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Friday, May 28, 2010

Sometime you need to be the bad cop

Confrontation is never easy, but sometimes it is necessary.  Fixing the problem before it becomes chaos is not only efficient, but loving. Think about it, if you are afraid to confront someone, who are you loving more, the person, or you?
Remember the saying "good cop, bad cop"? Everyone likes to be the good cop, the one everyone likes, lets people off with just a warning, and visits the donut shop. But, the bad cop, writes the large ticket, drags the perpetrator to court, and makes the offender's life miserable. But, you need both to get a job done right. Sometimes you need to be a bad cop. It gets the job done.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Finality of the Finale

The lights dim.
The applause grows.
The stars illuminate the stage.
Then, in a moment, it is gone.

That's how I feel when I watch the season finales of my favorite TV programs. in one moment,s I am whisked away into a world that I will never visit on my own, and grace stages I will never step foot on in this life. Then, the winner is announced, the confetti falls, the cheers deaden, and the adventure is over.
All that is left if the hope that the fall will bring new ways to escape the mundane among the fallen leaves and cold winds.
For a few months we become a part of a culture where office cubicles become a place for belly laughs, vampires come Alive at midnight, and the neighborhood bar becomes the place where life altering decisions are made.
Then, quicker than the click of a remote control, it is gone.
Until next fall.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Straining Towards the Goal 2

So, how do you strain towards fellowship without allowing sin to wreck that fellowship? Be others centered. I had just finished reading an incredible book by Elisa Morgan called “ She did what she could.” In it she relates the story of Mary of Bethany and her anointing of Jesus’ head with nard in an act of worship. The recording of the passage says  that Jesus commended this young woman for her act and because “ she did what she could”, her name would be mentioned every time the gospel was preached. She then talked about the best way to help change the world was not to get bogged down in the horrendous events of the day ( ie. Haiti), but in helping the every day people Jesus puts in our path. Every day that we hear of tremendous situations, it is easy to want to give up hope. Isaiah 58: 10-11 says “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Focusing on others is what gets you through the day. Its what gets people one step closer to the Kingdom that is available to them in the here and now. We have the power to change the world! This is the hope! That is how we strain! That is how we press on! The more we focus on ourselves, and focus on meeting our own needs rather than the needs of others, the more likely it is for sin to abound. That is how we fellowship with Jesus. Matthew 25:32-40 says “Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 37" Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'" The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’. That is fellowship with the Lord. Your schools. Your homes. Your workplaces. Your children. That is the mission field that God is placed you in. That is the place where the sun scorched land gets that water that it needs. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If You Knew the Real Christ, You Wouldn't Want Him

If you knew the real Christ, you wouldn't want Him.
He begins His life shaking up the world,  in its present form and leaves it the same way.
He wants to shake up your world in its present form.
He is unlike anyone you have ever encountered.
When you leave his presence, you are never the same.
He will not allow you to be the same.
He yearns for you to be good soil.
He wants to prune your branches.
He wants the fruit you produce to be good.
He is good, even though it doesn't seem that way.
He doesn't give you what you want.
He gives you what you need.
He is Holy, and expects nothing less from His children.
He frees the captives, fathers the fatherless,  Loves for the sake of love.
He will make you poor, and you'll love him for it.
You'll lose your life, and you'll praise Him for it.
You will die to yourself, and live.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It means the End

There is a spirit of mourning in our house, this morning. One of my favorite shows, Lost, has come to an end. One of  the most entertaining aspects of the four hour dedication to this history making show were the " Last transmissions" that people were able to write in to the show. One of the fans wrote " all of these years, all I've had are questions. All I've  wanted are answers. I guess I didn't know that when I got them, it would mean the end." I thought many of the tributes were creative and used aspects of the show to pay homage to what the show has meant to them.
I couldn't help but think about my life as a christian when I thought about this tribute. The more mature I become in my knowledge of the Lord and the application of His Word to my life, the more questions I have. On May 14th, I celebrated my 14th birthday, spiritually speaking, that is.  It was easier when I was a baby Christian. I could take whatever I was told and believe it as the truth. But, now, it causes me to test it against the nuances of Scripture to see if it is a correct interpretation. I have more questions about the Bible and about the nature of Christ now than ever in my history as a Christian. As much as I long for answers, I realize that with those answers means the end. The end where I see my Savior face-to-face.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Straining Towards the Goal 2

