Thursday, October 13, 2011

Watched like a Cat

Last week as I sat in my women's small group bible study at my friend Samantha's house, my attention was drawn to a grasshopper I saw pouncing through the family room. A few minutes after I saw the little creature, Samantha's cat spotted it, and I was entertained by what unfolded.

The grasshopper could feel the cat patting at it with its paw and sniffing it, and it responded by jumping farther and farther across the room, hoping to escape from the cat. It hopped underneath a reclining chair and probably thought it had found a safe hiding place.

In the moments that passed as the grasshopper hid, that cat was on alert. It circled around the recliner multiple times, stuck its paws under the chair, and even after no sight of the grasshopper, it sat right next to the chair, ready to pounce at the moment the grasshopper hopped out.

An hour of bible study passed and the cat was still vigilant. It wasn't distracted by its food dish, by people trying to pet him, and he didn't fall asleep. His interest in finding that grasshopper never decreased.

It always amazes me how the Lord will speak to me in what seems to be the silliest or most meaningless situations (aka the cat and the grasshopper scene). I was so encouraged by the imagery the Lord revealed! Most people living trapped in lives of sin know what they are doing is wrong. They feel the guilt. They run from God and avoid confronting their sin at all costs. But, even if they think they're safe and can control their circumstances, little do they know, God is in hot pursuit. God seeks new ways to find His lost children. He isn't distracted, He isn't discouraged, and He doesn't give up. God knows what He wants and doesn't stop until He gets it--and trust me, He doesn't need our help to accomplish His mighty tasks. If a cat can give that much attention to finding the lost grasshopper, imagine how much more the Lord is pursuing His own lost children? If you're praying for someone you know who is lost, living in sin, and empty, do not be discouraged by their rebellion. God is smarter, He is bigger, and He will stop at no cost to offer free salvation to the lost.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eternally Victorious

Athletes: a staple icon of the American culture. They inspire us with their comebacks, delight us with their victories, and entertain our society. While the success of a pro athlete can be fleeting, and sports teams rise and fall, we still love to love those who seem to have endless athletic talent and can achieve anything.

I don't know any of today's big athletes personally. I don't know their stories and don't get a share of their victories. But I do know a man who walked the earth over 2,000 years ago and scored some pretty major victories. He healed the un-healable, performed miracles for the hopeless, and then he made a move toward the end of his game that gave all of humanity a piece of victory.

This man has the longest winning-streak in the books. He still has a winning record. He isn't motivated by championship rings or superbowl trophies. It isn't the dollar amount on his contract or the name on his jersey that matters to him. He is motivated by the daily battles in our lives and in the world around us. He even has time to fight for righteousness on behalf of you and me!

You would think by today's standards someone who has been on a 2,000 year winning streak would be too famous to be reached. But I know this man personally. He wants to know the battles he can fight in my life for me. He is successful in all he aims to accomplish. And because I am his child, I am a joint-heir to his victory and treasures!

The man I'm telling you about is my hero, my close friend, my Father, and the ultimate victor. Through His power, the impossible IS possible. His desire is to bring me peace, joy, and continually shower me with love. Unlike today's famous athletes, this man wants to know you personally. He wants to fight for you, and he wants you to share in his victories. If you don't know him, getting to know him is easy. He has been pursuing you from the day you were born--and is standing at the door of your heart, knocking, waiting to be accepted as your personal Savior. All you have to do is let him in.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in." 
-Revelation 3:20

Dear Victorious Jesus, 
I know I'm a sinner and I know I can't fight this fight on my own. I believe you died for my sins. Right now I turn my from my old life of sin and open the door of my heart and life. I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little Bo Peep

It seems like yesterday I was a little tike singing along to the Little Bo Peep nursery rhyme. I think its safe to say we all learned this in our lifetime:

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
And doesn't know where to find them! 
Leave them alone & they'll come home, 
Wagging their tails behind them.

