Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Easter Matters

Easter is one of those "line in the sand" places that faith brings you to. There is no middle ground...either God raised Jesus from the dead or He didn't. It is a little easier to blur the line at Christmas and wonder whether that cute baby really is God's Son. Being dead and then not dead is not really debatable.

My heart is so full right now as I try to find the perfect words to help you see why this matters. God came so that we can live. It's as simple as that. The price of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and He paid the price for us. He took the punishment and came out alive and victorious on the other side. He came to give us eternal life with Him, and to rescue us from the bondage of sin in this lifetime. He came to give us life to the full. Through the cross, we will never be the same.

Please, please, don't miss it. He came to bring us freedom, to redeem us, to give us our value in Him, not to scorn or to punish. Don't let indifference, shame, or pride keep you from coming to Him. Accept His gift of life. This Easter, come to the Cross, put your burdens down, and find peace. You will never be the same.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Treasure in the Toy Box

God continues to astound me with how He will speak through the extremely mundane, the ordinary business of a regular day, to teach me about Himself. Today's lesson, even though it is barely 6:30 in the morning, begins with a pile of Legos. Duplos, actually. The chunky ones that really hurt if you step on them in the dark.

Anyway, Connor is sitting in front of me building something right now. He said he is using the big pieces for the bottom. I said that's'll have a strong foundation. Use the big ones instead of the little ones so your house isn't wobbly.

Sounds simple enough, except that every verse having to do with a firm foundation came flying into my head. (Get to know the Word, friends, and you never know where it will turn up, even in a pile of Legos.) I started to think about the firm foundation of big pieces that God has for us to stand on, compared to all the little pieces that the world has.

This isn't just toy-box logic, either. The enemy of our souls would love for us to build our foundation on lies, on little pieces of half-truths. He would love for us to use the size of our checkbooks, houses, and bras to tell us how we should feel about ourselves. He would enjoy it if we all subscribed to the gospel according to Oprah, Dr. Phil, or whoever the flavor of the day is. He thrives on keeping us confused as to our real identity, who Christ created us to be.

The problem with using the little pieces to build your foundation is that it is shifty. Our checkbooks, houses, and bra sizes change. The talk shows go off the air. And, if we are the sum of who we think we are, where is the stability? If one day I wake up and feel good about myself, and the next day not so good, which one is right? We can't be our own measure of truth.

God's Word provides us with the big pieces to make our foundation strong.
  • I know who I am. I am God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).
  • I know there is a plan. God has a plan for me, a plan not to harm me, but to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • I know I am loved, because God gave His only Son for me, that I might have eternal life through Him and with Him (John 3:16).
  • I know I am a sinner, someone who acts contrary to what God would want for me, but that when I confess those sins and turn away, God is faithful to forgive me and clean me up, making me look more like Him (1 John 1:9).
  • I know my life won't be perfect and painless, but God will use it all, good and bad, for His glory (Romans 8:28).
  • I know that He knows me, that He formed me, that He called me by name, and that He has redeemed me, and that I have nothing to be afraid of (Isaiah 43:1)

I bet you didn't know that all that wisdom was laying in a box of Legos.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Fresh Start

We've been cleaning house around here, literally and figuratively. We (loosely used) have painted the bathroom, the kitchen, all the cupboards, and just had someone else paint the rest of the interior of the house. In the process, all my pictures and pretties have been put away for their own safety. Now I have a whole lot of empty walls, but I'm hesitant to clutter them up again. Not that pictures of family are clutter, but you know what I mean. I like the idea of a blank canvas. A fresh start.

Figuratively, but probably more real than any house redecorating, I get a clean slate every time I confess to God something I have let come between us. He forgives me and sees me as a new creation, His new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 John 1:9)). I can choose to put on the same old "clutter" and look exactly the same, or I can be free. Fresh. A blank canvas for Him to decorate as He sees fit. I like that idea.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Get Your Feet Wet First

"When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap." Joshua 3:13
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, God was about to lead His people into the Promised Land. He freed them from bondage in Egypt, dealt with their rebellious, ungrateful attitude, while teaching them that He is a God of his Word along the way, and was now ready to deliver them to their new home, which just happened to be across a swollen turbulent river. Did I mention this Promised Land was inhabited by giants and warriors?
The first step into the Land of Milk and Honey was one of faith. God did not say "Stand back and watch what I am going to do with this river." No, instead, He told the priests holding the ark to step in. It was then that He caused the water to stack upon itself in a "single heap."
It is easy to assume that when God has called us to something, or is leading the way through a wilderness towards a promised land of some sort, the way will be made completely smooth, the waters shallow and calm. Instead, He asks us to step right in. He invites us to feel the rush of the current, the power of the waters raging around our ankles. It is once we are committed, standing in the slippery edge, in danger of being swept away, that He rolls up the waters for us. It is only once we have stepped out in faith that He leads us on the next part of the journey.
I wish that He would say to me, "Stand here and let me show you what your journey will look like, all the barriers I will remove, and, oh yeah, here's a taste of that milk and honey I was talking about."
But He doesn't.
As the nation of Israel was passing through the dry riverbed of the Jordan, the Lord instructed the leaders of the twelve tribes to pick up the biggest rock they could carry from the middle of the river. Once on dry ground, they were to build an altar with those rocks to forever be a witness to the miracle God had performed for them.
We should do the same thing. Not necessarily with rock piles everywhere, because my kids would turn my altar into a bike ramp, but with a tangible reminder of the goodness of God. Maybe a journal entry, maybe a photograph, just something for generations to come to see what God has done in your life.
Remember though, as you are standing on the banks of an adventure God has been pulling you toward, don't stand there staring at the swirling torrent of water. Put a step out towards the promise, dip your toes in, and see the miracle God performs for you. And don't forget to tell the world about it.