Saturday, February 16, 2013

Time for Change

This blog is moving from the "Blogger" site over to Word Press.  You will be receiving an invitation to sign up.  It is called "Faith Messages."  Nothing will change in the messages I send, just a new look and better opportunities at Word Press.  I hope you will continue this journey with me over at the new site.

I appreciate every single reader!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dream Killers

Whenever the seed of a dream is planted in our hearts, we can expect certain things to happen.  In addition to our own doubts, fears and uncertainties, there is a significant chance of running into dream killers.

Joseph knew this all too well.  God gave him a dream and he shared it.  Now there is some debate as to whether or not he should have kept quiet about it. 

But I believe it was ordained for him to speak it.  And yes, I believe those dream killers were necessary for the fulfillment of it. 

Think about it.  If Joseph had never been sold into slavery and ended up in Egypt, his family might have starved to death from the plague that eventually came.  Or think about everything that transpired afterward, how Moses was born and ended up delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians.

The story didn’t end with Joseph’s dream killers. In fact, that’s when it really began, because God was able to use the dream killers to fulfill His plan.

Could God have worked everything out another way?  He certainly could have.  But rarely is the fulfilling of a dream an easy one.  If it was, we wouldn’t call it a dream…it would be something else.

The point is that we look at dream killers as obstacles, when they very well could be the path to His plan.  The story of our lives can be a complicated tapestry of mistakes, doing things right, being on the mountaintop, dwelling in the valley, walking with strength and falling in defeat.

It’s like this thread that God weaves in our lives.  At times it makes sense.  It all looks beautiful. 

Then other times it gets all knotted up, much like the back of my cross-stitch projects.  It’s a total mess.  But it’s the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad, which creates the story of our lives…including the dreams God has planted in our hearts. 

Dream killers come in all forms.  It could be as it was with Joseph’s brothers, jealousy.  It may be past mistakes being thrown in your face, whether that comes from others or from within. 

The enemy may be whispering lies in your ears.  Those who are closest to you don’t seem to be giving the support you expected. 

Maybe it’s time to stop looking at dream killers as something that stands in your way.  Look at them as part of the tapestry of your life and recognize that even in the midst of a mess, God can create something beautiful. 

Photo by imaspy in stock.xchng

Friday, January 25, 2013

From the Inside Out

There’s a Christian swear word that most of us would like to avoid being called.  Are you ready for it?  It’s this…Pharisee.

It’s pretty clear in the gospels what Jesus thought about Pharisees.  So I would guess that none of us would want to be seen as one.

But what makes someone a Pharisee?  Is it the believer who focuses on religion, dismissing the need for relationship?  Is it someone who follows a checklist of dos and don’ts?  Is it a law follower?

Well something struck me one day when I was reading Matthew 23:26, “Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

No, Jesus wasn’t given a lesson on the proper way to wash dishes.  He was talking about the inward and outward behaviors and attitudes. 

In other words, instead of trying to focus on the outside, what we do and how we look to others…we need to be more concerned about the inside, our heart.  This has become my “theme” for the year 2013.

I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon but I have sought the Lord for a word, phrase or theme to live by every New Year.  In 2012 the word He clearly gave me was intentional.

This year he led me to a theme, allowing Him to work from the inside out.  You see, there have been behaviors that I’ve tried to change.  Yet the inward stuff wasn’t getting dealt with and so that has been the reason for the lack of progress.

He began to show me that nothing on the outside can change unless the inside is addressed first.  Somehow I have a feeling this isn’t going to be fun.  But it is necessary.

Maybe you can relate…trying to change outward behaviors without asking the Lord to deal with the inner workings of our heart.  If we truly want the outside of our “cups” to be clean, then we need to allow for a cleansing what’s within.

Photo above by jessicafm in Flickr

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Those Broken Places

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door…(Revelation 3:20, ESV). 

We oftentimes think of that moment when the Lord stands before the door of our heart and knocks, giving us the opportunity to let Him in and or keep Him out.  Although this can apply to the moment of salvation, I believe it’s not the only time He knocks on our heart’s door.

There are other moments in which He stands and knocks at the broken places of our heart.  The question becomes, will we allow Him access or not?

You see, we are all broken.  None of us are whole.  If we were, then we wouldn’t need the Lord. 

