For someone – Shaking off Labels
Matthew 13:54-57: (Life of Jesus) “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’”
Who does he think he is?! This is what people from his own hometown thought of Jesus. Who does little Jesus, the carpenter’s son, think he is? Where did these miraculous powers come from? Where did this wisdom originate? Who does he think he is to teach us and say these things?
Surely a carpenter’s boy isn’t teaching us.
They took offense to him as if he did not know what he was doing or who he really was. As if his identity, role, and destiny was what made sense to them. The carpenter’s boy from a few houses down, and nothing more spectacular than that!
To live by their labels 🏷 is what they expected of Him.
They thought what he was doing defied who they thought he was.
But God! God said Jesus is his son and that is exactly who Jesus is. God created Jesus by his own power and sent him to Earth for his own purposes. He led him by his own presence.
And they can’t change that, even if they can’t recognize it. Moreover, if they can’t recognize it, they just can’t benefit from it. Jesus lost honor, but they lost an opportunity.
So similarly, in our own lives, regardless of what people around us may say, despite what labels people may expect us to live by, be confident of your identity in Christ. Throwing off the chains of old labels and purposes. Walk tall. God is the one who appoints and anoints. Your identity is crafted by the Creator. The talk and thoughts of people around you about where you came from don’t change where you’re going or what you’re destined for. Or especially, the powerful God who lives down on the inside of you.
If Lord Jesus himself dealt with it, you can expect you might as well.
The son of God is the son of God, period.
As a result of salvation, you are a child of God as well, period. Your works and words that God calls and guides you to spread are of kingdom impact. Some people can’t recognize where the so called miraculous powers and wisdom comes from because they don’t recognize God.
So like Jesus experienced, we may sometimes expect the same kind of scoffing and questioning in our own lives. That whole who do you think you are kind of reaction is exactly what to expect when you’re a brand new creature in Christ – when you are acting brand new with your mouth and deeds! When you’re walking in his purpose and will, your way of life and being may look a little different than it did ever before! (Maybe you’re not woodworking anymore.)
But don’t stop doing what you’re doing just because it defies what the old crowd was expecting!
Sometimes God’s directions, instructions, goals, and purposes are different than what may make sense to other people at a first glance. Sometimes he uses the lame to speak and lead, a mercenary to carry the message of Life, a mere sheep herder to lead a kingdom! And people don’t get it. But what about you? Expect the unlikely. Anticipate the impossible. God is God!
People who don’t know the Lord don’t know who you are, they see only at a surface value – and call and paint you as what makes sense to them. Like “just” the carpenter’s boy from a few houses down. More like just the Son of God. Dummies.
Avoid people of a “just” mentality anyways. Who compare the present to the past like it’s an ultimatum. People who remind you of what you were, what you did, and where you come from. And people who don’t recognize where miraculous powers come from. God is power. And if people don’t get God, they don’t get you! (Especially if you’re walking in the works & obedience of the lord)
But don’t stop loving. Just keeping walking and keep doing. Shock the world by the change that the living God inside of you ignites!
Blessings are fully bloomed in my life, so how do I keep missing that?
Today I have been thinking about what is good in my life. I spent the last few weeks harboring a rather sadistic and pessimistic attitude. That was really making things gloomy around my house. Everything has been a nuisance lately as a result of my attitude.
I feel like God is helping me wake up from this silliness. I do not even quite know what I have been thinking. Yet suddenly, I realize how many wonderfully exciting and beautiful people and things I am engulfed by in my life! And all of the reasons and sources are found in none other than God.
The first wonderful thing on my mind lately is that I celebrated my birthday yesterday. I have been able to live long enough to stuff another year under my belt. I am thankful that my life has been as long as it is thus far. I am thankful for all of the wacky, exciting, and even painful twists and turns that have led me to where I am today. Although I get discouraged or blinded by minor frustrations and difficulties sometimes, much of what I have right now is what I used to plead and yearn for in years past. I wanted someone to love me. I wanted something to believe in or to find God. I wanted to escape the feelings of oppression and entrapment. I wanted to belong somewhere. I wanted to feel at home. I feel so much better now. I feel that God did hear my prayers and cries. I feel free from much of what troubled me before.
