Friday, May 29, 2009

Walking the Ledge

Each day is a walk closer to the end of our lives. Christ is our guide, but we have the ultimate decision on how, where, and why we walk. I recently was listening to a pod cast where for several weeks they had been answering live text messaged questions from the members. After several weeks of answering a myriad of questions, the minister began his current message by admonishing sternly his congregation for the type of questions they were asking. He explained that every question dealt with how close to the line of sin they could legalistically approach. “How far is too far?”, “Can we do this and be ok?”, “When do I need to stop doing this?” and the list went on? The minister then told them that they were nothing but selfish in nature. All the questions dealt with how close to sin can we go until it is not acceptable? Instead we should be asking how close can we get to God?

As I pondered this question I began to reflect on my own life and relationships. How close to God am I? How close to sin do I try to get before I turn around. Are there areas in my life that I walk the ledge?

Then I felt God speaking to me (not audibly), but through my own thoughts, saying by walking this ledge you are hurting our relationship. I want more from you than you are giving right now. Furthermore, you are hurting your other relationships by putting yourself that close to sin. How can you truly show others what I am like if you are only giving it a half-hearted attempt? I gave my only Son for your life and you can only serve me by occasionally having a drink, telling a few coarse jokes, looking only a little at suggestive images, and the list goes on. Talk about a punch in the gut! By living this life of mediocrity God is slowly being soiled to the point that we and others can’t even recognize who he is anymore. At what point do we get to a place where God doesn’t recognize us anymore? When will he get tired of our constant blatant sin and turn us over to our evil desires? (Romans 1:24 “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves”.) Those questions scare me and frankly I don’t want to test that line, because when we find that answer it means I am in a place that I never intended to find myself.

I am learning daily that I would rather try to find how close can I become to God's intended purpose? Where can I improve my relationship with him? Is it through prayer, serving others, my speech, what I view on a daily basis, my own personal thought life, or whatever. You can fill the blank with your own struggles? God wants more from his creation than what we, as a culture, are offering to him today. The most reassuring thing is that he offers unconditional love. We have rejected, despised, disappointed him, but he still loves you and me. There is no earthly reason that we should not fall into his arms of grace and strive to serve him wholly. Not partially, half-heartedly, but totally and completely. He does not promise that it will be easy, but he does promise life with him eternally. Think about it and step back from the ledge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Offering

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

God speaks to each of us in a way that will cause our heart to listen. Music and lyrics is a way that God speaks to me. Whether it is through a time of trial or season of contentment I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in many songs that I am allowed to really listen to and reflect. Artists sing these songs for many reasons, but God who is good, uses them for his children for a myriad of purposes. One such song came to me as I was running the other morning. As I exercise my body, I enjoy listening to music and reflecting. (It takes my mind of the pain that my body is crying out to stop) The song that resonated in my heart that morning was by the group 33 Miles called “My Offering”

How many times in your life have to said or felt that you could not approach God or even pray a simple prayer because you felt guilt, shame or inadequacy due to the sins in your life. Or could it be the person you are having a conversation with about Christ and they make the comment ” I need to get some things straightened up in my life before I can go to God” How sad and misguided have we become that we forget that God wants the broken and battered to restore. As a culture of have it my way, be all you can be, get it done ourself, we have cried for our independence. God who loves us gave us that independence even though he knew we would make decisions that would hurt and scar him in order to bring us back. What does he want from us though?

The song contains a message that we betrayed, lied, ran away, cursed his name, and were to blame. On the flip side God forgave, spoke truth, stayed, called me child, went to trial and ultimately died to give us more than we could ever find. He wants to take every part of us as an offering to him wholly and only. On our own we make a mess of things, but he transforms it into his offering because is comes from his creation. Sounds strange, but God can only make good out of all circumstances.

I know in my life I have made plenty of messes and when repentance is sought, God transforms my messes into beautiful paintings that only he can create. We can’t fully understand the process because it is heavenly, but that is where faith is required to trust Him unconditionally. Once you can do this you can gain confidence and strength in a God who loves you beyond measure.

What are you holding onto or what excuses are you using to keep you from fully coming to God? He wants all you, which includes the messes that you have made, but can’t fix. He can fix them if you only take them to you as your offering. Approach with humble confidence and be amazed at his grace!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scars of Life

God created our bodies in such a way that they can repair themselves when damaged. If you break a bone over time cells will mend the break. If you cut your flesh it will eventually grow new tissue over the opening and heal. Is the new tissue the same? Most of the time there is what we call scars. The scar is sometimes raised from the skin, or another tone of skin color. Many people are ashamed of scars because it shows a slight imperfection in there body. Others wear them proudly because they came through great trial and sacrifice such as fighting to protect our freedoms in this great nation. The scars that are worn by most are not always visible. They are deep within, they have been caused by friends, relatives, spouses, and parents. Many of these scars are even self-inflicted. These are the scars of SIN.

I know in my life sin has caused many wounds not only to myself, but to the people around me as well. I have lied, cheated, stolen, cursed, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes it was a little paper cut of gossip, but at other times it was the sweeping swing of the sword that cut deep into the heart. How do these wounds get healed? Our bodies weren't made to repair and restore wounds of this magnitude. Why didn't our Creator design us to heal emotional scars? I don't know the answer to why, but I do know the answer of who. Who can heal these blemishes and lacerations of emotions and character? God

In Psalm 147 he says "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up there wounds" . God is the only source of healing our emotional wounds. We can look to other places to find comfort and healing. This world offers drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, and religions. All these seem to help for a short while, but never have lasting and sustainable results. The drugs wear off, early morning hangovers, sexually transmitted diseases, broken marriages and false hopes are the only guaranteed results of the worlds answers.

The only one true answer is a life of surrender to the our creator and life giving God. He promises to heal and restore what is broken and lost. Sounds easy and simple? Yes and no, it is easy to say yes to him with words, but can you say it with your life? Can you turn over all your thoughts, words, and actions to him on a daily basis? For me it was not easy, but so beneficial. It can be an hour by hour process or day by day. All he wants is you to make the first step toward him.........