I would like to have the Lenten Special, please.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~ Psalm 73:25-26
The season of Lent precedes Easter, which is known as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Lent is a 40 day period prior to Easter day.
Traditionally people “give up” certain things during the Lent period. Usually a person will “give up” something they really like. It usually is a habit of some sort, and it really depends on the person. I really have a sweet tooth; but, have to have something salty to get the sweet taste out of my mouth…hahahaha!
Lent is not about a deprivation of our selfish habits…the ones we mostly partake for our personal gratification. Lent is a season of self-examination. During this period of self-examination we are called as Christians to examine how we “nourish” our bodies…as members of the body of Christ. It’s about how we nourish our hearts. It’s about how we focus on Jesus, who gives us strength.
My pastor said, “It’s like a spiritual test of where your heart is. Your heart is where your treasure is. Is it focused on “me” [self], or is it focused on Jesus?”
It’s human nature to want to focus on ourselves. I’m extremely guilty of this. In fact, I tend to focus on things that I may have regretted doing wrong or I may focus on good things that I feel have gone unnoticed. Either way, my focus is on “me”, and not Him. I focus on things that don’t give me true life.
There are also some who may focus on the things I’ve done wrong, and are really good at pointing them out to me, and sometimes to others. It’s not like I live in a box. I know I’m a sinner! Most of the time, I actually regret doing a lot of the things I do. But, something that I tend to forget, and need constant reminding of, is that there is no condemnation in Christ! Only others, or my miserable self, may accuse of past, or present things.
Lent can also be a time to be a part of community; to be a part of others–who have a commonality of fixing their eyes on Jesus.
That’s really the goal isn’t it? To fix our eyes on Jesus. To understand that this beautiful gift from God, His only Son, is not just for ourselves but to be shared with others…with no strings attached.
Lent is a time to extend ourselves to others. Extending not to just those who are impoverished, but, those that are older in age, those that may need comforting (for whatever reason), and to the sick and weary. We should extend ourselves to those in our broken world; to be His messengers of love and mercy. Our extension of ourselves should bear the very image of God.
Giving of oneself can be tough; but, there is a high return on the satisfaction odometer. Giving of oneself can be like a ripple effect. Those that take His Light out into the world of others–do so because they take delight in this action, not because it’s “dutiful”. It becomes a celebration that ripples out into the world.
I know that there is a lot more to Lent. I could write pages on Lent. Lent is not only about self-examination, it’s a plethora of practicality of sorts. Some of it’s about focusing on our faults; some of it’s about repenting; some of it’s about extending ourselves to others; but, it’s mainly about keeping our eye on the prize of Christ Jesus. He is the Author & Creator–the Finisher of the story of our lives.
During this season, what will you be serving up for your Lenten Special?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this is not from ourselves, it is a gift of God…” ~ Ephesians 2:8
Who determines if one is strong or not? No one should determine other’s strengths or weaknesses. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, knowing that God has a plan for us. Every struggle in your life shapes you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger…strong enough!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13
Many of us have felt great guilt from the brokenness of our past, and present, struggles. We feel, or have felt, that we just have to live under a dark cloud. Through Christ, He became our answer for our brokenness. It was His sacrificial love for us that gives us strength to carry on past our struggles.
For some of us, the healing and restoration from life’s struggles are needed to rightly see God. This kind of healing is available through the power of God who makes us stronger. It may take some time to let those old idols go; but, one may consider the work of the Holy Spirit to heal those wounds—if we let him.
Despite our struggles in life, we can have confidence in knowing that Jesus suffered and died for us. We can now find restoration and resurrection through him…and all from the hand of God.
We all know that our struggles can wreak havoc within us. They often leave us feeling like we are living in a world of tangled hangers. Sometimes it’s hard to straighten them out without some kind of help. While straightening up the “hangers” in our life, they may allow us to find support and comfort from others. Instead of regretting all of our struggles, we should be thankful when God puts others into our lives to help us.
One important question we may have is…does God care that we suffer? Does He enjoy watching us as we fall down? Of course not.
