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Call Me Israel…

Life has gotten busy.  My newborn and three year-old, time for my wife, and then work takes up most of my time.  It is hard to focus long enough on God everyday just in seeking him, let alone finding the time to put thoughts to virtual paper.

I have struggled to read the Bible every day as I had been for nearly a year.  When I do, I just don’t have the time to dig in and spend in it as I had been.  However, I am back on track, most days.

I am on my second time through the Bible.  I am not saying this to boast.  No, quite the opposite.  It is quite humbling.  I did not see the same things when I read before.  And what I am seeing is not good.

I am reading a chronological Bible this time through.  What this means is that this Bible puts everything in a time order of when they happened and/or were written.  Because of this, I am not getting the Old and New Testaments together each day (unless I do a seperate reading).  Spending this much time in the OT (Old Testament) has been eye-opening.

The first time through, I remember thinking, “Man, those Israelites just didn’t get it.  God was constantly taking care of them, providing for them, and protecting them, and all they do is run away from him.  How could they have done that?”

This time through, I am realizing that I am Israel.  Their lives as a nation mirror my life as a Christian.  I constantly run from God and what I know is right…all the while God keeps providing and protecting.  More than that, God gave the ultimate sacrafice of Jesus to pay for my sins (my turning from him) and to give me life with hm forever.  How could I keep turning away from him?

I am Israel.  I don’t trust God, even though he is trustworthy.

I am Israel.  I offer little as I ask for much.  God offers much and asks for little.

I am Israel.  I run away from God, and all he wants me to do is turn to him…even in my sin…so that his faithful love and mercy can change me and bring glory to his name.

Call me Israel.  That is my name.  We are one and the same.  The point is God’s mercy for the glory of his own name.  I just need to trust him, look to him, run to him, and know him as my source for everything.  This is when I will change.

Israel is the name God gave Jacob because of Jacob’s trust and faith in God.  Not the good that Jacob did, but because of faith and trust.  This is the other side of this coin.  The history of Israel is a mirror of my life…but the story of Israel (Jacob) should be the goal of my life.  To trust God and put my faith in him, even though I am clearly not deserving of it.

Call me Israel…I have nothing to trust or put my faith in but God.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please make this message clear to me today.  Please help me to trust you in every moment of the day.  Please help me to look to you.  Please help me to see everything as yours…even my time and energy.  Please use me to show your glory today.  Love, your son, joe.

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Christmas Thoughts: Happy Holidays and the Kingdom of God

A few months ago, my friend and fellow blogger (the one who inspired me to start, actually), Bill Moore, got me thinking about the culture war.  In his post, Conscientiously Objecting to the Culture War, he talked about the American Christian war for the American Culture (which somehow adopted Bill O’Reilly as it’s mascot…or he adopted himself as the mascot…who knows?).  I used to be all about this.  Our need to claim moral authority on our society.  Bill (Moore) challenged me to rethink my focus.

What do we prove to the world at large with our letter writing campaigns to reality shows about questionable “stars”?  What do we gain by refusing to shop in stores that somehow, through the process of being guilty by association, may promote something we disagree with (not talking major things here)?  What do we gain by fighting against gay marriage (I know I may get some backlash on this one)?  What do we gain by only being willing to vote for a Christian into elected office?  What do we gain by waging war against “Happy Holidays” replacing “Merry Christmas?”  I know all of these have room for debate, but I am asking what do we gain by these?

Do we gain sinners realizing that their only hope for life and acceptance by God is through Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection?  Do we gain people battling their way out of poverty?  Do we gain a decrease in children without families?  Do we gain people taking care of other people?  Do we gain the Kingdom of God?  Do we?  These are what we have been called to find important as Christians.  These are the hills we should be choosing to “die on.”

Of these things, I am going to focus on the whole “Happy Holidays” thing…it is, afterall, Christmas.

