What’s Your Choice?

English: Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center in...

English: Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In New York City on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan there are two statues across the street from each other. On one side of the street is Rockefeller Center. Out front of the building known today as 30 Rock, is the famous statue of Atlas holding up the world.  With every muscle of his perfectly formed body taught with strain, he holds the world on his shoulders. You can see the burden of all the world’s weight coming down upon him in his furrowed brow.

Across the street is Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Behind the high alter is a shrine of the boy Jesus.  There is a statue of Jesus, perhaps eight or nine, holding the world with no effort in the palm of his hand.

Comparing the two statues: how stressed Atlas looks with the world’s weight and how peaceful is the face of our Lord.

 

What a powerful illustration of the choice we all have to make. We can try to carry the world with all its burdens, worries and cares on our shoulders or we can give them to Jesus and let Him carry them in His hands.

On our shoulders the burdens of the world can be overwhelming. In His hands, they seem small.  On our shoulders we strain and fall. In His hands, He holds them effortlessly.

We all have burdens in this world. We have struggles and problems. But we all have a choice in what we do with them. We can keep them on our shoulders and let them weigh us down and stress us out. Or we can put them in the hands of Jesus and experience His peace.

 

                  “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:6–7 (NKJV)

 

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Weave the Tatters

A devout Amish woman once said, “I seem to create so much of my life the way I fashion my rugs; from leftover remnants and tatters of whole days.  How seldom we have days that are in one piece, unmarred by intrusions and interruptions.  We find ourselves having to take a sliver of time to read a story to our child, a scrap of a moment there to make a call, another ragged piece of an hour to mow the lawn or hem a dress, a discarded handful of minutes to write a note.

“Yet when we take them all and dye them in the bright colors of our love, sew them together with the strong cord of devotion and plait them faithfully through the weeks, what delightful things have been fashioned.”

I found these words very convicting. How often I try to find the “perfect” time to do things or say that I have no time.  How many times have I become overly frustrated when my plans didn’t work out.  I keep waiting for a whole big piece of cloth out of which I can cut my day, but it never seems to come.

Yet, I also found these words comforting.  I no longer need to feel guilty or frustrated because I don’t have the big piece of time.  I need to take the advice of the Amish woman and weave the tatters and then see what God will fashion.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

Ephesians 5:15–16, (NIV)

Becoming Possible!

The teacher asked the students in her class what each wanted to become when they grew up. One answered, “President.” Another said, “a fireman.” While one responded, “a teacher.” One by one they answered until it became Billy’s time.
The teacher asked, “Billy, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Possible,” Billy responded.
“Possible?” asked the teacher.
“Yes,” Billy said, “my mom is always telling me I’m impossible. When I grow up I want to become POSSIBLE.”
Isn’t this our own dream? Everywhere we turn the world is telling us that we are impossible. The world tells us that our dreams are impossible. We are told what we can’t do or what we can’t be.
The good news of the Gospel is that God says we are POSSIBLE. He tells us that through His love and His power all things are possible for us. We can be all that He intended us to be, which is far more than we ever dreamed. All we need to do is to turn our lives over to Him and commit our lives to Him and He will make us POSSIBLE.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

The First Thanksgiving

Are We Becoming Too Familiar?

A pilot and his mechanic kept driving each other crazy with complaints and requests. One day the pilot turned his plane into the shop with a complaint, “Unfamiliar noise in engine.”

The next day the plane was back in service. The pilot checked the log book to see what the problem had been. The entry read, “Ran engine continuously for four hours. Noise now familiar.”

It is amazing how quickly we adapt and become familiar with things such as noises and smells. When you are around something long enough, whether it be the smell of a feed yard or an oil refinery or the sound of traffic or trains, you adapt to your surroundings. The once offensive smell or noise is now familiar.

Unhappily, the same principle applies to our values and morals. If we are around situations long enough where there are lower values, we become “familiar” with it all and consider it normal. If we allow magazines or television productions that have immorality presented, it will wear away at us until we simply become “familiar” with it all.

