Restored to Perfection

by: Joan Meyler

On one of my recent travels, I took along a cup to remind me of home. Why a cup, you ask? Well, the intent was to take something meaningful but not bulky. Something practical that would make me less homesick while reminding me of the love of family and friends I had left behind. With each use of this simple yet significant object I connected with loved ones daily.  This connection would soon be tested. You see, one morning as I prepared to make my usual cup of tea, the cup slipped my hand and went crashing to the floor. Surprise, disappointment and concern filled me.
“How badly broken is it? Can I repair it?” “Is it still usable?” Floated through my mind as I gathered the pieces from the hard, concrete floor. Picking up the broken cup I considered the task ahead of me.  The Japanese must have also had similar experiences. Several thousand years ago, they created the art of Kintsugi. The philosophy of this art form is to repair the broken object by incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item.  To do so, they apply a mixture of lacquer resin, powdered gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, resulting into something more beautiful and more valuable than the original.

broken heart image

Looking at the pieces of ceramics spread on my table, I am reminded of the times I have found myself broken and in places I shouldn’t be; places of worry, anxiety, fear, distrust, etc.  Maybe you have also been in those places and have wondered if you could be restored to wholeness. Jeremiah 30:17 tells us that in sickness, God restores our health. When we have lost all, Joel 2:25-26 reminds us that our years of want and neglect will be restored to the point of satisfaction.  During those times when we are without joy, God gently restores the joy of our salvation and upholds us with a willing spirit. God’s restorative process may take us through the fire but on the other side our cracks and broken spaces are filled with the blood of Christ and we become restored testimonials of God’s love and faithfulness, more precious than gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze.

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Seekers

By: Joan Meyler

I have three suitcases packed. There are books, clothing, miscellaneous items scattered over every available piece of furniture in my bedroom. As I survey the chaotic scene in front of me, I realize something is missing. I struggle to recall everything I have packed. Yet, I know something is missing. I just cannot think of what it could be. Hurriedly, I create a clear space on my bed, grabbed suitcase number one, and struggled to get it on the bed. I unzip it and dump its contents unceremoniously in the cleared space. I glance at my typed packing list, “Nope, not there,” I say to the room before meticulously repacking number one. “Move on to number two,” I say aloud, even though I’m by myself.

Number two is even heavier than number one. “What do you have in there?” screams my arms as I lift the behemoth. “Be in here!” I say to the object of my desire. I take a little more time unpacking number two, checking every item against the three-page packing list.

Again, my search leaves me unfulfilled. Sighing, I am a little more deliberate with repacking as I ponder each item returning to the now empty suitcase. Somethings didn’t make back.  They lay forlornly on the bed as if pleading to rejoin their friends in suitcase number two. Surely it MUST be in suitcase number three, the beautiful black weekend bag I planned to keep close to me while numbers one and two travelled with the checked bags of my fellow travelers.

As I removed things I thought vital to my survival, my thoughts turned to the way we sometimes address our life. How many times do we go through life attempting to find or obtain something we know is missing? Looking at packing lists of jobs, churches, friends, etc. to fill the void in our heart. Unlike the widow in Luke 15:8-10, we don’t know what we are looking for. We just know there is an emptiness that needs to be filled. Jacob, in Genesis 32 had a void he did not recognize yet had spent his life trying to fill. It was not until he wrestled with the God at Peniel that he realized that there was something he did not have – the true blessing that comes from a relationship with God expressed through honest relationships with others. We fill our lives with things and label ourselves Christians, Disciples of Christ, etc. outwardly yet we remain unfulfilled.

Jacob had sent his family, servants and the display of his wealth ahead leaving him alone with himself. It was in this time of aloneness and silence that he came to see himself as he was and recognized his need for a deeper more satisfying relationship with God. It was then that he pleaded with God to fill the void of his life.  Might I suggest that you (and I) dear friend look belong our possessions, jobs, relationships and tenaciously seek God in the silence of our soul and allow Him to make us a visible expression of the fulfillment that comes from His relationship with us.

