Thursday, October 16, 2014

Labels and Elephants


Sarah snuggled with her stuffed Dumbo the elephant. Caressing her big-eared treasure, she asked inquisitively, "Mommy, why did his elephant mom name him 'Dumbo'?  I don't like his name."

I explained how originally his name was Jumbo Junior.  His elephant mom named him Jumbo Junior at birth.  However, when some mean elephants noticed his unusually large ears, they began calling him "Dumbo".  The name stuck and became his identity.

She protested, "Well, I don't like the name Dumbo, I'll call him Jumbo Junior."

I can't help but think the little elephant smiled at the defense of his rightful name.



How many times do we take names or labels on ourselves not ordained in our original design?   Our heavenly Father names us.  Sometimes our earthly parents misname us or miss affirming the name intended for us by God.  Unfortunately, sometimes the very ones who should be defending our names are the ones tearing us down with their words.  The world can be a very cruel place, even by the ones who are suppose to protect and lovingly direct.

Unwittingly we allow the world to bully us into casting aside our given godly heritage in exchange for the detrimental identity it dictates we bear.

With the constant bellowing, the God-ordained identity Christ died to claim for us is squashed to a distant whisper.  Still, He whispers.  His voice clouded by the insistent critical clamor of the world. The mean elephants trumpet:

Dumbo
Fatto
Lazy-o
Good-for-nothing-o
Never-Good-Enough-o
Messed-up-o
Rejected-o

Their trumpets sound.  The lies ring loudly echoing as if we were an elephant with over-sized ears.  The labels stick.

It is time to reclaim our rightful name.

It is time to hush the trumpeting of false identity and hold up the trunk of truth.

You are a Jumbo, not a Dumbo. You are a Jumbo in the Kingdom of God, made for a great and giant purpose .  No mean elephants can rob you of your rightful place unless you listen to the lies, replay the resounding negative trumpeting, and allow the labels to stay.

The movie of your life doesn't have to be labeled with a lie.  Your title can be one of triumph and truth.

You don't have to wait for flying elephants.  Today you can begin.

Rewrite the title.  Reclaim your name.  Regain your identity.

"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life."  1 John 5:19- 20

Can't you just see those elephants swaying back and forth? We will listen no more to your bullying bellows.  Good riddance elephants.  Good riddance labels. We are holding onto Him who is truth, the One who calls us by our true name--beloved, accepted, approved, redeemed...Jumbo.








Friday, October 10, 2014

A Mickey Glasses Kiss {You Really Must Read This!}

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and I went on a trip to Walmart.  Nothing special.  We were in search of a Red Box movie for movie night.

Outside the store, there was table set up with items for sale to raise money for a local ministry.   I know this is sad to admit, but I usually don't stop at such tables.  Please don't judge me.  The Lord will tell me when I need to stop and this time, He did.

Sarah and I admired the cross necklaces and catchy T-shirts.  The lady running the table was in her late twenties.  She had long black hair.  Her face was kind with somewhat of a weathered look for a girl in her twenties.  It was easy to see that life had not always been kind to her.

As we browsed the merchandise, she noticed my sunglasses and commented on how much she liked them.  It was a simple and courteous compliment.

I liked them too. {smile} They were recently purchased on a trip to Disney.  From the moment I saw the brownish-black glasses bedazzled with Mickey heads on the sides, they called to me.  I loved my new glasses.  

God spoke and you can probably guess what He said...

 "Give her your glasses."

At first I wrestled with if I was hearing from the Lord or if this was just a thought in my head.  I knew it was the Lord.  There was no part of me or my head that would have wanted to give my sparkly new Mickey glasses away.

I didn't obey right away, still trying to figure out if it was the Lord.  Sarah and I made our purchase and began to walk away.

I stopped.

"Sarah, we need to go back to the table.  I think the Lord wants me to give that lady my sunglasses."

Sarah responded with surprise, "Mom, that doesn't make any sense. Why would the Lord want you to give her your new sunglasses.  You just got them."

I explained to Sarah that sometimes the Lord asks us to do things that don't make any sense and we just need to obey.  I also explained that my head would not necessarily have had this thought by itself.  I have never thought to give away a pair of sunglasses before, so I really think the Lord is saying this to me.

With resolve that it was the Lord, I walked up to the young lady.

"I know this may seem weird, but the Lord told me to give you my sunglasses."

