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Redeemed and Repurposed

…by His grace and for His glory!

Are YOU a soldier?

 

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I am so thankful for the men and women who have fought for my freedom here in the U.S.. I met a man last night who is a former Marine… if there really is such a thing. I think that once you are a Marine, you’re always a Marine at heart.

 

We were talking about all the technological advances in our world and how they affect battle. But this man said that it doesn’t matter how much technology is used in battle, there will always be a need to have troops on the ground. I couldn’t help but think of the battle going on in God’s Kingdom that we participate in as Christians, and how this truth applies there as well.

 

Do you realize that you are a soldier with your feet on the ground in God‘s Kingdom? That God wants to use you to go out, to assess the situation, and to bring change and victory to the situation? Do you realize that He is prepared to back you up with the power of the Holy Spirit? (2 Corinthians 10:4 King James Version) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to all who believe; to every soldier in God’s army. If you have your feet planted on the ground and are running into battle…you better believe God is there to back you up! The soldier doesn’t fight by himself or fight for himself. He goes out at the command of his superior officer, fighting for his country. Likewise, we as Christians are called to go out at the command of God and fight for His Kingdom.


The soldier also does not fight for his own agenda. In a similar way, in God’s Kingdom, the strategy and battle plan is not ours to set – it has already been set. In our physical wars, the soldier does not determine when war is necessary, governments do. Likewise in the spiritual realm there are two unseen governments at work, God‘s kingdom and the dark principalities of Satan, that fight against each other also. The spiritual battles that we fight, at their root, are battles between those two kingdoms. We are called to be soldiers for the Kingdom that we fight for. What does that look like?

 

We are given our foot soldier gear in scripture (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our armor covers our head… chest… feet… it gives us a weapon to fight with… The only thing it doesn’t cover is our back. Why? For one thing, we are supposed to be forward marching and forward moving – proactively advancing on the enemy; not turning tail and running scared. And as we fight these battles, the Holy Spirit has our back. God has our back. God, through the power of the Spirit, is there to bring victory. (Deuteronomy 20:1-4 English Standard Version) “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

 

But we have a role to play also – we must step out in faith. Just as the Old Testament priests had to put their feet in the water at the edge of the Jordan before it receded for others to cross (Joshua 3:13)… some brave Christian soldier has to step out in faith and pray the way to victory for those who need to see victory and see God move in their life. We receive our ‘marching orders’ throughout Scripture: pray continually (1Thessalonians 5:17), give to those in need (Hebrews 13:16), admonish those who stray (Romans 15:14), discipline (Matthew 18), disciple (Matthew 28:19), bear others’ burdens (Galatians 6:2), and most importantly – love one another (John 13:34-35).

 

Are you willing to be a soldier in God’s army? Are you willing to move forward and battle on the behalf of others? Are you willing to trust that God has your back? Like my new Marine friend…are you a warrior at heart?

 

There is much at stake. This war isn’t visible to the human eye, but its real and the battle is for the human soul of your neighbor, brother, sister, friend. Will you fight in this unseen battle? Will you be a soldier in God‘s army? March on! There’s still room for a few good men (and women) in God’s army!

 

(1 Timothy 6:12 English Standard Version) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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Hand in Hand

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Submission – The Handshake to Authority

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I love to meet people – so I shake a lot of hands (and give a few hugs). I was curious how the handshake originated so I went to the source we all trust…the internet! According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “This custom started in medieval times. The world was an unsavory place back then, and people often concealed weapons in their hands. The handshake was a way of affirming that neither you nor the person you were greeting was carrying anything intended to harm. Over time, it evolved into a polite greeting.” (www.almanac.com)

The internet may not be our most trustworthy source of info, although abundant; but the Bible is. And while the Bible doesn’t teach us much about the handshake; it does teach us a great deal on authority and submission. By God’s design, authority and submission were designed to go ‘hand in hand’ so to speak. As we defined authority in last month’s column, the father on the beach set up his umbrella because his goal was to provide protection and blessing for his wife and child; Biblical authority is never about being obeyed, but finds it’s source in providing for the needs of those who reside under your authority. In this environment, Biblical submission becomes the easiest and most logical response of a person – to choose to yield their will to the one in authority over them who is looking out for their provision and protection. Submission is the Biblical handshake to authority.

