Oct 1, 2009

Somethin' vs. Nothin'

"She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction
She is trying
But the canyon's ever widening
In the depths of her cold heart
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She's another two years older
And she's three more steps behind"

I was listening to this song by Casting Crowns this morning, and though I think it is speaking about a woman who does not know Jesus, it seems applicable to us as believers as well.

"She is running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction..."

Running. Striving. Scratching and Clawing. Do you feel like that today? Do you feel like no matter what you do, you just can't make it work? You can't pull it all together or figure it all out? May I suggest that maybe you're not supposed to? May I be a bit bolder and ask you if maybe you're trying so hard because you're trying to do it on your own or run your own agenda? I hear ya'...I do that a lot. I happen to think my agenda is a pretty good plan. To my surprise, God is not about approving my plans or running things the way I see fit. He seems to have His own thing going on and it ain't about me doing my thing in my way.

No, instead, he talks to me A LOT about abiding in Him. Abiding...what does that even mean? There are many definitions, but the one that grabbed my attention earlier this week was "to remain as one; not to become another or different". It reminded me of the parable Jesus told in John 15.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains (abides) in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; APART (becoming another) from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." vss. 5-6

"Nothing". Hmm. "Really, God? Nothing?" I wonder what He really means. Good ol' Webster has a nice way of summing up the meaning of the word nothing: "of no account: worthless". So let me think here. If I hang tight to Jesus and try to follow His plan as much as possible, I will bear MUCH fruit, but if I decide to try to push my agenda, the only thing I can accomplish is worthless and of no account. It seems like an easy choice, yet I so often pick the latter. Anybody with me? Anybody get to the end of their week and realize they have been running in the wrong direction the entire time and feeling older but still 3 steps behind?

Ladies, we must make an intentional effort to abide in Christ...to not become another or different. We must stay stuck fast to Him so that we know the steps we are making every moment of every day are falling along the path He has laid out for us. If we want to be fruitful; if we want to have peace at the end of the day; if we don't want to be like that branch that is withered and prime for destruction, we must approach Jesus throughout the day and check in. Have your time with Him everyday but don't stop there!

My husband sets his phone alarm to strike every hour so he can check in with God. He prays for guidance and gets his mind focused back on Jesus. You don't have to do that, but kick up your walk with Jesus a notch. Create a way to keep in regular contact with Him. And let me know what it is...I would love to hear how varied everyone's approach will be.

Our life is not about what WE accomplish and what WE do. It is about being an instrument for Jesus. It's about Him. If we have any kind of chance to make an impact for Him that's worth while and of much account, we must keep in close communication with Him. Put Him first, talk to Him often, and the fruit you will bear will be abundant and eternal.

I love you, girls. Have a restful weekend walking closely to Jesus. Tell Him I said hello!

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Sep 17, 2009

Belief + ?

So, I have read or heard the story of the "good Samaritan" umpteen times in my short life as a follower of Jesus, so when it came up in my devotional today I was none too excited. I'm thinking, Oh, man. I've read this a million times! Guh! But, being the forever obedient servant of the Lord that I am *wink, wink* I decided to plod ahead and see if just maybe the Creator of the Universe might be able to pierce my superior intellect with a new revelation. Hello, Pride.

Anyhoo, I'm four verses into the story in Luke 10, and I'm stopped in my tracks at the six words in verse 29.

"...but he wanted to justify himself..."

I didn't even get to the portion of the parable we so often hear in the pew. God honed my focus onto the man to which the parable was told. This expert of the law asked what we needed to do to be saved and received the Great Commandments as his answer...to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus, God in the flesh, looked him in the eyes and told him what would make him right in the Father's eyes. How to be justified. Righteous. Deemed acceptable. Yet the man was not satisfied with Jesus' definition. He wanted to "justify himself". The entire parable we are so familiar with is Jesus' answer to the man's attempt to make himself right in his own eyes.

So, instead of focusing on the parable, I want us to look at the man behind it. A man who could not accept Jesus' justification. I'd like us to ask ourselves, "Am I like him?" "Do I dismiss God's definition of righteousness so easily?"

"Consider Abraham, 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'" Gal. 3:6

What made Abraham right in the eyes of God? Belief. Faith. It's that simple. Not belief AND having a quiet time every day. Not faith AND never making a mistake, following every letter of the Christian law.

BELIEF. That's it. That's all.

What are you trying to add to your faith to make you feel acceptable and "right" to God? Do you beat yourself up every time you make a mistake or drop the ball? Maybe you're adding perfectionism to your faith.

Do you give and give until you're a ball of nerves or a ragdoll on the floor no good to anyone? Maybe you've added service to your faith.

Should we spend time with God everyday? Yes. Should we serve? Yes. Should we do our best at what we've been called to do? Yes.

But should we be looking to those things to convince ourselves that we are right in the eyes of God and have his favor because of them? No.

You will mess up. You will have days or seasons when you simply cannot give. Are you going to come down on yourself and doubt your righteousness? Are you going to start looking for ways to prove to God that you are worthy of His love? Do not fall for the lie!! If you have believed on Jesus, you are okay with God. You are still accepted, loved, and deeply cherished.

His love is not conditional.

Ladies, we do not have to earn our acceptance. We do not have to prove our worth. All we must do is believe. Believe that you need Jesus and trust Him with your life. You do that, and you're golden. Stop trying to justify yourself; it's not your job. That job has already been done by the only One qualified to do it.

Accept it. Receive it. Rest in it.

Oh, Jesus, we admit that we like to try to earn your love and grace. We confess that to you today and ask your forgiveness. You died on that cross so we didn't have to be "good enough" and we are claiming today that Your sacrifice was enough. We will stop trying to add to it. We love you, Amen.

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Sep 1, 2009

I'm Back!

Well, Coop is now in kindergarten (more on that later), so now I am entering into a new season of life. And it is my intent to get back to blogging on a more regular basis. But, since many of you know how easily I get overwhelmed, I am not forcing myself to have a full blog right off the bat. So, in an effort to ease myself back into writing/blogging, I'm just posting a nice, succinct quote today. If you want to comment, feel free. Love you, girls!

"When it comes to crises or events that really upset us, this I have learned: you can have God or you can have understanding. Sometimes you can have both." ~John Eldredge, Walking With God

Talk amongst yourselves...

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