Restoring the Pearl of You

What determines a person’s unique identity? What is constant about him? What changes about him? Has he morphed to the climate, attitudes, perceptions and expectations of certain groups of people?

Most of us have experienced this morphing sometime in our life. We kick ourselves after taking on the group attitude when a discussion erupted. We voice or nod agreement, when it’s not what we agree with at all. We vow to not let ourselves become what others have pegged us, then go to a gathering and act exactly as they expected. It’s a strange power.

Is it possible to be consistent in our identity? Is this what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, influential people, loved ones, or even the corrupted theologies of some churches, and not flex so much that we sell our souls?

When we compromise our integrity, is it worth it? Who gains from our loss? Often we morph to be agreeable, and the person or group demanding it takes. And takes. And takes. And takes some more. They aren’t appreciative or respectful of our sacrifice, only glad to have it go their way.

How far have we sold out our identities? Do we know anymore who we are, or who we would have been had we not morphed for others? Have we become stained and disfigured when we were meant to be perfect pearls?

God offers to help us regain our intended identities. He will quarantine us (metaphorically or literally) to keep pressures to conform at bay, then educate how the outside influences wrongfully shaped us. If we truly want him to, he will restore the identities we lost.

But we must recognize our opportunity for restoration. It’s common for people to reject his intervention. We can be so indoctrinated that we remain bound to imaginary chains, chains that don’t have to restrict us. We too often continue our old thinking. We go through the motions, unmindful. We fail to pause, question, ponder, debate, and resist our status quo.

If we never ponder what others ponder, does that capture our attention? Are we often robotic, hollow, or “Stepford wife-ish” to others? Do we consider ourselves the ones to change, or do we stand firm as being “right”, and dismiss thinkers as “too analytic, too deep, too philosophical”? Sure, it saves time and energy to continue as is, but only for the short term. In the long run, our failure to alter our thinking wastes immeasurable time.

Consider this: Are there people in your life denying your right to pause, think, resist, ponder, question, and struggle with concepts? Who has a right to do that? Should any individual or group claim sovereignty over your mind?

God doesn’t operate that way. He grants us full freedom of will. He is an educator, not a manipulator. He engages in healthy relationships, offering ideas, not imposing them. He encourages dialogue and honest expression of self. He knows our thoughts regardless, it’s illogical to believe he would forbid or reprimand us for being honest with him.

mirror for blogSo let me ask:

Who are you?  What do you think? What is your innate personality?

Are you afraid to express your honest thoughts or true personality, convinced they are unacceptable in your sphere of society? Do you ever wonder why some people get away with authentic self-expression and have no repercussions for it? Have you noticed people like that get their freedom and groups tend to step back with respect to that person? Yet, the more compliant and agreeable you are, the more the group moves in closer and further restricts your rights and individuality. Give them an inch, and they take a mile.

When did it happen, this slow, subtle, giving way to group think? How do you get it back? Can you get yourself back?

You can. If you’ve lost your identity, may God fill you with wisdom and courage for the cause of regaining it.

You must be wise if you’re in unsafe surroundings. Even then, your thoughts are yours and yours alone. Do what you must to stay safe, but don’t let your mind be stolen.

Matthew 7:6 – “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

May you have clarity, wisdom, and courage to reach safety. May you reach a haven where people are like God, where there is no rejection, where you are free to express yourself honestly.

When you do, be prepared to be well-received. The world is thirsty for trustworthy, grounded, independent thinking. Those who suffer under stifling demands to conform to their unrighteous environments are losing hope. They need to see role models living their callings. When you are able to express yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity, you will not turn others off; you will draw others to you.

The power of evil to slowly, imperceptibly rob us of our identities is real in all settings. We are unlikely to be a threat to evil as long as we remain subjugated to ungodly people. Satan knows what he’s dealing with as long as we are predictable. He knows the rules of religions, the demands on underlings to conform. If we swallow the pill of mindless compliance, he is assured of our passivity. We will be passive to injustice. We won’t learn of our God-given rights. We won’t express our true personalities and develop our God-given insights, gifts, talents, and strengths. We won’t be capable of overcoming evil with good.

