Monday, April 30, 2007

Grace isn't fair

People seem to need religion -Like it's an anchor for morality, a reason to do what we all know is the right thing. What really makes Christianity different? I think it's grace. All other religions require "correct" behavior to appease God. Christianity doesn't require correct behavior. Christianity encourages correct behavior that is motivated out of love. We don't and can't earn God's acceptance. He's given it to us freely. We just have to accept His gift. The challenge then is to share it with others who don't deserve it anymore than we do. Our failure is when we start judging others instead of loving them. It's really hard -maybe so hard that we can only do it with God's help. As my husband often says, "I know Christ died for MY sins, but I'm having a hard time believing He died for YOUR sins." Our society is based on fairness and God's grace is not fair. No one deserves it. But it's available for anyone. This is something I can get intellectually, but I really struggle to live as if I believe it. So to those to whom I've been less than gracious, I apologize. Maybe someday, with God's help, I'll get it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Joy of Life

Death is so ugly. It is offensive. We don't like talking about it, and many people fear it. Some people turn to it as an escape, while others use it against us. Like everything else, it has a purpose, but can be so misunderstood. And certainly it's inevitable.

Luckily, God loves life! He created life (we brought in the whole death thing). Even in death, we have an out, because Jesus came and conquered death forever. God promises we can truly live by accepting His Son as our Savior. What does that mean - truly live? It means experiencing pure joy right now - regardless of our circumstances, regardless of the evil all around us. We can enjoy life. And, that life goes beyond our temporal existence here. Physical death just takes us to the fullness of life with Jesus forever.

Sadly, not everyone believes this. People insist on seeing life (and death) from merely the ugly, human side. Granted, that's all we really CAN see here - the emptiness of existence, the loneliness of death, the seeming meaninglessness of it all; no one can prove all that other stuff, it's just wishful thinking, right? But once you accept Jesus, life becomes worth living; you never need to be lonely again; He is the meaning; and you don't need to worry about what you can't see because you KNOW.

Craziness? Wishful thinking? I don't think so.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

OK, Let's Get Focused

A few weeks ago I got new glasses. First pair of glasses I've bought in eight years. And until I put them on, I had no idea how bad my vision was; how much I wasn't seeing before. Suddenly, I don't mind driving at night. I don't get lost trying to get to a new place (I can read the street signs). There seems to be more light. It's great.

So here's the moral of the story: until things are in focus once again, we generally don't realize how far out-of-focus things had become. We muddle through life, just a little off kilter most of the time, and we don't have to. So, go get your eyes checked! (Open that Bible; listen to those sermons; pray and pray and pray!) And get yourselves refocused. You can live in the full light of God. It's brilliant!

I'm a subscriber to Tony Morgan's blog and have really been challenged and convicted by many of the thoughts he expresses. Today I read Stop Gunky Buildup, and I just really want to encourage everyone I know to read it, too. It's about how we are prone to wrong-thinking. And usually we aren't seeking to do evil, but good. It's really easy for the good things we do to get in the way of the great things we should be doing. We lose focus; we forget to prioritize; we fall into reactionary mode instead of planning. Tony gives us some useful advice on how to "degunkify" our lives. Step One - read the list. Step Two - don't forget to start doing the things on the list.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

All about Easter

I can hardly comprehend the significance of Easter. I realize many people think Easter is about bunnies and eggs and spring, but I'm talking about Jesus. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was amazing in how it truly brought to life the last few days of Christ's life before and including the Crucifixion. And the story is pretty unbelievable, honestly. I mean, why would a person do that? I can see that for someone who isn't in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the whole thing looks pretty whacked - totally unjustified and maybe even avoidable. Even Paul mentions that we look like lunatics to those who don't have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

But sometimes God calls a person, takes hold of them and opens their eyes. He shows them the truth - that Christ wasn't just a person, He was God in the flesh. And what He did, how He died and rose again, was exactly what had to happen so that people could be reunited with God. And now that the sacrifice has happened, and Christ has conquered death, we get to choose whether to be in relationship with God or to continue life on our own. Our choice - wild, huh?

Of course, life on our own is really a form of death. I don't know who said it, but I heard a cool quote - "Earth is the closest some people will ever have to get to Hell; it's also, sadly, the closest some will ever get to Heaven." We get to choose God or not God. Most people who choose "not God" will tell you there is no God. Or that if God is really a loving God, He won't send anyone to Hell. Or that they are good enough on their own to get to Heaven. It's all rebellion, isn't it? or fear?

Oh, I know how hard it is to surrender control of my life to anyone, especially God. And I have to do it over and over again because I have a tendency to want to take over now and then (or most of the time). But see, I'm in the family now. I have accepted what Christ has to offer, and even though I falter and fail often, I will not be let go. God has a plan for me. And a lot of that means learning from my mistakes (or getting to go through it again until I do). Part of it is resting in Him. And most of it is my constant gratitude for the gift of life that I've been given - the second chance to do things right.

I pray that even though I can never fully understand all the things Jesus did and all the consequences and repercussions of His actions, I still may be a light that draws others to Him. Somehow my life will be a testimony of His grace and mercy, and maybe God will use me to reveal Himself to others. Wouldn't that be cool?

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Congratulations to the Anchordown band! They won OnSeeker's The Unveiling competition in Houston on Saturday. As winners, I believe they get some kind of professional demo recordings, promotions and a music video.

What's in it for me?

Most people understand how cool it feels to help someone in need, to be the gift-giver instead of the receiver, to guide someone toward a real solution to a problem, to teach. It's most obvious in dealing with children - seeing their faces light up when they open a Christmas present, watching the light go on when they get the math problem right, or whatever. Being generous with your time, knowledge, talents, money and things is as great a blessing to you as it is to the receiver.

Here come the rhetorical questions - why do we still think we are "entitled" to be the receivers? Where does all our selfish behavior come from? Why do we have to think twice (at least) before we perform an unselfish act? Why do we count the cost to ourselves first? And when we do give, we want some kind of pat on the back or gold star or something.

Ok, maybe it's just me, but I always catch myself thinking something like, "I wish I could give more, but I need this for me." I wonder if I will ever have enough of anything so that I don't have to think through my own needs before I decide if I can be generous. I doubt it. Maybe someday I'll mature enough that I can give freely regardless of what I have or don't have.