God Will Make a Way

29 09 2010

I found myself humming this morning as I was walking and praying. The words to Don Moen’s beautiful song, “God Will Make a Way” seemed to overflow as an answer to the concerns and requests pouring out of my heart. “God will make a way where there seems to be no way, He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.”

I love that thought. How many times does God make a way when all we see are obstacles, barriers, and defeat? God has a track record of opening unexpected doors, creating unanticipated paths, and working through less than obvious people. He opened a way for Abraham and Sarah. Well into their Medicare years, there seemed to be no way that God’s promise of a child could be answered in their lives. Then came Isaac. God’s way for Joseph led him through the bottom of wells, prison cells, and Egypt’s throne rooms. Israel must have rubbed their eyes in wonder as they walked through a canyon made of sea water. Joshua faced big walls and big enemies, but God’s way marched him around a city to victory. God’s way for David proved that faith was a greater weapon than a sword. He opened a way for Daniel by closing the lions’ mouths. He made a way for all of us to come to His heart by declaring “It is finished” on a cross and then opening a tomb.

I have seen it over and over in my own life. The path I never would have chosen becomes a road of great blessing. The hardship I thought would undo me became the way God unleashed His presence in my heart. The friendship I cried for but never would have found on my own. The provision He makes when all I see is the mountain. God is not limited by my vision, understanding, or resources. He will always make a way – it may not be the easy way, the fastest way, or the smoothest way – but it will be the best way. The way that leads me deeper into His love.

My Jesus Resolution today is to trust that God will make a way for me. I am going to stop fretting and start looking for the ways that He is at work around me. His answer may already be in front of me or I may have to wait to see it unfold. The way He opens may not be the one I am looking for. I need to keep my eyes open. I must stop trying to work out my own solutions and rely on the One who has proven He can handle giants, oceans, lions, and even death. God will make a way because He is the Way.

Swimming Upstream

27 09 2010

We hiked to the stream. Actually, it wasn’t much of a hike and it wasn’t much of a stream. Still, we had walked through the mud to a creek outside of Seattle to see the salmon running. We ambled along the curves of the stream looking for the salmon intent on making their way against the current. Finally, we found a place where the water was rushing over a fallen tree. There in the shallows of the stream, we found the salmon.

I guess that I had expected the picture to be a little more dramatic. A raging river, perhaps, with rocky boulders creating overwhelming obstacles. That is what you see in the movies anyway. Our little stream was quiet. It wasn’t the kind of place where news cameras swarm or poets search for inspiration. It was ordinary, and in the ordinary, I saw God’s genius.

The salmon in our little stream gathered around one particular curve. Here the current was moving around a fallen tree, pushing the water forward. The salmon worked hard to hold their place. They had to maneuver to stand against the tide. You could almost see them gathering their resolve to make the push forward. One would surge ahead, only to get knocked back, sometimes several feet downstream. They didn’t give up. Slowly but surely, they allowed the instinct God gave them to move them back upstream.

One fish seemed particularly determined. Holding its place in the water, the salmon seemed to ignite its energy by moving its tail back and forth. Then it plunged ahead. It made a few inches progress and then worked on maintaining its new place in the stream. I cheered, and saw myself.

God calls us to be a people who swim upstream. We may not move through dramatic waters, but He calls us to be His in the ordinary places in our lives. As His children, we are never meant to go with the flow, be swept along by the world, or take the easiest path. God calls us, like He calls the salmon, to move in a direction that brings us to His great purpose in our lives. A salmon can’t fulfill its purpose if it doesn’t make the journey upstream. Neither can we.

My Jesus Resolution today is to set my eyes on swimming upstream. I am not going to let the world define my direction or set my path. I am going to go where God calls me, even if it means moving in the opposite direction of those around me. I might get knocked back. I might expend energy just holding my place in the current. But nobody hikes through the mud to see fish swimming downstream. Maybe by swimming in my ordinary part of the stream today, I can point somebody to Jesus.

I Belong to Jesus

24 09 2010

Identity is important. We have lots of identifiers – names, addresses, family connections, jobs, and physical characteristics. But identity speaks to your heart. It is who you are at the core. It defines the most important things about you. It guides how you interact with the world.