Immediately the lady began to cry and hugged me.

A little surprised by her reaction, I waited for her to speak.  As she spoke, her words and reaction gripped by heart.

"I said I liked your glasses because I have a little boy who will be four years old tomorrow and he loves Mickey Mouse. Your glasses reminded me of my little boy.  I haven't seen him in over six months.  I am currently in a rehab program and I am not allowed to see him yet.  I am working on cleaning up my life for him."

I didn't know how to respond.  I asked for her name and told her I would pray for her.  I did.

I left overwhelmed with the Lord's goodness and overcome with tears.

Oh. My. Word.  Really God?

They were just glasses.  It was just Mickey.  No.  It was so much more.  Those glasses spoke to me at Disney not just because they were cute and sparkly.  God new I would buy them.  He knew Sarah and I would go to Walmart for a movie.  He knew we would stop at that table and meet his sweet daughter.  He knew she needed encouragement.  He knew she needed a kiss from heaven.

It is overwhelming when God uses you to be the one to give a kiss of His love.

I pray I would be even more aware of His voice and how He would have me bless others.  I pray I would be quick to respond.  We may think it is only a pair of glasses.  But He knows it is so much more.

Be His Kiss.

Father, I pray that we would be more aware of Your voice and how You would have us bless others.  I pray we would be quick to respond without question.  You know what each person needs, whether it be a kind word, a prayer, or some material item.  Let us be vessels of Your love and encouragement.  Let us be Your kiss.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 







 



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What "In Christ" Means


"But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love in which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6


The phrase, "In Christ", has baffled me for years.  It may be imprudent to admit my difficulty understanding such a fundamental to the Christian faith.  However, I have learned typically one question is shared by many curious cohorts.

 Understanding "Christ in me" was easier to understand.  Christ lives in me. That makes sense.  However, me living in Him didn't link with the synapses in my mortal mind. 

Then, the Lord sent me to the apple orchard...



The owner of the orchard explained how apple trees are grafted to produce good fruit.  It was quite educational.  If an apple seed is planted from an apple I eat, it will likely produce bad fruit.  He called this apple a “spitter”, rightly named because if bitten, you will want to spit it out.

To produce good fruit, a branch from a tasty apple tree is grafted onto the root of a bitter “spitter” apple tree.  He visually demonstrated how these two trees are brought together to produce sweet juicy apples.   The stem from the bad tree is cut and a notch is inserted into the cut.  A branch from the good tree is also cut and a notch inserted.  Then, like a puzzle, the two limbs are brought together, the bad tree meshes with the good tree and takes on the nature of the good tree, bearing good fruit. 


This visualizes perfectly what happens when we accept Jesus into our lives.  Our roots are bad and we will produce bad fruit unless we allow Jesus to come into our lives.  Once Jesus lives in us, our old nature becomes new and we are able to bear sweet good fruit.  This is what it means to be “in Christ”. 

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“Therefore is anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17

Now, let’s take a look at John 15:1-3.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

When reading verse three with the two verses above it, it goes perfectly with the apple tree demonstration.  We have been grafted in Christ.  We are a part of Him, His branch.  And because of who we are in Him, we are already clean. 

God doesn't discard us.  Rather, He is in the business of removing our ugly branches.  God is constantly removing our impurities (bad branches) and purifying us because we are in Christ. 

We are constantly in a process of sanctification and pruning so we will bear all the plump juicy fruit the Lord designed us to produce in Him.  No spitting or “spitters” here!  We are one with Christ, we are "in Christ" and we are already clean.

  




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Authority {Through the Eyes of a Child}

Last night before bedtime, Sarah, our seven year old, was reading in her The Beginners Bible the story of where Jesus spoke to the storm and it stopped.

"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  

And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, 'Master carest thou not that we perish?'  

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, 'Peace, be still,'  and there was a great calm." Mark 4:37-39

After the story, Sarah said, "The storm was like His kid and He was the parent.  The storm had to obey Him."

Children see things so clearly and simply.

Sarah was right on in her theological interpretation of this passage.  No degrees. No doctorates.  Only Jesus and an open heart.

Jesus' authority was also simple for the centurion to understand in Matthew 8:8-10.  He understood, as a man who was in authority over soldiers, that Jesus only needed to speak the word and his servant would be healed.

If only our faith would be as strong as a child's or the centurion!

