Conduits of Comfort

We are entering a season that from a distance looks like a time of great celebration. Christmas Gifts CandleThese next couple of months are marked by the gathering of friends and family, beautiful decorations, cheerful music, delicious food, and a wide variety of great festivities.

But hidden within the merriment of the holiday season, often unnoticed because of the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce and overshadowed by the twinkle of lights and sparkle of tinsel, a common and not-so-pleasant part of the human experience resides: Grief.

For many people the “hustle and bustle” of the holiday season serves as a difficult and sometimes very bold reminder of loss. This sense of loss can take many shapes. For one person the strains of tightened finances highlight the challenges of the loss of a job. Someone else might be reminded of the loss of a dream, an expectation, or a missed opportunity. The sights of smiles and sounds of laughter might draw another person’s mind to the loss of a broken relationship. But for many others the festivities of this time of year can be a painful reminder of the loss of a loved one.

There’s a good chance, in one way or another, that this holiday season you are grieving. And let me simply tell you, “It’s ok.”

Grief is a strange thing because the way we individually process the losses we endure through life is totally unique from one person to the next. Some people close off emotionally for a time while others wear their emotions on their sleeves. Some express their grief with laughter and others with tears. Some process grief in random ways moment-by-moment as they emotionally bounce around from anger to denial to depression to joy back to denial to depression again to anger and then again to joy and on and on.

Because of our individually unique ways of processing grief it is very easy for us to feel alone. There is no simple formula or predictable process by which we handle the losses of our lives, and none of us do it the same way. So when we see someone grieving we often err on the side of “give him some space” or “leave her alone to work through this” when in reality he/she needs to know that it’s ok and we are here. We need to both give and receive the reminders that grief is a very real experience for everybody. No one is exempt. And no one is alone.

So what can we do about grief? I believe the most basic answer is found in the Word of God as it describes both the receiving and giving of a very special gift.

The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

As people who all grieve, let me first challenge you to Receive the Gift of Comfort. But don’t seek the pseudo-comforts this world has to offer. There is only so far that those things will go, and those things will eventually let you down. God alone can provide perfect comfort because He is the Source of comfort. Look again at how Paul describes Him as being the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” There is no comfort that exists apart from Him. So as you grieve, draw close to God to receive the perfect comfort He provides.

But let me also challenge you not to let this special gift stop here. Don’t simply receive the gift of comfort. Also be one to Give the Gift of Comfort. As you experience the comfort God provides, freely pass it along to someone else who is grieving. As your grief becomes more manageable (notice that I didn’t say “goes away”, because grief never totally disappears), prayerfully look for the people around you who are dealing with the severe and sometime crippling pain of fresh grief. Ask yourself, “How can I come alongside them to extend comfort during this time?” Think about what was most comforting to you when your grief was brand-new. And then actively choose to compassionately reach out to some who needs to receive the comfort you have been given.

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When it comes to grief, we can all become Conduits of Comfort. God gives. We receive. And we pass it along to others.

This holiday season, as grief resides in the midst of our celebrations, how will you allow God’s comfort to flow through you?

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Numana Food Packing 2018

Have we got a special day planned for December 23rd!

We’ll start off with our Worship service at 9:30 am to energize our hearts and souls, followed by an all-church brunch to energize our bodies – in preparation for our 2nd Numana Food Packing event!Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 2.47.45 PM.png

Once we’re filled and fed, we’ll form up into teams to measure, weigh, assemble and seal enough food packets to provide over 32,000 meals to hungry school kids in Haiti. We’ve been told that 32,000 meals are enough to feed 128 kids for an entire school year through Mission Of Hope!

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In addition to those actually packing the meals, we’ll also have folks set up before the event, re-supply the stations, pack the completed meal bags into boxes and also organize, stack and shrink-wrap the return pallets.

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The actual meal packing takes roughly 2 hours; breaking down the stations, repacking the equipment and clean-up takes another 1-2 hours.

