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Elijah’s List posted this recently.
WOW! Heart check!!!
Seriously though, take a minute and ponder that.
When I pondered…I thought of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. When Screwtape tells Wormwood to focus the patient’s attention on petty things while he was at church. So the patient wouldn’t focus on the Word and how it applies to himself.
Judas did focus on the petty. The negative. And he remained a sceptic despite seeing miracles right before his eyes. He didn’t read about the miracle of the fish and bread feeding 5,000. He actually ate the bread and fish! He didn’t read about blind eyes being opened, he watched it happen.
Truthfully I feel bad for Judas. He didn’t enjoy His life. He clearly didn’t like himself. Seriously. Judas was with Jesus Himself for 3 years, and never actually absorbed anything about who Jesus was. Jesus was, is, and will always be love personified.
Who spends 3 solid years with Jesus, and comes out worse than where he started?
Truthfully…a lot of people.
What? Why? Who? Sacrilege!!
I know. Because I was one.
I confessed Jesus as my Savior at 16. And promptly tried to be perfect (as in without flaw) and do all the right things. I focused on behavior and looking the part.
Nothing reached my heart.
I couldn’t be perfect. And it frustrated me. My life didn’t change. No miracles happened in my life. And I was disappointed.
I ended up flipping around and going absolutely in the opposite direction. I became more critical. More judgmental. I loved less.
And it took a good 7 years before I gave it another shot. At 16, I shoved the Word at people…but at 25 I started applying the Word inward. I began to deal with my heart issues. My broken places began to heal. It was a process that still continues. It’s a day to day walk.
I can tell you that it’s much easier to point fingers and throw rules at people than it is to love them. It’s easier to criticize, scoff & judge.
But…if you take that pointing the finger and judging everyone path. You won’t heal. You won’t grow.
I think that’s what happened to Judas. I think he allowed his natural skeptic to dismiss miracles. He chose not to receive the love and teaching from Jesus. He chose not to heal and grow.
We have a choice too. Perspective and attitude are everything. Being open isn’t alway easy. Neither is change. Not for me. Not for you. Not for the disciples either.
Let’s be real…the 12 disciples are like us. They screwed up. They didn’t always understand. They acted without thinking. They lost their tempers.
But the difference between Judas and the other 11 is that the 11 grew and changed. They applied what Jesus taught them and walked it out.
Were the perfect? Um…definitely not. And neither are we. Neither are your leaders. We are all human. Doing our best. We are all given a choice.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT
Judas got to choose too. Unfortunately we all know how that worked out. (Spoiler alert…it can’t get much uglier).
Judas was bitter. I don’t want to be bitter, but some days I see myself heading in that direction.
Judas was a cynic. I don’t want to be an eye rolling cynic, but sometimes I am.
Judus had a greedy, selfish & negative outlook. Sometimes I do too.
I don’t want to be a complainer or a gossiper either. But some days I am.
So this is a heart check for me. To go back to Jesus on the rough days. The days I’m more Judas-like than Jesus-like and ask Him to show me what is going on in my heart and head so I can deal with the root of it and have a better attitude and perspective.
Especially with all the chaos in my life right now…I need more Jesus time. More worship. More Word. And less judgmental attitude. Less pessimism.
Point to ponder while you wander…..
I’m having a rough time with one particular condescending co-worker. After a meeting with him I need to walk for a minute and readjust my attitude. Then I read this… sigh. How do I work that magic of my best self coming out in the face of being condescended to?
Proof I need Jesus more every day.
Matthew 5:43-47 The Message Version
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”
Love is always the right answer. I know that. Be kind. Don’t puff myself up. Be patient. Remembering that in the moment and choosing to act on it…that’s maturity in Christ.
Right now my emotional stability is continually fluctuating. And my intellectual pride really detests being talked down to like I am an idiot. I am not am idiot. I may not understand something. I may not know something. But I am always willing to learn.
But these are just excuses and rationalizations.
I should not behave like a toddler.
The Fruit of the Spirit should be kicking in…Self-control and Love.
But I need to choose to respond in love. Just like I need to choose joy in the face of trials like condescending co-workers. Just like I need to choose to maintain peace in the face of stress.
Jesus is always there to call on. Holy Spirit is always there with His Fruit of the Spirit. Abba is always there loving me (and you) and believing in me (and you).
So I need this reminder every Monday: Choose love today, Jill.
Point to ponder while you wander…is verse 48: “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
If God asks you to give something up, there’s a purpose in it, and you’ll always have a choice. Even Jesus had a choice.
“No one takes it (His Life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:18-19
I keep trying to focus on what I’m supposed to be doing right now. It’s hard. There are distractions everywhere all the time. There are friends and family who I love and want to spend time with. There are great books to read. Good movies and television shows to watch. There are church events, conferences and small groups to attend. People to pour into and encourage. My house needs to be vacuumed, badly. I need to do laundry. There are dishes in the sink. I really could use a nap. I probably should to go to the gym. It’s so nice out, I really should be outside.
So many things I could be doing. Not one of them are bad things or wrong things…but right now I have a God project with a short deadline. Looking at it, it seems an impossible deadline to meet and I just want to quit. I want to give up and just sleep.
God’s confirmed to me that I am where I’m supposed to be and that this project is the beginning of the rest of the words spoken over me coming to pass. I’m so excited about all that God has for me and my future. Truly. But I’m still holding back. I’m still hiding. I know that God is faithful. I know that God wouldn’t ask me to do something He hasn’t equipped me to do. I know He’s with me and will do what I can’t. And yet, here I am just under three weeks out from my deadline and I’ve barely started.
I had a talk with a friend earlier this week and she said this, “Are you willing to do what ever it takes? Are you willing to go all in?” I have to admit that I’ve always been reluctant to go all in on anything. In relationships I always hold back a part of myself. In work and school, I’ve rarely given 100%. I’ve thought if don’t go all in and I fail…well…somehow that’s excusable to me. It’s ok. But if I were to go all in and fail…well then that makes me a failure. I do not know when or how I acquired this faulty logic….but I did. I’m not sure if it’s fear or laziness or a combination there of but this thinking’s got to go.
I keep thinking of what it says in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
I don’t want to be wishy washy or luke warm. But truthfully for most of my life I’ve just let things happen instead of choosing a path. I wasn’t sure who I was or what I wanted so how could I make a decision? I would still complain because I don’t like what was going on in my life, but I didn’t know how to change it. I didn’t realize I was doing this until a few years ago. Once I realized it, I tried very hard to seek God’s will for my life and choose to follow the path He set for me. Honestly, I thought I’d gotten better and improved, but truthfully….I haven’t. If I had, I’d be so much farther on my God project.
Life’s about choices. Both the ones we make and the ones we don’t make. I am standing at the fork in the road. I can choose to stay right where I am. I can let life just happen to me or I can choose to obey God. I can choose to do what it takes to complete this project. I can take the necessary steps to go in the direction of all the amazing things God has for me.
Today I choose to believe God and trust Him. Today I’ve decided that I’m going to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task God has given to me. I’ve decided to go all in and hold nothing back. It’s a whole lot scary…but I’m gonna do it anyway!
This is my prayer & my goal. Romans 12:11, “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” and I Corinthians 15:58, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
This song came to mind when I was writing this, and I found a video of Third Day singing it. (Yay!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpE2cLdVsk8