Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Accepted


If you've ever felt like an outsider or judged by others, you understand the power of the word--ACCEPTED!

If you've ever felt rejection, being accepted is all the more fulfilling. 

My husband shared this story in a sermon he preached not too long ago.  It's about one of his roommates from Bible college in North Dakota.  My husband was 17 years-old when he arrived at college.  He had left behind the safety and protection of a loving family and moved three states to the west.  The first day he arrived at the dorm, he met his first roommate.
  
That night, in the darkness of the dorm room,  my husband ask his roommate to tell him a little about his life.  To make a long story short, the roommate had not grown up in a loving family nor had he lived 'a church kid' kind of life.  My husband jokingly said that after that first night, he wanted a night light in his room.  Mike was his roommate's name.

Over the course of that year, they became great friends.  When my husband returned for his second year of college, his friend, Mike, began dating a pastor's daughter who also attended the college.  My husband felt his roommate had set his sights a bit high seeing his sorted past, but Mike pressed on.  The relationship grew and the girlfriend invited him to spend Christmas vacation with her family in another state.

It seemed to everyone who knew Mike that this relationship was a recipe for disaster.  What would the girl's parents think when Mike showed up on their doorstep.  He had grown up without any advantages, and the young man had 'a past.'  

Mike rode the bus two states west to meet his girlfriend's family.  When he arrived, the father and daughter  meet Mike at the bus station.  With excitement in the father's voice, he sincerely welcomed Mike to their family's Christmas.  Mike couldn't believe the welcome.  He thought for sure he would be examined and found wanting. 

Then they arrived at his girlfriends house and the mother greeted them at the door.  She threw her arms around Mike and hugged him tightly.  Mike couldn't remember the last time he'd been hugged by a mother figure.  The mom showed Mike around the house and told him that the food in the fridge was his, the bedroom was his, and while he was with them he was to consider himself at home.

The dad gave Mike a spare set of keys to the family's second car and told Mike that while he was visiting, the car was his to use.

Why did these parents accept Mike?  They didn't even know him.  I'm sure they knew his past, yet he was still welcomed.  Why? 

I know the reason Mike was accepted by these parents.  It was because of the relationship he had with their daughter.  Because of her, Mike was brought into relationship with her parents.  Because of her, the parents welcomed Mike into their family.  

Ephesians 1:6 is a reminder that all of us were once looked on as unacceptable, but though Christ we became accepted.
 To the praise of the glory of his grace, 
wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

These four words, accepted in the beloved, may very well be the most beautiful words I've ever heard.  

Had Mike showed up on the doorstep of these parents house without having a relationship with their daughter, he would not have been hugged, fed, housed or given car keys.  He would not have been accepted.  

And what makes us accepted by God the father is our relationship with His Beloved Son.  

We are accepted in the beloved




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What's your name?

My mother told me a story, a long time ago.  It was about me, when I was very young and just learning to talk.  

The story was told to me like this.  

My parents would ask, "What's your name?"

I'd reply, "George."  It was a crowd pleaser.  

Cute, right?  

Until one day, they realized it wouldn't be funny or cute if I were lost and someone asks me, "What's your name?" 

And I replied, "George."  Believing falsely that "George" was truly my name.  

My parents realized for my own safety that something had to change!  

So the tedious process began to retrain me.  I think we all know that was not an easy task.  

My mother told me the reeducation went like this.

Parent: "What's your name?"

Me: "George."  Followed by my best one-dimpled smile, I'd looked around the room anticipating the laughter that was sure to follow.  

Parents:  "No, your name is Beverly.  Say Beverly!"

Me: "No-George."

This went on for awhile until corporal punishment was applied.  In my childlike thinking, I'm sure, I didn't understand what had changed.  The story was told to me that I would not relent, through tears I would stutter out the name, "Gggg-orge."

Obviously, I finally figured out that my name was Beverly, but I wonder how long it took me.   My mother never told me if it was one round of training or months?  I'm thinking months.

This little story brings to mind the plight of many Believers and their lack of understanding as to who they are in Christ.

