Friday, October 8, 2010

Have you been BING'd today?

Have you ever lost something and while looking for that something become distracted by the sight of something else along the way? That happens to me all the time on my computer. I check email from a friend going to “Women of Faith” in Tampa, I open my web browser to see when “Women of Faith” will be near my city, one of the speakers is unfamiliar to me so I click on her link to read more. You get the idea.

I know it has NEVER happened to you.

Microsoft has recently produced a number of commercials for Bing, their search engine. Each scenario shows how a single word triggers a new sentence or thought in the person who hears it, often taking the conversation in totally unintended places. Watch them here if you trust yourself not to get distracted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0f8X_SOVjA&feature=channel
That is exactly what happened to me this morning, only I was not on the computer, I was reading my Bible. Follow me.

“Even a fool is thought wise if she keeps silent, and discerning if she holds her tongue” (Tongue)“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Fruit) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Control) “If anyone can control her tongue, it proves that she has perfect control over herself in every other way. We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in his mouth” (Mouth) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation in my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord” (Pleasing) “When a woman's ways are pleasing to the LORD,He makes even her enemies live at peace with her” (Peace) “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Heart) “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of your heart spring the issues of life” (Life) “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Word) “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Sin) “If anyone does not sin by what she says, she is a perfect woman” (Perfect) “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
BING

Saturday, October 2, 2010

…but words can never hurt me.

An email has been circulating that proposes a cough method of self CPR. It says that if you recognize the signs of a heart attack you can do cough CPR on yourself before you lose consciousness. I am not promoting this, as the success of this method is questionable and snopes.com claims it is false.

We cannot make our own heart beat, we can however, destroy it. We have the power to kill and destroy our hearts all on our own but we do not have the power to bring it back to life on our own. We do however have both the power of life, and death, in our tongues. Our words have the power to bring life to a person, to a conversation, or to our own soul. Remember saying the words “I do,” did that not change your life forever? Or hearing the verdict, “Guilty!” would that not change your world? Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NIV).

Our everyday words have the power of life and death as well. When gossip is sweeping through a conversation and you stop it with a phrase, does that not bring life to the person who was being destroyed? When someone in your family is telling you their dream and vision and you open your mouth and stomp on it, does that bring life or death to the dream? My own personal snopes.me would discredit the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Words bring health and healing, or death and destruction, to those who speak them and to those that hear them.

Want to know how you’re doing in the verbal life and death department? Look at the fruit, the outcome, of your words. The Message Bible puts it like this, “Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.” Whatever you choose will have an outcome. “Pleasant words are …health to the body” (Prov 16:24). Speaking life and health to others and yourself, now THAT is self CPR!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Look at you ~ beautiful you!

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is…? Mirrors show and throw back exactly what they see. Pictures can be touched up. Clothes, war paint, and color, can camouflage imperfections and change the way others see us. But when I stand in front of the mirror, BAM, there it is, all the years and tears of my life staring back at me. Friends say I look good, I tell myself I’m doing fine, but the mirror is not so kind and it does not lie.

Reminds me of a verse, several actually. Ezekiel 33:31 talks about how the people come and listen habitually but do not put what they hear into practice. “With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts…?” Sounds like a worship service doesn’t it? Yes we cover, paint and practice hiding our imperfections but inside we are still the same. Our heart just don’t match the outside and we’ve gotten comfortable with that.

James (1:22-25) says the same thing in the New Testament. “Don’t just listen to the word and/or the Word and think that listening changes you. It doesn’t. Do what it says or you are just deceiving yourself. Listening to the word but not doing what it says is like looking in a mirror and walking away, immediately forgetting what you look like” (My version).

A lot of money, time, and effort, is spent on fooling others to believe that we are skinny, have flawless complexions, are kind, considerate, hard working and godly. We may fool them, but fooling ourselves? That is just ~ foolish! When I look in the Word I find that the only true mirror is the mirror of God’s Truth. He is not deceived, I have only fooled myself. If I really want change I have to do something different, I need to do what He says. When He reveals my imperfections to me I have to do more than make notes in my Bible, tell the preacher his sermon spoke to me, and post an excerpt on FB, I have to do what He says.

Being a tolerant society is very vogue right now, but being tolerant of sin in our lives is never vogue with God. We tolerate a lot of junk in our lives and encourage others to be accepting of it. God says get a new mirror, here use Mine! The difference is His mirror is not condemning, it is freeing. He says look, you have something green in your teeth, so that you can remove it and be the beautiful person He created you to be.

