HONOR

…as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed but with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body… Phillipians 1:20

As Paul sat inprisoned for the sake of the gospel, his life weighing in the balance, he was certain of one thing; that Christ would be honored in his body. See as Paul looked at it the body is the vehicle for his purpose to be realized in the planet. He knew that our physical bodies were much more than mere flesh and bone, but that they have the unique opportunity to bring about the will of God. Yes, these temporal vessels have the capacity to bring eternity to earth. Out of all the instruments at the disposal of the hands of the All Mighty, His go to instrument for building His kingdom on earth…us. Fragile and sin torn, He placed the light of the gospel in each believer and it is through our bodies that the light shines in the darkness. As these ole bodies illuminate with the glory of Heaven- the world will stop and take Into account, how? How could something so glorious and beautiful come from something as fragile and torn as humans? As they ask these questions we through our hands up toward the heavenlies. Honor is suppose to spill forth from these earthen vessels called bodies.

I was thinking about the concept of honoring God through my own body and what that may look like. As these thoughts bounced around in my brain I gazed down into the blue eyes of my 5 weeks old and it hit me that one of the most honoring things a woman can do is give birth. To give up our bodies for another. To give our lives as a living sacrifice for Gods creative will to come to pass. The reality that He uses women to bring new life in he world is heart stopping. That through the weakness of humanity All his eternal purposes like making missionaries, preachers, teachers, coaches…even bull riders…rest upon the body of woman. He uses us as agents to bring about one of his greatest purpose on earth-life. The war on this privilege is growing in America. With terms like pro-choice and late term abortion swirling around the media, I’ve heard and seen more than I care too. The images and vivid testimonies that have rose to the surface during the current political whirlwind are enough to shake any out of their complacency and weigh the worth of life. This candidate says life is worth __. This one says it’s worth ___. But no matter who finds themselves in the white house come November, the reality is that God has set the price on life. It held such value with Him that He would give His own life so that none would perish. He being the creator gets to tell us what life is worth. No political office has that authority. However, humans have always been good at taking authority that isn’t ours to take. So it’s no surprise that man gets to govern the value of life in America.

This subject goes far deeper than your presidential choice. For not only is a life being taken, a person God created for his kingdom is being robbed of the right to bring him glory and we as women are being robbed of one of the greatest privileges we have; To honor Christ through our bodies. I’ve been in the seat where some would have encouraged me to abort-he’s 11 now and never have I seen God set such purpose on a child, never. Gods favor and providence over him has been clear since the beginning. So, I’ve been there to a degree and I would have to say that being his mother is the most honoring thing I have ever had the privilege to be apart of. I know first hand what it’s like to see a so-called “mistake” be turned into a blessing . You see that child was created to live. America needs to wake up and realize that we are being deceived- an abortion does not free you up or take away a burden. A abortion takes away your God given mission. It steals honor that God has placed on your life.

It takes courage to be honorable. Every solider will tell you that. To risk your life for another isn’t easy.  The battle most women face is a scary one. To keep their baby takes courage. I’ve been around abortion minded women and I’ll say the majority of the time it’s not the cold fact that they don’t want Their child, even if they say they don’t. It’s the age old fight of fear that causes them to end thier babies life. Their scared. Scared of other options. Scared of what the future holds. Sacred of their own choices. Sacred Because somehow America has made pregnancy and motherhood scary and has stripped the honor from it. If honor outweighs fear the abortion rate would drop. How do we do that? It starts in the church. We as believers must first have courage to honor God through our bodies. All shades of hypocrisy has to go. Maybe if we honored each other, it would spill over. Maybe if we teach our children how to honor the opposite sex;that our bodies are a temple, and house the very Spirit of God. I don’t know for sure… But what if our theology collided with our reality?

Let’s not hide behind our steeples and pretend this isn’t happening. And more than that, that this isn’t effecting our own Christian communities because it is. The message needs to be heavy on our hearts and quick off our tongues; God handpicked that woman to honor His name. That God will use that baby to redeem the mess women often find themselves in. That God is giving this woman a gift instead of a burden.

