Inspirational, Spiritual

Graft-itude – Becoming Community through Gratefulness

 

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By: Jana Greene

Church is a community of believers in salvation through the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.  We humans make it about other things so often. Throughout history, we have tried a thousand ways to make it about ourselves.

But what if the tide turned and God’s people made gathering for worship about our thankfulness to God. What if we would seek purely to know Him, because He has been so generous in His love for us?

There is a horticulture technique called “grafting”. Tissues from one plant are delicately combined into those of a healthier one so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together and thrive.

What if we could become related to the God of the universe via grafting? What if we could become brothers and sisters to one another by the same technique?

Many people who grew up in churches across the globe avoid joining a body of believers because they have been hurt by “church people” in the past or made to believe that church was about money, pretending to be perfect or pot-luck dinners. These things are not what Jesus Himself intended for His church. He sought out the ones who were broken and bent, cast out and hurting. The priests in their fine robes and the elite with their feasts did not impress Him much. These “church people” had no appreciation for God Himself in their very midst.

The ones who became Christ’s beloved family on earth all had one thing in common: an imperfect but genuine love for God, and a grateful heart. Because Jesus wanted so much to count us as branches on His family tree, he hung from a tree as sacrifice to make it possible.

He tells us to gather together still today and encourage one another, grieve with one another and praise Him.

God, I worship you because you never give up on me – not even once!

God, I thank you because you gave your life up for me so that I can be called “yours” forever.

God, I magnify you because you take time to nurture my spirit, loving me when I’m not too loveable.

We are the church. Cut off from one another, we run the risk of withering. Together the way our Brother Jesus intended, we thrive. All of us saints and sinners are drawn by God’s flourishing, vascular love for us. God’s people are us, you see. It is His will that not one of us be lost. We are black and white and every glorious shade in between. We are young and old, the clean-cut and tatted up. Haphazard branches going every which way, full foliage and a strong trunk, grafted and grateful.

God’s family tree.

Devotional, Inspirational, Spiritual

Missing the Moon by Miles: a tale of perception

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By: Jana Greene

Perception is everything.

The other day, I took Emmie the Elderly Golden Retriever for a long walk around the neighborhood. As is her way, she stopped every three feet to intently sniff one of the many olfactory neighborhood newsletters previously left by other dogs. I’m trying not to hurry her along these days. Her hearing is going and her vision as well, and I imagine her sense of smell is not what it used to be.

She takes a really long time, but when she looks up at me between sniffings, her eyes are so grateful that I am patient with her.

The sky just happened to be clear and blue, so I looked up to admire it to pass the time. The moon was out on the horizon in broad daylight, as if it missed the memo that it was not yet night. And from out of nowhere, a jet engine plane roared through the blue sky toward it, cutting the sky in half with its trail of white exhaust. From my vantage point on the ground, appeasing a poky dog, it looked as though that plane would fly straight into the moon and cut it in half, too.

If I didn’t have the most basic rudimentary knowledge about time and space and air travel, I would swear that the two bodies in the sky were set to collide. Because from here on earth, it would seem obvious. Inevitable. In reality, the moon and the plane are thousands of miles apart.

Only a few days before this walk, something wonderful had happened to me that I was not expecting. It really kind of came out of nowhere, an answer to prayer that I had wanted fervently and waiting for without knowing it was even on the horizon. But for a long time before this answer, I pleaded with God to make other things happen– things that I was SURE were right for me – and why wasn’t he making them happen? Why so much rejection over and over and can’t He see that there will be a collision unless He takes this matter seriously? Silly human, His timing is perfect.

My spiritual perception is not what it used to be – relying only on the obvious to determine the inevitable. But it is not where it should be, either – and too often forgets to take into account my vantage point. My perception is earthly, seeing the scene from the ground with possible solutions cut in half by my trail of exhaustion. Either things can turn one way or another way – from here, that’s all I can see.

I wait for the KABOOM.

And then….there is the sudden gliding through just as I wait for the explosion, and it becomes clear that He had better plans all along. As obvious as a daylight moon in a bright, blue sky, a roar of peace and gratitude. Danger was thousands of miles away, I just couldn’t see it.

God, surveying the scene, had been able to see everything from above and around and in. He is in us, you know.

He is so good, making better things happen than I could imagine. Appeasing my poky and impertinent soul, doesn’t rush me. He knows I’m learning. When I look upward at Him, I’m grateful that He is patient with me.

His perception is perfect.

“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” – Isaiah 55:8

Devotional, Inspirational, Spiritual

Not Fooling Anyone: Christians and the masquerade

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By: Jana Greene

I’ve always thought that masquerade balls are a little bit silly. The masks – small and papery – neither really obscure the identity of the wearer in full, nor allow for identification in full. They are ornate but flimsy man-made things, and all the glitter and paint in the world cannot make them anything but.

