The Created Being

We were created by a creative God who put every detail of the universe in place with the utmost precision and for the upmost purpose. When we ponder upon the ramifications of the Imago Dei, we center ourselves on the communicable attributes of God’s goodness, kindness, graciousness, and mercifulness. We know of who God is by our awareness of these very attributes, but there is one characteristic of God’s being that we marvel at, but never fully correlate to our lives: his creativity. You and I have an awareness of the objective beauties and truths of God through His creation. One does not have to search long before being struck with awe and wonder of creation. Our jaws dropped seeing the sheer scale of a dinosaur’s skeleton as our imaginations tried to fathom how such gigantic creatures existed in our world. We stop in wonder of the galaxy when astrological phenomena are captured by NASA’s telescopes. Our scrupulous studies of the microscopic world reveal an intricate level of detail that is hard to fathom. Everything detail of the universe, no matter how large or small, was designed from God’s creativity. Awesome and mighty. Fearfully powerful and intensely methodical. A wondrous intentionality that is beyond our capacity to fully comprehend. Our God is awesome!

We often think of creativity as something that is limited to those who possess artistic ability, but creativity is so much more than the arts. Creativity is problem solving. Creativity is looking beyond the immediate to see the potential of something larger. Creativity is developing the potential of others. Creativity is adapting ones experiences into something that is relatable. Creativity is an inherent part of who we are as created beings. We were created by God and have been imbued with an inherent need to create in some way, shape, or form. Our creativity takes many different forms, but our inherent need to be creative is evidenced by our awareness of the objective truths and beauties of God and His creation. Creation reveals its creator in what is known as general revelation. The world around us, in partnership with the moving of the Holy Spirit, draws our attention to the higher being that created everything around us. This revelation is not enough to bring us to salvation, but is enough to seek after who God is. What purpose would this serve if we had no appreciation of the intricacies of creation? While there is subjectivity in our appreciation of works of art, there is simply no subjectivity in God’s character. His truth, beauty, and justice are absolute. They are whole just as He is whole. There exists no blemish or error within their intrinsic essence, nor is there any deviation in God’s essence. Thus lies the intentionality of God’s purpose behind creation.

Creativity and intentionality are in an inseparable relationship. When God created the universe there was no force acting upon Him. He created from within Himself. His motivation alone was the intent behind creating. He didn’t see anything done halfway. God saw everything that He created through to its completion with the greatest intentionality (What makes you think that He’s not as intentional with you as He is with what He made? He created you after all!). We see in Genesis that as God looked over the Earth and Heavens that He declared that what He had made as good. Yet, as good as everything that He had made was, He was not done. God created Man in His image and declared that Man was very good! Above all the things that God created, you are the pinnacle of His handiwork! Every part of you is intentionally made by God, and He breathed life into you. You are more precious than the finest jewelry or the purest diamond. You are the craftsmanship of the holy God!

You possess something far greater and more powerful than you may realize. Something that comes with a responsibility for stewardship. God, in creating you, bestowed upon you gifting, talents, passions, and a calling. You are a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those around you. Those gifts that you possess are tools in your arsenal to communicate God’s truths to those who most desperately need to hear of God’s cause. We must be intentional in carrying this message. Intentional in expressing these truths creatively though art, writing, conversation, story telling, and so much more. Whether you realize it or not, you have a platform to communicate the Gospel wherever you are and a command to leverage your life for the sake of the kingdom. If you are a believer of Christ, you must not neglect that purpose God has bestowed upon you.

When you stop in awe and wonder at the sunset, remember that God who painted it uniquely. When you pause to take in the beauty of the waves crashing upon the shore, remember that God who created you unlike any other. Embrace the calling God has bestowed upon your life and chase after him with all that you are. Run with all the tenacity you can muster after Him! You are a created being and, as a believer, a reflection of God’s handiwork. Be confident in Him and find your assurance, your creativity, and purpose in Him and Him alone.