Is it really that important that everyone says, “Merry Christmas?”  Is it really?  Is there a need for all people, Christian and nonChristian alike to wish everyone a happy Christ’s Mass?  I am not so sure.  Besides, it is being placed with a word that means “Holy Days,” isn’t that enough for us?

The Spirit has really led me to some new thoughts on this recently.  I have been thinking a lot about Christmas, the traditions, and the commericialization of it (thus the Christmas thoughts posts), and something occurred to me.  There really is a Christmas spirit…or Holiday spirit.  Now, I am not saying we should be caught up in the warm-fuzzy Christmas and forget the true meaning of it…another post for another day…but there really is a “spirit” about this time of year that most people get caught up in, no matter how religious or non-religious.

This “spirit” has a way of changing people…there is a reason why “A Christmas Carol” has been so popular for so very long.  It is a true change that people feel.  People become nicer.  They think of others first.  They help the needy.  They feed the poor.  They care for the orphans.  They look out for the widows.  They help the down and out.  Hey, this sounds a lot like the list of stuff that Christians are supposed to be doing!

Christians are supposed to be about the Kingdom of God.  Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book, says that the Kingdom of God is when the reign and rule of God in the hearts and lives of people.  A part of this is how we care for others.  Jesus himself said that there are two commandments: Love God and love one another.  How we care for others is half of the job.

So, this Christmas/Holiday “spirit” has people all around us thinking and loving their “neighbors” as themselves.  In a way, we are seeing what God’s Kingdom here on Earth will look like, at least a little.  People are caring for each other.  This is important to God.  Look in either the Old or New Testaments.  God wants us to care for others like we are compelled to at Christmas.

I say whether you say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” it doesn’t really matter.  The question is, “Are we taking care of each other, especially the down-and-out?”  Are we?  Where is our focus?  Ourselves?  Or is it on using this “Christmas spirit” as a way to reach out to others and help them see the true meaning of Christmas?  Are we living a life that shows Jesus, even at Christmas?  Or are we busy fighting a battle that should not be fought, while those saying “Happy Holidays” are living out what we are called to?

Happy holidays, everyone!!  Joe

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please help me to pick the right battles this year.  Help me to see that it is about loving you and loving others.  Thank you for allowing the “Christmas spirit” to show us your Kingdom.  Please help me to use this to reach out and tell other people about the source of this “spirit.”  I love you.  Your son and dependent, Joe

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Christmas Thoughts: Silence Has Broken

As you could probably tell from my last two posts, I am looking at Christmas completely different this year.  One of the themes that the Spirit keeps bringing to mind is the miracle of the moment that Christmas represents: Jesus stepping into his creation to set the ball in motion for his taking on the sin of the world and making us right with God.  This theme has two parts for me: the obvious Gospel connection, but the other side of it is God’s relationship with Israel and how Jesus birth turned that relationship on its head.

Jesus birth heralded the breaking of the silence between God and his chosen people.  The story of the Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humankind.  This relationship is personified in his relationship with the Israelites.  He chose a people to be his own.  A people to allow him to give a real picture of who he is, a loving and merciful God who, though he is holy, he is also compassionate and forgiving.  He would allow this people to trust him and prove that he can be trusted.  A people that will make him angry, but that he will always accept with open arms if they would just turn back to him in trust.  It is this picture that will eventually apply to all people that trust in his son, Jesus.

A part of any relationship is communication and a give and take.  The history of the Hebrew people and their relationship to God is more of a take relationship.  They take while God gives.  God is patient, but broken trust led to hardships for Israel.  I was working on a brief and abridged history of the Old Testament, but it got too long to put in this post.  I will probably make it a seperate post to refer to in other posts, but the theme that stood out to me as I was writing it was this:

  • God blesses Abraham and his family.
  • Abraham and his family accept the blessing.
  • God tells them how to trust him and prove their trust.
  • Abraham and family move outside of this.
  • God gets angry, but moves out of compassion to their aid.
  • There is a broken relationship and a silence.
  • Abraham and his family deals with consequences because of their lack of trust.
  • They cry out to God.
  • God hears them and moves.
  • Relationship is restored.
  • The cycle repeats.

