Choose to Spiral Upward

Jesus is your redemption right now!

As never having had my father’s approval, I seek my Father’s approval through doing what He says to do; and then hearing, “This is My son whom I love and am proud of.”

Yet, I fail many times a day. And when I blow it, I can be triggered to spiral downward. I mean, I fell; so, I might as well stay down, right?

As I write this, a certain incident came to mind. I was hanging out with a friend. As we chatted it up, the thought of having a soda came to mind. I really wanted to head to the store and get that soda.

Is that sin? It depends on whether or not your Father said, “I don’t want you having it today.” It’s not the drink. It’s the obedience.

Oh come on Chris, it’s just a soda. True, but that day was a no soda day as He was trying to teach me something about Himself using that soda.  Well, I focused on how good that soda would taste and eventually bought one.

Now, I want you to look at the picture. It’s a spiral staircase. It can either be spiraling upward or downward depending on your point of view. I chose downward. I not only kept on drinking; but, I went back into the store to refill my cup!

What truth(s) did I need to focus on immediately after taking that first sip? The truths of 1 Cor. 1:30. Jesus is my righteousness (the ability not to drink the soda), my holiness (the strength to stay close to my Father by trashing the soda thought before I drank) and my redemption (trash the soda cup after the first draw on the straw).

His redemption through His blood bought that sinful choice; thus, I was free to start over again with His righteousness and holiness to make an obedient choice – toss the cup and not refill it.

Silly illustration? Maybe. But how many “really bad” choices could have been triggered by this “not so bad” choice? How far down do you want to spiral? Until we hate any sin that separates us from our Father, who provides the acceptance and fulfillment we all crave, is the answer.

When you have a soda moment, quickly focus on the truth that Jesus is your redeemer…right now, not sometime in the future. And then, choose to spiral upward!

The Power of Hope

Today is not the worst nor best day of your life.

Years ago a study was done with rats. While others watched, one rat was put into a bowl of water with no escape. The rat latest mere seconds before giving up and being rescued.

A second was put in the water. It lasted minutes before needing help. The next lasted twice as long as the previous one.

The difference? Hope. The first one didn’t have any. The others, however, saw the first rat being rescued. All they had to do was to hold on until being rescued. The power of hope is huge.

Paul writes that our faith rests on the hope of eternal life. The Father saved us (done deal) and declared us free, not innocent, of all crimes (justified), which forms the basis of our hope.

Someone paid our fine, did our prison time, and sat in our electric chair. We are truly guilty, but Jesus took what we deserved and gave us something we didn’t deserve, hope.

It’s a hope that life change is possible this side of heaven, and ultimately on the other side, despite our failures that make us want to quit. We will, though, be rescued!

Struggle and failure are not the end, becoming like Jesus is. And just like the experimenter did the rats, our Father will rescue us…someday, which could be today.

Hope should lead to a life of thankfulness, not regret; gratitude, not groveling. We are commanded to stay thankful for not only for what Jesus did, but will do – rescue us from this corrupted world, a hope of eternal life.

Keep swimming! Stay focused on your eternal hope, Jesus will rescue you. It might not be today, but stay thankful. It will happen. Amen and amen!

It’s His Job

The best in life is not what is seen or heard; but what God is doing behind the scenes.

No matter how much I want to see those around me become more like Jesus, I can’t make it happen. Only Jesus’ can.

Israel had a King. They wanted a human king, instead, to lead them into battle. God was supposed to be that person, as modeled by Joshua. God would give Joshua the battle plan before and during the battle.

Joshua had to keep listening to and following the Lord for himself. It was the same for each tribe and family. Listen to and follow the Lord before and in the midst of the battle for victory.

Israel got tired of that methodology. They wanted a human king to do it all for them. Samuel tried to persuade them to change their minds to no avail. They wanted a human king, rather than God, to follow.

God finally told Samuel, “It’s My job. Leave it to Me.” What was Samuel to do? Pray. In fact, Samuel said it would be sin if he didn’t.

