The Way We See

I’ve always envied people who could take a problem or an issue or a concept and break it down concisely into one sentence or a little “package” of information. The folks who excel in the 140 characters or less Twitter environment. But it seems I could be misdirected in my envy. Conciseness is not always the key. Sometimes the largeness; the extent; the very SIZE of the picture is important and not to be missed.
If I see something in it’s entirety, and observe all of it’s nuances and colours and textures, I may just begin to grasp what God was really trying to say. Or not. If I break it down and compress it into a ZIP file, I may miss the REAL message. Maybe the real message is the picture itself? If Ezekiel had not seen the entire valley of dry bones, would his prophecy have been as riveting?? An entire army of dry bones gets up, walks and lives……can you hear the rattle of the bones knocking together? Did you feel the ground rumble under their feet as they began to stand and walk? Did you see the dust rise? Not really the same if just ONE skeleton comes to life, is it??

If you didn’t hear, feel or see all that, you just might be one of those concise Twitter people, and you might be wondering what on earth I’m trying to say?!

My envy slapped me in the face today and I began to think about conciseness from another viewpoint…….
Where are we missing the point of what God wants to do?? When we look at ourselves and other believers in the Body of Christ, do we see what He wants to do, or do we have our own agenda and want to slot people into it? If they don’t fit the mould, do we throw out the mould, or throw out the person? Do we have our own ideas for the way things should be? Is there an ulterior motive for our attention to that matter in the first place? Is our heart really involved in this process? Do we understand what our place is in the divine plan? Are we resisting the difference in the way we see and experience God vs the way others do? Why is that a problem? Is it important that we all see Him the same way?

As exactly the “same” God?
Yes.
No.
Is this multiple choice?

Is this a trick question?
Maybe all of the above.

If WE are not all exactly the same, then why do we think God sees us as little robots and doles out stuff to us in exactly the same way?
If we can see Him as the One who heals, but He heals different parts of us; whatever part needs the healing, then that would be OK, wouldn’t it?

If we can see Him as the Comforter, but He soothes different parts of our life, that would be OK, wouldn’t it?
If we can see Him as the God who provides, but our provision ranges from the bare minimum of physical necessities to material wealth; from extreme joy to barely cracking a smile, that would be OK, wouldn’t it?
If what we have is sufficient for us at the time.
We all want what we don’t have. The “thing” I want, is the thing I don’t have. What is the “thing” for you? Peace? Joy? A new toy? Physical healing? Relationship healing? Love? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Faith?! (Do you know, or are you blindly following what everyone else is chasing?)
Yay, God!

He’s got it all, but we are not willing to let go of what we currently have in our hand, to let Him give us something that we really NEED.

I decided to give up conciseness for seeing the big picture.
What is it that you really need today?
Ask Him for that.
Go ahead; ask Him.
I dare you.

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Just GO.

Inner city dawn. Copyright Karen Traa.

Inner city dawn. Copyright Karen Traa.

Here I am, Lord. Send me.
The call to preach the gospel.
How many of us have heard it?
How many of us have answered it?
How many of us think it just means being a missionary to a foreign country?
Hmmmmm…..
Technically, foreign would mean ANY country, because the bible classifies us as “aliens”; foreigners in our own land.
What if “Here I am, Lord, send me” DOESNT mean a foreign country? What if it means the country you were born in? Your own backyard? Beside the neighbourhood mailbox? In the grocery store or the laundromat?? Maybe someone in your own family or extended family? Your family-in-law?
Are you still willing to be sent?
Somehow being sent as a “missionary” to your in-laws or your neighbours next door, just doesn’t seem so glamorous, does it? There’s no emotional send-off, with people praying over you, wishing you well, supporting your cause. Nope. Just a day-in, day-out kind of monotony of ministry that makes you wish sometimes for just ONE crazy, wild trip overseas, trekking into jungles unknown, across deserts on camels, speaking to people that have no idea what you’re saying without an interpreter. No recognition. No fanfare. No title. No fixed role. One day you are chopping wood and building a wheelchair ramp. The next day, you are holding someone’s dying hand in the hospital. And there’s no pomp and circumstance. No one even expects you to pray for them or with them; in fact if you suggest it, they kinda look at you funny. After all…..you are not a “minister” or a “pastor”; that’s a title reserved for people that hang out in churches and it’s their job to pray and be “religious”.
Maybe our lives ARE the jungle. Maybe chopping through cultural issues and racial boundaries is more difficult than slicing through jungle vegetation. Maybe we speak a spiritual language so foreign to the average unbeliever, we need someone to interpret for us. Maybe those missionaries sent overseas are wishing for just ONE ordinary day that doesn’t involve treks through the jungle and people who speak a language that needs interpretation.

Maybe we need to just give up and GO. Go wherever we are sent; the backstreets of the cities where no one else wants to venture; the prisons, and the hospitals, and the emergency rooms and the hospices where people are dying. Maybe Walmart on a Saturday night. Go where GOD thinks we are needed. Where The Lord of the harvest says we need to harvest the ripe crop. So that when our lifetime on earth is finished, we can go home to our Heavenly Father and hear him say “well done, my good and faithful servant; my daughter, my son, I’m glad you’re home.”

