Saturday, March 20, 2010

Honor and Submission…Characterized by Integrity and Light

"For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He hides away sound and godly Wisdom and stores it for the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with Him); He is a shield to those who walk uprightly and in integrity, that He may guard the paths of justice; yes, He preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and fair dealing [in every area and relation]; yes, you will understand every good path." Proverbs 2:6-9 (Amplified Bible)

Do you honor Christ? How? By calling yourself Christian? By attending a church? By preaching? By leading the music? By teaching Sunday school? By stating, “I am a believer?” By wearing a cross or a Christian T-shirt? By writing your denomination on a form or questionaire? By displaying a Christian symbol on your vehicle? How do you honor Christ?

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the things mentioned above, these things in and of themselves are not how we bring honor and submit to Christ. For example, when we attend church, God is indeed honored by our presence, but only if we are there for the right reasons. He is honored if we are there in the right frame of a worshipful mindset and exhibiting submission to Him with humility from a right heart. The Bible tells us that we are to assemble together in worship.

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:25 (New Living Translation)

When our attendance is merely a result of obligation, however, or we harbor ill feelings toward a brother, or we are otherwise distracted from truly worshiping God, He is not honored by our presence at all. You’ve heard the labels, “bench warmer” and “Sunday-morning Christian,” well, this is where they are derived. Those labels signify people who are simply there…taking up space. If someone comes to visit you and they are uncomfortable, insincere or anxious to leave, do you enjoy their visit or would you rather they just not waste time pretending to care about you or pretending to enjoy your company? God is no different. He wants and deserves so much more than a simple outward expression of our submission or casual gesture of honor. He gives us freedom of choice so that we may selflessly and freely always choose Him. He is honored when we place Him first and foremost...not second or third…but FIRST all the time and in everything we do. He is also honored when we humble ourselves and express a personal and inward evidence of faithfulness to Him. That characterization of honor and submission is called integrity. This means we are living as children of light, in that Christ is continually the focus of our thoughts as well as our actions. We do not have to be at church, with a fellow Christian or with anyone to exhibit integrity. When we are alone, there also is our true test of integrity. We honor Christ by exemplifying Christ-likeness. Yes, we are the children of light and we are to be like Him. We honor Him with our love by keeping His commandments and desiring His presence in our lives. We honor Him by filling our hearts and our minds with pure and holy thoughts. As Christians we have the fullness of God in us because of the Holy Spirit.

“And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:22 (NIV)

When we wrap ourselves around Him, He changes us and we are characterized by integrity and light which always brings honor to Christ. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, he says…

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name, I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” ~ Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Paul goes on to write about living as children of Light…

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said:

‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” ~ Ephesians 4:17-5:21 (NIV)

How do you honor and submit to Christ? We honor and submit with integrity and light…focusing only on Him and remaining…

Captured in His reflection,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tidy Procrastinating Mess??? His Answer Was "NO!!!"

From my tiny human perspective, a “tidy procrastinating mess” was the best description I could give myself on certain days. Being a compulsive perfectionist who wanted nothing more than to get on with what God had called me to do, I also pictured myself completing the task to the absolute best of my ability. Focusing this way, I began to grow weary in my present state. Simply said, Satan was attempting to make me believe this stage was a very stagnant place to reside, so I was tempted to become anxious and to engage myself in larger things…looking at schooling, conferences, speaking engagements, directing music again, teaching, busying myself, etc. You know, “serving.”

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” ~Romans 8:31

Satan made me feel as though I was about to run a race yet I was left on the track perched in a holding pattern. ”On your mark, get set,” and where was the loud “go” in the form of a starter pistol? The gun wouldn’t fire and start the race! But not only was I prepared to run this race; I also knew that I would win victoriously if I could just take off! After all, God was not only my Trainer and my Coach. He was my Physical Therapist, my Mental Therapist, my Source of Energy, my Total Concentration, and along with my foundation of faith in Him, He would lead me on to a vast victory in His name and for His glory!

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:30-31

What am I talking about? Well, I’m certainly not talking about saying “no” to God’s call ever again. I’m talking about seeing things from a worldly viewpoint versus God’s view. Sometimes the Holy Spirit intentionally causes us to pause, to halt or detour and yes, to wait. It is even then when our well-intentioned friends, family and self urges us to take that next step and get on with it, through a worldly perception of our gifts in regard to God’s calling, that we must WAIT! Then Satan attempts to cause confusion and a question as to where we are and what we’re doing. And yes, I’m talking about my perfectionist-type character of organization and prioritization being all wet in this respect and I’m also talking about seeing and placing God’s perspective foremost in our mind's eye thereby having a clear understanding of His calling. Sometimes He just wants to walk with us, to talk with us and sometimes He wants us to be totally still. I’m talking about praying without ceasing and listening intently to Him and clearly understanding His call...DAILY. And yes, I’m also talking about waiting on Him, for He not only supplies every breath we breathe, He guides us in every step we take or don’t take, but ONLY if we will consciously wait on His instruction and follow Him that closely. I continually pray, I listen and I do desire to serve Him in a larger-than-life way…yet I am waiting on His direction minute by minute, day by day and guess what? Waiting, in this respect, is an active verb! He’s keeping me right here, studying His word, seeking His face and giving me quiet time to spend with Him. He has equipped my heart with a constant burning passion to write and engulfed my mind with His commission. So I continue to ready myself according to His guidance. Yet He causes me to prioritize sweet time with Him and to simply write about Him. I have scripture verses and notes tucked everywhere on subjects the Lord has placed on my heart to share. I certainly don’t want to postpone the race. I don’t want to cancel the race. I don’t even want to take a break and let someone else take my place in this awkward and strained-looking stance. For this I know. He likes me in this readied, yielding-yet-waiting-on-Him stance. As I wait in this position on the track, my focus is entirely on Him and on His calling in my life...yes, on His instruction which He gives to me each and every day. So you will find me on my knee, leaning forward and yes, at times I do want to scream…

“…HERE AM I, SEND ME!” ~Isahia 6:8

…but He quietly causes me to be still and listen as He holds me steady. The miraculous thing is that I never tire of the position He’s holding me in and I never fall as long as my focus is entirely on Him. My strength no longer falters and my mind no longer wanders in spite of waiting for the gun to fire so I can run His race. For I know God has me right where He wants me. And as to my previously mentioned narrow speculation, seeing only a “tidy procrastinating mess,” well, He is causing me to realize that He, indeed, is humbling me and using me this very minute to simply write about Him, His undying love and the strength only He can provide. So as I burn with desire to serve my risen Savior in a bigger way, I will remain steadfast as I continually say “yes” to Him on bended knee and lean forward into Him…

“I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:14

…willing, waiting and writing while He holds me.

Captured in His reflection,