Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Activities with "Eyes Wide Open"

It has been a few months since I last posted here. due to taking some time off to contemplate my next steps in blogging. As I explained in my last post, life is a journey and an adventure. Finding the path that is best for myself can sometimes get overwhelming. I'm still not positive where I'm at with blogging. Summer has been so full, so far. I feel like my blogging still needs to take a back burner and rest a bit. I've been posting more relaxed and fun posts over at my other blog, "Cairn Cottage", which is less demanding of my time. 

I wanted to briefly catch you all up on what I've been doing this summer. We did take our 2-week vacation of  the west coast and PNW states, which was breathtaking, but challenging(for an explination, read my last post, A Nomadic Calling) We have also enjoyed time with family and had a few celebrations together. As I share these photos, I also decided to share some beautiful

Quotes from
“When we experience a moment of beauty, we should turn wonder into worship by giving thanks to God for His goodness in providing it, for His creativity in making it, or simply for our pleasure in experiencing it.” (119)
Flowers from my garden at our lake home.
"Beauty was created by God for a purpose: to give us the experience of wonder. And wonder, in turn, is intended to lead us to the ultimate human expression and privilege: worship. Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving.” (91)
Mama and baby swans that swam in front of our house on the lake.
Glory is the light of divine delight. Specifically, it is the brilliant, emanating overflow expression of God’s infinite delight in being God. Glory light expresses God’s glorious worth. God chooses to express His invisible, infinite worth in a visible, created way. A created thing can reflect or express a spiritual reality. Glory to us looks like light. It is bright. It is radiant.” (48)
Vacation - Mt. Ranier, WA
“God gleams from every molecule and atom of this universe. He is the beauty within and beyond every wonder-creating sensory experience. As we delight in God, our senses search for opportunities to enjoy Him in the pleasurable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures all around us.” (122)
Vacation - Multnomah Falls, OR
“Creation speaks to us — every day, all the time, constantly shouting truths about spiritual reality. Did you hear it this morning as you got up? Did you feel any truth about God this morning as you took a hot shower? Did you taste any truth as you delighted in your morning coffee? Did you hear any divine reality as you heard a bird singing? Did you see any truth as you saw the blue of the sky? What have you actually felt, tasted, touched, seen, and heard today? The whole earth is filled with His glory. Every day creation shouts to us, God is glorious! God is creator! God is provider! God is love! God is there! . . . Everywhere I look, everything I feel, hear, smell, and taste transmits the beauty of God through the beauty of creation. He is the beauty behind all beauty.” (63–64)

Vacation - Along the Oregon coast
Coming together feels great! Relational unity is humanity at its supreme and highest ideal. Have you ever wondered why the greatest memories of our lives are not things we bought or sites we saw or foods we ate? Think about your greatest memories. They probably have something to do with times of closeness with a parent, a child, a spouse, or a friend. Relational unity is beautiful because all the experiential harmonies of this world whisper of the wondrous beauty of the Godhead’s relational three-ness and oneness.”
My "blog" friend, Joan, and me. We got to meet 'in real person1' after 2 years connecting via our blogs.
Our oldest grandson graduated high school!!
“We enjoy holidays (the coming together of family), weddings and anniversaries (celebrations of the union of marriage), and Fourth of July parades (the unity of community and nation). 35)
Fourth of July at our house with family
“As Romans 11:36 states, all things are from God and to God. Beauty boomerangs from God into created beauty, then through the senses and soul of the image-bearer, and finally back to God with praise and glory.” (69)




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Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Nomadic Calling

What a crazy, enlightening, disappointing, heartbreaking, adventuresome weekend I have had!!

My hubby and I finally were able to visit our son, who lives 4 hours away. It had been 5 months since we had seen him last! So, I was beyond excited to be able to see him again!

The first day there, we were informed that he would be moving to Detroit, Michigan in a few months with an old friend. He also informed us that he was in a "relationship" with a girl and they were thinking about also having her move there, as well. Last of all, he informed us that he wanted nothing to do with being a Christian. In fact, he made fun of Christianity, during the time we were visiting him.  At first, I was so heartbroken that I thought the weekend would be ruined.
-

The next day, we had breakfast at a cute little cafe' and tea room in town. 


