Scary Faith

29 10 2010

You could hear the giggles echoing all over the house. My son was playing with a preschooler and the laughter was contagious. I dried my hands, stepping from the kitchen to the family room to see what was producing such joy.

My high-school aged son was crouched on the floor in a football stance. The little guy squealing so infectiously was setting up to launch himself across the room. My son dug in, bracing himself for the “tackle” that was about to come. Our little friend started a full-scale run straight into the outstretched arms awaiting him. A few feet from his target, he vaulted straight into the sky – arms wide open, feet sailing behind him – flying through the air. My son caught him. There were hugs, tickles, and more giggles and then the routine started all over again.

My son caught my eye, marveling at our little friend’s complete trust. “He just knows I will catch him every time,” he said as he prepared for another tackle. “That is a picture of faith in action,” I replied. “Yeah,” my son noted, “scary faith.”

Scary faith. I like that. Not scaredy-cat faith, not timid faith, not weak faith – scary faith. Faith willing to take risks. Faith willing to fly. Faith so confident in the One who is holding us that we are willing to launch ourselves from across the room just to land in His arms. Faith willing to leave the ground in order to experience joy.

Paul put it this way 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  

My Jesus Resolution today is to take a step in scary faith. I am going to move out of my comfort zone and into the arms of God. I am going to relinquish control and let Him take the lead. I am going to take a risk, trusting that He will catch me. I am going to surrender when it doesn’t seem logical. The world may shake its head. It may try to discourage me or dissuade me from running and making the leap. But the world doesn’t know what I know – His arms are open wide and He is waiting for me to fly.

Upside-Down Kingdom

27 10 2010

Have you ever stood on your head or hung upside-down from a tree branch? It changes your perspective. Things look different. You notice things you didn’t see before. Textures and colors take on different dimensions. Being upside-down causes you to reorient yourself, take in the pieces of the world, and put them together in a different way.

Jesus is King of an Upside-Down kingdom. The world gives us its perspective – put yourself first. Pleasing yourself is the purpose of life. Succeed at all costs. Bigger is better. Newer is a must. You only live once. So immersed are we in this perspective that it seems to take on a logic and reasonableness of its own.

When we become citizens of the kingdom of God, He turns our perspective on its ear. Dying becomes the path to life. Surrender equates to victory. Bending low in service lifts our hearts to new heights. He calls us to turn upside-down and look at life through His eyes. Ancient paths hold relevant truth. Eternity redefines newer, bigger, and better. A cross turns torture into triumph. An empty tomb proclaims abundance and fullness beyond imagining.

My Jesus Resolution today is to check my perspective. Sometimes I get a little too tangled up in the world and its point of view. I am going to watch Jesus and follow His eyes. I am going to listen to His voice and measure the promises of the world against His truth. I am going to cling to the cross and let it reorient my vision, reignite my passion, and retrain my heart. What I might find is that the world is really the topsy-turvy, upside-down one. Standing with Jesus, I get to see things as they are truly meant to be seen.


25 10 2010

There is a story about a little boy away from home for the first time. Missing his mom and dad, the people around the little boy asked him if he was homesick. The little boy shook his head, gazing at the others with that look only little boys have when they know the right answer and wonder why everyone else can’t see it. “I’m not homesick. I am here sick.”

Do you ever get here sick? Do you ever miss home so much you think your heart is going to break? Ever just feel overwhelmed for the sights, sounds, and nearness of those who make home home? We call it homesickness, but we aren’t sick of home. We are sick of here. Here has lost its appeal. Here doesn’t meet the needs of our hearts. Here is not home.

Christians should have an increasing case of here sickness. As we take on more and more of the image of Christ, we should increasingly feel like we don’t fit in this world. Our walk with God should make us ache for home. To be in the place where we know we truly belong. To be with the One whose arms are truly our refuge and sanctuary.

