Sunday, January 18, 2015

Thoughts on Martin Luther King, Jr.

So, honestly, my first thought about Martin Luther King Day is always the same:  we should definitely celebrate that wonderful man.

Unfortunately, my second thought is almost always the same, too:  It’s a shame that Martin Luther King ever had to stand up for people.

I mean, really.  It seems like such a shame that we can’t just figure out some way to get along.  Didn’t we all learn that in Kindergarten?  How to get along?

If you didn’t, listen up, people, because I found something that should totally rock your world off its axis.  Seriously.

Recently, I started a new plan for Bible reading that completes the Bible in one year.  In the past, my attempts have been very scattered and rarely successful, but this year I am trying something new.  Keep me accountable.  Anyway, the year ended with the end of the both the New and Old Testaments, and I came across a verse I had never seen before.  I have been thinking about it to this very day, and I think in light of this holiday celebration, I want to share it with you.

Malachi 2:10 says this:  “Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?  Why, then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our Fathers?”

Let that sink in for a moment.  I am pretty sure that if you look up the word “all” in this verse you will find that it means that NO ONE is left out.  We share a father – like Tony Evans once said – if you call God Father, and I call God Father, doesn’t that make us siblings?  Yep.  It does.

A week or so ago I posted something about how we have to rule over sin (See Genesis 4:7).  Why do we think that this does not extend to the sin of not being able to get along with people with a different color of skin? 

Sometimes, regrettably, our attitudes towards people of different color are taught to us as children.  Some of us have more to overcome there than others.  My parents were born in the Depression era.  It sort of surprised me later that I could find things in the way that I was brought up that made my family racist.  What about yours?  And I am not just talking to white people, here, friends.

This is a gospel problem.  This is a sin problem.  If this is a sin that you find yourself in, you need to abolish it.  You really need to deal with this problem.  The world is watching to see Christians get something right.  We cannot afford to sin in this way.  It is, perhaps, more damming to us than any other sin apart from preaching heresy.

I say that because it is so prevalent.  So many people are out there claiming that some of their best friends are (fill in a color here), while secretly still hating those of that color.  You do the surgery.  Cut deeply into your heart of attitudes and see if you are part of the problem, and not the solution.  It does not honor the God that we say that we love to treat other people with contempt because they look different.

My friends Mitch and Char are in Africa serving the Lord.  My friends Luther and Ronda want to do this, too.  I have friends serving the Lord with a tribe in Papua.  They don’t care about color so much. 

What about my friends living in America?  Will you lay down the unjust hatred you have towards people who look different this Martin Luther King Day?  Isn’t it time you did?  After all, there is only once race – the human one.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Not Just The Potholes That Will Get Ya!

Okay, so I have a horrible, terrible, very bad confession to make.  (Please don’t send me letters.)  People tell me all the time that I am a “good person”.  This always makes me laugh, because my true confession is what I really deserve.  What I really deserve is hell.

No, really.  That’s what I deserve.  It isn’t by accident that Jesus said that if your right hand causes you to sin you should cut it off.  Everyone wants to say that’s metaphorical, but do we get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are metaphor and which ones we should take literally?  I mean, a Holy God wrote that particular book.  I think he really wants us to take sin seriously.

Someone recently accused me of being confident in my holiness.  I am pretty sure this person does not know me at all.  However, God is dealing with me on this issue recently, and so I have to share.  Hang on to the end, though, because there is hope.

In Genesis, when Adam and Eve first sinned, their human instinct was to hide.  This always makes me laugh.  Playing hide and seek with God is pretty funny.  He made the Garden you are enjoying on the earth that he also made, so how you gonna hide, breaux?  (That’s for my New Orleans friends!)

Anyway, this was the beginning of the blood sacrifice system that would change everything.  Literally.  An animal was sacrificed to provide a covering for the nakedness of that first couple, and the next thing we know, a blood sacrifice is acceptable and a grain sacrifice is not.  (Okay, aside from the condition of his heart – there is still a blood sacrifice here, so hang with me a bit longer.)  In fact, this was such a big deal that it led to the very first murder.

You know the one I am talking about – Cain and Able?  In Genesis 4:6-7, before Cain kills Able, God warns him.  “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’”  (ESV – emphasis mine)

I think sometimes we get this idea in our heads that sin is like a pothole.  It’s coming up on the road and because we might not see it in time, we could fall in.  Sin is much worse than that.  Sin is crouching at the door - it wants us to fail.  However, there must be some way for us to avoid it, since that is what God suggested here, right?

