Monday, October 31, 2011

What character are you?

Halloween is not my favorite holiday, but it is fun to become someone completely different just for one night. But what are we putting on every other day? Are we giving any thought to our actions? Our attitude and behavior probably resemble some of the storybook characters we grew up with. What character has represented you lately?

1. Short tempered and irritated? The Wicked Witch of the West
2. Happy with a song in your heart? Snow White
3. Constantly running behind? The rabbit from Alice in Wonderland
4. Sacrificial with your time? Belle from Beauty and the Beast
5. Isolating yourself from others? Rapunzel

Halloween is only one night a year, but God's salvation is eternal. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are changed from a witch to a princess, and a troll to a prince. The best part is...we never have to change back! Unlike a magic spell at midnight, believers will remain clothed in righteousness. As sons and daughters of the King, we are heirs to the throne. We became royalty and are given a new life.

But when much is given, much is expected. God wants us to choose Him every day. He wants us to put aside our worldly behavior and seek what is good. You wouldn't see a royal princess gossiping about someone with her friends. You wouldn't see a prince acting inappropriately with those he works with. Their behavior is different than those of this world because they've been set apart for the world to come. Sound overwhelming? Take heart, God has equipped us with the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and actions. He plans to help us find our happily ever after...

Be blessed,

Jennifer


You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24


Monday, October 24, 2011

Faith of a Child

It's time for one of my favorite Halloween specials ... It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! I love watching Charlie Brown specials. I remember sitting on the floor of our living room, hearing the signature Peanuts music start as the show opened with the NBC peacock. My tummy flipped and flopped with excitement as I absorbed in every minute of the show.

In this story, Linus convinces Charlie Brown's little sister Lucy to skip trick-or-treating to sit with him in the pumpkin patch. He is certain the Great Pumpkin will rise from the pumpkin patch and fly around bringing gifts and joy to children who believe in him. Lucy, intrigued by the gifts she will receive and more than a little enamored with Linus, agrees to wait with him. After waiting long into the night, the Great Pumpkin still doesn't show.

While I realize this is just a story, I still think we could all learn from Linus.

He believed. Linus believed with all his heart that the Great Pumpkin would appear and reward his faith. Right or wrong, he stayed rooted in his truth.

He shared his faith. Linus shared what he believed with all of his friends despite how they treated him. He wanted everyone to have the same benefits he was hoping for.


He was brave.
Here's a young boy who not only stood up to his mocking friends but also sat in a cold, dark pumpkin patch until the wee hours of the night. All because he had faith.

He was determined. Yet another year went by without the appearance of the Great Pumpkin (except for Snoopy dressed as a ghost). But Linus didn't give up. The end credits roll as Linus tells Charlie Brown about his plans to wait for the Great Pumpkin again next year.

Linus is a modern day faith warrior. He held firm to his beliefs, shared them with those he knew, endured the slings and arrows of opposition and went outside his comfort zone for his faith. I want to be like Linus, don't you? Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” So let's imitate some art together shall we?


Our God is mightier than any Great Pumpkin. He earned our faith in Him on the cross. He promises the gift of eternal salvation to everyone who believes. He rewards our obedience and He will come again to reign in Glory. Come friends, let's head out to the pumpkin patch...

Be blessed,

Jennifer


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1


Monday, October 17, 2011

It's a marathon...

This weekend the city of Dallas hosted their annual Race for the Cure. The news reported thousands of women, and some men, donning their pink outfits and gathering at the starting line. Some are cancer survivors, others have lost loved ones with the disease. Everyone is determined to raise millions of dollars for continued cancer research.

I am not a runner but I have great respect for those who are. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to condition your body to go the distance. Countless hours of training and striving for a little more: more distance, more speed, more strength. Learning to pace yourself to endure the whole race instead of running fast and burning out.

Our journey of faith is the same way. Our walk with God is a marathon, not a sprint. When we become believers we're so on fire for God that we want to take on the world. We can do too much and quickly become overloaded and overwhelmed. We need the patience and the perseverance to go the distance as well. Countless hours of 'training' will produce more distance, more speed and even more strength.

