On Sunday, before launching into a great teaching on Revelation 2, our pastor settled into a wee rant. On “the blond-haired, blue-eyed Malibu Jesus” represented too often in the images of our Bible Belt childhoods in America. I was taken aback by his passion, and then wondered if I had a blindspot in this area.
Does my own Scottish heritage make me comfortable with this view of Jesus? Being fair-skinned, with brownish-green eyes and brown-hair-turned gray, was my view biased?
Exiting the auditorium after an excellent sermon, I checked out our own stained-glass images of Christ. They seemed true enough to the Middle Eastern Jewish heritage of Jesus. Brown eyes, darker complexion, curly hair (albeit lighter than appropriate?). Stained glass windows have been a favorite art form for me. These did not disappoint, but are they adequate for all who are part of our church? Or offensive to some?
On the way home, I was still distracted by my pastor’s statement: How We View Jesus Matters. Wondering at my own lack of appreciation of how Jesus’ appearance might affect the rest of the world’s humanity.
I will say that my favorite interpretation of his physical appearance, personality, and character is found in the TV show The Chosen. Gentle, loving, fearless, funny, serious, welcoming, truth-filled, good.
Lion and Lamb – throughout history, Jesus has been interpreted in art as both lion and lamb (as he is also described in the Scriptures.
“Recently, I saw an image of a lion and a lamb lying together in the clouds and was reminded of the cosmic truth of history that in Jesus Christ, God’s love and justice meet, His mercy and His authority come together.
J.R.R. Tolkein speaks of the incarnation of Christ as the “euchatastrophe* of Man’s history.” About the incarnation, and especially its climax in the resurrection, he says, “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true.” The greatest fantasy is in fact history.” – The Lion and the Lamb – Darrow Miller
Look to the right and see: no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me.
I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am very weak.
The righteous will gather around me because you deal generously with me. – Psalm 142:4-6a, 7b
Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides you.”
Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. – Psalm 16:1-2, 5-6, 7-9, 11
Terrible trials happen in this broken world. Yet, we do not face them alone.
Our whole world has been rocked by the earthquake last week with shockwaves leveling parts of Turkey and Syria. Tens of thousands dead so far. A natural disaster? Horribly unnatural really. The weight of a messed up world comes crashing down sometimes, and we can NOT explain it. Only grieve…and hope.
You may be suffering yourself in ways not as devastating as the earthquake above, but deeply significant to you personally. We seek the Lord for refuge…for shelter…and we find it.
We have dear friends and loved ones experiencing their own losses right now…heavy ones. Financial devastation. A betrayal in marriage. Drug addiction. Metastatic cancer. Sudden death of a spouse and father.
Just this past week, I was checking Twitter and someone I follow retweeted an update on Jacob & Rachel Hale. Jacob is a pastor and his wife has metastatic cancer. Their faith, courage, and even joy in the wake of this situation are the attributes of those who know God, and know Him to be good.
We just watched the season finale of The Chosen (Episodes 7 & 8, Season 3) – Remember this TV show is a story of Jesus and his disciples. Much of it is Biblical and it has never strayed, in these three seasons, from the character of Christ and the recorded obedience of the apostles. Within the story in this episode, we have a situation where Simon Peter is angry at the Lord for not healing his wife. He doesn’t doubt who Jesus is (the Messiah, Savior, Son of God), but he doubts His actions. [This episode includes the feeding of the five thousand…very powerful.] In the final scene, the disciples are in a boat in a terrible storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on water. Simon Peter gets out of the boat, in faith, and begins walking towards Him, like Jesus, on the water. Then he takes his eyes off Christ and begins sinking, overwhelmed by the height of the waves and the terror of the storm. Jesus rescues him and gets him back into the boat. You can hear Peter saying over and over, as he clings to Jesus, “Don’t let me go!” As he is murmuring these words, another scene reveals Peter’s wife, without knowing his situation but knowing his heart, praying in the same way: “Don’t let him go.” Jesus said to Simon Peter [this is not taken from Scripture per se but is taken from the whole of His messages to us]: “I’ve got you. I have much planned for you, Simon. Including hard things. Just keep your eyes on Me. I promise. I’m here. I’m always here. I let people go hungry, and I feed them.”
Throughout Scripture, we can see His comfort, His promises, and His affirmations that He is our refuge, our shelter from the storm. No matter what happens, even when it feels so and seems so, we are NOT shaken. He is the same God as He has always been.