For Such a Time as This

by: Joan Meyler

Are you born for such a time as this? That was the question Esther had to answer at a most inconvenient time.  Its answer could have her killed yet answer it she must. The book of Esther tells us that Esther’s people, generations before her had been taken captive in war and moved from their homeland.

In their new home they were forbidden to speak their original language or practice their religion.  Over the ensuing years, the Jews had just about given up on God as each generation moved further away from their religion accepting instead the behaviors of those they lived among.  They were remembered by their racial identity not their religious beliefs or practices and in time, they eventually forgot who they were.  Except that is, a few faithful souls.

Esther’s family was among the faithful. Esther was an orphan. As was customary during that time, she was adopted by her uncle who raised her and taught her who she was.  Esther came to the king’s attention as he sought to replace the previous queen, Vashti. Vashti had defied the king when he, drunk after extensive partying, had called her to present herself to be admired by his friends.  Vashti, not wanting to be paraded naked before these drunk men had refused. The king in his embarrassment and anger decreed that she should be “put away” and be replaced by a new queen. This decree led to Esther’s introduction to life in the palace and she was soon made queen.

Esther was a Jew. A descendant of immigrants, a people who had been forcibly removed from their homeland. A queen.

The culture she lived in had no love for either Jews or descendants of immigrants.  Over time, those who had the king’s ear had convinced him that these persons were no longer of value to the kingdom and needed to be removed (killed) and all their possessions taken. Living in the palace, Esther thought she could, would, escape this destruction until she was reminded that God knew who she was and so did she.

We live in a time not much different from Esther’s time.  Some of us have become complacent; worldly, forgotten God. Until we are faced with crisis of some kind. Even then, we think these challenges belong to other people.  We pretend not to see the homeless person begging on the street; we step pass the mentally ill on our way to satisfy our ego; social injustice we often think affects others. Yet God in His infinite wisdom uses these moments of crises to remind us that if we are who we say we are and respond to these challenging times with the tools He has given us, He will hear, and He will answer (2 chronicles 7:14).

Just as Esther denied her ego and submitted to the Spirit of God and in so doing, kept her people from being destroyed, we too are being called upon to experience the fresh wind of God’s spirit as we become who we are intended to be. (Philippians 2:15).  Is God whispering in your ear that it is time for you to break your silence?  Were you born for such a time as this?

The Mosaic

by: Joan Meyler

Last Summer I had occasion to visit Morocco. One of the things my companions and I did was to visit a place where pottery and mosaics were made.  In this artisan market, white clay was being used to fashion bowls, plates, everyday utensils as well as decorative items for the home. I was amazed by this process as I watched artisans take lumps of clay and turn them into items ranging from simple containers to the most delicate and ornate objects I had ever seen.

As I moved from one area of this market to another, I came upon an artisan creating a mosaic.  I was amazed to see that these designs were created upside down! The artist created a masterpiece by looking only at the back. The part that was without color or pattern. It was only when the object was completed that anyone saw the front!

“How could this be?” I pondered.  “How could this magnificent work of art be created without looking at the design as it was being created? Why not monitor his progress along the way?”

I was told,” the artist learned the craft as a small child so he instinctively knew how his creation should look.”

“But what if it when he looked at the finished product it was not what he had envisioned?” I further questioned my guide.

“At that point, the piece is broken and put back through the process until it becomes what the artist envisioned,” she said.

Mosiac

This resonated with me. It occurred to me that just as the artist was creating what would be considered a masterpiece at its completion, so are we fashioning a masterpiece with our lives.  We learn from our guides and teachers to create a life we envision (Proverbs 22:6) Each tile placed in the object represents a choice made in our lives. At the time you made the choice, you had no idea the effect it would have on your life or the lives of others. Some effects were as you desired, others were not.  They forced you to reconsider (repent) and seek help in correcting the offense.  Just as the artist must destroy the offending piece, so must we see the flaw in ourselves, our relationships and correct it through repentance.