God knows that we suffer. On our worst day, we are never alone. Jesus is by our side. Our faith declares that God, our Father, sent His only Son to suffer at the hand of others. He came into our world to deliver us from evil and give us a future and a hope.
How then does Jesus know about our path of struggles? Within our faith we have learned how the only Son of the living God encountered real temptations. We know that Jesus overcame those temptations by using His Father’s words…scriptures. We have read where Jesus suffered at the hands of family and friends. We know that His suffering became worse the closer he got to achieving His goal—to save our souls.
God knows that we are weak and He urges us to pray to Him, dare I say cry out to Him, so that we would be better equipped not to succumb to temptation. Something happens to us when we take our struggles to the Father. He transforms us, and gives us strength and courage to do things we never thought possible. Even in the midst of our struggles, we can rise up to most challenges. God would not bring us to our struggles, if He could not bring us through our struggles. Don’t get off the beaten path, take the path to Jesus… often times the path less traveled.
Finally, I’m reminded of a song by Matthew West, that got him a Grammy award nomination. It’s called “Strong Enough” and parts of it is as follows:
“You must think I’m strong…
To give me what I’m going through…
Forgive me if I’m wrong; but this looks like more than I can do on my own.
…Maybe that’s the point; to reach the point of giving up.
Cause when I’m finally…at rock bottom.
That’s when I start looking up and reaching out.
Cause I’m broken down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to one thing
You are God and you are strong when
I am weak
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,
and i don’t have to be strong enough
I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up. I’m not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me.
Lord right now I’m asking you to be…Strong enough.”
God does know that we suffer and that we needed someone to give meaning and hope beyond our suffering. Jesus Christ was sent to enter into our world to deliver us from evil. He gives us hope when we draw near to Him. Jesus’ suffering lasts beyond the cross to the wonder and glory of the resurrection. He is the Suffering Christ whose grace and mercy has saved us from our struggles today! He makes us strong enough to carry on.
Strength to Carry On
I have been thinking, and trying to pinpoint, on how to express myself on the particular topic of strength. Some kinds of strength are good. After all, it is a reflection of God Himself, and He said this is a good thing. But, I think some strength, if misused, can be hurtful. It does not have to necessarily have to be physical strength (like tackling someone to the ground); it can be as little as a look of disapproval.
Certain strengths have the potential to become an intimidating misuse of power over another person. I think it is important to know, that if gone unnoticed, strength could get out of hand and end up hurting others (like a form of bullying). My disclaimer is that I have taken part, and we probably all have taken part in a misuse of power some time or another. I myself can be rather dominating and/or manipulating. It is a control thing. It’s the power within me thinking that I can fix things on my own…instead of truly turning things over to God. I have finally realized that can become a misuse of power that I frequent.
I think that it is God’s desire for us to use our positive strength to lead our families; like the Sanctus Real song says, “To stand up for them when they can’t”. To be a wall…a somewhat pillar of strength. God’s own characteristics include strength & tenderness; respect & forgiveness through His grace & mercy. Only God can be the true judge of our life.
If we are truly made in God’s image, then we must have a desire to gain those characteristics—to be strong and loving.
There is nothing wrong with being physically strong, if one acts in an appropriate manner. I guess I am trying to say that maybe a better strength to “workout” for–would be the strength that comes from the heart. Reading the Bible, worshiping, taking part in a community are all great ways to strengthen your heart.
Strength looks different for different people. It could be a silent strength, verbal strength, strong- heroic type strength, being protective and gentle for the abused, or even having the strength to be humble.
In Genesis, we find out that Eve was very manipulative. Granted, she probably could not have wrestled Adam into eating the apple; instead, she used her verbal strength and tempted him in this way. Although, Adam had been informed of this particular tree prior to Eve being created; he chose to remain silent, or passive. Adam could have spoken up and said something to warn Eve about not eating from this tree. Eve obviously did not understand the importance of not eating the apple from the tree. She insisted, to Adam, that the serpent was telling the truth…so they ate from the tree, and we know the rest of the story.
Eve using her verbal strength to tempt Adam led to his passiveness…which led to other problems; for instance, violence followed once they began procreating. This violence started between brothers and definitely became a misuse of power and strength. I believe many have seen this kind of power misused at some point in their life. This type of strength does not discriminate!