Another terrible confession is now necessary.  I can’t do that.  I mean, yes, I can avoid situations that cause me to sin if I am aware of them.  Sometimes that is harder than others, but if I don’t go to a place where someone is getting drunk, I probably can dodge that bullet.  If I don’t let sinful people speak into my life, I can avoid some sin there, too.  But, really people, it is crouching at my door as well as yours.  It is in attack mode, and even when we see the potholes, sometimes there is nothing we can do to avoid them.  I am now talking about those potholes that do $600 worth of damage, as a reference point for those of you in NOLA.   You know the ones!

I hope that you understand when I say that I could never do this that this is not a defeatist attitude.  (Oops, see?  Double negative!) I just know that I am not capable of avoiding sin in my own strength and ability.  Truly, I think this is impossible for anyone. 

Fortunately, for me and for you, there is a way.  There is a way to at least cut down on our sin, even if we cannot avoid it completely.  That way is surrender.  My own willfulness wants to participate in the sinful activity around me.  My own willfulness surrendered to Christ can usually avoid it.  I say usually because perfection is not my aim.  That, too, is impossible.  However, aiming for holiness gets me a whole lot closer to the goal of being more like Jesus.  The trick is not to defeat myself when I cannot achieve it, but not allowing the sin to continue.  This, I will admit, is a rather difficult task, but not impossible.

The other danger that is so hard to avoid is trying to make it look like I don’t have sin in my life.  I really try to avoid this when I can, but sometimes I think people perceive this about me without knowing the truth.  This third confession, which is not so horrible in my humble opinion, is for all of you that are wondering.  I have not arrived.  Sometimes, I wonder if I am even on the train, you know?

I shared this list with the praise team yesterday from Mark 7, somewhere around verse 22, of sins that defile a person.  See, what you see is outside of me.  What defiles a person comes from within.  That, by the way, is the part you can’t see.  You can pull the wool over my eyes if you try.  You can try to make me think that you have arrived at perfection by covering your secret sin.  It won’t really work, because I know the truth.  But, you can try.

The list starts out pretty hefty – things like sexual immorality, theft and murder.  These are things most of us avoid like the plague, and we are proud of that.  However, it ends with things like pride, which is our Kryptonite.  Did you see what I did there?

Verse 23 sums it up nicely – All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.  Yep, even our pride defiles us.  Man, God must see some really dirty folk walking around down here thinking we are alive. 

Here’s the thing.  Back to that hide and seek with God thing?  Here’s how to avoid it.  The only thing that can cover our sin is the blood of Christ.  Stop.  Read that again.  I am pretty sure this makes me closed-minded, but I am okay with that.  It really is the only thing that can cover our sin.

If I have any confidence in my personal holiness, it is this:  because of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, when God looks at me, He sees His Son instead of my sinful condition.  (For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Cor. 5:21 – Memorize that Friendship Partners – okay, and the rest of you, too!)   My confidence is in Christ, not in Jamie.

That means humbling myself, which most of us do not like.  It also means letting go.  Letting go of our right to have things the way we want them sometimes.  Letting go of our right to have things the way we think they should be.  Even letting go of our right to mentally flog ourselves repeatedly for not doing the right thing, but then correcting our path through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Let’s face it.  If this sinner can do that, so can you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Is that Oncoming Light a Train?

I am the mother of four children.  I have had some pretty scary moments.  Like the time the little kids decided to run in Wal-Mart’s parking lot without asking first, and someone was backing out . . . right before Christmas this year.

I’m serious.  There have been some times when I just knew that my children were headed for doom.  Their guardian angels must be some fantastic flyers.  Or maybe it’s just because God knows that in their little wayward hearts that they would sometimes rather do whatever they want than what they know they should.  Kinda like me.

Never consider when I make that statement that I am being falsely modest.  I don’t really do that.  My heart is wayward.  The hymn-writer said it best, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.”  Yes, indeed.

Here’s a parenting question for you.  If you saw that your child was running into oncoming traffic would you try to stop it?  I get it that you think that is a dumb question.  Of course you would.

I wonder, though, if your neighbor saw it and you didn’t, would you consider them judgmental when they tried to stop it?  Would you yell at them and tell them that it isn’t their job to correct your children?

There is one thing I am certain of.  I am certain that if my children ever did run in front of a car and get hit by it, they would be sincerely sorry.  They tell me so every time there is the threat of it.  While I am having a coronary, they are saying how very sorry they are.  Unfortunately, they could also be dead or on life support.  Not every mother’s dream.  I can’t undo the consequences of their actions any more than I could shoot myself to the moon without a rocket.

