Consequences   Leave a comment

I read one of my devotionals a while back, and the premise of it struck me. While the larger point was that small sins or distortions or mistakes can have far-reaching consequences, the illustration that the author used disturbed me. She used the story of Joseph’s brothers throwing him into a pit and then selling him into slavery as the “little sin” that led to the need for Moses to ask the pharaoh to let the Israelites go hundreds of years later. I wanted to laugh out loud when I read that, because it seems like such a large stretch. Let me break it down a bit.
Joseph was one of Jacob’s many sons, and he was Jacob’s favorite, which made the others jealous to the point of wanting to kill him. Instead, because of some mercy and greed, they decide to sell him into slavery. He ends up in Egypt, and through some bumps and bruises, ends up as the second in command there. In this capacity, he is reconnected with his brothers who have come to Egypt to get food because of the famine (which the pharaoh wouldn’t have known about if Joseph hadn’t been there to interpret the pharaoh’s dream). So the family was saved, and Joseph even says, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God.” Joseph forgave his brothers and moved the family to Egypt. The brothers were concerned that he was still vengeful, but he said, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.”
Years and generations passed, and a pharaoh came to power who didn’t know the story of Joseph, and he was concerned about the number of Israelites living in their land. He decided that the best way to handle them would be to make them into slaves so that they didn’t find power and rise up against them, especially in a time of war. They even went to the extreme of ordering the midwives to kill their male children so that their numbers would stop growing so much. One mother decided to hide and save her son, and her son just happened to be adopted by the current pharaoh. That son later grew up and confronted the pharaoh to ask him to set free the people of Israel.
At this point, I have to look at what is printed in the Bible and wonder how the author of the devotional came to her conclusion. She essentially said that the jealousy of the brothers led to the enslavement of the Israelites and the need for Moses the deliverer. Did she skip the part where Joseph explained that it was part of God’s plan for them to end up in Egypt, because their lives would be spared in spite of the famine? She even references the verse “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose” in explaining that God saved them from famine via bringing Joseph to Egypt, but still extends the end result back to the decision of the brothers.
To me, this is a stretch and negates the fact that it was the pharaoh who made the decision (out of fear, might I add) to begin oppressing the Israelites and killing their male children. I’m a fan of personal accountability, and I understand that actions have consequences, some of which we can’t foresee, but come on. Joseph asked his family to move to Egypt. His family agreed. The pharaoh at the time gave them the best land that he had to offer for the family to settle on. It seems that peace had been made, and Joseph explained the move as one by God to save his family. Generations later (since Joseph lived to be 110), the new pharaoh didn’t know/understand the relationship of the Israelites to Egypt and decided to pre-empt a problem with them in the future. He made that decision. The decision he made can better be tied to/blamed on God’s plan to move the people to Egypt and not the action of the brothers that many years earlier.
While I understand the point that the author was trying to make, I want it to be understood that trying to draw such long lines for the consequences of actions is a bit of a stretch. This is also true for trying to explain the sins of the great-grandson on the great-grandfather. There may be connection, but each person still has the ability to choose for him or herself. Despite the issues with drugs that have been present in my family doesn’t mean that I have to abuse drugs too. I have the capacity to make my own decisions, and while I can be influenced by those around me, it is ultimately up to me.

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Posted July 29, 2011 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

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Be ALL of You   Leave a comment

The more I grow and live and learn, the more I realize that one of the most important things in life is living to your full potential.  This morning as I was talking to God, and God said, “be you.  Be all of you.”  As I come to see more of my passions, gifts and abilities, I am confronted at the same time with quirks and insecurities that stand in direct opposition to the things I’ve been called to do.  For example, fear of people and being in front of crowds does not bode well for someone called to preach, dance, or teach.  Thus, when God encouraged me to be ALL of me, God is encouraging me to reach into the depths of who I was created to be, pushing past the fear that life has tried to shape in me.  Granted, there is still a ways to go, and I have growth ahead of me, but I cannot be afraid to be as much of myself as possible in an effort to push forward and live without fear.

So I encourage you to be as much of yourself as possible.  Don’t let fear, past baggage, or issues  determine who you are and what you can do.

