On Being a Champion

Even if you don’t follow sports, you would pretty much have to have your head in the sand (or live in a part of the world that does not play baseball) to not notice that the World Series of Baseball is underway.

I admit, I am a fair weather fan. I rarely watch an entire regular season game of baseball any more. But when my team is in the post season I am there! Living near Boston, we up here have a special relationship to our sports teams.=} We are passionate people up here in New England. (We are created to worship and sports often tops the list of “objects of worship” in this culture.) Forget the Frozen Chosen or Reserved labels for New England. When it comes to professional sports in New England, especially football, baseball, hockey and Basketball the culture focuses in on the team in the playoffs. You don’t have to watch, but you see it everywhere and you feel it in the air.

I suspect it has to do with the fact that every one of us has a desire, unconscious or otherwise, to be a Champion. We are wired that way. We are all created in the image of God, and God sovereignly reigns over all creation. He is the ultimate Champion. He has created us to rule and to reign over His creation. Being a Champion is in our DNA.

Victorious sports teams hold the title of “Reigning Champions” for an entire year. Every member of the team has contributed to the championship, whether as a bat boy or as a star player and even the fans that make the sport possible. The team and all their fans hold their heads a little higher. There is a sense of ownership, accomplishment and legitimate pride that comes with being the best and being associated with the best.

So think about that for a moment….

Who is the best, at any and everything?

Our loving Creator! He has made us in His image. We carry His DNA! We are His children and heirs. He is our Champion and we are far more than just His fans, associated with His “Champion-ness.” We are His chosen, cherished family, or team members to keep with the analogy.

Just as on a team, we all play our parts. We sacrifice for the sake of the victory. It is our calling and destiny. We train, we work, we serve, we cheer and encourage, we coach, we are full members in the victory regardless of the role we fill! And we will inherit! God has made us each Champions through of Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27) Abba sees us each as His treasured possession and because He is The Champion, we are Champions.

Each one of us is His favorite! There are no two alike. Only I can reflect the image of God in the way that I do. Only you can reflect the image of God the way you do. My uniqueness, the uniqueness of each one of us, plays a role in the victory and glory of the “team.”

Let’s not focus on our failures, but lets focus on the author and perfector of our faith. The more we see our loving Creator, our Champion, the more our nature becomes like His nature. The more we become like Him, the more we walk in the fullness of our faith and destiny, as True Champions. Hold your heads high my friends! We are on the winning “team.” Regardless of that the opponent says, the truth is that we are all Champions!

Never forget, regardless of the circumstances, be it a bad play, a bad few innings, or even a lost game or few, we are members of the winning team and we need to remember choose to walk as the Champions we are!

Take a moment to consider how you are part of the “Championship Team.” I’d love to hear what you have noticed!

Life is not fair

Dragon Fly & Spider: This dragon fly learned the hard way that life is not fair.=}

Dragon Fly & Spider: This dragon-fly learned the hard way that life is not fair.=}

I think we all have experienced plenty of life’s lack of fairness. We want it to be fair, but it isn’t. The teacher or parent does not see the precipitating events that lead you to retaliate against your classmate or sibling. Criminals are not caught. People die young. Natural disasters take their toll.

Have you ever noticed how we (I) ask a lot more questions about life events that are unpleasant or “not fair” than about things that go the way we like? The questions and lines of thinking we allow ourselves are an important factor in how we process and move through the challenges in life.

If I ask “Why me?” become overly introspective, begin the blame game or focus on the pain for too long I can quickly spiral into a negative pattern of thinking. I can become angry, bitter, resentful, jealous, and down right unhappy. These lines of thinking, if indulged, become a trap. Like a bird in a snare, I can no longer fly.

Or, I can remember that I am a created being, not the creator. God is good and His love for me is immeasurable. This is when I am reminded that I am here to be conformed, a little more each day, to the image of Christ. It is from this point that I take my first step towards thanksgiving. My “Why” questions more easily morph into a grateful heart. I know I need a lot of pruning, and reshaping if I am to think like, look like, sound like and react like Jesus!

Thanksgiving moves me toward worship. When life is unfair, I choose to worship our creator. If I don’t, I find myself in that snare, unable to fly, and I REALLY like to “fly”.

So I get to choose. Will I trust God and His goodness that He really does know all things, even when life is not fair? Will I accept that I cannot see what God sees? That He has a plan and a process that leads to more of Him? Can I accept that the pain in the moment is not wasted? Will I believe God knows about it and is not indifferent to my pain? He has experienced it himself.

I can hear some skeptics, my friends who have seen an inordinate share of the unfairness of life. “I’m not like you!” “That’s fine if it works for you!” “It doesn’t work that way for me.”

Do not be mistaken. It’s not about wishfully believing the best without a foundation for it. It is about who God is and It is about choices and history. God is the object of our faith and he is good and  this creator loves me unconditionally. I have built a history with the Lord of my life, this good God. Yes it has taken decades, but it does not take decades to get started. It begins with one choice to trust. Followed by the second choice to trust and the third…. I have seen skeptics transformed.

Having a few good people with you to walk along side you is essential. Wherever I have been in my journey, God has given me loyal friends to walk with me, to encourage me, listen to me and when necessary, to correct me. God created us as social beings and he has designed the process of Christ likeness to take place within community. So I reach out to faithful friends when I am hurting or confused, when life is not fair. Most of all, I reach out to the God who made me because he knows best what I really need.

Life is not fair, but it is worth running after the One who made me. The pains and disappointments fade when I focus my gaze on the one who loves me above all.

In HIS grip,

Andrea

How do you respond when life is not fair? Do you believe that God is good and that He loves you?

Do You Know Your Worth?

I did a little checking, and depending on how you calculate it we all are worth somewhere between $4.50 and over a million dollars, dead or alive. Or are we? How we calculate our worth depends on what perspective is used.