Now, the thing that happens over time is that the more people there are among the Israelite people, the bigger the broken trust becomes.  The bigger the broken trust, the bigger the broken relationship.  The bigger the consequences, the bigger the cry to God.  The bigger the cry, the more God moves miraculously to their aid.  The bigger the move to their aid, the deeper the relationship becomes.

There are two times in Old Testament history that the broken relationship and silence is the biggest, and the first one is early on.  It is the gap of time between Joseph and Moses.  The best that I can see, after God rescues Jacob’s family from the edge of extinction during the famine there is a time in which there is very little movement between God and the Israelites…at least none that we are privy to.  As far as the cause of this, all I can figure out is that Jacob constantly tried to live the relationship with God and God’s promises to him on his own terms.  His sons seem to be the same way.  Even Joseph is pretty prideful before he is sold as a slave (it is only thing to have a dream in which your family bows down to you, it is something else to brag to them about it).  This pride in the family was probably a pretty major breach of trust that needed to be broken to deepen the relationship.

So, there is nearly a 400 year silence.  This is broken when Moses, the one who was exiled from both Pharoh’s family and the Israelites and was now living in the wilderness with “unchosen” members of Abraham’s family as a shepherd, was tending flocks and God spoke to him through a burning bush.  No wonder he was afraid to be God’s spokesperson!  Not only was he really not an invited member of Abraham’s family, he was sent to claim that God was now ready to repair the relationship with people who felt abandoned by him!  This a major break in silence!

And through the story of the Exodus, God moved in a major way to repair a major rift in the relationship with his people.  Though this cycle of broken relationship happened over and over again in the wilderness, the relationship really was a lot deeper afterwards.   However, with this came bigger and bigger movements of lack of trust on the part of the Hebrews.  This moved them and God further and further apart.

The story of God’s people once they settled in the “promised land” is a constant recycling of the broken trust circle of life.  God’s warnings became more and more severe, but his moves of compassion became bigger and bigger, as well.  Eventually, the broken trust led God to allow his warnings to become reality and his people were taken from the land he gave them.  It was during this time that God kept sending people to warn that there would be a major break in relationship if they did not turn back in complete trust to him…but he also kept promising a future in which the relationship would be completely restored by a coming King…his chosen servant who would make everything right forever between God and his people.

After God heard the cried of the exiled Israelites, he brought them back to Israel.  He saved them, but they had to deal with the consequences.  After over 1000 years of deepened relationship between God and his people, God went silent again.  Their pride and arrogance caused a lack of trust that broke the relationship.  Remember, the deeper the relationship, the deeper and darker the silence becomes.  During this time, Israel was never truly free.  Captive to several nations.  It was another 400 year silence, but this one was worse.  Israel lost their place as God’s blessed nation.  The people sought God, but God did not send any more messengers.  I can not even imagine this, as the citizen of a country less than 300 years old and as someone who has God’s Spirit with me constantly.  I don’t have words to describe what this silence must have been like (no pun intended).

Religion became ritual.  People used it for power.  Commoners believed in God but did not understand him.  The scriptures were read, but not comprehended.  God was a part of their culture, but not an intregal part of their lives.

This was the silence that was broken by the cry of a baby.  Shouts from angels to sleepy shepherds ended God’s broken communication.  Visions and dreams were given again.  A supernatural star broke the monotony of the same nightime scenery seen for 400 years.

A baby broke the silence.  The chosen one had come.  God’s annointed one would repair the relationship between God and man forever.  And he laid in a cattle feeding trough being watched by a carpenter and his wife along with dirty shepherd and animals probably marked for sacrafice.