Posted January 16, 2011 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

“Used” by God   Leave a comment

When I hear such a phrase, it makes me think of people doing great miracles or speaking words into people’s lives or things like that.  Yet, as I’m sensitive to language and its effect on people, I find the word “used” to be slightly problematic.  In any other context, if I say that so-and-so used me, it would have a negative connotation, because it usually means that the user lacks real relationship with and respect for the used, viewing the used as an object and a means to an end.  Yet, when this term is applied to God, it’s okay.  We even ask to be used by God.  In my mind, this is problematic, esp. when the connotation for being used by other people is associated with how we relate to God and how God relates to us.  I have learned that God can/will work through anyone, because God desires to reach and touch us in our times of need.  This is why it’s possible for people to have miracles worked and words spoken through them yet not feel/experience loving relationship with God.  Because of church, they know to avail themselves and be obedient, because no one wants to be struck down or endure the wrath of God, and they were shaped and born with the gifts (ask Jeremiah), but for any number of reasons, they lack meaningful personal connection with God.  This can lead to frustration as the desire for connection may be there, and they feel used by God in the negative sense.  It’s as if God picks them up, uses them for whatever task, then sets them back down, leaving them to figure out the rest of life on their own until they are needed again.  When you feel like the God of the universe, the One who should love you conditionally and care for you when no one else will is just sing you like others in your life have done, how much hope and love and self-esteem can you really have?

Some questions come to mind: do we really think that God thinks so little of us that God is only interested in us when we are being operated through on God’s behalf?  Do we think so little of God that we would put God on our level of relating to one another?  Is God so far from us that the only times that we show up on God’s radar are when God wants to work through us or when we sin?  There is a major concern for disappointing God and many people live more in fear of God than anything else, because the jealousy and wrath of God are taught heavily.  In some ways, God seems to parallel a moody, alcoholic father who must be appeased and whose children must constantly be on guard, lest the wrath come and lay waste to everything in his path.  Only perfection can keep the temper at bay, and even accidental infractions or small offenses can awaken a fury unrivaled by any natural disaster.  This may be why the Bible talks about fearing the Lord instead of saying ‘reverence’ or ‘respect,’ which is what modern people typically say it really means instead of fear like being afraid of – they didn’t understand how to relate to the heart of God either.

Yet, according to that same Bible, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears has not been perfected in love” (I John 4:18).  To me, this says that fear and love have nothing to do with one another.  If I love God and I know that God loves me, I have no near to fear God.  I can live in healthy, balanced, authentic, affirmation relationship with someone who I know cares about me and in whose presence I delight.  Fear seems like it would only have a place in abusive relationships, and I definitely don’t think that God wants to be associated with any kind of abuse.  As for me, I like to think of the love of God as combining the attentiveness of new romantic love with the intimacy and depth of the love of a long-time best friend and the protective, covering love of a parent.  It is all-encompassing, caring, corrective, and unconditional.  With a love like this, God could never simply pick me up when someone needs to be prophesied to or a demon needs to be cast out.  In my experience, God enjoys (and even giggles at) the time we spend together before I start my day.  Not only does God attentively listen to each whisper and word of my heart, but God talks back to me.  God doesn’t just give me the day’s marching orders, but takes time to whisper sweet some things in my ear to assure me of the love that connects us and to affirm the wonder that I am.

No, God doesn’t “use” me.  I am not just an inanimate object in the hands of a person, like a pencil that is used to write or even an instrument used to play music.  I am a human being walking in fellowship with my God and my friend.  The miracles and works done through me are not just tasks assigned that I carry out as a robot, but they are manifestations and extensions of the relationship I share with God and the life that God embodies/speaks through me.

Posted December 29, 2010 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

Beautiful   Leave a comment

Beautiful” by India.Arie

Each time I listen to this song, I am enriched, empowered, inspired, and blessed.  I figured I’d look at the song and talk about what it means to me, and hopefully it will bless someone else.

First verse – it is time in my journey to move on/move forward.  I recognize that where I am is not sufficient, and I see a beauty of possibility in the future, and I want to be there.

