Delays

4 03 2015

Right now my son is sitting in an airport. He is supposed to be home, but bad weather, traffic patterns, mechanical difficulties, and a caterpillar crawling across the runway (just kidding, but it seems like a lot of excuses…) have slowed down his journey. Delays are no fun for anybody. Patience melts, good humor evaporates, and grouchiness just seems to explode. We all want to get to where we are going. Waiting just isn’t in our DNA.

While we would like to erase all waiting time from our schedules, the Bible repeatedly encourages our souls to wait on the Lord. God doesn’t seem to need to tell us to hurry, but He frequently reminds us of the importance of slowing down and waiting on Him.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” – Psalm 62:5

It turns out that waiting is an important part of our spiritual journey. Waiting on God means making the deliberate decision to stand in His love rather than running ahead of His presence. When we do, our eyes begin to change. We see things we might have missed in the blur of our hurry. Our thoughts are transformed as we exchange worry for waiting. Our souls become more Christlike as we learn to keep our focus on Him. Waiting changes our perspective, realigns our priorities, and stretches us so that we might be filled with His power.

My Jesus Resolution today is to wait with grace. I often feel like I am only making progress when I am moving, but God often works best in me when I am still and waiting. When I become frantic and frustrated, my voice is the only one I hear. It pushes me to hurry up, go faster, and do more. That is the way of the world. Waiting with grace challenges my heart to walk a different path – one of trust, surrender, and praise while I wait. Perhaps delays are not as much about obstacles and barriers as they are about learning, over and over, to lay everything at His feet.





Praying the Pews

2 03 2015

They walked in the background, very quietly. Up and down the pews they moved with gentle grace. To some, it might have looked like they were checking song books or picking up trash, but it was so much more. They were preparing the empty seats for God to move. They covered each row they walked down with prayer. They prayed for the women who would be there with heavy hearts. They prayed for the ones that needed a friend. They prayed for burdens to be lifted, joy to be poured out, and lives to be opened wide for His presence. They prayed for each soul to see Jesus. They prayed that glory, grace, and goodness would flow out of our time together.

They inspired me, and challenged me to see differently.

Too many times I see things as things – chairs, beds, toothbrushes, dishes, cars, and desks. I pick up toys, loads of laundry, and empty cereal bowls, thinking all the time about the tasks to be done and the to-dos to be accomplished. People, however, are attached to all those things. My little friend from down the street plays with that ball. I can pray for him while I put it away. I can pray that the hungry tummies that sit around my kitchen table will be equally hungry for Jesus. I can pray for my children as I make beds, rinse out toothbrushes, and wash dishes. The empty car next to me in the parking lot is owned by someone whom God loves. I can pray for them. I can move around the desks in the office quietly praying for my co-workers and their families. I can pray for people from whom I receive an email, the newspaper guy when I pick up my paper, or the mail carrier when I get the mail from my box.

My Jesus Resolution today is to see things differently. My friends reminded me to see things as tools attached to people who need Jesus, and each one as an opportunity to pray. Everywhere I walk today, I want to ask God to touch the people who will soon touch these things in my path. Things are more than things. They can serve as reminders of love, glimpses of glory, and opportunities for God to be at work as I pray.

(Taking my own advice and praying over a blog and you as you read it. Enjoy your blessings today!)





The Esther Effect

27 02 2015

It reads like a fairy tale. A beautiful girl who lives as a stranger in a strange land is chosen to try and win the heart of the king. While undergoing twelve months of beauty treatments, her kind and gentle ways win the admiration and loyalty of those around her. Finally, her turn comes and the king chooses her to become his queen.

The crown has barely been placed on her head, however, when an evil presence casts its shadow over her happiness. The wicked man at the center of this evil is ambitious, power-hungry, and bent on destruction. His deep hatred of the queen’s people is matched only by his determination to see them annihilated. He becomes the king’s advisor and a plot, stunning in its scope and ferocity, is born. In a single day, the people he so despises will be wiped out, their blood spilling in the streets all over the kingdom.

The queen’s cousin hears the news and sees the hand of God. He sends word to the queen that her unique position may be the salvation of her people. The queen, who has been keeping her nationality a secret, is frightened. How can she stand up against evil, speak with deep effect, and make a difference for her people? The rest of the story unfolds in equally dramatic fashion. Through wisdom and grace, the queen hosts a banquet in which the wickedness of the evil man is revealed, and her people are saved.

Because it sounds like a fairy tale, we don’t really believe that God means for Esther’s story to be a mirror for our own stories. After all, I am not that beautiful and will never rule over any kingdom, unless someone crowns me queen of the laundry. Yet, the same God that moved in Esther’s life is working in me. Here. Today. For His purpose and glory. Perhaps the effects of Esther courage and commitment are meant to open my eyes and ignite my determination to make a difference for the people I love.

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace The Esther Effect. I am not here on this earth merely to take up space, breathe the air, and wash dishes. God has put me here to make a difference. To challenge the darkness with His light and to look like Jesus in a world that doesn’t think it needs a Savior. It is time to see Esther’s story as my story. The scenery may be different, but the woman He calls me to be is the same.





Awesome

25 02 2015

In 1988, Rich Mullins wrote a beautiful song that is playing in my heart this morning. Sing with me?

Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from heaven above
with wisdom, pow’r and love.
Our God is an awesome God.

