Tag: Christianity

I Want to Belong Somewhere

tanya logan rivers of living water

Filling the Holes in our Hearts

Some time back I searched through a number of Christian blogs. I was looking for a tiny bit of encouragement, a message of hope, or an uplifting post. What I found was eleventy thousand posts all dealing with the negative and the hardships and the trouble with life.

[Yes it’s a real number, and it’s mine.]

When we have holes in our spiritual life, they are not necessarily filled by focusing on the bad, by reworking and reliving and re-discussing the negative situations we encounter daily. We can’t fill those holes by dwelling on them.

Just like a hole in the side of a boat, the holes in our spiritual cloth must not be left open; if they are, the good that is inside will leak out and the dirty water that is outside will leak in. Instead, they need to be plugged with a different substance. Sometimes they are filled by hearing a positive message. Often they are filled by other people.

Those holes in our spiritual life represent our neediness. We need/want to be accepted. We want to feel loved. We want to believe we are worthy. We want to know for sure that we are forgiven.

I remember a friend observing someone….she said, “He has a hole in his heart that needs to be filled with the love of God.”

She was right.

Often we go to others to get these needs filled, and something different happens. We think we will get help. We think that our community holds the answers, they are more mature, or they have a higher position, or they’re older so they know better.

Instead of helping us patch the holes they drag us down. And we would have known this would happen, had we read our Bibles:

Isaiah 14:10 They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us.”

“But wait!” You cry, “I didn’t want to become like them! I’m not supposed to.”

You would be right. Because you have that hole in the boat, and you decided to repair it using rotten wood and a toy hammer–your friends– instead of the grind and patch process, now you’re part of a different community. In this community, everybody’s boat is on dry land. It’s like a sea of boats except they’re not on the sea; they’re all laying side-by-side in a vast field of brokenness.

“All I wanted was to feel loved,” you say, feeling hopelessly off course and off kilter.

Ah, but it’s the way you went about it that was wrong. It’s the way we all go about it that moves us so far from True North.

C.S. Lewis said, “We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

We want to belong.

That’s the crux of the matter.

It is why we reach out, over and over, to the wrong places in the wrong people. It’s why we can’t stop trying, even when we say we are going to. How many times do we say “Never again will I—“

We are compelled to keep reaching.

When your heart is only half full, it is easy to reach in the wrong direction. It is only when we see dirty water leaking into the boat that we realize what we’ve done. It wasn’t helpful, but detrimental. It wasn’t quenching your thirst, instead it left you begging for more. And when left alone, that heart will not fill up by itself. Next time, drink water straight from the source:

John 7:37,38 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (MSG)

Rivers. Of living water.

Rivers that brim

And spill

And spill from your depths, my depths

Our depths!

Imagine the beauty, the fulfilment of brimming with the Holy Spirit until we spill over.

Sounds like there are no more holes, doesn’t it?

Thank you, God!

Road to Happiness: 3 Ways to Experience Joy

I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” He of course, can’t clap his hands claws, so he clicks with his tongue. He likes that song so much he tangles it into most of the other things he whistles. As a result of hearing it 14 hours a day, I sing it a lot too. Sometimes I even clap.

I wonder how our lives would be different if we continually sang such a song? It could be out loud, or simply in our heads. It doesn’t have to be a child’s verse. It can be your own creation. It could be a hymn or praise song, or just a mantra.  Something to reflect the deep joy of being alive, being God’s creation…just being. We are promised:

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

True joy floods the soul. It overwhelms with a sense of comfort, of well-being, of love.

One reason we don’t feel that joy continually is that we don’t slow down. We’re overstimulated, bombarded with noise and offers and things that want to pull us in every direction all day, every day. Because of that, we are in such a hurried, harried state of mind that we miss the joy. What a tragedy!

Here are some ways to be sure you experience the joy:

Savor the existence of the Father.  Slow down to feel His presence, to appreciate His intervention.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Who else but us has this awesome private GPS signal?

Savor the blessings.  “What?” you ask, startled. As if there isn’t a blessing.

You’ve probably been so buried in work and home and church and life that you forgot about blessings altogether.

If one doesn’t come to mind immediately, try simply loving the moment. Spend today, just a day,  loving  your tiny patch of the world, with all its warts and turmoil and chaos and stuff. No, the world isn’t perfect. Yes, you wish your daughter wasn’t such a drama queen. You don’t understand why your friend talks behind your back, nor why your husband insists on being so loud.

