Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

Most people can tick off a list of things to be thankful for on one hand: family, job, home, health and friends. Thanksgiving is a good time to pause and count your blessings.

But what if you remove one of those things? Let’s say the job. Money gets tight, your home might be at risk of foreclosure, the worry impacts your health, the stress causes you to bite those closest to you, and your friends become distant. Those plates you had spinning so expertly, start to fall and shatter at your feet.

What’s a person to do? An interesting man named Paul (not McCartney) once said, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses…”

Why would anyone want to brag about his or her weaknesses? You see Paul had an amazing turnaround in life. He had it all, a great job, good friends, knowledge, prestige—even had a different name: Saul. And then one day he was struck blind. He couldn’t do his job; he was helpless. (Acts 9:1-9)

He found himself having to depend on some dude that Saul should’ve considered cat food. Ananias was a Christian and he prayed for Saul, and he was healed. (Acts 9:10-22) He felt so different he even took on a new name: Paul.

From then on Paul shucked his job and became a preacher—a member of the same group of people he used to round up to be tossed to the lions. He performed miracles and he boasted of his weaknesses. The rest of his quote tells why, “…so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

The most amazing people in my life are those that praise God in the midst of illness, legal problems or joblessness. I remember a pastor saying, “For every non-Christian who has cancer, there is a Christian with cancer.”

There is a better way to do this life. God calls us to be holy, set apart from this world. If we wow the world with our strength, brains, money or stuff…we’re just another voice in a world where everyone is shouting for his or her 15 minutes of fame. Eventually all these things will fade in the shadow of the next crisis of the day. It’s our weakness that really lets Jesus shine in our lives.

Now, if I ask you what are you thankful for, what comes to mind? It’s easy to be thankful for the blessings in life. What has driven you closer to God? Or, are you finally tired of keeping all those plates spinning in the air?

I am thankful for being broken, because I know who holds me together. My savior shines like a beacon through those cracks to the rest of the world and tells them there is a Hope. (John 14:6)

Now, grab one of your plates and have a slice of pie.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pumpkin Princess

We had a blast at our Halloween alternative-Trunk or Treat. I decorated my trunk with pumpkins and told the kids how Christians start out like pumpkins. It was fun to see the reactions of the kids as I told them how God picks us up from where we’ve been planted, cleans off the mud and—if it’s ok with us—cleans out the miserable gook inside our hearts. Then, God puts a light inside our heart so we can shine for Jesus.

I had a darling little girl come up to me in her pristine Cinderella costume. She had the poofy dress, the tiara and long satin gloves on. I was showing her the different stages of pumpkins: mud covered, gook inside and then lit with a candle. She seemed to be very intent on one pumpkin.

She handed her treat bag to her mom, pointed a regal finger at the mud-covered pumpkin and said, “I’d like that one please.”

I explained to her I was giving out candy, that the pumpkins were just for show. She proceeded to take off those satin gloves and reached for the big muddy pumpkin. She didn’t care about the front of her sparkly blue gown. It took a few moments for her mom and I to convince her they were for show. Then she was off to the next trunk for treats. I bet that little girl will grow up to be in the mission field. Why do I say that? Because she didn’t reach for the clean pumpkin or the one with a candle already inside. She reached for the one needing her touch the most. That’s what Jesus is like.

Did you know that Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world, is reaching for you? He doesn’t care how muddy and messed up inside you are. He doesn’t want to wait until you’re cleaned up and ready. Nobody can ever get that ready on his or her own power. All we have to do is something a pumpkin can’t do: shout, "Pick me!"

Once your life is in His hands, He begins the work. The mud flies and a heart surgery is performed right there. He’s not after slime and seeds but a heart that is rock hard from years of neglect and abuse. In its place He places a new heart, one that’s soft and ready to love. Yes, it’s a little more fragile and you might find it breakable, but you’ve got direct access to the Physician who will repair it every time. (No HMOs to stand in your way!)

When I became a Christian, I became a child of the King—a real princess. And I should not let that stop me from taking off my gloves and getting dirty for the Kingdom, much less look down on others.

Set your crown aside dear Christian, roll up your sleeves and take off your gloves, we have work to do. And may God give us the strength to keep reaching out to those who need the touch of Jesus. Not just the ones labeled unlovely, but the unlovable and unreachable as well.

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38

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