Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are you buckled up?

* The following is a repost from a few years back. My son doesn't ride to school with me much anymore, but when he does, at least he buckles up! 

It was our regular morning routine. Everyone piled into the car and headed to school. I looked back at my son and noticed he wasn't buckled. I wondered silently, "Why do I have to tell him every time? He's 13 - by now he should know this!" I remained calm and said, "Buddy, you need to be buckled." He nodded his head to show recognition. He'd heard me.

We got to the first stop sign and I looked back again. He still wasn't buckled. I was more direct this time. "Son, you need to buckle - now." He stopped munching on his breakfast and buckled his seat belt. With the click, my own thoughts started to roll.

How many times have I done this same thing? How many times have I silently acknowledged that I understood what God had said, and yet still didn't do it? My mind drifted to this verse from James (he always seems to speak directly to me...and I'm not always happy about it!) James 4:17 ~ "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (NIV) Wait, maybe another version will be kinder to me...."So then, anyone who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it is committing a sin." (CJB) Okay, let me look at a different version. "As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, that, for you, is evil." (Message - vs. 16-17) This seems to be getting worse! In fact, the only translations that DIDN'T step on my toes were the ones written in other languages! (German) Wer nun weiß, Gutes zu tun, und tut es nicht, dem ist es Sünde. (Italian) Vi è adunque peccato a colui che sa fare il bene, e non lo fa. (Spanish?) A aquel, pues, que sabe hacer lo bueno y no lo hace, le es pecado.

Somehow, even in the languages I don't understand, I get the message. I am guilty of sin. No, I don't go out killing people, or committing adultery, and I don't make it a habit to lie or steal, or any of the sins we might think of as truly awful....but if I am honest with myself, I sin just the same. Just as my son sat in silent rebellion because he didn't want to make the effort that morning, I sit in rebellion when I do nothing. In school, we call it "defiance" when a student isn't doing anything particularly wrong, they just refuse to do what is right.

I really don't like the direction this blog is taking. I've gone from not obeying to sin to defiance. Actually, it's all the same, I guess I'm just finally recognizing it for what it is.....and to be honest, I don't like it.

How about you? What is it that God has shown you that He wants you to do and you sit there in the back seat silently nodding your affirmation all the while doing nothing? I heard it once said that if you didn't feel like God was speaking to you, perhaps it was because He is still waiting for you to do the last thing He told you to do. Is it possible that the deafening silence I hear is simply God waiting on my to obey what He's already shown me to do? Micah 6:8 " (NIV) "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Message) "But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously."

The entire first part of Romans 12 gives further instructions. Then, of course, there is the kicker: 2 Chronicles 7:14 ~ "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." I've often recited this verse with emphasis on the humble and pray part - especially with the state our nation and economy seem to be in right now....but did you notice the second part, the "turn from their wicked ways" part? I've gone from disobeying, to defiance, to sin, to evil, to wicked - and it all started with a simple click.

I don't know what it is that God has shown you that you've nodded your head in affirmation to and then simply sat there, but I've got a few things on my own list. It's time to stop just sitting and nodding and "buckle up"....I have a feeling that when I do, it's going to be one exciting ride.

Have a great day - and buckle up my friend.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

That is enough...

It has been a while since I've written. While I won't go into all the reasons, the main culprit is probably my feelings of failure.

I know that statement may shock some. I am loud, seemingly unafraid of anything (my students think I will charge Hades with a water-pistol), and according to many, kind of funny. Those characteristics shout confidence - or at least they seem to.

But lately, I have felt like a failure on almost every front. Oh, I know, Christians aren't supposed to battle these thoughts. We are children of the King! You can just google that phrase, "child of the King," and you'll get 572,000,000 results - in less than a second! It's a popular thought, but like most Americans I wonder if I get it. 

When you think of "child of the King" in our prosperous nation that immediately brings images of all the benefits that come from having a king for a father. Prosperity. Privilege. A life of ease without problems. But today in worship, I saw a very different image. 