It came upon a midnight clear…and the silence was broken once and for all.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, thank you for breaking the silence.  Thank you for repairing the relationship.  Thank you for allowing me to be accepted by you.  Please help my trust to be real and my love to be true.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

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Christmas Thoughts: Dear Lord Baby Jesus

I have had so many thoughts and lessons from God this Christmas season, but so little time and/or energy to share them here.  Because I am now out for winter break (I am a teacher, if you didn’t know), I have some time.  I have decided to do a series of posts that I will put up when ever time allows for some writing.  So there may be a string of them in one day, or days between them.  We’ll see how it goes.  Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of what I hope will be many before the 25th of December.

I am going to start with a soap box issue for me.  Possibly not the best jumping off point to inspire you to read future posts in this series, but I have to start where my thoughts started this year.  It is probably an overplayed issure, but it is my turn to pipe in on it.  Over commercialization of Christmas, however this is not just about Walmart (and other stores) starting the Christmas rush earlier and earlier every year…it is more about Christians buying into the over commercializing of the birth of Jesus and trivializing what his birth truly means.

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born into the human existence as a real human baby, which let him live a normal human life sinlessly (as prescribed to the Israelites by God through Moses), which allowed him to die a death he did not deserve and take the wrath of God that we deserve. and then he was raised from the dead to show that his payment for our sin was accepted as paid in full and the grave no longer had any rights to him.  Jesus being born is a big deal.  However, I think that the over commericialization of Christmas has led most Christians into missing the point of Jesus’ birth.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christ-child.  There are what I like to call the three “ions” that are key to the Christian faith.  The Incarnation (Jesus stepping out of heaven to live the human experience…just without sinning), the Crucifiction (Jesus dying a greusome death on the cross and being separated completely from God, and doing so to pay the price for our sin), and the Resurrection (Jesus being raised from the dead because the price was paid and death could not hold him).  Jesus’ birthday is the Incarnation side of things, and it is very important.  I just think as celebration of Christmas becomes bigger and bigger (and earlier and earlier), we lose sight of why it is important, and Christians start becoming more and more like the main character in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

The movie stars Will Farrell as a Nascar driver.  I do not know a whole lot about the movie, because I have never actually watched it.  But there are scenes that I remember from the ads for it and that I have heard quoted and eventually watched online.  The parts of the movie that I am referring to are parodies of how some Christians can act, and they are extremely over-the-top and sacreligious.  For that reason, I won’t share a link to YouTube or quote the movie.  I will just summarize what my reference is about.

The main character, Ricky Bobby, is a “christian.”  He prays often in the movie, but he prays to “Lord Baby Jesus.”  There are a few scenes with prayers in which he makes several allusions to Jesus as a baby.  He even gets into arguments with his family about it and how Jesus was not just a baby.  He response was always that he likes Baby Jesus the best and that is who he prays to and worships.  Like I said, it is over-the-top and a satire of how some people seem to be.  My fear is that we all take on shades of this sometimes at Christmas.

We get caught up with the magic and wonder of Jesus as a baby, which in of itself is not bad.  It was the miracle of God leaving Heaven to come to Earth as our Savior.  It is something to celebrate.  I think we just forget to focus on the why part of why Jesus had to become a baby to save us.  I know I do.  It is so easy to get caught up in Christmas and the Christmas traditions.

This year, I have really been convicted about this.  After reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been able to show me over and over why Jesus had to come.  It is because he had to be human and live that life so that he could sacrafice it for my sin.

The “reason for the season” is that I am a sinner who is separated from God.  Only God himself can save me.  Jesus is God in flesh.  He came to Earth and lived the live I couldn’t.  Because he lived a sinless life, he could give that life up.  He did not have to die.  He never sinned, so he did not deserve death.  Not only did he not have to die, he did not deserve to be tortured and then separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He was separated from them on the cross and then again as he was in the grave for three days (and what ever the sinners after life is).  The one who had lived in eternity past with the Father and Spirit was separated from them for days.  That may not seem like long to us, but I am sure it was like forever to him.  He then came back from the dead because the price was paid.  Prisoners do not have to stay in prison once the sentence is up.  Jesus walked away from the jail (while it blew up behind him…see Action Hero Jesus for more).  He came, lived, died, and rose again.  It it was all because I was a sinner who needed to be saved.

