{re}fresh

Month: May, 2016

God Isn’t into Nostalgia

by Mike McKinniss

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“Nostalgia Gums” by Effie Yang under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I am, sadly, beginning to encroach upon the age in which nostalgia becomes a real and powerful state of being. That is to say, my hindsight, far from being 20/20, is actually getting worse. I no longer see the rough edges of my youth, only soft and blissfully blurry lines. What’s worse, I don’t think I’d want the corrective lenses necessary to spot the warts of yesteryear.

And like my father before me, and his father before him, I’m prone to decrying the present in favor of the past. If only today could be more like yesterday, I lament. Where did we go wrong? Oh, God! Bring back yesterday!

But in my nostalgic folly, I’ve forgotten two important things.

One: Every age has its problems and n0thing has ever been perfect.

Two: God is not interested in turning back the clock. He moves ever forward.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Lord is a restorer. He redeems the lost. It is a great theme of the biblical story—perhaps the theme—that something pristine has been lost on this earth and the Creator has been relentlessly working to restore it.

But when God restores, he does not simply return things to the way they once were, but he resurrects to greater glory than had ever before been.

Consider, for example, the resurrected Jesus. Prior to his death, we are given no indication that his bodily existence was anything unlike our own. He ate and slept and rejoiced and wept. He was sinless, of course, and the Holy Spirit settled on him at his baptism. But he was completely human, like you and me. Prior to his death, Jesus’ body was very much like our own.

But upon his resurrection, Jesus was restored by God. He was dead, his life lost, yet God the Father acted on his behalf to give him back what had been lost on the cross. But God does not simply give back what is lost.  Jesus’ body is given back to him better than ever.

The gospels, in their tellings of the story, give odd hints at the difference between Jesus’ life pre-crucifixion and his resurrected body. Jesus is unrecognizable to people who had known him for years (Luke 24:13-35; John 20:11-18). He somehow appears physically behind locked doors (John 20:19). Somehow, in bizarre ways, the resurrected Jesus is not like the first edition.

Paul reflects on this resurrection reality more fully in several places. One such place—in fact his greatest treatise on the resurrection—is in 1 Corinthians 15. There he writes of the resurrection body the Lord restored to Jesus and will also one day give to all the faithful,

So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (1 Cor 15:42-44).

Do you long for something lost? Do you pine for a time things seemed perfect? Here’s some good news: The Lord is a restorer. What’s more, he’s not satisfied with simply turning back the clock. He’s interested in a resurrection beyond anything we’d ever thought to ask or even imagine.

The Little Seed That Could

by Rob Dunne

Lazy Day by 19melissa68_Flickr.com_4487677625_917f5572ba_z

Lazy Day by 19melissa68_Flickr.com_4487677625_917f5572ba_z_ CC BY-ND 4.0

Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming!” Genesis 37:19

Some years ago a Japanese botanist found some viable lotus seeds in a layer of peat in a dry lake-bed in Manchuria. Testing was done suggesting that the seeds were hundreds if not thousands of years old. Germination tests were made on the seeds. Almost all of them grew, even after having lain around in museums for a decade or two. The contents of a seed are powerful!

A word from God is like a seed planted in our hearts. In the book of Genesis, we are introduced to Joseph. He is the eleventh son of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. At the age of thirteen, God gives Joseph two dreams. Both dreams show him ruling over his family and that everyone, including his father, will one day bow before him. Needless to say, these dreams did not make his family members happy. His brothers were incredibly jealous and sold Joseph in to slavery.

For thirteen long years, it did not appear as though Joseph’s dream would come to pass. He prospered as a slave until he was wrongfully accused by his master’s wife and thrown in to prison. While in prison, Joseph was placed in charge of the other inmates. Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker were put in prison and had dreams of their own. Joseph provided both with the interpretation and asked the cup bearer to remember him when he was once again in Pharaoh’s presence.

Eventually, Pharaoh had a dream that none of his priests or magicians could interpret. Finally, the cup-bearer remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. He correctly interpreted the dream and told Pharaoh that seven prosperous years were coming followed by seven years of famine. He suggested a game plan on how to navigate this period of time that impressed Pharaoh. As a result, Joseph was put in charge of Pharaoh’s entire kingdom. Nine years later, Joseph’s family traveled to Egypt and his dream came to pass.

God gives us words in a number of ways. He will speak to us through His written word, by speaking to our hearts, using a prophet or even a dream. Our job is to receive and nurture that word. Like Joseph, it may take years before we see that dream come to pass. During that time of waiting, we may be faced with many adversities. Trust that during this time, God is forging your character and preparing you to fulfill every aspect of that dream.

