A Smile

9 10 2015

Have you ever noticed the power of a smile? A simple smile can change everything. It can diffuse a difficult situation, build bridges, overcome language barriers, and bring grace into a dark moment. Smiles help us conquer our fears, touch the heart of another, and create a connection between souls.

I imagine that Jesus smiled….a lot. A smile is a gift of the heart. God created smiles. He wants us to use them. He made us to be a people who share smiles with everyone. We live in a world that is stingy with its smiles. Smiles invite connection. They open the door to conversation, promote transparency, and offer hope. Smiles help to remind us that we don’t walk alone. No matter our background, color, economic status, burdens, or gifts, a smile allows us to see God in the face of another person.

Mother Teresa once said, “Love begins with a smile.” It is a simple act of courage in a world that encourages us to keep to ourselves. It is a ray of sunshine in the darkness, an offer of friendship and unity. Frowns erect fences around our hearts. Smiles are gates, avenues of access and windows into joy.

My Jesus Resolution today is to smile. We are called to a life of love – radical love, outside-the-box love, generous love. A smile is a simple way to step into God’s call to love. I can offer a smile to everyone I meet today. I can smile at my postal carrier, the grocery clerk, my neighbor, the coworker in the next office, and my family. I am going to remember the power God built into a smile and offer each one as an act of worship and thanksgiving. And sometime today, I am going to turn my face toward the heavens, think about Jesus, and smile. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that God is smiling too.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

                                                                                    – Numbers 6:24-26

Heart Healthy

7 10 2015

Have you noticed all the health foods in the grocery store? Everything these days seems to be marked with a label designed to draw our attention to the nutritional value of the product. Heart-healthy, low cholesterol, reduced sodium, no trans-fats, extra fiber, and no refined sugar food abound on the shelves. Everyone is trying to focus attention on the need to be careful about our physical health and what we put in our bodies.

Today it was the heart-healthy label that caught my attention. Red hearts grace the boxes of items that claim to be heart-friendly. Choosing those products is supposed to be a step in the direction of good health and a longer life.

I wish they had those kinds of labels for things beyond the physical. Wouldn’t it be neat to see a heart-healthy label on a television show or the cover of a book? I wish we could attach them to music labels and internet sites. It would even be helpful to be able to adhere one to certain people. Are they individuals who will help my heart be healthy or someone with whom I should be careful of my exposure?

As important as it is to be physically heart-healthy, it is absolutely vital to be spiritually heart-healthy. We need to be even more careful about what we put into our spirits than we are about what we put into our bodies. We need to read the labels, measure the goodness factor, and use God’s wisdom to help us determine what is best for us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask, “Is this heart-healthy?” I am going to examine the things that I put into my heart through the lens of Jesus. I want to know if they are going to help me look like Him. I want to spend time with people who encourage me in the Lord. I want to read books that point my mind to Him. I want to listen to music that lifts my soul in praise. Being heart-healthy is about more than living a longer life. It is about living forever with Him.

Collecting Prayers

5 10 2015

They come to her desk every Wednesday, bringing prayer requests and reaching for the hem of His garment. Her transparency shows them the way to Jesus.

It all started with a request from her boss. Can you work late on Wednesday night? “No,” she replied, “I go to Bible study on Wednesday nights.” She could have just let it go at that. She could have stopped, content that she had guarded her time with God from an intrusion by the world. But she didn’t. She took another step, and invited them into His presence

She told her coworkers that this group of Christians prays together on Wednesday nights. Did anybody have anything for which they would like for them to pray? Notes were pressed into her hand. Messages were left on her desk. And God began to work.

Every Wednesday, this special Christian lady collects prayers. She gathers hurts, struggles, heartaches, and tears and carries them from her office to a group of believers committed to taking them to the throne of God. In her office, she is known as the prayer lady. Her compassion and love have given the people in her office a way to trace the hand of God on their lives. The faithfulness of these praying Christians provides a powerful testimony about the faithfulness of God, pointing these hearts to Jesus every time they fold their hands and bow their heads.

My Jesus Resolution today is to take the extra step. I am going to look for an opportunity to invite someone to walk with me into the presence of God. Maybe it will be a chance to bestow a blessing on someone’s day. Perhaps it will be a moment to show someone the power of prayer. I am going to watch for an open door to open the Bible, mention the name of Jesus, or extend grace in a way that points someone to the cross. Jesus went out of His way to show God to those around Him. I want to be like my friend. I want to be like Jesus. I want people to know that when they come to me, I will take them to Him.

The Birthday Party

2 10 2015

She just turned three. The weeks before her birthday were spent dreaming about her party. Presents, balloons, and friends filled her imagination as she excitedly waited for the big day.

Preparing for the celebration, her mom asked her what kind of party she wanted to have. She expected her to pick a princess or a popular character party. Instead, she got an amazing answer. “I want a John the Baptist party,” the little girl exclaimed.

There are so many things that I love about her answer. This little girl chose someone from the Bible to be her hero. When she wanted a theme to set the tone for her party, she picked someone who dedicated himself to pointing others to Jesus. It didn’t matter that he wore funny clothes and ate bugs. He was God’s man, and she wanted him at the center of her special day.

The star in this story is her mom. Quietly, she has embedded the story of Jesus in her daughter’s life. At a very early age, she has managed to give her daughter eyes to see hearts that respond to who God is and who listen to His call on their lives. The stories in the Bible are more than just stories to this little girl. They are real and more compelling than the glittering glamour of the figures we usually hold up before our children.