Most of these woman have no idea the truth behind the value God places on a woman. Let me ask you something…whose fault is that? Who has been entrusted with the light of the gospel? We have. Not the media, not the political party. This has been circling my mind lately- maybe Christ isn’t being honored in America like He use to be because Christians aren’t honoring them through their bodies like they use to. Don’t think of me as cynical. I’m far from it, I see an outpouring of the Spirit flowing through much of the younger generation. I see hope for America and it goes much further than November 8, although it’s vital to our nation. Our hope lies in Christ and in His Spirit residing and flowing freely through His children. So I don’t mean to be harsh, but I do mean to be truthful. Hiding away in our complacency isn’t working and I don’t think that’s a secret.

Paul was certain he would honor Christ through his body because Paul was courageous. Courage is contagious. When we as Christians have enough courage to honor Christ through our bodies it sends a wave of courage to those that need it most. May we be brave enough to allow our theology to morph our reality. Man or woman, mothers or not, educated or not, old or young, democrat or republican…as Christians lets bind together to honor God through our bodies and watch the power of God do the rest.

The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.  1 Corinthians 4:20

 

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Overworked but not overlooked

imageIn the sea of the masses, there you are, pouring out your life. There you are spending yourself until there is no more left to give. There you are refreshing everyone else, while your own soul threatens to dry up. There you are working your fingers to the bone, which by now may or may not have any finger prints left. The world rushes past in an ever increasing state of “rush”. Everyday things seem to spin faster and faster as the clock ticks on. Things need to be done-so you do it. Mostly without thought. You jump into the need and meet it, you don’t do it for adoration or applause. You do it because you want to. You desire to serve Gods people, to spread the gospel message, to advance the Kingdom…but in the dead of night when there’s no one to put up a good face for…you crumble. You’ve spent yourself, poured out every ounce you have and as a result..nothing. Or at least it seems. As you analyze your acts of service, you can’t see any change. You can’t tell that you made a difference at all ; you really did give your all. You really were seeking first the kingdom but it seems like the seeds you’ve sown have fallen on hollow ground. The waves of doubt start crashing against your mind “maybe I’m not where God wants me”, “maybe I misunderstood Him..”, “there’s no glory for Him here..I just need to move on..” Or the scariest one to me, “Maybe he isn’t in this at all…”. As a Christian, I can stand not being appreciated by others, it hurts when your overlooked by your peers no doubt, but it’s something I can live with If I know I’m doing what I’m called to do. Paul would tell Timothy that everyone abandoned him in his work but the Lord stood by him…that’s what pushes us through mans lack of appreciation; having Gods. But it’s when I look around and see nothing…its when I have poured out everything I had to offer on the altar of the kingdom and there’s no fruit from it, that’s when the heavy cloak of discouragement wraps itself around my heart.

John 15 tells us that it’s to our Fathers glory that we bare much fruit…and if we abide in him we will be fruitful. Then that leaves the question; where’s the fruit?? Why does it feel like we’re standing in the middle of a barren crop field after planting kingdom seed? At times it seems like we plant, and nothing…while others have fruit sprouting up almost instantly, while there’s still no sign of a sprout for us. What happens to the faithful servant when it seems like she is overlooked, not by others, but by her God. What do you do with that kind of discouragement?

Elijah felt it after he just embarrassed the idol Baal and had to flee from the evil queen Jezebel, Jeremiah the weeping prophet was prone to it, even the forerunner, John the Baptist sent word to Jesus as he sat in Herod’s dungeon and asked “are you the one?” John had reasoned If Christ was the Messiah why would he leave his forerunner in prison? Why was everyone else experiencing the miracles of the Messiah while he was in chains? It made no sense…John paved the way, he stood up against the Pharisees but there he was…alone and seemingly overlooked by his Messiah. Christs words were ones of assurance but yet exhortation. He started by telling his discouraged brother “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news preached to them” And he then said ” blessed is he who doesn’t stumble on account of me.” Christ didn’t hold Johns questioning against him- he told the crowd “there’s never been one to rise like John…” So what did he mean by “blessed is he who doesn’t stumble?

I’m a simple minded woman but what christ words ring out to me is “Blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble over the rock of discouragement because I don’t do things as you thought I would.” John never imagined he would be locked away while the Messiah brought the kingdom to earth. He had to have thought he’d be right beside him, but he wasn’t… John did not have the opportunity to see fruit of his labor on earth, but one day at the consummation  of the kingdom, John will see he was the one that prepared the path for all of us. That his fruit reached further than the Jordan, it spread throughout the world.

