Monday, July 26, 2010

The Eden Atmosphere

   If you have ever read Gary Chapman's book 'The Five Love Languages', you already know what your love language is. Mine, of course, is words of affirmation. I get great satisfaction from the usage of words, given and received. When I speak, I like to go into my mental garden and 'pick' the perfect words that will fit the occasion and conversation that I am engaged in. Like going into a flower garden and picking a variety of colors and textures of flora that I can bunch together and make a pleasing bouquet for me, and I hope for others, to enjoy.

   I think of myself as a collector of words, of sorts. I did not know this about myself until recently, when I really 'looked' at my office. If you come into my office, you will find on the shelves, six, very large dictionaries. One of which, weighs about 5 pounds. I have concordances, 7 or 8 translations of the Bible, and teaching books on various topics. But, if you look around closer, you'll discover notebooks and notebooks of various sizes and thicknesses of thoughts, ideas, concerns, and dreams, some are one-liners and some are very long and detailed. If you look in one particular drawer, in my office, you will uncover stacks of letters, thank you cards, birthday cards, newspaper clippings, and the like, from students, friends, and those I love from over the years. They are words of flowers that have made me happy and made me smile. I save it all.

   If you look at where my chair is in the living room and the 'chair' in the bathroom, I have magazines, books, and all sorts of reading material. I rather enjoy verbiage. I get great pleasure from surrounding myself with words and using them on a regular basis. I really never got in trouble in school because of talking, I was quiet in school, but, boy was I an observer. And as and observer, I was collecting thoughts and opinions on every topic that my eyes and ears came into contact with. I always excelled in English, vocabulary, and spelling. In fact, when I was in school, my counselor brought me to her office and showed me some tests scores from the 9th grade from those subjects and I was in college level, like second year, 5th month! I chose to dance instead.

   Philosophers have found words as objects of fascination since at least the 5th Century BC, I am fascinated by them as well, not so much the history of them, but the way they make me feel. The right words soothe me, bathe me, heal me, encourage me, and make me feel loved. So, of course you know what the wrong words do to me. Whether it's written words or spoken words, I love them all.

   I'm a giver of words, also. Thus, the blogging. I know everyone is not into words like I am, like everyone is not into gardening where the beautiful bouquets of varieties of words come from. But have you ever stopped to realize how much God is into words and gardening? The account recorded in Genesis is: first, He brooded, second, He spoke. God is a Speaking Spirit and because we are made after His likeness, He made us the same way. We are speaking spirits, animals are not. God likes words so much that he put together a collection of His words that has withstood thousands of years, the Bible. He loves the written and spoken word, just like me ;-).

    He also loves gardens, with His words He planted a garden and gave man his first occupation. Gardeners. The 'First Couple of Humanity' would converse with their Originator in the garden that was planted with words. Whenever God shows up there has to be an atmosphere present for Him to be in. There's not a single time in the Bible that He came on the scene that an atmosphere was not first produced. There's an atmosphere that was in Eden, it was the atmosphere God made so His presence could come and talk with man. It was His spoken design. God's original concept was for man and woman to spread and expand Eden (the atmosphere, Eden means 'presence of God') until it covered the entire earth. But because of the disruption of the atmosphere during the fall of man, He had to seal off the physical Eden and go into a second plan.

   That second plan was the arrival of the second Adam. The atmosphere was a stable where millions of reenactments have been portrayed by churches across the world as well as the departure of the second Adam, Jesus on the cross and then His resurrection. All for what? Yes, so we can become born again and reunite with the One that got all of this going in the first place. Again, atmosphere was the prelude to the presence. But what was different this time was the atmosphere was set up INSIDE of humans. II Corinthians 6:16 states, "I'll live in them, move into them; I'll be their God and they'll be my people".

   God did not intend for Eden to remain in the Mesopotamia region. He wanted it to take over the earth. So it is with the new Eden inside of us. We are to spread the atmosphere, the garden, the fragrance, the beauty, the God-colors, the presence of God Himself, all over this world. If the atmosphere that you are presenting, as a Christian, is a small enclosed one, listen to Paul's words, "The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!". Then he goes into us being the temple of the Holy Spirit, an atmosphere. So if you've been eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...the atmosphere for God to visit is non-existent.