Have you ever strained a muscle?  I have. It is not fun, is it? What is the difference between a strain and an actual break? The difference between straining a muscle and breaking a bone is that the muscle is not rendered useless. It causes pain every time it is used, but it is still useable. That’s what I was thinking about when Paul uses the word “straining”. He is not allowing the things that are behind him to weigh him down. He already is having difficulty getting to the goal in the first place! Let’s face it: being a Christian is hard! There is already so much to sway us from living godly lives everyday. Why allow the things that you have already done to weigh you down even more?  So, what are some things that cause us to strain? Here are some things that cause our fellowship to be hindered:
Sin- Paul also writes about the thorn in his flesh, the thing that he has asked for relief from,  but yet God asks for him to continue to struggle with. Although no one knows for sure what that thorn was, some people have said it is a sin. If it was, I can understand why he talks about straining. If a sin is consuming your life, it is hard to focus on true fellowship with the Lord.
Bad Circumstances- Sometimes things happen through no fault of your own that cause you to “ strain” in daily life: bankruptcy, loss of a job, illness, family turmoil, etc. These things make it so easy to take you eye off the prize and focus on things over which you have no control.
Lack of faith- This is a big one. There have been many times in my life when I have not understood what God was doing in my life. I would question Him, worry, pout, etc. which would cause me to not have fellowship with him. In the beginning of my journey with god, I thought He was a “genie in a bottle”- I asked, he winked and granted. Sounds good right? Except when He didn’t deliver, I stopped believing. I stopped trusting that God was doing what was best for me. I had the wrong perspective on who God was. When I shifted my perspective and realized He didn’t owe me anything, my perspective and outlook on life changed. I stopped expecting from God and started trusting Him. When I worked in spite of my trials in life, I felt closer to God than ever before. When I learned to still press on and not let those things weigh me down, I became good soil. You can, too. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Straining Towards the Goal

            Before we talk about what the word straining means, we need to talk about what is the goal, considering Paul urges us to forget what is behind and straining ahead towards the goal, so in this context we have to understand that the goal is what we are looking  to reach. Now, interestingly enough, when we ask the question ,what is our goal, we would naturally assume it is heaven, right? I mean, we think the ultimate goal to reach is heaven. But, Paul is not talking about that here.  He says that the prize comes before heaven, not as a result. The prize which comes as a result of the goal must be so good that it calls him heavenward. So, what is the prize? Or the goal? The answer: his Damascus Road Experience. Before that, Paul didn’t need anyone to help him attain salvation. He was doing fine on his own merits. The only thing that could (or did) shake him up was the interaction with God. Once the scales had been lifted, He could see salvation for what it really was: fellowship with the Savior. That is the ultimate goal, not heaven! Heaven is the fruit of the labors here on earth. Think about it: what better joy is there than to interact with Jesus, whom you have never seen, yet read about and seen the manifestation of in others, than to finally meet your best friend and confidant face to face? I know for me, the most joyous moments of my life are when God is communicating to me and I am with Him. So, the goal is fellowship with God . But, what does it mean to strain towards it?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's your baggage?

I was watching How I met your Mother the other night, and was struck by Ted's character working through his baggage. The last thing the narrator states before the episode concludes is "Everyone has baggage." I suppose that is true. but, isn't God bigger than that? Are there flaws and hurts in past relationships that we can carry with us that are more pervasive than God's rejuvenating work in our lives? Didn't Jesus die while God was in Him reconciling the worked to Himself (as stated in 2 Timothy)? So, if God lessened Himself to be in His son in an effort to restore the relationship of His people to Himself, can't we do the same?
Isn't it time to let go of the baggage?
What is the baggage in your life that God is asking you to drop?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Press On 2

I want to look at a passage that I believe explains pressing on in a way different from what you have heard before. I want to look at John 11: 17-28. On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles[a]from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
 21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
 24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
 27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ,[b]the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
 28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you."So, given this new information about Martha, we see Martha as a woman of action. She goes out to meet Jesus, while Mary who has a heart to be His disciple, stays home. But, look at the difference in heart attitude. “But, I know that EVEN NOW, God will give you whatever you ask.” Even though she didn’t understand what Christ was doing, she believed anyway, and went out to meet him to find Him. He asks her “Do you believe this?” She replies “Yes, Lord…”. She knows full well who He is. She knows in her heart as well as her head.
 Do you know what is interesting about this passage? According to this account, Jesus chooses Martha’s reply to set the plans in motion for His crucifixion. According to John, Martha is the first person to publicly declare Him the Christ. Up to this point, people have put their faith in Him, or called Him a prophet, or not known who He was. But, He uses Martha to spread the Word that He is the Christ. Two people with the same worries and cares of this life, yet two different attitudes. Peter gets choked by the world’s standards, and Martha has the faith to set in motion a plan for reconciliation for all the world.
This is great news for us as women! Through a women he comes into the world, and according to this passage, he uses the faith of another woman to usher in His death, and eventually, new life.
We are going to take a look at how to move forward in our lives after we have shown God glory through the way we react to the trials in our lives, we now will find out how to move forward in reaching our goal. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Press On!

