Charity’s Notes #awakeretreat2020

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Photo credit Bailey Fischer

When you make a packing list it’s ALL about what can I REALLY take with me. What will fit? What are the essentials? What will be most necessary for function when I arrive?
It’s like that in our walk with God too. What will we be able to take with us into eternity? Job says naked I came into the world naked I will depart, BUT there are some things you will take with you. One is your relationship with God. And what about your other relationships? Is there any current relationships you would hate to see end? These are of high value. More frantic than lost luggage is a lost relationship. This is our focus God with intention we ask for courage and valor to learn the art of relationships well.

More on your primary relationship I want to say there is nothing boring about God. God is magnificent. As you look at the stars know as expansive as the constellations above us God’s love is broader and more far reaching than you ever dared hope. His is a love you can enjoy. Something of marvel requires a response. If I sliced up the most perfect piece of fruit your absolute favorite, you wouldn’t use boring to describe it you most likely would respond with enthusiasm. Enjoyment is a response to love.

Similarly there is nothing boring about you. You are made in God’s image and have a value so remarkable angels are looking into it. They are responding to the marvel of God’s great love for you. Studying the marvel of God’s creative plan. (1 Peter 1:12)

So tonight be what God wants you to be. Don’t be so impressed with what people do, rather look at the fruit. Don’t be so impressed with talk. Taste the way you feel in God’s company. Fill in this blank in God’s presence I feel _____________. This weekend we are committed to growing into a community of good fruit. We will respond and enjoy God together. And if you say Char you don’t know my life, what I’ve done, where I’ve been. I’ll say back to ya. It’s not too late. Start now.
It’s not too late to change your entire life. It’s not too late to taste the fruit of who you are born to be. It’s not too late to understand God’s decision over wanting you hasn’t ever changed. This weekend speak words of life. As you chat with people over the next few days be like red ripe raspberries, taste good. Be full of life. Listen as well as talk and let all your responses be genuine. You are wanted and welcomed here.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
Matthew 12:33-36 NIV

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Matthew 7:15-20

Go and learn. Learn to do life with God.

This stood out. “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
Matthew 9:13 NIV

He is calling sinners all the time. As a joyful expression of God’s mercy join HIS effort. Call people to yourself. Go and be guests in their home. Get with people and then get with God.

Where in my life am I showing sacrifice but not mercy. Some groups are good at sacrifice and short on mercy. This is not what Jesus came to show us. He was so compelling crowds sought him out. His way of life tasted so good. His fruit was so sweet. Is there anything sweeter than physical healing, than your son or daughter healed before your eyes? Is there anything sweeter than God coming to your house, never mind you are tax collector and shunned. Is there anything sweeter than being called into a relationship full of unconditional love?
Lord you desire mercy.
Humans need mercy.
Christianity is experiencing the mercy of God so much you enjoy God above all else.

Being on a team is one of the places you taste the sweetness of mercy. You play hard and the ball gets past you anyway and your goalie stops the ball. Mercy. One of your team members holds the defense.
I loved playing team sports as I was growing up. As a teenager, it was challenging for my independent spirit to see the greater goal of the team beyond my personal goal. But, it was always amazing to me how well the team played when seemingly everyone listened to the coach and saw the bigger picture, and how we all win if we play selflessly.
It didn’t take away from the differences each team member brought to the table; in fact, it enhanced our uniqueness, for everyone wanted their fellow team members to succeed by doing what they did best.
Your win is my win. Your goal is my goal.

Now, this was a very rare experience to witness and be part of, to see immature teenagers all focused for a greater glory which only could be experienced through teamwork. Using your gifts is such an expression of joy. Please once on the team don’t hold back.

Jesus did not come to make us the same in personality or gifting, but rather to unite us in our differences by giving us the greater goal, and the means to achieve this goal; His goal for us is to love as He does. He knew if we could taste and see His glory we would all let go of cheap and individualized imitations of that glory. He knew we would start to celebrate one another, love one another and work together for a greater goal.  CS Lewis describes glory as the fact of being “noticed” by God. Once noticed by God one can only love in return the same way my dog Angus increases his tail wag when I notice him. Oh the happiness of being known. Paul states this as well. (1 Cor 8:3) For whoever loves God is known by God.

The greater goal is to bring glory to God. But what does it mean to bring glory to God? Whether you eat or drink do it all to the glory of God. (1Cor 10:31) It means many things, but one thing I have learnt is that the greatest goal is to enjoy God in all things.
When that is my personal goal, all other things can be enjoyed in their right way. We can enjoy the opposite sex in the right way when God’s glory is the greater goal, sex is to know the constancy of a love who will never leave. Contrast this to our culture who’s goal is having our personal gratification met. “Feed my sexual hunger” says culture.
For, if our personal gratification is more important someone else’s on ‘team humanity,’ then they will be negatively affected for our benefit.