   If you feel deserted, dry, excommunicated, jilted, left for dead, alone, and any other word you can think of, ask yourself if and when have you set up the atmosphere for you two Spirits to speak with one another, lately. Is your inside Eden overgrown with weeds and pests because of negligence? Have you given up on gardening altogether? Is the atmosphere you're living in, right now, too messed up for Him to come in? Have you sewn leaves together and are hiding from His presence? Mixing the knowledge of good and evil always ends with this results.

   As long as you have a pulse, something can be done about that, but it takes your participation. The Eden atmosphere is dominated by you, set up by you. You dictate its expansion, its growth. Clean up your garden, ask for help and the grace to stop combining the sacred with the secular because..."How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? Does Christ stroll with the devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands?",  questioned Paul. I encourage you with everything I got...get your words collected, send a formal invitation and request the pleasure of your God's presence to your garden...the Eden atmosphere. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If I Lose You...I'm Going Through The Gap

   There are a couple of places in and around town where my cell phone has no bars. I either can't make a call going through these areas, which are gaps, or my calls get dropped even as I approach them. My family knows when I say, "If I lose you...I'm going through the gap, where I am. As time has progressed with my service carrier, the 'dead zones' have expanded further than they used to. Out of frustration we changed services. What made the "that's more" decision was when the dead zone had showed up at our house and we were having to stand in doorways and windows to make calls. Reliability had forsaken us.

   Who in the world does not want reliability in their lives? Who doesn't want the car to crank...every time? The water to come on...every time? The paycheck to come...every time? Listen to this definition of reliability...the ability of a person or system to perform and maintain its function in routine circumstances as well as hostile or unexpected circumstances. Ye-ah...that's what I want, I want what I expected it to do, how it's expected to do it, and when I expect it to do it. Is that too much?

    I've gotten a letter from my power company that has informed me that they are upgrading and replacing the old meters and that on a day in the near future someone is going to knock on my door, they did not give me a date or time, and interrupt my reliable service. I am thinking like Winnie-the-Pooh, 'oh bother', my groove will so be thrown off, because I expect what I expect, you know. Dropped calls, dead zones, disrupted service, my momentum is being tampered with. Glitches are not welcome in my world. They make me say..."this rots!".

   We all already know how this affects our flow and our effectiveness to get our lives done for the day. The things we rely on in our 'routine circumstances as well as hostile or unexpected circumstances' are the things we know will be there when we make a draw on its purpose of use. Right? There...I just described God. We depend heavily on His reliability, don't we? I can't even do a day without His full participation. I've tried...and here comes the dead zone. No service...on my part. The connection between my handset and His cell site antenna gets blocked. "This rots!".

   Lost service is a lot like being a lost know...the service still belongs to you but the connection is malfunctioning, like you're still God's sheep but the connection gets lost due to our lack of reliability and we live, sometimes for years, in the dead zone. "We, like sheep, have all gone astray. We have turned, everyone, to his own way" Isaiah 53:6. Do you think that there is such a thing as a believer that ventures off and lives a 'dead' life, living solely by the choices and decisions they make? What seems right in their own eyes?

   How many of you believe that there is a Service Provider that will leave the 99 other sheep, that aren't living in dead zones, and "goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray", Matthew 18:12? Ahhh...excellent, reliable service, even in the gaps. That's our GodT&T, our Veriz-Son, our J-Mobile, even in a hostile and unexpected circumstance, His service finds us and connects us and delivers us from the dead zone. God is like the internet, He's everywhere! His reliability service far surpasses any other service plan that you can have, all in exchange for reliability from the sheep that the service is provided for.

   So what is the reliability that he is looking for from us? He wants Blue-Ribbon Sheep. Not perfect sheep, mature sheep...that know to stay away from dead zones, gaps, that will cause you to lose service with your Provider. Does that make sense? Reliability keeps us connected. If you suffer from 'Lost-Sheep' Syndrome, here is a plan I know you'll want to check in to. It's called the 'Psalm 119:176 Plan'..."And should I wander off like a lost sheep - seek me! I'll recognize the sound of Your Voice". Coverage for everywhere you go...and THAT, you can totally rely on.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pass The Dance Shoes Please

   I am a dancing queen. This is not a self-dubbed title that I've given myself. Dancing is what I do and queen is what the name Jeanna means. I have always wanted to be a dancer ever since I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember vividly wanting to take dance. My older sister did take from Mr. Saxon at the rec. department, I, however, did not get to take classes. I remember her recital costume, it was blue satin with blue netting and had silver coxcomb trim on it. It was divine. When she would go to class I would don my green one-piece swimsuit with three very large buttons down the front and just hope that Mr. Saxon would invite me to join the class. He never did. But, still I would dance, and pantomime, and choreograph in my room and even my other older sisters would ask me to teach them how to do the current dances of the day. I taught my sister, Sherrie, how to do the pony to "Summer In The City".

