Get Out Of Jail

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” -Colossians 2:8

It was many years ago as a teenager, sitting on the deck of a small mountain cabin on a warm sunny day. The pine trees whispered quite nothings as the gentle breezes passed through their green needles.  Around the sturdy redwood picnic table sat my family and I. It was early afternoon, and before us was the game board. To be exact it was a Monopoly game board. My parents, brothers, and little sister would take turns laughing and playing this game for hours at a time. This was all part of our yearly summer trek to Lake Tahoe on a family vacation. Dad was pretty good and won his share of games…but as we kids got older, and started to figure it out, he had to work a lot harder to stay in the game with us.

For those not familiar with this classic game, each player would be given the same starting amount of cash, and a playing piece. We all started from the same place. Players in turn would roll a pair of dice and move their piece around the perimeter of the board a corresponding number of squares. The squares depicted property with an associated sales price. In simplest terms, the winner was the person who purchased the most property and had the most cash at the end of the game.

Along the way however, there were two types of squares one could land on that were called “Chance” and “Community Chest.” Landing on these squares required the player to draw a card of the same name from one of two card decks placed on the board. The cards contained either good news or bad news. A player might have to pay some type of tax, or perhaps they would receive a bonus. Fortunes could be changed depending upon these occasional random cards one might get. One particular card was a “Get of Jail Free Card.” Coveted because one square was a “Go directly to Jail” square, and getting out of Jail cost something.

Once in “Jail” a player would no longer be able to participate in the regular goings on of the game. Opportunities were missed while everyone else who was not in jail played and enjoyed the challenges faced during each turn. But having a “Get out Of Jail” card was the ticket to freedom and the ability to enjoy the game to its fullest without missing a turn.

Many years later, as my son and I played this game during a Thanksgiving Holiday break, I pondered how much life was a bit like a game of Monopoly. We all start as captives (Romans 5:12) held firmly in the grip of our fallen nature. As a result, while yet captives; we cannot enjoy the life that God designed us to enjoy. He desires for us to live our lives to the fullest, (John 10:10) but as captives we cannot. Unless of course we had a supernatural “Get out of Jail” card. In this case we do! His name is Jesus. Only He can give us lasting eternal freedom from captivity.

You see, God loves each of us…in fact He pursues each of us with a passion that goes beyond anything we can describe in mere words. (John3:16) And if we respond to his gentle voice, we can each have a personal relationship with Him. That relationship is what will set us free to live our lives to the fullest each day. Rather than roll the dice of life and rely upon chance and our own strength, why not go with a sure thing and receive Jesus into your life right now? Start the healthiest relationship you will ever have, be free and live your life as God intended for you to live it…to the fullest!

Granting Ourselves Permission

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Sometimes in life we just need a friend to come along side and give us a word of encouragement.

I recently had the privilege to provide a few words of encouragement this week to a person that the Lord had been putting on my heart.

What a blessing it was to do so!

As part of those words, I shared a passage from Matthew 11:28 in which Jesus reminded me that He is available to each of us, to lay our burdens down at His feet, to receive the rest He is offering us.

Life has a way of tiring us out, and we often grow weary, not necessarily from a big single burden, although that can be the case, but often it is the weariness of carrying a bunch of small burdens.

When we carry those burdens, and if we’re the type of person that finds it hard to ask for help, we soon find ourselves pretty worn out. And worse yet, we start to feel like somehow we don’t measure up, or that we are in some way failing either ourselves or those closest to us, or we feel guilty because we can’t seem to handle whatever burden it is and we think we should be able to handle it.

Soon the joy in our heart is robbed.

If you are one of these people, let me start by sharing that you are perfectly normal. You heard me…perfectly normal.

Do you know why?

Because we are not perfect!

Sometimes we just need someone to take the initiative and give us permission to ask for a chance to rest.
Wait no longer…Jesus gives you that permission. In fact he offers you the rest you need with no guilt! No strings attached…

Do the burdens of life just go away? They can, but mostly they don’t. But if we can rest, He can give us the insight, grace, and strength to go beyond.

