Growing in Grace, Jesus Role Model, Uncategorized

Me Time

me time

Early in the morning before my time alone with the Lord and my usual coffee and breakfast, it is difficult to respond graciously. Yet each morning from the moment my feet hit the carpeting, demands are placed upon me.

My wife needs her pain patch put in place at the small of her back, and then needs help with this and that. But then, unnecessarily, she rehearses all of her schedule for the day. Can’t this wait until after my coffee? I silently think. Then she feels the need to remind me of all I had shared with her the day before—all that I need to accomplish today. My flesh wants to scream, Yes, I’m well aware of what I need to do. Please leave me alone so I can do it! Meanwhile, I’m tripping over the cat as she blocks each step, rubbing against my legs, insisting that she is ready to die of starvation any second. The dog trails close behind. The telephone rings incessantly. Everyone is demanding something of me, and I haven’t even taken care of me yet. Once everyone is fed and medically pampered, and promises are made to perform various extra duties, a slight grumble escapes my lips. That’s when I reach for my bible—Jesus will help to adjust my attitude. Matthew chapter fourteen…

Again, our Savior’s example is filled with grace as His love is disseminated to all. The news came to the Blessed Nazarene: “Your cousin, John the Baptizer has been beheaded in prison.”

(verse13) “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Obviously He wanted to be alone, just as I do every morning, for just a few moments. The details of John’s death must have made the news all the worse. As most anyone would do, Jesus sought out solitude that He might mourn, or at least process the loss. But the crowds were rather insensitive to Jesus’ plight. As soon as the boat Jesus occupied landed, there was a large crowd waiting for Him. This effectively robbed Him of the “Me-time” that, personally, I surely would have demanded, having just lost a loved one. But Jesus’ response was different. “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Verse 14).

“Oh Lord Jesus, please teach me to respond the way you do! I can’t even respond graciously to my own family’s needs until mine have been met.” As a minister of the gospel and bible teacher for the past ten years, one would think I have all this stuff down pat. But every good theologian knows that ‘self’ is an ogre which needs to be crucified on a daily basis. I am thankful and encouraged that the Apostle Paul recorded in Romans chapter seven: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Yes, even Paul had to submit again and again, putting himself under Christ’s Lordship anew every day. It is a daily walk, and God’s mercy is brand spanking new every day. No wonder we sing Amazing Grace how sweet the sound!

I am pleased to announce that I have now had my coffee and my time alone with the Creator of the Cosmos. I’m feeling the love again and acting graciously, ready to serve others until bedtime rolls around again. I hope to handle tomorrow morning a little bit better than I did today. Of course, I’ll have to rise a bit earlier than I did today. After all, it is a growing process.

Jesus Role Model, Uncategorized

A Beautiful View

Standing on a precipice in Arizona, overlooking the Grand Canyon, I suddenly felt like a minuscule piece of dust in a vast desert. Colors blazed from the canyon in layers of history from ages long past. I couldn’t help but wonder at the immensity of it all. The amazing view had a profound impact on me. For the remainder of the day after visiting that tremendous canyon I felt small and humbled. I had to reconsider the true significance of the things which had previously occupied most of my thoughts and energies. What we focus upon and allow our minds to dwell upon has a tremendous impact on who and what we become.

Whatever we choose to view of the world around us has a remarkable influence on our attitudes, moods and thoughts. It’s easy here in the USA to get so caught up in chasing after the American dream that we can forget about things of greater importance. The focus of our thoughts can even determine whether we have a good day or a bad one. There’s a significant daily question every Christian soul needs to ask of themselves: Am I looking unto Christ, The author and finisher of our faith as the model to which I must conform? Am I like Peter when he stepped out to walk on the water and then took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink? Am I seeing only the wind and waves: All the negative aspects of life?