   I had a best friend, Lisa Wilemon, that lived across the street from me. We would sing and make up dances for hours to the Beatles, the Supremes, the Archies. She tells me now, that I made her do all that singing and dancing, that may be so, but I had to interact with her ventriloquist dummy (see "Will The Real Me Please Stand Up?). I still have only a certain tolerance for dummies, even now, none. She still does ventriloquism to this day and I still dance.

   I made up a move once called the 'bully twist' and I danced it to "Wooly Bully", everyone would ask me to do it for them. I loved that. I got my big break to perform my first solo for my 4th grade class for 'Show and Tell'. My teacher, Mrs. Wilda Jones, was so gracious to let me perform this dance in front of my classmates. I do not remember feeling nervous or anxious, I couldn't wait to show the class what I had choreographed. It was to "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles. It could not have been very good, but she was so encouraging that I felt I should continue dancing. She is also the reason I blog, she nurtured me in my writing as well.

   I got my first opportunity at 16 to choreograph for my high school's musical production of "Bye Bye Birdie" and also do a solo in it as the 'sad girl' to "Put On A Happy Face". By this time I was not only taking dance classes but teaching dance and gymnastics. I also knew that that was what I was supposed to do with my life.

   Since that time of my first desires to dance, I have produced, directed, choreographed, and danced in hundreds of  performances as well as taught thousands of students, of whom three were my own children and five of my six grandchildren. I still remember every students face and usually their names. I am now teaching children of former students. It will be a couple more years that the children's children of former students will be ready to teach! And I have loved it all...every minute of it. 

   God has seen to it all along this path called my life, that there were people there to help me press on in where I was going. Mrs. Ziegler, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Calvin, Shirley Sumners Wright, Ed Dodd, were some of the teachers that influenced me and gave me an opportunity to grow in confidence and experience. Maxey Veazey, Shirley Cardwell and many many more influencers, too numerous to mention, that invested in me and helped bring me to this very place.

   2012 will mark my 40th year teaching dance. I pray that I have returned the blessing that my mentors placed on me by giving the gift of purpose, passion, creativity, focus, desire, fortitude, and lots of sweat to my students. I am very saddened that my wonderful love of dance was not caught by my daughters or granddaughters. I will not be able to ceremoniously carry out the "passing of the dance shoes" to them. Generationally speaking, it will begin and end with me. But they will have all of the years of my notebooks, notes, videos, pictures, and memorabilia, the evidence of how much this queen has loved to dance!

   I don't move quite as quick as I used to and my flexibility is slower to respond. I limp from the truck coming home from class sometimes and my legs throb after pounding the floor for hours but through all of it, I love it, and would not trade my career choice for anything else out there. I have truly loved dance and it has loved me back. It has been good to me. I have danced in rain, mud, red ants, cow patties, on grass, on gravel, on concrete, in front of car lights, on stages with holes and splinters in them, on flat bed trailers, in parking lots, pastures, churches with tiny altar areas, and in 3,000 seat arenas with 300 hundred piece orchestras and 500 member choirs with boom cameras swinging over my head. I don't care where, I don't care when, I just care to dance.

   I am determined that I will continue to "pass the dance shoes" to new generations to come and share my love for movement as long as my body will let me. There's just something about moving. Music. Mirrors. Barres. Costumes. Stages. Dancers. Learning. Growing. Performing. It's where I find who I am...the Dancing Queen.

   "You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen. Dancing queen, feel the beat on the tambourine. You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life. See that girl, watch that scene, digging the dancing queen."

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Kingdom of America

   I love my country. I love to have my say. I love that my country affords me the opportunity to have my say. We are a democracy, because of that fact our government allows us to vote, and to voice our opinions, and to protest, and to do what we think is right in our own long as it is within the law.

