Monthly Archives: October 2010
It’s Halloween weekend. Children will be dressed up in mask and costume pretending to be the celebrity, super hero, or prince/princess. I imagine we all can remember the days we liked to play dress up and pretend to be someone else other than ourselves.
On an every day basis, we will get up get ready for the day sometimes in a favorite outfit and we go out to greet the world. How many of us leave the true self in the house as we go into our world of work or other activities. We suddenly put on the mask of who we think people want to see in us instead of letting our true selves be known. It is very easy to do and all of us including myself have done it a time or two.
Why do we put on this mask of being someone else? Maybe it is we are afraid we won’t be liked or loved if we let our true selves be known. Maybe we are trying to impress someone for that position that we really want in our job or some other organization. Maybe it is simply the fear of rejection.
We may be able to fool people outside of our homes with our mask. But, God knows the real us . He created us. In Psalm 139: 1 The Psalm of David states: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. God has known us before we were ever placed on this earth. He knows every thought, every sentence and every move that we are going to make throughout the day. We don’t have to put on a mask for Him because He loves us unconditionally regardless of what we say or do.
As I said earlier, that mask has been on my face a time or two for one reason or another. I tried hiding the real me. However,over time, the mask became uncomfortable. It was just like wearing that old mask on Halloween becoming sweaty and uncomfortable. The mask became so uncomfortable that I had to take it off and just let people see the me that God created me to be. The result of taking off the mask was that I truly experienced God’s grace more. I have learned the importance of what it means to see what is truly in the heart of others, and to know it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. God has taught me that it is ok if I am not accepted by everyone I meet. What really matters is that I know that God loves me. It is also my prayer that with my mask off, people will not only see the real April. They will see Jesus in me.
So, what do you say? It’s Halloween weekend. How about taking that hot and uncomfortable mask off and letting people see the real you. Who cares what others think when there is God who made you and loves you.
During the weekend, I encourage you to find a quiet place with your bible and read the entire Psalm 139. As you read, think about and accept how much God loves you! Then, allow others to see the true person God created you to be.
G- Go make disciples
O- Offer them Christ
D- Deliver His message of hope, forgivness, peace, unconditional love and life with Him for eternity.
Jesus came to them and said ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.’
What are you doing to spread the ‘Good News’?
When we become a Christian, we have dedicated ourselves to Christ to live by His example in our daily walk. Yet, there times in our daily walk that we are challenged with this commitment and we let self get in the way. How does it feel when we give into the self and stray from that Christian example?
I, personally can tell you how it feels. While out shopping and running errands this week, I was in one particular place of business and every turn trying to accomplish what I had gone in to do was blowing up in my face. By the time I reached the service counter, I was aggravated, had lost all patience and wanted the situation addressed immediately. Self had taken over and walking the talk was nowhere to be found. Well, long story short, I left in a huff without any of what I had gone into purchase. Once I got in the car and began pulling out into the street, conviction hit my heart with a wham!
God spoke to me very sternly and woke me back into reality. He said “you are writing little faith thoughts of encouragement, inspiration and being a Christian example and look at you.” “You are unnecessarily aggravated and you are definitely not demonstrating Christ like action.” “Whoa”, I said realizing that I was wrong for the impatience and being upset because I did not get what I wanted when I wanted/needed it. Immediately I asked God to forgive me for being impatient, for being aggravated and for not being the Christian witness that I said I would be to others. Along with that, I knew I had to put self away and put Christ back in the center of my focus with the rest of my day’s responsibilities.
After asking God for his grace and forgiveness, I knew I was forgiven. See, that is the wonderful part of being a Christian. You confess your sins and you are forgiven. Also, since that moment I am more aware of not letting self get in the way of people seeing Jesus in me.
No one ever said being a Christian is easy. By no means are we perfected when we become a Christian. We are to strive for perfection in our daily lives. True perfection will come in heaven. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves and evaluate what motivates us. Are we motivated by our own ego and selfishness or are we motivated with our faith and relationship with Christ? Are we actually ‘walking the talk?’ Paul also continues to remind us to :
‘Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.’
2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV
As for me, well, I am more conscious about how I act and react. Daily, I strive to have an attitude of gratitude no matter the circumstance. Yes, I am sure there will be a time in the future where the self will attempt show her ugly little head once again, but you better believe I will be more aware to stop, breath, access, and send up a little prayer before I go a step further in my walk.
The next time you have a laundry list of things to do and you feel like you are not getting anything accomplished for whatever reason,take a moment, take a deep breath and send up a little prayer. Then, ask yourself if self getting in the way of what God wants you to accomplish at that moment. As a result of that self-evaluation, you will be able to go up to that service counter with a smile and accept graciously that they couldn’t provide the service or item you needed that day.
Does self get in the way of your Christian walk?
- Pursuing Our Christian Journey (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100 NIV
Psalm 100 is a Psalm that we begin to hear quite often this time of year with the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner. But, have you stopped and absorbed every word of this Psalm? Have you really thought about what it really means to give thanks and praise?
For the last day or so, I have been reflecting on this Psalm. It has made me think of what true thanksgiving means. True thanksgiving is serving a meal at homeless shelter along with extending a hand of fellowship and smile to those who were down on their luck then seeing gratitude in their eyes that someone cared to make sure that their basic needs are care of for the night. It is talking with a lady inmate who has become a Christian and allowing to her to share her story, her prayer concerns and praying with her then seeing joy in her eyes that someone cares for her beyond her walls. True thanksgiving is letting that mom who has worked 12 hours that day, has kids pulling on her and a cart spilling over with groceries to go ahead of you no matter your schedule then seeing her eyes fill with relief and gratitude. Read to a child who does not have someone to read to him/her at home and see their smile as you read to them. Teach someone who does not know how to read or write and see them beam as they accomplish reading that first sentence or writing down that first word. The list could go on and on with such meanings of true thanksgiving.
