Friday, July 10, 2009

I Can Choose

This is a poem I wrote nearly 10 years ago that hangs on my wall at work. Just felt like sharing it today, maybe it will encourage someone...

I Can Choose

I cannot control what I face in my life,
I cannot prevent all my struggles and strife.

But I do have the choice in what I do and I say,
And I can control the choices I make along the way.

I can look at my my circumstances and let them guide what I do,
Or Lord, I can choose Truth and stay focused on You.

I can choose to worry of what the future might bring about,
Or I can trust You today Lord, without wavering in doubt.

I can choose to react in emotion to the feelings I feel,
Or I can choose to stand firm on Your Word that is real.

I can choose fear, uncertainty, "what ifs" and "maybes,"
Or I can choose You and Your Word and what forever will be.

I can choose Truth and all the peace that it holds,
And then stand secure no matter what circumstance unfolds.

For, Lord, Your unchanging Word, it will anchor my soul,
And then no matter what I might face, I can stand whole.

Strengthened, assured, confident, standing firm in Your care,
I can choose You and Your Truth and find my hope there.

So Jesus, My Lord, it is You and Your Truth that I choose,
And in my choice I attain victory I can never ever lose.

- Diana DePriest
© October 12, 1999

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let Us Run

I've been waiting to get the questions for this week's chapter of our Seeking Him bible study, but unfortunately our hostess for this week has had a lot going on at her house, so we're a tad bit in limbo. But I've had a lot on my mind, and really want to address things as a whole rather than specifically to the single chapter we are on.

I think I shared that in addition to continuing with my blogger buddies through the study, I have also been working back from the beginning with a group of ladies in real life six weeks behind. So I am finding myself breaking new ground at the same time as checking growth status of fields planted weeks before. There has been no coincidence in the timing, and I have found myself to be going back and weeding the old garden at the same time as planting new seeds. Can I just say it? Some days it is exhausting!

I have to confess it though, it is a good exhausting. It's the kind of exhausting where you lay in bed at night feeling the pain in your muscles, knowing that the work you have been doing has been effective. Not just effective in the planting, but effective in the effort itself. The muscles, spiritual in this case, are getting stronger every day. It doesn't lessen the pain, but it does serve as encouragement to press on.

But also like when your physical muscles are being used in new ways and are sore, it's hard to get comfortable, to get settled. I'm feeling the same way with my spiritual muscles. I'm uncomfortable. The whole concept of stopping where I'm at and remaining half-developed is unacceptable. I am overwhelmingly aware of so many issues, in my life and around me.

Two words keep ringing in my head, over and over again, "No compromise," the words scream out. I am keenly aware of "settling." I'm aware of settling in my own life, and I am seeing all the settling going on around me. It's one thing when I see it in "the world," but when I see it in the body of Christ, it is unacceptable.

Tonight I was sharing with the ladies at my IRL bible study about a vision/ word picture the Lord gave me years ago. It was of a Christmas tree with beautiful packages wrapped and placed beneath it. I'm talking the perfectly wrapped packages so beautiful they are in and of themselves decorations. The kind of packages you almost don't want to open because they are so beautiful.

The Christmas tree is the very cross itself, and the packages wrapped beneath are all for me. There is the gift of grace, the gift of mercy, the gift of joy, and abundant life. There are more, forgiveness, wisdom, hope, purpose. All beautifully wrapped at the foot of the cross and every one of them has MY name on it. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, a believer who has accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, then this same tree stands in your life, with the same gifts beautifully wrapped beneath it.

The problem is we become so enamored of the beauty of the gift, we never allow ourselves to truly open it and find the depth of it's value and purpose. We stand at the tree, pointing at the gifts, claiming them as our own and yet never truly reap the benefits of having them in our lives. It's pretty lousy when you think about it.

I just keep thinking how sad it is, all that the Lord has given us and we live like we don't even know what we have. It's like a millionaire living like a pauper, he may walk around with his bank book and show you his millions, but if the money just sits in the bank, what value does it have? And unlike his millions that he could give away or pass on, God's gifts to us will never be of any value to anyone else unless used by us. They are perishable if you will. I cannot give my grace to someone else. I cannot bless them with the forgiveness I have been given. The mercy I have received, is of no value to another. On the other hand, I can share them. If I open them, take ownership of them, I can share the grace I have received, impart it to another. I can bestow forgiveness and mercy on others when I have experienced the fullness of them myself. So can you, so can we all.

But instead, all too often, we stand back from the tree and declare, "I have grace. I have forgiveness. I have joy." And albeit true, if the extent of our ownership of them comes from their position beneath the tree, do we really have them at all?

Sigh. See? Uncomfortable. Stuck on the things that keep us from climbing under the tree and ripping open the gifts God has placed our names on. My opinion on what the number one hindrance? COMPROMISE!!!

Compromise leads us to settle. Instead of making righteous choices, we settle for what we determine to be "not that bad." Instead of God's best we settle for "good enough." The end result is living a life ripped off, and with an ineffective witness. I don't want to do it anymore, and I don't want to watch my brothers and sisters in Christ do it anymore either. It's NOT worth it!

I sincerely believe God is doing a stirring. I sense a line being drawn, people are being put in positions to step up and make a choice... "Choose this day whom you will serve..." The way God called out in the time of Joshua, I sense Him calling us today. I see it happening all around me, even families are being divided as the choices are being made. Which side of the line will you step to? Will you serve the Lord at all costs, laying aside every hindrance? Or will you continue in the ways of the world allowing your faith and your witness to be diluted and corrupted by compromise? For me, I want to step up, I want to proclaim "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" I want to choose righteousness and holiness and I want to pursue the Lord and His purpose and plan for me whatever the "cost" may be, knowing in the end, it will be worth it.

Righteousness, holiness - they aren't really "PC" words, but they are words of the Lord. "...but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward." Proverbs 11:18 "...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16. Politically correct? No. Truth? Absolutely. A command? Undoubtedly. We are being called to step up.

I don't share this in the form of a judgment. I'm not pointing fingers and declaring only sin I see outside of myself, I am cleaning out my own heart and life first. And I'm calling out to the rest of you, come with me, let's root out the compromise, in our lives, in our families, in our churches, the kingdom... Let us decide today we will serve the Lord at all costs. I believe the Lord desires to bring a great revival to His people. (Clearly, is there any question?) But like never before the times are desperate, calling out for the church to stand, to truly be a light in the darkness, and we must, absolutely must allow nothing to dim our light.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Run with me!