My Jesus Resolution today is to think a little bit more about home. I can’t wait to see Jesus’ face. My knees long to fall in His presence. My hands ache to touch the hem of His garment. My throat tightens thinking about the songs of praise I want to sing. The little boy is right. I am not homesick. Home is where I want to be. Home is where I want to stay. Home is where my heart feels most, well, at home. I am here sick, and I can’t wait to go home.

Dying is Difficult

22 10 2010

You could hear the ache in her voice. “I know what to do. I understand what Jesus wants for me. Why is it so hard?”

Surrender is hard. It doesn’t seem like it should be. We want to follow Jesus. We long to please Him, find favor in His eyes, and be transformed into His image. We know the right path to walk. We are clear about His claim on our lives. But we just don’t do it.

Why is it so hard to do what He calls us to do? To give up what needs to be given into His hands? To take on the beauty He wants to embed in our lives?

Dying is difficult. Jesus doesn’t hide the cost of following Him. It requires that we deny ourselves, put self to death, and crucify the old man. Surrender is hard because we have to die in order to live. We have to put our desires, plans, sense of control, and agendas to death so that His wisdom can take hold of our lives. It is all well and good to talk about it, but the actual dying is difficult.

There is pain involved in dying. It represents an end. There is a finality about it that causes us to pause. That pause is the moment of decision. Faith is the fuel that helps us take His hand and move to the other side.

Dying is difficult, but the truth is that it is not as difficult as refusing to live in His love. Refusing to die kills us slowly. It strangles our hope, stomps on our courage, and shatters our joy. We will never experience all the abundance and fullness He has in store for us until we are willing to hang self on a cross.

My Jesus Resolution today is to walk through death in order to experience full life. I am going to give up what I have been holding on to. I am going to turn it off, shut it down, walk away, and close it up. I am going to hang it on the cross, trusting in the promise that He will make all things new.

One Thousand Miles

20 10 2010

Well, I did it. Ten months, three pairs of shoes, and lots of early mornings finally added up to one New Year’s resolution crossed off the list.  At the beginning of this year, I decided to take the old saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” literally. I made a commitment to walk one thousand miles in one year. A big goal met by taking one step at a time.

Starting on that cold January day, the finish line seemed very far away. Daunting, in fact. It was going to require a consistency and commitment that I wasn’t sure I could muster. So I decided to focus on the single step part of the goal. And sure enough, one step at a time, morning after morning, led to one hundred miles, then five hundred miles, and then finally there was one step that pushed me over the one thousand mile mark.

Interestingly, with each step I got stronger, more confident, and more focused. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Times when I wasn’t sure I could do it. Sore muscles, cold temperatures, high humidity, and attacking dogs all threatened my journey. There were heartbreaks on the way, but also lots of beautiful sunrises, a growing appreciation of how the quiet of the morning can still my heart, and a deepening awareness of God walking beside me.

The Jesus Resolution is a lot like my walking resolution. It is a one-step-at-a-time walk. It requires surrendering a little bit more every day. Taking one more step. Making the decision to walk the second mile. Being willing to give Him one more piece of my heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to keep walking. With each step on this journey, He promises to walk with me. He is the one doing the transforming work in my heart. It is His power shaping me, molding me, cleansing me, and conforming me into the image of His Son. He calls me to daily open my heart to His presence, yield to His sovereignty, and explore the treasures He has in store for me. Some days are hard. Some days He gives me a glimpse of His beauty. The important thing is to walk with Him one step at a time.


18 10 2010

We stopped at the gate. From the very beginning, our car was tagged as different. Visiting my parents, we moved over into the lane designated for guests and parked at the entrance to their neighborhood. Residents fly through the gated entrance. Visitors are required to stop and check in.

The guard came out in his official uniform, carrying his even more official looking clipboard. He wrote down our license plate number and asked why we wanted access to the streets just beyond the gate. We explained our connection to one of their residents and he gave us a tag, waving us through the entrance.

For the rest of our visit, we were required to carry a tag that boldly named us as “visitors”. Wherever we went, whatever part of the neighborhood we drove in, while we settled in at my parent’s house, everyone who passed by knew, without a doubt, that we were visitors. We didn’t belong here. We don’t live here. This isn’t our home. We are visitors.