-Terren

The Coconut Story

Have you every asked for something from God? It didn’t need to be something super spiritual or serious, but it could have been. Perhaps you asked God to give you more patience. Maybe you’ve asked for more discipline. Shoot, you may have asked God to deliver you from some affliction. But, I must ask you, have you ever asked God for a coconut? Seems silly, right? Why would anyone ask God for a coconut, that seems unnecessary? Perhaps, in asking God for a coconut, He took the opportunity to remind you that He hears you and your requests. What you are about to read is an actual, true event that I witnessed last summer while I was in Southeast Asia.

I woke up early on my second to last day in Southeast Asia to the sound of bustling streets, howling monkeys, and the constant stream of vehicles honking. Even with the window mounted air conditioner cranked as low as I could get it the room was humid and warm. I lay, ceiling fan revved like an airplane prop, waking in the darkness. My bunkmate was still asleep as I stirred. Today was the second to last day of an incredibly productive week in the jungles and mountains. I had witnessed God move in mighty ways, and use my fellow laborers in very specific ways to reach the people. Still, something was different this morning. I set my feet off the side of the bed as I rubbed my eyes in the stuffy room. As my mental prowess matched my awakening state, I realized that it was too early for breakfast. I had a couple of options: stay in bed or step out into the courtyard of our hostel. Slipping my sandals on, I walked down to the steamy morning sun.

As I came outside, my friend Hayley sat on the end of a concrete bench having some personal time with the Lord. I quietly waved as I stepped into the courtyard, as my presence was noticed. I apparently arrived at the end of her study, as she invited me over. Part of my role on this trip was to document the work that was taking place, which meant that I was hopping between teams throughout the week between job sites. Thus far I had not been sent out to her team’s location, so I struck up conversation by asking her how she had been doing and what she had encounter during her time. At some point in our conversation, we turned to the topic of, I think, unexpected things that had made an impression upon us during our time in the field.

On my first day, we arrived in a tiny village that welcomed us warmly. I was taken aback by the people’s hospitality as the local villagers climbed up a palm tree to cut down some coconuts for us to enjoy. The team that I was with were seated on plastic chairs before the community in the afternoon sun. Monkeys hopping from colorful home to colorful home. I’ve travelled to many places across the globe. I’ve slept in the desserts of the Middle East, backpacked across Ireland, been the typical tourist in London, and more. I’ve been to places where I’ve been a tourist, places where I would been considered poor by comparison, and to places like Southeast Asia where whole families live in poverty. One of the most impactful things that I think we can learn from our neighbors is hospitality.

In sharing this rather small and inconsequential part of an otherwise huge, God-led week, my friend shared that she had not yet experienced this form of hospitality. She had been shown hospitality in other ways, but she longed to drink from a coconut. She chuckled as she confessed that she had prayed the night prior for God to provide a coconut for her enjoyment. — It’s important for you to understand the arrangement of things for what is about to happen next. I sat across from Hayley on a concrete bench, my back to one wing of the hostel. Hayley sat with her back to a small garden that was lined with palm trees. — As she laughs at how silly it appears to be asking God to provide her with a… THUMP!

I know what you’re most likely thinking right now. I’m making this up. There’s no way this actually happened. This is all plot convenience for the sake of this blog post. Well, I can tell you that it’s certainly one of those things that just seem to happen while on mission trips. Yes, a coconut had fallen from one of the palm trees in our hostel’s courtyard. Yes. God provided a coconut. I wish I could describe the complex sequence of micro-expressions that occurred as Hayley realized what just happened. She smiled as she asked me, “was that a coconut?” She turned to see a fresh coconut lying in the grass behind her. God had provided! Shortly thereafter, as we and the rest of our crew gathered for breakfast, we ate fresh coconut that had been given to us.