I’m calling on the God of Jacob Whose love endures through generations I know that You will keep Your covenant I’m calling on the God of Moses The One who opened up the ocean I need You now to do the same thing for me For me, for me
O God, my God, I need You O God, my God, I need You now How I need You now O Rock, O Rock of Ages I’m standing on Your faithfulness On Your faithfulness
I’m calling on the God of Mary Whose favor rests upon the lowly I know with You all things are possible I’m calling on the God of David Who made a shepherd boy courageous I may not face Goliath but I’ve got my own giants!
O God, my God, I need You O God, my God, I need You now How I need You now, yes O Rock, O Rock of Ages I’m standing on Your faithfulness On Your faithfulness O God, my God, I need You (I need You, Lord) O God, my God, I need You now How I need You now, yeah O Rock, O Rock of Ages I’m standing on Your faithfulness On Your faithfulness
It’s Your faithfulness I’m standing on Never changes, never changes
You heard Your children then, You hear Your children now You are the same God, You are the same God You answered prayers back then and You will answer now You are the same God, You are the same God You were providing then, You are providing now You are the same God (You are the same), You are the same God (Yeah) You moved in power then, God, move in power now You are the same God, You are the same God You were a healer then, You are a healer now You are the same God, You are the same God You were a Savior then, You are a Savior now You are the same God, You are the same God
O God, my God, I need You (Lifted up) O God, my God, I need You now (How we need You now) How I need You now (We stand in faithfulness) O Rock, O Rock of Ages I’m standing on Your faithfulness Oh, on Your faithfulness O God, my God, I need You O God, my God, I need You now How I need You now (Oh-oh) O Rock, O Rock of Ages I’m standing on Your faithfulness It’s Your faithfulness
You’re the same God (Yes, You are) You’re the same God This is who we worship tonight, yeah He’s the same, He’s the same O God, how I need You How I need You now
You freed the captives then, You’re freeing hearts right now You are the same God, You are the same God You touched the lepers then, I feel Your touch right now You are the same God, You are the same God
Never changes, oh forever We feel You now You are the same God, You are the same God, yeah How we need You now, yeah
I’m calling on the Holy Spirit Almighty river, come and fill me again (Let that be your prayer tonight) Come and fill me again (Come and fill me) Come and fill me again*
The Chosen is an online TV series created and directed by Dallas Jenkins. The statement of faith posted by Jenkins includes the following: “The Chosen is a narrative show, which means it’s not a documentary…it’s absolutely not a replacement for Scripture. It is not focused on religious tradition, but on Jesus. It’s a show…but it’s a high calling for me.”
Dallas Jenkins and “The Chosen” production team developed a film project entitled “Unfiltered: Gen-Z Reacts to The Chosen”. It is a documentary where 9 strangers of Gen Z age were brought together to binge-watch “The Chosen” Season 1. They did not know what they would be watching. The documentary was just posted this week. It is below (starting 32 minutes in). You will love it!!
The Gen Z’ers (young people born after 1995) were really lovely. Different religious backgrounds. Very different social and family situations. More trauma and isolation than I would have imagined. Hard. Yet here they are grown, bright, their own people.
I love the stories. They are reflective of Jesus and those closest to Him. They are plausible given what we know of Jesus in Scripture and what we know of the whole counsel of God in the Bible.
I have so many favorite scenes in this production (Season 1 and Season 2 also, and coming soon Season 3). One of the scenes is when Jesus calls Matthew as a disciple. Matthew…a Jewish tax collector – under the protection of the Romans – hated by his fellow Jews for the hardships he brings on them. In this treatment of this real person, Matthew is shown as one who could be on the Autism spectrum…brilliant and different. Watch the scene here.
Jesus’ line, “Get used to different”, although extra-Biblical, is so in character with the person of Christ. Winsome, loving, and right.
I appreciated their take on “The Chosen”. Thoughtful, analytical, emotional, and open. No arrogance or judging. They considered the stories and the message. Did they all convert to people who follow Jesus? I don’t think so and it isn’t fully disclosed in the documentary …and…that certainly did not seem like the producers’ ploy.
This documentary was just really good. I wish I could say to each one, thanks for being willing to risk being a part of that project. Their vulnerability was something we could all benefit from.
I wonder if they watched Season 2 of The Chosen on their own. I’m certainly looking forward to Season 3. In a world as cynical and jaded as ours, to be immersed in the place and community of Jesus is a great refreshing of the soul. Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus, is an actor, of course…but his portrayal of Jesus is brilliant and true to the heart of Christ.
