Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Sobering Reminder

When was the last time you looked in your rear view mirror and saw the unwelcome, flashing red lights of a police car, signaling you to pull over? You may need a few minutes to recall your last encounter; unfortunately, mine is still fresh in my mind.


I was on my way home a few weeks ago, when out of nowhere, a police car suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror. The flashing red lights not only alerted me to his presence but also ushered me to the side of the road. As I stopped the car and waited for the policeman to make his way to my car, I replayed my last few minutes behind the wheel. Was I speeding? No. I just turned on to this street. Did I forget to use my turn signal when I made that last turn? No. I remember hearing the click, click, click of the signal while I sat at the intersection waiting for traffic to clear so I could make my way to the median. When I merged into traffic did I cut someone off? No. I had waited for all the traffic to clear before I had ventured out into the street. I was clueless.

"Good Evening, Ma'am. Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asked matter-of-factly.


"No, Officer," I answered, "I have no idea."


"Have you had anything to drink tonight?"


"No."


"Nothing at all?"


"No."


"I need to see your driver's license and your registration."


I reached over, opened the glove compartment and quickly located the requested paper.


"Here is my registration. My driver's license is in my purse, which is in the trunk."


As he stepped away from my door, I exited the car and made my way to the trunk of my car, still wondering what this was all about. As I reached for my purse, the officer started to explain the reason for this stop.

"Ma'am, you gave me every reason to believe you were driving under the influence. You sat at that stop sign a long time before you entered the roadway. Then again, once in the median, you waited an unusually long time before merging into the westbound lane."

The officer was right. Well, almost right. I had taken my time at that last intersection, but not because I had been drinking. No one was behind me, so I saw no need to dart out into oncoming traffic. I had opted to simply be patient and wait until all was clear.

"Officer," I answered. "I can assure you I haven't been drinking. I just decided to wait until all the traffic passed before I turned onto the road."

"Please have a seat in your vehicle and I will be with you momentarily."

As I waited for the officer to return, I realized I had caught this officer's attention simply because my behavior at that intersection was different from that of most other drivers. Unfortunately, he thought this difference was a result of me tipping the bottle.

"O.K, Ma'am", the officer said as he reappeared at my window with my driver's license and registration in hand, "You are free to go."

As I pulled away from the curb, I thought about this experience. I am a firm believer that life is full of teachable moments. I was pretty sure God was going to use this experience to teach me.

As Christians, we are called to live our life differently than those who have not yet been transformed by the power of Christ. There should be something noticeably different about us. Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us. I hadn't seen the policeman, but obviously, he had seen me! Fortunately, the officer wasn't able to arrest me for drunk driving because there simply wasn't any evidence for him to convict me. I was sober.

Gently, I felt the Lord prompting my heart. What if this officer had instead accused me of being a Christian? Would he have found enough evidence to convict me then? Do my words, my actions, the day to day way I live my life give testimony to Christ alive in me? What a sobering thought!

Arriving home, I pulled into my driveway and turned off the engine. Before heading indoors, I spent a few moments alone with the Lord, in the stillness of the night. As I opened my heart before my Heavenly Father, He brought the words of Matthew 5:16 to my mind.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Yes...the Lord had been faithful to use a routine traffic stop to remind me to live my life in a way that is anything BUT routine. Where ever I go and whatever I do, people are watching. May the world see Christ in me....this is the prayer of my heart.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Answering His Call

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

This morning as I came before the Lord, opening His Word, He led me to this passage. I smiled as I read the words of Jeremiah. I wonder if God smiled, too. After all, this wasn't the first time the Lord had heard this kind of response after issuing a call of duty. Remember Moses? He expressed the exact same sentiment when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt? Me, Lord? You want ME to do WHAT!?

Both men felt as though they were the wrong guy for the job. They knew who they were and they knew they fell miserably short of being what God needed them to be. But God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, had also created them. He knew them better than they knew themselves. Before either of them had taken their very first breath, God had breathed into them His plan for their life. He knew the potential and the possibility each man possessed.

As I re-read the passage, I smiled once again. This time, though, the smile had my name written all over it. Countless times I, too, have questioned the Lord's leading in my life. Each time I am faced with a new challenge, or find myself in uncharted territory,feeling extremely out of place and definitely out of my comfort zone, I begin to have the same conversation with the Lord. Are you sure, Lord? Are you really calling ME to do THIS?! I let the fear and the uncertainty and the stress that I am feeling begin to eat away at my faith. Soon, I find myself second-guessing if I am really where the Lord has chosen for me to be.

At times like this, discerning the Lord's will for my life becomes challenging. God's voice of truth gets clouded by my own words of discouragement, fear and doubt. Satan, always standing by, waiting for the itty, bittiest door of opportunity, begins to unleash his arsenal at me as well. As the battle rages, I find myself looking for a way out, a door of escape, an excuse. I'm not able Lord! You've got the wrong girl!

But then..........then the Lord draws me to Himself. In a quiet moment, as I open His word, He leads me to a passage of indisputable truth , of divine calling, of renewed vision.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

God knows me better than I know myself. Before I, too, had taken my very first breath, He had breathed into me His plan for my life. He knows the potential and the possibility I possess.

In of myself, I am not able to do the work God has created me to do. Yet, when I surrender myself to the Lord's call on my life, I become a vessel through which others can see the work of the Lord. When I am willing to be used of God, through me, others will see, I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End!

