My Soul—Designed by God for God


GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?
The Incarnate Word has been spoken. It calls the soul back to its place of peace that cannot be disturbed and love that will never be disappointed.― Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine
gary-portraitTo understand all that is soul is light years beyond my pay scale. To say that the grasp I have on soul comprehension is at a kindergarten level is a generous assessment.

Since I am in God2bottomless waters let me go one step further with a statement of the obvious. I don’t understand God. Still I wonder. Can Holy God hurt? Does He feel pain? Can His Holy Heart be wounded?

When I read the first two chapters of Genesis, I see a clue as to the grand nature of God’s plan. Not enough superlatives can be stamped on the blueprint of His design. Care and perfection are obvious.

The crescendo reaches its peak when God breathes life into a perfect body. It is as if He creates galaxies, earth with abundant life and then the most amazing workweek of Eternal God, Son and Spirit is topped off with the creation of man and woman.

The Eden Garden pictures God, the man and the woman in perfect harmony. The human soul was wed to the Divine Heart. All was as designed.  Then, in an act beyond my capacity to understand Satan invades garden space and steals the souls’ allegiance from Holy God.

God7Surely, the heart of God must have hurt and ached with pain beyond human comprehension. The Divine-designed soul was highjacked.

Yet, embedded in His treasured creation the eternal soul held its blueprint. It was designed by God for God. The Creators aim was the human soul’s eternal existence in His presence.

Like a trail through mountains and meadows Scripture paints the path of the soul from our first breath to life in the next reality. In God fashion the journey leaves out enough detail to solicit from each of His children trust and faith in His faithful care.

For thousands oGod8f years a rejected God walks with humanity through the spiritual desert created by the fallen men and women of His Eden dreams.

In my New Testament the story of God crescendos once again just as it had in the creation of man. This time the plot line starts with an Angel visit to Mary and Joseph. Events from that visit rise to a climax in the ministry of Jesus. Then comes the plod through the sad scenes on Mt. Calvary with the final crescendo in the resurrection and ascension.

I see three major crescendos as God sings out the high notes of the soul design:

In the first climax God placed an eternal soul in humankind.

In the second high peak God provided Jesus as the sacrificial means to realign man’s soul to the Father.

Now in the third zenith of Holy history God envision the soul in His eternal fellowship. It is when the Holy Spirit breaks out in The Acts of the Apostles the third Holy crescendo of God’s story begins. The repentant crowd cries to the Apostle Peter, “What shall we do?” The response is, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The remainder of Scripture builds toward eternity where not only now but in a forever reunion the newly cleansed soul filled with the Holy Spirit of God will enjoy a forever reunion with its Creator.

Even today that third wave continues to climb toward its peak. Pretty awesome to contemplate the reality that my soul—everything that is my essence identified as Gary—was designed by God for God.

Would our lives become a stronger witness if each one of us who trust Jesus were to live each day as a soul designed by God for God?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Soul—Designed by God for God

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Seasons of Jobs


20161004_150844 (2)What do you do when you are in a Job-like season, and it seems your loved ones are also.

I am not sure, except to study this book of wisdom more deeply and with fresh eyes. Recently our church studied Job in concert through a series of devotionals every morning.

After considering Job and the devotionals, I had a few takeaways, though only touching the hem of what God may want to teach.

Listen.

…to God’s still [immovable], small but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

…to God’s still [continued] small but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

…to God’s still [small] but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

“Then Job replied to the LORD:

‘I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.

‘You asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.

‘You said, “Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.”

‘I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.

‘I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.'”

-Job 42:1-6/NLT

What I am learning…

1 – Be humble.

2 – Refuse to be a Job’s friend.

Or door #3, an option yet to be revealed.

Whether one is a Job or a Job’s friend, God wins, as do God’s image-bearers.

Job was blessed with a double portion of everything in the second half of his life. His new daughters were the fairest in the land. He also included them in his will along with his sons.

Humanity is God’s most prized Creation. God’s enemy is here to destroy God’s success and take over.

