The Plan From The Beginning—Everything Flows From The Creator’s Presence

It was always the Creator’s plan that everything we do flow out from being in the presence of the One who holds everything together.

It never ceases to amaze me how just a moment in the presence of God can change everything, forever. Throughout the centuries, the champions of the faith saw glimpses of their own that have forever changed the world. What awaits us if we make the time to put down our agendas, schedules and plans, and seek after a glimpse? Chances are, we will see so much more.

Make time to be found in the Presence of God today.

The Line Between Secular and Sacred Is Gray.

Growing up, religion told me that there are sacred things and there are secular things. If it music, I should not listen to “secular music”, but “Christian music”. If it time with friends, I should never find myself at events like house parties, for those were secular things, but coffee shops, especially Christian ones, were safe places where you could find the sacred.

This led to me the belief that secular music, without mention of God or Jesus, was somehow bad. It also led me to think that drinking alcohol with friends could be “the appearance of evil”, paying no mind to the reality that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine for wedding party guests.

In my late teens, I learned that Celtic Christians from the isle of Iona (now Scotland) held to their own belief of “thin places”—a physical place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and we are able to glimpse the glory, or presence, of God.

Now that I am in my early thirties, I have taken Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is within you” (Luke 17:21) to heart and have let this reality (or truth) of the Kingdom of God replace my thinking (or as I say, false belief system) that there are defined lines of “secular” and “sacred” objects, places and people groups.

Trusting Jesus’ words that the Kingdom is within myself and all Christians, I now refer to my daily living, breathing and actions as a “thin place”—where the people around my life should see heaven touch earth because His Kingdom is always unveiled.

The world we are called into is not one where physical places, food, drink and creative expressions are either black or white with defined boundaries—even Jesus’ first-ever miracle of creating wine was for people who were probably already drunk. How the pious never discuss that story is beyond me.

It was by Jesus that we were called into “all the world” and because He declared the Kingdom of Heaven is within you, there is no dark place that light cannot penetrate.

This is the truth revealed to us—there is nothing so secular that the sacred person of Christ cannot touch or someplace so dark Christ cannot go. Don’t let religion, the thoughts of men, and fear keep you from displaying the light you carry within you. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

My Morning Cup of the New Covenant

This morning, I decided to drink again of what Jesus called “the cup of the new covenant”. Some Mystics have said partaking of the bread and the cup daily kept them free from sickness and gave them long life.

All I know is that doing this act is sacred because it represents everything Christ came to do so we could have a free and full life. The bread as his body broken. The wine as his blood shed. This sacred sacrament contains it all: love, sacrifice, service, worship and best of all: fulfillment of the law through grace.

This is not something to be taken lightly, but at the same time, the only prerequisite is that we come with an open heart and a willing heart that lays down all pride to know we need something greater than ourselves.

You’re my bread. You’re the new wine. You’re my everything.

An Ode On The First Day of 2015

An ode on the first day of 2015:
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
—C. S. Lewis

Reflecting back on the past 365 days, my wife and I moved across the country, settled into the city of Nashville, braved 7 degree weather for the first time, my wife and I traveled twice to Memphis for her immigration appointments due to the same weather, in April she got permission to work and got a job as a Spanish teacher with health benefits, I took a barista position at a brand new cafe and then headed up all the creative direction for @IrisNashville, had both our parents visit our new city and ended the year in Mexico for the first time since October 2013.

But through it all, the spirit of God silently, but forcefully, pushed me to step out of many fears–fears of my dreams, longings, and passions. Most of these fears were hidden by excuses, but it was the love of God that removed all fears to pursue these dreams in this new year.

We have heard it said that the things we want in life are on the other side of fear. I’m here to tell you that it’s greater than “wants” and that the actual purpose and destiny of your life—those things that make you come alive and keep awake at night—are on the other side of all the fears and excuses. 
You were born for 2015, to bring something to this world that no one else could ever bring. As one who follows Jesus, I believe our dreams are God-breathed, and that could explain why our dreams are so much bigger than us, because they require a courage that might seem supernatural. But those dreams are there because they were meant for you. It’s personal.

Get personal with your fears and don’t let them hold you back this year. It’s your time.

