I still haven't made it through John 1. It's not for lack of time spent there but simply because of the richness of its content.
These verses captured my heart this week.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" (John 1:29-30)
Jesus. The One and Only.
All through John 1, John the Baptist deflected every question about himself to point to Jesus. Here, he redirects the crowd's attention to Jesus. They thought they had come for John that day, but John knew better. He knew who they all had been waiting for.
For all time.
The One who created time.
The One through whom all things were made.
Do I do the same? Will I become invisible, secondary, background music for Jesus? Will I commit to always pointing to Him as The One and Only?
Friday, April 29, 2011
I still haven't made it through John 1. It's not for lack of time spent there but simply because of the richness of its content.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Lately I've been heading out for my wun minus my iPod. Big mistake. You know that I count steps without something flowing into my ears.
Today I uploaded a conference call led by Luann Prater on prayer. God is so good to give us the right teaching at the right time! There were 2 main things that God reminded me of through Luann as I ran:
1. Quiet time with God each morning should be a non-negotiable. Luann challenged us to think about our non-negotiables...sleep, food, talking...and then challenged us to begin seeing time with God as a non-negotiable. I love that thought. I can sing "You are the air I breathe" but often I don't act like I believe it. I can't live without air, and I need to remember that I can't experience Life without Him.
2. God has something important to tell me TODAY. If I wait until tomorrow, the time has passed. Knowing that (and I've seen over and over that it's true) gives me an urgency and a craving for time with Him. I can't wait to hear what Jesus has to say to me today!
This morning I asked Him to speak specificially through His Word to me about some circumstances that are weighing heavily on my heart. He did! Here's what He said that relate directly to my situation:
"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)
He is so good! I'd love to hear what God has spoken to you today!
Monday, April 25, 2011
Spring break...what a wonderful thing. The only bad part is that it didn't last quite long enough. Now we're facing the home stretch until the end of school...no homework...no schedules...no alarm clocks...sigh. Pray for us. :)
Back to Mr. Rogers...
"The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self." --Fred Rogers
How much time have I spent trying to fit in and measure up? Too much! Anna Quindlen has a wonderful book called Being Perfect. In it she compares perfection (my number one reason for not being the truest "Amy" that God created me to be) to a backpack full of bricks and urges us to put it down before we "develop permanent curvature of the spirit."
Quindlen follows by saying, "Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted."
I think that's a true Kingdom value even if Anna isn't (I don't know if she is or isn't) a Kingdom girl. God has gone to great lengths to create a world full of variety and unique beings. Why are we so bent to all be alike?
Celebrate your uniqueness today. Recapture a piece of yourself that you've lost. Unveil the hidden places that God created beautifully in you. Sisters, let's commit to being our unvarnished, honest selves!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Hey, all...I am going to be taking the week off to spend with my family during spring break. Before I sign off for the week, I'd love to ask for prayer:
- I'm also not blogging this week, because right now we don't have internet at my house. Holly Springs, NC was hit with a tornado yesterday. Our home was spared, and we have power. I'd ask you to pray for the many who are dealing with the destruction of their homes. My heart ached as we saw the damage today.
- Our family is taking a college trip this week with our junior. We're all really excited, but will ya'll pray for direction and guidance for my big 'ole boy as you read this? (And for my full but aching mama's heart?)
Love you, Cyber-Sistahs! I hope you have a wonderful week!
Friday, April 15, 2011
The law and grace.
Usually Christians (including myself) end of thinking like this...
The law= bad
But consider these verses that almost tripped me up this morning, "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1: 16-17)
At first, this is what I wrote in the "What does it say?" column in my notebook, "God's fullness of grace gives us the blessing of being under the grace of Jesus instead of the law of Moses."
But I had a little check in my heart, and I made myself go back and read the verses again. That's not at all what those verses said. They actually say that both the law as well as grace are blessings---"one blessing after another."