The place where I desire to be is one without boundaries and limits that allows me to be open and free.  God and I can commune freely there, and the possibilities are endless.

Chorus – “I wanna go to beautiful.”  Beautiful is not a location or a place.  For me, it’s about me being beautiful.  It is a state of mind, and I wanna go there and live there and be that.  I want to get beyond this place of self-doubt and the chaos of the world and get to the place where I am and I see beautifully.

Second verse – To those who I love, this may be a place that I need to get to alone.  While my love for you remains, the best way for me to get to this place that is healthy for me may cause our relationship to look different for a minute.  I just need to get beyond the boxes and bounds that have been built for me in order to find myself.

This place that I want to get to is a place of spirit uniting with physical – a place of wholeness and healing and surrender.  There is a joy and a peace here that can make everything in life become beautiful, even when it doesn’t appear to have any beauty.  Here, pains and problems become strength and story – the very backbone through which I live as God reshapes these things.

Beautiful….

(I’ve enclosed the lyrics below in case you don’t know them…)

The time is right –

I’m gonna pack my bags,

And take that journey down the road,

Cause over the mountain I see the bright sun shining,

And I want to live inside the glow.

I wanna go to a place where

I am nothing and everything,

That exists between every and nowhere.

I wanna go to a place where time has no consequence and, o yeah,

The sky opens to my prayer.

C: I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… (x4)

Please understand

That it’s not that don’t care,

But right now these walls are closing in on me.

I love you more than I love life itself,

But I need to find a place where I can breathe.

I wanna go to place where I can hold the intangible,

And let go of the pain with all my might.

I wanna go to a place where I’m suspended in ecstasy,

Somewhere between dark and light,

Where wrong becomes right.

Posted December 15, 2010 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

Woman with the Issue of Blood Remixed   Leave a comment

And there was a woman in the congregation who had been suffering from an issue of blood for at least a dozen years… she’d long lost count.  This issue was not so much of the blood in her veins as it was the life force of her soul that seeped out from years of abuse, anxiety, accommodation, and personal atrocities.  She had endured much under many “physicians” – some MDs, some PhDs, some self-proclaimed Gs, some so-called friends – giving all she had to gain some love, but she only grew worse.  She’d heard about God – grew up in the church, participated in every ministry possible, knew the Bible pretty well, and knew the culture of the church, but she still hadn’t been able to really connect to anything other than an institution.  Sensing that there was more to the God-thing, she continued to press her way to church, worship experiences, conferences, prayer meetings, and encounters of all kinds, because she knew that if she could touch the hem of God’s robe in worship… if she could catch a glimpse of God’s face… if she could find herself wrapped in the love of God, if the love of God could penetrate the barriers that made themselves at home around her tender heart… then she would be healed.  
Gradually, she felt the release of years of chains, the healing of deep emotional wounds, and the drying of the issue of blood.  Slowly, all the weight she’d carried on her shoulders, back, and heart were lifted as she pressed deeper into the face of God.  After having walked with hurt and fear as her emotional bodyguards, she felt in her soul that she had been freed to walk with God, as her entire countenance, her walk, her talk, her very being and aura changed.  God, having worked and walked with her through the changes in her life, began pushing her to testify and to share the depths from which she had come.  Initially, she was afraid, because that’s what she was used to being.  She didn’t think her testimony was as legit as someone who’d received a new car or gotten a bill paid miraculously.  She figured that anybody who had a shrink could get better and didn’t necessarily count herself worthy of so much attention.  But God kept nudging, placing dances and sermons and songs and poems on her heart, encouraging her to acknowledge the blessing before people so that they too could be blessed.  
Trembling, she prepared sermon, she let her life choreograph the dance, and she penned the poem.  She presented the pieces of her soul as living sacrifices to the One who’d given her back her life.  In each, she felt the presence of God sealing her, affirming her, reminding her of her healing as if to say, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Posted November 18, 2010 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

Have You Ever?   Leave a comment

So, this morning on Twitter, one of the trends was #haveuever.  Though I don’t always jump on the trend bandwagon, this one sparked the Brandy song of the same name.  After tweeting my piece – #haveuever loved somebody so much it makes you cry? Yes. A few times… I guess when I love, I love deep… – I looked for the music video on youtube.  I loved the song when it came out, mainly because it reminded me of the guy who I currently loved.  “Unrequited” love seems to be a theme in my life now that I think about it, but that’s neither here nor there.

