Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What were you born to do?

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh often proclaims confidently, "I was born to host, you were born to listen!" I am always struck by that bold self-assurance of his being totally comfortable with his lot in life, with that which he is gifted and empowered to perform. He loves having an impact on people for principles he holds dear.

One of my colleagues is a totally committed dad, always there for important events in the lives of his children. He is their teacher, their close friend, and coach in the many issues of life. I heard someone say of him, "He's a terrific father." Not surprising; it fits, it's simply what he does. He loves his kids and would do anything for them. It's automatic.

Another colleague seems to be blessed to handle pressure with grace and relaxed confidence. Nothing appears to phase him. Not only able to perform under pressure, he is easy-going and always friendly with a welcome sense of humor. His attitude is contageous.

The perfecting of skills and abilities always draws attention and serves its purpose. But those who excel in reaching people and giving something of themselves might well be remembered far beyond the others. We have a job, a skill, an ability which is not necessarily the reason we are here. Our function goes beyond the work we do. It is the people we impact: those who listen to us, those who watch us, those who benefit by our just being around.

My life is not about my job or my performing of it. My job is only the vehicle that takes me to people and situations that will ultimately define my purpose. The attitude consistently displayed will be our most powerful sermon. And the people we reach will first be those within our own family.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Prized Possession!

Tonight we saw the cutest little 6-year old violinist on center stage as soloist before a full orchestra. The conductor was watching him closely, smiling with admiration. For the audience this was surely the highlight of the evening. All smiled, laughed lovingly, and even shed some tears. What touched them? Was it the talent of an awesome prodigy? No, for the young fellow's playing was actually quite unpolished. Others his age have played far better. As the camera zoomed in closely, however, you could readily see the reason for his popularity. He was using his priceless possession, his secret weapon!

This little guy was displaying something quite rare. He smiled often at the audience and seemed to be smiling at himself also, not taking himself too seriously. He was having a good time, and was communicating to hundreds of on-lookers his innocent, unselfish love for what he was there to do. He was an instant success!

Tonight it seemed that love trumped talent. Attitude surpassed ability. His spirit communicated where technique was lacking. Sincere, honest joy communicated more than a slew of right notes.

Isn't that like the message of I Cor. 13? Without agape love, only given by God, all those with superior abilities in knowledge and eloquence are reduced to irritating annoyances! Even great faith, giving to the needy, and impressive self-sacrificing are counted as nothing in contrast to God-infused love. So effective and powerful in fact is this unique kind of love, that it claims in v. 8 that it will never fail. It always works. It never disappoints, and it will never cease to perform as intended. It speaks volumes, it heals, it unites, it reaches out, it excels.

In our diligent pursuit of excellence in all we are given to do, it's good to be reminded of the best gift, the most useful communicator, and the most valued by God. It is our prized possession!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Christ, His Church, the Family, and Me

Ephesians 5:21-33 connects believers not only to Him, but in the same way links us to others in our family, and in the church.

In I John our love for God is measured by our love demonstrated for the brethren. Similarly we cannot claim to have a thriving relationship with God when the family is failing, or when delighting in His Word is constantly neglected.

Fortunately, the link that unites our families, our marriages, and our union with Christ has nothing to do with self effort. It is all about Christ himself. I think he is revealing something of his amazing work in that which is imperfect (us)! Isn't that just like God? How small our love seems when contrasted with his great love for the church!

We conclude that he has set the standard awfully high. I can't be the father, the husband, the brother to other believers as I ought. I fail. I don't love. I don't submit. But I bet that is exactly what he intends for us to realize. It's as if he says, "Here is what I expect. You cannot perform this, but I can, and you can see me do it if you want to!"

Just as Christ is the head of the church, and as he loved it, sanctified it, cleansed it, and will present it to himself a glorious church without any defects at all, so too is he at work in my marriage, in each relationship within my family, and in the fellowship of believers in his church. He is even now working to make my marriage a mirror of Christ's love for his church. My duties as a father will likewise be accomplished as I begin to glimpse his work with each one in our family. My responsibilities towards others at church or elsewhere in the week are also made effective as I see what he is doing daily in my life. The more I see, the more I begin to wake up.

"This is a great mystery" as he says. "But I speak concerning Christ and the church." My take on this passage is that I can be greatly encouraged that whatever the obstacle, Christ is perfectly performing his cleansing, washing and soon his presenting faultless his church, our family and me before the Father. Our actions then are motivated by our awareness of this truth, rather than by our hoping to fulfull each expectation perfectly.

The handbook to begin seeing this process is his Word.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Where are we?"

During lulls at work, one of our colleagues used to ask loudly through a bored yawn, "Where are we?" His style of humor and frank boldness used to entertain and help us get through many slow rehearsals. He died suddenly this last year, a shock and sorrow for all of us who knew him.

I'll not forget him and all he brought to the job. His frequently asked question, "Where are we?" seems to stick with me. It is a daily dilemma. It could be added, "Why am I here in this situation? What does God intend for me at this point? And how can I proceed with a perspective that puts me in the center of His plan?"