Repentance is painful. It forces us to look at the ugly parts of our souls and admit that we know less than we thought; are less than we believed and cannot change ourselves on our own.  We must submit to the one who makes all things new and be willing to allow ourselves to reflect His handiwork.  Our relationship with the Divine Artist allows us to be remade into the perfect piece for the place we hold in His kingdom here on earth.

What would you like the mosaic of your life to look? What do you need to do to make it so? 

Where do you Draw the Line?

by:Joan Meyler

You awake before the alarm sounds and lay there basking in the silence of early morning.  Soon the stillness is broken by the jarring sound of the forgotten alarm and you realize your few moments of stolen reflection are gone.  Your day has begun. Not the day you want, but the day you committed to yesterday. The events of which you have neither energy nor desire to tackle.  The things that have entangled you like weeds creeping around your ankles and up your legs dragging you down and filling you with dread. Why did you say “Yes” when you wanted to say “No”?

I am no better than you.  I too grapple with the desire to please, to take on more than I want, need or can handle; to “prove” that I am capable. But whom am I trying to please? What is the value of taking a burden that is not mine to bear? Have I not noticed that there are mental, physical and spiritual boundaries which when defied cause me to experience unnecessary stress? But wait, it was that stress that I was trying to avoid by saying “Yes” when I should have said “No”.

The simple yet profound words “Yes” and “No” are freeing. They express the choices we make in determining what and who we allow to influence us as well as our influence on others (Matthew 5:7). Jesus used these words very effectively; particularly in times when he needed to refresh himself (Luke 4). It is in setting physical, emotional and mental boundaries (just as Jesus did) that we project ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.  When we communicate our thoughts and feelings directly and honestly with others we open the door to developing authentic relationships and preserving our integrity.

There are times when saying “No” can be one of the best ways to express self-love, such as when it violates our boundaries. Saying” No” alert others that they have been or are about to be disrespectful or act inappropriately.  This powerful word allows you to be yourself without subjecting yourself to the will of others. Having boundaries make it possible for you to respect your strengths, abilities and individuality as well as those of others.

As you carve a few moments out of your day to reflect, focus on this thought:

If boundaries are important to God who made you with a unique identity, values, gifts and talents, shouldn’t they also be important to you?

What is Your Brand

by: Joan Meyler

There is a lot of talk lately about product branding, even personal branding. Branding in this sense, is described as promoting a product or service by identifying with said product. This is like being known by the friends you keep, who you emulate, etc. Branding is not new, it is as been around for a long time. Joshua addressed this topic with the Hebrews when he told them to choose who they would serve (Joshua 24:14,15). Can you imagine seeing the majestic power of God demonstrated over and over in your life yet still choosing to hold on to gods of your enemies or own making?  That is what the Hebrews were doing. Unfortunately, the problem of idolatry still exists today in the form of anything we give more importance to than we give to God.

In Second Chronicles 7:14, as the people lamented to God, they were reminded that they had created their own problem by rejecting His “brand”. In His mercy, then and now, God gives us the steps to success; the path to change our circumstances. I am sure some rejected His offer then, just as some do today.

Why is it important to be known by God’s name (or a disciple of Christ)? Webster defines Disciple as someone who follows or demonstrates the teaching of another. In other words, we demonstrate His brand. Jesus’s earthly ministry showed us just how to do that.  Demonstrating God’s brand begins with salvation and continues with a daily living of our faith. Prior to his ascension, Jesus taught his followers (disciples) about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the role He would play in their lives.  He also advised them of the Holy Spirit’s three-fold ministry in the world:

To convict the unbeliever of sin by opening their spiritual eyes so that they might know

that Jesus is both God and Savior

To cause the unbeliever to see the insufficiency of their own righteousness and their need for the righteousness of Christ

To cause the unbeliever to recognize that their accuser, Satan, is already defeated; they are no longer condemned. (John 16: 7-17)

Just how do we demonstrate God’s Brand? When we accept the Holy Spirit in our lives, we become empowered. The Holy Spirit acts as Christ’s presence on earth, encouraging and counseling us as we battle against the forces of this world. We are given special abilities which prepare us for service to benefit and build up the body of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:12)

Are you demonstrating God’s Brand or your own?

