a hesitation to write. It seems as if everyone is so bold today about sharing their opinions and perspectives. I miss the days when people purposed to listen rather than to blare out their thoughts and practiced the ART of discretion. So here I am, blaring out my thoughts, but on the very subject that this entails.

I’ve noticed recently that people are living their lives by what they do or do not “like”. The difficulty in this is that one’s opinions can change as often as they receive new information or data to add to their theories. My husband always encouraged our children in their school-age years not to worry about who liked them on any given day, because by the next day that would change.

The verb like as defined in the Webster’s is:

Definition of like, liked, liking

  1. transitive verb
  2. chiefly dialectal : to be suitable or agreeable to I like onions but they don’t like me

  3.  to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in : enjoy- likes baseball                       to feel toward :  regard – how would you like a change

  4.  to wish to have :  want –  would like a drink

  5.  to do well in this plant likes dry soil my car does not like cold weather

  6. intransitive verb
  7. dialect :  approve

  8. to feel inclined :  choose, prefer leave any time you like

And used in sentences:

  1. He likes baseball, but he loves football.

  2. Do you like Mexican food?

  3. I liked the movie a lot more than I thought I would.

  4. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but I just don’t like him.

  5. They were political allies who truly liked each other.

  6. What is it that you like or dislike about him most?

  7. She says she likes him as a friend but she’s not attracted to him.

  8. My boss was a tough guy, but I liked him for his honesty

 

Notice that all of these choices reflect emotions that can change in an instant. I believe the better way is to choose to live by what is moral, ethical, conscientious and right. This view serves the whole of humanity, not the purpose of one. This view is God’s plan for all of us, from the beginning to the end, whether or not one is able like or believe that He is there. This view makes way for us to enjoy one another to a greater degree, live peaceably, let go of anger, and find joy. It brings us back to the ability to just “be” and stop trying so hard to “prove”. With all of the stress, anxiety, turmoil and chaos in life, this seems to me to be so much more desirable. I think I like it.

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Mansions

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I have a friend who has written a remarkable blog (and is actually approaching his 4th year wih it), that has brought me much inspiration and spiritual confirmation. His blog is Teresa of Avila turns 500.  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/9429716  Teresa of Avila is respected as one among the greatest writers of spiritual literature in the sixteenth century. His writing about her writing has inspired me to delve further into some of the spiritual understanding she gained on her journey with Christ.

One particular comment she made that I came across in my own research was this: “It came to me that the soul is like a castle made exclusively of diamond or some other very clear crystal. In this castle are a multitude of dwellings just as in heaven there are many mansions. If we muse on this deeply, friends, we will see that the soul of a righteous person is none other than a garden in which the Beloved takes great delight. What do you think that a place might be like that such a king- so powerful and wise, so pure and filled with all good things- would find so delightful? I myself can come up with nothing as magnificent as the beauty and amplitude of the soul.”

When she spoke about many mansions in heaven, she referred to John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Over the years, bible teachers have indicated that Jesus, upon returning to heaven would prepare for us mansions of gold and jewel, magnificent dwellings that would rival no other. I’ve heard many people say with a glow of lust in their eyes that they cannot wait until they get to heaven and see what their mansion looks like and what it will have in it. How absolutely absurd I have always felt this to be, and so very selfish. Of course, our Father has bestowed every good gift upon us, but not so that we may greedily consume it, but rather that we may reflect on the glory of the giver of the gift.

However, as I read this text, I am seeing that the garden of God is not a plot of real estate as so many would surmise, but rather the garden where God walks with us and “dwells” with us, is our very soul. His going to prepare a place for us simply meant that He was preparing for His crucifixion and resurrection, which would redeem our souls and provide for us eternal life with the Beloved.

This understanding then takes me back to the many mansions. What does that mean exactly and how does it apply?

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mansions as such:

MAN’SION, noun [Latin mansio, from maneo, to dwell.]

1. Any place of residence; a house; a habitation. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” John 14:2.  2. The house of the Lord of a manor.  3. Residence; above.

AND MAN’SION, verb intransitive To dwell; to reside.

I see my soul as being the house of the Lord or the place where we dwell and reside together. And in His house are many dwelling places (souls).

Teresa also said, “We have heard that we have souls, and our faith compels us to believe that is true. But we rarely consider the soul’s excellent qualities or who it is that dwells within or how precious that really is.” She goes on to explain that people become so involved in worldly matters that they are incapable of entering within themselves, so used to dealing with the worldly evils that they can find no remedy for them, even though they are naturally endowed with the ability to commune with the Beloved Himself at any time.

She fully believed, and I agree, that the doorway to that garden, where our Beloved dwells is prayer and meditation (reflection, contemplation). We have access to that place of refuge and peace, love and acceptance, wisdom and counsel in any moment of every day. We have a living God, who is waiting to walk with us in the garden and answer our every thought or need. And all we need to do is open the door….

 

Sources: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/ ; The Interior Castle Translation and Introduction by Mirabai Starr

 

 

 

 

Behave

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I’m not much of one to rant, though I’d like to share an experience I had today. I had a conversation with someone that left me feeling sad and ashamed of what I see that we as a society have become. Whatever happened to courtesy, respect and just being kind?

This person was pretty beaten down by all of the rude and obnoxious behavior that has taken place this election year, and expressing how tiring and frustrating it is to deal with people who want to cast blame, force opinions and vent.  Though I understand everyone has different motives, I do agree.

There is such a big difference between standing firm in your convictions and trying to harass and intimidate others into believing the same things that you do. What many complain has happened in Christianity through judgmental, holier than others, and superior to all behavior has now crept into the rest of the world. Some would say the world brought it to the church, but I don’t think so. I think it came with mutual consent. We think that because we have been given a podium and a microphone through technology like email, social media, and video recording that it means that everyone out there not only wants to but NEEDS to hear our every thought and opinion. And then if they have the nerve to disagree, by golly we are going to set them straight, because all men are created equal, not individual. How crass, and how arrogant. Simply rude.

I’m an old-fashioned girl, I guess, because I still believe strongly in thinking the best of others and as my husband would say, loving them for who they are even if I don’t like who they are. In other words, it’s my duty in life to love all of mankind, though I am not required to agree with every thought, every bent and every mindset. I am free to choose what I believe, so why should I try to force others and take that freedom from them? I can hope to express my thoughts in such a way that perhaps others might see wisdom or rationality in my values, and then perhaps I can learn from the wisdom and rationality in some of theirs. We may even meet in the middle regarding some topics. But if we don’t, I am going to choose to be kind anyway. It makes life so much simpler than having to be angry at and hate everyone, raising ire and blood pressure and stress in my life, creating chaos and war with family and friends alike.

I miss the days when people used discretion, held their tongue, waiting for the right time and the right place to discuss issues with others, and for the sake of decency and civility, chose words like, “I disagree because”, “I understand, but what if” and “do you think”. I miss laughing at our shortcomings, telling stories and jokes, and having fun in the simplest of ways. I miss songs like, “We Are the World” and “I’m Proud to be an American”. I miss sitting on the front steps with your neighbors and watching the neighborhood kids at play. I miss honor and integrity. I miss love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. I miss nice.

Be nice. Behave. Please.

 

 

Laughing

Sharing a page from my devotional Time of Grace:

I Love Laughing With Friends

Lord, have I thanked you lately for my friends?

How you have blessed me with the circle of people who keep me sane. Honestly, I think I would go crazy if I didn’t have people to bounce ideas off of, talk me off the ledge, point out my foolishness, encourage me when I’m right but too timid, make me feel like I belong, help me out in a pinch, explain things to me, give me advice, and generally magnify my good times into great times.

As I think about the dear people you have brought into my life, I get what the psalm writer was talking about when he expressed his joys not just by himself but with people he loved: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2). Lord, you designed laughter as an amazingly healing human activity. My friends help me lighten up and not take myself so seriously. They give me perspective on my struggles, they share things they’ve learned, and they help me when I am in trouble.

I don’t want to be just a taker. How can I show people how much they mean to me? Please let me give as much of a lift to other people as they give to me. How can I show you how much I appreciate the gift of loving people in my life?

Be Anxious for Nothing

ForestMy heart is breaking for others today. All around me there are so many who are suffering with anxiety, from low level moments to full out panic attacks. And I understand it because this is an area where I have struggled to overcome for many years.

