God who is good… created

blending-the-elements-of-creation-In the beginning God created.

God is good and God is King.

The stage is set, a story is unfolding. God, who one comes to know through the text of the story, is wildly good and He is King. He is sovereign and He is the ultimate authority. This God who is good acts. His very first action is the fifth word of His story. God created!

With poetic word and rhythm the story of creation unfolds.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formlessand empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good,and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry groundappear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered watershe called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Take a moment to read it again. A beautiful poem, conveying the purpose and intention of an almighty, thoughtful, intentional, and sovereign God.

The picture painted of creation is one that declares the character of God and his intension with his creation and both are good.

What stands out to you as you read the story? What do you notice from the text? What do you learn of God? Creation? Rhythm? People?

I’d love for us to learn from one another as we read and listen.

Disappointment, Hard, the character of God and two hands

sad-womanHard.

It’s a word I’ve used to define my life since the beginning of the year. I am weary of this word and it’s usage in my life. I am weary of having justifiable reasons for using it. I find my self teary even as I type. Hard.

I find that hard is not a comfortable response when others ask me how life is. The question may be asked with honest interest, but there are underline acceptable responses, of which hard is not one.  “Good! things are great, everything is looking up.” Or  the appropriate honest response of, “I’ve been on a challenging journey, but God is good and all will work its way out. As all things work together for the good of those who love Jesus.”  These are the responses most commonly expected. When you’re me, these two responses often feel demanded. But hard…. not the word most want to hear.

Honestly, hard, is not the word I want to say. I want to be able to say that life is good and overflowing with blessing. I want to say that I hit a few bumps in the road, but God is good and I know that all will work out for my good. I want to be able to smile as I describe every aspect of life. Honesty and authenticity keep me from doing such. (Though at times, I simply start talking about work and the good in the lives of others, and avoid the question all together) In reality my word for 2013 has been hard.

Last night as I was driving to a concert where I’d hear young Ugandan children sing and tell the stories of their lives and hopes for the future. As I drove to the concert tears filled my eyes and seemed to pour out. I found myself using a phrase I really had no desire to say, but once again honesty led me to speak what was real, and these words found their home on my lips, “God I’m disappointed in you. And I expect disappointment from you.” I wrestled with these words. How can I be disappointed in God?   I am going to hear stories tonight of those who in all right, can justifiably say that they are disappointed with how life has worked for them. I mean, I’m not without family or clothes or food or other basic needs? How could I be disappointed? But honesty once again forced me to vocalize my felt let down and my expected let down in the future.

Hard  and difficult are words those of us who follow Jesus too often ignore. Somewhere, we bought into a system that said once you follow Jesus, faith and hope and the goodness of God will keep you from experiencing difficulty or at least experiencing the effects of difficulty. But that my friends, simply isn’t true. Yes, God is good. He is faithful. I can put my hope in him. I can get through terrible circumstances with him as my guide and companion, but there is no where that I am promised my experience will be easy or that it will lack suffering or discomfort.

It is often the case that two truths must be held; the reality of current circumstance and the reality of the character of God. He is good and that goodness does not ebb and flow with life circumstance. He is faithful and that faithfulness is not lost when we hit walls of pain and impossibility. He is love and that fact does not change when loneliness is our only friend. He is hope and that remains even when the one thing we love is lost. One truth does not discount the other, nor does one truth cancel out the other. No, in fact the truth of God’s character meets us in the discomfort, loss, suffering, pain and hard and He feels that pain with us.

Two hands, holding two truths. It is in this place I find myself today. I hold two realities, feel them each with great weight and lean into the honesty felt in the presence of each.

What two things do you find yourself clinging to today?

 

 

 

Remember Good

What comes to mind when you hear the question, what are some of your favorite memories? Or what is good that has taken place in your life?

Much of the time we focus on the negative. We remember where we’ve been wounded or bruised, beat up or neglected. These things are real and should not be ignored. But they are not the whole of our life’s story. They tell one side of the story. And often when we are working through issues or in painful times, we can only visualize or remember the negative.

Remembering the negative is almost second nature. We do not need much to remind ourselves of when we were forgotten or the most painful words ever spoken over us. And in the very same way, remembering the positive can be difficult. It is just as easy to forget the good as it is to remember the bad.

It takes work to remember good. It is a discipline that must be practiced. And when it is practiced, it is life altering.

I remember a time in my life when I was experiencing a great darkness. I was very sad and that sadness overwhelmed me. I could not see past the dark clouds of my circumstance. I went to a mentor to share my woes, look for encouragement or more honestly I wanted someone who would commiserate with me. I apparently went to the wrong mentor. She did not want to sit and wallow, no, she encouraged me to praise. To actually begin to praise and thank God. What?!!!! I was supposed to praise God and be thankful in the midst of this! It seemed foolish.

But, I found myself that night praising God and looking for things for which I could be thankful. I was tentative at first, saying something like, “God I know I’m supposed to praise you, but I can’t see how I can. Life really sucks.” Then I heard a question. “Cari does My character change because of your circumstance?” No, I thought to myself. Of course the character of God did not change just because my life circumstances were sucky. So I began to do something very unnatural. I began to sing. I sang hymns, worship songs, songs with the name of Jesus. I began to quote scripture with His name in it and I found my soul that was once spiraling downward, lifted.

God is good. Even when our life feels dark. He is still light. Even when all we can remember is negative, He continues to make good things happen. Praising God for who He is changes our outlook. Remembering what He’s done, reminds us of His character.

I recently bought a roll of butcher paper. It’s about 20ft long. I started filling it with every good memory that would come to mind. It has been remarkably easy. One word leads to another and soon this butcher paper has become a story of faithfulness and goodness.

Remembering is important. We have to practice the art of remembering good so that we can celebrate the good when all we can taste is bad. God’s character will never change. He will always be the very essence of good. His goodness expressed will always be testament to that.

This week take time to remember good. Make a list, start a journal, share memories with a friend… do whatever you have to, so that you can begin to practice the discipline of celebration.  I promise, it will be good!