Lost in translation

Do you let life interpret God or does God interpret life?

(You can read that multiple times if you need to.)

We may not say it, may not give it voice, may not ever even shape it into words in  our minds, but we do this all the time. Your situation shapes your view of God. It shapes your emotions, love, contentment, and peace. It shapes your trust and your faith. As soon as things start going bad, you start questioning your relationship with God. Oh, I haven’t been spending enough time in the Word. Oh, God hasn’t been speaking to me lately. Oh, I just don’t have that spiritual strength I used to.

Here’s the reality: Your relationship with God does not depend on how you feel, but what he’s done. And God does not depend on how I feel, but on who he is. God does not depend on your circumstances, status, struggles, or state of mind. God’s character is not determined by your situation, stresses, social circles, or stage of life. The truth of who God is is unaffected by your decisions, desires, despair, and delusions. God is based on one thing, and one thing only: Himself.

In Exodus 3 when Moses stood barefoot before the fire that did not destroy and asked God what name he should give to the Israelites to describe their God, the Lord answered with five powerful words: I AM WHO I AM.” Tell them “I AM” has sent you.

I AM truth. I AM righteous. I AM love. I AM holy. I AM good. I AM just. I AM strong. I AM gracious. I AM glorious. I AM enough. I AM sovereign. I AM in control.

Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes, in the good times, we take God for granted and forget to be in awe, to be constantly learning more fully who he is and so then when the trials come we’ve forgotten that. We’ve forgotten who he is, this God we claim to serve.

He is a God who transcends circumstance and surpasses situations. He destroys excuses, eliminates obstacles, and supersedes fear. He is over all and in all. He is sovereign, and he is strong. He is powerful, and he is protection. He is refuge, and he is restoration. He carries us through the fight and protects us through the night. He is over every worry and every conflict and every stress and every complicated situation life throws at you because He is Lord.

Ask yourself this question this week, and remember to keep your eyes above the waves. Blessings!
–Bre

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The strength of my heart – Psalm 73:26

Yep, it’s another Psalm this week! Ack, I love the Psalms. I love the Psalms because they’re honest. They’re honest to God, and a lot of times, honesty isn’t pretty. The Psalms don’t hide that. The Psalms show the journey from every place on the spectrum, the web of human emotion, out of the confinement and confusion of my heart and into the light of truth, no room for shadows. They give these feelings shape with words, and bring them before the Father, the Rock, the Refuge, the Lover, the Savior, the Deliverer, the Healer, the Friend, the Comforter, the Holy One, the Creator, the Most High, the All Powerful, the All Knowing, the One who Protects, who Provides, who Understands, who Listens, who is Stronger, who is Greater, the Great I Am. And I…I am not–but I know I AM.

psalm 73-26

This verse comes from a Psalm of struggle. Of disillusionment. Of doubt. Of questioning. Of despair. Of loss of hope. But then, the Psalmist returns to the Rock. He was searching, and finally, he found. He found what he’d been looking for, all this time. He found something that would satisfy what the world never quite could.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And the earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My heart and flesh may fail,
but God is my strength, and my portion forever.

Bre

Turn on the light!!

Turn on the light

Albus Dumbledore said that. A man of whimsical wisdom, he was. He dealt with great tragedy early on in his life, which continued to shape him throughout his many years. He was well-known for his brilliance and his ability to see value in everyone, “however apparently insignificant or wretched,” as wrote his good friend Elphias Doge in his obituary. He was able to see things others couldn’t, and seemed to always have a plan behind the scenes that no one realized till the very end. He fought evil, pursued the greater good, and always believed, sometimes to his ridicule, in the potent power of love.

He has a number of quotes worth sharing, including, “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities,” “We must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy,” and “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” among many others. But this one in particular caught my fancy, perhaps because for a long time, I didn’t quite understand it.

I first came across in its original context as I was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,* in which I first took it to be merely one of Dumbledore’s typical tidbits: witty and whimsical and throwaway. After all, this is the man who when called upon to “say a few words” declared “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” In fact, his comments were some of my favorite parts of the entire series. Wise, quirky, and vaguely portentous-sounding.

But later, it gave me pause.

Because we’ve all been through dark places, right? Maybe you’re in one now. Maybe it doesn’t look like there’s a way out, doesn’t feel like there ever will be. Maybe it’s the loss of a job, difficulties at home, that final word from someone you thought you loved. Maybe it’s abandonment, maybe it’s rejection, maybe it’s failure. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s doubt, maybe it’s anxiety, maybe it’s pain, maybe it’s hopelessness, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s just plain weariness of living the same cycle over and over and over again.

