Happy New Year everyone. I’m sure you are all back in full swing of life after the holidays. For some it’s a relief to settle down into life again and for others it may still be a little crazy. According to the commercials we all need to join that gym and find our bodies again and of course as we are organizing ourselves we need to organize our homes. So my question to you is, ‘ how is that new years resolution working out for you?” I’m not knocking anyone who has made a new years resolution, in fact I admire the tenacity and determination you have. You have made a commitment to do something to better your life and that is very commendable. I on the other hand don’t make resolutions because I never follow thru with them; actually I barely get them started. But there is something that I started over forty years ago that has changed and is still changing every area of my life, has held my interest and has continually exercised every part of my being inside and out. That something is my relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. Now my friends that has been quite a workout for me as I have allowed him access to areas of me that have been dark, stubborn, rebellious, and angry and I could go on and on. He has taken me to mountaintops and very low crevices that I wasn’t sure I would get out of. He has laughed with me and cried with me has embraced me and talked with me. He has corrected me, healed me and delivered me, from me, and most of all he has never left me but loved me through it all. Again I could go on and on. You see I looked up the meaning of resolution and it means “ a firm decision to do or not to do something. Yes I have had to make resolutions all along my journey and relationship with Jesus, but I want to make those daily and as I’m led, I don’t want to let something go until a new year, I want to make that resolution right away.
The resolution I made over forty years ago as stated in Philippians 3; 14 “ I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. V16: “ let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”
My encouragement to you and even to myself is to press on in Jesus for He is our goal and our prize is eternity with him. Make that daily resolution to listen and be led to allow him access to you. It’s that Christ like glow that conquers the day. May your New Year be filled with all of God and his best for you. And that’s “mylivinglife”
Just what does allegiance mean? It means “loyalty or commitment to a superior or to a group or cause.” When I say I pledge my allegiance I am making even more than a statement I am making a proclamation of declaring my total support to someone, something or a cause. As a born again Christian and believer in Jesus Christ and a believer in the one true God my first allegiance is to the one true God of this universe, my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. With that, he has birthed me in a great nation that proclaims its allegiance to be a nation under God. I have stood many times for the pledge of allegiance. many times as my sons have stood before playing in a game or at a college or pro game. I stand proudly and with god bumps up and down my body. I am proud to pledge my loyalty to first my God and second my nation flying the flag of freedom. Just as my savior shed his blood for my salvation and freedom, the blood of great men and women who have shed their blood for my freedom flies the flag. Declaring by not standing for our freedom both spiritually and in this nation sets a precedence of display for a totally different cause. Racial injustice is a cause that begins with each one of us individually. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and examine our hearts personally to see if we are part of this social racial injustice. Just as we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and search our hearts for sin that we may repent and receive our savior. When this happens with each one of us individually we then take measures to stop the injustice we are causing. Oh people wake up and look at yourselves in the mirror and take out the log in your own eyes before you so visibly make a declaration against an innocent flag, people and nation. None of us are without sin, but to declare one cause against our flag and nation that negates the meaning and purpose of respect for the freedom it represents brings a division that destroys not helps or heals. Oh the visual message that this is giving our young people is so opposite of what Christ did for us as well as for what the men and women who fought for us did. By taking a knee is rebellion to every one of us who loves this nation. But rest assured every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So whether those who bow their knee here on earth for whatever cause or before the one who sits on the throne I encourage everyone to search their soul as to why you are bowing your knee and for what and to whom.