   I love God. I love to have my own way. God does not afford me the opportunity to have my own way. He reigns from a Kingdom, not a democracy. Kingdoms have principles, and ranks, and order, and authority. His Kingdom is not subject to our vote, our opinions, what we think we want for ourselves, or our popular beliefs. We Westerners live in a culture that does not practice the ways of a Kingdom. We think we have to agree with something to obey it, or submit to it. The right to picket, and protest, and rebel (the right of all Americans) has entered into our generations ethics and now "if it feels good do it" and "do it 'til your satisfied" has become the theme songs of not just the ones you'd expect it from, but Christians as well. These theme songs have crept into the Church and now we Christians will "fight for our right to par-ty"!

    We don't understand Kingdom Principles because we have a democratic mind-set. This very statement is why non-Christians AND Christians alike are staying away from the way God runs His Kingdom, BY THE DROVES. We are thinking that if we agree, we'll flow with Him, and if we don't want to, grace will cover us while we "do our thang"...after all nothing terrible happened today, He must be letting us run a little further with our chain before He jerks it. He's not like the police, where He sets up a sting operation, and kicks your door down when He ready for you to obey Him.

   "Don't judge me" is another song we Christians sing in our quest to "have it our way". What you're saying very loudly without realizing it is, "don't point out what I do, fix yourself first!". Here's what's up with would be fine if someone pointed out that you had lipstick on your teeth but you would be angry if they pointed out a sin? After all, who are they and what right do they have, when they are just as imperfect as you are. There's no judging going on when someone just points out an obvious fact. Judging is when they declare and degree a punishment for you because of that fact.

   There is a hidden secret power that is in operation when we live a lifestyle of democracy instead of a Kingdom life. It's an archaic word for many people. It's called lawlessness. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 says, "For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work". Lawlessness is what you get when you have no rules concerning different topics in your life. You live by the philosophy of "I think it, I feel it, I want to do it, so I do it". There is no law for yourself to stop yourself. Here's the secret power it deceives. Do you know the dangerous thing about being deceived? You're deceived about being deceived. You have you convinced that you are okay. And you sincerely believe you have it all flying on auto pilot and under control. God hasn't rocked your world yet so you'll keep rolling with that plan.

   Seeing how far you can walk the tightrope of living with no restraints on yourself and using grace as a safety net is living far more dangerous than just being a flat-out, good old-fashioned sinner. But when you wear the 'Christ' label, the 'Saved' brand, the cross symbol around your neck and you do what you want, when you want, and how you want...I'm gonna say become a 'grace abuser'. If that does not even make your eye twitch, then the 'fear of the Lord' has no affect on you. (Fear as in respect for your poppa).    

   Jesus prayed, "Thy Kingdom come...they will be done...on earth...just like it is in heaven". The Kingdom is spread by us...another concept of a Kingdom...colonization. When England took over the Bahamas, they then dressed like the English, they learned England's history, they learned English as their primary language, they took tea two times a day like the English, they walked, talked, and acted like their governing Kingdom. THAT is what we CHRISTians do, we colonize. We bring the Kingdom onto earth and then act out the will of the King.

   Our democracy has a President, not a King, something else we are not used to. We really don't get the pomp and circumstance that comes with a King in rulership. If you have a "I'm casual with the King" mentality you'll always have a war going on amongst yourself. You'll strive, you'll struggle, you'll battle with the same stuff over and over and over again. The democracy thoughts of "I will if I want to and I won't if I don't" will always keep a wedge between you and the King until you leave this earthly Kingdom. Here's a memo: He runs His heavenly Kingdom the same way.

    1 Timothy 5:24 says, "The sins of some men are conspicuous (openly evident to all eyes), going before them to the judgment seat and proclaims their sentence in advance; but the sins of others appear later (following the offender to the bar of judgment and coming into view there). I don't have to judge anything, especially if I'm not sure of the intent of someone's motives. The King of the Kingdom does the judging and the exposing, but it can all be stopped. It doesn't have to take place. At all. Here's how: stop the lawlessness. (Living without laws for yourself concerning your everyday living.) Ask the King to pardon you from your various forms of lawlessness. Live your life with a boundary line that sin cannot step over any more. And remember...just because our Kingdom of America permits certain forms of lawlessness, and even approves of those who practice them (Romans 1:32)...even hands out awards for it sometimes...there are rewards for you when you live the Kingdom life.
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