Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Give thanks to live in peace!

I hope that you had a great weekend. A holiday like Memorial Day that we have here in America is a great kick-off for the summer. I time to enjoy friends and family and to simply relax. It is also a time to reflect.

Winston Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The cost of freedom is very high. Many have died for the freedoms we have to speak, worship, own property and so on. It is important that we remember and honor those who have sacrificed so much for us. Take a few moments to think about how many of people it takes to secure your freedoms. Not only are those who have died but those who protect us on a daily basis, fire companies, police, active military, and government officials to name a few. Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2 that we should pray for those in authority so we might have a peaceable life. He did not say pray for them if we agree, or if we like them, or if we even get along with them but that we should pray for them always. Types of government come and go, kings, presidents, prime ministers come and go but God does not waver or change. If we look at the several thousand years of human history we have recorded we see that the only constant is God.

If we honor God in all that we do. If we do as He asks of us. We are promised peaceful lives. Peace is not merely a reflection of our surroundings but is an inner work of God. God is peace, just as He is love. All of the fruit of the Spirit is a reflection of the very nature of God. Our ability to trust God enables us to live in a world of peace, love, and joy, but only to the extent that we truly believe it. The police, military, or government officials don’t have to be the nicest people in order for us to live peaceably with them. Our peace comes from our obedience to God and our trusting in Him. God raises up governments, leaders, bosses, and all of those in authority and He also has the ability to put them back down again. Our peace is therefore not dependent on who is in power but how surrendered we are to the ultimate power and authority in the universe, God.

One way that I have found to keep my mind on the right focus and to keep the correct attitude is to maintain and “attitude of gratitude”. We give thanks not because everything around us is perfect but we give thanks because we have learned to trust God, knowing that our lives are in His hands.

I know Memorial Day is over but it is always good to take time to give thanks for those who give us our freedoms. Ultimately it is God is who grants us our freedoms however He uses people as well. Always maintain an attitude of gratitude and give thanks!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

God loves variety!

As I was driving this morning, for some reason I was paying particularly close attention to the varieties of trees. My travels around the world have helped me to appreciate God’s creation so much more. I have tried all kinds of varieties of fruit, for example in Peru alone there are at least 15 different types of bananas. God is extremely creative no two snowflakes, leaves or even stones are exactly alike. All are unique and special.

People are a unique variety of colors, temperaments, sizes and shapes. No two people are exactly identical. Added to that is the fact that we are all unique in our gifts, skills, talents and calling. This uniqueness causes our expressions of life, faith, and focus all to be different.

When it comes to faith and our practice of our faith, styles and most traditions just don’t matter they are merely an expression of taste. The disciples wrestled with this problem even in Jesus’ early ministry

Luke 9:49,50

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”
50But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Someone wasn’t casting out demons the same way they were, Jesus response is classic, “if they are not against me they are for me!”

On the essentials of the Gospel we must all agree but on the nonessentials like style and tradition, things that are not necessary to receive salvation or have a relationship with God we can give grace.

Here are some of the basic essentials on which we all must agree. They are non-negotiable!

1) God is a trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
2) Jesus is and was God come in the flesh, fully man and fully God.
3) The only way to salvation is by God’s grace through faith
4) We are only saved through Christ completed work for us on the Cross
5) Christ rose from the dead and He reigns and rules at the right hand of God the Father
6) The Bible is God’s holy, inerrant, infallible, Word.
7) There is an actual heaven and an actual hell.
8) Christ will return again one day
9) The Holy Spirit is active today, leading and guiding us into all truth and drawing all Christians to a deeper walk with God.
This is a simple sample of some of the basics. This is not an exhaustive list but is intended to give you a basic understanding of what a true Christ follower believes. If we agree on these, most other things are simply a matter of taste, style, or tradition.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tradition or work verses heart

I love some traditions. We all need them to keep rooted in our past, to remember where we came from and who we are. I also love doing things for people and for the Lord, it brings great joy to my heart to bless others. Traditions and work can be a trap, if done with the wrong motive they can be at war with God’s plan for our lives.