For the past several weeks I have thought much about identity and names. This has me thinking about how important our name is and how much it’s linked to our identity. Proverbs 22:1 says that “ A good name is to be more desired that great riches.” Or in some translations “ a good name is greater than gold.” There are different scenarios in life concerning the name that seems to lead to the same equation of who you are and your identity. One scenario is a blessing for our family but at the same time sadness for another family. One of my sons married a wonderful woman many years ago. In this marriage she brought with her two beautiful young children. We immediately embraced them as our own and now they are grown adults. When our grandson was about to be married he came to my son and asked him to adopt him. This totally took us all by surprise because there is a bio father alive. Without hesitation my son began the process of adoption. It was not difficult because of our grandson being an adult. The adoption went through right before the wedding and we now have a grandson and granddaughter with our name. Soon another adoption went through and it was for our great-grandson who was our grand daughters son when they married. I have often thought about how traumatic of a choice that was for our grandson to relinquish his biological name to bear the name of his step father. All seem to be very happy and thriving in their new identity. Another scenario is a young adult who went through great trauma as a very young child and continued on through their early teens. The two people who gave them their name at birth left this earth when they were still a preschooler and then ended up in a very abusive home until their early teens. I have watched this person struggle in ways that tell they are holding on to the things that they think gives them their identity and security but at the same time they are so insecure and unhappy. These wounds were put on them by others in their young life and now as a young adult they bears the scars. My prayer for them is that they will cry out to the one who can give them true identity and security and that is Jesus. Another is a young teenager who has again been abandoned and neglected all through their formative years. They have an opportunity to be adopted but they aren’t sure about changing their name. They seem to be holding on to the only identity they know. My grandsons decision to change his name was a willful and thought through choice. He isn’t struggling with an identity crisis. The wonderful thing about him is he knows who loves him. The others however are struggling with who they are and they are needing to know they are loved. They don’t’ know what love feels like, looks like and seem to be holding on to a false love. Philippians 2:9 tells us that the name of Jesus is above all names. In him we will have first eternal salvation but peace and security. We will be one with him. In Jesus we will have a name, and know who we are, he tells us we are His. I pray for the walls that have been built up around these hearts, to keep true love out, will begin to crumble. So that they can begin to receive true love, identity and purpose that they were birthed for. To watch an identity crisis play out in one’s life in heartbreaking. It truly takes the love of God in one’s heart to break through the wall and let that person out. 1 Peter 4:8 says“ love covers a multitude of sins.” In these people I see deep wounding and rejection. It’s Gods love that covers sins but it also fills the heart. Opening ones heart to receive love from another human and even God is often a very difficult thing to do when one has been abused. But once we choose to love and be loved and choose forgiveness that love that Peter talks about covers those sins of abuse. Accepting Jesus as your savior is the beginning of eternally knowing Gods love and who we are in Christ and who he is in us. Then we will come to know who we are inside and out.
While reading John chapter 4 I was struck by what happened to the woman at the well. I know much has been said about the woman at the well, but when scripture comes alive in you its worth talking about. It was while she was talking to Jesus a couple of things stood out. One that was when Jesus told her “ that whoever drinks from the water that I give them shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.Then, she asked for that living water. But then the second thing is, He brings her to the place of confessing her sin. Oh how I love Jesus, he is truly the way, the truth and the life. He presents life eternal, brings us to repentance and we confess our sin accept Jesus as savior and lord and are saved. Then the third thing that really struck me is that he filled her with that living water she asked for. Jesus said that the well of living water would spring up to eternal life. That eternal life welled up in her and then she went back to the men in her city and told them all that Jesus had said to her. The interesting thing about that to me is that her words were living water springing up to eternal life to those men and then they went to find Jesus. They said they believed because of the words of the woman, “ He told me all things that I have done.” Oh but then after they found Jesus they said to the woman. “ It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the savior of the world.” That living water, full of life and revelation that leads to eternal life. That’s what our lives say to those we speak to about our Savior, out Lord, our Jesus. For our living lives, filled with living water that flows out of us to cause others to seek after the savior on their own until they find him is glorious and beyond human words to explain. Its eternal! And that’s living life.
The scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 gives us great instruction if not a command. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. There are many levels and directions of studying that we may choose from. And as a believer we have added unto us another that seems to be more important and eternal than any others, but bring all the other parts together. From the moment we are born we are constantly learning. Not necessarily studying, but learning. We study all through school until we graduate and then if we choose to go on to college for a degree in a certain specialty we study much more. But there is one form of study that is divine. When I became a believer I couldn’t stay out of the bible. I would read and be involved in bible studies and talk to other believers continually. But then 1 Corinthians 2:13 tells us “ Which things also we speak, not in the words of man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches: comparing spiritual things with spiritual”. Life itself is a continual learning process. From the moment we are born we are learning to become an adult we learn to speak and walk and show respect, and the list goes on and on. But then at the moment of choice to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord we begin a new chapter of learning and that’s the things of God in the Spirit. We are a three part being. Body, soul, which is our mind, will, emotion and Spirit. As believers we spent the rest of our lives bringing our bodies and our souls into subjection to the Spirit of God and the very likeness of Christ. By allowing the Spirit of God to lead us in truth by his power and submitting ourselves to Him, we are allowing Jesus to become Lord of our lives. It’s a life time of submitting our will to God and allowing Jesus that place in us to become like him and not us. Growing up I didn’t have a great learning curve, not in the natural here on earth as a human being and definitely not in the spiritual. So when I became born again I was like a sponge. I couldn’t get enough of my Jesus; fortunately I still can’t get enough. I consider myself home grown both in the earthly sense and in the spirit. I am a new creation in Christ and still strive to allow him to change me into his image and take mine out. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I am a child of the most high God. His daughter, his princess, his servant, his chosen generation, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, his peculiar people, who praises him for he has called me out of darkness into his marvelous light. Full of his mercy, grace and love. Home grown by allowing myself to be taught the things that matter here on earth and in the spirit for eternity. Oh his glory and majesty are yea and amen and worthy of all praise and honor.
Often times in the morning as I’m waking up I find myself in far away places and almost always talking to a group of people. Call it dreaming or vast imagination or even imagining your worst fear. For me speaking in front of people has quite a fear connected. So anyway as I was in this place which happened to be my class reunion. I was telling my fellow classmates my life story from the point of graduation to the present. To the high achievers in my class I’m sure I was quite boring and to those who lived similar lives it was hum drum. But I was telling them the highlights the lowlights the tragedies and the triumphs of my life through the years. I do know that in reality I have the most children and grandchildren of those in my class so I highlighted that quite well in my talk. Besides the fact I shared that early in my adult life I became a believer in Christ.
I even shared some struggles when I made that choice. As I was ending my talk a scripture came to mind and its in Revelation 12:11 “ And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony;” I began to have a revelation of the power of this scripture. I was sharing the tragedies, triumphs and struggles and realizing that at the moment of accepting Jesus in my heart I had the power of the blood of Christ to overcome the adverse things. The “ him” is the one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy us in anyway he can. John 10:10. And the word of their testimony is Jesus Christ who is the word and our testimony is our life in the word, Christ in us. That our lives are a testimony of Jesus in us as Savior and as Lord. As I fully woke up that morning I had a revelation in me that will never leave me or forsake me. For I am that living testimony of the life of Christ in me and the power of the blood of Christ that covers me. And that’s living life!
Through the years people come and go from in our lives. When I was a young single mom I went to work at a local store. There I met another young single mom. Our sons were 16 days apart in age and when we met they were a very cute six months old. We became friends with a lot in common. Eventually we both married and began adding to our families. She added two more sons and I added four more sons. We had fun getting together with the boys watching them play and become friends. We then became involved in a card club with several other women. We met once a month at night and I enjoyed the fellowship. I can remember my friend picking me up the first night and telling me that a couple of the girls were very religious and conversation might turn to that topic. I was pretty clueless about this topic but interested non- the- less. As time went on my life began to crumble, depression and fear became a part of my battle to survive. With the help of another friend I was told about Jesus, the gospel of salvation and soon gave my heart and life to Jesus. One night at card club there were only four of us. The two sisters who were Christians and my friend and I. Our, time together started by talking about the Lord. I then chimed in with all that I had been going through and how I was led to the Lord. With amazement the sisters said that this was an answer to prayer because they felt they should stop having this club. We met a few times after that but then life took us all in different directions. My friend who introduced me was still pretty skeptical of all this religious stuff, but we remained friends and stayed in touch. Then one day as we were talking she told me that she had accepted Jesus also and that I had a lot to do with her decision. I’m not sure what kind of influence I had on her but I do know that today after 44 years of friendship we live many miles apart but are close in our hearts and spirits. We call each other and encourage and pray for each other and our families. In the Lord there is no distance or division. We are truly one in the body of Christ. And that’s living life in Christ!