Saturday, July 30, 2016

Inspired. Affirmed. Redeemed.

Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 

Inspired. Affirmed. Redeemed.  All these words fill my heart and mind as I interact with those around me and continue to move forward in my own spiritual trust-walk. Yet God still allows challenges and concerns before me, before this country and the world we live in. It seems everyday this summer swings like a pendulum--up to the heights of knowing God's love and plan, seeing it play out in front of me, bravery and achievement of goals, reunions and celebrations, vacations and beauty in the garden... butterfly wings. Then the news and politics fill our Facebook and living rooms, the heartbreak and evil, the disease and estrangement, the entitlement; the blatant disregard for human life...the tragedy this world has become. That last bit... is a darkness that's always existed, seeping in the cracks we ignore, the things we compromise, the choices we make to appease instead of stand up for truth, and ignorance of what God already accomplished.  God is sovereign and is always, always GOOD!

I am inspired by a young man who chose a profession of service, that of a police officer. Not only did he choose to be an officer of the law, but to do so in the big city, the City of Angels. At such a time as this, we climbed into a car in the early predawn hour on the morning after 5 Dallas policemen were taken out, executed. We watched the brave young recruits receive their handshake from the Chief of Police and the Mayor, listened to the heart breaking yet determined speeches--bittersweet words unintended for that morning, but determined to comfort and strengthen, assure and...give gratitude and love. I was so honored to sit with my closest friend and her family and pray for her son...our sons and daughters.

I am affirmed when my own story of "Grace Upon Amazing Grace, " my work in progress these last few summers, winds down to concluding thoughts, and a point of view switching from myself to my son in heaven. Incidents that to some might seem coincidence or "weird," I know and feel God reaching down and giving me a high-five, a thumbs up in a song or two, butterflies, and many other occurences. It bestows a  confidence... (sigh and smile) that the pages will be tangible soon. Words will be read, and hearts will see and turn to His grace in their own grief. 

I feel the redemption flow when I recognize the nudge, the need to tell someone's story, someone I haven't seen in 25 years. When they show up out of nowhere, open up to me about life and struggles and their own redemption through the gift they've been given late in life, to discover a talent beyond their wildest dreams in the throes of a cancer diagnosis...

"Maybe you're meant to tell my story," he said. Maybe I am. 

 "Genesis"  (God Creating Mars). 

***Creating art for only 11 months now,  a suggestion given to him by a counselor to use the other part of his brain, his three-D paintings are unique, the colors amazing in the detail and texture, and the subjects...inspiring!  

It happens again, a different person, a different dialogue  She writes in a message, ..."I need to tell you stories of the Holy Spirit, true stories of Hope I've experienced.  I need a writer." 

Then again, another person from the far past..."help me please, pray for me, how do I connect back to God in my prayer life?"

Three different souls, me and One God that unites us all. 

 I am redeemed because I am every one of these friends. I lived a life on the fence, one step in the world and a foothold on faith, straddling for balance, ignoring God until tragedy struck. In time and through genuine confession and wanting Him front and center, in control, did grace come pouring back, flooding me with peace and a hope I never felt before. I connected by writing in the pages of a journal and reading with intent, the Holy Words of Scripture. My prayers and my whole self became for the first time, authentic before God, highlighting spiritual gifts and purpose I never believed I was worthy enough to offer. I am used of Him now to bless others. In my darkest moments of this life, God revealed to me in the true supernatural, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and I long to share this miraculous gift of that very grace with everyone. 

So now, in my thoughts, I think on the good, the good God brings out to those that love Him and how it does all work together, even if it takes years. We all need to want to be an inspiration, to have affirmation in our  prayers, to want to serve and protect and give back a bit of ourselves so others can feel hope, and tell of His goodness. He still is in the miracle business. He does it in lives and hearts of His children who always have mattered since Creation began. Yet He allows us the free will to choose. I pray that God matters in your life today; allow Him to show you how to swing again and reach for the clouds. It's only a matter of a little push, a pump of the feet...and you'll feel the power of redemption pulling you up and out towards your own destiny in Him...

...because that is what makes evil benign--that is what keeps the swing going high to touch the clouds of heaven, that is what brings us intimacy and purpose in the opportunity we have to be grateful to Him everyday. 

We only ask you Lord to keep us humble in our own inspiration, in our own affirmation of You and keep redeeming us all for Your glory. May we serve each other in a holy way that unites us in love because all of us matter, everyone of us. Amen.

 Jars of Clay  Higher Than the Sun

Friday, July 1, 2016

Living Liberty, Fullness of Freedom

II Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Where does your liberty, your freedom hang out?  Where does it surface, show itself, invade your space, overflow...

Where does it go when you don't see it? Is it hiding, absent, not available? 

What does the word freedom mean to you? 

Does it conjure up ideas of democracy and patriates? America and the red, white and blue? 

Yes, probably.  I think there's more...

Is liberty a statue or a state of mind and soul? 

We will celebrate freedom/liberty in a couple of days. 

Can't we celebrate it everyday?  It's why we have it, right? 

I know...known of  some people who seem chained, un-free, without liberty. 

I am sure we all have felt this at one time...more than one time. 

Words tumble out like heavy chains linked together with negativity. They trod through life with shoes made from disappointment, shoulders burdened with the world's expectations and troubles. 

When Jesus Christ reigns supreme in our hearts and in our minds, freedom is ours forever. The Cross, like Holy bolt cutters, severed each link. God is our liberator through His Son. The more you meditate on that fact and live it,  in worship, prayer and submission, those chains begin to break apart. 

Shoes seem lighter today. 

Shoulders won't be sore; you'll sleep more restful and feel His peace. 

Words become more gentle, humble and kind, encouraging and uplifting. 

More of Him, less of the world...that is true freedom and a hope not found in the bitter man, but the believing man. 

And isn't that something we need to celebrate everyday?!  

Thank you Lord, for the freedom, the liberation I have in You. Though the evil one wants to find clever ways to weigh me down, keep me from all You want to give me, I know that You Lord, conquer over my enemies, those in thought and those visible. Chains are replaced with Your Hope and Your Joy. I desire to use my freedom in You to further Your Kingdom. Help me Lord to live knowing that everyday, I am free and filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I am free to celebrate that gift in love and deeds for those who need to know how to find that same peace. I'm free to worship you at every minute and proclaim my gratefulness. May I never lose this passion and become apathetic at the thought of true freedom. 

Thank you Lord for the liberty I have to write and post this blog, for that freedom, many have died for. I am forever grateful. God bless them, their families.  Amen. 

Happy 4th!  God Bless America. 

Chris Tomlin