One of the key challenges the Pharisees faced was; their tradition got in the way of serving the Lord. Ironic isn’t it that these men who were the teachers of the nation of Israel would miss, God in the flesh, because of their traditions. Every law that God gave, every word that He inspired for scripture, was given for the purpose of drawing mankind to Himself. Rather than using these things as a tool to reveal God’s heart, often the Pharisees would use them to push men away from God or belittle them. In Matthew 23 and Luke 11 Jesus pushes the Pharisees, we need to understand that He loved them but they were so caught in their traditions and their works mentality that they were missing the Father’s heart.

Our faith is about relationship. God sent His Son to die on a cross so that we could have relationship with Him. The law that God gave to the nation of Israel was a shadow of things to come. The sacrifice of animals was a symbol of what Jesus would do on the cross. Simple acts of obedience; like the animal sacrifices were not meant in themselves to be an end, instead they were intended to reveal the heart. It was costly to make the sacrifices required however it wasn’t so much about the animal as it was revealing the heart of the person offering the sacrifice. If someone was giving arrogantly or begrudgingly that was revealed in the way they gave their sacrifice. There are sacrifices and other things that we do today for the Lord but they are not salvation essential, we do them because we love.

The prophet Micah in the Old Testament saw the problem with the hearts of the people being corrupt as they were giving their sacrifices. He challenged the people,

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8

Traditions are good. They help us to remember what is important from the past so, hopefully, we will not make the same mistakes as those who have gone on before us. We are to do the “work” of the Gospel but it is all about relationship and motivation that makes it right not merely the “work” itself.
The people were worshipping God out of wrong motive, rote, and tradition rather than a loving heart. Micah’s challenge is to know God’s heart, live God’s heart, and to act with God’s heart.

In the church today we are facing many challenges that have not been faced by people in a long time. We have people coming to our churches that have no background of faith at all. Their moral code is very different. They don’t have the same understanding of right and wrong as we have. Thirty years ago, many that are coming to the church today would have been turned away because they did not fit our mold. Today, it is my hope that we can overcome and welcome people. They need to see Jesus in our lives so they will want to grow and walk away from their sin into the arms of Jesus. Paul wrote, “How can they hear unless a preacher be sent?” They are coming to us. It seems we don’t need to be sent. By our seeing people as Jesus sees them, giving them the opportunity to see Jesus in us, many, for the first tim, will come to freedom in Him, if we will have the Father’s heart.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The end is coming or is it?

For as long as I can remember there has been someone in my life talking about the soon return of Jesus. I had a great aunt who had started her relationship with Jesus in the Azusa Street type, Holy Spirit outpouring in Brownsville, PA during the early 1900’s. She would constantly talk about Jesus’ soon return. When the Charismatic renewal hit in the late 60’s and early 70’s a renewed fire for the imminent return of Christ was stirred. Books like, “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey promoted to quick return of Christ.

The Dark Ages were ripe with people proclaiming these are the last days. The plague, turning away from God, and the seeming idolatry of the church, made many believe those were the final days of judgment before the coming of Christ.

Throughout history there has always been someone proclaiming the soon return of Christ. Every major event in human history from wars to natural disasters have been interpreted, by some, as the event prophesied in Matthew 24. Is his return soon? Yes, is the answer, or at least it is sooner today than it was yesterday.

From my point of view Christ return hysteria is selfish! Don’t get me wrong, I want Jesus to return and take me home with Him as soon as is possible. The problem it presents for me is that if He were to return Saturday, as Harold Camping predicts (by the way he predicted Christ return for September 6, 1994 as well), that would mean at least one billion people, who have never heard of Christ, would be destined for hell. In my opinion, this flies in the face of the nature of God and the purpose of Christ death on the cross.

Why is Christ returning in the first place? Long term, is to take all of those who have made a commitment to Him, his family, out of this sin corrupted world and start fresh with a new heaven and new earth. This will take place after the total destruction and imprisonment of Satan, his demonic followers and the humans who have rejected Christ.

However we must understand God’s heart. Hell and the lake of fire were not created for mankind but for Satan. God desires for all to come to Him. It is a waste of precious drops of Jesus’, sin atoning blood, for one human to die and go to hell. In 2 Peter chapter 3 and verse 9, Peter writes that God wants no one to perish (go to hell) but that all should come to repentance.

God is patient! He will wait until everyone has heard. He is giving each of us the opportunity to share the Gospel, to fulfill the great commission, to see as many as will, come to Christ! There are many who have yet to hear. God can do it in the blink of an eye but instead He has chosen to use us to share His Good News. He will wait until every person has had the opportunity to hear and then He will come!