I also believe that we have the capability to misuse our own strength of power at times. We are all sinners! An extreme misuse of this strong power can be destructive for all involved.
So why do people misuse their power?
Maybe their “good” strength was ignored, or shamed, by someone. Maybe their insecurities lead to their downfall. Maybe wanting the other person to change encouraged manipulation of others…which is a misuse of power.
I am guilty of this sin. My idol of controlling outcomes of others is one of my gross misuses of power.
God was proud of Jesus. He claimed Him as His son, and said He loved Him. Affirmation is really important! Although men and women like different kinds of affirmation, that does not mean to ignore each other because of the differences. We all feel that we don’t measure up. We are all insecure at one time or another—made vulnerable. For some, the vulnerability might come from past abuse; belittling could be happening presently. Finally, some are scared of what the future has in store for them. Will I be made fun of because of my lack of _?_ (fill in your own blank).
Abuse is a type of strength that is blatantly misused. It comes in many forms. It could be words spoken, or not. It could mean being aggressive physically, or passive emotionally (not being protected). It could be getting fired for something that one did not do—maybe simply because you’re too old. It can also come as sexual abuse. This type of abuse can have many levels of abuse: from harsh words spoken to the extreme of being beaten, or even worse things that I don’t really care to mention.
Sometimes rather than being a strong leader, we give in to our fears and insecurities. Sometimes, we are just plain jealous of other’s strengths. I know this all too well. Sometimes, I am more concerned about what people think of me, rather than worrying about how I am alienating God. I also get caught up in wanting something that I really don’t need and may want to coerce someone out of it…or want them to give it to me. It doesn’t have to be a material object; it could be as much as wanting protection, love, and respect.
When a person lashes out physically, or verbally, they feel as if they have some kind of strength (or power); but, in essence, it is not genuine strength. It is hurtful, and it might be considered bullying. Again, this could stem from their own insecurity or weakness.
This is not always true; but, some may have a deep rooted insecurity that they may not even be aware of within themselves. I will say nothing really justifies bullying, or being manipulative of others. It is very hurtful to those that are on the receiving side.
Loving accountability must take place to help achieve the goal of healing from misused strength. This can be done through community; such as with a church, some peers, or a strong group of friends. Loving accountability must also take place to help one not to misuse their “weak” strength. Both types of accountability need love and encouragement.
I will say that pointing out the misuse of power of another will usually not help. Often times, it will make things worse. Learning to love boldly would be most helpful in this situation. Dan Allender uses an example of telling a story/example so that another may see their misuse in character. It’s like a mirror; thus, one could see the reflection of their action. This may allow them to see how they are truly behaving.
The act of “loving boldly” does not always work. One may have a change of the symptom, but not of the heart. To love someone boldly takes some practice. For one thing, the mirror would have to be turned one self first before reflecting the mirror on the other person.
Good strength, or power, can lead to good things. Just look what Christ did for us so that we could live. It took great strength, courage, and forgiveness to be able to do what He did. I could never really fathom what He did at all. It was the greatest heroic act that has ever taken place.
Knowing that there is freedom in Christ, the heart will need to go under a complete restoration. One might begin with being less self-centered. I struggle with this quite often as well with many other idols. I may think that it is all about me. How I am feeling? I may not always take into consideration how the other person may be feeling, or what pain I may be causing to them.
One thing that needs to take place for restoration to occur may be admitting that a change needs to take place…especially in one’s heart. If you can’t admit your weaknesses, it will be almost impossible for restoration to take place. Blaming others will not make a change in the heart.
Now some may say that the other is too sensitive. Of course there may be times when one can be too sensitive. If others continually make others feel that they are too sensitive; then, it’s possible that the weakness of the one pointing out may hurt others.
Now a misuse of power can take place within one self. One can blame them self or have a self loathing of self due to guilt and shame. All of this can lead up to the misuse of power within one self, and will usually get worse.
There will be times that one may tell their self that another person may be the problem, and that the other person needs to get the help. This could be an excuse which seems to cover the true problem…maybe the problem is within them. Literally, the misuse of power can’t be seen by the person abusing it.
