spirituality

Spoken Word – When Did We Lose Our Souls?

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I sit and I intently ponderEmpty Soul

mind focused and filled with wondering

when, where, how, and why

did life become so parched and dry?

So empty of any depth or meaning

filled with loud, judgmental screaming.

Shouts of “justice” and “my rights”

verbal outbursts, tantrums, fights

all while claiming to be seeking

peace and harmony

fairness and equality

hand-shaking unity

when in actuality

The order of the day has become

division and strife.

No regard for any life

save our own – me and mine.

Don’t disagree with me this time

or I’ll unload my every thought,

feeling, and selfish opinion all over you and yours.

Hiding behind computer screens

phones and social media scenes

fingers clicking furiously

to rip apart right from the seams

anyone who dares to disagree

or have individual thoughts, unique perspective,

or a mind that thinks differently, no matter how refective.

What an offensive

concept.

The “causes” of the conflicted day:

marriage for the straight or gay,

exposed nipples for baby’s meal

or modesty.

Are leggings real

pants?

Black lives matter.

Blue lives matter.

Lions and elephants and dog lives matter.

All lives matter.

Except of course

those that haven’t left the source

of sustenance that is their mother’s womb.

They don’t matter til they’ve crossed into the room

caught by a doc

and uttering that first crying wail.

Oh hell.

Don’t even go there.

Refugees and aliens

Open the borders. Shut them again!

They’re dying, and starving, and being killed.

But they’ll come into our country and steal

our benefits, our jobs

our dignity.

Really?

Do we give it up that easily?

Fly the colored rainbow flag.

Stars and bars

No that one’s bad

Why? Because “I said” it is

since one man wore it when he did

a horrible

heinous

evil act.

In fact…

My cause is greater than your own.

My voice is louder

passion prouder and

Damn it, I. Am. Right.

Is this what we have become?

People who scream

riot and ream

anyone and everyone over the coals

who dares to oppose

our singular views?

Judgmental “truths”.

Closed-minded, open-mouthed expectations of compliance

with nothing but selfish reliance

on platforms that are so wrapped

in politics or personal agendas

that we’ve forgotten how to live?

How to love?

How to be simply

humbly

authentically human?

And allow others to be the same…

Respectfully humane.

When did our hearts become so hard?

When did we lose our souls?

We must hit our knees. Get on our face.

Crawl into the secret place

where we can quietly

silently

wide-openly

heart-rended

weepingly listen, and plead

for mercy from the One Whose bleeding

hands and feet and sword pierced side

spirit surrendered died

for every freedom and hand-crafted life

that you are targeting with strife

and hatred

and vilifying accusations

of bigotry

ignorance and…

Just.

Stop!

Can we extend our hardened wounded souls

out to the Father to be made whole?

And cry compassionate tears for those

who are hurting

lonely

abandoned

and longing

for someone to affirm that they belong.

Allow His love our hearts to pierce

and His eyes to be ours with grace so fiercely

extended to everyone bought by His death.

That bear His warm life-giving breath.

His adoration.

His absolute and undeserved grace.

Just as we do.

I earnestly

fervently

passionately pray that we can truly repent and

Recover.

our.

Souls.

image, by Cheppy Japz, found at: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/empty-soul-cheppy-japz.html
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The Facebook Facade. Aka: Will the Real “Me” Please Stand Up?

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There used to be a show on television called To Tell The Truth.  Contestants would hear the stories of 3 people, all using the same name, and would have to guess which of the 3 was “the real thing”.  The host, Bob Collyer, would then say “Would the real ……. please stand up!?”  And the suspense would build as each would pretend to stand until, finally, the REAL character would stand to the delight of whichever contestant – and television viewers – had guessed correctly.  Seems things may not have changed so much these days.

I often read and hear comments about how people are not “real” on Facebook.  There are frequent conversations about how social media sites are used as finely fabricated facades where life, with all of it’s reality and ugliness, can be hidden behind sweet sentiments, splendidly sublime statuses, and skillfully spoken scriptures.  The REAL character never even has to appear.  It’s always a guessing game for the reader or follower, wondering what’s true and what’s not.

