{re}fresh

Month: June, 2013

Retreat!

by Dawn Aldrich

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 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:35-37

When life comes at you like a freight train – full speed ahead – it’s all you can do to hang on tight. There’s barely time to think, no warning, no preparing or packing a bag – only time to react and latch onto whatever is in front of you until the train stops.

The unexpected happens all the time – life and death – but when they couple themselves together and come one after the other, our minds can’t catch up with our hearts. In every crises, whether good or bad, there’s always stuff to be done – responsibilities and loose ends to tie up – for those holding up the arms of loved ones.

And when that freight train comes to a screeching halt – even for a brief moment – we find ourselves disheveled, speechless, utterly weary and maybe even a bit numb. We feel neither joy nor sorrow because we’ve been so busy caring for others that we pushed our own emotions aside. All we want is solace. Quiet. Retreat.

Isn’t that exactly what Jesus felt? After a day of teaching and healing and crowds pushing in he rested. And in the dark, just before sunrise, he retreated to a quiet place, alone – far away from the crowds and people who needed his touch. And while he was there? He spent time alone with his Father – where I imagine he cried, prayed, received encouragement, refreshment and empowerment to see things from heaven’s perspective once again.

We all need those times, don’t we? Time alone with our Father to cry it all out, to share what’s on our hearts, listen for his voice and receive the encouragement and empowerment that comes only by spending time in His presence; time to refocus, zoom out from the immediate situation and gain God’s higher perspective.

When you feel spent, what’s your favorite place to retreat? How do you draw God close when you can barely utter a word?

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Living from Above

by Julie

On a road trip up the coast of California leading us to a Lake in Montana, a good friend of mine and I found ourselves in deep conversation. We had been driving for hours to meet another friend of ours for a retreat in her family’s cabin. It was the dead of Winter and the coldest I’ve ever been. We talked about what we give our attention to and the kinds of thoughts that run through our mind most often. We had been talking a lot about the book of Colossians when we came across this gem:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds in things above, not on earthly things (3:1-2).

As if this trip wasn’t already an adventure, we were in for a bigger one than we imagined. We were face to face with the reality of knowing our hearts and minds were to be aligned with Jesus.

That’s not where I was living. I was burnt out and offended. Everything I was praying for wasn’t happening. I was wasting my time looking at my circumstances and spent a lot less time asking God for His view. My life looked like the things I worried about. What I was focusing on I was living in. Thankfully by the end of this tear filled and intense conversation, I was encouraged in ways I had never experienced before.

Knowing that we are raised with Christ, we have access to Him and to His point of view,which is above our circumstances. We have the freedom to dream with the Lord and find new hope. We are able to let go of our agendas and ask what He wants. We begin to see Christ in us and that allows us to make steps into seeing His perspective.

We have a choice when it comes to how we view the world around us. We can choose to see our circumstances for what they look like or we can choose to see it from the Lord’s view. What we see as a setback may actually be opportunity. Where we see brokenness, He wants to restore. We can focus on all of the bad around us, making it impossible to see the good in anything. When we shift our focus and move to a heavenly perspective peace and freedom will follow. When we set our hearts and minds on the things above, where Christ is at the right hand of God, that’s where we will live.

God’s Ways Are Higher Than Your Ways, But Not In The Way You Think

by Mike McKinniss

Isaiah 55Among my all time favorite passages from Scripture is Isaiah 55. I can’t say, now, what prompted them, but there are many markings by this chapter in my oldest physical copy of the Bible, an NIV given to me as a high school graduate. (It’s not yet considered an ancient manuscript, but we’re getting there.) There’s a big red circle around the number “55;” a red, underlined “AMEN” in the midst of the final verse; and several underlined stanzas.

Two of those underlined verses are 8 and 9, which I’ve heard many a believer quote and, sadly, misapply.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Too often, I’ve heard this passage quoted when things aren’t going as expected or in the face of tragedy. In the case of the former, the well meaning Christian encounters circumstances seemingly contrary to her hopes or prayers and concludes the Lord must have a particular (and peculiar) way of accomplishing things. “I’ve prayed for my wayward son to return to the faith of his roots, but now he just pushes me farther away whenever I bring it up. I guess God has his ways.”

