Does it matter if we go to a church each week to renew this philosophy in ourselves or a synagogue, mosque, or temple?
Does it make any difference whether the Love we revere is male, female, binary, gender-fluid, green, purple, a bird, an ox, or a form of energy we cannot comprehend- so we assign these attributes to it so we can understand it better?
Many require proof of God’s existence because we live by what we can see, hear, feel. We need physicality to truly grasp a concept. But many things in this world that we deem as “real” cannot be seen, heard, or felt. and the lack of this evidence doesn’t make the thing imagined…..
Read my full article on Medium – https://medium.com/illumination/what-god-is-doesnt-matter-7568d9a32b7
Setting sun of Change
Seasons Stir new emotions
Warm Glow of New Hope
To take part in the Daily Haiku Challenge see The Original Post from Day One
Beautiful Photograph found on Pinterest. Credit Gratefully Acknowledged to the original photographer…Thank You~
20 years ago I was the manager of a retail music store called The Wall. While working there, I met a young man who so influenced my life that I actually had a series of posts early on in my BnV career that were inspired by him (The Burning Questions). He had a particularly intriguing habit of coming into work each day with a specific question. He would pose this question and we would spend the remainder of the day discussing amongst ourselves our thoughts and opinions on the selected topic. Who is the best band of all time? What is the best song ever written? Do ghosts exist? Is there a God? And always, WHY? They were some of the best conversations I’ve ever had. They must have been, because I still remember.
Fast forward 20 years. Lives change, tragedies and challenges happen, and Inspiration Leads. This same young man is now a father and husband, pastor of his own church, a relatively new blogger and the author of his first book. (I say first, because Im certain there will be many). I shared a post by him just last week called “Youth Sports — Love With A Capital L” and now I’d like to introduce you to him. So grab a beverage, curl up with a blanket and enjoy …..
My name is Chad and this is my profile.
These sorts of things always seem vain and self-important, but I can’t figure out why. We wear name tags, introduce ourselves, smile and invite each other to our parties. This is all a very natural overflow of our human need to connect, to see ourselves as part of a bigger story. When I can find a real-life bookstore, I look at the titles, cover art, and excerpts for the same reason: to find somewhere I can belong, someone I can relate to, a hand to hold.
I guess this impulse is why I/we do anything.
I write often and from a pretty specific point of view. That we are loved and accepted by Our Creator – this perspective is the life-line that runs through every word, even if it is never stated. Because you can tell, right? You can tell if someone thinks you are worthy and beautiful. Religion has so often come down on the wrong side of this, showing people we are garbage, we are primarily sinners possessing no real intrinsic value. It’s why I ran from God, Jesus, and spirituality for most of my life. Once I woke up to the fact that this couldn’t have been further from the truth, woke up to the fact that I was loved, here, now, today, what else could I do but spend the rest of my life as a modern-day street preacher? Instead of sandwich boards pointing to a fiery hell, my tools are my heart to open and my arms to wrap around a cold and lonely world who has believed a lie for way too long.
I started the Bridge Faith Community where I teach on Sunday mornings, write on 2 blogs; bridgefaithcommunity.com and lovewithacapitall.com, and now I wrote a book; Chronicles, Nehemiah and Other Books Nobody Reads, that you can get at lulu.com or at my house.
The Bridge blog is very spiritual, mixing my life with Scripture in an attempt to clearly display that God is not somewhere else, that He is here, if only we have eyes to see.
Love With A Capital L is a bit more fun, mixing my life with, well, your life and the art I see/hear/experience and the things that make today explosive and ordinary and painful and overwhelming and totally worthwhile.
These things are the way I express myself, but to be honest, my favorite work of art is my life. I have been given gifts I could never have imagined and been blessed far beyond my wildest dreams. I have 2 of the sweetest boys you have ever met, Samuel and Elisha, and a wife who is truly an Angel. So, I might make it to a million or I might die tomorrow, but I will be thankful for every moment.
Now that it’s finished, maybe it is vain and self-important, but it was pretty fun, too.
Love & Peace.
Here is a chapter of the book:
XXIII. Everyone Needs A Hand To Hold On To
Let’s take this one day at a time, I’ll hold your hand if you hold mine.
Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, Rise Against
If picture’s worth a thousand words then your touch is worth them all.
Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen, Anberlin
For the closing prayer, everyone at the Bridge stands and holds another’s hand in each of their own. Now, for some, this introduces an element of dread into an otherwise safe environment. I’ve seen some hurry from their seats into the lobby or their car when they begin to sense the message winding down. For others, this is the perfect end to their morning.
