The Jesus Pledge

Name of Jesus

By: Jana Greene

A few weeks ago, our pastor suggested that we congregants try something new.
“When you wake up each morning, just say the word ‘Jesus,’ and it will change the trajectory of your whole day.”
Jesus.

The following Monday morning I remembered to do it. I couldn’t WAIT to say His name. There is power in that name, and when it is said with your first breath of the day, it changes things. Vibes, for lack of a better term.

Sound combines with human breath, and puts forth priorities.

The next day, I said His name again with my waking breath, and let it hang in the air. I swear to you that I felt His Spirit brush my heart, in Good Morning greeting.

Wednesday, I woke up and thought about saying “Jesus” out loud, but a myriad of worries rudely cut in line. After a few minutes of self-flagellation for some of my behaviors the night before, I remembered to say it. “Jesus,” I said. But it wasn’t whole-hearted.

Thursday morning, I had a headache. Grrrr. I don’t even want to get out of bed. I felt the downward stirrings of depression seep in the cracks of my being. I completely forgot to call on God in any capacity, and part of it was purposeful forgetting.

Lord, I’ve been calling on your name first thing in the morning for THREE WHOLE DAYS NOW, and I still can’t (fill in the blank with favorite short-coming) or have a solution for (fill in the blank with worry of choice.)

I didn’t feel like it. I felt like worrying in justification of my depressed feelings, and the name of Jesus would certainly bust up my pity party.

Friday morning, I think my first words were “I am so OVER everything!” (sick/fat/tired/lousy at being self-disciplined.) I grumped into the kitchen and said “Jesus,” but with a mouthful of salt and vinegar chips for breakfast, which is really great for the blood sugar and also feeling inadequate. An overflowing mouthful.

I also said a quick, internal prayer to God that went like this, “Sorry, but I’m just not feeling it this morning. Look how fat and out of control I am. Surely you understand.”

And He does understand. But He still wants first place in our lives.

He doesn’t expect us to be in a good mood all the time.

He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.

That set of criteria you have formulated that must be met before calling on Jesus? It is a list unto hell. Our Abba is  eternal and eternally ruling, and all of my worries (no matter how looming or large) are just passing through.

There really is power in the spoken word. That’s not new-age rhetoric, but truth. What we form in our minds often makes it out of our mouths, and we know not to use our tongues as swords to inflict mean words on others. But do we extend ourselves the same courtesy?

Mean words are mean words, and when we tell ourselves nasty things, it hurts the same.

I cannot BE that Christian that ‘has it all together.’ That woman who dismisses her worries automatically and trusts God immediately ALL the time (I’m working on it…) THAT woman – the one who never uses potty language and always radiates the Shalom of God, the Sound combines with human breath, and puts forth all the right priorities all the time. She always acts and reacts to SENSIBLY, the  quintessential “Proverbs 31” Woman, shining as a beacon of virtue and perfection. She torments me, that lady.

“A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds….
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear….”

(You get the picture.)

I have strived my whole life to be her, and fallen miserably short. A Proverbs 31 woman would not sully her robes with the grease of potato chips. She would not slip up and screw up like I do. (Bingeing on potato chips are the very LEAST of my foibles!)

I’m not the Proverbs 31 woman. But I don’t have to be. I am valued far more than diamonds NOT because of my good deeds, but because…..
Jesus.

I CAN CALL ON JESUS.

This is my pledge, and I would love it if you would join me. Not as an experiment in which we don’t know the outcome until the data is processed, but as a pure act of faith. We say His name in making priorities, first thing. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will show up. He will bless that effort.

Let “Jesus” be the first word on my lips each and every day. That’s all. The whole pledge.

Say His name first thing every day, and then listen for His Spirit to answer back.
Let Holy Spirit inhabit the sound that combines with human breath, and puts forth priorities.

I love The Message translation of the Bible; it makes plain speak of text I otherwise might not understand. These words laid bare the prayer I could not put into words today. I pray it blesses you, too.

“I hate all this silly religion,
but you, GOD, I trust.
I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love;
you saw my pain,
you disarmed my tormentors,
You didn’t leave me in their clutches
but gave me room to breathe.
Be kind to me, GOD—
I’m in deep, deep trouble again.
I’ve cried my eyes out;
I feel hollow inside.
My life leaks away, groan by groan;
my years fade out in sighs.
My troubles have worn me out,
turned my bones to powder.
To my enemies I’m a monster;
I’m ridiculed by the neighbors.
My friends are horrified;
they cross the street to avoid me.
They want to blot me from memory,
forget me like a corpse in a grave,
discard me like a broken dish in the trash.
The street-talk gossip has me
“criminally insane”!
Behind locked doors they plot
how to ruin me for good.
Desperate, I throw myself on you:
you are my God!
Hour by hour I place my days in your hand,
safe from the hands out to get me.
Warm me, your servant, with a smile;
save me because you love me.
Don’t embarrass me by not showing up;
I’ve given you plenty of notice.”

PSALM 31:6-18 (MSG)

A Prison of My Own Making

By:  Jana Greene

Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free.  For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly.  Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” –

James 2:12-13 (Message)

 

                I’ve heard it said that Christianity is only just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find food”, and I believe there is a lot of truth in that analogy.  But if that is so, I believe it is also “one freed prisoner showing another prisoner who can make him free”.

Currently, there seems to be a spate of television shows about prison life.  Filmed in actual penitentiaries, TV crews camp out in the common areas and just outside of the cells.  They then report on the conditions of the facility, and go in-depth with those serving time.  What must the mindset be to survive captivity?  There are much-needed layers of security, no doorknobs to turn here, and no gates that unlock from within.

From a human interest standpoint, it is fascinating.  Although there are those inmates who use the time to better themselves and the world, many are hopeless.   Hardened by life, they seem to feel justified for whatever crime they have committed, and express no interest in the world outside.   The lifers are the ones whose fates are often summed up with this phrase:  “No hope for parole”; and while I’ve never understood the logic of serving multiple life sentences, it must be unbearable to carry.

Once while watching an episode of “Lockup”, I wondered… what if somebody with a lot of clout opened the door for these prisoners, intentionally and literally– and pardoned all of their debt to society on the spot.  Granted, it would have to be someone very, very powerful to pull off such a feat.  Citizens would no doubt be angry – the time must be served for the sake of justice! – But I wonder….would many of them even walk through?  Fully pardoned, would they accept freedom and face new uncertainties, or stay behind the walls in distrust of the One who bought them liberty?

We believers sometimes remain captives all of our own accord, shuffling through this life with the world shackled around our ankles.  Each of us have our own issues, our own ball-and-chain – heavy and awkward to carry about.  I often haul my burdens around fully voluntarily, knowing the gate is wide open.  It is sometimes a constant struggle for me to slip out of certain shackles – resentment, unforgiveness, anger – because sometimes I feel justified in having them around.  Thankfully, my debt has already been paid.  To me, at least, this Living Free isn’t something you escape into only when you accept Christ,  but that you intentionally do on the daily.   Claim life as a freed captive, and not only live free, but introduce other prisoners to The Only One who has the power to grant a full pardon.  It’s not only our obligation as Christians…it is our great privilege.

“Father God, help us to live free from the power of sin, free from addiction, and free from a mindset that keeps me from your good plans for my life.  Give me the discernment to see and help others struggling and hurting, and let me live a life in this freedom that glorifies YOU!  In Jesus’ Holy name.  Amen”