If You’re Still Alive…

People who go through near death experiences often question why they are still alive. I don’t think they’re the only ones who need to consider such a thought. Perhaps it’s easier for those who have been living pretty smoothly to come up with an answer, or at least, a theory. After all, we might imagine we’re still alive because we have family to take care of, we haven’t yet completed that lasting legacy we need to leave behind, or any number of other “no one else could fulfill what I’m doing” slots. I know, it sounds selfish, but really, aren’t most the reasons we state as our reasons for living pretty selfish? We can say our reasons are other-oriented, but we’re right in the middle of them. We’re the indispensable ones other people or a situation cannot continue without us. After all, they’re our lives. Of course, they’re about us!

In Exodus 9:16, God says to Moses (to tell Pharaoh), “I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth.”

Well, that pretty much wraps it up. Isn’t that why any one of us is still alive? Isn’t that why we’re alive in the first place?

Let’s be clear. Things didn’t work out for Pharaoh. He didn’t have an about-face moment when he acknowledged God’s authority and became His strongest disciple. No where close. But that doesn’t mean God didn’t show His power and make His name known through Pharaoh’s life. God can use us even when we refuse to be used by Him. God can use people who refuse Him in our lives, too.

We all have choice. God gifted us with free will. (Of course, it doesn’t always feel like a gift.) God isn’t surprised by anything we choose or fail to choose. Now, we could get into the whole predestination thing and explore foreknowledge, God’s will, and try to explain how everything is connected. Sometimes, it makes sense to me. Many times, it doesn’t. My level of understanding doesn’t determine my faith though. The bottom line is…

God gives us life. Only He is able to give life. And He does not create anything without purpose. He can weave purpose in the beautiful and with mucky scraps of threads. We don’t always give Him ideal building materials, but He uses it.

God will reveal His power and make His name known. He’s been doing it since the beginning of time and will continue forever. Just so you know…in case you ever wonder why you’re still alive.

When What’s Different Looks the Same

Are you touring or journeying? How available are you? How committed are you? Flexible? Learn from others, but let God lead every step of the way.
©2015 PurePurpose.org

Stacks and stacks of scarves. Where would we begin? How would we choose?

Then, help arrived.

A father and two sons owned the shop, and one son began to explain to us how the scarves were organized. The cheaper scarves were on the bottom shelves. The higher the scarf, the higher the cost…and quality. He pulled several and had us compare them so we understood the difference between the textures and details. He wanted us to be able to choose well. He also gave us a tutorial on scarf folds. The shop became a school, and we were the students. He wanted us to interact with the scarves, encouraging us to pull out as many as we wanted…and leave them for him to put away later. (That was a bit too much for my organizational-demanding-mind. I’d leave them out for him to put away correctly later, but I was going to, at the very least, fold them.)

I looked around the shop and noticed the diversity of the people in it. It was as if I was looking at shelves of beautiful scarves. I wondered what I was missing by leaving them on the shelf.

What do I miss by making assumptions, both positive and negative? How much more will I know when I ask questions, try new approaches, listen, and unfold people around me?

People are easy to deal with when we keep them on the shelves. We can admire their beauty and keep them tidy in our lives. But are they, really, in our lives if we don’t interact with them and take the risk of piles of messes around us? People get tangled, but it is in the process of tangling, of twisting, looping, and draping that we really get to see the full color of designs available around us.

God created colors. He created patterns and designs. And He created the people around us. Let’s not miss out.

Lesson from Nature: The Invitation to Savor

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

There’s always an empty chair, waiting for you, inviting you to savor God’s presence.

We often settle into our routines and drive right by, perhaps glancing at the view but not seeing the chair with our name on it for that moment. We miss out.

We long for time in that chair, a moment to breathe and look around at the beauty and feel the breeze. Yet, sometimes, we don’t get the time we need…the time God extends to us…because we rush by. We don’t accept the invitation. We either ignore it or reject it. And we miss out.

God misses us, too.

Sure, He is always present, so in a sense, He can’t miss us because He’s with us. But haven’t you ever missed someone while sitting beside or across from him or her? When someone isn’t fully present when you’re together, it’s as if you’re not really together. It’s that way with God. Just because He’s with us doesn’t mean we’re with Him.

Maybe you don’t believe God is calling you to sit and savor right now. But maybe you need to open your ears and eyes. Take a breath. Wait a moment. Listen. Watch. Pay attention. If you’ve gotten used to ignoring or refusing God’s invitation, it’s not quite as easy to hear.

I will listen to what God will say; surely the LORD will declare peace to His people, His godly ones, and not let them go back to foolish ways.  (Psalm 85:8)

 

Is Rest about Addition or Subtraction?

mathWhen we think of rest, we often see it as a subtraction equation. We think of what we take away, what we stop doing. But rest, when we consider it from God’s perspective, is more about addition. Maybe even multiplication.

Rest is not as much about our “away from” as it is our “into” or “toward.” Yes, we have to leave some things behind in order to get there, but when we focus on the subtraction, we have space that needs to be filled. And often times, we will quickly fill that space with something that might be no better than what we just emptied from it.

Rest must be intentional. It’s not an escape or a stall. It’s not just a refrain. It’s a refill.