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All ages are encouraged to participate in this fun and worthwhile event. We’ll begin raising the funds necessary to cover the cost on November 4th. We look forward to working alongside you this Christmas season in a very special and meaningful endeavor.

“Have a Difficult Day!”

The other day I took a little time to “straighten up” my office. If you looked at it now, you’d probably think that you would have hated to have seen the “before picture”. I admit it. I’m not exactly the poster child for what some would consider to be neatness. But all of that commentary is beside the point.

Anyway, I always enjoy doing a little straightening because it’s kind of like a hunt for buried treasure. As I peel off the layers of miscellaneous odds and ends I discover all sorts of things that I had forgotten. I find Post-It® notes (Wow! I can put the registered symbol on there!) that bring back memories of days gone by. Of course I often run across a variety of old pieces of mail or “To Do” lists that I don’t need anymore. All of that stuff has little or no value, and most of it gets tossed. But every once in a while I run across some gold nuggets. No, they’re not literal gold nuggets, but they still have some significant value to them. I want to share one that I unearthed from surface of my desk the other day.

May all your expectations be frustrated.

May all your plans be thwarted.

May all your desires be withered into nothingness

That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.*

Now, I’ve heard and read plenty of blessings over the years. Most of the ones I’ve seen have been characterized by well-wishes such as the Irish blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” But at first glance this particular blessing seems out of place. In some ways it looks a lot like a curse. What kind of person would wish frustrated expectations, thwarted plans, withered away desires, powerlessness and poverty?! Only someone who knows and understands that there is something available that has far greater value than an easy life.

While He walked the earth, Jesus communicated the heart of God. And in what we’ve come to refer to as The Beatitudes He describes God’s idea of being blessed in a way that is upside-down from the way the world does. I like the way The Message version describes what Jesus says in a way that we can understand.

Matthew 5:1-12 (The Message)
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Why are we so blessed when things are so tough? Why are we so blessed when we’ve lost it all, been kicked in the shins, or persecuted? Here’s the answer in one word: we’re NEEDY.

Our culture doesn’t view neediness as a positive character trait, but when it comes to our cross-1448946_1920participation in the Kingdom of God, it is. You see, most of the time, when things are going well, we feel like we have everything under control. So we continue to live our lives with independence. We make plans expecting certain results, and all the while hiding behind the scenes is the real truth. Underneath the surface of our independence is the truth that we have very little under control. It’s only when we start to see everything beginning to unravel that we recognize the fact that we are all very needy. Then we finally find ourselves in a place of total dependence. When we lose control, we discover that we must turn to the One Who has complete control. And when we completely depend upon Him, we experience, as the blessing says, “the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.”

The big question is this: Do you recognize your own neediness? Are you aware of your need to be fully dependent upon God?

If not, let me also wish you a difficult day filled with challenges that He alone can carry you through so that you will discover and experience the true blessing of God’s love for you.


* These words came from Jean Vanier, who was the Founder of L’Arch Communities for those with mental and physical handicaps and disabilities, in his benediction blessing to Henri Nouwen. If you want to be inspired, let me encourage you to read up on Henri Nouwen’s life and experiences. And I would strongly suggest that you read his book In the Name of Jesus. It’s short and power-packed, but I try to read it at least once every year. In fact, it’s about time to read it again!

Buddy Holly & The Gestapo

When I was 13 years old, I had a paper route. My route covered approximately 1/2 of English Gardens. Those were wonderful days…dogs nipping at my heels, disgruntled customers, and black ink all over my body. It’s what life is all about.

I was looking at an old junior high annual the other day that I hadn’t seen in years. As I thumbed through the various scribbled comments from friends, I noticed a comment from one of my teachers. She wrote, “It was a pleasure having you in class, and oh, by the way, you hit my porch with the newspaper two times last week…good job.” I’m sure that at the time, I thought she was serious, but all these years later, I have a notion that it was, what do they say, “a back-handed compliment.” Not only do I have fond memories of those paper route years, but it helps me connect to Donny’s story.