If you haven’t seen The Chosen yet, it is free to you, on YouTube and the app. Catch up…you’ll be glad you did.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
When good news shakes up and transforms our very lives, we don’t keep it to ourselves. We can’t. In fact, in his last conversation with his disciples, the Messiah Jesus speaks of this in commanding terms.
The occasion for his words in the Gospel of Matthew was a gathering of Jesus’ followers with him. They were filled with both the comfort and joy of having come through His unwarranted death on a Roman cross and then having witnessed His resurrection from the dead. Nothing could keep Jesus in the grave. Nothing.
He took our sins to the cross. He died in our place. He gave himself for our sake that we could know His abundant life on earth and be with the Lord forever in Heaven.
In his commissioning (Matthew 28:18-20), he spoke to his followers but the words ring through the centuries to all of us and to those who come after us. Only he had the authority to speak them and to send us out. His authority came from the Father, we can speak the good news of Christ through his authority and the power of the Holy Spirit. He goes with us and is with us always.
So what is our commission?
Go – to our children, our larger families, our friends, our neighbors, our workplace, the marketplace, the world.
Make disciples – not by any coercion or bait-and-switch strategy. We live Christ before others and we speak the words of Christ to those he places in our path. We are not Christian from birth (as some think about Christians). We are also not saved by manipulation or parental persuasion. We are saved by reckoning with our sinful state and need for a savior. The Lord saves; we cannot save ourselves. “Making disciples” is to lay out the truth of our own experience in received salvation from Christ and inviting others to receive the same. It is not the Lord’s desire for anyone to die without an opportunity to come to faith in him (2 Peter 3:9). He has commissioned us to bring about that opportunity.
Baptize – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was baptized, (without need but as a witness for what he calls us to do). It is a public pronouncement of our faith in the sufficiency of Christ and our decision to follow him.
Teaching to obey. Obedience to Christ is not a peevish, demeaning thing. It is a beautiful alignment with all his promises, with all of who he is, and with all the good he brings out of our obedience – not just for ourselves but with a wide and generational ripple effect.
And that glorious promise: He is with us always. Glory!
[A note from my mom when we took a job outside the U.S. – she was a great pray-er.]
Have you received this Christ as your savior? Not an acknowledging of a form of Christ made popular across religions…but the One true God (three in one, in perfect unity). Not a “hope to get to Heaven” ticket…but through a personal relationship where God the Father sees us as we were meant to be – pure and beautiful sons and daughters, transformed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
See my hands and look at my feet
It’s okay if it’s hard to believe
I have faith that you will do greater things
It’s my time to go, but before I leave
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the end
Don’t forget the things that I taught you
I’ve conquered death and I hold the keys
Where I go you will go too someday
But there’s much to do here before you leave so
Go tell the world about me
I was dead but now I live
I’ve gotta go now for a little while
But goodbye is not the
End of the journey
The end of the road
My spirit is with you
Wherever you go
You have a purpose
And I have a plan
I’ll make you this promise
I’ll come back again
But until then
Go tell the world about me
For I was dead but now I live
Oh, I’ve gotta go now for a little while
Hey, but goodbye is not the end(Go tell the world)
Oh, go tell them about me
(Go tell the world)
I’ve gotta go
(Go tell the world)
For a little while
But goodbye is not the end*
Angels appeared to shepherds on the Bethlehem hillside:
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:9-11
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the Baby, who was lying in the manger. After they had seen the Child, they spread the message they had received about Him...The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, which was just as the angel had told them. – Luke 15-17, 20
Shepherds appeared again, years later, to three women, visiting the tomb of their Lord:
“Do not be afraid. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” – Mark 16:7
Ordinary people. The God of the universe delivered the best news ever…to ordinary people. So startled by the messenger angels, they had to be settled by the words, “Fear not!” This sort of thing doesn’t usually happen to ordinary people…but God.
What hope we have in the coming of Christ…then on that starry night in Bethlehem, His coming into our hearts as we receive all He is, and His coming again…in the not so distant future.
That hope sends us, like the shepherds, in search of that tiny obscure family. In a town so full of people that night, they could not even secure proper lodging. Yet, by miraculous means, the shepherds found Him.
That hope sends u, also like the shepherds to tell others the good news. The news that Jesus has come!
The women at the empty tomb did not find Him…there! He had gloriously “left the building”. That rekindled their hope. Their Lord was risen, and they must run and tell that good news, as well.