None of us can look back over the years without shuddering over wrong turns, foolish decisions, immaturity, and a general blindness to God's hand in shaping our lives. So none can boast about where we've been. But where am I now, where am I heading, and what direction am I pursuing? Those are the questions.

Ephesians 5:8 clarifies our situation perfectly. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." As Christians we are no longer blindly following the patterns of selfish, aimless pursuits. Now He says "WE ARE LIGHT". We are here to discover His plan in our daily activities. How we should live now becomes a "no-brainer". We are light, and simply advised to walk with the understanding of that truth.

We forget not only where we are, but who we are and where we are going. We have already been delivered from darkness, cleansed by His blood, given a completely new nature, the ability not to sin, the very mindset of Christ Himself, and the promise that He is going to one day present us faultless before the Father! For all of that, He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit for daily guidance.

I envision the best-ever ride at King's Island, with believers firmly seated as the amazing ride begins. The free ticket for the ride was purchased for us. The fantastic journey is not only ours to see, but also for our participation. And at the end of the ride there will be no let-down. There is planned an awesome celebration, a meal to dwarf our holiday feasts, rewards that will never tarnish, and our meeting with the One who planned the ride and issued the ticket in the first place!

Instead, we so easily choose the enemy's blindfold, headphones to block out the instructions of the Guide, and an excuse, "I am not interested in your ride. I prefer my own."

Let us be thankful for His intervention in our darkness, His declaring us light, and the enablement to walk daily in His marvelous light. That's where we are!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Whole Gang

Originally uploaded by Biddlebugs.
Family vacation 2005
Click the pic to get a bigger view

Christmas Song Riddle (bad)

What is the hardest Christmas Song?

Pathetic answer: Jingle Bell Rock

Cleaning for Company

Holiday company comes and then they leave. Excitment followed by let-down. The game is great, but it's over and we all go back to normal. No wonder January is so depressing!

The Lord has made us His temple. We are not our own, we are His sheep in His pasture. We are His property bought at great expense to Himself. Unlike the guests after holidays, He doesn't go home. His team doesn't lose. In fact, we are His team! We are always conquerors. Life is bigger than "the game." We are His workmanship trained for His purpose. What a coach! He's not leaving for a better job, and we will never be traded away!

Back to the first point: CLEANING FOR COMPANY. I was struck by the quote by J. Owen. "Many cannot meditate because their minds are so cluttered up with earthly things. The mind must be spiritual and holy, freed from earthly things . . . So many are strangers to this duty because they do not mortify their earthly desire and concerns."

Trying to think seriously on the things in the Word which God has for us becomes almost impossible when the mind is cluttered with junk! Like trying to swim with cement flippers on!

"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (II Cor. 7:1)

The GREAT NEWS: HE DOES THE CLEANSING, NOT US! "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Prov. 20:9) "Create a clean heart in me, O God." We could never do a thorough enough job by ourselves. Only self-righteous gloating would result, a pitiful dusting at best. His cleansing by the blood of His Son was complete and everlasting. He doesn't have to come again next week with brooms and mops.

Let us open the door for the Master to comfortably dwell in our temple, and let us continue to walk humbly with our God. What a privilege!


Monday, November 21, 2005

Thoughts shared as received . . .

"early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee."

"What do we have that we have not received!?" (Paul)

We are only average containers of little or no value except . . . except for the costly contents poured into us by our heavenly Father! How we easily forget the cost of our filling, the priceless offering of His Son! Let us be glad and rejoice. Let us be thankful not so much for His gifts, but for the Giver himself. (II Cor. 4:7)


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Potent therapy for a multitude of sins

The amazing cure-all for large hurdles seems to lie almost in hiding right in the middle of a sample list of poisons. There in the beginning of Ephesians chapter 5 can be found for anyone looking for them at least two powerful truths.

1. Who are you following? (v. 1) It starts there.

2. How would you describe your walking style? (v. 2)

3. How we forget! Christ is our offering and sacrifice, which alone pleases God.

4. Notice the hidden weapon in v. 4. " . . . but rather giving of thanks." More powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings (of sin), is the genuine attitude of GRATEFULNESS. Could it be that when we really grasp how desperate we are in need of all that Christ offers, and how empty we are without Him, that only then we cry out for Him? Then we become truely thankful. And, by the way, look what just got forgotten? the list of the enemies of our soul: fornication, all uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, etc.

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."

Have a great season of giving thankfulness to the Lord for all He has eliminated in our lives!


Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Name the Carol

First Question
See if you can name the Christmas song that has the following lyrics. It's not a riddle or joke, just Christmas song trivia.

"from the Atlantic to Pacific, the traffic is terrific!"

Answer: There is no place like "Home for the Holidays"

Second Question
What is the name of the reindeer who was always laughing and mocking the others?

Answer: "Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call them names."