Surrendering and/or confessing your misused strength to Christ is essential. It is important to acknowledge what you have done to hurt others, and it is important to ask God for forgiveness; but, it must be sincere.
When talking with another be genuine, and give many details. This allows the other person to know that one is truly sorry. Being humble is good when it’s sincere.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Luke).
Let God love and forgive those that misused strength. His grace and mercy should be all consuming. One must accept the fact that God can use a restored heart to further His Kingdom, despite one’s weaknesses–past or present or even future.
Again, responsibility and accountability should take place. This is one of the first steps to restoration of misused strength. It is not just enough to say sorry; but, to truly understand why. To tell the other that one is sorry, and act upon it, is a great strength. Those that take responsibility will take their consequence and learn from it to become a restored person.
Now understand that restoration may not always occur; but, when one realizes their sinful nature, the process can begin to take place. One must learn to put off “your old self” so that one can “put on the new self. To know that we are created to be like God”. (Ephesians)
God wants to bring true healing; but, it can’t happen without humility. If one continues down the wrong path they might become self-destructive, or may be the root of someone else becoming self-destructive. Being humble does not mean to let others run all over them; but, to just stop misusing the strength that God has given.
One must become totally broken and surrender to Him. God is for the brokenhearted and He will make the heart new. We are sufficient in His grace, and He finds strengths in our weaknesses; thus, we will be given strength to carry on. The kind of strength to carry on restoration due to grace, love, and humility.
“…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31
We will have the strength to carry on…with the Son, and through the Son. Power will be given to the weak, and make us strong!
Another Brick in the Wall
It is that time of year…getting close to high school graduation. There is a lot of excitement, anticipation, and relief that leads up to and follows this important milestone in life. When I checked the mail today,we received an invitation to one such event. My mind wandered and I couldn’t help but to remember my high school graduation…many, many years ago.
I was thinking about how we voted for “Most Likely to Succeed”, “The Funniest”, and of course the “Class Song”. It seems our class was a little divided at the time on what should be the class song. There were several who wanted Pink Floyd’s, “Another Brick in the Wall” and others that wanted the theme song to Lavergne and Shirley, “Making Our Dreams Come True”. I will tell which one was chosen in a bit.
Today, while I was laying in my hammock, I was listening to the K-Love radio station, and Natalie Grant‘s song “Human” came on. All at once all of these emotions and thoughts came swirling into my head. They were actually interrupting my hammock time; therefore, I got up and thought I should write this before I forgot some important points…because I am getting to the age that I forget lots of things.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, Natalie Grant’s song. I have heard this song many times; but, I don’t think it ever made as big impression on me as it did today. I am including part of the lyrics because it leads up to a thought I had.
Natalie Grant’s “Human“
Every life has a choice to rise up to fill the void.
Every heart has a mission and we are called to be human.
We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one chance to make a difference.
We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one life that we’ve been given.
A little love, a little kindness, a little light in this time of darkness.
It’ll be what makes us different. It’ll be what makes us human.
I’m human, you’re human, we are human.
We are marked with His image and we are scarred with indifference.
Maybe now we should listen; hear the cry of God‘s children.
It’ll be what makes the difference. It’ll be what makes us human.
Wow! Isn’t this wonderful that God has given us life, we are made in His image, and we all have a chance to make a difference…because we are human. Will it hurt us show a little love and kindness toward others? What about those (like me) who have sinned? What about those who have been sinned against due to sexual abuse,domestic violence, addiction, or maybe made fun of because they are different? Would it hurt us to give a little of His Light to shine in a time of darkness for others?
Survivors, of any type of brokenness, often seek answers to spiritual questions from non-spiritual sources. Most often this happens because they have been pushed away by people who said they were Christians (like me). I am guilty of raining down on someone rather than being a ray of sunshine. Sometimes pushing one away is easier than acknowledging the pain that another may have experienced. This may cause more wounds which prolongs the healing process. Sometimes the scarring for the survivor covers much of their body, and they may begin to hide their goodness deep inside.