Obedience or Sacrifice?

By: Joan Meyler

Do you find fault with your body? Want to change parts for something “more attractive” or acceptable to the society in which you live?

On and off over the years, I have been toying with Romans 12:1(“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship”).

Trying to understand its meaning, myself and I have a conversation which goes like this:

“Living sacrifice? That denotes pain. Sacrifice is painful. Is God talking about your body or your thoughts?  Doesn’t 1 Samuel 22:15 say “To obey is better than sacrifice”? Then God must be talking about more than the outward appearance.  I believe that your actions are reflective of your thoughts so maybe this is saying that as you control your thoughts you gain control of your body. Jeremiah 1:5. Seems to clarify this as God speaks (my translation):Obedience“You have been in my thoughts.  I thought about how perfect you are. The qualities you have. The love in your heart. The compassion you feel for others.  I thought so much about you, that my hands began to form you in the secret places. My thoughts of you and my love for you created you.  Filled you with gifts and talents, surrounded you with all you will ever need. Your body is my gift to you. A housing for my Spirit in you.  I breathe my breath into you and filled your lungs with joy. My love caused your heart to begin beating and keeps it beating.  You are not your own.  You are mine, perfect as I am perfect.”

Realize there is nothing wrong with the way you look.  You don’t need to change any part of it. Understand that the “living sacrifice” is in the acceptance of who You are in Christ; His perfect creation. The one He made in His image. The one who through your love for him obeys his voice as it leads you through the seasons of your life.  Once understood, it is not a sacrifice (painful) to treat your body well, as you would something of great value.  Because you are.

My Words are Alive

By: Joan Meyler

 

How are you?  How do you think Jesus answer this question? What is your usual answer to the same question? Psalm 19:14 tells us to “let these words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing . . .  to God”. Revelation 12:11 reminds us that we defeat the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  After God spoke the world into being, He asked Himself “How is it?” He did not respond ambiguously but declared “It is very good!”; meaning that everything planned and executed was of the highest standard (including you and me).

Your Words are Alive

Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to think, meditate, on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable . . . . excellent and worthy of praise, “because it is only by bringing our thoughts under control that we are able to speak life into our situations (Proverbs 23:7; 2).  Following the principles set forth in both Philippians 4:8 and Corinthians 10:5 we can change our lives for the better or worse.  Its all in our thoughts and the words we say.  Looking back at Genesis 1, God thought of the world he wanted to create; he planned it. Then He spoke it into being. Because He created us, we also have the power to create the life we want.  Remember, you create what you speak (Proverbs 18:21)

If your life is going the way you want it to, that’s wonderful; express your gratitude to God continuously (Psalm 34:1) and continue to walk in His abundant flow. If not, think about your thoughts and the words you have been saying, to yourself and others. Having negative or conflicting thoughts and speaking negative words bring negative consequences. Positive life affirming words produce positive consequences which release God’s provisions in your life, now. (Luke 17:21)

Let me encourage you to make a list of all the things you are grateful for and begin to thank our gracious, compassionate God for these blessings. Make a conscious decision to watch your words and thoughts. As you do so, you will notice the changes in all aspects of your life. Proverbs 23:7 tell us that we are what we think so why not take God at His word and prove him to be true (Malachi 3:10).

Yes, there is Power and Life in our words. Choose them wisely.