Baby Jesus is important, but it is not everything.  It is not even why Christmas is important.  God heard our cries, and he came and saved us.  Jesus being born is about him accepting our death.  This is what Christmas is about.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please do not let me miss the point and the reason for Christmas this year.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for your sacrafice.  Thank you for your love.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Christmas, Gospel and Faith

 

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Oh Treasure, Where Art Thou

All right, time to end the radio silence.

It has been about two weeks since my last real post.  I mentioned feeling under the weather in that post, and this is the reason it has been so long since I have posted.  I have had bronchitis for about a month now.  It took a turn for the worse, and I had almost no energy.  I have been barely getting through the school day and then coming home to crash.  Two weeks of that and a second doctor’s visit later, and I am finally feeling closer to normal.  I finally have the energy to write a bit at the end of the day.

Becuase this all has lasted for weeks, I eventually realized God was trying to use it to get my attention.  No, I am not saying that he smote me with illness (though I do think it is possible that he can use this to get our attention about certain things in our live).  He used it to teach me a lesson about myself.  Where my focus is.  Where my heart is.

The flipside of being a pretty energetic guy is that when I am limited in physical, mental, or spiritual energy, it is hard for me to cope.  I just can’t seem to find the joy in things, patience for things not working, or enthusiasm for things that I am used to having.  This makes me do everything half-hearted.  I just can’t figure out what to do.  My brain feels broken.  This makes it more difficult to follow through on things I set out to do, or makes me just want to stop doing some of the things I would like to do.

This month of feeling this way really took a toll on me.  At school, it seemed like I wasn’t teaching well and the smallest disruptions in schedule or my plans have frazzled me to the point I had trouble adjusting…and I am not used to this happening to me.  My lesson plans were less than I like them to be because I just have not been able to get my brain to make connections and figure out cool ideas.  While teaching or dealing with students in the hallway, my patience was dramactically less, and I had just couldn’t get that to change for me, and this frustrated me to no end.

At home, I pretty much just crashed after spending so much of my energy trying to be “normal” at school.  I couldn’t help out around the house as much.  I was less patient with NB.  Less helpful to LA, and I did have much left in me to spend time with her and persue her.  I just got irratated by the things to be done around the house because I just didn’t have much strength left at the end of the day to tackle them.  On the weekends I have been so worn out that I just pretty much laid around so that I could try to recover from the week and feel well enough to tackle the next one.

My writing became harder because of a lack of time and energy.  Eventually I just stopped trying to write the blog.  Thus the not normal couple of posts and then the silence.  I didn’t even read any other blogs or spend much time online at all.

“Hey, OneCup Guy, you are sounding pretty ‘woe is me’ right now.”  Sorry.  That is not my intention, I just want to let you in on how it has been for me so you can understand the lesson that came from it.

Something pretty awesome came from all of this.  A lesson that I really needed to learn.  And it all has to do with my heart.  It is about trying to fight the “old man” and let the “new man” be who I am.  It was a pretty major realization that God gave to me.

Energy/strength to get through the day and complete tasks and fulfill responsiblilities is a lot like money.  You do not have an unlimited amount.  You have to budget it.  The more you have, the less you have to pay attention to your budget, but in a time of lower income you really have to watch where all of it goes.  I am used to being more “rich” in energy.  I can usually do a lot and put a lot of enthusiasm into what I am doing.  I often have so much that I do not even know when I am wasting energy.  Times that I am using it for things that are not important or not high priorities are not always obvious to me becuase of my excess of energy.

My budget got cut.  I did not have extra energy.  I did not even have enough for the day to day.  I lived and acted like I had my usual budget, but I didn’t.  This wore me out, and it is probably why I have stayed sick so long.

