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I’m sitting in the big comfy armchair in my parent’s family room surrounded by their two sweet doggies – Maggie, a gentle, black Scottie dog and Sophie, a snuggly little Bichon whose fluffiness reminds us of a Q-tip.  The sun is brilliant outdoors and shining through all the big windows.  My tummy is full of cereal and english muffin, with a splash of diet coke thrown in.  My heart is full of relaxation and happiness, being in my parents’ home for a few days and enjoying the comfort of familiarity and their company.  It’s so good to get away.  Now that we have more flexibility on our weekends we thought we should take advantage of it and come over to see them this weekend and it’s been really good.

We went to the Saturday night worship at their church last night and so today are being lazy, sleep-in, bums still in our jammies.  How’s that for a switch for a pastor and his family?

In worship last night God was so close.  We sang one of our new favorites, “Glory to God” by Steve Fee.  The words are simple but help me so much in focus in my heart – “Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God forever!”  It’s all for Him.  We also sang the song “Center” by Charlie Hall.  I first learned/heard this song here at their church last year and after that we began to use it at New Life in worship.  The lyrics, of course, are what move me and remind me of what’s important:  “Oh Christ, be the center of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes…You’re the center of the Universe everything was made in You, Jesus.  Breath of every living thing, every one was made for You.  You hold everything together…”  The prayer time was especially moving to me.  A lady walked up on the platform with papers in hand and read a beautiful, heartfelt prayer that she had written.  It was breath-taking.  I would seriously love to have a copy.  It was simple and to the point, but clearly coming from a heart that deeply reveres God, deeply loves Him and is rooted in His Word.  At the end she was praising God with words similar to those of David in the psalms and my heart just overflowed into tears.  What a lovely moment in God’s presence.

My dad is the pastor and his message was right on.  He preached about how so many of us are approval addicts and how that’s contrary to what God wants for us.  He asked the poignant question, “Who is in your jury box?  Who are you playing your life to?”  In other words, whose approval are you seeking?  The only one whose approval matters is God but so often we find ourselves comparing ourselves, even becoming deceitful to impress others, or in bondage to “playing our lives out” to gain people’s stamp of approval.

The key according to dad’s message?  Transparency and secrecy.  Two things that sound like opposites.  When we realize we have nothing to lose in being completely transparent because our only real audience is God we can be fully vulnerable and honest about ourselves.  God already knows everything about us, our mistakes, hang-ups, flaws, and more.  Being transparent is scary but freeing.  Then you have nothing to hide.  No need for any deceit or play-acting.

The secrecy dad talked about is the secrecy we’re supposed to have when we do good for others and are involved in our prayer life.  Jesus said that when we give to others or do good we shouldn’t even let our right hand know what our left hand is doing.  We only need God’s approval and reward, not the reward or “good thinking” of others who find out  what we did.  Also, when we pray and fast, we’re not doing it to gain applause or make a good impression, we’re praying and fasting to grow closer to God and become more like him.  Then we can portray Jesus to the people around us, being completely free of the need to impress or the hunger for man’s approval.  That is true freedom indeed!  That’s what I want and need.

Who am I playing my life to?  How about you?  Who is in your jury box?  Don’t fall prey to living your life to please people.  Don’t live in that bondage.  Be free in knowing you live in God’s love, He has already accepted You and approved of you if you’ve chosen to accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice and love.  You don’t have to earn His approval.  You can just fall into His love.  That freedom makes me think of a wide, breezy, sun-lit prairie, spreading my arms out  letting the tips of fingers swish through wild flowers as I run without getting tired, enjoying the life and fresh air of knowing that whoever I am, whoever God made me to be is okay and enough.  This morning my heart is full with the sunshine of these thoughts and the peace of this weekend away.  Thank you, Jesus.  Glory to God!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  Galatians 1:10

“Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”  Colossians 1:22