Sunday Sheep Ponderings- March 18,2017

Pondering today on “seeing for the first time”. 
Have you ever seen a “Where’s Waldo?” book, stared at a 3D image until your eyes adjusted, or sat down with one of the old school “Highlights” magazines and looked for hidden pictures? It’s fun to search for something until you find it or look at something until you see it. 
One of my most favorite parts of this journey with God has been to awake to new truths (new to me), to discover beautiful treasures and to see things I never saw before! 
I look back at my 50 years of life and I’m amazed. Amazed at how I’ve grown and how much I have yet to grow, amazed at what I used to believe was true and what I have found to be true, amazed at how the things I’ve looked at for so long are now being seen for the first time. 
I don’t want to get into specific things because we could be here for days and it would probably lead to disagreements in ” views”. Instead, I’m pondering my overall experience.
I used to believe that when it comes to my journey with God, that I was on a journey upward, on a trajectory from earth to heaven, an endeavor to close the gap between my humanity and God. I was ever striving to get closer to God, to be more Christ-like, to shed my rotten,stinkin, humanness and be more “godly”. In truth, I really looked like a hamster on a wheel, running in circles but never arriving anywhere. I was always working on me, trying to become someone else, hoping I would be good enough. It was exhausting and hopeless. 
But…just like with the Waldo books, the 3D images and the hidden pictures, it may take time…but eventually things become clear. You “see things for the first time”, things that were right there in front of your eyes but you overlook, you were focused on the wrong things, or you had looked at it the same way for so long that you weren’t actually seeing it anymore. 
I began to see something about my journey that was brand new to me! I started to see God in everything and everyone. I began to see that God was WITH ME! God was IN ME! There was no gap between us! I didn’t need to get “closer” to God because we were one! I didn’t need to become less human because human was what God created me to be! I had been taught to “see” things that weren’t there. I had been taught to “see” things through a particular filter. I had been taught to “see” myself and my creator in ways that separated us instead of connecting us. No wonder I was spinning in circles and felt hopeless. I was seeing through other people’s eyes and not seeing the truth right in front of me. 
The truth that I am loved, I am accepted, I am the recipient of a free gift and I don’t have to earn it. I am not becoming something…I am seeing who I have always been…seeing it for the first time. 
When I look in the mirror now, I see the same reflection I’ve always seen but now I see her like I’ve never seen her before! I don’t see a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend who has fallen short. I see a human who is created in the image and likeness of a perfect creator. I see love and grace woven into every fiber of my being…long before I could have ever earned it. And I see you the very same way….PERFECTLY created! 
Happy Sunday my friends and may you LOVE WELL…especially yourself. 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – March 12,2017

Pondering today on perspective. 
I went to see the movie “The Shack” last week. I had read the book twice several years ago and was moved in a powerful way. While I personally LOVED the movie and walked away from the book and the movie with such an overwhelming understanding of the pure love of God BUT…my social media has blown up with “Shack Haters” and “Shack Lovers” and all the opinions of both. This got me thinking, how in the world can people see the same movie in such completely different ways?! 
And so I’m pondering on “perspective”. Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive,” and all the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking. 
Growing up in the Baptist denomination shaped my perspective of the scriptures and therefore the way I “perceived” or “looked” at God. As I journeyed from Baptist to Nondenominational to Charismatic Pentecostal to Mega church to church without walls…my perspective changed. I saw things at each stage of the journey that I couldn’t or wouldn’t see before. 
And so it goes with “The Shack”. I will confess that the Wendy of 15 years ago would have probably been a “Shack Hater”. I was very protective of my religious theology and I was very passionate in my belief that I had all the right “biblical” answers. My “perspective” was very narrow and I refused to use my peripheral vision to see ideas outside of my version of truth. 
But IF you are willing to go on the journey, IF you are willing to look at the bigger picture, IF you are willing to explore and ponder…your “perspective” will change in glorious ways! While it may be a little scary or unnerving, I know, it is so worth the risk! 
I believe your opinion of “The Shack” is all about “perspective”. 
Do you view scriptures through the lens of “heaven and hell”, “saved and unsaved”, “chosen and not chosen”, “right and wrong”, “insiders and outsiders”, “original sin doctrine”, “law”, “sin consciousness”, “the devil made me do it”, “fire is destructive”, “god was angry but Jesus put him in a better mood”???
Do you view scriptures through the lens of “unconditional love”, “pure grace”, “created in God’s image and likeness”, “EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess”, “full redemption”, “your true identity is IN Christ”, “saved is being made whole”, “fire is purifying”, “God is good”, “Jesus is the exact representation of the Father”???
Your “perspective” will determine how you see “The Shack”, the scriptures, your fellow man, and God. So the challenge for ALL of us is this…are you seeing the bigger picture? Are you looking at all the glorious miracles on every side of you? Are you brave enough to look at life, God, written words, movies, songs, people, and ideas with an open mind? Are you longing for a new “perspective”? Are you ready to see your creator as bigger, better and even more loving than you ever thought possible? I hope so! πŸ€”πŸ˜Ž
Happy Sunday my friends!

