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What is your why?
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10NLT)
What is you "why" for living? If you have been declaring that you just cannot make it any longer in your present circumstances, maybe you haven't tapped into the right "why"! If we are connected to the right "why", we can endure almost anything. Nietzsche wrote in response to a prevalent revelation of a lack of moral compass in the society in which he lived. He is probably most famous for one of his works entitled "God is Dead". In it, he discusses the evidence that society had taken leave of their desire to follow any form of morality at all - seeking all manner of pleasures and openly revealing their desire to have anything at the center of their lives other than God himself. In essence, he was saying when anything other than God is at the center, our "compass" or "way-finding" in life becomes altered and submits to the loudest or most prevalent voice in the crowd. Yet, the ability to endure, to outlast any trial or temptation to succumb to any immoral actions is to keep one's sight and heart firmly fixed on God and nothing else - to have the "why" firmly fixed!
Many times we attempt to "make right" what we have "made wrong" in our lives by "cleaning up our act" a little. If you are like me, you might just find all the "cleaning up" you do is little more than what is accomplished by adding a coat of whitewash to the side of a barn. The storms will come and soon the evidence of what has been concealed by that chalky white coat is washed away and leaves us exposed, complete with evidence of all that "weathered and worn" us that is underneath! For us to have a "why" within is to have a "moral compass" - something that helps us to move out of the place where we just "cover up" our sin in some form of self-help or self-preserving way. It drives us to realize we aren't going to ever be able to "make right" what is truly "wrong" in our lives apart from the application of that which does more than "coat" or "cover over" - grace!
Grace has a way at getting at the roots - it is like nothing else because grace isn't just a whitewash - it is the very essence of God instilled into the place where once only our futile attempts at right living once existed. It is the vibrancy of life renewed, regenerated beyond our capability of "cleaning up". The moment we realize it is the "why" that matters, there is a transformation that occurs - a metamorphosis of sorts. The old is no longer content being covered up - it desires to be reborn. If you have ever seen the work of a skilled craftsman taking the lush woods of yesteryear and restoring them to their original beauty, then maybe you understand just a bit of what it is like to be renewed by God's Spirit. The craftsman doesn't merely put another coat of varnish over the layers already there. He removes all that obstructs the beauty of the wood underneath - dirt, oils, stains, etc. Then he rubs it until it is smooth and the grains become evident. Only when he is satisfied with the revelation of the beauty of the wood does he add the luscious oils of his choosing, enhancing the depth of the grain and bringing forth the magnificence of the color found deep in the wood.
In much the same way, God's grace removes all that hinders the true beauty and "covers over" the depth of the heart's yearning for that true moral compass. In time, as those layers and layers of masked "beauty" are removed, the evidence of his beauty begins to be revealed in the character of the "grain" of our lives. As he becomes the "why" for our living, his beauty begins to shine forth in the evidence of his grace touching each "grain" of our lives. Just sayin!
As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant. In that day and time, a very taboo thing. We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God. Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated. We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar. The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish. Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa
Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life. For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels. If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner. Both of these are good things, when used correctly. Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect. Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce
Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean