Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Simply Devoted

"With what shall I come to the LORD and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:6-8

Listen to the desperation in his voice! How can I please the Lord? Will He be satisfied with thousands of rams? With ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I even present my firstborn? What does this sound like in your life? How can I please Him? If I read my Bible every morning and every night? If I teach Sunday School? Sing on the worship team? Wear skirts and never cut my hair? If I stand in the center of campus and preach from a box? If I give up my job and tote my family to a foreign country? To what extent must I go, in order to please this God?!

Micah lived in a time where God was seen as an unreachable God who watched us suffer in our iniquities, and will not be pleased. Today, although this is a different time with different teachings, there are still those moments in our life when we are found searching for that last bit of service or devotion that will finally make us right with God. I think you knew 3 things, when you read the previous paragraph. You will know that there is nothing wrong with any of those acts of devotion. At the same time, these things are not a checklist for closeness with the Lord. And yet you may also know that at some point in your life you have tried desperately to get right with the Lord through an act like one of these.

Micah's message is that closeness with the Lord is found when we do as He has asked. Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. You will know which of the other, more superficial acts of devotion are necessary because it will be God's specific request to you, made in the quiet moments while you wait on Him.

For more insight, read Charles Swindoll's message.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My True Love

I have found my Jesus to be the happiest Love of my life. He never leaves my side, and best of all, He helps me become better than I am. When the worries of this world distract me, my Jesus will woo me back to Him with a beautiful sunrise or a starry night. He takes extra special attention to make those yellow flowers blossom on the side of the road just so that I will smile when I drive by. He hid my shoes so I would walk to the driveway with my shoes off and feel the grass between my toes- just because He knows how much I love that  He knows exactly what I love, want, like and need, and he spares no expense to delight me!

Like a lover, He gallantly surrenders His life to those who would try to steal mine, just so I would be saved. He sends me love notes and messages via those around me (and the Bible) so I won’t ever forget Him. He holds my hand when I’m lost and brings me close when I’m scared. When I am so distraught I am bewildered and do not know what to do, He gently calls my name, puts His arms around me and carries me to the place I belong.

The Colors of this Journey

Like the pretty but common flower we call a carnation, my life is very nearly cookie cutter shaped. I was raised in a Christian home, and went to church, got saved, and was baptized at all the right times. I love God with all my heart, I obey my parents, I am a friend to those in need. All who know me speak well of me, I truly dislike no one, and am oblivious to any unkind word. My only fault is to assume all people in the world are good, and thus I am very trusting. I have very few trials; I skip through each day with bliss and happiness. My life is PINK.

After a heavy rain, it is easy to find small pools of murky brown water. Standing water, with no purpose but to mix with the dirt and mud below, is what we call a puddle. Such is my life now. Many doors are opening, like floodgates, to introduce the dirt and grime of this fallen world into my life. I am learning selfishness, and vanity. I am also learning expletives, and innuendos. In an attempt to keep my head above the flood of worldly humor and relationships, I am teaching myself to tread water with the rest. I am still seen as a “good girl” in my workplace and school, but as I allow this dirt into my life it begins to pool and settle in places I did not notice. My life is becoming bland and passionless. My nights were filled with confusion; my days, distracting jubilee. I tried not to think, because when I did, it seemed so evident to me that there was something missing, that there had to be more I hadn’t found yet. My life is BROWN.

Like in the dead of night, with no moon or stars, I have come to a place where I cannot get up, and I cannot get out. I am stuck, and completely useless as a tool for my Maker to use. I have tried on my own to escape this pit, but the more I try, the farther I slide back in. My life is BLACK.

“You’ve learned where wisdom is SUPPOSED to come from in times of need, but hasn’t it been long enough? Haven’t you tried hard enough? Why do you still stare into the darkness, looking for guidance that you’re just not good enough to get. You don’t have faith strong enough to be led by the Holy Spirit, trust me!”

When I close my eyes and search my soul I see only darkness, like I am lost in this world. Then, in the distance, I catch a glimpse of a light that is so faint I am sure I imagined it. With my hearts eyes I sought it out, squinting against the pressuring darkness to see if this flicker of light was truly there. I sit quietly, yearning for the light to come and show me the way. I see it again, and this time it remains! So small, and easily missed, it burns steadily, bringing me hope for my life. I am sure I have never seen anything quite so beautiful, even at such a great distance. As I reach out to it, the light comes nearer, and grows brighter and stronger. Warmth is covering my body and a song is rising in my heart, Hallelujah, He is coming! As the light is gaining on me, I can see a figure, from which the light is emanating. Soon I can feel myself completely enveloped in this wondrous light, and I can stand again! The way is made clear and the bondages of this world have disappeared. Without restraint, I run to my Savior, into His arms just to thank Him. I can do nothing, for I AM nothing, and yet, He loves me enough to seek me out and set me free. I am new, and full of life yet again. Monotony is gone from my sight. I do not blend in any longer! I AM WHITE.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17

New Life. That is what I am. Like the small sprout in the ground, such a fresh green, needing quite a bit of growth and nurturing, pruning and rain. God has saved me and made me whole, I am His, and now I must pursue Him on my own. No longer can it be my family’s religion, or my parents faith. It is MY relationship, in which *I* must put in the effort and *I* must maintain. I am not perfect, and I am not complete, but Christ has made me holy, and the Counselor (Holy Spirit) is bringing me closer and closer to being perfect (“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Cor 7:1). I am growing, I am changing, I am becoming more like Christ and less like the person I left in the mud puddle. I am a new creation. I am GREEN.

This is a telling of my spiritual journey, and it was not something that could be seen from the outside. I am sharing it with you in hopes that God might use it to bless you or impact your life in some way.

What is this world?!

Once upon a time, there was a world that did not know Love, moved too fast for Beauty, longed for Peace but didn’t know where it was, erased the line between Good and Evil, and persecuted all those that sought to change it. In this world resided a young girl who was raised with a firm belief in the existence of all these wonderful things her world had lost, and her family desired for their daughter to experience them. She learned to guard her heart against the poison that had numbed the hearts of the world to Love. She trained her eyes to pause and seek out Beauty in unsuspecting places. She found Peace in her Father’s arms and His home was a sanctuary for her. She used His guidelines to rediscover morality. Although she tried to surround herself with friends who believed in these wonderful things, she found many of them to only say they believed without the faith to pursue them. She will be called Lamb, for she was never without a shepherd.