So I changed my notes to say, "God's fullness of grace gives us the blessing both of the grace and truth of Jesus and the law of Moses. How can the unattainable law be a blessing? Suzie Eller's devotion this morning cast light on that for me. It's the place that makes me face my sin. Facing my sin is a blessing when I then turn to Jesus for His grace as the remedy.
One blessing after another.
Conviction is sweet when it precedes repentance and the receiving of grace.
Thank you, Jesus ,for giving us a place to bring our sin as we face it. Thank you for being the One and Only.
(Ya'll, I'm having trouble with Blogger. If there is no spacing in this, I apologize. I'm going to try one more time to fix it, and then I'm moving on with my day. Blessings!)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I've always considered myself somewhat of a late bloomer. I learned how to ride a bike late, had my first "boyfriend" late and needed my first training bra later than all my friends.
I was feeling that feeling with full force this week on my wun. The calendar says that I should be having an easier time than I am. I ran the first 9 minute interval with ease but needed one extra breather in the 2nd one and several in the last.
"Why can't I stay on schedule?" I moaned.
Sometimes I look at the spiritual growth of the women around me and think the same thing. I'm inspired by women who obviously walk closely with God, but I often fall into the deadly comparison trap, wondering why I can't seem to keep up. Here are a couple things that I reminded myself of on my wun:
- My journey is unique--Although I may not be meeting all the milestones as fast as some, I'm meeting them faster than others. Comparison isn't helpful unless I use it as inspiration to meet a goal. One kind of comparison leads to discouragement while the other leads to inspiration. God doesn't expect me to be just like anyone else--only to be completely obedient to Him every day.
- Moving forward (even slowly) is growth--It's quitting that I want to avoid. I need to see forward movement in both my spiritual and physical goals as something to celebrate.
I want to embrace my own journey with God joyfully. Trying grow on my own schedule is not only a waste of time but discouraging.
Monday, April 11, 2011
"One of my wise teachers, Dr. William F. Orr, told me, 'There is only one thing evil cannot stand and that is forgiveness.'" --Fred Rogers
I like this quote, but I paused to ponder if it's true or not. Is forgiveness the ONE THING evil cannot stand? I want to know what you think as you process, but I think that there's at least some truth in the quote.
Let's think of the composition of forgiveness:
Trusting God to make things right rather than myself.
Killing my need to be right.
Dying to my own desire for revenge.
Deciding to act on truth rather than my emotions.
Love. (At least for God. Hopefully real love for the person we're forgiving follows the deliberate act of forgiveness.)
Recognizing that I have been forgiven of too much to withhold my forgiveness.
Giving grace as I've received grace.
There's another quote that keeps popping up in my path by Ken Sande that I love. He says that unforgiveness is like drinking poison while hoping the other person will die.
So forgiveness is also loving ourselves enough to give ourselves the gift of freedom.
What do you think? Is forgiveness the one thing that evil cannot stand?
Friday, April 8, 2011
Aigner. Pappagallo. Calvin Klein. Levis. Izod. Those are just some of the names carried back "in the day" of the late 70s/early 80s. The days of the prep, pink and green and interchangeable purse covers. Billy Joel. Elton John. Olivia Newton John. Michael Jackson. These names and their music floated out of my transistor radio during my teen summers laying by the pool. Bill Clinton. George Bush. "W". These names represented choices on ballots over the years. We Americans are people who wear names on our tooshies, in our heads and emblazoned on our hearts. Names instruct us how to spend our money and our time. We're obsessed with designers, celebrities, politicians and newsmakers. (Where else in the world would people pay for tickets to see Charlie Sheen?) As I listened to a sermon by Louie Giglio a few weeks ago on this very topic, I reflected on the enormity of my capacity for loving names. But what about The Name? After Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, Jesus said this in a vision, "But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." (Acts 9:15) Louie challenged us to consider that each of us has been created to be a name carrier, but whose name do we carry? So often I'm sidetracked by all the names the world offers that I forget to headline The Name. That's why I want to use Fridays to make the name of Jesus the banner. I'm also feeling led to focus on The Name in another way. I'm going through John with the 3 questions:
- What does it say?
- What does it mean?
- How does this apply to me?
