Whatever is Pure - January 2012
The New Year Resolution
Last year, God showed up in my life. He put my faith through countless trials, pushing me to the edges of my real beliefs. I say "real" beliefs because, deep down, we're all just a bunch of story tellers; liars in our own rights. We choose what issues to face at any given time, while ignoring other, how shall we say, sensitive issues. You know, the stuff that God really wants us to tackle.
"Am I really that selfish?"
"Do I actually speak to the kids that way?'
"Am I really that hypocritical?"
The real beliefs. Yeah, God showed up and forced me to face the gamut of my real beliefs, in order to corner me into making a true choice to either follow him, or to follow the ways of the world. In truth, I guess I was so wrapped up in the invisible blanket of the world's system of getting along, I failed to see the truth of God's word in everyday life.
Everything happens to everyone in their own time. That's one of God's designs you see. He never gives us more than we are capable of handling at a given point in time. But you see, what someone may be able to handle today, I may not be capable of handling for another few years. One of my failure areas the Lord forced me to address, was judgement. I could read ten different scriptures addressing judgement, agree with their doctrines, and then turn right around and judge a friend who might not spiritually be where I thought they were supposed to be, in my time frame. When instructed to confront my own self-righteousness, I didn't like what I saw.
Judgement was only one of the issues God had me tackle. I've got a bag full of them, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Satan's a master craftsman. He weaves his poisonous threading into the delicate fabric of our being. He does such a great stitch job, we rarely notice our sinful beliefs and activities until something terrible happens, or until God's intervention. A lot of times, I have the tendency to react to God's discipline by throwing a tantrum, like I'm some spoiled five year old. But in the end, he always wins me over, because I can't fight God. I know that everything he does in my life, is for the greater good. Jus
t before year's end, I managed to get out to the movie theater and see the awesome movie "Courageous" three times; twice in the span of two days. For those who haven't seen it, I won't spoil the experience. I will say, it is an extremely powerful movie for believers and non-believers alike. Each time I saw the film, I was moved in a different way. It was confirmation for me to step up my efforts toward being obedient to the Lord and his overall plan for my life.
When I first started this memoir, I said, "Last year, God showed up in my life". In truth, he's been with me for the entirety of my existence. I began paying him some attention in 2008, but it wasn't until last year that he challenged me to step out on faith and trust in him on numerous occasions. Man...it was hard to trust in him alone, on some of those trials, because the Lord's promises usually defy logical thinking. But everytime I followed him, he performed some sort of miracle.
Today I feel like the relationship I've shared with him has been a bit one-sided. Most times, I followed the Lord's call because I wanted him to do something for me. Sure reading his word always made me feel cozy; playing his piano during service made me feel special; and tithing made me breath a sigh of obedient relief. But I want a closer relationship with the Lord. I want to be able to follow his command simply because he said so; no expectations on my part. I don't want to strike up any deals with God anymore. Paul and Jesus both followed God out of pure love and adoration; not because they wanted God to perform some miracle for them.
To that end, my New Year Resolution is a simple one. OBEDIENCE. I want to be obedient. No ulterior motives; no gimmicks; no doubts. I want to trust in God and do his will simply because he tells me to. In reality, this simple task is going to be so hard for me to implement, because deep in my soul, I am selfish. In my heart, I say things like:
"God, I want to be rich, someday. I want to know what it feels like to not have to struggle."
"God, I want a new car. I'm tired of dumping money into that busted thing."
"God, I'm gonna need you to give me about a month of no trials. I need a break from challenges."
I, I, I; me, me, me. The things I want; the things I need; the things I want him to do for me in exchange for my doing for him. It gets pretty tiresome being double-minded all the time. I don't want it anymore. I want to submit to God all the way. I realize it's a process, but the desire to get the process rolling is what I'm talking about. I can never repay the Lord for his ultimate sacrifice in saving my life, but I sure can approach him with the best I have to offer, with no strings attached. I think that's all he asks of each of us, anyway. Just bring your best.
© 2011 E. Charles Smith
A New Year
Listen to whispers
All over the earth;
The bells are ringing-
Another year’s birth!
Resound through the lands,
Blasting like trumpets
And loud marching bands!
“Toss out the old!
In with the new!
Change and transform;
Replace the old you!”
There’s just one thing wrong
With thinking that way-
God does the changing,
As we strive to obey.
Our goals and best efforts
Will last and succeed
When we lean on Jesus,
His strength to feed.
To walk in faithfulness
And shine as lights,
We give Him our hearts
Each morning and night.
He holds the future,
Our dreams and plans;
Each road we’ll choose,
All in His hands.
Growing in seasons,
Replacing the old;
Refined as gold.
We hide in His shadow,
Travel the unknown,
Prepared by our Maker,
Trusting in Jesus,
Whatever He sends;
Bitter and sweet,
Up hills, ‘round bends.
The weary made strong
To do all things;
Renewed, to soar
On eagle’s wings.
Time ebbs and flows,
But lessons are learned;
Wrapped in His promises,
Wisdom is earned.
Seeking His presence,
Resting in His care,
Serving the Lord,
While humbly in prayer.
The goal and desire
To please only Him
And follow His steps,
Are in joy or through dim.
