New Blog Site!

We've moved!  For more of the same postings found on this site, please visit www.livingroyalty.wordpress.com.



The Golden Ticket

Every so often I watch a YouTube video of past auditions for American Idol.  The video pans in on the contestants as they rally with their parents or friends, nervously anticipating what would happen after they went through “the chamber.”  A little joking to ease the nerves, a lot of moving around to disguise the shakes, and a bunch of hugs go around until the door opens.  A few tense moments in the chamber, and the green light flashes on.  It’s show time.

Some of the contestants hear a resounding “Yes!” after performing, and walk away with that craved Golden Ticket that says, “Congratulations, welcome to Hollywood!”  Others aren’t as fortunate.  Having spilled their musical guts to the judges, they exit through the chamber with three “No’s” trailing behind them.  It’s a dream come true for some, and heartbreak for others reaching for stardom.

Some people pursue fame, while others are content to sit behind the scenes.  One thing is true of everyone, though – we all want to be accepted.  We want to be loved for who we are, even if our voices crack and our pitch isn’t quite on target. 

Unfortunately, people’s expectations aren’t as simple as a “good job” and “we think you’re great.”  Criticism shows up because we’re not good enough, breaking our morale and self confidence.  We’re rejected for the next audition and suddenly our lives seem meaningless.  Obviously our flaws were too big to overlook.

Gratefully, American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, and the X-Factor aren’t the only ones who have a say in our value.  God has an opinion of His own . . . and it’s a little more accepting.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.  Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he had made us accepted in the beloved.”  (Ephesians 1:3-6)

This is good news to us acceptance-seekers!  God didn’t just say that He liked us.  It’s far better than that! Before the world was ever made, He had chosen, predestined, and accepted us.  No one had to force Him; it was His “good pleasure” to hand us that wonderful Golden ticket of acceptance!

Sure, our lives might get a little pitchy and our actions less than strong.  He, however, still loves us and sends us to the next round.  He may enroll us in voice lessons to fix the flaws, but He never rules out our potential and says we’re not ready for the stage.  He hears our voices through the ears of the Cross, and the blood that Jesus shed in our place.  No longer is our acceptance based on the sound of our voice, the charisma of our stage presence, or the uniqueness of our style.  It’s based on who we are – a child adopted into God’s family.

American Idol may never see our faces or hear our voices, but one thing is sure - everyone in God’s show wins.


For the Sake of Love

I grew up being a perfectionist.  Making a mistake was the end of the world.  Oh, how I bawled when I got into trouble!  I was crushed at the slightest mistake. Even some incidents when I really hadn’t done anything morally wrong sent me into distress. 

One such incident took place in my hometown of Broken Bow, Nebraska where I got my driver’s license. My Father, naturally, was my coach.  Timid little me would crawl into our full-sized van and drive around the streets of our tiny farm town.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t without its unusual streets.  Our house was built on the edge of a hill.  On one particular driving lesson, I hadn’t quite mastered how soon I should put on my breaks for certain stops.  Coming down that hill, I turned into our driveway at a speed just a tad too fast.  Crash!  I ran into Dad’s newly built garbage can corral.  Dad calmly got out to survey the damage and I fled to my bedroom in tears.  A few minutes later Dad appeared to comfort me.  His laid back self didn’t think it was a big deal.  In fact, I think he was rather baffled why I didn’t consider a simple apology sufficient.

My first problem was that my value was found in my performance, not in the value God placed on me.  As the years went by, though, doing right started to become a list of rules that I needed to follow in order to be right with God.  A repentant heart and simple confession didn’t seem to be enough to get over my mistake.  The pressure of always doing right officially set in.

It’s so easy to get caught in the middle of that vicious list of “dos” and “don’ts.”  It’s stressful, to say the least. It’s a constant focus on behavior, rather than on the Person who gave us the instructions.  It becomes a burden, a chore.  The motivation is to follow law, rather than enjoying the journey of being a born-again child of God.  Surely God has a better way!

The closer I get to Jesus I’m discovering how love and behavior go hand in hand.  In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”  Love. We use the word loosely in this world, but Jesus’ whole mission to the world was based on that word.  He loved us so much that He found a way to redeem us from the sins that kept us separated from God.  Laying down His life stopped being a chore when He thought of the reward that lay before Him. (John 15:13; John 3:16)

Rather than do what we must do out of obligation, Jesus is asking us to do it out of a heart of love for Him.  That is the greatest, purest motivation anyone could have when serving Jesus.  Our love for Him is birthed from the sacrifice He made because He first loved us (I John 4:19), and is followed by a joyful commitment to His Lordship.  A must do develops into a want to.

When thinking about the Ten Commandments and all the other Biblical instructions, we have the challenge to look at them through the eyes of love rather than obligation.  What once seemed to be a list of legalistic law can now be God’s guidelines of love that leads our lives.  With every act of obedience and every good deed done, we can honestly say we did it all for the sake of love.