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Archive for March, 2011

How Big Are You?

Little kids love to measure themselves on a growth chart.  It’s exciting to see that you’ve gotten taller and watch the marks climb with each measurement.

It’s fun for the parents too.  From the moment our little one is born, moms keep track of every accomplishment, the first smile, the first laugh, the first word and so on.  And with each new growth mark on their chart,  claps of joy erupt.  It’s a normal thing to do.

A healthy relationship between God and us will look that way.  We can’t wait to get bigger and He rejoices at each new step we take and each inch we grow.

And like a good parent, He has a plan to help us grow and a mark to compare our progress.

Ephesians 4:11-13 sets it out. We are all parts of Christ’s body.  God wanted every part to be mature and grow properly.  So he equipped us with various gifts that when used together would be built up to the perfect body.  He calls that the church.   Not the ‘religious institution’ but the living, breathing, reflection of Christ made up of those who follow God.

Vs 13 tells us the why behind these gifts.  “That it (the church) might develop until we attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God, that we might arrive at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and completeness found in Him. ”

Some believers think that following Christ means to give up their whole personality.  They think of the rules and principles of Christ as being harsh and demanding.  But God made us with unique personalities and put gifts in us.  He wants us to develop and grow and loves seeing us recognize and use what He has given.

As we grow, we have a great measuring stick.  As Christ followers, we should measure ourselves against the height of Christ’s own personality.

Why is this important?  (vs. 14,15) The bigger we get in Christ, (the more we grow), the less we are like children (I think teenager would be a better word!), tossed between every teaching and doctrine, at the hands of men.

Instead, we live in love and truth and both are exhibited in our lives.

We measure maturity in our kids as they get older by how well they use the gifts and talents they have, how well they get along with others, and how much love their words and actions show.

The same is true with us. With God there is no limit set on how big we can get.  We never stop growing.  We can never measure up to Christ’s full personality.

With that in mind:  How big are You?  What could you do today to use the gifts God has given you?  Where do you desire more love and truth in your life?

 

 

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Why did the children of Israel, after seeing the miracle of their deliverance from Egypt, end up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years?

For the same reason we get stuck in the places we don’t want to be.

Scripture tells us God has a plan and purpose for all of us.  The Bible is full of promises of hope and victory.  Yet, how many of us are really walking in our land of promise?

We seem to either have forgotten there is a promise land or lost our way in finding it.  We tend to wrestle with every decision, circumstance, and obstacle in our path for much longer than is necessary.  For too many of us, our focus is consumed by the journey and its challenges instead of on the reward of reaching the promised place.  We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed instead of the overcomer we were meant to be.

Psalms 95 10 paints a clear picture of the dilemma of the wilderness wanderers.  “Forty years long was I grieved and disgusted with that generation, and I said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, and they do not approve, acknowledge, or regard My ways.”

I’m not referring to life’s trouble.  We will always have challenges and obstacles to overcome.  But, all of us at one time or another find ourselves wandering directionless, or in a season without joy, hope, and strength. If we don’t do something to bring about change when we find ourselves stuck there, we can experience the wilderness for years!

That is not God’s plan for us.  He is always desiring us to move to the land of promise.  There is no doubt He uses wilderness experiences, but He would rather we just kept going toward the future He promises for us.

There is one way to leave the dry, barren, wandering places in our lives.  Like the children of Israel, we are there because we have erred in our heart.

We don’t understand who God really is and don’t recognize His truths.  We don’t trust  Him or don’t like the solution to our situation–in essence we don’t like and disapprove of His answer.  We do it our way, disregarding what He says.

If  we are going to get to the Promised Land of our lives we must take three steps forward.

Step #1:  Acknowledge that God knows best and learn what He says.

Step #2:  Agree with His principles and His promises to us.

Step #3:  Take His instruction seriously.  Listen and Do what He says.

Following these steps will move us from the land of nothing and lack to the place of promise, possibility, and purpose.

What could you change today that will help you follow these steps?

 

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In some ways, it’s a lot easier for me to understand why God would judge the world, rather than why He would love the world.  How about you?

Even in my own life, it’s easier for me to think about what God may be judging about me than how He sings and dances over me as His daughter.

