Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When a broken heart brings you joy

I will be starting on Monday as the children's ministry director at First Baptist Winchester. I'm so excited for the opporutunity to personally disciple children on a regular basis. There is a real reason why Jesus tells us "unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3 Children can exemplify the gospel message in such a profound way. Ministering to them challenges me to live a life that pleases God daily. As adults we can learn a lot from the example of the children around us.

I was watching my youngest son one day and he was the perfect example of a contrite heart. Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The greatest sacrifice you want is a broken (contrite) spirit. God, you will gladly accept a heart that is broken (contrite) because of sadness over sin.” This is what I observed.

Our son had not been doing very well in school and we were discussing with him some of his behavior. I could see it on his face before he even said a word.

First, he agreed with us that the things he had been doing were wrong. He understood that those things were not what we expected of him, nor was he bringing honor to God or himself by his actions. For adults that means calling sin sin. Sometimes we try to dress it up to take the sting out. We use euphemisms and compare our actions to choices others have made. We have to learn to agree with God's definition of sin.

Second, I could see the tears forming in his eyes as he thought about the things he had done that day. He was truly sad because of his sin. He was not just trying to get out of punishment. And he readily agreed that he should be punished, but he took responsibility for what he had done, and he put into his own words what things he would try to work on.

This is not the first time I have my son visibly moved by something he has done and he knows in his heart that it is wrong. Our sin already grieves the heart of God. If we think of the abundance of grace He has freely lavished upon us, it should grieve our hearts too.

But here's the good news. God gladly receives us when we are sad because of our sin. He is looking for those who will be broken-hearted by their sin and will come to Him for grace to face another day. When we can own up to what we have done, that is the first step to show God that we are sorry and we want another chance to do better. Then the challenge is trusting Him to empower us to do better. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have it within us to be better, it is God in us that makes that possible.

I love His name....Immanuel...God with us. When you have a contrite heart, God will turn your sorrow into joy. May you know that joy this week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hope that does not disappoint

I ended 2011 with a lot of questions to God about the state of my life. Had I really heard His voice when I made certain decisions? What was He trying to teach me in the time that He was clearly telling me to wait?

I was frustrated with God's timing and felt far away from His presence. There were so many areas of my life that were filled with uncertainty and I wasn't sure what God was up to.

Then one day as I was crying out to the Lord, many times literally as well as figuratively, I looked up as I was driving my kids to school and I saw a rainbow....a sign of promise.

I cannot tell you how quickly God's peace came over me. And I was reminded of when we first came to Lexington to visit, to determine if we were going to move our family yet again. On our first morning here, there was a rainbow in the sky. I smiled then taking the promise that Lexington would be a blessing to us. And it has been in many ways.

So as 2012 began, some doors that had seemingly been nailed shut last year began to open slowly and God provided HOPE. This week I have thought a lot about hope and why without it we can become discouraged and begin to despair.

Romans 5:3-6 says, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." WOW!

Well, let me tell you, I wasn't doing a lot of rejoicing as the year came to an end. But when I started to think about HOPE, I could more clearly see why God told us not worry. We worry because we have no hope. We worry because we lack the faith that God can handle whatever situation we face. We worry because we can't control the outcome of our circumstances.

Throughout this time God had also been pressing on me the need to trust His work in my life. And I found myself repeatedly praying, "Lord help me to overcome my unbelief." I think many Christians would not like to admit that they too sometimes fall into that category of not totally trusting God. We say it with our mouths, but it is not evident in our actions.

So I am excited about 2012! I'm trusting in God because it truly is a hope that does not disappoint.

[PHOTO]-I was so awed that I ran in the house and grabbed my camera. This is the rainbow I saw that day over our house.