From Resurrection to Empowerment

By: Joan Meyler

For some, change is painful, unwanted; yet others welcome even embrace it.  Our experiences all point to change.  A new life. Not turn back the clock; but use our disappointment and pain to move the hands forward past the hurts. We try ways to turn the scars into a soothing balm.  Nothing works, the pain persists. We long for the place where we can emerge fresh, clean, wise and free of the pain of our past.  Jesus’s disciples believed they knew all there was to know about him. They had spent three action-packed years in intense training, having their understanding and knowledge of what they knew and thought they knew stretched beyond recognition. Then He had the audacity to die a criminal!  Their hopes, dreams, expectations dashed beyond recognition.

Jesus and a lady

The disappointment in His death, the pain and grief of loss ringing in their ears and hearts as the tomb was sealed; their hopes seemed dashed. But, ever faithful, Jesus kept his promise of resurrection and brought change to their lives. Once again, He proved himself to be who he said he was.  When we accept Christ as our savior, we also experience change.  There is a death that takes place within us and while we rejoice in our salvation, there is the dispelling of beliefs and practices which must be released before resurrection can take place. For forty days following his resurrection, Jesus continued to teach the disciples.  In secret! No one knows exactly what He taught them, but we can speculate that the lessons involved a review of what they already knew but had yet to practice.

Like toddlers on wobbly legs, we begin our new life seeking the Kingdom. Struggling against our old way of life, gaining trust and confidence as Jesus reveals truth to us. After the resurrection, the disciples felt joy, but they were also afraid. They, too, walked on wobbly legs. They also had to gain trust and confidence; have their faith increased.  Can you imagine the look on their faces when Jesus told them he would leave once more? It’s the same look on your face when you learn salvation is not the end, but the beginning. How blessed we are, that Jesus did not leave us without guidance.  The disciples did not wait idly for the coming of the Holy Spirit, they waited faithfully, prayerfully, trusting yet were surprised with the power trusted to them with His coming. This same power is available to us as we also faithfully, prayerfully, trustingly open ourselves to the introduction of the Holy Spirit; the one who walks alongside and teaches us all things.

Luke 24:49, John 14:26

Forgiveness

By: Joan Meyler

A few months ago, I had a revelation on my way to church. A profound revelation!  The radio preacher talked of forgiveness. Okay, so I know I should forgive others, etc. At least I thought I did.

As he talked, I began to realize just how difficult it is to forgive. As a Christian, I am called to forgive others. To release them from the bondage I have created for them.  Yes, I create bondage for others. Don’t you?  I bind them to myself when I think I have set them free from the hurt and pain they have caused (Luke 6:27-28) yet I revisit the hurt/wrong as if it were an old friend. I have told myself that s/he is forgiven while wanting the person to feel the hurt I have held close. As I thought about this, I came to realize that I have also hurt that person; caused them pain and disappointment.  “Surely, they are also called to forgive me”, I thought as I tried to justify my kind of “forgiveness”.  Pondering the words of Jesus, I held the hope of forgiveness in my heart, in my pride and pain, as I hesitated to approach the wronged one.  Yet I must.  I must recognize my guilt.

Then came the recognition that my actions also caused me pain.  I must first forgive myself.  And there lies the challenge! For true forgiveness to occur, for me to truly bless the one that thoughtlessly used me, I must strip myself bear and examine my motives, my actions, my weaknesses.  I must remove the beam from my eye, heal my self-inflected wound, (Matthew 7:5) I must first acknowledge the wrong I did, and accept forgiveness from myself. I must release the rope with which I bond that hurt, pain, disappointment to me and allow reconciliation to take place. (Colossians 1:22)  Then and only then can I offer forgiveness to the one who wronged me and bring us both into the glorious presence of God where we receive His forgiveness and restoration.

I thank God for His patience as He reaches out to me (and you) with grace and mercy.  May we allow Him to lead us into a deeper understanding of who and how he wants us to be.