{re}fresh

Month: January, 2019

Focusing on first things

by kerriebutterfield

Focus by Kaila VanSumer
Flicker.photos/dioamato/5405697015/in/photolist-9eFBoF

Focus is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary  as, “directed attention.”  As I wracked my brain to write something meaningful about focus, ironically my brain went in all kinds of directions. Eventually, I felt God directing my attention to the creation story and focusing on what He focused on when He created Adam and Eve–blessings and co-reigning over the earth. 

In the record of  God creating , He focused on goodness. He created , stood back and declared what He created to be good. (With the exception of Adam himself, which He made complete by creating Eve and then declared it, “good”). God’s focus is on completeness/wholeness not perfection.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Old Hope for the New Year

by Mike McKinniss

I’ve got babies on the brain. My wife and I are expecting the arrival of our first—any day now!—and the occasion has propelled my mind, quite naturally, to new beginnings. During the Advent season, it was a new and wonderful experience to be anticipating the birth of our own daughter while we read the stories of our savior’s arrival. Now, I don’t expect our little girl to be the world’s redeemer, but we’re excited, nonetheless.

In the process, I landed for a time on a passage occasionally associated with Christmas, though it doesn’t highlight the nativity. It’s John’s prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:1-5, NIV).

In the beginning. Made. Life. Light. Darkness.

We’ve heard these words before. They’re words borrowed from the very first pages of the Bible. (Go ahead and read Genesis 1:1–2:3 to get the full context.) It’s a funny thing for John to begin his story about Jesus by first reminding us of creation. What’s he trying to do?

What John and his original audience would have known—and we might not—is that the Christ-child entered a world predominated by darkness. Jesus was born to Jewish parents in the heart of Palestine, maybe a year or two on either side of what we would now call year one. At the time, Jesus’ countrymen were weary. For 700 years (700!), this once noble people had been toiling under foreign oppression. Their latest overlords, the Romans, were among the most brutal, at one time (not long after Jesus’ resurrection) publicly executing so many Jews on crosses, they ran out of wood. Many of Jesus’ contemporaries were enslaved by crippling debt. Where could they look for relief?

It was as Isaiah had predicted several generations earlier: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (Isa. 60:2a, NIV).

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Be Still

by Rob Dunne

Tiny House by Rendered
Flickr.com/photos/destinationdiy/9276497549/in/photolist-f8JtwV

Tiny homes are fascinating. Kellie and I recently had the opportunity to stay in one. Located in the hill country, we’d lie in bed at night and enjoy a clear view of Orion and the Big and Little Dipper. In the morning, the backyard was visited by a few skittish deer grazing on vegetation. What I found most appealing was the silence. It was far removed from civilization and a place where you could actually hear yourself think.

Before he became king of Israel, David was a shepherd. He spent days and nights watching over the family’s flock. If David was anything like I am with my dog Bailey, he probably held two-way conversations with the sheep. However, the bulk of his time was likely spent in communion with God.

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More

by Dawn Aldrich

Farmer’s Market Quilt by Bennilover
Flickr.1450757415_58f0349595_CC BY_ND 2.0

“…while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful.”         John 15:2 NIV

We don’t usually ring in the New Year with thoughts of pruning and discipline. No, it’s usually rung in with celebration, feasting, dancing and dreams of prosperity. More, if you will, than the previous year.

More. It’s my One Word for 2019 that God’s given me to focus on. More. “More what?” I asked.

 

“More ‘becoming.’ More good fruit,” was God’s reply. Read the rest of this entry »

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