Sunday Sheep Ponderings- February 19,2017

Pondering today on purity.
I would bet that for most of you that read the word “purity”, you immediately thought of a purity from some kind of sin or unclean living. I guess that immediate assumption is at the heart of my pondering.
I would venture to say that most people know nothing of PURE GRACE and sadly, this is more true of the Christian community than others. Now before you get offended, let me finish my thoughts. Remember, I am speaking mostly of myself.
First, let’s define GRACE so we all have a starting point. GRACE is defined as “the FREELY GIVEN, UNMERITED favor and love of God”. 
Let’s take a visual journey. Picture a tall glass of PURE clean water. I mean it has been purified from every contaminate, chemical and trace of dirt. Now, drop just one piece of dirt into it. It immediately becomes impure, cloudy, and a completely different material that is of lesser quality and value.
So it goes with PURE GRACE. Grace is freely given and unmerited. It is free of all requirements, rules and stipulations. Now, add just one condition to it. It immediately becomes impure, contaminated and a completely different idea that is of lesser quality and value.
When Jesus entered into our physical realm as a human, He came as PURE GRACE but the people did not understand Him. They, especially the religious leaders, were always trying to get Him to focus on sin or unclean living, on rules, on “rights” and “wrongs”. They were so accustomed to lists of “do’s” and “dont’s”, obsessed with keeping the law, and measuring the worth of a person by their performance. This idea or concept of FREELY GIVEN, not earned, unconditional acceptance and love was so foreign to them. It threatened the power and status of the religious leaders. If you removed their moral and spiritual superiority over their subjects, what would they have left to define their worth? What would be their purpose? What would set them apart from the masses?And so PURE GRACE became contaminated one little drop of “ifs” at a time. Yes, God loves you “if”….
So the choice for you and for me today is …are we going to choose PURE GRACE for ALL people, in ALL conditions, at ALL times? Or, are we going to settle for something of lesser quality and value that is no longer even grace at all? 
Let’s unmask the “ifs” for the lies that they are. 
Let’s remove the “conditions” from unconditional love. 
Let’s filter out all rules and performance from acceptance. 
Let’s drink in the PURE GRACE, the PURE LOVE, the PURE ACCEPTANCE that Jesus poured out and then let’s shower the world with it! 
Let’s never add an “if”, a theology, a requirement on something that was FREELY GIVEN! 
Let’s shout PURE GRACE from the mountaintops so that the world will know the love God has for them.
Let’s love well my friends.
Happy Sunday!
John 1:17

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – February 12,2017Β 

Pondering today on love ❀️.
I know of a man who had a near death experience (pronounced dead) about 50 years ago. His account of what happened to him is …well, seriously thought provoking. As he came face to face with the Lord, he was asked one question. “Did you learn to love ❀️? This man was an evangelist and a preacher yet he was asked “Did you learn to love ❀️?”
Have YOU learned to love ❀️? Now, I know you love your spouse, your kids, your family and friends…that’s easy. (Matt 5:46) I spent most of my spiritual journey…”loveless”. Oh, I served God, taught Bible Studies, only listened to Christian music, only watched “Godly” shows, etc. I appeared to be a follower of Christ, a Christian but the truth is, I was more like the Pharisees who loved religion rather than people. I loved my people but was extremely judgmental of those who were not like me. I had a spiritual maturity (arrogance) that was admired in my circles but was far from what Jesus displayed. I was more concerned with “teaching” you the right way to believe than I was with hearing your heart. Thank God for grace and for His gentle patience. 
I wanted to “love others as I loved myself”. 
I wanted to feel that of “faith, hope and love…that the greatest of these is love”.
I wanted “love” to pour out of me, to define me, to genuinely be what I felt…but it wasn’t. The reality was that “condemnation” poured out of me, “being right” defined me, and superior was what I genuinely felt.
Today…I love ❀️. I’m not perfect but my heart is soft, my compassion and kindness are genuine and judgement has almost completely disappeared from my thoughts. What did “I” do to get this way? Nothing. It was ALL Him. He knew the desire of my heart was to be like Him and He did not give up on me. He exposed (and still is) religious lies I had bought in to and He called forth the “real” me that was created in His image. 
It is a journey my friends. A journey of erasing everything the world has painted all over you and finally seeing the real you as you were created. It’s not a journey of “becoming” but a journey of “returning” to what has always been true. A journey that we are ALL on, so be patient with yourself and others. 
So what about the man who died? He came back to his body, lived a long life defined by love ❀️, and died on Valentine’s Day 2014. 
Happy Valentines Day my friends! And may we all live a life like Jesus…a life defined by LOVE ❀️❀️❀️! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings- February 5,2017