In thinking about these accounts, I’m reminded of camp songs. You remember those songs we learned as a child or teen? Those songs that stuck with us all through the years…either because of the message or how we felt singing them. Over and over, night after night at camp, and then over again with our friends after.Photo Credit: Flickr
Josh Wilson‘s Christmas song Jesus Is Alive is like telling a story around a campfire. It causes me to wonder at how the shepherds must have recounted the story of that wondrous night. How the women talked around their own fires in the evenings after that trip to the tomb. I can just see the fire, large before us, warming our faces, popping and crackling, brightening those in the circle and casting shadows beyond. Sparks flying up to the sky.
Josh’s song celebrates that baby born for us, and his song also points us to a blessed redeemer, a risen Savior. As I write, there’s a little figure of the Christ child on my work desk. Wrapped in swaddling clothes as recorded in Scripture (Luke 2:7). Something about this figure reminds me of Jesus’ death also (John 19:40). Jesus, as an infant, was briefly swaddled before he grew up and became a man like no other. After the briefest of glorious ministry, he died a horrific death…for us. Let that soak in again. His body would be wrapped in grave clothes but would not be bound by them. He rose to life again, right out of those burial cloths. Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!
Worship with me as we tell this great story again in sweet song. Let’s warm ourselves by the shepherds’ fire. Let’s glory in the Savior as he brings the Kingdom of God to us ordinary people. Let’s run into the tomb to find it emptied, and, without delay, take the message to those who need to hear. There’s hope, People. Jesus Is Alive!!!
Wish that I was there,
On that silent night,
When your tiny heart started beating for mine,
I wish I could have seen,
The star in David’s town,
When you turned a stable into Holy ground.
I sing along, the angels song.
Noel, Noel, Jesus is alive.
Emanuel, hope is here tonight.
So go, and tell, the world that death has died. ‘Cause Jesus is alive. Yea Jesus is alive.
The God who made us all,
With these two little hands,
Is bringing us his kingdom quiet as a lamb.
Oh such Amazing Grace!
A divine conspiracy. This Savior in a manger changes everything. That’s why we sing.
Sin you have no sting.
Hell you have no power. (Jesus is alive)
Curse you are no more.
This is your final hour. (Jesus is alive)
Because the son of God
Has not left us alone. (Jesus is alive)
He’ll live and die and rise again, and then he’ll bring us home. (Jesus is alive)
The old will pass away
And we will become new. (Jesus is alive) This baby boy is making all sad things untrue.
December is here! The days will fill up fast with holiday celebrations. Here are this week’s faves. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
1) Beyond the Guitar Christmas – We’ve been listening to Christmas music since October. Both worship carols and secular songs. Even our favorite guitarist has arranged and posted some Christmas songs – a precious few. I post them here for you to enjoy a listen.
2) 4 Advent Habits with Justin Whitmel Earley – In less than a month, those of us who challenge ourselves with New Year’s resolutions will have our lists and resolve ready to go. When true habit change happens, it’s worth the work.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Justin Whitmel Earley speak. He wears many hats – attorney, writer, speaker, husband, dad. He spoke then on the habits of a simple life, introducing his fascinating book The Common Rule. His latest book is Habits of the Household. Both are excellent resources for examining our lives (home and work) with the goal of building habits of flourishing.
I was not surprised when he offered us Advent habits (practices, playlists, and readings). Earley offers all these free as part of his determination to do good with his lift. The books go deeper and are definitely worth the read. For now, check out the links and note below his recommended 4 Advent Habits – Kneeling posture in prayer, lighting candles, tuning to God as the first voice of the day, and pocketing our phones while waiting (restoring the art of waiting).
3) Advent Readings – Advent means “coming”. We celebrate the coming of Christ, as Messiah, a helpless baby born of a virgin mother. God in arms. Miracle and mystery. Advent also commemorates the coming again of Christ in the last days. We look with hope to the day He will come again for His people, as Redeemer King.
This year, our church is working through an Advent study entitled Our Hope Has Come. Gathering in home groups, we celebrate Christ’s coming in our hearts and throughout history.
In our home, we have a shelf of Christmas books (for children and adults) that have been treasures to us through the years. We bring them back out at Christmastime, reading again the beautiful messages of hope we have in Jesus.
Do you have any favorite Advent books or online resources? Please share them in the Comments below. Thanks.
4) Forgive and Remember – In less than a month, we leave 2021 behind. Hopefully without regret. I’ve written a lot about forgiveness this year. Partly because of seeing the pain of prolonged unforgiveness in some of my closest relationships. Too much hurt. Too deep the offense. Too unfathomable the possibility of reconciling. The best attempt is “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.”