I am loved. My sweet husband, Angel, is appropriately named. As cheesy as this may sound, I feel like he is an angel to me. He is always taking care of me. He tells me he loves me every single day, and I know that he genuinely means it. We have not worn out our lovingkindness. I know that he would do anything for me. I know that I would do anything for him.
Being with him makes me more happy than almost anything else. I always enjoy talking to him. We are always laughing together. He makes my heart happy.
I am also loved by my tiny daughter. She does not know many words, but she still manages to express how much she loves us without all of the grandiloquence. Whether it is kisses, hugs, laughter, or resting her head on you, she makes you feel very special. We are lucky to have her. We are blessed that she made it through the traumatic first few days or her life. She is so healthy, bubbly, and happy now, and this is beautiful. As I care for her day to day, she drains and uplifts me all at once. I cannot describe how exhausting chasing her can be. Yet I also cannot describe how much light, learning, and love she pours into my day. I do not even deserve this little wonder.
The greatest days of my life are certainly right before me. I am always downscaling and downplaying the significance and excitement of right now. I often act as if a day is simple, boring, mundane, or even mediocre. I am often extracting gratitude. I instantaneously strip days of potential and rejoicing. I have the people I love the most in my life. I am constantly under the eyes and ears of God, who I trust loves me very much. I have nothing to fear. The days are here for the taking! I can spread good things. I can give love. I can shed light. I have opportunities to do good, and this is what I am certain I long for. I long to serve, help, mend, and bless. I feel that God intended for me to do this. I want to do that. I want to bless others. I wish I did not sometimes forget this. Sometimes I become selfish and self-centered, and I do not want anything to do with anyone. I am certain this causes a fit of discontentment and depression. Yet I live for these moments when I wake up!!! Forget the lies and excuses, now is the time to love others and embrace the good in life! Now is the time to express gratitude to God by letting my daily life be an expression of what he has taught me.. and what his grace stirs up in my heart.
The little of activities of the day are special even when I forget that they are. Washing dishes is a reminder that I have food to eat and plates to eat them on. Changing a dirty diaper is a reminder that I have a healthy, growing little girl in my arms. Cleaning the toilet is a reminder that I have running water and sanitary living conditions. Aching all over and yawning more than I thought a person could is a reminder that God is growing a beautiful little life within me, a person that we both love so much already. Picking up long forgotten dishes and littered work socks is a reminder that I have a husband that I love more than anything right before me. Washing clothes is a reminder that we have clothes on our back, and the means to keep ourselves warm and clean. Diffusing a mortifying toddler tantrum is a reminder that I have a beautiful, learning, growing, and all the while, vulnerable little girl that I am here to teach, discipline, and nourish into a healthy, positive woman. Taking little Bam Bam out to fertilize the earth is a reminder that I have a furry friend who loves me very much constantly at my side. He is newly discovered source of joy and companionship to little one.
Whether I go to the grocery store or the mountains, I want to enjoy all of the beauty around me. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it is drop dead gorgeous here. I want to make the most of the time that I have here by exploring and enjoying the beautiful scenes only minutes, miles, and hours away. I have never seen sights like those that I see here before. I am so lucky to see all of this, and especially to share it with my love. The excursions I have went on recently have been very special. We visited Mount Rainier National Park again. We made another fun stop in Seattle. We visited the bridge of glass. Our most recent boat ride was on a perfectly cloudless day. We have seen more waterfalls and rivers. We may even explore Oregon coast again soon. I have made lasting memories. I have taken photos that will never be forgotten. I will have stories to tell my children and grandchildren one day.
