Untitled 2017

A New Year. Fresher than a new blanket of snow on the ground.

And just as austere, in some ways.

Winter after Christmas can sometimes feel grey. The new year can look like a white canvas, a blank page–full of potential, but as I stare at it, I can often feel empty, nervous. It’s something akin to writer’s block. Stomach flutters. Pressure to do things differently. To not mar the page with something unfocused, un-brilliant. Wishing all the scattered bits of last year don’t have to follow me into this one. Still an icy chill inside from the questions pricking my heart like sleet. The flurry of Christmas activity is like the rush of first snow–exciting, breathtaking, entirely welcome. But by the new year, joy can be reduced to just a shred glittering bravely, like a forgotten ornament clinging to the Christmas tree a week later.

Christmas lends beauty to the new year–Jesus Christ came down to give us Himself, to save us from sin and the empty, dark nothingness of life without Him. And it’s still just as true a week later. Rather than being empty, can’t we just be open?

There’s a vulnerability to the open hands, the face turned toward the sun that’s barely rising. But it’s better, braver than forgoing it all and wasting in worry, losing the opportunity to be there for sunrise.

Remember, God wasn’t ever afraid of beginnings:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing would have been or has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!” -John 1:1-5

And out of our nothingness, God has birthed His greatest Miracles.

This new year, God is right where He has always been. Get close and hear Him. Let Him breathe on your empty canvas, your blank pages, your collection of questions. Spend time with the greatest Author, the most brilliant Composer, the supreme Creator/Redeemer of all time, who is making all things new.

It’s the sweetest sound, Father God breaking through the icy cobwebs of my own thoughts and embracing me in the morning quiet while snow gleams outside, ready for fresh footprints. “I’m with you” becomes not just an adage, but a powerful, true reality. He’s with me, in me, has set His Seal on me and invested His Name and Glory in me.

In all those who are His. We can come close and receive Him. He won’t leave us. He will stay and equip us Himself! And there’s nothing better. No better teacher, no path more exciting, no work more rewarding.

So ask Him for the new year. Remember and embrace His new year promises.

Begin again in me, Lord. Renew me. Make me freshly, powerfully, joyfully Yours.

In Jesus’ Name.

 

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Spoiler Alert…

It happened again. I sat in the movie theater, barely seeing the preview of the Olympics flash by me because I was so captivated by the song blasting through the speakers. I’m shocked at how the very words and warnings we need to hear as a culture are consistently flooding our iPods, theaters, and TVs, and we still don’t seem to get it.

Fellow Christians, have you heard the words of Katy Perry’s single “Rise”?

Listen…really, and consider what we’re up against.

“I won’t just survive/Oh you will see me thrive

Can’t write my story/I’m beyond the archetype.

I won’t just conform/no matter how you shake my core,

‘Cause my roots/they run deep.

Oh ye of so little faith./Don’t doubt it. Don’t doubt it.

Victory is in my veins./I know it. I know it.

And I will not negotiate./I’ll fight it. I’ll fight it.

I will transform.”

I’m stunned yet again at how God can shout His Truth, using the voice and talent of someone who doesn’t acknowledge Him (that I’m aware of).

This was back in the summer, obviously, since this song was used as a TV spot for the Olympics. But I don’t need to reiterate that we are embroiled in a battle that goes far deeper than the crunch of extreme sports. Whether we’d like to acknowledge it or not, we are faced with the eerie potential of a leader taking office who will likely detonate what has been simmering beneath the surface. We’ve seen it coming…or maybe we haven’t…a mounting opposition to the Gospel and those who choose to live it out loud.

But this isn’t a political rant as much as a cry for the sleeping children of freedom to awaken. And I don’t just mean Americans. I mean those of us who have been brought from death to life, who know the Freedom that comes from being filled with the Spirit of God–the Founder of Life and True Liberty. The words of Perry’s song give voice to what’s in my heart and what I’m hearing resound from believers across the nation.

This is not a political battle. It’s a spiritual one. We’ve known this all along: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against…the powers of darkness in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12. But it’s more apparent now than I’ve ever seen it–all across the world. Darkness is becoming more and more manifest in broad daylight, stripping off its masks and pretensions, no longer hiding its design. But what happens when the sky darkens? The stars shine brighter.

“The path of the righteous is like the dawn, shining brighter and brighter until full day,” Proverbs 4:18.

Listen to the words of this chorus:

“When the fire’s at my feet again

And the vultures all start circling/they’re whispering,

‘You’re out of time’

But still I rise.

This is no mistake/no accident

When you think the final nail is in/think again

Don’t be surprised/I will still rise.”

This is not the time to negotiate. This is not a time for compromise. And this is certainly not a time for panic and defeat. This is the time to keep our windows open, like Daniel, and pray to the God of heaven, Who is not planning on abdicating His Throne simply because a “progressive” culture does not favor Him. I believe God has so much more for this country and we, His People, should not be ashamed. We should not be full of anger, fear, and strife. We have the opportunity to stand firm in our faith and resist the enemy, knowing that these same kinds of trials are happening to our brothers and sisters all over the world (1 Peter 5:9). This is a time for unity. This is a time to stand.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what the future holds for this country, for the world, for me, even. But I do know one thing–two, actually. God is still God and He will never quit or be deposed or voted out. He still has a Plan and He’s calling His People to wake up and shake off our slumber to be part of it. Otherwise, we will be scattered by circumstances and live in confusion and despair and disillusionment. That is not how we were meant to live.

I want to encourage everyone who believes–it’s not over. No matter the outcome of the elections. God is not going anywhere, and nor should we. Remember it’s not so much about who you are as it is about Whose you are! I don’t know who our next president will be, but I do know the One Who is Victorious: Jesus the Great I AM. My God. My King. And that is a Victory celebration I know I will get to take part in.

The Word of God is clear. “Today, when you hear His Voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15).

“In the final days, flattery will corrupt those who abandon the promise, but those who know their God will be strong and take action (Daniel 11:32).

We serve a Mighty God and He is among us. He will never leave us or forsake us. That’s why I titled this post “Spoiler Alert.” Because we know the ending of all this. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will always win.

“As for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast Love, answer me in your saving faithfulness” (Psalm 69:13).

***VOTE THIS WEEK! AND PRAY! PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!!!***