Saturday, January 31, 2009

First Things First

Well, here in Arizona we’re gearing up for Superbowl XLIII, and while I’m not really a football fan, who could not be a fan of Kurt Warner? He is a perfect example of how to live out Colossians 3:23: “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

God has given him the position of being a role model to thousands of people and he never seems to pass up a chance to give all the credit and glory to his Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s not a “closet Christian,” nor does he shy away into a more
acceptable form of “spiritualism” by using only the all-encompassing word “God.” He makes no bones that his Lord is Jesus Christ.

Kurt could have been content to live with the blessings that God has given him and just continue to play football. But he has used his position to do more than just play a game. In 2001 he started his charity, “First Things First,” (what he said to a reporter when he first gave God glory for his success) a community outreach where Kurt and his wife, Brenda, and others visit children in hospitals, partner with Special Olympics, serve in homeless shelters during the holidays, provide scholarships to high school and college age people who desire to serve on a missions trip, and a host of other outreaches. You can read about it on his website here.

We may not have the notoriety that Kurt does, but God has placed us where we are to give us the chance to be a godly example and a bold voice for the glory of Jesus, too. That may be in your home, in an office, on a construction site, in school and yep, don't forget your church.

God has gifted each of us as believers, and no matter how young or old or where we find ourselves in life, we can magnify the name of Jesus as we dare to get outside our comfort zones to touch the lives of others with prayer and through our humble, loving examples of Christ.

By tomorrow the game will be history, but our lives in Christ will continue. Will you live yours as Kurt has lived his, laying “up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”? (Matthew 6:20-21)


Sunday, January 25, 2009

The "Be-Attitudes" Part 7


Inasmuch as we have taken a hippopotamus-sized pregnant pause since the last time we looked at the beatitudes, I’ll take a moment to remind you where we were. (You can read the rest of the devotions on the beatitudes here.)

Last time we saw Jesus, seated on a mountain, speaking to the multitudes of people who had gathered to hear Him, saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

We saw that the more we allowed God to purify our hearts of sinful attitudes and habits, the better we would be able to see our God. Walking in the Spirit allows us to know Spirit.

The next precept that Jesus builds upon the last is this: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus was the supreme Peacemaker between the Father and each of us as He hung on the cross. Our sins had separated us from a Holy God. But our redemption dripped from the hands and feet of the Son of God. The veil to the Holy of Holies in the Temple was ripped from top to bottom and we were granted entrance to God Himself. Once redeemed, that reconciliation brought peace to our souls.

The more we see and know God, we will have an increasing desire to walk people whose sins have separated them from God to that Bridge. Now more than ever people need Jesus. All around us there is suffering and pain and death. Are we content to cocoon ourselves in our own little worlds while people around us are blindly trudging through this life, not knowing that Someone has bridged that gap and paid for their sins? Not knowing that a peace awaits them by accepting that supreme payment that was made for them on Calvary?

Who around you is dying in their sins? Pray and ask God to show you who He would have you 1. pray for; 2. show the love of Jesus to; and 3. be bold in your conversation to about Jesus and all He has done for them and how they can know peace through salvation.

The Holy Spirit also brings our spirits peace as He comforts us in our repentance. He is not a grudgeholder, but a peacekeeper. And He comforts us in our trials and sufferings as He gives us a supernatural peace that surpasses all our human understanding.

Likewise, we also are to, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18) This means where forgiveness needs to be given, we are to give it. And when it needs to be asked for, we are to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. And a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit will lead us to seeing when our brothers and sisters in Christ are in need of prayer, which is a spiritual bridge, under which the river of peace flows into their hearts and lives.

The enemy of God is hard at work bringing turmoil into this world and into people’s lives. People are sick, out of work, divorcing, struggling with addiction. We don’t have time to go about our lives, business as usual, focusing only on the temporal: going to work, entertaining ourselves, getting our eight hours and getting up the next day to do it all over again. The spiritual warfare is stepping up, and we need to as well. Does your family need peace; your workplace; an unsaved neighbor? Determine in your heart to be the one through whom God’s peace flows.