But GOD IS, GOD HAS WON, GOD WINS and GOD WILL WIN!

Job’s win is God’s win. Job’s friend’s obedience is God’s win, and in the end even Job’s friends are blessed due to God’s mercy and Job’s prayer.

Amazing!

My Soul Is Me


GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?
“Who can plumb its depths? And yet it is a faculty of my soul. Although it is part of my nature, I cannot understand all that I am.”  ― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

gary-portraitThe Book of Genesis opens with a song. In this Song of Creation sung in Genesis chapter one is the overview of the beginnings of the heavens, our earth and its inhabitants.

With Genesis chapter two Moses introduces in greater detail humankind and their new home. From the first both man and woman were designed by God to live eternally.

The more literal word for word translations describe our origin in these words:

And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

me6I like the way the Amplified Bible translates God’s act:

Then the Lord God formed [that is, created the body of] man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being [an individual complete in body and spirit].

I must declare with Augustine, I cannot understand all that I am.

Here is what I think.

I don’t know to what extent I had spirit or soul while I resided in my mother’s womb. I have a tendency to think that it was after the journey through the birth canal when Dr. Pate whacked me on the back (or was it the bottom) that I took in the breath of life, cried me7out and became a living soul.

Although my DNA was God-wired over nine months there is a sense my soul and body started its experiential and formational trek called life from the moment of that first breath when I wailed in protest to all within earshot. My guess is that is when I started to be me.

My soul was in place. It was the me who God desired for eternal companionship. My soul was the me who held the power to forfeit itself (Mark 8:36) or the power to invite Jesus to move in and prepare it for eternity with the Holy. My soul was and is my essence.

me10The best I can tell my God assignment is to use my soul as a compass to navigate life. I am to submit to Father, Son and Spirit to make my soul a worthy home for their company.

From that home comes whatever motivation and resources I might have to serve those the Holy draws into my path. My soul is the me God uses to minister to those within the sphere of my world.

Is there a chance we would take better care of our soul if we saw it as our very essence—both present and eternal—rather than a nondescript “something” that resides in our body?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: My Soul is Me

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Is It Well with My Soul?


GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?
gary-portraitI had not the foggiest notion of what I was getting into when I enrolled in Professor Lemoine Lewis’ class History of The Christian Church. I wasn’t aware of a heritage larger than the local church where I grew up. Other than the Acts of the Apostles found in my Bible, I’m not sure I realized the church even had a history.

As with all teachers Dr. Lewis had his own mannerisms. That first day like every day that soul2followed he walked into the college classroom with a stack of books as high as the length of his arms. Dangling by two or three fingers hung his worn leather bookbag used at Harvard. It was the place for what few lecture notes he used, the classroom role book and any papers for the day.

At each class session he lectured for the entire hour and twenty minutes at an animated speed so rapid that a broken pencil led or a slow turn of the spiral binder would demand extra effort to catch up. He taught the story of church history like it was an action novel.

On the first page of my College Ruled Spiral I found among Dr. Lewis’ expectations for the course: Read Augustine’s Confessions and Augustine’s City of God. Three lines later Augustine of Hippo first appeared in my notes as I attempted to transcribe my old professor’s account of the fourth century saint’s influence on the church over the centuries to follow.

Occupied with cramming for examines and to cross the finish line with a minimal grade, then with life, I’ve failed to get around to reading Augustine until last month (only fifty-years later).

Augustine was born in what we know today as Algeria on November 13, 354 to a baptized Christian mother and a father who followed the custom of the time to wait until just prior to death to receive baptism. It was thought that the longer one waited the greater the quantity of sins that would be washed away.

soul11The first nine books (chapters) of Augustine’s Confessions read like a secret journal-diary addressed to God. Written around the year 400 Confessions seems to be his attempt to understand his own soul as it related to the Creator.

