Praise

You make this…

This is heaven’s secret weapon on earth, and it is my secret weapon.  Even though I have it tattooed on my arm, I didn’t realize it until later.  I’m not talking about a religious stream of words engulfing eternity aimed at a distant enthroned God either.  I’m also not talking about dancing in white dresses in the front of a church with prophetically painted flags.

Heaven is whimsical and mysterious, but also entirely practical.  What is the good of any of those above forms if when you walk out relationship you are critical of the people you live or work with, if you berate yourself, or are pessimistically ‘real’ when it comes to life.

Whatever you do unto other people, you do unto God; basic heaven 101 stuff right there.  Well, have you praised him lately?… in other people?  One of the windows of life I entirely love and adore is really seeing an experience or event or circumstance in another person’s life and getting to celebrate it with them, even if they haven’t begun to celebrate it themselves yet.  I have concluded that this is praise.

I could dance on top of mountains and high buildings, but I love cheering someone on as they take their first step at the bottom of the mountain; often it’s the hardest one.  I love laughing in the face of other people’s self doubt when they surprise themselves about what they’re capable of.  I love celebrating who people are, even when they’re forgotten to see their divine shine.  It really is there all the time.  This is my joy in life and it will not be taken from me.

Praise is the water that freedom and life grows in.  And I’m not talking about lying to people either.  Or puffing them up.  The glorious part about praise is that it’s all true.  Love never sets honesty aside, they’re completely compatible.  Do you know you will be surrounded by praise in heaven?  Not just of God, but all of culture will celebrate and not condemn?  No one will remember or bring up the bad stuff, ever, to you again.  No one will accuse your heart of evil, but your goodness will be known to yourself and others, just as He is good?  Rest in knowing he has no end in celebrating with you, about you, and is excited about what’s to come.

…and I see this. Not even that you would make a perfect piece of pottery one day, but that you have already begun a beautiful journey of process that involved risk of failure and therefore required courage.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

Creativity

Oh Creativity. Creativity is powerful. It transcends the mind and enters the soul.  It moves the heart and causes us to feel winds of life. Creativity enters our senses, whether through interior design, music, cooking, art, or dance, and so much more. It’s the theater that causes us to cry and the fashion that leads industries. Creativity is the solution to the worlds problems and the builder of bridges that speak across the barriers of language.

Heaven is the origin of ideas. Heaven is the place color comes from. It’s the revealer of the unseen and the origin of society’s progress. The words that form the books that causes revolutions are the fruit of creativity and original ideas. Liberty is expressed through creativity.  Life is witnessed through expression. Our participation with creativity reminds us we too are the outlets of divine beauty in addition to our counterparts in nature.

Songs awake emotion buried deep beneath life’s experiences. Have you drank from the river of creativity. Is the taste fresh in your memory? There lies a thin veil between endless original movement and sound and our present reality. Everything is accessible. Anything is possible. Do not belittle or underestimate your innate ability to create.

My admonishment is to discover how creativity lives through you. It may be in computer coding, wood craftsmanship, the making of the perfect coffee drink, how you express financial spending trends, how you cause your loved ones to experience your love, the painting of your own nails, or even the style of your walk.

Life is made alive, life is made fun, through creativity. Creativity is a muscle that grows stronger the more you use it. Unique and new expression causes the sparkle to return to our eyes and causes childlike wonder in our spirits. Elementary education may unrecognize and underdevelop the power of creativity in young people but that is in part because its hard to quantify and we’re taught it doesn’t make as much money as practical skills like math and science, although both of those fields can be saturated with creativity as well.

In actuality creativity sells like Gold in any culture. Fashion, film, television, writing, singing, performance, advertising, theater, design, art, musical skill, fine dining, and the like, the best in all of these fields are priceless in their hiring and sought out all over the world. Creatives shape the reality everyone experiences every day, including the look of your home, the device your reading this on, the clothes your currently wearing, down to the packing of the food you have in your fridge.

I cannot communicate the importance creativity plays in God’s kingdom and the synergy heaven shares with life expressed through humanity. Our expression, humanity’s expression, is like the flower in bloom of our species. It appears not to have a necessity just as a flower but creativity is the beauty and aroma of our generation.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Character

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Introduction

God’s kingdom is not found in historical places, modern business enterprises, vast cathedrals, or monuments of education. God’s kingdom is simply and solely made up (in the life we can touch and see around us) of you, of people.  We are the living kingdom of God on earth.  It is not in stuff, or places, but us!  If right now earthquakes shook down all buildings, mountains, and trees, but killed no one, nothing of God’s kingdom would have been shaken. Not one thing would have been lost!

