Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Creatures = New Features

     While waiting in the doctor's office, I picked up Bloomberg Business Week for Sepember 20-26, 2010. The article The Fallen King of Finland shared the following:

What was the most successful European company in the 90's?     Nokia
What's the most disappointing company in the 2000's?     Nokia
Nokia clung to the idea that mobile hand-sets were mainly for phoning people. That was a disastrous call.

     I would say so!  These new phone creations offer so many new features. My new Blackberry Christmas gift gives me constant access to facebook, the web, texting, phoning, videoing, picture taking, and has games, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm for wake up and reminders, a memo pad, and many downloadable apps. I'm sure it has many more capabilities that I am ignorant of because I have not taken the time to read the manual or used the various tutorials. What an embarrassing defeat for this close-minded Nokia King who never educated himself beyond his limited imagination!

     But aren't we Christians the same way? Some of us are still clinging to the idea that salvation through Jesus Christ is "mainly for going to heaven." What a disastrous call! II Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This means our old features are not only gone, but are replaced with new features which create new motives, objectives, emotions, and hope! What are some of these new features?

1. Power to: (Luke 6:27-38)
    Love our enemies
    Do good to those who hate us
    Bless those who curse us
    Pray for those who spitefully use us
    Resist physical retaliation
    Surrender personal rights and entitlements
    Give to others without expecting anything in return
    Do to others as we would have them do to us
    Be merciful
    Judge not
    Condemn not
    Forgive the seemingly unforgivable

2. Blessings: (Luke 6:27-38)
    Your reward will be great
    You will be the sons of the Most High
    You will not be judged
    You will not be condemned
    You will be forgiven
    You will be given everything back in full measure, and then some

3.  Courage to:
     Face new situations and surroundings (John 14:18)
     Stand firm in convictions (Eph. 6:14, I Cor. 15:58)
     Respond boldly to events around us (Gal. 1:9-10)
     Take advantage of opportunities (II Cor. 3:5)
     Witness (Romans 1:16)

4. Promises:
    John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whoever believes on me should not abide in darkness.

    Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    John 16:33 These things have I spoken to you that you might have peace in me....

    Matt. 11:28  Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

    Deut. 7:9 Know ye therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God.....

    Isaiah 54:10...my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed...

    Psalm 32:8 ....I will guide thee with my eye...

    I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us.

     Of course, we could list many more new features. If you are not sure how, when, where, or why to access them, there is always 24 hour customer service (prayer), product tutorials (Sunday School, church, small groups), many apps (scripture), in-store service techs (biblical counselors), and as with all plans, unlimited forgiveness.

     Don't let your close-mindedness, imaginitive limitations, or your ignorance to God's Word cause you to miss out on God's best plan for your life. Explore the many other features God is offering us and put them to use!

    I Cor. 2:9   But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Take More Pictures!

     I love how there are studies of "birth order." Being a middle child, I enjoy giving my mom a hard time about the photo album. There are not as many pictures of me as there are of my older and younger sister (their excuse: "The camera broke." So much I can go with on that one). I was determined not to have this happen to my child! Then, when we had our third kid, life overtook my efforts! Too busy with work, a one year old, two year old, and now a baby, I did not have as many professional pictures taken of him. On top of that, the pictures I did take with my new digital camera disappeared when the computer crashed!Thankfully, family and friends gave me some that they had of him. What a horrible feeling not to be able to go back in time and photographically capture those moments for a lifetime of memories!!!

     How about this for a horrible feeling? You are flipping through your mental photo album of your spiritual children, but there aren't many. You had planned to do better, but life overtook your efforts. You worked, had kids, served in the church, and acted as team mom. It just wasn't convienent or comfortable when the opportunity arose. Your relationship with God was broken at the time causing you to be ineffective and unmotivated. All of the sudden, you look back at when you could have made a difference in a person's eternity, but you can't go back and capture those moments. You can't even borrow from friends.

     We as children like to joke with our parents,"You just must not have loved me as much." I would venture to say on the other side of eternity there will be no joking, only questions of "why didn't you tell me?" Luke 16:20-31 tells us of the rich man, spending eternity in hell, who begged Abraham to allow Lazarus (the beggar whom he ignored on earth who was now in heaven) "to dip the tip of his finger in water" to cool his tongue. Of course, this was not possible, and the rich man begged again for Abraham to allow Lazarus to go back to his father's house and witness to his family so that they would not have to endure the torment of hell.

