I Believe In…..

Seeing is believing….but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.
~The Conductor on the Polar Express

It’s easy to believe in things I can see firsthand with my eyes. It’s harder to believe in things I cannot physically see. But does that mean they are any less real?

I can’t “see” gravity. What I can see is gravity’s effect.
I can’t “see” air. But, I know I cannot live without it.
I can’t “see” thoughts…even though I could look at the physical place where they originate.

I don’t believe any of us would dispute the “reality” of any of the above intangibles. Just because we cannot physically see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I can’t “see” love. What I can see is the results of love and how it can affect others. And those results often come in the form of feelings and emotions….more intangibles that cannot be actually seen. Generosity, compassion, forgiveness, grace, mercy, hope….all things that cannot be physically seen but stem from the reality of Love.

We’re so quick to say, “seeing is believing,” but the most real things of this life can only be seen when we open the eyes of our hearts…and feel those wonderful intangibles life has to offer.

This is my contribution to Annie’s blog hop called Sparks.
“I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Also adding a bit of “awwwww” for Awww Monday over at Comedy Plus 

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Perfectly Imperfect!

perfectly imperfect72
Texture by Kim Klassen; Waterfront 7, 30% soft light

Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely.
Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly.
Though we may feel lost and without compass,
God’s love encompasses us completely.
He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed,
rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.

~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Kim’s prompt this week for Texture Tuesday is Perfectly Imperfect. And my inspiration come from last Sunday when Twix was baptized into God’s covenant grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:7-9

We are all born into this world in the human default position…sinners. We don’t like to think of adorable children as sinners…and Twix is just about perfect in every way…but with Adam’s fall, being born a sinner is everyone’s fate. But, for Christians who believe in the saving grace of Jesus, baptism is God’s way of confirming we are not condemned to live that life forever. Through water and His word, we are cleansed and forgiven of our sins and, even though we are still very much imperfect, we’re bought and paid for by JC’s perfect, sacrificial death. Baptism is a sacred act in which God Himself forgives and gives new life, bestowing on us the gift of the Holy Spirit and all His promises.

Even though we are imperfect, we are made perfect through God’s saving grace and sealed at His children through the cleansing of water and his Word.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ~Romans 6:4

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Texture Twist and Life Through the Lens.
Texture Tuesday   texture-twist  Life through lens

Christian Atheists

pray-graceChristian Atheists. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it?

Maybe not.

I’ve debated whether to talk about this, given the complex, varied and sometimes volatile view of Christianity in the blogosphere. And while there is an official definition of Christian Atheism, I’m going to be playing a bit fast and loose with my interpretation.

My definition of a Christian Atheist can be found in every church and in every denomination. The type of Christian Atheism I’m talking about can affect every single Christian at some point in their lives. And we’re all susceptible to its theology, and might not even realize it.

Simply put, it’s professing to being a Christian, but living like God doesn’t have any real bearing on our lives, or has any impact in how we make decisions. It’s when we insist we believe in a God of the Universe; a God that hears our prayers; a God that’s in control of events…..yet we put strict parameters on where, when and how He’s involved in our lives. It’s the resistance to having a personal relationship; always keeping Him at arm’s length so not to get too carried away with “that sort of thing” so we don’t have to give up too much of our precious time. Or, be too accountable for our actions.

Sometimes we want God’s guidance, but are quick to try and take back control when life gets scary and bumpy…thinking we can take care of it much better all by ourselves. Or, we live like He’s not part of our lives until life gets scary and bumpy…then we’re all about making spiritual back-room deals.

If we’re Christians, and honest ones at that, we’ll admit this happens to us…a lot. After all, we already know we’re fallen creatures, unable to live up to those pesky commandments that mark a perfect life. That’s just a fact, Jack. We’re all works in progress.

I’m sure none of us consider ourselves to be Christian Atheists, but we all have the potential to fall into that mindset. We may call ourselves Christians, yet there’s a definite disconnect when it comes to how we conduct our lives.

And aren’t we masters of the excuse?!

I believe God’s providence, but am still worried about……
I believe happiness lies with God, but to be truly happy, I need……..
I believe in God’s comfort, grace and forgiveness, but can’t move past……
I believe God hears prayers, but not sure it makes any difference because…….
I want a deeper relationship with God, but can’t find/don’t want to make time to………

See what I mean? We have a gazillion excuses on how NOT walk the walk even though we try and talk the talk.

