Thursday, January 9, 2014

Perished Power

Cheerful Servant
Rom 6:6  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 
Rom 6:7  For he who has died has been freed from sin. 

Intentional Living #4 Perished Power
Death to self absorbed plans and purposes.  Resolve to put away self striving, self motivated efforts powered by drive from within to be right or to be in control.  And wisdom, His wisdom to know and understand that that death only comes about by full surrender to His Spirit's control.  Without that, one becomes weary in well doing, very quickly.

Lots of opportunity
Intentionally letting go of the things that my flesh wants to make a big deal. Material things.  Temporal things. Things that money can replace. Or not.  Things that in the grand scheme of life are less significant than I make them.  Intentionally letting go of wrong passions....  Strongly felt emotions that originate in the mindset that I deserve honor, respect and love  that result in actions that are less than Christ like as I seek to fulfill those voids.   From God's perspective I only deserve His judgement.  Because of His love for me ... that I do not deserve but He has given because I am His creation...He wants my heart, my devotion, my commitment to His plan and purpose.  And He wanted it enough to make a way, at His great expense, for me to have fellowship with Him restored.  

So, putting that principle of death to self in action, it would look like this:  intentionally planning to minister and serve others even though it might cost giving up what I would choose in my flesh.  My flesh would choose those activities that would give satisfaction, comfort and pleasure for a purely self motivated goal.   And intentionally setting aside my scheming and my own effort to accomplish that goal in my own strength recognizing that if it's done in flesh style, by my strength, I'll run out of motivation and energy and fail.  Again.  

And building on previous Intentional Living,  Reviewing my personal choices  I will ask now for discernment and wisdom to make this day one that will honor and glorify the Lord, in word and deed, by His strength and power, to accomplish His work in me and through me.  

Now, I can begin my day.  And watch expectantly for His provision and blessing, and with thanksgiving receive what He has for me.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Failure, or yet another reason to give God glory?

With all our faults and failures, we are in good company.  God's Old Testament prophets, and New Testament disciples were quite a crew of misfits and flops...They all had their quirks.  But God managed to get His plan accomplished through them in spite of their shortcomings.  He doesn't want or need our perfection, He wants our hearts...our obedience, our commitment, our loyalty and most of all I think He wants our humble admission that without Him, we can do nothing.  Realizing we fail should make us all the more ready, willing and able to let His work be done in us, and through us.

I'm thinking about people feeling like a failure because of comments I have read the past couple days. As the new year approaches we seem to mentally take stock of our last years accomplishments and seem to come up with a big zero as far as success in completing goals set, or how we perceive others judge our work.  Really?  I'm guilty too of rehashing in my mind and concluding my effort doesn't amount to much.  Well, the flip side to that is...if we did accomplish the great things we have set for ourselves to do, then to whom does the  victory belong?  That seems to be a fast track to major issues of pride and self glorification doesn't it?

When we see our efforts as the pitiful offerings they are, we are reminded that God is the one to do the work through us.  Yes, we work, but it is God's work when we focus on making it His, and it isn't up to us to determine the value of that work.  It is our responsibility to do as we are directed, success is not necessarily the desired end. Obedience with a right heart attitude is.

So, let last year's events settle.  Look forward to a great new year with new opportunities to fail...humanly speaking.  It is our failure that points others to the awesome greatness of God.  For Him to be able to take our meager and less than perfect labor and turn it into a ministry of grace and reconciliation is nothing short of a miracle.  His miracle not ours.  If we were to know big success who would get the glory? Something to ponder for sure.

Monday, December 30, 2013

After Christmas Thoughts

As I've trudged further into my journey on this planet I've noticed I've lost a sense of Christmas excitement and enjoyment that I previously had...once in awhile.  Not every year did I experience that happy anticipation of the Christmas season.  And I finally figured out, the years I most enjoyed were the ones that ran high with excitement at gift giving.  Being prepared ahead, noticing others' needs, desires, wishes to make my gift choices easier to find, and with knowledge I had done my homework, found a "good" present and looked forward to the enjoyment my loved ones would have....with no thought or expectation of what gifts I would receive.  Key concept: NO EXPECTATION.

Changing life seasons bring about adjustments.  Never easy for his dyed in the wool, set in her ways Grandma, changes seem  to be coming faster than I can cope.  Before I get settled in from one bump in the road I'm already having to position myself for yet another jolt.  I'm a runner.  No, not a long distance runner, or a sprinter or a marathon participant.  I'm a runner, I run from things that shake me loose from my comfort zone.  How does that relate to Christmas?  just this...

