Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Power of the Gospel

I took the kids to see The Star at the theater today. They all really enjoyed it. I'm always a little hesitant to see movies that take a Bible story and remake it for the sake of entertainment. I'm a little leary of what changes have to be made and how it will alter how people view God and his plan, but this one was pretty good. The main thing I saw that wasn't Biblical (apart from the fact that there is an additional storyline about the animals looking for their purpose) was the wise men showing up at the manger, which is definitely not uncommon.

When the end of the movie was near and the sweet baby Jesus was born in that stable and laid in the manger, all the animals bowed down to give him the honor due to the Messiah. Even through the animation and goofy characters and talking animals, the power of the gospel message was clearly felt.

I was reminded how the Bible has power no other book has. How it's stories are not good motivational pieces, but life changing truth that carries through all time and all generations. Truth that even animation and an attempt to hold even the youngest child's attention cannot overshadow.

What a great way to go into the Christmas season! With a powerful reminder of the importance of the gift God gave. The gift of his son. The only gift perfect enough to provide a way for us to have relationship with God!

Praise God for his selfless gift!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Holiday Humbug

Consider yourself blessed if your Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations don't include a little bit of drama. The kind brought by misunderstandings and hurt feelings within the family you are at least somewhat obligated to see during these 6 weeks.

So here's my 2 cents...starting with 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NLV

When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.

Holding grudges is stupid. Unforgiveness, even when deserved and justified, only hurts the holder of offenses. It doesn't get even or make things fair, it only hurts you more and more. It hinders your ability to enjoy life. It keeps you from many good things God has for you.

We forgive others for ourselves and not because they have earned it or even asked for forgiveness. We forgive so our eyes can be opened to not only what God has but the devil's schemes. We forgive so we can move forward and live in the glorious freedom only God gives. And even though it can be hard, forgiveness is worth the letting go.

We are able to forgive by God's power in us. Yes, it takes time to remind yourself you have forgiven them.  I've had to consciously pray for certain people multiple times a day to keep myself from picking back up the hurt and the offense I had chosen to forgive.

But freedom is worth it.

So, I encourage you to reach out in reconciliation and show grace and mercy even to those who don't ask for it or deserve it. As you have been forgiven by Jesus, offer forgiveness. Show love even if it isn't returned.

And if there is no reciprocation, you can walk away knowing you have done your part and the ball is in their court.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5 Years

Seth is five years old today. There is just something about the number 5 that seems so old. Like my baby isn't a baby any more. He's getting so big so fast! I'm so proud of all he is learning at preschool both academically and socially.

But this morning on the way to work I found myself wiping years from my eyes. Not because I was overly emotional my baby is growing up, but because I was reminded of a time in my life when this looked like it would never be for me. When I feared we would never have children, that we would always be just the two of us. I clearly remember praying and hoping that I would be next, that my turn would come. I remember being passed up time and again. Sitting through baby showers, trying  to be happy for others when I  felt like I was dying inside. I remember feeling punished and overlooked by God.

And I remember the still small voice deep within that kept urging "just trust me." Even though my emotions were a wreck some of the time and it was probably one if the hardest times in my life, I chose to trust in a God that had never failed me before over the monthly disappointment and tendency to live in despair.

And once again God was true to his word. So I can't get through another birthday without taking time to give thanks to God for his perfect plan. For his supernatural provision and perfect timing.

And when I'm faced with what appears impossible, I am reminded that while I am waiting, God is working. And nothing is too hard for Him.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Miserable

Life is tough sometimes. There are family struggles, financial struggles, health struggles, and the list could go on. I can't even imagine living life without the hope and comfort that only God can give.

But there are plenty of people who try to get through it all alone. Who choose to depend on people, circumstances, jobs, relationships and are eventually let down by all of those. When they think it can't get worse, it does and they just keep going through the motions one moment at a time.

And then they blame God. The one they've refused to turn to. The one they don't need who they are convinced caused all of their unfortunate circumstances.

The truth of the matter is that we live in a world controlled by the evil one and bad stuff happens. God doesn't cause our misfortune but sometimes he allows it. Not to punish us for our poor choices, but to open our eyes to the fact we need him with every passing day. And many times we need an eye opener.

Because our hope, our trust, is misplaced.

I will never understand God's ways, but I know that more than anything else he wants a personal relationship with you. With me. Not a Jeanie-in-the-Bottle kind of relationship where we run to him to "grant our wish" when we want him to but a relationship that involves daily communication, the building of trust and dependence, the exchange of unconditional love. A relationship founded on a sacrificial act, the giving of Jesus for you, done without strings attached but in hopes that you would accept his love and reciprocate.

