Nature Sings of God’s Handiwork

by: Billie Jo Youman’s

Do you see God’s handiwork as you look around our world? It is there! His attributes, like a fingerprint, appear throughout the universe. Learning to see God in the world around us brings amazing possibilities because the natural reveals the spiritual.

How about this for a worship reminder: the universe actually sings all the time! We notice the birds and sometimes the wind, but there is continual praise. Enjoy this video that allows us to sing alongside creation …

Read the rest of this lovely post on The Bottom Line. 

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Growing Wonderfully

acorn-nature-1432983-mGrowing up in rural Oklahoma, the ground was always slathered with acorns like thick butter on toasted, summer soil. Not so appetizing, most of them were infested with tiny, gray worms, but nonetheless, they provided hours of entertainment. My sisters and I collected them, drew faces on them, smashed them and, yes, even tasted one or two. However, we enjoyed the final, mature state of the acorns even more.

The monstrous oaks that ringed our acreage served many purposes. They were for climbing, hanging our homemade bird feeders, swinging in our hammock and resting under. They were home-base for tense games of freeze tag or hide-n-seek.

When I was young, it didn’t much amaze me, or really even occur to me that each mighty oak had once been a tiny acorn. It wasn’t until high school biology that I marveled at the seed’s transformation.

Easter just passed this year. In the weeks before it, I found myself pouring over 1 Corinthians 15, a chapter that encapsulates the entire Gospel message in 58 verses. Easter obviously calls to mind Christ’s body—his death and the resurrection of His physical body. But what tugged at my mind most, was Paul’s consideration of what we will look like after death. And like many other other Biblical analogies, he uses nature—specifically seeds—to do so.

1 Corinthians 15:35-44
“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

Wondering about your body after death? Paul asks. Think of a seed.

My mind tripped back to those acorns. Mature oak trees bear little resemblance to their seed, the unassuming acorn. When an acorn falls into the ground, it is covered by dirt, baked by the sun and showered with hundreds of seasonal storms. Finally, when the Creator deems the right moment, a sapling cracks earth’s crust and reaches gangly arms toward the sunlight. The acorn takes on its final form, the body for which it was created, the shape for which it was always intended.

In the same way, Paul says, our earthly bodies will die. Most of us will experience much the same thing as an acorn—burial, the seasonal elements. And, like the mature oak tree, our Creator will give to us our final form—the full, glorious, splendid body that was always intended for us. This is the form, the spiritual body in which we will live forever in the presence of the One whose image we bear.

Can you see it? We will not lose ourselves or our essence any more than an oak tree forsakes its origin in the acorn. The tree is what an acorn was always intended to be; it really had no purpose (save entertaining children) than to one day become an oak! So too, you and I will become more fully ourselves, more complete, more useful and purpose-filled than we have ever been before.

The death of these earthly bodies is not so much a loss, as a metamorphosis. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a limitless Creator who intends all good things for us. He cannot wait to see the full blossom of your wonderful maturity, the donning of your spiritual body. Then, we will never know fatigue, but sing incessant praises to The One who made us wonderfully.

This was first published on the Wonderfully Made Blog. I encourage you to visit their site and be encouraged!

Intoxicating

barbed-wire-on-a-stormy-day-1117143-mHow good of you Lord, to wrap another day
In pre-storm quiet and low-hung gray.
Sweet, tingly scent of fresh-cut grass
Hangs lazy, expectant in the air.
Silence pierced as with tiny holes,
By bird-song here and there.

The air is due for washing,
Pollen latent, clings to walls and walks where,
In minutes or hours, pure rain
Will leave them clean and bare.

How Good is God–Creator God!
To mold the world for me!
And add the redbud highlights as far as I can see.
Intoxicating beauty, I try to hold my breath,
And wish, as Joshua, “Sun stand still”,
Let worship resound in me!

In kind deference, God gifted me this world
While cold and undeserving my fists still clenched and curled.
But in this gift so undeserved,
He radiates Himself,
In quiet, sweetness, and cleansing rain.