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Donny was 13 years old and he had a paper route as well. One day — February 4, 1959 to be exact — as Donny rolled his papers in preparation to deliver them (on his bike to be sure), a headline struck him that he never forgot. The headline on that cold February day in ’59 declared that Buddy Holly and two friends had died tragically in an airplane accident in Iowa. Donny was devastated.

Twelve years later, Donny (now known as Don) wrote a song that would go down in history as one of the most illustrious pieces in American history. In fact, if you’re at least my age, you probably know parts of the song and sing along with it to this day every time it comes on the radio. The reason you and I only know parts of it is because it is a very long song and it contains some nutty phrases in it. One reason I believe the song has remained so popular to this day is that the lyrics are shrouded in mystery. Over the years, whenever Don McLean has been asked what the song means, his witty response has been, “It means I’ll never have to work again if I don’t want to,” undoubtedly a reference to the improbable but enormous success of the song over the past 47 years.

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Countless individuals over the years have done their best to decipher the meaning behind the lyrics of American Pie. While no one seems to agree on every single word or line, the overall consensus is that the words reflect a very sad and foreboding reflection the artist had at the time regarding how our country was changing and would never be the same. Specifically, McLean is obviously referring to the loss of innocence in the music world:

“…the day the music died.”

However, there seems to be an even broader application as well. It is said that McLean is a very religious man and that undoubtedly, in this lengthy ballad, he is mourning the loss of innocence in the culture as a whole as well. He grew up in the 50s but “came of age” in the 60s, and we all know the depth of morass and moral loss this culture experienced in that decade.

All this to say: I’ve always loved this song. I love the lyrics, I love the masked message, I love the creativity, and I love the fact that McLean has left it alone for us to figure out.

This song came to my mind the other day, because I do think it is about the loss of innocence in a culture, and I happened upon a story that seems to take that “loss of innocence” to a far deeper level.

It has been reported that a 5 yr. old girl in Decatur, Georgia was sexually molested in the girls’ bathroom at school. This event took place because of the school district’s somewhat new policy that allows children unsure of their gender to use whatever bathroom they’d like. The little girl was followed into the bathroom by a classmate. Amazingly, even a boy as young as five years old has figured out a way to use the school’s new policy to his advantage. As sad and painful as this story is, I haven’t even gotten to the worst part.

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When the school was notified by the mother of the abuse her daughter endured in the bathroom of their facility, they promptly called the Department of Family and Children’s Services and turned the mother in to be investigated. The day after Christmas, Pascha Thomas heard a knock at her front door. She had been trying for a month to get a hearing with the school administrators, so when she opened the door and was greeted by DFACS investigators, she thought, “finally, someone is going to do something”. However, instead of them showing up to file a report on the incident at school, the Gestapo was there to investigate her, and specifically, to find some kind of evidence that would point to her being an irresponsible and unfit mother.

In time, the case was closed and the school reported that the incident was the fault of the mother. We have indeed lost our innocence in this culture. Have you ever wondered if God has withdrawn His sacred hand from us as a nation? I do…fairly often! The Book of Romans, chapter one, tells us that there comes a point when God “gave them over” to their lusts, or as Don McLean put it:

“I went down to the sacred store

where I’d heard the music years before

But the man there said the music wouldn’t play and in the streets,

the children screamed, the lovers cried, and the poets dreamed,

but not a word was spoken, the church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most

The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost

They caught the last train for the coast

The day the music died”

The culture can go to hell in a hand basket.  But parents: you and I are commissioned by God to raise our children to know Him, to walk with Him, and to please Him.

We cannot change the culture but we can instill and restore innocence – one child at a time – in the Church and in our homes! Stay the course parents!!

