Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cheerleaders


I have been really fortunate to have some people in my life that are willing to walk into dark places with me. Lately life hasn’t been so dark. In fact my life is filled with light. I have been truly happy more often than not. I know that life isn’t about being happy but I am sure grateful for this time. I am excited about my life.

The past several weeks have been a period of intense change for me. It is really hard to describe other than to say that I not only feel better but I am better. Some things I knew only in my head have been grounded in my heart. When people see me they ask me what I have been doing. They can see the change in my face and posture. That is really cool.

What is also a really huge blessing is that the same people who were there for me in the darkness are there for me in the light. I feel like I have a bunch of cheerleaders. They are excited for me too. They believe in me and the changes they are seeing. It is amazing to be able to share my joy with others and see it reflected back to me. My prayer for you is that you will have people who are there for you in all of your hills and valleys.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Cross


On Good Friday at church we had an opportunity to write our ‘stuff’ on a piece of paper and nail it to one of the wooden crosses we had at the front. I have been involved in services where they did something like that before but I have never actually done it. Somehow actually taking a nail and hammering it into the cross (even a modern representation of one) seemed like it was a little over the top. Plus I have never been very good about engaging some symbolic act of faith.

This time I did it. I don’t know why this time was different specifically. Maybe I was just sick of my life the way it was. Or maybe the gathering was just structured in such a way where I really felt like I didn’t have a choice. Whatever the reason was I actually took it seriously. I wrote from my heart about the things I share with very few people. I walked up to the cross, took a nail, and hammered the nail until it was flush with the cross. I had about a mustard seed of faith that something would ever come of it.

I didn’t think about that again for a while. I didn’t immediately feel better or like I had been cleansed of sin. Looking back I wonder if that was the start of something for me. I can’t be sure but what I do know is that I have found myself dealing with the very same issues I nailed to the cross. I have moved forward in ways I never thought I would. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable in front of others and have found refuge.

In the last two weeks I have found joy and peace. I am starting to live in the reality of God’s love. Even when I stumble I still feel like I have some level of victory. I have experienced God’s grace and love over and over. Come to think of it, how could it not be related to Good Friday?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Belong


Ephes. 2:12-13 (NLT)
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from God's people, Israel, and you did not know the promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul. Paul had a mission to bring the message to the Gentiles (which is quite ironic.) The Gentiles were considered outsiders by the Jews. They were not considered God’s people. They were on the outside looking in. I realize when I read this passage that I identify with the Gentiles. Especially where it says “You lived in this world without God and without hope.”

The translation of the Bible I read most often is The New Living Translation. In this translation Ephesians 13 starts off “But now you belong to Christ Jesus.” The fact that I belong to Jesus is not new to me. Yet somehow this passage grabbed my heart. I lived in the world with no hope but now I belong to Jesus. I had a sense of joy and peace and freedom. What is really interesting to me is that other translations do not say this exactly that way. I think that the fact I read this translation first is God’s gift to me.

For the past two days I have had a sense of joy and security I don’t remember having before. Every time I think about it I feel giddy. I belong to Jesus. No one or nothing can change that. I feel like I have been changed somehow.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Blessings

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 3-6, NIV)

Anyone who has known me for a while knows I have a pretty huge aversion to name-it-and-claim-it philosophies. I am very sensitive to anything that looks at all like it. Lately I have learned that I might be just a little bit wrong about that.

I still do not believe God is going to give us anything we want if we just find an example of it in the Bible and ask. Yet I have noticed that I need to find some balance. God has shown me that by never expecting blessing or never asking I have been settling for a life that is not abundant. Not to mention I am putting God in a box.

The Scripture above is just one example of the Bible’s assurance that God has chosen us. I was reading it a few nights ago and something jumped out at me:

…in accordance with his pleasure and will

I looked up the word translated ‘pleasure.’ It is eudokia which has a description which includes words such as “satisfaction, delight, kindness, wish, purpose.” God didn’t just choose us, He delighted in choosing us.

If that is the case, it stands to reason that God would want good things for us. I am starting to believe more and more in that promise. So where is the line between the two? I don’t know for sure. This morning I had a thought. Maybe it has something to do with wanting to pick our own blessings rather than believing that God will bring us to abundant life regardless of our circumstances.