{re}fresh

The Continual Failure of My Eyes

by Mike McKinniss

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myopia” by joseph chang under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about my future and God’s will. It’s an infection that comes on us all, and its cure in one season does not, sadly, leave us immune from subsequent attacks. It is a perilous disease, which, allowed to run its rampant course, may leave the sufferer paralyzed or worse.

Over the years, many friends and acquaintances have quoted to me Jeremiah 29:11, claiming it gave them comfort and, indeed, confidence in facing their futures. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (NIV).

It’s an encouraging word, to be sure, but I’ve rarely heard anyone offer comfort in the context of the preceding verse: “This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place'” (Jer. 29:10, NIV).

The long and short: every Israelite living in exile at the time of Jeremiah’s utterance, captives of their archenemy the Babylonians, would be dead before God’s good plans for the people of Israel would come about. There’s no way around it, Jeremiah 29:10 is a gut punch to his people, even if everyone’s favorite life verse—don’t get me started—offers a glimmer of hope.

So it’s all got me thinking about my future. Life has twisted and turned on me in unforeseen directions and left me wondering how that’s affected the years that lay ahead. Am I doing it right? Did I miss something along the way and jeopardize the whole affair? Where will it all lead? And what if I do it all wrong?

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Pulling Up Roots

by Carol Nicholls

God said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  “He went out, not knowing where he went.” (Genesis 12:1, Hebrews 11:8)

Destination: The place to which someone or something is being sent

Very few of us leave our homes without a destination in mind. If you are chronic about saving time and gas, like me, all the stops for a trip are written down, numbered and the list comes along in the car. With all of this going out and coming back, our lives revolve around our home-base, the spot where we have taken root. What would happen if our “roots” were pulled up and we suddenly, like Abraham, became transient? Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Day Before Resurrection

by Mindy Kiker

I call it “Somber Saturday” — one of my favorite days of the year nestled between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  I relish the reflections that this day invites. In anguish, I imagine the confusion and sorrow that must have wrapped itself around Mary, the disciples and all those who loved the Rabbi from Nazareth.

Many believed He was the Son of God, come to save the Hebrew nation from the scourge of Roman rule. Little did they realize that this lofty hope was too small a calling, too small a mission for the one true Messiah.

Jesus’ followers did not yet comprehend the magnitude of what God planned to accomplish — the Lamb had come to earth, Jehovah made flesh, to rescue ALL people for ALL time from the scourge of sin, death, sickness, and every kind of evil.

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God’s Perfect Plan

by Rob Dunne

Image by CJ
Flicker.com_33080776472_85fb27c052 CC BY-ND 2.0

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

My wife recently lost her grandmother, aka Mimi. Mimi lived to be ninety-seven. Prior to her passing, the nursing home workers told us how much they loved her and the joy she brought to their lives. At the funeral home people paying their respects frequently commented on how happy she looked in all of the photographs celebrating her life.

Death is one of those events that makes you stop and think about your own life. You realize how short life is, and for me, I question whether I am using my limited time wisely, wonder whether or not I am living up to my God given potential. Does God have a plan for my life and if so, am I fulfilling that specific plan?

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Winding paths vs straight answers

by Wendy

Winding Paths by John Shortland Flickr-com_9062631866_ff25dab5b9

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or wher it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”   John 3:8

 

Frustrated? I was beyond frustrated, pleading with God, crying out, and interceding in every way possible. The spiritual roadblocks still stood like concrete as I smashed into them daily.  Or, worse yet, I watched my friends and loved ones crash nose-first into massive boulders thrown by the enemy.

In my mind I could see the solutions, the barrier-shattering breakthroughs that would set us all free, but I couldn’t reach them.  Nor could I force my way through the frustration. Staring out the car window, I stewed silently, wanting God to pulverize the obstacles and shoot laser-like sunlight into the haze as the residue dissipated.  I could barely articulate the avalanche of feelings.  Instead, my fingernails dug into my palms and tears crept closer to the surface.     Read the rest of this entry »

At the Threshold

by juste buzas

Image by Seth SeChrist
Flickr.com_4541504459_b8e9f0eee3 CC BY-ND 2.0

“O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.”

(Psalm 63:1,2)

 

One morning, the Lord spoke to me.

“Closer still,” He said.

“How?” I asked.  “How, Lord?”

Months passed.  I grew restless, dissatisfied.  I knew God was calling me higher, but I could not figure out how to step in.  How to step beyond the veil. Read the rest of this entry »

One Passionate Prayer

by Dawn Aldrich

Image by Eelke
flickr.com_3231400982_94ae0f9b5_CC BY-ND 2.0

“…tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer.” James 5:16 TPT

 

Hearing only chunks of their phone conversation set my adrenaline running.

“Accident. Car hydroplaned. Rolled over. Car is toast. I’m okay. Thank God for German engineering. State police.”

