Be Still

30 06 2010

Exodus 14:14 has been on my mind a lot this week – “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  

Ever feel like you are in between a rock and a hard place? There are days when it seems like things are pressing in on you from all sides. Pressures, difficulties, struggles, and fear mount up like boulders all around you. You look around, and there just doesn’t seem to be any way out. That is exactly the situation in which the Lord speaks these words. Israel has mountains on either side, a sea at their back, and the Egyptian army pressing in hard. They cry out to the Lord, and His answer calls for them to be still.

Stillness is not my normal reaction. I search frantically for a way out. My mind runs a thousand miles an hour trying to find a solution. I run in circles hoping to finally break through the barriers I see all around me. Be still, He says. Watch Me work. I will create a path for you through the waters. Sometimes He opens the whole sea at once. Sometimes, He opens it inch by inch as we follow Him through in faith. Either way, He fights for us. He is on our side. We need only to be still.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be still before God. Becoming more like Jesus means training myself in stillness. I am going to deliberately quiet my heart, still my soul, and calm my mind. I am going to fix my focus on my Savior and leave the saving to Him. He knows where I stand. He sees the enemies I face. He is strong enough to save the day, redeem the moment, and draw me closer to Himself. I need only to be still.





Technical Difficulties

28 06 2010

I’m stuck. I have been working on a new project for months. I have prayed, planned, and poured out my heart. We are so close to the finish line, I can almost taste it. Watching a dream become reality is an exciting, exhausting, exhilarating process. Each day the anticipation grows as ideas take shape and God’s fingerprints on the project become more pronounced. But a computer virus has thrown my well-laid plans off track.

Without my permission, the virus attacked. One day, everything was going smoothly and we could see light at the end of the tunnel. The next day we couldn’t find the tunnel. My interrupter was a computer virus, but it really could be anything that throws us off track, disturbs the balance of our days, throws us a curve, or derails our dreams. Sometimes it is something small – having to wait when we are in a hurry, losing our keys, or having a sick child on the day of an important meeting. Sometimes something huge – a relationship falling apart, the doctor coming in with a serious expression, or a pink slip waiting for us at work – changes the course of our lives. Interrupters happen. That much is sure. The question lies in how we will respond.

When the interrupter flares it lays my heart bare. Do I see myself as being in control of the moment or do I find peace in the truth that God is in control of all my moments? I can get frustrated, angry, and grumpy or I can search for God’s movement, protection, and grace. God’s timing is always perfect, His mercies are always new, His promises are always sure, and His presence is always with us. Even when viruses hit us unaware. God has seen tomorrow. He already knows what we will face and stands ready to walk with us through it all.

My Jesus Resolution today is take a deep breath and trust God’s unchanging hand. Interrupters are going to be a part of my day. I want to learn to see God in each moment, recognize His presence, and rely on His power. I want to ground my plans and dreams so thoroughly in the will of God that my confidence rests not on my abilities, but on His dependability. A virus can’t attack God’s promises or undermine God’s faithfulness. How will you respond when technical difficulties come your way today?





My Favorite

25 06 2010

I will let you in on a family secret. Each one of my children believes that they are my favorite. This isn’t a case of wishful thinking. I regularly tell each one of them, “You are my favorite!” And it’s true. Each one of them is my favorite. They are unique, special, amazing, wonderful kids. They each pull my heart in a different direction. God uses each of them to teach me more about His heart, to show me His wonder, and to get me to open my eyes to His movement.

The dictionary defines a favorite as “a person or thing regarded with special favor.” Being my favorite doesn’t mean that one is more special than another or that I prefer one over another. It means I regard them with special favor. They have their own space in my heart. I cherish them, value them, and hold the relationship we share as an important priority in my life. They are the apples of my eye.

You are God’s favorite. You are the only you that has ever existed or will ever exist. He made you for His pleasure and His glory. He created your unique combination of talents, personality traits, and quirks because He knew that you could shine for Jesus in a profound way to those around you. You hold a special place in His heart. He cherishes you and deeply longs for you to rest in His love. He regards you with such special favor that He sent His only Son to a cross so that you could love Him without barriers.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live as God’s favorite. He delights in those He loves. He pursues those made in His image with purpose and power. The world may tell me today that I am a nobody – unimportant, irrelevant, and insignificant. God tells me otherwise. I am loved, cherished, wanted, and valued. I’m God’s favorite. So are you.





A Long Obedience

23 06 2010

There is a particular quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that God has been using to impress a deep truth on my heart.

“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction.”

We live in a world that values flashy beginnings. Start-ups, IPOs, the impending product release, and the ‘new and improved’ receive a lot of headlines. We are fascinated with what is coming next. We hardly get the latest gadget out of the box before we are looking around for another new something to buy. Our society seems to have settled into a mindset in which what is new is always applauded. Things that are steady, reliable, and consistent bring a yawn.

I heard someone say once that anybody can start. What counts is finishing well. That is what Nietzsche was saying. Starting is good, essential even, but continuing, staying with it, and finishing well are what really matter.

