Friday, December 30, 2011

A resolution worth repeating ...

A friend of mine had resisted efforts to get him to run with our jogging group until his doctor told him he had to exercise. Soon thereafter, he reluctantly joined us for our 5:30 a.m. jogs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

After a month of running, we decided that my friend might be hooked, especially when he said he had discovered what "runner's euphoria" was. "Runner's euphoria," he explained, "is what I feel at 5:30 on TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS, and SATURDAYS!"
-- Neil P. Budge

The “in between times” determine the sole/soul commitment to a given resolution. Begrudgingly or superstitiously approaching a modification in one’s behavior often results in failure. A mental callous develops resulting in a dulled sensitivity to the original quest. Not that the importance of the endeavor has diminished, but the overcoming victory of the pursuit and benefits awaiting the committed participant are at best delayed and too often lost.

That being said, I am tempted to slip into 2012 with the utmost anonymity. If I make no resolution, I fail no endeavor. If I share no goal, I face no accountability. I’ll just stay, “under the radar” unknown, un-relied upon, with little or no responsibility.

Then a verse begins to ring in my heart:

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11

The plans HE HAS MADE FOR ME? For my GOOD, and not disaster? To give me a future and a hope?

Wait a minute! I’ve been trying to accomplish that year after year. Hmmmm ... Perhaps, just perhaps, MY plans have not been in MY best interest. Perhaps He has protected me from my will and the results that would have caused me harm so that He can bring me to this year, 2012, with the awareness of His will, something custom designed and tailor fitted to give me a future and a hope.

“…to give you a future…” it’s as if I really never had one while I was dependent upon my will, my strength and my dedication. It's an interesting point; one begging a deeper understanding. The non-believer has no confidence in a divinely designed future. However, the UNCOMMITTED BELIEVER (that "believer" who wears Christianity as an exterior garment when the moment best serves their interest but secretly lives to enjoy "their own way" during the in between times) has no reason to feel confident in a future void of God's plan.

“…and a hope.” What is “hope” to the child of God? One thing is for certain, the words used in the Hebrew language for the word “hope” ALL focus upon the certainty of future events. This particular word emphasizes His guarantee.

My New Years resolution? Simply put, to commit to His plan while enjoying the fact that every moment of 2012 has already passed His inspection. His plans are for my good, not disaster, that I might actually have a future, precisely the future He has prepared just for me. I am hopeful; I am confident; it’s a done-deal!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Addendum ...

I was reviewing a blog I wrote last year pertaining to the Christmas Story as revealed in John Chapter 10. I’ve had time to ponder my own writings and I’ve come across what I believe to be another truth hidden in clear view.

You may recall the “Porter” opening the door to the Shepherd in John 10:3 as a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit proclaimed by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:34-35.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a girl never having been married and a virgin, engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Blessed-favored of God are you before all other women!’ But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said, and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace - free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness - with God! And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will five to Him the throne of His forefather David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages, and of His reign there will be no end. And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?’ Then the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (as a shining cloud); and so the holy (pure sinless) Thing which shall be born of you, will be called the Son of God...’” - Luke 1:26-35

It occurs to me that just as Mary was totally incapable of conceiving without the miraculous power of God, we too stand before God totally incapable of attaining, or if you will, conceiving, a spiritual and personal relationship with the Almighty except for the ministry of the Porter, the Holy Spirit, Who comes upon us in our need, opens our heart’s door, making way for the miraculous new birth of salvation!

Salvation, true and complete conversion, freedom from the slavery of sin, is simply not in our DNA without the infusion of a miraculous new birth. Of this the Bible is clear.

“But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, to purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us - be recognized as [God’s] sons. And because you [really] are (His) sons, God has sent the (Holy) Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father! Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son, and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God through Christ.”
- Galatians 4:4-7

And so as we celebrate the birth of our Savior let us not forget the incomprehensible work of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit as it brings to life the Christmas story of new birth personally to us!

May you hear the call, the message of God. May the Holy Spirit open your hearts door. May you clearly and unmistakably see Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection as God’s personal gift to YOU and may you experience His miraculous new birth in your life forever!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Der Christmas Mirror (A true story...)

The holidays were approaching and so also my seasonal recitation of anguish. This holiday season – all the more! Chris had completely emptied herself in commitment and effort. An extraordinary wife, mother, and fellow bread-winner, she deserved something special – something extra-ordinary. What would it be and how could I surprise her with it?

As with each holiday celebration our home would be filled with family and friends. I dreamed of one day owning a professional ping-pong table. I could see in my minds eye the family enjoying holiday tournaments. Chris, on the other hand, dreamed of a
beautiful living-room fire-place with its towering pillars and grand sunken mirror. This year, on Christmas morning, I would see to it that she got her wish!

I began construction in October. My anguish grew as December 25 seemed to approach more rapidly than in previous years.

It was two weeks until Christmas day and I needed only to have Bob deliver and install the mirror. He’d measured, weeks before, the four foot by six foot pocket into which the mirror was to be installed. My anxiety increased as each day passed. Would Chris once again be forced to lovingly thank me for my “good intentions?” NOT THIS YEAR! I HAD to finish the project!

Finally, December 23, the white panel truck backed into our driveway. Bob’s crew carefully untied the package from its resting place in the truck.

“Veer do you vant us to poot her?” the tall blond Swede asked.

I proudly pointed to the empty pocket above the fireplace. It was obvious to me the young man was confused by my response.

“You vant us to poot her up deer? Vee don’t do any-ting like dat sir.” The Swede was emphatic.

“Look,” I began to fume, “I’ve waited over three weeks for this! Bob promised he would have it here for Christmas! He promised it would be delivered and installed and that’s just what you are going to do!” Secretly, my outburst caused me to swell with pride. I was fighting for my honor, for my wife, for my MIRROR!

We argued back and forth for over thirty-minutes. I was not going to lose this battle. I positioned myself in front of the exit. They new they were trapped. With nail gun in hand in preparation for the installation and framing I demanded, “You are going to install that mirror and you are going to do it NOW!

Their puzzled expression and then uproarious laughter caught me by surprise.

“Mirror? Yimminy mee-ster; veer delivering der ping-pong table yer vife ordered!” Chris had once again beaten me to the punch!

The mirror arrived later that afternoon. Bob was kind enough to install it. Its reflection above our fireplace was everything Chris had dreamed it would be. Each holiday season now brings with it the warmth of our fire, a reflective chuckle, and fond memories of two people’s love expressed in “Der Ping-pong Table and Der Christmas Mirror.”