Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WHERE IS THE LOVE...During The Holidays??

I believe God allows us to experience and go through things sometimes to open our eyes, to move us from where we are and sometimes to share it with others. In what I share below, I believe all three are true for me (I am included and have found myself lacking as well).

WOW! It is another holiday season, the perfect time for all of us to neglect and show how much we do not care about each other. The perfect time of year to really show the people in our lives that our love for them is not genuine at all but really very superficial. It is a time to come together with family, leaving all others behind to fend for themselves while thinking nothing of the single mother, the widow, the poor or less fortunate that are in your circle of friends or acquaintances, not to mention those outside of it. If those in our circles are not being cared for then you know we are not considering those in the world that need a love touch from God through us. This doesn't quite sound like a holiday card I would want to receive, what about you? Thanks Guys for not remembering me during the holidays, thanks for not calling and for thinking about you and only you. Have a blessed day, Happy Thanksgiving! NOT! Oh, silly me, I forgot, we are too busy cooking and making plans for an exciting holiday for ourselves.

I was sitting at the dining room table thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's when a thought hit me like a ton of bricks. What are me and the girls going to do for Thanksgiving? My parents are in Florida every year at Thanksgiving so they are excluded from this scenario:) My grandparents are away this year too. Suddenly I felt unloved and lonely because we had no one to spend the holiday with. I heard many people making plans, but they didn't include us, as a matter of fact only 2 friends asked what I was going to do for Thanksgiving and when I said I have no plans they rushed on to share there plans and then said good-bye.

My heart was greatly saddened. I felt a couple of things. One was how we rush around and make our plans and don't invite God into them. I now, have a small glimpse of what that might feel like to Him. Two, that we as believer's have lost what is most important in our lives according to God--LOVE.

Personally, I have many people who call me friend and sistergirl but year after year, holiday after holiday no one thinks about checking to see if we have some place to be for the holidays and open their home to us or invite us to tag along with them. I even have family within a 6-10 mile radius and they do not check on us and ask us whether we have plans or invite us to share a meal with them. Shame on all of us when we can't think past our own agenda to see God's agenda. I ask you...WHERE IS THE LOVE?

Do we even ask God who HE wants us to spend some holiday time with...of course not, we spend it with who we want to spend it with, I know you are probably saying, come on Michelle...It's not that deep. I beg to differ. Everything about God and His love is deep, maybe we are just too shallow to tread in the deep waters of God's kind of love. Yes, the pun was intended:)

No wonder people have trouble believing in our God, the One True God whose claim to fame is a love that would put His own son on the cross to die for our sins, yet His people won't stretch a bit to invite someone into their well organized plans for the holiday. No wonder Christ is laughed at, no wonder people don't believe. We are doing a less than acceptable job as a people of being a lamp unto the world of God's love.

What are you doing this holiday season that shows the love of Christ to a dying world of lost souls. Are you leaving them to fend for themselves? Lonely and depressed because no one thinks highly enough of them to show them some love. What greater gift of love can be given than a man lay down his life for a friend? Christ was the ultimate example. The sad part of this story is that we as believer's lack the love of Christ in our lives. His love is not selfish or self seeking, His love has spoken from the cross, a sinless man dying in our place, His love has embraced us and called us His own even when we were a terrible mess...and the truth is we are still a mess but HE does not leave us alone and does not have us fend for ourselves.

Who do you call friend? Have you extended yourself to include them in your holiday plans? I have only been asked two times this Thanksgiving what my holiday plans are. Hmm, could it be that people are to absorbed with their own lives that they don't think about another? Who do we serve? Was not His life, is not His life from the cross to the grave from the grave to the sky all an true manifestation of His love for us? So I ask you...WHERE IS THE LOVE?

BTW (by the way)- there are no excuses that God will accept for us as believer's not making room for others. We who have been forgiven much....should be overflowing with love. I just don't get it...the great commandment is Love one another...where is God in you if you are too busy to show love to others?

CONFESSION - Since I wasn't included in anyones plans (no hard feelings:)) I am having a friend over for Thanksgiving dinner. She was not able to travel home to visit her family for the holiday. NO APPLAUSE! I blew it big time. She is coming over because she invited herself. This is not a bad thing. I should have been the one to invite her. This was a wake up call for me. I heard God loud and clear!!

Let's all get a jump start on Christmas, check out our inner circle of friends and let's not stop there, let's take a look at our acquaintances, etc. If you are not making dinner, not a problem, most families don't mind a stray person, just think about that boyfriend or girlfriend you invited everywhere, who are not even with now, they let him/her come over on the holiday. You know I am right!

