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I pledge allegiance to...

Voice your allegiance - we can do this for many causes, right? There are animal rights groups asking for support all the time - to save the whales, rescue animals from environments that have not provided well for their needs, and provide foster homes for rescued animals. In days gone by some may remember pledging their allegiance to God and country in the form of the Pledge of Allegiance we said in our classrooms every morning. Still others will recount giving their allegiance to any number of 'activist' groups to further women's rights or get equal pay for equal work. Causes abound and allegiance can be granted or rescinded quite easily, but there is one 'allegiance' we need more than any other, and if we want to make wise choices with our allegiance, this one should never be rescinded!

So if you believe deep in your heart that God raised Jesus from the pit of death and if you voice your allegiance by confessing the truth that “Jesus is Lord,” then you will be saved! Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that’s right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. Romans 10:9-10

If we were to be totally honest with each other, we might just recognize some 'split-allegiances' we have in our lives. We truthfully want to pledge our total allegiance to Jesus, but if we look at the way we have been living our lives, we are likely to find there are some times when our allegiance seems to be tilted away from him. What is happening in that area is not so much a 'pulling away' from our allegiance, but more of a struggle to be totally obedient. We still want to have our own 'freedom' and we make unwise choices, but we still want Christ at the center of our lives. I know I am not the only one with this struggle in my life, so maybe we could all do with a little honesty here. 

Life gets tough, stuff comes at us quickly, and we get stressed. Under stress do we always make the perfectly wise choices? I know I don't. Sometimes I don't even check with Jesus before I take a step forward - I just do it. Is that unwise? Yes, usually it is quite unwise, but being an 'unwise' choice doesn't stop me from making it! My own will gets ahead of my pledged allegiance! Having choices in front of me isn't always going to mean I make the right choice - I sometimes choose the worst answer, the least helpful solution, and the hardest 'choice' to be able to 'regroup' from once it is made. Whenever I find myself in these situations I have come to realize it isn't so much that I cannot recover from them - it is how I choose to recover that matters.

The choice to 'recover' from wrong choices is called 'repentance' in scripture. It is the process of 'confessing' with our lips the very thing our heart has chosen to pursue that wasn't the best choice in the first place. In the process of confession, we find God opens our minds and hearts to understand the reason behind the choice. It is that reason we need to focus on the most - because when we understand the reason, we can 'craft' the defenses to avoid the choice the next time. For example, when someone is on your last nerve, you could choose to respond with harsh words. The 'crafted' defense against saying or doing something you will later regret terribly is to choose to walk away for a few moments to 'simmer down' and recollect your thoughts. In so doing, you are choosing to value the relationship over 'being right', 'getting in the last jab', or whatever response would normally come in that moment.

We don't learn because we never make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes. So many times I think we make mistakes and then somehow believe there is something wrong with our 'allegiance' to Jesus. It is not our allegiance we need to question - it is our obedience. Learning from mistakes begins by admitting we made the mistake, then allowing Jesus to point us to the root of the mistake, allowing us to 'craft our defenses' against it in the future. In the end, we will probably feel like our allegiance is made stronger, but it is really our faith and trust that is made stronger. Just sayin!

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