You know I claim to be an okay Christian, but guess what? I sin and make mistakes all the time. I’M HUMAN! I don’t always reach out when I should. But, on the flip side, I am also a survivor. In some ways, we all are survivors of some sort of battle that may be unbeknown to us.
Because we are human we are in constant battle with the prince of darkness, and we need to remember to put on the full armor of God for protection. God provides us with many pieces of armor; but, the belt of truth is an important place to start.
The definition of “truth” is the state of being sincere, in accordance with fact and/or reality. We all desire to know the truth…especially His truth. We want to know that His mercy and grace is real no matter what secret we may have. We want to know that we will not be rejected by Him even when our past comes to Light in this present darkness.
Others may claim that they understand what you have been through and how you feel– even though they may have never been through anything like that. But, remembering that we are all human, each of our experiences are unique to us and the situation. We all have a certain degree of understanding of each other’s pain. Nobody’s experiences should be taken lightly.
Being human, we all have many different strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that co-habiting in this world together, we are able to share them with each other. Unfortunately, some may not appreciate other’s weaknesses over their own strengths…but that usually means they may be overlooking their own weakness.
I believe God places people in our lives to help bring out these strengths. Sometimes, others may have to work hard to bring them out…more like pulling, and sometimes it can be as little as a word of encouragement, or prayer. I will say that establishing a trusting relationship can help; but not always necessary. Either way, one can make a difference in another person’s life by doing as little as random acts of kindness.
Know that “Trust can take years to build, but only a second to break.” When trust is broken one, or both parties, may feel that they have been betrayed. A person can be good, and still betray the matter of someone’s heart; for instance, look at Peter denying Christ.
Betrayal is devastating; but, when those you thought to love you betray your trust…the pain is always worse!
When we become wounded we want to retreat and hide rather than facing our fears. We become (pardon the cliche’) “another brick in the wall.” That is where the darkness wants us to hide. He wants us to join him in the wall just blending and having no confidence. The darkness begins to make the wound worse by telling us lies. He wants us to crumble and fall.
This was when I began thinking about Pink Floyd’s song and thinking…in a way we could use the words of his song as a rebuke to Satan. Think about it, we could change the lyrics to make our rebuke.
“…We don’t need no thought control! We don’t need your sarcasm!” So, Satan leave those who are wounded alone! All and all, you are nothing compared to Him. “All and all, you are just another brick in the wall!”
“When someone betrays you, it can become their problem as well because they probably betrayed their own conscience.” Being wounded we must go to God to cry out for healing; but, there comes a time to go back to the betrayer and confront them. Time doesn’t heal all wounds; so, if we don’t act “quickly'”, we give Satan a foothold causing the wound to fester. The only thing that really heals wounds is the soothing salve of His forgiveness.
This led me to think about the Gimble/Fox song “Making Our Dreams Come True” We could take the words of this song to make new matters of our heart. “Nothing’s gonna turn us back now. Straight ahead and on the track now. We’re gonna make our dreams come true. Doin’ it our way.”
BTW, if you were wondering what became our class song, it was “Making Our Dreams Come True” by Gimble and Fox. We took a chance and made it. Go ahead and take a chance trying to make dreams come true. But, instead of “doin’ it our way”, how about we try doin’ it His way!
His way is to put on His full armor of protection, and not let those words of deceit pierce us when we are wounded. We should try being a little “human” and make a difference in the life of others. Don’t be “another brick in the wall”! Allow His Light to shine through you by showing a little love and kindness on someone’s brick in the wall!
As You Wish…Broken For You
I definitely seem to be in a battle of Spiritual warfare. It seems Satan is always trying to make me feel worthless; therefore, it’s important for me to surround myself with a “friend that loveth at all times.” Knowing that, I am far from being a good friend; I can definitely get wrapped up in “my own little world”.
I was thinking about this on a bit deeper level. There are people in my life who are more like acquaintances. They have really not touched the inner core of my personal being, and I seem to be able to carry on a nice casual conversation. I thought this funny that I could meet a stranger, whom I will never see again, and greet them with a certain nicety.
On the flip side, there are a few that I regard as trusted confidants; those that seem to “loveth me at all times”…even during my bad times. I am sure I catch them off guard with my “irrational” emotions. I can only imagine being my friend can be rather taxing at times. I definitely have a funny way of showing loving kindness on certain occasions. In the midst of trying to understand, or confront, my own emotions–I seemingly confront them emotionally & not always rationally.
One moment I can be positively nice, and in the next moment, I can confront them with some insidious remark. I will say this is not a normal practice of mine. Yes, I may say something totally ludicrous; but, not always hurtful. I make no excuses for this behavior when it occurs. I must be sincere in asking for forgiveness when this happens.
…Switching gears with my ADD thinking…
God tries to confront me with His goodness. Sometimes I consider Him to be “interrupting me”, and not think Him to be very important. I am not always thankful for His “interruption” in my life. Like my unwanted emotions on others, it “seems” as though God confronts me at unpredictable times.
On the other hand there seems to be times that I am encountering loneliness, heartache, and pain. During these instances in my life, it “seems” to me that God is not “interrupting” me at all. In fact, I feel as if He is ignoring me.
I have to realize that it’s not because God wants me to “suffer”; but, that He wants me to know that He has an “unimaginable” pleasure–for me. His grace and mercy covers me in these dark times. His arms are wrapped around me. I just have to keep that in mind, and not think that He is trying to “trick me”.
Satan tricks. GOD DOES NOT!
I am reminded of a quote that Westly tells Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride”,
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Again, God really does love me! He is not trying to “sell” me something. He loves me unconditionally! In return, God desires for me to come to Him, and tell Him I love Him. He is filled with great joy and happiness when I do so. He is not out to “trick” me.
My husband, Sam, had me listen to a message by Jamie Lash one afternoon. It reminded me of how I sometimes think God is “interrupting” my day. That His will for me may be “interrupting” what I desire for myself.
After listening to one of Jamie’s messages, a lady stayed behind to ask him a question. She was obviously, like many, afraid to abandon herself to God’s will. She asked Jamie, “What might God want me to do with my life?” She was worried that He might want her to do something that she really did not want to do…or that was not her will for herself.
Jamie went on to ask her, “What if your child was to come up to you, and say that he/she really loved you with all of her/his heart. Would you, in turn, laugh an insidious laugh and say, ‘I got you now! From now on you will clean the toilet every day! I finally tricked you!”
The lady was offended and said, “What kind of mom do you think I am?”
Jamie’s response was, “What kind of Father do you think God is?”
WOW! Through my brokenness, God reveals His goodness to me…even when I think He is “interrupting” my will. This is great news!! “No matter what my experiences have been with my “earthly” parents, or as parents to our children, we are to give voice to the cry within us for the Father who nourishes us and protects us.” (Dan Allender, “The Cry of the Soul”)
I think it very ironic that my experiences of pain, fear, anger, & shame (of the world I live in) actually bring me closer to the joys and mercies of God. This is the way He intended for me to really live. God delights in me! He desires me to “dance with Him wildly”. He goes to great lengths to keep me from pursuing others before Him. He wants me to desire Him as if there were no other lover. I need to remember how intimate He is…with me. I am His bride like no other.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,
who for joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…”
~ Hebrews 12:2
Christ is not trying to “sell” me something, or even “trick” me. Above all things, Christ bared my shame, so I could live in joy! The least I could do is praise Him with adoration, and not confront Him with irrational emotions.
After all, He was nailed on the cross and He did not laugh an insidious laugh. Instead He said to me,
“As you wish, my Beloved! My will be done. I became Broken for you!”
Be Passionate! Have Hope!
“God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces.”
Only when we become passionate about dealing with our painful experiences can a deep healing take place that we desperately desire. There is hope in healing, and hope leads to freedom. Freedom will come when we have faith to trust in Him. Truth is our hope is found in Christ; but, lack of faith can stand in the way of our passion to heal.
Ultimately the truth is that it is not within our power to always run the race, and to go the distance by ourselves. We will fail, every one of us, alone. That is why we need the Author and Finisher of our faith, the One who is able to keep us from falling. With His help we can go the distance gaining the prize of His life—that He died for our sins so that we could live. Christ fulfilled what we could not see.