The Knowledge of Goodness

I had a revelation the other day on God’s glory.

In Ex. 33:18, Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” God’s response? Well, it had no mention of glory. Rather, God replied, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you…” (Ex. 33:19)

At first glance, it would seem without any mention of “glory”, God did not answer Moses question. But what if this was the answer to the question? What if God’s glory made manifest in our midst looks like His goodness in our midst, passing before our eyes?

You might recall that the prophet Habakkuk declared, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)

Many misquote this and just say “The glory of the Lord will fill the earth” or similar. But this says that the earth will be “filled with the knowledge of the glory”.  What if, in light of Exodus 33:19, this “knowledge of glory” could actually be read as the “knowledge of God’s goodness”?

We experience God’s glory
when we experience God’s goodness!

I believe that His glory and His goodness in our lives are only increasing. The Good King is advancing His Kingdom of Good News. He is calling out His followers as His, and putting His children on display that have been hidden until now. It has not been without Heaven’s intention either. Daniel was charged with sealing his words until there was a epoch of time where the knowledge of God’s purposes would increase (Daniel 12:4 AMP).

We in moving into the time of this revealing. In the information age we live, this knowledge of the goodness of God will fill the earth across social media, search engines, video websites, smart devices and high-definition screens. God’s glory is with us today, because His goodness is in our lives. As my wife reminded me, His goodness towards us must be met with thankfulness. You have already experienced His glory through His goodness. Now, meet what He has done with a thankful heart so He can know you’re ready to “pass before you” again.

New Wine Leadership

Jesus spoke of the new wine needing new wineskins, as an odd response (at first glance) to a question of his disciples’ lack of fasting that came from John’s disciples & the Pharisees—the “Old Wine Thought Leaders” if you will.

Receiving the New Wine comes down to leadership and being the type of “New Wine Leaders” who perceive it as well as manage it—not control it. This new wine is still in fermentation, while active and exciting, but it’s God’s Wine to begin with.

As leaders and disciples of businesses, faith communities, projects and ideas, may we be flexible enough to recognize the New Wine when it comes, and courageous enough to let God build the new wineskins (in us and through us) it requires.

REFERENCES:
Matthew 9:14-17Mark 2:18-22Luke 5:33-39

NYC Photographer + Two Random Strangers = Very Intimate Photographs

DoMakeCreateScreen Shot 2014-02-09 at 12.25.27 PMImagine you’re visiting New York City and a stranger with a camera walks up to you, introducing you to another stranger. He then asks you if you would be willing to take a portrait with this said stranger, while posing like you were family, long-time friends or in love. Photographer Richard Renaldi does just this, scouring the streets for two random strangers and then bringing them together for one intimate photograph.

Richard asks his random subjects to show some sign(s) of affection to their co-stranger. But the beauty in the photos is found not only in how these strangers-turned-subjects seem to have deep histories, but also in how each person’s boundaries and walls seem to come down—if just for this one photographic moment—for a shared experience unlike any other.

These photos and the story behind them reveal so much about ourselves, our human existence, and how it is truly not hard to find within us connection, compassion, and dare say—love, for the  strangers we pass by every day.

For more, follow Richard Renaldi on Twitter, Instagram and his blog.

Searching For Something To Live…And Die…For.

“There is something missing in my life, and it has to do with my need to understand what I must do, not what I must simply know —except, of course, that a certain amount of knowledge is presupposed in every action. I need to understand my purpose in life, to see what God wants me to do, and this means that I must find a truth which is true for me, that I must find that Idea for which I can live and die…

The Idea was what I lacked in order to live a complete human life and not merely knowledge. So I could not base the development of my philosophy of life…on something not my own, but upon something which reaches to the deepest roots of my existence and wherein I am connected into the divine and held fast to it, even though the whole world falls apart. Yes,this is what I lack and this is what I am striving for.”

~ Soren Kierkegaard, Journals

Joanna and I have had many times as of late discussing life, our vision for our family and our goals. All this as we wait for her to get through the immigration process of becoming a Permanent Resident of the U.S. She is in a new country, away from all that was familiar and here we are, slowly establishing our marriage and our selves in a new land, where everything is unknown, but waiting to be known. I stumbled across this today from existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard, and it just fits with our current season.