Pondering today on Victory! Ok, yes, this pondering may have been inspired by my Atlanta Falcons and their inevitable Victory tonight in the Super Bowl! But, my pondering is about Jesus and His victory over sin and death! 
If you have been reading these Ponderings for a while, you know that I grew up Baptist, then Pentecostal, then non-denominational mega church. At each stage of my journey, I proclaimed Jesus to be “Victorious” but the reality of my theology was that He was partially victorious but partially a “loser”. I know that sounds a little harsh but when you cut through all the flowery words, glorious anthems and emotional worship….I was left with questions? 
God, if you are so great, why will ALL People not know it?
God, if you are perfect love, why will ALL people not feel it?
God, if you conquered death, why will ALL people not live? 
God, if you are light, why do you not remove ALL darkness?
God, if you are the victorious King of Kings, how do you not win ALL battles?
For 45 of my 50 years on this journey so far…I believed a theology that praised a “win some/ lose some” God. The truth is, most western Christians believe this. Now, I know for some of you that are so entrenched in your theology (I was one of the most entrenched πŸ™‹πŸΌ), scriptures are popping into your head to support your theology. For goodness sake, I was in a “scripture memory” class! Here’s the thing, we ADD a lot of things to scripture that aren’t there. I’ll just give a couple of examples that the Holy Spirit enlightened for me. The word “saved”….doesn’t mean saved from hell”. The word “perish”…doesn’t mean “eternal torment”. The word “fire”…is a purifying word, not a destructive word. We could go on and on for centuries debating theology, (oh wait, we have) but at the end of the day, it comes down to this …DO YOU BELIVE GOD IS VICTORIOUS? DO YOU BELIEVE GOD IS A LOSER? DO YOU BELIEVE HE IS A LITTLE OF BOTH? 
Interesting questions right? Are you brave enough to set your theology aside and really ponder them? 
I am not here to tell you how or what to believe. We have enough people in the world trying to do that! I’m here to share my journey and to challenge you to ask the hard questions…you won’t be disappointed in the answers! The more you peel away the layers of man’s teachings and get through the thin, crumbly layers of religion to the heart of God…the more in awe you will be! 
I believe God is ALL LOVING! 
I believe God is ALL POWERFUL! 
I believe God always WINS! 
I believe that LOVE NEVER FAILS! 
I believe that we don’t see the whole story when we look through mere earthly eyes. 
I believe that EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, our Father. 
I believe every human spirit will one day look into the eyes of pure love and ALL the hurt, stinkin thinkin, indoctrination, anger, abuse, woundedness, cultural teachings, torment and hate will be burned up until only the pure creation remains. A pure creation captivated and in love with its perfect creator! I believe in VICTORY! Jesus never “converted” anyone, He loved them and called them friends. 
Now In the words of our Atlanta Falcons…”In brotherhood we trust, in brotherhood we fight, in brotherhood we RISE! 
Jesus said, “I came to seek and save the lost” (that’s ALL of us). Luke 19:10.
Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL men to myself”. John 12:31-32. 
Jesus said “I did not come to judge the world but to SAVE it!” 
“The Shepherd goes in search of the one lost sheep and does not return UNTIL he finds it and puts it on his shoulders and takes it home.” Luke 15:1-2