It is disturbing that in America, our favorite verse of the Bible used to be John 3:16.  You know the one:  “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.”  Now, however, America’s favorite verse is “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

I am unsure how the definition of the word “judged” changed somehow.  To me, judgment includes giving a sentence and putting someone in jail for their actions or writing them off as unredeemable somehow.  Warning someone, or being concerned for his or her wellbeing is not judgment. 

See, back in 1828 when Webster published the dictionary, the verb form of “judge” meant “To compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood” - in other words, seeing something wrong and making an agreement or disagreement through careful comparison in regards to TRUTH.  Today, if you look it up you get some nonsense about deciding whether or not something is good or bad.  (1828 was the oldest online dictionary I could find.)

The way I see it, the Bible is pretty clear about what is wrong or right, and it is not up to me to make that decision.  First there were 10 good rules, and then there were two basic ones when Jesus came along.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Simple.  Keeping these 2 simple laws help us keep the 10 good rules fairly easily.  If you love the Lord your God the way you should, the first few fall into place nicely, and if you love your neighbor as yourself, the last ones do as well.  I get that it's not really that simple.  I do, after all, live on earth, too!

Here’s the thing.  Living the Christian life together means that when I see you standing on the railroad tracks in the way of an oncoming train that I won’t just let you stand there and get smashed.  Instead, with all of the love that I can muster in my heart, I will shout a warning to you that keeps you from certain death.  This is my way of protecting you, not judging you.  I haven't decided in my heart that your sin is wrong.  God did that for me.  I am just standing on the watchtower, hoping the evil one does not overtake the city.

And while we are at it, could you do me a favor?  If you see me standing in the way of an oncoming train of sin in my life, would you just do the right thing and tell me so?  This is not what I want my legacy to be in life, in death, or in eternity – dead by the train tracks - tragic, really, when it could have been prevented.  Instead, if you are prayed up and are genuinely concerned for my soul, would you just go ahead and “judge” me?  I don’t always get it right, and I might need that correction.  Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Crazy Hustle and Bustle

So, another  Christmas season is in the books.  Another Advent season has passed.  One question:  How did you do?  I don't mean did you spend the requisite $8000 plus that the average American spends (you call that average?) - I mean did you show those around you - and especially the kids in your life about the real meaning of Christmas?

My friend Melissa of Corbin in the Dell (check it out - she's a pretty smart girl!) pointed out yesterday on her Facebook page that there were 364 more days until Christmas and we should make the most of them.  My initial reply was, "can I get a nap first?"  However, I want to suggest that we use the next 363 more days to do just that - prepare for next Christmas.

It started this way.  Last year, it became painfully aware to us that our little kids were struggling with the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  They know all about Jesus, and even guessed that perhaps it was when Jesus died on the cross.  Clearly, the confusion stretched far beyond just this season, despite repeated attempts to make those seasons very clear in their young minds.  They are pretty smart kids, people, the lack was most decidedly our own.

We spent a lot of time teaching them this year, but once again when the opportunity came around to give the answer about what Christmas was about, they struggled.  What do your kids have to say about this?  Have you asked?  I would like to share some ideas with you about how you can make Christmas 2015 more meaningful for those around you.  I have read about some people on Facebook who have had birthday cakes for Jesus.  I personally think this is a great place to start - AND it can be a non-threatening way to introduce non-churched friends to the concept.  A birthday party is not threatening.  Most people understand the concept, and your kids will be more than happy to help you plan, decorate and implement such an activity.  Their involvement can be very valuable, so let them help!

One resource that I would check out if I were you is my friend, Jeannie Schulman's book, Christmas Without Santa:  Creating a Christ-Centered Christmas.  She has some good ideas about how to celebrate - with or without Santa - that can point participants back to the "Christ" in Christmas.  Jeannie is a friend from New Orleans.  I have seen firsthand how she has used the ideas in this book to make Christmas more meaningful for her children and those around her.  She writes in a very approachable way, too.  It is published through Xyron, so you might miss it if you don't go looking for it.  So, go look for it.

