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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hope

This week begins the season of Advent on the church calendar. My favorite thing about Advent is all the light. I love Christmas lights and candles and reflecting on the idea that Jesus is the light of the world. One of Jesus' main messages was that He, the light of the world, had come to stamp out darkness. Every time I light a candle or look at my Christmas tree lit, I try to reflect on how His light brings hope.

The first candle in a traditional advent wreath is the candle of Hope. 1 Corinthians 3:12 says, "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold..."

The context of that verse is Paul's discussion about how when Moses and the Israelites in the OT approached God, they had to do so with veiled faces. The had to view the glory of God through a veil because Christ had not yet come to remove that veil from their eyes and their hearts so they could see God clearly and approach Him boldly. With Christ's coming, that veil was torn. Because of Christ, we now have clear access to God and we can approach him boldly. Because of Jesus and his coming to earth, we have hope and that hope allows us to be very bold.


We can be bold in our prayers. We can be bold in our love and service of others. We can be bold as we parent and go to school and work. We can be bold in every aspect of our daily lives because the light of the world came down, reached into the darkness, tore the veil and delivered hope to the human heart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Regrets and Mistakes

This past weekend we had the awesome privilege of seeing Adele in concert. Whether or not she sings the type of music you enjoy, it's hard to argue that she is beyond talented. The theme of her show and I would argue most of her songs, is her recovery from heartbreak. She contributes most of her successful song writing to relational heartbreak and the hard things she's gone through have made her who she is as an artist and a person. One of my favorite lines from her songs is "Regrets and mistakes, they are memories made." (Someone Like You) 

I think everyone can relate to that sentiment. The older I get, the more I can see that everything I have gone through both difficult and wonderful is being woven into a tapestry that is the work of art God is creating out of my life story. 

Everything from relationship struggles, to deaths, to career insecurities, to parenting, to health concerns, etc. can all be used by God to create a story that He wants to use to both minister to others and glorify Him.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” God often allows things in our lives in order that we may be a comfort later to someone else. The good and bad things in our lives are opportunities to be used by God in the lives of others.

But, God also uses the circumstances of our lives to make us into who He wants us to be and so that our lives will be a masterpiece only He can create.

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)

God is in the business of finishing His work in His sons and daughters in order to make them “complete, not lacking in anything.” That thought brings me such peace! God has His finger on all the details of my life and His end goal is to make make me a more complete work of art.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

I love what John Piper says about this passage. 

“What Paul, and God through Paul, wants you to understand is this: You are an epic poem, a God-imaging poiema — become flesh and spirit. Your poem contains all the comedic and tragic drama of an existence more real and more meaningful than you have yet to comprehend. If you think you are a boring work of prose, you don’t yet see things as they really are. You are afflicted with a sin-induced cataract in the eye of the heart. But it is God’s intention and delight to heal your sight.”

How would my life change if I could more fully grasp that I am God’s “poem”? That my life is His literary masterpiece? I dare say I would live life more fully and with more purpose.

How would your life change?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
(Beautiful Things, Gungor)