Right here I’ve come to know Him,
Right here to understand,
The vastness of His love for me,
The perfection of His plan.

My soul awakes, revives to sing,
My fists loosen and relax.
For here within His goodness
Drunken by His beauty,
Mesmerized by love…

I give with abandon all I have
So frail compared to this.
But in all He has, He only wants–what I alone can give:
My trust, my faith, surrender,
My life to largest hands,
The ones who sculpted all this world,
This intoxicating land.

Poem From A Broken Writer

I felt sunlight softening soul into spirit,

Liquifying calcified dreams

Pressed dormant into crannies

Of this flesh-shell.

 

I felt icicles like prisms melting

Drips of radiant, golden life

Suspended from the end of despair

And soften, butter-yellow

Fall, back into this flesh-shell.

 

Yes, I felt sunlight soften my soul

Dripping spirit back into body

Filling, ever so slowly, back up this

Gutted flesh-shell.

 

I watched goals and dreams flitter

Like litter cross the street,

Fast and flimsy, uncharted, un-chased

Un-pursued.

 

Acorns pop beneath my feet,

Rebelling, I walk past lecture halls

And lessons.

I abandon should’s and should-nots and

Probably nevers.

 

I refuse the notion that my pen,

My words, my voice propels

The essence of my story.

I am not the harvest of so many pages

Or the culmination of book deals,

Digital friends and lurid likes.

 

I am not a soul-ish creature

But spirit filled and driven,

Spirit carried and consumed.

I am an artist and a canvas,

Both a creator and a lump of clay.

 

So, I let the warmth of sunlight

Bake my spirit firm.

Like autumn pies, rich with clove

Fragrance wafting from this open heart and

Weakened pen.

 

As soul melts and drips spirit

Back into this flesh-shell,

Abba bake me in the morning rays

Of Your exquisite love

And infinite purpose.

 

A purpose so profound,

It is only written on a softened heart.

A purpose of worship,

In words and notebooks, pens and pages

Hearts and humanity in right this minute.

Problem of Prayer

Have you picked up The Screwtape Letters yet? I hope I have piqued your interest onimages some level. Here’s a questions we’ve all asked…

Does prayer work?

Actually, that aside, do you want prayer to work?

C.S. Lewis makes an insightful case against many of us who engage in prayer for any reason.

Don’t forget to use the “head I win, tails you lose” argument. If the thing he prays for doesn’t happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don’t work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and “therefore it would have happened anyway”, and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.

It has frequently been noted that there are no atheists in fox holes. In other words, in the midst of dire or uncontrollable circumstances, almost anyone, for however brief a moment will resort to belief in God, and will, in sincerest tones, beseech the once blasphemed Creator to HELP!

We saw this happen at 9/11. It happens with every tsunami, hurricane and mass shooting. But then what?

It has also frequently been observed that the very ones who recently cried out to their Creator, just as quickly attribute His response to coincidence.

My husband and I are moving in a couple months. Not having children and not being high maintenance, and knowing that we’ll only live in our new domain for a year, we decided not to travel to GA to pick a house. Instead, after a few days of culling Military By Owner and realtor websites, we settled on one that seemed perfect. Actually, more honestly, we settled on one that I really felt God had “given” us.

When we called the owners, we were informed that there was another couple interested in the property and they were able to move in sooner, thus paying an extra month’s rent. If by chance, this first family fell through, we could rent the home.

How I prayed! “Lord, I really believe you said this is our house. It meets all our needs and it’s in our price range. Father, please allow us to rent this house!

Until the last minute, we waited. No word. I was pretty sure we’d lost our chance and I assumed that I had misheard God. Then, late on the last night, I got an email, “We’re sending the lease for your review. It looks like you’ll be our renters.”

Whew, that was close! And I almost did it. I almost thanked the owner and blessed my lucky starts.

But Father, thank you for knowing exactly what we need and providing it. And thank you even more, that you do speak to me, that you are wiling to speak to my heart even when my faith is weak. Lord, I believe. Take away my unbelief.

Clothed in Christ

Whatcha wearing?