Blessings,

Steve

Called Beside

San Juan FallHere in Western Colorado the sun is shining brightly on a comfortable, pre-fall day. Some of the trees here are revealing the beginnings of a beautiful color change. On the outside it looks like everything is great, wonderful, amazing, happy. Here in the mountains where we physically live “on top of the world” it would be easy to assume that we are all figuratively living “on top of the world” as well.

But out of view, behind the picture-perfect scenes, are people who are beat down, wounded, worn out and weakened, chewed up and spit out. Some are drifting and off course, perplexed, panicked and vulnerable. Others are lonely and isolated, dying on the inside and out. These are ones who need what the New Testament calls paraklesis.

The word paraklesis is a compound word made up of two parts. The first part means “beside” and the second means “called”. Together the pieces make a word that refers to being “called beside” someone. What a fitting description for what every person needs! We need to call others beside us and we need to be called to be beside others. In other words, we need mutual encouragement.  We need to be parakletes!  (No, not parakeets.  That’s a different article altogether.)

Encouragement is a significant theme within the Bible. Look at just a few of the many places where Scripture challenges us when it comes to this idea of being called beside each other.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.  Isaiah 35:3 

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  Hebrews 3:13

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  Hebrews 10:25

In this culture that pushes an “every man for himself” approach to life, it is important that we remember that this is not how God designed us. When He made man in His own image (Genesis 1:27), He created humans unique from all of His other creation. He made us to share a relationship with Himself and with other people. And when mankind was tragically introduced to sin and death, those relationships were fatally damaged. Holy God could no longer provide life to those who had become unholy. And from then on humanity has been plagued by mistrust, abuse, and countless other evils. We live in a culture – in a world –  that drives us apart into the vulnerable, dangerous, hurt-filled, driven-down, confusing, heartless, and frail conditions of isolation.

It is not good for the man to be alone. – Genesis 2:27b

One of the most profound and truth-filled statements that God ever made in Scripture is in Genesis 2:27b, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  We need relationships with others to stand firm and to stand strong in the world.

On the human level we need other people to be called beside us to provide encouragement, and on the divine level we need God to come alongside us to encourage us as well. Here’s how He did it:  He did not discard us to an eternally dead existence apart from Him. Instead He came in the flesh, making His dwelling among us” (John 1:14), sharing our humanity. As God-in-the-flesh Jesus lived a sinless life, and when the time was right, He took our sin that separates us from God and each other upon Himself. Jesus took that sin to the Cross on which He died rendering that sin powerless and eternally defeated. Through Jesus our relationships with humanity and divinity are restored! And when He was raised from the dead He did just as He had promised in John 16:7. He sent The Paraklete, the One “called beside” us, the Holy Spirit to convict us, challenge us, guide us, and teach us. In other words, the Holy Spirit encourages us.

But are we parakletes for each other?

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We can play a similar role by being ones who are called beside each other. Together we can provide the mutual encouragement we all need to navigate the challenges and obstacles and hurts and pains and loneliness that surrounds us.

With this in mind, let me challenge you with two questions:

  • Who is God calling you to come alongside?

  • Who might you need to ask to come beside you?

Flash In The Pan

Do you have a “favorite place” you go to get away? I’m not really talking about a vacation spot, but more of a place where you can get a few hours to be alone to pray, write, think, or read.

I’m not a religious person, but I am religious about getting away one day a month. I find this day to pray and experience solitude and quiet, is essential to do what God has called me to do. There are a few places I go to do this, but without a doubt, one of my favorites is Dallas. Oh no, not THAT Dallas, the Dallas of the NFL’s Cowboys or the famous grassy knoll (that would take some kind of extravagant budget wouldn’t it?).  No, I’m talking about Dallas, Colorado. You say you’re not familiar with Dallas, Colorado? If you live in western Colorado, I can guarantee, you know where Dallas is, you just don’t know it.

Dallas Colorado sits about 3 miles north of Ridgeway along Highway 550 – or, I should say, it did sit there until it’s inhabitants got up and left. Dallas became a town in the 1880’s. The earliest residents were miners who came to pan for gold. Their “tent city” soon grew and businesses were established.