We may pray…occasionally…but deep down, we don’t believe it really makes any difference. Sometimes there’s a grand canyon chasm between our actions at the Saturday night partay! and Sunday morning worship…if we even make it there. And for that matter, sometimes there’s a deeper chasm between how we act in Sunday morning worship and Monday morning at the office.

And, while we’re being honest, don’t we all have a little difficulty getting our arms around some of the things God does and doesn’t do? After all, why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people? Why can’t God just make everyone’s life a bed or roses and leave it at that? Why are there struggles, hardships, broken relationships, death? If He was truly powerful and in control, He’d………

See what I mean? The second we begin second-guessing the Creator of the Universe, we have the potential to become Christian Atheists.

How do we get our beliefs and actions to align?
How do we develop a faith that is genuine and authentic?
How do we put our happiness into the hands of something we can’t see, hear or touch?
How can we not latch on to the latest culture-craze mindset and focus on developing a solid foundation for our lives?

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:22-23

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.
~Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish author and philosopher

Just a bit of randomness today. Hope you all are having a great week.

Cloudy skies quotography

clouds quote72God writes the Gospel not in the bible alone, but also on trees,
and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
~commonly attributed to Martin Luther

No, not Martin Luther King…the original Martin Luther, clergyman of Protestant Reformation fame.

Before you peg me as a pantheist, let me let me tell you why I marvel at nature. The natural laws of our universe are so complex and beautiful. From the vastness of the cosmos to the complex language of our DNA, natural laws follow order and logic. What would happen if natural laws didn’t follow any specific order or logic? It  would be mass chaos! The laws of our universe are woven together in a way that ensure a smoothly-run world…naturally speaking. Remove even one of the laws…light, motion, gravity…and just watch everything unravel.

The laws of physics to mathematics to logic to chemistry are inter-related and depend on one another to work in perfect unison to sustain life in all forms.  If everything in this world just haphazardly came into being, then why should we think there would be any logical, orderly principles?

Why should the universe obey laws unless there was one who set those laws into motion?

Linking up with Quotography
Quotography

B is for Belief

 

stained concrete 5 texture provided by Jay Hilgert/bittbox.com

What exactly is Belief? Is Belief the same as Faith?

Not necessarily.

Beliefs are assumptions that an opinion is true; being confident and convinced that what we think about something is, in fact, fact. Beliefs help us find answers to questions. They are reassuring and comforting to us in times of adversity, and can get us through difficult situations. Sometimes we go to great lengths to defend our beliefs to those who have different beliefs opinions…that they think are equally true. Most beliefs are formed by outcomes of previous experiences, and can become a way to justify actions. They satisfy our need for answers and can quickly become absolutes in our lives. Beliefs bring people together in a common bond or goal.

Faith, on the other hand, is belief without needing any proof. When we have faith in something, we don’t need to have it proven with our own 5 senses. Faith is all about being convinced of something we hope is true. Sometimes having faith in something flies in the face of all things logical. Faith is neither reasonable or intellectual. Beliefs are safe…faith takes a risk.

So where do the two intersect? Or do they?

While we seek out others who share our beliefs, faith is very personal. We cannot achieve genuine faith strictly through our belief system because it’s constantly challenging our beliefs and opinions. It’s easy for us to get stuck in Belief-land and never want to leave because leaving requires an act of faith in something that may not seem logical to us. Genuine faith begins when we just can’t understand how things will work out based on our beliefs…but we have faith they will.

But we don’t necessarily need to know how a situation will work out to have faith that it will work out. Genuine faith is not an outcome-based situation. If we have faith something will work out, it’s only a matter of time until the how shows itself.

For example: very few of us understand exactly how pushing a button on a microwave oven cooks our food without the oven getting hot…but we have faith that when we push the button, our food will get warm. If we didn’t have that faith, we’d never push that button in the first place…especially if our beliefs didn’t allow us to think invisible energy waves would work.

Our beliefs will always get us through a situation…for better or for worse. But faith is what gives us strength during the long haul.

 Sub­mitted for ABC Wednesday