Awesome is one of those words that is a bit overused in our society. We use it to describe a great hamburger, a beautiful sunset, and our new shoes. There isn’t anything wrong with using the word in a variety of settings, but just for today let’s allow our souls to be awed by our awesome God.

When we describe God as awesome, we are acknowledging that His presence inspires us, allowing awe, reverence, and wonder to fill our hearts. To be honest, I let too many awesome God moments slip by me. Answered prayer should fill us with awe. Worship should catch our breath as we enter His presence. Noticing the way that He provides or protects us should cause our hearts to pause in praise. Grace should make our hearts race and our knees bend. The cross should always compel me towards gratitude. Experiencing God-inspired awe should direct me, if only for the briefest moment, to stop, be still, and glorify the One who is here, who is sovereign, and who loves us beyond measure.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make an awesome God list. I want to be deliberate about noticing all the ways that God touches my day with His presence. I don’t want to miss the chance to be filled with awe. I want to look at the sky and see His handiwork. I want to watch my family and feel His love. I want to be still, feel small, and understand again that God is big. I want to sing and remind myself that I serve an awesome God.





I Can’t See It

23 02 2015

We live near a small park. It isn’t big, but it has trees, swing sets, jungle gyms, and dirt to play in so eventually all the neighborhood kids make it down there. One of the fun things about living so close to the park is watching the families that make their way past our house on their way to play.

The other day, it was a mom with three very young children. The oldest couldn’t have been more than four, while the youngest was just steady on her feet. Mom and the kids were making the trek to the park. I would like to tell you that they were walking, but it looked more like mom in the center of a cyclone with three very busy, energetic blurs swirling around her legs. The oldest girl caught our attention. Her blonde hair blew in the wind while it carried her voice across the street. “Mom, mom, mom! I can’t see the park from here,” she worried. Mom gently put her hand on her back, guiding her in the right direction. The little girl still couldn’t see the park, but kept walking with mom, confident that she knew the way.

I listened, and heard my own voice. I can’t see it, God. I worry, wonder, and ask ‘why?’ about not being able to see around the next corner. I insist on a map, a timeline, and a preplanned route (one approved by me) before being willing to take the next step. I wear myself out trying to figure out what is ahead instead of enjoying the walk and the beauty of the moment I am in. I forget that just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know where He is going.

My Jesus Resolution today is to learn from the little girl on my street. She couldn’t see it, but she kept walking. She trusted the one who loves her to get her where she needed to go. Many times I can’t see it. The way is filled with twists and turns that fill me with worry. But God can see what I can’t. He is leading me on the right path in order to bring me closer to His heart. I need to trust the One who loves me to get me where I need to go. I need to remember that even when I can’t see it, the best thing I can do is to keep walking with my Father.





Shoes

20 02 2015

I love new shoes. Trying on new shoes opens up new worlds of possibilities. You can see yourself differently as you slip into sandals, buckle up boots, or tie up new tennis shoes. You can feel glamorous in heels or search for comfort among the slippers. Each pair of shoes lets you frame yourself in a different picture and imagine, dream, or deal with the practical.

Did you know that God is in the shoe business? Every day, as you are getting dressed, He wants you to slip on a very special pair of shoes. “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) When we wear these God-given shoes, we literally stand in peace. They help us be ready to face whatever comes our way through the day.

The most interesting feature of these peace-infused shoes is that they are designed as battle gear. They help us stand firm during the war that is being waged all around us. The wisdom writer wraps up his discussion on time by reminding us that there is “…a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:8b) The blessing is that we live in peace, even as we daily face the spiritual battle that rages in this world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on my shoes. My heart craves peace, and the best peace is found when I stand fully in Christ. Like any pair of shoes, putting on peace requires bending low and covering what is vulnerable and tender with something strong and durable. It is a daily habit, putting on these shoes of peace. They remind us of where we stand, who we stand with, and what it means to be a person moved by peace. War is inevitable. We are going to face its assaults daily. Whether we are able to stand up or are knocked flat really depends on whether we have taken the time to put on our shoes.





The Green Bean Lesson

18 02 2015

My son hates green beans. Seriously hates them. We have tried everything from threats to bribes to get him to eat them, but he won’t budge. I realize that some will see his profound aversion to green beans as a parenting failure, but it is what it is. He will go out of his way to avoid them. He will tell others that they need to be shunned. He refuses to take them into his mouth or touch them in any way.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from the way he hates green beans.

“…a time to love, and a time to hate;” – Ecclesiastes 3:8a

As Christians, we are saved and motivated by love. We learn early that love is the lens through which we need to see others and interact with the world. We are to love the Lord with everything we are, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We know that God is love, so while loving is not always easy, we understand it to be our focus. But a time to hate? It doesn’t seem to fit.

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:” (Proverbs 6:16) There are things that God hates. Hates is a strong word, but there it is. As deep as His love is, there are things that He hates. Pride, lies, violence, wickedness, evil intention, falsehood, and disunity. These are things that provoke a strong reaction in God’s heart. They are things that we should hate as well. As we train our hearts to look like Jesus, we must learn not only to love as He loves, but to hate what He hates.

My Jesus Resolution today is to learn the green bean lesson. Hating something means that I refuse to take it into my heart. I avoid it, walk around it, and go out of my way to keep from touching it or letting it touch me. Hate has its place because it teaches my heart to shun the things that cause God’s heart to grieve. Taking time to both love and hate stretches my heart to rest more fully in the image of Jesus.








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