There is a lot of unknown in my life right now, and this feels a bit overwhelming at times. We are supposed to move to Germany. We have a little one on the way. We do not know if we will move in less than three months or if it will be later. We do not know if our plan may be recreated altogether. We do not know if our destination may change. We do not know what the next steps are in our life quite yet. We have to wait and continue to follow a snail process that is far overdue to get more information. Yet I will stay confident that God loves me, and that God will guide us through this as we seek Him through prayer. God knows right where I am. God knows just how I feel. God knows exactly where I am going. I can be thankful for the blessings God has saturated my life with.. right now. Today. Right here. I have more than I need, because I even have things that I want.
I hope this post finds you all well. I hope you can count your own blessings today. Even the frustrating or hard things might simultaneously be a reason to be happy. Keep smiling friends. You are loved, special, capable, and valuable.
My simple reflection is that if I were to die tonight, I ponder what my last words would be. I ponder what my lasting trace would be on the people I knew. If anyone was to take any sort of knowledge from my life, I would hope that it is that I found my true life, purpose, and hope in God. God created everything in splendorous, artistic, creative, balanced, and beautiful fullness. God is full of all existence. He billows with power and glory. I am thankful for the meaning and light he instilled in my once empty, void, confused, and suicidal being. I remain nothing, but I now remain with my small soul and laughable inadequacy in the supernatural master of all. He is great. I am meek. He does extraordinary things, he manifests miracles before me, and this is something that I fear… because the most sacred, divine being in all of existence… loves me. He wears scars to prove his love. For this, I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. His love, how good He is, baffles me. He is the nourisher of my soul.
Though this is simple thought, this is essential thought. Our existence is impossibly possible through the existence of God. We are blessed by the breath of life. We are blessed by the knowledge of the hand that formed us. We are blessed by the ability to turn our heart to our Home. The greatest blessing of all time is God Himself, and we must ceaselessly thank Him that He allows us to be interwoven into his great fabric of life.
Let Him not be forgotten.
I supplicate in prayer that anyone who reads this is empowered by perceiving just how deep the love of Christ is that surpasses all knowledge… and I pray that you be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3).
The Glory of Christ- Easter Day 2008.
Oil on canvas
30 x 24in/76 x 61cm
He is picking his ruby rose.
He is tearing off its thorns and trimming its stem.
He is gathering a heavenly bouquet.
He is sniffing its sweet scent.
He is placing it on his own table.
He is admiring it with his own delighting eye.
His home is glorified with the bouquet He chose, picked, groomed, and arranged by hand.
His joy and pleasure is magnified by the beauty He arranged and adorned His own home with.
Yet in His peculiar home,
Roses never die.
Life flows so freely in His vase,
Because His water is that of which one drop,
Is eternally enough.
Alas, the night has been born
My last wakefulness has been torn
I do wish I could stay awake forever
And spill on the Lord all my endeavor
I feel a smile breaking across my lips
And one last ache tremor in my hips
For my sweet God I feel such hope
That I yank on my mind as a rope
I rummage for thanks for the divine
And ponder existence, grandly intertwine
My head rests snugly on my cool pillow
And upon me, I seek his Spirit to billow
My dreams will be saturated with mystery
As all the while, I sleep through history
God is so great, that is he is never late
And he’s attending many times, without restraint
The lord is presence, present, and a present
And I do hope I lie in his glory luminescent
Dear divine God, I worship you with all of my being
I pray that with you, my soul’s tune is agreeing
God bless you Lord, and your day and your night
And thank you again for all of your light
How much more should we praise God than our ancestors! How much MORE!
We know so much more of his power, beauty, talent, skill, creativity, and splendorous design!
We have traveled and connected with so many parts of the world. We have photographed them. We have explored them. We have climbed the highest mountains. We have dove to deepest parts of the sea. We have swept through jungles. We have slid on icy expanses.