For the neighborhood, those visitor tags are a matter of security. Looking at the tag, I sometimes wish they were required for Christians. We are visitors in this world. Guests, travelers, people passing through. This is not our home. We don’t live here. We don’t belong in this world. Peter tells us to “…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” – I Peter 1:17. I need a ready reminder that I am just a visitor here. My home is elsewhere. I don’t need to get too comfortable, invest too much, or stake my claim in a neighborhood that is never meant to be my residence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that I am a visitor. This world is a wonderful place to visit, but it isn’t my home. I want to enjoy my stay, but always keep my heart hungry to go to the place I truly belong. It is okay if the world knows I am a visitor. I don’t have to fit it, follow the crowd, or abide by its standards. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am just a visitor. I think I will keep that visitor tag in my car for a little while longer.

Rescue Celebration

15 10 2010

The world cheered as rescue workers brought the thirty-three men up. People around the globe held their breath as the capsule was lowered and one by one the miners trapped 2,300 feet below the earth were finally set free. People wept, prayed, hugged, and celebrated after sixty-nine days defined by fear.

It isn’t hard to see the hand of God in this moment. A situation that should have been defined by death and grief turns into a jubilant celebration of life. The miners become a picture of our hearts trapped by sin. There is no escape, no hope, no illusion that we can get out on our own. We need a Redeemer, a Savior, someone to come and rescue us.

The rescue was devised entirely on the outside. The equipment was put in place, a tunnel was drilled through the rock, and the plan was carefully mapped out. Before anyone could be drawn out of the mine, someone had to go into the mine. Someone had to leave the world of sunshine, making a perilous journey into darkness.

The journey was made. The sacrifice was freely given and a way into the world above was opened. As the rescued men come through the tunnel, watch the faces of the crowd around them. Pure joy. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:10.

Perhaps the neatest picture is the one off to the side. Situated near the mine is Esperanza – Camp Hope, the temporary home to the family and friends of the men trapped below. It sits as a picture of all that the church is called to be in this world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate. God is still working to rescue men trapped under the weight of sin. He sent Jesus into the darkness to show us the way into the light. Our job is to inhabit Camp Hope and show the world the power and possibilities of the cross. Our privilege is celebrating with every person who makes the journey from death into life.

Lessons From the Laundry

13 10 2010

One of the consequences of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden is laundry. Before Eve ate the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, she lived in a laundry-free world. Imagine it for a moment. There was no laundry detergent, no mountains of dirty clothes, no washer repairmen, and no dryer lint. She never worried about socks without mates, mysterious spots on shirts, and things moving in young boys’ pockets. But alas. With temptation came sin. With sin came fruit juice stains.

Laundry actually has a lot to teach us about God. Even in our piles of dirty clothes, God wants us to see Him at work. He wants every dirty shirt, stinky soccer uniform, and mismatched sock to remind us of His heart. So here are some lessons from the laundry.

Filthy Rags – Dirty laundry can remind me of my need for a Savior. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” We all have laundry. We all have sin that makes us unclean. All of our goodness, smarts, resources, and efforts amount to a pile of stinky laundry. We need transformation. We need Someone to step in and make us clean.

Rich Garments – Have you ever had clothes so filthy that you just threw them away? You looked at the outfit, took one good smell, and tossed it in the garbage. New clothes were the only answer. That is God’s answer as well. This is exactly the picture that unfolds in Zechariah 3:4. “The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’” God sees how utterly stained and filthy sin has made us. He doesn’t just give them a rinse and hope the dirt comes out in the wash. He takes off the filthy rags and covers us in rich garments of grace.