The discussion started out tense, but by the end of our meal, we decided to go hiking at a local lake.
The rest of the time that we spent together went better, but my heart was still breaking.
But, because of this string of events, I have come to several conclusions:
1.)  Our son is now fully and independently an adult. He makes his own choices/has his own set of beliefs and they are completely opposite of ours.(and the faith that we raised him in.)
 2.) Throughout his lifetime and especially in the last couple of years, since he moved away, my prayers had been fervent, asking God to give him a heart for the Lord and that it would be while he was young, so that we may be able to enjoy a shared faith for many, many years. But, Im tired. Im at the end of my rope. I need a break! And theres nothing wrong with that!





 3.) In a few weeks, the three of us will be taking a 2 week vacation an adventure along the west coast. As we went on our hike this weekend, we all realized that, even though we have many differences, we all REALLY enjoy hiking, sight-seeing, and camping out in nature. We all are looking forward to spending time together, doing what we all do love!
 4.) Last, but not least, my hubby and I are REALLY contemplating what we will do after retirement in a few years. We really have nothing holding us back from ANYTHING, now! Travel is at the top of our list. And camping/van dwelling(at least part-time) is the way we want to do it. This upcoming vacation is like a trial run, as we have rented a campervan to camp in during our time together. If all goes well, we will begin the process of building our own custom camper from a basic utility van. (I have checked into this and it has been done and Youtube videos were made, giving directions on how it is done.)


I feel like this will be a chance for my hubby and I to regroup our thoughts, learn to enjoy life as just the two of us, and figure out what our calling will be during this new season of our lives.

Recently, I wrote on "Simplifying our lives" and "Being Authentic". I feel this was no accident, as I feel like we may be called to be NOMADS,. Yes, I said nomads!
The definition of nomads:  People who moved about from place to place, having no settled abode.
The term nomad comes from the Greek form of a Latin word meaning to graze. Nomads were wandering shepherds who moved their families and their flocks They lived in tents and took with them only what clothing and supplies they had to have. (http://bibleresources.americanbible.org/resource/nomads-wandering-herders)

Examples of nomads:

  •   The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews - Many Biblical characters, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and others, lived a nomadic lifestyle. A nomad lived in tents and traveled from location to location in search of water and pastures for their livestock.
  • Jesus disciples left their families, their homes, jobs, everything, to live a nomadic lifestyle and preach the Word. - Mark 10:30 (http://www.mainstreet-churchofchrist.com/WrittenLessons/Mark_10.htm)


  •  Jesus Christ was a nomad - Watch this video about a book called "Holy Nomad"...
So, there you have it. Definitely, a weekend full of difficult news, new decisions and future plans. This also means that I will be absent from blogging for awhile. Like last year, I am taking a break from blogging. I don't even know what the future holds for my blog here. Maybe I'll return with a new lifestyle, a new season starting up in my life. Maybe, I won't even continue blogging. Who knows? Whatever comes of this new adventure, I will do my best to keep all of my bloggy friends updated. Thanks for all your support and encouraging comments!!


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Authentic Christianity: A Counterculture Movement?

Once again,  I found a certain subject that is interesting and appealing to my heart. So, just as I've done in other posts, I have delve deep and have learned a lot of things on the subject of "authentic Christianity". Hopefully, this won't send you running the other way....and hitting the exit button. Hopefully, it will draw your attention, as it has mine.

My subject has to do with living out an authentic Christ-centered life. (Don't we all want that?) It's amazing how we, as Christians have gotten so far off track, though.  What does being an"authentic Christianity" really mean? Here is one man's take...

After a brief search, I have discovered that a new movement of churches is growing in our culture.  Also called “Simple Church” - The Simple Church movement is an Evangelical Christian movement that reinterprets the nature and practice of "church".
"A simple church may meet anywhere with or without trained leaders, formal liturgy, programs or structures. To facilitate relationship, discipleship (spiritual formation), multiplication, mobility, and member ownership, a simple church is usually a small group of no more than 20-25 persons. Church "programs" are virtually nonexistent and small group participation is essential. The process of moving from worship to small group, small group to mission work, and mission work to worship is a primary focus." (source)
What are authentic Christians, anyway?

AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS ARE TRANSPARENT
If you have been in the church very long, you know there are people who are evasive and others who are downright deceptive.And there are those who are in denial; they have issues in their lives and their relationships that they never acknowledge or deal with. These are the kinds of people who often are the source of division and confusion in the church.Authentic Christians are transparent. What you see is what you get with them. They have learned through hard experiences that the transparent life is more likely to bring them the joy and peace of the Kingdom, so they are honest about what is happening in their own lives and they are honest about issues they have with other people.Transparent people learn the wisdom of living according to John's plea that we be transparent in our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with other people (see1 John 1:7-9).That is, we live in confession of our sins, we find forgiveness of our sins, and we walk in truth and light with God and with others.

AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS SHOW CHRIST'S LOVE THROUGH SERVING OTHERS.

Love In the Name of Christ exists only to help churches mobilize their members to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities.  As Christians we are called to show the love of Christ to those in need.  It is only through the love of Christ, living in and reflected by his people, that lives, burdened and broken by the world, can be transformed into wholeness.When local churches, united in the purpose of showing Christ's love in their community, come together they are a powerful force for transformation, not only to individuals and families, but to the entire community.


AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS ARE CHARACTERIZED BY FOUR THINGS
1.    We are to be sincere and honest 
2.    We are "commissioned by God." We each have a purpose. We are not to be idle dreamers or wasters with no definite objective in view. We have been commissioned as military officers are commissioned, given a definite task and specific assignments so the Christian is commissioned.
3.   We do all this "in the sight of God." This indicates an attitude of openness to investigation, of transparency. A man who walks in the sight of God isn't interested in putting up a good front. He is perfectly trustworthy.
4.    "We speak, as ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us" (vs. 20). 

It is not being a Christian that produces these, but living as a Christian. There is a knowledge we must have and a choice we must make before these virtues will be consistently present.
Another term often thrown around and heard lately is "organic faith"
Briefly defined, "an organic church is a group of believers in Jesus Christ who are learning to live by the indwelling Lord together. They have left behind the man-made religious system normally referred to as Christianity, along with all of the “baggage” associated with that system. They have embraced Christ alone as their only Life, Center, and Head of the church. They are learning to function as the Body of Christ in order to express His fullness. And they are learning to live together as His house and His family in face-to-face community." http://www.organicchurch.org/

Also often associated with this movement is what is known as "Counter Culture"

  1. Defined: "A counter culture is any group of people whose beliefs, values, styles, and attitudes differ from that of the prevailing culture. Counter-culture began with the hippie movement back in the late 60's and 70's. In today's society, counter-culture is most often seen in the alternative subcultures." (source) 
How are Christian leaders being countercultural, and why do their lifestyles give us hope for the future of our faith? 
"The next generation of Christians aren’t separatists - those who have removed themselves far away from the corruption of culture in the name of their game, antagonists - those who have decided to fight against almost everything culture promotes, or striving to be “relevant." - those who simply copy culture and become a Xerox of what they perceive as hip in hopes that people will perceive them as “cool” and give them a chance.  Instead, countercultural Christians advance the common good in society. These Christians see themselves as salt, preserving agents actively working for restoration in the middle of a decaying culture. They attach themselves to people and structures that are in danger of rotting while availing themselves to Christ’s redeeming power to do work through them. They understand that by being restorers they fight against the cultural norms and often flow counter to the cultural tide. But they feel that, as Christians, they’ve been called to partner with God in restoring and renewing everything they see falling apart."(source)
 What if:
  1. What if, instead of reacting to something or standing against something, we learned how to live for something? This is the kind of life we see Jesus live—and it's the kind of life into which He invites all of us. It’s tempting to think differently. It seems like Jesus was against a lot of things in his day, but if we consider the cross, we may think differently. Jesus was alone. He showed humanity what it means to be for something. It’s obvious that everyone was against Him, prior to going to the cross. This is why Paul said we were enemies of God—we were against Him. At the same time, Jesus, who gave His life for the redemption of the world, was for us.(source)
A commitment to being countercultural rather than being removed or “relevant” isn’t always easy. Living differently can be hard. Going against the ebbs and flows of culture can create friction and sometimes provoke a hostile reaction to the good we are trying to create.  As the apostle Peter encourages, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pt. 2:12, TNIV). 

When Christians have the courage and compassion to apply their convictions to everyday life, particularly when it comes to the most pressing social issues of our day, we have tremendous opportunities to affect people for good. Clearly, the call of Jesus is for the Christian community to be salt on a rotting world and light in the dimmest places. 

"Jesus was not only counter-cultural—He was transcultural calling us to transform our culture rather than blending into it."(source)


What are your thoughts on the subject of authentic Christianity and do you think this is a counterculture movement today?
Have a blessed week! 


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