Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If It Looks Like A Duck...

Jesus...said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross and follow Me. If anyone wants to keep his own life safe, he will lose it. If anyone gives up his life because of Me and because of the Good News, he will save it." Mark 8:34-35 NLV

Last week I discovered a nest of 9 mallard duck eggs in my front flower bed. They were well hidden behind a small azalea bush, tucked safely next to the brick wall of my home. If not for the eagle eye of my friend's son Dillon, who was helping me with my yard work, I might have missed the joy of seeing them there.  

Excited about our find...I quickly went to my computer in search for any knowledge about duck eggs and about the mother’s habit once the eggs are laid. After getting past the search links about how to "prepare" duck eggs for consumption...I finally found what my curiosity was seeking...a very informative article about the behavior and habits of mallard ducks.  

As I clicked off the page about mallards ...my thoughts clicked onto a common saying;

"If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck...then it must be a duck!"

When I first saw the well hidden nest of duck eggs...I had no idea what kind of eggs they were. If my young friend hadn't told me they were duck eggs, I could have easily thought it possible they were from some other species of wild life.  

I couldn’t help but see the correlation between the saying above and how as a Christian...people should be able to identify me as a follower of Christ. When people’s lives come in contact with mine...they should easily distinguish me as a Christian not only by what their eyes see me doing, by how I act, and by the words I speak...but also by my appearance. 

Like these unmarked eggs...how often do we find Christians who are keeping their faith hidden and unhatched in a cozy nest away from seeing eyes? Can a coworker, friend, or even strangers come across us while they are in the midst of just living life as best they can, and identify us as a Christian living among them? 

When people see our response in the trials and triumphs of life...do they easily overlook us because we blend in with the lifestyle and attitude of everyone around us? Or are their eyes opened by our distinctive appearance to the likeness in Christ? Like my young friend Dillon who quickly identified the nest of eggs as belonging to a duck, can people quickly identify you as belonging to Jesus?  

“...he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross and follow Me. If anyone wants to keep his own life safe, he will lose it.”

What makes the life of a follower of Christ distinctive is that our focus in life is not on satisfying our desires or living a “safe” faith by blending into the ways and wants of a dying world. Because we know this life is not ours to live as we please, that it is a life created by God to please Him...everything we say and do should point others to the saving love and grace we are all offered at the foot of the cross. 

God never promised us that dying to self would be easy...but He does promise us the reward of following His Son is greater than any sacrifice we will ever make! 

So...may it be said when people meet me;

"She acts like a Christian, looks like a Christian, and talks likes a Christian...then she must be a Christian!" 



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soul Restless or Restful Soul?

“...Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls."
 - Jeremiah 6:16

This morning when I sat down with my Bible...an unexpected sigh escaped my lips all the way from my soul. I instantly whispered aloud this prayer;

“Help me, Lord! I’m so tired...even my soul is restless!”

My days lately have become an unending road of pressures from a pile of decisions I need to make. Instead of relieving this pressure by listing each one and then taking care of them in order of importance...I have chosen instead to apply my own proven stress increaser; Indecision. 

Of course, my indecision only leads these “undone decision” to slip over into my tomorrows, where several new decisions are awaiting me. I then add to my weariness a boulder or two of self-pity which only further blocks my soul’s pathway to peace. 

Is it really any wonder I'm “soul restless?” 

All this discontentment has lead me to a crossroad. It’s time to make the most important decision I have facing me. I can either take the path that leads me further away from the rest my soul is seeking...or I can take the path God offers. 

In this world, God’s way can seem old or outdated in comparison to all the new ideas we hear about on how to achieve inner peace...but His way is the only proven path that promises to deliver the rest our souls need.   

I love how God encouraged me through my usual morning devotion time and reading of His Word. I just happened to be in the Book of Jeremiah...and I just happened to be reading the 6th chapter...And God just purposely had a message for me...

"This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
    Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls."
                                                                   - Jeremiah 6:16

This morning my soul spoke to me through a sigh that we had reached a crossroad in our search for rest. With God’s leading...I stopped in prayer, looked around at the paths before me, asked for the godly way to walk, and then began my travels on the Lord’s path that is providing rest for my soul. 

How about you? Have you reached the crossroad too? The path you choose will determine if your days are filled with a soul that is restless...or one that is restful.