Isn't our Creator so cool? This whole week, after weeks of yucky rain, He has given us sunshine and fresh air. I am in LOVE with this weather! I heard it was supposed to rain tomorrow but be clear again this weekend. Warrrrrrrrr Eagle, hey!!!

Today has been a good day. I am pooped and my eyes hurt but I have been looking forward to getting this opportunity to sit down and write to you all tonight. This blog has been so good for me. I hope you are enjoying it and I hope it is giving you encouragement throughout your day. We got some motivating news today...Raleigh passed his fourth Architecture Review Exam (ARE)!!!! Please continue to pray that he will stay focused and pass the final three so he can be D-O-N-E. Thank you Lord for that answered prayer! One final thing about this delightful day - today is Obi's second birthday :) That is one lovable pup and he enjoyed getting his belly scratched this morning while we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

Alrighty, on with the show. Tonight I wanted to share parts of Philippians 3 with y'all. I taught this lesson on Tuesday night in our small group and it is so good I thought it was worth sharing twice. If you have your bibles, open them up and jot down some notes in the margin. I love to go back and see old notes when I am re-reading passages. Just a tip: put the date or who the speaker was next to your notes....I have forgotten to do that before and it can be difficult sometimes to remember why you underlined it in the first place!

I am going to start off with Philippians 3:4-6, "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless."

These verses can be summarized into three main points:
1. Paul states that he has confidence in the flesh
2. Paul has confidence in his family name
3. Paul has confidence in his own achievements

Before Paul gave his life up for Christ, he walked around thinking he was a too cool for school. I can just hear the song "Bad Boy, Bad Boy, watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when I come for you" playing in his head when he strutted the streets persecuting Christians. He was Paul, an Israelite by birth, from the tribe on Benjamin for pete's sake! Who was gonna mess with him? He had zeal, self-righteousness and he was disciplined in the law. He was perfect in his own book.

How many of us walk around with our chins held a little too high? Arrogance and over-confidence are two words that I am so ashamed to call myself. But, I know I have felt those things from time to time. I also have a daily struggle with perfection. I try so hard for everything to be "just-so." Ladies, am I speaking to any of you?

What if we turned those three points around? Listen to these points and tell me if these alternatives are a little better:
1. Paul has confidence in the spirit of Christ alone
2. Paul has confidence in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
3. Paul has confidence in the works of our Lord

Verse seven is one of the most powerful verses ever written:

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted lost for Christ"

He goes on to say,
"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:8-10

Talk about a change of heart. Paul says that all things that were gain to him - his confidence, family name, and achievements - are nothing compared to 'the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.' Friends, until we can admit that we are nothing without Christ, we are living our lives for ourselves and for this world. We need to start seeking Christ with every ounce of our earthly flesh and stop worrying about our own personal gain. To go even further, Paul loves Jesus so much that he wants to 'share in his suffering.' Are you willing to share the pain of dying on the cross for the sins of all man-kind?

Friends, I'm tired of my life surrounding around me. Instead of living a life trying to achieve perfection, a life of having things "just-so" I need to be "letting it go." All of this is trash compared to living my life for Christ. We need to make a conscious effort to practice humility, love, and grace in our every day lives.

Let's have a relationship with Jesus. A deep, personal, one on one kind of a relationship. He has already jumped in front of the gun and dodged the bullet for us...I think it is about time we do the same for him. I have faith and I believe in his resurrection. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my life is so much more full with him being the focus instead of me. I will stumble and fall from time to time, but I know my friend Jesus is right there to pick me up so I can continue to follow him down the path he has guided for me.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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