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Posts Tagged ‘changes’

Exhilarating Moments

December 27th, 2013

“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Matthew 2:10 NLT.

Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “exhilarating moments”

Sitting in a quiet house this morning after Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between this moment and yesterday when this room was filled with our family – kids, spouses, in-laws, grandkids, a great granddaughter, and a great grandson “on the way.” There was cooking, activity, laughter, conversations, busyness, fun and games, and exchanging gifts – with loving appreciation and good will to one and all. It was exhilarating. The gifts under the tree are now opened and gone; the families have departed. Now, the calm and quiet seem deafening.

In the Christmas narrative, Matthew reports the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East. “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Read Matthew 2:1-12. Anticipation, consecration, and finally celebration marked their journey. Who were they? From where did they come? How did they know to follow the mysterious, miraculous star? How long did they journey? What prompted the gifts they gave? But I think of a more important question. How did such miraculous direction from afar and such an exhilarating moment of discovery impact the rest of their lives? Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.

“They fell down and worshipped Him. Then they . . gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way.” Matthew 2:11-12 NLT. Inevitably, they returned to the routines and responsibilities of everyday life. Allow me a bit of a writer’s “poetic license” about the words, “They went home another way.” I know that refers to the Magi not retracing their steps to Jerusalem because of God’s warning them about Herod’s evil intent for the child. But for me, the words suggest a practical application: Christmas, the truth of God coming into your world, should be a permanently life-changing experience, not just an exhilarating moment.

If you understand the historical and personal reality of God loving you enough to give His Son and His Son giving Himself to be your Savior, you will not live as you did before such transformative knowledge entered your heart. Because of Christ’s birth, our calendar changed from BC to AD, “Before Christ” to “Anno Domini,” a Latin phrase that means, “Year of our Lord.” His birth changes everything and anyone forever! Christmas is a good time for lasting change. See Romans 6:4 NIV.

Jesus’ birth replaced man’s sinful plight with a spiritual destiny – any man’s history with every man’s possibilities – and man’s abysmal record with a Godly legacy, changing prejudices, temperament, habits, history, regrets, lusts, and vices. “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Phillips. Now that is an exhilarating life.

Christmas Day is past, but Christmas’ exhilarating celebration should not be over. Do you return to the usual, or does Christmas invite a new normal? Life is like that, exhilarating moments followed by the routines and responsibilities of daily life. If you can return contentedly to being who you were, doing what you were doing, and living as you pleased, then what you celebrated may have been a “Happy Holiday,” but was not the “Merry Christmas” God intends for you. Christmas is not a single day; Christmas is Christ born anew and living in your heart every day. See John 17:3 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your celebration of Jesus is transformative.

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Seasons

October 18th, 2013

“Be ready in season and out of season.” 2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV.

Change is a real constant in life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “seasons.”

As a boy growing up in the Illinois, I enjoyed the change of seasons. September brought the cooling temperatures and changing colors of autumn, and every teenage boy’s dreaded job of raking and burning the fallen leaves. December brought the snow and cold of winter, but also snowmen and neighborhood snowball fights, and of course a Currier and Ives white Christmas. Spring produced the showers and multi-hued flowers of new growth and life. And then came the longer, warmer days of summer, with baseball in the street until dark. Each season was distinct in its own right, uniquely savored and enjoyed.

Why are you and I prone to seize upon a single season to our liking and try to make that one size fit all? When you struggle to do so and seem to succeed for a time, you make a life meant to be exciting and challenging into something dull and routine, even boring and joyless! Change is the only real constant in life; change is to be welcomed.

What would life be like if every day were the same, if every season of life were indistinguishable from another? Apparently, God values variety and diversity. Every snowflake is unique. Every fingerprint is individual. Creation established both day and night and the lights of Heaven to rule over each. The Creator dictated there would be seed time and harvest. The key to life is finding its rhythm and adjusting accordingly.

Seasons have beginnings and endings. Learn to anticipate and appreciate each new season. Every beginning will eventually yield to an ending; inevitably, that must be. And every ending is the promise of a new beginning; predictably, that will be. Listen to the practical wisdom of Solomon, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven . . a time to be born, a time to die . . a time to weep and a time to laugh . . a time to gain and a time to lose . . a time to keep silence and a time to speak . . He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 NKJV.