     Maybe someone in hell right now is begging you to tell his family member about Jesus or wishing you had taken the opportunity to tell them yourself. People will not always believe you or accept what you have to say, just as for years, this rich man and his family ignored Moses and the prophets. But it is still our responsibility to tell others about Christ. My Pastor said last week, "While the methods of sharing Christ may have changed, the message is still the same." Take advantage of the many new ways of witnessing. Anything from posting verses on clothing, cars, or signs to hosting a mom's morning out to blogging to facebooking to having a block party. Reaching the whole world for Christ requires you to step out of your own little world. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans10:14  Newsflash: You are the preacher!! You can sow and reap in your own hometown everyday!

     Don't let life overtake your purpose as a Christian. Someone out there is counting on you to capture the moment not just for a lifetime, but for eternity.

Luke 10:2 "The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few." 
John 4:36-37 "One sows and another reaps..."so..."that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In Training

     I'm sure you've seen some sort of animal show at a circus, zoo, or theme park and were amazed at how trainers were able to transform the behavior of those animals into an enjoyable show. Of course, we have also seen or heard stories of how animals have rejected their training causing injury to a human. Each of these circumstances is explained with various reasoning, but I thought this answer in the December/January 2011 issue of Ranger Rick was quite simple:

"A trained lion, bear, or dolphin, for instance, always has a little bit of wild left in it. Even an animal  that has lived its whole life around humans isn't completely tame. So there's always a danger that the wildness will suddenly erupt, and the animal will attack..."

     These animals went through specific training to adjust their behavior into what the trainer wanted their behavior to be, which included resisting natural tendencies. But occasionally, no matter how much training they received, they reverted to their old ways.
     Just as removing an animal from the wild or raising an animal in a domicile setting does not take away its ability to act wild and attack, neither is a Christian's ability to sin taken away just because the "old man" (Romans 6:5-14) died on the cross with Jesus Christ. If that were the case, then why would the animals continue to need trainers, and why would Christian's continue to need God? His death on the cross freed us from the eternal punishment of sin and our slavery to sin. Now, we have the choice to serve God.
     The day we accepted Christ as our Savior, specific training began to adjust our behavior to become more Christ-like, which included resisting sin. Because we cannot train ourselves to do this as an animal cannot train itself, we were given the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, " I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." We must allow the Holy Spirit to train our every move -both with correction and encouragement- to help us to reject sin and follow Christ.
     Whether we've been in training for years or for days, at some point along the way we have reverted to sinning. Thankfully, God has been so gracious to tell us in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." With that, He welcomes us back into the training program.

II Timothy 3:14-17  "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

There Is A Remedy

     I was thinking today as I cleaned my daughter and the high chair from the remains of her meal how much easier it has been to take care of her than it was her sister, my first child. As with most moms, we are not sure of how to handle or react to many situations the first time we go through it. In fact, we seek advice from other seasoned moms who are familiar with the particular situations. They give words of comfort, tried and true remedies, things to avoid, and many other suggestions. The learning process is not always easy, and I don't know how I would have made it without the guidance of the others who had already experienced the same or similar situations.
     Oddly enough, this got me thinking of the question people often ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Well, my unscholarly answer would be: If bad things only happened to bad people then how would the good people be able to relate to them, advise them, and comfort them for the cause of Christ? Their only source of wisdom and advise from people who could empathize with them would be other "bad people." That's not very helpful now is it?
     We as Christians have the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the confidence of God through our Savior, Jesus Christ who came to earth and experienced many of the same things we do: ridicule, torture, betrayal, lack of appreciation, accusations, being overwhelmed, grief, pupils that don't listen, loss of loved ones, being outcast, being judged, and more. He left us many "tried and true remedies" throughout His Holy Word for every situation we could encounter.
     One of these experiences is recorded in Mark 14:36 (NKJV) where He cried these words out to His Father in reference to His coming death, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will." Jesus did not ask to suffer and die, nor did He want to, and He even asked if there was any way He could avoid it, but that was not God's plan. In all of this, and despite all of this, Jesus accepted the will of His Father. As He continued to reach out to man, even seconds before His final breath, His unfaltering testimony grasped the faith of the theif right beside Him. Jesus remedy:

                    1. Take it to God in prayer
                    2. Accept how the Father wills to work through us
                    3. Watch how God turns man's struggles into a work for His glory

     You may not have asked for your situation, but for some reason God chose to use you through that situation to bring glory to Him. These experiences are merely a resource for shining God's light for the world to see. As you use God's strength to survive your circumstance and then share your experience and "tried and true remedy" (testimony) with others, whether it is something that happened to you or that you happened to something, immerse yourself in prayer. Then God will glory in those who are accepting of it. Others' only hope of Jesus Christ lies in you. And what is even better, God gives us plenty of wonderful experiences to testify about too!