No, that’s not meant to be an indecent question, or provoke impure thoughts. On the contrary, it is intended to direct your thoughts to righteousness. So, what are you wearing?

I appear to be wearing black yoga pants, a three-quarter-length T-shirt sporting my college mascot, Pistol Pete, pink and black sneakers and the ever present hairband on my wrist. But I wonder, is that really all there?

Only recently have I noticed the similarities between how our physical eyes see things, and how spiritually we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, come to look like Him and how we are called to display the glory of God.

Shapes, colors, objects only appear to us only by their relationship to light. We cannot know the real substance of something or someone in pitch darkness. So it is with our souls. Outside of the light of Jesus, the light of the world, we can never fully know ourselves or be known.

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Ps. 36:9

And consider, when we step into the light of Jesus, that we discover our truest selves. Made in His image, as we reflect His glory, our actual shape, bent, calling and nature are brought to light, made tangible, made real. The Hebrew word for glory, is more specifically translated to mean, “outshining.” Remember the story of Moses’ face glowing after he spent time on Mt. Sinai with God? It was the result of being exposed to God’s glory, or the outshining of God’s presence.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

Isn’t it amazing, that the very Creator of our eyes related our physical bodies to our spirits? To truly see our physical world, we need light. To truly see ourselves, and become all that we are made to be, we must be exposed to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

So, what are you wearing? Are you glowing? Can you see yourself in the light of Jesus?

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Phil. 3:9

Good and Naked

I’m pretty glad we wear clothes, and not just because they cover up a lot of things I’d rather not see.

However, if Adam and Eve were created naked, “and it was good,” why do we get dressed every day?

Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. All of their nakedness was perfection to Him and mirrored Himself. It’s a little strange to consider, but when Adam and Eve looked at each other relative to the rest of creation, it was obvious that they looked like their Father, their creator.

We often recall that the immediate consequence of their sin was clothing. They scrambled for fig leaves until God gave them a more permanent dressing of animal skins. But they had been naked all along. How could that have been sinful in itself?

I image that Satan curled slippery around the trunk of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “You won’t surely die,” he whispered. “But God knows you will become like Him knowing good and evil.” There it was, Satan told Eve that God had lied, He really hadn’t made them like Himself. He really wasn’t a benevolent Father offering to them all that they could ever desire. 

Adam and Eve had been naked all along, nakedness wasn’t a sin. How did identifying their nakedness become the shame inducing moment that sent them running to hide from God?

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

In the seconds it took them sink their God-given teeth into the skin of a sweet fruit, the gravity of their choice hit them, painfully. The serpent had lied, they really did look like God. God really had made them in His image. It wasn’t that being naked was evil and they simply figured it out all of a sudden. No, the evil that they instantly became aware of was their decision to believe someone other God. They doubted the goodness and truth of their best friend.

Jesus calls Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. Adam and Eve denied the very essence and nature of their Father.

He isn’t truth, they thought.

Adam and Eve first clothed themselves. They used it to cover their shame. And so, I believe that it was out of mercy that God clothed them.

Imagine a master potter. His choicest piece of clay spinning smoothly beneath his fingers. When He finishes, he sets the masterpiece in the center of His daily table, pleased with its beauty. One day, a mischievous child intentionally reaches up and throws the beautiful piece to the floor. The potter is crushed. It saddens Him to know its intended perfection and to now see it in shambles. So He picks up the pieces and gently, lovingly covers them with his cloak – clothing the shards.

Maybe that’s what God was doing – until the moment when He restores all of His creation to its original goodness.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

 

Naked Shame? or Very Good

There is at least one common picture in every family’s photo album. Or as many common pictures as children in the family. It is the inevitable bathroom picture.

imagesA pink, pudgy child, below the age of shame, plays in the tub, blissfully ignorant of Daddy’s camera. If not ignorant, simply unaffected by the potential shame in that microsecond flash of light. Bubbles cling to smooth, clean skin. A dollop of suds perches atop a curly head, like a white crown. The little girl is joyfully convinced that her royalty is unmarred by nakedness. Or, the tiny self-imagined cowboy remains undaunted by his immodesty. And Daddy grins with pride at the innocence and perfection.