God offers a plethora of magnificent vistas. I become awe struck at His amazing creations; sunsets, mountain ranges, waterfalls, flower strewn meadows and the like. They invoke a silent reverence in my soul as the power and splendor of our Creator is displayed in what He has made. Yet there is, however, another scene that’s even more astounding. We discover it by peering into the very heart of God. Through an intimate relationship with Jesus we can see and taste His inexplicable love—love in its purest form. There’s nothing on earth to which it can be compared. Even as I writer, I find it difficult to capture and describe in words the enormity and the splendor of divine love.

We, however, live in a material world, where this awesome love must be displayed through us. It’s a task which requires miraculous assistance. Maintaining this staggering view of unadulterated compassion and care is the only means I have found of sharing it with others. Yet, I fear that too often my focus is on someone else’s faults. Mankind is naturally bent towards being more concerned over what someone else is doing or saying. The fallen nature of us humanoids is good at judging others while ignoring self. But in our new nature, given by Christ, we are also given power over sin. Through God’s Spirit within us we can be the over-comers that God envisions. And the only means of being successful in that venture is to remain focused on our perfect model and on His beauty: Jesus. While trusting Him completely. Beholding the wonders of God’s creations help me stay focused on Him and His awesome power.

“For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Romans 8:29

It is the sinful nature that is so adept at finding fault with another. It takes the spotlight off of me. Yet when I do that, I have limited myself to a horizontal view. Rather, to achieve a transformation into the likeness of the Son of God, I must think vertically, focusing my attention upwards to God, and then back down into my own heart. I see Him clearly through the pages of the bible, and through His Son, Jesus. Daily bible reading and constant prayer are vital to every soul. I need that very humbling comparison to see myself in the light of His glory. Only then can I view others through His heart of love.

As you know, our adversary, the devil is a master of deception. One of his favorite tactics is to convince me that I’m doing really great spiritually, because, “Hey, I’m doing better than Joe slick over there!” There will always be someone I can compare myself to which will make me feel pretty good about where I am in my spiritual maturity. But that’s a false view. It’s a trap, one I know I’ve been snared in before and hope to never be again. That old sneaky snake is really crafty. He takes a prism which snags my focus and then refracts my attention, dividing that focus. What he shows me is colorful to my old nature, catching my eyes, but what it leads to is only blackness. Talk about building a better mousetrap; he is a master builder of soul traps, baited with pride.

True perfection in holiness and righteousness can only be viewed by looking to Jesus, our awesome model. When we come into God’s presence through prayer and bible study we see the goodness of God in all His magnificence and flawlessness. When His light shines upon us, it illumines our imperfections and weaknesses. We must see the areas that need work and know what they are. This is a prerequisite for change. We see the problem, we address it by repenting, seeking God’s forgiveness, and in return we receive a spiritual blessing.

Do I really want to use a defective model or blueprints that are all wrong to fashion my new life after? , Should I maintain a horizontal view and be transformed into the image of someone here on earth, someone who is flawed? I would rather be changed into the beautiful likeness of Jesus! Merciful, righteous, abounding in love, forgiveness and truth: that’s the pattern Christians strive to emulate. None of us are perfect, so comparing ourselves to one another is just not acceptable.

When I keep my focus on the Lord and on my own walk with Him, I have a much better view, and am in the best position to encourage others to grow with me. Being humbled through the comparison of myself to Jesus, our ultimate paradigm of righteousness also enables me to come alongside another person rather than elevating myself to a position where I would be speaking down to them. In love, we hurt with them when they hurt, and we rejoice when they do as well. Speech flowing from a meek and humble spirit is more readily accepted.

By keeping our outlook vertical, the horizontal view looks different. We begin to see others with love filled spiritual eyes. Instead of anger, envy or fear over another person’s words or actions, we have stinging pangs of love for them. We can then share the peace of God, in hopes of guiding them to a safe haven in Christ.

There is an intoxicating vista that every soul should behold. It is found inside the heart of God, and it is a magnificently beautiful view far greater than the Grand Canyon or any of His other creations.