By 1887 however, panning for gold no longer held any promise for Dallas. But the coming of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad rekindled hope in a prosperous future. The economy changed overnight when the line from Montrose to Ouray was completed, bringing passengers and freight to Dallas.

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Main Street – Dallas, CO

In 1888, just when it seemed Dallas was destined to become a bustling little city, a fire swept through the town, leveling the business district. Not to be discouraged for long, the businessmen quickly rebuilt their town.

One year later, it was learned that a new railroad, the Rio Grande South, planned construction from either Dallas or Ridgeway around the mountains to Telluride & Durango. To the despair of the Dallas businessmen, Ridgeway was chosen to be the starting point of the railroad. Early in 1890, the businessmen of Dallas picked up and literally moved their buildings, one by one, south to Ridgeway. This included hotels, restaurants, and other prominent buildings. Today, Dallas is just a spot in the road alongside the Uncompaghre River – one of my favorite places to walk and talk with God.

Dallas Creek Autumn

I bet you’ve heard the term; “flash in the pan”, but do you know where it came from?

Wictionary defines “flash in the pan” as any ineffectual, short, spasmodic effort that dies in the attempt, such as an explosion of priming in the lockpan of a gun while the gun itself does not go off.

Don’t miss it; “any ineffectual, short, spasmodic effort that dies…”.

I, for one, am selfishly thankful that Dallas was just a “flash-in-the-pan” town. In all, Dallas, Colorado hung around for no more than 10 years. As it turns out, towns aren’t the only “flash in the pan” things in life.

Have you ever known a “flash in the pan” person? I have…in fact, I’ve known more than I can count. It’s not uncommon for someone to go out of their way to tell me how much they absolutely love our church body and what we stand for, and that they can’t wait to get involved. Nevertheless, a couple weeks or months later they’ve disappeared, never to be seen again.

I don’t have to go all the way back to the 1880’s to recall one of my most vivid “flash in the pan” experiences with a person. I was serving in Napa, California as a youth pastor some 30 years ago when a fairly young (early 30’s), energetic guy stepped into my office one day and told me everything we needed to do differently in our youth ministry in order to attract a crowd. He quickly jumped in the middle of everything and undoubtedly, brought a lot of excitement to each and every one of our gatherings – for about 2 months. Then – you guessed it – as quickly as he came, he left.  Never to be seen again.

Do you remember New Coke? New Coke was the unofficial name for the reformulation of Coca-Cola introduced in April 1985 by the Coca-Cola Company to replace the original formula of its original soft drink Coca-Cola (also called Coke).

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However, the American public’s reaction to the change was negative, even hostile, and the “New Coke” was considered a major failure. The company reintroduced Coke’s original formula within three months of New Coke’s debut, rebranded as “Coca-Cola Classic“. New Coke is the perfect example of a “flash in the pan” idea.

The world is filled with “flash in the pan” ideas, people, and places. Unfortunately, the Church has her fill of these kind of people as well. They’re like the seeds thrown on the hard soil and plucked up immediately by hungry birds. They disappear as quickly as they came.

Aren’t you glad our God is no “flash in the pan” God? The Psalmist accurately and appropriately penned:

Psalm 145:13 ~ Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.

It only makes sense that God’s people be faithful as well. Every time I find myself strolling in Dallas, I’m reminded that people, places, and ideas will come and go but our God will never leave us or forsake us!

Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

We followers MUST be faithful!!

 

Stand Firm,

 

Steve

God’s Mess-terpiece

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  – Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT

In just a few short verses Paul describes an amazing story. This is the story of God’s grace extended to the far less-than-deserving. This is the story of God’s great Gift that could never be earned and could only be wrongfully claimed as our own doing. And this is the story of God’s amazing work of art.