When I think of the words “ press on”, I think of making a mark on something, like the thing that has been imprinted has now make a mark on something else. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “ press” as “an apparatus or machine by which a substance is cut or shaped, an impression of a body is taken, a material is compressed, pressure is applied to a body, liquid is expressed, or a cutting tool is fed into the work by pressure b : a building containing presses or a business using presses 
3 : closet, cupboard4 a : an action of pressing or pushing : pressure b : an aggressive pressuring defense employed in basketball often over the entire court area 
5 : the properly smoothed and creased condition of a freshly pressed garment   I really liked this definition because it most accurately  portrays the Christian life. Nothing worse having is easily had, and that includes Christ like character.  In this definition, the person is cut, molded, shaped, squeezed, etc. into the desired result. It doesn’t sound easy, and anyone walking with the Lord knows it is far from easy to attain Christ like character without  pressure. This includes pressure from society, the Enemy, family, etc. Paul wants to continue on in our walk with Christ in spite of the pressing we feel from those around us , and some of that pressure will include the temptation to not forget what is behind. So, how do we do this? What does this look like for us today?
Tomorrow I will put a slightly different spin on the idea of what it means to press on.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Unveiled Faces

2 Corinthians 3:18 says "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
Why is it, though, that when are faces are officially unveiled, we want to cover them up?
It is only through our humility, vulnerability and authenticity that we reflect God's glory. 
Why do we cover them up with a Facade?
Why do we want to pull the veil over our eyes as the Lord gently asks to lift the veil up?
Why do we put our heads in the sand and our feet in the ground when God wants to transform us?
It is a beautiful moment at a wedding when the wife's veil is pulled up and her face is revealed to him for the first time. I am reminded of this verse every time I see it. 
But, we have to be willing to be unveiled in order for the world to see us for who we really are. 
Why don't we want that?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forgetting what is Behind

Forget what others have done to you- I have heard the idea of forgiveness talked about at many retreats. But few talk about the forgetting process as well.  I was struck in the story of Joseph that he chose to name his first son “ God has HELPED me to forget”.  He doesn’t even address the forgiveness aspect of it. It is one thing to move on from a hurt and release them from that responsibility, but it is quite another to choose to remember it no more. But, some may say “ I can’t forget.” Forgetting and CHOOSING to forget are two different things. God cannot forget our wrongdoings, but He CHOOSES to remember them no more and allowed us to be justified through Jesus. This is huge. God has given us a memory for a reason. We can choose to honor God with our choice to forget, or we can dishonor Him by allowing Jesus’ death to be enough. 
Have you forgotten what has gone on between you and that friend? Family member? Church member? That hurt you so bad? Or does it come to your mind every time you think or see that person? You may have forgiven, but if your future actions to that person or with others because of that hurt, you have not forgotten.
Forgetting is not easy. Even Joseph knew that. But, He asked God to HELP him to forget. Have you asked God to HELP you forget? Forgetting is a choice. One of which, with God’s help, can be achieved. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Hand Faith 2

Philippians says "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..." Paul is very clear that he is not perfect, or attained perfection at all. But, he does know how to get closer to it: forget, press on and strain ahead.
Forgetting what is behind- means many things:
1)Forget what you have done- just because you messed up today, doesn’t mean you can’t make it right tomorrow. There is always tomorrow. God is always in the business of reconciliation and redemption. He can make right what you have made wrong.
Tomorrow I'll talk about forgetting what others have done to you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Hand Faith 1