Social media may, indeed, present the perfect opportunity to “fake it ’til you make it”.  It’s the ideal place to post only words that will present the exact image you’ve always wanted.  Paint the picture of a peaceful and loving, calm, spiritual life where the wind doesn’t blow, you’re never caught in a storm, and your relationships are love-story worthy.  Roadblocks?  What the heck are those?  They don’t exist in the smooth journey that is your social media universe on display. After all, only those who are closest to you will know if you’re presenting a glossier picture than reality.  Though they may call you out, it’s typically not in a public forum like Facebook.  And if it is, you have the power to hide it from your timeline, delete their comments, or – if it’s really critical to save face – unfriend or block them.  Social media can, indeed, be the superb symposium to be who you’ve always dreamed of being through substantial and stylishly stated scripts.

But why on earth is that even a thing?

In my not so humble opinion, that is just too much work.  Putting on airs.  Hiding behind fake personas.  Pretending to be always loving.  Always cheery.  Always mature.  Always spiritual.  With the perfect family… husband… job… budget… life… church…  In other words, lying.  Publicly.  Spreading a bald-faced, straight-up, contrived-behind-the-computer lie by presenting only the “good” parts of life.

That’s called a half-truth.  Aka: A lie.

So let’s get real.  Or rather, let ME get real for a few minutes and words.  (Because sometimes the best example we can use is ourselves.)

Yes, I post scriptures on my timeline.  I post kudos and prayers, good thoughts and feel good stories, inspirational quotes and funny anecdotes about my Shmexy and my kids.  I post it all.  And I have a strong conviction about everything that is posted under my name. I enjoy being able to connect with people this way, and giving them a little window into life with the “Ferrell fam”, or trying to inspire, teach, and lead through examples and statuses.

Does that mean that I have a cute little cookie-cutter life of bubble gum, smiley faces, and never-wavering faith?  Or a life that is always filled with roses and sweet-sounding words? Psssshh. Hardly.

I’m still a flesh and blood woman who doesn’t like her many curves, forgets to brush her teeth, and wears her bras until the underwire breaks and cuts into her flesh – just to avoid spending the ridiculous amount of money required to replace them. I’ve been known to wear unflattering spandex, mismatched socks, and torn underwear… but not at the same time.  (I know.  My husband always tells me how very sexy that is.)

I’ve also been known to smell a pair of jeans or shirt to see if it’s wearable, because who has time to do laundry every single day?  I’ve burned dinner, exploded soda cans in the freezer (just yesterday), fed the dogs cat food and the cats dog food, forgotten to clean the litter box (until a sudden “gift” in the floor somewhere reminded me), and piled up load after load of clean clothes on the pool table because I didn’t want to fold them.

There are hairballs in the corner of each step of my house because my cats are fur mongers.  I walk past them and look at them disturbed, but not enough to do anything about it right at the moment.  And my bathroom sink – that I fixed myself [insert applause here] can still be knocked off the cabinet because I’ve never silicone’d it down firmly.

I still pass unfair judgments on people, get road rage now and then, and eat fast food when I’m too lazy to cook – and regret it within minutes.  I, quite often, talk/groan/snore/make noises when I sleep.  I get angry at little things, ignore big things, and will graciously avoid conflict until it’s absolutely positively necessary… unless, of course, we’re close family.  Then it’s on like Donkey Kong if I get mad at you.

I also question God, get disheartened, worry about my children, and sometimes feel quite bitter with just how God does things. I don’t always forgive well.  I tend to be more affected by words than I should on occasion, and I spend too much time doing things that don’t really matter – like playing A-words or Text Twist on the computer.  I’ve struggled with porn addiction in my past, am still insecure about my looks, and really have to “take a chill pill” when I am suddenly interrupted while focused – because I can be so very task-oriented.

And I’m not afraid to tell any of those things.  Here, in person, or on social media.  What would be the purpose of hiding them?

Romans 8:1-2 says: “Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Message)

Another version says: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)

Relationship with Christ + Reprieval from Condemnation/Retribution = Release to be REAL

And Romans 8:33-38 says “The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture….I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Message)

I. Love. This.

It says “Do you think anything is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?… Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love….”