Instantly, I knew my son’s life had been miraculously spared and I knew who had tried to inflict the worst. My first response after, “Thank you, Jesus!” was “Call your prayer warriors. This is all-out war!”  Read the rest of this entry »

Floating is better than swimming

by kerriebutterfield

1f1962bd24d450b350e43b719d8e3a0aEver feel like you have tried your best, prayed the prayers, and although things are okay, they aren’t what you hoped for? You expected more.

About 6 years ago, feeling burnt from my own efforts, facing and bracing for a New Year, God gave me a dream.

I found myself in a home in the middle of a cranberry bog awaiting the arrival of a guest speaker. I was filled with expectation about what that speaker would teach, release, and demonstrate. He arrived with two other individuals and began speaking. After two minutes, he closed in prayer. He looked at my stunned and disappointed face and said, “What did you want?” I answered, “I want my inheritance.” He laughed, put his hand on my forehead, and said, “Everything I have, I give to you.”

He then walked out to the porch, jumped off into the cranberry bog, flipped onto his back and floated amidst the fruit. I stared at him in confusion. As I stood there, one of his companions came to me and said, “Do your children like swimming?” I said, “Yes, they love it.” She said,”Well, floating is better because it is swimming without effort.”

Waking from the dream, God spoke to me about resting in Him instead of striving for Him; teaching me to focus on what He wanted to be for me rather than what I could be/do for God.  It wasn’t that doing things for God was bad, it was that my doing had become more about performing for God’s love than enjoying and sharing His love.

I began a journey to rewire my thinking about what God expectations were of me and to align myself with Him instead of my unhealthy and ungodly expectaions of myself.

Matthew 6:5-13 (The Message) has been instrumental to helping me develop healthy expectations of myself and Papa God:

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.

I’ve learned:

  1.  To come to him as myself. Not as who I think he wants me to be, or even who I want to be, but the true me. That is exactly where and how I need to be loved. Not for the person I’m striving to be, but resting in the love of God for who I am today, failure and all. My  behaviour doesn’t change Him, but His love changes me.
  2. Prayer is paying attention to God. I need to be quiet, When I’m busy talking I can’t hear Him.
  3.  Quietly wait for Him. When I do, I sense His emotions ,His will towards me, and hear Him speak to me. I begin to float in an ocean of grace in which all of God feels  for me envelops and surrounds me. The heavy burdens of performance and self -proving behavior take on a weightlessness as I embrace His grace and I shift from focusing on my ability to His!
  4.  I need to feel connected to my Papa. It’s about bonding; creating connection. John 15 teaches us that those who are connected to the vine will bear much fruit.  He wants to be close to me. He has made His home in me and He’s wanting to enjoy co-habitation!
  5.  It’s simple. I need Him everyday, all day. I need Him  to be things for me I can’t be for myself.  He never intended for me to be a driven striver, a exhausted swimmer, or see myself as just His worker. He wants me to see myself as His beloved daughter who grows naturally to be like her Papa. He wants me to rest in His love and grace not preform for it. To make myself at home in Him, to rest in Him.

One of my favorite things about that cranberry bog dream is that cranberries grow on a vine and I know Papa was whispering a secret to me as I slept of how to produce fruit out of rest and connection to Him.  I pray you find deep connection to Papa as you rest in His love, acceptance  and grace.

 

What To Do in the Face of Tragedy

by Mike McKinniss

 

Forgive me, but I’ve been thinking about tragedy lately.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 10, a torrential rainstorm dumped several inches of precipitation onto Santa Barbara, CA, in a matter of minutes. Normally, such a violent shower would have done little more than force the shedding of some old palm fronds from their trunks. But this storm came immediately on the heels of California’s largest recorded wildfire, which burned a vast area nearby, including the hills just above the tiny town of Montecito. Denuded of the vegetation upslope, the massive amount of rain in so short a time triggered powerful mudslides, which bulldozed through portions of the village.

Dozens of homes and places of business were destroyed in a moment. At writing, 21 people are counted among the dead and two remain missing in the aftermath.

The torrent of rain and the flash flood is only the beginning of the anguish for people in this seaside community, for a similar torrent of fearful and desperate questions follow. These will likely linger for a long time—probably long after the clean up and reconstruction is completed.

Where was God when this violent storm struck this peaceful community? Where is God now that the event has wreaked its havoc? How could God have allowed such destruction? Could God have not stopped such a tragedy? And what do we do now?

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Transition

by Carol Nicholls

Image by Janae Juahal
Flickr.com_15665823144_fc7f01c938_CC BY-ND 2.0

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Transition, such a simple word, but it can create havoc in the routines of life. Over the years I have discovered that I don’t do “Transition” gracefully. Even simple things like going off Daylight Savings Time throws me off kilter for a good two weeks. More complex things, like a new job or an impending move, render me useless. It is like I am at Point A and I can see Point B. I am glad the change is going to happen. Between the two points is a huge black abyss. Stepping out into that uncertain area of darkness is more stressful to me than the potential of doing nothing to make the change happen. Read the rest of this entry »

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