We no longer have our little children  for  which we made the effort to get the perfect Christmas tree, decorate to the limit to make it the best ever, and then do all the baking and shopping and whatever else we could think of to make family traditions stick, and create monumental memories.  And I'm not sorry about that!  We still have grandchildren that bless us more and more each day. And we do still make the effort to make those memories with them on a smaller scale.  Not having young children  at Christmas was an adjustment that seemed difficult even though I was given ample numbers of years to accept that gradual change. I still find my mind wandering back to wish it was more like it was back then.  Which is laughable since many mature lessons I had not learned yet, and Back Then wasn't really all that wonderful since I was always wishing for something different than the experience I was having at the time.  There is wisdom in Paul's comment:  Php 4:11  "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."  I'm still working on that too.

The bottom line is, in my mind there is a large expanse between what I imagine to be the Perfect Christmas and the Real Perfect Christmas.  And between the two is a war zone filled with land mines that explode without warning.  Little explosions like one child got more presents to open than another, perceived favoritism, difficulties finding meaningful, affordable gifts, and on and on.  And then the larger more difficult eruptions involving human-ness.  Personality conflicts, stressful interactions the result of busy schedules and financial concerns and regular everyday hardships that don't go away just because it's a holiday, that all factor into outbursts of varying intensity.  The Perfect Christmas I imagine to be a calm, peaceful family time filled with joyous interactions between family members.  All family members present without the hassle of making schedules work, or the impossibility of too many miles to travel to attend.  And unlimited resources to give each one gifts that would bring them joy and have them know they are loved beyond measure.

The reality is that is fantasy.  All of it.  We have to make do with what we have...people being imperfect humans, including me (the biggest disappointment of all is that I fail to communicate perfect love and wisdom), finances being limited, schedules denying all encompassing gatherings.  And on and on.  I cannot have that Perfect Christmas that is in my head.  Or even come close because that's not reality.

A comment in a Sunday School class, by a sister in the Lord, switched on a light bulb moment.  The Real Perfect Christmas is shedding all the trappings of what the world dictates I focus on. Finding a way to  dodge what I'm tempted to get caught up in, not  to run a faster pace to get more done than is humanly possible, to not be distracted from more needful and helpful daily routines that I am accustomed to rely on and not to forget my goal of intentionally living to honor and glorify the Lord first and foremost.

So, that's why Christmas leaves me feeling empty and tired.  Now, what to do with this revelation. Stay tuned.  When the Spirit reveals what I'm supposed to do with this information I'll be sure to let you know!   What I do know is that as I grow older I am beginning to march (my version of marching, that is) to the beat of a different drummer.  I am questioning what is commonly accepted as duty and right, and hold those activities prescribed by "they" to the candle light of Scripture to see what that Light shows traditions and rules to be.  I'm not rebelling, that takes more energy than I have.   I am examining what I pour my energy into, to be sure it's worthwhile.  Wrapping paper and toys quickly lost or broken don't seem to make the cut.  And neither do those gifts purchased hastily just because I "need" to get them something.

The Real Perfect Christmas is every day. Remembering WE are the reason Jesus came... as a baby...born in a humble state...We are the Reason for the Season.  But not the way the world would have it interpreted to result in more self absorption and selfishness. Jesus came because we could only have a reconciled relationship with the Father through His sacrifice.  His Death, burial and resurrection paved the way for our redemption.  He wouldn't have had to be born in that lowly manger, or die on the cross if it hadn't been for my need to have my sin covered, paid for by His perfection.
And now, to go to work on those things, without running to find a comfort zone where I'll just vegetate.  Intentional living is not for the weak or faint of heart.  You have to stay on your toes, always watching to be sure it's not the selfish human side reacting, waiting for opportunities to serve, and minister grace and reconciliation, and following through and actually doing the next right thing. Focus. On Him. That's a Real Perfect Christmas.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Value of Me...and You

I am reminded today how thankful I am that our value and worth doesn't depend on what others say or do to me, or what others think of me, or what their perception is of my significance.

My place on this planet was established in Eternity past, and God placed me in His plan. I am so important to Him that He sent His only Son to suffer, and die to take my punishment and to make a way for me to have a reconciled relationship with God.

Some today will question and doubt the love of family and friends. We never have to question God's ongoing love for us. Unchanging and constant, even when we are at our least lovely. We can never work hard enough, or long enough or do enough good to make God love us any more, or any less.

Relationships with those around us pale when compared to what we have because of Jesus' obedience to His Father on our behalf. Revel in the beauty of His love and care and don't think twice about what should be or might be or might have been in this world. Give God the honor and praise due Him for Who He is, and what He has done/ is doing/ will do.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Feelings are an unreliable source

Feelings are an unreliable source of information about our reality. How we FEEL doesn't always reflect Truth.  So, when feelings don't mesh with God's truth, it's best to stick with  what He says, over how we feel.  Feelings change.  God remains the same through all Eternity.