To be wise you must learn to recognize different seasons and to embrace its change as well. Paul encouraged Timothy, his protégé, to live and serve the same, whatever the season or circumstance. “In view of His appearing and Kingdom . . be prepared in season and out of season . .”  2 Timothy 4:2-5 NKJV. Seasons and situations change but your enthusiasm and expectation can be constant.

My sincere goal is that my life be as the man God’s Word describes, “Blessed is the man who . . is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does will prosper.” Psalm 1:3 NIV. Be fruitful in the season of fruitfulness; do not wither when a different season comes; prosper whatever a new season brings. Much changes; God doesn’t; you mustn’t.

“Do not grow weary while doing good, for in due season you shall reap if you do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 NKJV. God has meticulous timing, always in time, always on His time. I believe true spiritual maturity evidences the character trait of diversity with consistency, an integrity of heart and life that God and others expect.

My prayer for you today is that you hold fast to what is unchanging and eternal.

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Originality and Humility

April 19th, 2013

I say to every man . . not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.Romans 12:3 NAS.

You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “originality and humility.”

Life is not static; a successful life is lived with dynamic balance.  By that I mean: a dynamic balance requires subtle adjustments to a present reality. People who never adjust break; people who never change never grow. Our great granddaughter, Kaylee Grace, is one year old and walking – everywhere! With newly discovered mobility, she is adventurous. Have you observed a toddler’s first attempts at walking? There seems to be quite a trick to it that you may have forgotten. The challenge is accomplishing a dynamic balance that shifts your weight safely from one foot to the other.

Walking is such a common part of everyday life that I hardly gave it any thought, until I read an explanation of the intricate processes the body constantly performs in the act of walking. Since it happens so naturally, even automatically, you take it for granted until something happens to impair your ability to do so. Each and every step requires an immediate and delicate adjustment to your balance. Each foot shifts the center of gravity ever so slightly from one side to the other, and the rest of the body has to anticipate and accurately adjust. Failure to do so results in a fall.

The idea of balance that intrigues me today is about the life-balance of having confidence in your God-given originality balanced with common sense humility. Your walk in Christ necessitates that you understand the delicate balance of both, knowing the profound uniqueness of who you are in Christ and how and when to walk in humility before others, and certainly before God at all times. You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God. In some ways, you are one of a kind, but that was never meant for your pride, but always and only for the glory of your Creator.

In other ways, you are not so different from every other person. You have every reason to walk in true humility. Apart from God’s grace and gifts to you, of what can you boast? Blending those two realities and balancing the need and occasion for each is the challenge you must master to experience and enjoy your greatest success. How you live compliments your Creator.

You have seen examples of the worst of either of those extremes – the person so impressed with themselves they are unenjoyable if not unbearable – or the person so self-deprecating they are uncomfortable to be around, excusing themselves from any effort or expectation. Either is an unhealthy imbalance.

Here’s the Bible formula for a Godly life of spiritual balance, “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NAS. How beautifully and practically stated. Think of yourself no more highly than you ought to think, and just as importantly, think of yourself no less highly than you ought to think, according to the grace of God that is upon your life and the gift of God that is within you.

My prayer for you this day is that you enjoy who you are, and fully credit God Who made you.

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The Process of Progress

March 6th, 2013

“We . . are being transformed . . with ever increasing glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Real changes are deliberate and progressive rather than immediate.

Since our first grandchildren, Gayle has stubbornly perpetuated an annual day when each child’s height is measured, marked, and dated on the same piece of door trim. Each kid hopes for a spectacular burst of growth; in reality, their growth is noticeable but seldom if ever as notable as they wish. They want growth that surpasses and amazes their siblings and cousins, and probably to reassure themselves. Good health, profitable habits, and time seem to be the things that propel growth, not yearning or extra effort.

Like me, do you always want your progress to be noticeable and notable in your life? I am usually in a hurry and have high expectations of my ability to grow and change. My desire usually exceeds my ability. But in my life, changes seem to be ordinary and incremental, hardly worth bragging about and seldom spectacular. But maybe that’s God plan. Maybe the right changes are meant to be more deliberate and progressive than immediate. Be patient and faithful.

