Take Every Thought Captive

I had had negative thoughts all day.  Feelings of inadequacy.  Feelings of discontent.  Just not happy with the way anything went that day.  I was driving home and it suddenly dawned on me.  I had a choice.  I could choose to remain negative.  Or.  I could choose joy.  So I had a conversation with someone.  The initiator of all negativity.  The distorter of all truth.  So I spoke the words aloud.  I wanted him to hear me.  Loud.  And.  Clear.

In Jesus name, get behind me, Satan.  Stop filling my mind with negative thoughts.

Immediately my mind cleared.  Then the words of a song appeared.

Jesus is the joy of living.  He’s the king of life to me.  Unto him my all I’m giving. His forevermore to be. I will do what he commands me.  Anywhere he leads, I’ll go.  Jesus is the joy of living.  He’s the dearest friend I know.


We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5


Is it possible to capture every rebellious thought and turn it into a Christ honoring thought?  Is it possible to stop Satan’s twisting of truth and manipulation of thoughts and feelings?  Not in my own power.  Because there will be that driver who pulls out in front of me at the last minute.  There will be that coworker who never uses her indoor voice.  There will be that neighbor who doesn’t keep their lawn mowed.  There will be that food server who doesn’t refill my water glass when I desperately need more water.  There will be that controlling boss who has to have his way.  There will be that unbeliever who challenges your beliefs.

It’s so easy to get distracted by life.  The tight budget that keeps getting tighter.  The deadly flu virus that’s sweeping the nation.  The organizational changes at work.  The looming tax filing deadline.  The deadly school shootings.  The community devastated by 2 fallen police officers.  The list could go on endlessly.

Negativity is everywhere.  Submission to the gospel of Jesus Christ is crowded out by pride.  Obedience to Christ is trampled by rebelliousness.  Peace is shadowed by fear.

The thing is.  This isn’t a physical battle we’re fighting.  Oh. We’re fighting a battle all right. But it’s a spiritual battle.

Satan is working to keep people from believing in Christ.  He’s also working to keep Christians from growing and maturing in Christ.  Oh.  Satan isn’t God’s equal.  But there are demonic forces working to distort truth, to deceive and to disrupt God’s work in our lives.

This Christian life is a battle.  We must fight this battle to the death. We can resist temptation.  We can push Satan away.   We have a stronghold.  God is the Victor.

Another old hymn comes to mind to help remove the negative thoughts.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.  In the light of His glory and grace.

Day Labor

They were day laborers.  They weren’t looking for a handout.  They were looking for work.   And they worked hard that day.  That one day of work was all they were promised.  They didn’t know what tomorrow would bring.  Would they get the call?  Would they work tomorrow?

They both had a story.  One with four kids.  The other lost his job as his wife was diagnosed with cancer.  Both trying to provide.  Both trying to make ends meet.  And the ends were far from meeting.  Both doing the best they could with what they were given.  Oh.  It wasn’t easy.  And that was only the part of the story they told that day.  There are always chapters of stories that are left out.  Most people don’t want to share their entire story.  It’s too painful or humbling.  Some just can’t get the words out.  There are many words that are left unsaid.

The work that day wasn’t easy, either.  Moving furniture.  Big heavy office furniture.  But they worked.  They moved the furniture.  They earned their pay that day.  They didn’t complain.

They came unprepared for lunch.  No money.  No snacks.  And they did heavy labor.  Back breaking labor.  Lunch was provided for them.  They ate the Wendy’s burgers as if it was their last meal.  They profusely gave thanks.  Even a handful of peanuts was appreciated.


I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.  Matthew 25:36


But it wasn’t their story that was so remarkable.  It was their questions.  They had, by chance, been hired by a faith-based organization.  Just for the day.  The man who hired them talked of his life.  And his faith.  They were curious.  How do you have peace when you have nothing?  How do you make a difference in your child’s life?  He shared.  He encouraged.  Let’s hope and pray that their hearts were open to hear the truth.  To seek the truth.  To live the truth.

