Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Boss

Key Verse: "He must become greater; I must become less."
(John 3:30

Recently, we became dog owners to a playful Australian Terrier named Sydney. She is extremely sweet, but had to learn her place in our family. I diligently read up on the breed to learn that it was vitally important that we train our new dog to understand that she is the "least" in her "pack". For the past few weeks, we have carefully and intentionally sent messages to our new pet about her position within our home. For example, She isn't allowed to sit in a position higher than our children, for that is a place of authority in the dog world. Further, she is always the last to enter or exit the home, for she is not the leader. And, she eats after the rest of the family, for that teaches her that we are before her in prominence. Just this morning, my five-year old daughter Sofie was playing with our dog before school, when Sydney rolled over on her back in submission to Sofie. Delighted, Sofie said, "Look Mommy. Sydney is letting me be her boss." Truly, our dog has learned security in knowing her place and is now free to submit herself to the authority of her new family members.

The Bible teaches of another who knew his place well. John the Baptist was a prominent forerunner to Christ, proclaiming to all an urgent and immediate need for repentance. And yet, when Jesus came on the scene, John humbly knew his place and gracefully acknowledged, "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30) Setting aside his pride, his position, his ego, John willfully took a place behind Jesus in recognition that Jesus was greater than himself. That is the kind of Christian I aspire to be as well. But, I confess, I am not as humble as John The Baptist, nor am I as submissive as my dog, Sydney. Truth be told, I have a healthy ego and I have a habit of making myself the supreme ruler in my life. For that reason, God has taught me, sometimes painfully, that my way usually leads to discipline. Over time, and more specifically the past few years, I have learned the hard way that I must be less, so God can be more in my life. After all, it isn't really my life that matters, but His life living in me that makes a lasting impression in this world.

Truth be told,we could all learn a lot from John, whose humble submission to His Savior cleared a path of Salvation for the world. God's plans are without exception greater than ours. Historically, our Heavenly Father continually challenges his people to set aside dreams, aspirations, and desires and allow Him to direct the course of life. God asks for our submission so that He can remove what is lacking and grant us a richer life. And yet, we stubbornly plan and plot a secure path, denying him access to our future, as we remain god in our circumstances.

Fortunately, that does not have to be the case for God's children. Daily, our Heavenly Father calls us to repent and submit to His authority. And he doesn't want SOME of us, He demands ALL...finances, future plans, families. He wants it all under Him while we acknowledge who is God and who is not. Some days we succeed. Many days we fail. Regardless, we are ordered to press on and submit our lives to the One who brings true enduring peace. So today, let us begin anew as we once more place ourselves under Christ's rule. For regardless of the challenges before us, there is security in making Jesus "the boss".

Dear Jesus,
How we adore you for you rule above all of creation. You are the King of Kings and every knee shall one day bow in your presence. There is nothing that is before you, for you rule supremely over all. Help us to submit to your leading and embrace our position in you. For it is only as you become greater than ourselves that we truly find enduring peace.

Reflection: What areas in your life have you elevated above the LORD?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Restoration from Ruins

Key Verse: "To all who mourn in Israel,he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair."-Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

My recent trip to Vienna, Austria was an extraordinary experience in countless ways. It was truly a place to behold where every one of my senses was stimulated in ways one can only imagine in storybooks. St. Stephan's Cathedral. Schonbrunn Palace. Street musicians and artists galore. Rich Sacher Torte and coffee straight from heaven. Yet, one particular moment marked my heart in a way I did not expect.

Walking around Stephensplatz in the first district, I came upon some ancient Roman ruins over 2,000 years old. My eyes gazed upon the bricks and dust in awe and wonder as I considered that these very ruins were a remainder of a time when Christ was here on Earth. I stood silently as I heard God whisper, "I have always been here. I am here right now. I will always be here. All of creation is mine to restore."

Truth be told, we all have something in our life that needs restoration. A broken relationship. A broken heart. A broken past. We all know what it is to feel the shame of failure. Disappointment. Grief. Ruin.

And yet, we have access to restoration by the power of Christ. There has never been a time where Christ didn't see the ruins in our lives. Despite our many failures and mistakes, he looks upon us with compassion and mercy. Truly, it is Christ's greatest desire to see you restored to God's unconditional love and endless mercy. Today, this very moment, we can experience restoration by the blood of our Savior. Through Jesus, we can experience a new beginning despite the ruins in our lives. In Christ, we receive an instantaneous healing of sin, followed by a gradual process of making all things new in our lives. After all, every great work of art takes time, commitment, patience, and love. In Christ, we are allowed to find beauty from ashes. Restoration from ruin.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross that makes it possible for us to be restored to God's unending love. We know there is no other way to find forgiveness and restoration except through the cross. We accept your gift of salvation and look to you for restoration and healing. Take our brokeness. Take our pain. Take the ruins in our lives and make something beautiful from the ashes.

Reflection: What needs restored in your life?