More distance

The more we condition ourselves to walk with God, the further we'll go with Him. Giving God our day first thing in the morning allows Him to balance our 'have tos' with His 'want tos'. He's able to use us throughout our day in ways we wouldn't have imagined. The glories He will show are truly inspiring.

More speed

I don't mean things will come to us faster. When we are allowing God to train us in His ways, He can accomplish His will more quickly. Each time we are used in His plan for His glory, we grow a little deeper with Him. Soon we allow Him to use us with no questions asked. He gets the glory and we're on the fast track to a more obedient life.

More strength

On the journey of faith, we'll hit a lot of bumps in the road. Illness, loss of jobs, loss of loved ones... it's a really bumpy road! But take heart, God is leading us through it. When we stumble and fall, God encourages our spirit and prompts us to get back up and try again. Our failure is not the end of our faith journey. With every bump we hit and every scratch and bruise we receive, we are learning to persevere. The longer we walk with Him, the more we begin to understand the journey.

Are you ready for the journey? Have you been sitting on the side of the road, tired from falling down over and over again? Or are you already in the full swing of training, allowing God to use your time and talents for His plan? Either way, we're on this road together. Let's lace up our shoes and starting walking in faith!

Be blessed,


Jennifer

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2


Monday, October 10, 2011

Under Construction

The lazy Sunday afternoon beckoned us on a road trip. The family piled into the van and we set out to visit a local restaurant everyone's been talking about. But to get there we'd have to go through Grapevine – the city under construction.

A new highway system is being built in the heart of the city. Large concrete pillars line the highway like trees. They stand at attention waiting to bear the weight of a new bridge. The highway twists and turns like a snake as we're diverted from old road to new road and back again. Bright orange cones warn that familiar roads now lead nowhere. Traffic crawls as drivers navigate the unfamiliar path. It feels like utter chaos.

“I wish I knew what the final design was going to look like.” my husband commented, “Maybe then all this would make some sense.”

That would be helpful in our lives too wouldn't it? The ability to see the master plan. But unfortunately we're stuck in the midst of the construction. A dead end job. Divorce papers. An unexpected diagnosis. These can all feel like roads to nowhere but are actually part of the Designer's plan.

We begin to feel disappointed and defeated when the road we thought was permanent proves to be temporary. Detours and diversions lead us into unfamiliar territory and we begin to lose our confidence and sense of direction.

But take heart...God knows where you're going. He also knows how to get you there. It's all part of His design. We just have to trust His plan and follow His lead.

Be blessed,

Jennifer

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19


Monday, October 3, 2011

Under the Skin

Layer by layer the skin is carefully peeled away. With great precision, the remaining meat is cut and scraped leaving it unrecognizable. This may sound like a scene from a modern day horror movie, but it was exactly what I witnessed when I watched a Halloween pumpkin carving contest.

Master craftsmen were chosen from all over the nation to compete in a carving contest for a prize of $10,000. They were given a theme and only a few hours to make it happen. The results were amazing! My years of silly little jack-o-lanterns could never hold a candle to any of these masterpieces.

Watching the show reminded me of another Sculptor. He was given the honor of Master craftsman for the work He did on the cross. He receives glory instead of riches and He is never hurries His masterpiece. He completes His work in His time.

With great precision, God carefully peels away our sin and flesh nature to reveal something completely different. While some changes are subtle, others can cut deep as a result of a deeply rooted sin issue. But Father God never cuts more than is necessary and always knows how much is too much!

The master craftsmen pick a pumpkin that best fit their design. God picks a design that best fits each one of us. He uses great skill and care to reveal what was within us all along. God doesn't pick us at random and try to conform us into a certain task or role, He builds us from the inside out and then exposes our inner ability when His timing is just right.

In the pumpkin patch of life, each one of us is unique. We may have similar qualities or be about the same size and shape, but there is an exquisite masterpiece just under the skin...

Be blessed,

Jennifer

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14