Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stuff, Stuff, & More Stuff

We are packing up to move. I never cease to be amazed at how much stuff we have. Even though, every time we've moved, I try to get rid of all the stuff I don't think I need somehow it still seems like I have too much stuff.

A lot of my stuff has memories attached to it. Like the Rubbermaid box filled with adorable outfits in pristine condition that my boys wore in their first year of life...the notes that friends and co-workers have given me over the past thirteen years or so...the shoebox filled with letters and postcards from friends in middle school, high school, and college. I've tried to get rid of stuff but I just can't seem to let certain things go.

I envy Paul, who wrote in Philippians 3:13-14: "...but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." How much spiritual "stuff" do we carry around, reluctant to let go of for one reason or another? When God gently prods our memories and suggests--in His gentlemanly way--that we leave that thing behind, is our response: "But God...?"

What if we had to pay for all the baggage we carry around, like when we fly? I recently had to pay $15 to check one bag. I couldn't avoid it I was staying for 5 days and 4 nights and there was no way I could fit everything into two carry-ons. Trust me, I tried! What would our bill total up to if we had to check all of our spiritual baggage?

I thank God that Jesus paid all of my debts but for the sake of my own walk with Him I also pray that He would help me to "downsize" my spiritual baggage. I've come a long way but I still have far to go. I want to finish this race well and press on toward the goal for the prize which is Jesus and all that He obtained for me.

What about you? How much baggage are you carrying around? Why not visit the cross today and leave as much as you can at its foot.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jonah Was a Prophet

"Jonah was a prophet, oo oo
But he really never got it, sad but true
If you've been watching, you can spot it, a doodley-doo
He did not get the point!"

For those of you who are moms and whose kids love the Veggie Tales movie, "Jonah," you'll recognize those crazy lyrics. For many of you, you've probably heard those lyrics one too many times and will now go away irritated with me for making that song pop into your head and stay there longer than you want. Sorry. :)

What's the point? For those of you not familiar with the story, Jonah was a prophet of God in the Old Testament under the old covenant of the Mosaic law (the Ten Commandments and the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus). Jonah's job was basically that of divine mailman. He delivered God's messages to the people of Israel. Sometimes God's messages were encouraging, sometimes they were meant to straighten out the Israelites. One day, God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and deliver a message. Now Ninevah was not a part of Israel. The Israelites, including Jonah, believed that God's covenant protection and blessings were reserved specifically and solely for the Israelites. Ninevah was a raucous city (think Las Vegas, only worse) and the people of Ninevah were none too friendly to outsiders but they were especially harsh to the Israelites.

Think about this for a second. During the Old Testament, under the Mosaic law, God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell them to repent of their sins. God wanted to show mercy and compassion to a sinful city that was not part of His covenant and treated His people like dirt. Wow. This is before Jesus. Before the new covenant. Before grace. This is before Jesus died for our sins and made us righteous before God through His sacrifice. God wanted to reach out to those who were not His chosen people and extend mercy and compassion. How amazing.

What's even more amazing is that after running away from God, almost drowning, getting swallowed by a whale (or big fish, depending upon your translation), Jonah still did not want God to show mercy to the Ninevites. He did not want to share God's grace. Oh, he delivered God's message all right but after the Ninevites repented, Jonah picked out a spot to watch the fireworks of God's judgment and wrath that he was sure were to come. After receiving God's mercy instead of His judgment, Jonah still expected God to destroy the Ninevites instead of showing them mercy and compassion as a result of their repentance. He did not get the point.

What is the point? God is a loving Father Who wants to be reconciled to all of His children. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, what religion you consider yourself a part of. You are a child of God, made in His image and He wants nothing more than to shower you with His mercy and compassion. He doesn't want to punish you for all the sins you've committed. No, Jesus already took that punishment for you so that you wouldn't have to. All God sees when He looks at you is Jesus. He sees rightousness and grace. Wow.

Will you get the point today? I hope so. I know I have to remind myself sometimes. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why Am I Doing This?

Why am I blogging? I don't know. My friend Laurie inspired me to start a blog and I figured that, since she is the same age and has kids about the same age as mine, if she can find the time so can I. This is my first attempt at blogging so hopefully it will get more polished as I go on. :)

Why did I name my site "It's a Grace Thing?" I am currently reading "Destined to Reign" by Joseph Prince. If you've never read it or heard of it, I recommend that you check it out. It WILL change your life or make you mad. :) For me, it's changing my life.

All my life I felt as if I could never measure up to someone else's standards. I could never do enough, be good enough, do well enough in school, look pretty enough, etc. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, after a while I began to feel the same way. I looked at all the sin in my life and the bad behaviors and habits that I still had and eventually the voice in my head (the accuser--we all have one, admit it) grew louder and louder. Are you familiar with that voice? It's the one that tells you that you just blew it when you got mad at the customer service agent on the phone because of the poor service you received--Jesus wouldn't do that, right? The majority of Christians that I know and have known have taught and counseled that if I just believe hard enough, read my Bible enough, pray long enough, fast often enough, and worship long enough, that I would see major breakthroughs in my life and the Christian life would be "easy."

Needless to say, I could never seem to read my Bible enough, pray long enough, fast often enough, or worship long enough and so I continued to see areas of "lack" in my life. I figured it was my fault as was everything else that went wrong in my life. I mean, I'm responsible for how my life goes, right? I chart my own destiny, create my future, and determine whether or not I'm successful, right? Or does God determine that? Is it just His Will that I live in financial lack, constantly yell at my husband and kids, and just can't seem to be "good enough?" I don't think so.

The Bible says that it is God's goodness/lovingkindness (depending upon your translation) that leads men to repentance. It's not a fire and brimstone message about the dangers of hellfire. It's not a list of all the things you need to do to live a "good" life. It's not an exposition of all the benefits of going to heaven and living there for eternity. It's his lovingkindness. His goodness. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Look for more later!