Monday, April 23, 2012

Victory For Today

"I choose Jesus, I choose Jeeeesus...the One who first chose me..." the voice of my six year old warbled from the living room.

"Mom," he said, "I am going to try not to be a sinner anymore."

"Wow, ok buddy, that's great." Knowing his bent towards perfection, I wanted him to understand grace as well. "But, just so you know, Jesus loves you so much either way. He wants us to try not to sin because we love Him, but He still loves us."

There, I thought to myself. Let's start avoiding the ditch of legalism early. My next thought came quickly after...why am I not teaching him to live in victory, to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit? Why am I not encouraging his desire to avoid sin?

These are really deep thoughts for 8:00 in the morning I realize.

Romans 1:28 says that when the people stopped putting God and His statutes first, and insisted on following the lust in their hearts, He gave them over to their depraved minds, to do things that ought not be done. The converse of that is clear. When we acknowledge God and seek after His ways, He keeps us from falling into sin, so that we can be presented to Him without fault and with great joy (Jude 1:24).

I know, firsthand, that I serve a merciful God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, but why do we focus more on that than on the rest...that He is able to keep us from sin when we follow Him? Why do we spend more time pleading for mercy instead of pleading for the strength and guidance that only He can provide?

Let's decide, today, for today, to live in the victory that is already ours through our rights as children of God. Sin only has the hold on us that we allow it to have; Jesus came to set us free. Galatians 5:1 says that "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, so stand firm and submit no more to a yoke of slavery." Submitting implies choice. I am making the choice not to submit to the yoke of sin today. I want the faith of a six year old who believes that he isn't going to be a sinner because he is chosen by Jesus.

And once again, to Him who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, to Him be the glory. Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Step in the Right Direction

Measure twice, cut once.

Assemble all of your ingredients before you begin cooking.

Don't count your chickens before they've hatched.

Wise words take up residence in my head, creating a practical, somewhat rule-following girl. I always say "I'm fine with spontaneity as long as I can plan for it." Sometimes though, when following hard after God, these rules don't apply. That's where faith comes in. And for someone like me, that's half the fun and half the battle.

Over a year ago, God firmly planted a vision in my head to reach the city of Waukesha with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Not the "Here's your ticket to Heaven" message, but the transformation that takes place in your heart when you truly invite Jesus in, the message that I have lived in my own life.

If we really want to change what happens in our cities and schools, we need to reach the hearts of the people with Christ. Satan has a stronghold on our future as long as we sit back and do nothing. Not our eternal future, I get that. But if we can change one heart, that reaches to their family, that reaches to their circle of can see how that will make a huge difference. Instead of doing nice things in the Name of Jesus, let's make the introduction. I often do nice things for others hoping they will see Jesus through me, and that is important and biblical, but we can't stop there. We have to be brave and bold.

I shared this vision with a few friends who cheered me on. I brought the vision to some who would be central to its administration, and when they asked questions I couldn't answer, I got overwhelmed. For someone who likes to have all the answers, not being able to answer the questions made me take a giant step back. Not that I ever stopped believing that this vision would become a reality, but a living example of "I believe; help my unbelief." I just didn't see how this was going to work out.

Yesterday at church we heard a message on faith, and my fire was rekindled. I was hesitant to share this dream with those in positions of influence because I still don't have the answers. If I refuse to take the next steps that God has put in front of me, however, the next steps won't be given. In a giant leap of faith, I contacted everyone I could think of last night that might be willing to help with this vision, and that step is already bearing fruit. I prayed this morning that God would take my small offering of time to send emails, and the large offering of believing Him for big things, and multiply that.

Is there something that you know God has called you to that you are trying to rationalize? God's call doesn't always make sense, but if you really look at it, you may find that it does. For me, I am a planner. I always seem to have a project in the works. I know firsthand how Jesus transformed my life. By putting this vision in my head, God is using all the gifts and experiences He has given me to help build His Kingdom; He will do the same with you. Remember, if you have Christ as your Savior already, and you woke up breathing today, He has a plan for you here on earth. I don't know what it is, or what tomorrow will bring, but faith tells me that I don't want to miss it, and that I don't need to have all the answers today.

"Now to Him who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, to Him be the glory." Ephesians 3:20

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Songs in the Darkness

We've probably all heard the saying "It's always darkest before the dawn", but those words are poor consolation to the ones sitting in the dark.

Laying awake way too early this morning, I listened as the birds sang away, oblivious to the cold and the darkness. Now that the sun is up, I realize I don't hear the birds. I would add to that saying of being darkest before the dawn with "The music is sweetest in the darkness."

In the times that confuse, crush, and break us, the Lord sings sweetly. Zephaniah 3:17 reminds that the Lord is with us and that He rejoices over us with singing. On this morning in the time between the cross and the resurrection, I imagine that the darkness was overwhelming for the disciples.

Fear...were they next...?

Confusion...what about his kingdom...? could He have let this happen...?

I wonder if they heard the singing as the glorious dawn was about to break.

Do you? Close your eyes and listen for it.