Follow Me

21 07 2014

The message showed up on my phone at 1:07 a.m. “A friend has started following you on Pinterest.” Social media has created a world in which we can choose to follow people and keep track of their tastes, interests, words, and minute-by-minute activities. Following people with tweets, pins, blogs, boards, and threads has become a new passion in our culture.

Following someone isn’t a new phenomenon. Jesus filled His ministry with invitations to follow Him. His call to follow wasn’t merely a suggestion to walk the same roads. When Jesus invited someone to follow Him, He was offering soul-deep transformation. Following Jesus meant leaving the familiar in order to walk in grace and be stretched and shaped into His image. It required sacrifice, commitment, surrender, and humility. Those who followed Him experienced a life they never could have imagined on their own.

Following Jesus also means that we invite others to follow. Our lives serve as invitations to meet Jesus, discover His love, and explore His deep purpose for our hearts. Every day we join Paul in saying, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a follower. My phone message reminded me that every day people are watching how I follow Jesus. Following isn’t always easy. I have a tendency to want to head off in my own direction, set my own pace, or choose my own path. I am thankful for the beloved Christians who walk in my life as examples of His grace. They inspire me to be a better follower, and teach me how to live in such a way that others can follow Jesus because of the way I follow Him.





Modesty

18 07 2014

Modesty. Just mention the word and blood pressures spike, battle lines are drawn, and frustration starts to spill over. Some people get defensive. Others go on the attack. But after a lot of listening, what I hear is a great number of women who are struggling to find a Christ-centered answer to a difficult question.

We live in a culture that idolizes beauty and is obsessed with sex. From the time our girls are very, very young, they are bombarded with messages that teach them that their worth, power, and ability to be successful is tied to their appearance. It is a powerful, pervasive mindset. As a result, we often define modesty using the world’s terms. We take the world’s standards and try to modify them in an attempt to find some balance.

What if the answer lies in letting God, rather than the world, define modesty? Our English word modesty finds its roots in a word that means “freedom from exaggeration, self-control.” Modesty is not nearly as much about hem lines as it is the heart. Modesty is an outgrowth of the fruit of the Spirit being cultivated in our lives. It doesn’t begin with an external list of “wear this, but don’t wear that.” It begins with a heart that is obedient to Christ and radiates outward. The world tells us that what we wear is a matter of personal freedom and choice. I can wear whatever I want because I dress to please myself. For a child of God, everything about my life must be surrendered to a Savior who died to make me His own. Even my clothes.

My Jesus Resolution today is to approach modesty differently. When I go into a dressing room at the store, I am going to take an extra mirror with me. When I try on a new outfit, I am going to see how my reflection looks not only in the three-way, but also in the mirror of Philippians 4:8. If you will allow me to paraphrase – ‘Finally, sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, wear these things.’





Worms

16 07 2014

“People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.” – Pearl Bailey

 

It had been raining…a lot. The ground was saturated, puddles stood in the street, and everything just seemed soggy. We kept looking up at the sky hoping to see sunshine, but dark gray clouds hugged the horizon. Everyone was tired of rain – even the worms.

 

You see, we had had so much rain that the ground was drenched. The earth was so wet and heavy that the worms literally came out of the dirt by the thousands. The soil was so saturated that the worms crawled out of the wet mess and found refuge on the concrete. Everywhere we looked, we saw wiggling, squirming masses of worms.

 

I wrinkled my nose, checked my shoes, thought that Noah was lucky for only having to deal with two worms, and began to carefully tip toe to the car. I should have known, but I was too focused on getting through the rain drops and on to my errands. I turned around to hurry my young son along and caught a glimpse of a holy moment. Head bowed, he was crouched down on the sidewalk looking intensely at the worms. He was fascinated by their color, movement, smell, and activity. He wanted to know where they lived, why they were here, and how long they would stay. “Mom,” he said. “Isn’t it cool? God made all these worms!” I repented as I gathered him into my arms. I had almost missed God because it was inconvenient, messy, and didn’t fit my preconceptions.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to look for God in the small things today. Too often, I want to focus on grand gestures, dazzling displays, and big catch-your-breath moments. Often, however, God weaves the evidence of His presence into the small details of my day. He opens doors, answers prayers, provides strength, and gives me a song. I have the opportunity to see God every day. I just have to learn how to see His beauty wherever He decides to plant it – even in the worms.





Amazing Grace

14 07 2014

Sometimes the sermon your heart most needs to hear is lived out in front of you by a child.

 

She is two. Curly brown hair frames her sweet face. She enjoys saying hello to people, is learning how to pray, and absolutely loves going to Bible class. Sitting near us with her family, she is learning how to worship and come into God’s presence with surrender and joy.

 

We were about half way through worship when we heard a little bit of movement behind us. We had started singing Amazing Grace, and the song caught the little one’s attention. She started down the row with her family looking for arms to hold her and a place to lay her head. There were a couple of giggles as her determination to find a still spot became evident.

 

After church, her family explained what happened. Every night before going to bed, they sing and pray together. The song they sing right before she goes to sleep is Amazing Grace. When she heard the song in worship, she took it as a cue to find open arms and a strong shoulder to lean on. She laid her head down, thinking that it was time to go to sleep.

