Thursday, October 27, 2011
I made a decision for Christ when I was twelve years old. When I look back, I can see the moment clearly. It was mid-July and my grandma had sent me to church camp. Hand in hand, I walked with a friend down to the altar, and took Jesus as my Savior. I cannot tell you the date, nor can I recall my friend's name, but I can close my eyes and see the warm glow of the chapel on that beautiful summer night long ago.
It was the most important decision that I ever made. With that one choice, the course of my life was forever changed. In a moment, I went from certain death and eternal separation from God, to eternal life in His wonderful presence. In that place, I could so clearly see the Lord all around me. God's love so penetrated the darkness in my life, it was impossible to miss His presence.
Still, the world is an alluring place, and life this side of Heaven is sometimes painful and confusing. Over the years, the world pressed on my young heart. For a time, I forgot to whom I belong. In those years of walking in the desert of life, I sometimes felt insignificant, even invisible. And in my need to be noticed, I sometimes made choices that surely grieved God's heart. The more I wandered, the harder it was to see His presence in my life.
Fortunately, God's love and acceptance of me is not based on my behavior, but on His mercy and grace offered to me through Christ. He is El Roi, "the God who sees". Every bad decision. Every painful choice. Every hurtful mistake. Every sin I committed. Every sin committed against me. God has seen it all. And through it all, even as others reject me, He chooses to love me. To guide me. To walk beside me. For "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
Those around me have not always known me. They could see me. But they didn't know my heart. Instead, they looked at my choices and made judgements about my position before God. Sadly, we Christians often make that mistake. Sometimes, the condition of the world makes us blind to what is real and true. We see the outward appearance of a person, we see their choices, and we think we know what makes them tick.
But that's not how God operates. Continually, I am amazed by the fact that no matter what path I choose, God goes with me. Without a doubt, there are paths I can take which He refuses to bless. Like a loving father, God quickly convicts me when I stumble. More often than I care to admit, I have felt the hand of His discipline. But, His love for me is not based on my behavior, nor is His presence. Instead He sees me as His precious daughter and my place with Him is firmly rooted in my decision for Christ. Like any child, I am prone to wander. Still, He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. For "I am the apple of His eye". (Psalm 17:8)
I have taken God's path, and I have also taken my own. In my experience, the Lord's way is superior, hands down. His mercies and love never fail me. That doesn't mean that I always get my way. Things don't always turn out the way I think they should. And many times, I simply don't understand what God is doing in my life. Sometimes, I am simply standing too close to the world to have His perspective on my circumstances.
Still, in all things, I choose God. For, "I have now seen the One who sees me." (Genesis 16:13) It's a truth that endures for us all. No matter how today appears, the LORD sees you. You are not invisible. There is no reason to hide. God sees your heart, and He looks on you with love.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
A few nights ago we had "breakfast night" and I made the family pancakes. As my husband, Marty, glanced at my pancakes topped with peanut butter and maple syrup (don't judge until you've tried them), he shook his head with a smile and said, "You are SUCH a Wierdy!"
Like everyone else, I've got my little indiosyncracies that make me unique. My tennis shoes HAVE to match the colors in the clothes that I am wearing. I have to end on an even number when I am filling up the gas tank. I eat pancakes covered in peanut butter and maple syrup. (Simply delicious!) I AM a wierdy.
And lately, I have been embracing my inner weirdness. The Bible calls it unique.
"But my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her." (Song of Solomon 6:9)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart". (Jeremiah 1:5).
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. "(Psalm 139:14)
So, today, I challenge you to embrace your inner weirdness. For you, my dear, are unique. Set apart. And Wonderful in His sight. In a word, you are special. Lift your head up and walk boldly into today, sharing your unique God-given gifts and talents as only you can. For the world only gets ONE you. And, if you have a moment, you might want to consider making pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup. You will thank me for it later.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”-Joshua 24:15 NIV
My mother-in-law used to tease me when our son, Jack, was a toddler. Attempting to mold my little boy into a strong, decisive man, I let him make many decisions for himself.
"Would you like to wear your blue shirt or your red shirt?"
"Do you want chocolate milk or orange juice?"
"Shall we go for a walk or play inside?"
I wanted him to understand the power of his choices. Now that he is a thirteen year old man-child, our discussions are a bit different. As life beckons, our conversations turn to more serious things like goals, potential occupations, clubs and organizations, and colleges. Truly, Jack has many choices before him. As a mother, the influences I allow near my son are of greater importance now than ever before in his young life. For if my son is to know wisdom, he must know the path of the Lord.
Benevolent and good, God believes in giving us a choice. For God is love, and love is a choice. He wants us to choose Him. We are free to choose otherwise. It really is that simple. The LORD is the one true God, sovereign over all things. We can embrace Him with gratitude and awe, align ourselves with Him, and be His hands and feet in the world. Or, we can choose our own path. The choice belongs to every man and every woman. Denying this truth does not make Him less sovereign.