In the latter example, the again well meaning believer is trying console someone who has experienced a tragedy. Perhaps there has been an unexpected death in the family, so Isaiah 55 is recited. What they mean to say (I would hope) is something more along the lines of Romans 8:28, that God pledges to bring good out of horrific situations. What comes across, however, places God on the hook as the root cause of the tragedy and the bereaved should really quit this sad display of grief and get on board with whatever strange thing God is up to. “He had His reasons,” they might say.

Neither of these approaches does justice to Isaiah 55 and, consequently, both interpretations are dreadfully harmful.

There is much debate on the specific occasion for the writing of Isaiah 55, but it is sufficient to say that this portion of the book was intended for a people in a desperate situation. Specifically, the people of Israel were either living in the midst of exile, hundreds of miles from their promised homeland; or Israel is living at home under foreign oppression. Either way, things aren’t right.

In the midst of this, the Lord utters a remarkable prophecy through Isaiah. Israel’s situation was desperate. Things are looking incredibly bleak. Into this, Isaiah tells the nation that God’s plan is actually to restore them and their land. Joy and peace will reign among the people and the physical creation will be renewed (vv. 12-13).

The people, however, could only see devastation and hopelessness. God had abandoned them, they had to conclude. It was the only logical explanation for their present dire circumstance.

But the Lord’s ways are higher than theirs. How? God’s ways always work toward redemption and restoration, life and life to its utmost. Even when things look their darkest, when we might be tempted to believe that the Lord has abandoned us, God thinks differently than we do. God’s thoughts are higher than ours because He’s always pursuing good and He knows He’s going to get there.

Memo From Heaven: An Expensive Seat With a View

by mandyade

airplane%20windowMy daughter burst out laughing as she entered her old bedroom – she had not been there since she was five. She was shocked because she expected a large, spacious room- instead the room was small. The room hadn’t changed, she had. Things look intimidating from two feet high, but from a height we see things quite differently.

Perspective is the way we view something- the angle we see things from – the place from where we view things will shape our attitude, our actions and inevitably our lives.

Paul prays that peoples’ “heart eyes” would see from a true perspective. Ephesians 1 & 2 teaches us about perspective- where we are positioned and how to see everything.

After Jesus died God raised Him from the dead and seated Him above all powers and systems that rule now and in the age to come. Jesus was placed above every power forever. He was placed FAR ABOVE these other authorities, (not just above them by the skin of His teeth fighting to maintain dominion.) There is a FAR, big gap between Jesus throne and all other authority.

That sounds nice, but possibly irrelevant to us down here on earth. The good news is that it doesn’t stop here. The same power that raised up Jesus and seated Him in heavenly places raised us up too and seated us with Him! We are not waiting to be seated with Him when we get to heaven, we are there now. (Eph 2:6) And where we are seated will change our view! Jesus paid for our seats so that we could sit with Him and see like Him.

We don’t have to fake ‘a big person perspective’ like a toddler trying to be an adult, we are already there. We are sitting with Jesus in heavenly places. This is reality. We are repositioned to see things from the perspective of heaven because our position has changed. When we receive Christ our old nature dies with Him and we are raised and repositioned in heavenly places with Him. This is a finished work.

When we understand where we are seated we will see from that perspective. If my daughter would have crawled into her old bedroom like a baby she would have seen like a baby, but she walked in tall the way that God intended and she saw correctly.

Every power, authority and system whether natural or spiritual is subject to Jesus Christ. You as a believer are seated in the position of authority with Jesus. That means that you carry the authority of heaven like Jesus.

We choose to live in one of two ways:

1. We choose to see from an earth perspective, though we are positioned in heavenly places we can still choose to see from a veiled perspective (seeing self, others, God & circumstances from earth’s view): We allow our attitude, beliefs and actions to flow from what we see and feel happening around us.

OR

2. We choose to see from a heavenly perspective, from where we are seated (seeing self, others, God & circumstances from heaven’s view): We allow our attitude, beliefs and actions to flow from truth; the way heaven is and God sees. Often truth cannot be seen or felt here on earth until we believe it & become a vessel for it to flow through.

We don’t have to give up.

We don’t have to submit to evil.

We don’t have to yield to brokenness.

Disappointment does not have to have the power to paralyze us.

We can see things we never thought possible.

We can do things we don’t have the natural strength to do.

Life takes on new meaning when we’re sitting with Christ with eyes open seeing earth from heaven.

To learn more about Mandy, please visit our Contributors Page or visit her at her website.

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