If you’re suppressed and your identity is muddled, let’s do something about it. Let’s flip-flop the situation, and free you to be capable of overcoming evil with good.

Pray. Expect and listen to the Holy Spirit’s perfect counsel. Reflect: What is your true personality? Is it spirited? Is it strong? Does it debate with majority thinking? Does it fight against untruths? Does it seek ultimate harmony? Does it rise to defend victims? Does it rise to defend yourself, if you are the victim?

Do you fear that your independent thinking will break the rules? What rules? Whose rules? 

Did Martin Luther King turn people off? Did Abraham Lincoln? What if they had been shortsighted, and given up their right to think, debate, and resist common public opinion, because they feared being considered disruptive? So they temporarily ruffled some feathers, they disturbed some people — who said we are born to make unrighteous people comfortable? Who created you for that destiny?

Where is the person God created you to be? You can throw off every demand and expectation that hinders, and be that person.

Will you be accepted? Were Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln accepted?

Look beyond the nearest faces of disapproval as you defy their unrighteousness, and look to the purpose and goals for which Christ calls you. Get past the forceful people in your face spouting their policies, and discover it’s very different away from those people. There is a world beyond your immediate world. Just beyond the few disapproving faces is a world of people who will accept you.

Be bold. Be strong. Be wise. When you are acceptable to God, you are also acceptable to a whole lot of people.

2 Corinthians 10:18 (NIV) – For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

 

Hate In The Time Of Covid.

Me.

Me, who hears your anger.

Me, who hears your dogma and certainty and outrage.

Me, who watches as you assign blame for this nation’s devolution.

Me, who sees the objects of your wrath:  the people with names and faces and value in God’s eyes; the people you used to care about, but have dehumanized now. They are …

Me.

Me, who reads the articles and watches the videos you share. Propaganda pieces created by people that you think are your peers, your tribe, your team.

Me, who knows that propaganda machine doesn’t care about me and they don’t care about you. That giant, cruel machine is effective and determined to divide, to incite rage, to invent targets, and justify the incited anger at those targets,. It seeks to ruin and slander and win and destroy innocent lives.

Me, who reads your posts and articles and watches the videos you share, and with each one I feel the blows.

Because you participate in the machine, you willingly pass on the division and slander and hatred and rage …

To me.

Did you know that I am your target?

Maybe you did. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe I’m naive to have expected you to stop short of aiming attacks on people you know. Not that that makes it better, because it doesn’t, but it could be understandable, I guess, to not fully realize the destruction of your target on the ground when your launch is from an aircraft.

In just the last few weeks, especially the last two … you, who used to be so loving and caring and a peacemaker and a team player by nature … your aggression has been emerging. Quickly. So quickly. Already, in the past week, it is approaching militancy.

You, who I never knew to be like that, ever. Somebody, somewhere got your ear and heart and soul and changed you.

You, who were my classmates and coworkers.

You, who were my friends and neighbors.

You, who were my sisters and brothers in Christ.

You are different now. Now, of all times. Now, when so many are struggling with drastically changed lives, illness, financial devastation, and looming uncertainty.

Now, in the time of COVID-19.

Now, when the world needs help, support, reliability, and a reason to expect a better future. Now, when we need rest and a reprieve, you release this onto us. Now, when we desperately require caring and compassionate and loving people …

You give us this new person you have become.

Now, when I needed you most.

Because I, too, am seeking my footing. Like everyone, as life changed abruptly and drastically, I went tumbling in this atmosphere of massive upheaval.

I needed you. Just like all people depend on those they believe care about them. Right now more than ever.

I needed you to be who I thought you were. I needed to count on some people. Not all people, but some people. And I can, but those numbers of people are small, very, very small. I thought you were one of them — a person whom I could know, beyond-a-doubt, no matter how difficult or crazy the world became, would be good.

This has taken a toll I didn’t anticipate. You, not being who you used to be … you have caused me to trip and somersault and tumble in ways I have never tumbled before. You were part of a rock of sorts, beneath my feet. And it turns out, because you chose the route you chose … you are no longer a part of the rock beneath my feet.