In Mark 4, the boat was being overtaken with waves, to the point where it was full of water. Everyone was panicking.  Jesus was sleeping.

Jesus was the One who suggested they go out in the boat.  He knew the storm would come.  Yet, He slept.  Did He sleep because He didn't care?  No.  He slept in peace because He knew the storm would not overtake them.  He knew the waves would have to fall at His command.

I don't know why Jesus waited to be woken before stopping the storm.  Maybe it is significant that the disciples finally went to Him after first panicking for minutes or even hours.

I wonder how many storms we find ourselves beaten, tossed around and panicking before turning to Jesus. Do we wait until the point where our boat is full of water and almost sinking before calling on the One who can calm the storm?

Are you in a storm today?  Does it seem like Jesus is sleeping and you wonder if He even cares that you are sinking? He cares.  Don't be afraid. 

He is in the boat with you.  There is no reason to fear with Jesus in the boat.  With the faith of a child, wake Him.  With the boldness of the centurion, ask Him to help.

Whatever storm you are going through, it must obey Him.  Call on Him in faith and hear Him say, "Peace, be still."







 









Friday, September 26, 2014

Point Them to Their Need

Last week was crazy in the Molitor household.  Chris was gone on a work trip and I was left to being a single parent for the week.  The kids were out of sorts and decided it would be a good week for testing mom's limits... and lets just say I wanted to ground them, for like, forever!

In my quiet time, Jesus whispered quietly to my heart. (My tone in the house that week had been quite the opposite of quiet, by the way.)  But, He whispered quietly,"Point them to their need."  What do they need?  The answer...Jesus.

When Luke gets angry and hits his sister...point him to his need.

When Joe lets his sister down by siding with friends to pick on her...point him to his need.

When Sarah tattles and wants to get her brother in trouble...point her to her need.

I am often tempted to point out my kids failures instead of pointing them to the One who is faithful.

Part of being a Christian is learning that when we fail, to go to the One who never fails.  Christianity isn't about a list of  rules, its about relationship.  

I love what Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales (love VeggieTales!!!), stated in an interview with World Magazine:

"I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, 'Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,' or 'Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!' But that isn't Christianity, it's morality."

We can go to church our whole lives.  We can hear Bible stories.  We can be taught right and wrong. However, all of that is morality, not Christianity.  

Morality and Christianity are two separate entities.  

Morality points to behavior.  Christianity points to a Savior.  

Morality brings condemnation.  Christianity brings redemption.  

Morality focuses on earning approval.  Christianity focuses on knowing God. 

The Lord didn't tell me to point out my kids failures.  The Lord didn't tell me to show them all ways they were wrong.  The Lord told me to point them to their need, which is always the Cross.  

The need is always Jesus.  





Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Crushing the Cricket

Have you ever made a wrong decision that you thought was the right decision at the time?  I have.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

Recently someone told me a story about how they weren't allowed to watch Pinocchio as a child because of that little conscience every body loves, Jiminy Cricket.

I laughed when I heard the reason Pinocchio was banned from their home. I really shouldn't have laughed.  After all, my kids weren't allowed to watch it either, but it was for the more...ahem... pious reason of the Biblical name for "donkey" being used in the movie.  My reason was acceptable (please hear my smile), but theirs...well...it seemed a bit ridiculous.

They explained that Jiminy's motto,"Always let your conscious be your guide", was the reason for crushing the cricket.  And they quoted the verse above.  Again, I laughed in unbelief.

I'm not laughing today.  Although I'm not for condemning crickets or judging Jiminy, my friend seriously has a point.

The other day I made a decision based on my conscience.  I desperately wanted to do the right thing.  However, our hearts can deceive us.  

The Hebrew word for "heart" in the verse above is leb and it can also be translated as soul, mind or conscience.

By following my conscience, I unwittingly neglected to follow the Holy Spirit.

There will be times when following the Holy Spirit does not make sense and following Him may even seem wrong to some.  However, His way is never wrong.

Our guide needs to be the Holy Spirit and Him only.  He alone is the final authority in our lives.

If we listen to our hearts or crickets, we may find ourselves in a similar place as Pinocchio, looking like a Biblical word for donkey.  And that is never good.







Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Invitation

Today I want to invite you to head over to Deeper Still Devotions, a blog I write for the Deeper Still Ministry. 

Find out how you are a Letter of Recommendation for Christ.  



 
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