Monday, January 4, 2010

I Choose

I Choose. . .Devotional
(Note: Much of the content of this entry came from long ago e-mail forwards, and therefore I was not able to give credit where credit is due. I tried where I could. Please don't sue me. )

In the Bible, Joshua said to the Israelites,

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

As we go into the new year, we are confronted by that taunting word. . .resolutions! A promise, a vow, a choice to make. As followers of the Lord, we have choices to make. . .and we have students/people who are in our sphere of influence who we have an opportunity to affect through our choices—ones about how we will conduct ourselves, how we will live, and who we will serve.

The following three selections deal with choices. The first one is a Russian folktale called, "The Woman of the Wood", more recently titled “The Choice.” The second is a poem by Max Lucado called “Which Will Be Your Choice?” (from A Gentle Thunder). The final selection is called “I Choose Love,” also by Max Lucado (from When God Whispers Your Name), which incorporates the fruit of the spirit with everyday choices in life. Finally there is a music video link for Brian oerksen's song, Today.

The Choice
There once were three friends—an artist, a tailor and a teacher—who went on a journey together. They travelled a long time, through the valley, up a steep mountain, and into a forest. One night, as the other two slept, the artist, who was keeping watch, carved the form of a woman out of a tree. The next morning his friends were filled with admiration. The tailor said, “I will create clothing for her.” The teacher said, “I will teach her to think and to speak and to read.” And so, they set to work. The wooden figure was transformed into a soft and charming beauty. The three friends were pleased with themselves, but not for long.
“She belongs to me,” insisted the artist. “I shaped her from the tree with my own hands. That makes her mine!”
“She’s mine!” the tailor protested angrily. “Without my eye for design and style, her form would be drab and lifeless.”
“You’re both wrong!” cried the indignant teacher. “She’s mine—I’ve taught her who she is and how to express herself.”
The friends could not agree, so they decided to seek counsel of a wise old man who lived in a quiet corner of the king’s palace.
“Tell us whom the woman belongs to,” coaxed the friends, “and we will honor your decision.” The old man listened to their arguments, stroked his mottled beard, and said: “Yes, I can see why the artist claims this woman as his own. After all, he carved her out of wood. . . On the other hand, the tailor has given her an exquisite and refined beauty. Why shouldn’t he claim her?” He paused, then added, “And what does life mean to any of us without knowing who we are, or why? The teacher’s claim is just, as well.”
The three friends held their breath, each confident of his own success. Then the wise man looked at the woman, who had not yet spoken, but only sat, quietly listening. This time he spoke firmly. “Do we not belong to God alone? How can your gifts—or even your sacrifices—pay the price of ownership?” The three friends were silent. The old man spoke again. “I say this woman belongs to none of you. She is free. If she wishes to choose one of you, she can. But not man can choose her. Not even you, who have done so much for her.”
Now the woman lifted her head. To the amazement of the three friends, she began to speak. “I thank you, artist, tailor, and teacher, for all you have given to make me what I am. I am grateful, yet sad, for though I am a person now, I am still wood to you.” Then she turned to the wise old man, whose wrinkled cheeks were nearly hidden by his spindly white hair and ragged beard. “You have done the most for me,” she said. “You have given me the freedom to choose. So I choose you.”
-from the Russian folktale, “The Woman of the Wood”

Which Will Be Your Choice?
On one side stands the crowd.
On the other stands a peasant.
Swollen lips.
Lumpy eye.
Lofty promise.
One promises acceptance, the other a cross.
One offers flesh and flash, the other offers faith.
The crowd challenges, “Follow us and fit in.”
Jesus promises, “Follow me and stand out.”
They promise to please.
God promises to save. . .
God looks at you and asks. . .Which will be your choice?
-taken from “A Gentle Thunder” by Max Lucado (Word Publishing, 1995, p. 103)

EACH DAY—I Choose Love by Max Lucado
Taken from:

It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments, the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands.

It is now I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose….

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. I will be kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My spouse will not question my love.
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it only be of myself.
I am a spiritual being… After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Here is the link to a Brian Doerksen video, called "Today."

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