Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

My Blog Has Moved

If you like to follow my blog, you need to know that this is the last post on THIS blog — BUT — the bug to write hasn’t left my pen.  I’ve decided to switch to a different website – one I can own.

Please visit Nequient Troll to continue following this blog!  If you want to know why I renamed it Nequient Troll, you’ll just have to dig a little and find out!

From The Balcony is now Nequient Troll. Adios!

God is Greater Than Our Heart

Rebecca Ellison Photography

photo by Rebecca Ellison Photography

You know, life is funny.  People are funny.  Some people can be downright weird most of the time (said with a smile).  Perhaps I should interject, ‘especially me.’

Over the past few months I have been assiduously observing human interaction – both physical interaction, verbal interaction and cyberhuman-interaction.  Did I just make up a word?

My observations have concluded that the interaction between humans, no matter how it is achieved, is fairly consistent.  It is consistently the product of our own hearts.  Our own biases.  Our own personal preferences.  Our own apathies and our own sympathies.   Our hearts are full of indifference towards others, even when we try to mask that innate quality which possesses the very core of our hearts.

Yet, the world tells us that this cannot be the case.  The world says that we are, more often than not, good, and that we are capable of perfecting our heart. The world says that because we are created in God’s image that we can certainly be exactly like him — that we can consistently excel in moral excellence, that we can obtain and possess a virtuous heart, that our actions and words are continually honorable because we have defined them to be such and have expectations that they be such.

I have not seen this to be the case over the many years I have lived on this planet.  I am not saying that these things do not occur, because obviously, many of us have experienced and pronounced genuine words of kindness.  We have delivered honest actions from the heart.  We have developed a sympathetic ear that truly resonates compassion for others.

I am, however, saying that these kind of actions are far from consistent in manifestation.  I have observed that the heart is typically deceptive, especially to its owner.  While I don’t wish this to be the case, it has been a fairly consistent observation for both others and for myself.

There is no way to avoid the reality that all types of interactions between human beings are defined by our own human natures.  We do not have the power within ourselves to cleanse our natures from our corrupted hearts.  Our hearts have been corrupt since the moment they were birthed.

It is the nature of our souls to follow the inclination of our own hearts.  Even when we think we have no bias.  Even when we think we are not boastful.  Even when believe that we judge fairly.  Even when we conclude that our intentions are honorable, correct and justified.  Even when we perceive we are consistently gentle and kind.  Even when we try to do any of these things with the very best of intentions.

The fact of the matter is that our hearts and our minds lie to us.  Our feelings lie to us.

But!  there is hope!  A great hope!  A hope greater than ourselves.

God is greater than our heart.

On those joyous occasions when we succeed at being gentle, kind, joyful, patient, faithful, self-controlled, and peaceful with those around us, our greatest joy and comfort is understanding that it is the presence of the very God of the universe which has made this possible within us – within our hearts.

God is greater than our heart.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. …….By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

I John 3:  16, 19-20.

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca Ellison Photography, copyright 2010

In Awe of Honest Love

My 2 year old granddaughter recently returned from Germany.  We’re pretty tight – my little grandbaby and I.  She was gone 12 days and every day, I saw her little face around every corner and through every doorway.

Finally, they arrived at our house to pick up their dogs.  Yes, we had the “pleasure” of baby-sitting the dogs….

As they drove into my driveway, IVC (her initials) saw me standing outside of the car and broke out in a genuinely huge smile – the biggest I have ever seen.  She had missed me also.

Later that week I was at the local Vitamin Cottage.  I looked down the breezeway of the shopping center and there was my little girl, helping her pregnant mom unload the groceries from their cart.  I called out her name – she turned – looked – then raised her arms out to me, running as fast as her 2-year old little legs would let her — with a huge grin on her face the whole way.  That grin was real.

Honest love is seen through the eyes of a 2 year old little girl who misses her grandmother so much that her little heart explodes when joy when they are re-united.