In the process of preparing my kids for the day, it became important to give them an identity touch point. A marker to bring them back to center and remind them of who they are. As they got ready to scoot out the door, I asked them one more question – “Who do you belong to?”

The answer to that question is important. It marks the address of your heart, the boundaries of your life, and the essential truths about your purpose and direction. The world encourages us to answer that we belong to no one. We are our own person. We define our own destiny. We make our own choices and move in our own direction.

God wants us to answer that we belong to Jesus. When our identities are rooted in the person of Jesus, it opens the door to endless possibilities, overwhelming abundance, and deep joy. Knowing our identity roots us in His presence, grounds us in His love, and defines how we are to walk in the world.

My last words to my kids each morning resonate within the question, “Who do you belong to?” As they answer “Jesus”, I simply say four words – “Then act like it.” I want their behavior to flow from their identity. I want their choices connected to who they are and Who they belong to. I want the decisions they make, the paths they walk, and the perspective they bring to the day to be defined, shaped, guided, and inspired by Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that I belong to Jesus. The world may make other claims on my heart. It may grab at my time, call for my attention, and try to influence how I see myself in the mirror. But I belong to Jesus. He is the standard for my actions, the wisdom for my choices, and the direction of my heart. My identity is rooted in Jesus. He is where I belong, where I best fit.  Who do you belong to?

Deeply Loved

22 09 2010

There are foundational truths we want to plant in our kids’ souls. God is amazing. Jesus is always the right answer. The Lord has a purpose and plan for you. Getting my kids out the door for school highlighted the need to ask another question designed to set their hearts on one of those basic truths – you are deeply loved.

After asking them what kind of day they were going to have and if they were ready to learn, I then asked them, “Do you love your momma?” I will be honest. I love to hear them say, “Yes!” My motivation, however, is to touch their hearts. As they head out the door, I want them to walk in the relationship that we share.

My kids are deeply loved. It is one of the core truths that I want to define them. Interestingly enough, not everyone in the world thinks my children are as great as I do. I really don’t understand that – they are the most amazing kids on the planet – but, sadly, there are people who don’t see it. In fact, there is an entire world set on making them feel inadequate, invisible, and unimportant.

As they prepare for their day, I want to remind them that they are loved. No matter what the world throws at you, no matter who makes fun of you or puts pressure on you, no matter what your report card says, or how badly you blow it – you are loved. Home is safe haven. You are cherished, wanted, and treasured.

Walking through our days, God wants us to remember the same thing. The world is going to spend a lot of time telling you that you are unlovable. It will expend a lot of energy and effort trying to convince you that you just aren’t worth it, you don’t measure up, and you don’t have what it takes. God wants you to remember you are deeply loved. He wants us to walk in the relationship that we share with Him. He longs for us to remember that despite what the world might throw at us, His arms are safe haven.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in the Yes! of God’s love. I love my Father and He loves me. That is the most basic reality of my world. Knowing I am deeply loved changes how I see my hours unfolding, how I interact with the people I meet, and how respond to the challenges of my day. God’s love is going to define me today. Do you love your Father? Let your answer define who you are.

Ready To Learn

20 09 2010

Getting kids ready for school is a challenge. There are backpacks to stuff, lunches to pack, papers to gather, socks to find, and jackets to zip. In the hurry of school mornings, I began to realize that I was missing an important piece. I needed to give their hearts some direction and their minds a good focus as they set out on their days.

I had already seen the power of setting their eyes on having a happy day. That initial question turned into a series of four questions that I began to ask my kids every morning before school. The second question became “Are you ready to learn?”

That might seem like an odd question. After all, they are heading for school. Learning seems like a given. There are teachers, chalkboards, books, reports, and pencils all set to speed them on their educational way. The reality is that kids go to school with lots of things on their minds besides learning. It was time to set their focus for the day.

“Are you ready to learn?” The answer I was looking for was “Yes, ma’am.” I wanted them to understand that their most important job was learning. I didn’t always get a “yes, ma’am.” On those days, I would tell them to go find their thinking caps and come back. Learning was their task for the day. Not lunch, not recess, not playing with their friends. Go and learn something today.

