Sunday, December 25, 2011

Transcendence Comes to Us

This week I've been reading The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer, the chapter on Divine Transcendence.

Tozer says, "When we speak of God as transcendent we mean of course that He is exalted far above the created universe, so far above that human thought cannot imagine it. To think accurately about this, however, we must keep in mind that 'far above' does not here refer to physical distance from the earth but to the quality of being."

A few paragraphs later he says, "Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is  but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself."

What an incredible thought. This is why it's so difficult to get our minds around God, and most often we don't try. But we must try, in order to get a more right perspective. When we realize the God we're dealing with, we hesitate to approach Him . . . and we should. It should make us pause, even tremble.

"In olden days," continues Tozer, "men of faith were said to 'walk in the fear of God' and to 'serve the Lord with fear.' However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. . . This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty."

"Yet we console ourselves with the knowledge that it is God Himself who puts it in our hearts to seek Him and makes is possible in some measure to know Him, and He is pleased with even the feeblest effort to make Him known."

For this purpose Jesus came to earth in the lowliest human form--a baby, completely helpless, dependent on others for survival. He came to make Himself known and to become the atoning sacrifice, thus making a way for men (women and children) to commune with their Creator.

Let's take a few moments today to ponder this incredible event.

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dancing with the Obvious-Accidental Creative

  Today I'm borrowing a blog from Accidental Creative. Todd makes some great points and I think you'll enjoy it.
Accidental Creative


Eliminating the confusion between complexity and value.

I love spending time with diverse teams of creative people because I get a bird's eye view of what's happening across the creative workplace. One thing I'm increasingly concerned about is the rising level of cynicism in creative circles (including in myself). On one hand, a healthy critical mindset can help us improve our work and learn from the mistakes of others. On the other, cynicism causes us to forfeit our sense of wonder and, perhaps worse, to worry that our work will become the target of someone else's ire. 
Because of this, I see many creatives struggling to avoid creating anything that seems on the surface to be too simple or obvious. In the effort to prove how accomplished they are, they over-complicate their work and include too many fringe and loosely beneficial elements. It seems to be a kind of sub-conscious effort to prove the value of their work. 
But we too easily confuse value with complexity. These are two exclusive concepts that are not necessarily related. The result is that we waste time and valuable creative energy spinning round and round over-complicating what should be very simple. In the end, we produce a lot of workplace dissonance.
Why do we do this? Why do we over-complicate our work and its deliverables? 
One reason is that we increasingly believe - as a culture - that what is obvious inherently lacks value. We dismiss quick insights and familiar-seeming ideas because we assume that they can't possibly be useful. Our paranoid self worries about what others will think of us if we execute such an obvious idea. Our cynical side knows exactly what we might say about someone else if they executed such an obvious idea. We worry about everything except for the value we're creating for our clients or audience, which is the very thing that we should be focusing on.
A second reason why I believe we ignore immediate ideas and hunches is pride. We have to prove to everyone how difficult our job is. We feel like we have to show that we are valuable by searching for that needle in the creative haystack. Deep down, we want to emerge triumphant and have others proclaim how uniquely gifted we are and how nothing would be the same without us. In our search for recognition we end up over-complicating the work and creating more work for our collaborators. Creativity requires humble curiosity, and that means - on occasion - embracing that some of the best and most creative solutions might be the most obvious.
Finally, I think we're loathe to embrace the obvious because it reminds us of what we already know but aren't doing. This especially relates to best practices, advice and the how of our work. When we hear advice that we've heard before, we cringe because it seems "obvious". We forget, however, that it's not what we know, it's what we do about it that matters. 
We can't allow the curse of familiarity - or the sense that an idea is too obvious - to rob us of potentially brilliantly simple insights. We must grasp and execute the best idea, and we need to be careful not to confuse complexity with value. (At least that's my goal in 2012. I hope you'll join me.)

My best,
Todd Henry
Accidental Creative
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Science vs Religion

"Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a 'law.' The uniformity of god's activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God's behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts.

Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths. Religion is interested primarily in the One who is the source of all things, the master of every phenomenon." ~A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (chapter 12, Omnipotence).

What more is there to say?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Raise Your Expectations

To accomplish anything for God's kingdom, we must set out to do something bigger than ourselves.

Raise your expectations!

Pursue the impossible!

"Grant that we may learn to lay hold on the working of the mighty power which wrought in Christ when Thou didst raise Him from the dead and set Him at Thine own right hand in the heavenly places. Amen." ~A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, (chapter 12, Omnipotence).

Thursday, December 15, 2011


It's the best time of year to remember the darkness from which we've been saved, and the Light that came into the world to save us! Check out Dan's blog as he blogs daily through Advent verses.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time-Saving Recipe

Check out this crock pot recipe. It'll be ready when you get home from work, and best of all, it'll rejuvenate your body after all the heavy, Christmas party food you've consumed.
Chinese Hot Pot

Do you have any time saving tips for the holidays? Please post them here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

HIs Center Holds

"God is supremely esteemed. His center holds. Zion brims over with all that is just and right. God keeps your days stable and secure--salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus, 
and best of all, Zion's treasure, Fear-of-God."
~Isaiah 33:5-6, The Message

The phrase that catches my attention this morning is "His center holds." It reminds me of gravity at the Earth's core, holding us and everything down, keeping us from flying off into outer space.

In engineering, the center of gravity is the key factor for balance and proper function of any machine. Imagine what a great engineer God is.

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible . . . all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." ~Colossians 1:16, 17 NASB

Not only is God the great engineer, He, himself, is the gravity at the core of all things, holding them together. 