Maybe it’s something big, and maybe it’s something small. Maybe it’s something that you know feels bigger than it is but you can’t help but only see the mountain, and its shadow stretching for miles. It’s only an uphill climb, and your legs feel like lead, and just when you’re about to reach the end an avalanche sends you right back to where you started.

You ever feel this way?

I know I have.

Maybe it’s not a struggle of circumstance. Maybe it’s a struggle on the inside. Maybe, like me, your struggle, your habitual sin, your addiction is pride, or envy, or lust, or criticism, or irritableness, or anger, or selfishness, or malcontent, or entitlement, or malice, or gossip, or deceit, or hatred, or quarreling, or maybe it’s something else, something you’re scared to name. Maybe it’s something you feel like you can’t stop, or that you’ve been trying to stop and sometimes you think you’ve finally arrived but then you spiral right back down again the second you think you’ve won.

Maybe the reason for that is that you’re trying to fight on your own.

I know that’s what I tend to do a lot of the time. I put the burden of my sin on my shoulders, coming up with a list of all my errors and brainstorming millions of methods to fix myself. Except…I can’t. I’m never good enough. Ever. Nothing I do, it never amounts to anything in the long run. I never get anywhere, I’m never “fixed.”

Then, finally, I go to the last place I have left.

John 6:66-69 says,

From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

To whom shall we go?

Isn’t that a question? We can go to our friends. Our partner. Our pills. Our media. Our Internet. Our default. Our distractions. The thing that makes us forget, the thing that makes us not care, the thing that takes the pain away.

Does it, though? Does it really take the pain away?

In the Tenth Avenue North song “We Won’t Numb the Pain” there’s  a segment that says, “We want a cure, not a medication.” I might be young, but there’s one thing I have learned in life: there’s only one cure. There’s only one way to kill the darkness.

And that is to turn on the Light.

Psalm 50:2 (this is another great Psalm to read, on the power of God) says,

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth!

1 John 1:5 reiterates,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you: that God is Light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

Light reveals, light leads, light purifies, light comforts. This light–this light heals. It restores. It makes whole. It satisfies the searchers, it completes the broken, it comforts the hurting, it says, “I Am enough. My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

What a beautiful concept.

When Moses, before the burning bush, requested the Name of God, that he might tell the people by whom he was sent, he received two words: I AM.

I Am. I Am Light. I Am Love. I Am Power. I Am Life. I Am the Way. I Am the Truth. I Am Grace. I Am Might. I Am Strength. I Am Enough. I Am the Rock. I Am your Refuge. I Am your Shield. I Am your Comforter. I Am Pure. I Am Holy. I Am Sovereign. I Am the Lord of the Universe. I Am the Maker of the Stars. I Am the Painter of the Sunsets. I Am the Namer of your Soul. I Am the Weaver of your Heart. I Am the Sculptor of your Mind. I Am the One who Knows, who Understands, who Guides, who Strengthens, who Loves, who Pursues, who Reigns, who is Worthy. I Am God.

He is God. Sometimes we use that word so much it loses it’s meaning. He is God.

Don’t lose that. Don’t forget, in the darkness, who calls you to the light. Don’t forget who isn’t just some distant force out there in space, who isn’t running away from you, who’s not trying to make you stumble but to draw you to himself.

Don’t forget who God is. And don’t forget to turn on the Light.

Bre

dumbledore

She shall not be moved – Psalm 46:5

psalm 46-5

One of my favorite Psalms. If you’re looking for Scripture to memorize, this is a great place to start. The entire thing goes:

.  God is our refuge and strength,
.          a very present help in trouble.
,  Therefore we will not fear,
.          though the earth give way,
.          though the mountains be moved
.          into the heart of the sea
.  Though its waters roar and foam,
.          though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
.  There is a river
.          whose streams make glad the city of God,
.          the holy habitation of the Most High.
.  God is in the midst of her;
.          she shall not be moved.
.          God will help her when the morning dawns.
.  The nations rage, the kingdoms waver–
.          He utters his voice, and the earth melts.
.  The Lord of Hosts is with us;
.          the God of Jacob is our fortress.
.  Come, behold the works of the Lord,
.          how he has brought desolations on the earth.
.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
.          He breaks the bow and shatters the spear.
.          He burns the chariots with fire.
.   Be still and know that I Am God;
.          I will be exalted in the nations,
.          I will be exalted in the earth!
.  The Lord of Hosts is with us;
.          The God of Jacob is our fortress!