Jesus came not to hold back His glory, but to give it to us. And in the person next to you HE has chose to hide his very presence. To each of us he gives HIS glory, which is the very nature, the very weightiness, very character, the very love of God. The ability to be magnetic like Christ. Oh what a gift!

We can now all be united in this greater goal, through enjoying God above all else, and our actions can flow out of the revelation of His glory.
No longer will we be pushing each other down to achieve a weak version of this glory, but instead we will want to be loving one another like the Father and Son love each other. It’s a magnetic relationship pulling us in. The unchanging love that is between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is so glorious that they are One, and out of the this oneness, all of creation was made (John 1). And we as part of the creative outworking of this relationship are known as the creation of God. And what we are is awesome, beautiful, holy as HE IS AWESOME BEAUTIFUL AND HOLY.

And so it is with us as humankind and it works all around the world. Out of us will flow a the creative force of the Kingdom when our goal is greater. His glory today can make us one. May the world see us enjoying Him and the gift of life above all things, so that in all things, we can bring true value and joy to others. Jesus words are, “I am the life.”

What about brokenness?
The condition of humanity was broken eternally before Christ came and he is not it’s preventative cure he is it’s healing. When we are in Christ he is the medicine, he is healing. Sometimes we see it in evidences of God’s power like when someone’s healed of cancer or a tragedy is averted through God’s intervention or protection. And then sometimes it all goes wrong and yet he’s working on the long game which is a broader story of redemption which takes our sorrow and links us to others who have the same sorrow so that we can bring comfort to one another. (2 Cor 1:4)  All for a depth of relationship and comfort.

And in this distribution of life and hope and salvation God still allows every single person the gift of free will -to say yes or to say no, to align with the team or to chose individual interests.  Give this gift as well.

And once we’ve said yes some of the redemption comes immediately in evidences of the Holy Spirit and in God’s grace and in love and forgiveness and some is worked out over the whole of our life. You may have heard work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12) It’s an outworking of the inward work the powerful new creation God has made each of us in Christ. This is why we must guard our hearts above all else. Search me, O god, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24
The Lord, searches my heart, to test my mind, and to give me according to my ways, according to the fruit of my doings. Jer 17:9-10
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. Psalms 26:2
It comes down to the thoughts I’m feeding on. Where am I looking daily? Instagram? Social outlets? My weight? My physical flaws?

The driver knows this, when they look down at their phone the car swerves off the road due to the distraction.
We must get in a staring contest with God. Lock eyes.  Take notice of God daily.  This will help you take notice of others.

Look at the person next to you. Now lock your gaze. See them. Think about what their joys are and what their fears are. Let yourself be known. Make questions instead of statements. Is she in a season of happiness? Did she have a tough day? This is being seen.

How can we show love? We see people. Jesus does this in John 4 with the woman at the well. He sees her. And in her experience she knows she has met the Messiah. And out of this she responds.

Here is my question have you seen God? Have you in any way felt your soul lock eyes so to speak with God?

Victor Hugo wrote, “to love another person is to see the face of God.”

I see HIM in you.  And his body is beautiful, bold, fierce, and full of love.

On your own time take a good look at Hebrews 11.  Read how some faith deposits are not added to the account until after we are gone.  If in my pain now tragic as it is —my character, my soul, my innate humanity, and faith in God’s power to redeem and bring out goodness in all suffering is developed than pain is now working towards my understanding of redemption. 

Sometimes it’s tragic when we see the brokenness of our fallen world but this is exactly why Christ had to come.  Would love to live in a perfect society where all pain is eliminated but I have found that that is not the case. 

However I have found that my joy is full and overflowing and I was made to worship and I was made to express gratitude at the gift of life.  And look deeper into the sermon on the mount. The blessings Christ puts forward.  A blessing is there when I mourn.

These are all my thoughts for now I’m totally praying for greater understanding God is not finished with this story.  However you can know truth in the middle of the story, the middle of mind and yours and agree with J.R.R. Tolkien “This story begins and ends in joy.”

Let your faith level rise.  There is a great law undeniable the sowing and reaping law.  And when God sows himself as the seed of all that is pure and good and true into death, you can know that ultimately life is ahead.

“Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. ”

— The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy by Timothy Keller

Enjoy access to God

To be given ‘the keys of the kingdom’ (Matthew 16:19) means to be given access to God. This is what Jesus achieved for us. God has always looked for those ‘who seek’ him (Psalm 14:2). You can enjoy access to God. — Nicky Gumbel

I have access so I can trust in any and all circumstances. I can then say with confidence the following:

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Here is a pic of some of the joy we had together.  Thanks Jacy and Kasey and Libby for making the trek from Idaho to Washington.

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