Monday, January 25, 2010

The Way

Every spring, my husband and our son go on a father/son campout. Both of the men in my life thoroughly enjoy this time alone together, as it allows them to test their "manly" skills in the wild. Perhaps inspired by Bear Gryllis, Marty decided last year to teach Jack some basic survival tips during their hike. Pointing out the moss on the bark of a nearby tree, Marty explained that if Jack were ever lost he would always know which way was north. It seems moss always grows on the south side of a trunk. Not some of the time. Not most of the time. Every time. Without exception, this basic rule of nature shows the way to even the most disoriented hiker. It is a widely known truth consistently held by those who love the outdoors.

God's truth is also constant and unchanging. The Bible is as relevant today as it was yesterday and will still command authority as we walk into tomorrow. We know this is true, for God promises that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:6 NIV) Therefore, we have a way to the Father, thru Son, that remains constant throughout circumstance and time. We need not meander through life lost and confused. For Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6 NIV)

The world, however, rejects God's ways, choosing instead to accept opinionated falsehoods wrapped in tolerance. The ways of the world change continuously with political tides and populist views, making the way perilous with relativity. To be certain, there is a serious error in taking this approach towards God. For we, as a human race, now exist in the shadow of the Fall and our eyes, are blind to the world's fatal condition. If we foolishly allow the ways of the world to lead us through life, and fail to call on God for guidance, we will become lost and confused. Though the worldly path may appear to be the right one, we may take many steps before we admit we are surely lost. If we are to truly understand and follow the divine ways of God, we must have our spiritual sight restored through Christ. Walking in the light of our Savior illuminates truth and dispells the chaos of the fallen world.

While we wander lost in God's creation, The LORD points the way with truth. Indeed, God has given clear and explicit directions, but we must choose to follow the way. With certainty, God's moral compass powered by the Holy Spirit says, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21 NIV) His people walk with assurance because "He will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just." (Genesis 14:9 NIV) The way is before you and the path is clear. Walk in it.

Heavenly Father,
You see your creation, groaning from the effects of sin in the world. Devastation. Disease. Greed. Violence. This is not how you made your creation to be. And we cry with the world as we witness the chaos around us. Life can be so troubling. We witness horrific scenes and it makes us feel lost and confused. In the midst of it all, we struggle to find our way. Sinful voices from the world point us in conflicting directions, but you have made it clear. Your word says that Jesus is the way., the truth and the life. In love, You offer eternal life to us by the gift of your Son Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world that takes your place. Give us eyes to see you in the deception around us and fill us with your truth.

Reflection: Do you know the way?

You can know salvation and walk in truth simply by saying the following prayer aloud...

"Lord, I know I am a sinner and sin separates me from your love. I understand I will never be good enough. Never be kind enough. I cannot earn my way to heaven because the wages of sin are death. But you sent your Son Jesus to die in my place. He took my punishment and left me free to live for you. I accept this gift. Please forgive me for my sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow and set me on a path of truth rooted in your love for me alone. "

If you have just accepted Christ let me welcome you into the family. If you have questions regarding salvation, let me encourage you to seek answers in God's word alone. And, If I can be of assistance, please feel free to let me know. God Bless.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Heart's Desire

Key Verse: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desire of your heart." (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so it seems relevant to have dreams at the forefront of my mind. Like our famous American hero to whom we give remembrance on this day, I am a dreamer. From imaginary friends to mysterious worlds of fiction, my heart has always been intrigued by the fanciful. Still, the world, heavy with responsibilites, manages to occassionally jolt me back to reality. Even so, when my heart sets itself to dreaming, I go along for the ride enthusiastically. Unfortuately, I don't always believe that my dreams can come true. Wrestling with doubt, I often come back down from the clouds with a heart gripped by cynicism. It is a darkness that has swallowed our frail world. I believe dreams are the antidote to the mayhem all around us. For dreams are merely hopes left momentarily unseen.

Scripture instructs us to "delight in the LORD and he shall give us the desires of our heart." (Psalm 37:4 NIV) So what does it mean to delight in God? Perhaps the answer lies in his very name. For God's proper name is Jehovah, which translates into "the existing one". Rather than placing our trust in the tangible circumstances around us, God is calling his people to look to Him and believe in His unshakeable character. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow He is Jehovah, "one who exists". As we look to his majesty and seek after God with passionate devotion, we in turn find ourselves changed. Hearts are turned by God's loving hand as he fills believers with His spirit and leads us forth in truth. We delight in the LORD when we pursue His Kingdom before our own. God's love changes our selfish longings and plants in us His dream for our lives. With trust we march toward tomorrow with the understanding that "those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5 NIV) Indeed, a dream is planted within each one of us and we are called to pursue it faithfully.

The world, gripped by sin is groaning as all of creation looks to Jehovah for redemption. (Romans 8:22) God is mobilizing His children to pursue the desires of the heart for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) Still, we have an enemy who wishes to see those dreams whither in unbelief. Therefore we are challenged to align our hearts with LORD and cling to our God-given dreams. Let us delight in His presence and believe in His Sovereignty in all situations. Let us not look with eyes of doubt, but instead face tomorrow with hope. For we can have our heart's desires if our greatest longing is to know the LORD. He is more than a dream. He is Jehovah. One who exists. One who longs to grant you the desires of your heart.

