Archive for October, 2010

Committing to the Cause

MP900399987[1] Finding satisfaction and stability in relationships is one of my favorite topics to teach.There’s lots of research on having successful relationships. The problem is that knowing what works is one thing, doing it is another.

One of the most interesting trends in relationship research is the finding that couples who move-in together, prior to marriage, have a much higher rate of break-up than those who do not. There may be many reasons for this, but I imagine the lack of commitment that goes with cohabitation plays a big role.

Whether married or not, all relationships go through highs and lows. The demands of life and the stress of daily living can leave two people feeling distant and disinterested. Once the relationship is strained, cohabiting couples see little reason to stay together. Ending the relationship seems the logical course.

Of course when there is a commitment, like that offered in marriage, it is much more difficult  to walk away, and the consequences tend to be much more damaging.  MP900423080[1]So when stress mounts, and the marriage relationship ends up on rocky ground, doing what we promised to do is key. Marriage involves promising to love, honor and cherish our partners. There was nothing in my vows about “as long as it works out” or “as long as I feel like it.” So when the going gets tough, the committed stay together. They hold true to their vows, and do what they promised to do.

I am surprised at how often what I learn in my marriage relates to my relationship with Jesus Christ. Just like in marriage, I find myself at times feeling very close to my Lord. I enjoy a sense of deep satisfaction, because of the faith relationship I have. There are other times when that isn’t really the case. At those times I don’t walk away from my faith. I don’t turn away from Jesus’ calling on my life. I don’t look for another religious guru to follow. I do the best I can to work through the issues I am having, and try to stay true to my commitment.

Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and loving others as myself is not always what I feel like doing. But that is what am I committed to doing. My commitment to Jesus Christ, and my promise to serve him to the end, is what keeps me going.

Relationships that last don’t come from the luck of the draw. They last because the people in them are committed to the relationship, and willing to do whatever it takes to honor that commitment. A faith that flourishes isn’t just luck either. It’s the result of disciples who honor their commitment to Jesus Christ!MP900309381[1]

As I mentioned earlier this week, an exceptional life comes from an exceptional commitment. Let’s rededicate ourselves to the cause of Christ, and recommit to being a people through whom Jesus can touch the world with love!

Love Gives

We are told that some people just fall in love. That makes it sound like love is something people fall into, like falling into a hole. That may be true for some, but the extraordinary kind of love that Jesus Christ offers is not something anyone falls into.

Jesus’ love is a giving love. In fact it is a love that gives without limits. It is also a love, that once received, changes us from the inside out! It transforms us into exceptional givers, who strive to love the way we have been loved.

Give

Real love gives.

Be a real lover today!

Seek Good

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it. Proverbs 11:27 NRSV

MP900382986[1] Jesus said, “…seek and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7) That is the truth! But it is also important to remember that Proverbs tells us that what you seek is what you will find!

Those seeking evil, selfish satisfaction, worldly gain, sensual pleasure and sinful indulgence will find exactly what they are looking for. Those seeking good in their hearts find favor. Likewise, those seeking love, mercy, redemption and righteousness will find a cross, an empty tomb, and a Savior whose gifts are grace and eternal life! MP900422481[1]

Extraordinary lives are lived by people who seek extraordinary things. In this world sacrificial love, generosity, grace and forgiveness are all too rare. Let’s be extraordinary by seeking what only Jesus Christ can give, and then sharing it with all those who need it too!

Take My Life

Living an exceptional life begins with making an exceptional commitment. In 1874 Frances Havergal sat down and wrote the words for the hymn, Take My Life. Those words are a prayer of commitment we can each pray daily. Why not make his words your own this week? Make an exceptional commitment, and let Jesus Christ lead you into an exceptional life!

Take My Life

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my life, my moments, my hands and  my feet.

Take my voice, and let me sing, always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my voice, my lips, my will and my heart.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

MP900400451[1]I want to be ever, only, all for Thee!

An Exceptional Life

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. Acts 9:36 NRSV

In Joppa, Peter encountered an exceptional woman named Tabitha. MP900422744[1]What made her special was that her faith was the kind of faith you hope all Christians have. It was a faith that showed itself in good works and in acts of charity. Her actions were full of love, and her use of her resources was guided by her faith in Jesus.

