{re}fresh

Tag: god’s image

Humor

by Wendy

laughing

I poked my head into my husband’s home office long enough to see him don headphones for his next Skype appointment. Backing away to avoid interrupting, I glanced up at his computer screen and saw his co-worker’s avatar – a black and white photo of a somber-faced, suit-wearing male, more like a mugshot than a pleasant introductory portrait. “Now, that’s scary!” I thought as I turned to go, until my husband startled me with his opening greeting.

“Hi, Kevin (not his real name),” he said brightly.” Y’know, when I look at your picture, why do I feel like you’re going to break my knees?”

I sputtered, giggled, covered my open mouth with my hand and ducked into the hallway, hoping I closed the door before “Kevin” could hear my laughter bubbling in the background.   “Like you’re going to break my knees?” Did he really just say that? How could he so quickly capture a moment and banter like that? I shook my head, chuckling, amazed at his ability to tease humor into any conversation.

And then I noticed what the lighthearted conversation accomplished: I wasn’t harried, frenzied and anxious any more. My morning had promised the worst of driven days as I planned to welcome 30 leaders to our home for a two-day seminar, and house six team members. If that wasn’t enough, my office looked like a cross between a bad episode of “Hoarders” and the aftermath of a black Friday sale at Walmart – and some poor soul needed to SLEEP in there. But now that I was laughing, the cleanup process seemed positively hopeful.

Somehow humor breaks through the worst of my introspection. It takes all my negative despair and restores joy and relationship. Laughter forces my spirit to brighten, and I regain hope in the midst of the world’s dark despair.

I wonder, is this just a clever coping mechanism or did God make us this way on purpose? A quick rundown of Bible stories doesn’t exactly produce fodder for a comedy routine – at least not a nice one – but humor must be in there somewhere, since we’re created in God’s image. After all, He created some rather bizarre animals (Armored armadillos? Long-legged giraffes? Waddling penguins? Rafter-hanging bats? Would a somber Creator have made those? Would YOU?). And he created (ahem) us, so HE must have laughed, right?

Come to think of it, almost every interaction with Jesus that I “see” or imagine involves Him smiling, laughing, walking through life with lighthearted security. When I’m anxiously praying that He’ll get me through my dreaded two-hour dental repair, He shows me a picture of Him holding my hand while He sits on the table, grinning, legs swinging, relaxed and unafraid. Even when He heals my greatest pains, holding me while I cry, He always ends with a smile, with joy and hope.

Yes, He weeps with those who weep and cries with us in our sorrow. He upends tables and throws money-changers out of the temple; but He also embodies joy. No one – no one – would follow a somber, intense exhorter who adds obligation and despair to already burdened shoulders. We follow a savior who endured the cross for the JOY set before Him, and his humor and lightness invade our despairing universe.

In these hard days of earthquakes, famines, violence and despair, we need this holy joy. Our personal desolation and corporate angst drive us to places no one can endure. Humor, laughter, lightened hearts lift our darkened hearts and we see again Jesus’ hand and the hope of His breakthrough redemption.

Jesus assures that at the end of all time, we will have joy. We will laugh. We will rejoice. I, for one, cannot afford to wait until then. I will find a way to laugh now and practice joy for eternity. Together, can we risk this? Can we laugh and extend His joy to those mired in pain and darkness?

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When We Forget Who We Really Are

by Dawn Aldrich

 My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king. Psalm 45:1a

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015They charge through the back door wearing their toothy smiles and holding out their arms, ready for great big hugs from this Grams. For a moment, while I inhale their youth, I catch a glimpse of their father – a slight resemblance – in the shape of her face and in his silly, boyish smile. How marvelous!

Wriggling out of my arms they dive into the toy box and Sister quickly emerges with a noble theme. She proudly dons a princess crown, happily announcing her royal presence throughout the kingdom. Suddenly, Brother yanks the sparkling royalty from her head. Arms flail, tears flow, and the little prince and princess misplace their own identities.

There are times we misplace our identities, too. Maybe someone yanks our rightful place out from under us or someone steals our innocence and then walks away. Sometimes though, we’re our own worst enemy – adopting those labels others slap on our backs – until we forget who we are and whose we are.

We need reminding that we are sons and daughters of the King in need of a great rescue.

