Too Full for the Real Meal

This is how pictures looked before smart phones.
Yes, that is his 2nd Donut. He only ate the tops.

My son loves any food that is junk food. On Thanksgiving Day he ate so many donuts (Where on Earth was his mother? Who is watching this kid?) that he was stuffed by the time we ate turkey.

In Luke 14, Jesus tells a parable about inviting guests to a banquet for dinner. The guests all have RSVP’d a big fat no. The excuses are shopping, work, and family. I can totally relate to those excuses during this Holiday Season. The host (God) tells his servant (Jesus) to go out and find anyone who can come eat. They fill up the chairs with the poor, the sick, the blind, and anyone with a heartbeat is welcome. Guess what? God did not keep a table open for the people who did not make time for HIM.

I am just like my son. I love donuts- the literal and the figurative kind. (Sour Cream are my favorite in case you want to treat me.) I fill up on everything else in life, and there is no room for the Holy Spirit. I am so busy that I neglect my time with God.

I want to be transparent here. During the last month I have felt apart from God. I have felt like I wanted to do the fun things in life. I have worried about pleasing myself way more than pleasing God. I have gossiped, been snippy, and not been right with the Lord. I am sick of my SELF. I am sick of the “donuts” and ready for the feast. 

This season, join me in taking a moment to ask God to empty you of yourself, pride, the things of the world. And then, ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit. I think the real meal will be better than a plate full of donuts.

Are You a Good Ambassador, or Just Good Enough?

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

I have had enough with good enough.  I am tired of being a half-way, tepid, good-enough Christian.  I am ready to be more than good-enough.  I read this verse at church on Sunday and the word ambassador grabbed my attention.

Ambassador – it sounds important, very official.  My favorite definition says an ambassador is a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.  The Latin root of the word ambassador is servant.

The Bible says that we are to be Christ’s ambassadors.  Honestly, that is not what my focus is on most days.  I tend to think of how I can promote myself, my comfort, my pleasure.  I tend to promote myself before I promote Christ.  Many days I look at how I can be served, instead of whom I can serve.

I forget that as believers we are in a spiritual war daily. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. God has brought us into his army for action.  Often, I am not focused on my job in His Army.  I have gotten sidetracked.

Imagine if the US sent an ambassador to Russia to share a plan for everlasting peace with Putin.  Imagine if along the way the ambassador was more worried about his accommodations, what clothing he was going to wear, or making sure he was entertained.  Would the US be pleased with that ambassador?  Of course not!  We would be concerned that the ambassador was not focused on the job at hand.  I am sure the US would say, “Enough – get to work.  We sent you to do a job that is a matter of life or death.  Your work affects the peace of the whole world.”

Today, I am telling myself the same message.  Get to work.  I have a place in God’s Army.  I need to be about the battle.  Enough promoting me – it’s time to promote Christ.  Enough with the laziness, it is time to be in action.  Enough with just good-enough.  God has brought me onto his team for action.  I do not want to settle – I want to be the ambassador Christ has called me to be.

Sacrificing our Kids

Is this the Modern Day Golden Calf?

Psalms 106:34
“They refused to obey the Spirit of God. So Moses spoke without thinking. They didn’t destroy the nations in Canaan as the Lord had commanded them. Instead they mixed with those nations and adopted their ways. They worshiped statues of their gods. That became a trap for them. They sacrificed their sons and daughters as offerings to false gods. They killed those who weren’t guilty of doing anything wrong. They killed their own sons and daughters. “

I have always thought the Golden Calf made by the Israelites was a little crazy.  Like, why would you do that?  I would never worship something that I made as a God – especially in the shape of livestock?!  I recently learned that the biggest of all the idols archeologists have uncovered in Israel have been 7 inches tall!  What? Can you imagine bowing down to a man-made 7 inch statue?  What is even crazier is the Israelites also sacrificed their first-born children to these idols.

When I first read this, I thought, “How on Earth could anyone sacrifice their child to an idol?”  Then, I paused.  American culture is really not so different than the idol worship of long ago.  We are even sacrificing our children to our idol worship.

We have become so entangled with our culture that we have created idols we worship instead of God.  Our kids are sacrificed to the idols of money, image, social status, and even to sports, just to spell out a few.  In the name of trying to keep up with the Jonses and pursuing that extra dollar, we lay our children on the sacrificial alter daily.  The biggest idol of all?  Happiness – we think our one short life is about being happy.  We keep thinking that some of those items listed above bring happiness, only to find out they are empty.  That is a lie straight from Satan.  Our life is to bring Glory to God, period.  

I prayed and asked God to open my eyes and show me idols in my life.  I had thought maybe I was not as bad as mainstream culture.  After all, I am a mom who has devotions and prays with my kids each day.  I take them to church and we even have a kid’s worship CD in our car for goodness sakes!  I prayed that prayer and waited about two seconds before God brought to my mind all the nights that I rushed bedtime so that I could sit in front of a TV show that does not glorify God.  I am sacrificing my children’s precious childhood just for my entertainment.  TV is not bad, but putting it in front of bedtime prayers with my child makes it a tool used by the devil.