This man was faithful to his calling.  He has the gift of helps.  He enjoys giving back.  Helping those who can’t help themselves.  He does it daily.  Oh.  It isn’t easy work.  But it’s fulfilling.

He offered work.  He bought lunch. He listened to their stories.  He answered their questions.  He made them feel valued.  He shared faith.  Oh.  He had expectations of a full day’s work.  He provided the example and was rewarded with hard work.

His day labor looks much different from those he hired.  He must be faithful to the One who called him.  He must choose every day to be faithful to the one who is faithful to him.  His calling is sure.  His work is to serve the underserved.  The less privileged.  The disenfranchised.  He looks for opportunities to give back when others aren’t looking.  He also is a day laborer.  For this day is all he has.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Oh.  May all who come behind us find us faithful.

Flu Season

Have you heard?  It’s flu season.  And this year.  This year the flu is bad.  People are dying.  Children.  Moms.  Old people.  It can strike anyone at any time.  Oh.  There are warnings.  Wash your hands.  Get the flu shot.  Stay home if you’re sick.  But not everyone heeds the warnings.

This is the worst flu season in almost a decade.  It’s not an epidemic.  But almost. That’s what they say.  Oh.  There have been other illnesses and plagues that have been worse.  Much worse.  But it seems when the dying season is upon us it feels worse than ever.  And it’s not even peak flu season yet.   Medical experts are predicting this to be the worst flu season in history.  It’s being compared to a plague of locusts devastating crops from coast to coast.  This flu is called H3N2.

Swine Flu.  Polio.  AIDS.  Smallpox.  Bubonic Plague.  Spanish Flu.  Tuberculosis.  Malaria.  Cholera.  Ebola.

Some of these diseases have been eradicated.  Some are now treatable.  All are to be avoided.  Each one has wreaked havoc across many nations and homes.  There have been casualties.  There have been survivors.  All have a story to tell.


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23


There is another disease that’s wreaking havoc all over the world.  Oh.  I dare to call it an epidemic.  Some don’t want to give it a name.  Others call the name to its face.  This disease has many and various symptoms.  It can seem to be in remission and then return.  It can be eradicated once and for all.  If treated properly.

The thing is.  Everyone is born with this disease.  It shows its face early in life.  One never knows when it will become full blown.  It’s different for everyone.  But it will erupt.  It will cause death.  It must be treated.

Some have symptoms of rebellion.  Others are prone to lying.  Or stealing.  Or cheating.  Stubbornness.  Gluttony.  Unfaithfulness.  Murder.  Worshiping false gods.  Disobedience.  The list goes on.

Here’s the thing.  Each symptom has the same underlying cause.  And each symptom has the same cure.  There are differences in every case.  It depends on how long and how deeply rooted the disease has been working.  It’s an internal disease with both internal and external consequences.  Some consequences come at a huge cost.  Others aren’t so public.  They both lead to the same death.  If the cure isn’t applied.

Some take to the cure more easily than others.  Some fight it.  And they fight it hard.  Sometimes their entire life.  Until it’s too late.  And they miss out on the cure of a lifetime.  Those who accept the cure must be diligent about the continual battle.  The disease can recur.  If it does, it can be even harder to eliminate.  But it’s always possible to beat this disease.  Always.

The cure.  It’s very personal.  It’s free. And it’s immediate.  It’s always available.  This pharmacy is never closed.  It isn’t to be taken lightly.  It’s a private act.  Once the cure is applied, the patient is encouraged to share it with others who have the disease.  It’s that treatable.

The disease.  Sin.  The cure.  Salvation.

 

 

Who are you wearing

It’s awards season.  The nominees have been announced.  They’ll get all fancied up.  For the event.  They’ll spend hours primping and priming and tucking and sleeking.  Hair is done.  Makeup is done.  Nails are done.  Nothing is left undone.  They must look their best.  The world will be watching.  Mostly from afar.

They’ve fasted.  They’ve dieted.  They’ve cleansed.  They’re as thin as they’re going to be.  For that night.