At the Bridge, we give an awful lot of thought to the environment we create. From the color to the art on the walls to the music and placement of the tables and food, the narthex (a super-fancy term for lobby that I just love) is designed for welcoming comfort. The people are engaging and kind, the food is terrific, entering is easy and non-threatening.
However, once the service starts, there is a different aim altogether. The Scriptures invite us into a transformation, a spiritual re-birth, and transformations are never comfortable. Has there ever been a woman, reflecting on childbirth, that would say it was anything other than stressful, arduous, and exhausting? It’s called labor.
Of course, the primary announcement of the Gospel, the Good News, is one of grace, forgiveness, rescue, and life. No matter who you were, what you’ve done, where you’ve been, you can come home. Not only can you come home, but the Creator of the Universe, and the Creator of you, has been waiting for you with the table set. He has never stopped loving you. You do not have to get it together, stop doing whatever, start doing whatever, or climb any kind of ladder of achievement. He loves you and accepts you, exactly as you are, here, now, today.
That IS Good News.
My wife fell in love and married me. That was really good news, too. She accepted me as I was, scars and all. I had many habits and vices, none of which I’ll detail here and none of which were honoring to a woman as lovely as Angel. She loved me anyway in spite of my flaws, the way I was.
There is really only one response to that kind of overwhelming love; to live into those shoes, into that identity. (Obviously, the love of my wife is a laughably poor comparison to the love of Jesus Christ, but sometimes laughably poor comparisons are all we have. The Taylor Swift song ‘Begin Again’ makes me cry because it points me in the direction of my God.) If someone sees you, loves you, speaks a fresh word about you, and you believe it, that can change everything about you, everything about the way you live. All of the things that you settled for before that moment suddenly aren’t good enough. You are a child of the Living God, made in His image, and there is an honor and dignity to that. Some things are beneath you now. You are made to fly, not to crawl in the muck at the bottom of any gross barrel you see.
But leaving old lives behind is hard. Shedding that skin is painful, full of starts and restarts.
Welcome to Church, right?
Welcome to the road.
Welcome to a full capital-L Life.
Ideally, you come inside and you hear you are the beautiful artwork of God, loved beyond reason. And you weep.
Then you realize that you have erected all sorts of walls, carried such heavy baggage, worn thick iron chains around your neck, locked yourself in a prison you have built. You have believed so many lies that this is all you are worth.
And again you weep.
But it’s LOVE that exposes those lies. It’s LOVE that gives you the tools to break those chains, destroy those walls, and demolish that prison. Tearing down the cage you’ve constructed forever is hard, terrifying work, not for the weak.
Or for the unconnected.
We live in a culture that glorifies the individual, the loner, the hero who pulls herself up by the bootstraps. Our culture has minimized actual personal contact until we have days where we don’t see or talk to another human being in person. I have hundreds of friends on social media, some I’ve never actually met. I prefer to text. If my phone rings, I assume it is an emergency. I drive myself if I must leave the house.
But why would I leave the house?
I can order any products I see advertised to live a fulfilled life. I can order my groceries online and someone leaves a box outside my door. I don’t even have to get dressed. I have new neighbors who I haven’t met.
This is life? This is living?
Is it living to measure my worth based on how many ‘likes’ my latest post garners?
In a word, no. So we hold each others hands as an act of rebellion, opposing the culture that tells us we should worship at the altar of ourselves and our superior abilities. We hold each others’ hands as proclamation that we are, indeed, alive – especially if we have forgotten. Though the road can be long and difficult, it is nothing we have to travel alone.
Do you know what damage it does to a soul that is never touched by another human being? One of the most revolutionary barriers Jesus broke was to touch those who shouldn’t have been and never were touched. In fact, they were called ‘untouchables’ and they were cast out from the rest, regarded as less than human for some reason or another (blood, skin, sin, etc.). Jesus spoke with them, ate with them, and shockingly touched them. As if they were friends or children and not just a disease, history, or reputation. Of course, the healing was physical, superficial, but the true healing took place where the Pharisees could not see, in their hearts.
And that is absolutely worth a bit of uncomfortability.
Thank you so much Chad for sharing your time, talent and self with BnV. Im pleased and honoured to share the news about all you are doing and pray only the best blessings…or the most inspiring …ever touch your life.
Sweet Flame of Inspiration
Singing to my Soul
To take part in the Daily Haiku Challenge see The Original Post from Day One
Beautiful Photograph found on Pinterest. Credit Gratefully Acknowledged to the Original Photographer. Thank You~
God works in Mysterious ways. I’ve heard that saying most of my life and you probably have too, but I never really appreciated just how mysteriously He works until recently. Oh, I’ve experienced the odd “coincidence” that, in retrospect makes you shake your head in amazement, but that was the extent of my familiarity with God’s Mystery; there was nothing bizarre, nothing flabbergasting.