Help someone to hear the Good news today! Share with someone what the Lord has done for you! You don’t have to be a Pastor, missionary, or trained Christian professional, what God has done for you is enough to touch and change the life of someone. Share with someone today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We always should pray and not give up!

I was reading my devotion this morning and one of the notes sent me to Luke 18, the parable of the persistent widow. The opening phrase in Luke 18 is, “Jesus spoke a parable to them so they might understand that we should always pray and not give up”. Sounds like a simple concept but not always easy on the follow through.

There are two times when I find it hardest to pray. I know we should always pray, and I do but that doesn’t mean that it is always easy to pray. One is when things are going really well, so well, that I am overwhelmed with busy-ness. Those are times I have to fight to pray. It is very easy to make assumptions about our relationship with the Lord, to get so caught up in doing things for Him that we forget Him. It is in times like these that we need to remember that God can do it all without us. What He wants most is relationship with us and when we stop or slow down our prayer time, we neglect part of what we have been created for, relationship with the Lord.

The other time that I tend to find it hard to pray is when I am so weary. I know some of you think I am superman, while I appreciate the reference; the truth is I simply have the ability to go and go and go until I crash. When I crash, it is hard to do anything, praying most of all reaching the top of the list, or at least that is how it used to be.

Prayer is really a mental, emotional and spiritual posture, not necessarily a particular position. What I mean by that is, it is an attitude of the heart. I used to think, I needed to get on my knees in order to pray but when you are so weary even that seems like an impossible task. Paul wrote that he prays without ceasing and that we should always pray. My traditions had gotten in the way of my relationship. Because I had felt that I couldn’t assume the position of prayer, due to busy-ness or weariness, I felt I could not pray. The Lord lovingly and graciously taught me, He simply wants me to talk with Him always, as I would anyone that I love. Guess what began to happen! He would lovingly and compassionately talk back, through others, through His word, and through the quietness of my heart.

God wants to communicate with you regardless of the difficulties you may have with prayer or what you are going through. What is stopping you from praying? Maybe it is simply you have prayed and your prayers have seemingly gone unanswered, don’t give up. God can handle being badgered in prayer. I don’t give up no matter how long it may take. I have been praying for my children’s spouses since the day they were born. To be honest, I will keep praying for them until the day the Lord takes me home. It will be a little easier as time goes on because I will know them!

Talk to God! He wants to hear from you. He really loves you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It is all about love!

I had an interesting conversation with a Christian today. I was explaining God’s relationship with us. I put it this way:

“Being a Christian is about a love relationship. We do the work, keep the commandments, and walk the walk not because of a demanding God because of a love that we have for Him and He has for us. When you love someone you do things not out of the fear that they will stop loving us if we do not do the task instead it is because we love.”

At that they stopped me and said, “I thought we had to keep the rules? I thought God would stop loving me if we didn’t keep the rules!”

Do we want to keep the rules, if you are talking about Jesus commandments; Love your neighbor as yourself, Love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and Make disciples, the answer is “yes”. There is a “but” to that statement. If we think keeping the rules like the ten commandments and other traditions are going to get you in to heaven you are missing the whole of the Gospel.

Let me put it this way; I don’t like taking down the trash. If I didn’t take down the trash one trash day, Paige might get upset but she wouldn’t stop loving me because of it. I don’t take the trash out because I enjoy taking out the trash, I do it because I love. My relationship with Paige and the kids is based on each of us doing are part to keep our home life running smoothly but we would never stop loving each other because of one part of the work not getting done. We are all secure in our love for each other not based on what we do it is because we are family. However, I prove I love this family by doing the work necessary to help the family function.

That example is a very simplistic approach to our relationship with the Lord. Every person must use their skills to help the family get it’s job done but it is not because of fear of not being loved, I am not able to earn my families love by my work but because I love I do the work.

Why am I saying this to you? Over 4000 people per day are reading this blog. I am not sure where everyone is in his or her walk of faith. It would be easy for some to have a faith based on works that will lead only to frustration, fear, and a lack of security in their eternity. I want you to be secure in God’s love for you and want your focus to be on that love which you could never earn. All you can do is to accept it. God’s love was shown to us by the sacrifice He made by allowing His Son to choose to die on a cross for us that the wall of separation, that we call sin, could be torn down by Jesus death on that cross.