Last week, God really showed me that my energy usage, like my money, showed where my heart was.  In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus was talking about where we store our treasures in life.  He ends by saying, “Where your treasure is, that is where your heart is.”  God showed my how my energy is like treasure, and where I spend it shows my heart.  Am I spending myself on me and my kingdom or am I spending it on others, God, and his Kingdom?

He really sent me into a time of reflection.  I had a limited resource of myself.  The limits showed that I was spreading my energy too thin, and I was not doing anything well.  I was “juggling”” to much at once and looking to my “juggling skills” to keep it going.  I was wasting energy on things that were about me.  About my little kingdom and buidling myself up.  I was not using the little energy I had on other people and on God.  I had to prioritize and drop things of lesser importance.  God, family, and serving others IN LOVE is where I needed to spend my treasure.  Not trying to control my world.  I had to give those things over to God.

The last two days of last week and this weekend were pretty awesome.  I felt closer to normal.  I put my energy towards the things that mattered, dropped what didn’t, and trusted God to take care of whatever was left.  I started storing my treasures in the right places.

What about you?  Does your time and energy budget show where your heart is?

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The Holy Spirit Was Wearing Pink

This morning I came across a blog that really hit home to me.  It was kind of perfect timing.  I have been trying to put words to some prayers for my attitude and how I approach people and situations.  This blog post hit it on the head.

The name of the post is called, “The Opposite of Love Isn’t Hate.”  It really caught my attention, so I gave it a read.  I am so glad I did.  I know that the Spirit totally set this one up, because this story doesn’t end here.  But before I get to the rest of the story, let me finish talking about what I read.

I can sum up the post in one statement from it, Hate is not the opposite of love, fear is.”  I had to get my mind around this.  The more I read, the more this made sense.  The tumblers started to fall into place in my head.  This is so true.  Fear really is the antagonist of love.  Debby went on to explain:

Fear the opposite of love? Yes, yes. That’s it. In my life that is true. It’s not hate but fear. Fear of those different from me. Fear of stepping out in faith. Fear my children will suffer tragedy. Fear those I’ve grown close to will relapse and fear for the day my mom won’t know any of us.

I can so relate to this.  When my son was born, I became even more paranoid about everything,  I can still be two and a half years later.  I found ways to micromanage everything.  I was, and can still be, so afraid of anything happening to him.  I am starting to see that this fear can get in the way of loving him and allowing him to grow and mature.

This fear can show itself in other ways, too.  I grew up moving a lot, so I learned at an early age not to form deep friendships.  This has led to a fear of losing friends or getting my feelings hurt by others that sticks with me even now.  I have a fear of allowing people too close to me.  That fear was overcome a good bit when I met my wife, but it still makes me distant from friends sometimes.

Even more so, this fear can keep me from growing in my relationship to God.  We are called to two commandments, to love God and love others.  When I am afraid of what could happen, I put a wall between myself, God, and others.  I am afraid of letting go and dying to myself.  I am afraid of what people will think.  I am afraid of completely trusting in the acceptance of God that comes through the work of Jesus Christ.  This fear stunts my spiritual growth.

1 John 4 holds the answer to the fear.  Love is the opposite.  Fear can keep us from love, but love can keep us from fear.  Only love breaking through to our hearts and mind can defeat our fear and allow us to love.

John wrote in verses 16-19 (NLT):

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each otherbecause he loved us first.

“Such love has no fear, because PERFECT love expels all fear.”  This is so awesome.  Because we have been loved perfectly, we do not have to be afraid.  Abiding in this love will allow us to overcome the fear.  We will be able to love!

So…this was on my heart as I drove to work this morning.  I can be a bit ADD with what I listen to (or don’t listen to) in the car.  Lately I have wanted to listen to music, but Christian radio can get repetative so sometimes I just put on a random station.  Today was a light rock station.  A song came on that I have always kind of liked when I have heard it.  It is by Pink.  As the song played, the Spirit brought these ideas back to mind and took them a little further.

