A lifetime ahead of me

For those who were at PCNAK in Houston a few weeks ago, you may remember Jason James’ message from Thursday night. In it, he mentioned the feeling of holding his nephew and envisioning that baby’s future. Today, I had the privilege to hold my niece Olivia Grace Varghese, and as she stared at me with her eyes wide open, I was in awe.

In awe of the fact that this baby girl is an innocent person, new to the world but known to God long before she was born. This baby girl has a chance to make a difference in this world, and she has no baggage behind her at this moment. But one day, when she is old enough, she will make a mistake, and another, and another, and fall into the trap of sinful mankind. I just want her to stay innocent like this as long as possible.

I saw my niece’s eyes searching today, searching her surroundings. It was something amazing, something I’ll never forget. My hope and prayer is that one day, those eyes will be searching for the good in the world, and bringing the joy of Christ into the lives of others through her life.

When I consider the innocence of Olivia Grace Varghese right now, I am saddened and frustrated by own shortcomings. I wonder how in 23 years of life I have messed up as much as I have. I want to go back to her stage, start over, start from scratch. It’s funny, I’ve heard my whole life the gospel and about the rebirth we have in Christ. But seeing a brand new baby girl born into the world with a chance to do something amazing is unique and unforgettable.

Yes, I’ve been saved. Yes I know the gospel. God looks at me with the robe of righteousness that covers my sin, and I have a divine purpose to accomplish. And by God’s grace I will accomplish those things.

But oh what it would be to go back and to correct those pitfalls I had. Those thoughts I shouldn’t have thought. Those things I shouldn’t have said. The things I should have done when I did nothing. But I can’t go back, only forward.

Olivia Grace has a lifetime ahead to accomplish great things. Though I have my scars and past sins, I am refreshed by the grace of God and have the chance to yet do that as well. Oh how great is the grace of my God.

“It Can’t End This Way”

I signed up a while ago for Pastor Jentezen Franklin’s podcast updates on iTunes. But apparently I hadn’t updated it in a while. And so in the midst of this snowstorm and down period of my life, I updated the podcast and a message entitled “It Can’t End This Way” came up.

I listened to it, and from the very start I was encouraged that this was a message from God just for me in this time.

Because you see, it doesn’t matter what your past is. There are very likely many regrets you are living with right now, as am I. But there’s an urgent message for the body of Christ now, and that now, especially now, is not the time to give up on your God-given purpose in life, on your dreams, on the vision that you have for your life.

If you’re like me, when things get rough, it is hard to hold and the temptation to lose faith and move backward is very strong. Especially when the weak areas of your life are bearing you down and causing you to stress. Especially when it seems like failure is knocking on your door every day. And you constantly wonder why you keep messing up, and you keep getting frustrated at yourself.

But as Pastor Franklin’s message states, It Can’t End This Way! There is a divine purpose for your life, people you are supposed to impact, and you are meant to glorify God with your life. So it doesn’t matter what the past has been, we as believers must choose to make our futures better. And it is entirely dependent on us making a choice to do so, not just hearing about it.

A thought from Pastor Franklin’s message:
Isaiah 6:4: And the post of the door moved at the voice of Him who cried, and suddenly the house was filled with smoke. Another word for post is “Pillar” – The pillar was there from the beginning, for years, and notice the glory doesn’t come until the pillars start moving.

If we can get the pillars to move again at the sound of His voice.

Can this be your testimony:
“I started in the fire and I’m not going to end up in smoke.”

God is looking for some people who can say ‘It doesn’t matter how rocky or how rough the day has been, but the sun hasn’t set yet, and it can’t end this way.

Can we make this statement today? Can we let go of the past and move forward?

2010: A Chance of Renewal

From the Century Dictionary:
Renew: (From Middle English “renewen”) “To make new again; restore to former freshness, completeness, or perfection; revive; make fresh or vigorous again; restore to a former state, or to a good state after decay or impairment.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it is time for renewal. 2009 was a year that was generally bad with the economy worsening and the individual economies of households across America suffering. And a rebound from the chaos of last year is slow at best, currently in progress. On a personal level, 2009 was a bad year, based on mistakes and a lack of certain accomplishments. And I feel I have pushed other parts of my life to a higher place than God with some choices I made.

But sitting around wallowing in guilt and shame will do no good. I know my life needs a “restoration to former freshness.” I try but cannot remember when life was better and I felt more peace. But I know there was a time when optimism ruled my heart. But I’ve sensed more recently that the optimism I used to feel has changed to more worry and doubt in my own abilities. And that’s just it. It’s not in my own abilities. It is only because of the grace of God I am alive and in the position I’m in.

Yes, 2009 was a year of moments of terrible mistakes and great successes. But I would say the greatest moment of 2009, one of the best anyhow, is that I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma in December. It was the end of a four-year and one semester phase of my life that was filled with many lessons learned the hard way and memorable moments with newly formed friends. But after all those mistakes, to walk the stage and receive my diploma was a great euphoric feeling.

But now it is 2010. The possibilities are endless, as long as I am willing to work to make them happen and trust in God completely. I am proud to have the privilege of working with ICPF for the coming Awake ’10 camp during Spring Break, with OPYF for the coming Annual Drama, and my church with a long list of things involving the youth group and Sunday School. I have only a tentative idea what will define my life past Spring Break week, but I am confident of one thing: my God is in control and He will guide my paths, as long as I let Him and don’t try to manipulate things into my own path and direction.

Don’t let the regrets of 2009 ruin your 2010. It has been on my mind endlessly, this message of having optimism for the new year. Because for me, it is difficult to get over the mistakes of last year. But we all need to take the approach of moving forward. This song by Israel Houghton should be the anthem for this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYaiGB7eYU8.

Don’t let Satan guilt you into letting 2010 be a bad year. Make a solid, firm decision to have hope and change your reality this year. If your reality last year was one of regret and mistakes, let 2010’s reality be one of being an overcomer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S52FUX3QY_A). If you don’t make a move and don’t decide to allow the Holy Spirit to embolden and lift you up, you are making a choice nonetheless, to let Satan rule your heart. No matter what phase of life you are in, set specific goals to make this year a dramatic, life-changing year for yourself. And after you set those goals, seek the help of the Holy Spirit to boldly move forward in your life and live your life to the fullest with God by your side.