Friday, December 21, 2007

No Ordinary Goal

every week i get a little dose of wisdom from they're all pretty terrific and today, i got one that i'd love to share so here goes!!

No Ordinary Girl

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” —Luke 1:45

At our church Christmas program this last week, the little kids sang a song describing Mary as an “ordinary girl.” I know what the song meant. She wasn’t rich or famous or glamorous. Like lots of other teenage girls, she was in the engagement stage of an arranged marriage to a much older guy. That was ordinary in her culture.

But Mary was no ordinary person. She would stand out in any generation, including yours and mine. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe she was anything more than a regular, sinful human girl. But she was also a girl who was willing to believe God with her whole life. That’s not normal.

Look at the verse up there at the top. It’s a sentence that comes at the end of a paragraph in which Mary’s much older and also pregnant cousin Elizabeth is having an excited moment about this unbelievable thing that has happened to them. Notice what she praises Mary for -- not for being rich or talented or smart or pretty -- for believing that God would actually do what God said He would do.

It seems like a little thing when you say it that way, but I think it might be the biggest deal to God of all the things He asks us to do. From Genesis all the way through to Revelation, the Bible urges us to believe God. Take Him at His word. Show our belief in the choices we make, in the thoughts we think, in the words we say. God wants us to trust Him with every corner of our lives.Mary did that -- and Elizabeth was one of the first to call her “blessed.”

Another weird thing about young, pregnant Mary: She knew God’s Word. Right after the above verse, we’re treated to Mary’s famous song. The girl who said very little when the angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah now reveals how deeply she understood what was happening. The girl knew the Book.

It’s not really trusting God just to say, “Yes, I believe everything He says.” People who really believe everything God says sink hours and days and years into reading, studying, understanding what He said. If it’s really God’s mind on that paper, what could be more valuable that putting it in our own heads? Studying His Word is an act that shows we really believe Him.

Nope. Mary would stick out in any demographic. She believed God so much she actually took the time to know His Word deeply -- and to accept His Word with humility.Mary would have made a lousy rap star or self-glorifying NFL player.

She carried God’s Son in her womb and refused to make that about her (as most of us would do, at least in private). Instead, she made it all about Him. She praised Him for His loving, powerful, promise-keeping plan that just happened to include an unordinary girl.She believed. She studied. She was humble.

I want to be weird like that. You?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seven Sacred Ways to Live Your Best Life

my friend valorie burton wrote this for her audience. i love the simple truth of these words and am thankful for her willingness to let me share her message. (

Seven Sacred Ways to Live Your Best Life
In the midst of the shopping, parties and cultural focus on gift giving, it can be tempting to miss the purpose of this holiday - to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

My message to you this week is simple. In fact, it isn't my message at all. I'd like to share seven messages that Jesus taught during his three years of public ministry. As you celebrate Christmas, and reflect on the holiday's true meaning, consider these words of wisdom that Jesus offered for living your best life.

1. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. (Matthew 6:34) Too often in life, we worry about issues that work themselves out over time. Worrying does not change anything. It is a waste of time, energy and life itself. Plan your steps, but refuse to allow fear of what might go wrong to consume you. Instead, focus on what you can do in the present moment to create the kind of future you want.

2. Do not judge and you will not be judged. (Luke 6:37) There may be people in your life right now who are doing things you don't agree with, perhaps even engaging in behavior that is destructive to them. Choose to love them and pray for them, without judgment. Choose compassion and empathy, perhaps even tough love, but reserve judgment.

3. Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. (Matthew 6:1) Do good and treat people well because it is the right thing to do, not because of the accolades or rewards you might receive from others. Make sure your motives are pure.

4. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12) Humility is freedom - freedom from the pressure to be perfect, keep up appearances, or be better than everyone else. Success is a combination of working hard and being blessed with opportunities, abilities and people who support you. None of us achieves or succeeds solely by our own power. Don't worry about taking credit or making yourself look good. Focus on serving, learning and loving, and the rewards will come.

5. Everything is possible for him who believes. (Mark 9:23) Consider your biggest dream for your life. It is not enough to say you will achieve it. You must believe it. You may not know exactly how it will become true for you. Your first step is to simply to believe it's possible. Say it out loud and often, It's possible! With God, all things are possible.

6. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Most know this scripture as a foundational statement for the Christian faith. But there is something I find intriguing in its wording. It is the connection between loving and giving. God loved us, and therefore, he gave. When you love others, you give of yourself, sometimes in very unselfish and sacrificial ways. Saying you love someone is not enough. Give of yourself - your time, energy, affection and resources and they will truly know you love them.

7. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32) The truth sets you free in many ways. Be truthful with yourself about the issues of your life. Speak your truth in your relationships. Countless relationships fail because one person or both are unwilling to speak from their hearts. Be truthful about what you want and what you are afraid of, and you will gain the strength to step fully into the rich, abundant life you were created to live.

My challenge to you this week: Use divine wisdom to guide you in your interactions with others and the decisions you need to make. Choose to live and love fully and freely.

Journaling assignment:What have you been trying to figure out? What relationship is stuck in a rut? What dilemma are you facing? What does God's wisdom tell you is the right next step for you?