Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Why Are We Here?

Do you know why we are here?

God met with his council and said, "Let's make man in our image." (Genesis 1:26-28) This with the purpose of us ruling with Him.  Satan wasn't a fan, of course then, he was Lucifer.  He didn't want us included just like first borns don't want to share mom and dad with their new baby sibling.  As we see the story unfold in the Bible, we can see, Satan became our enemy.  (I Peter 5:8) Satan's plans and God's plans stand in direct opposition (John 10:10). 

God did in fact create us (you know obviously, because we are here).  As we see the story unfold, we see that we messed up.  Adam and Eve left the garden.  God needed a new way to see his vision happen.  His new plan came in the form of a covenant, fancy word for promise or contract, with the children of Abraham, the nation that would come to be known as Israel.  If you've read the Bible you know they also messed up, so again, God needed a new plan to accomplish his goal.

Enter Jesus.

Who was (is) Jesus?  He was God in human form - not quite the Sci-Fi shape shifters but something like that.  Because Jesus was human he had the same issues we did (Hebrews 4:15) but because he was God he was able to be the perfect sacrifice.

In order for man to rule with God and his celestial council, (I Corinthians 6:3) we needed to be perfect, but no man had been able to do that.  In the pre-Jesus days, that perfection was sought through atonement - animal sacrifice.

Satan nor anyone of Jesus' day knew He came to die.

Everyone thought he came to rule like King David had.  They were expecting a government take over.  Jesus instead came to be the final sacrifice.  (Matthew 4:1-11) His blood would atone, not only for the wrongs of the Jewish people, but for all people.  His new covenant included everyone.

Good Friday is the day Jesus died.  Jesus first incited Satan with the purpose of being killed so he could take us back from our enemy - a rescue mission.

Then came Sunday.

Satan thought he had won, but he was duped.  Easter Sunday is the day Jesus came back to life.  He conquered the grave.  (I Corinthians 15:55-57) Good Friday and Easter re-established God's plan.  We can now rule with Him!

All we have to do is: 1) Believe, 2) Receive, 3) Follow (Romans 3:23, 3:10, 5:12, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 10:13, 10:17).  

In essence if we made the choice to accept God's sacrifice for our life, we are accepting a royal leadership role.

When we see stories in the news about Prince Harry's upcoming wedding with Meghan Markle, we read about the ways Meghan must transition into her role of royalty.  People have been up in arms over her requirement to give us social media, and yet trading everyday for royalty does come with perks and sacrifice.

Doesn't this same thing happen for us?  If we know we have become royalty with Jesus' act of love, doesn't that motivate us to live differently?  Instead of a focus on acquiring more on earth or getting what we want, shouldn't we be looking to the needs of others as more important than our own (Philippians 2:3-11). 

Easter is coming, and we have a story to tell.  That doesn't mean we don't participate in family gatherings, Easter egg hunts or shopping for a new outfit, but we have much more to celebrate!!!  Easter is a celebration of our freedom - our emancipation from death!!!  We aren't just waiting for the day we rule but we have part of God living in us (John 14:15-17) and heaven starts now!

So why are we here?  We are here to know God and make him known.  We are here to love one another.  We are here for purposes beyond this physical world!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

4 Lessons From Disney's "Wrinkle In Time"

This last week my son and I finished reading the book, “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L'Engle. I told my son we couldn't see the movie until we finished the book, and even though he didn’t quite get why, he was motivated to complete it. We had a great mother/son date going to see the movie, but I would be lying if I didn't admit my disappointment with  Disney's take on this treasured book.  The undeniable Christian themes in the book were replaced with a universal religious message that didn’t resonate with me.  (On a side note: I also felt rushed through the story and missed some of the scenes that were omitted from the book.  I felt the depth of the story was lost as some of the modern elements inadvertently added  a superficial quality that distracted from the overall themes).  

Despite my criticisms, I still came away with some teaching points that Caleb and I discussed and were about to apply to our own lives.  

1. The Importance of Parenting - In the end, Dr. Murry apologizes to his daughter, Meg, for missing out on 4 years of her life because of his tessering misadventures.  He looks at her and says, “Instead of shaking hands with the universe, I should have been holding yours.”  

Parents are people and we have our own dreams and aspirations and that is never wrong, but when those dreams supersede our role as parent we miss out on the greatest opportunity we have to shape someone’s life.   Parenting is hard in the moments, but over before you know it. You can’t get that time back, so its important to give it your full attention.  We have to be present as parents and this message met me loud and clear from the silver screen.  

2. The Paramount Power of Love - Clearly when Charles Wallace is overtaken by IT, he is in all accounts, demon-possessed.  IT uses fear, revenge and anger as its primary weapon in overcoming any and every target.  Love, was the only thing that could overcome the evil of IT.  Love is what Jesus did on the cross, he gave his life for all and cared for us in that act, despite our flaws.  As Meg points out, love sees us for who we are and doesn’t quit in the midst of reality.  That love is what defeated IT and returned Charles Wallace to his body and home.  Love is what Christians are tasked to share with the world, regardless the circumstances.  

3. The Significance of Facing Your Fears - Calvin’s relationship with his parent (mom in book vs dad in movie) is  tumultuous at best.  The fear he faces is referenced in movie and as the final scenes conclude, he notes that it took him a "trip around the universe" to face his fears.  Finding Nemo is another movie that highlights this theme and its something we all need to learn.  Fear is a prison and love is the antidote. It does take risk to face one’s fears, but even if you fail, you are stronger for trying, and its easier to dust yourself off and try again.  Being free from fear is definitely worth any risk involved! 

