I am a Child of God

Consider the image above.  Can you picture yourself as the little child, reaching up and taking hold of the hand of our God?  Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven belongs, not to children, but to those that are like children.

I was at a friends house when he wanted to show off how much his child had grown.  Just barely able to walk now, he asked of the kid… “go get daddy the remote”.  It took some pointing and some repeating but the little boy wobbled across the living room and brought back the sought after prize to the father.  His dad held out the remote and exclaimed, THAT is why you have kids!”

The little boy was excited.  He was happy to please his daddy.

I want to be like that boy.  Pleasingly and dutifully serving my God no matter how trivial the task may seem.

I’ve noticed that although God holds my hand, he will allow me to let go.  And those are the times when I realize big change.  When I bring my hand down, that is when I get angry in traffic.  When I pull away, I worry about me.  When I stop holding my Dad’s hand I look out for myself and dwell on my own problems.

When I’m firmly clasped into the fingers of our Lord, I’m on HIS journey.  I’m along for the ride while doing HIS business.

The cross is all about proximity.  Jesus didn’t have much to say throughout the actual ordeal.  Nails, crown, falling under its weight and His exhaustion.  But when he took on our sin and found separation from the Father… then He spoke.  “Why have you forsaken me?”  Now we get to the real agony… distance away from God.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to heal our cars.  He didn’t face the burdens of the cross so we would have a favorable tax year.  Ultimately, he didn’t leave heaven to make life easy, answer all of our questions or hand out free passes.  Jesus endured absence from the Father so we wouldn’t have to.

I want to be God’s little boy… bounding through my community, hand in hand with my Daddy.  Everyone tends to focus on growing up.  I want to grow down.  I want that carefree love and enjoyment of life.  Where a funny face makes us laugh.  Where we are completely unaware of social media or its lack of impact on us.  Where we don’t understand what embracement means.  And… where we only know how to speak from our hearts.

I think a lie that has become easy to accept is that as we age, we grow older.  What I mean by that is that we stop being children.  We become adults, parents, grandparents, and we get promoted in our jobs.  At some point, life is too important to be left to children.  But that is the lie.  The truth is, we never stop being God’s children.  Unfortunately, sometimes, we just stop acting like it.  Are we so ‘grown up’ that we can’t still hold His hand.  Can we not let Him lead us to our best version of ourselves?  Can we not trust Him?

If you are into corporate or proper prayer, try calling Him papa the next time you pray.  Climb up in His lap.  Take hold of His hand.  Listen to His stories of what He has done for you.  Pray directly to Him as though He came out of the tomb after the cross… because He did.  The Man that thought we were worth dying for has something to show us.  Are we able to follow?

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One Question: Pass / Fail

Lets call this an exercise.  It might sound like I’m getting political, but I promise it’ll barely scrape the surface before I get back on topic.  And the topic is a single question test to help you understand where you stand spiritually.  It’s not meant as anything other than a personal self assessment in one key area of faith.

Jesus, our intercessor, is often seen as standing at the gates of Heaven.  He will, as promised, vouch for those who have received His gift of salvation.  The Bible calls it, among other things, the separation of grains from weeds.

Before we get going, I’d like to ask you to think of 2 names.  See, I’m not even going to mention them.  These 2 figures have been in political news non stop for months and likely won’t be left out of the news for the foreseeable future.  Most likely one of the two names brings up feelings of unhappiness.  In many people, the feelings are much stronger.  If I’m to believe social media, both of these people are absolutely hated by the opposing party.  If you aren’t wrapped up in the political turmoil then pick your current enemy number 1.

Some of us, get so agitated at the mere mention of the name, we probably already forgot what we are doing.  So all I want you to do is to think about those 2 people for a minute.  Got a good image?  All set on their character, beliefs, motives, and class?  Good.

Now, lets pretend for a moment that Jesus pulls you aside at the gates of Heaven.  He has a task for you.  Those 2 people are right behind you in line.  In your ear, He whispers the following:

I have already paid for their sins.  On the cross I endured absence from my Father while I took on the whole burden of all sin.  I was sacrificed and now is the time to deem people entrance or deny, forever, access to the Father.  I know how horrible time away from God is and it forced me to cry out in anguish for all to hear.  To be away from God is to be forsaken.  Lost.  Alone.  Horribly and wretchedly doomed.  I will not share their secrets or their sins, nor their accomplishments.  You only have the knowledge you have brought into death.  What sentence would you pass on to these 2 people?  Should they be allowed to praise God forever, or weep for eternity?  Should I forsake them?

And thus begins your test.  Knowing only what social media or biased media has provided you, are you ready to condemn others to an eternity of Hell?  Are your sins lesser?  Is God unable or incapable of forgiving?

I’ll remind you of a single scripture before you are asked to answer.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32

Can you do it?  Can you pass judgement on these people?  Can your conscience bear the weight of eternal consequences?  I praise God every day that I am not a judge (in earthly or heavenly matters).  Passing out penalty is not something I envy.  Although it is much needed, I could not be the one to decide when a price should be paid.  Thankfully, the Bible makes it easy.  Forgive debts.  Forgive crimes against us.  Forgive each other.

This doesn’t mean to let people ruin the world with chaos.  This means that we are free from the burden of consequences when we forgive those who wrong us.  This affectively makes it “their” problem.  To not forgive is to hold on.  Picture Ebenezer Scrooge hoarding receipts, demanding payments, double checking the locks on all of his money…  Its a task to hold grudges.  Its a burden.  When you forgive, both parties become free.

