Friday, June 10, 2011

June 12, 2011

"I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."   Psalm 121:1-2

This verse comes to mind as I sit on the porch of a cabin 3/4 of the way up a mountain in East Tennessee. I am gazing out on the village of Gatlinburg several hundred feet below and across four or five ridges beyond. It is hard not to be inspired.

As inspiring as it is to gaze upon the splendor of nature, I concur with the Psalmist who is rejoicing that he doesn't have to settle for being uplifted by the natural beauty of the mountains, but he can draw life from the very God Who created them!

When referring to looking to the hills from help the Psalmist is not just talking about being inspired by the hills, he is referring to the pagans who had their shrines and idols up in the hills and went there to perfom their pagan rites and rtiuals. He is celebrating the superiority of knowing and worshiping the true God as opposed to idols.

I feel such joy as I absorb the breath-taking view knowing that the very same God Who created those majestic mountains also made me! And as stunning as they are, I am even more fearfully and wonderfully made!

Why settle for celebrating creation when I can personally know the Creator? Why settle for relishing in something He has already done when I can benefit from what He is currently doing and hoping in what He has yet to do?

There is a strange affinity I sense as I soak in the grandeur of these Smokey mountain slopes.I know that the One Who made them so beautiful is also doing a beautiful work in me!

June 11, 2011

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."  Philppians 1:21-22

The barnyard animals loved their farmer. He had taken good care of them for many years and made their lives very pleasant. He loved them and in their animal way, they loved him.

One day they were discussing how blessed they were to be owned by such a kind and generous man. It was decided they would honor him to show their appreciation. They all readily agreed and began to brainstorm on the best way to communicate their appreciation for him.

Finally they came upon an idea that pleased them all. Since the farmer arose early every morning to do his chores they knew that he loved eating a good hearty breakfast. So, to thank him they thought they would prepare a breakfast in his honor.

"How shall we do it?" one of them asked.

"Well," said the hen, "I will gladly contribute a half dozen of my delicious eggs!"

"Great idea!" said the cow, "I will give milk for him to drink and cream for Him to make butter for his biscuits."

The hog was strangely silent. The hen and the cow looked at him indignantly and the hen challenged, "Hey, hog! I am giving eggs for our farmer's breakfast and the cow is gladly contributing her milk. How about if you donate some ham and bacon!"

This simple silly story about the barnyard animals illustrates the difference between involvement and commitment. The hen and the cow were willing to be involved but the hog would be committed. They would be giving from themselves but he would be giving himself. That is a big difference! That is commitment! Involvement costs you something - but commitment costs you everything!"

Paul in saying, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" is saying, "I am committed not just involved!"

How do we know that he is committed? We know because he is willing to die. He was willing to pay the cost. Paul loved God more than He loved life itself.

What about you? Are you involved or are you committed? How do you know? How would others know? How would God know? What price are you willing to pay? Do you love God more than you love your own life?