It’s all or nothing with Jesus.

There will always be those whose intention it is to make fun of Jesus, and the favorite way of the world to do that is by portraying His people as foolish and unwise. (The snake-handler preacher who died last week, case in point.) In these times when many believers feel that they must reflect society at least a little to attract unbelievers, being a standard has become as old-fashioned as the words “being a standard.” And in many churches the desire to “avoid even the appearance of evil” has all but disappeared from the lexicon in the church’s quest to ‘keep it relevant’.

I think we sometimes forget that we serve a Holy God, and we should be as protective of His reputation as He is of ours. In these times when the world is looking for a scapegoat, believers are increasingly targeted as uneducated fanatics who can be whipped into a frenzy at the drop of a hat, which, unfortunately, invites ridicule instead of reverence, disdain instead of devotion. Just as God IS Love, the Enemy IS Hatred. He hates everyone, those that follow him and those who follow Christ. But there’s something the Enemy does love–portraying Christ-followers as man-on-the-street fools.

If we are really serious about making Jesus not just Saviour but Lord of our life, we must examine our hearts constantly to make sure our words and our motives are pure “as silver tried in the furnace of the Lord, purified seven times.” That’s a tall order for those who take seriously what the Word says about being accountable for every word we have ever spoken. I think what we sometimes prefer to forget is that we also will be held accountable for what we did not say, especially when we knew the nudge to speak came straight from the Holy Spirit .

It’s all or nothing with Jesus. He won`t have it any other way. The hardest thing God has ever called me to do went something like this. “I screwed up, God–totally blew it. I need You to help me turn it around.”

And He did… He turned it around for good–for His glory and His glory alone, He said. And all I got out of it was this peace, this incredible peace–the peace that comes only from a broken and cleansed heart.

Looking beyond what is…

Yes, we have had a winter of snow, snow and more snow; and according to the weather guy, we’re going to have a bunch more. It’s not that I mind. I’m just glad the precip is coming down in frozen form. In my opinion, there’s nothing more depressing than dull, rainy winter days.

One thing for certain, this weather has given us a lot to talk about: the blizzard with 40 mph winds leaving huge drifts in its wake; school cancelled day after day after day; counties under states of emergency; workplaces closed; college classes canceled; snowplows taking out mailboxes; wind-driven ice missiles finding your already-frozen face; horizontal snow, vertical snow, melting snow, drifting snow, snow potholes, black ice, icicles, ice-coated windshields, and frozen car locks and doors; the scrolling banner of closings and delays every morning and night; and the endless speculation about what it’s going to do weather-wise tomorrow or next week.

I have to confess I’m getting kind of tired of hearing the phrase “I am so done with this snow.” Every time I read it or hear it, I want to very quietly respond “No, you’re not, because it. will. snow. period.” It is, after all, only February!

There is no doubt that weather like we’ve been going through brings hardships into a lot of lives. Heating bills are skyrocketing (mine tripled this month), and there seems to be no end in sight to the frigid temperatures. This is a good time to remind ourselves that while we’re complaining about snow, the UK is dealing with awful floods, and wars and persecution continue in such places as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and North Korea.

This string of snowy days has held a blessing that I became aware of just today as I sat here writing. Glancing up and out, I saw fluffy flakes drifting slowly down–more slowly than I think I’ve ever seen snow fall. Hour after hour, it continued, and hour after hour I watched. And then toward evening, I looked out to see my usual view of woods and field totally concealed in a white-out so unexpected I just stood and stared.

And then it dawned on me. All of this time that I’ve been lamenting the forecasts, I’ve also been looking outside–beyond the sameness of my house, drawn to an ever-changing vista of trees that seems to be getting shorter as drifts grow taller, flocks of robins hopping from branch to branch to feast on crab apples, fluffed-out feathered friends at and under the feeders, gray snow bands on the horizon, freezing fog rolling across the orchard and pasture, blue skies and blinding sun, and snowplows rumbling by, spraying huge walls of snow with each pass.

There is something freeing about looking beyond what we know by rote to anticipate the unexpected, whether it’s gently falling snow or perhaps direction for our lives. Kudos to the simple joys that take us beyond what is to what will be yet enable us to enjoy today, no matter what.