Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Ex-Selfish Deo

In Excelsis Deo: Latin for Glory to God in the Highest

As Christmas races upon us next week, I am reminded of another Christmas five years ago. My five-year-old granddaughter was singing “Gloria” in the cherub choir. She practiced and practiced, but every time she would sing “Gloria, In Excelsis Deo,” it would come out “Gloria, In Ex-Selfish Deo.” 
I thought how perfect! God was reminding us in a very simple way that this is exactly where He wants us to be – in Him, ex-selfishly. Only then can we as individuals truly fulfill God’s purposes.

From my own personal experiences, I found that my innate desire to glorify God is not easily expressed when I am living within my selfishness. However, it becomes unique to us as “children of God” when we are transformed and made new through the Holy Spirit. It grows within us because of the grace of God and His gift given us through the birth, death and resurrection of His son. Our desire to glorify God grows exponentially when we give up our right to ourselves; when we surrender our independent, “selfish” will completely to God…”In Ex-Selfish Deo.”

Looking at the special, inspirational photo above we are reminded of how we come into this world with absolutely nothing, naked and needy. When we give our all to God there is nothing between us, and Him. He is completely aware of our nakedness and our needs.

Then through His grace, mercy, and love, we become alert, aware, attentive and attuned to His mighty hand carrying us, supporting us, protecting us.  

“Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).
During this Christmas holiday and into the New Year, let’s all choose to live for God, “In Ex-Selfish Deo”.

“Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” Luke 9:23-24 (NIV).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beaten, Broken, Bruised

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When I view this picture I am consumed with thoughts of beaten, broken, bruised and bleeding by the storms that batter this coastline. I also see erosion and a tearing away of substance. This physical manifestation reminds me how we, as humans are often beaten and broken by our own storms of life. It could be the death of a loved one, illness, divorce, loss of job, financial ruin, domestic and/or sexual abuse or even enslavement to sex trafficking.

Our culture is changing at such a rapid pace and our moral values are declining to such an extent that these issues and others affect many of us. When our storms and trials occur, we often lose faith in a greater good. We often wonder how long we must endure, how long will the erosion of our happiness continue and we cry out for God to please remove this cup, saying, “It is too difficult to drink.”

But do look more closely. View the picture one more time. Can you see strength? Can you see the determined rock formation at the edge of the water? This is how God works to capture our attention. He allows the storms of life to come so that we will be strengthened in our character, our faith, our persistence and our determination. Like a highly skilled archer, God cuts a path through our tough exterior right into the center of our stony, stubborn heart. Once we yield to His forming hands, we will experience not only happiness we will experience lasting joy, peace and contentment.

Look again. See the finished product of the Father’s hand at work in our lives.

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."
James 1:12 (NIV)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hard Work Builds Character

Fall is harvest time in Prince Edward Island, Canada, a place, it seems, where potatoes grow every inch.

When I grew up in PEI, it was common for children to have a couple weeks off from school during the month of September in order to work in the fields. The younger children carried water to the workers. The older children carried a woven basket to pick up potatoes left behind by the digger.  Once the basket was full, it would be emptied into a potato sack lying on the side of each row; then you would continue down the row until you reached the end. Each field hand was assigned so many rows to “pick” within a day.

When you are younger, a field with several acres of potatoes can be an overwhelming task. It was backbreaking work to say the least.  And it was dirty work. We would be covered in red clay ~ in our eyes, our nostrils, our ears, under our fingernails ~ everywhere you can think of.

Even though the work was tedious and dirty, we delved into it because we were being rewarded ~ just a few dollars and a couple of homemade meals ~ but it was enough to encourage us to work with care.

As children, the ten of us learned from our parents that “hard work builds character” and “hard work never hurt anyone.” Their words taught us well and we all became diligent, adopting a strong work ethic, even if we didn’t like the work assigned to us.

As I matured, I learned another reason to work hard. Hard work is actually blessed by God. He assigns each and every one of us certain gifts and talents, which He hopes we will use for His glory and for the building of His kingdom. Even if we feel we are not well rewarded for the work we do each and every day, let’s remember that any work done for the Lord, regardless of what it is, will yield great rewards in His time.

“Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), 
as (something done) for the Lord and not for men.” 
Colossians 3:23 (AMP)