Monday, February 29, 2016

ACE #421: A Grown Up Look at 'Tom and Jerry'

Over the last few weeks, our daughter has grown very fond of the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon.  When I was younger, I used to watch it religiously.  Back then, I didn't really pay attention to the dynamics of Tom and Jerry's relationship.  I just thought that they were natural enemies of one another because Tom is a cat and Jerry is a mouse. Makes a lot of sense, right? The other day, as a grown up, my perspective shifted.  There was more to their relationship. 

Yes, Tom and Jerry were bitter enemies themselves...until they found a common enemy.  Then, they put their differences aside and teamed up to conquer their common enemy.  A clear example is when Jack was trying to escape the Giant in the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" - Tom and Jerry worked together to help Jack, but also to save themselves.  Later, they became bitter enemies all over again.  After their common cause, the Giant, was defeated, it was back to business as usual.

It reminded me that when we are walking in God's light or His favor is apparent in our lives, common enemies will unite to conquer us.  Don't believe me?  Then let's look at Scripture.

1.  In Matthew 27, the chief priests and the elders united with Judas to kill Jesus. 
2.  In Mark 12, The Pharisees conspired with the Herodians to destroy Jesus. 
3.  In John 11, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to the Sanhedrin together to bring charges against Jesus.
4.  In John 15 it reads:
24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.

And, clearly, it was all without reason. 

So, be mindful of who your real enemies are; Judas was right in sight of the other disciples and they sensed nothing - but Jesus knew.  It pays to be prayed up in the Spirit and to study the Word so that we can more accurately discern the enemy.  More importantly, it is so that we can be prepared for the attack - even when it is on our character, our integrity, our testimony and especially our purpose.  And, for the record, if we weren't doing "Kingdom work", no one would feel it necessary to forge partnerships in order to attack us in the first place.  The fact that not one of those groups could bring Jesus down alone says a lot about who they were, but more about who He was, is, and is to come...

So, who are your "Toms" and "Jerrys" of the world? Whose are you?  Be careful who you form alliances with and against.  Each person will be held accountable.

Psalm 2
The Reign of the Lord's Anointed
Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

Friday, February 26, 2016

ACE #420: The Audacity to Move On

1   the willingness to take bold risks

The biggest misconception people have is that they believe that your life can’t go on without them.  They convince themselves that they are so integral to your day to day existence that you just can’t possibly consider surviving and thriving without their presence in your life.  (Or perhaps you think somebody else can't exist without you). 

I have heard the story of Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, many times.  People always give Orpah the side eye because she chose to leave Naomi and Ruth.  Other people think that Ruth was more faithful to Naomi than Orpah.  I can hear some people say, “Aw, that’s cold. She left that old lady.” Well, the truth be told, Ruth or Orpah really had no obligation to Naomi; they just made different choices concerning her.  If you read the text closely, it was not an easy choice for Orpah. The Scripture said she wept aloud…more than once.

In reality, Orpah just had the audacity to move on - even though it was painful.  She likely recognized that her role as a daughter-in-law truly ended after the death of her husband.  So, she returned to her homeland.  Perhaps she had the opportunity to get married again and possibly to have children.  Moving on for her might have just been the beginning of a new story for her. (Some historical interpretations even say so). I can’t begin to imagine what effort it would have taken Naomi to get both of those young ladies new husbands.

So, today, I challenge you to have the audacity to move on – from unhealthy relationships, broken friendships, unproductive jobs, bad habits and other dead – or dry bone – situations that cause you to weep and yield nothing fruitful in your life. Maybe it is just time to kiss something or someone goodbye…but it certainly takes audacity.  

Ruth 1
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ACE #419: What Is Your RAK?

Last week, our daughter's school assignment was to do a random act of kindness everyday for someone and to record it.  She was really excited about it.

Everyday, she would decide to do a little something for me or her dad.  She helped me get the mail and get the groceries out of the car.  She helped him gather trash and get the remote control.  She was really cognizant of what she was doing because, after all, it was an assignment and she had to keep a record of her acts.  My favorite was when she left me a note in my purse that read:

Lunch note

Dear Mom,

Have a great lunch from me and have a great day.  
I think you don't need makeup because you are beautiful. 
Love me.  I love you.

My questions to you today are, "What is your RAK?  What random act of kindness will you do for someone?"  It doesn't have to be a huge thing; perhaps you will not even get recognition for it or even a simple "thank you".  

Just do will come back to you.

Galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ACE #418: A Harsh Reality

Everyday, I travel the same route to work.  Sometimes, I will stop for gas at the halfway point, while other times I will drive straight through. I take in all of the sights...rarely do they change.  I might see a different animal grazing in the field, but usually it is the same old scene.  Once a deer, followed by a coyote, ran straight across the road in front of me. It scared the living daylights out of me. Each day, I pass by this little greenish house.  I always notice how every few months, another window seems to be missing...well the glass in the window is missing.  I don't usually give it much thought because it is just an old abandoned house.  But yesterday was different.

This time when I rode by, I slowed down a bit. I noticed a black trash bag in one of the windows and what seemed to be a non-functional vehicle that looked like it belonged in a junkyard.  And there it was...plain as day...a light was on inside the house.  I have NEVER seen that...NEVER!  It dawned on me - someone actually lived in that shack.  

Especially during this season, be grateful for the shelter above your head, the clothes on your back, the food on your table, and heat.  The harsh reality is that poverty and homelessness are more common than we think. I can only imagine that the people residing in that space are probably grateful for those things...even if it doesn't look like much.

Matthew 25:36
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me

Proverbs 19:17
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, 
and he will repay him for his deed.