Through all of the study I have done on this subject, I have learned some very interesting things – first, that there is a definitive difference between anxiety and worry.  It is said that those who worry know the object of their fear or what they are worrying about, such as a job interview, a mortgage payment, or a troubled child. Anxiety, however, is an emotion you experience because of a perceived threat, imminent event or uncertain outcome; it is restless energy. You feel overwhelmed, out of control, fearful, and experience unusually high tension and uneasiness without understanding why you feel that way. People may ask you what is bothering you and you respond with “I don’t know” in complete honesty.

I have also come to understand that anxiety can affect how we feel and behave, and can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life. General anxiety is characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations without being able to control or identify the fear. Phobias are a fear response identified with a specific cause, rational or irrational. Panic attacks are abrupt, spontaneous and intense, generally leading the person who experiences them even becoming anxious about recurrence of the attacks. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a potentially disabling condition that can persist throughout a person’s life. The individual who suffers from OCD becomes trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing, but extremely difficult to overcome. They usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational, but they serve to alleviate their anxiety. Social anxiety is characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others, and while once only affected a small number of individuals, is on the increase due to the rise of social media. It can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered impossible.

The latter of these listed here is the subject I would like to address further. Because of the influx of social media into our society, and also through the work of many faith communities, people today are being pushed to “be more, do more, have more” to such a degree that I believe it is suffocating their ability to find and know peace or rest. People are not just attempting to “keep up with the Joneses” as one generation put it, but now everything has to be perfect. We post in our news feed about our perfect fitness workouts, perfect homes, perfect families, perfect activities and perfect meal plans. If we are not perfect, the fear of being negatively judged looms overhead like a black cloud. Our culture has become performance-based and anxiety driven.

From Philippians 4:6-7

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

My husband and I recently had a conversation with someone where he asked that individual, “When is the last time you felt at peace?” The gentleman’s response was, “I don’t know that I really even know what that is.” To me, this is tragedy. Peace is freedom from disturbance; it is quiet tranquility, calm, restfulness and stillness. Our performance-based lives have taken calm and tranquility and cast them out the window while we were speeding down the freeway.

How do we re-discover peace? First, take the advice of the scripture referenced above. Then add the following, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) In other words, stop being driven by the demands and expectations of mankind and keep your thoughts focused on the beautiful and good in life. Stop trying to be everybody’s everything and JUST BE YOU.

For all of you who are suffering, I pray that you find peace.

Compassion

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Compassion is defined as the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another. The English noun compassion, meaning to love together with, comes from the Latin preposition cum(= with); the passion segment is related in origin, form and meaning to the English noun patient (= one who suffers). The truest form of compassion, then, is to love together with one who suffers. It is ranked as among the greatest of virtues in numerous philosophies and in almost all of the major religious traditions.
The scriptures say that Jesus was filled with compassion. The greatest gift He gave to mankind was to take our sin and sickness upon Himself, which restored our right standing with God and assured that we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin. He loved together with all who were suffering as the result of separation from God. He was filled with a desire to help those in need.
At the beginning of each year our pastor encourages us to seek God for one word that will define our direction and our focus for that year; an area that will require us to be intentional and ever mindful of God’s presence and His plan for us. My word last year was gratitude as you learned in an earlier blog I posted. This year my word is compassion. When I shared that with a dear friend, she said, “That’s interesting Ann, because you’re one of the most compassionate people I know.”
True to His nature however, the Lord has shown me (and actually He started two years ago though I was unaware), there is a great deal of difference between feeling compassion for others and loving together with them in their suffering.
Our calling is not to sit in a private box at the big race and watch others as they run, feeling empathy for them when they stumble and shouting a “woohoo” when they round a curve, judging their form and performance; but rather it is to run beside them, feeling the burn as they fight for momentum, urging them onward toward the goal, hurting when they hurt and sharing in the exhilaration when they rejoice. Irrational generosity, unconditional love, and intentional purpose is what we bring to prepare them and to provide for them as they struggle to overcome in both the straightaway and in the press. It is not seeing who they are, but seeing who God is and who they are in Him.
So though in days past I “felt” compassion for others, I believe now that I am becoming compassionate and reaching toward being filled with compassion.

I Am Yours

So I call out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim that I am Yours…