The little girl did indeed have a John the Baptist birthday party. Her mom didn’t try to talk her out of it. She didn’t push for the easier convenience of a prepackaged party. She went out of her way to have a cake made, complete with John the Baptist, dressed in camel’s hair, standing in the Jordan River.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pick someone from the Bible and celebrate. Maybe I will walk with Ruth today and learn from her choices. Perhaps I will spend the day with Joshua and Caleb exploring what it means to live in God’s promises. I would love to stand with Moses on the mountain, walk with Peter on the water, and run with Elijah as he races a chariot. I don’t want to look to the world for my heroes. The Bible is filled with people who challenge me to look more like Jesus. Maybe I will start with John the Baptist.

The Worry Alarm

30 09 2015

I am a worrier. I try not to be. I sink a little bit in my chair every time I read Paul’s advice to “not be anxious about anything.” (Philippians 4:6)  But worry happens. It sneaks up on me, grabbing my heart, pulling at my thoughts, and stealing my peace.

I could tell you that I come from a long line of worriers, and that would be true. I could settle for the reality that just about everyone I know wrestles with worry, content to be a part of the crowd. Worry almost seems inevitable, and I sometimes wonder if it is realistic to imagine living a life that doesn’t have worry worming around the edges.

The reality of learning to look like Jesus calls my heart to transform the way I look at worry. God wants to change how we respond to worry. In the moment when we begin to worry, we have a choice. We tend to see worry like a battering ram that pushes against our faith. Too often, we feel helpless to stop the pounding it gives us.

What if, instead, we viewed worry like an alarm clock? An alarm clock serves to wake us up. It redirects our attention and activity. It acts as a reminder and helps us stay on course. Craig Groeschel writes, “Worry then becomes a signal alerting us that it’s time to pray.” (The Christian Atheist p96)

My Jesus Resolution today is to let God speak through my worry. Worry doesn’t have to overwhelm me or overflow into everything I do. Worry can be an alarm that redirects my attention back to God. Rather than letting worry use up my energy, time, and hope, I can use worry to help me burrow more deeply into His grace and protection. I am going to choose to listen to worry only so far as it reminds me that I need to retune my heart to the voice of the Lord. I am going to let my burdens bend my knees in prayer. I am going to let anxiety unleash an avalanche of praise. I am going to let worry be an alarm clock that opens my eyes to God’s presence.

Jesus in My Shoes

28 09 2015

He is just a little guy. He joined the bigger kids and began singing with all his heart. The words to “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” echoed across the room. Shouts of “Where?” collided with smiles as the crowd encouraged the children to sing about Jesus.

It wasn’t long until his little feet were flying as fast as his hands to the beat of the song. Joy wasn’t just heard in the music. Joy was the expression on his face. They finished singing the song, but he wasn’t done. “Jesus isn’t just in my heart,” he said. “Jesus is in my shoes.”

Is Jesus in your shoes? I love the fact that this little guy understands the importance of letting Christ inhabit every part and piece of his life. Too often, we want to confine Jesus to the comfortable, convenient places in our lives. We limit Him to the spaces that are cleaned up and under control, or the places where His presence won’t require too much surrender. We let Jesus into our Sundays, but what about Tuesdays? We invite Him into our struggles, but leave Him out of our play times. We call on Him when we have a need, but figure that we can handle the ordinary, regular stuff on our own. We ask Him to sit with us when we read our Bibles, but would rather watch television by ourselves. We give Him a place in our hearts, but don’t want Him walking in our shoes.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my shoes. I want Jesus to walk in my shoes. I want Him to direct my steps, guide my path, and teach me to follow His footprints. I want to be able to look at every part of my life and see Jesus. I long for Him to inhabit my heart, fill my soul, govern my mind, and control my strength. Joy isn’t just a word in a song. It is the evidence of His presence in my life. Every time you look at your feet today, ask yourself – Is Jesus in my shoes?

God Wins Everybody

25 09 2015

I had the neatest reminder of an important truth today. Our four year old friend was riding with me in the car. He is into comparisons – who is bigger, faster, stronger, and tougher. He compares dinosaurs, superheroes, cars, birds, kids on the playground, and wild animals. After making an exhaustive list and concluding that a cheetah could outrun a dinosaur, he announced the most important news of all. “But you know, God wins everybody.”

I need to remember that God wins everybody. Kids aren’t the only ones who spend time on comparisons. We compare our bills with the money in the bank, our struggles with our strength, our worries with our wisdom, our appearance with the television, and our to-do lists with our resources. Inevitably, I come up short. The mountains are too high, the oceans too deep, the problems too vast, and the lists too long. I spend time worrying and fretting, keeping my eyes on the shadows when God calls me to look at the Son.

God wins everybody. There is no giant that can defeat Him, no enemy that will beat Him, no mountain that matches His strength, no problem that can outsmart Him, and no struggle that is too hard for Him. Whatever I am facing today is not bigger, stronger, faster, or tougher than my God.

Paul put it this way. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31.

God has promised to walk with us through the darkest circumstances, the brightest joys, the deepest worries, and the fiercest storms. He faced death so we can have life. He lived in our shoes so that we can walk by His side. He defeated sin so that we can have victory in grace. He calmed storms, raised the dead, healed the sick, and cast out demons so that we could spend today absolutely sure that God wins everybody.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make the right comparison. I am going to measure whatever comes my way today by the size of my God. I am not going to let the shadows of the world’s giants pull my eyes from the cross. I want to lay every problem, struggle, storm, and worry in His hands and watch them be swallowed up in His all-sufficient grace. God really is bigger, stronger, and faster. The world may try to dazzle me with its speed, strength, and smarts, but God really does win everybody.


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