When we purchased this new construction foreclosure back in 2010, we knew the bones and location of this home where “perfect”! The hard part, was that everything in the home was new but not our style. For the past six years, we have been transforming this home into “our” home. The floors, walls, cabinets, counter tops, doors were ALL brown. We have been methodically moving through the house turning it into a light and bright farmhouse style cottage. Continue reading
I know it’s a little late in the day for #Sundaysheepponderings, and I had decided just to wait until some other time to post this. Then I saw a friend had posted on the very same thing I have been pondering about all day and I decided to go ahead and share it in case somebody needed to hear it.
I’ve been pondering on the term “fire” in the Scriptures. In the Bible Belt, where I grew up, “fire” in the Bible has a very negative connotation. That, along with an inadequate translation of the word into English, is the reason why so many people consider “fire” in the Scriptures to be a scarey thing.
But what if we shifted our thinking? What if we looked at the word “fire” from a different point of view? What if we saw the word “fire” in the Scriptures through the lenses of love rather than the lenses wrath?
What if I told you that the words for “fire” that are used in scriptures to make people fear (burning in a physical place called “hell”), were actually words that mean to purify (puros) or to prune plants in order to produce fruit (kolasis). Here in the south, some people burn their grass so that the grass comes back lusher, fuller and healthier. The grass is restored and made better than it was before. Another example Is when we boil contaminated water with fire in order to remove the impurities. The purified water is clean, healthy and as it was originally created. There are many, many examples of situations in which “fire” is used to bring forth something as it was created to be.
Now, if we read the Scriptures with the mindset that God is angry and needed to take his wrath out on humanity, then we will misinterpret the word “fire” to be destructive, torturous and deadly. But, if your understanding of God is a loving father, who created you in his image and likeness, loves you with an unconditional and perfect love, then you will see “fire” as a tool of love, to purify, clean and RESTORE.
So there is something for you to ponder on today. Do you see the “fire” of God as a retributive and punishing? Or do you see the “fire” of God as refining and RESTORING?
Just like the word “saved” (to restore and make whole and healthy) that we talked about last week, maybe, just maybe you’ve been taught or misinterpreted the meaning of Scripture. If you believe that God is love, then you can be thankful and not fearful of his “fire”.
“Such love has NO FEAR, because perfect love expels ALL fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not FULLY experienced his PERFECT love.” (1 John 4:18)
Now, that is GOOD news! Happy Pondering!
It was a late night at the ER for us. My son dislocated his shoulder during football. He will recover fine but a little tired today. I’m sharing a pondering of a Facebook friend/teacher because it mirrors the pondering I have been doing for the last couple of years and he came to the same understanding that I have. Enjoy!
I really don’t like the word “saved” given all the western religious baggage attached to this word!
1. In the west we say that we are “saved” from hell!!! You see what I mean?
2. Then the assumptions begin to flow … who created hell? God! So in reality we are saved from what God is gonna do to us ..
3. So Jesus ends up coming to earth to save us from what God is gonna do!
The truth is this:
4, The Greek word translated save actually means to restore and to make whole. It is directly connected to the Greek word for HEALING and health!
Now this is something totally different!
Now we are talking not about escaping some eternal conscious torment created by God …. but about God restoring us and making us whole!
When you read the New Testament you can legitimately replace the word “save” with “restore or made whole” …. and it becomes a new book!
It is in this sense that “all get saved”! Father sent Jesus to earth to restore and make everyone whole! (Via Santo Calarco)
Now isn’t that GOOD NEWS?! Doesn’t that bring you LIFE and HOPE?! Doesn’t that sound a lot more like LOVE than some of the things you have been taught and believed?!
Happy Sunday friends!
This has been a monumental week in our family with the birth of our first grandchild, Anna Kate. I can’t even begin to express with mere words, the depth of love that has swept over my heart. As I stared into the most beautiful little face on the planet, I began to ponder…
But before we ponder, let’s have a little history lesson. Basically, around 380ad there were these two guys, Pelagius and Augustine. These two had different ideas on the condition of a human soul when it is born. They basically fought about it for a while and finally the church in Rome decided to side with Augustine and adopt his ideas. Consequentially, most of our western churches have also adopted his views.