So if you are miserable, maybe just maybe you should run to God and not from him. Maybe you should place your fears, your stresses in his hands and learn to be loved and held like only he can while the storm passes over.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Selfish Regret

I've been serving God for 29 years. And do you want to know how many people I've led to Christ? How many I've prayed the "sinners prayer" with? 4, all within the last 6 years, and they all live in my house. That's one person about every 8 years. That's pathetic!

I could come up with all sorts of excuses and you may even agree that they are legitimate. I could also provide a list of people who I feel like I've impacted for the kingdom even if I wasn't the one to lead them to Christ and that would also be a reasonable justification for my failure in this respect.

But the bottom line is this. I regret many things about how I've lived for God and this is a huge one.

In the past year I've realized just how selfish I've been. How apathetic I've become to the condition of the souls I come in contact with every day. How I've been quick to boast of my busyness and lack of time for other people, and stating that God would understand and he sees my heart. But was I really doing all I could so fewer people would go to hell? Not even close.

But I've changed that, or rather God is changing that in me. With God's help and his leading I've started investing in some souls. Sunday Pastor Sid posed the question, "What's a soul worth to you?" An inconvenience? An awkward conversation? A meal? A tank of gas? A moment of your time?

Maybe some of you would see this as an easy way out, but God has been leading me to text or send Facebook messages to certain people asking if I can pray with them about something specific and sometimes inviting them to church. (As a side note winning a soul for Jesus is not the same as inviting someone to church. It would be a step in the right direction, but people need Jesus whether they ever step foot in your church or not.) These are generally people from my growing up years. And people are just pouring out their hearts to me. It's amazing! And I'm trying to share the hope of Jesus with them. I would definitely say I'm a better writer than talker (which is why I enjoy blogging) and God is using that for His Kingdom purposes.

So I'm learning to invest in people. Not because I'm so awesome and everyone needs to know what I know, but because we all need someone or several someones who will invest in us. And I'm so thankful for those who are investing in me, during this time in my life. It all comes full circle.

As I read through the Gospels, I see time after time when Jesus invested in people. He saw a need and was willing to go there. To get in the mud and trod through when necessary. So I'm learning to be selfless and I haven't regretted it for one second.

It's amazing to me that even though I spend some of my time investing in others, there is still time for my kids and husband. There is still time for the mundane daily tasks. Because just like with the feeding of the five thousand, God has a way of multiplying my time as it is used for his purposes. Praise God!!

So I'm moving forward, learning to listen to God better, growing in obedience, and living selflessly with no regrets.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mighty To Save

There is one thing we all have in common. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. In my conversations lately I keep coming back to that. We all compare ourselves to each other and determine who needs a savior the most based on how we see ourselves and each other's sins and struggles. We rank sin based on whatever criteria we are comfortable with  and we classify people.

But God doesn't do that. We have all missed the mark, from the goodie goodie all the way to the "worst" murderer or rapist.

And we all need a Savior. A mighty Savior.

Because even if over time we get comfortable with the idea that Jesus saves, we should never discount the miracle of the saving power of Jesus. Not just anyone can save us from our sins, bridge the gap between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Our sins required a perfect sacrifice. A spotless lamb.

And God planned for that mighty Savior from before the foundation of the world. No one else has the might, the ability to satisfy the payment required for our sin.

But Jesus was made mighty enough to save us. To bring us back to relationship with him. Praise God!!

Savior, he can move the mountains.
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever author of salvation.
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hopeless

I've had conversations with three separate people in the last couple of weeks and there is only word that would describe their current state: hopeless.

Their situations are each so dark with little opportunity for improvement or  change. Full of despair and gloom.

But God.

I listened carefully and tried to offer the only hope I know without sounding like a greeting card. I didn't want to sound cliche or spout out some well known scripture verse without validating their pain. Because even though I know there is no hope apart from Jesus, He is not a quick fix to any problem. A microwave solution.

But Jesus really is the only answer I know. Not because he changes the difficulty or makes it vanish at the snap of his fingers, but because he goes with us through the fire, in the valley. We are never alone.

So I shared from my heart, honestly, and I've been bringing them before God daily. I pray my concern was seen on the other end of the conversation. Because the last thing hurting people need is our fake compassion. They need to see Jesus' love through us.

And as unpleasant as it sounds, sometimes we have to go through really tough stuff before we can see our need for a savior. God can and does use these periods of hopelessness to draw us into his loving arms.

So God, see them in their hopelessness and offer them your love and the hope that only comes from you! And use whoever, whatever you can to meet them where they are!