Tag Archive | God

God is not American.

Maybe you’re a Christian.

Maybe you’re not.

If you are the latter, I hope you can glean something from this writing today.

Western world thinking is not the same as Eastern world thinking.

I think being a Christian in America may have some ideas that need adjustment. That’s because I am a Christian in America and I am aware of my ongoing need!

We are a very productive, goal-oriented society. Input – output. Do this, get that.

So when things do not go as planned or what you worked hard for, well, some of us fall apart. It shows up with anger, frustration, self-pity, and/or depression.

Consider this excerpt from an article taken from the NY Times:

Western culture …  conditions people to think of themselves as highly independent entities. And when looking at scenes, Westerners tend to focus on central objects more than on their surroundings.

I came to terms with this some time ago. Over the course of 30 years, my perfectionist and ambitious temperament latched on to the scriptures that talked about doing. Prayer, commitment, service, dedication, and did I mention prayer?

You can imagine when things did not go well after I worked so hard at covering all the bases. Especially when pro-active faith is front and center in your church experience.

Our strengths can be our weaknesses. I am motivated, detailed oriented, and a perfectionist. I thought this was a good thing and they are certainly qualities conducive to good character as outlined in the Bible.

But those things eventually became weaknesses when anything got out of my control. Gradually, as I learned to acknowledge and trust God with each situation, I became less and less irritated.

Hmm. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It isn’t. It’s a huge struggle. But it’s worth it in the end.

Because God is not an American, he doesn’t only teach us through a central object but through our surroundings (see above quote).

Long ago, I was introduced to a few books written by Watchman Nee, a Chinese church leader and teacher during the 20th century.

I was also introduced to not thinking like an American.

Nee saw through a different lens. He saw God working from the inside out through using our every day experiences to shape us and really, to free us from our strengths becoming our weaknesses.

Americans are geared for learning from the outside in. Give me a book. Give me a list. Give me a class. Attend a conference. Then apply (or not).

There is nothing wrong with this. Yet, at best, it doesn’t always last.

When God does something in us, it lasts. Even if we forget and fall back, he reminds us, and builds upon what he began in us.

There’s the small irritations like the time I planted tulips and they didn’t come up.

Then there’s the really big things like divorce, a child’s death, or a serious illness.

Big or small, God wants us to have peace, joy, contentment, strength, and so much more – no matter what we are going through. When we accept our situations instead of resisting with anger, frustration or self-pity, we are allowing God to work within us.

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but how you carry it.

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.” So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

—Mary Oliver

woman's fall woman girl

Photo on <a href=”https://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt;

shadows.

God has a way of hiding in the shadows.

We have a way of stumbling along in the dark until He steps out of them.

It happens in a moment. But when it does, when He steps out and again declares “Let there be light,” the clouds part and our souls’ dark alleys and cluttered corners glow with understanding, hope, and faith. In that moment, if only for that moment, we can see.

And we realize that He’s been there all along.

It’s just that we will see Him in a different light.

shadows

Photo credit: Leonard J Matthews via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

on track.

We are in the process of building a small herd of beef cattle. Herefords.

Last week, 2 heifer calves were born.

Here is one with her mother.

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Life unfolds in mysterious ways, mostly without our contribution.

It makes us pause, doesn’t it?

Yes, life can be gravely sorrowful.

But thankfully, we still see good, too.

It keeps us on track, knowing God is over it all. He alone has the answers.

Rest in that today.

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~~~

the power of being thankful.

There is real power in being thankful.

We know how to exercise our body to improve balance, tone, flexibility, strength, and over all health.

Did you know there is an exercise for our minds? If you feed it with dwelling on your situation, it is the same as not reasonably taking care of your physical body.

When I become overwhelmed with discouragement, everything looks grim. But when I pause and think about the beauty in the midst of sorrow, it lifts me out of despair. When I choose to give someone more benefit than doubt, I am a happier person.

That’s because I have not allowed that situation access to destroying me. Being thankful for the good that has come my way gives me a better outlook on life.

This isn’t “positive thinking”. It is a deeper, genuine, heart-felt moment of gratefulness.

Our emotions have a purpose, but we can’t live with them being the sole navigator of our thoughts. God gave us emotions (he has them, too) but he also gave us the ability to think reasonably.

You might have good reason to be angry. Set it aside for 1 minute. Let your thoughts go to what you are thankful for.

Dealing with tragedies do take longer. There is horrific, destructive pain out there. No one who loses a loved one is comforted by thinking (or being told) “at least you had them for a time”. No. You want them back and that’s all you feel.

It’s okay. God is not in a hurry. And what I have found is he brings small moments of brightness to your life when you aren’t expecting it. Gently and softly he touches your wounded heart with tender care. People often do not do this for us so don’t be upset. Some people expect more from Christians. It’s understandable because we expect compassion, care, and essentially, love.  It is what it is. Don’t let people define how God does things.

You can conquer the reality of your situation through how you think.

Practice being thankful and watch what happens.

ndbutter / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

ndbutter / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

scripture friday.

predictable.

Life can be unpredictable.

Complex.

Turmoil.

Devastation.

clouds

But if we look closely …

we will discover what is predictable.

Simple.

Order.

Calm.

God.

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