As we reshuffle our year’s agenda with more realistic goals, here are 3 "simpler" things we can stop doing in 2018.
There’s a commercial that comes on quite often and my eyes are glued to the tv every.single.time. I see it.
It features people who have just gotten a great deal on walmart.com.
The commercial itself doesn’t last more than 30 seconds but, even in that time, as a consumer, I can sense their overwhelming joy and pure satisfaction with their purchase and subsequent savings.
I mean, who doesn't love a great deal?
In the end, we see them pushing out their overstuffed shopping carts #likeaboss. The aspect that most captures my attention is that in the background I can hear a perfectly cued victory song to illicit the appropriate response: the satisfaction of winning. And almost in-sync with the “winners” on our television, my daughters and I, without fail, throw our hands up in the air and do our best silly dance…it’s quite a sight to see actually.
If you've never seen the commercial before, click here to watch it and then come back. Please don't blame me if the song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Apparently, I owe my newfound affinity to these lyrics to a rapper known as “DJ Khaled.” And I'll tell you upfront, I did not listen to the rest of the song. The only part I know is what I hear in the Walmart commercial.
But I think this DJ Khaled may be onto something. He says,
“All I do is win, win, win, no matter what.”
The Bible emphatically teaches that as Christians, we are more than conquerors, overcomers by the blood of Jesus Christ, victorious through His resurrection, powerful through the promise of His Holy Spirit. And now, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of us.
That, my friend, is the definition of winning.
We have been made joint heirs with Jesus, partakers of His kingdom, and given seats in heavenly places….just winning all day, in all places, at all times. All because of Jesus.
To take it a step further we don’t just win, we triumph.
“Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:14
When you received Christ, you didn’t only get saved, you got in Christ, that is, in union with Christ.
An awesome transfer took place where you exchanged your sin for His righteousness, your weakness for His strength, your imperfections for total validation. That means what He has, you also have simply because you are in Him.
If you see yourself as struggling, weak, and barely making it, there’s a disconnect in that you are not seeing yourself the way God sees you in Christ. We are human, so we have the propensity to feel a particular way in response to a given situation, but the truth of God’s Word always trumps our feelings. Your faith is bigger than your emotions.
The goal is to put your faith to work, and act upon what you believe.
To be triumphant in Christ is a lifestyle and a state of being. It’s not what you do (a successful career, accomplishing a great task), it’s who you are (a child of the King, a forgiven sinner, an heir of the promise). Your shoulders should naturally pull back once you understand that. So then, as the ultimate winner, the mandate on your life is to declare the glory of God.
Romans 8 sums it up in the final verses by reminding us that there is no situation we could ever face that has enough power to separate us from our triumph in Christ. So even when you find yourself on the sliding scale of being wealthy or broke, popular or a loner, hungry or full, in good times or bad times, none of it should faze you or cause you to skip a beat because you understand that Jesus has graciously taken you captive and now leads you in triumph. In fact, Paul flips the script completely and boldly declares “no, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us”. (see: Romans 8:37)
While we may not get the chance to cue the perfect song every time we save some coins at our local department store, our anthem of victory echoes in the blood-stained cross of Jesus Christ every moment of our lives. That's something to throw your hands up and shout about.
You are not and will never be defeated. As believers in Christ, we are winners. It’s in our DNA. We win in life. We win in death. We just win, win, win, no matter what.
Recently, I was asked to define love.
My response: “Unconditional.”
Certainly not the most complex or the most profound definition. But nonetheless, it’s what I believe.
I mean, I get it.
Often what we read during Sunday morning worship doesn't transcend in our Monday - Saturday lives. So then what we discover is that Scripture, in theory, sounds good (because it is in fact, good), but it's the application that we struggle with.
If I were to be given the task to rename the 66 books of holy, God-breathed text, I would consider republishing it as “The Greatest Love Story Ever Written.” From Genesis to Revelation the overwhelming and undeniable truth of unconditional love is interwoven, chapter by chapter and line by line. "God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son" (see: John 3:16) even when we were dead and unworthy of love, God so loved us.
It is only fitting that the Author of such a profound text is Himself defined as the very essence of love. “God is love” (see: 1 John 4:8). A statement that is past and present progressive.
God is constant, unfailing, and a perpetuating state of love. Past. Present. Future. God is love.
Naturally I wondered what this love entails. What does it look like? What does it feel like? And to be honest, I was a little confused.
Listen, we may be seated in heavenly places, but we live in this sinful world. World standards are so warped that the idea of love is equated to happiness, pleasure, money, and gifts. If believers aren’t careful, we’ll fall into the trap of becoming disappointed when, what we think is, love doesn’t look like your favorite primetime show or box-office hit.
The infamous “love chapter” helped to settle the internal debate for me because it sums it up quite well. Not according to the standard we are accustomed to, but according to truth.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV
Here’s an exercise I saw floating around on IG:
Try replacing the word “love” or “it” with your name and read it out loud.
How did that sound?
Now, try replacing the same words with the name of your spouse, significant other, or loved one and read it again.
How about now?
How easy or difficult that was to read is a helpful indicator of our position on God's love barometer. For many of us not all of those statements are true.
I think true love has less to do with emotions and more to do with consistency. Perhaps it’s unconditional action.
So. What does love have to do with anything?
Well, our lives are driven by our desires. We are culturally inundated with a desire for more "stuff."
If your only intention or driving force is to please another human being, good luck with that (#impossible #wastingyourtime). Why? Because humans are strange creatures wrapped in fickle flesh.
If left up to our own devices we would hardly recognize ourselves at the end of each day; let alone be able to come off of our emotional highs or lows to be able to correctly judge another person in love. Thank God for the Holy Spirit whose greatest joy is to teach us and lead us into all truth, if we allow Him to (see: John 16:13).
The goal is to please Love.
Not me. Not you. God is the standard. Anything less than His definition of love, can’t be love. Call it something else.
And if we miss the magnitude of God’s unconditional love captured in His Word and displayed in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, then it’s literally impossible for us to love others. We simply won’t know how. As we have freely received Unconditional Love, we should also give unconditional love freely.
In fact, love has everything to do with it.
Because as children of God, Love defines who we are at our core and Love should govern how we live our lives every single day.
Easy? Probably not.
Required? You better believe it.
I challenge you to look beyond yourself and truly love someone else today.
I’m definitely going to do a post suggesting what to do if you discover that you or someone you love is lacking in godly love. Stay tuned :)
"Amazing Grace" has to be one of the most well-known and most recorded hymns of all times. From sacred to secular, cue the refrain and people instantly recognize it and start singing along. It's almost like a spiritual national anthem. But sometimes the concept of grace can become a little less amazing and a little more cliché. Read this refresher on why grace is so amazing!