But all in all, the world is a pretty good place and you are blessed.

Be the Optimist. You know that gal who’s always positive, who always sees the blessing in a situation? Be her.

To an optimist, obstacles are challenges. Waiting is God’s way of making you grow. She never sees loss as failure, but as a chance to change, and she opens her eyes for the next blessing headed her way.

People who think this way see life as full of opportunities. They tune in to God in order to see what awesome adventure is coming next. Their upbeat attitude is contagious.

You see, even non-Christians know that deep joy can’t happen until you are able to slow down, to embrace, to radically experience it. Sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy. Pause and allow yourself to encounter joy today.

Need More? Try the Get Closer to God ecourse.

Friday Five March 17

Five Tips to Help You Grow, Develop, Flourish This has been one wild week. I have 2 publishers waiting on ...
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You wouldn’t Quote “Spare the Rod” If You Knew Where it Really Came From

Spare the Rod... I’m long past the age where parenting is a part of my day. So I was surprised ...
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Just a Small Favor

Hi, As the year draws to a close and planning for 2017 has begun, I'm just hopping online with a ...
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Simplify, Simplify

I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept ...
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Organizing Your Home Slowly Vs the Tidying Up Way

I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home. “You cannot expect to get ...
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tanya logan rivers of living water

I Want to Belong Somewhere

Filling the Holes in our Hearts Some time back I searched through a number of Christian blogs. I was looking ...
Read More

Road to Happiness: 3 Ways to Experience Joy

I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” ...
Read More
welcome wreath TL

Crafting this week

I confess. I've submersed myself in art and creativity this week, to the exclusion of almost everything else. While doing ...
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Change is in the Air

Tanya Logan's breakfast table

I’ve been thinking on this blog for months. Actually not just the blog, but the entire website. Does it meet its purpose? Why am I feeling like it’s a weight around my neck lately? Am I burned out? Should I stop writing?

My focus over the past few years has been narrow. I did it that way on purpose. But now I have the God>I website to handle the “narrow focus” part, plus I’m feeling rather squished in this box, the one I put myself in.

You see, I secretly have desired to expand into more lifestyle-oriented topics, yet I want to honor who I am as a child of God. Is that possible?

Well, of course it is, I decided; after all we struggle and think on and marinate in all our daily “stuff.” Things like, should I switch churches? Should I send my child to Christian school? Do I really act as a wife/mother/teacher ought to act? What do other people do when X does XYZ?

And I would like to share my wreaths, handmade jewelry, and *maybe even* my paintings-in-progress with you. And yes, recipes. But I’ve felt that I shouldn’t, in order to be true to the ‘purpose’ of the blog.

Then there’s my voice. I talk to you like I speak in person, but I’d really like to talk to you like I think. Like I speak to myself in my head. The silliness, the fun jokes I don’t ever share; I see humor almost everywhere. Really. You didn’t know that, did you?

You thought I was some serious Jesus freak. You were both right, and wrong.

So friends, we’re gonna fix this thang.

Starting now, we are going to embark on a new adventure. First, I am melding the website and blog into one. It has a new look. (Do you like it? I wanted something reaaaally girly) And I’m going to talk about the mundane things of life, the things that affect us whether we are Christians or not, whether we are thinking Christlike thoughts in that moment or not, and whether we are doing the right thing.

Or not.

I might even share a recipe or two.

I believe this will enable us to have dialogs that are more real, more honest, and probably deeper than we could in the past. I hope this doesn’t offend my 2,000+ followers. I truly believe it will be for the better — but I know we humans hate change.

Let me know what you think.

Bible Study – End of Week 3

Did you pray for 5 days for someone? Do they help? In other words, I’m wondering if they are still drifting or if you can see some positive motion. Sometimes positive only means that we had a chance to plant a small seed, or perhaps water one that someone else had already set in motion. We don’t always get to see the fruit of our labor.

By now you should have read chapter 3, and you have identified something you are going to give up. This is the hardest week in the entire study. You read some of the things in the book that I myself have given up. The one and keeps coming back for me. All has to do with the computer: spending too much time checking e-mails, too much time on Facebook, and too much time writing in general!

I tend to feel like I didn’t write (because I was busy on Facebook, of course) so I go back to the computer in the evening. Last night I was on it until about 11:15. This has at least 2 negative effects:

  • it keeps me from spending any cuddle time with my husband
  • it leaves me feeling very tired the next day, and like skipping the morning writing-which is the most productive time for me.