Of course, it is possible to masquerade in a more virtual manner. We humans hold up all kinds of masks to impress and mislead one another. The idea is to project our sameness to everyone else while protecting our tender faces. Sometimes we think that the glitzier our visage, the more we are fooling the world.

Christians, especially, are known for wearing masks.

But we are not fooling God. We are not even fooling each other. Hidden identities are false identities.

Life is not a masquerade ball, meant to be waltzed stranger-to stranger, emotionless. But a wild movement of fellowship meant to be danced barefoot in the dust that Jesus kicked up when He walked the earth. Barefaced and real, with the tears, smiles, sorrows and joys in full view of one another, and our God.

What of our ornately crafted masks worn to protect our identities? If we remove them, people might see the mess. People might see the pain.

But they might also see the Jesus.

God never made us with that purpose in mind. Jesus had big problems with mask-wearers. “Take them down,” He said in effect. “You are not fooling anyone.” The Apostle Paul – himself a believer in a kind of  recovery for mask-wearing – wrote:

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original..” Galations 5:25 – 26 (the Message)

Our identities are God-given, not flimsy, man-made things. Don’t cover yours with same-ness paint. Take down the mask of glitter and glitz.  I see that your tender face is full of tears and smiles, sorrows and joys – emotion-full. It looks real and raw and beautiful like God intended.

It looks a lot like Jesus.

Recovery

“But it’s Super Bowl Sunday!”: an alcoholic looks at special occasions

And here is Part II

Blessings!

http://wilmingtonfavs.com/blogs/jana-greene/but-its-super-bowl-sunday-an-alcoholic-looks-at-special-occasions-part-ii

Recovery

But it’s the SUPER BOWL: an alcoholic looks at “special occasions”

Hi, dear readers! I’m sharing my Redemption Feast blog post from today’s WilmingtonFAVS.com about drinking and ‘special occasions’.  Please feel free to share the link with those you might know who are involved in / seeking recovery, and God bless!

http://wilmingtonfavs.com/blogs/jana-greene/but-its-super-bowl-sunday-an-alcoholic-looks-at-special-occasions-part-1

Inspirational, Spiritual

Debt Relief – The motives of a Most Charitable God

God moves all obstacles between Himself and His children
God moves all obstacles between Himself and His children

By: Jana Greene
When I first met my husband several years ago, I had a lot of debt in the form of medical bills. Years without health insurance had not kept the health issues at bay, and the bills were stacked high with neglect. Like a Mega-Debt Mountain, it was not just a stack of papers, but a looming monument to financial failure. As a single mother working three jobs, I still couldn’t make ends meet. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think the ends would ever even see one another from afar!
As my soon-to-be husband and I got closer and closer, I was ashamed of all this debt. Thousands of dollars for office visits, treatments for migraines, endometriosis and chronic sinus infections had been wracked up. I felt embarrassed that I owed so much, that I would owe it the rest of my life and still never get it paid off, most likely.
One day, he asked to see Mega-Debt Mountain for himself. We were getting pretty serious at the time, and I couldn’t put off showing him my debts much longer. Still, I presented a lame stalling technique.
“Why?” I asked.
“So I can pay them off,” he said without so much as a sigh.  In that season of his life, he had the means to free me of this debt.
At first, I was embarrassed because, after all, it was a substantial amount. I brought the stack of bills, most of which were marked “Last Notice” or “Past Due” (or both) and felt the shame burn my face. He took them gently from my hand and laid them on the desk without even glancing at them, and then he kissed me. Tears sprang to my eyes with gratitude, because I never expected such a thing; such grace.
These were not his debts. He took them on for two reasons:
So they would no longer hang over my head.
And because he “just wanted to be with me for the rest of my life.”
He had erased a debt that I had assumed I would carry all my life, simply because he loved me. The truth was, as huge as Mega-Debt Mountain was, it did not hinder his love for me. He didn’t see the “balance due” when he looked at me, but a future together.
Kind of like God when He looks at us through the filter of His Son. So often we all allow our own mountains to block the view of the grace He offers, because we are ashamed of our sin. Our Father has the means to free us. The blood of Jesus has the most amazing stain-removing properties!
“What are you waiting for?” God is saying. “The debt of everything you’ve ever done wrong is already paid for when you accepted my Son as your Beloved!” Our Father doesn’t see the “balance due” when He looks at His Christ-redeemed children.
God offers us freedom from sin debt for two reasons, you see:
So they will no longer hang over the head of one He loves VERY much. (Debt cannot hang over our heads and on the cross both!)
And because He wants to be with you for all eternity.
Such a thing is grace.

Amazing.