Living Up to Who We Are

4 Oct

I smile when I read many of the “Keep Calm” items around the Internet that have sprung out of the original 1939 British KeepCalmAndMakeAKeepCalmPosterGovernment motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I’ve seen “Keep Calm and Call Batman” … “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes” … “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” … “Keep Calm and Make Bacon Pancakes” … “Keep Calm and Adopt a Great Dane.” You get the idea.

But I laughed out loud when I read that the British reportedly have a REPUTATION for keeping calm even when there is no crisis! Having visited with many in the UK, I know this is true.

I’ve been thinking about that word, “reputation.”

Preacher and evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.”He had the right focus!

But then I thought about all the times I meant to do right and didn’t. Automaker Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Our reputation is built (or torn down) choice by choice. With every decision, our character is taking shape … and then, our reputation.

God has already given Christians a framework for godly character. Not only that, He has invested in our lives through His Son, Jesus. Everything that we need to become holy is tied up in our salvation, forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life in Christ. God calls us to live up to who we are in Jesus:

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:16, ESV). The Living Bible says it this way: “… fully obey the truth you have.”

The truth is, we are: redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14), alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5), washed and sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), justified and made righteous (Romans 5:1), reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and so much more!

We are to make the choices every day to live in the truth of who we are – to make the choices to grow more like Christ.

Dr. Dirk Van Proyen, teaching my Sunday school class recently, spoke of the Judgement (Bema) Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) where Christians will give account of their works for Christ after salvation (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) – not to earn salvation with works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He noted the criteria for that judgment of works:  the faithful fulfilling of our stewardship responsibilities, coupled with the motives and intent of our hearts as we ministered.

Anything that is not found to be of value will be burned up (poof!); but what remains will result in praise from God — the “well done” we so desire.

Our reputations will be very clear on Judgment Day, whether they were genuinely for God, or full of puffed-up pride.

I came home from church with many sober thoughts. If Jesus is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him (and the scriptures tell us that is so, Revelation 22:12), then I’d better be thinking more seriously about that day. I want to “press on” to live in resurrection power (Philippians 3:11-12)

I wrote three file cards and put them in places around my home to remind me of some decisions I made that day.

GodsGloryWayPower

If I want to live to the “praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:15) and ultimately receive praise from Him for faithful service, I need to remember the three things I wrote down. I want to do all for God’s glory, in God’s way (with holiness, integrity and faithfulness) and by God’s power (not through the “flesh,” Romans 7:18, but by the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-17; Romans 8:11; Acts 1:8a).

Are those your goals too? Can that focus help you live up to who you are in Christ?

- Dawn

 

 

 

 

Let Me Do It

14 Sep

Waiting for a friend, I watched a rambunctious little girl at the mall, obviously in the throes of stubborn independence. Everything was “no” this and “no” that. Then suddenly, she took advantage of her mom’s focus at a kiosk to reach up, grab the handlebar of the baby stroller and take off running.

HatchingAPlan“I do it! I do it,” she yelled with glee.

The mom, clearly upset, chased her daughter as the little rebel barely missed hitting a couple. The baby in the stroller woke up and started crying.

“No, Emi. Stop,” the mom yelled.

It’s amazing how a little one can run. The mom caught up with her daughter, swept her off her feet and plopped her down on a mall bench. I watched as she emphatically explained to little Emi why running off with the stroller was wrong and even dangerous. Emi wasn’t ready to listen.

“Look at me,” the mom said.

The little girl never actually looked her mom squarely in the eyes. She sort of glanced sideways at her. And I thought I saw an impish smile … a plan hatching.

Believing she had won, her mom turned back to shopping.

“I do it. I do it!” The little rebel was off and running as the baby in the stroller wailed in protest.

Poor mom. It was going to be a long day.

Aside from my own thoughts about parenting that day—how I might have handled the situation and stubborn child differently—my mind drifted back to my own childhood.

That phrase “I do it” reminded me of an attitude-altering story.

I won a sewing contest in grade school. The Sears store near our home in Chicago sponsored the contest, and winners in different categories also had to model their creations in a store fashion show. My peach-colored dress and short cape, all edged in peach and turquoise floral trim, was cheerful and elegant (lovely for Easter).

I won … But I wasn’t happy at all.

You see, while I was sewing the garment, my mom repeatedly took the material out of my hands. “Here, let me do it,” she’d say. I stood by her at the machine with a frustrated frown.

When the outfit was completed, I figured Mom had sewn most of it. She deserved the prize, not me.

[I wonder how many children feel the same way when moms or dads take school projects out of their hands. And yes, I was guilty of that ... surprising, considering my own story.]