They’ve been offered the best of the best among the dresses.  The jewelry.  The shoes.  They must choose the attire they think will outshine everyone else.  For everyone else will be looking.  They will all be looking.  Hoping to win the best dressed award.  Which really isn’t an award.  It’s an opinion.  But opinions do matter.  Especially on this night.

I’ve watched the red carpet events for years.  Oh.  Not the actual awards shows.  But the shows as the gowns are being paraded down the red carpet.  The women pose.  First to the front with hand on hip.  Then flip out the leg if the slit is high enough.  And it is usually high enough.  Turn around to show off the back of the dress.  If the dress has a back.  Smile your brightest whitest smile.

They’re all waiting for the question.  The one question.  It’s a big question.  It’s asked at every event.  Supposedly made famous by Joan Rivers.  Who are you wearing?  That’s the question.  Oh.  It’s important.  It’s very important to give the designer’s name.  The name of the person who created the dress.  You see.  If someone rich and famous wears that designer’s clothes, then it’s assumed the rest of us will want to wear them.  Or knockoffs.  Whatever fits the budget.  Oh.  It’s a serious thing.  It’s a money maker.

But woe is the designer whose dress makes the worst dressed list.  As one show says.  One day you’re in.  The next day you’re out.  All because of other people’s opinions.

One particular event.  Every woman wore black.  They were making a statement.  They were taking names.  They were sharing a message.  With the color of their dress.  That event wasn’t so much about who they were wearing.  But it was about the color they were wearing.  Or weren’t wearing.  Fighting for a cause of their choice.  Daring others to join in or be called out.


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8


The way I see it.  I have a choice every day.  Every single day.  Which designer will I wear?  There are two designers to choose from.  Some may think two isn’t much of a selection.  Frankly.  One is all we need.  But we have a choice.  There’s an obvious difference in their designs.  In their taste level.  In their purpose.  And the choice makes a huge difference.  In everything.  One designer is the master creator.  The other is the master deceiver.

The master creator clothes us with truth.  Honor.  Respect.  Purity.  Love.  Grace.  And the price for all this. You ask.  There is no cost.  For us.  He paid a great price.  He gave his only son so we could be clothed in forgiveness.

The deceiver.  He clothes his followers with arrogance.  Deceit.  Murder.  Evil.  Wickedness.  Conflict.  Lies.
Oh.  The deceiver had his chance to work with the master designer.  But he wanted the top position.  It didn’t end well for him.  So he’s trying to trick anyone and everyone to wear his designs.  But don’t be fooled.  His designs come at a great price.
Just so you know.  Everyone is watching.  They’re listening.  They’re looking to see which designer you’ve chosen.  Is it easy to tell at first glance?  Do others ask for the name of your designer, because they like what they see?  Or are your knockoffs easy to spot?
So I dare to ask.  Who are you wearing?

 

Intuition

I put myself out there.  I’m going for something that others would advise against.  Some have told me that it might not suit me.  But they’re holding me up to someone else’s standards.  Someone else’s actions.  Someone whose actions were often questioned.  Someone who was often at odds with those in leadership positions.  When asked if I thought I could do the job, I said there are always opportunities for improving the way the job is done.  There are ways to be kinder to people.  Am I up for the task?  Oh.  If chosen, I’ll find out.  Will there be more stress?  More deadlines?  More people to please?  Absolutely.

I read a quote this week.  Making a big life change is pretty scary.  But you know what’s even scarier?  Regret. Toby Mac said that.  And I believe it.  I agree.

So.  We’ll see what happens.  Nothing may change.  But then.  Everything may change.

Some have said they thought I could do it. But in the next breath, they mention their concerns. Red flags? Warnings?  I appreciate their kindness.  I really do.

I’m not a big risk taker, but sometimes change is good. There’s only one way to find out if the change is good. And that’s by changing.

Just because you’ve had the same routine for awhile doesn’t mean you have to stay in that old rut.

Who knows what the future holds. Time will tell. I need to keep my options open.


