A New Beginning

I usually come here with a message I want to share but today I just really wanted to come here and write without knowing what!  There is an exhilaration in living life in the unknown and so a part of adding joy to my day is doing this!

I just want to write that the purpose of life is so much more than what we produce!  Did you know you can have a perfectly wonderful day apart from being productive??  That the moment we leave this earth, all of our to do lists cease and everything we were intending to do never gets done and the earth still spins without us??  There are thousands of people around the world with no job or no career that wake up and exist, some with joy even, and are their lives not still full of value?!?

I would speculate that the purpose of our lives is to experience the exchange of love, either between us and people, or us and God, and hopefully both.  And money, whether it is elusive or we have plenty, only fits into this equation of purpose when used as a tool to experience this LOVE?

We are even good at turning ministry into a work and can lose joy trying to make as many people possible experience this exchange of love!  God’s calling never asked you to set aside your piece of experiencing heaven on earth for the sake of others; we share what we walk in, whether a worker mentality or a son or daughter of God mentality.

Did you know the fastest way to your eternal productivity is to rest in God’s orchestration and providence in your life and be faithful to the people he’s already placed around you in life?!?  Did you know we are not supposed to pour out our soul for the sake of trying to make something happen that God can do so easily on his own and in his own timing?!?

There is grace and joy when heaven is behind the work of your hands, even when enduring hard or difficult obstacles, where there is nothing else you would rather be doing with your time and energy.  Did you know that rest IS powerful?  Did you know that trust IS productive?

No matter how hard Moses tried in the natural he could have NEVER liberated hundreds of thousands of his people from the Egyptian empire, but when God wanted it to happen, Moses participated but God did all the work?  When we trust God for him to accomplish his ideas through us, it always is supernatural beyond our own abilities?  Deliverance wasn’t even in Moses’ mind!

God’s ideas are the best for us to partner with and sometimes it requires a lack of our own understanding of the how or the why or the timing.  This is great!  You are not doing anything wrong, you are trusting for something bigger than your ability to orchestrate the outcome.

Trust and rest in God’s impossible!  May you truly experience the awe of his manifest glory and presence and orchestration in your life.  Peace and blessings!

Trust/Rest

I’ve been around the idea of trust for sometime, but I didn’t really begin to think about rest until listening to a series on it maybe seven years ago.  I never realized how powerful rest is.  When we strive and fear and fret, its not only so exhausting, its just simply a less fun way to be alive.  I think it helped me to answer the question, what does trust look like?  It can and often, looks like rest

Our imagination can cause our heart to tighten up and our breath to shorten when we imagine some undesired outcome.  Sometimes this process of fear is actually worse than even what we’re fearing!  Most times, these imaginings never come to fruition and they are nothing more than a haunting illusion.  But the goal of fear in our lives is to cause us to become our own Gods.  This is never in our job description.

The only thing that interrupts this is a living relationship with the one who is God.  When we know he is good and we know he is in our future situations and events as much as he’s in our immediate moment, we will rest in the face of illusions of possible frustrations or disappointments.  I think one of the ways God displays his greatness is actually in the personal details of our lives.  He’s really good at.

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In the kingdom of God, a living relationship with a good father, brother, and friend (just a few of the dimensions of our relationship with God) keeps our heart at rest.  Because we experience his love for us, we believe it, we remember it, and we trust rather than react like someone who is alone and needs to fix/control things when there could be an event or situation outside of our expectations.

In God’s kingdom, peace doesn’t have to be forsaken.  If there is a thought or conversation that threatens it, when you recognize that feeling, it is okay to let go of control, to change or fix something.  It is okay not to figure everything out or why something went wrong.  It is okay not having everything figured out for things to come.  It’s okay.  You’re going to be okay.  You are living loved.  And there is someone very capable with you sharing in your experience who is not worried, not fretting, not far away, and who understands and loves you very much.

Trust/Rest is just one more wonderful attribute of God’s wonderful invisible kingdom.  I have forgotten this in certain situations and events in my life.  I can feel his tangible love even now.  And just recently I have been able to completely let go of things in the past I don’t understand, aren’t fixed, and can’t change.  I can trust/rest God completely with the past as much as we can with illusions of our future.  He really is good and moves on our behalf.  It is a beautiful journey of courage that only love creates: surrender.

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Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

A Life Worth Living

imageIt has been almost six months since we decided to move to the Middle East. Many have asked of how we ended up living and being involved in one of the most “difficult” and “hardest” regions on the planet. The simple answer is that it was all His idea. Both my wife and I have felt that our lives haven’t been our own for a long time. When you have this deep conviction it is easier saying yes. Our no has been Crucified with Him. We get people praising us for living what seems like selfless lives. The honest reality is that we are doing what makes us come alive. He has orchestrated our steps and has led us down the road of Love.

We have had the privilege of working with His persecuted Body. Our days and nights consist of hearing people’s journey of Faith. They have had loved ones killed and everything they have worked for destroyed all because of their unbreakable conviction of not bending their knees to fear. I honestly can say that  I complain a lot less since I have been here. In the face of so much loss and pain what can I complain about??? Our brothers and sisters have lost everything but the ability to love. The way they have welcomed us to their homes and families is truly humbling.