You left who you were. You are no longer there. I never dreamed you would be one of those who would go rogue; who would turn inhumane and hate-filled; who would go frighteningly militant. I thought you would be here, always. I thought you would be godly and good, always.

But you are gone.

You are over there, hating at …

Me.

You are over there, fighting against …

Me.

Your words and militancy have found their target in …

Me.

You thought you were sending out your judgement and condemnation to people that you would never have to see hit by your missiles of destruction?

Me. They hit me.

Maybe you knew that and wanted that. Maybe you didn’t know. I say you should have known. Maybe you are so caught up with those voices that fill your ears and mind that you lost self-awareness. You certainly lost other-awareness. You stopped being concerned about who, exactly, you are targeting, and if, it is right even, this thing that you do now.

I don’t know if you will ever again be the person I used to know.

I am not angry. I haven’t been angry. I have been very, very, very sad for weeks now. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, exactly, that was making me so sad. I knew I could handle all that this pandemic has thrust on us. It was something else:  a low that was distinctly unique; one I have never ever felt before.

But now I know. People I believed in, people I trusted, people I admired and loved and respected and appreciated …

Hate in the time of covid.

You hate me in the time of covid.

And you are gone. You are no longer where you used to be. Nowhere near. I feel in my gut that you are not coming back. I have lost you forever.

And that …

Makes me sad. So very, very, very sad.

You probably aren’t, because you have found a new power. You are strong and mighty, alright. You have it, power. I know that firsthand, because I feel its effects. Your power to hit your target is real. You hit …

Me.

 

 

I

Zoom In

The power of evil to slowly, imperceptibly rob us of our identities is real. We are unlikely to be a threat to evil as long as we remain subjugated to ungodly people and mentalities.

Satan knows what he’s dealing with as long as we are predictable. He knows the rules of religions, the demands on underlings to conform. If we swallow the pill of mindless compliance, he is assured of our passivity.

We will be passive to injustice. We won’t learn of our God-given rights. We won’t express our true personalities and develop our God-given insights, gifts, talents, and strengths. We won’t be capable of overcoming evil with good.

If you’re suppressed and your identity is muddled, let’s do something about it. Let’s flip-flop the situation, and free you to be capable of overcoming evil with good.

Pray. Expect and listen to the Holy Spirit’s perfect counsel. Reflect: What is your true personality? Is it spirited? Is it strong? Does it debate with majority thinking? Does it fight against untruths? Does it seek ultimate harmony? Does it rise to defend victims? Does it rise to defend yourself, if you are the victim?

DSCN0502.jpg crop 2

Do you fear that your independent thinking will break the rules? What rules? Whose rules?

Did Martin Luther King turn people off? Did Abraham Lincoln? What if they had been shortsighted, and given up their right to think, debate, and resist common public opinion, because they feared being considered disruptive? So, they temporarily ruffled some feathers, they disturbed some people — who said we are born to make unrighteous people comfortable? Who created you for that destiny?

Where is the person God created you to be? You can throw off every demand and expectation that hinders, and be that person.

DSCN0501.jpg eagle crop

2 Corinthians 10:18 (NIV) – For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

 

 

A Time For Everything

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Songwriter:  Pete Seeger

Artist:  Judy Collins

 

Surely I Am With You Always, To the Very End of the Age

Matthew 28 (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Lyrics:  Still Rolling Stones
Out of the shadows
Bound for the gallows
A dead man walking
Till love came calling
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
Six feet under
I thought it was over
An answer to prayer
The voice of a Savior
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
All at once I came alive
This beating heart, these open eyes
The grave let go
The darkness should have known
(You’re still rolling rolling, you’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
(You’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
Now that You saved me
I sing ’cause You gave me
A song of revival
I put it on vinyl
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
I once was blinded
But now I see it
I heard about the power
And now I believe it
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
All at once I came alive
This beating heart …

Song credit belongs to Lauren Daigle. The official audio video for Lauren Daigle’s new single “Still Rolling Stones” from her album, Look Up Child. Stream Still Rolling Stones here: https://LaurenDaigle.lnk.to/StillRoll… Order Look Up Child here: https://LaurenDaigle.lnk.to/LookUpChild