(Not sure how the picture relates, but it looks cool)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December Energy Boost

I know everyone talks about stress at the holiday season. It almost adds stress just to read another post about it. I don't mean to contribute to it, but there are some simple things we can do to feel our best and boost energy during this busy time.

1. Take a few moments each day (even 2-3 minutes) to slow your breathing and contemplate the "Reason for the season," to use a cliché. God came to Earth in the form of man because He is holy, and because He loves us, and because He wanted to make a way for us to be close to Him. He wants relationship with us. It's the greatest mystical union anyone could conceive, and it's not fantasy. It's real.

2. Take a bath once or twice a week with some relaxing essential oils. Aromatherapy works wonders. Try a few drops of Sandalwood or Lavender.

3. Add deeply colorful veggies to each meal. One easy way to do this is to have a salad with lunch and dinner. Use dark green lettuce, red peppers and/or tomatoes,  carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, and any other colorful produce that sounds good. Shake on some olive or walnut oil with a splash of lemon juice and you have a flavorful, nutrient-boosting meal. You can also eat greens (try kale or chard), steamed in a pan with garlic and a can of chopped tomatoes. Or try a baked sweet potato. Adding nutrients adds flavor as well, so you'll feel like you're spoiling yourself.

Treat yourself well this month and you'll have more energy to participate in all the activities or to volunteer and offer your energy to others.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Give Hope this Christmas

This year, my husband and I are finally realizing that we have everything we need. Oh yes, I know some windows need to be replaced as well as the carpet and the deck. But there will always be needs in the house and we'll tackle those one by one.  But this year we're asking loved ones to give a gift of money in our name to an organization that is making a difference in the lives of needy people.

Christmas is a time we usually receive gifts, small tokens of affection from those we love. This year, I suspect, many will give less expensive gifts since money is a little more tight. But even if the gift is only $5, it can make a difference to children like these. These children have lost their parents, their home, and their means of provision. Please read more about them on Inspire the Fire. And ask the Lord if you can do something to make a difference for them this holiday season. Or maybe the holidays are too tight. Why not plan to give at another time of year when others aren't thinking about it anymore?

Whatever you can do, let's join in prayer for these precious children.

Dear Lord Jesus, These are not unfamiliar faces to You. They are in your thoughts and in Your heart every day. In fact You saw their faces when You died on the cross. You saw their faces before the world was created. They are not less valuable to You. They are worthy of your life and death. But You desire more for them than salvation alone, You desire for their stomachs to be full and for them to have a safe place to sleep at night. These are the little ones You told us not to deny. You said "Let them come to Me." Please show us what we can do practically to help these loved ones of Yours. Amen.

If you have not read the short article about these children please go to Inspire the Fire now and read it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Life-Giving Breath

Photo by Joshua Thompson
Spirit is the word Ruah, wind or breath. When God created the world, He spoke it into existence. Speaking requires breath. When God created man, He breathed into him the breath of life. The breath is the life force. When we breathe, it is God's breath flowing through us.

Read that last sentence again.

Incredible! God is near to us, He is even flowing in and out of us. Breath is God's creative, living force moving through us.

I believe breathing is a gift from God, not only for life but for health. Find Here my very short blog about how deep breathing can help us relax and actually bring healing to our body.

To read more about God and breath, following is an excerpt from a blog by a Jewish rabi on the name of God and breathing (there is a link to the entire blog after the excerpt):

"What follows is a brief summary of my approach on the question of pronouncing the "Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei" Name of God that in transliteration comes out "YHWH":
1) It is unpronounceable in my view not because we are forbidden to pronounce it — that understanding is in my view a way of avoiding the deeper truth — but because if one tries to do so, pronouncing these four strange letters (semi-vowels, semi-consonants; linguists call them aspirate consonants) WITHOUT any vowels, one simply breathes.
You might pause to try this yourself: try to say "YHWH" with no vowels. Not "Yahweh" or "Yahovah," but with no vowels at all.
Over the years I have invited thousands of people at synagogues, retreat centers, Hillels, and conferences to explore what happens if they try to do this, and almost everyone who does this experiences either a breath or the wind.
The real Name is BEYOND pronunciation, unless you consider breathing pronunciation.
As the Siddur (prayer-book) says, "Nishmat kol chai tivarech et SHIMCHA." ("The breathing of all life praises your Name.") For the Breathing of all life IS Your Name.
2) The notion of YHWH as "the Breath of Life" accords with a deep sense of God as intimate and transcendent at once. If we have no breath in us, we die. If there is no breath beyond us, we die.
3) Moreover, it makes profound sense for at least one of the real Names of the real God to be not a Hebrew word, nor a word in Egyptian, or Latin, or Greek, or Arabic, or Sanskrit, or English - not in any single language but in all of them, or in some form of expression that both underlies and transcends language: just breathing, which all humans of all peoples do.
4) Still more, Breathing encompasses not only all humans but all life-forms. What the trees breathe out is what we breathe in; what we breathe out is what the trees breathe in. So YHWH as a breathing sound evokes "kol ha'neshama," all breathing beings, and "nefesh chaya," all those in which is the life-breath." excerpt from a blog by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 4/14/2004

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ancient of Days

"And in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength." Revelation 1:13-16

Oh that we might see you, Jesus, the way you really are. You are the Ancient of Days. All authority and power are Yours. All wisdom comes from You and belongs to You. Your eyes of passionate love consume us with a glance and Your words are right and true, whether in creation or judgment. You are our light and we look to You.