Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Keep Believing

Have you ever had someone promise you something and then you had to wait for it to happen?  There were many times in my childhood that my parents had promised me something and thankfully (because I have great parents ... and no I am not saying that just because Christmas is coming) they always came through on their promises.  There were times that I had to wait a bit to get what I want, but even if they missed the deadline (which never happened often), they still fulfilled their promises to me.

With each promise comes a sense of anticipation; There comes the excitement of what is going to be.  Sometimes, there is also a time of waiting.  Think about the joy that comes at Christmas (and I realize this is starting to sound like a shameless plug but honestly it isn't).  Kids know (honestly it isn't) that Christmas is right around the corner and they are doing everything they can to get off the 'naughty' list and unto the 'nice' list.  However, there is the wait for all those weeks and days (87 days in case you are wondering) before the day finally arrives.  But then it happens, the days of waiting are over and we celebrate Christmas.  Children when they wake up Christmas morning (sometimes too early for some parents) and make a mad dash for the Christmas tree to see what Santa (if you so believe ... and I still do) brought them this year for being so good.  There is excitement!  There is joy!

There have been times in my life where God has made promises to me.  With each promise there has been an immediate sense of joy and excitement!  Sometimes however, there has been a waiting process that happens.  The cool thing is that it isn't about trying to get off the 'naughty' list and trying to get on the 'nice' list, it is about having faith that God is going to do what He said He will do because we are His children. (1 John 3:1)  He wants to pour out His good gifts on us.  He wants to bless us!

But we have to believe that He will do what He said He will do.  I believed my parents were going to come through on their promises and because I loved them, I would respond out of obedience.  Because we believe that God is, we respond in obedience.  If we truly love God, then we will obey His commands, not to get on the 'nice' list, but simply because we love Him.  2 John 1:6 says it this way,
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
Out of love for God we respond.  Out of love for us, God responds.

If you're waiting on a promise from God this morning, don't worry about whether or not God is still working in your situation.  Maybe you're struggling through a sickness and God has promised that He is going to heal you.  Maybe you're waiting on that relationship and God has promised that He is going to bring that someone special in your life.  Maybe you're waiting on a job or promotion and God has promised that it is coming.  Whatever you're waiting on, keep believing that God is going to provide in His timing and don't be discouraged.  God always comes through on His promises.  Just continue to love God in faithful obedience and believe that He will do what He said He will do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

On The Road Again

The last few months have been a learning experience for me.  I have had to learn to 'relax' and 'be' which isn't always easy for someone who is a "get to the goal" type of person.

About four years ago, I applied for a job as a youth pastor and the senior pastor started using this terminology of "let's journey together".  It was the first time I had really heard something like that and it kind of caught me off guard.  I had always pictured Christianity and life as a goal driven endeavour and not really as a journey to experience.  Over the few years, this man drove home the idea of life as a journey and not a destination.

A few months back, I had the privilege of driving up to and back from Bon Echo Provincial Park.  As I was driving, I started to realize that I had started going for the goal again and not enjoying the journey.  In a traffic jam, I was following a car with a young couple in it and the driver was swinging around every once in a while and checking out the back seat and the passenger, she had her feet firmly planted out the window.  What I didn't notice at first was a tiny pair of hands that kept popping up.  The young man in the driver's seat was a dad and his attention was being distracted by him playing with his son in the back seat.  I was mesmerized by this young family and how they really weren't caught up in the traffic jam, but rather caught up in enjoying each other.  They were enjoying the journey without a care in the world.

I have since then caught myself, even today, getting caught up in the destination of things.  I just want to get here.  I just want to accomplish this.  I just want my life to look like this.  However, I need to 'relax' and 'be' who God has created me to be and enjoy the journey.  I need to enjoy the process of getting from point 'A' to point 'B'.  I need to relish the moments of my life and not miss the view as I travel through traffic jams and roadblocks. 

