Monthly Archives: December 2015

Reputations

I was reading in Psalms this morning and Psalm 69:5-6 jumped out at me.

O God, You know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from You. Let not those who hope in You be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek You be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.

It’s like David’s saying, “You know I’m dumb and I’ve made some stupid mistakes – don’t let my stupidity and my sins ruin the reputation of Your people.”

As the king of Israel, David knew by experience that he was doubly accountable for his actions; not only for himself, but for the effects they had on the entire nation. When he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, Nathan the prophet told him that his own son (Absalom) would turn against him. The turmoil Absalom caused affected the entire nation. Not to mention that time David took a census of the people and bunches of them died as a result. You can see the principle in action even more as you read through the various kings that came later on. The wicked kings caused the nation to fall into wickedness, while the good kings led the people to worship God. When they sinned, the whole nation suffered from oppression or catastrophes.

But there’s another reason David was especially accountable for his actions, and it’s the one that really stood out to me:

David was accountable for his actions because of the reputation it created for everyone else who served the Lord.

This is true of every Christian today. To the outside world looking in, the example of one follower of Jesus often becomes the stereotype they apply to every other Christian. Paul writes in Titus 2:7-8,

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Even more importantly, we represent Christ Himself, and our reputation can directly affect how people think of Him. That’s a scary thought when I think about how often I shrink back and keep to myself instead of making the effort to show Christ’s love to the people around me. What reputation are we making for Christ?

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ~ 1 Peter 2:12

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Change Challenge

When my sister challenged me to write down 50 positive things about my day because she thought that would help my overall attitude, it stung.

Of course she was right. I often tend toward a somewhat negative perspective. Yes, I do struggle with depression, but no, I don’t have an excuse for letting it affect the attitude I choose to maintain. So, after biting my tongue, I submitted to her suggestion and spent my day looking for things to write down. Fifty things sounds like quite a few until you arrive at lunch time with twenty-six or so written down already.

It’s hard to know from a one-time try how much of a difference her challenge made, given all the other variables of life, but I do know this for sure – I had fun writing things down and discovering I had found more good things than I thought. (Even though by 8:10 pm I haven’t yet made it to 50. I’m getting closer!)  It brightened my day to see the little good things around the not-so-good ones. And for the cherry on top, I didn’t hit my usual early-afternoon energy slump. Was that a direct result? Who knows? I’d have to keep this up regularly to find out. But it was an awfully nice perk to add to my list today.

The next step: to keep this up in hopes of creating a new, better habit. (After all, it would be a shame to fill the first few pages of the little notebooky-thingy and not fill the rest. 😉 ) Just one aspect of a lifestyle overhaul that has been a long time in the works. I hope in the next few months to solidify some other small, but hopefully significant in the long term, changes that will help as well.

On my own I know I can’t do it. Not because there’s nothing I can do about depression, but because I’m not strong enough to keep up the battle long-term against letting it control my choices. I’ve tried that a time or two, and I always end up crying to God in frustrated exhaustion after a while. I need persistence to keep surrendering depression and my responses to it to God day after day after day, no matter how hard that particular day is.

And then I need help. I need help from God, but I also need courage to admit my weakness to fellow humans and ask for advice and accountability and support. You’ve heard of the serenity prayer. Well, today brought about a new prayer sort of based on the idea.

Lord, grant me the humility to recognize where I need to change, the persistence to keep surrendering it to You when it recurs, and the courage to ask for help. 

Categories: Ponderizations | 3 Comments

In Debt

Here it is; another birthday, another year gone by, and another one ahead. The older I grow, the more I realize how deeply in debt I am.  Today has been no exception. There have been little blessings all along the way, from waking up predisposed to be sad and finding comfort in the Word, to all the beautiful friends and family who take the time to write notes or send texts or call to say happy birthday, to a gift of Sculpey clay right after I got inspiration and contracted a strong desire to buy some. The countless little blessings pile on top of each other like snowflakes into this huge drift of unfathomable love.

I’m in debt.

I’m in debt to the awesome God of the universe who sent His son to die for an ingrate like me. I’m in debt to the all-knowing Father who, despite my constant (and sometimes intentional) failures, loves me more than I can even comprehend. I’m in debt to the greatest Lover of all time, who showers reminder after reminder and gently but firmly pursues my heart and my love.

I’m in debt, and there’s no earthly way to repay it.

It seems the only natural thing is to turn every gift, every possession, every talent over to the One I’m indebted to, but even then I can’t do it perfectly. A friend told me today that it was noble to want to use money made off of art (yes, I’m scheming – and it might actually go somewhere this time) to sponsor children and missionaries through Gospel for Asia for the furtherance of the Kingdom. Oh goodness. I’m not noble. (I haven’t even started doing it yet, for Pete’s sake…) I’m just in debt. If I could give every single thing I have back to Him I would still forever be in debt.

I’ve been thinking about the great missionaries and such that we look up to; Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, George Müller, and so on. We think of them as great heroes and incredible people – and so they are. But they were simply human beings so deeply in debt that it only made sense to give everything they had back to God. It’s what He deserves from every single one of us.

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” ~ Luke 17:10

We’re all just servants in huge debt to God. It’s no more noble to give everything we can back to Him than it is to try to repay a mortgage. Isn’t it our duty?

So no, I’m not noble. For one reason, I’ve barely even started. And for another, it’s only doing what my Master asks of me. I’m in debt, remember?

 

Note: I will probably not post next week. I will be on vacation at my sister’s house and either won’t have internet access or won’t want it or both. 🙂

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