The Christian life is not lived in the glorious moments of revival or the transforming times of crisis, but in the day to day choices of saying “no” to the world and saying “yes” to God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as
living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do
not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will
is
his good, pleasing and perfect will.           Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Are You Enjoying It?

A man had just had his annual physical exam and was waiting for the doctor’s initial report.  After a few minutes, the doctor came in with his charts in his had and said, “There’s no reason why you can’t live a completely normal life as long as you don’t try to enjoy it.”

 

I see a lot of Christians who must see that same doctor.  They are trying to live out their faith each day, but they certainly are not enjoying it.  In fact, I’m not sure they believe they can.  Many Christians must believe that if something is Christian it can’t possibly be fun or exciting or anything else other than dull and boring.  Why else do so many in the church look like they are drinking lemon juice.

 

The telling words of the doctor’s statement are “normal life.”  Too many Christians are trying to be “normal” instead of Christian.  They are trying to fit in with the world around them. They are trying to get by in life and coast along. Or perhaps they are trying to hard and not trusting.  They have either forgotten or never learned that the Christian life is a life of trusting Christ’s and not trying to get Him to let us into heaven.  We need to remember that God loves us, so stop working so hard to get Him to like you.

 

We will never experience the full joy of Christ until we are willing to drink deeply of his grace and trust in Him.

 

The choice is ours: we can live a normal life or we can live a life we can enjoy.

 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  — John 10:10 (NIV)

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Nothing But the Truth!

David Casstevens of the Dallas Morning News tells a story about Frank Szymanski, a Notre Dame center in the 1940s, who had been called as a witness in a civil suit at South Bend.

“Are you on the Notre Dame football team this year?” the judge asked.

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“What position?”

“Center, Your Honor.”

“How good a center?”

Szymanski squirmed in his seat, but said firmly: “Sir, I’m the best center Notre Dame has ever had.”

Coach Frank Leahy, who was in the courtroom, was surprised. Szymanski always had been modest and unassuming. So when the proceedings were over, he took Szymanski aside and asked why he had made such a statement.

Szymanski blushed. “I hated to do it, Coach,” he said. “But, after all, I was under oath.”

Most of us have trouble when it comes to talking about ourselves. We tend to be overly modest and even self-effacing. We are definitely too hard on ourselves.

But what if the truth could be known about you? What if the person was under oath? Well, God has recorded in His Word the truth and nothing but the truth about you. In Psalms 139:14 we read:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

I worship in adoration – what a creation!  (The Message)

 

You are a treasure to God and that’s the truth!

 

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Staying Sober

In his book, Learning To Lead, Fred Smith writes: “For a long time people couldn’t understand how a man could be an alcoholic, sober up, stay sober for ten years and then go back to drinking. Surely he knew all the problems he had as a drunk. Why go back?
“Many psychiatrists found out why. People who give up alcohol, but remain only abstainers can be back to drinking at any time. Those who move from abstaining to the joy of sobriety seldom return. Until they make the transition from abstaining to sobriety, they are vulnerable.”

It is the same in the church. There are many people in the church who are merely abstainers. They are regulars at church simply because that is what you are supposed to do. To them, the Christian life is abstaining from certain activities. It is nothing more than being responsible and moral. Their Christianity is nothing more than a list of do’s and don’ts. They are always thinking of what you have to give up in order to be a Christian. These are the ones who, as the evangelist Billy Sunday used to say, “If you keep looking back, it won’t be long before you’re going back.”
Then there are those in the church who have found the joy of Christ. To these, the Christian faith is not a burden to endure; it is a way of life to enjoy. They realize that Christ has abundantly more to offer than the world. To these, their faith does not limit them it lifts them. They have stopped merely abstaining one way of life and have entered into an entirely new one.

Until we make the transition from abstaining from the world to living in the joy of Christ, we will be dangerously vulnerable to the temptations of this world. Our faith will always be drudgery and not a delight.

The answer is found in following Christ. In the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says we are to live in Him, just like a branch lives in a vine. As we are attached Jesus, we draw life from Him. Abstainers simply live around Christ. Those who live in Joy, live in Him.

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” — John 15:11 (NLT)

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