I’m just giving you this as an example, I know it’s a small one, but perhaps it will help you in determining what and why your false god is a bad thing.

Please read:

Romans 12:1-2

2 Corinthians 3:18

Jesus did not run around from place to place – remember in Matthew when the disciples tried to rush him past the children and he refused to be hurried? He was not performance based.

We need to learn to serve the Lord without distraction. Satan will try to prevent this by redirecting our focus.

So I’m dying to know-what are you giving up this week? Have you decided?

*We’re Reading Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry

**To print any post, click its title, then click the printer in the upper left-hand corner.

5 Ways to Humble Yourself Now

 

Humility (NOUN) The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

Recently I was writing a piece on humility, and immediately the Lord went to work on me. You need to practice it yourself.

Ugh.

So, off I went to do even more research on the practice of being humble. Here are some ways to humble yourself right now. I hope they are helpful.

Meditate on the greatness of God. When we truly submit to the One Who Is All That Is Holy, we realize that everything about us is from him and we have no control over anything in this world.

Be gracious. Ephesians 4:29 says, ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Is what you say building others up, or do you spend a lot of time in putdowns and gossip? Make a decision to only say things that will build others up.

Serve. Whenever you serve anyone in any way, you are building up the kingdom of God. Try to find someone every day that you can serve. This could be anything from bringing a cup of coffee to providing money to someone in need. You might find a senior who needs a ride someplace. Better yet, find a way to serve in secret, and never let anyone know!

Submit to all authority. This is difficult in today’s world, because we believe strongly in individualism. But we have many authorities in our lives – our pastor, teachers, and superiors on the job.

 Create a lowly place. Remember when Jesus said that if you go to your friend’ s table, you should sit in the lowest place of importance? Often, what we strive for is recognition when we need to strive for is honoring others. Look for the lowly place, and go there.

Pride comes to us naturally, and yet your mother probably always told you that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). It is only by living as a conduit for God’s service that we become humble. Commit yourself today

For further reading: 1 Peter 3:8 – 17, James 4.

**My links today are in the NIV. To change versions, when you get to the link look at the drop-down box on the right that says NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Click there, and scroll to any version you choose.

**To print any page in this blog, click its title. You will see a small printer in the upper left-hand corner; click that to print.

**If you like this page, please share it!

 

 

What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?

 

Bible Study – End of Week 1

This is the end of week 1/Beginning of week 2 discussion for Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry.

Good morning! How is the study going — any questions? Please post a reply even if you do not have questions, so I know you’re there.

What did you learn from Chapter 1? Did something sneak up on you, something you didn’t consider a time-stealer or time waster before? I hope you had the chance to clear some time this past week and spend time sitting in front of the Lord.

Please remember the following points, all found in chapter 1:

* It isn’t the ‘thing’ that is bad — it’s our attitude toward it

* When we allow false gods to take over, the honor due to God and God only is given away to a person, place or thing in His creation.

* When these things block us and cause chaos, Satan wins through the use of our favorite toys.

Chapter 2 is about drifting. This isn’t an idol, of course, but drifting away from God/ your Christian walk can lead to false gods, and that’s why I’ve included it right up front. Our walk is never stagnant, we are either moving toward God or away from Him.

Please memorize Hebrews 2:1 (choose your version). Please be sure to do the homework.

Love you much! I will make a video, it will be up by Monday.

Father God, I ask you to bless each of these lovely people. Bring them to see with your eyes the whole of their lives; not to hurt them, Father, but to help them come closer to you. Please wrap your arms around each of them this week.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Big Announcement

Come Back to Jesus and Don't Bring your Blackberry

To all my faithful readers:

I’m happy to announce I’ll be leading my Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry online. I’ll do this at GoodReads (goodreads.com) on my author page. If you don’t have a GoodReads account, sign-up is quick and easy, I used my Google account and it simply connected. There’s a link in the right column if you are reading this on my blog page. Here is a direct link to the Book Club page.

“I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most“

I’ll also present it here on the blog as a duplication if you prefer; just let me know! I’m really excited because this will be my first time leading it online, except for the focus group that helped me correct it prior to publication; that group had several online participants.

The book is about how to clear out the unnecessary bits of your life so you have time to worship God better. I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most; they come up and thank me later. So, if you’re saying you don’t have time for it– perhaps this is exactly where you need to be?

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or at your local bookstore. There are 2 versions: paperback and Kindle.

