Lenten Reflection: On a Mission

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Scripture Reading: 

…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light…Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 4:30–5:2, 5:8-13, 5:15-20

Reflections:

Yesterday was our final message in our Lenten series through Ephesians. While I didn’t post the entire scripture passage above (due to space), feel free to read Ephesians 4:25–6:9. A large passage indeed, but we took a look from a distance and found three main ideas that pertain to a life of personal mission:

  1. Imitate Christ
  2. Live a life of character and integrity
  3. Make the most of your time

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Lenten Reflection: Spirit-Empowered

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Scripture Reading:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Eph 6:10-18

Reflections:

Our Lenten journey through Ephesians continued yesterday with Pastor John telling us that to live a Christ-Centered life, one that is rooted in love, is impossible

…save for God!
For with God all things are possible!

We cannot do this in our own power… we must be Spirit-empowered! During our prayer time Dr. Terry Wardle reminded us that the Holy Spirit is not just a theological concept, but the very real presence of God, and this presence of God dwells within us!

Think of this a moment: Jesus came and made his dwelling among us (John 1). But following his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven, he appeared before the disciples, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20). And somewhere in this exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and breath, the Holy Spirit came and made his dwelling within us. The disciples weren’t the first to be filled with the Spirit of God. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb! And there are also several references in the Old Testament of people being filled with His Spirit (Moses, Bezalel, Micah). And before he ascended to heaven, Jesus Christ made this infilling available to all believers of The Way.

We breathe Him in
and breathe Him out!

In both the Hebrew and Greek the word for breath and Spirit are the same (ruah and pneuma). And we have often seen that things in the natural often reveal the work of God in the spiritual. The same is true of breath/Spirit in the natural, physical sense and in the spiritual realm:

  • We need to breathe the Spirit constantly (Eph 6:18)
  • We need a fresh supply of the Spirit (Eph 5:18)
  • Sometimes we need to breathe more—pant! (Ps 42:1)
  • Sometimes we need to catch our breath (I Kgs 19:3-5)
  • We never want to hold our breath (Jhn 15:6)

And this is even more true when we are in battle. And, believe me, life here on earth is a battle. We need to suit up in the armor of God and gird ourselves with the Word of God AND PRAYER! So often we read this passage and stop “suiting up” in God’s armor at the Sword of Truth—God’s Word, but notice that prayer is a weapon too! The Message translation says it this way:

Be prepared.
You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.
Take all the help you can get,
every weapon God has issued,
so that when it’s all over but the shouting
you’ll still be on your feet.
Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.
Learn how to apply them.
You’ll need them throughout your life.
God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.
In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.

The tactics of the enemy are fought back by the Truth of God’s Word and the power of Spirit-empowered prayer! We are on our best offensive attack when we are armed with  Truth and Spirit (Jhn 4:24).  The Message goes on to say:

Pray hard and long.
Pray for your brothers and sisters.
Keep your eyes open.
Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Brothers and sisters, I pray for you! In the words of Paul,

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources
he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. (Eph 3:16)
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!

Today I leave you with a breathwork exercise based on John 20. It is specifically designed as a Christ-centered breath awareness exercise for those who are working through complex trauma, but truthfully anyone can benefit from this scripture-based time of breath meditation.

During this Lenten season and always, may you live a Spirit-empowered life breathing in the presence of God at work in you!

Creative blessings, Jody

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(c) 2017 Jody Thomae
God's Creative Gift by Jody ThomaeJody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You, a devotional book with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within and to serve as a resource for creative Christians, artists, musicians and worshippers. She has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, coordinating artistic involvement in church services and regional worship events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts. She performs, teaches, choreographs, preaches, coordinates and leads workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer. JodyThomaeCDcoverart_FA_printShe has also recently released a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.

Lenten Reflection: Christ-Centered Life

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Scripture Reading:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Continue reading

An Open Letter to the Other Side of the Aisle: a meditation on John 4

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“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:19-22)

Dear Hymn-Singer on the Other Side of the Aisle, Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #225 — 52 Weeks of Prophetic Art with Grace Bailey

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G BaileyGrace Bailey is a prophetic artist on a mission! Ministering out of her home church in Ballarat, Victoria (Australia) and at a variety of conferences, she has set herself a goal of 52 Weeks of Prophetic Art. Yes! 52 weeks of live painting during worship! What an amazing goal and ministry. I have been following her since I first found her last Spring on her Facebook page and have been deeply blessed by the artwork she is painting. You can also follow her journey here on her website.

"Valley of Dry Bones" by Grace Bailey (C) 2015

“Valley of Dry Bones? Ha! piece of Cake!”
by Grace Bailey (C) 2015

The painting on your right is “Valley of Dry Bones? Ha! piece of Cake!”

Won’t you take a moment to consider? What are the dry bones in your life? Are they dreams and visions that seem to have died? Are they broken, wounded places in your spirit? Are they mistakes from your past that still fill you with shame? While you examine this painting, won’t you slowly and prayerfully read this prophetic prayer adapted from Ezekiel 37 with me and other fellow artists praying this prayer with us today? Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #222 — Dance of the Trinity

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Won’t you join me on the dance floor today? This is going to take some artistic license and creative choreography, but I hope you will join me with open mind, heart and eyes.

When I first watched this dance to Luminus on So You Think You Can Dance (2015), I was immediately taken with what I saw as the image of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three dancers dancing and creating together in unity and beauty. Let me describe what I see in this dance. You can follow along with the times throughout the video indicated.

To set the stage, Derek Piquette (left) represents God the Father, Gaby Diaz (middle) dances the Holy Spirit, and Moises Parra (floor) represents Christ. SYTYCD 2015 2From the very beginning of the dance, we see three persons from one God. The smoke creates an ethereal mist and the stars an image of space and time being created. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the earth so too do they (0:35) as the three work together to create all of earth and mankind. Then God steps forward as the Great I AM (0:37+), Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Next the Holy Spirit steps forward (0:43+) bringing artistry to the Tabernacle through the Spirit-filled artist Bezalel, the gifts of the Israelite people, and the worship of the Levites, revealing the beauty of God (0:51). Then as they dance in unison, we see them working together to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and sovereignty throughout the history of his people. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #213 — The Seventy

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National Book MonthAs we wind down our focus on books for artists, creatives and worshipers, I want to direct you to a new book that came out just this month!

The Seventy: A Movement of Creativity in the Earth by Pastor Bernard Boulton is based on a prophetic prayer he spoke over his congregation in 2009.

SeventyThis book announces a movement of creativity rising in the earth during the second decade of the twenty first century. The God of creativity who created the heavens and the earth and created mankind in His image is raising up and sending out a remnant of creative artists who have seen God with a pure heart and have a call on their lives to release the love of God through creative expression.

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