God advances and establishes his eternal kingdom on earth in people. Is he a power hungry egotist? No, he invites us to live in heaven! Our choice! You don’t have to live in peace, joy, love, freedom, or justice! It’s your choice, he just offers complete and total access to all of his goodness free of charge.  Getting back to character.

When you believe God is good, loves you, and delights in you. Things change.  You believe in yourself, you see others greatness, you have value and belonging. This changes our demeanor and reactions and choices to life as it comes our way.

So often the idea of character has died in modern media culture.  But ahh the power of its value continues to live on. So many people have a hard time wrapping their minds around character or really defining it.

What is Character?

Boiled down to our lives, character is how we treat ourselves and one another.  From my personal perspective character is the embodiment of the entire old testament law: “Love your neighbor as yourself” = Your character.

The cool part about experiencing heaven on earth is our daily experience of God’s character. This is what impacts our hearts and minds and changes us.  Who is he, is he really this kind, thoughtful, nice, involved, and actively caring? Yes, he is. Humans experiencing God’s character is what advances his kingdom on earth because it causes us to reflect his lightness.

So often our minds and attentions are called to our external as estimations of our success or value. Our cars, our houses, our jobs, our location, our accomplishments. But to be honest, all of this without possessing good character is empty and pointless. Stuff is stuff! It is not eternal and it does not nor can it give us value.

But your character! Oh, your character! When given the opportunity, God will bring attention to how you are treating yourself or other people, rather than what someone else has done or how things are another fault. We have so much power in how we choose to treat one another. How are you treating people? He values them so much and we get to participate with his love for each individual as much as we choose to allow!

When God says let your light shine it’s your character he wants to shine through! You’re kindness, you’re service, you’re honesty, you’re empathy, your friendliness, your peace-ability.

Not a Performance Scratch Card

Character is not a measuring stick that God wants to hold over you to reveal all your shortcomings. We all have them!  No really!  We all do! But it’s not about stressing out about it or trying harder and harder to love people.  It’s not meant to give you an aneurysm! Spending time with God – living with him actually – causes us to be reminded of how he’s already designed us and who he’s created us to be. We don’t have to work hard at it!  His kingdom in us was given to us fully and completely as a free gift! He loves to give us his kingdom, all aspects of it.

As we live life with him and experience his goodness we are discovering the character of our spirit. We are joy, we are kindness, we are gentleness and patience.  It’s who we are.  Part of the glorious goodness of living in God’s kingdom here on earth is being reminded of our goodness! You are good, through and through. There are no dark spots in you.

Your journey of learning and living is beautiful in its own unique way.  God’s character is revealed in you and through you to others in a way they will never experience it through anyone else in their entire lifetime.  You reveal aspects of God’s nature and character that cannot be replicated by another.  Our character is a gift to others that happens naturally and freely when we come to know and experience God’s!

How Does Character Affect Our World?

Character is actually the strength, or lack of it the weakness, of any nation. Seriously. When the citizens of a town, school, or country have good character, the strength of that body is insurmountable. When character is lacking or weak, any force of destruction will rule the day. There are areas of the world rich in resources but lacking God’s character in its people and poverty permeates the population. A business or government will only stand to the length at which the people who compose it walk in character. Corruption, scandal, selfishness, greed, violence (which are all examples of treating others poorly) will cause any entity to rot from the inside out.

If you want to improve the strength of a business or government you will focus on, teach, and reward positive interaction between the people involved. The most talented artist or celebrity in the world can produce something beautiful but their life will have strife and unhappiness behind it if that talent is not first given a good foundation of character to withstand the temptations of treating themselves or others poorly or with little regard.

Conclusion

Again, this is an entirely unseen area of society. You can look at a photograph of a roomful of people and see what they are wearing, or how they’ve done themselves up, but when the photo is over, how do they treat the other people in the room, or the people they pass when they walk home that night or their family or their spouse when no ones looking?  It matters.  Its important.

Give great regard for your character my friend. More time energy or effort that anything external anyone will ever see. It is the only thing eternal, the only thing God looks at, the only thing he sees. He sees Christ alive in you, living through you, loving yourself and others in a beautiful expansion of his kingdom here on earth. It starts with me.  It starts with you.  It starts with Him.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

The Freedom of Disappointment

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In case you are in an emotional experience of being hard on yourself or not seeing a way out of your own lack of excellent performance in your current circumstances, this blog is for you.  Unfortunately perfectionism and performance based identity pervade the church.  It’s unfortunateness is that it keeps individuals from experiencing heaven in just their living breathing daily life.  It’s common enough, or a safe enough problem to have because it’s not against the law, it can get you ahead in approval seeking ambition or the inner disappointment you carry inside of yourself doesn’t interrupt daily living too much.