I think it’s no coincidence  that in the Old Testament when God would set a mission before His man He would often tell them “…do not be dismayed…” Maybe he told this to Joshua because he knew that when he instructed him to march around Jericho for 7 days that the 4th or 5th day he may have been tempted to give up, to call it quits because it seemed useless. He may have told Ezekiel this very thing because He knew the people wouldn’t listen to his message, he may have told Solomon through David the same thing, so the house of the Lord would be completed. He knew these men had insurmountable odds stacked against them but he also knew that he would knock those odds to the ground. They didn’t know, they weren’t told in advance ,but He did. He knows that the fruit of our mission doesn’t often look like what we figure so  we’re prone to discouragement. So, these words bellow throughout scripture:

Do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you…

You may be overworked but you are never overlooked by your God. He sees. He sees your sacrifice, he sees your late nights, he sees you fight for your family, he sees you stand up for the truth, he sees you give all you have. Hebrews 6:10 says “God is not unjust so to overlook your work and your love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints…”

So keep working. Keep loving, even when the fields seem bare. Even when heaven seems silent, keep sowing that seed…He sees and is pleased.

This may seem like a simple statement to you but it pounds in my heart today;to be faithful you must have faith. To prove faithful in this fallen world we must sow in faith and wait in hope, having full assurance that God will do what he’s promised. As we wait on that seed to sprout out of the hard ground  it’ll take faith to keep serving, keep loving.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up.”

You WILL reap…that’s a promise. However, you have to hold up your end of the promise- don’t give up.

A potato farmer never sees the fruit of their labor until it’s harvest time. They have faith that their seed yielded a crop but they have to wait until the proper time to see it because it’s growing underneath the soil.

You have fruit for your labor. You have not been overlooked-God is working through you, it may be underground, just like John, but take heart in knowing that on harvest day you will the see effect you had for the kingdom. Do not be discouraged, it could be what you’r  looking for is underground. Working and growing under the surface.

Humble Hope

Humble hope. It almost sounds like a oxymoron. Most of us would not sign up for a opportunity to be humbled. Very few desire and want to go through the test that forges humility. Why? We tend to think of humility as painful instead of hopeful. 

My son has a bracelet that contains both drops of water from Mt. Everest and mud from the valley. The message it conveys is: sometimes your on top of the world; stay humble. Sometimes you’re at a low; stay hopeful. That got me to thinking how true humility is always hopeful. 

When my son first began riding bulls he could do no wrong seemed like. Everything he touched turned into gold. However, about a year ago the tables turned. He started bucking off bulls he would’ve rode the year before. He had TWO championships (one in Tennessee and one in Alabama) lost on the last ride of the season, after he had been in first place ALL year. All his hard work, try,  and prayers seemed to be paid to another. The only time he sat in second in both organizations for that year was when they handed the buckles out. That weighs on you.( The mental and emotional took of this sport is unparrelled) What seemed stolen from him those two times I now realize that God gave him something far better than any buckle, something that will have a lasting impact for his life ,not just for a season- humility. 

You can’t buy it, you have to earn it.

The greatest thing about true humility is that it stays hopeful. Through  it all he’s  been down, but he has yet to call himself out.Not once has he thought about quitting, not once have I heard him degrade himself. He still believes that he’ll be in the PBR one day. He still believes even after being knocked off his pedestal. What a testament for the believer; To believe even in the valley

Sometimes it feels like we are invincible, other times we are picking the mud out of our teeth. We look around and we can say “it’s not fair…” or we can let the taste of that mountain drive us right back to the top. 

We all will face seasons where it seems like nothing can go right. We all will have times when we find ourselves covered head to toe in mud. The word has much to say about humility: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and in the proper time he will esteem you.” (1 Peter 5:6)” God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but what those two verse tell us is : That grace will lift us up out of the mud bog that threatens to retain us forever. 

Humility is a state of the soul, not a state of occupation. Meaning we weren’t meant to stay grappling about in the mud; it’s just a temporary place of occupation.  But Our preoccupation with our occupation may hold us there. What I mean is, we can become so distracted about our current state that we miss the ride back to the top. God uses the mud to make us able to appreciate the mountain. I think so often we struggle with the thought of humility because we have determined it keeps us bound in the mud. On contare, biblical humility lifts us up,  It exalts us to a place of usefulness for the kingdom. The mud prepares us for the mountain

I find it interesting that mud is often used as an exfoliate. Spas use it to take out the toxins within the body. That’s exactly what happens to us spiritually when we find ourselves in a mud bog- all the toxins are being drawn out of our souls. 