Let's give the love of Christ this Christmas 2008!You know what...If we don't first love God this way, to invite Him into every area of our lives it will be nearly impossible for us to involuntarily (knee jerk reaction) love others as HE does.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who Are You...REALLY?

Mark 8:38 "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

This question came to mind for me when I was drinking my coffee and having my quiet time this morning. When someone asks you, "So who is Michelle," (fill in your name in place of mine). Do you say, "I am the founder, owner, lawyer of such and such place? I am a mother of "X" number of children? I am a single parent or married, blah, blah, blah. Or do I say, "I am a born again believer, a Christian, a Sunday School teacher, Pastor or Deacon of my church...and then follow up with your worldly position? Or do you tell everyone who you are according to what they are looking to hear or what impresses you most about yourself? I am guilty of this same thing. We tend to give people what they want and what we know they are looking for instead of leading with who we really are. We act as if our lives having been transformed is a useless piece of information. If our relationship with Christ is priority then we should lead with what is most important to us, right?

If we, in real life were the children of a king or the children of the President, hmmm, might we lead with that. That is rather impressive, I would say and most would probably agree. We who have been washed by the blood that Christ shed on the cross for the redemption of our sins....are truly children of THE KING! Why then do we tell everyone everything else about ourselves and exclude or delay that HUGE fact? Does it embarrass us? Do we not want to be questioned or looked at as differently? Do we think it is not important? You tell me. My answer is that I simply didn't even think about it like that until this morning. Praise God for His faithfulness to reveal areas of idolatry (putting myself before Him). You might not have thought about it either because most people introduce themselves the same way. Usually we are looking for the answer ourselves of what position they hold, whether they are married and have children, etc. But wouldn't it be a great way to open the door for conversation about the Lord and possibly lead to a possible conversion? If nothing more they will know you have boundaries (hopefully) and that you are a "safe person (hopefully) and that you are open to talk to them about private matters of the heart (hopefully).

I kept saying hopefully because not everyone carries themselves like a child of the King. If you are going to lead with this, let your "walk it out" be evident, let's not give God or Christianity a bad reputation.

If you have a ministry, You must have a bio. When the bio is constructed it is usually listing all your accomplishments first and all the schools you studies at, all the awards you received, etc. THEN, last but not mentions that you are a woman or man of God, a loving father of a number of children and an loving husband or wife to your spouse. WOW! It kind of sounds like we are ALL THAT all by yourself with no focus or praise to God. We close our introduction of ourselves with last but not least...."I am a Christian." From today on, let's start with what matter most to God, that is who we are in Him.

I have to go change my bio after I finish this blog:) Could it possibly be that because we have our priorities out of order, our life follows in it's footsteps and is also somewhat out of order? I wonder what would happen if we lead with our relationship to the Almighty King of heaven and earth, who rules and REIGNS over everything and everyone. Oh, and don't get His sovereignty twisted, if you are not a child of the king, HE still rules and REIGNS over your life as well. You just don't acknowledge that fact nor do you acknowledge Him.

Can you just imagine how much your witnessing/evangelizing efforts would multiply? After all we are here and have been given the Great Commission to win souls for Christ and make disciples. If you don't witness at all this would be a great way to start.

I encourage those of you who have a ministry to start out with Christ and end with Christ by saying that all that you have accomplished or been awarded is because your Heavenly Father has said well done and that it is ONLY because of Him that you have done and accomplished all you have.

I encourage you to put God first in EVERYTHING, including your bio or your introduction of yourself to anyone. The only way this would be impossible for you to do is if you really are not a child of the King or that you are not proud to be a Kings kid. There is one other reason you might struggle with this and that would be that you are prideful and looking for kudos for yourself. God knows who is sitting on the throne in your life.

Could you really have become who you are without Him, His love, His guidance, His discipline, His favor, His grace or His mercy? NO.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keep Running!

I was already in the process of writing my blog "Keep Running,” when a friend handed me a dvd to listen to of a young preacher, age seventeen named Reggie Shaw. The topic of his message was “Running The Race.” I decided to incorporate some of his points, which are in quotations in my blog along with my own points:)

Hebrews 12:1-3, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I ask you as my running partners for Christ, do you ever get tired? Be honest. Do you serve till you feel like you have no serve left in you? Does it seem like every time you pick up the phone it is another counseling session? Are you constantly trying to help people who don't seem to want to help themselves? Does it seem sometimes that it would just be easier to look out for you and leave everyone else to fend for themselves? I believe that most people who have been running the Christian race have felt this way at one time or another. But don't stop running.