In Christ we are no longer under the law; he fulfilled the spirit of the law, and therefore it’s requirements completely.  The law works itself out in some sneaky ways.  Responsibility and expectations are some common forms of control in relationships, even in the relationship we hold with ourselves.  You view yourself as the way you should be, or how you should act, or what you should be getting done.  Even when achieving small goals or completing tasks or being helpful, we can still carry the feeling of failure if any of those things were less than, later than, or not quite up to our own expectations.  Cue disappointment.

This is a wonderful way to miss the joy of existence.  Without knowing it, we may embark on a journey, a project, or a relationship with preconceived expectations in our mind of how that experience or interaction should or would play out.  Things may even start off smashing and go according to plan at first.  It shouldn’t surprise us anymore but then bumps come in the road, at least bumps according to our expectations.  And then what do we do?

How do you crawl out of a pit of the feeling of other people’s disappointment with you?  How do you escape from the feeling of your own disappointment with yourself?  Couldn’t I have handled situations differently?  Couldn’t I have made different choices and avoided the circumstances I see around me?  Can’t I manipulate and control things now and get things back to the way I had wanted them, the way I always saw them?  Can’t I fix things and get them unbroken?  Then I wouldn’t have to feel this way.  Then I wouldn’t have to be this way.

Expectations over our own lives, and expectations other carry over us–whether intentionally or not–only carry with them the power to accuse.  When expectations are the foundations of relationship they are the fuel for guilt, shame, and condemnation.  Cue performance and perfectionism.  If you continue to hold onto those images of unmet expectation over your own life as a source of fuel for your own judgment of your value now, you will never experience the heaven that was purchased for you by Christ, that is meant to be a free gift for your fullness of being alive right now.

Even in subtle forms or not so subtle forms we tell ourselves that those expectations came from God; they are what God originally designed or gave us vision for in the past, or these expectations come by what I obviously should be doing by looking around at others (not recommended).  All of these leave a nice big hole in our heart not filled by Christ, but by our own accusations of performance-based failure.

God died to deliver you from the prison and cage of living a life of obligation, requirements, musts, duties, and have to’s.  His relationship with you has never been based on your performance.  Sometimes the reminder feels like a slap in the face but its the glorious good news: you cannot earn your right standing with God.  Your own assessment of yourself through your own eyes or the eyes of others will never measure up to any humanistic ruler of behaviors and choices–religious or unreligious–whatever that means.

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You are not a disappointment to God.  Who you are, right now, is not a disappointment.  God knows this but do you?  In this cycle of performance we sit upon our own assessments of our lives compared to perceived expectations and continually come out lacking.  If god has given us a directive and we didn’t listen or failed, then we can participate in relationship and tell him that and experience forgiveness through Christ.  We must remove ourselves from our high seats of self-judgment by LETTING GO (let it gooo, let it gooo) of the expectations we have created, that God is not holding on to, because until we do, we will continue to believe the familiar lie that our value or our worth is according to our own assessments.  While often ours is not, his perspective is the perfection of Christ.

Anything less and we wake up in the morning to feelings of disappointment, we experience awesome things all-the-while sitting next our companion of disappointment, and then tomorrow–again, we will not have hope because now our expectation (of God or of ourselves) is to be a disappointment (to others or to ourselves).  To the degree that you resort to assessing your value or worth based on your own expectations of performance is the degree to which you haven’t experienced Christ in your identity.   In order for love to cast out fear, even in your relationship with yourself in your own mind, it must not be based on your performance.

“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things that I cannot change”…or don’t need to be and the wisdom to enjoy life.

Or what do we do when we’re really disappointed with God and holding it over him in our relationship with him?  Is your relationship with him, your intimacy with him, based your own ideas of who he should be or should have been…to you?  He’s okay with disappointing you because its not his obligation to meet your expectations of himself.  He knows who he is.  He is way better than any of us have given him credit for.  It’s the unmet expectation over him you’re being invited to let go of so that you can experience once again the exchange of love with him without conditions on either one of you.  This requires trust.  Trust can be scary, but is a fruit of love.  God disappointed everyone by dying on a cross at the age of 33 rather than delivering his people from the tyranny of Rome.  He’s okay with being misunderstood and accused of failure.  He’s got a different perspective and its far better than ours I assure you.

Your value, and God’s affections for you, are undiminashable.  I want to encourage you today.   In your rest, God can bring about all he has gloriously planned for you to experience in this life.  Maybe even lay down the process of making expectations over yourself and discover the wonder and beauty of your life as he reveals its glory to you.

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