Furthermore, Jesus, God's son, is the one true Savior. We can choose His gift, or deny to do so. Again it is our choice. But choices have consequences, and we are mindful to remember as much when we weigh our options today. Refusing to acknowledge Christ's gift doesn't make it any less available. Jesus did his part, but we must also do ours, and choose to accept His gift of salvation.
But the journey only begins there. Daily, we are challenged to "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve". (Joshua 24:15 NIV) After all, you cannot serve both God and man. For, the Bible pointedly asks the question, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) It's a choice we all must make.
Which brings me back to my son. Life comes down to the choices that we make. Jack's future is beckoning, and soon, my son will take his place in God's kingdom. Though he is young, Jack has already made the most important decision of his life. He chose to embrace the redeeming love of Christ and knows Jesus as his Savior. Still, I long for my son to walk victoriously through this life, so that he might point others to Heaven.
As the saying goes, Jack is not of this world, but he must still walk in it. Many distractions lie waiting for him, disguised as choice. Truly, we are warned that "there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 16:25) One only needs to look at the condition of the world to see the perils in making decisions without God.
I pray that Jack would have courage to stand for his convictions and make a difference in the lives God places in his midst. I pray he will take a god-fearing wife, who will be his helpmate, partner, and encourager in life's journey. Above all, I pray that Jack, my precious boy, will be a man who puts God first in his life, and will therefore influence many for the Lord.
As a mother of faith, accountable to God, I continue to teach my son the ways of the Lord Most High. How I pray that Jack might choose wisely, all the days of his life.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
"I smell cookies! SWEET! What an awesome surprise, Mom!" my youngest daughter, Sofie, yelled excitedly as she plowed through the door on a typical Thursday afternoon. "They smell SO good, Mama!" Her words brought a smile to my heart. Later, as I ate a few of the delicious double chocolate chip delicacies, made with a whole lot of love and even more butter, I thought about my daughter's declaration and how it applied to many facets of life.
As Christians, the world should be sweeter in our presence. In fact, we are told to "walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
So, what smells sweet to God, you ask?
First, we are to walk in love. As the feet of Jesus, we are to bring God's love into the presence of all whom we meet. Not just on Sunday, but everyday. At the grocery store. At the PTA. At the soccer game. Wherever we go, God's children are to offer a fragrant love offering to the LORD.
Then, we must give ourselves up for Christ. This one is a bit tougher, isn't it? For it calls us to lay down our selfishness, turn away from pride, and submit ourselves to our King. Ouch!
I pray that God would make me as sweet smelling as those cookies I made for my kids. Still, I am reminded that many times, I stumble, and smell more like the garlic cloves hiding in my refrigerator. How grateful I am that my Heavenly Father made me a work in progress. His mercies are new each day and so are my opportunities to make my life a sweet aroma to God.
So, dear sister in Christ, consider your heart, confess your weaknesses, and step sweetly. For today is a great day for cookies! Be sweet!
I am writing this on Monday morning. The kids are at school. My husband is at work. The dog is laying at my feet. And I have surveyed the damage of a weekend at home together. Visions of an F5 tornado come to mind as I look around at the mess in my midst. With a sigh, I decide to sit down and enjoy a second cup of coffee before taking on the day. "It's Monday," I think to myself with a smile.
I'm a mom. Most days, you will find me running errands, folding laundry, settling disputes between my kids and chauffeuring them from place to place. After that, I take on the additional tasks of homework, dinner, and bedtime. Whew! It makes me a bit tired just writing all that down! On the surface, these don't exactly appear to be my "glory days". I am not running for office. I am not powerfully influential. I don't receive a paycheck for the work that I do each day. In fact, if I am foolish enough to let the world define my worth, I might feel pretty insignificant.
However, that would be a short-sighted mistake on my part. For God wants me to look at the reach of my life with an eternal perspective. His perspective. He wants me to build a lasting legacy that points to Him in everything I set myself to do. In that, my life brings him glory. Both the menial tasks that fill the hours of my busy days, and the bigger moments that shape and mold the hearts of my children, are opportunities for me to glorify my Heavenly Father.
As a mother of three, and a woman of faith, I have tremendous influence on tomorrow. The way I interact today will shape and mold the hearts of my children forevermore. For a piece of me goes with my kids wherever they may go, both today and far into the future. If I am to see God glorified in a task this big, my heart must be aligned with His. Daily, I must remember that I am the heart of this home. In the quiet of the post morning crazies. In the middle of the afternoon chaos. In the midst of the evening grumpies. I must remember...these are my "glory days".
This is my legacy. Therefore, I must live well, for little eyes are watching and learning in everything I choose to do. It's true for us all. As women of faith, we must remember that we are building tomorrow in what we choose to do today. So, ladies, "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17 NIV) These, are in fact, glory days.
Whether you are serving at home or your responsibilities take you further into the world, you are shaping the future. So, get up. Finish your coffee. And then confront the day with passion and purpose. Believe me, I know it is hard to get too excited about laundry, coupons, or sibling squabbles. Consider this instead...today is your chance to build a legacy. So, be the woman God made you to be, smile knowingly to yourself, and then "do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)