Monday, May 25, 2015

It's got a Hole in it!


http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1169954
I grew up wanting to be perfect.  I've no one else to blame for this but myself.  I hungered for people’s approval of me.  I longed for affirmation for who I was and what I did.  I had huge expectations for myself and for everyone else around me.  If people didn’t say just the right thing about what I had done or if they overlooked it, I would live in a puddle of despair.  If they did value it then I would live on a mountain top high for a couple of days, only to be right back in the puddle once again looking for affirmation and approval.  It became my insatiable quest.

My life looked a lot like a cup with a hole in the bottom of it.  The more I had poured into it, the more poured out of it.   When more was poured in the fuller I felt but it would be a false sense of fullness as it would eventually seep out the bottom and I would be left empty once again. 

 It was a thirst I couldn’t quench and a hunger I could never satisfy.
 

Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4, . . .  Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  (John 4.13-14)

 

The woman at the well had the same problem I had, she sought her identity, worth and value from the people in her life.  She was on an insatiable quest to be filled and she looked for it in all the wrong places.  She believed, like I believed, people were the answer to this voracious thirst so she ran around holding out her cup wanting man after man to fill it, only to be left empty in the end.   

It wasn’t until she met THE MAN, the perfect man, the one who could truly satisfy the thirst in her heart where she was finally fulfilled and the ravenous thirst was gone!  Jesus met her needs in a way no one else could.  She found her worth and value in Him and she no longer needed to look anywhere else.  

Do you see what Jesus said to her?  “If you drink from the water I give, you will never thirst again!”   

Jesus plugs up the hole in our heart and produces in us a fresh bubbling spring that never runs dry.  The insatiable quest is over!  The search for satisfaction is done. 

So how do we drink from the water Jesus gives?  How do we let Him fill us, a God we can’t see, instead of looking to people, we can see, to satisfy us?  

We must start with what we think.  Because what we think on, turns into a belief, which then in turn governs the way we live.  In Romans 12.2 it says, “ . . . let God transform you by changing the way you think.”  If we are to begin to find our value and worth in Jesus it first starts in our mind. 

In the move the Help, Abileen says to Mae Mobley throughout the movie.  “You is smart.  You is kind.  You is important.”  Why does she do this?  I think she wants Mae Mobley to know deep down inside who she is no matter where she goes, no matter what happens to her, no matter what anyone one says to her. 

I believe God has a  similar message for us.  He wants us to know deep down inside who we are, no matter where we go, no matter what happens to us, no matter what anyone says to us. 
 
He wants you to know . . .

You is special. (Psalm 139.13,14)  You is MINE.  (Galatians 4:7) You is Important!  (1 John 4.9)

When we think on this.  When we dwell on these truths, we will begin to believe we are special, we are His and we are important and we will no longer need to quest for our identity and worth in other people or in what we do.  We won’t need to because we are full up with Him. 
 
He has plugged up the hole in our heart and we are finally satisfied!
 