If you simply accept God’s love for you then you are a member of His family. Even as a Christian we must let God of the “works” mentality. We can’t ever be good enough to earn God’s love. We must simply accept the gift of Jesus death on the cross.

His death is like the key that unlocks the door to heaven. When we accept the price of Jesus’ death on the cross to eliminate our sin. Then we have the key that unlocks the door in heaven, guaranteed! It must be accepted by love not earned by our work.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2: 4-8

By the way, I am stressing this point today because the person I mentioned in the beginning is a 30’s something, preachers kid!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enjoy the journey!

I had a great day yesterday! I had the privilege of spending the entire day with my daughter. Since she has gone to college my time alone with her has been limited. When she and Christopher were young and I was working the odd shifts, it was hard to make time then because of their school schedule and my work schedule. In the earlier days, they would wait up at night and I would be able to read to them for a little while and then always pray with them. Even if I had gotten home late and they were already asleep, I would quietly sneak into their rooms and pray for them. I continued to pray for them daily through High School. Paige and I would help with their projects go to every volleyball, basketball, and soccer game, band or choir concert, or other event. As crazy as my schedule was, I enjoyed every minute of just being around my kids.

Those of you who know me, know I am an extremely driven person. I want every person to know their call and their relationship with the Lord. I want to see the Kingdom of God advanced. It is my passion. How does that fit in with having a great day with my daughter? In God’s plan and purpose these things are intimately intertwined. It would be extremely easy to focus on one more than the other but as long as I keep my focus right God has a way of making it all work. Look at these scriptures.

Matthew 6: 25, 34

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The leader, Pastor, mentor part of me is always driven to high and lofty goals and pursuits. I am always looking toward tomorrow and what I can accomplish for the long hall. However, the husband, Father, friend, part of me is always longing for the moment-by-moment relationships, the things that make life rich. What I learned along l time ago and am constantly learning anew, is the value of relationships especially those with my children, no matter how old they are. These are the daily things that are the value of the journey of life. God wants me to accomplish the great and lofty pursuits. He has given them to me to fulfill but if I pursue them to the exclusion or to the hurt of the gifts He has given me in my wife and children, then I have simply missed His point.

Paul writes in describing qualifications for leadership in the church. A leader must be a leader in his own household, guiding, valuing, and showing love to his own family. One who knows how to do that will be able to lead the church but if he can’t do that in his own home he will be a failure as a leader in the church.

I think that I do a fairly decent job as a leader. I know I am not perfect but I see results that confirm to me that I am somewhat successful. It is not always so easy in your own family. As I alluded to earlier, I can be so driven by the future that I miss the value of the day-to-day. Spending that time with Amanda, I was able to hear some of her heart, to get a better understanding of the way she thinks, to watch the way that she handles herself. As a leader, it is natural for me to get value from what I do, but what God wants is for me to get my value from being His son.

It would have been easy for me to get caught up in my pursuits, as high, lofty, and spiritual as they were and are. The challenge to focus on what is at hand, to not worry about tomorrow that today and the relationships that God has brought into my life, are the important things. They are to help the “high and lofty” goals giving me a foundation on which to stand. It was worth it to spend those years praying. It was worth it to go to all the various events. It was worth it to spend the time reading.

Yesterday reminded me; the foundation is strong. She has turned out to be an amazing young woman. I fought to not be so focused on the future but to enjoy the journey. As I take care of today, keeping in mind tomorrow, but not to the exclusion the journey itself, God fulfills His plan and purpose for me in the dailiness and gives me renewed vision, that He will fulfill for my tomorrow.

I am sharing this story with you so you might take time to enjoy the journey. Keep a focus on the future, but don’t miss the moments. No matter how long you have been married or how old your children are make time for the moments. If your children are young, the sacrifices that you may seem to make from your agenda are really not sacrifices at all; they are merely building blocks on the journey.

I hope this rambling today makes some sense to you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hearing God!

Sorry for the late post "Blogger" was down all morning.

Have you noticed how busy life has gotten? It seems there are a million things demanding our attention, from the trivial - like who won American idol to the important, getting your spouse and kids to where they need to be.

There is so much noise in our lives. Everything is so demanding, yet in the middle of the cacophony of noise God says (Psalm 46:10) “Be still and know that I am God…”

There is no end to things that must be done or people that need to be heard. Some who are reading this have small children and know exactly what I am talking about.