I'm not really sure what we were singing, but all of a sudden it hit me. The King saw me and reached out and called me His child...and that is enough. Not some pretty little child....not a soft sweet newborn wrapped in a pink blanket with a look that begs to be loved...not even a talented precocious toddler that makes you laugh just to look at her. No, I saw myself as I truly felt - dirty, angry, striking out like some wild animal that feared touch, much less love. And in the midst of all of this, came the King. He saw me. He was not "put off" by my crazed appearance. He saw my need to feel loved...wanted. He reached out and called me. No, more than that. He reached out and held me. He gave me His name, made me His child, loved me and let me know I was wanted...and that is enough.

I may never do great things for the Kingdom. I think in hoping that I would I was trying to earn the love I had been given...was trying to prove that it wasn't a mistake to choose me. 
I have tried to live up to the image in my head of what a king's child should be, and I have failed miserably.

I will probably never be known for my wisdom, my talent, or my beautiful appearance. I do not fit into the "right" group. I am not rich. I am not influential. I'm not even really very smart. I could go on and on about all the things I "am not" and "will never be" that we associate with someone who would be the child of a King. That's not really important. Only one thing is. I am His. He adopted me and I belong to Him. I belong. Let that sink in. I belong. 

I don't have to "earn" it...I can stop striving to be noticed. He sees me. He called me His own, despite of myself. He loved me. Adopted me. Gave me His name so that I would belong....and that is enough. 

That is truly enough.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Msg)

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Galatians 4:5-7 (NIV) 
to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I think the groundhog lied.

I wrote this blog four years ago, but I needed to be reminded of the message in it again today. I'm sharing this in case others needed "reminding" as well.
I'm as much a fan of silly traditions as the next girl, but I'm beginning to think that groundhog was off his rocker when he predicted an early spring! All I have seen in the weather is cold, cold, and more cold! I am a Southern girl! We don't do this much ice unless it's in our sweet tea! Maybe the problem is that we are relying on a NORTHERN groundhog to tell us what the weather will be down here. Perhaps we should switch to something more akin to our area - like an armadillo or a opossum! If they are able to cross the road without getting squashed, spring will come early....and hurricanes will stay away!

Okay, so I'm having a bit of fun here at some poor rodent's expense. Still, it has me pondering how many things we cling to out of tradition instead of truth. We get into a rut in our way of working, living, even worshipping and before we know it we reach the end of our days never really living. What would happen if we started to ask God each day to open our eyes to what He has planned? What would our lives look like if instead of our to do list, we came to God with a blank sheet of paper and asked Him what was on His "to do" list for our day?

Today in a devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries, I came across this prayer: "Dear Lord, give me eyes to see the unseen today. Help me discern what is temporary and what is eternal, and handle both well. In Jesus' Name."

There are so many things in my day that are nothing more than a groundhog seeing his shadow - no real substance of truth to them - and yet I miss the things that are real, simply because I forget to open my eyes to what God has for me that day. I know, there are at least a hundred different things that we "have" to get done in each day...but what would happen if we first allowed God to direct us?

After hearing Lysa Terkeurst speak at a women's event recently, I've been trying to start each day asking God to open my eyes to see what He open my heart to what He wants. Here's where I'm supposed to say it has been one miracle after another - but to tell you the truth it has been tough! I've been stretched and molded and moved in directions I never intended! It's almost as if the potter has said, okay - let's get to work making you into the vessel I had intended. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the fire! God has allowed me to meet some pretty "hot" challenges lately that have really revealed my areas of weakness. Yep, there's nothing like saying yes to God...and I wouldn't change a thing.

I'm not really upset at that poor little groundhog. I'd probably make a much worse prediction if someone pulled me out of my nice warm den on a morning when it was below freezing! But I don't want to live my life being afraid of coming out of that den either....not when it is God who is calling.

Happy Belated Groundhog's Day everyone....may the spring of your soul come early this year.

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 1:4-5
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.