Another resource someone shared with me this year was fabulous - and I highly recommend you check it out for next year.  This little book - Jotham's Journey is a fabulous resource for a family wanting to celebrate Advent!  It is an epic tale of a young man who decided to disobey his parents, leading to a journey beyond any you might imagine, and the ending is fabulous.  To be fair and honest, we didn't actually read it according to direction.  We got started late, and due to our hectic schedule, we struggled to keep up.  However, we DID finish it on Christmas Day, and we ALL loved it.  This is another book you might easily miss, but I highly recommend it for any family that wants to celebrate the real Christmas story.  Honestly, I started wishing it would never end, even though I knew it had to!  There are two additional books as well - Tabitha's Travels and Bartholomew's Passage.  The same friend that recommend Jotham's book and loaned it to us for the season bought the Bartholomew for us for next year.  It is one of my favorite Christmas gifts!

I have also in the past enjoyed the story Benjamin's Box along with the Resurrection Eggs for the Easter season.  (Thanks, Crystal!)  A few years ago, we found a treasure box and used the story and the eggs to make Resurrection Sunday more meaningful for our children.  This year, perhaps we will try Amon's Adventure instead.  It is written by Arnold Ytreeide, the same author who wrote Jotham's Journey.  Before I met Susan, I had never heard of these books, but now I really am looking forward to trying that Easter resource out.  I will be ordering early, just in case.

I don't know about you, but at Christmas time, money gets tight around the Christian Casa.  This is why I am recommending these books early - as preparation for a Christmas 2015 that will be full of meaning for your family.  If you order early in the year, you don't have to sweat it closer to Christmas, when your focus is on how to bless those around you with meaningful Christmas gifts.

A few more things.  Jeannie's book is called Christmas Without Santa.  I have to say, whether or not Santa is a part of your Christmas celebration is none of my business.  I can honestly say that I have raised children both ways - two that would fight tooth and nail to prove to you that Santa was real, and two that would love to inform your gullible 5 year old that Santa cannot possibly exist and is, in fact, your own parents.  I don't feel like judging you for your choice.  Please don't judge me for mine. However, consider this:  we should never give Santa the attributes that belong to God alone.  Only God knows when you are sleeping and when you are awake.  Even parents aren't always sure on that one!  Make sure that the focus remains on the fact that Jesus became a man.  Our God set aside his majesty and became a vulnerable, helpless baby that had to be cared for by mere humans in order that we might know Him and experience His salvation.

When your children are old enough to find that Santa is a well-meaning fantasy, will they believe you when you speak of Jesus?  This was an agonizing choice for us when we adopted our two youngest.  Let's face it.  Not too many things sound as much like a fairy tale as the God of the universe coming down as a man to live a sinless life and die on the cross to save us from the dreadful curse that sin became in our world.  When we adopted, the little kids didn't even believe us when we told them that our soda cup was empty - there was no way I was lying to them about something even remotely as important as Santa Claus.  I have tried to always be honest with them.  How will your children respond when they learn the truth about this myth?  Trust me - some child that has recently learned the truth in their own house will be more than ready to inform them.  So handle it carefully.  Other messages in their lives will be much more important later and you will want their trust then!

In parenting, our goal should always be the end product.  We work hard to keep them healthy, happy and safe.  Make sure that the most important messages get through to them, too.  It is just as important, maybe even more so.  Teach them the truth of God's Word, God's rescue plan and about the amazing life that God has planned for them.  No other knowledge will ever serve them as well as that!  Need help?  Another resource that I love is the Jesus Storybook Bible.  If you don't have one - get one and read it from the front cover to the back - out loud!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ask an honest man . . .

Okay, not news.  Just saying.  There have been a few times in our ministry when we have had to watch some very difficult marriages go down.  Maybe you have, too.  I have some advice for those of you who are married and those of you who want to be some day.  Marriage is fabulous.  I love my husband to pieces most days.  Other days, I may have to tolerate him a bit, knowing that God is doing a good work in him.  

As women, we tend to wear our emotions on our sleeve.  Men don't.  They just don't.  They look at everything differently.  They really are from Mars.  I can't imagine having to deal with some of the temptations that they have to deal with.  When I see a man without a shirt on, for instance, that image doesn't really stay in my mind.  If I really want to dwell on it, I have to go back and look at it.  (Not a good idea, by the way.  Just let it go, in the immortal words of Frozen.)  Men, on the other hand, can remember details of that famous actresses' body that was flaunted in that R rated movie that you thought you couldn't live without seeing.  I mean, days later, those images still pop up.  Don't believe me?  Ask an honest man.  