So…[thoughtful posture]

If the One Who created us and gave His life for us isn’t threatened by our angry outbursts or arrogant times, doesn’t hate us for what we struggle with, and can never be so disgusted with what we’ve done that He stops loving us, then why hide who we really are?  Why hunker down behind an invisible wall, that is social media, and pretend to be something we’re not?  Who are we afraid will discover the “reality of me”?

The God of the Universe already knows us.  Really KNOWS us.  And He won’t stop loving us.  So why sweat the girl down the street who may struggle with some of the same things you do… or maybe even bigger-seeming things?

Keep posting the good things in your life!  After all, scripture says to think on -meditate on – good things. (Philippians 4:8)

Don’t stop posting verses, quotes, or sayings that inspire you, minister to you, or speak loudly to your soul. Keep encouraging yourself and others with strong words of truth.  Continue with the adorable photos of your kittens and kids.  Just season it with “real-ness”!

Give others virtual entrance into the messy, dust-covered, rooms of your house – and heart – now and then.  Authenticity is much less difficult than carrying around that shield of “superior-looking stuff” (I so wanted to use a different word there!) to make yourself look plastic-Barbie perfect.  He knows the real you.  Don’t you think it’s about time you allow others to?

Will the real “Me” please stand up?

Who Are You – Really?

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When your words and actions can continue to be consistent – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when integrity follows you.

When your opinion of another remains the same – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you can be trusted with relationships.

When it isn’t necessary to play the victim role or the pity card for attention – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you are strong in character… and in internal stature.

When your personality and values do not change – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when you carry yourself with authenticity.

When you no longer need to “keep up with the Jones” – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your security is not in things, and you have learned to be content.

When your convictions remain firm – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your beliefs are your own, and not wavering with the winds.

When your worship and wonder of God remains outside of Sunday mornings – regardless of who is present, or who is no longer in your presence – that is when your “love relationship” is with God and not 4 walls of brick and mortar.

Who are you?

Taking no thought of who is present…… or who has walked away……..

Who are you?

God Can’t Make Me Sick

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God can’t – won’t – doesn’t make me sick.  He cannot do so.

I’ve known good people who got sick. I’ve known not-so-good people who got sick.  And I’ve known Godly people who got sick unto death.

I’ve also heard, at times, someone say “God made me sick”, God caused this for His purposes”, or “God must’ve needed another angel” when someone has died.

If I said “I hate to disagree” I would be dishonest.  I don’t hate to disagree.  I, very adamantly, disagree with the notion that God makes us sick or needs us in Heaven and so He causes us to suffer with agonizing symptoms and to waste away miserably and painfully with our families/friends aching as we die.  That is the opposite of the heart of Christ.  And Jesus – very boldly – said “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen My Father”.

When Jesus walked the earth, He. Healed.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” – Matthew 4:23

“…who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” – Luke 6:18-19

“but the crowds… followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” – Luke 9:11

There are no instances where Christ made someone sick, or caused someone to be sick.  None.

There are no instances where Christ caused someone’s death because God “needed them”.  Matter of fact, Lazarus died and Jesus raised him up.  Four. Days. Later.

AND, Elijah and Enoch simply went to be with the God of the Heavens.  They weren’t stricken with a disease and painfully suffer until they died.  They “went to be” with God.  Moses, Methusaleh, Adam, Joseph, the list goes on of those who knew God and simply lived until they died.  They lived their years of promise and their bodies “resigned” so that they could be with the God Who made them.

Nope.  God doesn’t make me sick.  He can’t.  It would require that He go against His own character, which would make Him dishonest.  And God is not able to lie.  He is not capable of darkness.  There is no sickness or death in Him.

Then where does sickness originate?

As Christ-followers…. actually, as human beings created in the image of God, we have an enemy.  From the time that Adam and Eve were created to this day, the “enemy of our Spirit” – in other words Satan (yes, he does exist) – has sought to prevent us from drawing close to God, from trusting God, from understanding His fierce love, and from receiving His undeserved yet freely given grace.  He has fought, rather warred, against mankind in an effort to keep us from what he no longer has – a relationship with and direct access to God.

And when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they opened the way for sin, disobedience, disease, and death to enter into the life of every man who would follow.  Sin. Darkness. Death. They all entered this, now fallen, world and were followed by natural consequences and all things “bad”.