Sometimes I think God must feel this very same way.  How He must rejoice when He opens our eyes and we are able to smile honestly at Him!  Genuinely.  Knowingly.  Gratefully.  Humbly.  In Awe of his sovereignty.

Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Cobblestones and High Heels

My friend has a daughter who is spending some time at a university in Spain this semester.  I’ve enjoyed reading her blog posts about the culture she is encountering — and her viewpoint of it — and her full immersion into the culture.  She is a quite a character and we love her.

Her post made me laugh today.  She described trying to walk on the cobblestone streets of Madrid in high heels. You would see the humor of this if you knew how short she wears her skirts!

The visual that is stuck in my mind, almost possessing it, has caused me to think – and think – and think. Why?  Why would anyone want to walk on cobblestones in high heels?

If you study reformed theology at all, you easily recognize that our human nature causes us to run from the things that are good for us.  We even run away from God because it is our nature to do so.  Only when God first performs a work in our heart are we able to choose Him and run towards Him instead of away from Him.  Man, left to his own devices, flees both from God and from good choices because it is the nature of his heart to do so.

It also seems to be the nature of a really cute little girl to choose looks over practicality — to choose to fit in instead of setting herself apart — to compromise where she should not do so.  Before you think I am judging, I am not.  I have my own share of silly stories to share – maybe not as extreme, but still, I remain guilty as charged.

Such is life. 🙂  At least she learned it wasn’t a good idea to come home at 5am when you have an early class the next day (i.e., that same morning.)

We can be trained….but it’s best when God does the training.  And it’s even better when we learn to listen.

Image  by Monica Arellano-Ongpin (Creative Commons License)

Perceptions

Today, as I was wallowing in the steamy warmth of my morning shower, I spent an extended amount of time thinking about perceptions.

Perceptions we have of others.  Perceptions which mold our thinking both positively and negatively.  Perceptions which result in injury or facilitate healing.  Perceptions which are revealed to be true when cast in the light of truth, or are declared false when over-shadowed and exposed by that very same truth.

We base so much of what we believe on our chosen perceptions.  For instance, we categorize and define people simply by observing their facial expressions.  We make a judgment based on a single glance instead of taking the time to know.

Our declared perceptions either free others or enslave them by either rightly receiving their true intentions or choosing to misunderstand their words — knowingly or unknowingly.

We do all of this based on our own interpretation because we only want to use our very own crafted lens with which to perceive.

It made me wonder how much more accurately our faith could be expressed to others if we would choose to use the lens the Father gave to us instead of crafting our own lens.  Certainly, this mindset requires a sacrifice of self and pride, as well as a sacrifice of our preferred perceptions.  But I have a feeling that so much hurt, conflict and error could be avoided if before we spoke — before we perceived, we asked ourselves, “What would God have to say about my perception?”

I surprised myself.  I decided to look (ESV version) to see if I could find the word “perceive” in the Bible.  I really didn’t think it would be there – but it is!  What I found as I studied different instances of the use of this concept was quite interesting.  I won’t analyze it for you here — but you certainly have the ability to do the same thing I just did!

Suffice it to say that sometimes our perceptions are correct.  I would give credit to the Holy Spirit for discernment.  Sometimes, however, man fails to perceive correctly and wrecks havoc on others — and themselves.

No matter what our perceptions may be, we must learn to think before we speak.  Think wisely and intentionally before we act.  It doesn’t mean that we fail to take action is our perceptions are correct and a situation needs addressing or defending.  But there is a time, a place and a season for our reaction.  And always, it should be swaddled in prayer and the truth of God’s Word…..

I think my prayer for all who would read this would be:  “Father, help us to perceive your truth accurately.  In others, help us to perceive clearly before we judge and speak in error, thus possibly wounding those whom You love.   And most of all, Father, help us to perceive you in all of your glory, so that in that all we do, and all that we say and perceive will only be to your glory, and your glory alone.”

