What is your experience in relationship with God?
For some, the definition of Chistianity is based on their personal viewpoint of what Christianity should look like. But viewpoints can and do frequently change, which allows veering from foundational truth. Rationalizing that truth can result in deception, even to the point of deceiving self and attempting to introduce new doctrine.
Experience, defined is: practical contact with, observation of, involvement in, participation in, contact with, acquaintance with, exposure to, awareness of, insight into; and to experience is to encounter, to meet, come into contact with, come across, come up against, come face to face with.
Christianity, then, is not a viewpoint. It is a continuous experience. It is a seeking, finding, learning and knowing of the character and person of Jesus. It is the breath of life from God – inhale, exhale, inhale. It’s discovering what “abide in Me, and I in you” really means.
Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category
What is your experience in relationship with God?
My 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 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.
Poetry pure and simple…
No One Doesn’t
One can push the fact away. Deny it.
Or flat turn it down.
The fact is this:
No one doesn’t want love.
Everyone wants love.
Whether they know it or not.
Even needs it, to my mind.
It feeds the soul.
It quenches her thirst.
Clothes her in glorious splendor.
No one doesn’t long for love.
No one doesn’t!
You can’t breathe properly, nothing seems right.
Some accept that, many deny it.
But it remains, beyond denial.
Beyond all rejection of the idea.
As nectar remains deep inside the flower.
As life is encased inside the hard, dry seed.
The longing lives in us all.
A smoldering coal.
An unreachable itch.
We search a lifetime to reach, to quench.
I know that in myself.
Ahhh, to love and be loved…
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She heard that day that he was in town, and she thought, “I’ve just got to see him! I feel like I know so much about him from what everyone has told me, and he sounds like all that I’ve dreamed of!” The only thing holding her back was that she knew when she got there that no one was going to want her around. She was looked down upon by so many, despised by others, and actually hated by even more. They would not be happy to see her. So what should she do? This, she knew, was her one chance to find out if he was THE ONE, that special man, who was just for her. Yet, she knew that he was famous, always surrounded by such a crowd of people, there was nowhere he went that his presence didn’t cause a stir. People thronged him, everyone wanting to be close, to get his attention. Getting anywhere near him would be a hard thing to do, like riding on a sea of bodies, all determined to be first in line, and aggressive in their persistence. What if she got there and couldn’t get close enough to see him? What if she did get close enough, and he totally ignored her? What if her presence there even went so far as to make him angry, or make the others angry enough to call her out? But she had to find out, she just had this feeling that this was the day, this was her time. It would be all right. It just had to be, she was desperate. She felt drawn to him and she knew that she needed him like she had never needed before, and at the same time she wondered how it was that she knew that if she’d never even met him, they’d never been introduced or even been in the same group of people before. What was she thinking? Even while this war was going on in her mind, her feet carried her to the place where he was. She was right, there were a lot of people there. She began to make her way through the crowd, taking each opportunity of a person shifting on their feet to gain ground, moving a little further ahead, weaving her way through like a thread on fabric, I’ve just got to get from beginning to end. As she got closer, all movement stopped. The people were packed so tight together, she could go no further. But wait, think! There has to be a way. Tuck in a little, stoop down, she kept striving, little by little, inching closer to him. And again, a sudden stop, no more ground to gain. But she was so close this time, she could see him, hear him, and literally FEEL him that close to her. She couldn’t let him get away without finding out. She could hardly breathe, the crowd was so closely bound together. One more try, she pressed in, stretched and worked and reached out her arm, working her way to the ground, and suddenly……SHE WAS HEALED! Luke 8:40-48