What if we don’t try to forget? What if we determine to remember, but remember in a way that moves us to healing…to true forgiveness.
Psychiatrist and writer Curt Thompson has become a favorite resource of mine in recent months. Books, podcast, and articles. This week, I discovered his piece Forgive and Remember. Intrigued by the title, I read it and found hope renewed in the possibility of forgiveness, even in chronic trauma or painful persistent memories.
I find Dr. Thompson very engaging, but if you aren’t used to his references to brain physiology, you may need to do a slow read. Here is his take on the importance of remembering, in company – with a sense of the presence of Christ in the pain, remembering in the skin of “the offender”, and remembering with people who care about you.
“Because I refrain from remembering, I prevent myself from eventually remembering additional parts of the story that I have likely thus far, albeit nonconsciously and unintentionally, ignored. For indeed, it is possible that forgiveness requires me to expand my awareness of additional realities that were in play at the time I was wounded. For instance, if I only pay attention to my hurt feelings, I never attune to my adversary’s own layers of brokenness; never consider their deeper story, the cistern of their own fear of their own deep shame from which emerged their hurtful behavior in the first place; the depth to which they “do not know what they are doing…” Through the hard, repeated work of my imagination, my awareness of the larger truths of the life of the one who has mistreated me begins to gradually diffuse the intensity of the emotional content of my anger and resentment.“
“The work of forgiveness requires the remembering of the event in the context of others who assist you to remember the additional alternative realities that we so often forget. Imagining Jesus being with you in the moment during which and after you were mistreated begins to literally change the nature of those neural networks that represent the fury of the hurt you initially felt. Over time the remembering of the hurtful event alongside the memory of Jesus and others who represent him begin to diffuse the intensity of the electrochemical signals of the hurtful memory, and open up opportunities for you to begin to construct a different possible future between you and the one who has hurt you. We then begin to see that remembering the event is really about the process of remembering it differently. Remembering it in a way that is eventually utterly transformed and transformational…reminding us that we are not really ever alone.
This takes time, effort, and plenty of help from those with whom you are practicing together to forgive not seven, but seventy times; to forgive, even as your Father in heaven has forgiven you.
Forgiveness. Who would have thought that there would be so much freedom in remembering? Sounds like something we should never forget.” – Dr. Curt Thompson, Forgive and Remember
5) Christmas Ads 2021 – I love Christmas commercials (or ads). All the twinkle lights and unfolding family gatherings or intimate moments. The compilation of Christmas ads below are all from 2021. Many are from European stores/businesses. Take your pick.Photo Credit: Glossiplanka 360
[If you want to see The Chosen Christmas – The Messengers but aren’t going back to theaters yet, it will be streaming soon free to all. Available on The Chosen app and we’ll see where else when it is announced.]
Weekend! Here you go: my favorite finds of the week. One long and four super short. Hope you are encouraged!
1) Who Is Jesus? – If you read my posts, then you know The Chosen TV series has had a huge impact on my life recently. [You can find it here and on The Chosen app. Dave and I just finished Season 2, watching Episode 8 this weekend. The story of this episode is Jesus’ preparation of his Sermon on the Mount. It is a very intimate time, very critical turn in his public ministry. All his apostles, his mom, and some other close followers are featured in the episode, in deep relationship with Jesus. Then there are those who oppose or are watchful of his growing influence – the religious leaders of the day and the Roman military charged with keeping order…keeping the peace.
In this episode, the story shows dialog between Jesus and his apostle Matthew (again, not taking the place of Scripture, The Chosen writers repeat, but fleshing out what might have happened around the accounts found in Scripture). The Sermon on the Mount is found in full in the Gospel of Matthew and it would make sense he shared it with Matthew before he faced the crowds, for Matthew to capture it for all the rest of us who would read it…hear it in the years following.
If you know nothing about Jesus, you would discover him in his teaching in this sermon.Photo Credit: Press, The Chosen
Jesus knew this pivotal and powerful teaching would set in motion his becoming widely known…and what would come out of that – those who would love and follow him and those who would seek to destroy him. In this episode, he expressed to Matthew his desire for In the introduction to the sermon, also known as the Beatitudes, to be a “map…directions where people should look to find me”. Then as Jesus shares with Matthew “the blesseds” of the Beatitudes, we find those directions. Again, in the show, Jesus “If someone wants to find me, those are the groups they should look for”.
This may not make sense if you haven’t read Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes (you can find the scene on YouTube maybe, or read them here and be blessed by them).