God works through our children. He used the question I was asking them to help me see the need to prepare my own heart for the day. Am I ready to learn? God has lessons for me to learn today. He has things He wants to teach me about Jesus, about walking in His will, and seeing His glory. He wants to draw me into the classroom of His love and encourages me to do the homework that will imprint grace deeply into my life. The question is “Am I ready to learn?”

My Jesus Resolution today is to be ready to learn. Hearts that are ready to learn are humble and willing to listen. If I am going to be a learner today, I am going to have eyes that seek His lessons and a spirit that is open to being stretched. Too often, my mind is set on a million other things rather than the focus God wants me to take on today. He wants me to learn to be like Jesus. I am going to set my heart on being teachable today. Are you ready to learn?

A Happy Day

17 09 2010

My daughter was very young when we started. She was in first grade and having a difficult time with a teacher at school. She only saw this teacher once a week, but her dread of Fridays colored the entire week. By the time the end of the week rolled around, she would wake up convinced that it was going to be a horrible day.

I am not sure when I started asking. One morning, anticipating her reluctance to face the day, I asked her what kind of day she was going to have. She looked at me with questions filling her big brown eyes. How could she know what kind of day it was going to turn out to be? I told her the right answer was “a happy day.” Decide now to make this a happy day.

An amazing thing happened. For the first time in weeks, tears didn’t greet me as I picked her up from school. There was a smile on her face. “How was your day?” I asked. “It was a happy day!” she answered. Setting her attitude had helped to determine her direction. I began asking her every morning – “What kind of day are you going to have?”

It didn’t take me long to realize the powerful spiritual significance of the question. What kind of day am I going to have today? God wants us to have happy days. Days filled with abundance, overflowing with joy, and packed with expectation. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This doesn’t mean that everything in our days will be good. It does mean that every day God is good. Because of His presence in our lives, we have reason to rejoice no matter what the day holds.

My Jesus Resolution today is to have a happy day. God is with me. He loves me. He has filled this day with His presence, His power, and His provision. His grace is sufficient for whatever I will face today. Setting my eyes toward His face will determine the direction for the entire day. The kind of day I anticipate having often fixes the reality of the kind of day I actually have. I am going to have a happy day. What kind of day are you going to have today?

One of Those Days

15 09 2010

Have you ever had one of those days? I looked at my calendar this morning and just knew it was going to be one of those days. The timeline starts before the crack of dawn, weaving its way through appointments, deadlines, must-dos, need-tos, and things to get through before I even have a chance to catch my breath or check to make sure my shoes match.

It is easy to look at days like today and become discouraged before it even starts. “It is going to be one of those days” plays like a headline over the horizon of the day. I worry about schedules, meeting deadlines, fulfilling expectations, and just plain old getting enough laundry done so that my kids have clean socks for tomorrow. With worry comes guilt; with guilt comes regret; and regret steals joy and plunders peace.

Jesus has the power to change those “one of those days” days into “Wow! This is one of those days!” days. Days defined by joy. Days drenched with grace. Days where we rub our eyes in wonder, knowing we have stood in His presence and been touched by His love. There is no magic key. It requires shifting our perspective, realigning our hearts, and letting the shadow of the cross color our vision.

Today is going to be one of those days –

One of those days jam-packed with opportunities to see God at work.

One of those days filled with blessings and reasons to give thanks.

One of those days overflowing with occasions to say “I love you.”

One of those days crammed with chances to show His grace to others.

One of those days wide open with possibilities for praise.

One of those days bursting with the potential for discovering beauty.

One of those days made for singing out loud and walking with a grin.

One of those days shaped for His glory and filled with His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is have one of those days. A day in which I look for the possibilities instead of the problems. A day where I delight in the blessings rather than complaining about the burdens. A day where I meet each moment with thanksgiving for all the opportunities I have to go and do and be with others. A day in which I meet the morning with a smile as I look at my calendar and say, “It is going to be one of those days!”