Among his many observations that caught my attention was this one addressed to his Holy Maker:

“My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide. But who is to rid it of these things? There is no one but you”

Over the next several posts I envision a march around the soul. I want to look at it, examine it and inspect it. Jesus called it eternal. Sounds important. What is it? How can I feed it? Is it conflicted? Do I give it sufficient attention?

Once again, I recall the quote attributed to the author Flannery O’Connor which seems to describe my point of departure: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

So, over the next few soul7weeks I want to see what I think about my soul. I invite you to read over my shoulder. Feel free to challenge me with your own insights.

Just maybe we can grow together as we attempt to understand our soul and how to care for this eternal treasure entrusted to each one of us by our Heavenly Father.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Coffee with Christ


20161004_150844 (2)You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. -John 1

Coffee and Christ are a constant theme in my life.

In a day of 24/7 media saturated bad news, I chose to have a positive imagination. When God captures it, it’s allthemore wonderful.

I woke up one morning with an image of Christ sitting with His Father over a cup of coffee talking about their Kingdom and the subjects who live there.

“Father, there is a sister who has lost some precious things, could you help her find whatever she needs to continue her journey”?

“Yes, son. Because you asked, I will do it.”

After another cup, I can hear Christ say, “Father, did you see the humor in that brother’s misstep? He humbly sought to do good. It backfired and he laughed it off. I can so relate. Remember the time on the mountain, it was just the two of us. I was walking as I spoke to you and was transfixed by the sunrise. Then I was sideswiped by that branch. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at how strange and wonderful it is to be human.”

“Yes, son. Without your perspective and wounds, I would never know what my own creation is feeling or suffering. I am glad to give the gift of comfort, humor and anything else to those who ask.”

I don’t know a thing about what God and Christ really talk about, but I do know Christ speaks up for His own. The most beautiful union is between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By His grace alone I know He is speaking up for me. He also looks out for everyone in the world; those bearing His image.

I imagine the Holy Trinity caught up in laughter in their perfect Heaven, the place where pure happiness resides and is awaiting the gathering of all of God’s family home one day. I also see God wiping away our tears in this realm and forever in the life to come, empathizing with our sorrows.

Won’t it be marvelous to enjoy the Heavenly delights with our Father and big brother Jesus in the Spirit in which life was created from the beginning to be…

Good!

And it’s still all good!

Amazing!

Human Jesus is the Smile of God


GodReflection: What Make God Smile?

gary-portraitI feel a pull from my soul to raise a key consideration as I close this series of posts on God’s smile. It is the idea that we can most readily see God’s smile through the lens of Jesus’ humanity.

Over the past few days I’ve experienced another of my “aha moments.” The stimulus comes from my attempt to write over the last weeks on the concept of God’s smile. I’ve skated around this reality throughout the series but see the need to address it in a more direct fashion.

As I imagine God’s smile I find that I have two basis resources at my disposal. Since Scripture doesn’t provide direct statements that describe the face of God my imagination and glimpses of His countenance rely upon the tenor of the Bible and upon Jesus the son of man who portrays God’s image.

Human1Although I don’t struggle with Jesus’ Godhead divinity a part of my “aha moment” came with the realization of how difficult it is for me to comprehend his humanity. I have trouble envisioning Jesus as man. I want him to be Son of God not son of man.

In Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water I discovered in a clearer manner a stark reminder of Jesus emphasis on the importance of his humanity. Rohr rightly points to Jesus adopted designation taken from the prophet Ezekiel as he calls himself more often than not a, “son of man.”

Is it possible when I tend to limit Jesus’ to his God-nature that I miss the primary lesson taught by his humanity? That is—how to live as human. Isn’t there a sense that the entirety of Scripture is God’s instruction on how to be human?

A part of my aim on planet earth is to learn how to do human well. Therefore, maybe I should make a greater effort to imagine Jesus humanity. What was there about this man’s walk that drew others toward him? What should there be about my walk that draws others toward him?

