Gold Digger.

egret
Egrets. My current bird of interest. They look so majestic in flight – head held high, chest puffed out – streamlined motion with such massive, powerful wings. Saw the Reddish and Great Blue. Maybe a Snowy as well.

There’s a new study out with the findings that the longer individuals know each other prior to the start of a relationship, the less important physical attractiveness becomes. Quite interesting. From observations, quite possibly true.

But beyond romantic relationships to life in general: How much of who we are can really be found in our appearance? Outside of how we chose to dress and the attention we give to how we look, not much.

Can you really know a person by how he looks? Not likely. But you may find him in his works. His passion, his focus, his voice, and by what he leaves behind.

You are not your appearance but your choices.
And you are responsible not for your appearance but your choices.

It shocks me, then, how we’re constantly drawn to looks and possessions.
(In all honesty, I sometimes catch myself focused on those as well.)

But those are so transient. Age and trials are great levelers in life.

Naturally, this reminded me of another quote:

We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man – the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first tune, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises. | C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

My uncle recently shared this quote with me: Anyone can find dirt on someone; Be the one that finds the gold. 

It was good advice, especially for when I find I’m being judgmental.
My purpose here isn’t to judge, but to help and guide as I’m needed.
And to look deeper, beyond mere appearances.

To seek for – and bring out – the best in someone.
Not in our strength, but by His.

Yet another lesson.

SDg

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To Be Free.

“From wanting to be loved. From wanting to be praised by all
From needing to be first. From finding all my worth in this world
From wanting to be seen. From constant worrying about myself
Deliver Me.

From validating words that only seem to serve a heart that’s proud
And all my self esteem, dressed up in vanity and doubt
From wondering if I am relevant in life…
Show me what it all looks like
Scribbled on the pages of a human life…

From fear of letting go. From fear of the unknown ahead
From being overlooked. And so misunderstood again
From fear of being judged.  From rumors of a love that failed

Let every night be more than I
Closer to the true at the sinner’s side
Mostly I’ve no use for all my fallen pride…”

(From Matt Maher, Every Little Prison (Deliver me) in The Love in Between)

The song above came onto my playlist tonight, and the lyrics resonated with something I’ve been thinking about this week. Tonight, I’m trying to finish a few projects for work before I go for retreat. Finally started one of Tim Keller’s books,  Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. It was given by a friend for our fellowship group at Christmas last year, and it’s traveled with me to a few cities… Still unread. Very thankful to have a bit of time to read now. I was especially comforted by one of the passages in prayer from John Calvin shared in the book (below).

Prayer upon Beginning One’s Work or Study

My good God, Father, and Savior, grant me aid by your Holy Spirit to now work fruitfully in my vocation, which is from you, all in order to love you and the people around me rather than for my own gain and glory.

Give me wisdom, judgment and prudence, and freedom from my besetting sins. Bring me under the rule of true humility. Let me accept with patience whatever amount of fruitfulness or difficulty in my work that you give me this day. And in all I do, help me to rest always in my Lord Jesus Christ and in His grace alone for my salvation and life .

Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

(John Calvin, adapted by Tim Keller in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Was thinking about this as I fell asleep last night, and what a freeing thought. All we have is from God, and all we do is to God. And if this is true (and it is true), then all the little cares become so trivial in comparison. Contemplation on God’s might and power makes any of my wants and plans seem so insignificant in comparison. Oh, lessons on humility. But in humility, I also find reason for trusting Him more, and in faith, there is true freedom.

It hasn’t been the smoothest few weeks lately.
But it’s incredible how God continues to seek the lost and wandering.

SDg

For the man in the arena.

In the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” | Theodore Roosevelt

Came across this quote today. I’ve been speaking to a few friends and mentors recently about career directions. There are times when I always feel as though, time after time, I come to the dreaded Autumn of the unknown – another fork in the road… Similar to how school children anxiously anticipate the start of a new school year in September. And my, wouldn’t it be nice to just know what will happen without all this effort and uncertainty.

This quote was a good encouragement to keep going anyway. To have failed is to know that you have – at the very least – tried.

And sometimes, a long journey makes for the best stories.

Verba non facta

“Having a form of godliness but denying its power…” 2 Tim 3:5a

A few years ago, some friends and I visited the home of an elderly pastor and his wife. After breakfast and a morning walk, we sat down for a morning reading. While he got coffee ready, I picked up his book and looked at the dust cover.

“What’s this one about,” I asked.
“Ahh. My Christmas present from my wife this year,” he replied (It turned out to be a novel by a Christian female author… I don’t remember the title now).
“How is it?”
“Not bad. She has good ideals to take away, but just don’t follow how she lived.”

He went on to quickly mention about her lovers and other issues with her example – I can’t remember the details well. And then we continued on with our reading.
After leaving though, what he said came back to me.

Good ideals. Just not lived out.
And how many Christians live like this.
We can talk, teach, and argue about how we should be, how we should live, how we can help, even identify who we may want to help. But when it comes to the time to do, how often are we stagnant, silent, or even going in the opposite direction?

This morning, I King 18 was shared; in particular, Elijah’s charge to the Israelites: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him…”

And it made me think again of 2 Tim 3:5,7,8 “Having a form of godliness, but denying its power…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth…They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.”

Wow. I remember how I learned in children’s Sunday school about wolves in sheep’s clothing – never quite understood whom that applied to, but I think I’m starting to understand what that really means now.

To identify as a Christian, to attend gatherings, to do tasks as the occasion calls – everything looks right.
But at the sign of the first difficulty, or even in day-to-day life, to deny the power of Christian faith.

To continue to let your sinful nature rule over you (temper, jealousy, greed, pride, etc.) rather than to seek God’s power to demolish these and change you.

Some days, going through 2 Tim 3:2-4, I’m saddened by how many of these I’ve shown in my life. And how much the reprimand 2 Tim 3:5 applies to me. To always talk and discuss, but never to live and act.

And the elderly pastor’s summary rings in my ear as a solemn reminder.

I hope this post will be a call to action for you and I – that it won’t just be a topic of discussion, a quick read, and leaves our lives unchanged. Do not change for the sake of change, to please people, or to show that you can. Rather, look to God and seek His guidance to change you from inside first, then for His strength for all the outward activities you’re called to do.

Let’s look at  James 1: 23-27 for some encouragement.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Oh, how much I need to remember this.
I hope this was a useful reminder for you, too.

Take care for now.

SDg