Saturday, May 17, 2008

Perspective Changes Everything!

This "trading faces" illusion dates back to the late 1800s.What do you see when you look at this picture? Do you see a young woman or an old woman? Notice how the young woman’s chin is the old woman’s nose. The young woman’s necklace is the old woman’s mouth, and the young woman’s ear is the old woman’s eye.

People say that perspective makes all the difference in the world, but does it? How you see and think about people, circumstances, and the world around you does not change a thing in the world, it changes you. It changes how you see your world and that can make a world of difference. Is your glass half empty or half full? Are you facing mountains or molehills, incredible challenges or opportunities for growth?

An elderly man lay in the hospital with his wife of 55 years sitting at his bedside.
“Is that you Ethel, at my side again?” he whispered.
“Yes dear,” she answered, "I'm here."
He leaned toward her and whispered, “Remember years ago when I was in the Veteran’s hospital? You were there with me then. You were with me when we lost everything in the fire. And Ethel, when the company collapsed you were there with me too.”
The man leaned back on his pillow with a sigh and said, “I tell you, Ethel, I think you are bad luck.” His perspective did not change the facts, only how he viewed them.

How you handle life's challenges depends on how you see them or what you believe about them. Perspective shapes your thoughts, fuels your emotions and is the driving force behind your actions. If you want to change your world, change your actions. If you want to change your actions, change your thoughts. If you want to change your thoughts, change your perspective. If you want to change your perspective, look at your situation through Jesus’ eyes.

Hagar, a woman tormented by circumstances, some of her own doing and some not, thought there were no options left for her and ran away. Then she heard from the Lord and He shed His light on her situation, the facts did not change until her perspective changed and her perspective changed when she believed the words the Lord was telling her. She responded in awe, “You are the God who sees me.” She chose to see her situation from His perspective when she realized He saw every detail of her life. You can read her complete story in Genesis 16.

You may have believed the liar and his lies about you for years. Someone long ago or maybe yesterday, told you in words or actions, that you were not good enough, not worth it, not lovely or loved, not this or that and you believed it. That perspective has shaped your life, what you think and do. Jesus calls Himself, “The Truth,” and He reveals the lies and brings the light of His truth to those places in your life that may have been filled with darkness and life more abundantly. The way to get rid of a lie is to reject it; the way to embrace the truth is to believe it. What you believe dictates the perspective you have on life.

Thank you, Father, that You see us. I ask You to send the light of your truth to each one that reads these words today. Open our eyes to see the lies we have believed and lead us to reject those lies and embrace Your truth and Your perspective. Teach us to live in that truth today. Help us to see our lives through Your eyes. We bless You in the name of Jesus, Amen

Friday, April 25, 2008

Missionary or Ambitionary?

Being a missionary may seem exotic to some who are enticed by the thought of travel, other cultures, new places and people. Intrigued by newsletters filled with stories of how people have been helped and changed by God’s love they imagine the life of a missionary to be something more. Newsletters do not come out everyday. Many days are just ordinary days with sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, one day following another. Then there are those other days, the ones that will never make the newsletter. Like last Sunday, when we wondered why are we here? What was God thinking?

It was a typical Sunday morning, about 20 children between the age of 18 months and 18 years arrived early, late and right on time. It seemed the children were all over the place mentally and physically and they did not seem to be learning a thing, nor did they care. The teacher was not prepared in spite of all the helps we gave her and the whole morning threatened to turn into a free-for-all. I corralled, herded and showed more love than I felt.

After Sunday school I turn my face toward the wall for few minutes of prayer, asking the Lord to bring peace to my heart and focus to my mind and then I turned to lead the small group who had gathered for church. There was no sea of faces only the same handful of people who had been faithful from the early days of our ministry until now. My mind wondered, “Where were the new people? Where were the ones we ministered to during the week? But I reined in my thoughts and concentrated on the words of the song. “He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me, His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand he leadeth me.” Then why does it feel so useless? Where is the fruit? What are we doing wrong? “By waters still or troubled sea, still ‘tis Thy hand that leadeth me.”

I came home dragging my weary heart behind me. Grabbing my devotional book and Bible and went straight to the porch for a heart to heart with my Father. I told Him I needed some clear answers, real answers. Were we just ambitionaries, eager to do this missionary thing but missing something in the translation from His heart to ours?