Psalms 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord: he inclined to me and heard my voice. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” 

The valley isn’t as bad as we make it out to be, after all  it’s the place where perspective is created. We only have two choices when we find ourselves chest high in the muddy pit: to focus on the mud around us or to look up at that mountain and watch God pave a way back up. When things come that knock us straight on our backs,  take that as a opportunity to set your gaze upward and enjoy the view. Then when the time does come(which it will) you can look down on that mud pit with a new song on your lips. One that you never would have gotten if you stayed on that mountain the entire time. And the most beautiful part? ” many will see and fear and put their trust in The Lord.” as a result. You will be a living testimony, as those who saw you in the mud pit now see you on the mountaintop. Because they know there’s no way you could’ve got out of that pit by yourself, you had to have help and that song on your lips echoes off that mountain to the surrounding world and says among many things: “God is faithful”.  We can be hopeful in humility because we still believe that “The  Lord WILL incline His mighty ear to your cry”, be patient; the valley is what makes the mountaintop so glourious. 

In a moment

imageIt only takes a moment for the world as we know it to unravel. It only takes one click for pornogrophy to reek havoc on a marriage, only one pill, one drink for addiction to take control, only one doctors appointment for your life to flash before your eyes, only one inclination to change the radio station before a fatal wreck occurs, only one look for a spouse to dive into a affair, only one eye left on the stove for your home you’ve worked for years to have goes up in flames. Truth is we are all only one call, one text away from our knees.

In one moment everything can change…

This world is so broken, so out of kilter. It screams of pain and suffering. In this kind of world where in a day, in a moment, unparalleled suffering can spring at you from any direction how do we keep our hearts from becoming introverted? Our natural tendency would be to hide, to build a wall so high no pain can penetrate. To become calloused and cold. What keeps the beat of the upward march when all around us is agony and defeat? 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more…he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1, 4-5

We keep marching onward because in a moment all will be made right. In a moment all the agony and pain will be destroyed. And in that moment the hands that formed the cosmos will brush the tears off our tear stained cheeks. Never to flow again.

In a moment all the injustice, the pain, the heartbreak, the grief…every ounce of pain we have experienced will be redeemed.

“And he said to me, “It is done!” Revelation 21:6a

Before Eve took the forbidden fruit, before the serpent breathed lies, before man needed redeemed…the Redeemer was on His way to the cross. He knew as he spoke each tree, each animal, each water source into being that the prize of His creation, man, would bring the entire created world under subjection to sins curse. He knew thier perfect relationship would fall. He knew and so He set out His coarse to the cross. As He took the shame and punishment of mankind He cried out “It is finished!” At that moment redemption found humanity. Evil lost its rule and sin was swallowed up. Yet, we’re still here. We still see the effects of that fallen world. We still experience the sores of sin. Scholars explain it this way- that we as Christians live in a already-not yet salvation. Meaning we are saved, redeemed by the blood yet we haven’t received the fullness of that salvation yet.

However, In one moment we will… It will be done and the earth will be free from its chains. We will no longer be bound by these frail cloaks called bodies and the effects of the fall will have lost all its power over us.

I know this world seems like it’s spiraling out of control. I know it looks like Satan is winning, but my friends it will only take a moment and all will be made whole once again. There will be no more cancer, no more miscarriages, no more broken marriages, no more addictions, no more parents standing by a grave, no more hurricanes, no more abuse, no more Terrosit attacks…no more hungry children, no more lonely wives, no more over worked husbands. The savage effect of sin will be over. It will be done.

I know in the moment of pain it seems like it will last an eternity-but take heart- pain is fleeting. Suffering last but a second on the scales of eternity. 2 Corinthains 4:17 tells us that our momentary afflictions are working on our behalf. They are creating a glory that outweighs any pain. The best part? That glory is eternal. Our pain lasts but a moment, our glory will be forever.

while we march onward through this broken world it would be easy to let it break us. For the depravity to stain our souls.  And it will if we’re not careful. Look upward, don’t focus on the moment, focus on the everlasting. For Staying faithful in an unfaithful world will not be easy. We’re tempted to grow  cold with it, but may we stay warm hearted, resting in the fact that, it’s not over and it will only take a moment for all to be made right.