Apr 27, 2006

One More Time, Please?

I liked this article:

Girl Meets God: Melissa Matthews (www.studylight.org/gmg)

I have a confession of sorts this week. It's kind-of unbelievable, so hang on to your jaw. And if you see me this week- don't laugh.

Sometimes when I come home from work after an arduous day trying to control the behavior of 132 9th graders, I pull up in my driveway hoping to see something at my front door. It could be any number of things: a UPS package; an arrangement of flowers; an envelope with a gift certificate.

And, you guessed it-- that hardly ever, never, materializes.

Then, I find the mailbox key and go check the mail. Once again, I'm not looking for bills or grocery ads, but for something wonderful and amazing: a check for lots of money from nowhere; a letter from my favorite college friend; a contract from a major publisher.

And you guessed it-- nothing is there but bills, credit card applications, and grocery ads.

Then, I sit down at the computer and check my email. Surely I've gotten some special, personal letter from someone in the midst of the thousand pieces of junk mail that deluge my inbox. I delete carefully and more slowly than necessary lest I delete this exceptional email telling me how loved and wonderful I am.

And again-- weight-loss ads and urban-legend-forwards are all I find.

Sometimes I wonder where I get such crazy expectations, though there have been a few surprises over the years that make my optimism somewhat reasonable. Once, the bank sent us the title to our new Suburban because someone had gone into the bank and paid off the loan. Last year, Scott's grandmother sent me flowers when I found out I had dormant TB. Every so often, I get the sweetest emails at work from Scott.

But this constant nagging to know I'm loved and special is unreasonable. Why should there be constant gifts and continuous accolades restating what I already know. I don't need packages or bouquets or emails to say what scripture has already said: "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Whether my day has been a display of superb performance, or one that has reaffirmed my status as sinner, God has already demonstrated his love for me—Christ died for me. No repeat performance will be granted, so why do I keep asking? I've been given complete forgiveness and eternal life. What else is there?

So tomorrow, when I swing my big, green suburban into the driveway, I'll remember the package is already there.

Apr 21, 2006

Greater love has no one than this

The word love is thrown around so much these days that it's meaning is almost unknown. It's not sacred as it should be and it's not said in truth.

You know, love is why we are here. Love is why we have found forgiveness in God's eyes. And it certainly has nothing to do with our love, but His love. I wonder, what must it have been like for Jesus to love His Father so much that He'd give His life so we could find life through Him?

And what must it feel like when we forget what He's done for us? Our love for Him grows stale, the sparks have gone. Jesus is just our buddy, our friend. We make Him into just another person, a picture on the wall. We know He's real, but a part of us still refuses to see Him. We walk around with a veil covering our faces.

Is He real for you? Can you see Him up on the cross? Do you realize that you and I were the reason He allowed the nails to be driven into His hands and feet? Do you realize that He died not only for you, but to please God? Would you die for your mother or your father? Would you kill your child if it meant millions would be saved?

I wouldn't.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Have you been nailed to the cross? Have you nailed your old self to it? Or are you depending on your "good works" to bring you favor in God's eyes?

Galations 5:24
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Please! I beg you! WAKE UP!

It's not about us anymore! It's ALL about Him! About what He's done! God has mercy on us because of Jesus! Not because we are "good" people! It wouldn't be mercy if that were so!

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Jesus Christ is our eternal. He's our Spirit; He's our hands and our feet. But you can only find Him when you put down your pride and realize that it is not about YOU or ME anymore, but about Him. We now live for Christ, not because we choose to, but because He chose to live in us! That's it. No more. Wake up!!

Apr 19, 2006

Sing out earth and skies!

“Jesus, where are you? How can I possibly go through this life without you? Please, just send me a sign that you are here with me. Where are you! Why can’t I feel you? Why can’t you just hold me for just a moment? Just to let me know that you are thinking of me. Please God! Please!”

I plead and beg God for some sort of sign that He is here. I sit on my bed and wait. I cry and hope that he’ll feel so bad for me, He’ll come down and embrace me, giving me the confidence to continue on.