If your asking yourself what can you do to help or how can I make a difference  I say to you is that you CAN love. You can love fearlessly and fully. Start with those around you. Do not let yourself be filled or swayed with fear by the Media and ask your God what He thinks about the Refugees. Ask Him how He sees them and go from there.    -Joel

 

 

Belief in Something Bigger than Understanding

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I read and hear things being written or being preached but there seems to be vast areas of my life that have become normal to me that I just don’t hear articulated very much.  Keep in mind I’m not sharing a comprehensive Christian outlook or in any way am I teaching something that is absolute, but I find myself speaking about fringe     things that are sometimes common in riding the life of faith.  I just share them to encourage anyone out there to keep being different, keep being abnormal, and keep being courageous enough to be how God created you to be.

This idea came up a couple days in a row and I have/had zero energy to defend or explain it.  Let me introduce you to the idea through my paintings first then life later.  So I paint.  I paint at events, I paint at home, I like to do creative things and appreciate creativity.  Often, understandably, people come up and ask me what a painting means.  I have seen videos where people do art interpretation three different ways through three different observers and they pull worlds relating to their life experience and personal history from paintings.  Even scripture; a sentence may say one thing, but it speaks differently to different people in different seasons.  It’s alive; living through inspiration.

Life is more controllable and more comfortable when we interpret things, our reality, to mean one specific thing.  It’s logical, it makes sense, and we have right answers.  For some reason, years ago, God decided to slide me off the dance floor of right answers and ever since I have been swimming in a vague reality of the truth of love, three dimensionally swirling around every sort of reality and frankly, sometimes I don’t even remember which way is up.  In this water I am still dancing but my dance partner doesn’t move just back and forth but now my dance partner–which is inspiration–moves in ways I didn’t know I could follow.

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And so in regards to my art for instance.  I paint what I see.  That’s what I do.  I don’t “do” art apart from inspiration.  I’m not religious about that or anything, I just lack desire to create things I understand.  So I buy a canvas as the home for something I’ve already seen in my head.  And in order for productivity to be had, some would say I now have to interpret it and clarify it in order for it to speak.  But inspiration speaks regardless of explanations.  And so I will go through a whole creative process, of seeing, creating, and passing along, without ever understanding what I’m doing the whole time.  It is to my benefit and the benefit of other humans beings around me if I trust inspiration and follow.  He knows every heart and every circumstance and is logically far more effective.

Am I against understanding?  Of course not, it is the spirit of God.  Do I think there is power when we move outside of the borders of our understanding in response to Holy Spirit?  Definitely.  In my life this applies to more than just art.  What about relationships, what about our jobs, what about responding to how God’s created you or something he’s called you to?

There are seasons of my life I don’t understand.  I heard a call, responded, I was myself, and left not knowing what God was doing through that and still don’t.  At times He’s even reiterated it through other people.  “I’m doing more here than you know at the moment.”  Okay… I guess I won’t reason away my “productivity” and move on to something else.  I’ll just continue being me…here.

Success in this life is so vastly different from anything the world paints as success or even the Christian church sometimes.  Success is a relationship.  A relationship where you care for the other person’s opinions and feelings, you listen and get to know them, you walk the same direction together, you believe them, trust them, and grow through your relationship with that person, who is the messiah of your life.

I see people sometimes debating decisions between following what they feel like God is saying or what seems to make sense from their perspective.  Whenever I hear someone say they chose what they felt like God was saying to them I want to leap and cheer and give hugs and high fives.  It comes down to: do you trust him?

I was challenged by God once to worship him, probably more than once, but specifically this one time.  I really carried that word.  Yes it means sing songs with your spirit, yes that means spend time in adoration, that is worship, but for me it meant something more at the time.  How did Christ worship?  Did he lead masses of people in songs and singing to the father?  Did he try to gather everyone together to petition the father concerning the Roman government and social injustices?

His worship in my eyes was his laid down life; his obedience, his surrender, his yes to the father, regardless of its appearance of success or failure.  He lived life in liberty and spoke the truth in order for others to participate with the freedom of life like he was.  Christ, through obedience, in his vast freedom, dared to respond and fail according to the eyes of the world.  God understands what he’s doing when he calls you into something.

He doesn’t misunderstand social security.  He doesn’t misunderstand your expensive education.  He doesn’t forget your history in that area of your life.  He doesn’t not see your inadequacies or your frustrations…or your lack of understanding.  But he didn’t wait for any of those things before going ahead and communicating with your heart anyway.  He knows all those things and understands them completely and still believes in you, and his ways that often offend others senses of normalcy and propriety.

There’s a whole unseen spiritual reality that you are already fully blessed in.  There’s a liberty in everyone’s life that’s been paid for.  There’s belief in something bigger than understanding.  And there’s risk to be had, and fear to laugh in the face of, regardless of having anything to show for our sowing, our response, our journey of love, or our choices.

And…I’m not waiting for understanding to come.  I get to continue to enjoy the ride, I get to continue to go, to listen, to speak, to create, to express, to pray, to rest, to enjoy and he is perfectly able to lead me, shepherd me, teach me, and guide me.  He’s always with me whether or not I understand.  Like a kid in the backseat not aware of a lot of the dynamics that go on the world of adults, I will enjoy the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and leave the driving to someone who created the car, knows the way, and has invited me to come along for the ride.

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