Writer, theologian Dallas Willard“once suggested that the Beatitudes are, in fact, pronouncements of God’s blessing on all the people the world thinks are missing out. In essence, this would mean Jesus starts His teaching with pronouncements that look like the following:
God is for those who are spiritually bankrupt.
God’s favor in on those who mourn.
God is for those who are meek.
…the Beatitudes might be a list of pronouncements; Jesus might be announcing to the crowds — full of Jews, Gentiles, Herodians, Pharisees, and Romans alike — that God is for the ones they think He has abandoned.
Jesus will continue teaching that we would pray for those that persecute us and love our enemies…This Jewish rabbi is serious about loving people. So buckle up, because this ministry of Jesus is just getting started… – Marty Solomon
There is so much to know and experience in the person of Jesus Christ. You will not be the same if you truly examine his life and teaching. In closing this, you’ll find a Facebook post below from a friend of mine on:
A son A brother Part of a community An attender of weddings
It’s no wonder that after He made a whip and drove the profiteers out of the temple, the Jews asked Him for a SIGN to show that He had the authority to do such a thing.
He answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.” They didn’t understand and thought He was talking about a building, but He was talking about His own body. He knew exactly what was going to happen to Him!
He didn’t come to be popular. He came to be a SIGN. He was THE SIGN they were asking for. He came to show us the character, nature, and heart of God. He came to make a God who is beyond understanding, someone we could see and touch and know.
2) Procrastinators – This is a struggle for me. If you want to explore this more, there are tons of resources on the web and your public library on this topic. I just want to quickly post Tim Urban’s humorous and telling TED Talk (which I found this week) and a few thought-provoking quotes, links, and “actionable ideas”.
3) The Silent To-Do List – In last week’s Friday Faves, I mention Dawn of The Minimal Mom. She really got me thinking more about decluttering again. Her manner is much more gentle and humane than other writers and bloggers so I’m going with her. In some of her videos, she mentions “the silent to-do list” that accompanies clutter.
She attributes this phrase to the Japanese author Fumio Sasaki who writes on minimalism. In his book Goodbye, Things, he writes about how the stuff in his life was causing him stress because it was as if all the clutter was calling out to him for attention, putting themselves on his to-do list. I actually get that. Stuff management can put a weight on us. Even if we’re doing nothing to deal with the clutter, it is there, beckoning to us with memories and the need to either store away or attend to something derived from the memory. A weight.
Here’s an example. I’m a photographer. Even in the digital age, pictures accumulate. Every time I go to and from bed, there’s a picture of a beloved aunt and cousin whom I haven’t seen in years. It’s being “left out” for a reason. I want to be back in touch with them but it might require a hard conversation. Something painful happened in our family years ago, and although it wasn’t between us, it could be the reason we have not stayed in touch. I don’t know for sure. This picture has become part of my silent to-do list. Sigh…
I’m not ready to embrace minimalism, but it is something I’m continuing to think about…and moving [ever so] slowly toward.
What are you doing to grow these days? Please comment below any studies (any…we are life-long learners here, right?) we might enjoy as well.
5) Summer – Just some images from this week to close. All taken on a day out and about, celebrating our anniversary. Hope you’re having a sweet summer (and for you in the Southern Hemisphere, a gentle winter). Beauty abounds.
Thanks for stopping by. It means so much to me. Blessings!
Anyway, back to this recommended book. If you consider yourself a creative or you have one in your family or friend group, then you know something of the battles. Our nearest and dearest creative is classical guitarist Nathan Mills, of Beyond the Guitar fame (you know him if you read this each week).
Creatives have an incredible drive to do their craft, but they also have to work against resistance. The pressure of time, the struggle with self-doubt, the tension of balancing other parts of life.Photo Credit: Slideshare
As a writer, Steven Pressfield gets the warring that goes on inside creatives’ minds. He writes eloquently and insightfully about it:
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
“We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.”
“Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
“Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don’t do it. It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet. You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
“Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Two video clips follow. One is a clip of the “miracle of fish” from the TV series The Chosen. The clip below it tells the story of how the scene was actually and finally created…the beauty of art and technology working together, for sure.