I think our society has adapted the belief Little Bo Peep had when it comes to lost sheep--those who wander. We all know wanderers. People who take the wrong path in life, go through a rebellious phase, or lose themselves for a season. When someone close to us wanders astray, it can be scary. But as Little Bo Peep teaches, we are to leave them alone--let them have their fun and eventually they will find their way back home. And when they do, they will be overcome with shame and guilt that they look like sad puppy dogs with their tails between their legs. Oh well, its the course of life, right? People wander, people lose themselves and what matters to them, but we say don't worry about them--they'll hopefully make it back alive.

I wonder if those who wander know there is someone who doesn't see them as sad and shameful dogs. The Bible tells a different story of what happens when a sheep wanders.  In Luke 15, Jesus tells this story:

"If a man has 100 sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the 99 others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends saying 'Rejoice with because I have found my lost sheep!' 

In the same way, there is more joy in Heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over 99 others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!" 

This story captivates the renewing love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ. Can you imagine being part of a big group or company and quitting your job or no longer attending club meetings--what happens? Does the head of the company or president of the club push the other 99 members aside to find you? To make sure you are ok and joyfully welcome you back?

Christ does. He is searching out each and every one of his lost children right now--those who don't know him, those who are rebelling against him, and those who are living blinded by sin. He is pursuing and will continue to pursue until you answer the knock at the door of your heart and welcome Him in. He will change your life, love you unconditionally--and unlike the world, welcome you into his arms without condemnation. He's a loving Father, not a harsh disciplinarian. He is waiting to carry you joyfully in his arms & Heaven is waiting to throw the biggest party when they see Jesus' pursuit of the one lost wanderer become victorious! A life with Christ is not bland or strict, it simply requires obedience and repentance from sin. It offers a refreshing escape from this cold & careless world. You may feel like just another lost person trying to find their place in this big world, but in God's eyes, you are an important sheep in his flock. He knows you by name, he knows everything about you, He desires to bless your life and keep you in His watch forever.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who is your boss?

We spend 8 hours a day or more logging hours behind a desk. Work, career, and accomplishments have become staples of our world that "define" a person's life and how successful they are. Imagine the inner struggles with self-esteem and value we could avoid if we understood our identity and value is found in God, the person He has crafted us to be, and not by anything we accomplish in this world!

I love listening to MercyMe's version of "The Little Drummer Boy." I think we all can identify with how they sing this song--from a voice of humility, feeling nothing we have to offer is a worthy gift to give the son of a King!

"Shall I play for you? Mary looked at me and nodded. The ox and lamb kept time. Oh I played my drum for Christ. Oh I played my best for Christ. I played my best for Christ!"

How often do we give our absolute best effort to Christ? You know, the type of effort we exert to win a game match, or to fight hard for a new job, or to even protect our reputation in the eyes of others? We often give God our leftover energy. But this is the opposite of how we should be living--God's commands given to us should receive our absolute best effort, and the world's demands on us can have what's left in our tank. What God calls us to accomplish will produce a result more amazing than we can ever achieve by our own efforts in this world.

In addition to playing our best for Christ, it is important to maintain a Godly attitude in the workplace. Although bosses may take advantage of us or work makes us miserable, we ought to work to accomplish each task as though God assigned it to us. Just because He's not physically sitting across from you in your next job interview or signing your paychecks, He is the manager of every job, promotion, paycheck, and career that will come your way. Remember who you're working for, and your work will take on a whole new, glorious meaning when you know it is pleasing the Lord!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Filling Your Fanny pack

Imagine your life as a fanny pack. Throughout your years, you can only carry in the fanny pack what is important to you on a daily basis. Obviously, as you change, grow, and age, you will fill the fanny pack with different things. But your space to fill is limited. 

Now imagine that fanny pack as your soul. Over the years you stuff different things into it that appeal to you. Things promising happiness, fulfillment, love, and lasting joy. You fill it with whatever fits into your stage of life. But what if I told you that fanny pack was missing its bottom piece and everything you stuffed in it passed through?