Augustine believed in the depravity of man, a fancy way of saying that we are all born sinners, even at our first breath. So we are born without God and we try to make our way to a condition of God coming to live in us.
Palagius believed that humans are born in the image and likeness of God and that God is already within us, the breath in our lungs, the life in our blood. Our experiences, teachings and cultures move us away from that knowledge and we begin to adopt other, inferior beliefs about ourselves.
Ok, hope I haven’t lost you yet😬. Here comes the pondering…
What do YOU believe? Why do you believe it? What kind of Father do you believe He is? There are scriptures that seem, on the surface, to support both. Both can not be true.
I grew up believing as Augustine did. Therefore, I was always striving spiritually to achieve more of God in my life. I believed there was a gap between God and humanity and I was always trying to make the gap smaller by believing the right thing or doing the right thing.
But not any more.
Now, I believe as Palagius did. He believed that “the newborn, freshly come forth from God, contains the original, unsullied goodness of creation and humanity’s essential blessedness”.
As I look in the tender, peaceful, gentle, perfect face of my sweet Anna Kate, I see one thing…the image and likeness of her creator. I see a precious child who does not need to do anything or believe anything to be loved and adored. I see a soul that has never been told that she is anything but accepted. I see a masterpiece, created by the perfect artist, each feature and gift tenderly painted with a brush dipped in pure love. And I pray that no one ever tells her that she is anything less than this.
In the end, Palagius was labeled a heretic and Augustine a church Saint.
I’m not here to persuade you, convert you or convince you. I’m just here to ask you to ponder for yourself. Just because certain foods are sold at your grocery store, doesn’t mean you have to buy them. Think for yourself. Trust the spirit of God to be your teacher. GOD IS LOVE.
Happy Sunday friends! Love well! Oh, and did I mention…I’M A GRAMMY!
(Quote source and great book, “Listening to the Heartbeat of God by J. Philip Newell)
Pondering today on walls. We build walls, both physical and emotional, to either keep something out or keep something in. Either way, the reasoning for the wall is protection. We build walls to try and protect those we love from evil, to try and protect our possessions from theft and to try and protect our hearts from pain. Walls are our attempt to “control”. (Read that again, that will preach!)
So what about religious walls? We can look back to early church history and see that walls started going up around the church within a few hundred years after the resurrection of Jesus. Why?
I believe the walls started going up around the church to try and “control” the people, to keep them in line, to make them dependent on the leaders, and even to line their coffers with money. Church history does have a dark and violent side and I believe it shaped some of the walls we still have today.
Today’s walls look different, for sure, but I believe “control” is still the root. Just some questions to ponder…
Why do most churches have membership?
Why do most churches have a statement of faith?
I know the cliche answers, to build community, to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to show loyalty, to make sure we are all on the same page, to show we are “like-minded”, etc. Yet, something deep within me thinks that the same old root of “control” is at play. Control of who is in and who is out. Control of your wallet. Control of your theology. Control of your lifestyle. Control of your image. Control of your thinking. Control of their numbers. It’s very subtle and it can appear “good” but is it?
I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer and I am by no means judging. I struggled with “control” most of my adult life! I tried to control everything and everyone around me. I’m quite familiar with the subject because I thought it was my friend and it turned out to be my biggest enemy. I’m not judging, I’m exposing.
Friends, don’t ever let anyone control your relationship with God. You are free! Ask any kind of questions and as many questions of Him as you want! Listen to the voice of the spirit within you. Don’t fall into the trap of an “us” and “them” world. We are all His creation and all dearly loved. None of us know for sure what awaits us after we leave these mortal bodies but I have a strong inkling that your denomination, church membership and lists of rights and wrongs won’t matter much. How can I say that? Because they didn’t seem to matter much to Jesus. Control was never his motive and he lived to tear down walls.
What did matter to Jesus? What still matters? Love
Here’s to tearing down walls and pouring out love! Happy Sunday my friends!