We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Intuition.  Gut feeling.  That’s a thing.  It really is.  I’m reading the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.  He says.  Your intuition is always right.  Heed its advice.  If something feels wrong, don’t do it.  Avoid it.  Turn the other way.

So that’s what I did.  All along, my gut was telling me one thing.  Don’t.  Beware.  Think this thing through.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  My mind was saying what I wanted to hear.  Go for it.  Do it.  You never know unless you try it.

Advice from those who know you is not to be taken lightly.  Listen to their words.  Their concerns.  Sometimes the words fit.  Other times they don’t.  There is a saying.  You will have well-meaning people give you well-meaning advice that still is not good for you.  Just a reminder you don’t have to take it.  But there are times when it’s good to listen.  Really listen to the words that are being said.  and to listen to the words that aren’t being said.

Prayer is an amazing gift.  It’s free.  So I talked to God about the situation.  I asked him to give me clarity about what was the path for me to take.  Once I walked out of that meeting, I knew.  Oh.  I knew before I ever left the meeting.  The information presented to me was enough to stop the second guessing.  I knew the path I should take.

So I took it.

The right decision is liberating.  It’s peaceful.  It’s the right thing to do.

Humbled Pilgrims

The driving conditions are treacherous.  The weather is hazardous.  The office is open.  I must make an effort.

Chemically wet roads.  Black ice.  Falling snow.  Cold weather.  The combination makes the dark morning even more ominous.  And it’s Monday.

Snow trucks are plowing the roads.  Drivers must be cautious.  The going is slow.  Some drivers are overly cautious.  Going 25 miles per hour under the speed limit.  All cars behind the slow leader are anxious.  Knowing they need to go slow.  But also knowing that too much caution causes others to take unnecessary chances.  Who is to blame?  Mother Nature?  It is winter.  After all.

Use caution on overhead bridges.  We’re told.  Slow down going around tight curves.  Watch the tire pressure.  Make sure the windshield is clear.  Pay close attention to other drivers.  Have food and water in the car.  Pack blankets.  All good advice.

The storm passes.  Days go by.  The big one is coming.  Snowpocalypse.  They’re calling it.  Snowmageddon.  How bad will it be?   How much snow will fall?  Will ice be packed under the snow?  Do we hunker down and wait it out?  Or do we venture out?  Stay home unless you have to go out.  That’s what we’re told.


Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.  Hebrews 2:12-14


We’re all travelling the road of life.  Some of us have been travelling it for oh so many years.  Many others are just a few short years into the journey.  It is a series of treacherous paths.  Oh.  Not all paths are hazardous, but many are.  One wrong turn.  One bad decision.  One poorly timed word.  One distraction.  It can throw life into a whirlwind of unexpected events and consequences.  Possibly never going back to what we knew as normal.

I think of King David.  Man of God. Loved by his people.  He caught a glimpse of a married woman bathing in private.  The glimpse turned to lust.  Her husband was off to war.  He would never know.  So David claimed her as his own.  She became pregnant.  The husband, a great warrior, was killed on the front lines. God brought judgment.  The baby died.  David repented.  God forgave and restored.

I think of another man who made a private decision to sin.  The result became very public.  When asked about it.  And he was always asked.  He had to tell what he had done.  He had to admit that the private act caused a public display.  As he would tell the story, it would become obvious what he had done.  That he had sinned.  He was sorry.  He was repentant.  He was humiliated.  This one act impacted him for the rest of his life.

Sin is deceitful.  It looks attractive.  It sounds beautiful.  It tastes good.  It feels good.  Until it’s over.  Until the deed is done.  Until the word is said.  Then the truth comes out.  Feelings of being used.  Feelings of regret.  Feeling ugly and unloved.  Feeling that the world will learn or see what you’ve done and will no longer accept you.  It’s hard to accept yourself.  How will others see you?