 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

God's Not a Consolation Prize

I belong to God!  And because I belong . . . I’m no longer under the brutal tyranny of sin and death.  What was impossible . . . friendship with God . . . is now mine!
I know this truth in my head but my heart struggles to believe it’s truth.
I confess I have this tendency to see God as a last resort, rather than my primary go to place . . .  
When all else fails, then I’ll look to God.  When I’m helpless to do anything, then I’ll pray.  When I've attempted  to satisfy my cravings with other things and find myself empty, well then, I’ll try God.  When I’ve exhausted all my other resources . . . then I’ll fall back on God.  He becomes my safety net.  My consolation prize.
Prayer becomes a last resort.  Time spent with God happens only out of sheer desperation and living a vibrant, victorious life in Christ always seems out of reach. 
And then I wonder why my life with God is mediocre and mundane.
http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1294754
God isn’t a consolation prize.  He isn’t something to toss away, or hide in a drawer, only to pull out when things get dicey and there's no other hope.
God is THE PRIZE!  He is our True Hope.  Our Ultimate Satisfaction.  Our Perfect Peace.
As long as we believe God is our consolation prize in life, we will never be free.  We’ll never experience true victory.  We’ll never escape the brutal tyranny of sin.  We’ll never know the power of the life-giving Spirit.  Fear will haunt us.  Doubt will plague us and His grace will escape us.
To know God.  To deny ourselves.  To take up our cross.  To follow Him.  That’s where real LIFE is found. 
It’s in the suffering, in the pain, in the questioning where we find Him.  It’s the promise of a life beyond this broken one, a far better life than we have ever known that we must cling to in this uphill journey.  It’s choosing the narrow, difficult, uncomfortable path where we will find God’s grace, His peace and His unfathomable joy.
Jesus said, You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.  Matthew 7.13-14
We can travel the easy and comfortable road, the one with no obstacles or debris and meet death or we can choose the difficult way, the hidden path strewn with challenges of all sizes, the road that forces us to keep our eyes on Him and find LIFE.
What will you choose?
 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Yo-Yo Dance with God

Several years ago, my friend and her husband chose to love a young boy who was not their own.  They welcomed him into their family and he became theirs.  He immediately had all the privileges of a son – love, care, family vacations, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and cousins, wealth and most of all he was able to learn about God and His love for him. 

This journey has not been easy, in fact I know she would say, hands down, it is the hardest thing she has ever done or will do.  And there is no guarantee of the future.

You see, their little boy, even though he has been given this amazing gift of love, cannot accept it.  His past and the things that happened to him before he came to live with them have scarred his life and are holding him captive.  He is unable to embrace this love, to bask in its warmth and to allow its light to shine in his life.  He has built a fortress around his heart and to let that love in is too frightening and threatening for him.  He wants the love and is drawn to it but then pulls away because it threatens to break down his defenses.

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/818029
As I watch this gifted and talented young boy run from true, unfailing, unconditional love, I cannot help but see myself reflected in him.  I do this very thing with God.  I am His chosen child and I want His love, in fact I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame but then I find myself pulling away because His love exposes my innermost being and I don’t like what I see. . .  Why is it so hard to receive pure and undefiled love?  Why does my heart do this yo-yo dance with God?  Why do I allow fear to keep me from completely enjoying and reveling in God’s incredible love? . . . . .

And then I think of my friend and her incredible love for her son.  She has given everything for him.  She loves him unconditionally and no matter how she is treated by him, she continues to give of herself, to endure through the pain and to love unconditionally.

She is my hero!  She is the strongest person I know and she demonstrates God’s great love and incredible patience with him every day twenty-four - seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year!  In her weakness I see her strength in God grow and in her brokenness and pain I have seen God bring her unspeakable joy. 

And as I see myself reflected in her son, I see God reflected in her. . . His grace that I did nothing to deserve, His patience when I am obnoxious and hurtful, His love when I am unlovely, His gentle touch when I am hurting and in pain.  That’s how my friend loves her son and that’s how God loves me!

How great the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only son

To make a wretch His treasure!

                                                      -Stuart Townend
 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Kingdom of Me


Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.  Romans 8.5-7  (MSG)
  
When my boys were young, they were fascinated with looking at their muscles in the bathroom mirror.  It usually happened after bath time. They would stand in front of the mirror, hair slicked back, scrawny arms flexed, bragging about how big their muscles were.  Often, they would use their fingers to push up their muscles so that they would look bigger than they really were.

Spiritually we do the same thing my boys loved to do.  We stand in front of our mirror, flexing our moral muscle as we focus on the good we see in ourselves all the while bragging about our greatness and ignoring how broken and sinful we really are. 

We lose sight of God and become consumed with looking at our own reflection.  We would rather stand in front of the mirror making our own assessments of ourselves than allowing God to point out our areas of needed growth and change.  When it comes to down to it, we don’t want difficult – we want easy.  We don’t want transformation – we want information.  We don’t want God’s Spirit directing our lives – we want our own way.   