I use to think God was ignoring me. I sulked. I grumbled. I pouted. And sometimes I still do. But little did I know, God was answering me, He was standing right in front of my eyes, but I didn’t notice it….until now.

Walk outside and take a good look around you! He is alive! We don’t have to see His physical body to know He is present. He showers us with little blessings throughout our day, helping us to notice His gifts.

I was on my way to Greece from Italy a few years ago. We were on a huge ship and while I was standing outside, looking out at the sea, I saw two huge whales, frolicking in the water, playfully swimming along.

I saw Him there.

My husband told me a story of this little dog that was running around the front of a nursing home. He was running here and there, from puddle to puddle…...turns out he was collecting worms from the latest rainfall!

Another reminder that God is here.

Running six miles this weekend was tough, especially since I was on my own. Every time I wanted to give up, I’d smell the most beautiful smell of fresh lilacs, I’d see a little family of ducks running around; even the bees buzzing around me reminded me that God was here!

See! With our eyes, we see His creation. And He’s given us ears, taste and touch….all so that we could enjoy Him through His creation.

Look in the mirror! He made YOU too!

Have you ever hurt your thumb? Or twisted your ankle? Have you ever noticed how hard it is to go about your normal day when just one little thing goes wrong with your body? Isn’t it amazing how God made us? Our lives would be a lot different if we couldn’t walk, talk, smell, taste.....all these are little gifts God gave us to enjoy and bring glory to Him!

So the next time we start doubting, lets look to His creation. Look with eyes that are not of this world, but with eyes to see His world. God is everywhere, in the loneliest places and in the hearts of all believers. He’s given us this world as a reminder that we are not alone.

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Oh, praise Him!
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Oh, praise Him!
Oh, praise Him!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along
Oh, praise Him!
Thou rising moon in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
Oh, praise Him!
Oh, praise Him!

Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
Oh, praise Him!
Praise, praise the Father praise the Son
And praise the Spirit three in one
Oh, praise Him!
Oh, praise Him!

Apr 13, 2006

Losing ground

What do you see when you look at the cross? Does it bring tears to your eyes? Does your heart fill with gratitude? Do you feel guilt? Shame?

I was just thinking tonight about how much I cry and how very sad it is that I don’t cry when I look at the cross. I look at Jesus hanging there and I wait for the flood of tears…but they don’t come. I wonder, sometimes, if maybe I’ve become desensitized to the cross.

It just doesn’t make sense. Jesus Christ died for me. He chose the nails, He chose to suffocate, He chose to be beaten, to have his flesh torn, and what do I do in return? I can’t even shed one little tear for Him? What does that make me?

Well, it makes me a sinner.

You know the kids who live in the dangerous parts of town, the places where a shooting and death is just a normal part of their day…well…maybe that’s what’s happened to me. The cross has just become a cross, and Jesus’ sacrifice has just become a story. And I suspect, this has happened to a lot of us.

We speak of the cross as if it’s just a normal, everyday thought. It passes through our minds, we say a quick, “Thanks Jesus!” and the day rolls on. I wonder what Jesus must think; I wonder how He has the patience and love to deal with us.

You know that song that goes, “And I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that cross”? Well, I sing that song and know how very true it is. I am so selfish and so sinful that I cannot even imagine or even understand how love can die for another. How love can sacrifice His Son. How love can give and give and give to a sinner, like me, who has nothing to give. And yet, I complain when I suffer and when I go through trials and temptations. I accuse God of not being there for me, for abandoning me in my greatest need. Funny how quickly I forget everything I’ve been given.

So if you are reading this and thinking of how much of an embarrassment I must be to those who profess themselves to be Christians...remember that on this road, we stumble and we fall hard, but God, who is working in me and in you will someday make us whole. He knows our struggles; He knows how sinful we are, yet He loved us so much that He hung on a cross for us. Think about it. Really think about it and let the reality of it soak in. It's not just a story.

I’d rather admit my struggles to you so you know that when we are saved we are not made perfect, just forgiven.