We pilgrims walk this road called life.  We must pay close attention.  Use caution.  Think things through.  We must be on guard and not get caught up in sin.  We must walk the slippery road with the guide book in hand.  We must study that guide book to know the way we should take.  It will direct us down the right path.  The path to eternal life.

 

 

 

Go for the Gold

Winter Olympics.  Hockey.  Figure skating.  Skiing.  Ice dancing.  Speed skating.  Short track speed skating.  Luge.  Bobsled.  Curling.  Cross country skiing.  Ski jump.  Snowboarding.  Just some of the sports we’ll watch.  There will be gold medals handed out.  New idols will be crowned.  New heroes in the making.

The athletes. They each train in their sport. Working to master the art of athleticism. They each have chosen one sport to excel in. To best the best. To be crowned.  To be awarded the gold medal.

They work hard. Practice religiously. They sacrifice. More than most would even dare.  They stretch themselves.  Going beyond comfort.  Just to be the best.  They may only get one shot at the gold.  They need to make the most of it.

Mistakes will be made.  Mishaps.  Nerves will get the best of some athletes.  Some expected to win will not.  New champions will be crowned.  They will stand tall, right hand over the heart.  Listening.  Listening to their national anthem.  The flag is lowered.  In honor of their win.  In honor of their hard work.  In honor of their sacrifice.  In honor of their gold medal.  All nations will applaud.

They get nervous. They make mistakes. Their muscles stiffen. They suffer injuries. All for the sport.  All for the dream of wearing the gold around their neck.

Some will be cocky.  They just know they’ll earn a spot on the team.  They just know they’ll win the gold.  They may not work as hard as they should, because their self confidence has already crowned them winner.  They could be brought down quickly.  They may miss the goal.  They may fall down the mountain.  There could be someone better.  A new champion in the mix.  Waiting for their moment to shine.

Some are humble.  They do the work.  They’ve put in the hours.  They’ve listened to their coach.  They own the sport.  But they don’t announce it to the world.  They let their work speak for itself.  If it’s their time to shine, they will.  If their skills need more sharpening, they will do the work.  The struggle to grow stronger and perform better is real.  They think they could do more.


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


We’re all in training. We’re training for a spiritual prize. The top prize.  Heaven.  Heaven is the gold medal we’re training for.  Everyone should want it.  Second place is disastrous.

There is a workout plan that’s available for everyone.  Those who choose to accept it and follow it will receive that top prize.  There won’t be only one gold medal given.  Anyone who is anyone can receive it.

No.  It’s not a participation medal.  The medal must be won.  Fair and square.  Hard work.  Conditioning.  Sacrifice.  Suffering.  Hardships.  Setbacks.  Successes.  Growth.  Rewards.  All are part of the plan.  Given in different measures to each athlete working for the prize.

We’re racing toward eternity.  People.  Whether we know it or not.  Whether we like it or not.  Everyone will come face to face with eternity when they cross the finish line.  At our last breath, we will come face to face with God Himself.  He will judge each and every one of us.

I want that top prize.  I want the gold medal.  I want to spend eternity in heaven.  I hope you do, too.

If you haven’t made the decision to join the race for eternity, this link will tell you how you can join.

Observations

I used to think that I should be close to perfect.  At this age.  I should have learned everything I need to know.  I should have made all the mistakes I’m going to make.  I should have made all the friends I would ever need.  I should have saved all the money I need for retirement.  I should have lost all the weight I need to lose.  I should be in the best shape of my life.  I should know when to speak and when to be silent.

But I have found that isn’t always the case.

There are still so many things I just don’t know.  I don’t know how to make a good pie crust.  I don’t know how to knit.  I don’t know how to build a fire.  I don’t know the Bible well enough.  I still make mistakes.  So many mistakes.   I don’t know enough people.  I made a new friend this year.  An old friend may be coming back into the picture.  There is no such thing as too many friends.  There is also no such thing as saving too much for retirement.  I keep saving with the hopes that I don’t outlive my money.  I’ve known for years there are two types of people.  Those who eat to live and those who live to eat.  I confess.  I live to eat.  Food is my friend.  One of my best friends.  I’m always thinking about my next meal.  My doctor asks about my exercise program.  Oh.  That’s a thing?  I stretch every morning.  She doesn’t laugh.  I find I use my words as weapons too often.  I’m not always silent when I should be.  I have said some words that I never should have said.  I have not said some words I should have said.

