culture: where flying solo takes focus and courage

Our culture may not define us but it affects how we think and act, what we become accustomed to and decide to join in with or not. We can deliberately set ourselves apart from the norm or allow the thoughts, words and opinions of others to shape how we behave and react to a certain extent. It can be hard to walk an independent path.

As a Christian in a mostly secular society, I’m often made aware how my inner life can differ from others. Because my faith affects how I think, what I believe, the choices I make, and what I decide to allow into my life. Although we cannot totally gate-keep our souls from every unwanted influence or temptation, it’s always worth trying, with God’s help.

Jesus lived a singular life. He wasn’t completely a product of the society He grew up in. He flew solo with courage and focus, walked an often lonely path of total integrity and obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus lived a life of deepest compassion, with a selfless kind of love we’re not fully capable of.

Yet the Good News He came to proclaim reveals the way to a changed life, mind and heart.  We can experience transformed thinking and have the gift of Holy Spirit living within, empowering us to be the best possible version of ourselves by God’s mercy and grace.

Countercultural

You were bold and unafraid
to challenge the status quo
the culture you grew up in
the way of life a Jewish man
would follow as closely as he
said his prayers and read the Torah

To outside eyes you seemed
reckless sometimes, different
from the others, one of a kind
because of how you lived and loved
and welcomed women disciples
into your teaching and your heart

For you appreciated each person’s
uniqueness, what made them tick
even if they couldn’t always behave
in ways the culture and society itself
condoned or thought was appropriate

Your very self-possession led others
to mark you out as special, unafraid
to challenge the wrongs you saw
and the injustices you knew deep
down you had come to right at last

As our Messiah, not everyone would
welcome you with open arms but you
didn’t let it deter you from your task
of living out God’s mission, and revealing
his glorious grace, forgiveness and love
© joylenton

culture - countercultural poem excerpt - As our Messiah quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

My poem has been inspired by this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of “culture” and also by viewing the History channel’s part drama and part documentary series about the life of Jesus. It’s well worth seeing because it offers a perspective from a selection of the gospels’ major characters, plus thoughtful comments from ministers, theologians and historians.

Each episode uncovers a personal insight into what it might have been like to encounter Jesus during His time on earth. You can find out more here. And you are warmly welcome to join in with the fabulous #FMF writing community here.

Let’s be confident in God’s ability to be here with us, to make a way no matter what obstacles and challenges we might face. He will equip us to live in the world without being one with the world in the areas where faith says no.

one: encouraging incidences of the number one

one _ encouraging incidences of the number one - magpie on the edge (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

So many of us mistakenly think that our lives don’t amount to much. We wonder if we make any mark on the world at all, or if we simply exist as lost and invisible souls. No more than a fleeting mist or blip in the universe.

Can I encourage you today, my friend? Can I help you to see past the easily swallowed lies of the enemy? Because the holy truth you need to hold on to is that you are infinitely important and precious. Yes, you really are. Despite what your unhappy upbringing, challenging circumstances or painful past might be saying to you, you are very much loved and wanted by God.

The mathematics of heaven are totally different to the arithmetic of earth. Here, one as a number seems too small, too insignificant to count. But in heaven? One person, one act or thought becomes highly significant in God’s economy.

one - Mother Teresa quote - “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” @poetryjoy.com

Here’s what I have discovered:

  • A word of encouragement can turn a day, if not a life around.
  • A whispered prayer can summon angels, demolish evil strongholds, heal and bless souls.
  • A thoughtful act can alter a person’s perspective for life.
  • A kind deed has the power to sow kindness seeds in others.
  • A single person can become a precursor for change.
  • A solo individual is never as alone as they may feel.

Incidences of the number one

We have one solo magpie,
one solitary bird,
quite happy in his loneliness

as he sits upon the tiles,
gracing our neighbour’s rooftop
edge with his dancing moves.

And we have one small child,
who lives across the street from

us, whose smiles and constant
chatter are like joy personified.

We also have one precious grandson in
our lives, who gives us deep soul delight.

And there’s far more than one chance to live
aright in this one wild and glorious life.

But most of all, I am grateful to know
the One who holds the world within his
hands, who spins planets and stars and

pours his grace out on one and all, with
joyous abundance and exuberance.

For he spreads his arms cruciform-wide
to encompass every nation and tribe.

And he treats each and every one of us
as his precious, esteemed and redeemed
child – one who is unconditionally loved.
© joylenton

We may feel inadequate and small but we can still have an influence and make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t let thoughts of lack deter you from pressing forward in life and faith. You count. 

I’m grateful to be sharing my poetic thoughts with the fabulous five-minute-friday community today. Just click here to join us there. 🙂 

one - Mother Teresa quote _We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop._ @poetryjoy.com

Seeing clearly

Life can so easily throw us off balance.

All it can take is a word, a look, a thought, a new problem.

Seeking the truth of the matter can be challenging.

Our senses are alert, heightened by sensitivity.

How do we decipher truth from lies,  fact from fiction, knowing and believing from ignorance and misunderstanding?

When I keep my eyes focussed on my circumstances the pain can feel overwhelming.

I feel lost, alone, muddled and confused.

When I lift them to God’s word, seek His presence and listen to all He desires to impart to me, my eyes cease being clouded by suspicion, discouragement or fear and my vision becomes clear again.

My heart beats steady.

My thoughts begin to align more with His thoughts.

I am encouraged and strengthened to face another day, another problem, another set of unwelcome circumstances.

Taking off my worldly lenses and putting on spiritual ones helps keep my mind and heart tuned into His truth.

And the more I read, understand, pray, and believe God’s word, the more He fills me with a peace that transcends all circumstances.

I’m getting a bit philosophical here today as I join in with #fiveminutefriday ~ where we write freely, no worries about perfection, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing words fall on the page; then we link up, share the love, read one another’s posts and leave an encouraging comment ~  today’s prompt is:‘Truth’.

START…

‘Seeing and believing’

Mirrors lie.

They reflect what is incomplete

distort, show only in part,

unless you look into God’s mirror ~

His Word

will reveal all that is real

 deep and true, lasting, honest

messages from His heart

to you.

The world will have you believe

you are not enough, you are inadequate,

you’re not up to scratch,

not a player, not a winner, not up to much,

not a great catch.

But God…

says in His word you are dear, deeply loved,

someone He longs to draw near to,

bring comfort, help, heal and restore,

bring peace, hope and joy

to your life once more.

You are more than enough

you are His precious beloved

…..and that’s the Truth.

No matter how you may feel

try to cling to what is real

about life and love as seen in God

and trust His opinion above all others

~ even your own.

Believe, receive and grow strong

in all your soul longs to know.

You are loved and you belong.

©JoyLenton2013

Trust…Rest…Understand…Thank…Hope

STOP.

Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for #fiveminutefriday and with Laura at Missional Women #FaithFilledFriday

You are very welcome and warmly encouraged to join in.