Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ode To The A

I left my heart in Inman Park
My soul is stuck in midtown
The sights and sounds of the city
Call out for me
City life so full of beauty

So deafening is its roar
My heart is crying out for downtown
Tis the city I do adore

I've set my foot down,
Claimed the A as my town
The city calls out to me

The city alive
The city electric
In the A, as it is in Heaven

Deep wells of the past
Prophesy its future
"Free at last. Free at last."
Thank God Almighty
The A is free at last

Voices of love
Ring out o'er the city
Hope carriers abide
Within its walls

Peace to the A
Great grace to you
O, sweet city of mine!

How I love you, Atlanta
Your rhythm
Your banter

There's greatness with your walls
And I'm here to unearth it

You are a portal of greatness
Releasing love to the nations
Marked by justice and reconciliation

You're a forerunner of redemption
You're love on a mission
To reclaim and to restore

May your love for the A
Consume us
Oh God!
Give us more, Lord!
Give us more!

The Giver

Don’t you just love receiving gifts? I do. A few months ago, some friends were visiting and as we were driving, I started pointing out a few rogue patches of wildflowers that were growing in random places on the highway or roadsides in our area.   

And just off the cuff, perhaps I may have said, “I love wildflowers!”  I do. I love their vibrant colors, I love the way their stems grow long and tall and then bow with the fruit of their flowers. I love the randomness of where they pop up and their ability to thrive and survive in the most obscene and toughest of environments. Or perhaps, I didn’t say anything at all.  Perhaps my pointing out the wildflowers was enough to plant a love idea in my friend’s heart.

Later in that journey, we stopped at a store to pick up a few items. I noticed my friend purchased a bag of potting soil and I remember thinking, “That’s random.” But then, you’d have to know my friends!  When we arrived home, I commenced to saying I love you in the language I know best: cooking and feeding people. As I prepared dinner, I’m oblivious to what’s happening around me.

My friend has taken some spare wood from the woodpile along with some nails and crafted me a planter for my deck.  In it, he dumped soil from that bag of potting soil and embedded wildflower seeds in the soil! Imagine my delight and surprise when he and his wife told me what was inside. 

With great diligence and care, I have watered those seeds. Over the last few weeks, the wildflowers have started flowering. Every time I walk onto my deck, I smile at my planter and remember the gift of love and friendship we share with this amazing couple. 

I marvel at how many people struggle with admitting that their primary love language is gifts. For most, it seems selfish to say I love gifts. I don’t feel that way. When someone gives me a gift, whether it’s the gift of their time – friends sharing a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, great conversation over a good meal; whether it’s an act of service or a physical gift (yes, I honestly love those too!) that gift says more than words could ever say.   

It says: I’ve taken the time to KNOW you.  I UNDERSTAND you.  I am CONNECTED to you. When someone gives me a gift, I feel honored. I feel loved. I feel valued. I feel significant.  I am in awe that someone would take some of their precious time to think about what I would like and then more of their precious time to actually go and purchase that gift for me. It makes me feel so special.

The gift to me says you were thinking about me even when I wasn’t in your presence.  The gift says I am important to you. Because of that, I love giving gifts just as much, if not more than receiving them. I plan my gift giving months in advance. I start thinking about what I’m going to get my kids or my husband for their birthday usually the day after their birthday! Because I want it to say, I love you very much, I’m always on the hunt for just the right thing to convey that.  I want my gift to say, I know you.

As I sat today, enjoying the quiet of my home, Holy Spirit highlighted this love language to me. Father God is the ultimate giver. When He gave us the gift of His Son, He was saying to us, “I KNOW YOU. I understand exactly what you need. And I'm going to give you MORE than what you need. I'm giving you the best. I'm giving you fullness. I'm not just fulfilling the law's requirement; I'm giving you relationship. I know your heart's desire. I'm giving you the gift of grace (divine empowerment, unmerited favor).” 

As I reflect on the gift of salvation through grace, I am honored that I was so important to Papa God that He would give me Jesus. Not only did He give me the gift of Jesus, He's given me the keys to His Kingdom. He's given me His authority. He's given me the mind of Christ. He's given me the gift of the Holy Spirit. When I realize the magnitude of His gifts to me, I begin to see just how much God values me and how significant I am to Him.   

That Father God would grant me the gift of a Comforter who would also be the most amazing friend, confidante, and teacher on the face of this planet is almost unreal.  Every day, I get to commune, walk with, talk to, and partner with the most strategic person I've ever met.  Every day, I get the gift of His kindness crashing in on my life. Every day, I'm gifted with His manifest presence, His abiding peace, His magnificent love for me. I'm gifted to walk alongside and do life with the One who reveals more of Father God and Jesus to me. Talk about James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” bursting forth with clarity in my heart! WOW!