Faith shows itself in good works and acts of charity.

Tabitha’s faith in and love of Jesus Christ transformed three things: her attitude,  her behavior and her reputation. In terms of herBusinessman begging with cardboard sign attitude, Tabitha was ready to recognize the needs around her, and willing to greet them with mercy. Her faith opened her eyes, and enabled her to know what needed to be done. She was not distracted and self-absorbed. Her attitude was one of openness and receptiveness. She made a positive difference in the world around her.

Tabitha’s love for Jesus Christ also impacted her behavior. She was the kind of disciple whose faith translated into action, and not just any action. Her faith triggered actions of mercy. GrandfatherShe gave and gave generously. Tabitha was certainly not a person who left a trail of disappointed, frustrated and angry people in her wake. Once she saw a need, she responded. She responded in generous and tangible ways. I imagine that she was the kind of person who always left things better than she found them! What a great way to live!

Christian love responds generously and tangibly.

Finally, Tabitha’s faith made her an exception to the rule. She stood out from the crowd. She didn’t just do the right thing, she went the extra mile. There were no rules that demanded acts of mercy for those less fortunate. Still, she gave of her own resources. She was a woman of note because her behavior was so different, so out of the ordinary. What a positive witness for Jesus Christ she must have been!

Tabitha’s example teaches us that the Christian faith is a faith that redeems us and regenerates us so that we might spread the restorative love of Jesus Christ to others. Our faith is one that calls us to take the focus off of ourselves, and draws our attention to the needy, the hurting, the broken, the forgotten and the lost!

But recognizing the needs around us is just the beginning. Our faith in God and love  for Jesus Christ can ignite a flame of passion to make a  positive differenceMP900443421[1] in our world. That flame can turn our concern into action, and make us into conduits of God’s love. As that happens, we will live the kind of exceptional life Tabitha lived. We will become the salt of earth, and the kind of lights that penetrate the dark places of this world with hope and love!

Turn your faith into action and your love into acts of charity!

Prayer:

Great giving God, Tabitha’s example challenges me to want to give more and to do more for others. Help my faith to grow so that I can clearly see the needs around me. Deepen my love so that I step up to the plate and joyfully share what I have to give. Make my life one that brings your light to the lost and hurting of this world!

Amen.

Exceptional copy

 

Personal Power?

MP900182676[1] We can praise God from the rising of the sun to its setting. We can give God glory, and tell God’s mighty acts. But when push comes to shove, how do we live? Do we live like we are in control, or like God is?

Jill Carattini talks about the fable of personal control. If she is right, and personal MC900115916control is nothing more than a fable, then it’s a story lots of people are living by. The problem is that a fable is just a fable. It’s based on principles at work in  imaginary worlds. Also, fables grow out of belief systems that may or may not match the principles of our faith. So those who spend their lives trying to take control of their own destinies are living by the fable of personal control, which can be a bit like chasing rainbows.

For the Christian, Carattini says, “The subtle fable of personal control is confronted by a story of life and death, a remarkable beginning and a far more remarkable end.” In other words, we may think we are in charge, but once we meet Jesus Christ we realize that’s a misguided notion. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals that God is alive and at work in creation. Jesus is the proof that God’s hand is guiding history.

There is nothing you or I can do to change God’s plan or the coming rule of Jesus Christ over all creation. What we can do is to exchange our fable of personal control for the truth of God’s perfect plan for our lives. Those who do, abandon the constant struggle for control, and begin to relax into a life of humble and joyful obedience. They take their place with all whose destinies are defined by their faith in God, and with those whose lives are driven by their love for Jesus Christ!MP900438632[1]

Robert Firestone says that “Personal power is based on strength, confidence and competence…” Those who follow Jesus Christ discover all those things and more!

Why not turn your life more fully over to Jesus Christ. Look to him for your strength. Let him be your source of confidence. Let him equip you, empower you and lead you to victory!

Leave the fables and fairy tales behind. Make Jesus be the Lord of life and your source of power!

From Everlasting to Everlasting

From everlasting to everlasting God gives light.

From everlasting to everlasting God gives love.

From everlasting to everlasting God gives life.

From

From the rising of the sun to its setting, join me in praising our great God!