I have been praying for years to see life from God’s perspective. That eternal perspective kind of wipes out the possible calculations I started with. For many of us, we find ourselves defined by the noise in our head that comes from what our parents or authority figures told us about ourselves. That can range anywhere on the spectrums of:

idiot >>>>>>>> brilliant

ugly >>>>>>>>>> handsome/beautiful,

poor >>>>>>>>>securely provided for with never a financial concern

And the assessments can change with every circumstance. There are many other ways to measure ourselves as we consider every role we play. I am a daughter, mother, sister, lover of Jesus, missionary, student, intercessor, spiritual warrior, sports fan and athlete, gardener, photographer, writer, cook and friend, just to name a few. Each one of these offers a way to be measured. I have both succeeded and failed at each of these and so many more!

But what about “Child of God?” Is that not the most important definition of who I am? Where do I fit on that spectrum of value judgement? Every human being on the planet is created in the image of God. Regardless of their belief system, they are valuable to God.

What if I told you that God does not hold a value judgement of who we are the way we do?

I was in prayer at a conference last weekend about how we are loved by God. As I sat and listened to our heavenly father, my Abba/Daddy began to tell me who I am from His perspective. The first thing I heard was, “Andy [That is what I was called growing up] I do not see you as you see yourself.” Abba began to tell me who I am NOT. Beginning with some of the common lies that float through my head all too often.

“Andy, you are not shameful or insignificant! I will never reject you or treat you badly.”

I was sitting with Isaiah 62 in front of me. Without debate about who this is written to or other contextual questions, please allow it sink in to you personally:

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Other scriptures I know began flooding my mind. Like Jesus in the wilderness when Satan tempted him, Abba began to give me scriptures to counter the lies in my mind. Not all in neat little chapter and verse sets, but in a very personal way with “I see you as my precious jewel, my irreplaceable treasure that I died to posses! My pearl of great price.” Tears of recognition that He had hit the mark of my woundedness soon swelled to sobs as I let the truth be heard and received. The lies began to be replaced with Abbas tenderness.

I have choices to make. Every minute of every day I get to choose who will define me. Will I let science define me saying I am worth $4.50 in basic elements? Will I take the free market estimate of my body parts be my definition? That says my various organs are worth in the millions to people who need new hearts and lungs and more? Or do I listen to the old tapes of elementary classmates calling me derogatory names that make me feel worthless? Or how about my 8th grade algebra teacher who proclaimed to the class “Light dawns over marble head!” when I FINALLY understood what she was talking about?

All these decades away from those events, there have been life events and people who have spoken death and those who have spoken life to me. The only one who is actually reliable with the truth of my value is the God of the Bible: The Father, His Son Jesus and Holy Spirit.

When I allow this one to define me as so valuable that He sent His son to die for me…yes for you, but for ME… I need to let that sink in. God’s definition of me, His continual rejoicing over me, His assessment of my worth must to go deeper every day. It needs to be the standard against which all is measured.

Jesus promised to never leave me or forsake me. The Holy Spirit resides in me as a sign and a seal of my salvation. He marks me as chosen for eternity. I am adopted into the family of God. CHOSEN! WANTED! Not cast off! I have Christ in me the hope of glory! From that valuation of “priceless,” I have hope to offer to a hopeless world around me.

What definitions of your worth are you allowing to define you? Can you share some of the ways God has encouraged you with how He sees you?

 

The $100 Acorn

I am doing a LOT of house work these days. Cleaning yes, but also landscaping, curb appeal stuff as well as interior repairs and maintenance. (On top of the usual stuff in my life.)

My driveway was pretty damaged after I had 13 trees taken out last year. Don’t worry I still have PLENTY of trees. Then I had a new septic system built along side of the driveway last fall. To repair and beautify it, I cleaned it really well using all the power tools I have that were appropriate and some hand implements. I had the leaf blower out with the weed whacker and the lawn mover as well as the hose with a pressure nozzle. I was having a  “Tool Time” kind of day=}. I love to be outside and I love to work with my hands.

In order to have access to my car while the surface is being cleaned and cured, I had to park it on the street. It was a warm day, so I parked it under some of the many trees that survived the aforementioned deforestation of my property.

It was a warm day so I did as I often do. I left the sun roof open a crack to keep the car from becoming an oven. Well, when I went to close it toward the end of the day, it wouldn’t. It would open and close to the point I had left it open but no further. Not the best thing with the need to park the car outside for a few days! I was fortunate that I could still get a call into the shop to look at it the next day and park it in the garage one night because the prep work demanded I apply the seal coating the next morning.

When I made the appointment the car shop warned me it would likely be between $160 to $1,600 to get it fixed, but they promised to look at it to make sure it was not something else. So, the next day after the driveway was finished I took the car, that I have named “Gracie,” into the shop, praying it would be a “cheap fix.” I asked several friends to pray along with me.

I waited a little over an hour before the repair rep came and asked me if I was feeling lucky! to which I replied “YES!” I had been praying after all! I could see he had something small in his hand. He responded to me with “OK” and tossed an acorn at me! Once I had a hold of it he told me the acorn was jammed in the track of my sunroof. Instead of the much more expensive fixes, I paid $99.87 to have that extracted and the track realigned to run smoothly.

$100 Acorn

$100 Acorn

Expensive? Yes, that is one expensive acorn! I have it. I am, however, very grateful that it was not a lot more! I am glad too that my driveway looks brand new, that I have friends who pray for me, that Abba cares about me, Gracie and even about acorns. And I have learned to not leave my sunroof cracked open under an oak tree in the fall!!! An expensive lesson, but not as bad as it might have been. Thank you Lord!

What are you trusting God for? Thanking God for? What lesson have you learned recently?