Fingerprints

Fingerprints

 

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, but I keep coming back to the fingerprints. If my funeral was tomorrow, what would people say about me? What kind of fingerprints have I left on their lives? I hope they’d say I’ve left the fingerprints of Jesus, but I’m not too sure that’s what I’d hear, if I could hear the people speaking at my funeral.

 

I think about the past, and the many years I lived for myself, for my pleasures, chasing the lusts of my flesh. I encountered many people during that time who knew my dad was a preacher, who knew I was raised in church, but who also knew I was “promiscuous” and no different than any other “worldly” person. Those people don’t know me now; they only know the “me” of that time. I wonder what kind of fingerprint I left on their life about God, the Church, and Christianity. Sometimes the thought is more than I can bear.

 

And I think of my husband. I wonder what he would say. Would he describe me as the “Proverbs 31” wife? Would he say I left the fingerprints of faith on his life, or the fingerprints of a control freak that was selfish and an overbearing nag? Would he be able to say he understood a little more about the Jesus I always spoke of, because of my character, or that my character conflicted with the Jesus I preached?

 

My husband has seen me from the beginning to the end, from the best and the worst. He met me in my addiction/eating disorder days, he managed to stick with me through my crazy days of psychotherapeutic drug treatments, he even stuck around when I over-compensated for my failures and became a Pharisee beating him over the head with my Bible. He still stands by me as I serve in church, write, and pursue an education in counseling. He’s a quiet man, but supportive of me in all things. Sometimes I think he’s left more of a “Jesus” fingerprint on my life, despite our differences of faith perspectives. Certainly God has used my husband to speak truth to me in ways I haven’t always understood and sometimes even resented. God is good like that, and I am grateful for all He has taught me through my marriage. I love my husband more every day, and hope that if he were to speak at my funeral, he would say that his wife failed in some ways, but Jesus changed her life for the better, and through that, made her a better wife and better mother. But, if I were to die tomorrow, I’m not too sure that’s what he’d say.

 

I think about my friendships. I have a couple great ladies in my life who have been a huge support spiritually. Though we haven’t known each other long, we are spiritual soul-mates. They sharpen me as “iron sharpens iron” and draw me closer to God just through knowing them. They are leaving the “Jesus” fingerprint on my life. But would they say the same about me?

 

Without a doubt I know some of the friendships of the past two or three years did not turn out that way. I’m pretty sure some of those people would describe the fingerprint I’ve left on them like a crime scene photo. Ugly, bloody, brutal—selfish, argumentative, judgmental. Much like the people who knew me during my prodigal years, these people know the me of the Pharisee years. And sometimes the thought of that is indeed, more than I care to consider. I have tried to “fix” some of these bad encounters, but sometimes the hurts inflicted burn the bridges beyond what can be rebuilt, at least on this side of heaven.

 

And maybe most importantly, I wonder what kind of fingerprint I have left on my daughter’s life? Have I displayed the “Jesus” in the Bible verses she has memorized? Or have I displayed the version that says, “I only approve of you when your behavior is good.” If she were to stand at my casket, could she say her mother showed her Jesus? That her mother was real, honest, authentic, open, and also caring, compassionate, and ready to show grace and mercy?

 

Last weekend Pastor Pat delivered an excellent message (as usual) about “time”. Afterwards we received a sheet of paper to map out our life plan. It contained some key steps like identifying important relationships, our priorities, and how we want to be remembered. I haven’t been able to fill mine out yet. I’ve been somewhat paralyzed as I wait for the doctor to call me with the news. Perhaps the road I thought I would travel will not be what I envisioned even a few weeks ago.

 

Either way, I’m in a time of contemplation. No matter what happens, I know God has used this “illness” to get my attention and get me thinking about the fingerprints I am leaving on people’s lives, what I can do to possibly clean the messy fingerprints off the past and create new ones, and what I must surrender to God today so the new fingerprints reflect Jesus, not Rebecca.