(Side note…this pondering has nothing to do with politics)
Pondering today on “keeping it real”.
In this age of social media, we are all letting the world have a glimpse of who we are…or who we want them to think we are. This creates some very interesting dynamics that the psychologist can analyze better than I. What I’m pondering on is this….what is real? Who is the “real” you? Do you even know?
You may start to define yourself with terms; introvert, extrovert, sensitive, stubborn, creative, decisive, serious, carefree, short tempered, patient, grumpy, friendly, etc. Ok, some of these may indeed describe your personality but do they define the real you? I would even offer that in the same day, you can be both serious and carefree or patient and short tempered. Do you see what I’m saying? Words maybe describe your behavior but they don’t define you.
I’m pondering these things because I believe we have a real identity crisis. We’ve let the world, our friends, our parents, our spouse, our kids, our employer, our church, the media, “define” us and we are constantly either trying to live up to that definition or trying to prove them wrong. We are on a constant hamster wheel of performing.
What if we got real? What if we sorted through all the labels and got down to the truth. What if we threw off the chains of “being a perfect mom”, “being a good wife”, “being a church volunteer”, “being ___________”, you fill in the blank. What if we sifted through all the rocks to find the gold?
You, my friend, are the gold! You may not believe it, you may not see it, you may not feel it but that’s the REAL you! You are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God. You are more than this temporal body of flesh and blood. You are full of wisdom, power, and love because He lives in you. You are one with your creator and you can not be separated from him. You, my dear friend, are the gold. It’s ok if you don’t believe it because eventually you will see it. It’s ok if you don’t feel it because eventually you will know it. Wherever you are on the journey to finding the real you…we will all arrive at the same location….LOVED. When you get to the end of striving…you will find rest. Happy Sunday!
Pondering today on transformation.
For most of my life, I felt like I didn’t measure up. I’m not talking about measuring up to other people or “keeping up with the Jones” kind of stuff. I’m referring to measuring up as a “Christian”. I had heard all of my life that what was important to God was first, “to LOVE the the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul and mind” and second, “to LOVE your neighbor as yourself”.
Well, I don’t know about you but boy did that cause some shame and frustration for me.
Let’s start with the first requirement. I “loved” God the best I could. I tried to be a good person, follow the law, go to church, read my Bible, pray. So much effort to try and “love” this God that I could not see. I believed in Him, I was grateful to Him, I worshipped Him, but “love”, that was hard. I begged Him to change me, to make that love that I professed real, to help me to be a “true” Christian and not a hypocrite.
Now, let’s look at the second requirement. Love my neighbor as myself seemed a little easier. After all, my husband, my kids, my family and close friends, they were my neighbors and I loved them. Then I read this scripture in Luke 6, where Jesus basically says, if you love those that love you…that’s no big deal but if you love your enemies and do things for people who don’t help you back, now that’s a big deal. So once again, I fell short and the shame began all over again.
You see I could put on a good front but I knew my thoughts, my motives, my failure.
This journey of awakening to who God really is, to who I really am, to who my neighbor really is…it has finally brought me to a place of LOVE. Once I began to unlearn the religious teaching I had been learning for years, once I began to shed years and years of expectations that had been heaped upon me and that I had heaped upon myself, once I began to rest instead of striving …the love just miraculously showed up. Well, truth be told, it had always been there, it was just buried under a bunch of junk.
Some would call this being “transformed” but I call it being “awakened”. Transformation implies that I was one thing but now I’m another and that is not true. I have always been His masterpiece, His image and likeness, His dwelling place in this physical realm. I have always had His life flowing through my being, just as every created thing does…I just didn’t know it. I thought His presence would come and go and that when I felt spiritual, He was close.
The good news my friend is that my story is your story. The details may be different and the journey may look different but the truth is the same. Wherever you are on your journey, He is in you. Life can not come from any other source than Him. I pray that you awaken to who you really are, to who He is, that His very life and breath has been breathed in you and that you are SO much more than your thoughts, feelings and actions. I pray that you awaken to LOVE.
Happy Sunday my dear friends, may it be full of eye opening moments!