Why did God allow it?  Why were these things given entrance into the world? Because man chose.  Man chose to disobey and, therefore, to allow the spirit that was contrary to God’s to come into the world.

Why does God allow good, Godly, people to suffer with sickness? I don’t know why some are supernaturally healed and others remain ill.  I don’t know why some are miraculously preserved from death and others join God too early.  I don’t know.  And neither does anyone else.

There are some things we don’t understand.  But what we should understand is (again) where Christ said “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen My Father”.  We should understand how the disciples continued to affect the world like Christ and they healed others in His name.  They didn’t cause others to be sick.  They didn’t wish sickness on anyone.  They DID admonish, at times after healing someone, to go and change the habits/patterns of life or suffer consequences worse than the original sickness.  However, the disciples never prayed for someone to get sick or gave them a sickness. They followed Christ’s example and healed… cured… those who were diseased.

If you believe that God caused you to be sick, or made you sick, then why ask others to pray for you to be healed?  Wouldn’t that be asking God to go against Himself?  Seems like a waste.  Or a contradiction.

Selah.

“Every GOOD and PERFECT gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

“…Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.…” – James 5:14-16

Don’t Leave the Tent!

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Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent.  When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses.  And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door.  Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. – Exodus 33:7-11

This is one of my favorite passages in scripture.  Most people aren’t even aware that it is there.  However, I think it is a very powerful story of worship and of the presence of God.

Every time I read this snippet of the story of Moses and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, I am struck by several things.

The first is in verse 7.  It says that “everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting….”.  So the tent of meeting was placed outside of the camp, but it was available for anyone who wanted to go and seek God.  Anyone who wanted to be in His presence was invited to go out to the tent of meeting, at any time that they desired.  However, this short passage doesn’t mention anyone going to the tent except for Moses and Joshua.

The second is that, whenever Moses would go to the tent, the people would get up and stand in the doorways of their own tents and watch for a sign that God’s presence was visiting Moses.  And when they would see the pillar of cloud they would stand and worship from their own tent doors… they would worship from afar…

The people who had been rescued from the enslavement of the Egyptians, though invited, didn’t enter the tent of meeting to be in God’s presence. They stood at a distance and watched for their leader to enter God’s presence and then they worshipped without drawing near.  Never experiencing His presence for themselves.  Never investing themselves in taking the journey to where God’s presence was housed. Selah.  (Pause and think on that)

And then there’s Moses.  The passage says that God spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to a friend.  When Moses would go out to spend time in God’s presence, then God talked with him.  Personally.  Intimately.  Comfortably.  As if speaking to a close friend.

Finally, the passage names Joshua.  Scripture says that Joshua was a young man, and that he never left the tent of meeting.  He, in spite of his youth, made the decision to remain where God’s presence resided.  He did not leave.  He literally chose to LIVE where God was.  He determined that he wanted, more than anything else at that time, to spend his days – and his nights – communing with God.

Such a powerful “little” story.

In the Old Testament, the presence of God was housed in one location.  The Israelites chose to remain a distance from this place and worship God without drawing near to His face and presence.  They stayed, “safely”, removed from where the powerful evidence of God would appear.  Joshua, on the other hand, chose to remain incessantly where God was. Night and day He sought after God.

Of the two, who do we more resemble in these advanced times?  The ones who have been freed from the enslavement of the enemy, yet we worship the One Who paid for our freedom and liberty from afar?  Or the one who longed to be nowhere else but face-to-face with God?

God’s presence is no longer housed in a specific tent outside the city.  It is no longer inaccessible to those who refuse to leave the safety of their own comfort zone.  Wherever we are, God, Himself, is there….  Scripture, in Psalm 139: 7-10 says “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

And Jeremiah 23:24 says “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.”

There is nowhere that we can go where God’s presence does not reside.  His presence is in even the most secret of places.  And it is our choice whether to abide… remain… LIVE in His presence, or to stand back and watch others spend time with Him, as one spends time with a close friend, and miss out on knowing Him intimately.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

Don’t leave the tent.