Having said all of that, here is my first bit of wisdom for you:

1.  Once you have chosen the "One", please know that he is human.  He will forget to pick up his socks and underwear.  Let's face it: by now he has forgotten that he left it there.  It doesn't make him a bad man, just a messy one.  Before you bend down to pick it up, remember the last time he had to lift that box down from the top of the closet, or bring it in from the garage because it was just too heavy for you to carry, then smile (even if you have to force it) and pick it up.

A few years ago, at a pastor's conference in Chicago, I broke my ankle within 6 hours of arriving there by plane.  You should know that when I do something, I don't do it halfway.  I really do it.  As a matter of fact, we had to stay over until Friday before the doctor was even willing to do the surgery.  An extra night in the hotel, the hassle of changing our tickets, all of that.  But it didn't end there.  When I took a bath, my husband had to lift me out of the tub.  Not my best days, but he was there and did whatever I needed him to without complaining and with the utmost of TLC.  If I need a reminder of how much he loves me, I picture those days.  If your husband isn't perfect, but has done things to show how much he cares, take a minute to write them down if you need to in a book of remembrance.  The bad things you'll remember, but when you need an opportunity to relish in your spouse's care, pick up that book and refresh your short memory!  Need help here?  Does he provide for your family?  Does he cook dinner or do laundry?  Think of something, even if you have to dig deep.

2.  Don't listen to all of those bad outside voices.  People who love you will support you, even when you are in sin, if you aren't careful.  Hear me carefully here.  Even your loving mother, who helped lead you to the Lord may tell you to leave a man if he hurts you.  After all, she is till a mother, and we can be a real bear when we must!  When someone begins to complain about how bad their husband treats them, others around them begin to reflect on the things in their own relationships that aren't the way they want them to be.  This can wreak havoc on a marriage, so guard your heart carefully.

Is someone telling you that you are "better" than him?  Is someone telling you that you deserve better?  Forget it, girl.  As my mother-in-law is so fond of saying, "You ain't better than anyone else, and ain't no one better than you, either."  You really deserve hell.  Live it.  Love it.  Learn it.  You do things that hurt him without even knowing it sometimes.  Here's a revelation for you.  When you complain to him about something he did that bothered you, chances are he is hearing that he is a bad, mean husband.  Even when that's not what you are saying.  Don't believe me?  Ask an honest man.

3.  Don't lose your focus when he corrects you.  Look, if you should be allowed to point out his faults and sins, be prepared for the fact that you have probably done some things outside the lines that need correction, too.  When you begin to be honest with one another, those things will likely come out as a defense mechanism.  Be prepared to learn something about yourself that isn't too pretty.  Be prepared to need to change some things if his arguments have merit.  You can change, too.  Pray about it.  

My son, Darren, loves food.  He would find it the most loving thing in the world if I would serve him chocolate cake for breakfast every morning.  We all know that would be a bad plan.  (I have to give major props to my husband for coming up with this illustration.  I just love that man.)  It's my job to keep him on course.  It's my husband's job to keep me on course when I am failing in marriage or mothering.  It is.  Read your Bible, you'll find it's true.

4.  Give up your right to be angry and confrontational.  If you try to correct behavior in anger in your children, you could leave bruises.  Most people consider that abuse.  The smart parent lets the heat cool while the child "reflects on their bed" or some other method until the mad is past and you can remember how cute they looked when they wore that monkey towel after bedtime ten years ago.  Not kidding.  The same is true for your marriage.  Don't try to correct him while you are angry.  Pick up that remembrance book and remind yourself that he isn't all bad.  In fact, he has put up with your sorry attitudes many times before - remember?  (If not, this could also be a good time to ask your honest husband.)

Pick a time when things are good, but don't go to bed without at least making a stab at correcting the issue.  Otherwise, it will fester and cause bitterness, which I often equate to swallowing poison while expecting the other person to die.  Even if you have to stay up all night to work it out, try to do it.  It pays off in huge dividends later.

5.  Dating is cheaper than divorce, so do it.  Sometimes, you have to get away from the kids and have adult speaks. (That's for Pops!)   I'm not even talking about correction here.  I mean you should talk about things that don't involve the children.  This, by the way is called a date.  You get away and spend time focusing on each other.  You don't have to spend a lot of money, just some time.  Walk around the mall if you must, don't insist on dinner and a movie.  Trade babysitting with a trusted friend or farm the kids out for the evening and stay home for dinner and a movie.

