Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Living it out

I love when God shows me stuff over and over again. His word is just so cool. I started reading through the new testament a few months ago. I like doing Bible studies, but I've never been one to just read the Bible for what it is and decipher it myself. In the words of Matt Hammitt from Sanctus Real the lead singer from Tenth Avenue North, I used to read to finish, not read to change. I love that line. Tomorrow I will begin Revelation and my goal for 2011 is to read the Bible from cover to cover... for the first time in my life. I can honestly say that while it started out as a chore, now I eagerly get up in the morning, fix my coffee and curl up with Bingo on the couch and read with enthusiasm. God's word is full of good stuff and He shows things to me everyday. 

God has been working in me and Tevie all year. We have felt so convicted to live out Christ's love. Anyone can say they are a Christian. In fact, the Bible says that even the demons believe their is a God and tremble at His name. I have been sooooo convicted lately to really live out the love of Jesus.To be His hands and feet and serve "the least of these". I think that's why I love this clip from Stephen Colbert. I could say a million things about it, but what I love most is when he says, "If we're going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are or we have to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it." I know he was making a political statement, but that'll preach! The New Testament is full of awesome stuff about this. The following verses have torn me up the last couple of days!  (All emphasis is mine.)

 James 1:26-27
 26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

James 2:14-24
 14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.[f] Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[g] He was even called the friend of God.[h] 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

1Peter 1:21
 22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.[d] Love each other deeply with all your heart.[e]

 Now it's time for a little honesty. I am a talker. That's not really a secret. Ya'll know I can't go more than five minutes without saying something! I have prayed for months that the words of mouth and the meditations of my heart would be pleasing in His sight (Psalm 19:14). I still struggle with that, but I am better than I was! (One another note, in reading through the NT I have fallen in love with Paul. He says stuff like that all the time! "You know how screwed up I was, and I am not perfect now, but God is changing me daily!" Thank you, Jesus!) 

I feel as though God works with me in stages. So, we had to get my thoughts and speech on track. And now that we're seeing some progress, He's saying, "OK, baby girl, next step. You're talking the talk, now walk the walk." Whew, that's hard! Especially since I am fallible human being. Lord, people are going to judge me, they will think I am crazy. "So what," my Jesus says, "Would you rather be known as one of theirs... or one of mine?" Oh, I am in tears as I type that. I don't want to conform to this world. I want so desperately to be transformed.

Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. So, here I go, friends. One small step for Jesus, but one giant leap for Allysa's kind. Sometimes this walk gets lonely, I hope you'll join me.

PS: Shout out to the World's Great Dad on his 47th Birthday! 333

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joseph's Lullaby

I have been overwhelmed lately with just how BIG our God is. It totally blows my mind that someone so perfect and holy would come to save us, get this, while we were still sinners! He didn't wait for us to get our act together. The Bible says He came at just the right time. Ahhh, that gives me goose bumps! How cool is that?! Just the right time. While we were still deep in the pit, in a total mess, with no hope, He came to earth to bring us a life fuller than we could have ever imagined. I love that my Savior comes to me in the pit. He doesn't throw down a rope or call from higher ground. Nope, He puts on his work boots and climbs into the muddy mess. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me that much.  

While we can all agree that all too often we get carried away with the commericalism that is Christmas, I hope you can also celebrate the fact that for one month each and every year the entire world celebrates our Savior's birth. For one month (or more, our local Wal-Mart had Christmas stuff up in October!), the radio is filled with songs about angels and the coming of Jesus. 

I wanted to share with you a song that has pulled on my heartstrings this season. We listen to Christmas music as we get ready in the morning. The first time this came on Pandora, I put down my makeup brush and just listened. Of all the things I have considered when thinking about Jesus' arrival I never imagined Joseph's feelings. Can you imagine what he was feeling? First, he thinks his girlfriend has cheated on him, then God sets him straight,then he takes his big ol' pregnant wife on a journey to his hometown... then... then he sits in a barn with his precious wife as she gives birth to the Savior of the world. Overwhelming? That's probably an understatement. Can you imagine looking at that precious little face and knowing he was going to save the world? Knowing he was yours for but a short time and then He would embark on the most amazing ministry this world has ever seen? 

I think Mercy Me sums it up perfectly in their song "Joseph's Lullaby". Keep this picture in your mind as you read (emphasis mine):
Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight

Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine

Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

Sweet Joseph. As he held his perfect baby boy he was overwhelmed with love. Such a beautiful story. My Jesus left the throne of glory to come to earth as a little tiny baby. He learned to talk, learned to walk, scraped His knees, cried as his little teeth came in, learned his Father's trade... and died a criminal's death to save.the.world. Your Jesus did that. Do you ever stop praise Him for that? How incredible is that? Most days I can't even get that to sink in. He knew, in the words of Isaiah, He would be despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows acquainted with the bitterest grief. And he came anyway. If I'm being honest, when I know something is going to be that miserable, I usually bow out pretty quickly. What about Mary? What if she'd said "no". "No, God, I will not carry that baby. Do you know what is going to happen to my reputation?!" Do you know what, friends? SHE SAID YES! She said yes and she was blessed beyond comprehension. Kind of makes you wonder what you're missing out on because you keeping telling God no. 

Max Lucado says, "I have eternal life because Divinity entered the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter." Isn't God good? Out of mess... came the Messiah. 

I'll leave you with another good one from Brother Max: "Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?"