More Fire

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Let me spill it straight from the gut

This heart pain is like an open wound, an unchecked cut

That’s gushing and flowing, never slowing.

Dripping red into a pool of

Scarlet…

Stained…

Fingertips

With firm and constant iron grips

Kneading and applying pressure to the seat of affection.

Generating agitation, resurrection,

Creating discontent and dissatisfaction.

Until it becomes an urgent fervor,

a desperate desire

An aching cry for Refiner’s fire –

Hungry, yearning, burning, crying out for

More. Of. You.

So light a spark down in my soul

Fan the embers, watch it glow.

Blow It, feed it, stir it, grow it.

Breathe the breath of power and life

Upon the flame ‘til it inspires

A raging, roaring, uncontrolled,

Wildfire that cannot be contained

…or tamed.

A passion that is contagious. Outrageous.  Unashamedly gracious.

Intensely touching others with Your. Amazing. Love.

I want

More. Of. You.

Religion IS A Crutch

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Ever heard someone lash out with the words “Religion is a crutch!”  Most of us have heard it more than once.  Many who say they have a faith in Christ get offended, or highly defensive, when they hear this popular criticism.  They tend to argue about doctrines, scriptures, and beliefs in an attempt to convince others that their religion is anything but a crutch.

Well, hold on to your pantyhose.  This Christ-follower fully agrees.  Religion IS a crutch.

Now before you throw those blasphemy stones you’ve got clenched in your raised fists, read on….

 

A crutch is defined as: “anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute; a prop”

Perfectly defines religion.  Temporary.  Unable to truly support.  A poor substitute.  Something that props you up… which, by the way, when removed will trigger a fall.

The definition of religion is “the practice of religious beliefs and/or ritual observances of faith”.  

In scripture, Christ and those who mechanically practiced religion were not fans of one another.

The religious measured others according to their index of proper acts, acceptable behaviors, respectable lifestyles, and appreciable knowledge.  If one didn’t conform to their preconceived notions of tolerable conduct, the religious would judge them as unworthy, unfaithful, even deplorable.

Christ measured others according to His Father, Whose heart knew of every decent and scandalous act ahead of their committal. Whose eyes saw every righteous and unrighteous behavior before they came to pass.  Whose ears heard every respectful and shameful word before they were spoken.  Who knew the measure of every lifestyle, deemed successful or unsuccessful by the fellow man, prior to the first breath of life.  Yet His Father continued to love them, understanding their humanity, yet knowing that He created them with incredible potential and giftings for good.

Christ demonstrated what true faith should resemble, and those who counted on religion were considered inferior and judged harshly by Him for their false teachings and man-centered standards.

Sadly this seems to have been forgotten today.  Today it seems so many still boost themselves up by bracing their lives on pompous practices and spiritually-superficial rites.

Obeying a list of “holy behaviors” will prop one up on a self-righteous and ego-aggrandizing pedestal.  The problem is that this narcissistic truss will only provide a deceiving facade of support.  With the first stumble, or deviation from the tally of rights and wrongs – like an injured man whose crutch is yanked from under him on a slippery surface –  the pseudo-holy foundation tumbles, taking the soul bound by religion with it.

Unfortunately, those who have allowed themselves to be crippled by the demanding and unrealistic checklist, tend to reach for that same list of do’s/dont’s  – making excuses for their own fallings, and holding others hostage to their deformed expectations of virtue.  They find a strange sort of comfort in their religious list.

After all, adhering to a series of hallowed intentions takes less faith and diligence than building a relationship that is truthfully spiritual and real.  The rules, regulations, and human-ordained practices of religion are a poor substitute for living with an honest and faith-filled relationship with the agape loving, grace-permeated Christ.

Religion is a crutch.  It is an inappropriate prop for the self-righteous.  Religion provides a false sense of support and stability and is a temporary aid to bolster the ego.  It is a weak, ugly, foolish crutch that Christ would snatch away in a second to prompt our reliance on Him instead of ritualistic nonsense.

Stand up. Allow Christ to strengthen you as you choose to follow Him… Listening for His voice, obeying His promptings, and walking – unaided by man-made rules of legalism – with Him.  Drop the crutch.

 

Oh… and drop your stones now also, please and thank you.