4. The Treasure Of Being You - We are imperfect people and our comparison game of why someone else is better than us or how “this one thing” would make us better is a lie and a trap.  When we focus on what we wish we were, we miss out the beauty of who we actually are.  Meg is a great example of this as she encounters her dream self and has to use her faults to save the day.  This doesn’t mean we stop working at being better people, it just means we acknowledge the wonderful creation of God we truly are.   

Do any of these speak to you in the reality of your life, today?  Is there a challenge in these four points that can motivate you to explore outside your comfort zone and encourage you to grow as a person?  Whether you watched the movie or not, loved it or hated it, I think the bonus lesson is no matter what, you can always glean from your experiences in life, fictional or otherwise!  Happy Wednesday and beyond!! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why Parenting Is So Hard!

I think anyone who has kids, of any variety, knows parenting is HARD! Don't get me wrong, it is also amazing!! Becoming a mom awakened a part of me that didn't exist before.  I am in awe of these mini-people who fill my life with frustration and happiness of equal and epic proportions. 

But why is parenting so hard?  That is a bigger question than this blog post could ever answer, but the answer that is currently resonating with me is because of what our kids reveal in us.  Even though kids are unique, they still reflect the best and worst of us, as parents. 

My son is just like me so finding the parallels of my personal issues in his behavior has never been hard, but my daughter is another story.   When I found out my youngest was a girl, I cried. I cried because I wanted a boy.   

At the time I didn't fully understand what was happening in my soul, but as I've been her mom, I see now it was fear.  I was afraid to be a mom to a girl, because I was afraid to look at parts of myself I was subconsciously avoiding. 

As God has walked with me into the darkness of my hidden self-loathing, I have faced my fear of not being enough in being her mom. 

Let me be clear, I love my daughter and I wouldn't trade her for the world.  I also welcome the journey of self-discovery that raising her has led me on.  I am one who wholeheartedly believes, the best life is one that is free from past junk! Despite the pain of facing my inner demons, I am eager to be baggage-free. 

But all of this just enforces the challenges of parenting.  We are humans in process, after all.  Having to do everyday life and then be sent the unexpected self-awareness curveball through your child's behavior is downright, overwhelming!   You never know when your child will playback your greatest fears and worst habits in their tantrum about homework, or be hurt by a friend and be crushed in a way you remember happening when you were younger.  What is that one thing you hate about yourself?  Seeing it in that face you'd die for or wish you could rescue them from your flaw you despise  - is terrifying!    We can't stop our kids from being like us - human or from getting hurt. 

The good news is, we aren't alone and God has a plan.  He will use every ounce of our good and bad parenting to shape their character and purpose and to heal our past in the process if we let him.  Some of my favorite traits were birthed out of the hardest challenges I faced, so I have to allow my kids to do the same.  When I look at this in reverse, I can tell you, I know my parents faults, but I love being like them in spite of those traits. 

How great is God that he uses our kids to draw us out of our comfort zones and allows us the space to grow in our relationship with him, self-awareness and desire to heal?! 

As I am reading Job right now in the Bible, I am reminded how often we feel the need to give advice when what we really need to do is offer encouragement.  Sure advice is necessary at times, but we don't have all the answers so engaging others like we do, isn't always helpful.  Job had three friends with loads of advice, but failed to give him what he needed - someone to remind him, he wasn't alone and to encourage not to give up. 

So here I am, letting you know - you aren't alone, so don't give up!  If you need more relational time, make space in your schedule to spend time with people - face to face, so you can grow your friendships and take care of your soul.  Keep going - God is bigger than whatever you face.  Ask him to show you just how big he is, then stand back and watch!!!  Happy Wednesday! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Are You Tempted To Quit?

I will be honest, I get tired of my own issues.  I work hard to be the best I can be.  I am always learning and growing but I still fail - A LOT!!!  My mom lovingly helped me recently to see, despite my lifetime battle with the same issues, I am making progress.  I rebound faster and when I fail its not the train wreck status it was in the past. 

January of this year I got hit pretty hard and wrote the following.  Unfortunately, I'm just getting around to sharing it with you.

I often feel unworthy of the words I write in this blog.  This past week was no exception.  After reading the mantras I needed to feed the positive in my thoughts, I found myself in my pit of despair speaking the lies I am fighting so hard to conquer. 

When I feel like an utter failure, like the one mistake God made, and when I hear myself question if I even deserve the life I live, I am encouraged to know I am not alone in this struggle.

My thoughts can often be my greatest battle.  Books have been written about the spiritual battlefield of the mind.  I am not just fighting for myself, but anyone else who battles the inner demons.  This is the first week of this new year and I've already fallen, but its not going to keep my down.

I don't know how you are starting your year off, but if its less than those sparkly ideals you envisioned, don't give up!  Remember, you aren't alone, God is speaking to you and working in you and he wants you to get up and keep going.  If my life can be an example of the ways God leads you down that path, then let it be.  Truth is I am not a failure, but I do fail because I am a human. 

When I define myself with my missteps I am doing no one any favors.  We are in a fight every day against the enemy and against our personal issues.  I have to keep fighting for myself and for the people that rely on me.

I don't know what you get up and face, but I do know you are worth the fight.  Change the script and begin to call out the thoughts that don't belong in your self-talk.  Speak life and truth and be the kind of friend to yourself that you would want to be to someone else. 

If you remember anything from these words, remember you are worth it.  Don't judge yourself by the number of times you fall on your face, but the number of times you get up.  You will get there, even if it takes 90 years.  Here are a few scriptures to give you encouragement today!!!

Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the one who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you. 

Psalm 55:22 - Give your worries to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will never let good people down.

Ephesians 2:10 - God created you to do amazing things. (paraphrase)

Romans 15:13 - I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Lamentations 3:22-23 - The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.