Recently, however, I discovered just how spectacularly marvelous God’s Mystery really can be. Someone came into my life who so inspired me, so motivated me, that I decided to implement several changes at once; changes that have, in effect, altered my life, potentially forever! Yes, that in itself is rather amazing, but that is only the beginning.
First Change: Transformation, of Mind, of Body, of Spirit, put into practice through a Daily Health Regime created specifically to promote better health of the Body, more Positive and Influential nourishment for the Mind, and Purposeful Time spent each day focusing/centering my Spirit on He who loves me far more greatly than I can ever hope to understand.
Through these Intentional Transformations, I have opened my life to the Second Change: Inspiration; Motivation, which flows from He who is the Source of All inspiration and who Directs my path. This change has brought me here, to this blog, which I’ve often thought about doing but, for years, have never done. I’ve always been a writer; it’s my Gift, but I’ve never truly used this gift for a Purpose or allowed my writing to be used to Serve a Higher Intention; yet now Inspiration flows, unbounded, like a river released at the spring thaw; endlessly churning, constantly changing. My Creative Light has been switched on and everything I see, everything I do now makes me stop to think, “How could I share this?” or “Can this inspire or help anyone other than me?”
These alterations have brought me to the Third Change: drawing me closer to my Spirit and the One from whom that Spirit flows. Growing closer to your own Spirit is a beautiful thing; it opens your eyes, your ears and your heart to hear the Whispers of Life, which ever guide and help if only we listen. Through listening to these gentle whispers, I have been led to pray for The One who originally stirred me into action in the first place, The One who, knowingly or not, was used by God in His wondrous Mystery, through their specific gift, to touch my life in such a remarkable and indelible way that I, as a result, have made all these alterations and, through these changes, find myself led to pray for The One who God led to Inspire me.
God, using one to alter another who will then pray for blessed alteration for The One.
Yes me too, but it certainly is MYSTERIOUS; so much so that I cannot explain it any better, because, as yet, I am still trying to wrap my own mind around it.
May He who Ever Inspires, Transform your own life into the Beautiful Mystery only His Love and Imagination can Create.
Image found on Pinterest
On this Most Lovely, Most Picturesque Day,
I am more Thankful than I can Say;
So Dear Lord, I Gratefully Pray,
For all I take for Granted Day by Day:
For Family and Friends who Support and Love;
For Beloved Pets I’m always thinking of;
For, Simply, Running water, Fresh and Clean;
For A Soft Pillow and Bed where I may Dream;
For Tranquil Sleep filled with Peace, not Fear;
For Knowing You are Always Near;
For Work to do, though I may complain;
For Life that is (relatively) free from Pain;
For Loving me, though I Wander To and Fro;
For Sending Challenges so I May Grow;
For the Hungry, Lord, That I may Give,
Sharing My Blessing, so Others May Live;
For Weariness, Lord, So I may Rest,
In Your Presence, Where I am Blessed,
For All these things, and Infinitely More,
For Life in You, that is Eternally Secure.
Beautiful Quote and Photograph found at : http://www.favim.com
Here it is, Burning Question #3. (insert wild, cheering, jeering applause here)
What sort of writing do you prefer to do the most? And, of course, Why? (Please do leave YOUR smoldering answers in the comments section, since this is rather the point )
MY Smoldering Answer: I particularly love writing description and it matters very little what it might be that I’m describing (within reason). In fact, I have a story I’ve presently laid by for a while, unfinished, but occasionally still work on or read over (I know you understand how that works, even though it sounds insane); the story is about two young people living on an island (just to dumb it down to the bare minimums). In this story, I actually wrote an entire chapter…12 single-spaced typed-pages, just describing the island as it passes through a single day and the only “exciting” thing that happens is that a thunderstorm rolls across the island during the afternoon. Sounds boring, yes, but reading it is rather like taking a holiday without leaving your chair.
Description can take a lot of different forms, however, and more recently I’ve enjoyed writing /describing the beautiful, yet often quite sinister, world of Jindaryn in my Novelette “Dark Fey”. Writing these suspense scenes has also become a particular favourite, of which there are many in this current tale.
And being a lover of words, I could, of course, continue describing my fancy for description, but describing such a fancy might lead you to describe my description as a touch more than fanciful.:)
Like a Pallet of Paint to Bedeck a barren canvas with depths otherwise unknown,
stand ready to unmask me.