Just as a handshake is a willing act between two parties, so should the roles of authority and submission come together. God did not create the concept of authority and submission as a way for people to rebel against others or control or harm them.

Obviously, in our broken world, it is easy to see examples of authority and submission that do not fit these Biblical definitions. When authority is not properly defined, there is an element of coercion to submission that needs not be there. When submission is birthed in that environment, it becomes perverted into a begrudging compliance. We could not do justice to the skewing of God’s plan in one newspaper article; but let our short time together attempt to outline what Biblical submission and Biblical authority should look like, by God’s design.

Submission is The action of yielding your will to another person. In the world, this could be forced upon you (think warlord making his victims submit); but Biblically, submission to yield one’s will is a choice. This is perhaps the most defining characteristic of Biblical submission – it must be a choice. Authority does not imply control, but rather responsibility and accountability. Biblical submission is not at all about being controlled, but rather is a choice to yield your will to another. No one can force you to submit. You must make that choice.

Christ chose to submit his will to His Father’s will when he died on the cross. (Matt. 26:39)

All of us are called to choose to submit our lives to God (James 4:7-10)

All people are to willingly submit to their government (Romans 13:1)

A wife is called to submit to her husband. (Colossians 3:18)

A husband is even called to submit to his wife in certain ways. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

Children are to submit to their parents (Ephesians 6:1)

Christians are to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21)

Biblically, both submission and authority require sacrifice; a laying aside of one’s own will and desires. Philippians 2:4 (English Standard Version) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. The one in authority is called to do this as they live sacrificially to provide blessing and protection to those under them. They are not in authority to gratify themselves or ‘call the shots.’ They are in a position of great responsibility – to tend to and care for those under them. This requires sacrifice and often laying personal desires aside. Likewise, the person in the place of submission must also consider others’ interests before their own. In yielding our will to another, we lay our own personal desires aside and allow for the authority of another to decide what is best for us.

Another important truth about submission is to realize that it is not an assignment of value to a person. The Bible teaches that Christ submitted to God, and we know that They are equal in value. 1 Corinthians 11:3 (English Standard Version) “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” Biblical submission allows relationships to function properly. A child is not inferior in value to their parent in God’s eyes, but by His design, they are to submit their will to their parents’ authority. This allows the parent/child relationship to function properly and also provides protection and blessing for the child.

There is benefit in submission…it ideally keeps us under the authority that protects and blesses us.

Ultimately, we all as Christians must choose to submit to God. God does not insist on our submission to Him, rather, it is our most logical response to Him when we truly understand His character – He is for us, not against us. He desires us to submit to Him because He is a GOOD Lord, not a controlling Lord.

Who do you submit your will to? Sometimes this submission follows the path of yielding our will to other authorities God has placed over us. Submission is always a personal choice that ideally keeps us under the umbrella of blessing and protection that God wants to provide for us. The ‘handshake’ to authority, submission is a logical response to choose when we are under a loving authority.

May we all strive to live side by side, and hand in hand as we learn more and more how to operate lovingly and responsibly in our different roles of authority and submission.

When the willing hand of authority meets the willing hand of submission, we have a handshake that reveals that both parties are coming together, not with an intent to harm; but rather understand that in these roles lies God’s potential to bless and protect the relationships and people He has created.

An Umbrella of Blessing

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At the beach this last week, I observed many families setting up ‘camp’ for the day in their sandy paradise. One dad was really struggling to get his rainbow umbrella up, but he kept at it until finally it formed a beautiful canopy over his little spot. A few minutes passed and it soon became apparent why he had worked so hard at his task. This umbrella wasn’t just providing shade for himself, but for his wife and infant child. This umbrella was his canopy of protection and blessing over his family.

