Unpleasant Choices

Choices - Same or Change?

I’m watching toxic liquid drip into my husband’s IV as I write these words. Later this week, he’ll experience a needle in his eye. He didn’t easily agree to either activity.

That brings me to choices.

 

Some are fun.

Vanilla ice cream or chocolate?

Tennis or golf?

Scrabble or Rummikub?

Some may not be fun, but they are logical.

Practice a new skill daily for proficiency.

Reduce sugar in your diet to combat diabetes.

Increase daily exercise for heart health.

Some offer long term benefits rather than short term results.

Set aside $20 a week and you’ll save more than $1,000 annually.

Invest 4 years of your life in school and you’ll have a college degree for life.

Some are just plain painful. My husband’s chemotherapy and eye injections fall into this category. But both are for his greater good.

Still, choices such as chemotherapy don’t seem logical. Who would think to use toxic substances for healing? Or to insert a metal sliver in your eye to improve sight?

I confess, there are times when it feels as if God is using toxic solutions for my own healing and growth. When He:

  • allows delays to teach me patience.
  • uses unlovable people to teach me how to love unconditionally.
  • permits me to have unfulfilled needs so that I trust Him as my Provider.

In each case, I have a choice. I can focus on my situation or I can focus on the result God is cultivating in my life through those unwanted circumstances. And although I say I want to be more patient or love unconditionally or trust the Lord more, I don’t like the process.

The choice to maintain an eternal focus is rarely easy. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing I can do. Bu the alternative means remaining stuck in my old ways.

The bottom line is this:

  • I say I want to grow, but do I want to grow more than I want convenience?
  • Do I want to become more like Christ more than I want my own way?
  • Is my desire to glorify God greater than my desire to glorify my own comfort?

Do I want to remain the same? Or am I ready for a change?

I’m not always proud of the answer…or my resulting choices. But every day I have new opportunities to choose differently. And I’m grateful God continues to give me those choices, continually working in me for my ultimate good and His eternal glory.

What choices are you facing today?


Who are You? What is Your Purpose?

What is Your Purpose?Today I contemplate my purpose. What defines me?

In our culture, after we learn a new person’s name, the next question is almost always related to what they do.

Other times we’re defined, not by what we do, but by what happens to us. Rape victim. Cancer survivor.

I am a daughter. A wife. A teacher. An author. For twenty years, I worked as an executive.

But someday my parents will be gone. I may lose my husband. There will come a time when I will no longer stand before groups as a teacher. I may or may not publish another book. And my corporate career ended years ago.

So who am I? What defines me? Do I have a purpose that transcends these temporary roles?

These words recently described a dear friend at her memorial service:

“Cancer did not define her. God defined her.”

And there’s my answer. I can define myself with fleeting descriptions that are here today and gone tomorrow. Roles that will change depending on other people and varying circumstances. Abilities that will fade as my body fades.

Definition

Or I can define myself by eternal measures, as God defines me. Descriptors that will last long after everything else disappears.

  • Chosen
  • Loved
  • Adopted
  • Redeemed
  • Forgiven
  • Sealed

Purpose

And what about my purpose? That, too, must have eternal value. Anything other than eternal is pointless because it will not last. So my purpose is to:

  • live in a way that brings praise and glory to God.
  • know Him better.
  • know the hope to which He has called me.
  • and share that hope with others.

Am I always successful in fulfilling my purpose? How I wish that were true! But my lack of success motivates me to persevere.

By the way, if you’re wondering where I found my definitions and purpose, check out the first chapter of the book of Ephesians in the Bible!

Your turn!
Who are you? What is your purpose?


Poor Recordkeeping Recommended

poor recordkeepingFew national proclamations for the month of April sound as boring as “Records and Information Management Month.” This uninspiring designation is probably related to April 15—the day by which income tax returns are submitted to the U. S. federal government.

The weeks leading up to April 15 are often spent in a mad scramble to gather records and receipts. We want to keep auditors at bay while minimizing tax liability. The more thoroughly we keep our records, the easier the filing process becomes.

With so many reluctantly focused on recordkeeping this month, perhaps I can provide a respite unrelated to taxes. Are you familiar with the two areas where poor recordkeeping is actually required?

Our relationship with God:

Romans 4:8 (NIV) tells us, “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

What a relief for those who have placed their faith in Christ, to know God does not keep a record of sins. Hebrews 8:12 (NIV) puts it this way: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

While it’s comforting that God doesn’t count our sins against us, the verse in Hebrews does not mean that God forgets our sins. Yet, that’s exactly what many Christians believe. There’s even a contemporary Christian song called “Sea of Forgetfulness,” loosely based on Micah 7:19.

Problem is, it’s not true.

There’s no problem with God’s memory. There will never be a problem with God’s memory. Not remembering may seem the same as forgetting, but it’s not.

Whenever God “remembers” something in the Bible, the word remember signals that God is about to take action. So when He says He will not remember our sins, He is saying He will not take action against us because of them. That action—judgment—already happened at the Cross when His wrath was poured onto Jesus, a wrath that should have been directed at, and paid for, by you and me.

Think about it. If God truly forgot our sins, then He’d have to forget the sacrifice that paid for them – a sacrifice that should never, can never, and will never be forgotten!

Our omniscient God doesn’t forget anything. However, thanks to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, He intentionally chooses not to remember our sin—not to hold it against us. And if He does not remember, neither should we. So stop beating yourself up about past sin, turn from it, and walk in God’s forgiveness!

Our relationship with others:

When it comes to recordkeeping—or the lack of it—in our relationships, the first passage that often comes to mind is Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV):

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’
Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”

Of course, Jesus did not advocate keeping accounts up to seventy-seven times, Rather, we are to forgive until we lose count. And if we will lose count anyway, there’s no need to start keeping records to begin with!

Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) reminds us, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” The apostle Peter might have thought of this verse when he wrote, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8 NIV).

Cover, don’t count. It’s what God does for us. He doesn’t count our sin against us because it’s covered by the blood of Jesus. And He calls us to do the same.

As we move into the Easter season, we will celebrate Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. But how often do we struggle with sin, ashamed to approach God in confession, wondering how we could have the nerve to ask for forgiveness again? And again. And again. We keep count as if God is keeping count. He’s not.

Or how often do we view other people—even other Christians—as a “thorn” in our side? Keeping count of their offenses, despite our best intentions.

This month, many of us are calculating tax liability and promising to keep better records for next year. Still, we can take joy in remembering two areas where poor recordkeeping is definitely recommended!


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