My favorite “perception” verse has nothing to do with us – and has everything to do with God.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

Titles

We attended a grand event this past weekend:  the opening of our son-in-law’s new brewery, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse.  I was thrilled as I watched all of his hard work pay off.  It’s not just his brewery.  He has a partner and both of them have wives, one of them being my wonderful daughter, Amelia.  Entrepreneurship – the heartbeat of America.  It’s what makes this nation tick.  It’s the backbone of strength which must be revived again if this nation is to remain strong.

During the course of the evening I engaged in a conversation about education, a topic of great concern to me.  It caused me to reflect over the course of my life and my pursuit of attaining a ‘title.’

After high school, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  I was proud of this accomplishment because UNC-CH is a very difficult school in which to be accepted.  I began my course of study which would lead to a Physical Therapy degree.  Later I changed my major to a Nursing degree so I wouldn’t have to take yet one more course in physics.  🙂  I was accepted into both the P.T. and Nursing programs, which in itself was very difficult to achieve.

Life got in the way and I was not able to finish this degree.  I do regret that I did not finish my degree but I see that the course my life took after that decision was absolutely the right one.   I became a mother instead.

I later realized that nursing wasn’t really my ‘first love.’  I had chosen that field because of my disabled mother.  She wanted me to work in the medical field because it was her love.

After my children were grown, I decided to once again pursue my unfinished degree, only this time I would major in something I loved — journalism.  I love to write.  It must be part of that artistic brain of mine.

I was enrolled and accepted into the local university.  Most of my credits transferred and I began the process of achieving a ‘title.’  A couple of years into the program, with just a short time left to achieve my title, I began to take a long look at the end result of this acquisition.  I discovered that most of my journalism professors were liberal; more than liberal, in fact.  I began to see the bias in education.  Even courses, such as the Chicano Studies class I participated in, was politically slanted in a way which disagrees with my perspective.  It wasn’t enough just to learn the history of the Chicano movement.  In addition to a biased learning environment, we were forced to attend events I would not normally attend.  We were coerced to believe that La Raza s a good thing.  (not….)

I began to see that if I were to enter the journalism field, I would be faced with this kind of environment in which to work. Suddenly, the acquisition of a ‘title’ didn’t seem important anymore.  Even though I was constantly at the top of my class, I finally understood that a title means nothing if your integrity is compromised.

I consider myself to be a lifelong learner.  The fact that I did not gain an official earthly title is irrelevant.  Leaving the university did not stop my quest to study nor my passion to learn.  In fact, it gave me more time to do so.  Sometimes you can excel at something yet must make the hard choice to deny yourself involvement in that skill.

The irony is that I do have a title.  An earthly title with a heavenly compass.  My passion to study reformed theology has once more reminded me that my identity is not with a B.A., M.A. or any other earthly title.  My identity is in Christ.  I need no other identification.

The only title I need stamped on my forehead for all to see is “forgiven.”  I am forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ.  There is nothing that gives greater joy than knowing your Creator.  I imagine that God feels the same way that Paul did:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  3 John 1:4

Liberty Ink Journal

Northern Colorado – there’s a new conservative magazine that recently debuted in our fair land.  It proclaims the things we love:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I met the business director and his wife at the opening my my son-in-law’s brewery last night.  I was impressed with their character, intelligence and personal motivation to take the positive steps need to repair our broken country.  It gave me hope.

For years I have wondered if the “younger generation” had even the slightest clue of what they were about to lose.  I wondered if my own children were the only ones who had been taught about the values our country holds dear.  Now I can breathe a little easier knowing that some within that generation are stepping up.  Speaking out.  Starting the process of positive change.   Change that protects freedom.

Hard copies are available and will soon be distributed in local grocery stores and other venues.  There is also an online version you can find here. If you are inclined, this is a great endeavor to financially support.  Grass roots liberty.

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