 

Her sweet little actions taught me a powerful lesson. Grace is an invitation to draw near to God, step into His open embrace, and still our souls. Every time we see grace, read about grace, experience grace, or sing about grace is an opportunity to recognize God’s presence, settle our hearts in His truth, and rest in His love.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing Amazing Grace. As I sing, I am going to focus on the invitation grace extends to my heart. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” I am going to let grace speak through the worry, discouragement, and fear that too often overwhelms me, and listen for His voice. “That saved a wretch like me.” In Christ, I am being made new. The old is gone, the new has come. Now I am a child with a Father who longs to hold me tight. “I once was lost, but now am found.” There is joy in being found, in knowing you are right where you belong. “I was blind, but now I see.” Grace opens our eyes to God’s power and presence, inviting us into His arms and into His rest.





Standing on the Promises

11 07 2014

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” – Corrie Ten Boom

I was singing, probably a little more loudly than I should have. The words to the old hymn, Standing on the Promises by Russell Carter, were going through my mind and touching my heart. As the melody flowed, I took comfort in the truth that God’s promises are the best place to find our footing, step away from our stress, and ease the weariness that eats at our souls. I found myself longing to do more than sing about His promises. I needed to immerse myself in the reality of God’s power and faithfulness.

Here are ten of God’s promises on which you can stand…forever.

  1. You will never be alone. Hebrews 13:5
  2. Your sins are forgiven, washed away and buried in Christ. Psalm 103:10-12
  3. His grace is sufficient…no matter what. 2 Corinthians 12:9
  4. You are on God’s mind and on His heart. Isaiah 49:15
  5. God has a plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11
  6. God’s love for you is solid, sure, and strong. Isaiah 54:10
  7. Heaven is going to be better than we can imagine. Revelation 21:4-5
  8. The Holy Spirit speaks, even when all we have are tears. Romans 8:26
  9. God is working for your good, no matter how bad things seem. Romans 8:28
  10. Jesus is coming back to take us home. John 14:1-3

My Jesus Resolution today is to stand on God’s promises. His sure and faithful words are going to be my anchor in the storm, my foundation in a world that constantly changes, and my light in the darkness. Second Corinthians 1:20 tells me that all of God’s promises find their Yes in Jesus. What that means is that when I ask, “Is it for me?” God answers “Yes!” in Jesus. Now that is something to stand on.





Simple Things

9 07 2014

I don’t know his name, but I am thankful for his heart. We meet in the waiting room every week. He is always there before me, and quick to jump up from his seat and open the door for me as I come in. He smiles, giving me a big hello as I come in and get settled. His simple kindness is a day brightener.

 

My grandmother told me that simple, quiet acts of kindness have great power. It is true. It may not seem like much, but the simple things really do make a difference. Extending grace can be as simple as offering a smile, saying an encouraging word, giving a hug, or opening a door. They cost only a moment of time, a bit of attention, and the willingness to step outside of the me-bubble the world encourages us to live in. The power of quiet kindness, however, is profound.

 

Simple things speak volumes. They say that someone is noticed and seen as a person of value. Kindness communicates the truth that we are in this together and better when we help each other along the way. Compassion imitates the heart of God, making it tangible and real in the moment. Every person we meet is broken and hurting in some way. Simple kindness has the power of touching the heart with healing, hope-filled grace.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to be kind. Not randomly or accidently, but deliberately and prayerfully. I want to learn to see the opportunities to offer His simple gifts to those around me. I want to recognize those moments when a quiet word or gentle action would make a difference in someone’s day. I want the kindness that has been shown to me to overflow in such a way as to open the door into the presence of God.





By Heart

7 07 2014

He is seven years old, cute as a button, and taller than he should be. I watched him drag his feet as he walked with his mom toward us before church was about to begin. Mom arrived first saying that he had something to tell us. “Go on,” she prodded. “Tell them.” I looked at him expectantly, not sure if we were in for a confession or a celebration. He squared his shoulders, took a deep breath, and started. “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus….”

 

I grinned as he went through and named all thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. He stumbled just a little bit in the middle of the Minor Prophets, but he made it to the end and we cheered. It was obvious that he had worked hard to learn them by heart. He had a shy, proud smile as we high-fived his big accomplishment.

 

Study after study reports that Biblical illiteracy has reached alarming levels in our society. The studies don’t just refer to people in general, but specifically point to the distressing lack of basic Bible knowledge among Christians. Knowing how to open your Bible, work through its pages, discover what it says, and imprint its message on your heart is essential to growing in Christlikeness. If we want to look like Jesus, we have to know what Jesus looks like. The Bible is the place where God reveals His heart, His will, His character, and His purpose. Knowing the Bible allows us to know God better.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to imitate my little friend. I want to have his heart for learning about God and His Word. I want to invest myself in knowing the Bible. Learning the books of the Bible by heart is not just about learning a list. It is a first step into being able to trace God’s grace through history, understanding His deep desire for me, and becoming familiar with His voice. I want to be able to celebrate with others when they learn something new about God in His Word. I want His Word to be on my heart, so that I can know His heart.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 813 other followers