streams

streams

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blessed One

“They shouted, "Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!” (John 12:13 NLT)

The Lord is blessed--divine, holy, and glorified. Jesus, who came in the name of the Lord is also blessed--honored, sanctified, and consecrated. Those who know God acknowledge His sacred reputation.

When things are going well, it is natural to honor God. When a prayer is answered, a loved one is healed, an impossible problem is resolved, we are eager to exalt and thank God. However, when things don’t work out according to our vision, any mention of God feels unsympathetic. That is why we rarely hear songs of praise being sung at funerals. The Blessed One remains unchanged, no matter what the circumstances.

Lord, You are holy, exalted, and honorable. Help me to glorify you in the way I respond to every situation.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ingrained Guilt

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NLT)

As a child, I was raised to be hyper responsible. This led me to believe that if people around me were depressed, disappointed, or dissatisfied, it was my role to fix it. Since it was impossible to keep everyone happy all the time, I ended up feeling inadequate. I felt like a turkey that was brined, baked, and basted in guilt and then glazed over with shame for good measure. And if that were not enough, there were always little salt and pepper shakers of it at the ready for additional sprinkling. I grew up thinking that everything must somehow be my fault. I took none of the credit if things worked out, but self-condemnation became second nature.

Over the years, I have learned to subdue the ingrained feelings of self-reproof. I try not to give credence to obligatory ‘shoulds’ and contrived customs. There will always be those who use blame and shame as weapons of manipulation. I realized that just because someone tries to place the responsibility for their discontent at my feet, it doesn’t mean I have to pick it up. In reality, I do not have power over other people’s emotions, but I can change my perspective.  

These days, I have traded in my feelings of disgrace for the extravagantly forgiving grace of God. I invite the Spirit of God to infuse me and cleanse me from the inside out. Where I am deficient, God is sufficient. When I am powerless, He is all-powerful. Nothing is beyond His reach or His understanding. I take a step back, make space, and wait patiently for God to work things out.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Friend

"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20 NLT)

With the rise of social media, the concept of friendship has become blurry. Companions, relatives, coworkers, acquaintances, and those who share similar interests are lumped together and labeled as friends. We have diminished this relationship to mean a person that we know, but toward whom we do not feel hostile at the moment.

True friendship is a complex dance full of rhythmic and collaborative give and take. It is a harmonious blend of mutual love, trust, and respect. It cannot flourish unless both parties are attuned to each other, will the good of the other, and can confidently depend on each other.  And this is the kind of friendship that Jesus offers. He knocks at the door and waits for us to respond. If we  listen, if we are receptive, then He communes with us. God desires to be our intimate friend. We were created for this synergistic relationship, and we shall not find satisfaction in anything less. 

“When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.”  ( John 15:5 MSG)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Running Track

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:14 NLT)

In track and field, many of the shorter distance races are held on regulation tracks with precise measurements. The 200 and 400 meter races have separate lanes and staggered starting points for each runner. Since the outer lanes are longer than the inner ones, this ensures that each runner covers the same distance.

God made each of us unique and complex. We have different approaches and paces as we run toward Christ. There are linear thinkers, abstract philosophers, skeptics, dogmatists, conformists, intuitives, sensors, traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives, all on the same journey. While some adhere to their native theological beliefs, others may explore new ideological perspectives. We may have individual life paths and staggered starting points of faith, but the goal is the same: to cross the finish line. Thus, let us run this race with consistent drive, unflagging determination, and enduring purpose.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Condemnation vs. Correction

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11 ESV)

Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery; neither did He overlook her sin. Instead, he offered compassion, forgiveness, and correction.

What is the difference between condemnation and correction?  

Condemnation declares something as beyond repair, uninhabitable, or incurable. Correction, on the other hand, intends to aid in recovery and improvement. It implies careful evaluation in the hope of setting things right. Unfortunately, many of us conflate the two, lumping all forms of critique as judgmentalism. Sorting and separating these two concepts requires discernment.

For example, if a good friend of mine notices that I am about to make a choice that may have long-term, negative consequences, what should she do? She could decide to keep her opinions to herself; after all, she doesn’t know for sure that her instincts are accurate. Plus, I may not accept what she has to say, and it could damage our friendship.

Condemnation of a stranger or an enemy is easier than admonishing a loved one. Correction requires boldness from the giver and humility from the recipient. It’s difficult to accept advice from those we do not respect or trust.  

Lord, grant that we may follow Your example in all things. Teach us to have empathy, grace, boldness, and humility. Help us to give and accept correction when necessary.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Total Surrender

"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." (Luke 22:42 NLT)

The ability to drive our own vehicles provides us with a great deal of independence. We can come and go when we want, which gives us a sense of control. We find comfort in having access to all our stuff. Thus, even when we do not know where we are going, we prefer to follow someone in our own car rather than ride as a passenger.  

The desire for independence makes us reluctant to submit to God. Even when we attempt to follow God, we would rather do so on our own terms. God asks us to be a passenger in His car--where He decides the destination, the speed, the pit stops, the music, the temperature, the snacks...everything. He wants us to surrender in total trust--not even concerned about where we are going--but completely at peace, knowing that as long as we are with God, all is as it should be.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Crossroads

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)

A few years ago, all our relatives gathered in Detroit, Michigan, for my cousin’s wedding. On the morning of the wedding, my husband and I drove to the church in our car. My uncle was following behind us in an another car--loaded with older relatives.  The city was unfamiliar to all of us, but my husband and I used GPS to find our way. My uncle didn’t know how to operate his GPS; neither did any of the 0thers in his car.  He told us to lead the way; he would just keep up with us. In the congested traffic of Detroit, our cars got separated. My uncle called me on my cell phone. He wasn’t sure where he was and wondered if I could just give him directions. As I was telling him where to turn, I could hear the voices of other relatives from his car telling him what to do as well. I could tell he was distracted and overwhelmed. He didn’t have a pen to write things down, and he probably wouldn’t be able to remember the street names and turns. I asked him to pull over at the nearest business. We retraced the way and found his car. This time, my uncle followed us closely and we all finally made it to the church.

I know that was a long story, but it illustrates several important points. When we are following God, we too are likely to get lost. What should we do?  
--Look for Him.
--Call Him.
--Listen carefully.
--Write things down.
--Don’t get distracted by other voices. 

Every crossroad is a pivotal juncture. Don’t try to figure things out on your own. Don’t wander down wayward paths, deviating from your intended destination. Instead, stick close to Jesus; the Lord will direct you, turn by turn.