Sunday, April 28, 2013

What if this is as good as it gets?

Most of us had heard it--Jack Nicholson (AKA Melvin Udall) asks a room full of psychiatric patients: What if this is as good as it gets?

Good question.
And I have an answer.
This IS as good as it gets.

It doesn't matter where you are or what's going on--whether you are happy or sad, whether sick or well, needy or full to the brim with everything you think you want.
This is as good as it gets.

Because outside circumstances determine the good-ness of your life less than the inside ones

Not too long ago, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp hit the best seller list.
Ann showed us how to be grateful with what is happening in life.
Right now.
No matter what it is.
As though whatever is going on will never change.
It might, but don't count on it.

This is the good news:
No matter what is going on, God has your back.
Your situation exists either because He has willed it, or He has allowed it.
It's that simple.
If He is God, He is sovereign over the world. If He isn't sovereign, He isn't God.

And, in case you didn't know it, He's God.
How much better than that can you get?

Oh Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hands, and no one can withstand you.--2Chronicles 20:6
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.--Exodus 33:19
I have loved you with an everlasting love.--Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Glory of the Father

Jesus did not come to save your soul.
Just saying.

Neither your pastor nor your Sunday school teacher lied to you--they just left off something without meaning to. Something important.

Jesus came to glorify His Father by obedience.
And, in the process, He saved your soul.
...the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father commanded.--John 14:31
...through the obedience of one Man the many will be made righteous.--Romans 5:19

God the Father told Jesus to die as a ransom for mankind.
But, if He had told Jesus to do something else, like just perform miracles, or to administrate another ten plagues, Jesus would have done that instead.

You and I are, friend, are not the reason for Jesus' human life.
You and I are the objects, not the subjects.
Jesus acted not for us, but for His Father's glory.

Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you...I have brought You glory by completing the work you gave me to do.--John 17:1,4
I will do whatever you ask for in my Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.--John 14:13
Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.--John 13:31

Doesn't He love us?
Well, of course. He said so.
But it is a secondary love, a love that follows rather than leads, a love properly subservient to His Godhead.
It is a love for which I am so grateful, because I don't have to prove worthy of it.
I am flawed, and we both know it. But because Christ loves His Father first, His success does not depend on me, and I am free to love Him all the more.

Christ will never choose us over holiness or righteousness or the perfect glory He shares with His Father.
But He does want us to join Him there.
Arise, Shine! For your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.--Isaiah 60:1

The light is Christ, and only by Him can we understand glory.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Holding Onto Dirt

OK. Everybody has idols.
Things we hold onto no matter what.
Money. Kids. Job. Expectations. Dreams.
But dirt?

Yes, we do.
And I was reminded about this from an old song:
In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and days of ease,
Still He calls in cares and pleasures: 
Christians, love me more than these.--Cecil Alexander, Jesus Loves Us

We hold onto the things that bring us happiness and ease, but we also hang onto people and circumstances that hurt--offenses, old pains, bad relationships, a habit of sickness, the attitude of a victim, and more.
They bring us no pleasure, but we won't let go.
We don't know who we would  be without them and don't want to find out.
Idols...all of them. Nothing but dirt.

And they become stumbling blocks to our faith. Jesus told us this:
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of the wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.--Mark 4:18-19

We don't hoard only life's pleasures, but its sorrows and troubles.
It doesn't matter what we hold onto.
If it isn't Christ, it is all dirt.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Litter Box Lesson

My husband has twelve cats.
And, amazingly, it works out pretty well.
He restricts their movements so they don't take over the house, he feeds them, he cleans up after them.
He even makes sure the house smells OK.

Until he gets pneumonia.
Then I have to do it.
And I don't like it.
Not one little bit.
Every day, I grab up the litter bucket, sift through every one of the five litter boxes, and walk the disgusting, heavy mess outside.
It makes me crabby.

These are his cats, not mine. They don't even like me much.
They are dirty, and arrogant, and tempermental.
Of all the nerve....

And then I remember what I asked God for....
I've been asking Him to teach me humility.

And I think of Jesus...
taking up the basin of water, tying the towel around Himself, and washing the disciples' feet...
their dirty, smelly feet.

And I remember what He said then--
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You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.--John 13:7

OK, I get it.
Feet are little different from litter boxes, and I can't do this with your willing attitude, Jesus.
At least not yet. But thanks for trusting me with the opportunity.
Thank you, Jesus-- for the feet, for the cats, and for the lesson.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Not to Wear

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Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
Carry your own weight!
Don't be such a wimp!

Funny--God doesn't say that:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.--Matthew 11:29
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.--Exodus 33:14
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, and I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.--Isaiah 41:10

Strength before God looks different from strength before men.

There are three kinds of weights in the life--.
1.   The burden of our repented sin, which Christ has removed forever.
      This is not our burden, not any more. Not since Calvary.

2.   The burden Christ gives us, which He means to share.
      We only have to pick up one end of whatever He brings. He will take the other.
3.  And the burden of unrepented sin.
      If we choose to carry this one, we do it by ourselves. (But, for the good news, see #1)

Everybody has burdens. Life brings them. God allows them, and sometimes, He assigns them.
And, if they come from Him, none of them are mistakes. None of them are too much.
It doesn't matter how they feel.
If we let our God speak to our hearts, if we admit our sins and let Him remove their guilt, only the path of life remains. And God has already guaranteed the end, however rocky the path.
Put down what you can and let Christ, your yokefellow, carry what is His.
Then heave up your end, take one step at a time, and leave the rest behind. 
Christ walks beside you--your untiring companion of infinite strength and mercy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Walking on Broken Glass

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It's been a tough week--husband in the hospital, and my spiritual mother taking her last sweet breaths...
And this morning, I walked barefoot onto a kitchen floor covered with broken glass.

During the night, one of our cats knocked over a wine glass I left on the counter, unwashed, from the night before and it broke into the kind of million scary pieces that only thin, fragile glass can. It fell right near the kitchen door and scattered everywhere.  
When I walked in, though, I didn't get cut by it. 

As I stepped into the room, my toe kicked the first piece, pushing it out of the way. Then I took another step. And another. And then (finally) I looked down. Broken glass surrounded the spot where I stood.

I couldn't NOT have gotten cut.
But I didn't.

And that was the point.
It wasn't only my kitchen that was full of broken glass. My life was full of it, too.
Potential hurt and danger on two of life's fronts that mean the most to me. Potential fodder for fear. Definitely.

But God was carrying me.
He held me safe on all fronts, watched me so that I would not come to harm.
And, as I stood unharmed, surrounded by broken glass, I knew why He'd made for me a little miracle.
I knew what He was trying to say:

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go...I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.--Genesis 28:15
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.--Luke 12:7

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Will Delight...

That's it.
That's what is missing from my life with Christ.

But I have so much to do, so much on my mind. I don't have time to be silly...
"I know," says God. "Delight in me anyway."
Our life in Christ feels like work.
It makes us sober and steadfast.
We spend time praying and studying and meditating.
None of these makes us laugh.

But, like in God Himself, we can have so much more.

He says to us:
"Giggle. Run to me with abandon. See the wonder in everything. Touch everything.
Here I am. Reach for me.
I delight in you, too."

Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.--Matthew 19:14
Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.--Matthew 18:3
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.--Isaiah 42:1

Life does not always make me happy.
But, reaching for Christ, and the life He has planned for me in Him, well, how can I not smile?
Has God made you giggle lately?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Now of Eternity--Wordless Wednesday

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He is risen.
We have risen with Him.

We already know eternity.
Eternity is now.

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.--John 17:3

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord: be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.--Psalm 27: 13-14