Who Is God?

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Who is God?

To you. Who is God to you? Have you ever stopped and answered that question?

In America, close to 88% of adults in America believe in God, according to 2017 research data by the Pew Research Center. This number is staggering. And perplexing. It makes me wonder why we are so divided as a nation if so many of us profess to believe in God.

This 88% has not changed much over the past 7 years as a total number of people who profess to believe in God. What has changed, is how this 88% is allocated between confidence levels in the existence of God. In 2007, 71% believed in God absolutely. In 2014 that percentage had dropped to 63% with the 8% shifting to increasingly lower confidence levels that God exists.

So roughly 88% percent still believe in God, but fewer profess an unshakeable faith in him. Why is this?

Maybe part of the reason is because we don’t agree on who God is.

Contrary to a popular cultural leaning, God is not the same across all religions. Muslims believe in Allah, Jews believe in Yahweh, Hindus believe in Buddah, and Christians believe in the Triune God. There may be some similarities in what each of these religions teach about their god. But they are not the same.

I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is who Christians call the Triune God. One God manifested in three distinct persons. The basis of the Christian faith is believing in God the Son (Jesus Christ) for salvation (reconciling our sinful selves with our Holy God the Father). Through Jesus, we have full rights as a child of God and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. No other world religion believes this same thing.

It’s quite the mystery.

Who is God?

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Maybe part of the reason why we see eroding confidence in God’s existence is because we have not taken the time to get to know God.

People often read the Bible to prove the existence of God. But the Bible does not prove his existence. It assumes God’s existence and then sets about revealing God’s character so that we can know him. Not “know about God” but really know him. As we grow in our knowledge, we gain wisdom and revelation specifically for the purpose of knowing God even more.

His greatest desire is for each one of us to know him personally, intimately, and with an unshakeable confidence that he is Who he says he is. We are meant to do more than exist. More than survive. We are meant to flourish and bear out beautiful fruit that comes from living a life of purpose.

Our #Flourish journey starts the moment we choose to know God the Father, God the Son, and God the… Click To Tweet

You may not be quite ready to do that. That’s okay. Might I encourage you to join me in discovering God by unearthing his character through the richness of his Word?

Let’s begin today. I hope you have your own personal copy of the Bible. I believe you’ll want to underline passages and make notes. I do. If you don’t, you can access the Bible online. I’ve included links for each of the following passages.

Take some time today looking these up and record what you learn about the character of God. This is not an exhaustive list. It is a starting point. Is this a God you can be confident in? I believe so.

Exodus 34:6

Numbers 14:18

Psalm 86:5 and 86:15

Psalm 106:1

Psalm 119:124 and 119:156

Psalm 143:1

Nehemiah 9:8 and 17

Isaiah 63:7

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Whose Girl Are You?

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Since we are going to spend the next bit of time together, I thought it would be fun for you to get to know me a bit.

I was born in Texas . El Paso to be exact. I have the certificate that grants me the right to wear my 10-gallon hat with pride. I grew up in Michigan, which pretty much makes me a northerner. I live in Georgia now and according to them I am a “d______ed Yankee.” If you are not from the South, a “Yankee” is defined as someone from the North. A “d___ed Yankee” is someone from the North who came to the South and stayed.

I do, however, come by my southern heritage rightfully.

My parents are Southerners. Born and raised in the solid, rural south.

My mom’s parents were Mamma and Pawpaw and they lived out in the country in Magnolia, AR. My dad’s parents were Grandma and Grandpa and they lived at the end of dirt road that literally deposited the unsuspecting driver in their front yard. As far as I know, Shongaloo, LA consists of a post office and maybe a stop sign.

I think everyone, regardless of who they were, called my grandma – grandma. I remember once hearing someone ask where Zera was and I had no idea who they were talking about. They were just always Grandma and Grandpa.

Every year during my growing up years we traveled to my grandparents homes for vacation. They lived about 30 miles from each other; just across the state line.   I loved being at both of my grandparents’ homes. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can smell the home baked blackberry cobbler that Mamma made because she knew it was my favorite. I can hear the cows in the pasture surrounding their home farms and I remember the rude dawn awakening of the rooster crowing.

We called my grandparent’s farm “The Farm.” I know, really original. But to this day that is how all of us in the family, even my boys, refer to it.   Living on the farm was a short two-week novelty to me full of egg collecting and cow milking (a talent my grandmother just about gave up on us city girls ever learning!). We relished the old truck rides out to the fields where we tossed the hay bales out to feed the livestock, riding double on the horses down to the country store for a bottle of coke, and shooting BB guns at cans down by the creek.

To me, this was vacation. To my parents, living on a farm was their life. The Farm was home. When we visited, there was always this one particular experience that happened only at grandma and grandpas.

My dad is one of 5 children and I am one of 17 cousins – not counting the two or three subsequent generations that would include all of “the cousins” children.

My grandmother had 10 siblings and my grandfather had 5.   For the most part – a good majority of the family stayed in the relative area of Shongaloo, this wide-spot of a place where they had all grown up.

On Sunday afternoon, after we all attended morning services at the tiny country church my grandparents raised their family in, and after we’d all eaten our fill of fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, fresh corn, black-eyed peas, and oh the best biscuits I’ve ever had …

“the family” would come calling.

That is a true and old – probably dying – southern family thing. I did not ever experience that in Michigan where I grew up. I have never experienced it in my own adult life living in Georgia even though my kids are grown and certainly could come visit.