My guess is that we twenty-first-century humans aren’t that much different from our first century cousins. I doubt that our natural tendency is the attraction and draw to his instruction. The truth is no human being has the ability to perfectly follow what Jesus teaches. Surely people weren’t attracted to standards they could not meet. There must have been something more. What drew people to Jesus?

human7Is it possible that intrigue with someone who was a perfect human was at the core of what attracted people to Jesus? Never before had anyone encountered perfection in a person. This was new and unique.

What would it have been like to grow up in the same neighborhood with Jesus as a little boy? I suspect the kids on his block liked to play with him. I wonder how many times Mary answered the question, “Can Jesus come out to play?”

His perfection as a human-child must have enhanced the times with his neighborhood friends as they played ball in the streets. I can see the appeal of a friend who treated everyone right. Surely Jesus loved and stood up for each of his playmates. He was a friend’s friend. I bet each one considered him as their best friend.

When I encounter Jesus as an adult I find him in the presence of tax collectors and sinners. When I read Luke’s historical summation of Jesus childhood: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52), I must assume that others liked him as a person. My best guess is they were drawn to him because of the manner in which he lived as a complete and perfect human man.

human9Jesus was at the heart of the story of God as told throughout Scripture. The totality of God’s story is instruction on how to live as humans on planet earth.

The birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the human Jesus is that heart of that story. For it is through the human Jesus that the smile of God is seen.

As with each God Reflection series of posts this one on God’s smile is far from complete. Has it sparked any insights for you? What would you add that I have overlook?
Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Human Jesus is the Smile of God.

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Reviving Sweet Dreams


20161004_150844 (2)Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. –Psalm 37:4

To be in Christ is more than wearing a name. It is the daily infusion of the Savior into every sphere of my being. More territory is discovered daily upon which Christ lays hold, and I so delight in His Presence.

He has given me everything I need and more. He has also taught me how to dream, learn to deal with lost dreams, retool, and begin a new dream.

Because He is rich in mercy and has revived my sweet dreams, I delight in Him more.

It is a beautiful cycle of dependency upon His promises, provision and passtimes; that is, what I get to do when I am in a Sabbath rest – whether a 24-hour period or broken up throughout the week – that I may lean more into His restful arms.

Without rest, it is easier to make mistakes, fall into misperceptions and miss the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice of reason and grace. But because of His Rich Mercies, life is created daily and wisdom is gained.

Have you ever made a mistake with the best of intentions only later to realize you could have done better?

There is a scene from the movie, Dan in Real Life (@daninreallife): Dan-“I have made so many mistakes…”, Dan’s Father-“Soooo many mistakes,” Dan’s Mother-“Go unmake them…”

 

A four-year widower, having married the love of his life, Dan found himself single-parenting three girls of different temperaments and experiences. He was overstretched, but committed. He was close to his extended family emotionally, but far in proximity, intensifying the stress which led to his Waterloo during the annual family vacation.

After humbling himself to his girls, he also apologizes to the newly found woman of his dreams, Marie, on that particular vacation.

In his weariness, he was guided by misperceptions on every side, slipping into traps, often slap-stick in nature. But even slap-stick can hurt, for a fall is a fall and can leave a terrible bruise that can take some time to heal.

By the end of the movie, the penitent parental-advice columnist, Dan, has reconnected with his three daughters. He ran over them accidentally, though his intentions were the best from his windshield view.

 

As the credits roll, you see Dan and Marie’s marriage, and a peace that made all of the hurt disappear.

It’s the same with God. He desires authenticity that His Grace might rule more kindly towards me and those who live in my world. He longs to buffer me from pain, as well as be the balm that heals my wounds.

When Grace rules, Christ is always there helping me renew my mind daily. He teaches me how to rely on Him more deeply. Relying on Him creates rest, elbow room, joy, creativity and openness where dreams may find their way to fulfillment – or revived if they have taken a downward turn.

I am amazed at God’s resurrection power, not only through the resurrected Jesus, but the small resurrections He creates in my life, reviving hopes and dreams that His Kingdom may spread more into every sector of planet earth, starting with mine.

Amazing!