Each and every time this happens, I smile. I have a feeling the Lord smiles, too!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Beginning of Something Wonderful

Each year when January rolls around, I find myself (much like everyone else I know) committed to making this brand new year better than the one before. This January is no exception. As I head out into 2010, I have some definite goals in mind. In fact, I spent one whole afternoon doing nothing but searching my heart, praying and pin-pointing the changes that need to take place in my life if I am ever going to live the abundant life Christ desires for me to live. Here's what I came up with:

Give 100% to my health by:
- making sleep a priority. Nothing less than 8 hours will do.
- drinking water…..lots and lots of water.
- being extremely selective about what I let enter my mouth.
More fruits, veggies
Vitamins every day….twice a day!
Less sugar, refined or processed food
- spending time outdoors,soaking up sun, reading and relaxing
- exercising -walking, rebounding, doing the elliptical, sit ups
- being mindful of my posture. Work on it daily.
- LAUGHING! LAUGHING! LAUGHING!

Experience more joy by:
- laughing at myself more often (there's "laughing" again!)
- being willing to try, even if I fail
- forgiving myself immediately when I do fail
- resisting the temptation to compare myself to other people (especially other
women)
- guarding my heart from the insensitive and hurtful remarks of others
- applauding my successes
- welcoming each new day, along with each new challenge
- investing in the lives of others
- strengthening current relationships by making them a priority

Grow in my relationship with Christ by:
- spending time daily in prayer and in God's word
- embracing God's will for my life instead of questioning it or resisting it
- using my spiritual gifts to bless others and bring glory to God
- exercising my faith by taking God at His word and living my life resting on His promises
- reflecting daily on the presence of God in my life

Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?! And guess what? This year I know I will be successful at adopting these goals and making them a part of my every day life. How can I be so sure? Because this year, I am also committed to taking life one day at a time.

If tonight I don't happen to get 8 hours of sleep, that's ok. I don't have to cross this "resolution" off my list. I can simply try again the next night. You see, this is where I always failed in the past. If I happened to fail, I would simply give up. As elementary as this may sound, I have finally come to the realization that each day is a new beginning. I am not perfect so I don't know why I expect myself to live perfectly each day. In the past I have used my imperfection as an excuse to give up. Not this year. I am committed to keep trying, day after day, and I am confident that I will succeed. How could I not?! If I get 8 hours of sleep, 4 or 5 days out of 7, that's better than never getting 8 hours of sleep, right!

I see you nodding your head in agreement. I can see the smile starting to appear on your face. You understand exactly what I am saying. You, too, have launched out into the new year with grandiose plans only to fail, give up, and fall back into your old habits. Not this year. This year you can join me on this journey to personal success. If we fail, we will try again. Giving up and jumping ship is not an option.

So, are you with me? If you haven't already, why not take some time today or this weekend to make a list of your own. Then, each and every day, strive to meet these expectations and goals.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. If we are faithful to do our best, God, in turn, will be faithful to provide us everything we need to live a life that brings glory and honor to Him, and blesses others. With Christ we can DO all things. We can move forward knowing that the victory is already ours in and through Christ! With Jesus by our side, today will be the beginning of something wonderful!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

His True Destiny

Several years ago while shopping an after-Christmas sale, I stumbled onto a priceless treasure. I was digging through a huge bin of marked down T-shirts when I saw a navy blue one peeking out from near the bottom of the pile. Since blue has always been my color of choice, I decided this shirt was worth going after. After several minutes of elbowing my way through a sea of shirts, the one that caught my eye was finally within my reach. As I picked it up, I turned it over and looked at the front.


To my surprise, the design on this T-shirt was that of the manger scene. Little baby Jesus was fast asleep in his small cradle, with Mary tenderly seated as his side. As beautiful as this was, more beautiful yet, were the six words printed boldly in white above the picture.


His Destiny was to change Ours


Here was the true meaning of Christmas spelled out for all to see and yet up until now, this T-shirt had slipped by totally unnoticed and completely unseen, buried at the bottom of a clearance bin! As I stood there, surrounded by a crowd of noisy, energetic shoppers, I felt a hush come over my soul.



Day in and day out we elbow our way through life in an effort to reach our goals, get ahead, succeed, and find true happiness. Digging through the bin of life, we proudly grab these surface level bargains, settling for the leftovers of this world, all the while missing out on our true destiny. We go to church and accept the surface level truth of Christ's birth, yet never realize that the very essence of Christ and the purpose of his arrival as a tiny baby may still remain buried under piles of ill-fitting religion and theology. How we need to dig deeper, to search more, to grasp the almost incomprehensible ......His destiny was to change ours!


Yes, Christ came to earth as a baby to ultimately die on the cross, making a way of forgiveness, atonement and salvation for us. There is no denying this life-giving truth. Our final and ultimate destiny is to be with him in Heaven through out all eternity. But what about here? What about now?


One of my favorite verses is John 10:10. If ever a verse described the destiny of Jesus as it relates to ours, this is it. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Life eternal is most definitely part of the abundant part, but our destiny doesn't begin once our time on this earth is over. NO! Our destiny changes the moment we turn our life over to Christ.

Our can'ts become cans.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13



Our defeats become victories.

We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Romans 8:37



Our trials become treasures.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28



Our desires become reality.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4


I'm so glad I caught a glimpse of blue peeking out from the bottom of that bin of marked down T-shirts. Yet no happiness in the world will ever begin to match the joy I now feel since I caught a glimpse of my true destiny in Christ.

When it comes to shopping, you will still find me searching through clearance bins in hopes of finding a bargain, but thanks be to God, you will never, ever find me digging through the bargain bins of life or poking through the discounted racks of religion and theology. I have discovered my true destiny and I'm not settling for anything less than God's best for me! I am not going to wait until I die to truly start to live. I am going to live the abundant life now! I am going to reach out with every bit of my heart, mind and soul and grab onto the treasure I have in Christ. Right now, in 2010, I am going to start living out my Christ-given destiny. How about you?

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all of your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13