Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 31,2016

#sundaysheepponderings 
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. 
BUT GOD.
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!

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Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 24,2016

#sundaysheeppondering 
Pondering today on seeing our reflection.
I had a dream last night that I had a baby, which at my age, would be more like a nightmare. In my dream, I catch a glimpse of my baby girl in the mirror and what I see takes my breath away. I look into her big blue/green eyes and I see…myself. I see the eyes that have stared back at me in the mirror for 50 years. I see myself in her but I see more than that, I see myself without all the “stuff”, without all the “baggage”, without all the insecurities and false identities I have believed about myself. I see myself in its truest form…beautiful, peaceful and fully loved. It literally touched something so deep in me, something I am just beginning to rediscover, that thing that just knows this is of God. 
So as I ponder and reflect on that image and as I long to go back to sleep so that I can hold that little baby again, an awareness settles into my spirit…this is how my creator sees me and every other human that he created. God sees our truest form, the masterpiece He painted so intentionally, the sculpture he so carefully designed, the vessel in which he has chosen to dwell in. 
I long to see myself as He does. I long to shed every layer of clothing that I have put on myself or that others have put on me. I Iong to be naked and unashamed as I was always designed to be. I am on a journey back to my true self, and while I have not fully arrived there, I am beyond grateful for the shedding of each layer that weighs me down. I rejoice seeing each layer burned up by His fire. God’s fire is not a retributive or punishing fire that destroys and brings death but a purifying fire that restores and brings life.
So, can this pondering go even further? Is there something for you and I to learn that can help us to love better? Of course there is….if we are brave enough to see it.
What if? What if we could see EVERY human as God sees them? What if we could travel back in time and watch as he lovingly designed and formed their being? What if we could watch the story of their life unfold? What if we could watch as every experience, every teaching, every hurt, every piece of heavy clothing is heaped upon them? Could we still hate them? Could we still judge them? Could we still really believe that same creator would send them to hell? 
Those are questions you have to ponder for yourself. I pray that I can see everyone as they were created to be and I pray that I will be filled with compassion and love for ALL humanity…especially those who are weighed down the most. 
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well!

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 17,2016

#sundaysheepponderings
Pondering today on loving your enemies.
It doesn’t take much to look around the world today and see a lot anger, pain, and suffering. It appears that in every country, every society and every culture that division and conflict abounds. This has me pondering… is there an answer to all the troubles of this world?
I hear a lot of well-meaning people say “Jesus is the answer” or “This world just needs Jesus” and while I too have said the same things, it doesn’t seem to be working. 

My pondering has led me to propose a different thought, “we don’t need Jesus, we already have him”. God already entered our world, in time, became flesh, and revealed and destroyed the lies we believe about ourselves. Jesus revealed Christ to us and then blew our minds by revealing that this Christ lives in us. 
So I propose…rather than telling people they need Christ and trying to convert them to your religion, why don’t we try looking to the example of Jesus. Are we jumping on the division bandwagon? Do we see those who inflict these evil acts on humanity as different than us? Do we see ourselves as above them or better than them? They too were created in the image and likeness of God but they don’t yet realize it. I often become overwhelmed with gratitude that I was born in a country, culture, and society where I am free to think for myself. Where information and teachings are freely available so that I can draw my own conclusions and beliefs about anything. But many in the world, especially in the regions that seem to be inflicting so much of this evil, do not have this freedom. For generation after generation after generation, from the time they are born, they are only told one way of thinking and believing. The lies that entangled and held their parents and grandparents hostage are the only way they know. This makes me ask myself the question, if I had been born into that culture, would I be any different than them? 
See I don’t believe Jesus came to make us all “Christians “. I believe Jesus came to destroy the lies that humanity has created and believed. He came to reveal a mystery that had seemed to be hidden, the truth of who we are. So if you believe that Jesus is who he says he is…follow his example…reveal truth! Don’t offer your religion, your set of do’s and dont’s. Don’t offer them your “right” way of thinking and believing. Don’t offer your judgement, condemnation and arrogance. 
Offer what Jesus offered…

Acceptance

Compassion

Understanding

Wisdom

Mercy

Grace

Kindness

Hope

Unconditional love

Unity
OFFER TRUTH that sets people free!
Our goal should not be to “change “people, our goal should be to love people where they are, yes, even our enemies. To enter into relationship with them as equals and in unity. Only then, will lies be exposed for the evil they are and only then will we have the opportunity to offer truth in the posture of humility. After all, isn’t this what Jesus did? 
So the next time I start to bash, vilify or broadly label a human being, instead I hope my heart will be flooded with gratitude that my eyes have been opened to love, knowing full well that “but for the grace of God, go I”. 
Happy Sunday my friends! Love well! 

Sunday Sheep Pondering – July 3,2016

#sundaysheeppondering
Pondering this morning on Independence.
This political season has left me scratching my head and thinking “really? This is the best we can do?”
I will start by saying that I have been a life long republican, at first because my parents and grandparents were, but later because I believed in small government, the balance of powers, the wisdom of the constitution and the concept of personal responsibility. 
All that to say, I’m seeing some parallels in my journey of spiritual freedom and my journey of political freedom. I lived for many years on the “us” and “them” bandwagon. My denomination verses yours, my political affiliation verses yours. As the barriers of man made theology have crumbled around me and brought me into a place of spaciousness that is grounded in love rather than performance, so the barriers of strict party affiliation are beginning to crumble as well. Oh, I’m not jumping ship from republican to democrat, after all, I am a math brain and I know that the numbers don’t lie, free stuff isn’t free. Instead, I’ve decided that I am an “INDEPENDENT”, not bound by theology, doctrine, church membership, political party, performing, conforming, belonging, fitting in, measuring up, and all that “us” and “them” stuff. I am a free thinker, an individual, a woman who is wise, thoughtful, intentional and compassionate. After all, look at where all the political division has led us, candidates who are rude, untrustworthy, condescending and narcissistic. By the same token, look where all the church division has led us, congregations who are more focused on numbers, programs, money, buildings and converts. (I know all do not fall into this category 😀)
So on this INDEPENDENCE DAY WEEKEND, I encourage you to lay down the labels, the clubs, the membership, the categories, the biases, the endoctrinations, the negativity, the divisiveness and be an INDEPENDENT. No more “us” and “them” but a “we”. Let’s treat everyone as we would like to be treated. Let’s respect opinions different than our own. Let’s remember while we are each independent people, we are called above all else to LOVE one another. Let’s stop rejecting differences and start valuing them. We are not robots or “cookie cutter” creations…we are beautifully diverse and unique and yet all united as one in our creator. He sees our individuality and our oneness. Let’s see everyone through His eyes, the eyes of love. Freedom was His idea! The road less traveled is not the road of self righteous morality, the road less traveled is the road of love and acceptance. Which one will you choose? It’s a choice that will make all the difference. 
Happy INDEPENDENCE day my friends! Celebrate, be thankful and love well! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