Look closely at that word Paul uses: Masterpiece. Other translations use the word “workmanship” or “handiwork”. Just pausing to consider the majesty of His creation—the beauties of the clouds and canyons, wildlife and waterfalls—proves that God is the Eternal Artist. But it’s not the world around us that Paul calls a masterpiece. He says that we are God’s masterpiece!

And what a palette God has to work with! Adventures and adversity. Heartthrobs and heartburn. Mistakes and memories. Discoveries and disappointments. Injuries and inquiries. Troubles and triumphs. Sorrows and celebrations. Wisdom and wounds. Expletives and expectations.

Up close, the unique and colorful blend of these things and more that make up our lives looks like a mess. But through the lens of God’s Providence it is possible to see that the Great Artist has been, is, and will be creating a masterpiece out of our messes. I like to call it a “Mess-terpiece”. And as works of art in His hands God is uniquely making us to serve a specific purpose in His perfect plan.

Let me share with you a few words of encouragement regarding God’s artistry being demonstrated in your life.

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You are valuable. – The enemy does not want you to serve the purposes of God. He

wants to steal you away from God, kill your body, and eternally destroy you (John 10:10). And part of Satan’s strategy toward making that happen is to accuse you loudly and often of having no worth to God. His goal is to constantly dredge up your sins and shortcomings in order to drive you away from God. But the truth is that the enemy is a liar (John 8:44). No matter how much he may try to convince you of having no value, he is wrong! You are far from worthless because God loves you so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16-17). And now, in Christ Jesus you are God’s child (Galatians 4:4-7). You belong to Him. And He has a plan for you that you alone are supposed to do. No matter how messy your life may be, you have a place and purpose in God’s plan. You are valuable to Him!

 You don’t have to be “the best” [fill in the blank]. – Our culture feeds the idea that everything is a competition. You’ve got to be the best at your job, the most recognized athlete on the field, the most famous celebrity, the person with the most friends and most “likes” on social media, and on and on and on. If you really think about it, this idea creates so much unnecessary pressure to be people God hasn’t made us to be. That doesn’t mean that we should be content to remain as we are. As followers of Jesus our primary objective in life is to become more like Him, to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). But becoming like Jesus doesn’t mean that we have to be the best “this”, “that”, or “the other thing” for our lives to matter. We simply need to be who God has designed us to be.

You are a work in progress. – When I was a kid, back before photocopies were so

God Don't Make No Junk

readily available and things weren’t passed around so easily via the internet, my grandparents had a picture hanging by a magnet on their refrigerator. Because I saw it so frequently it’s point stuck in my heart. “I know I’m Somebody,” it said, “’cause God 

don’t make no junk.” Those words remind me of King David’s words from Psalm 139, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:14, 16). Your life may be messy, but you are not a failure. God is not finished with you yet. He is putting together a plan for your life that He has had in mind since before your were born. And get this, there is nothing you can do tomess it up. God is using everything in your life—your character, your circumstances, your personality, your possessions, your interests, and everything else, even your mess-ups and failures!—to make you into exactly the person you need to be to accomplish what He has planned for you. So ask yourself, “How am I seeing God work in my life?”

PaletteIf you’ve ever looked at an artist’s palette while he or she is creating a masterpiece, you’ll remember that it looks like complete chaos. Different colors are mixed in a wide variety of shades and hues. It looks like a mess. But from that apparent “mess” the artist creates a beautiful and well-ordered image.

The palette of your life may resemble a similar mess, too. But God, the eternal Artist, is not finished creating His masterpiece. And throughout our lives, as He continues to apply one brushstroke after the next, we must trust that He knows what He is doing.

Let me challenge you to take a few moments to reflect upon your life. Consider a few of the significant moments you have been through, and look for God’s brushstrokes. What was God doing in your life? How was He working? How has He used those experiences to make you who you are today?

Then think about your life now. Where do you see God creating His work of art in you today? How is He proving His faithfulness? In what ways is He using you as a part of His plan?

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” A wonderful work of art!