Let me encourage you today that it is not all up to you. Reggie convinced me when he said, "That we are not called to run a 100 yard dash race for the Lord because the Bible says, the race is not given to the swift. We are not called to run a long distance race because many have been born and not lived long but have made a tremendous impact on the world for Christ. We have not even been called to run a marathon race because a marathon race is only about our self, how well we do, how long we can run, about me crossing the finish line, etc." He says, "I believe God has called us to run a RELAY RACE. Here is the proof...someone was running before you and me and they ran hard for the Lord, whether it was our mom/dad, grandparents, etc., and they passed the baton down to us. Someone else served and died to self before us. So we must run to endure and be able to pass the baton on down to our children."

If you aren't in the race or decided you were worn out, I encourage you to get up. The Bible also says that God is capable to have us mount up with wings as eagles, to run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.

You know what our problem is? We are too busy trying to be the star of the track team instead of a team player. Everyone is trying to perform so they can get a leadership role in the church, in the ministry, on the choir, on the Deacon Board, etc. Too many chiefs and not enough disciples of Christ--who was a servant and content to serve. Even if you can be a chief, sometimes God puts you in the relay in His choice of order. Some people are starters, some take the second leg or third leg and some bring it on home. Can you serve God without getting a pat on the back or a leadership role? Hmmm.

In Hebrews chapter 12, God gave us a race to run. Reggie also said, "You may be wondering, if Jesus set us free when HE died on the cross and redeemed us over 2,000 years ago and we are already saved, why we still have to run?" As always, I am so glad you asked. He gives this example. "Let's think about baseball for a moment. Did you ever wonder why a player who hits a home run that is knocked clear out the ballpark has to still run the bases? Personally I would be thinking that if I can hit a home run, then I should be able to go sit down. So I asked my granddad and he said, "They have to run all the bases to complete the play."

Did you hear that?

"What Jesus did was knock the ball out of the park on sin when HE died on the cross but Jesus said you got to go around first, second, third base and slide into home someday to complete the play." WOW!

No matter how bad things are in your life you have to keep on running. Praise God for the people in the faith hall of fame who can encourage us when we get tired, and weary, when we get a cramp that has us stop for a moment, like a wayward child, a health issue, a death in the family... get up and keep on running. Job was attacked in every way and kept on running. Paul was imprisoned and kept on running. Daniel was in a lion’s den and kept on running. Meshach, Shadrach & Abednigo were in the fiery furnace and they came out running. Joseph was falsely accused, put in prison and he came out running. Others have run the race and won; we are not the only one who has struggled.

Let's look at how this passage tells us to run a race. First, we must look at our crowd of witnesses in verse 1. The "therefore" takes us back to Hebrews chapter 11, which is the hall of faith. Those that I mentioned above are there along with Abraham, Rahab, Moses, Isaac, Jacob and many others. We need to look at their stories and be encouraged to keep running. Next, we need to remove all weights that so easily entangle us. Think about people who run professionally in the Olympics. They wear tight clothes when they run, not to show off their bodies but so they so they can run and not get entangled by the wind--the wind holds back a runner. What is holding you back from running your race for Jesus? Do you have too much stuff on you and in your life?

Reggie says, "Some things can be weights that are not sin. It is not a sin to have a boyfriend but is your boyfriend a weight? It is not a sin to have a cell phone but if you talk more on your cell phone than you talk to God, it can become a weight. If you spend more money on your shoes than you put in an offering plate, it could become a weight."

What are the weights holding you from running? Attitude, gossiping, pornography? Maybe a lack of patience or perseverance is your weight? We cannot represent God with a whole bunch of stuff on us.

Last point; remember who already won the victory. We may get cramps, we may sweat, and get tired but I encourage you to look to God who is the author and finisher of our faith. Don't look at your circumstances. I like how Reggie said it, he said, "Take your eyes off your reality and put your eyes on Jesus!"

I encourage you to choose friends that are committed to the race. Wrong friends may have values and participate in activities that hold you back in the race. Much of our own weight may be from the crowd of people we hang with. If you have an addiction to alcohol, pornography or gambling, admit it and get help with it, don't let pride come before your destruction. We must give up whatever endangers our relationship with God so we can run with endurance through the power of the Holy Spirit.

My question to you today is whatever your circumstance, no matter how tired you are in this race.... Will you keep on running to complete the play?

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