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Incongruous

5 Jul

Back in the 70s, my boys watched Sesame Street, and we’d sing this song: “One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong….” They learned early on to recognize incongruous things.SandSnowman_HoHoAloha

You’ve probably seen some incongruous things in life.

One of my favorite “incongruous” sightings is a sand snowman on the beach.  We certainly don’t expect to see a “snowman” there! Vacationers in beautiful Hawaii, Aruba and other tropical isles get creative building and decorating these sand snowmen in December.

[A side noteJenn, a dear woman who still grieves the loss of a little baby, Noah, built a happy little snowman on vacation some time later. She allowed me to adapt it for this photo.]

Some other incongruous things:

A pig wearing lipstick (made famous by Sarah Palin) … a baseball player pitching an avocado … a cake mix box in the middle of a row of cookbooks … a kitty in a lineup of Meerkats … a very loud belch at a formal dinner….

You get the idea.

Congruous means “what is suitable or proper.” It’s things that make sense together. When something is incongruous, we might say it is “not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings” or other aspects of something.

Incongruity is a key element in good humor, but it’s not such a good thing in life.

I was thinking of the word “incongruous” as I read some familiar scriptures.

Romans 6:2 says, “… How can we who died to sin still live in it?” This entire chapter reminds the believer that we no longer need to obey our passions and impulses to sin. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).

It was incongruous to Paul that a Christian should “continue in sin that grace may abound” (v. 1),  present their bodies to unrighteousness (v. 13) or live as slaves to sin (vv. 17-18).

Yes, there is an ongoing struggle with the presence of sin (Romans 7:15-23), but the power of sin over us is broken (v. 25) because Christ has redeemed us. We have life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11) and are heirs with Christ (8:12-17).

Our reality is, we are headed for glory with Him (8:18). We are “conquerors (overcomers) through him who loved us” (8:37) and will never be separated from God’s love in Christ (8:38-39).

I’m grieved by Christians’ light-hearted attitude toward sin today.  I grieve that I accept my own sinning so easily. I forget I’m a foot-soldier in the Lord’s army, obliged to obey His every command.

We need to remember the battle we’re in. We need to:

  1. Take Up Our Armor (put on every piece, Ephesians 6:11-13);
  2. Endure Hardship and strive to please our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus! (2 Timothy 2:3-4, 9-10; Matthew 16:24);
  3. Fight the Good Fight (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12), proclaim the truth of God’s Word and living for Him – no matter how difficult;
  4. And Stand firm against the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

The world needs to see Jesus’ life manifested, demonstrated, in our day-to-day circumstances. Too often, all it sees is an incongruous picture – “Sinning Saints.” This should not be.  The Holy One calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-17a; Leviticus 11:44-45).

Yes, I know. We won’t be perfect until we get to heaven. But that’s no excuse to continue in disobedience. We have hundreds of opportunities to decide for God every day, and we need to stay engaged.The battle is the Lord’s, but He expects us not to slink away from the battlefield!

What could be more incongruous than a soldier sitting out the biggest battle of his life, fiddling with lesser things and failing to obey his Commander’s instructions?

You might want to ask, with me: “Father, is my life a picture of incongruous living? Where am I a hypocrite? Where am I not obeying your commands?”

Let’s recommit to taking those four steps to become victorious in Christ!

  – Dawn

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Is Your Tag Showing?

12 Jun

I get a kick out of the Burlington Coat Factory ads, encouraging customers with their “brag about it” advertising of their great prices.

In each commercial, a woman compares what she bought at Burlington vs. what others pay in major department stores.

I felt like I was running my own ad after I returned home from eating out last night.

My husband and I went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse, using a gift card from a relative. We enjoyed the meal and went home.

Then, to my chagrin, I realized the price tag from my new sweater, purchased at Burlington, was still attached to the back of my sweater! Only I wasn’t thinking, “Great! Everyone will know that I got a great deal … I’m bragging about Burlington.”

No, I was thinking, “Oh great. Everyone will know I had another senior moment!”

But it got me thinking about tags. We all wear them, you know.