You may think that what you’re asking for from God is silly or unrealistic. Whatever it may be. Whatever you’ve been asking for. He hears you! He knows your request. Your petition does not fall on deaf ears. He knows the depths of your soul. Those desires that you express only in the most private of companies. Those secret wants that you only divulge to your closest of friends. All of it, He knows! There is nothing that is hidden from Him, and He answers those requests according to His purpose. Sometimes, we have these seemingly silly requests, but God is willing to answer them so that we may be reminded that He is listening. He cares about you, even in the simplest of ways.

This very true story is a great encouragement to you and I as we navigate life. Yet, this story also reveals another truth of reality. Sometimes God’s kindest answer to our requests is no. I know, that’s not what you may want to hear, but the truth is that sometimes our requests are outside God’s will for our lives. This past weekend, I took part in the Heart of Dating conference, and one of the sessions centered upon this very truth. Sometimes, God is going to deny us what we want. We may be denied that certain job, that specific opportunity. We may long for the companionship of marriage, and be denied. None of us truly know what life has in store for us, but God knows where He is leading. Coming to terms and swallowing this truth is not pleasant nor easy, but God’s denial does not diminish our value or purpose according to His will.

God may deny us of the desires of our lives, but He knows and hears them the same. Sometimes our desires are not met because we never invite God into the process. We do not go to Him and ask for them. When is the last time you asked God for that one specific, deeply longed for desire? Some of you may be screaming at me because you’ve asked repeatedly day after day for that thing, and God has not answered you yet. Some of you may realize that you’ve held that desire at the center of your being, but have never relinquished your desire to God. My encouragement to you, no matter where you fall on the matter, is to remember that God knows. He knows you. He knows what you long for. He knows your pain. The longing. He knows and He is going to provide for you in such a way that it serves you and His kingdom best. We may not always recognize that by denying us what we ask for, God is giving us a greater blessing.

Equally, we ought to be turning to God with our requests. Big or small. Whether you’re asking for marriage or a coconut, ask it of Him. Surrender the desire to God, and trust that He has His best for you even if it means that your desire is answered with a loving ‘no.’ God is working, friends. He is not unaware of you, your wants, your struggles, your strengths, or where He is leading you. Take courage in your identity in His son, the purpose He’s bestowed upon you, and to where He is leading you. No matter where you are in this moment, God is near. He is moving. Working. He is in control. He will not forsake you.

Terren

I AM

Just about once a month, I am brought down and told lies about my life. I’m told that I’m not worthy of being loved or finding loved. Told that I am not wanted, that I do not belong, that the people who I call friends only tolerate me and would rather be free of my presence… Lie after lie spoken to me in my own voice with words that are not my own. Even though I know that these words are false, I am weighed down and my spirit crushed. The enemy attacks very specifically, tactfully and I always know that it’s coming. The thing that makes all of this worse, is that I am dying on the inside and yet nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care (false).

I am partly to blame for people not realizing that I am suffering. I have a tendency to carry myself as if nothing is wrong and that I am well despite being suffocating. A few of my closer friends have begun to take notice and call me out when they can sense that I’m masking my struggle (thanks Madison!). I’ve also been more intentional of speaking up when I’m faltering. I’ve also come to learn that I am not alone in being attacked in this way. I and some of the other leaders of my college ministry are also attacked in this very similar way. Why? What is it that the enemy is seeking to do? Why does he seek to sow discord among us and our peers? I am baffled as to why we’re being attacked in very similar circumstances with almost identical statements of isolation. Yet my God is bigger. His word is clear.


After Moses killed a man and fled into the wilderness, he dwelled in Midian where he was met by God through a burning bush. “Moses, Moses,” God called out to him, “here I am… I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God makes it clear that Moses known who He is and proceeds to give Moses a seemingly impossible task: to lead Israel out of the land of Egypt. Moses, like many of us questions God, asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out Egypt?” In this moment, Moses doubted his capability to overcome what appears to be an insurmountable mission and God responds with, “I will be with you.” Moses again questions God how should he answer should the Israelites ask the name of God who has sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. “I AM WHO I AM. Say to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”


God is immutably clear when He approaches us. He leaves no room for question or doubt. I am who I am. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. God states the relationship He has had with people with whom Moses as well as Israel would be familiar with. In doing this, God establishes a trustworthiness and gives Moses a reason to trust that God is going to work through Moses to fulfill His will. Moses’ encounter with God spurs a level of confidence that I find difficult to relate to. I do not know why I am so lacking. Why am I not confident in my faith? Why am I so timid about sharing my faith? Why do I find it so hard to believe that God is going to provide?

