I have discovered over the years, that life can be challenging. God desires to sustain us as we look for "splashes of His grace" every day. My desire is that through posts, or book reviews, you may find something that points you to the grace of God, and that He ultimately will make a difference in your life.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Choices, Choices, Choices!!

Life is full of choices. In fact, if you think about it, each day is a continual chain of choices.  Some choices are easy and become automatic, like brushing your teeth and putting on deodorant in the morning. (Yes, even those are choices!) Other choices may take more thought and deliberation as you decide what you will do. Whether big or small, your choices will determine the outcome of your day, week, year, and ultimately your life and eternity! 
With my three year old grandson, Ben, here this week, I've been reminded of this. You see, lately Ben has been learning the importance of making "good" choices. Since all choices have consequences, his mom is trying to teach him to make good choices. She reminds him that when he makes "good" choices, good things will happen -- he gets to do things, earns treats, and life in general is better for him and those around him. When he makes "bad" choices, then bad things will happen -- he will have time outs, loose his leap pad or some other privilege for the day, and life in general is hard and unhappy.  He even has a "Good Choices Chart," to encourage him to make good choices. He's beginning to get the idea, but then there are days when he doesn't seem to care about the stickers at all.  On one of those days, when his mom was telling him he needed to make better choices.  He replied, "I'll make good choices tomorrow.  Today I want to make bad choices." 
When I think about it, some days I feel the same way, but I just don't say it out loud. I know I should make good choices, but today, I just want to make bad choices.  I want to eat the wrong things.  I don't want to exercise. I want to get angry at that rude person. I don't want to admit I was wrong. I want to nurse a hurt and hold a grudge. I want to be selfish and get my way. I want to act like a three year old!!  I will make good choices tomorrow, but today I want to make bad choices!  What we need to remember though is ALL choices have consequences. Some are more serious than others, but each choice you make can have an effect on you and those around you.
The Bible says a lot about choosing and making choices. From the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given a choice.  They could enjoy the daily fellowship with God and each other, or they could choose to disobey.  Their bad choice reaped consequences that we are still experiencing today. Their choice introduced sin into the world and brought about death.

God offered the Israelites a choice in Deuteronomy 30:19.
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants."
We continue to have the opportunity to choose life over death, blessing over the curse.  God offers us life, abundant life, even in the little things. When we choose to do things God's way, we put ourselves in a position to experience His help, blessing, and most importantly His presence.
I am so thankful that Jesus chose to do the Father's will and die on the cross for all my bad choices -- my sin. Unlike the first Adam's choice, which brought about death, His choice brings life.  His forgiveness is available and He offers it to you today. Will you make the best and most important choice of your life today -- to trust in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?  This Easter, will you "choose life in order that you may live?"  If you do, then God will enable you, through the Holy Spirit, to continue to make the "good choices" in life that will allow you to enjoy all that He has in store for you now and for eternity!

What will you choose today?

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Spring Wardrobe

March has arrived and Spring is just around the corner. With Spring comes a change of wardrobe. That dark colored, heavy clothing will soon be replaced with colorful, lightweight fabric. Boots will be replaced with sandals, and coats and winter scarves will be no more! (Not that we really needed those coats and scarves much in Texas this winter!)

Our spiritual lives can also have "seasons". Regretfully, for the past few years, I've found myself "slipping" into winter. Various events and situations over these years have brought a sense of sadness to my heart. I've struggled with the pain of rejection, with insecurity, even with feelings of hopelessness at times. I've experienced uncertainty about my eyesight and had three eye surgeries. I've watched my mom begin to loose her memory and hear the struggles my dad has coping with that. I've witnessed pain and hurt in my extended family. I've seen the poverty of India - twice.  And to top it off, I've experienced the "joys" of hot flashes and hormonal imbalances which go along with this stage of my life. To make matters worse, I'm a pastor's wife, who in the eyes of most, think I have (or should have) it all together.

Now, not every part of the last five years has been painful or sad. I've had happy times. Times when the "Son" would shine and life would be good, but overall, underneath, there was still a sense of sadness. I didn't actually realize what had been happening until this past week while listening online to Beth Moore on a livestream via her Living Proof Blog. When she quoted a portion of Isaiah 61:3, something resonated in my heart.

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes,
 the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD,
that he might be glorified."

A garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! That's what hit me. The Lord showed me that what I had been doing, without even realizing it, was slowly adding one more layer of heavy clothing to my already weighed down spirit. Each disappointment, each situation that brought pain, each fear I had, created a heavier spirit. Oh, I'd put on a smile, but I'd also add one more layer of heavy clothing. (And when you have hot flashes, that is the LAST thing you need to do!) I'd adjust the load and go on with "life".

As I was listening to Beth, I realized what I really needed was a change of wardrobe!! I needed to take off that heavy winter garment and exchange it for a garment of praise. Just the word "praise" seems lighter, more colorful, doesn't it? The rest of the verse also offered me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. I had a decision to make. And right there in the privacy of my living room, with tears in my eyes, (Ok, there were many tears that escaped down my cheeks), I took off that spirit of heaviness and put on the garment of praise. Was it easy? No! Did I feel lighter? YES!  I was amazed that physically I felt a weight actually lift from my spirit.

Will life from now on be completely perfect? Will the sadness be gone forever? Will praising protect me from the pain of this broken world? Absolutely NOT! But I do have a choice! The problem is that sometimes "old clothes" are comfortable. Even though they are ugly, unstylish, and worn out, somehow I find comfort in them. When those "cold winds" blow through my life, my first inclination will be to put those heavy clothes on again. But I need to remember that the Son shines in and through a garment of praise, and His Spirit will bring the warmth to my soul that is needed. Each morning I must decide which garment I will wear that day. I know some days may even require frequent wardrobe "exchanges". One thing I do know though  - praising God will lighten the heaviness of my spirit.

My heart's desire is that I would become that tree of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, so that He would be glorified. Will you join me in getting ready for Spring? -- 'cause Summer will be here before we know it!