It might remain that way. If the little girl were never exposed to any opinion but that of her father and mother. If the only people whoever judged her nakedness were those who created her together, who bore her in their loins and pushed her into this critical world. But it won’t be that way.

The boy might remain proud of every inch of his natural physique, if he only internalized his parents’ admiration. If only he was never told, “You should look like this…,” or, “You could be more perfect. You’re lacking something.”

When did naked become a problem? 

God created Adam and Eve in His own perfect image. He bore them, and brought them to life by His own exhale. And He thought they were perfect. He knew their frame. He knew they were dust and He knew they were good. They were exactly as He intended.

And what if they had never entertained the voice that said, You could be more? You are lacking.

When God entered the garden after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had already scrambled to cover themselves. Then they hid from their Creator, dearest Love, most Faithful Companion. The first moment earth knew shame. The first time a woman cowered in humiliation from the longing eyes of her lover. 

But they had been naked before. God had seen them naked. They had gazed at each other naked. It was obvious they had been made in God’s image. They looked like His children. So why were they ashamed? What were they afraid of?

Adam and Eve’s sin was not that they were naked. In fact, I think God’s greatest disappointment was that his children listened to, entertained and believed the serpent’s opinion of them over His own. Essentially, with their choice to eat the fruit, Adam and Eve were demonstrating that they did not believe God. They did not believe that He was a perfect creator. They did not believe that God had made them VERY GOOD.

Just like the child in the bathtub, they would have grown up seeing that they looked just like Daddy. And they would have grown in the assurance that they were VERY GOOD.

How do you overcome the shame surrounding your body, your failure, your insufficiencies? Is it possible to ever again be VERY GOOD to God? If so, is it possible to ever be convinced in your own mind that you are VERY GOOD? Can you ever return to the way it was?

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Through the means of a couple of pastors lately, unrelated and in their own sermons, God has posed this question to me, “Who told you you were fat?”

Quite a provoking question to ask a recovering anorexic. Who told me I was fat? Where did I get that idea? How do I silence that voice, turn and drink in the voice of a God who calls me VERY GOOD? Permit me a paraphrase of the verses above:

So, from now on, I will regard no one (including myself) as fat or ugly or worthless. Because I believe in Jesus Christ, everything bad about me is gone. He has created me all over, and again and made me VERY GOOD! All this is from God, who brought me back to Him, restored me to my original mint condition and to His favor. Because of Jesus, I am perfect in Christ and I am given this responsibility, no, this JOY, of telling the world that Jesus has restored us. Shame has no influence over those who believe their Daddy.

Flicker of Hope for Us

A spark or glimmer

Nearly died last week.

Tonight it’s flicker

A tiniest peek

Of hope for tomorrow

Faith in love.

 

Before my heart

All but above

Despaired of here and him.

And us and dreams.

But with the breath of

A Creator with

Hands of love and

Plans through pain.

And a will that’s not my own.

 

Inhale.

A fresh, awakening frost

To my lungs

A stinging hope for two

As one.

 

Relationship is a fragile thing. Especially when it is sworn to survive anything and everything, to never expire. When you can’t tire of the other, and no matter how wounded you are you can’t escape – not without dying.

Recently, my most intimate relationship, my marriage, has been tested. I feel as if I have been walking on a tightrope made of glass. It hurts, but falling might hurt even more. And regardless, I will fall sometime. Circumstances must tilt too far left or right and I will inevitably plunge to one end or another.

But God.

God has filled my lungs with a stinging deep inhale. Again, it hurts. But suddenly, I’m alive, awake and aware that when I fall, to the left or the right, He will catch me.

Here with you, I am completely vulnerable and honest. If I can’t humbly share my pain and failures, how can I adequately describe the depths to which God went and continues to go to rescue me? Recently, I finished a 12 week group counseling course with Marsha Means, MA. I urge you, beg you, if your marriage is teetering on a high wire, if your hand is on the door knob, or your heart is more lonely with your soul-mate than it’s ever been before… get help, find courage, you’re not alone.