Friday, December 31, 2010

The Right Places in the New Year

He’s doing it again.

Jack, our dog, sits on my lap pulling away from my arms, teetering toward tipping off because he’s busy sniffing the air. He wants to go wherever his nose will take him. Up onto my writing desk. Off on a new adventure. Straight into the trash basket in the kitchen. Head inside, feet kicking in the air. Well, not really. But he has pulled the entire three-foot-tall basket down onto the floor. And this is a twelve-pound pup we’re talking here. *grin*

He noses into dirty laundry piles, up trees (yes, he climbs trees), into the trash. This mini-Dachsie is completely ruled by his amazing sense of smell. Forever pulling on the reins as if he knows better what to get into than we know what to keep him out of.

Okay. That reminds me of someone… Me. I’ve been known to follow my senses and end up in places I shouldn’t be. It feels like the right time, the right place for me. But it isn’t. I’m just getting ahead of myself, getting ahead of where God wants me to be.

Why do we do that?

We have a need for attention. We want to go places and get noticed. But the only kind of attention we’re going to get if we’re na├»vely somewhere we shouldn’t be is negative.

We want affirmation, to prove our value. Uh, God gives that freely and it’s never meritorious. We don’t have to do. We just have to be.

We want independence. I know what’s best for me, right? Right??

This New Year, I don’t want to be anyplace I’m not supposed to be simply because I forced my way in, followed my senses, took an unsanctioned initiative. I want to be where God wants me to be, to “bloom” there, and to follow Him to the next place, or be content if we linger. Being with Him is all that matters.

Oh, the lessons He’s teaching me through my pup, who has now settled into a tight circle under the blanket on my lap, sighed contentedly, and drifted off to sleep. Time to go curl up in God’s lap.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God's Giving

I did it again. While shopping for the people on my list, I picked up some items for myself—a pair of slippers, some pj’s. I think it’s something moms do. Can I hear an “amen”?

As I perused FB this morning, I saw a “note to Santa” on someone’s profile. All in fun, of course, but it got me thinking, how much of Christmastime is spent thinking about and hoping for “things”?

Growing up, my parents very thoughtfully presented us with gifts Christmas morning. What great memories. I don’t ever remember being asked what I wanted for Christmas. Perhaps the adults in my life were trying to protect me from disappointment. Or, they already had such a fun plan, they didn’t need to ask. So, the first time (as an adult) that people began asking me what I wanted was a moment of speechlessness. This wasn’t how I thought. This wasn’t how I approached the holidays. And taking things back? Are you kidding? Thankfulness, people. *grin*

Of course, now I understand better the prospect of taking things back and how it’s logical and practical. But then, what a mystery. And as to what I wanted? A conundrum. I had no idea how to answer the question because I just didn’t think that way.

Problem. I’ve come to think that way. And it’s not always pretty.

But, here’s where God comes in.

God has good plans. Great plans. He knows exactly what we need, what we want and how to bless us in a way that will soften our hearts (it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance).

I’ve recently discovered this about myself—my primary love language is gifts. I’m only now figuring that out.

But God knew all along. And His gifts are the best! Look to Him this Christmas. You will not be disappointed. Here's how Jesus put it--

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
(Matthew 6:30-33, MSG)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Single Decision

I have a new Android phone and I love all I can do with it. Games (no, not Angry Birds *wink*), browse online, read books, etc. I’m especially hooked on solitaire. I know. I know. It’s the same solitaire that tripped people up like twenty years ago. They’re supposed to be working, and they are glued to their computers, but they’re playing.

The cool aspect of this version of solitaire, though, is you can undo countless numbers of moves and you can restart a game. So, you figure out the place you went wrong and you restart. A little obsessive? Probably. Anyway, as I was playing earlier today I realized during a fated game that I was going down. But it also occurred to me where I had gone wrong—the one move I’d made that caused my downfall.

A single mistake took me in the wrong direction.

I restarted the same game, chose a different “black” king to drag to an opening and viola! A different outcome—I won.

Same’s true in life. A single decision can change the course of our lives forever.

When you first heard about Jesus, what did you do? When you learned about sin and that a life is required for its atonement, what did you do? When you learned Jesus was the only acceptable sacrifice, and that He, in His mercy, paid the price for you to have salvation and forgiveness, did you choose Him, did you accept His gift? Or not.

That single decision is the most important decision anyone will ever make and whether you think you need to make it or not, you do. Everyone has to choose between saying yes to Jesus or not. (If you don’t say yes, you’ve chosen no.)

But, what joy if you choose Him! What freedom. That painful burden of so many wrong decisions (can I see a show of hands raised along with mine if you've got a list?) can be healed with one decision: “Yes, Jesus! I need You. Please forgive me for my sins. Save me. Guide me. Heal my heart and redeem my past.” And He will! He loves to redeem!

This Christmas season, consider the real reason for the season. Jesus, God, coming to earth as a human to rescue you from sin, hopelessness, darkness and hell. Thank God He came as a baby and lived sinlessly so we could have salvation. Rejoice in Him.

Choose Him.