If the Gospel brings about true freedom, or I like to think “free to be me”, then in essence His message brings us hope. Not just for today, but for the future of His Kingdom. One of my Pastors told me that, “God’s grace gives us freedom from despair and pride.” Truth is, that we can have hope to “carry on”, if we let His grace free us of our idols of our sinful nature.
Finally, I was thinking about a J.R.R. Tolkien poem:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
I was thinking about how Christ did not much look like a King during His reign on Earth; in fact, he probably had similarities to that of a ranger. The only crown Jesus wore was a crown of thorns. But through the Gospel we find hope. We learn the truth of God’s mercy, grace, and justice. Knowing all of these things, we should be able to seek His Kingdom—where the crownless again shall be King…of all Kings.
Be passionate! Have hope! Truth and freedom came and He will come again. Hallelujah!
Blizzards and Freeze Tag
During one of my pastor’s recent sermons, Tom Gibbs, he brought up how farmers in the Midwest would place a rope on their door that led out to their animals in the barn. During extreme weather (like blizzards) the farmers would use a rope to get to their barn to take care of their animals, and then use the same rope to help them return to the safety of their home.
On occasion, a farmer might be stubborn enough not to put out their rope—not anticipating that they might need help getting back to safety of their home. This lack of preparation could ultimately lead to the demise of a farmer. Literally freezing to death near the safety of their own home not knowing how close they actually were to being safe. Because of the “blizzard” in their life, they were unable to see the real hope within the rope that could draw them near to the very place they desired to return.
Today, so many things were going through my head and for some reason I began to think about the game “Freeze Tag“. I thought about how the game Freeze Tag as an analogy to the rope that the farmers might use during a blizzard. Freeze Tag was a game I used to play when I was a kid. There were times that the game was kind of stressful. I would get off base, run around, and then try to find the base without being caught. Usually the stress from the game was fun. While running around I become increasingly careless, and sometimes quite cocky in thinking my skills were good enough to keep me from being able to avoid the danger of being tagged or frozen.
I thought about how my carelessness, on occasion, would cause me to get tagged–becoming frozen. I hated getting caught off base. My lack of focus tempted me and I began to stray away from the safety of the base.
I also remembered there were those, who had been a little more cautious and/or wise, and did not get frozen. Because they were able to keep their focus, they were able to come to my rescue and “unfreeze” me. After they rescued me, and I became unfrozen, I was then free to continue on my quest of trying to get back to the base. My ultimate goal became not to get caught again and for me to obviously return to the safety of the base.
Going back to the sermon, I began to think about what I had been listening to and learning about while we were studying Hebrews. I thought about how Christ is the base (my safe place). As my passions and desires to “fix”, or change, others grew…I became more confident and carelessly moved away from the base. I began to change His rules that I had begun to learn, back to the old rules I was accustomed to playing.
Then before I knew it, the ways of the world began chasing me, and I became scared of becoming frozen. I began to meet many obstacles and was not sure how to get around them. My anxiety began rising. I became desperate to find the base. All along I was overlooking the “rope” that Christ had laid out for me–to help me get back to the base.
In my confusion, I got tagged and became frozen; but, Christ had plans for me. He knew I would do such things; such as, becoming overconfident, leaving His base, chasing after my idols, and not listening, nor following Him. Knowing this, He placed beacons, in different areas, knowing that I would ultimately look for them. These beacons have seen much because at one time they also did not shine.
The beacons were able to “unfreeze” me. They were able to help me find the rope–which Christ had already paid in full. The rope ultimately led me back to the safety of the base. Then out of the darkness, I realized I had safely reached the base–the Light of my Life.
Christ took some of the old rules and improved them to make some awesome new rules. His rules are meant to be followed and obeyed so that He may protect me. If I listen to Him, draw near to Him, and follow His rules, then I will know that I am protected and secured by His grace.
His grace gives me hope! Through faith I am assured that His promise of mercy and forgiveness are very real. Like the farmers and their rope…I don’t always see these promises. The Good News is that I don’t have to see His promises; but be willing to listen and draw near to Him….especially for those times that I get off base.