For me, I have done the things in the list above and not only did the person I shared the experience with had gratitude in their eyes but I also experienced the true heart of gratitude and God’s blessings. At the end of the day, I was ‘shouting to the Lord with joy’ because God had revealed to me what true thanksgivings really meant in the whole big picture of life.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, be mindful of the true thanksgivings you may have experienced in the past, or aware of ones you could experience now. When you do this, I will guarantee that your feet will not hit the ground for several days. You will experience such joy that you will “Shout to the Lord’! You will be saying ‘thank-you’ in a whole new way.
May you experience the true thanksgivings this Thanksgiving season.
My Dearest Andrew,
Wow! You ran the Chicago Marathon over a week ago. It seems like only yesterday that you were just starting to walk. I am also reminded of the first time I took you to cross-country practice. It was one of the hottest days of summer and I could see in your face how you were struggling with that first running practice. I thought to myself “he’s not going to want to come back.” Yet, after practice, you got in the car and said “practice tomorrow at eight”! You were ready to persevere with running on the cross-country team.
Over time, you have not only persevered with your running but you have done so with so many things in life. You see a task before you and you automatically set your goal and tackle that task one step at a time. With great determination, compassion and perseverance, you have learned what it means to go the distance with everything that has been set before you. You have become a young man with great respect for people. No matter the appearance of a person or their background, you treat them with a lot of compassion, respect and Christian love. You walk your talk of Christian action. Never lose the compassion you have for people.
Now, you are engaged to a beautiful young woman. In about ten months, you will begin your own little family. Dad and I are so excited and happy for you. We both know that you will be a wonderful husband and some day a wonderful dad.
Next August, when you begin this new chapter in your life, carry these qualities of compassion, determination, love, respect and giving into your own family. Megan and you will be challenged to go the distance together, there will goals that you will want to achieve together and as individuals. The both of you will encounter people who will be watching your Christian walk as a couple. Megan and you will be a team. Setting the pace and running the course together.
The greatest marathon (marriage)that you will ever run is before you. It is my wish and prayer that this marathon with all the challenges that will come along on the course, is that you will run it with all the heart, soul and determination that you have put into any race. May this race not be ran in a matter of minutes but be ran over the course of a lifetime . May Megan and you “Go The Distance.”
I love you always,
“I am not saying I have all this together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has wonderously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus. I’m off and running; and I’m not turning back. “ The Message Philippians 4:12-14
It is Monday! There is the week ahead of us, lists of things to do, appointments and meetings to make and you feel like you are not caught up from last week. You just feel like saying “TIME OUT!”. Your soul is crying to be still and your schedule is putting you in that weekly routine of having to conquer that list in front of you.
I know this feeling all too well. Several years ago, I was on that track of trying to keep up with lists, working, volunteer commitments family and keeping up with family out-of-town. Until one day, I came in and just collapsed in a chair. I realized that trying to stay on this treadmill was not good for me nor my health especially since I also deal with chronic fatigue. It was then I realized that the life I was given was far too precious and no amount of things and money could replace what was and is truly important in life. Priorities had to be evaluated and changes had to be made in order for me to enjoy the beautiful life that God had given me. My soul was crying to be still.
Yes, learning to say no and stepping off a few responsibilities was very hard for this people pleaser. But, as time went on, I came to realize how wonderful it was to just slow down enjoy my family, friends and just sit and fellowship with God and be renewed.
I am not saying to toss all your responsibilities aside. But, I am saying that despite what the world tells us, you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Sit down and evaluate that laundry list of “things to do.” Which tasks are really important and which tasks can you give up or maybe can assign to someone else? Who knows you may be doing something on that list that is a chore for you but may be a joy and blessing for someone else.
I simply encourage you to make it a priority to take time to be still sit and have fellowship with God. Renew your energy, your mind, and your spirit so you can love on your family more and enjoy the things you are called to do in this world. It is amazing how you will begin to feel rested and feel joy inside your soul. Also, you will begin to see and experience the many blessings that God gives you each and everyday.
As for me, I still have responsibilities that need my attention. When things start getting too busy, I have learned to take time out to let my soul be still and to fellowship with God. Stopping, evaluating and prioritizing is not a one time deal. Life still gets busy and it is in those times that I have to remind myself to remember what’s really important in the big picture of life.
STOP! EVALUATE! PRIORITZE! What is really important to you? When was it the last time you simply stopped, had fellowship with God and enjoyed the blessings he gives you every day?
God speaks to us daily through many different ways. Sometimes he speaks to us through scripture, prayer, and I do believe he speaks to us through other people. For me, he talks to me at times through music. When I heard this Josh Groban song for the first time the other day(and fell in love with it), I felt as though God was sending me one of his memos. He reminded me through this song the importance of sharing with others our heart, how we feel and the importance of telling God how much we love him. It made me think of the times I may have hidden away thoughts and feelings that needed to be shared. Missed opportunities.
Today, I challenge you to be aware of God’s presence, how he speaks to you and not to let your heart be hidden away. Be sure to tell someone you love that you do love them. Tell God how much you love him. He wants to hear from you as much as you want to hear from him.
Blessings and Peace-
YouTube – Josh Groban – Hidden Away