Spring

24 04 2015

Springtime (and allergies!) are in the air! Have you been watching? Brown twigs boast new green finery. Color is bursting forth on the landscape, high and low. Patches of pink, yellow, white, and magenta break the bleakness of winter greys and browns and announce that a new season has arrived. The sun is gently warming the earth. New life, in all its varieties, remind us that God is a Master at creation, renewal, and restoration.

God also uses these beautiful spring days to remind us of the influence our actions can have in the lives of others. Second Samuel 23:2-4 says, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.” 

Every interaction with others has the potential to point them to Jesus. When we walk with an awareness of God’s presence, we have the opportunity to help others see Him. When His words are on our tongues, we can share His light and watch it bring warmth and healing just like the sun shining on a cloudless day. When we treat others with fairness and integrity, it falls into their hearts like life-giving rain. The dawn, the sunshine, the rain, and the new spring growth help us to not only see God, but what He longs to do in our lives. They also help us see how He can work in our lives to show others His heart. 

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate spring. I am going to take a minute to walk outside and look in wonder. I am going to let the colors that I see paint a picture of the way God wants to fill my life with beauty. I want to let the newness of new green remind me of the fresh grace He wants to bestow on me. I long to let the sun warm me with His love. I am going to let all the new growth that seems to emerge by the minute help me see the promise of transformation He is working in me….and you.





God is Happy

22 04 2015

Her mom came up close, and asked if I had heard her daughter’s happy story. She had the biggest grin on her face, and I couldn’t wait to hear about her five year old’s latest adventure.

It was a rainy afternoon. Thunder and lightning crackled in the clouds as big, fat raindrops poured from the sky. The family was together, getting out to run some errands when they passed a rained soaked dad and his two boys. They were walking home, drenched in the downpour. My friends pulled over, asking if they needed a ride. The wet dad and soaking boys gratefully piled into the van. My friend told me that the small boys must have said ‘thank you’ a hundred times.

It was just a few minutes’ drive to their house. On the way, they realized that there was a school connection between the children. They chatted as they drove, quickly reaching their destination. The dad and boys got out of the van, overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them.

The van door had barely shut when the five year old beamed and said, “God is so very happy! We just looked like Jesus!”

She is so right. Nothing pleases God more than when we reflect the image of His Son in this world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make God happy. I want to look like Jesus. Today, I want to be deliberate and practical about showing someone His love. I want to be like my friends and stop to help, encourage, hug, provide, or bless someone else. Too many times I miss the moment because I am too busy, too distracted, or too comfortable. Not today. Most of all, I want to be like my little friend. She knows God’s heart, what makes Him happy, and how to celebrate with Him when we look like Jesus.





Looking in the Mirror

20 04 2015

Small children don’t spend a lot of time looking in mirrors. They don’t feel a need to check their hair, make sure their clothes match, or that they look put together for the day. When they do look in the mirror, it is always with a bit of surprise and amazement. They like what they see. They are fascinated with the one staring back at them. They engage the person in the mirror as if their reflection was a friend. Children live within the reality that enfolds them. If they are told they are precious, loved, beautiful, and smart, they believe it. They live it. It is only later, when other voices begin to crowd their world that they begin to check the mirror and doubt the value of what they see there.

God wants us to live within His reality. It is His love that enfolds us, His grace that defines us, and His purpose that directs us. He wants us to believe what He says about who we are and who we can be in Him. Daily, He tells us that we are precious, loved, beautiful, and chosen. Faith is believing that what God says about you is true. Faith is choosing to live in that truth every day, even when other voices tell us differently.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look in the mirror and look for God. The world expends a lot of energy telling me that I fall short – not pretty enough, successful enough, strong enough, smart enough, or valuable enough to be worth their notice. Those voices are powerful because they are so persistent. I want to be like a little child. I want to look in the mirror and see the person God wants me to see. Look in the mirror with me today and celebrate the person you see – the special person Jesus gave His life to redeem.





Sanctuary

17 04 2015

The words from J.W. Thompson and Randy Scruggs beautiful song, “Sanctuary” have been echoing in my head and heart this week.

Sing with me?

“O Lord, prepare me, to be a sanctuary.

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.”

A sanctuary is a holy space. It is a place to meet God and experience His glory, be covered in His grace, and stand in wonder at His holiness. The prayer enfolded in this song is that He will transform my heart into a space fit for His presence.

God longs to inhabit our praise, dwell in our decisions, make His home in our habits, and abide in our actions. I want my heart to be that kind of sanctuary. A place where God’s presence is evident, where His holiness is at home, and where others can see Christ living in me. From the moment we rise from the waters of baptism, the Spirit works in us to transform us into this kind of cross-shaped, resurrection-empowered, peace-permeated, joy-drenched sanctuary for His presence. Every day He is making another small change that brings me into closer alignment with His will, into a deeper understanding of His love, and into a more grace-filled reflection of Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray the words of this song. Prepare me. Those can be scary words. What does He need to do in me today so that a fuller measure of His presence, a greater depth of His glory, and a more complete image of His Son can live in me? Am I willing to surrender in order to be pure and holy, tried and true? Thanksgiving opens the doors. Praise lets in His light. Grace sweeps out the cobwebs. Prayer invites God to take up sanctuary in this broken-but-fixed-by-Jesus heart.





