Sunday, October 21, 2012
This grand bronze statue of a Shakespearean character called, "The Actor" by Dee Clements, stands in Benson Park in Loveland, Colorado. The statue reminds me of a verse in the Epistle of James about a person who looks in a mirror. Here's how it goes:
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" James 1:22-25.
Practically speaking, here's at least part of what this means: We can actually deceive our own selves in matters of faith. We can listen to a preacher/teacher or study the Word ourselves, we can even agree with everything we've learned about how God wants us to live and what He wants us to do. Then, we can walk away from that encounter totally unchanged, doing nothing about what we just learned. We may have gotten a bit more head knowledge, but our hearts remain untouched.
Here's how Beth Moore put it in her study of James: "We can work a study until the desert turns to ice and still be stuck in the same bondage. The doing causes the changing - not the hearing. Why don't we get that? Because we deceive ourselves. The self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed....the Word was meant to work."
It reminds me of the song, Through the Motions, by Matthew West. He sings, "I don't wanna go through the motions / I don't wanna go one more day / without Your all consuming passion inside of me / I don't wanna spend my whole life asking, / "'What if I had given everything, / instead of going through the motions?'"
As we're convicted by the first part of the verse, don't neglect the positive promise of the last part: if we will be faithful doers of the word and, I might add, refuse to just go through the motions, we will be blessed in what we do. What a joy to be passionate about God!
Monday, October 8, 2012
Actually, our entire lives are one long journey. On the day of our birth, we all embark on our Life Journey. God has created a map for each of our lives with a path for each of us to follow.
The Psalmist wrote (139:16) "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Each person has a different journey experience -- and each person carries some number of suitcases along the way.
So, what are these Suitcases I'm talking about. Well, here's a list of some things in our lives that can be termed burdens - i.e. Suitcases: fear, anger/temper, addictions of various kinds, insecurity, low self-esteem, worry, sorrow, -- what are some other things you can think of?
The question is: What suitcases are you carrying around with you on a daily basis?
God does not want us to be burdened by carrying internal loads that actually result in weighing us down physically as well as spiritually and emotionally. He wants us to trust Him enough to carry the load for us and to work out the needs involved with each load as He deems best.
Here's what Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28. That means, with His help, He wants you to lay aside the burdens -- which could be termed Suitcases -- and rest in Him.
The weights we carry around in our hearts and minds -- and yes, even in our body through stress and tension -- end up damaging our peace and joy. Peace and Joy -- the two things we want more than anything else in life. It's not money people want more than anything, although it's nice to have some. No, peace and joy are the two most desired things in a human heart -- plus, peace and joy is what God wants for His children and offers in abundance.
I'll end with some of the lyrics from a song aptly called, "Suitcases," sung by Dara Maclean:
How can you move when they're weighing you down / What can you do when you're tied to the ground / You carry your burdens, heavy like gravity / Just let them go now, there's freedom in release You can't run when you're holding suitcases / It's a new day throw away your mistakes and open up your heart / Lay down your guard, you don't have to be afraid --
Just breathe, your load can be lifted / There's a better way when you know you're forgiven / Open up your heart, lay down your guard / You don't have to be afraid.
Can you imagine what it's like to be free / Well, send those bags packing, they're not what you need /
Abandon your troubles by the side of the street / Just let them go now, believe me.....
Jesus says, "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
We enjoyed spending several hours exploring and learning about this amazing work. A sculptor named Gutzon Borglum had the vision and know-how to accomplish this great feat (with the help of 400 workmen) and build a masterpiece for the ages. The carving process began in October 1927 and was not officially completed until October 1941. The heads of the presidents are about 60 feet tall. Even the eyes are huge at 11 feet wide -- and can you imagine a nose that's 21 feet high?!
They say that a total of 450,000 tons of granite was removed from the mountain to create these faces -- mostly by strategic use of dynamite. I cannot even fathom that amount of rock, but each handful of stone had to be removed carefully and from just the right spots to cause each detail to turn out so beautifully.
God is our Creator and Builder. He made each and every one of us for a special purpose. Here are some verses that speak of God's building projects -- us:
"For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God" Hebrews 3:4
"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them" Psalm 139:16
"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments" Psalm 119:73
Then there is the idea of removing what is unneeded and superfluous in order to create a desired outcome that reminds me of what God does in the lives of His children. John 15:1-8 shows how God "prunes" us and removes things from our lives so that we will become better versions of ourselves and bear more fruit to His glory. Growth often comes through difficulty (and we just hope it doesn't require the use of dynamite). There is a song sung by Laura Story that says, "What if your blessings come through raindrops; what if your healing comes through tears; what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise."
As we see God working and building and pruning to make us His great masterpieces for eternity, we can give God the glory and say with the Psalmist: "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well" (139:14).