Kay Warren in her book, Dangerous Surrender, writes this:  I, like many other adults, devote a fair amount of time, energy and money to controlling, polishing protecting and defending my own private little kingdom.  Like a despotic ruler in mythical story, I can be the omnipotent potentate, supreme authority, oppressive dictator, and highly exalted one in the Kingdom of Me.  Of course, I would never say it out loud and might be outraged that anyone would even suggest that I operate that way, but it’s the reality of the struggle I face every day.  So do you.  At my worst, I rule over my domain with an iron hand, fiercely protecting my territory, my possessions, my reputation, my persona, my dignity, my rights as queen.  I am in control.  As Gary Thomas observes, “The biggest block to our surrender is not our appetites and wayward desires but our addiction to running our own lives.

“Focusing on self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God and ends up thinking more about self than God.”  (Romans 8.8 MSG)

We can’t have it both ways.  It’s either God or us.  The question is do we trust God enough to let Him run our life? 

We all experience insecurity from time to time, some more than others.  But what is insecurity?

The dictionary defines “insecurity” as the lack of confidence or assurance  When we are insecure we move into lock down mode . . . we must protect the kingdom at all cost, we cannot let anyone see our self-doubt, our lack of confidence.  Insecurity forces us to focus on ourselves.

The only way we will be truly secure is when we seek our value in God, when we relinquish the Kingdom of Me and embrace the Kingdom of God.  When we get off our throne and let God reign.  When we stop looking in the mirror and start looking at Him.
 
Attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious and free life!  (Romans 8.7b MSG)  Welcome to the Kingdom!  (The Kingdom of God that is.)

 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Priceless!


We’ve all seen those Mastercard commercials.  A dad takes his son to a baseball game . . .
Tickets to the game . . . $50
Hot Dogs . . . $10
Conversation with his son . . . Priceless! 

After watching a few people in my sphere bite the dust ethically, I thought of a new advertisement . . .

Having an emotional affair . . . $The person you love
Embezzling money from your company . . . $ Your job
A Clear Conscience and peace of mind . . .  Priceless! 

Having peace of mind never seems very valuable until it's gone. 

Why don’t we ever see the consequences BEFORE we make a decision to step into the abyss?  

The emotional turmoil of living a double life is excruciating.  Being in one place and thinking of another.  Constantly obsessed someone will find out.  Mapping out all kinds of plans just in case . . . Conflicted and consumed with desires for the unspeakable.  Ignoring and overlooking the treasures already in front of you. 

Why would anyone choose such a life? 

The crazy thing is . . . we all do at one time or another.  
 
Why?

Because sin is deceptive and never shows the horror waiting behind the curtain. 

It’s the old adage of the frog in the pot of water.  We don’t realize what we stepped into until it’s too late and there seems to be no escape.
 
I don’t want a life like that!  I want to live with no regrets.  How about you?

So how do we keep from falling into the abyss?  Is it walking as close to the edge as possible without falling in?  NEVER! 

It’s living as far away from the edge as possible.   

It’s choosing a life of integrity when nobody is watching.  It's in the hidden and secret places, where it’s just you and God. 

For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. 1 Chronicles 28.9b 

We live a life of purity by carving out time in our busy day to find our God, to center our self and be reminded of what's truly important.  It’s in the little things . . .   

It’s saying, “NO” to opportunities.  It’s choosing to live as if someone is ALWAYS watching.  It’s surrendering your desires to God and looking to Him to fill you.  It’s refusing to listen to the lies and camping out on truth.  It’s stopping to look behind the curtain instead of rushing headlong. 

It’s remembering that peace of mind and a clear conscience are Priceless! 

The only one who can take that away from you is YOU!
Have mercy on me, O God because of Your unfailing love.  Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins . . .  Purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Psalm 51. 1, 7