I was raised with two sometimes conflicting views of God.  One as the angry God, demanding our service and our love and the other as a kind, merciful God who loved each of us fully and always saw us through the eyes of who He made us to be.

Does our perception of God matter?

Consider this.  Which is more healthy: A child who obeys and listens to the parent because they are secure in a loving, trusting relationship and wants to do good things in honor of who their parents are;  or a child who obeys out of fear that they will be punished or because they feel the need to perform to receive love?

In my life, I’ve experienced both sides of this picture.  The second scenario brought me shame, guilt, condemnation, discouragement, and most of all fear.

On the other hand, the more I focus on just building my relationship with Jesus I find I’m feel more secure by His love and faithfulness to me.  That brings me freedom, hope, and helps me to consider my choices much more seriously because I am so grateful for what He’s done and I want to bless Him.

There’s a 1970’s song called The Look of Love.  There is a line in that song that says the look of love in your eyes says ‘so much more than words can say and what my heart has heard, it takes my breath away.’

That’s how I feel about God’s love in my life.

I love Psalm 89:3 . (The Message) “Your love has always been our lives’ foundation, your fidelity (faithfulness) has been the roof over our world.”

No matter what is going on in your life or your world, God’s love and faithfulness is your foundation and covering.  He’s waiting for you to climb up in His lap and let Him hold you and love you and teach you.  He isn’t just waiting, He is longing for that moment.

What could change in your life if you start with His love for you as the foundation for every choice you make?

 

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My Baby

Every little girl needs a daddy.  I lost mine to cancer at 11 years old.  Many others deal with abuse, divorce, neglect, or abandonment from theirs.  It is natural to transfer the view we have of our earthly fathers to our heavenly father.  It’s even difficult to see God as a loving father if we had a poor relationship with our own.

This video describes how many of us feel about our dads and how it can affect us at a deep level when they aren’t present for whatever reason.

It can be part of our struggle for self worth and identity.

Many of us try to perform better, be “good”, in an effort to win or feel like we are lovable.  One day I received this word from a friend.  I think it paints a beautiful picture of God’s Father heart for us.

“He is passionately and madly in love with you.  Every moment you are on his mind and heart.  There is nothing you can ever do to gain favor with Him.  That being said there is nothing you can do to lose favor with Him.  You are His dream come true..  His hope is not so much for repentance and obedience as it is that you will climb up into His lap and allow Him to smother you in kisses.  Your beauty radiates in His throne room and when your name is spoken His heart swells with pride…His baby, His love, His sweetness.”

God loves you and there is nothing you can do to change that!

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God’s Great Turn-Around

Nobody likes pain. When we hurt for whatever reason, it’s easy to ask why?  However, it can be more beneficial to ask what.  What is the purpose of pain and loss in life?  The answer I think lies in where we turn in it.

There are a lot of different reasons we can hurt and I believe God uses all of them for our good as we turn to Him.

One of the greatest turn-arounds we can have is when God uses our own self inflicted pain brought on by bad choices in our lives.

Scripture very clearly (II Corinthians 7:10) lays out a picture of godly grief and pain and worldly grief and pain. There is a lot of understanding to be gained in this verse no matter what type of pain you are dealing with. But for now, let’s talk about self-inflicted pain due to our choices.

Here’s the difference as I see it.

Worldly pain and grief brings:  Hopeless sorrow, discouragement, and defeat.  Breeds death.

When we make poor choices based on quick fixes, medicating our hurt, or for the need of approval or self-validation eventually we’ll experience worldly pain and grief.

The answer to stepping out of that cycle of hopelessness is to acknowledgment (confession) to God and possibly others.  When we do that, God will step in and turn it around to a God perspective of pain and grief.

Godly pain and grief:  God desires to use pain and grief to direct, produce a change of mind that leads to rescue, restoration, hope, and freedom for evil, and never brings regret.  Brings life.

Whether one is grieving loss, or experiencing pain they brought about or suffered at the hands of someone else, God turns that pain into a gift. Once we recognize the gift in it and follow where it leads we will move beyond that pain.

There will always be loss and pain in this world.  We can’t get away from it and God does not promise a life without it.  Pain is good when in the hands of God it makes us better, brings us to a better life, or helps us live life without regret.