The King rescues his children

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:5

Throwing colored paper, stickers, and magic markers on the table, Mother and I rescue the moment by transforming the dining room into the Royal Crown Factory. Their eyes fix on my hands as I trace and cut out two pointy, cut-out paper crowns. Busy hands and active imaginations quickly transform these plain shapes into sparkling creations. Smiles reappear across their little royal faces as they once again crown themselves prince and princess.

Restoring our identity as sons and daughters of [God] the King takes more effort than simply donning a cut-out paper crown. But, when we allow God healing access to our hearts, he restores completely.

The King restores our hearts

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… Isaiah 61:1b

So, how do we tap into God’s restorative power? I love how author, Madeleine L’Engle puts it in Walking On Water, “…there is a time in which to be, simply be, that time in which God quietly tell us who we are and who he wants us to be. It is then God can take our emptiness and fill it up with what he wants.”

When we quietly empty ourselves, surrender everything at God’s throne, that’s where He restores. That’s where God whispers our true identity into our souls and we remember our place as His prince and princess – heirs of His Kingdom.

As we know God’s full, heart restoration we experience freedom in the release of our true identity in Christ.

The King releases our true identity

…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1b

Are we ready for a great rescue, today? Instead of groping at our heart wounds, let’s lay them down and let God transform them – transform us – into all He intended us to be. Let’s find some time where we can get honest with God, weep and throw our temper tantrums then, settle down and listen for His heart whisper.

As we daily surrender ourselves to God, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of our Father in our faces as He restores us and we experience life in our true, Kingdom identity as God’s prince and princess.

(To learn more about Dawn, please visit our contributors page).

Treasure Hunters

by mandyade

treasurehuntersA modern parable:

Buried under the surface of the earth are millions of lost treasures. The treasures, though highly valuable, are hidden in dirt and not recognizable, not even they understand what they are.

Treasure hunters dig with picks and shovels, yet the beauty of the treasure is not revealed; all they accomplish is exposing the treasures’ brokenness and damage. These treasures are made from heavenly substance and can only be activated by heaven’s methods.

The treasure hunters weep because their tools and efforts have failed. In desperation, they put down their picks and shovels and call out to the treasure. They speak to these lifeless objects calling them priceless treasures.

At the sound of this strange news the treasures stir, awaken; something ancient and supposedly lost forever. Out of the dirt they arise and move toward the One who calls them treasures.

The earth breaks away and they disturb the ground beneath them. Other broken treasures feel the movement and change. Hope arises under the earth and entire land masses ripple as a domino effect causes countless treasures to awaken and be reclaimed.

Isaiah 60:3-6 says, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” It goes on to describe the peoples of the nations as the riches of the earth. God’s treasures are people – great and small, broken and whole. They are so valuable to God that He gave His own Son to reclaim them.

Once reclaimed we become the treasure hunters. If we try to find lost treasure by picking away, exposing and trying to remove their sin they will simply remain broken treasure. Human methods to reclaim lost souls are useless. Heaven’s way is simply to reveal truth. Lost treasures are blind to the truth of who they are. Their incredible worth must be revealed to them. This is the truth that they do not know. We are the reconcilers, we are the ones who call out to them and reveal who they are.

We are called reconcilers- not sin exposers. In the story of the adulterous woman, the religious were sin exposers- they thought God’s work was uncovering her sin – this brought death. Jesus used heaven’s way; uncovered her treasure by speaking forgiveness over her, revealing the wholeness He brings. His words bring freedom and releases her into the woman God intended.

As lost treasure discerns the hope of their identity and call, they can rise up and sin will fall off them.

The ministry of reconciliation calls out to the deepest longing in people and reveals who they really are; the treasures of the nations! This is NEW news to the lost, even in our generation! They already know the obvious about themselves without us pointing it out. They need NEW news – the original ‘good news’ that tells them the best news – the crazy, ridiculous truth- that instead of counting their sins against them, God gave Jesus to restore them, His treasure!

As hearts respond they are reconciled to God. Reconciled people change and so does the atmosphere around them. They’re contagious and whole communities, schools, cities and nations can be reconciled this way.

Activate:
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal treasure about people and call those things out in them. Take time to listen to Him and take the courage to speak life to people, calling out God’s destiny over your friends and acquaintances.

by Dawn Aldrich

bathroom-scale-scales-only

Help me welcome fellow blogger and member of Wellspring Writers’ Group, Linda J. Maynard as she shares her humor and love for the Lord: Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side— no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp! You know me inside and out, you hold me together,   you never fail to stand me […]

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