He Is

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

I am Alex.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister.

Beloved.

I am a writer. A teacher. A dreamer.

I am a poet.

A fierce heart and an unbreakable spirit.

I am a reader.

Living wildly in my head.

I am me.

 

The Eternal One to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. This is what you should tell the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to rescue you.” Exodus 3:14

How I define myself also relates to how I define God. I box Him in and confine Him with my labels.

But God cannot be defined. Will not be confined. He is the breaker of shackles, the destroyer of chains.

Not even death stood a chance. Against Him.

He is.

There is no name, but His. No other name under heaven. He is the bringer of rescue, wearing my deliverance as a priestly robe.

He is compassion. And mercy.

He is slow to anger.

Abundant in loyal love and truth.

He is forgiveness. And justice.

He is matchless.

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams.

And His name?

His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
    He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
    Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And He is coming.

Coming back.

He is.

 

Transformation: Renewing Our Minds

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

Our family recently returned from a crazy family camping weekend. Lots of group activities, very little sleep, critters, and plenty of bug bites with memories to match. You know, all the things that make for good family lore. The best part of the whole weekend? We had no cell service in the park due to the high bluffs surrounding us. No phone calls, no internet. It was glorious.

For some time now, I’ve felt God stirring my heart about the creeping danger of distraction (particularly the role social media has taken) in our lives. As someone required to stay connected to manage social media accounts for work, it has become more and more difficult to draw the line. Where to stop? When is enough? Will I ever just be done? There are always new updates, the latest post, and breaking news to pore over, like, and comment on.

Some of my friends have chosen to opt out or even leave social media altogether to avoid this control in their lives, many citing their struggles over the very real comparison trap of social media. I feel bad about myself when I see what others have/are doing. One friend even told me that she left Facebook because she was tired of the dissonance in her reality, rife with daily struggles, and everyone else’s highlight reel.

Yet, just as in all other areas of our lives, we also have a choice: the choice to maintain control (as I discuss with my teen daughter almost daily). This applies to not just what we CHOOSE to post, but also whether we CHOOSE to look and how we allow what we see to affect us. Harsh? Perhaps, but this is a perfect example of the necessity of training our minds.

In Romans 12, Paul states, “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” {VOICE} How do we keep the pressures of conformity, the trap of comparison, and our own pride and feelings of inferiority at bay? We renew our minds. Transformation, real God-inspired transformation, always begins on the inside.

The process of renewing of our minds will only and always start at the foot of the cross. “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself” (1 Corinthians 1:30a). We do not need to seek any knowledge or change anything about ourselves prior to seeking first His Kingdom. Seek first.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT).

If we truly want to escape the trap and the sadness and the corruption of our humanistic desires, the desire to be smarter than, better than, happier than, skinnier than, and throw way more perfect parties than, then we must cling to these precious promises and move forward trusting Him. But it takes work. It takes dying. Dying to that which you previously held so tightly. How do you spend your time, your talent, your treasure? How do you measure your identity, your purpose, your worth? (Hint: If it isn’t Jesus Christ and the work you’re doing to see His Kingdom come, you may want to rethink some things).

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone (2 Peter 1:5-7 NLT).

Renewing our minds through faith in Christ Jesus remains a process of supplementation. This has been one of my favorite passages lately as I’ve struggled mightily over loving difficult people in my life. To be a good Christian girl, I MUST love others. Yet, God showed me that my struggles were to be expected, because I was coming up short in my legwork. I demanded the full fruits of the Spirit to blossom without actually planting or watering my own faith life.

When I evade moral excellence and forgo time with God, getting to know Him more, how can I expect to maintain self-control? I can’t help looking and comparing myself to others on Facebook when I don’t first ground myself in God and His Word, seeking His help in the process. And I certainly can’t love others genuinely until I’ve had the self-control to avoid comparison, removing the focus from myself and placing it on God, where it rightfully belongs.

Our faith rests secure in Him, but we are life-long works in progress. Take heart, though, “The Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world ” (Philippians 1:6 VOICE} I urge you then to fix your eyes on our King, sisters, not on one another and certainly not on what they might have that you feel you lack. Because when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can step out, hands leading, ready to hold, to hug, to carry one another.

And sometimes that requires removing the distractions that blind us.

AS

Palm Sunday – Let’s Not Leave It to the Stones

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

{Luke 19:36-40 NLT}

Today was Palm Sunday. Perhaps little children waved palm branches in church this morning or your pastor mentioned something or maybe you didn’t realize it at all. Palm Sunday was always interesting to me growing up in the church, but unremarkable. The age old Sunday School story of Jesus on parade being greeted by the same obnoxious people that murder Him in time for us to celebrate Easter.

Maybe (like me) you always pictured yourself on the street’s edge that warm, sunny day in Jerusalem, shouting along with the others, ““Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” {Matthew 21:9 NIV} But how willing are we to admit that we were also the ones screaming, “Crucify him!” by the week’s end?

Hosanna, from the Hebrew, means “help” or “save, I pray.” But when I cry Hosanna, often I, like the crowd in Jerusalem centuries earlier, want to be saved in my own way. Save me from the mess I’ve gotten myself into, help me help myself. Jesus, if only you could make me a better version of me and fix my life, then you are really worthy of my worship.

The Jews in Jerusalem, wanting to be rescued from their oppression under Roman rule, cried, “Hosanna,” expecting a conquering king, a man of power to restore their state. But their Savior rode to greet them on a donkey’s colt, the Prince of Peace come to restore their souls. When He failed to meet their expectations, their worship died on their lips and they condemned Him to die on a cross. They must have been mistaken, surely He couldn’t have been the one the Lord sent to save them.

So this Palm Sunday, I once again cry out to Jesus. But not as before, my own indignant pleas questioning God as I desire Him to be. This time, I recognize my help and salvation are secure in who God is and what He’s already done. My cry carries the utmost confidence of an answer. Not for a leg-up today, but in the promise those nail-scarred hands extended for all eternity. My Hosanna is sung in worship to my King, because, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.” {Job 19:25 NLT}

Now when I cry out my Hosannas, even in the depth of my despair, may they not be self-seeking to get my own way, but God-seeking to prepare the way for my Father’s will in me. This Palm Sunday, I worship the living Redeemer in recognition of the price He paid for us all, an honor I refuse to leave to mere stones.

Be Light

Faith & Spirituality
Be Light

{from Mercy Ministries}

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

{Matthew 5:14-16 The Message}