The Bible says that we are one in the body of Christ. (Rom 12:4) Meaning that each of us who have received Jesus into our lives are in fact part of Him. A healthy body has parts that work together to keep the whole functioning well.

If you’re weary, remember that Jesus has given you permission to rest with no guilt attached. Ask God to bring a person to mind that could give you some respite to, and then go ask them. Chances are they would be honored to help you.

If you’re the one being approached by another seeking rest, count it a great blessing that you can worship God by filling a practical need.

If God brings a person to your mind that needs rest…show them your love by sending them a note, let them know that they can claim the rest that Jesus offered, and then offer yourself as that person who can help them!

Do you know why rest is so important?

When we are resting, our minds are not cluttered with the many burdens’ we are carrying. That means when God speaks to our hearts, we have a chance of hearing Him. If we can hear Him, He will give you the means to help you release the burden you are carrying.

I wonder how often I have not heard God because I felt guilty, or worried what others might think if I took some time to rest.

So take a moment and rest…be still…“Be still and know that I am God….”(Psalms 46:10)

 

 

Copyright 2013

The longer I live the less I know

My kids have long since surpassed me in so many ways. Technology abounds while I’m just keeping my head above water.

For example, I’ve never been able to figure out the whole Facebook thing.

People just say to me “Find me on Facebook.”

“Yeah right.”

I gotta call in my kids to help me do that. The real experts!

Last week my daughter starts up this blog thing on something called WordPress, I’m aware of blogs, but totally intimidated by the whole thing. I don’t have a clue. But she’s a writer like no body’s business…I mean the kid is super articulate. I love to read her stuff.

She knows I like to write too, but I’m not in the same league for sure…but I get inspired after she’s kind of blazed the way and looked at all the main blog sites. She settles on WordPress…hey if it’s good enough for her…its good enough for me!

After some effort, I finally get the thing set up, and I spend a few days tinkering with it, and I generate my first official post. I feel pretty good about the whole experience.

I’m thinking, “The old man’s still in the game, I’m holding my own…can’t let these youngsters get to far ahead of me.”

I enjoyed the glow for about thirty seconds. Then I shared with my daughter that I created my first post.

She looks it over and says to me…”nice job Dad. So did you ‘Tag’ it?”

“Tag it?” I replied.

I had that deer in the headlights look on my face.

“I dunno. I don’t think I tagged it. Should I tag it?”

With a degree of patience befitting the likes of Mother Teresa, she pulls up to my desk, takes over the mouse, and deftly starts clicking here and there and then shows me what tagging is all about.

With my blogging 101 lesson completed, I’m once again reminded of how little I know, and the worst part is, that every day I live; I appear to become increasingly ignorant.

This can’t be a good trend…

I think she’s leaving now to go write up this experience in her blog…probably categorized under the heading of “Hopeless Causes.” I’ll likely be reading it in an about an hour and laughing my head off.

 

 

Copyright 2013

Do we live a life that overcomes…or are we overcome by life?

.”…having the form of godliness but denying its power.” -2 Tim 3:5

Today we are under remarkable pressure to dilute God. To qualify Him so that what is left is a façade of godliness without power. It is no wonder that when we face hardships and temptations, we often grow frustrated and powerless to bring meaningful change to our lives.

Jesus shared that His coming from the Father was so that we “may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Yet for many there is a reluctance to fully embrace all that God is.

Perhaps we accept the life of Christ…but have not claimed the transformational power of Christ. Perhaps we have received Christ as our Savior, but have not given Him the full reign of our life.

If so, then we are denying God the foothold needed to bring His full power into our lives..

Without accepting fully the power of God, we are assured to face the same struggles time and again with victory remaining forever elusive.

In a tangible way, while we cannot see electrical power we know it exists. One only needs to touch a live wire to verify its existence. For obvious reasons of safety, we don’t touch live wires, instead we believe the experts and take if by faith that such power exists and can harm us.

Scriptures tell us that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1)

Lasting transformation comes only through the power of God, and that can only be received through faith, and while we cannot directly “see” the power of God, we can see our lives changed in ways that we know would not have been possible on our own.

Take a moment now and pray. Ask Him for the faith to receive His power into your life, only then will you begin to live a life that overcomes.

 

Copyright 2013