Paying Attention to Today

13 09 2010

Where do you spend most of your time? I’m not asking for a copy of your to-do list or a sneak peek into your day planner. This is a question about your eyes, your attention. Where are you going to spend today? Some of us spend our todays looking back over our shoulders. The past is more real to us than the present. Sometimes we look back with joy and longing. For others, regret and guilt are magnets that pull our eyes backwards. Most of us spend our days in the future. We are thinking ahead, planning what comes next, getting ready for the next thing. Sometimes it is just a few minutes ahead that holds our attention. Other times our focus is fixed on someday….

There is nothing wrong with memories or organization. Memories help us remember who we are and how God has worked in our lives so we can see Him more clearly today. Planning ahead should help us embrace the moment with confidence and joy. I’m afraid, however, that often we miss today because our eyes are locked on yesterday or searching tomorrow’s horizons. We are so focused on getting to our destination that we miss the beauty of the journey. We can’t wait to get there, so we miss here. Our hearts are so focused on back then, that we miss now.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pay attention to the details of today. I don’t want to miss this minute because my mind is already on the next one. I commit to embracing the fullness, depth, richness, and joy that God has poured into today. I am going to look deeply into the faces of the people God brings through my day today. I will walk through my house and count my blessings, literally. I am going to pay attention to the colors I see and absorb the textures and tastes I experience, and marvel. I don’t want to waste a moment of His presence by not being fully present.

The Most Important Thing

10 09 2010

What is the most important thing about you?

Don’t read past that question too quickly. Stop and consider for a moment. What is the most important thing about you?

A.W. Tozer said, “What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” I believe he is absolutely right. How I see God impacts how I see everything else. My view of God defines my perspective about my life, work, relationships, value, purpose, and joy. It shapes how I see my past, my present, and my future. It molds how I respond, react, and relate to the people around me.

If this really is the most important thing about me, how does belief in God grow? It flows from knowing God. God is constantly speaking to us, calling to our hearts, and inviting us to know Him. He wants us to know Him. He wired us to believe in Him and provides the best pathway for moving closer to His heart.

Here are two ways God has given us for getting to know Him better.

We get to know God through His Word. The Bible is the primary way that we learn about the heart of God, His plan for us, His work on our behalf, and His call to our hearts. Bible study is critically important if we want to have a deep, lasting, surrendered relationship with the Lord.

We get to know God through His people. God uses the people around us to teach us, encourage us, hold us accountable, and model Christlikeness for us. He created us to be in community so that we might know Him better which is why it so important to be connected to a group of Christians striving to look like Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to let Jesus be the most important thing about me. It is easy to let my relationships, my work, or my desires define who I am. Today I am going to look at each moment through the heart of God. I am going to let His goodness, faithfulness, compassion, and purity shape how I see what happens today. I am going to read His Word so I can get to know Him better. I am going to connect with someone who looks like Jesus so I can learn how to walk better in His steps. I am not going to let the world tell me what is most important. All along the way today, I am going to live in such a way that proclaims that the most important thing about me is Jesus.

Something Good

8 09 2010

I saw the neatest sign yesterday. It said, “God is up to something good.” Our society seems increasingly entrenched in the negative. Politicians throw mud at each other. Wall Street spins dire reports. Environmentalists declare that the world is falling apart. Medical experts warn about the latest diseases. The news is a ranking of worst stories of the day. It is enough to make you want to crawl back into bed, pull up the covers, and never open your eyes again. Instead of listening to the news pundits and experts today, listen for the One who is truly in control of it all. God is up to something good. Watch the change in seasons and smile. God is up to something good. Sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ at the top of your lungs. God is up to something good. Laugh with a friend, pay attention to something beautiful, stop and count your blessings. God is up to something good. There will always be bad news. But our God is always up to something good.

My Jesus Resolution today is to keep my heart open for the something good God wants to work in me. I am going to focus on the positive, count my blessings, and be thankful at least once every hour of this day. It is easy to get pulled into negative thinking. Remembering that God is up to something good makes my heart beat a little faster and my eyes open a little wider. So turn off the news and remember – God is up to something good – in you!