OK, no more preaching.  It’s time to answer… Did you learn anything about yourself?

Was it hard to give grace to someone like this?

Did you find feelings of hatred stir up inside?

If you found that your emotions don’t exactly line up with the many, many verses in the Bible about forgiveness and judgement, then you are in the right place.  You are able to see the difference which will allow you to change your behavior.  The Christ-Like servant does not publicly hate or judge.  Instead, we pray.  If you believe, as the Bible tells us, that no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace, then you must also believe that everyone is worth praying for.

The bottom line is are you are a hater or a pray-er?  Who do you choose to be today?

Dogs Like Fried Chicken

I’m always amazed at seeing good people out in the world.  Sadly, I just don’t see it that often.  I don’t think I’m that jaded, I just see more selfishness than selflessness.  I don’t think people are evil, but we all tend to lose our focus very quickly.  When we aren’t looking up, we are looking out for ourselves.

But yesterday my faith was, once again, restored in humanity.  I learned a very valuable lesson.  Dogs like Fried Chicken.  I think I knew this already, but seeing it acted out amongst strangers was a sight to behold.

In the middle of an extremely busy town a dog got loose.  Running through intersections, weaving in and out of traffic, it was obvious that both the dog and its owners were a little freaked out.  At first, onlookers cringed every time he changed directions.  No one wanted to see the pup get hit.  Thankfully, he never did, because everyone in the immediate area seemed genuinely concerned about the safety of this animal.

Quickly, cringes turned to doors opening with people trying to catch the dog or corral him.  Over 20 car doors opened trying to assist as the dog approached each car in kind.  Crossing a major intersection, traffic began to back up in 4 different directions.  More car doors opened.  A policeman jumped out of his car and grabbed a toy he had handy.  Finally, when I thought, this freaked out dog will never let anyone near him…

A lady pulled to the median, popped her trunk and shuffled through some grocery bags.  A piece of warm, cooked fried chicken was in her hand and she began to wave it towards the dog.  Her lunch.  Most likely her families’ lunch.  Someone did without that day.  (or perhaps they ate less, or maybe there was another meat, but no matter how you look at it, she paid money for a meal that was better served to a dog than her family/friends).

I choked up a little at the humanity.  The sacrifice. The meaning of it all.  But what really brought it all home to me… in the entire ordeal… I never heard a single horn honk.  No beeping.  No swerving and speeding.  Collectively, this community (even though strangers, still) worked as a single unit to bring this dog back to his owner and keep him safe from the dangerous streets.  We all forgot about our hurried schedules and busy timelines.  We just wanted to get that puppy home.

While the parallels may seem obvious, I’d like to challenge us anyway:

Some of the gifts we have been blessed with deserve to go to someone else.  Perhaps even someone lesser in our eyes.  Pray for guidance that we give freely of ourselves.  We can do without some things.  We can sacrifice a bit for the gain of others.

When we see someone lost, we need to try and help them.  Even if we look silly, even if it feels inconvenient, even if we have to go out of our way… its worth it to bring someone home to the Father.

When someone else is trying to help, lets help them too.  They need support, courage, prayers, love, affirmation, and confidence to continue.

When someone finds their way home, we ALL have reason to celebrate.  We ALL have a stake in the game.  Somewhere in your life a dog is whining.  He is cold, scared, and in need of help.  When you reach out, he will run.  Don’t give up.  We’ve got chicken.  Lets get that dog home!

You are Better Than That!

  1. Heaven is a wonderful place.  (1 Corinthians 2:9, and others)
  2. God wants everyone – yes, even you – in Heaven.  (1 Timothy 2:4, and others)
  3. God cannot make a mistake (Psalm 147:5, and others)

Ponder the following:

If you are such a mess, and you went to Heaven wouldn’t it be miserable for everyone else?

If you are undesirable and God desires you, wouldn’t He be wrong?

If you were flawed, wouldn’t God be incompetent?

 

There are a lot of lies out there.  But there is also truth.  Measure the lies against the facts.  Weigh them on the scales of truth.  Our friends can lie.  Our mirrors lie.  Our enemies most definitely lie.  Social media absolutely lies.  God has given you a truth.  You are beautiful and wonderfully made.  You are loved and desired.  And you do have a place prepared for you should you accept it.

2 more things are true.  We all have work to do.  We aren’t perfect.  We were perfectly made, but we ourselves are not perfect.  We make mistakes.  Even when we don’t intend to, we will continue to mess up.  There is no room for ego as everyone needs to improve.  But we also aren’t all bad either.  We are all redeemable.  We are all healable.  We are all precious to the one who made us.

A great and terrible sacrifice was made for us.  You, me, everyone.  All of humanity is the recipient.  That price wasn’t paid for losers, downers, or mistakes.  That price was paid so we all could accept and receive the gracious gift of eternity with God.  If you are truly seeking truth within yourself, the lies are obvious.  They seek to destroy you, to bring you down.  They seek to deprive you and humiliate you.  They don’t want you to be empowered with the truth.  So they lie about appearances, they whisper deceit about your relationships, and they conjure hypocrisy about your abilities.

Spend time investigating the truth and you will see the lies for what they truly are.  You have tremendous worth and value.  Turn the light on in your life and exterminate the darkness around you with truth.