Psalm 91:1-4 (New International Version) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Is your life an umbrella of blessing over those you live with and have been put in charge over? Authority, properly administered by God’s design; provides blessing, protection, and prosperity of soul. Authority positions us to be an umbrella of blessing over those whom our authority covers.

The dad does not set up his umbrella as a first step in forcing his wife and child to sit there – no, he sets it up so that they may choose to be blessed and comforted by the shade it provides. God made us to have choice – the choice to yield in love to His authority, or in rebellion to reject it. Authority is not about control. God doesn’t use his authority to control us, but designed it to be in place over those who would choose to submit to it as an umbrella of blessing, and a place where deep relationship and fellowship can happen. May our hearts be like that of the Lord. Understanding God’s intent for Biblical authority is a necessary first step before we can truly define and understand Biblical submission; and before either role can be lived out in a way that pleases God. We will deal with the topic of submission in the next edition, but first let us look at authority. These two roles, authority and submission, were designed by our Creator’s perfect hand to fit perfectly together.

God has woven a canopy of authority into the fabric of our lives. Each of us is supposed to be living under multiple layers of authority, and we each are also placed over others in a position of authority. The order that God created in our world requires authority to be in place. Scripture tells us that God is over government, which is over churches, which is over elders, who are over the families in their care; in the family husbands are over wives, and together they are over children. (Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Peter 5:1-4) All authority on earth comes from our Sovereign God. We read in Romans 13:1-2 (New International Version) “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” The same truth is shown in Daniel chapter 4 where God humbles the proud Nebuchadnezzar. We read in Daniel 4:17 (New International Version) “know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes…” All authority is assigned by God and those in authority are accountable to God.

With authority comes accountability and responsibility. These are the primary definers of authority, not control. The key concept of delegated authority is not that “I’m the boss,” but rather that I’m responsible and accountable. To be in authority in any environment (workplace, home, church, etc.) means that someday you must give an account to God because it is He who has given that position to you to steward for His glory. God always intends for us to primarily use our authority to glorify Him. The second thing it accomplishes is to bless and protect those who fall under it. And there’s an additional bonus; if we seek to be in the Master’s will by blessing and protecting those under our authority, we will be rewarded (Luke 12:42-48; 20:9-16).

Another defining attribute of authority is that it does not imply superiority. 1 Corinthians 11:3 (English Standard Version): “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (See also, 1 Corinthians 15:27-28.) If authority meant superiority, then God would be superior to Christ, and each person in the Trinity would not be an ‘equal’ person. This is not true, obviously. Authority defines roles. It is God’s framework for giving each role its defining responsibilities.

When authority is embraced according to God’s plan, it provides blessing and protection to those under it. Much like the blessing of a beach umbrella on a hot summer day; it produces an environment where submission is made to be the easiest and safest choice. It creates a place of safety and refuge for those under you. A covering of grace, like the wings of God (Psalm 91), like a beautiful covenant umbrella; authority casts its rainbow of blessing over all those who, by God’s design, are called to live beneath it.

Appearances

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In middle school my family moved across town. Our new house happened to be right across from the high school’s (award-winning) cross country coach. To my recollection, he was one of the first neighbors to come greet us; although it was soon apparent that he had some ulterior motives. For the following two years he would spend great stretches of conversation convincing my parents that I had the perfect physique (ie: scrawny) to be the next great cross country star. He seemed so sure of his analysis that we all accepted it as truth. I couldn’t have been more excited on the first day of high school to join the cross country team and begin training for my all-star career!

Things aren’t always as they appear.

It looked as if I had the physical makings of a long distance runner, from the outside at least. Weren’t we all surprised to find out that I could actually walk faster than I could run! By the third week of practice I had gotten left behind by the team as they ran the outskirts of town so many times that the coach decided I should probably ride my bike with them in order to keep up. It was a shocking season for me as I had to re-calibrate my own perception of myself. I was not who I thought I was.

