Alone-liness

My husband and I are addicted to a TV show on the History Channel called Alone.  This is a hardcore survival show featuring 10 participants. These survival experts are dropped at 10 separate isolated locations on a remote part of Vancouver Island. Each are equipped with several cameras for filming their journey. They each have 10 survival items of their choosing (no guns), and all are furnished with an emergency radio that can summon help if they are injured or choose to quit. They are utterly and completely Alone. No camera crews … no food related reward challenges … no one to talk to or help them in any way.

Their very survival depends on what they can catch or trap for food. A certain skill set is necessary to set up a camp that will protect them from the harsh environment, including dangerous animal predators and poisonous insects. The premise of the show is to see who can survive the longest all Alone.  The last man (or woman) standing is awarded a huge cash prize.  But at what cost?

The thing that seems to take most of these people out is that they cannot handle the total isolation. A certain degree of “temporary insanity” seems to take over as they lament the pain of being separated from loved ones. Grown men are reduced to infantile weeping once they start fixating on how much they miss their family. Once they let their emotions go there, it a rather quick slide to their elimination.                                                                                                       

There’s actually a reason for that. God did not create us to be solitary individuals, but rather He designed us to need each other.

Throughout the Bible Christians are referred to as a body of believers or the family of God.  Both of these imply more than one. While most of us don’t mind occasional alone time (and that’s okay), we don’t want to ever completely cut ourselves off from people. Too much alone time isn’t good for us. 

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

If you lean towards being an introvert (like me), interacting with other people can prove challenging. Sometimes we may need a nudge from God to push us out of our comfort zone.  Church small groups, book clubs and Bible studies provide great opportunities to hone our social skills. And of course, there’s always Mama’s sage advice of: the best way to make a friend -- is to be a friend. 

A little quiet time Alone with God isn’t a bad thing. But don’t neglect fellowship and human interaction! Strive for that healthy balance. We need each other!

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Genesis 2:18

Kathy Kurlin
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Inflatable Snowman Faith

If you drove through our neighborhood this Christmas season, you’d see some pretty impressive displays.  When you live in the desert during the holidays, it takes a little extra to really catch the holiday spirit.  And people are delivering.  Lights on every tree and bush, PVC archways creating tunnels of flashing festivity over driveways and sidewalks, nativity scenes, tribes of inflatables waving and greeting, even Chewbacca and Yoda are making an appearance of Christmas spirit in a number of yards. Rooftop displays include even more lights, giant tinsel lighted snowflakes, and Santa and his reindeer (of course).

Our own display is low-key and understated (translate – we’re not willing to create a budget line for “Outdoor Holiday décor”).  We have a few strings of lights outlining our eaves and our little front porch while a single inflatable snowman smiles, unmoving, his hand in a fixed waving position, a singular bastion of inflatable Christmas friendly…

when he’s not laying down on the job.

Our Snowman has a little trouble staying upright.  We make the standard jokes that he’s into the eggnog again while I adjust the strings that stake him to the ground and (supposedly) keep him from falling over.  The biggest problem is that when he does fall, he seems to do so backwards, and the little fan that is supposed to inflate him is trapped downward in the rocks where he stands. The fan continues to spin, but with no air to draw from, bit by bit he deflates, until he’s just a pile of fabric bearing little resemblance to the friendly festive symbol of Christmas he is when he’s at his best.

I sometimes feel a little like my fallen snowman friend. Although I might be physically standing, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually, I’m just in a heap, barely resembling the woman God created me to be. There are days that life feels completely overwhelming, my devotional life isn’t what it should be, my prayer life is in shambles and although I’m going through the motions to keep things rolling along, internally I feel deflated and empty.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he offers up this prayer for Spiritual strength:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19

In this single paragraph, Paul explains the how, why and where-from of strength as he explains the role of each person of the trinity.  The Father.  The Spirit.  The Son-Jesus.

I read this today shortly before I went outside to once again revive our fallen snowman and as I readjusted the deflated fabric so his little fan could get air, I suddenly saw myself – not my best self, but my sometimes collapsed and discouraged and flattened self.

The collapse often hits gradually – for me it begins when I get a little “off center”.  When the place from which my little spiritual fan should be getting air gets crowded out by other things.

I wish I could say that this never happens to me, but it does.

And not usually in times of real crisis.  In those times I am in the Word and on my knees – often literally. And my God always meets me there.  Not always with the result I want, but certainly with the strength to move through it – whatever “it” turns out to be.  Over the last 8 years that I’ve tried to faithfully follow Christ, I can truly say that my worst times in life have been my some of my best times with Jesus.