If you want to learn more about this simple Bible study method, follow this link to Anne Graham Lotz's website. You can work through John with me, and I'd love to hear what you're learning.
This week I did the 3 questions every day but only did John 1:1-14. I think you could actually spend a lifetime trying to wrap your head and heart around those verses, but 5 days was really good too. Here are the verses to soak in. Have a great Friday and remember to carry The Name.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
"Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. We need to accept the fact that it's not in the power of any human being to provide all these things all the time. For any of us, mutually caring relationships will also always include some measure of unkindness and impatience, intolerance, pessimism, envy, self-doubt, and disappointment." --Fred Rogers I love this quote as a reflection on the truth about relationships. I've been doing a lot of introspection on myself as a friend, and that's been a good thing. The truth is, though, I'll never be a perfect friend. Mr. Roger's thoughts reinforce two things that I know:
- Grace is needed in every relationship. It doesn't matter if it's a friendship, a marriage, a family or a parent and child. Every relationship will experience the effects of selfishness, thoughtlessness, and sin. We all are in a struggle with our sin nature, and sometimes we lose. We need to be ready to extend grace in our relationships even as we desire to have grace extended to us on our less-than-lovely days.
- Only one Friend will never disappoint us, and He deserves our full trust. When our eyes are focused on Jesus as the primary source of everything we need, then it's not completely devastating when friends fail us. We understand that only Jesus is perfect and so we're able to forgive others when they're not.
Blessings to you, friends!
Friday, April 1, 2011
There are lots of opportunities to win great things today. At Micca's blog you can win a free subscription to the P31 Woman magazine. Both She Reads and She Seeks are running contests for free registration to She Speaks this summer. Also, Karen Ehman is giving away the new devotion book by Encouragement Cafe. I hope one of you wins!! On to our King...
“’But what about you?’ he said. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)
Isn’t it amazing how a question asked at the appropriate time can pierce your heart? Not too long ago, I was in the midst of a judgmental rant when my husband asked just such a question. It absolutely stopped me in my tracks. My heart ached and tears began to run down my face. From one piercing question, I faced my own self-righteousness, and it and changed both my mind and heart. I absolutely love Barry for his gift of asking the right question.
Last week's post showed how Jesus was the master of using a timely question. He asked his disciples about the culture’s perception of who He was to get them to examine those assumptions. His next question may be one of the most important questions that any human faces. “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Jesus asks.
This question resounds through the generations until it lands squarely at our own feet. Each person is required to come to a conclusion about this question. No conclusion IS a conclusion.
Jesus had quite a bit to say about who He was. He called Himself
Son of Man (Matt. 16:13),
Messiah (John 4:25-26),
the Bread of Life (John 6:35),
the Light of the World (John 8:12),
I Am (John 8:58),
the Good Shepherd (John 10:14),
and Son of God (John 10:36-38).
This is only a partial list, but Jesus was unequivocal about His identity.
Josh McDowell, a well-known Christian apologist, has said that either Jesus told the truth and is truly Lord as he claimed or he was a lunatic or a liar. That’s strong stuff, but upon inspection, he’s right. CS Lewis, who was once an agnostic, said it this way, "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Jesus’ question “Who do you say I am?” pierced my heart when I was 10 years old, and I’ve been passionately in love with Him as Messiah, Savior and Lord ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve struggled with the hard questions presented by life, death and suffering. I’ve fallen to sin and failed those around me more often than I even want to remember. I’ve had doubts and struggled with fear. But the over-riding strength and faith that I’ve received from answering that one question continues to be a blessing to me.
I challenge you to take a week to examine Jesus’ question for yourself. Ask God to show you who Jesus really is. If you’re a believer already, ask God to remove any human preconceptions and inaccuracies. If you’re not a believer, start reading the Gospel of John and ask God to reveal the truth to you. I believe that He’s big enough to answer His own question in your heart. “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus, I want to know the truth of who you are. Help me to search it out in the Bible. Open my eyes and my heart to what is true about you and to dedicate my life to that truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.