 

 

Finally, I think of a message a great man of God and influential teacher in my life delivered a couple years ago in church. I’ll never forget these words, “The only thing that matters in life is your answer to this question: what have you done with Jesus? What have you done with Jesus?”

 

I’m not sure what’s in my future, but I know this: Jesus has set my heart free, and I hope and pray you have experienced that same peace and freedom that surpasses any human understanding. If you haven’t experienced this full life that Jesus wants for you, won’t you consider doing so today?

 

Having lived life “my” way I can say the end result is never worth the perceived freedom of making your own choices. God’s way is really better, really. It gives meaning to life, and a future beyond the few years we have here on earth. It makes all of this pain actually worth something. And even the happy times are more meaningful when God is present.

 

How do you want to be remembered? What kind of fingerprints are you leaving on the lives of others? What can you do to allow God to change that this very moment? We can’t change the past, but God promises that He will make even our ugly failures work for our greatest good if we would only choose to love Him today (see Romans 8:28). Today is the day to make new fingerprints. Friends, please don’t delay. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but with Jesus, you can know that your tomorrow is safe and secure no matter what life throws at you. And that is the only place to be. His fingerprint of peace rests on my heart; I hope it rests on yours.

 

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for your Word has given me life.” Psalm 119:50

 

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Liar, Liar

“Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue.” Psalm 12:2-3 TNIV

Where has all the integrity gone? Lying has become a way of life for the majority of people, even Christians. The following are lies I’ve heard from self-proclaimed Christ-followers:

“I told this guy I was married so he’d leave me alone”.

“If you get pulled over by a cop, never, under any circumstances admit fault (even if you know you were wrong)!”

“Just say you’re busy so you won’t have to go to [an event].”

The Bible is clear about lying. It is sin. The excuses one conjures up to justify lies are evidence of a guilty conscience.

“It’s not hurting anyone.”

Wrong. Sin always, always bears consequences. Jesus said, “The good man brings up good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that all men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37 (emphasis mine). Though a person may never know they’ve been lied to the most important One knows: God.

How can we expect to witness to our unbelieving friends and neighbors when our character stands in question?

As a Jesus-follower, I never want to find myself caught in a lie. The best way to not get caught in a lie is to not lie. I never want to be responsible for turning someone away from a saving faith in the Gospel because I had no integrity. A Christian who lies gives the unbelieving world another excuse to hold on to their godless existence. Let’s be salt and light, friends; after all, how can we call ourselves Jesus-followers when we make a habit of deceiving people?

As Christians we are called to a higher standard, even if taking that high road is more difficult or painful.

I recently read an “inspirational” article saying women want to be lied to by their spouses and it creates a better marriage by boosting the woman’s self-esteem. Apparently, when she asks if she looks fat she wants to hear “no” whether it’s true or not.  It’s likely our spouses are afraid to tell the truth because of reactions they receive. No wonder relationships have so much angst and heartache. Lying is so commonplace that hearing the truth hurts our feelings so we decide we want to be lied to and we think others want to be lied to.

If we want to bear witness to the life-transforming power of Jesus, we need to be people of integrity who refuse to tolerate even an inkling of intentional sin. May our prayer resonate with the Psalmist, “Because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.” Psalm 119:128 (emphasis mine)

To Be An Encourager….

Suggested Reading: Acts 15:36-41

Many of God’s greatest servants screwed up. They were not perfect or instantly sanctified; their growth in Christ was a process. We see that clearly in the story of John Mark (also referred to as “Mark”).

After deserting the cause, Paul had completely lost faith in Mark and refused to take him on another mission. However, Barnabus decided to give him another chance. He was an encourager. I find myself relating to Barnabus because I want to be “that guy” who swoops in and encourages the faltering believer. It’s never too late to be used; it’s never too late to make a difference in the world; it’s never too late to walk in the freedom Christ gave you on the cross. Never.