2) Food Waste – Recently I was reminded of a time years ago when Dave and I bought a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to share, just the two of us. Later, we decided, halfway through the box, that we didn’t need to finish it. “We don’t need to eat all these doughnuts.” [Like what were we thinking buying a dozen?!] Well, I threw the box into the garbage. We would both discover hours later that each of us, unbeknownst to the other, retrieved doughnuts from that box in the garbage. #TooGoodForGarbagePhoto Credit: Krispy Kreme, Facebook
[We were also reminded of a family legend of a certain adult child of ours retrieving an untouched chocolate eclair from his inlaws’ garbage. #RaisedRight]
Anyway, what I’m getting to is the matter of food waste in our country. When we lived in North Africa, we learned you just didn’t throw food away…you just didn’t. You either ate leftovers, reconfigured it for another meal, froze it to use later, or gave it away (either to neighbors, friends, or the less fortunate in your life – known or stranger. Also vegetable/fruit waste could be composted. What couldn’t be salvaged (like food scraps or plate leavings) were put in a separate bag from the garbage and set out for people to use to feed animals.
I loved that system/worldview.
What do you do with “food waste”? How can we shop and cook in ways that keep waste down as well?
Thankful for food champions who expose our waste and challenge us to do better – both in our homes and the public and private sector.
20 minute video below is so revealing of food waste in Canada and the US. Also follows food waste activist Rob Greenfield.
I struggle with clutter. Putting things where they belong. “Resetting the room”, as James Clear puts it. Letting go of stuff. Getting better but it is a challenge. Now…here’s our guest room…where my sweet Mom-in-law sleeps when she comes to visit.
However, it is only half ready for her next visit. In her absence, it quickly becomes a storage room. Stuff without a home is stowed there.
I’ve written about decluttering, and I’m getting there…slowly. After listening to her video, the guest room is closer to being ready for MomMom. Everything is not completely in its place or out of the house but it’s closer.
Dawn describes Pareto’s Rule in her coaching about decluttering. What that means is focusing on the imbalances in our lives and being intentional to clear some of them out. For example, let’s say we use just 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. What should we do with the rest of the stuff that requires us to manage it even if we rarely use it? [For me, Christmas decorations get a pass.] Or let’s say that 80% of our goals in life could be accomplished with 20% effort. What if that 20% effort included decluttering? Would the gains far exceed the losses?
Stuff management takes time and energy from the larger life goals we have. If we apply Pareto’s Rule to clutter, a small amount of concentrated effort can free us up to be able to focus on what matters more to us.
So how about you? What did you get from the 80/20 rule related to de-cluttering? Also, let’s be clear on this. Decluttering is definitely not a global issue…it is a problem in the wealthy West. Something to think about on the next trip to Target. 😉
4) Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – Such a beautiful season. The grands thought so as well. Enjoy!
5) A Local Restaurant Find – This week we went on a cultural culinary excursion. Dave, some friends, and I went looking for a new restaurant. Local. Ethnic food. And it was amazing!
Chef Charles delivered up some of the best Caribbean food I’ve ever tasted. He was born in Guyana but his parents were from St. Lucia. He grew up in St. Thomas. In the US, he spent 35 years in the insurance industry as an underwriter. Then he moved into the restaurant business and has owned and operated Charles’ Kitchen for the past 6 years. He works his own culinary magic with family recipes, using locally grown vegetables and herbs (some of which he grows himself). The service was also just right.
Chef Charles and Dave
The food was excellent (as I’ve said before), but meeting Chef Charles and hearing some of his story topped off our meal. Then he did one better: served us caramel cake warm from the oven.
That’s it for this week. How about your faves of the week? Anything you want to share (in Comments below)? Thanks for stopping by.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” – John 1:43-51
Philip found Jesus. The One. The Messiah. He followed Him…and he sought out his friend Nathanael to tell him the good news. Even as Nathanael mocked the news, Philip persevered.
Then Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” What?! Of course, we remember this is God, this Jesus. Still, something in His seeing Nathanael under the fig tree meant everything to Nathanael…it meant that He was the One. The Messiah. Nathanael believed.
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Now, there are a lot of fig trees in Israel. Most probably, Nathanael sat under them from time to time. Something happened specifically under one of those fig trees that made it hugely significant that Jesus recalled it to him…and told him, “I saw you”.
In the TV series, The Chosen, we watch a story about Jesus, His followers, and His public ministry. We are reminded by the director and others that The Chosen is faithful to the truth of Scripture, but it also tells a story. We don’t know from the Word what was going on in Nathanael’s life “under the fig tree”, but that Jesus saw him was crucial.
The writers of the series have Nathanael wrestling with God over a failed hope. Nathanael had wanted to design buildings that would honor God, and he failed. Under the fig tree, he cried out to God in the words of Psalm 102:1-2:
“Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide Your face from me in my day of distress. Incline Your ear to me; answer me…”
In reality, we do not know from Scripture what happened under the fig tree, but when Jesus told him that He saw him there…Nathanael believed. In the Son of God. The King of Israel.