Call I then upon their Potent Power
to Speak for me in tongues which I would otherwise be ignorant of
and let them spill out in Endless Fashion,
so that, by some means as I may be incapable of comprehending,
they tell the Secret Truth about my Heart of Hearts.
Listen, then, with an attentive ear so each word may Fulfill its Purpose.
Give over the haste of an accusing mind to the Power of these pawns,
Which now I use so incompetently to extricate myself.
There is a numbing silence
that parades around the inmost parts of me.
An acquiescence of spirit that, at times, threatens to undo me.
Murderous and suffocating in its heaviness of burden,
pain taunts my every fiber.
The shallowness of Love and it’s every Endeavor,
it’s every deception,
it’s every blaze of unbridled passion and confusions of ecstasy
spin my senses beyond my comprehension.
What is there, then, in this plan of existence we call reality
to give us any semblance of Meaning or Purpose?
How do we measure the challenge of continued breath
against the chaos of each beat of our Hearts?
There is an unquestionable merit to Patience, but I am yet to understand it.
Give me greed, hatred, or luckless ambition,
for in these tempestuous actions exists some concordance of logic,
but what of Love?
It does not give us any measure of profit,
it relinquishes no material gains;
yet we track it relentlessly.
It is belittling.
It is Empowering.
It is madness cast upon a writhing sea wherein there lies little Hope.
It is bitter, severing loneliness;
A place I run to where I might hide myself and from where I run to hide.
Still; I cannot hide.
Love is All I truly Long for, Hope for, Dream of.
It is the Apparition, the Mirage I witness all around and, yet, cannot Touch.
Each time I suppose myself to be attaining it,
Love vanishes into silvery nothingness,
only to reappear at the very limit of my perception.
Shall I, then, chase after it?
Or shall I sit down among the dry and dusty tumbleweeds
to wait out the drugery of yet another wearisome day?
Ever and Always, chasing the muse.
Endlessly desirous with Hope as Expectant within me as the Glorious Vision itself,
casting all my anticipation upon the one
Who is ever capable of combating all the ruthlessness of this bleak existence,
and in that Decisive Act of Irrevocable Trust,
I Behold the Potent Power of the Manifestation.
Beautiful Photograph found on Pinterest
Oh My Dearest One,
You cannot comprehend how very much
You Mean to me.
I Love You so;
This world’s vastness is trivial,
Compared to my Great Love,
All for You.
Look, Sweetest Love, Upon the Shore,
The Glistening reaches of Silvery Sand,
The Boundless Ocean;
It is but a drop of water
Compared to the Endless Sea of My Love,
All for You.
Gaze Up, Precious Love,
See the Majestic Heavens
And the Realm of Eternity.
Beyond all this My Love still soars,
Set Free from any limits;
It is Immeasurable, My Great Love,
All for You.
Take my Hand,
Oh My Most Treasured Love,
And Allow me to Share
This Life with You.
Open Your heart and Accept me;
I love You More than any ever could,
With a Love that is Unreserved
And Perfectly Designed,
All for You.
Beautiful Photograph found on Pinterest
Being Grateful means, by Oxford’s definition, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; having or showing the desire or reason to thank someone for giving pleasure or comfort. Being Grateful means you know you are indebted to someone for some action undertaken by them that benefited you in some manner and consciously acknowledging that appreciation. Gratitude can take unnumbered shapes and forms, from tickets to the hottest show in town to a brand new Porsche (theoretically speaking, of course), but often gratitude comes in gentler doses; a simple inclination of the head, a tearful, wordless hug, a handshake and poignant look into another’s eyes. Yet however it comes, it is one of the most important things we can ever do.
Expressing gratitude rewards; it builds bridges, it alleviates tensions, it sets a higher standard, but it also opens the doors and windows to blessings untold. It sets aside our baser, more selfish tendencies and allows us to be, if only for a few moments, the people we all wish we could be far more frequently. It makes princes out of paupers and, conversely, paupers out of princes; it is a leveler of scores and a righter of wrongs and no matter how it is expressed, if it is genuine, it is always significant.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a laborer working at some menial job; cleaning bathrooms perhaps, collecting garbage, mopping floors somewhere. Every day you come in on time, do your job conscientiously and without complaint; you leave only when your task is done completely and correctly, but no one ever says a word to you. If you didn’t do this job, the resulting mess would be atrocious, yet people pass by you all the while you work, stepping to the far side of the hall or moving to the other side of the room rather than approaching you and no one, not even your boss, tells you that you are doing a good job.