No, for me the real danger zone in my spiritual life seems to be when things are…regular.  Status quo.  Nothing amazing and nothing bad. It is then that I become lazy in my prayer life and less diligent in the Word.  I feel a little tinge of stress and maybe I eat a cookie (or three) to make myself feel better.  A lousy day and I’m off to the couch for a date with Netflix.  A blow-out with my son and I retreat to Facebook (because looking at everyone’s highlight-reel of their perfect lives and perfect kids will surely make me feel better about my dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and the tirade of 8-year-old back-talk I just dealt with, right?).

Suddenly I realize I’m just “off”, and although I’m doing all these different things to feed my feel-better fan, none of it is really doing the job – at least not in any sustainable way. I find myself down and discouraged, and yes, just like my snowman friend, deflated.

I need to readjust and make sure the air I’m getting is the air I need.  If my fan is in the dirt, it doesn’t matter how fast it spins, it’s not going to fill me.

Nothing fills me like the Almighty God can.  Nothing fills my emptiness like a God who has infinite riches from which to revitalize me. Nothing refreshes my soul like the Holy Spirit who speaks to the depths of my spirit and pours out his refreshment upon me. Nothing soothes my hurting heart like my precious Savior, Jesus, who loved me enough to sacrifice himself for me. I want the revitalization, the refreshment, the soothing, the fullness that Paul tapped into to find joy and peace in a prison cell as he wrote this letter to his beloved friends in Ephesus.

I'm probably not going to get THAT from a cookie, no matter how good it is.

We are filled when we immerse ourselves in the things of God – when we read and meditate upon his Word, when we pour ourselves out to Him in prayers of both gratitude and grief, when we worship Him for His holiness, His power and His unfathomable love for us.

What we need most is found only in the fresh air of God.  Let Him fill you with it.

(There’s more!  Read it in entirety at: https://redletterlifeblog.wordpress.com/)

Catharine Phillips
loveSTRONG ministries

 

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Rooted

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.    
Ephesians 3:16-18

Paul has found himself once again in a Roman prison, but in the midst of his own suffering he writes a letter to the church at Ephesus and assures them they are in his prayers.  He prays for the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them – a poignant prayer from a man who’s experiencing that very thing for himself – so that their faith would not falter and they would continue to follow Christ.  Paul then goes on to say “That you, being rooted and established in love may have the power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”

Why does Paul mean by them being rooted?

When we consider the plants and trees around us, we know that nothing survives long without roots.  The plant needs the sun to grow, but it is only as healthy as what water and nutrients its roots can reach and draw from the ground.

When we consider what Paul meant here, we begin to see that all of us are rooted in something.

To be rooted in something is to draw your value and identity from that thing. 

It is the driving force to everything you do. 

It defines you. 

It is the thing you cannot ignore and you cannot forget and you cannot do without.

As believers, we know we’re supposed to be rooted in our relationship with Jesus…but sometimes we’re not.

Join us at 10am on April 22nd for Rooted as we identify how easily we sometimes allow things of this world to draw our roots away from the things of God and discover how we can root ourselves in His Grace, His Truth and His Love for our identity, value and purpose!

REGISTER FOR ROOTED

Catharine Phillips
Author

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Discover Him

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him. Daniel 2:20b-22

Over the course of my life, I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve longed for divine revelation. Whether it is what to do, where to go or who I am, I’ve had big questions for God. There are days that the questions are simple and there are days I’ve been so desperate for answers that my prayers are distraught pleas, the words barely finding their way through wracking sobs.

God hears them all.

But sometimes his answers seem vague…or just way too slow in coming.

What do we do when our questions are so big and the answers seem so unclear?

Oswald Chambers in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest says: Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.

Whoa.

Daniel, who penned the words of the verse above, was a man who knew difficulty and pain and disappointment. Within the first chapter of the book that bears his name we discover that his homeland has been ravaged by war and he has been taken captive by a pagan king and placed into a training program intended to equip him as an advisor to this very king who’d uprooted his life.

And yet, Daniel knows his God to be wise and powerful, he knows God changes seasons and kings, he knows that God is the source of wisdom and knowledge and the revealer of deep and hidden things.

Daniel may not know what God is doing, but he knows who He is.

The single most important question we can seek to answer through the pages of the Bible is: “Who are You, God?” It is the answer to this question that colors the answers to all the others that arise.

When we know God is sovereign, we can trust in His power.

When we know God is wise, we can trust in His plan.

When we know how God loves us, we can trust in His presence.

Discover Him!

Cat Phillips
Writer

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