There is a group in the Bible that reminds me of middle-school me, the Pharisees. Culture exalted them as the religious experts of the day. Their communities operated around their wisdom and decisions. Everyone was telling them they were ‘all that.’ And then Jesus came to town. Jesus came and weren’t they all surprised to find out….Matthew 23:27 (New International Version) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

Things aren’t always as they appear. Sometimes our actions may seem godly, to ourselves and to others, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. But God doesn’t look only to the surface of our lives, He looks right in, all the way through to the heart and its motives. Proverbs 16:2 (New American Standard Bible) All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. Psalm 44:21 (NASB) Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.

We can be in control of our works, but the life that truly honors God has yielded up its control and surrendered. It is out of that surrender that God asks us to participate with Him in his Kingdom work.

In the Old Testament, we see a similar lesson on how God often views life and people differently than we do. The prophet Samuel has been charged with anointing a new king for Israel, and the choice seems obvious. Judging by his looks, Samuel assumes that the Lord will want him to anoint Eliab. Again, the clarifying voice of God comes on the scene. 1 Samuel 16:7 (New International Version) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Of course we know how the story ends…the Lord chose the youngest brother, not the biggest and best, to become king and a man after God’s own heart.

Things aren’t always as they appear. Here is some wonderful hope though – sometimes things are better than they appear!

2 Corinthians 4:7 (New International Version) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…Outwardly we may not be much to look at, a clay jar, possibly even with a few cracks! But inwardly, thanks to the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit that is ours through Christ, we have a great treasure. We are rich! No matter the amount in your checking account, no matter your physical appearance, no matter your title at work, no matter your own natural abilities…things aren’t always as they appear!

What in your life is not as it appears? On the outside do you bear the marks of an illness, but inwardly have the healed heart of a Victor? Do difficult circumstances press you from all sides, but what is released from the crushing is a God-honoring joy? Do you rejoice that you have great wealth, even if your checkbook is running on empty? God desires that we live our lives beyond the appearance of what they should be. Through our surrender to Him, He has given us a very great and precious gift so that we can represent Him beyond our natural abilities. He has given us this great gift in very common wrapping so that we don’t become proud and try to steal the glory that is His for ourselves. Our ‘clay jars’ are perfect for carrying the richness of the glory of God in our lives and for pouring out that treasure into the lives of those around us so that they might be transformed also.

Things aren’t always as they appear. In the life of a Believer, this should be evidenced to the world as we live a victorious life that by all appearances should be beyond our own ability. And it is…but it is not beyond God’s ability! Hallelujah! This victorious living is ours in Christ. What is visible at first glance about us should pale in comparison to the truth and power that resides in us.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (English Standard Version) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

…things aren’t always as they appear! Hallelujah! 

Let Down

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What a let down…

The water pipe burst…my husband lost his wallet…my son’s computer didn’t record the song he had been practicing…a friend won’t return my call…

Life can be full of let downs, and so as I stood among the congregation at my church on Sunday and sang the words to “King Of My Heart” by J. McMillan; “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down,” I reflected on the Biblical truth behind the lyrics. It is true you know, God will never let us down.

So then, how do we reconcile that truth with the disappointments and ‘let downs’ we experience in life? It’s tempting to think God has let us down but his Word says (Deuteronomy 32:4 English Standard Version) The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

Disappointment isn’t from God – it comes from within. It is a feeling and a response to my circumstances when they don’t go the way I expected them to go. And that can happen pretty often! I get an idea in my head about the outcome of something and then am totally caught off guard when it doesn’t actually pan out that way.

God, on the other hand, is never surprised at our circumstances; and therefore isn’t ‘let down’ by them. He sees every path in our life, whether chosen by us in rebellion or obedience, as an opportunity. For what? For good!
(Romans 8:28 English Standard Version)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

If we sin…it is an opportunity for us to repent.
If we obey…it is an opportunity for Him to bless us.
If we fall…it is an opportunity to see God’s character from our knees.
If we are on a spiritual mountaintop…it is an opportunity to see the breathtaking panorama of God’s great love for us.

