Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Trick to getting Treats!?!?

He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs!
William the Disciple :)

I remember the year my mom let me be superman for Halloween. It was a store bought blue plastic onesie with a red belt and red cape. It also had a plastic mask made to resemble Christopher Reeve - the man who played superman in the 80’s. The mask effectively covered my face but with it on it was difficult to breathe. Sometime the masks we hide behind are more strenuous than they are successful.
I was the happiest kid in the world when I wore my costume. That costume went everywhere and until it became severely mangled I wasn’t letting it go. It was a sad day when she threw it away. Halloween is a time for masks and costumes but many people wear their costumes longer than necessary. Although it may be difficult to part with your mask and costume – you life could be better without it…

What costume are you wearing? Are you sporting a (confidence) cape to conceal your (scary) yellow garment feelings? Have you donned an attitude to prevent people from really getting to know you? What would happen if people really knew who you were or how you felt? Do you even know what you really look like?

It is ok wear a cloak to help us endure but even those disguises need to be removed over time. 

Romans 5:8New Living Translation (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Ephesians 2:8New Living Translation (NLT)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

The interesting thing about Halloween is that children and some big kids travel from house to house disguised in all sorts of attire. The homemade costumes are the best! Despite how scary and revolting or fun and whimsical the costume there is always a reward when the door is opened.

Every house isn’t dispensing candy. However, the ones that leave the light on give a visual ok and light the path for you to knock. The great thing about Jesus is that He is the all-illuminating light.

John 8:12 (NLT)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Even in your darkest place Jesus will provide the light to guide you out. He leaves the light on.

God is that smile behind the open door that says despite your costume and the past that you have covering your true identity I have sent my Son for you. I am looking beyond your issues and your scary faults and seeing your needs. With your mask still on He can still see your true identity and wants to bless you. God’s hand is outstretched with a gift of unending love and eternal life.  That’s grace! There isn't a trick to receiving God's grace. He values the true you and is looking forward to your knock. 

There is an incomparable true story about a gentleman who authored one of the greatest hymns ever created. John Newton was a slave ship captain during the height of slave trade from Africa to America. As a captain he understood that arriving at his destination with his cargo was paramount. He also understood that carrying dead or difficult cargo was a chore. If any of the slaves who were stacked and crammed on his ships were to die or become demanding during transport he would dispense of them. Many men and women were beaten and killed at his command and hands. But, it wasn’t just him, many captains and slave traders brutally killed individuals during that time. After a while, this barbaric life weighed on him and he sought God. He could not bring any one back from what he had done but he was profusely apologetic. The blood was on his and many others. Only divine grace could restore him. It was in his God-forgiven and Christ-washed state that he wrote:

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.”

I challenge you to observe your outfit. Has your momentary mask/cloak been made permanent? Is it tattered and worth of refuse? Have you been struggling to survive behind your mask? There is someone behind a door waiting for you to knock. He is holding you healing, cleansing, redeeming, encouraging, and uplifting gifts. All of the gifts are in your “favor”-ite flavor. If you are willing to knock for candy despite how you’re dressed – will you knock for what you really need despite how you look/feel?

Lastly, there is a song written by Dottie Rembo that further articulates the AMAZING GRACE God freely gives…

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
to view the cross where Jesus died for me,
how marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul;
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

- Dottie Rembo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ridin duuuuuuuuuurtay!

Trying to catch me riding dirty!

Romans 13:3-4 (MSG)

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly – not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

Let me start by saying that every person carries a certain amount of preconceived notions daily. The circumstances they endure are educated on, and experience as apart of their everyday environment contribute to their mindset. Every police officer is not perfect nor is every citizen. However, there must be order and adherence to instruction.

One Sunday, I was eager to arrive early for church. Everything seemed right that day. It was like a scene from The Sound of Music. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and people were waving. I had my worship music playing as I exited the garage and headed to church. I turned on the street in front of my house and made it to the first stop light. The light was red - I stopped. I also 9remember really enjoying whatever worship song was on the radio. This was the perfect day!

The light turned green and as I accelerated through the light a police officer passed me headed the opposite direction. I looked in my rear view mirror just to see what he was doing or where he was going. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one that checks when an officer drives past) Then it happened. He turned on the flashing lights atop the squad car and turned around. My pulse raced, my heart jumped in my throat, as a rush of thoughts filled my head. 

Given everything that has happened in the news lately – I was uncertain what to expect. Am I being singled out? What could I have possibly done wrong? I checked my seatbelt, looked at my speedometer, and questioned the volume of my music. He pulled up right behind me and motioned me to pull over. Once stopped, I took the keys out of the ignition, turned on my hazard lights, checked my seat belt again, and started reaching for all of my credentials.

The officer, of a different ethnicity, approached my car and asked for my driver’s license and insurance. Then he explained that he pulled me over because my registration sticker was expired. This officer must be related to Robocop. How did he see that while passing me? He then asked me why was it expired. I had to be honest and said, “Sir, I travel a lot for work and have not had a moment to get it done.” Then came my excuses, “I work with kids, I work at a church, I’m headed to church, I am going to get it fixed.” He went back to his car and came back with a warning and a, “Don’t be late to see the big man!” It was like a mutual respect. He had to do his job and he wanted me to be safe on the way to my job.

Here’s what I learned:

1. If we never get stopped or challenged about our wrong deeds will we ever cease making bad decisions? I did not enjoy being pulled over for my inspection sticker but honestly it was beyond the grace period. Getting another sticker was not a priority. How long will you keep falling before you make right standing your standard?

2. Respect is paramount. It would have been deleterious to argue with the officer about him making me late for church or how he was potentially ruining the start to my day. He is just doing his job. I was wrong and deserved to be stopped. 70% of arguments occur from how something was perceived and 30% occur from how it was said. (Cumby university statistics).

3. Live responsibly. Authority is not just the individuals who carry a badge. Take ownership of your actions and strive to make good decisions that not only please God but also are in order - which will give a good example to others.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to find something worth seeing?

I see you!

Hebrews 11:6 
“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (MSG)

Children are sponges for information. Their curiosity for new knowledge and their thirst for reminders of what they comprehend is fun to experience. The school that my son attends makes diligent effort to teach its pre-k students their letters. The first time my son spelled his name for me I was ready to sign him up for advanced placement classes and go on college tours. He’s my first child so everything he does is extra cool! His school uses a great game for letter reinforcement. They motivate the children to find the letters of their name in any environment.  Now, my son points out the first letter of his name EVERYWHERE! He will continue to point and repeat that the letter is in his name until you affirm him.

This made me think about how we as Christians live our lives. It is without question that God made the heavens and the earth. Furthermore, all good things are from His hands. But, I believe that the clouds of life can mask the beauty of God’s creations. Be encouraged – clouds aren’t made of concrete. They are closer to Velcro. Although they can stick around, they were made to move. If you keep looking for the sun, you will see it shine.

Matthew 7:7 (NLT)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

Positive motivation can be found anywhere you choose to see it. What are you choosing to perceive? Look for what you need to encourage, uplift, motivate, and inspire. By choosing to see good you then become the good that others need to see as well.

Please take today to look for God’s goodness. After you find it, make it a habit. Like a word search keep hunting for you testimony in the midst of your tests. Instead of sitting and sulking, seek the divine joy that you need. Your happiness, your peace, your freedom, your answers, your love, your attention, your healing it is RIGHT THERE! Find it! IF you don’t locate it immediately keep looking. Don’t be discouraged by the time it is taking – this is your search. The reward is worth the effort - now go tell your story.