( For the next couple of days, I will be sharing with you excerpts from my series Leaving a Legacy of Love")
Has anyone ever seen the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler? For those of you who have never seen it, Sandler plays a father with a beautiful wife, 2 beautiful children, a gorgeous home and a good paying job. But, instead of focusing on the right things, he allows himself to allow work to get in the way if his priorities. In fact, the first scenes show him working late at night , missing camping trips, etc. all so he can get ahead at work.  Then, one day the remote control starts working on the tv. So, he goes to Bed, Bath and Beyond and meets a sales clerk who takes him into the back room and presents him with a “ universal remote.” Only this one doesn’t work on just the tv. It works in his life. He takes it home and quickly realizes he can fast forward through fights with his wife, and slow down things he wants to savor. It is all going fine until he tries to use it to fast forward and it accidentally fast forwards through one year of his life.  Because of his workaholic nature, his wife leaves him and remarries, his kids barely know him, and he is mean to his father. Soon after, he fast forwards through five years, and then ten years, and his kids are grown up and his daughter is getting married. She wants the step dad to dance with her at the wedding, because he was more a father to her than her own father. He gets to the end of his life and realizes the most important things in life he already had. It is a compelling story, with an even more urgent message.
What I love about the movie is it shows the main character that the best things in life are already right in front of him.  Every family memory, event, fight and rough spot is what is making his life meaningful. The best thing in his life he already has, and it is not found in more money or the prestige of a fancy job. 
It is the same in the Christian life. Every rough patch, trial and tribulation with Christ as the center is better than not having him at all. As much as trials are hard to go through at the time, they are also what have made me who I am today. I wouldn’t trade them. I’m sure you would say the same. Because if you look at them closely, you see that God was changing your character through them. 
In my next post, I'll show you in Philippians what Paul has to say about living a first hand faith.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jesus is a gentleman

When I first got my new job at the day care, I was informed by my coworkers that one of the parents is an atheist. They made it very clear that they did not want God mentioned anywhere, not in language, projects, etc. The YMCA handbook clearly states that I am allowed to express my religious preferences, as long as people are aware that they may not be the beliefs of the whole YMCA.  So, if my make a decision to express myself freely in the classroom is not only fair, but justified, right? But, the question is: Should I? 
Jesus was a gentleman. The Holy Spirit never forces himself on anyone, but draws those who are seeking Him first. 
We have rights to do or say what we believe, but should we always express them? 
You have to earn your right to speak into someone's life. How can someone who has taken no interest in your life previously, or done nothing to encourage you prior to that, then expect that person is going to listen to you when you speak the truth in love? 
Jesus is a gentleman.  Sometimes the best way to display Christ is to be the same. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Father to the Fatherless

Deuteronomy 10:18 says "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."
I attended my daughter's Mother's Day Tea with great excitement. It is a program where they honor the mothers with a gift, songs and a special drawing if their mom. As I was waiting, I saw a boy who had no mother to sit with him. One of the teachers sat with him in an effort to stand in for his mother. Perhaps she couldn't get out of work. Perhaps dad has primary custody. whatever the case, my heart went out to this boy. I can only imagine he missed his mom at that moment. A moment that no matter how hard he tries, he can never get back.
I immediately thought of this verse. God defends the fatherless (or in this case, motherless). I was thankful at that moment that I was able to attend, and thankful to my boss for allowing me to go. In that moment, I was also thankful for my Father, who has been my Father (and my mother) in moments when my own parents could not. Are there people in your life whom you can (or should) learn to be a Father to the Fatherless?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So, I must take a moment and comment on last night's episode of LOST. Is everyone as confused as I am? As frustrated as I am with it, I am more sad to see it go. I must have lost 5 pounds thinking and analyzing all of the show's intricacies.  So, do they all have to die so that the " sideways" become true? And, I still want to know why Kate is not considered a " candidate". As much as I am baffled by the whole show's direction, one thing is for sure, any woman who can get shot and drown within 5 minutes and still survive, is one tough cookie!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Salt and Light 2

Col. 4:5-6  "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
This goes right with the last post on salt and light. It is interesting that in this passage, the salt is being used as a flavoring, only this time it is with our words. If used as a preservative, it is to preserve the relationship between you and those who don't know the Lord. It is interesting to think about,  esp. when I have thought about salt and light as being used to declare the truth. The truth is still the truth whether you preserve it or not. The best way to preserve it is to be like Jesus. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eternity is a long time

I spent the weekend on a retreat at a Christian camp in New Hampshire. I had a really nice time, and spent some really good quality time in prayer and solitude with the Lord.  The speaker was a wiry woman from Pennsylvania with an enthusiasm and passion for the Word was infectious. Although I appreciated her message and thought she was biblical in her retelling of the story of Joseph, I did disagree on a few things she said. One of them was that " the most important thing in life is where you spend eternity, because eternity is a LONG, LONG,LONG, time." I'm glad eternity is a long time, because I need a lot of time now to change how I am living. Although I agree Jesus died so we can spend eternity with Him, it is not the only reason. The Bible says that while Jesus was dying on the cross, God was in Him ,reconciling Himself to the world.  Jesus died to change us. He died so that we, who were born in His image, can glorify His name and bring His Kingdom to those who have not seen it.
He not only died so that we can go to heaven, but also to change how we live in the here and now.  Otherwise we could live however we want in this life as long as we say a prayer to solidify our ticket to heaven. If I don't care enough about how I'm living now, why would I care if I spend eternity with a God who does care?