On this particular November morning, I think that line spoke to me because of the way that I love.  For me, loving someone – be it friend, family member, romantic partner, etc – is a whole being process.  I have never been able to have “casual” relationships, because I care deeply for the people in my life.  This means caring for your day-to-day life, the condition of your heart, the things that are stressing you, the people who hurt you (in the past and the present), your relationship with God, your self-esteem, your favorite color, what it means when your eyebrow does that thing, the tone of your voice/text even though you say you’re okay, etc.  Because I tend to be so closely connected to and concerned about those closest to me, it’s not unusual for me to cry for them, even when they aren’t crying for themselves or when I can barely find tears for myself.

As one of my friends once said, it takes me a minute to love, but once I do, my heart is wide open.  For me, it’s pretty much either all or nothing when it comes to relationships.  If I’m gonna invest in you, it’s going to be a significant investment of love and trust.  I think that’s why the concept of dating is strange to me.  The casual nature of just hanging out with someone (or, as some people do it, multiple someones) is difficult for me, because I am driven by connection and relationship.  This makes starting relationships interesting at times, as I weigh whether I feel a person can handle the depth of what I have.  It also makes the end of relationships a difficult and tiring thing for me, because extracting all I’ve given is hard.  Even the relationship itself can be tiring, because I pour in so much… but I’ve found that the people God has blessed me with make the investment worth it.  🙂

So, have I ever?  Yes.  Do I now?  Absolutely.  Will I ever find a “balance”?  I’m not sure… and I don’t know if I’m supposed to.

 

“Have You Ever?” – Brandy
[Chorus]
Have you ever loved somebody so much
It makes you cry
Have you ever needed something so bad
You can’t sleep at night
Have you ever tried to find the words
But they don’t come out right
Have you ever, have you ever

Have you ever been in love
Been in love so bad
You’d do anything to make them understand
Have you ever had someone steal your heart away
You’d give anything to make them feel the same
Have you ever searched for words to get you in their heart
But you don’t know what to say
And you don’t know where to start
[Chorus]

Have you ever found the one
You’ve dreamed of all of your life
You’d do just about anything to look into their eyes
Have you finally found the one you’ve given your heart to
Only to find that one won’t give their heart to you
Have you ever closed your eyes and
Dreamed that they were there
And all you can do is wait for the day when they will care
[Chorus]

What do I gotta do to get you in my arms baby
What do I gotta say to get to your heart
To make you understand how I need you next to me
Gotta get you in my world
‘Cuz baby I can’t sleep
[Chorus]

Posted November 17, 2010 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized

Make Ya Feel Beautiful   Leave a comment

I just wanna make you feel beautiful
Wanna make you feel beautiful
Girl, that’s all I wanna do
Girl, just let me make you feel beautiful
Let me make you feel beautiful
Cause you are beautiful

I was listening to this song for the first time in a few weeks, and it got me to thinking about the words.  The song presupposes the object of the song lacks a certain confidence.  This girl is apparently beautiful, but for whatever reason – past hurt, lack of affirmation, low self-esteem – she doesn’t believe in her own beauty.  I appreciate this song for its care for the woman, but I think it can go further.  The longer I’ve lived, the more I can see that just about everyone alive has insecurities.  Because of this, we all need someone to help us feel beautiful, loved, cared about, etc.

The famous quotation by Marianne Williamson seems to fit within this blog thought.  “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

When I am free to be myself, my presence becomes freeing, allowing others to feel at ease to be themselves.  When people are free to feel secure and come out of the shell that life often places around people, then we can all experience more full lives and improve the lives of others.

My goal in life now is to make everyone I encounter feel more beautiful, intelligent, strong, or secure than when I met them.  Of course, this requires being more secure in myself, so I will be working on that too.

Posted November 16, 2010 by fyrhrt in Uncategorized