Dear LORD,
We delight in you with hearts filled with awesome praise for you are Jehovah, one who exists. Your majesty surpasses all we can imagine and we are set free to dream by the love you have for us as your people. We confess that we are often gripped by doubt and paralyzed by unbelief. Let it not be so. Mobilize your people and set their hearts to fulfill your desires so that you may be glorified. Make room in our lives for your dreams.

Reflection: What great desire has God placed on your heart?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Royal By Blood

In late October, I was on a mission team in Vienna, Austria. While there, a new friend of mine, Carola, accompanied me and some of my teammates to the Schonnbrunn Palace. Once the summer home for the Emperor and Empress of Austria, the Schonnbrunn is truly a sight to behold. Taking in the architectural splendor of this palace, I gazed in wonder of its beauty. Walking through the courtyard gardens, I felt as if I had strolled into a dream, as golden leaves fluttered gently to the ground in the crisp cool air. My imagination was captived by the beauty around me. For a moment, I imagined myself in another place in time as royalty. I pictured a life of glorious luxury. Leisurely walks. Exquisite gowns. Delectitible food. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate (It is Austria after all). What a life! As I amused myself with my daydreams, my new Austrian friend Carola burst my imaginary bubble with the realities of royal life in Austria. Rising early and carrying the burden of an empire, the life of an Austrian royal was sometimes daunting and heavy with responsibility.

Though I am not royal by birth, I was made so by Christ's blood. My royal standing began one silent night over 2,000 years ago when a teenage girl stepped into her destiny as the Virgin mother of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Mary's daily walk was immediately and eternally altered as she accepted the task before her and answered, "May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38 NIV) Receiving salvation by Christ's gift on the cross made me an adopted co-heir with Christ. Likewise, I am challenged as God's child to answer His call with the same reverent obedience and humility as those women of faith before me.

Today, I tend many responsibilities as I meet daily demands, keep to my schedule, and care for my family. Like most people, I am given many circles of influence. Some circles are clearly known, and some are far less obvious. Through it all, I am challenged to remember who I am in Christ that I might point others to His grace. Being a woman of faith, it is my hope that my life, no matter how small in the economy of the world, may give glory to God and point others to His majesty. It is a heavy responsiblity. So, as I walk through my day, I am reminded to walk and talk royal, for that is who I am. I am a daughter of the sovereign King of Kings, and therefore I am instructed to "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." (Philippians 4:5) This day, I long to " act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8 NIV) In doing so, I point others to the LORD af all.

From now to everlasting, my position is secure. Surely I am a shieldmaiden of faith grafted into the family of God. I need not wait for my crown, for it awaits me in eternity. One day, I shall lay it before the feet of Jesus and praise Him evermore as a daughter of THE King.

Dear LORD,
We honor you as we ponder your majesty. How great you are Father and we are yours. Let us not forget who we are as we walk through our day. We are your precious children. Co-heirs in Christ. A royal priesthood. You declare it so. May our lives reflect your grace. We confess that our words and deeds do not always reflect our position with you. Forgive us for our failures and strengthen us anew for the challenges before us this day.

Reflection: Do your words and actions reflect your position in Christ?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Love Everlasting

Her gown glistening in the pale moonlight, Cinderella enchanted her prince as they elegantly moved across the ballroom. Every time I see her dancing in her glass slippers, my heart dances along with Cinderella. Watching that darling girl twirl around with Prince Charming sends my heart soaring. As a child, I wanted to be “her“, one so fair as to captivate my prince. Something about that story speaks directly to my feminine spirit and awakens in me a desire to be sought in such a manner as she.

Like many girls before me, I experienced Cinderella-itis. There is nothing wrong with becoming mesmerized by the magic of a fairy tale. It is completely understandable that “happily ever after” sets the genuinely innocent hearts of little girls everywhere dreaming of a real life Prince Charming. However, fairy tales, no matter how endearing, are still just stories. We are, in fact, cautioned “to put our childish ways behind.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)

Unfortunately, many of us do not outgrow our need for the fanciful and we take this desire with us into adulthood. Looking for intimacy, we seek out our own version of Cinderella. We search for one whom we can charm and in return be charmed. And rather than grow in intimacy, we find ourselves lost in our fairy tale still longing to be known and loved. Many of us do not recognize this feeling for what it truly is...a deep-rooted internal compass leading us back to the One whose love never fails. Our Creator placed in us a spiritual longing for Him alone.

Deep in the heart of a woman is a little girl longing for God. And yet, many of us confuse our passion for God with romance. Rather than discovering our Heavenly Bridegroom, we find an earthly prince. Yet, we were not made by man for man, but by God for God. Placing our significant relationships in place of God will only lead us to heartbreak. No man, no matter how charming, can fill the spiritual need in the heart of a woman. Expecting such only positions our relationships for failure. Without an intimate relationship with God, we are left with an insatiable longing for His love. For it is God who "loves us with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 3:13NIV) In time, the realities of daily life pierce our frail hearts while resentments make our love grow cold.

So let us seek after the LORD. Let our hearts be drawn to Him. Let us desire Him above all else. Only then will we find our heart's desire as we are truly free to love and be loved. After all, "we love because he first loved us." (1 john 4:19) We must put aside the things of children and instead grow as women of faith. For we are His bride and as “ a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5 NIV)

Dear LORD,
Give us a great love for you. Let us seek you before all others in our lives. Help us to know you and reveal our hearts to you in a way that fills our need for you. We are your beloved and we are yours. Speak to our hearts and help us know beyond all doubt that we are adored by you. turn our gaze towards you that we may be yours.

Reflection: How deep is your love for God?