Yes.  Even at this age, I have much to learn.  I have much to do.  I still have a lot to say.  I’m always on the lookout for friends.  I still need to save more money.  I eat healthy.  I should move more.  And not sit all day.

I’ve found, though, that others have begun to see me as old.  But I don’t see that.  I’m older.  But I’m not old.  Age is all in the mind.  I’ve heard.  I’m told I’m forgetful.  I’m told I’m set in my ways.  I’m told I turn up the tv volume too loud.  I’m told I look too young to have so much gray hair.

I renewed my driver’s license this month.  I changed some information on it.  I updated my address.  I changed my weight.  Yes.  I did.  And I changed my hair color.  All on my driver’s license.  The old has gone.  The new is here.  I might as well be honest about what I know others see in me.


Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!    2 Corinthians 5:17


One thing that has remained the same this year is God’s love for me.  He never gives up on me.  He challenges me to do better.  To be better.  To see others the way he sees them.  To treat others the way he would treat them.  He reminds me to be kind to others.  And to myself.  He reminds me to listen to the words I’m saying as if someone were saying them to me.  How would I feel?  He is the bread of life.  With him, I will never go hungry.  He tells me I need to spend more time in His Word.   Reading.  Studying.  Memorizing.  Getting to know Him even better.  He is the one true friend who is always faithful.  Always there when I need him.   Always loves me.  No matter what.  He knows everything about me.  My past.  My present.  My future.  And he still loves me.

Observations of the year past.  Overall, it’s been a great year.  Gone by far too fast.  I’m looking forward to what the new year holds.

Happy Birthday

Her third pregnancy.  She was bigger than she should have been a month before her due date.  An x-ray was suggested.  There were no ultrasounds in her day.   Two weeks before Christmas, the news was shared.  Twins.  They were having twins.

Early Christmas morning.  A month to go when her water breaks.  Twin girls.  Womb mates.  Born too soon.

There were already two children at home.  A 4-year old and a 2-year old.  Oh. They were wanted.  They were loved.  They were welcome.  Perhaps not by their older brother.  After all.  His Christmas had been ruined.  It was the worst Christmas ever.  That’s what he said.

I can understand.  What kid wants to be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and go to Grandma’s house.  Especially when he knew the next morning was Christmas.  No time to open the presents under the tree.  No 4-year old would be happy about that.

Identical twins born on Christmas Day was unusual.  The births were announced on the radio.  Celebrations were in order.

So the family celebrated.  Gifts were given.  Double gifts.  Matching clothes.  Two of everything.

They were small babies.  Premature.  They were kept at home for 4 months while they grew.  Oh.  They had visitors.  Curious onlookers.  Friends and family anxious to see twins.  Twin births in the family weren’t unusual.  Twin births seem to be hereditary on both sides of the family.  It was meant to be.

The parents took them home to a small house.  Four kids.  An outdoor bathroom.  It was winter.  Some nights the babies would sleep between their parents, so they could be kept warm.

Two years later, the family had moved.  Farm country.  Again, it was winter.  All day, they smelled smoke but saw nothing.  Until it was too late.   The home engulfed in flames was burned to the ground. Everything they owned was gone.  Fire in the attic, they were told.  The oldest, now six, arrived home from school to find his family homeless.

The father built the family home.  Three more sons were added.  The twins grew.  They left home.  Married men of God.  They faithfully serve where God has planted them.


For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His government and its peace will never end.  He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.  Isaiah 9:6-7

His birth had been predicted. The teenage mother was caught unaware. Oh.  She had heard the prophecies.  Never did she imagine she would be chosen to carry this child.  Virgin birth.   She was engaged.  This pregnancy could end her life.  If she was found guilty of adultery.  How did the man know she was telling the truth?  He thought to divorce her.  Privately.  But God spoke to him.  In a dream.  Marry her.  He said.  She has been faithful to you.  She is mine.  The baby is mine.  Name him Jesus.