Mud

15 04 2015

I used to hear it all the time while growing up. “Do that again and your name will be mud.” I didn’t really understand all the implications, but the words were enough to alert me that I was on the edge of trouble. Even as a little girl, I didn’t want to be called Mud, so I returned to the straight and narrow where I could keep my own name. It wasn’t until I developed an interest in history and spent one summer pouring myself into doing research about Abraham Lincoln that the true significance of those words became clear.

One hundred and fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet. John Wilkes Booth, in anger over the defeat of the South in the Civil War, determined to kill President Lincoln. He shot him at Ford’s Theater, jumping onto the stage in the middle of a play, and escaping through the stage door. As the evening gave way to the early morning hours, President Lincoln died of his wounds and the nation mourned the loss a great leader.

It was also in those early morning hours of April 15, 1865, that another drama was playing out in the Maryland home of a country doctor named Samuel A. Mudd. John Wilkes Booth had broken his leg in his escape and needed medical attention. He banged on the door of Dr. Mudd, who set his leg, gave him food, and a place to rest. On April 26, Dr. Mudd was arrested and later found guilty of conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln. He was sentenced to life in prison, even though there were serious questions surrounding his knowledge and participation in Booth’s plot. He was later pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, and released in 1869. In the four years since his arrest, the phrase, “Your name will be Mudd” took on a deeper, darker significance. Nobody wanted to be associated with the name Mudd.

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to be aware of the power of a good name. In the end, my name and reputation are all that will be remembered. God wants me to invest myself in being a person of integrity. He knows that every choice reflects on the heart that He is shaping within me and speaks to not only my own name, but the name I wear because of His Son. I still don’t want my name to be Mud, but the name Christian has a special beauty that I want to cherish.





Loving Your Enemies

13 04 2015

Persecution of Christians is making front page headlines. We watched in horror as twenty-one Egyptian Christians were beheaded by ISIS in Libya. More than 150 Assyrian Christians have been kidnapped by radical Islamic forces and are feared dead or enslaved. There were 147 Christians gunned down at Garissa University College in Kenya by a militant Islamic group known as Al-Shabab. While not physical persecution, we have watched across the United States as small business owners have faced financial repercussions for refusing service in situations that violate their religious beliefs.

Persecution is real. Persecution is coming. Persecution should be no surprise.

I will be honest. I have met each of these headlines with tears. I have joined the souls under the altar in heaven in crying out, “How long?” God, in His extraordinary patience and deep love, extends more time for even these enemies of the cross to come to know Jesus. While we wait, here are three things that Christians around the world can do as persecution flares.

  1. Pray for those Christians who are directly facing persecution today. Pray Ephesians 6:13 for them – that they will put on the full armor of God so that they can stand firm in Christ as evil presses in hard on their families, businesses, and even their lives. Pray for courage, wisdom, and grace to surround them as they wear Christ’s name.
  2. Commit yourself to eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No matter where they stand on the globe, Christians are one family in Jesus. Our love for one another is the testimony that will be most loudly heard around the world.
  3. Love your enemies and pray for those who are persecuting Christians. It is easy for our first reaction to be one of anger, to talk about what is wrong with “them”, and to bemoan the state of the world. I was most humbled by the words of one Coptic Christian leader to CNN after the murders of the twenty-one Christians in Libya. “We don’t forgive the act because the act is heinous. But we do forgive the killers from the depths of our hearts. Otherwise, we would become consumed by anger and hatred. It becomes a spiral of violence that has no place in this world.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to love my enemies. It would be simpler to talk about them, be angry with them, plot vengeance, or even ignore them. But Jesus calls us to imitate His heart. To love my enemies, whether in the office space next to me, around the block, or across the globe requires something active on my part. I must surrender my feelings and fears and put even those who seek to hurt me into the hands of God. That kind of Christ-formed love has the power to change the world.





The Table

10 04 2015

What is your favorite piece of furniture in your house? Book cases rank pretty high on my list. I have some furniture from my grandmother that is special. I am reminded that I love my bed every time I travel away from home. But my favorite piece of furniture would have to be the kitchen table. As far as furniture goes, it isn’t valuable or fancy. It is a hand-me-down from a neighbor who saw me eyeing it at a garage sale. What makes my kitchen table special is what happens when we gather around it. My table is a place for family. We eat, pray, laugh, and make memories at our table. We create space at the table for friends to join us. Relationships are built, confidences shared, work accomplished, and even tears shed as we sit around it. A lot of learning is done at our table, along with family discussions, planning, and playing. Everybody has a spot at the table. Each person in our family knows where they belong, that they belong, and that there will always be a chair for them there. At the table, traditions are established, love shared, and grace is extended.

With all that happens around the table, it is no wonder that heaven is pictured as a time when we gather around the table of the King. At His table, we all have a place. We belong there as children in His family, and the time together will be full of joy. Everyone is welcome at His table. There is more than enough room, enough love, enough provision, and enough acceptance. At His table, we will celebrate. We will celebrate His glory. We will honor the Lamb. We will sing songs of rejoicing, and tell each other the stories of redemption that brought us to His table. We practice sitting at His table each time we join Him in communion. Those moments get our hearts ready for the banquet that awaits the family of God.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sit at my table and dream. Today I have the opportunity to make my table a place that points my family to heaven. I don’t want to rush our time at the table. I want to cherish the chairs that hold the souls most precious to my heart. I want to experience the reality that Jesus is with us at our table, joining in our conversations, laughing at our silly family jokes, and strengthening the bonds that hold us together. Our tables are more than tables. They are places to meet God and dream of heaven.








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