After the fashion show, I was determined not to let ANYONE take things out of my hands. My “I do it” spirit was alive and thriving. I just didn’t make a big deal out of it. When people offered to help, I responded with an simple, “No, thanks.” It wasn’t that I thought I could do better; I just wanted control.

Even if I failed, I wanted to be in charge.

Although I had prayed for wisdom as a young girl, I wasn’t willing to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t have a teachable spirit. I was proud and stubborn.

Outwardly I cooperated. Inwardly, not so much. It was like the little boy who, told to sit down, obeyed. But he told his mama, “I’m standing up on the inside!”

I was acting like the Israelites in the Old Testament. They proved over and over again the foolishness of their obstinance and disobedience; and under the law, this stubbornness was a serious matter (Deuteronomy 17:12Zechariah 7:11-12).

It’s still a serious matter; but I am so thankful for the grace of God. I’m glad for the covering of Jesus for my sins—including stubbornness.

For so long, God wanted full control of my life, and I resisted Him. It was like I wanted salvation; I even said, “Jesus is Lord.” But the truth was, I thought I could run my own life.

I’m glad God showed me my heart after I joined a revival team in my early 20’s. One day, listening to a revival message on stubbornness, I was deeply convicted of my secret rebellious attitude (1 Samuel 15:23a). (Yes, even a “good girl” can be stubborn and rebellious in her heart.) And I discovered stubbornness is linked to a “stiff-necked” lack of belief (2 Kings 17:14).

How? When we are stubborn against our Father’s will for us, we don’t believe He knows best.

That day, it was as if the Lord was saying to me: “Here, my child … let Me do it. Let me have control. Let Me change your life. Let me live out My life in and through you.”

My heart broke and I stopped resisting.

The years of “Leave me alone; I can do it” arrogance melted away in sweet surrender to the Sovereign Lord.

I determined to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-27) with a teachable spirit (Psalm 25:5; 86:11). And I discovered a powerful truth: when we surrender everything to Him (our plans, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, habits—everything), He can run our lives infinitely better than we can.

How foolish to resist His loving guidance and help.

There may be an area of your life where the Lord is whispering, “I care and I want to help you. Will you let Me do it? Will you trust me with your heart?”

How will you respond?

- Dawn

Photo adapted, Image courtesy of arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The ‘App’ We Really Need!

6 Sep

This so-called “App Generation” loves shortcuts designed to accomplish specific tasks. There are “apps” (applications) for practically everything these days.

For example:

  • “Weather Whiskers” is an app that delivers your local weather forecast with cute little kittens.
  • According to a NPR story, an app can help you track roadkill, if finding animal carcasses makes you happy.
  • There’s an app to help you design your own soda – you may have already seen it in dispenser form at some restaurants!
  • An app can help you watch out for invasive and dangerous lionfish – yikes!
  • Another app locates the presence of jellyfish populations. (I wonder if there’s one to help me find jelly beans? No, MelonMeterApp_adaptedI’m not talking about the Android Jelly Bean.)
  • The Melon Meter app allows you to put your phone on a melon and give the fruit a good thump. The app analyses the sound to help you determine if the melon is ripe.
  • If the melon is rotten, you might find it at the PareUp app, designed to help people buy restaurant garbage.
  • Lose your phone often? There’s an app that lets you shout “Marco!” and your phone will respond, “Polo!”

It’s estimated that 26% of all downloaded apps are used only once.

Just because there’s an app available, that doesn’t mean you actually need it. On the other hand, there’s one “app” that we all need!

Remember the story of the original Passover? (See Exodus 12:12-13, 26-27.) Blood from sacrificial lambs was applied to the  doorposts as a sign for God’s death angel to “pass over” the homes of the Jews, saving the firstborn of Israel while all of Egypt’s firstborn died.

Today, the yearly Passover ritual represents the death of Jesus, the innocent sacrifice – the Lamb of God (John 1:29). He shed His blood so we may be saved from eternal death and separation from God. He paid the penalty for our sins (Romans 4:23-25; 6:23; Isaiah 53:5-8).

When we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for us, God is APPLYING His shed blood to cover our sins (Acts 3:19; Romans 4:7).

We receive forgiveness of sin and come into a right relationship with the Lord. He lived a holy life to become our pure sacrifice, and then He died to save us; so Jesus bears our sins, and we receive His righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

It is a one-time application (Hebrews 9:12-14), but we must have it. Nothing, not even our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), can give us eternal life.

Friend, do you have this life-changing app?

Christians – Can you share the Gospel using your phone? Jesus Film Media has an app to help you. Go to app.jesusfilmmedia.org on your smartphone, or search “Jesus Film Media” in the app store. (Story about the app here.)

-Dawn

Image, adapted, courtesy of sippakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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