It was tax season.  Time to be counted.  Joseph and Mary, heavy with child, arrived in Bethlehem.  Alone and lonely.  Tired and tried.  The stable was empty, save for the animals. Nowhere else to stay.  They sat to rest.  And sleep.  Just the two of them.  The baby arrived.  What had been a quiet night, a night to catch their breath, suddenly became eventful.

If they had dared to question the child’s sovereignty before his birth, they now knew who he was.  He truly was God’s son.  What other explanation could there be for all the strange happenings?

Angels announced his birth.  Shepherds came to worship.  Wise men later brought gifts.  Another dream.  Move the child.  It isn’t safe.  Oh.  They knew he was the savior of the world.  They had heard prophesies about their son.  What he would accomplish.  What he would suffer.  But who knew where they were?  Who was hunting for them?  They must protect their child.  God’s child.  At all costs.

Those in authority felt threatened.  How could a newborn baby be a ruler?  How could a 2-year old overthrow their government?  He must be found and removed.  Along with many boys age 2 and under.  None were exempt.

He became wiser every year.  He grew into a man.  He grew closer to God.  He was well respected.  Until he wasn’t.

He was born to die.  He died for all.

 

 

 

Eye on the Prize

He wears the ring with pride.  He wears the ring with humility.  He earned it.  The ring.  The championship ring.  The ring is big.  It looks heavy.  Pure gold.  Solid.  It’s a prize for having a winning season.  For winning the most important game of the season.  For winning the game of his life.  He played hard.  And he won.

He worked hard for that ring.  Daily workouts.  Weekly games.  Road trips.  Sacrificing time away from family and friends.  He worked for years honing his craft.  Just for a chance to win that ring.  For him.  The hard work paid off.

Oh.  It wasn’t a perfect season.  There were missteps.  There was a loss.  One loss.  That single loss dashed the hopes for a national championship.  They had to settle.  Settle for being less than number one.  There were days when the goal seemed impossible to reach.  There were naysayers.  Those who didn’t believe it was possible.  But he kept going.  Teamwork.  Training.  Determination.  Sacrifice.  Hard work.  Practice.  He still won a ring. He knows the work he put into getting the ring.   He knows the glory the ring stands for.

It’s a prize worthy of pride, for few win it.  It’s a prize worthy of humility, for few have it.  You see.  It wasn’t the top prize.  There was a loss during the season.  One game that didn’t end well.  Mistakes were made.  The price of this one loss was high.  There would be no championship game.  But that ring speaks volumes.  It defines a season of his life.  But it doesn’t define who he is.  It will always be a part of him.  After all.  He earned it fair and square.  He’ll talk about it when asked.


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8


We’re all athletes.  Of a sort.  Life is a sport.  Of a sort.   It has many different seasons.  Winning seasons.  Losing seasons.  Good years.  Bad years.  Exciting times.  Humbling times.  We run many races.  Face multiple trials.  Endure hardships.  Suffer staggering losses.  Experience joyful times.  Earn bonuses and awards.  It’s called life.

We’re working for a prize.  A prize that we’ll never see or touch while we’re still on this earth.  The prize we’re working for is eternal.  We’ll receive that prize when we’re face to face with God.  He is our judge and the giver of all good things.

Our Christian race is run much the same as an athlete’s season.  Wins.  Losses.  Mistakes.  Championship seasons.  Awards.  Injuries.  Doesn’t mean we don’t need redemption.  We do.  All we have to do is ask.  We don’t earn it.  It’s freely given.

Oh.  Our heavenly reward will be based on our life record.  If our sins, our mistakes, our failures have been forgiven, they won’t even be on our record.  The slate will be wiped clean.  When we don’t deserve it.  Let’s keep our eye on the prize.  It’s just around the corner.