The wonders of hope,
The miracles of grace,
The mysteries of His love
Outweigh all we face.
Life is fleeting,
But home is not here;
We press on for the prize;
His coming is near!
As years linger on,
Souls longing in wait,
The closer we come
To eternity’s gates!
One day, years will vanish,
The temporal all gone,
But victory will reign!
Oh, Jesus, lead on!
© 2011 Lynn Patterson
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A Pot Luck
few years back, I had the privilege of attending a community potluck that was in celebration of the accomplishments of young puppeteers, all members of weekly puppet clubs that my church sponsored in their local elementary schools. Many of the children looked forward to the clubs where they were taught practical skills, experienced affirmation and where they were given the opportunity to develop self-discipline. A much appreciated snack was shared as well as many of the club kids lived below the poverty level. By the end of the school term, many of these children had come to love Jesus as much as their leaders did.
Usually, these kids performed to their fellow classmates or in an occasional church service but this celebration was a special occasion. Invitations were sent to family and friends. Due to a communication glitch, our church members were given very short notice that we would be having a potluck at the end of the celebration, causing many a home cook to pull whatever they could put together from their pantry.
The morning of the celebration, I arrived just as the puppet show began. The tables set aside to receive food looked sparse and empty. As I sat my culinary offering down I glanced up to heaven and humbly asked the Lord to multiply my wee little offering. A small bowl of hummus and a plate of pita bread would not go far. Although I enjoyed the puppet show, cheering on the different teams as they presented well rehearsed sets, I couldn't help but glance at the empty table. Such short notice didn't allow our pastors to drill in their congregation's heads to not forget to bring enough food for their families and one family more. A few late comers trickled in, dropping off their dishes. But it was nowhere enough for such a large group of people. Many of our invited guests probably hadn't had a good meal in a while.
The last two groups performed and it was down to the good-bye song. Momentarily, I was distracted by the silly antics of an orangutan, a green duck and an outrageously fluorescent orange lion. Enthusiastically, I joined in the rousing applause as the performers took their curtain calls, even so, I couldn't help but purse my lips in anxiety as I took a rough headcount of the crowd. There were many mouths to feed and I doubted that an abundance of tasty, healthy food would suddenly appear on the tables that lined the walls of the gym. Well, Doubting Katherine needed to do some instant repentance once she turned her attention away from the makeshift stage.
Pizzas had been hastily ordered, perhaps by someone else who shared my lack of faith, filling up a good section of the tables. But there was no need for the pizza nor for my anxiety and doubt. God had other plans. What seemed to be not enough now only a few minutes earlier now was 'too much'. Chilies, salads, sandwiches, chicken, home-made rolls and breads, lasagnas all crowded together, competing for space. Cakes, cookies and squares sat at the dessert table - all tempting people to fit a 'little bit more' on their plate.
By the time 200 people were encouraged to go up for thirds, you would think there wouldn't be much left over and you would be wrong. Huge pots of chili were scooped up and packaged for people to take home. Buns, cheese and meat were set aside to take down to our local men's shelter; children were given cookies and snacks to take home as well. And still, there were leftovers.
How often do I fret that there won't be 'enough'. Enough grace, enough patience, enough love, enough joy, enough peace, enough finances, enough strength? And how often do I pray. "Lord, multiply my little offering", only to stay in unbelief that I won't have enough to give others? So often I look at what others bring to the 'table' of life and think that it's not enough and it won't go far enough. Oh how the Lord must shake His head at my disbelief. The same God who took a boy's lunch and fed thousands is the same God who provides for his people today. God will take what we give out of obedience and multiply it so there is always more than enough to go around.
© 2012 Katherine Walden
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Oh,how You opened my eyes!
Was I blind, indeed, yes, I was?
How your grace abounds where there is sin,
And it was all about me.
Ignorant of Your word, how I was.
Your word I did not hear,
Your mercy I did not need.
Oh, how blind I was.
I dined with sin; I shared a meal with the enemy,
He spoke about You; he convinced me how silly it would
Be to believe in You,
Oh, mighty and awesome God,
How blind I was to turn away from You.
You found me covered with rags, smelling like smoke
Beating left to die, You did not judge.
You did not condemn.
You reached out for my hand and lifted me up,
You asked for my name, and I was lame and ashamed.
I lied, but You knew the truth, You’re the truth.
You took me in; You washed me,
You gave me a new name; You gave me a new identity,
You restored my kingship.
You gave me a new robe, a new ring.
Oh, how blind I was to forsake You Lord,
You looked in my eyes with a sweet and gentle voice
You said”be still know that I AM GOD” with
My new robe I fell down with my face against the ground,
And I said to myself “why did I lose hope, why did I doubt,
Why did I listen to the enemy?”
Oh how blind I was to doubt Your word,
But You took me by the hand and help me up,
Once again You spoke and said “Your past is gone; trust and believe
In me. Remember, be still know
I AM who I say I AM; I AM GOD”
Now I know He is God
I will Be still.
© 2011 Thabang (Br3e) Mphuthi
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As of May 2012, "WHATEVER IS PURE" ARCHIVES will no longer be seeking submissions. As most authors and poets now have their own blogs, we noticed a significant drop in submissions over the past year and felt it was best to move on to other endeavors.