When someone becomes a Christian, 
he becomes a brand new person inside. 
He is not the same anymore. 
A new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 

This promise of 'making us new' comes with the promise of a  'New Name.' 

“...I will give to each a white stone, 
and on the stone will be engraved a new name 
that no one else knows except the one receiving it."  
Revelation 2:17 
When I read this, I get excited at the prospect of what my 'New Name' will be, but until then, I can focus on the names God has already given to me through Christ.  

The  enemy of our souls will try and trick us into believing that our name is something other than what God has promised us in our new life.  

Until the day we each receive our 'New Names,' we should dwell on the names by which God identifies us.    

Forgiven
   Redeemed
      Delivered
         Precious One
            Friend
               Joint Heir 
                  My Daughter
                     My Son
                        Righteousness of God in Christ

What's Your Name?











Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Constructive Criticism

When I was younger, I resisted anyone who tried to help me by bringing attention to my mistakes.   Accepting this type of help has been a lifelong process.  Another way to describe this is accepting Constructive Criticism

I have asked myself many times, how could anything be constructive when it is accompanied by criticism?  But it is.  


I have a keen eye for seeing things that are wrong...with other peoples work...but not so much my own.  Accepting the advice of another can be difficult when looking at our mistakes, but when we do, we are the better for it.

Now that I am older, I think I know what made me resist Constructive Criticism when I was younger.  It was pride.   

In 2 Kings 5, there is a story of a great military commander, Naaman, who was dying from leprosy.  Things seemed hopeless for this prestigious man.  One of his servants recommended he go see the prophet Elisha.  But when Elisha, a poor prophet did not rise to Naaman's expectations the scripture says this, ...Naaman became angry and left.  In this Bible story, Naaman says this, “I thought he would at least come out of his house, stand somewhere, call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the infected place, and heal the skin disease."

Naaman eventually listened to his servant's counsel and followed Elisha's directions to bathe 7-times in the river.  Naaman set his pride aside.  If he hadn't, he would have bypassed the miracle that God had for him. 

I wonder how many times in my life, I've resisted the Constructive Criticism of the Lord.  How many times have I walked away in anger and missed my miracle?   

How about you?  Are you in a battle with pride over the Constructive Criticism of another?  Are you about to walk away in anger and miss your miracle?  

Next time you are tempted to resist instruction, remember the story of Naaman and also what Proverbs 19:20 says.  Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. 

Now that's some Constructive Criticism we all could use.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

True Freedom

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I have a 'take it or leave it' attitude about fireworks.  Don't get me wrong.  Fireworks are awesome, but to go to a real fireworks display there are things to contend with that I am not fond of.  Things like traffic, parking, crowds, darkness, bugs, and the discomfort of sitting on the ground...just to name a few.  But there are some wonderful things about fireworks too.    

I love the crowd's eager anticipation of the next firework.  I love how the firework display illuminates the night with bursts of colorful light.  I love the expression and sounds of those in the crowd with the release of each new firework. 

Another thing I've noticed about firework displays is when there is a dud or two in the show, there is no booing or hissing.  When the fireworks crowd doesn't receive what they were expecting, they don't turn ugly.  Instead, there is a unison pity,"awwww," that rumbles across the open fields.

Today is the 4th of July.  The birth of our nation.  This is the day we celebrate our freedom and somewhere over the course of our many years of celebrating, firecrackers and fireworks have become the why we express the joy of freedom.  

As Christians, we each have our own personal 4th of July celebration--so to speak.  Mine was when I was seven years old, on a Wednesday night, at the altar of kid's camp.  That was the day I received my freedom.  I was liberated from a future of bondage and despair.  That was the day the angels in heaven rejoiced--because of me.  That was the day I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
(Psalm 65:8 NIV)

How about you?  Do you remember your personal 4th of July?  Do you remember the day you were liberated from bondage and ushered into freedom?  

Today, whether you celebrate the birth of our nation quietly at home or loudly at a fireworks display, take a moment to reflect on what True Freedom really looks like.





I believe!

Having been raised in the church and choosing to dedicate my life to serving the church, I have seen many things change.  Some for the g...