We had a pastor once say that if you think getting away for a weekend is expensive, you should check out the cost of a divorce.  Trust me, it's much cheaper to date your spouse.  (Props to Buster Gilliam for this one.)  He was so right.  Richard and I have made it a habit to date, even though we are married.  Even if we have to set aside lunch time to make it happen, we try to date regularly.  My friend's parents used to hire a babysitter every Thursday night so they could date.  They are still married, and an excellent example for all of us.  (Love you, Smith family.)  It wasn't until I was married myself that I actually saw the great benefit of this practice.

6.  Love really is a verb.  Sometimes, when all of the other avenues have been exhausted, you just have to remember that love is an action that can be done by choice.  Even when your heart is feeling bruised and betrayed, you can still love him.  You may have to do it from a distance if you are in danger, but depending on emotions, which women tend to do, will only lead to more heartache, not less.  Men tend to get comfortable.  That's not an indictment on men.  It's just true.  They told you they loved you when they married you.  Isn't that enough?  By the way, if you are a man and reading this, it isn't!  Tell her more.  Show her in little ways.  Does she like a bath?  Draw one for her and light some candles.  I promise she will appreciate it.  

Choosing to love someone will never be easy.  Sometimes this also applies to children, and I have seen many parents go through some times when loving their child was well past the limit of pleasurable.  Why is it that we don't give up on children, but we do give up on husbands?  After all, marriage came first, not those cute little bundles of joy.  Choosing to love does not make you weak.  In fact, it makes you infinitely stronger.  

There are probably many other things I could add to this post.  However, the last time I checked, you don't exactly get a prize for being the most long-winded in a blog post, and honestly, my mind can only comprehend what my backside can endure!  I hope that you aren't going through a hard time in your marriage right now.  It is hard.  The "stuff of earth" (R. Mullins) will try to divert your attention to other things because satan doesn't like the family so much.  God loves the family and instituted yours, whether you believe that or not.  Keep trying.  Keep reaching out.  I know you may be hurting, but leaving is not the answer.  Hang in there, wife and mother.  Life is just practice for the big game, anyway.  In heaven, Jesus will make it all better.  I promise.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lessons From Aladdin

Because we live near New York City, our family made the decision this year to use a portion of our tax return to go and see the Broadway Musical, “Aladdin”.  It is a great show, they do some amazing things on that stage, let me tell you.  Also, the genie is fantastic.

This summer, to ice the cake a bit more, Katie (our 9 year old daughter) has been chosen to sing the love song from Aladdin at her summer camp musical.  Those kids do a fantastic show every year - mostly songs from Broadway productions, complete with motions and some dancing.  Their music teacher is pretty phenomenal.  Of course, Katie eats it up!

As I was reflecting on the work we are doing to help her memorize the words of the song, the Lord shared some thoughts with me, and so – faithful reader – I opted to write them down and share with you.

Aladdin is a street urchin and has learned to steal to feed himself.  He is chosen to go into the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the lamp, but breaks the rules and instead remains stuck in the Cave.  In come the lamp and the genie, and his world changes dramatically.

Suddenly, he is faced with the opportunity to have three wishes fulfilled.  But, Aladdin is smart.  He doesn’t just wish for food or riches.  He wants to court the beautiful princess Jasmine.  In order to do that, he has to be a prince.  So, what does he wish for?  To be a prince, of course!  All the things that go along with being a prince, the son of a king, will meet his needs.

Once he becomes a prince, the plot thickens and he has to continually wonder if the apple of his eye or his father will find out who he used to be, I mean before his change to being a prince.  His fear is that if he frees Genie, which he has promised to do, he will be found out and the “jig” will be up.  However, the Lord laid this question on my heart:  Aladdin is now a prince.  That IS his new reality.  Even if the people realized it, will it change him back to a street urchin?  How can it?  His world has changed, and now he is a prince.  Like permanently, see?

As believers in Christ, do we not often live the same way?  Jesus came to give us a new life.  He makes us sons and daughters of the best King ever – Creator God.  Who we were before matters little in comparison.  The Bible tells us that we are a new creation.  Yet, we spend our time worrying that those around us will figure out who we used to be and point their finger at us, saying we really aren’t princes and princesses, but lousy sinners.

Ain’t nobody got time for dat, to quote the vernacular of the day!  We need to be moving forward, confident in our citizenship in the greatest kingdom ever.  Yet, we spend our time cowering in the corner because we let the devil convince us that we are really not who we say we are, but just pretenders. 

Wake up, dear friend.  Of course you aren’t perfect.  Neither am I.  I am just a used-to-be street urchin that met the God of the universe through his son Jesus, making me a true princess.  If you have accepted this free gift, you are too.  Now, go out and live like it.