Some tags we choose – Wife, mother, writer, executive, teacher, etc. Others are given to us – godly, fun, a worrier, stubborn, kind, a friend, wise ….

We wear our tags (labels) every day. They identify and describe us. Sometimes they open doors; sometimes they limit us. We’re proud of some tags, but ashamed of others.

I’m always amazed how many tags we wear that we can choose, if we desire and plan to do so.

The tag I always want to display is the one that says “Christian.” Though some may misunderstand the tag or even redefine it in our culture, I keep going back to the biblical tag.

“… the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26). An important city in the Roman Empire – adorned with public baths, aqueducts, theaters, temples and lots of pagans – Antioch eventually became an important city in the spread of the Gospel. The first believers fled to this city after Stephen’s Tag_Christianmartyrdom, and Barnabas and Paul preached there.

“Christian” is a word the Antiochians gave Christ-followers; it was a descriptive term. These early New Testament believers were Jews who became disciples of “the Christ,” the Messiah, and they were glad to wear His name. They lived for Jesus and walked in His ways, glorifying God in His name (1 Peter 4:16).

Many believe the term “Christian” was actually a derogatory term – a term of denigration and abuse. But the disciples who loved Jesus embraced the name with joy, willing to suffer for His name. But the point is, they were “called” this name, given this name. People around them saw them becoming “little Christs” and acknowledged the similarities. Their tag was showing.

Which makes me wonder.

Do people see my Christian tag? If not, what is in the way?

By the way, our tag doesn’t have to be that particular word for people to know we belong to Christ. Our tag might read: “believer,” “disciple,” “brother/sister in the Lord,” “servant/bondservant,” “the faithful/the elect,” or “saint.”

But the meaning will be clear. We are not of this world (John 15:19; 1 John 2:15); we are not to conform to it (Romans 12:2). If we are living in the power of Christ, the world will know we are from a different kingdom, living for a different Lord.

Is your tag showing?

– Dawn

Choices ~ What Do You Value?

2 Jan

There’s an old story about a pastor who, after preaching a long time, gave an altar call.Pastor In A Pulpit

“Come to the altar and give your life to Christ!” he said. Nobody came.

The pastor thought and said, “Come to the altar, as a way of saying that you love and honor God.” Still nobody came.

The frustrated pastor appealed to his congregation, “Come to the altar as a way of saying that you want to live a better life.” Nobody came.

Finally, the pastor said, “Look, if you love your mother, come down to the altar, OK?” *

I (Dawn) am sure all pastors who have preached their hearts out have thought it would be easier to joke around and make the altar call less intimidating to get people down the aisle. It’s tempting to make the Gospel more palatable for people.  But God’s call to discipleship is never easy. It is costly to follow Christ, but discipleship is precious ~ worth the cost. Our Lord promises to be present with us and empower us to meet the challenges of following in His steps.

As we think about this new year, we probably have a lot of good intentions. We want to be better disciples ~ to learn of Jesus’ ways and and serve our Lord with all of our hearts. But, though the word “disciple” is used 262 times in the New Testament (mathetes),**  and Jesus called us to follow Him in submission and obedience, how many of us choose to be more committed disciples?

What has struck me in these days is that in every choice you and I will make this year ~ whether large or seemingly insignificant ~ we will make a statement about our values (what is important to us ~ our priorities).

We don’t make our choices in a vacuum. Our choices rise out of who we are, what we believe, and what or who we cherish. We may have good intentions, but they won’t last long if they don’t match up with our core self, beliefs, and heart.

So before we make too many “resolutions” this year, let’s resolve to search our souls before God and let Him show us ourselves in the light of His Word. Do we really love what He loves? Do we see people through His eyes? Do our goals align with His Word, will, and ways? Let’s ask God for His vision for our lives, and then cast away everything that doesn’t fit in with His plan.

So, what do you value? What are your priorities? Do your choices make sense before God? Would other choices better reflect who you are, what you believe, and what or who you love?

* http://www.stpetersglenside.org/worship/sermon_20091011.pdf

** Scriptures on Discipleship for further study: (Matthew 7:21; 10:32-39; 16:24-25; 28:18-20; Luke 9:23; 14:26-27, 33; Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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