We have walked on the moon. We investigate the depths of the celestial bodies with precise telescopes and cameras. We exchange beauty of his creations and wonders of all of our planet with hasty ease. We reach these nooks and crannies without much difficulty.
We marvel in the greatness of God’s hands! We explore his great work! We share freely photos, descriptions, stories, and maps with the move of our fingers!
How much more should we bow to praise God.
God has revealed his mysteries to us. He has revealed his plan. He has done a new thing. He has sent his son Jesus Christ to save the world. It has been done! We experience his Holy Spirit, who reaches in us to teach us, freely in this life.
We know the story of the Lord’s movement and plan for humans from the beginning to the end, because we are lucky enough to read the sacred text from the beginning to the end. The only thing we wait for now is for the Lord to return and finish all of this.
We have answers. We have the Truth. We have hope. We have Life. We have a path. We have the Way.
How much more blessed are we than any ever before! How much do the Lord’s undeserved blessings rain down on us! We are blessed! We have so much to celebrate! We have so much to rejoice about! We have the entire world, peoples, and nearby celestial bodies to witness freely with new technology and communications! We have the transportation technology to get us everywhere we could hope to explore! We have the complete living Word of the Lord to renew our mind in every single moment that we would like! We have the Spirit to teach us within!
We have the ability to share the Lords greatness in too many ways to name.
The greatest crime is that the devil makes people feel depressed or lost in things that do not matter, and they do not see the Lord, the Way, and the consequences.
Painting – Alone With God Together. I do not own.
How we treat great God up high
Is how we treat all who cross our eye
Because he gave us this life
Not to live in strife
But to love without restraint or end
Those from Heaven he chose to send
Because His Spirit lives in us
We must bless our brethren without a fuss
And chose to never forget
His Jesus died in blood and sweat
We are the product of how we treat others
Because these people are our sisters and brothers
And lest you forget to tame your wild tongue
Don’t forget he listens to both old and young
He hears words both spoken and held inside
So make certain that sin and pride you do not hide
There is a dark wall obscuring my view
Yet still I seek to become continually new
I seek your Spirit over water and food
I crave your comfort in my solemn mood
The world is violently tearing me apart
And yet you are the center of my heart
I will keep my eyes on you
And you will guide me in all I do
I will love you now, then, and forever more
As your holiness ceaselessly penetrates my core
I have struggled with aggravated mind battles since I was a child. I was in battle even as a tiny girl. I remember feeling so much confusion that I couldn’t even speak sometimes. My mind was always racing. I remember sitting in my bed all night trying to decide what my life was – trying to understand what normal might be. My little corner of the world had some problems, both of an internal and external nature. My most memorable recurring dream from this time period was a vision of myself staring at my face as I am struggling to scream, speak, and even breathe. I am wringing my neck so aggressively you would think that I might choke myself.
My intention right now is not to analyze my dream or childhood, but to paint a quick portrait of my mind from the beginning. I am trying to convey that I have always had an overactive mind. I have battled overwhelming fleets of anxiety and depression since I was very young and small. Most of my thought consisted of the value and meaning of life and existence in all aspects. Curiosity has always been a major root in my personality and mind.
When God came upon me for the first time, my existential battle was transformed. I no longer wonder where meaning comes from. I do not have to worry about if life is worth living – or if I should just give up while I can. I know God is real. I felt God’s very real and very comforting Holy Spirit. I know God is the hand of existence – the origin, creator, purpose, meaning, and end. I feel a sense of contentment and peace simply because I know. I should say that by knowing and continually believing I thrive and survive.
Yet now, my battles are a bit different. Now, I know how and why I live. I know the source of love and peace, and I know how to pursue it. And that is the new beginning – working on HOW to pursue it. God calls all of us to erase “I” and to live a life of service. In order to follow Christ we must become like Christ. We learn that to do this we must let go of the focus and attachment to our own selfish selves and the cold world. This is where I and many like myself struggle. I often feel like I peak at God’s grace. I feel that as soon as I have blinked a cloud as dark and as heavy as stone swooshes between us. I feel like being with God is simple, and that is what is so hard about it. We need to stop letting the world get between ourselves and God. We especially need to stop letting ourselves get between ourselves and God.