This was unique to my visits to the Farm. I never knew most of the people who came to visit. They all seemed to look alike to me: blue-gray teased hair on the women and their best blue jean overalls with a ball cap for the men. To this day I don’t know the difference between Uncle Waylon and Uncle Dale.

Yet somehow they always knew who I was. Who I belonged to. It was always “You must be Nita and Larry’s girl.” As a child I never quite understood that. There had to be 50 people crammed into my grandparent’s sitting room that had space for 5 and they would only see me once a year. But somehow they always knew – if not my name – at least who I belonged to.

Fast forward to a few years ago. My parents were living in a small town in central Arkansas. Not quite rural, but just as southern.

My parents knew everyone. I knew no one. One evening, as we were heading in to see a movie at their local theater, my mom ran into a friend – Mary Ellen.

As they greeted each other, mom turned toward my direction to introduce me but didn’t get a word out. I was instantly transported back to those days on the Farm when all the family would come visit and somehow know who I was as Mary Ellen said, “Anita, you don’t have tell me who this is – you can’t deny her – she looks just like you.”   I was “Nita’s girl”

My name did not matter to her – she knew what was important. She knew who I belonged to because I bear the image of my mother.

In my office I am surrounded by pictures of my family taken over the years. In each one I am struck by how different, yet similar we all are.

Blake – 1963, Ben – 1990

 

My oldest son, Ben, favors his father – both in build and temperament.

 

Denise – 1964, Jordy – 1992

Our youngest son, Jordy, favors his momma (that would be me).

 

 

 

 

 

The boys each have their own characteristics, just like my husband, Blake, and I do – things that make them unique, distinctive, and unlike the rest of us. But they carry enough of us in them that when you put all of us together, there is no denying that we all belong together.

Photography by Dana Mixer

I bear the image of my mother. Our boys bear the image of me and the image of Blake. You bear the image of people who have gone before you.

We all bear the image of those who created and molded us; those we allow to influence our thoughts and our actions.

We might not get to choose whose image we reflect biologically, but we have a whole lot of say-so in whose image we reflect through the words we speak and the things we do.

The question of flourish is “whose image do you most desire to reflect?”

Whose image do you most desire to reflect? Join the journey. #flourish Click To Tweet

Next stop…. Created in the Image of….

Reflection / Discussion – and please leave comments. I’d love to get to know you a little better too!

  1. What memories do you have of where you came from?
  2. Have you ever experienced someone knowing who you belonged to, even if they didn’t know your name? How did that make you feel?
  3. Who do you bear the most resemblance to? I understand some of you may not know your biological parents. Instead of physical characteristics, what about your personality characteristics? Or, how has some else stamped you somehow with their image?
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The Journey Towards Flourish Begins!

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Welcome to Flourish!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.

I am tired of always going. I am tired of people needing things from me. I am tired of the traffic I drive in every day. I am tired of feeling like I’m on a treadmill. I am tired of being tired. And I don’t even have kids at home anymore.

When they were home, I was even more tired. Tired of rushing home from work to get someone to practice. Tired of cooking dinner. Tired of eating out. Tired, quite frankly, of being a mom and a wife at times.

Lately, I’m tired of our Christian-bashing culture. Sadly, it isn’t only non-Christians bashing Christians. We are not very nice to each other. We have a black eye and we have given it to ourselves.

There is a ginourmous disconnect in the lives of so many of us who sit in a worship services professing to believe in and even follow Jesus Christ. In the 2016 election cycle I was astounded by the venom being spewed by people who professed to love Jesus. I want to run and hide when I see news reports of “Christians” behaving badly.

I recognize I sound mighty judgmental. Andy Stanley once made a comment in a message that we are most likely to be bothered by (judge) someone’s behavior because it hits close to home. We see in them what we, ourselves, are just as guilty of. I am bothered by the disconnect I see in the body of Christ because I am achingly aware that the disconnect is evident in my own life. My heart carries a burden that those closest to me have not seen the evidence of Jesus Christ in my life enough to want him in their lives. I do not always live a life that bears out the witness of the power of the Holy Spirit. I say I believe it but I often fall very short of actually living in that reality.

And it shows. It shows when we don’t live a life that draws on the nourishing power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible clearly says that my life, and yours, should bear abundant fruit born out of nourishment from the True Vine. I am tired of feeling like I’m dying on the vine instead of flourishing.

Can you relate at all?

During one of my most tired times I was reading the words found in John 15 that most Bibles label The Vine and the Branches.   This time, in Jesus’ words, I distinctly understood that I wasn’t supposed to be tired all the time. There is more to life. I am, no, we are supposed to be influencing our world. We are supposed to be bearing fruit that changes, not only our lives, but the lives of others.

Jesus’ words to his disciples challenge me. We are not supposed to be merely surviving. We are supposed to be thriving. Flourishing. Bearing fruit and living a life that brings Glory to God.

God intends for his people to flourish! Click To Tweet

This study is our journey toward discovering how to flourish. How to live in a way that our lives bring Glory to God.

Most posts will include some questions that you can use on your own for personal reflection or please feel free to engage in this conversation with your small group. It is my greatest desire to simply share what the Lord teaches me with you – so please share it with your friends.

If we can get even a smidge of what Jesus was teaching his disciples in this passage right in our own lives, we’ll change the world. For the better. I am so glad you are here!

John 15: 1- 8 New International Version (NIV)

The Vine and the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

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