At times, from the mountaintop vantage point, I seem to see and achieve the reality of Isaiah 40:31 (English Standard Version)

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

It is a wonderful thing when our spiritual wings are spread in victory, our spiritual eyesight is keen, and the world’s problems below us are in their proper perspective. But there will come a time when instead of soaring like an eagle, I feel like I am in the free fall of disappointment again; when life isn’t going the way I planned and feels like it’s falling apart. In those moments, my eagle wings seem to fail. But it is in those moments that I need to be reminded of another Biblical aviary image…

(Deuteronomy 32:11-12 English Standard Version)
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him.

Sometimes, like the baby eaglets, we must be pushed out of our comfort zone and into a growth zone; and if our flesh should fail us in those moments, it becomes an opportunity for our Heavenly Father to swoop down beneath us as we fall and catch us. The parent eagle literally swoops in under the falling chick and catches them on its back, its pinions, carrying them to safety.
This passage gives us a beautiful image to apply to the times when we are free falling in disappointment and questioning where God is in the midst of it all.; but God doesn’t allow it so He can stand back and laugh at our misfortune. No! It is an opportunity for us to fly, to spiritually soar on wings like eagles; or to experience the sure provision of being carried by our Heavenly Father when we are too weak.

Now, most of us would prefer that we don’t experience anything in life akin to being thrown out of a nest. However, Jesus himself told us that in this world we would have trouble – but not to fear because He has already overcome the world. Hallelujah! There will be let downs, but Christ will not let us down in the midst of them. There is no rock bottom for the Christian who is clinging to Christ. There is only a Rock of refuge.

He never lets us down.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14 ESV)
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. (Psalm 145:19 ESV)

Remember, Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of your disappointments, that God does not disappoint us. He is our Loving Father. He is faithful. He is our Rescuer.

Fork and Spoon

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The fork looks at the spoon and sees her smooth clean lines. The spoon looks at the fork and sees his powerful tines.

The fork feels less beautiful. The spoon less powerful.

So the fork looks again and supposes the spoon disdains his jagged edge. The spoon takes another glance and assumes the fork rejects her as powerless.

Both the fork and the spoon were made with a purpose, perfectly designed for their service.

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In the book of Numbers, we see some of the Israelites suffering a similar phenomenon. The twelve have just returned from spying out the Promised Land, and this is the report they give to Moses and those back at the camp…

Then the men who had gone up with him (Caleb) said, “We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Numbers 13:31-33 (ESV)

The ten spies saw themselves as being inferior and powerless, and not only that, but they assumed that the inhabitants of the land also saw them that way. They experienced fear from how they saw themselves and from how they perceived others saw them. Their focus was on themselves and their own ability/disabilities, and not on the Lord and his plan for them. They looked at themselves and their circumstances, and in doing so, turned away from the Lord.

This fearful and self-focused attitude brought discouragement (14:3), but of more importance, it led to spiritual rebellion.

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? (14:11)

When our focus is on ourselves, our tendency is to sin against the Lord. We deny our true ability that He has gifted us, we lose our identity that He has defined us with, and we forfeit the work that God desires to do through us.

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Some of us are forks. Some of us are spoons. God desires to use each of us for service in the Kingdom, but we must look to Him with confidence and not to ourselves or our circumstances.

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Shine!

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The morning sunshine comes through my laundry room window and reveals the true beauty of this stained glass window.

In the same way, our beauty is really shown when we let Christ’s light shine through us.

BE A WINDOW FOR THE LIGHT OF JESUS TODAY!

Matthew 5:16 “let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

Life Lesson From a Cake

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I made a cake.
As my best friend told me (in love of course) it was not my best work.

After frosting my luscious red velvet cake with homemade buttercream frosting, I decided that it would be enhanced with a few sprinkles on the top. I carefully opened the small section that I wanted to use of my multi-sprinkle container. As I began to gingerly shake out the dainty candy circles something unexpected happened – the lid fell off, completely off. On about one quarter of my masterful cake there was a mounted up mass of every type of sprinkle in the container. After pausing a moment in disbelief, I decided there was only one thing to do – add more sprinkles. I emptied the remainder of my container in a similar ‘pattern’ over the rest of the cake.

