FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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If It Looks Like a Duck

It’s funny – the things we accept at face value and the things we do not.  Get a piece of paper; it can be a scrap, and see how you do on this little Yes or No test:

  1. I have purchased a dress ___ sizes too small promising myself that I would lose enough weight to wear it. (You fill in the blank.)
  2. I have befriended someone (welcomed them into my home, introduced them to family, scheduled special events with them, etc.) when I knew the relationship would be the equivalent of putting a hot coal inside my shirt.
  3. I have said that I liked something (when I secretly thought, “Yuck!) only to receive that something later as a gift.
  4. I have purchased a shoe in a size other than what I know that I wear thinking I could “make them work” for a special occasion (and because they were cute).
  5. I have dated (or married) a man believing that I could, eventually, change him into the man of my dreams.

Each question is worth 20 points.  I trust you to score your own paper.  You do not have to report your score; I’ll let you “sit with” it.

There seems to be two camps – the one that believes you can always turn a situation around and the one that agrees with the old anonymous proverb that says, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck – it must be a duck.”

Here’s my thinking on that proverb…Wrong!

You may think this season of your life is pretty hopeless.  It might be looking like unemployment, feeling like cancer, sounding like a mean boss, smelling like divorce, feeling like loneliness, tasting like failure…  Looks can be deceiving.  So can feelings and all the other senses.

We’ve been following Joseph through several chapters of Genesis, so let’s keep learning from him

Genesis 37:23 (NIV)  “So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing…” Looks like nakedness.

Genesis 37:24 (NIV)  “…they took him and threw him into the cistern.” Tastes like abandonment.

Genesis 37: 28 (NIV)   “…his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels…” Sounds like slavery.

Genesis 39:6b-7 (NIV)     “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” Smells like a set-up.

Genesis 39:20a (NIV)        “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. Looks like, smells like and feels like the end!

Wrong, again!

Genesis 39:20b-21a (NIV) tells us, “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him…” And two chapters and two years later, we see Joseph not just leaving prison and not just being restored to his former position, but he is positioned second only to Pharaoh. Genesis 41:39 -41 says, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph…, ‘Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you…I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’” Looks like a test, and looks like Joseph passed with flying colors. Will you?

Max Lucado tells us that God “sees the needs of tomorrow and, accordingly, uses your circumstances to create the tests of today.” He sees your needs, and He sees the needs of others. He uses you and your circumstances to create tests that will bring about His desired results. Sometimes your testing is to bring about a certain result in you. Sometimes it is to bring about a certain result through you, meaning you are the vehicle chosen by God to do a work in someone else’s life. Whichever situation is the case, you want to pass the test. Lucado also reminds us that “some tests end on earth, but all tests will end in heaven.”

So, it might walk like a duck, quack like a duck and even look like a duck, but what it really is is a test! And you want to pass!


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God-Help

One of my favorite places to wile away literally hours – a good book store.  When I drive past a Barnes & Nobles or a Books A Million, something inside me stirs.  I even get that same feeling in the book section of an Ollie’s.  Ollie’s slogan is “Good Stuff, Cheap,” and it is.  Especially the books!  While other people love navigating the aisles of kitchen gadgets, flipping through the room-sized carpets and rambling through the clothing section, you can find me in the book corner.

I found myself in a book store this weekend.  Nirvana.  My sweetie is the most patient of men, so I literally had as long as I wanted to bask in the smell of new editions.  While the “Religion” section is my favorite (though I honestly dislike that name – Christianity is about Relationship more than Religion, but that’s another blog post perhaps), I also spend time in Magazines, Cook Books and Children’s Books.  But this weekend, the Self-Help section caught my attention.

Self-Help.  Just the name of the section is interesting.  So, I walked the aisle reading some of the titles aloud.  “The Power of Intention:  Co-Create Your World.”  “Real Magic:  Creating Your Own Miracles.”  “The Mindful Way Through Depression:  Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness.”  Interesting.  Lofty Ideas.  The last title I glanced was the most interesting:  ‘Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work.”  Now, I’ve not read any of these, but the only title I was inclined to agree with was the latter.

Working on yourself doesn’t work.  That’s not what much of society, especially the “self-help” segment would have you believe.  If you just focus, meditate, tap into your true inner self and dig deeper, you will be successful.

Let me suggest you look to the example of Joseph.

Genesis 39 (NIV) opens, “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.” You know the story – betrayed by his brothers, stripped of his precious coat and sold into slavery.  So he arrives in Egypt – alone, half-naked with only the clothes on his back.

Well, he had one more thing because Genesis 39:2 (NIV) says, “The Lord was with Joseph.”  Continue reading this chapter, and I am confident you will agree with me.  This was all that Joseph needed.  In about five verses Joseph goes from arriving, alone and naked to running the house of Potiphar.

He must have read “How to Attract Wealth, Health, Love and Luck in 10 Easy Steps.”  Or maybe it was “Winning Friends and Influencing People for Your Personal Wealth.”  Probably not.  Rather than meditating, chanting mantras or digging deeper, Joseph looked to God.  He didn’t look within; he looked up.  The Lord was with Joseph.  That means that Joseph was also with the Lord.

And the best news this Monday morning?  The same God that was with Joseph, is with you if you accept Him as your Lord.  The promise He made to Joseph is the promise He makes to you.  “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”  (Genesis 28:15 NIV)  

He offers you what is needed, God-Help.