Isaiah describes process as basic to growth, “For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:10 NKJV. Everything God does rests on everything God has done. Kindergarten built on what you learned at home, and that laid the necessary, educational foundation for Elementary studies and learning, and the same for Junior High, High School, and College. And all of that was just to prepare you for life itself. Education is a process of progress.

Paul describes the process of spiritual growth this way, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV. God’s glory emanating from your life is a process, “from glory to glory.”

In the above verse, I see three practical steps in the process of spiritual maturity: (1) “Unveiled faces,” suggests that nothing or no one can be allowed to distract or compete with your singular focus and dependence upon the Holy One who works within you. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV. (2) “Reflect the Lord’s glory . . into His likeness,” are the direction and defined goals to which you must dedicate your efforts – His glory and His likeness. (3) “Being transformed . . with ever increasing glory,”describes the incremental process whereby God accomplishes effective and enduring change through your experience and expression of His own glory. “Ever increasing glory;” I like the sound of that!

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV. The longest journey begins with a single step and is completed by every succeeding step in the right direction. Real spiritual growth and development result from a process of progress. Read Zechariah 4:10 NKJV. You won’t become Christ-like all at once, but you can become a little more like Him each day. See Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV. It isn’t how much of the Bible you know, but it is how much of the Bible you believe and obey every day. You will not impact a whole world all at once, but you can touch one life at every opportunity.

My prayer for you this day is that you learn to trust God’s process.

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Choices and Changes

February 6th, 2012

“A man of two minds [is] . . unreliable and uncertain about everything.” James 1:8 Amplified

“Life requires both the ability to choose and the willingness to change.”

My thoughts today are about “choices and changes.”

Some people’s minds are like a teenager’s bed; it seldom gets made up. Not everything about life is definitive, but if you are certain about nothing, you are in trouble. I wonder if this very practical area of daily life is not made more complicated because of the myriad options and choices that our high-tech, low touch, 21st century life affords in every category – clothing, architecture, travel, technology, entertainment, communication, occupations, acquaintances (how many Facebook friends did you say you have?), and on and on the list goes.

All choices are not of equal importance. Some choices are short-term and changeable; others are unchangeable, therefore life-long. A few are even eternal. Some options are just cosmetic and superficial; others are about character and are consequential. The Bible says, “A man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), is unstable, unreliable, and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, and decides.]” James 1:8 Amplified Bible. That describes such an unhealthy and unholy way to live.

As in most things, there are opposite extremes. The first extreme is a person who is unable to choose. Afraid to make any mistake, they make a bigger mistake – choosing not to choose at all. They live by default – a victim of whim, circumstance, or others’ choices – a life best described Biblically as flotsam “unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 NLT. It is hard for others to relate to a person uncertain in God or themselves. At the other extreme is a person refusing to ever change; they are foolish, either afraid or too stubborn to adjust. Life and meaningful relationships are difficult for them as those require adaptability to others.

The question is this: of what are you certain? Let’s look at a few areas where certainty is crucial and change is necessary. Let me suggest some things, not an exhaustive list but representative of things about which to be deliberate. Be certain about the kind of person you want to become, which involves the kind of friends you will and will not have now and later. Be certain about the kind of spouse you chose, lest you fall prey to infatuation and momentary, superficial feelings.

Be certain about family and friends, for those are people God places in your life for a lifetime. Be certain about stewardship because that governs how you handle possessions, how you value people, and how you relate to God. Be certain about direction in life now because that determines your destiny ultimately.

Of supreme importance, you absolutely must be certain about faith and salvation. Salvation is not about feelings; it is solely about your trust in the faithfulness of God and His Word. Salvation is by choice and through faith in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With your heart you believe you are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. The Scripture says, ‘Anyone who puts His trust in Him will never be ashamed. (disappointed, TEV).’” Romans 10:9-11 NIV.

Do not assume this eternally consequential matter; be certain! The Bible says you can know you are saved. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:11-13 NIV. Are you sure about your salvation? You can, and should, be!

My prayer for you today is that you are sure of truth that is certain and eternal.

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