Also~ Another announcement. Some  readers subscribed through the RSS feed. Some subscribed another way and I’ve been inputting your emails manually. Just today I submitted them all to Feedburner so you can still get the posts via email, but you’ve received a subscription notice in your email. You need to click that to confirm the subscription. Trust me — Feedburner is a lot more reliable than me!

Til next time,

T.

Disagreements in the Church

I’m reading in 1 Corinthians this week.

Actually, it’s more than that. I am leading a group in a very brave Read The New Testament in 90 Days project—and I am behind.

I. Am. The Leader.

I’m behind.

Anyway. I can’t help it; I’m already there. So let’s move over to 1 Corinthians.

When this letter was written (somewhere around 56 BC) the city of Corinth was full of every sort of shameless, flagrant behavior. It was so horrid in fact that the phrase ‘to act the Corinthian’ – in Greek – meant “to practice fornication.”

Corinth was on a narrow isthmus between two seas; it served as a wealthy port center. Therefore, it had plenty of taverns. And a tiny, newly saved fledgling group of Christians had little say over what went on. Much like now.

So in the midst of all this, Paul visited Corinth and ended up staying 18 months. After that some mail was exchanged between him and the new church at Corinth, and he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians as a response to some of their questions.

Right up front, Paul addressed divisions within the church. Apparently the people were arguing. Perhaps some wanted to be led by a disciple who had actually been with Jesus. Perhaps some preferred Apollos’ way of preaching. Perhaps a new Tea Party had formed within the ranks.

Paul wasted no ink before diving into the fray. “Has Christ been divided?” He demanded (1 Cor. 1:13).

I love his in-your-face method. Nowadays in the church we see it, but don’t name it. We know it, but turn a blind eye. We live with it, like living with a favorite shoe that rubs the foot but is, nonetheless, a favorite so we put up with it.

Paul is not putting up with it.

Paul is having none of it. No division, no arguing, no classes, no I’m-better-because-I-was-baptized-by-(Cephas/Apollos/Paul/Christ).

“I thank God that I baptized none of you…that no man should say you were baptized in my name. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.”

Paul knows his purpose. He has a clear, laser-sharp focus on what he was sent to do. Some might say baptism was a part of it; he says no. He knows his job is only to preach.

Today, the divisions are about carpet color, music style, who should be a deacon, etc. Yet a division is a division, and by focusing on those we are losing our laser focus. We forget what we were called for, to whom we were called, and give those up in favor of … well, let’s read on.

Then he went on to lecture them about the base, worldly things that they probably…held dear. Whoops.

One of the things esteemed in Corinth was knowledge. The learned man, the one who was clever and smart; not that their group was full of this sort of man, but they would have admired them. This, Paul says, is the very antithesis of God’s wisdom:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God has chosen the foolish thing of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” * 1 Corinthians, parts of 1:17-31. Read in its entirety here.

Lest we get lost in that message, let’s just say that God uses those who we would normally consider weak, unimportant or even foolish to deliver his message. Paul then summarizes it beautifully in 2:2 :

”For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

As we think of all the things we do and are and want, I wonder if we could say the same? Could I say “I know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Could you…

What if we…

Here’s another version:

“ I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” *The Message

What if I took this as my mantra, and all I said or did to another – especially someone with whom I am apt to disagree, or argue—what if all was based on that one statement.

Jesus.

Jesus crucified.

Jesus and who he is.

Not:

whoyouare / whoIam

I’m better

I’m smarter

I’m more important.

Not: doggone it let me talk! I have something to say.

Not even: look at me.

Just this:

Look at Jesus.

Look at him.

See his crucifixion?

See his love?

What was I going to argue about, again? I seem to have forgotten.

Through the New Testament in 90 Days

Hi there! I’ve been leading a rather ambitious Bible reading plan…through the New Testament only…..by the end of March! Today is Jan. 6, we have read 6 days. I’ve just posted a new video touching on a couple points about the readings so far:

Also, if you’d like a copy of the entire reading schedule at once, click here

I’m so enjoying this reading together! I hope you will, too. I don’t know how many times most people have read the Bible through. I don’t even know how many times I’ve read it. At least 20, but not more than 30 times I’ve actually read it start to finish. Plus there’s all that other time that we’re focused on a book or a few verses. Still…it’s a living word. So every time you read it, it’s fresh.

How many times have you read the Bible all the way through? Please take a sec to participate in my survey:
Click here to take survey

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