Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Go to bed!

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I remember when my children were younger. Bedtime was always a struggle. They did not want to go to bed, they wanted to stay up until ?? This was very humorous at times, as they begged and pleaded through their yawns to be able to stay up. They needed rest, their bodies knew it. But their minds fought the concept to the bitter end.

Are we much different?

We all struggle with the flesh. We struggle with what God wants of us and how to please him. We continually ask ourselves how can we do better? How can we please God more? Does this sound restful, or does it sound like a child saying, "I'm not tired yet!"

Burdened by the law, we carry a load heavier than we can bear. Yet we continue to struggle with the idea of doing better and pleasing God more. God says "Rest, go to bed, put down that load and take it easy."

How do we please God? By working harder? Absolutely not. We please God when we trust Him. When we rest in His promises. When our goal is not to please Him (which is a heavy burden), but to draw near to Him in faith. When we lay our burdens at His feet and respond to His great love rather than trying to earn it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Surrender!!

We were traveling at night on a highway in Missouri. I had just passed a state trooper who was going slower than the speed limit. As I pulled in front of him, on came his lights, so I pulled over. My 5 year old son was in the back seat, as was my 5 year old daughter. As the officer approached, I lowered my window. This was the moment my son decides to shout out, "I surrender!"

Turns out that the officer noticed my son moving around in the back seat, and wanted to make sure he was in a child seat and bucked in. He was, he just gets a little active at times. After explaining why we were pulled over and using his flashlight to check if everyone was buckled, he sent us on our way.

From Chapter 3 of God's Astounding Opinion of You (by Ralph Harris):

Unintentionally, we may send the false message that we haven't been included in Christ's death when we implore Christians to surrender.

I know some who might read this will struggle with this. How many times have we heard the hymn's words, "All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give..."

But consider what surrender means, especially to those unfamiliar with Christianity. Surrender means we have been defeated, when in fact we have been victorious. Surrender means we are at the mercy of our captor, when in fact we are under His grace. We surrender to enemies, God is not our enemy.

So while surrender to God's will might be a good idea for Christians to embrace, I can understand that for those not of the faith, the plea to surrender to God might not be the best choice of wording.

Or am I just being too picky?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mirror, Mirror...

From "God's Astounding Opinion of You," (Chapter 1)

When we see our failures, struggles, and shortcomings, we begin to believe we are truly a mess in need of a lot of changes. What's wrong with that? Soon we'll become fascinated and fixated with ourselves instead of God. And that's tragic.

To a point, I think that we need to see our failures, struggles, and shortcomings. But we also have to balance that with who we are in Christ. I need to see myself as a sinner in need of a Savior. I need to look a Jesus and see Him as my redeemer, my hope, my life. Unless I see my "unsaved" condition, that will not fully happen.

The road to this point is different for different people. For some, it is a special moment when they are at a rock-bottom place and they have no where else to turn. For others, it is after repeated attempts to fix ourselves. For others, it is after years of knowing about Jesus but not really knowing Him. For others, it might be a combination of the above.

I would have to say that my journey is that of a mix. It has had its ups and downs. It has had times of trials where without God, I doubt I would be here today. It has also had times when things were going well and I took back some of the reigns again. Old habits die hard.

One of the problems I have when things are going well is I lose my vision of God. I also lose my vision of who I am. Not that I am a sinner prone to failure, but that I am a redeemed sinner, who needs to keep his eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my salvation. Seeing myself not only as redeemed, but forever seeing my redeemer as well.

Yes, I will fail at some points, but that does not make me a failure. It only means that my love for my redeemer should increase. I cannot help but think of David, after his encounter with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. God said that his consequence was the life of his first-born with Bathsheba. David begged and pleaded for the child's life. Those around him thought when the news of the child's death was reported to him, his behavior would only worsen. But it didn't. David cleaned himself up and got on with his life. David accepted God's consequence. David was a man after God's own heart. When he fell, he did not lose sight.