As much as we allow ourselves to be used as conduits of peace, we resemble our Father, and will be called the children of God.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rewind-Be Kind

So the Lord and I have this..thing. Well, the Lord and my husband and I have another thing where we’ll walk into a store, the movie theater, anywhere, and many times no one will be in line, so we walk right to the front, and almost immediately afterward there will be a line several people long behind us. Can’t even count how many times that’s happened.

But the thing that the Lord and I have is that more times than not He’ll give me a parking space right up front. Either someone has just left before I pulled around the corner or someone is just coming out and I wait happily while the Lord provides “my spot.” I pull in, smile and tell Him thank you.

But something different happened the other day. As I rounded the corner to start my hunt for a space down the lane, an older man, who was just corralling his shopping cart, looked at me and held up a finger to stop me. I and my eternal optimism thought, “Oh no, what does he want?”

So I cracked the window to find out why in the world he was stopping me. He said that he was just leaving and I could have his spot. Guess where it was? Yep, right up front. Okay, aside from feeling like a bit of a jerk for immediately thinking he was just someone who was going to annoy me, I also felt grateful to know that somewhere, someone still had the decency to go out of their way to be kind. And it was cool that God had found a whole new way of giving me the parking space up front.


Then I started thinking, “When was the last time I went out of my way to show kindness to someone, especially a stranger-unprompted, unasked for, out-of-the-blue kindness?” Hm. It’s been a while. Not exactly my comfort zone to go up to someone I don’t know and initiate conversation. But, as I do every now and then, I will ask God to give me an “assignment,” and show me someone whom I can help. Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to bless someone with my special right-up-front parking space. I’ll get back to you on that one.

"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39)


Monday, January 12, 2009

Healing Through Forgiveness

I am completely blessed and humbled that a fellow blogger and brother in the Lord, Allan, has asked me to write an article, which you can find here, for his blog, More Than Coping, which I link to at the right under Treasured Blogs. His blog is a much-needed one that gives hope and insight and resources regarding all kinds of mental illness, from depression to bi-polar disease to schizophrenia, especially as it pertains to Christians.

Many Christians mistakenly believe that any time a believer suffers with a mental illness it is only because that person is either in sin, isn’t trusting God, or is somehow being punished. Because so many Christians who are dealing with some sort of mental illness run into those kinds of beliefs, even within their own congregations, many times they suffer in silence. More Than Coping lists many churches that don’t ascribe to those mistaken beliefs, where help and counseling can be found. I encourage you to check out his blog even if you aren’t one of the many people who are dealing with a mental illness. Perhaps you have a loved one who does.

I tell this part of my story so that God may be glorified and so that there may be some who will be encouraged to allow God to begin a process of healing in their own hearts through choosing to forgive, even someone who has hurt them deeply. If it’s possible in my life, it’s possible in yours, as well.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Immovable Rock

I’ve just read two news stories in the last few days of extremely wealthy men, billionaires, who have apparently committed suicide. Though the first man had recently lost 100’s of millions of dollars, that still would have left him with more money than I can count. The second man was by all accounts happy and his business was thriving.

I don’t know if these men committed suicide because of recent economic pressures. But I know that riches, the riches that many of us think would make us happy, was not enough to make these men happy. This life is fleeting and so is everything in it. Riches are fleeting, fame is fleeting, and youth most certainly escapes us the moment we become mature enough to appreciate it.

There is only one thing that is not fleeting, and that is the Lord God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We will never lose Him due to economic strife. He will never leave us when we become unpopular. And He will never forsake us when we become old. There is nowhere we can go that He has not already been and has paved a way for us.

And having Him in our lives will not make us only happy, but will bring us a joy that will fulfill us like nothing else on this earth can. We can try to fill up our lives with the temporal, but when we stake our lives on it, we build for ourselves a very precarious house of cards that can come crashing down and our hopes will be dashed.

But building our lives on the Rock of Jesus is no risk. Oh, there are valleys and mountains, pits and cliffs, and deserts and even middle-of-the-ocean-holding-onto-a-life raft experiences, but beneath it all, beneath our feet, is always the Rock. Our Father is for us a firm foundation and we need never be afraid as long as we’re holding onto Him.

Our hope should always be in Him and Him alone. Any other hope is false and fleeting.

“Whoever comes to Me and hears My Words, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a man who built a house and dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock; and a flood occurring, the stream burst against that house and could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock.” (Luke 6:47-48)