I told my friend that there was a large life lesson to learn from the great cake mistake…sometimes we get to make our own decisions in life…and sometimes life makes our decisions for us. What I had planned for my cake was interrupted by a different reality. So many times that happens, doesn’t it? We are moving forward with a well-laid plan, when BAM out of nowhere, our circumstances bring us to a screeching halt. After pausing a moment in disbelief, there is only one thing to do…

James 1:2-5 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The unknown, unpredictable, and unexpected should not hold us back from our forward progress. After pausing in shock as our circumstances test our faith, we should move forward by confirming our faith in God’s faithfulness, and pour out more ‘sprinkles.’ Although trials are not usually in our plans, we can choose to respond to them in a way that doesn’t cripple us spiritually. We can pour out more steadfastness, pour out more perseverance, pour out more praise, and pour out our prayers to our faithful God, who is never surprised by the lid falling off our life’s circumstances. Life does not have to follow our own plans for it to be beneficial and beautiful. Our response to our unforeseen circumstances and our trust in God’s faithfulness toward us can bring unexpected beauty to even the ugliest of trials.

As I gaze at my cake, I see it through different eyes than most would. It may not win a beauty contest, but it bears the marks of joyful victory over the unforeseen. It shows the world that something broken doesn’t have to be a mess, but may hold the beauty of a mosaic. Its colorful chaos doesn’t diminish its wonderful flavor, just as chaos in our lives doesn’t have to diminish the richness God intends to bring to us.

It seems a simple lesson from an unlikely source. I have not been schooled by a cake before. An ugly cake reminding me of a beautiful truth…life’s untimely interruptions bring with them an opportunity. Sometimes I get to make my own decisions in life and sometimes life makes decisions for me, but I ALWAYS get to choose how I respond to the unforeseen events that intrude on my life when the lid falls off my own well-intentioned plans. In that response is an opportunity to both be faithful and to experience God’s faithfulness toward me.

1 Peter 1:6-9English Standard Version (ESV)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

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A Christmas Poem…from the archives

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The ghouls of October are tucked back in closets.
The gourds of November are moldy and rotted.

We welcome the new holiday, Christmastime.
We take days off work to relax, shop and dine.

Hustle and bustle, lights and trees,
Snowmen, gingersnaps, nativities

Families gather all around.
Everywhere the church bells sound.

We hang our stockings with much care.
We solicit gift lists with fanfare.

We tell of Santa and all his elves.
Children are bribed to behave quite well.

The presents mount up under the tree,
Commercialism disguised as generosity.

Christmas day comes in a great crescendo.
We tear open our treasures with great gusto.

Homes are filled with colorful wrappers,
New noisy toys, gift cards, and sweaters.

Children are happy, parents content,
Grandparents broke, but money well spent.

Amid the chaos and clutter of gifts
A present under the tree is missed.

There is one gift, forgotten and left.
He is the Christ, wrapped in flesh.

All rush on in great haste
As another holiday lays in wait.

The New Year is coming, Santa is forgotten.
Party dresses, champagne and noise makers beckon.

Why do we welcome the year with such grandeur,
When, without Jesus, we’re running headlong toward disaster?

Another Godless year in Godless lives,
Living for ourselves, from high to high.

Christ still waits, the unopened gift.
Salvation awaits, but many will miss.

But one unknown day, ready or not,
Christ will return to rescue his lot.

Many will wish they’d seen the gift,
Believed, opened and received it.

But they hadn’t believed that it really mattered.
Some tattered old gift, dusty and battered.

Now, in armor of light, The Gift comes in his glory!
Powerful, Mighty, Awesome and Holy!

He comes with an army, ready to save
All who are His, prepared for that day.

He takes those who had the faith to receive
The dusty old gift left under the tree.
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Romans 5:18 NKJV Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
Romans 6:23 NKJV For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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