Then one day, out of the blue, a complete stranger comes up to you and says Thank You. They tell you they truly appreciate your willingness to do a job that not many others would do and they even go so far as to shake your hand, although you are grimy and they are pressed and polished. It only takes a moment, then they go on their way, but their simple act changes everything. You hold your head higher, walk with a lighter step; you go home, tell those close to you what happened, share how good it made you feel and, regardless of the fact that no one, not even your boss, has ever told you how important you are, you value yourself much more highly.
When you go back to work, you feel so good, so essential, you begin taking on extra responsibilities without being asked; you work a few extra minutes each day tidying up or polishing something that has been neglected for months. You talk to people more willingly; you share a smile more easily; you begin noticing the things that others do, which go unspoken, and you take time to extend a token of appreciation to them. A small note of thanks for cleaning the windows so well or a bottle of water for the man cutting the grass outside in the summer heat, and as a result of all of this, you feel even better about yourself.
Not too long after this change occurs, your boss stops by unannounced to speak with you. He tells you that he has noticed what a great job you’ve been doing lately, how hard you have been working and how well you treat your coworkers and the company’s clientele. He explains that a new position has recently been created by management, one for which he feels you would be perfect, and asks if you would be interested in a promotion and a raise. Then he stands back and watches you smile.
And all because someone thanked you.
Yes, Gratitude is a miracle worker, and if we remember to be thankful for our blessings, big or small, trite or unique, miraculous or mundane, our appreciation invariably opens the floodgates and allows Heaven to send down Showers of Blessings beyond imagining.
August…BLECK! (I’m not entirely sure that is a word, but I’m going with it) This week has been the hottest week of the year (so far) and I am one unhappy little camper. Tuesday 94 degrees; Wednesday 96 degrees; Thursday 97 degrees; Today (yep, it’s Friday!) 98 degrees with enough humidity to make it feel like the notorious sauna outside (Or In HERE, Thank you Cosmo Kramer). Under these circumstances, being an autumn and winter person myself, I am not likely to be found out of doors under many circumstances if it can possibly or, with a little ingenuity, be avoided. Thank God in His Heaven for the man who invented air conditioning!
Unless, of course, your central A/C unit has burned up. Uh-huh, you heard me correctly: hottest week of the year and me with no A/C. (Weep for me if the tears will come!) Now for someone who will happily go for a walk in 30 degrees and flying snow, this situation is certainly not ideal, and for someone (like me) who has a sunlight allergy (It’s true, but that’s an entirely different post, yet again) and literally becomes ill if exposed to heat for any great length of time, the situation is more like HADES on Earth. Fans are wonderful, yes, and they are of great benefit when you are sitting at your computer writing with three of them pointed at you (as I presently am) and have ice packs draped over your body to keep you cool; still, when its 95 INSIDE your house…..(again, feel free to commiserate tearfully should the spirit so move you )
Understand, my wonderful sister and her family live less than 5 miles away and their A/C unit is working perfectly; cool, dry, sweet air abounds and the tropical swelter of July is blissfully locked out of her home, yet here I sit, (enjoying a free sauna whether I want one or not) typing away rather than tearing out of here like I’ve just seen a 6 foot tall spider in the dining room. One might question my mental stability (and probably with good reason!)
What the Harry Potter is wrong with me, You ask? Nothing. Well, nothing that can be easily diagnosed. The simple truth is, I love writing this much and I love sharing my writing so much that I would willingly subject myself to the tropical torture of 95 degrees and 99% humidity (OH please let it rain!) rather than go postless for a single day (again, not sure if that’s a word, but you all understood me so it’s staying…)
So if you ever find yourself wondering if you are on the right path, doing what you are “supposed” to be doing, using your gifts as intended, you might consider what is it that YOU would endure to do whatever it is that you want/like to do. If you find yourself answering that you would rather go sit in the A/C, that you would sacrifice nothing, or you would find the path of least resistance in order to achieve your objective, you may just want to reconsider your strategy.
(and now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to submerse myself in Happy Thoughts!)
Let it Snow! Let It Snow! LET IT SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, I do apologize, I didn’t get off to a fabulous start here, been a while, no excuses, terribly sorry!
Something a bit more relevant than the last Burning Question: What is your favourite Poem and, of course, Why? (and yes, it can certainly be one of your own or by a fellow blogger) Please Post that poem (or a link to it if it is lengthy) and Why you couldn’t possibly live without it.
Mine is, without a doubt, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes ( found here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16431) It is a beautifully, tragic Narrative Poem that is romantic as well as sad, passionate as well as frightening, and evokes breathtaking imagery. I fell in love with this poem the first time I heard it in High School, and then, to my inexplicable delight, I discovered that Loreena McKennitt set it to music. Needless to say, it is now also one of my all time favourite songs…(listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Y-VBD0kRI )