Yet the places of brokenness vary for each person.  The same is true for the degree of brokenness.

Sometimes what is broke is more visible to the world; we can’t seem to hide it.  But there are other places of brokenness buried so deep, that the only person who knows about it is you.  Not even our closest loved ones know the depth of that pain.

Something I have learned in the past several years of walking with the Lord, is that when it comes to brokenness, we don’t always know its there.  We fail to recognize it and I tend to believe that it’s because the Lord knows we aren’t ready to deal with it.  He may have to fix one area before He can work on the next. 

And oftentimes what happens is we get discouraged.  We feel like no progress is being made.  But you can’t rush the process of healing and restoration.  There will come a time for that and it won’t be here on earth.

I am learning to welcome those broken places of my heart.  Not because I enjoy the process of dealing with those areas—it hurts.  But I know that when those areas are exposed, it means Jesus is standing at the door of that place of brokenness and He is asking, “Will you let me in?” 

It means it’s time to do some work.  He doesn’t knock just to make me aware.  He knocks to piece it all back together.

Photo by CarbonNYC in Flickr

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christian Labels

I don’t care for labels to be thrown around in Christian circles.  Some of the more common ones are “prayer warrior,” “hero,” “leader” and “anointed.” 

It’s not that there is something wrong with those words and the meaning behind them.  In fact, they could very well partly comprise the makings of a believer.  But they aren’t the whole person and that’s where I think the mistake is oftentimes made.

When we are given labels, suddenly there is the pressure to live up to it.  But it can also carry with it a sense of superiority. 

Humility should be the core of a believer.  Yet it’s sometimes tough to live it out, especially when you are receiving accolades from others.

I remember one time a friend telling me that because her son was on the worship team, he had to set a good example.  After all, he was a “leader.”  But he’s no different than the teenager who sits in the pew. 

We all have to set a good example.  Of course, one person’s sphere of influence might be greater than another.  That doesn’t change the fact we are all called to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

I think it comes down to this…has your life become nothing more than a label?  Do you make decisions based on living up to that?  Or it is about the person of Jesus Christ living inside of you? 

Photo by ilco in stock.xchng

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Are You Who You Want to Be?

There is a song by the group “Switchfoot” that I absolutely love.  It’s called, “This Is Your Life.” 

It speaks of how quickly time goes by and how you only have today.  The chorus asks a profound question:  “This is your life, are you who you want to be?”

It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves, no matter our age or what stage of life we are in.  This is your life.  Take a look around you.  This is the life you have been given. 

You might have wanted something different.  It might not have turned out the way you expected or hoped for.  But this is your life.

With that understanding, now you need to ask yourself, with what you have been given…with what you have today, are you who you want to be?  Notice the question isn’t, “Would you change your life?”  But it’s essentially would you change you?

We are about to embark on a brand New Year.  Forget the “New Year’s Resolutions.”  Those are made to be broken.  Instead, put your life into the hands of the One who created it and gave it to you.  Yes, the good and the bad.

Nothing comes as a surprise to the Lord.  It all gets filtered through His holy hands.  So if that’s true, no matter what you faced this past year and no matter what is before you, there is nothing to fear. 

There is much you can’t change and won’t be able to change.  About the only real control you have is over yourself.  So again, I ask…are you who you want to be?  And if not, what steps can you take to become that person?

Photo above by nem_youth in stock.xchng

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Power in the Name

Mass shootings, some involving young children.

Military action against hostile forces.

Fallen church leaders.

Sudden and unexpected deaths leaving families to grieve.   

All of this in just the last few weeks, with some of it touching me personally and some of it affecting me from a distance.  Merry Christmas?

It causes me to look even deeper into the story of Christmas.  The babe in the manger, innocence wrapped up by a blanket. 

I lean over and take a peek into the eyes of a newborn that will one day carry the weight of all this and so much more.  The sin of this world.  My sin.  Your sin. 

And I breathe out the beautiful name of “Jesus.”  I don’t see just a baby any longer.  No, I see power.  Power in the name of the one who is being held in the arms of a new mother. 

When life seems unbearable and the pain too deep, there is only one word that I need to say.  There is just one word that holds all the power we need…Jesus.

And yes, I can now say with renewed hope and joy in my heart…MERRY CHRISTMAS!