In 1 Kings 19 there is a very interesting story. Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal, but ran away. While depressed after his great victory, God calls him out of the cave. A powerful storm comes, but God is not in the storm. An earthquake happens, but God is not in the earthquake. A forest fire rages around him, but God is not in the fire. How often do things demand our attention but God is not in them? They may seem important at the time but the Lord is really not there and to engage them is to simply waste your time. I am quite sure that Elijah must have thought with each event, “This must be God trying to get my attention!” None of the natural events were God. Elijah had to separate himself from the daily demands, the things that seemed important but were not, to hear the voice of the Lord.

God came to Elijah in the still small voice. A few things needed to happen for Elijah to hear God:

- First, he had to expect that God wanted to speak to him. He went looking for God. Many of us don’t expect God to speak so we never hear Him

- Second, He had to recognize God wasn’t in what seemed to be immediate to Elijah. If I were in an earthquake I would hope it would be immediate to God and in most cases it would be. However often we get ourselves into things that are not God and then we blame him for placing us there. Elijah had run away from God so the consequences of that running away were his. God is always gracious though!

- Third, he had to let go of his concern for all of the stuff going on around Him and give priority to the Lord. God came in the middle of all of this noise as a “low whisper”. Our choosing to hear God must become intentional. Jeremiah, speaking for the Lord said, “If you seek me then you will find me and find my strength”

Are you having trouble hearing God? Maybe one of the struggles Elijah had are yours as well. God is always speaking. Take some time to listen today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Peace and Joy

If you were to ask anyone on the street, “Would you like more peace and joy?” I can’t imagine anyone turning it down. With everything going on in the world, the pressures of life, war, and the economy, to name a few, everyone could benefit from at least a little more peace and joy.

Here is what the Bible says about peace and joy for us.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6,7

Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

1 Peter 1:8
So how do we get and maintain such peace and joy even in today’s world

- Trust God – I know that can sound generic, but what I mean by that is, remind yourself that your life is in His hands. How do we do that? Pray, read the word everyday, and give. Praying reminds us that we are in communication with a real person that loves us. Reading His word reminds us that he does have an answer for every difficulty and that there is nothing “new under the sun.” God has seen it all and has helped people through it all. Giving reminds us that everything that we have came from Him, and that He will continue to supply.

- Attitude of gratitude – simply stated, be thankful. It is easy to forget how blessed we are! We may not have everything our neighbors have, but because we have relationship with the Lord, we have everything. He who created the universe is our friend. He knows us intimately, and He loves us as if we are the only person alive. Thank Him always for the great gifts He has given you.

- Choose to believe – have faith! This is slightly different than trusting, in that with trust, you have some frame of reference to believe, David killed the lion and the bear so he knew he could kill Goliath. Faith is saying that you understand God’s nature and character. Even though you have no history to believe that you will make it through this tough place, you know God will not let you down.

God really loves you. He knows you. He believes in you. Bad things will happen, that is the nature of this fallen planet of people. God will keep us if we choose to allow Him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You are walking by faith daily, probably.

I know you may be saying, “I don’t walk by faith.” Let me take you on a little journey to prove that at least, in little ways, you do!

Walking by faith is one of those things where we can become very critical of ourselves and others for our lack of faith. It is hard to think of having the “mountain moving” kind of faith Jesus talked about in Matthew 21:21. Everything we do for the Lord and everything we learn begins with small steps. They may not seem like small steps at the time but as we grow in our “walk of faith”, we are able to look back and see how far the Lord has brought us. Let me give you a couple of everyday examples

Have you ever bought anything on e-bay, over the television, or on-line in any way? If you have then you have operated by faith. You are simply trusting that what you are being told by the salesperson, commercial, or ad, is the truth and you take a leap of faith to believe it.

Have you ever tried something new on a menu at a restaurant? You saw the ad for the next great burger or read the description of the meal in the menu and you decided to try it. Choosing your meal became a leap of faith.

I know this may sound trite or perhaps mundane but if we recognize that we trust the word of perfect strangers then how much more should we trust God at His Word? As simple as the “leap of faith”, I described above seem to be so is any leap of faith the Lord asks of us. It is just as simple as ordering a meal or making a purchase. There is one key difference, with ordering a meal or making an on-line purchase you can be disappointed with God you as you learn to take “leaps of faith” you will never be disappointed.