Has God planted a dream in your heart? Are you feeling discouraged because you haven’t seen it come to pass? Take inspiration from Joseph and trust that God is able to complete the good work that He has begun in you!

“60 BE”

by mymorethanme

bloom where you're planted 2

Winter has waned, spring has sprung and I am finding myself increasingly restless. The involuntary, insulated isolation of short, dark, endlessly idle cold days has finally given way to feverishly longed-for days of freedom–delightful days that are lovingly sun-kissed, bright and burgeoning, extended yet fleeting, and deliciously warm.

One breezy morning this week, while walking and praying with the One who turns the seasons and bestows the beauty, I caught a sweet whiff of a past dream. I had just been seeking God’s direction for my family. My husband has been fasting this week, and with two weeks left to go I have been holding him more heavily in my heart than usual. He has awakened with the earth, and revived and ready is chomping at the bit, hungry for what’s next, mouth watering for more of God.

Reminded of this distant reverie shared by my mate, my pulse began racing as fast as my thoughts, as plan upon plan took shape and formed. Too full to hold so much excitement I immediately sought relief by dialing John’s number so I could share my epiphany with him. He responded as expected, and together our brain storm beautifully watered the seeds that were flourishing, that is, until we flooded the scenario and watched as these same tender seeds became uprooted and washed away by what-ifs. Recognizing the danger of losing them for good, we intentionally halted our thoughts, knowing while watering and thinking are good and life giving, over-watering and over-thinking are not.

As we were talking I was drawn to a passing van with the license plate “60 BE”, which I read as, “GO BE”. Initially I took this as confirmation to go and do this great, wonderful thing we were so pumped about. But “go do” is not “go be”.

John and I both tend toward doing. We think, we plan, we strategize. We mull, muse and meditate. I am inclined to stay exceptionally active in my head–always reading, researching and ruminating–while my husband thrives on energetic commitments and interpersonal interactions. As different as we are in these ways, it can take a concerted effort for each of us to sit still and just BE. Be present. Be at peace. Be with God. We easily do for God, and think and learn about God, but when it comes to just BEing with God, we can get a little squirmy.

The Season Turner told me this: GO BE. Go BE with Me. Don’t scurry and seek and search for what I want you to do. What I want you to do is be with Me. You’ll do just fine when you know who you are, and you’ll know who you are when you know Whose you are. Know Me. Be with Me. Rest in me. When you are firmly planted in My soil, abiding in My love, you will know My will for your life. I AM My will for your life.

I was reminded that a week earlier, at the beginning of John’s fast, God had given me this word for him: “Lead where I’ve led you.” And before that He had spoken to him, “Where are you standing?” Sometimes we can get so off-course seeking the right course we don’t even realize we are perfectly on-course–standing right where we are supposed to be.

Do you want to know God’s will for your life this season? Look at your feet. Then bloom where you’re planted. Flower, grow fruit, and if the wind carries your seeds elsewhere, then bloom there too. But always begin with your feet. Where you are is where He is, and where He is, is peace and purpose. He’s not where you were or where you will be; He is only where you are–here and now. Become aware of Him in, around and through you in every moment, heartbeat and breath. If you long to taste more of Him, simply soak up the rich goodness of the soil in which you’ve been planted. This is a gift–in the present is His presence and His presence is a present. I AM is now, and every now is a gift.

To effectively do we must effectively be, for to do well is to dwell in I AM.

Go BE, and be free.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

My Father, the farmer

by kerriebutterfield

Pruning by Peter Prehn Flickr.com_3335013028_e0e02bbfeb_z.jpg_ CC BY-ND 4.0

Pruning by Peter Prehn Flickr.com_3335013028_e0e02bbfeb_z.jpg_ CC BY-ND 4.0

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.” John 15:5

On a beautiful, spring morning while we were living in Australia, the Lord woke me up early to go into the garden and prune the trees. He reminded me of the many times in church life I’ve heard, “pruning is painful, but the end result is more fruit.” I’ve always nodded in agreement and probably have said it a few times when someone was going through a painful trial that I could see God using to grow their character.

But, I felt Papa God correcting my perspective and heart in regards to pruning. He gave me a picture of a small child screaming and resisting as he was in a barbers chair. He then reminded me of something I said to my beautician just the day before. I said, “I trust you to make me look good.” He said, “pruning is painful when you resist, and don’t trust me. It’s restful when you trust my character and plans for you. Mature believers trust the pruning hands of Papa. They trust the vision of the Creator, and His promise to make us look like Him. The child -like believer is afraid and doesn’t know enough yet to trust Papa’s hands and intentions.”

Pruning is cutting away the dead branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but draining . Pruning brings life. It can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. Trust and rest that He is shaping you into someone amazing! You will be more fruitful tomorrow than you are today. I believe it because He said it!

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