I think we need some missionaries here.
Or wherever you are right now.
Are you willing to go??

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We Want to See You

Photo copyright Karen Traa

Oh Lord Jesus,

When we gather together in your house

There are many that don’t see you

They don’t know you are there.

They don’t see your beautiful face.

They don’t see your hands;

Out-stretched

In compassion.

They don’t hear you

Speak their name.

When you speak their name in love,

In joy,

Ecstatic that you have redeemed them;

They don’t see you at all.

They don’t hear you at all.

Lord, open the eyes of the blind;

Let us see you.

We want to see you.

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Change

Why are we so resistant to change??

Is it because we think we don’t need to change? It’s just the other guy; he needs to change.

If Jesus is coming back for a perfect bride ( and he is); a bride without spot or wrinkle, then how is he going to do that unless we change? And by “we”, I mean me and you because we are not perfect. We don’t “have it together”. We are not usable vessels fit for the Master’s use. When the Holy Spirit says change, he doesn’t mean the person standing next to you; he means you. 

The Church? The Bride? The Body of Christ is not ready for Jesus to come and claim her as his bride. She’s not ready; she’s not perfect. She’s got spots and she has wrinkles. These are not physical things we are talking about; these are internal soul and heart issues. We don’t love each other in unity of purpose. We need to get unified. We need to understand our purpose. We need to remember our redemption. We are no longer slaves that have no choice. We present ourselves as living sacrifices to our King and Saviour, or we walk around pretending he didn’t save us; or worse yet, we saved ourselves.

If the church, the Body of Christ, is going to do anything; then we, as individual members of that body, need to become usable. Usable vessels that can have living water poured into us, that we will pour out again to someone else. Vessels of honour and dishonour; the Master of the house chooses our use. We need to present ourselves for use, by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice to the one who redeemed us from a life of sin. A life that was no life at all; we were dead. We are now love-slaves. Our master literally bought us with his love. Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sin because he loved us. God is love. God doesn’t love; He  is love. He does nothing, at any time, that does not embody love, or is motivated by love. How do we even begin to understand that?! Our human sin nature is not motivated by love. We are motivated by greed, love of self, envy, hatred, unbelief, and pride. We seek our own. We want back what we gave. If we give compassion, we want it back. If we give to charity; money, gifts, etc; we want a receipt. We want recognition for our good deeds. We want fame for our acts of “selflessness”. At the very least, we want acknowledgement for our kindnesses, our acts of mercy.

But that’s not God’s way of living. He says don’t seek your own; don’t expect it back; don’t even expect gratitude or recognition. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Why is that? Because we stop looking at ourselves. We stop being motivated by our needs and start meeting the needs of others.

We need to get usable.

We need The Church, The Bride to become mature.

In order for us to become usable, we have to change, because we are not usable the way we are. How do we know this?? Because we are not being used to the extent we could be. But we don’t want to change.. We want everyone around to change, so we look at the speck in the other guy’s eye, and ignore the big chunk of wood in our own eye and refuse to think we need any work done on us. We think it would be much better if they changed and we stayed the same.

No, it wouldn’t.

We are the ones that need to change. Let’s change. Let’s let Jesus change us into something usable.

Let’s become love-slaves for the master of our souls.

It’s just our reasonable service. Imagine that.

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Waste Your Life

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Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, to what purpose is this waste?? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you, but me, ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.      Matthew 26: 6-12

The disciples were angry that the woman wasted her expensive perfume by pouring it all on Jesus. They said it could have been sold and given to the poor. They were right, and doing that would not have been a wrong thing to do, but Jesus pointed out something that they missed: she anointed him for burial, and it was his death, burial and resurrection that would redeem us all.

It was just a few days later that Jesus was betrayed by Judas and the soldiers came to take him to trial and his subsequent crucifixion. Jesus knew what was coming. The woman did not, but she wasted her box of perfume on him anyway.

What is it that we are holding back from “wasting” on Jesus?? What do we consider him worthy of?? A few minutes of singing praise on Sunday in church? A few minutes of reading our Bible because we should? A few dollars thrown in the offering basket because it looks good? A little bit of prayer here and there so you can say you did it? A little volunteer work on the side, so you can justify in your mind, the hours spent in pursuit of your own pleasure?

We are wasting our lives in pursuit of things that don’t matter. Maybe things that actually are really good things, but if we leave Jesus out of them, they are useless and accomplish nothing.

Whereas you know not what will be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.  James 4: 14

Our life is really short in the context of eternity. We are here today and gone tomorrow. We need to hand over our short little “vapour” of a life to Jesus. He can make it into something that’s worthwhile.

The woman with the alabaster box wasted her entire box of expensive perfume by pouring it all over Jesus. The interesting part is that he was okay with that. He wasn’t embarrassed by it at all. Everyone else was embarrassed and angry, but he wasn’t. He just told them that her story would be recorded for telling long into the future. She “wasted” her perfume, but she didn’t waste her life.

Waste your life on Jesus.

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