I opened the devotional which threads together various verses on each day.
I read, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). Thank you, Lord, I feel a lot better now! NOT!
I read a little more, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isa 49:14) OK, I know you remember me.
“You will not be forgotten by Me!” (Isa 44:21) Thanks Lord, I know you care.
“Now Jesus loved Martha…" (John 11:5-6) And my tears stopped and peace washed over my soul as I soaked in the reality that, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Then He gave me the answers to my questions. He is lovingly doing His work in me to perfect my faith because it is more precious to Him than my need for job satisfaction. “Trials come to prove the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

I learned two things last Sunday, neither of them in church but both because of church: 1) Jesus loves me, He knows how I feel and He cares. 2) My faith is worth more than anything to Him, and He will do and allow many difficult things to perfect it. He also promises to lead me through each circumstance, not by a letter or email but by His hand. I recommend you go back to the first verse, Psalm 13:1 , and read the short chapter. Watch how questions about life turn to trust in His love, and thoughts of His love bring songs of God's goodness!
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

And that is how it really happened.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Was it a morning like this?

Live like He is alive!

Resurrection Morning! We all celebrated that historical fact last Sunday. He is risen! He is risen indeed! We relive that morning in our minds and churches hoping to recreate the joy and hope in our hearts that Mary Magdalene had after she saw Jesus alive. Here we are four days later, what in your life has been different because Jesus is alive? When someone we love dies we feel that incredible ache of separation. “If only we could speak one more time, I wish I could say.... if I could ask one more question.... I would express my love more....” When Jesus died those who loved him grieved; but then He rose from the dead and they talked with Him, they hung on every word He said and they loved Him. It is four days since we celebrated the resurrection. Have you gotten up early to talk to him one more time and found Him waiting for you? Have you hung on His every word not even hearing the distractions in the background? Have you loved Him with all your heart and mind and every fiber of your being? If not you might be living as if He is dead. You say you have faith, but faith without action is dead. You say you have love but love without evidence is what? Dead. Our perspective is different than His. Look at the perspective of the Israelites waiting at the bottom of Mt. Sinai for Moses to come back from his face to face meeting with Almighty God. Exodus 32:1-8 In verse 1 the people complain because Moses has been gone 's-o l-o-n-g'. Eight verses later God’s description of the exact same time period is 'how quick’ they are to turn away. Moses is talking with God on a glory covered mountain and they think he has been gone too long so they build a golden calf to worship and call it their god. How long would we want to stay in the tangible presence of God? Obviously God has a whole different perspective on time. Would you describe your time with Him as, 'so long' or 'how quick'? We celebrated His resurrection four days ago, has the impact of that earthshaking, veil ripping, grave opening, soldier slinging, eternity changing moment continued to change your day or was that too long ago to make a difference? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE!" John 10:6 The bread of LIFE! The LIVING water! The river of LIFE! What part of your week needs new life? Needs resuscitation? How do we take the dead parts of our day, our life, and breath life into them? How do we get those dead parts to have the life, life abundant and to the full, that He promised us in John 10:10? He gives us a clue, “He who believes in Me,…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38 Believe in Him and believe Him. When you read His Word listen with your head and your heart. It might be a thought, a little voice in your heart, or the words on the page of the Bible that He uses to speak to you. Listen and believe Him! Then go and do what he tells you. Watch to see the life come back into your relationships, your job, your home, your life!

Father I pray that the risen Jesus will show Himself alive and active in my life today. Thank you that you promised that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and active in me. Pour that life-giving power into the thoughts I think, the words I speak and the things that I do. I give you all the lifeless parts of my life and ask you to fill them to overflowing with the rivers of your life. Thank you, Jesus, for destroying the power of death. Amen

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hidden Treasures

I have never been one to go crazy over Easter eggs. I did not grow up looking for them and the connection between bunnies, eggs, chocolate (although I do love chocolate) and the empty tomb has been lost on me. This week I found a new appreciation for Easter eggs. I love reading and studying the Bible and finding truth that is new to me, buried there in God's Word. Hidden treasures tucked away on a page of His Word that I have read many times, but suddenly the truth jumps out at me as if it was just put there at that moment! Why does He hide it? So that only those who are really looking for it will see it. Just like Easter eggs, He hides truth for us, not from us. That is our loving Heavenly Father looking for the joy of discovery to cross our faces when we find what He has put there for us. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." (Prov 25:2) What is your mind preoccupied with today? Where are you looking for secret treasures and those special moments? God has nuggets of truth tucked away eggsactly where you will find them when you seek for them with all your heart. And when you look for them, you will find Him there. So go hunting in His Word today and discover the treasures He has hidden there for you and hide His Word in your heart so you won't sin against Him. (Ps 119:11) A good place to start is in Psalm 1
Thank you Father, for the treasures you have put in your Word. Increase my desire to seek them and find them and apply them to my life. Teach me your ways and i will walk in them. Thank you that your promises are not empty but that the tomb is! Release your resurrection power in me that I may walk in newness of life. All because of Jesus, Amen.