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:11

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How should we respond to the death of Osama bin Laden?

By now you may have heard enough from both sides of the issue. We have seen the triumphant cheers in the streets in the US and the anger from some in Pakistan. We have had scripture quoted on both sides of the issues stating it is OK to rejoice when the wicked fall and suggesting that God does not rejoice at the death an interment to hell of any man. Allow me to give you my two cents worth.

The way I read the scripture it is all about relationship and heart attitude. How can a murderer, adulterer, and liar like David be called a “man after God’s own heart” it was not about actions but heart motive. Don’t get me wrong, Paul made it very clear that we were not to use grace as a reason to sin all the more (Romans 6:1,2) but God is always looking at our heart motives. So what does that mean for the response to the death of Osama bin Laden?

1) Rejoice if your motive is to rejoice because the murder of some will now end and this will draw a quick end to the war. Rejoice in the potential peace that will hopefully come. Do not rejoice out of vengeance, arrogance, or pride. None of these things belong to the heart of a person of faith. God is not honored by vengeance, arrogance, or pride. In fact God will resist us if we walk in pride.
2) God does not rejoice in the death of a person who has gone to hell. I know you are saying how can you judge and say he went to hell. Jesus said we shall know them by their fruit. Well then we could say the same of our leaders, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I understand all of that the difference being Osama bin Laden dedicated himself to the belief in some other god other than our God. The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible. I will leave it at that for now. The differences between the two Gods are a longer discussion than this blog allows. Continuing on with my thought: hell was not created for man and God desires for none to perish and for any man, woman, or child to reject Him grieves His heart.

If your heart’s attitude is rejoicing in that lives might be saved then rejoice. If it is pride you can’t bless God with fleshly motives or attitudes. We are not like the world, we are the light of the world and salt to preserve and bring out the flavor. Wickedness brings grief whether it is in a live person or a dead one but love brings life. Bring life today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Labels aren’t always true.

Yesterday as I was getting ready for church I had to iron my shirt. Paige normally takes care of the ironing for me but it has been a bit hectic at my house the last few weeks. The label on the shirt I had picked said “easy care” so I thought I could handle it. The shirt was anything but, “easy care”. It is 100% cotton and it seemed the more I ironed the more wrinkles got in it. As I was ironing the Lord was talking to me about this simple task. I needed to look at it two ways. The label was not true and in our lives that is often the case as well.

1) There are labels that others place on us or that we place on ourselves that simply are not true. We fail or simply feel we have failed and others and we label us a failure when the true label is that we are more than conquerors through Christ. We wear other labels that have nothing to do with who we are. God says who we are; we are His children, sons and daughters of the most High God; princesses and princes in the Kingdom of God. It is not a matter of pride but of truth. Jesus said we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). We must begin believing God’s word and not our feelings and the reports of others. We must believe who God says that we are not as a matter of pride but as a matter of living in God’s truth.
2) The second part of this label is a little more frustrating. There are many that wear the label Christian and aren’t. I am not talking about people who fail in their walk with Christ; we will fail as we are daily walking with Him. You might say that sounds pessimistic. The truth is as men and women of God we are called to walk by faith, faith being the evidence of things unseen or to take it a step further to daily walk as a Christian we will always be covering new territory being stretched to do things we have never done before we are destined to make mistakes as we do the new things and go places we have never gone before. I am talking about those with a Pharisee heart, purposely playing religion and living without relationship. Like the Pharisees Jesus confronted they sounds very righteous but in reality have no idea who God really is, who much He loves them and others. They have accepted a cheap imitation of Christianity rather than a living relationship. You know them they are constantly critical, are rarely happy, and as Paul said have a form of godliness but deny it’s power.

My heart is broken for both of these carriers of the wrong labels. God has so much more for both groups of people. There is so much wonder and awe the Lord has for us. He amazes me everyday with who He is and how much He loves me. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says that we have really have no way to fully comprehend all that God has for those who love Him. Don’t live under any false label. Our faith should actually be “easy care”, coming to Him and laying down our burdens and allowing Him to lift us up, lead us to where we need to go, and accomplish all the amazing things He has for us.

Ask the Lord if you are wearing any false labels and if you are allow Him to strip the bad labels away and place the correct one on you. God loves you, He really does!