[The scene below is 11 minutes in length. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time. Beautiful. Remember some is story, BUT the passage in John above is faithfully represented…and the emotion is there. The grand emotion of discovering that we are seen…we are known.]
We have all had those moments under the fig tree. Times we thought we were all alone. Times of anguish or fear. Times of feeling completely undone. To be reminded that Jesus sees us changes everything. It is similar, in a God way, to the pronouncement the Samaritan woman made after encountering Jesus at the well. “He told me everything I ever did!” So different from Nathanael but similar in that she met the Messiah who knew her…and still loved her completely.
All the bitter weary ways
endless striving day by day
you barely have the strength to pray
in the valley low
how hard your fight has been
how deep the pain within
wounds that no one else has seen
hurts too much to show
all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees
HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
EVERY HURT AND EVERY STING
HE HAS WALKED THE SUFFERING
HE KNOWS, HE KNOWS
LET YOUR BURDENS COME UNDONE
LIFT YOUR EYES UP TO THE ONE
we may faint and we may sink
feel the pain and near the brink
but the dark begins to shrink
when you find the one who knows
the chains of doubt that held you in between
one by one are starting to break free
every time that you feel forsaken
every time that you feel alone
He is near to the broken hearted
As you get back to your day, you might want to bookmark the links below. Nathanael is a lesser known apostle, BUT we can learn so much in his conversion story…about Jesus…about the friend Philip who brought Nathanael to Christ…and about Nathanael, this righteous Jew, overcoming his prejudice and coming to Christ.
1) Loki Theme on Classical Guitar – Twice a month a video. Nathan Mills (Beyond the Guitar) drops two classical guitar arrangements every month. Twice a month. It’s a happy time when that happens. Here’s his arrangement of the main theme from Marvel Studio’s Loki. Enjoy.
2) Farm to Table – Summer in this part of the world is a feast of flavors and colors as farm harvests come in. Markets abound and we reap all the good.
3) The Color of Law – Much of my adult life, I’ve lived in cities – Atlanta, New Haven, Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca, and now, Richmond, Virginia. Cities are where our children grew up. Amazing experiences for us all. Now we, who own homes, live in the suburbs. Last week I had the great privilege of hearing educator Sara Kennedy talk about the history of Richmond, Virginia. Particularly the history of the last 150 years or so. In just over an hour, she talked through the many laws, ordinances, and covenants put in place to seemingly protect the growth of the white middle class. Also to stifle or curtail the socioeconomic flourishing of African Americans in our country. In particular home ownership. How in the world? Through federal, state, and local laws. Kennedy explored all of this without shaming or judging those in the room…just talked about the laws, the impact on urban quality of life, and…”the color of law”.
Last year, I watched the 13th documentary about the abolition of slavery. It was hard to watch because, over and over, I had to take a breath, shake my head, and acknowledged to myself, “I didn’t know.”
“The core argument of this book is that African Americans were unconstitutionally denied the means and the right to integration in middle-class neighborhoods, and because this denial was state-sponsored, the nation is obligated to remedy it.”
“If government had declined to build racially separate public housing in cities where segregation hadn’t previously taken root, and instead had scattered integrated developments throughout the community, those cities might have developed in a less racially toxic fashion, with fewer desperate ghettos and more diverse suburbs. If the federal government had not urged suburbs to adopt exclusionary zoning laws, white flight would have been minimized because there would have been fewer racially exclusive suburbs to which frightened homeowners could flee.”
“We have created a caste system in this country, with African Americans kept exploited and geographically separate by racially explicit government policies. Although most of these policies are now off the books, they have never been remedied and their effects endure.”
Read the book. Until you are able to do so, start, as I did, with Goodreads quotes of The Color of Law. Mind-blowing.
I’m learning. Not taking responsibility for the wrong of previous generations, but taking in the why’s that such division (in our city, in particular) still exists. Change is difficult but not impossible.
“Heard”– PBS Documentary – “HEARD captures the inspiring stories of five people who grew up in ‘the projects’ (Richmond, Va.), surviving and thriving in spite of, and often because of, the challenges they’ve had to overcome. Now they’re giving back to their home communities, trying to make a better life for those who come behind.”
“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
If there was ever a person who turned our world upside down with something that could be termed “good trouble”, it was Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, the recent multi-season TV series The Chosen on the life of Christ has as its theme song “Trouble”.