We don’t know why Mark deserted the ministry, all we’re told is that he did and Paul no longer trusted him. We’re also told Barnabus gave Mark another opportunity, even disagreeing with Paul over the issue. Imagine if Barnabus had shrugged Mark off as an unworthy reject and moved on? But he didn’t and Mark played a pivotol role in Paul’s ministry; no doubt many were delivered to the kingdom of light through his work.

Barnabus gave Mark a second chance, and we see later that Paul’s trust was restored and they served together once again. (Philemon 1:24, 1 Timothy 4:11) It is widely believed that Mark went on to write the book of Mark, a gospel that has reached millions for the kingdom of Christ over countless generations.

I want to be a Barnabus. I never know what struggling believer could be the next Mark, and I certainly don’t want to shrug them off in contempt for their failures. It’s been made clear in God’s word He is glorified through our weaknesses. In humility I want to always remember the atrocities I was delivered from, and be thankful for the very few who never gave up on me.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

Confidence

Confidence

“I will speak to kings about your laws, and I will not be ashamed.” Psalm 119:46 NLT

Confidence in the presence of God gives us confidence in the presence of men. When we are confident of whom we are, who Christ has made us, and how he sees us, we will have boldness in the world to speak the truth. The fear of man’s view of us, what we believe and how we choose to live stems from an insecurity in our relationship with Jesus. If we truly understand who he is and how he feels about us, it should spur us on with all assurance.

Psalm 119:43 “Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth.”

Verse 46 is the answer to this request. The truth has not been taken from the Psalmist, but rather validated in his life giving him boldness before rulers.  No doubt the Psalmist knew the promises of God well, and he trusted God in light of that.

Great holiness equals great boldness.

Silence, idle talk, cowardice, and bashfulness are all signs of the one who is ashamed. The Psalmist declares with force, “I will speak.” He has predetermined that he has the word of truth, God has given it to him, and he will speak of it. Indeed, he will not only speak of it rather than remain silent, but he will speak to kings about it! He will not only speak to kings about Gods truth, he will do so boldly and unashamed!

Imagine the opportunities we are given every day to be a bold witness with our lives. When we are living out his will our actions will back up what we speak of. That blameless life gives us confidence before men.

Have you ever been given advice about a situation from someone clearly not heeding their own words? It’s a little difficult to trust that kind of wisdom. I can’t expect my daughter to grow up with healthy eating habits by merely telling her to do so, I have to live it. It’s not going to have much weight if I’m gluttonous every day while telling her she cannot do as I am doing.

If I want people to see Jesus, I need to be a portrait of who he is. It’s more than just words and knowledge.

The fact is people are drawn to actions rather than words. I’m more interested in my daughter obeying me then I am in her telling me she loves me 500 times a day. If you love me, obey me! How interesting that a parent child relationship is mirrored in our relationship with Christ. He also tells us if we love him we need to show it! Stop the talk and start the actions.

The actions will back up our words and give us a holy boldness before men. We can speak of truth and not be ashamed. We can have the word of truth in our mouths and declare it before kings without fear!

So often we avoid speaking because we are afraid to offend someone. Really, it’s quite absurd. Jesus does not give us a politically correct example. He often offended people, mostly the Pharisees (the religious leaders!). Jesus was the ultimate example of speaking the truth in love. So often we think speaking the truth “in love” means keeping our mouths shut or sugar coating the truth; however we should never be ashamed of the truth he has revealed to us in his word! Certainly, we should never apologize for it. I’ve heard people say, “Hey don’t get mad at me it’s in the Bible, God said it not me!”

Listen folks, if God said it, we shouldn’t be ashamed of it! We should speak it boldly and have the life to back it up!

Could you stand before kings with confidence?

Bosses

Spouses

Friends

Siblings

Co-workers

Do we have confidence before them? Can they tell who Jesus is by what they see from us? Or do we have hollow words; or perhaps no words at all?

“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

Prayer

Lord, teach me your word and let me never be ashamed to proclaim it! Help me to trust the promises in your word, and gain boldness from my relationship with you. I want my life to be a witness of who you are and I want it to point others to you. Let me be one who is deeper than just words, truly walking blamelessly before men.