When my life becomes difficult, as it currently is, and lies are being spoke about me God is clear. Here I am. I am. God is present all the time and is speaking against the enemy! He is making His presence known. Here I am. Furthermore, God wants to be the center of our lives! He wants us to be secure in His will and to know that He is our God. How can I give any credence to the lies that are drowning out reality and God could barely speak in a whisper and put the lies to silence? God has a purpose of my life and He wants me to trust Him. Who am I to doubt God? Who am I to question His timing?

Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going with this post. I lost. Wandering life in circles. I don’t get it… I’m conflicted because I know God and yet I do not blindly trust Him. I know He is leading me and yet I want to flee. I know God loves me but I question Him. I know God has a purpose for me and yet I do not believe it. Why am I so broken? Why am I failing? What is it that is keeping me from being fully invested in the work of God? Why do I believe the lies? Why do I speak negatively of myself? Why do I compare myself to others?

One thing is clear. My God is bigger than my shortcoming. My God is bigger than my doubts. My God is louder than the lies. My God loves me even when I don’t. My God has gone before me to prepare a way. My God has established why I can trust Him. My God has shown me why I can love Him. Why I can worship Him. Why I can know that He is who He is.

My God made a nation from Abraham, my God delivered His people out of the hands of Egypt, my God gave Israel a king in David, God made a new covenant through Christ. God fulfilled every promise He made. My God has followed through in every covenant He made. My God is alive and He is living in me! My God has told me who I am. Now I have to believe that I am who God says I am.

God has made a place for me in this life. God has given me a family to love. My God has given me friends to share in life with. My God has given me a savior who died for me. No matter the lies, the doubt, the fear, the rejection, My God is bigger! His word is clear! I can be bold. I can trust that I am His. I am God’s child and I have no need in fear. I have no need in doubt. I can. I am because of who I AM is.

Who You Say I Am

For as long as I can remember, I have relied solely upon my own intuition. My perspective has been centered on my wants, my desires, my willpower. I have wrestled with God for years over my life and His timing. I have tried to force my will into fruition to no avail and I have seen God work despite my shortcoming and stubborn refusal to wait. I lament that I am so incapable of letting go and fully surrendering my life to Him. I have been having what you might call an identity crisis and have had to step back from what I thought I knew. I wrestle with the shifting perspectives of my life. How I view my life and how God sees my life. Who am I? It is a question that I’ve asked myself on many occasions. Why am I the way that I am? Why am I where I am? Why has God withheld things from me? Who am I suppose to be? Why am I not there yet? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Who am I?

In the sake of honesty and transparency, I am terrible at relying on God. I hold onto my burdens and refuse to let them go. I rely on my own strength, my own mind, and my own abilities when God has asked me repeatedly to trust Him and to rest in who He is. I have known for many years now that my life was on a trajectory that was headed toward vocational ministry and God has recently provided the opportunity to step into that ministry. I am blown away and I am somewhat grieved because I have not believed that He would provide. Despite the numerous times that God has provided great things in my life I still doubt Him. I refuse to believe that God is good and that He has promised great things for me. Why am I so stubborn? Why am I such a failure? Honestly, I do not understand (though I do know and understand) why God is so good to me? I do not deserve anything. I am a mess and yet He still pursues me.

God views my life very differently than I have. I have not been able to glimpse what that is because I have refused to let go of what I have known. What am I to do? I am not lost, but I do not understand. At this time, I exist in a state of flux. I fight for what I want but then remember that I am not my own. I am convicted that I have become so attached to what expectations I have for my life that I have missed out on God’s blessings. I have had to ask God to tell me who I am.