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 29,2017

Pondering today on being rigid or flexible.
RIGID (def.) – deficient in or devoid of flexibility.
FLEXIBLE (def.) – capable of bending easily without breaking.
For most of my adult life, I was the queen of “rigid”. I thought I had all the right answers when it came to just about everything. I grew up in a denomination that had all the right theological answers, my way of parenting was the right way, my political views were the right ones, my analysis of any situation I encountered was the right one. My views, my theology, my opinions were all the right ones. Oh, I masked my rigidness under words like “passionate “, “conviction”, “determination” but the truth is, I was “deficient in and devoid of flexibility” and the ugly root of all that rigidness was “control”. In a world that is full of chaos and uncertainty, we try to find our peace by controlling everyone and everything in our little corner of the world. 
But here’s the rub….control never brings real peace… and Love is the tool God uses to “bend us without breaking us.”
The love of God does not snap our rigid selves in half, His love does not shatter us into a million pieces. The love of God is gentle, intentional and is softly rubbed into our rigidness. The process is often very time consuming but He is ever patient and steadfast in His work. As His healing oil is massaged into the dry, hard places, we slowly become more pliable, less resistant…softer. 
So today, with all the rigidness filling the airways, social media and conversations ….what will you do? Will you stand hard and firm and try to control those you don’t agree with OR will you allow love to bend you towards others so that you can actually get close enough to hear their heart beat? 
Don’t be so RIGID about being right…that you loose the FLEXIBILITY to love. I have finally been softened enough to “bend without breaking” and I can stand on the other side of “control” and earnestly and honestly tell you that PEACE is far superior. 
Here’s to loving well and bending to hear the heart of others. Happy Sunday my friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – January 22,2017

Pondering today on being a human. 
I know as I type this, that some of you will “like” it and some will “unfollow” me. That’s ok. From the very first #sundaysheeppondering, my motive has been to bring life to those who read it. To bring life by telling you over and over how valuable and treasured you are by your creator and by exposing lies that others have heaped on you or you have heaped on yourself. Today will be no different.
Human beings are ALL made in the image of God, male and female, black and white, short and tall, creatives and analyticals. WHY, WHY, WHY are we so obsessed with our differences? It’s like we are talking out of both sides of our mouths. One side says, “I want equality. Everyone should be treated the same.” And the other side of our mouth says, “My people deserve special treatment because we are different.” Ok, I know that history has not been kind to women, blacks, certain social classes, certain religions. I hate that! I wish I could erase it! I wish I could right those wrongs! 
Today, we have a constitution that clearly states that women have the same rights as men, Blacks have the same rights as whites. We have freedom of religion. Hard work and diligence has no social class barrier. 
Are there some women who have encountered sexism? Yes! Are there some men who have encountered sexism? Yes! Are there some blacks who have encountered racism? Yes! Are there some whites who have encountered racism? Yes! Are there some Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. that have encountered religious persecution? Yes! Are there some Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. that have persecuted others faith or beliefs? Yes! Are there some who work hard and don’t see much in return? Yes! Are there some who barely lift a finger but seem to get all the breaks? Yes! 
“Life is not fair” and “hurting people, hurt people”! BUT just because there are some ignorant, messed up thinking, hard hearted people in the world doesn’t mean ALL are that way! Stop generalizing entire people groups based on a few! Women and Blacks are just as guilty of sexism and racism as Men and Whites. Don’t repay evil with evil. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you are not part of the solution, you may be the problem. 
It’s time for people to take personal responsibility. It’s time for people to stop taking their personal hurts and projecting them on society. It’s time for healing! It’s time for serious personal analysis. 
Are you just joining in with the crowd to yell, complain, vent your frustrations, vilify an entire group of people who are different than you? OR…..are you ready to take a stand for something that brings life?! Instead of telling republicans or democrats how bad they are….try listening! Instead of telling other religions how wrong they are…try understanding! Instead of measuring a person up by the amount of pigment in their skin…try seeing their heart! Instead of seeing the differences in male and female as a problem…try seeing the way they compliment each other! 
We are ALL the same and yet so beautifully unique! We ALL are created in God’s image and likeness! We ALL have His life in our very breath! We ALL were knit together by Him in our mothers womb! We ALL are loved equally, fully and perfectly by Him! When you finally get that, When you finally see that, When you finally understand that…you don’t need the government, the schools, the religious leaders, the media, Hollywood or ANYONE else to determine your value. Then, YOU ARE FREE to love others as you love yourself. Then, YOU ARE FREE to treat others as you want to be treated. Then, YOU ARE FREE to value the differences in others while celebrating the “oneness” we have with all Gods creation. 
Come on friends! Let’s shine! Let’s love well! Let’s be instruments or peace! Let’s join together in unity and sing the song of our Father’s heart. No more punches, digs or jabs. Let your compassion and kindness run like a river and let your words be salt that enhance and heal each person they fall on. 
Happy Sunday!