Whiter Than Snow – The thing about laundry is that it is never done. Even as I finish up the last load, the pile starts to take dimension again. God knows that we need continual cleansing and He makes provision for our need. The blood of the Lamb cascades over and over us, washing away the sins, stains, and stubbornness of the day. Isaiah 1:18 paints a beautiful picture of how the blood of Jesus works in our lives. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my laundry differently. God has lessons to teach me amidst the dirty clothes, smelly socks, and stubborn stains. In the simple act of doing my family’s laundry, I can see the transformation process God wants to work in my life. He is willing to step in and handle the messes I make, the stains I create, and the stinky aromas that stubbornly cling to me. He longs to make me new, clean, fresh, and bright. Romans 13:14 tells us to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…” In other words, God does my laundry so I can look like Jesus.

National Dream Day

11 10 2010

I saw it on a tag. I thought it said, “National Dream Day” and got really excited. It didn’t. I misread it, but it sparked my thinking. What a neat idea! What if there really was a National Dream Day? A day set aside to dream about the future, let hope expand, and allow our imaginations to take flight? What would you dream about?

In days filled with deadlines, obligations, appointments, and laundry, dreaming often moves into the realm of wishful thinking. If we had time, we would… When there is more money, we will…  If only…

Dreaming, however, is essential to the abundant life. God created us to dream – big! He wants us to stretch our hearts and imagine a world vibrant with His presence. He longs for us to plunge into the depths of His love and soak in all the possibilities He has in store for us. He dreams of a kingdom filled with people transformed to look like His beloved Son.

When we dream, we lift our eyes from the boundaries of our present reality to the face of God. In our dreams, we are not limited by the here and now, by the naysayers who tell us it can’t be done, or the limited resources that so often define who we are. When we dream, we can imagine a world touched by grace, infused with goodness, and bound together by love.

God has bigger dreams in mind for us than we can possibly imagine. He has plans for us that can only be fueled by His power and ignited by His mercy. Abraham dreamed of a family. God used him to bless all nations. David dreamed of building a temple. God raised up a house for the coming Messiah. Peter dreamed of catching fish. Jesus transformed Him into a fisher of men.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” – Matthew 19:26

My Jesus Resolution today is to take time to dream. I am not going to be afraid to dream impossible dreams or pray for big things. I am going to let my dreams lift my eyes to His face. I am going to embrace the dreams I know God is already working out in my life. I am going to imagine how life might look if the power of God was fully unleashed in my life. I am going to let that dream stretch my soul and fuel my surrender. I declare today to be National Dream Day. I dare you to dream a God-sized dream.

God’s Book

8 10 2010

Do you have a photo album? There is something fascinating about flipping through old pictures, trying to recognize blurry faces, laughing about hairstyles and hemlines, and remembering the days that shaped our lives. Those special books connect us to our past, provide depth and richness to today, and give us an anchor to steady us as we move into the future. Each turn of the page reminds us of who we are, where we came from, and who has stood beside us every step of the way.

I have been thinking this week about special people in my life and God keeps bringing me back to the neatest verse in Psalm 139:16 – “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Your life has a special place in God’s book. Before you were ever born, He made a photo album of your days. There are pictures of the day you were born, your third birthday party, the day you skinned your knee, lost your first tooth, and brought home a handful of dandelions. The pictures mark more than the events of your life – they lay out the plan He has in mind for your heart. There are pictures of the people who made His love real in your life, the events that made you notice His presence, and the times that you spent on your knees in prayer.

Every one of those days is filled with God’s purpose for you. Not one of them is empty. God planned each day carefully so that you could experience the full measure of His goodness, soak in the deep richness of His grace, and delight in the immensity of His love. Whether your life is long or short, each day was counted out by God and written down in His book.

If you look carefully at each of the pictures of your life, you will find something else truly amazing. The fashions may change. The people standing around you may vary. The scenery may differ, but God is always there. He is in every picture of every day of your entire life.

My Jesus Resolution today comes from Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” God holds all of my days. He has them written down in His book. I want Him to teach me to number my days aright, to learn how to live each day to its fullest, to gain the deepest experience of Him that I can squeeze out of each moment. I spend so much time wishing time would move faster or slower. Today I am going to enjoy today. Remember to smile. You never know when God might be taking your picture.