As we do church with other believers, we want to see them become more like Jesus. And, there will be times when, after lovingly sharing the truth with them, especially when we’ve been there and done that ourselves, they will still choose to go down the wrong path. What can we do?  

Don’t get frustrated with them. Keep praying for God to do His job, which is to change them. Don’t wash your hands of them. Keep praying for God to break through their fog by allowing Him to change them. Stay on your knees for them in this battle by asking God to do what only He can do, change their life.

Simply Hard

How His power works is a mystery; but, it works.

A few years back, I was flying home from Israel when I heard some guys talking about philosophy. After a few minutes, I chimed in, “You’re making it way too difficult. You can talk theory all day long, but how do you make choices in real life situations?”

They chuckled and said, “It’s not that easy.” So I continued to listen until the stewardess told us to take our seats as the conversation was becoming too lively.

Yet, one who chuckled told me he was struggling and wanted to know what to do about it. Instead of chuckling, we had a great talk.

Jesus made life simple, “Listen and follow Me.” What makes this simplicity so hard is a wonderful thing we all cherish, free will, which means we can make choices we wish we hadn’t.

David writes about this in Psalm 19. He starts by saying God is speaking to us through His creation, and, will hold us accountable for every choice we make.

Therefore, David writes, “Let the words that come out of my mouth and the thoughts that roll around in my head be pleasing to you, Lord.” He is filtering his words and thoughts through the Lord, making sure he’s got the listening part down pat.

He then goes on to say, “The Lord is my strength.” He needed supernatural power from above to actually do what he heard God say. Cool. He’s got the power to choose correctly. Fantastic, right?

Well, David didn’t stop there. He went on to say that the Lord was his redeemer. There would times David would mess up. (Man, did he ever!) Yet, the Lord can make it right if David choose to own his bad choice. Learn from the Lord as to why he went down that path…again. And then retrain his brain (Romans 12:2) with this new information to actually do what the Lord wanted done in the first place.

As we let this truth of Jesus being our redeemer sink deeper into our brains, and with each future choice we ask for His strength, we will do the hard thing, which makes us more Christ like, the ultimate fulfillment of any choice.

May you do the hard thing by actually asking why you chose poorly; rather than simply asking for His forgiveness again and again for the same poor choice.

Be redeemed to experience true freedom to live life to the fullest.

Present in the Present

“Anything under God’s control, is never out of control.” Charles Swindoll

I’m working through the “I don’t have time for this!” attitude, which causes my left leg to bounce. And sometimes, it bounces pretty fast! I’m actually stopping it as I type. Ugh!

This attitude is based in a lie. It says that I have a list of things to get done and can’t rest until they are; thus, I don’t have time to waste. So, let’s get ’em done!

Yet, Jesus is my rest. It’s not what I do for Him that’s important, but enjoying Him while I do what He wants done with Him in the moment, the present, is.

The Alter of Novordok, who strove to live each moment with greater trust in God, put it this way, “One must relinquish all of his tomorrows for one today. Lest he come to relinquish all of his todays for one tomorrow.”

Each right now is another opportunity to increase our trust in God. How? He is with us, right now. Put another way, if we’re doing what He wants us to do (could be anything on that list and in any order), why are we thinking about what must be done next?

If we do, we miss Him in the present because we are not present with Him in the present, at least in our minds anyway. And for me, my bouncing leg is simply reminding me of this fact.

Focus on what He has for you now, not what you’ve “got” to do next. I think this is what Jesus meant when He said, my paraphrase, “Don’t be anxious about the next moment as it will bring just as much anxiety when you get there. Instead, seek Me in this moment.”

Can we not have a running conversation with our God (aka pray without ceasing)? And if we are talking with Him, it means we are in His presence in the present, which means for me, no bouncing leg.

“Lord, quiet my bouncing leg by increasing my trust in You in the present!”