Now, as a little disclaimer, I had no idea that I have been only hearing the edited version.  I went to look up the song to write this blog post.  It turns out that the song, which I thought was called “Perfect,” is actually named “F**ing Perfect.”  I had no idea.  I am sorry, if this offends you.  Just know I have only heard the edited version.  Any way, the song still totally spoke to me and the Spirit drove the message home (yes, through this potentially offensive song).

The part that spoke to me was the chorus:

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You are perfect to me

The message that came to mind is that it is my fear of not being accepted by God because of my sins is the overwhelming fear that holds be back from loving Him and loving others.  The thing is, if that I truly believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I am accepted by God.  I am free to love.  I am free to serve.  I am free to obey.  I do not have to fear the wrath I know I deserve.  Through Jesus, in terms of the eternal consequences of sin, I am perfect in the eyes of the Father.  The passage from 1 John says, “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”  This sentence leads directly into the statement that “perfect love drives out fear.”  Our acceptance is the love that shines like a light on our fear and makes it run away like darkness!

How awesome is this!  We are perfect in his eyes.  This perfect love is the antithesis of fear.  We can live love because he loves us!  Halellujah, what a Savior?

Do you see how fear keeps us from loving?  How can the perfect love of Jesus change you and allow you to love without fear?

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I am Lucy Pevensie

We had baptisms at church last night (our church has multiple services). I was baptized myself this past Easter (awesome day to identify myself with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!). It is all still very fresh for me, so I tend to still be a bit emotional about seeing baptisms, in a good way.

Last night there was only one. It was a boy who was baptized by his father. This hit home to me because my dad baptized me. It got me thinking about the fact that I hope that my sons will come to know the reality of God, their sin, and their need for Jesus. I hope one day to baptize them. Not because I want to go through the motions of it all, but because I want them to have a real relationship with Jesus. I want them to be believers in the Gospel. I want them to have a true and real faith.

This got me to thinking about the fact that I want all of my friends and family to be awoken to the true reality of the world. That there is more than the physical side of the universe that we understand. God is real. Heaven is real. Jesus really lived. Jesus really died. Jesus really did this to take God’s wrath and punishment on himself. Jesus really rose from the dead as proof that our sins are forgiven. Jesus really did send the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit really can live in our hearts and lives. We really can truly love and serve others. There really is a Kingdom of God. There really will be a day of judgement. There really is an eternity. We can really have a relationship with God, both now and forever.

This led me to thinking about how hard this is to explain to people. I have friends who do not believe in God. I have friends who not only do not believe, but they are atagonistic towards God. I love these friends. I just can’t get them to understand what I know about the reality of the world. I tried to think about a way to explain to them why I could not explain this to them. I was thought about the “magic” that I know that they do not understand or believe in.

I was suddenly reminded about the book/movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In the story, the youngest of a group of brothers and sisters found a land called Narnia in a waredrobe/closet. When she came back, no one believed her. This is exactly what I am feeling right now.

I want so bad for my friends and family to be able to go and see Narnia. To know what I know. I am Lucy trying to explain the snow covered forests and Mr. Tumnus the faun. They have no concept of what I am talking about. Narnia, to them, is an imaginary land. Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are characters of my fantasy to them.

I wish they could know Aslan’s world. I wish they could open their eyes and see it. I wish they could know the “real world” that I know.

I guess only the Spirit can bring them there. I will pray. I will share. I will live like I have been to Narnia. I will do all I can do to convince them, but in the end, it is the Spirit that has to open their eyes.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, I pray that you would show my friends and family the reality of the world that you created.  I thank you so much for how you gave C.S. Lewis the understanding to write such a beautiful analogy for your realities.  I pray right now that you would help my friends and family be able to see Narnia.  Help them to know you, Aslan.  Help them to be able to walk through the waredrobe to your world, to your country.  Spirit, I pray that you would help them to see and know the realness of you, our sins, and your forgiveness and life through Jesus’s death.  I do not have words to go on further, so Spirit, I pray that you will intercede for me.  Thank you, Father.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Spirit.  I love you.  I need you.  Amen.

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