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Remix – Yet another top ten list (kinda)

Everybody’s blogging about their reflections on 2008, their new year’s resolutions, or how they’re not going to make any new year’s resolutions. Me? I gave up quitting. I’m going to a party in a few hours, I need to finish my laundry that I somehow managed to get sidetracked from (shocking, I know), and I need to touch up my roots so I don’t show up at the party looking like I’m wearing a festive skunk hat on my head. (I’ll give you a minute to get that joke…….)

The point is, I don’t have TIME to write a new post. So I’m gonna punt. The following is a post that I wrote way back in June. Since I had a loyal following of approximately 5 readers back then (including my husband and myself), I figured it would be new to most of you. It’s my pseudo-new year’s resolution post. Happy New Year, Don’t drink and drive, and Gee, your hair smells terrific! See you on the other side!

Have you read Boomama’s blog? If you’re female (especially if you’re a southern female), I think it’s worth a visit. I don’t read it as often as I would like to, but she always makes me laugh. Last month, one of her posts was Twenty things that I will never do. It’s really funny, and many things on her list would be on mine if I were to write one — both of us share a strong aversion to clowns. No offense my clown readers, but you guys just freak me out.

But here’s the thing. I strongly believe that when we say “I’ll never do that”, we often condemn ourselves to do exactly what we say we’ll never do. I think the Apostle Paul has a pretty good angle on this one in Romans 7:15-20:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Paul’s pointing out a few things here:

  1. Knowledge is not the answer. Before he understood what the law demanded, he was okay. Once he understood this concept, he knew he was doomed.
  2. Self-determination or willpower doesn’t succeed. He was doing things that even he found unattractive.
  3. Becoming a Christian doesn’t alleviate our struggles with sin and temptation.
  4. Being born again requires a moment of faith, but abiding in Christ while allowing Him to abide in us is a lifelong process.
  5. We should never underestimate the power of sin, or use or sinful nature as an excuse. We are responsible for our actions and we need to remember that the enemy has already been defeated. Jesus conquered sin once and for all.
  6. God’s provision for victory over sin is the Holy Spirit that lives in us and gives us power. When we fall, He lovingly reaches out to help us up.

I learned a long time ago to never say never because you just don’t know what plans God has for you. If you had said to me five years ago that I would leave the church family that I love to start another church, I would have been very tempted to say “I’d never do that.” Again, God has the game plan, I don’t. Here’s a little list of things I said I’d never do before I completely grasped this concept:

  1. I’ll never date anyone I work with. (Dated and later married someone who, while wasn’t on the same payroll, was hired to work with my company.)
  2. I’ll never date an engineer. (See Number 1.)
  3. I’ll never use the television as a babysitter. (Yeah, right. We’re all child experts BEFORE we have kids.)
  4. I’ll never spank my kids when I’m angry. (If you wait until you calm down, sometimes you confuse your kids because they forget why they’re being punished. Okay, maybe I’m justifying my bad behavior just a bit.)
  5. I’ll never clean my kid’s face with a napkin that I’ve spit on to get wet. (This grossed me out when my mom did it, but sometimes that’s all you have.)
  6. I’ll never be a stay at home mom. (Before I had kids, I couldn’t separate my self worth from what I did for a living. Kids give you a whole new perspective on value.)
  7. I’ll never lose touch with my childhood buddies. (Sadly, our lives went in completely different directions. I still cherish those memories, but I don’t keep in touch.)
  8. I’ll never forgive (insert name here) for (insert injustice here). (The true gift of forgiveness is that it releases your burden, not theirs. Jesus knows what He’s talking about.)
  9. I’ll never drink tequila again.
  10. I’ll never, EVER drink tequila again. (No really, this time I mean it.)

So with a new understanding of this concept, I’ve updated my top ten list:

  1. I’ll never have rock hard abs and buns of steel.
  2. I’ll never have the perfect “wash and go” haircut.
  3. I’ll never have a pool and spa with a great covered patio in the back yard. (Ron, honey — do you still read my blog?)
  4. I’ll never work a healthy diet and exercise routine into my busy life.
  5. I’ll never get my house spotlessly clean, professionally organized and immaculately decorated.
  6. I’ll never go to Australia and/or New Zealand.
  7. I’ll never hear “Wow, I would have guessed you were closer to 30 than 40!”
  8. I’ll never let my 6-year old eat Sun chips out of a bowl for breakfast while sitting on the leather sofa watching “Wow! Wow! Wubzy!” (Okay, nix that –it just happened. SEE WHAT I MEAN?! It’s almost scary when you think about it!)
  9. I’ll never truly die to my selfish desires and live a life completely sold out to Jesus.
  10. I’ll never be able to use this blog as an avenue to reach out to those who have never accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I’ll never be able to communicate that God wants them back, that nothing is too dark, too shameful, too horrible that it cannot be wiped clean by the blood spilled at Calvary. I’ll never be able to convey the insanely beautiful, gut wrenching, life shattering peace that is the Gospel of Christ.

So. There’s my top ten list. Do you have one?

What does God look like?

When (if) you get an image of God in your mind, how do you imagine Him?

Like this?

or this?

or even this?

While I’m a bit uncomfortable admitting it, my mind’s eye has pictured God in all of the above ways. (Not when I’m praying — when I pray I tend to see the face of Jesus, which is a subject best left to another blog post.) But until today, I have never pictured God looking like this:
That is, until I checked my email today and read a prayer request that was posted on a prayer chain. In the original, unedited version of this post, I simply cut and pasted the prayer request. But because I am feeling terribly convicted about sharing a prayer request that was not meant to become fodder for some cynical blog post, I’ll just give you the basics. The author of this prayer request began by stating, “There are things I want.” His wish list included: a great career, a great marriage to a wonderful woman, awesome martial art skills so that he could protect the woman God may give him, a great income and a great family. He asked that those reading his request would pray that these blessings be given to him so that he could experience said blessings.
My initial reaction was, “Are you kidding me?!” I even forwarded the request to a friend saying as much. But, as I mentioned, I felt convicted and incredibly uneasy about simply raking this guy over the coals without stopping to consider what the circumstances of his life might be. Who am I to judge what blessings God may choose to bestow on him or anyone else for that matter? I actually stopped typing, turned off my computer and prayed for forgiveness. While God may determine that this man’s heart needs to be changed, I realized that it is the condition of my own wretched heart that requires further examination. (*Smile* — I love that word “wretched”. Jake – if I ever write a book entitled “My Wretched Heart”, I intend to give you a portion of the proceeds. But I digress.) Why did I feel compelled to share this man’s prayer? Was it because it made me feel superior to him; miles ahead of him on the road of my Christian walk? Yes. I think that’s it. And if that’s the case, am I not missing Paul’s point when he writes in Philippians 2:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Um…Ouch! So, with an attitude adjustment that only face time with God can achieve, I am grateful that God’s grace is extended to all of us, and I am reminded of Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
ever. Amen.

I am going to end this post and pray that the author of this prayer request finds comfort and peace in the arms of the Savior whose grace is sufficient; whose power is made perfect in our weakness. Also, I need to pray for God to remove this giant plank from my eye…