Every single human being on this earth has a God-created void in their soul. A space of emptiness, loneliness, a desire and longing for the space to be filled. Nothing of this world--no matter how appealing--be it material possessions, money, a career, extravagant car and home, drugs, sex, alcohol, or a live it up lifestyle will ever fill that void. It will pass through you like a bottomless fanny pack, and leave you even emptier than before. How can you be certain of this when everything this world has to offer looks like so much fun? Well, the Bible says it loud and clear: that void was created by God to be filled with a relationship with Him. 

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water leading to eternal life." 
-John 4:13-14

Take a look in your fanny pack. What have you been stuffing in there? Open it up and open up your heart to the one thing that will satisfy your void and change your life, a personal relationship and friendship with Jesus Christ. No matter how much we have in this life, if we don't know Him, we will always be thirsty, and our fanny packs will always be empty! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

He who suffers

Following up from my last post about suffering through challenges, today my eyes were opened to the magnitude of suffering that was endured before us to make it possible for us to call Christ our Lord and Savior. My eyes were opened to seeing that what we suffer in this life, no matter how big or painful it may seem, will never be as large as the pain Christ endured for our sake.

The most humbling part of the suffering He took at the cross was that He didn't deserve a single ounce of it. He did it for those who betrayed and mocked Him in front of his eyes, for the sins that had been committed before Him and those that were yet to be committed by you and me.

When we suffer, we have the comfort of knowing God is by our side and there will be a purposeful outcome to what we endure. Whether it be a breakthrough in a relationship or character and perseverance we build, we know that God works all things together for our good. Christ purchased that reassurance for us by dying on the cross. Even after His death and resurrection, Christians endured persecution. Everything we have access to today--our salvation, relationship and personal friendship with God and Jesus, membership to the family of Christ, the Bible, His protection and was all purchased through suffering.

Joyce Meyer writes in Battlefield of the Mind: "It isn't our suffering that glorifies God, but a Godly attitude of patience and seeking Him through our suffering that brings Him glory." 

You might think Christ's suffering was worthwhile because He did it for the millions who follow Him today. But the magnitude of lives salvation would be available to was not what made Jesus submit to selflessly dying on a cross. He died for you individually. If you were the only person on earth, He still would have endured the same amount of suffering! He loves us more than we can ever grasp. Use your suffering to bring Him the glory He deserves.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Privileged Club

God has blessed me with many successes and a variety of accomplishments in my life. But from a young age, I have been required to work hard. Most of the time, harder than those around me. I went through a season of frustration because in pageants or job positions, whatever I was competing for at the time, it seemed that I had to exert so much energy and effort to be in the running, but there was always someone who beat me out that seemed to have life handed to them on a silver platter. One of my goals in high school was to be valedictorian of my class. I took a challenging schedule of honors and advanced placement courses and I knew from the start that I was unlike most of my peers who were naturally gifted with intelligence. Mathematical equations and scientific concepts just seemed to flow with ease from them, but it took me hours upon hours of studying and diligence to make my name as a "smart" kid.

In my season of frustration at life's "unfairness," God revealed to me that there is purpose and reason behind every suffering we endure. He began to change my heart--I started to look at the extra challenges in my journey as privileges. I am required to strengthen my faith muscle because there will be heavy lifting along my life's journey I'll do for His kingdom. Don't be discouraged that things don't come easily to you. If it is easy to attain, is it really worth receiving? The things we value most in life require hard work.

So consider yourself part of God's privileged club. He has called you aside and will ask you to do big things in your lifetime. You will need every ounce of strength, perseverance, and character you've gained from the struggles you're facing right this moment.

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come our way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. You know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." 
-James 1:2-4

"Winners aren't always the most talented, but champions put in the most effort. Champions acquire the skills necesary to excel in their profession: they build their foundation of confidence on persistence and overcoming adversity." —Dustin Hillis