If we want freedom and God’s blessing, we actually have to change. James goes on to say that the person “who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does” (vs 25 NIV). Don’t think of the law as restrictive, it brings freedom. How freeing would it be to actually be the person inside that you present to the world? How freeing would it be to be the same great person you think/wish you are, at church, work, play, and in traffic. That is what God wants. He wants you to be free to be yourself without embarrassment, shame or self consciousness – kind of like you were back in the garden.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Live like He is alive!

Resurrection Morning! We all celebrated that historical fact last week. 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 a week 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 a week 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, 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!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Resurrection not a surprise

It is a strange phenomenon how expected events surprise us. That as the New Year turns into Easter, Easter turns into summer, on the heels of thanksgiving it is Christmas again, and another birthday has been added to the revolving years of life. No matter how quickly time seems to move there are still 24 hours in a day and 365 days in the year. So why are we surprised by the speed at which life seems to be whirring past us? Why are we surprised by expected events? Death surprises us even when we know it is coming. Somehow we are caught off guard at that final moment even when it has been happening since Adam and Eve. Jesus was 33 when He died and it didn’t surprise Him. We are surprised when the death comes and we’re even more surprised when death is replaced with life! Who would not be surprised to see a dead friend sit up and start talking?

Look inside the tomb with me, talk about surprise! Everyone is running around in surprise. The women ran to the tomb, then ran back to tell the disciples what they saw. John ran to the tomb. Peter ran past him into the tomb and saw that the linen cloth that had covered Jesus head was folded and lying to the side by itself. In all the running around this folded cloth seems like a strange detail to point out. This piece of folded cloth reveals that the resurrection was orderly, not hurried, and not a surprise to Jesus. He was not in a rush when he got up off that slab and walked out of the tomb. If he could handle the false accusations, the sin of the world, death and resurrection without surprise, He can handle anything in your life that you are hiding or dealing with on your own. Give it to Him, He won’t be surprised you’ll probably be surprised by His reaction.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You are God’s Masterpiece

I just watched the early morning show on TV showing stretches you can do right in your office chair to relieve stress. Is Jesus stressed about your job? Here is His perspective on you and your job.

1 - God initiates your work.
“…the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). God wants to lead you to your workplace not follow you there. Don’t ask Him to come to work with you, follow in His footsteps. Jesus’ pattern for doing His Father’s will was to watch to see where His father was working and join Him in his work. He followed the Father’s initiative in His work.
2 - God does your work! Yes, really!
First, what is your job? Show Him off in your work; proclaim HIM, admonishing and teaching EVERYONE with ALL wisdom, so that we may present everyone PERFECT in Christ (Col 1: 28-29). WOW tired yet? How can God expect all that from me? By “…struggling with all HIS energy which so powerfully works in me!” Working with His energy, can’t you see the energizer bunny getting it all done, thanks to the special batteries? He is doing the work through you so don’t try to handle it on your own.
3 – God finishes the work He starts.
You can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). Jesus finishes what He starts. He is working on you, in you and through you. You are His masterpiece and He will not leave you half finished. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph 2:10). So, go to work! Do the work He planned for you and let Him do His work in and through you.
Watch this Youtube for a great illustration of how he's working on you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXut0HxncvY
If you are not sure He has started, or is currently, working in you, email me martha@riveroaksbc.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My extravagant, lavish, ‘excessive’ God!

Extravagant! What picture does that word conjure up in your mind? Excessive? Too much? Over the top? Wasteful perhaps? How about Godly? My no frills, conservative, Mennonite upbringing taught me to scrimp, save, reuse, and never waste. Don’t spend money on what is not practical and useful. These attributes were presented as Godly. Thriftiness is next to Godliness, right?

Last month I had the opportunity to brush up on my childhood ice skating skills. Thankfully I didn’t break any bones, the ice, or my brother’s camera. He was taking pictures of the ice. The bay had just frozen over and there were thousands of fragile frost fragments that were so small they couldn’t be seen without a mega-magnifier lens. My brother was on his face on the ice taking pictures but I didn’t really appreciate what he was doing, until I saw the pictures blown up on the computer screen. WOW! How extravagant! Lavish!

These microscopic clusters were too fragile to touch but they were more intricate and dazzling than any king’s crown or queen’s tiara. It seemed like a waste to have thousands of these stunningly beautiful crystals flung across the ice on the bay where no one saw them. Is that Godly? Absolutely!

He is lavish and extravagant, showering us with blessings we don’t deserve or appreciate, pouring his love out on those who ignore him, use him, hate him or deny that he even exists. “God demonstrates his own (lavish)love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). How wasteful! How not-thrifty. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Tim 6:17). Did you get that? He richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment! Lavishly generous, extravagantly excessive, that is my God! I think I’ll go enjoy everything he has provided, and while I am at it I think I’ll choose to be extravagant, lavish, Godly, towards others today!