As I marveled at the goodness of God, I queried, “If giving gifts is the way I say I love you very much, what have I given to you, Papa? How have I said I know you to you?”  To which He answered, “You gave Me you.  You've submitted yourself in childlike faith to be loved by Me. You, the spotless, unblemished bride fell in love with my Son. You welcome Holy Spirit with abandon. You love others as I have loved you. You draw near. You pursue Me. Your smile is a gift; the color of your eyes. You are my gift.” And so, the melodic answer continued from the heart of Papa God burrowing its way deep into my spirit man. And yet another verse of scripture comes popping alive in my heart, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! (Ps 139:17)” Oh, that we might receive His magnificent gifts! Oh, that we would offer ourselves as a gift to Him!

All of the five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts accurately portray a part of who God is and who He wants to be to us.  As He is, so are we in this world (1John 4:17). When we love and embrace who we are, when we begin to identify how we hear I love you, how we say I love you to others, it’s easier to show up in our world with self awareness and intentionality. Instead of downplaying those aspects of ourselves that we feel may be misinterpreted, we can embrace and celebrate our uniqueness. 

 I bless you today with permission to be intentionally you. I bless you to evaluate your experiences through the lens of Holy Spirit and grow from them. I bless you to awaken the potential in yourself and others by extending the gift of honor, even when what they carry and walk in is different from you. I call your spirit man to the front and I bless your spirit man to know that YOU are Father’s greatest gift. I bless you to receive the truth that He only gives good and perfect gifts. I bless you to be not only a giver, but also a receiver. May you receive the gift of Father’s love today. May you experience the joy of your salvation today. May your communion with Holy Spirit be deeper and richer today than it was yesterday.

Enjoy the gift of YOU today and enjoy the gift of those around you. But most of all enjoy the gift of Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.

©Felicia Murrell    2012    All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Threefold Cord

God is awakening His kids to living fully loved by God, having the mind of Christ, and cultivating a friendship with Holy Spirit. There is a higher place for us to live from and that place is the Father's heart.

Father God longs for the day when we are so secure in His love for us (who He is to us/who we are in Him) that the cares of life no longer rock us or cause us to be unsettled. When we know who our Daddy is, we can hear His affirmations, whether loudly spoken or softly whispered. We hear Him. Often times, we are seeking someone to give us prophetic words because we are honestly, not hearing God for ourselves or perhaps we're questioning our source of protection, our source of provision, the direction of our life, the strength of His love for us. We need reassurance that we're ok; that life is ok and that we're headed in the right direction. Often times, we find that place of total reliance and confidence in God pockmarked with fear and doubt. Father longs to completely love the fear and doubt away.

When Father God fully loves you and you see Him as He is, you will begin to rest in His protection and provision. When you behold Him, you can easily identify things that are incongruent with His character.

How can we truly begin to know the Father? Everything we need to know about Father God is found in the person of Jesus. According to Hebrews, Jesus is the EXACT representation of the Father. We are transformed (made into the image of Jesus) by the renewing of our mind. How does one possess the mind of Christ exactly? Honestly, I think we already have it. And Peter would agree with me since in 1 Peter we are told that God has giving us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. Having the mind of Christ means that we have the ability to perceive divine things, to recognize good, to hate evil. It is the ability to perceive, to understand. I believe the mind of Christ is summed up in the word righteousness. This word according to the Greek means rightness or correctness of thinking, acting, and feeling and is used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification (correction or adjustment) in the heart or life. The mind of Christ gives us the ability to live in constancy just as Jesus lived. It gives us the ability to be our same self no matter the situation or circumstance. The mind of Christ eliminates the roller coaster of religious experiences because I no longer live in my circumstances. I live in Jesus. I no longer focus on my problems. I focus on the promises. Why? Because the promises of God are all fulfilled IN HIM (2 Cor. 1:20) and I am in Him. This is the mind of Christ, the ability to recognize good and hate evil. Problems = evil. Promises = good. What do you choose?

 In our friendship with Holy Spirit, we recognize that He is not only in us. He is with us. He is full of wisdom, full of counsel. He is an amazing teacher, the greatest friend. He is our comforter because we're guaranteed to find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. He is the most brilliant strategic planner on the face of the earth today. All of who He is, is available to us every moment of every day of our lives. He longs to talk TO us, hang out WITH us and do life together.

Ecclesiastes tells us that a threefold cord is not easily broken. I believe Father is highlighting these three things for fruitfulness and success: 1) the love of the Father 2) the mind of Christ 3) friendship with Holy Spirit.

The Book of Romans tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by Holy Spirit. It's hard to receive the Father's love if we've closed our hearts to Holy Spirit. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. It's inconceivable that one could know Father God and experience His great love without the mind of Christ to perceive and understand it.

What does it look like to be friends with Holy Spirit? How would your life change knowing He is not only in you but also with you, every moment of every day of your life? What does living fully loved by Father God look like to you? What is different today about the way you think, act and feel than before you received the mind of Christ? How can you come into agreement with all Father has and desires for you?

May you be blessed in your journey as your heart is awakened to love.

©Felicia Murrell    2012    All Rights Reserved