So, today I remind myself that as I journey, to look around, relax and just be.  I'm sure I'll have to do this again sometime soon, but until then life is good.  The road that I am on is a good road.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Still Pressing

Have you ever have one of those moments when you have thought to yourself, "I wish I could stay in this moment forever"?  Maybe it was a moment shared with a loved one or maybe it was just a high moment in your life that you never want to forget.  On the flip side of that, have you ever had a moment that you wish you could just forget ever happened, one of those moments which hurt so bad that it took a while to get over?

One of my favourite moments as a teenager was youth group.  I use to look forward to every Friday night of hanging out with my friends and catching up about the events of the week.  Sure there was the spiritual aspect of youth group, but the real moments were the connections that we made.  They were amazing!  On a number of occasions, I have caught myself saying, "If I could only go back to that moment" or "Those were the days"!  I know just saying that proves that I am getting older, but that is not really the point.

I've also had moments in my life that I wish that never existed.  One of those moments was my divorce.  I don't think anyone goes into a marriage hoping to be divorced, but the truth is, it happens.  But the hurts and pains after the marriage can leave a lasting mark if we choose to hold on to the hurts and pains.  In his letter to the Philippians, Paul appeals to them by saying,
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
 In my understanding of this scripture, Paul is asking two things.  First, don't hold on to the past.  Have you ever tried to hold on to something with one hand and grab something just out of reach with the other?  It can cause for some humour in the best of situations.  You have to let go of the things that are behind you to reach what is in front of you.  That means that we have to let go of the hurts and pains of the past (which many of us already know) but sometimes we also have to let go of the great moments that we hang on to.  We cannot live in the past to get to our future.

The second part of Paul's encouragement is that we strive for the goal.  What is the goal?  Our goal is an eternity with Christ Jesus with a life that pleases Him.  We daily strive to be more like Christ through faith and obedience.

What are you striving for today?  Are you seeing the goal in front of you but holding on to the past or are you pressing forward releasing the good and the bad of what is behind you and pressing for God's best?  I choose today to let go.  I choose to walk in freedom and receive all of what God has for me.  Not that I am perfect (far from it) but that I strive to be more like Christ. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

W.I.P. Bins

Have you ever asked yourself, "God, why am I going through this in my life right now"?  Do you ever wonder why we struggle with problems?  Do you wonder why God allows certain things to happen?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

When I worked in an automotive plant, I worked for the Materials Department.  Part of my job was to order enough W.I.P. bins to meet the needs of production in the plant.  What's a W.I.P. bin you ask?  It stands for Work In Progress.  Raw material would come into the plant and get processed.  Sometimes, when that part still required processing, it was put into these W.I.P. bins until it reached the final process of manufacturing.  

I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am not perfect.  This might come to a surprise to some of you, but sarcasm aside, I am a work in progress.  I am being processed from what I once was to what God wants me to become.  But what does God want me to become?

In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul says to the church, "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."  He goes on to say later in the letter, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:9).  See, we all start in this raw form which is our sinful nature.  There is no one that is different in this world. (Romans 3:23)  We all start off in the darkness of this world.  Paul says to Titus, "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." (Titus 3:3)

However, when we accept Jesus Christ into our life, we enter into the W.I.P. bin of life.  We become a work in progress. 
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)
 We constantly have to remember that the old life is dead and the new life is alive in us.  We are going from our raw state of sin and being transformed by the Holy Spirit into a person of light, not by our own doing, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us.  We don't deserve to be light bearers, but God grants it to us despite what we have done or what we could do through grace.

The beauty of this W.I.P. bin of life is that we have a hope despite what happens in our life.  Paul puts it to Titus like this:
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
What a joy of being a work in progress. We have an eternal hope.  So why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do we struggle?  I believe that it is all a part of the process to become more like Christ.  Good things happened to Jesus.  He was worshipped as he rode a donkey into Jerusalem.  Bad things happened to Jesus.  He was beaten and bruised. But He still kept going because He saw the Father's purpose in it all ... and it was for us.

I don't know what you are struggling through today.  However, realize that you're a work in progress when you have Christ in your life.  That means that no matter what you are struggling with, keep going because there is hope.  We get to spend an eternity with the Eternal God who loves us so much that He sent His only son to die for us. 

So ... in my imperfection, I climb willfully into this W.I.P. bin called life and strive to be more like Christ despite the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have hope!