God calls us to a long obedience in the same direction. In a world where it is fashionable to jump from one trend to the next fad, He gently moves our eyes to His faithfulness, steadfastness, and unending, unwavering love. Imitate Me, He says. Walk with Me for the long haul, and experience the joy that only comes from going deeper and deeper into My heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to commit to a long obedience in the same direction. God wants me to spend every day opening my heart to His transformation. Surrender reaps its greatest blessings over the long term. Looking like Jesus is something that happens over a lifetime. A long obedience isn’t easy. It isn’t fashionable or newsworthy. It is the daily choice to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. But, as Nietzsche said, it results in “something which has made life worth living.”





Fingerprints

21 06 2010

If you watch crime dramas, you know that fingerprints are clues. They reveal who has been present, who has touched the moment, and who has shaped what you now see. Fingerprints are identifiers. Each fingerprint is unique, leaving a marker behind which points us to someone’s presence.

Today, I want to challenge you to keep your eyes open for God’s fingerprints. They are all around us. He leaves evidence of His presence in every moment. Here are ten questions to ask yourself today that might help you discover a clue about how God has touched your day.

1. What was the most beautiful thing I saw today?

2. What kindness touched my heart today?

3. Where did I hear God’s voice today?

4. What am I most thankful for today?

5. What challenge did I face today?

6. What joy did I experience today?

7. What was the most delicious thing I tasted today?

8. What made me laugh today?

9. Where did I receive mercy today?

10. Who best looked like Jesus for me today?

My Jesus Resolution today is to search for God’s fingerprints. I am going to keep my eyes wide open, my heart sensitive to His presence, and my ears listening for His movement. Places of goodness, mercy, joy, laughter, and blessing are all moments when it is possible to discover the fingerprint of God on my day. I can see Him in the lives of those around me, in the beauty that fills the skies, and the ways in which I open my heart to listen to His voice. Today I am going to be on the lookout for fingerprints. I can’t wait to be surprised by all the ways God has already touched my day.





A Chorus of Praise

18 06 2010

You have to be quiet to hear it. There is a chorus of praise that rises from the earth. All creation is singing to God. We might hear it first in the songs of a bird. Each note declares the glory of its Creator. But birds aren’t the only ones. The stars sing in the sky. The mountains point to God. The trees lift branches to the One who made them. Jesus tells us that even rocks have the ability to cry out and give Him honor.

The whole earth pulsates with praise. From the smallest insect crawling on the ground to the waves of the mighty ocean, the world declares the glory and splendor of God. Our job is to listen and join in.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” – Psalm 19:1-4a

We live in a world of overwhelming noise. Man-made sound fills our ears everywhere we turn. It is easy to go through our days and never stop to listen to the chorus of praise rising from the earth. Listening to it requires moving our hearts into quietness. We have to walk away from the noise and tune our ears to hear the praise that is pouring forth from all creation. It is a song that points us straight to the heart of God. It is an invitation to live a life of praise.

My Jesus Resolution today is to join in the chorus of praise. I am going to turn off the noise so I can listen. I want to hear a song of praise in the way creation points to God. I don’t want to be so busy, talk so much, or surround myself with so much noise that I miss the song that declares His glory. I want my life to sing His praise.





Baking Bread

16 06 2010

I baked bread this morning. Just as the sun was beginning to color the sky, I peeked into the oven and saw the rising loafs taking shape. Turning on the oven, I started counting the minutes. The aroma of baking bread filled the house. Bread has its own unique, wonderful fragrance. The combination of flour, yeast, salt, and oil create a mouth-watering, head-turning, nose-following smell. Yum!

Finally the timer signaled the end of the baking cycle. I pulled the warm loaves from the oven, setting them on a rack to cool. Opening the oven released an even stronger scent into the air. The aroma permeated the entire house. The smell of baking bread is enough to make tummies growl and smiles appear on morning faces.

Fast forward to later in the day. Here is the moment that caught me by surprise. After a walk in the neighborhood, I pulled out my key to open our front door. Standing outside the house, I caught a familiar smell – baking bread. Our home was so full of the wonderful aroma that it leaked out of the house, filling the yard with its enticing smell.

The smell of baking bread always draws my mind to Jesus. He is the Bread of Life. He longs to nourish our souls in the same way delicious bread feeds our bodies. But it is the aroma that draws my eyes to His face. In 2 Corinthians 2:15 says, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Everywhere we go, we carry with us the fragrance of Christ. We have the opportunity to smell like Jesus for everyone we meet.

God taught me an important lesson today on the sidewalk. He wants me to be so full of the smell of the Living Bread that it spills out of my life, inviting those just walking by to experience it. I need to be so full of Jesus that it permeates every part of who I am.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be aware of how I smell. I want to leave the fragrance of Christ lingering in every room I walk into. I am going to be especially careful not to let the smells of the world penetrate my heart. I want to open the doors of my life so that others can take a deep breath and smell the aroma of Christ in me.