"There is a remedy, and His name is Jesus Christ!"

I Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Down Time

     When you hear someone say, "I need some down time," they are most likely saying, "I need  some time where I can engage in that which interests me and with those of whom I deem worthy to be with me at that point." As a mother of four little ones and wife of a headmaster of a Christian school, let me assure you I know the definition of busy, and I enjoy any "down time" I get!
     The Bible tells us in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-43, and Luke 9:10-17 (same story told from these men's different perspectives) that Jesus also needed some "down time." Let's see how we compare.
     The disciples had just taken a quick tour of Jewish communities to preach and heal as a proclamation of the Messianic Age (The Teacher's Bible Commentary by Paschall and Hobbs, Luke 9). On this trip, they heard of the death of John the Baptist and gave him a proper burial. Upon their return, they had to inform Jesus of His cousin's death. Not only are Jesus and the disciples exhausted from their respective missions, but, with the news of John's death, Jesus also knows that the time of his own death is closer. Jesus needed some down time. Mark 6:30 quotes Jesus, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile." So they took a cruise to an exotic island. Ok, not really. They boarded a dirty, smelly fishing boat and took a short trip across the Sea of Galilee to a deserted place. It was here where Jesus was going to pour His heart out to His Father in solitude seeking spiritual renewal to continue His work for the Kingdom.
     The crowds could see where the boat was headed and took off on foot along the shore lines, many reaching His destination before Him. (I'm talking eight miles on foot compared to four miles on the boat! They really wanted to be with Jesus!) When the disciples saw them, they suggested to send the crowds away (I hear what you're sayin', boys!). But Jesus saw the "great multitude and was moved with compassion for them" (Mark 6:34).
     Jesus' just learned that His cousin had been beheaded, and the realization that His time was drawing near had just surfaced, -all this, not to mention the non-stop healing and teaching. Jesus deserved some alone time with His Heavenly Father more than ever, but he chose to focus His compassion on others and not Himself. He spent the day taking action to further the Kingdom of God with more healing and teaching. When it was supper time, the disciples wanted to send the crowds away again (again, I feel your pain! Healing and preaching is all cool, but now you want me to serve meals to them? Let me just interject here that I would have made a great disciple!), but Jesus chose to feed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. Once the people were taken care of, only then did Jesus continue up the mountain for His time alone with God.
     Wow! I don't know about you, but my "down time" is not usually about prayer and spiritual renewal, and it's certainly not about meeting the needs of others- in fact, that's usually what I'm trying to get away from!
     Jesus mission was to advance the kingdom of Heaven at all costs. His down time was spent consulting God on His next mission. So put down your iphone, turn off the tv, and unplug the computer and use that time to receive your next assignment from God. Let's retrain ourselves to align our down time with seeking out how we can be used of God to continue His work on earth. What will you do for Jesus?

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." KJV

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." NKJV

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The first weekend in October, my husband and I took our young kids to the Georgia National Fair. Before we entered the gates, we established rules so that they would have fun and not get lost. While they laughed and squealed at the many sights, we watched them like hawks. We had made it through the tractor exhibit, the cow-milking demonstration, the Wild West show, and even the circus, but the rides were where we lost one.
            As we were exiting one ride and winding our way through the crowd to the next one, our two-year old son Bo wandered away. Panic overtook my husband and me as we frantically scanned the area. After a long two minutes, we found that he had roamed back to the ride we had just left. What relief!  
            This made me think of our relationship as a child of God. He has given us many guidelines in the Bible to help us have a joy-filled life and not get lost in sin, yet sometimes we choose not to follow them. He tells us to stick close, yet we wander off. Oh, the concern, or “panic,” that he must feel when we “go astray.” The Bible tells us the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep that have stayed with him to rescue the one who chose to wander off. Verse 7 tells us that “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner who repents.” God continually watches over us and searches for each of us when we stray, just as we did with Bo, and He is exceedingly glad when we return to His presence.
            I sure am glad God continued to search for me when I wandered away. God’s love is that strong for everyone. I challenge you to make sure others know this.
Luke 15:3-7
“So he spoke this parable to them, saying: What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”