The One

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off”
(Matthew 18:12-13).

It’s difficult to leave a writer’s conference without packing a suitcase full of discouragement. Edit after edit, the haunting question looms, “Am I good enough?”  As you prepare to leave, you discover pieces of yourself in the form of ink-stained papers, pieces of your heart tossed inside a dumpster next to yesterday’s biscuits and gravy. These same thoughts seemed to plague much of the attendees, but even more so, the newbies who had come to the conference looking to fulfill a lifelong ambition. However, it was these very conversations that led me to have a bizarre dream on my final night.

In this dream, a precious heirloom had been abandoned in an alleyway. Its owner had set the piece against the wall next to the trash compactor. All of a sudden people began to make their way towards the heirloom. I watched as they stood around and argued its worth (or lack thereof). Finally, one gentleman, deciding it was to his liking, picked it up and walked away while the others continued on in their debate. I woke up with the realization that this is exactly how it may seem in the writer’s world. To some, our words may not be considered “good enough”. We may find ourselves ridiculed and criticized by countless individuals, until that is, we find the one. Just like in my dream, there will be one person out there that needs our words to be penned. That one person is our audience. That’s to whom we are writing. That’s for whom we pour out our soul day in and day out. For it is that one person who will pick up our piece among the remnants and see its true worth.

This image reminds me of Christ, and how He too was deeply concerned about the one. The verse above reminds me how quickly God would leave everything to pursue that one lost lamb. Shouldn’t this be our heart’s desire as well? It’s easy to feel discouraged when only a smalll number of people read our blog posts or visit our websites, but wouldn’t it be more productive to forget about the numbers and focus solely on that one individual who needs a life-alterning word from the Lord.

One is all we are asked to reach, and before we know it, that one could possibly turn into hundreds and even thousands. But it all starts with one.

Contradictions of the Flesh

Did you ever notice the contradictions of your flesh? From one minute to the next we can be hot or cold. It’s a feeling a love, acting in hate. We dress it up and tear it down as soon as we look in the mirror. It’s alive and yet, dying at the same time. Our flesh holds us together, yet tears us apart when we allow it to rule.

The flesh is very significant in the Bible too. Woman was formed with the rib of a man, and he called her “flesh of my flesh”. When two people get married they become one flesh. In communion, the bread represents Christ’s flesh. However, there are plenty of occasions in the Bible when men are given over to “the desires of their flesh” and then disaster happens.

I remember succumbing to such desires in my own life, and the results were catastrophic. When my flesh took over, I was like a zombie, walking around without direction, lost, afraid, hopeless, and so angry I wanted to rip people apart at the seams. The flesh left to its own devices is entirely unreliable. In fact, Romans 7:5 states, “For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.”

So, how can we receive new life into these dry bones? 

While the Bible tells us that the wages of sin are death, it also says that the “gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We must accept God’s free gift.

First, we have to accept Christ as our Savior (Roman 10:9-10).
Second, we need to turn from our former way of living and leave those things which once brought destruction to our lives (2 Timothy 2:19).
Third, we need to fill our lives with the Word of God, the Bible. This way, when doubts and temptations arise we can stand firm (Hebrews 4:12).

Living to please the desires of the flesh always leads to spiritual death.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather miss out on the small things in this life than miss out in the blessings of all eternity.

Fear or Peace

There are fears that grip us and keep us from what God has for our lives. You know the kind of fear; it’s the kind that jolts you awake from the deepest of slumber. As I was thinking of this the other day, the thought occurred to me, “How much do you fear God?” I mean, I spend enough time fearing what may never be, but the fear of this world and the fear of God are two totally different things. I would almost venture to say that they are polar opposites. The fear of this world brings anxiety and turmoil, while the fear of the Lord brings peace, love, and understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 actually says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” and Proverbs 19:23 tells us that the fear of the Lord leads to life and rest and leaves one “untouched by trouble.” In today’s crazy world, there’s nothing I need more than wisdom, peace, and rest.

Growing up, I thought the fear of the Lord was fire and brimstone bursting from the sky. I tried to avoid the great lightning strike from heaven by trying to be perfect at all cost. Problem is, I was far from perfect and this mentality actually led me to give up on Christianity altogether. It seems silly, but many people have a very skewed idea of God. Thankfully, God brought me to my senses. As an adult, I discovered that the fear of the Lord was a really beautiful act of worship that added to our relationship. In reverence and awe, I “fear” the Lord. I fear Him because I know without a doubt that He is holy, righteous, and always has my best interest in mind. When God calls us to be holy like he is holy it is not a call to perfection. He knows that we are fallible. Instead, it is a journey to holiness, holiness that will be made complete in Him upon reaching our heavenly destination. As we walk with Him in reverence and awe, the fear of the Lord will inevitably bring peace to our lives and joy to our hearts.

If you don’t know the Lord already, I pray that you will know Him and the peace and joy only He can bring.