I recently noticed that my son had started bringing my phone to me each time I left a room.  “Mommy you need your phone.  Mommy you forgot your phone”, he would say as he delivered it again and again.  I realized he had seen me carry my phone with me as if it were a lifeline. I was worshiping an idol so small it fit in my hand. I guess I had better stop judging those Israelites!  I wonder how life would look if I treated my Bible as well as my phone?  How many times would I read it throughout the day? How many times would I check it for answers to questions? Maybe if I start getting my false gods out of the way I will have time for the real God to speak answers of life to me.  

Psalms 106: 36 says “They worshiped statues of their gods. That became a trap for them.”

What would happen if we start perfecting our relationships with our children more than their baseball swing?  What if we started really living our moments instead of constantly posting them on Facebook?  Ask yourself what false god’s you might be serving today.  I for one need to quit putting so much emphasis on these worldly things, as they are only temporary.  Worshiping these false gods entrap us and give us false happiness and security.  I want to stop serving these false idols, and stop sacrificing my kids to them.  Instead, I want to seek Jesus who is the god of true joy and freedom.

The Son in Her Eyes

My hubby took a picture of me overlooking Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia.  I took one look at this picture and said, “It would be a great picture if the sun was not in my eyes.”  Realization hit as I heard my words out loud.  The “Son” – Jesus - should be in my eyes.  Jesus – not chores, not finances, not illness, not schedules – not fear – this is what I want to be my focus.

Recently, I heard someone say that we should gaze at God, just glance at our problems, and then turn our steady gaze back to God.  I have no idea where I heard this statement, but I think it may just be the key to getting through our toughest times.  You see, I tend to gaze upon my problems.  I tend to analyze, reconstruct, talk about, and overthink my problems.  I tend to call my friends and ask their opinions.  I concentrate my time and energy on the problem.  This is not the right approach.  I want to have the Son in my gaze.  I want to be looking so hard at Jesus that I can’t see anything else.  Think about it.  When we gaze at the sunshine, it is so bright that we need to squint.  That is what God wants for our lives.  God wants us to gaze upon His Son.  God does not want us to fill our vision with our problems; instead He wants us to focus on Jesus.  Jesus is the only thing that lasts. So why do I keep focusing on things that fade away?  When I get to the end of my life, I want to think back and say, “Wow, great life. I had the Son in my eyes!”

Are you on the Journey with God, or just Peering in the Windows?

This past weekend our friends invited us to borrow an exotic car to take on a road trip through the mountains.  Matt and I are both huge car fans, so this was a dream trip.  We could not afford this car as it’s more than our first house!  But, John invited us to go and pay nothing.  As we were driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, I began thinking how this trip reminded me so much of God.

God is such a great God.  Do you realize that all other “gods” - Budda, Mohammad, Greek Gods of the past – all other gods have asked for us to do things in order to be forgiven, saved or deemed righteous.  Our God asked for nothing and He gave everything by dying on the cross for us.  God is the only God that requires only for us to accept a free gift in order to have a relationship with him.  How cool is that?

John gave us this Ferrari for the weekend.  No strings attached.  We did not pay any money, we did not sign any contracts; it was a free gift.  Not only that, but John did not say, “here is your car, now go on your way.”  No - he went on the road trip with us.  He wanted to hang out and enjoy the weekend together.  That is so like our Heavenly Father.  He wants to give us a free gift of salvation - something that we could never pay for on our own.  And then, he wants to spend time in relationship “on the road of life” with us.

On the flip side, Matt and I were so appreciative and respectful of the gift that we took careful steps to protect this gift.  Matt parked the Ferrari away from other cars that could ding our doors.  I made sure that we kept the inside of the car neat and tidy.  We treated this gift with appreciation and the respect the gift deserved.

Are you treating your life – your gift of salvation with the respect and love that God deserves?  Are you being careful not to “mess-up” this precious gift of life God has given?  I, for one, am the first to not protect my ears and eyes from sin.  I was way more careful to stay away from objects that might hurt the Ferrari than I am staying away from temptation that might hurt my soul.

At every stop we made, strangers would come over to the car and peer into the windows. They would stand back and admire this exotic car. Often, they would ask what year the car was made or us how fast we had driven. Lots of questions, lots of looking, but they never really hopped in the car for a drive. Is this you on your Christian walk? Are you really on a journey with God, or are you just checking Him out on Sundays?  I don’t know about you, but the drive does not really start until I hop in and start the engine. It’s the same with Jesus. I cannot be on the journey with Him unless I am spending time in the word, praying, and living every moment on the ride with my Heavenly Father.

Sometimes we think of God as a being up in Heaven waiting for us to mess up.  That is wrong.  God is on our side.  God is pulling for us.  God wants to have fellowship and do the journey of life together.

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