When we rest as God intends, we follow His example, which is active. He created rest (Gen. 2:2). He declared the day of rest holy (Gen. 2:3). We have become legalistic about the day instead of intentional about the rest. Anytime legalism creeps into our lives, we follow rules without engaging our hearts. The rules aren’t bad in and of themselves, but our approach to them can become bad when we separate our hearts from our commitment.

When we rest into God’s presence, He refills us with power that multiplies our rest.

How well do you rest? Do you rest “away from” or “into”? Do you refrain or refill?

Check with God. He knows your intentions. And He wants you to know His power and presence in rest.

Water the Ground

cycle1Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Rain and snow fall from the sky and don’t return without watering the ground. They cause the plants to sprout and grow, making seeds for the farmer and bread for the people. The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do. Isaiah 55:9-11

God doesn’t waste anything. You likely learned about the water cycle in elementary school. You could label a diagram of what happens to the water as it falls to the earth as precipitation and returns to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration. Add words and processes such as condensation and percolation, and it all sounds so scientific. We can explain a lot of things with our many “tion” words.

Explaining things isn’t bad. It helps us make sense of the world around us. God is organized (and creative), and since we’re created in his image, we have both within us as well. We want to make sense of things, and when we use our thinking to discover God’s world, we can glorify him as we recognize the intricacies of his creation.

At the same time, we can distort our thinking and convince ourselves we’re responsible for our intelligence. We think we understand things in the correct way, and we set the acknowledgement of God aside. We take a gift he’s given us and use it to move away from him. It’s definitely not what he intends.

No matter what we believe, God is God. No explaining to the contrary will make it reality. Because he is loving, he will patiently await our return. He will even use our detours away from him to reveal himself to us. He wastes nothing. Just as he knows every drop of water on earth and in the atmosphere, he knows our every thought. He hears our every word. He will use everything.

Live It. As you go about your day today, notice water in any form: lakes, ponds, puddles, rain, snow, fog, frost. Consider every drop. Invite God to invade your thoughts and guide every word you speak throughout the day.

In The Beginning

In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, so he divided the light from the darkness. God named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the first day. Then God said, “Let there be something to divide the water in two.” So God made the air and placed some of the water above the air and some below it. God named the air “sky.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the second day. Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened. God named the dry land “earth” and the water that was gathered together “seas.” God saw that this was good. Genesis 1:1-9

We don’t proceed into God’s Word long before we find water. It’s foundational to the earth. It’s foundational to our lives. About 70% of the earth’s surface is water, and about 60% of the human body is composed of water. Water nourishes us. It provides a shock absorber system for us. It contains life-sustaining oxygen. It helps us move. We wouldn’t survive without water.

We often think of man being the dust of the earth, but before the dust was formed, water existed. God knew to separate the water so that the water above and the water below would cycle to nourish the earth. God keeps the earth nourished so we can be nourished. Our water supply is refreshed with rain. Our crops grow with rain. We’re not limited to the water supply we see. God provides a system to refresh and nourish us.

Aren’t you glad God pays attention to details? His plan was clear to him as he hovered over the formless earth. He knew at that time where you would live and when you’d be born. He knew your needs and struggles. He provides for your needs and for many of your wants. Praise him for knowing all and providing for you today.

Live It! Sip on water throughout the day today. Unless there is a medical reason you shouldn’t, sip only on water for the entire day. You don’t need to gulp. Simply sip consistently. With each swallow, let God remind you of how he fills you. He doesn’t leave you parched. He will always fill any space you invite him into. Your capacity for God is much higher than you might expect. Let him soak into every part of your heart, mind, body, and soul.

Jesus Is Recognizable

(Excerpted from Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ)

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, came to this world a stranger. (The apostle John said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”)

Jesus, Himself, said, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” In effect, He stated that not only had He come as a stranger but He had come for the stranger.

Jesus was estranged not because He wasn’t what He should have been but rather because the world wasn’t what it should be. Even through the world had been created through Him, it didn’t recognize Him. The world suffered from the Fall as well as mankind. Even now it groans, the apostle Paul says.

Yet certainly there were times when creation recognized the authority of Jesus. At least once He spoke to the winds. “Be quiet!” He said, in a way you or I might speak to our dog, and they obeyed. To the waves He said, “Calm down!” and they too obeyed. The disciples were terrified. “Who is this?” They stammered in fear. “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

I sometimes ask myself if I might have felt safer that day in the water, rather than in the boat with someone who possessed such awesome power. When Jesus desired, He could life the veil of His incarnation and speak in such a way that creation could recognize Him for who He was. Most often, however, He chose not to.

Though ultimately Jesus is not a stranger, He still did come for the stranger. If you invite the stranger in, Jesus says, it’s as if you had invited Him. He has come so no one has to be a stranger ever again, including you and me (at least not strangers to each other and to Him).

After you’ve been a Christian for long enough, you discover a paradox: Once you become intimate with God you become even more a stranger to the world, for people in the world would have us groan all the more for knowing Him. If the creation did not recognize Jesus, then how much less can we expect it to recognize those who belong to Him, unless He gives us the grace, from time to time, to life the veil of His incarnation in us and show the world His wonderful work of re-creation.