Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Electing the Leader of Our Nation

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord. 2 I will praise the LORD all my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Don't put your trust in human leaders. Don't trust in people. They can't save you. 4 When they die, they return to the ground. On that very day their plans are bound to fail. 5 Blessed are those who depend on the God of Jacob for help. Blessed are those who put their hope in the LORD their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth and the ocean. He made everything in them. The LORD remains faithful forever. 7 He stands up for those who are beaten down. He gives food to hungry people. The LORD sets prisoners free. 8 The LORD gives sight to those who are blind. The LORD lifts up those who feel helpless. The LORD loves those who do what is right. 9 The LORD watches over the outsiders who live in our land. He takes good care of children whose fathers have died. He also takes good care of widows. But he causes evil people to fail in everything they do. 10 The LORD rules forever. The God of Zion will rule for all time to come. Praise the Lord.

Our media streams are full of information about the upcoming presidential election.  All you have to do is "google" the name of one of the candidates, and you can find everything you possibly would want to know about him.  I can only imagine the pressure these two men and their families must be feeling as the nation, and the world, watch their lives.  For America, this is one of the biggest decisions our country will make this year. 

We look to the leader of our nation for the solutions to our unemployment, healthcare, social security and other problems. In reality, Psalms 146 spells out clearly who has responsibility for caring for these tasks. Our hope for the future of our nation does not depend on Obama, or Romney, or any other candidate who might take the oath of office. Its in the Lord our God. 

Whoever we elect as our country's leader is still a man - a human being capable of making mistakes.  He holds the responsibility for our welfare, but in the end, he's still accountable to the same one we are, God our Father.

I encourage you to vote next Tuesday.  More importantly, I encourage you to pray.  Pray that we choose our next leader wisely.  Pray our leader is someone who listens to God's voice to help our nation. Pray for God's hand to protect our leader and to guide him with his decision making.  And pray, as you enter that voting booth, for the wisdom to make the best choice.



Presidental Election

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Illumination

Ephesians 5:13-14

 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:  “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”

One of the things I won't soon forget about my time with the American Cancer Society is the drive home after an overnight Relay event.  The overnight Relay experiences symbolizes the hard, dark road walked by a cancer patient followed by the hope that comes at the end of their journey.  Watching the sun rise after a long Relay event has always been a magical experience.  As the light spreads its way across the field, it warms the soul and brings with it a renewed spirit.  However the light does not take away the exhaustion, nor does it wipe away the experiences of the dark night.  Only when the light begins to break does one realize just how dark the night was before.

Photo taken at the Dodge County, Minn., Relay For Life, courtesy of the Post Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

Its pretty easy to understand how something exposed to light becomes visible.  However its the second part of the verse I want you to see - how everything that is illuminated becomes light.

We all face dark times in our livesTimes where we walk in darkness, faced with situations that make us exhausted, and we wonder if we can even make it through.  But each and every time, we find the dawn that comes on the back side of a difficult journey..  

As God guides us through these times in our lives, he's creating an opportunity for us to be illuminated.  How?  By being an example of how he works in our lives, through not only good times, but also in the deep, dark valleys.  

We were never promised an easier path with our Christian walk.  His promise to always walk beside us, however, produces a testimony to share with others about God's grace, his mercy and his provision.  

A dark thing, illuminated.  Those oppressive times in our lives can become light for those who may follow behind us through the same valley.

I encourage you to not run from your dark times, but to embrace them as an opportunity to encourage others and to share the message of how Christ can change lives.    

John 15:16 says God CHOSE us so we could go forth and bear fruit - fruit that will last.  Fruit grows in the light, so go forth knowing that the dawn brings a new day and a new opportunity to share your message with another.  

You are illuminated!  How will you let yourself shine today?     


Friday, October 5, 2012

Redeemed



This is one of the toughest posts I have been called to write.  Admittedly, it has taken more than a month for the words to come together to share.  It bears an issue with which I really struggle, and I know there are others here who deal with the same things.  I have heard too many of them around me lately.


After praying for how to share, I was blessed with a testimony of Rhett Walker, lead singer of the contemporary Christian Group The Rhett Walker Band.  Rhett was a preacher's child who led a life of rebellion during his teen years and fathered a child.  

He discussed the destructive behavior I call "self beating."  You know the feeling, that nagging, second guessing of yourself, That voice reminding you often of the things that could have been better or should have been better.  "Oh if only I had," or "if only I hadn't."  Satan is so wonderful to remind us of our imperfections and use it to keep us down. Don't you find it so much easier to forgive others of their wrongs and imperfections than you do yourself?

Does that describe you?  It does me.  And a dear friend called me out on it not too long ago. 

Rhett Walker spoke of this self beating behavior, saying it dishonors God when we do things like this. Why?  God is the grantor of mercy.  He forgives and forgets.  We should likewise do the same.

Mercy is defined by Webster's Dictionary as: 1) compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject; clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity; 2) a blessing regarded as an act of divine favor or compassion; 3) relief of distress; compassion shown to victims of misfortune.

 God's great gift of mercy, given through his son Jesus Christ on the cross means we are forgiven.  His compassionate divine act means we are redeemed. We owe it to ourselves to hold our heads high because he created us to be who we are.  He's proud of us, and we should be proud of ourselves.  All those things we beat ourselves up for every day...he has placed those in the past, and its our job to do that too.  We're not perfect, but we are forgiven.  What a miracle to share with the world!

Titus 3:4-5
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  

Redeemed, forgiven.  

I want to share with you the words to Big Daddy Weave's song Redeemed.  What a beautiful message he gives of how God sees past all the "stuff" in our lives we can't seem to put behind us.  He sees a beautiful child, full of his Glory, ready to share that redemption message with the world to help someone else overcome their chains of bondage.

Redeemed

Seems like all I could see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won” (Chorus) I am redeemed You set me free So I'll shake off theses heavy chains And wipe away every stain Now I'm not who I used to be I am redeemed I am redeemed All my life I have been called unworthy Named by the voice of my shame and regret But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head” I remember oh God, You're not done with me yet Chorus I don't have to be The old man inside of me 'Cause his day is long dead and gone Because I've got a new name A new life I'm not the same And a hope that will carry me home Chorus (X2)
 
Beautiful children of God, lift your head high.  You have been redeemed, forgiven.  Throw off your shackles and go forth, free from your past. Do not let Satan steal the power of your gift.  And if you haven't experienced the redemption and freedom that comes with accepting Christ as your personal savior, I will be glad to help you do just that.  My email address is jyantjones@ymail.com. Have a blessed day!