You see, I am not done being molded. There are still areas of my life that need to disappear. I have habits that originate from a time when I was bullied, depressed, and hopeless. Typically they rear their head under the guise of self-deprecating humor but the truth hides within humor. I do not know why I do this or why it manifests in the way that it does. I guess that some pain and self-doubt is rooted in my life and that I doubt myself on nearly every occasion. I am thankful that a dear friend of mine has seen through this and that they are willing to call me out on it. Perhaps I am just scared to surrender. Scared to let people in. To let God in.

I am scared. I am uncertain. I see what God is doing in the lives of those around me and wish that I had what they do. I wish to have what God has not said not yet to. Why can I not be a more devoted follower? Why am I so scared to take risks? To put myself out there? Why am I scared to be used by God? I grieve for my inadequacies and that I am so unworthy of what God has done. As cliched as it may be, I’m letting go. I’m tired, y’all. Tired of fighting against God. Tired of the strive and struggle. I’m tired of resisting. It is so exhausting trying to make my will be done. That is not what God wishes for my life. Or your life for that matter. My identify is totally founded in God. He sent His Son to die on a tree of His own creation to be a sacrifice for my sins. He has invited you and I to join Him and has made a place for us to sit with Him. How amazing is that?

I must doubt my doubts and ask God to help my unbelief. He has done so much for my life and I am at fault for not recognizing it. God has invited me into His home and He calls me by name. What more could I ever need? What more could I ever know? God has told me who I am. I just need to be obedient. God has been so unbelievably good to me and I am grateful! Grateful for friends who call me out, who encourage me, who are hopeful for my future, who share in this time with me. I don’t deserve them, but God has surrounded me with them. He has a reason for our gathering. He has gathered us for a purpose. How can I not be grateful for that? So I take a step back and look at who God says that I am and seek His council. May I trust more fully and be devoted to Him greater.

Remember: Remember Who You Are

Y’all, today was a long day. Those day’s where your body and mind are sore and restless. The kind of day where you’d rather do nothing and don’t want to be doing whatever task is required of you. Today was that day. I did not want to be at work, at all. Today was the polar opposite of the day before, when I was given a compliment that stopped me in my tracks, which is a rarity. I’m not one to normally be phased by words of encouragement, well, at least ones that catch me off guard. However, that was the highlight of yesterday. So today, after work, I sat down in my car and was staring at the miniature cow that sits on my dashboard and thinking about just how blessed I am.

Last year, I started at Chick-fil-A and one of the first purchases I made was of a plush cow to place in my car as a reminder of the blessing of getting a job after being unemployed for nearly a year. Today, I was not feeling very grateful. The Holy Spirit hit me with some of that good ole conviction. Well, to be honest, I had lost sight of the blessing God had graced me with. When I got home from work, I got into a call with a friend of mine at Seminary and proceeded to use two hours to catch up on the importances of life. Through this, I was reminded of the numerous times that Jesus or the Apostles would tell people to remember the many, many occurrences where God poured our blessings upon His chosen people, and how His provision carried them throughout history. Now, one cheeky Lion King reference for a title and a head full of thoughts and a simple premise. Remember who you are.

As believers, we are pulled in countless directions. The enemy tries to keep our focus everywhere but where we ought to be focused. We must keep our focus on God. Why? Because He is the source of our identity. Y’all, for those of you who are believers, followers of Christ, we are children of the one true king! We are valued beyond all measure, and God has made every attempt to show us His love and goodness! He is the provisioner of our needs, our comforter, our secret place. Yet, like me today, we forget and get distracted from the reality of our connection to God. So today, instead of extrapolating some lesson from my life with some Biblical connection, I wanted to encourage you, the reader. Remember that you belong to God, that He has called you by name. He knows you! He loves you! Remember that God has called you into His flock! Remember who you are!

 

Grace and Peace,

Terren-It-Up