Don’t be afraid of pain.  Instead put it in God’s hand and open your own to receive the precious gift within it.

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He Sees YOU!

Did you know that in the gospels, Jesus asked 183 questions? Even more interesting is he answered only 3.

I picked up a book called The Questions of Jesus by John Dear this morning.  I love the question Jesus asked on the page I opened to.  It’s found in Luke 7:44.  “Do you see this woman?”

Considering the times of the day, it was a very telling question.  In a culture of dishonor, where women were considered the property of men, it shows a lot about Jesus perspective. It’s still a valid question today.

All over the world, we find women who are treated as objects of man’s pleasure,  anger, rule.

The sex trade is rampant.  Violence against women is a huge problem.  Emotional and verbal abuse is considered a part of every day life by so many women.  And even in the church, women have been demeaned, considered unworthy of certain roles, or pigeon holed into wives and mothers who stay at home, raise their children, and fulfill their husbands every need.

These problems are not limited to any one country or locale.  It can be found in every neighborhood, any community, any church.

A great example is the football player, Lawrence Taylor.  At least he admitted to the crime he was charged with, but it was interesting how he tried to justify it.  You definitely saw his view of women in the interview he did for Fox News.  He’d been away for less than two weeks and needed service.  Then he stated paying for it keeps it ‘clean’ because the woman isn’t expecting any emotional connection.

He went on to say if you want to stop prostitution you’d have to close every bar, etc.  because it’s everywhere and justifying the crime by saying “Everybody does it so it’s something you don’t think about.

Excuse me!   You may not stop it but in reality it would become much rarer if men would change their view of women.

In this scripture, a Pharisee was angry at the woman who had a bad reputation.  He didn’t want her to touch Jesus.  He couldn’t understand why Jesus allowed her to pour out her fragrance and was His feet with her hair.

As He asks the question, “Do you see this woman?”  I’m sure the religious leader was caught by surprise.

Jesus didn’t see what the woman had done, He saw her adoring and open heart.

Jesus sees your heart too.  He sees your worth, your dignity, your significance.  He appreciates the vital role you play in the world and in His kingdom.  He never rejects you because you are a woman.  He never limits your destiny or calling.  He made you.  He said what He makes is good.

No matter what you’ve done, the circumstances you may find yourself in, you are not insignificant to Jesus.

Next time you are tempted to feel like a failure, or afraid to stand against abuse  or mistreatment at any level, remember Jesus doesn’t say you are less than!  He says you are my daughter and my daughter deserves the honor. My daughter is equal to my sons in my kingdom and I love them all equally.

What could happen in your world if you began to embrace yourself as Jesus sees you?

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Make Today a Snow Day.

As much as I hate snow except at Christmas time, there is something beautiful about the fresh layer that is falling this morning.  A heavy snow has a tendency to make me want to just nest inside, cook something warm and take the day to read or be still.  I think once in a while everyone needs a snow day!

I can’t help but think God’s love is like a blanket of fresh, white, snow. Think about it.  There is an old hymn that says, “Wash me in the blood of the Lamb, and I shall be whiter than snow. ”  Jesus sacrifice proved God’s love once and for all.  When we accept that sacrifice and acknowledge we are loved by Him are lives are really changed.  Here’s a few ways it changes us.

He covers the barren, dry, ground of the past with His sacrifice.  All the old mistakes and wounding experiences are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus for us.  We are forgiven.  We are restored.  We are like pure, new snow.  And like snow, the more God’s love  melts into our heart and waters the soil, the more our lives are an environment for planting and fruitfulness.

His sacrificial love creates a barrier of protection in the dry seasons of our life.  It is the promise that we will enter a new season and bloom again.

His love is a resting place.  It’s just like a snowy, winter day that makes us want to stay inside and cuddle up by the fire.  The more we experience and understand His love for us, the more warm, secure, and safe we feel.  And we keep coming back for more!

Whether the sun is shining or you are experiencing a storm, I hope you’ll join me today in letting God cover you in a blanket of His pure, soft, protective, and restorative love.  Let Him wash away whatever is holding you back or causing you to be disheartened.  Let him remove the tension of the day.  Take time to  feel His presence and love today.   Make this a Snow Day!

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