Everyday I think I want to work for God. I desperately want to study his word, practice his principles, and write about my findings. I genuinely want to get to work. I want to serve God in my own unique way – by writing, communicating, and pursuing others. However, I always seem to tell myself “later.” Even with my desire to create eating me alive, somehow, “later” is always an option. Surely I can be a good person tomorrow. Surely I can mail that letter tomorrow. I have all the time in the world to write in my journal. There’s no rush – I can start focusing on my relationship with God in a few days, when I have more time. I want to make some sacrifice in my life and become closer to Jesus, but it doesn’t really have to include tonight too. I just want to relax, and I really need some me time. What’s the rush? I can just pray a really good prayer tomorrow – it will make up for this past week. Does it really have to be now?
I have one thing to say about these dangerous little thoughts – time is precious. We live our lives like they are not going to end. We all seem to assume our days are without end. Yet reality is that we may die at any moment. And our value is that which we gained through our bonding with God. If we do not act and walk in the light of godly service, we remain empty and depressed. Our time is limited. We should all act, create, and share as if our talents are melting like ice cream under the blazing July sun. We are as capable now as we will ever be. Our opportunity now is more perfect and absolute than it will ever be. Tiredness is not a reason to wait to live. In death you will never be tired again. Would you prefer death?
Society pushes to normalize life as a simple and regular day to day activity book. A day is simply a list, and the basic requirements and needs remain the same. Yet the opposite is reality. You are on an astonishing planet with a trillion opportunities and an unknown window of time to make things happen. We should always act as if we are running a race. This is what God wants for us. We were each uniquely and lovingly blessed with a talent and a drive, and to let it simmer is to betray God. We all think we only have to focus on our work, school, family, health, and the list goes on. We think we just need “me” time and things will feel peaceful again. If we keep letting distractions get in our way, we might die before we live as our loving God geared us up to live.
The time for action is now, now, now. Mail some letters about your faith, give a poor man a Bible and a meal, mend your relationship with that relative that you’re always feeling annoyed at, take a load off of that person who is always struggling… be a blessing in someone else’s life. God is the embodiment of love. Therefore, to become closer to God, you too must embody love. Give and love so diligently and so extremely that you feel drained of all ideas, energy, and money. Surprise others with life saving acts of compassion and messages of God’s greatness. Spread the knowledge and love of God ceaselessly.
You should use your talents to bring the love that is God to everyone you possibly can. You should not let the world distract you from doing what matters. I challenge you to pray endlessly, and once you have prayed, act, create, and share without any end. God is your inspiration, motivation, content, and reward. God rewards us if we do not give up. Do not let your day become consumed with empty aspirations and pursuits. You should strive to shift your focus away from appearances, substances, foods, sex, people, shopping, and anything that is a product of the world. Of course you should appreciate life, God tells us to enjoy the beautiful and seemingly impossible existence he gave us. However, only set the constant devotion of your heart and mind on striving toward God above. Because as Jesus tells us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” [Matthew 22:37-38]
Therefore, if the cloud that is like a stone gets in your way, grit your teeth and trust in God. He can move it for you. You must only trust in him and focus so that the world and its evil distractions do not consume you. We must remain confidently aware that the sun remains even when heavy clouds are upon us. This is the glory of God.
This is the message God sends us in our physical world. While there is dark, there is light. While there is fire, there is water. While there is hate, there is love. While there is evil, there is God. You must rest assured that part of the lesson of this life is that God triumphs all else. Our perfect God endlessly demonstrates his existence in our lives, and we simply choose not to notice anymore.
I pray a prayer for all of you in this life. I pray that you choose to work for God, because his pay and benefits surpass all others.