Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Good News for All Repeat Offenders

Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
- Rom. 5:20

My daughter, Maggie, is turning out to be a creature of habit.  She has the uncanny ability to perfectly remember the way things were done the previous day and require that they be done the same way the following day.   Same breakfast everyday, same bedtime routine every night and if she enjoys some small variance to the routine one day, she wants to do it again the following day.   Incidentally, she also closes every door in the house all the time.    There's just something strange about seeing every door in the house closed.    Obsessive compulsive disorder?   There's medicine for that you say?

Perhaps, but as Christians we're called to hearts of thanksgiving all the time (1st Thes 5:18) in order that we might see God's blessing in all things - even the quirky proclivities of our children.  Megan and I thank God for the slightly addictive personality that we're seeing our Maggie begin to exhibit.   After all it's said...

Sew an act, reap a habit.   Sew a habit, reap a character.  Sew a character reap a destiny.
- Charles Reade

The Word applies same principle here....

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
 - Gal. 6:7-8

 As C.S. Lewis indicates in The Screwtape Letters,  most things (beauty, falling in love, food, cars etc...) are morally neutral.  He writes, "they are simply raw material for either God or Satan to make use of in our lives."  In other words it's not our aptitudes, situations or desires that ought dictate our life.  Rather it is our Spirit-led faith which helps us to control/temper our impulses and see our circumstances and desires in the light of God's big picture.

Megan and I are not "Pollyannish" about Maggie's heart (i.e. making lemonade out of lemons).   Instead we are eternally grateful for all of Maggie's seemingly zany behavior. We are, however, praying for the wisdom to bend and direct Maggie's natural tendencies towards the things of the Lord that  as she grows she might be repetitively compassionate, repetitively conscientious and repetitively concerned for the needs of others.  We are studying Maggie to see what  unique qualities she has that God means to use to express Himself through her.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
- Prov. 22:6

We intend to encourage patterns in Maggie's behavior that most clearly display the image of her Creator.   Conversely when she acts beastly (throwing food on the floor, hitting us with sucker-punches, screaming for any reason...ever), I remind her that we're not wild monkeys.  That we're created by a God who has provided both the model for righteousness and the power to enact it in Himself (in Jesus and the Holy Spirit respectively).

"Be a good girl, not, um not, not a wild monkey"
- Maggie Magill (echoing the words of her father last Saturday night)

One of my top 5 favorite comedies has to be Groundhog Day.   In the movie what starts out as a nightmare turns into a process of total transformation when Bill Murray's character finds himself trapped living the same day over and over.  The self-obsessed, cynical weatherman is slowly tenderized while repeating the day again and again coming to realize who he was and who he now has the opportunity to become because of his fresh start everyday.  Can someone say GRACE?

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
- Lamentations 3:22-23

Living in the light of God's grace we are overwhelmed by His love and its trans-formative on every nook and cranny of our imperfect lives.  All the God requires is a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) that we might then be in a posture to receive His love understanding our unbearably deep need for it.  

Many say, "come in Savior, but stay out Lord" asking for eternal security but resisting God's holiness in their lives.   However the man who recognizes the degree to which the enemy has controlled his life knows of his need for a new Lord who will lend righteous direction to his thoughts and deeds.

But when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father... 
- Luke 15:17

Today let's offer all of us to our God who is the comforter in the midst of our most painful afflictions and the true fulfillment of all our deepest needs and desires.....and then let's repeat it all tomorrow!


ps - do you like golf?  does Grace appeal to you? check out The Mulligan.

This Week 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   Chapters 15-19 of The Screwtape Letters
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm) 

* The Magills - Marriage Conference in Baytown, TX on Friday Night
                        2 services at 2nd Baptist Church, Baytown, TX Sunday morning

1 comment:

  1. inspired and inspiring post Matt! love it.