Always

29 11 2010

There are not many things you can count on in this world. As a society, we expect, even demand, change. Constants are rare in our culture. Increasingly, we are a people who spin from the temporary to the momentary to the fleeting and then wonder why it is so hard to find our footing in a slippery world.

The good news we serve an always God. God is unchanging. His nature and His character remain constant even in the midst of our transitory world. Here are ten “always” about God’s heart that you can count on today.

1. God is always faithful.

2. God is always good.

3. God is always on time.

4. God is always pursuing you.

5. God is always merciful.

6. God is always holy.

7. God is always present.

8. God is always loving you.

9. God is always just.

10. God is…always.

My Jesus Resolution today is to plant myself in God’s always. I am going to send down deep roots into His unchanging ways, His eternal will, and His constant love. No more investing my heart in the shifting sands of this temporary world. The wind may howl, the rains may fall, but I will be able to stand through it all because my God is an always God.





Stuffed

26 11 2010

Are you stuffed? Thanksgiving is a time when we fill ourselves with all of the tastes, smells, memories, and goodness of home. The warmth of cinnamon, the tanginess of cranberries, and the special crispiness of pie fill more than our stomachs. It fills our hearts, as gratitude stretches our souls. We loosen our belts, pat our tummies, and sigh contentedly while proclaiming, “I’m stuffed!”

God longs for us to be stuffed as well. He wants the aroma of Christ to exude from every pore. His desire centers on filling us completely with the image of His Son. He longs for our words to be shaped by filling our hearts with His Word. He tells us that His presence and His power will overflow from lives surrendered to His grace.

Consider His promises –

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10b

“From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” – John 1:16

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”  – Acts 2:28

“And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:19

“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:13

“And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” – Colossians 2:10

God wants us to be filled with Him. His plan is for us to live stuffed, overflowing, abundant, brimming, absolutely full lives in Him. He wants for us to be so full of Jesus that others can see Him spilling out of our actions and words.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be stuffed full of Jesus. I am going to let God fill me to the measure of the fullness of God Himself. I am going to let the richness of Christ overflow in my life. My prayer for you is the same – that you will be so stuffed full of Jesus that everyone who sees you can’t help but see Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13





Thanksgiving

24 11 2010

The beginning of the giving season usually comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. We mark the onset of a season devoted to giving with Black Friday sales, leftover turkey sandwiches, and putting up decorations.

In our focus on the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving, we often overlook “giving.” Thanksgiving is a time set apart to give. Instead of filling ourselves up, we are given the opportunity to pour ourselves out. On this day, we are called to open our eyes, step outside of ourselves, and celebrate the opportunity to give something which should define our hearts – gratitude.

When we dedicate our hearts to giving thanks, it changes our perspective, posture, and priorities. Giving thanks encourages us to look around and trace the movement of God in our lives. It moves our hearts away from “I” to the face of Jesus. We recognize anew that life is not centered around me, my feelings, my struggles, my joy, or my pain, but the avenues He creates for me to give Him praise and bring Him glory. When I give of myself this way, it shoves out the junk that tends to pull my eyes off Him all the other days of the year.

By its nature, giving involves a change in my posture. My hands open wider. My arms extend outward. I stop grasping and clinging to my rights, my demands, and my way of doing things. In choosing to give thanks, I open myself up and stretch. In the stretching, my heart becomes a little bigger, my eyes open a little wider, and my faith grows a little deeper.

Giving reshuffles our priorities. When we give thanks, it clears our vision to what is truly important. Traditions become avenues that help us give with greater joy. Time with family reemphasizes the truly valuable pieces of our lives and realigns where we invest ourselves in the day to day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to give – give thanks, give joy, give grace, and give myself. I am going to open my heart to the ways in which giving opens my eyes, stretches my soul, and reorders my priorities. I am going to look for the movement of God and give myself over to His plans for me. It is appropriate that Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the giving season. When we give thanks first, the rest of the season takes on the right tone.





Different Kinds of Beauty

22 11 2010

Do you like people watching? I love to go to someplace with a crowd, find a spot, and observe the people that pass by. There are people who bring smiles to your face. Some because they are so goofy, you can’t help but suppress a giggle. Others because of a sweetness in their faces and interactions with others. Some people cause you to raise your eyebrows and count your blessings. Some touch your heart or bring tears to your eyes.

One of the most fascinating things is the variety of beauty that plays across the faces you see. Everybody is different. People come in such a variety of colors and sizes. No two people are alike. Each carries with them their own uniqueness. It is humbling to think about how God fashioned each one with a specific eye to creating a personal exquisiteness in each one.

Why would He do that? Why make all of us different? It would be easier to mass produce humanity rather than individually shape us. Why would He go to so much trouble?

Billions of people, each individually unique, speaks to the infinite beauty of the heart of God. Each one of us has an exquisiteness that proclaims His glory and reveals His love. The color of your skin, the hue of your eyes, your height, and the shape of your ears all point to a God who invests Himself in the individual. He is a personal God who cares about the details of you. He made you this way for His pleasure and His glory. He longs for you to see His hand on your hair and His light in your eyes. He wants us to look at each other and understand the investment of love He has made in each soul.

My Jesus Resolution today is to catch my breath at the beauty I see in the faces around me. I am going to take time to really look at smiles, noses, eyes, and chins, sitting in wonder at the fingerprints of God I can trace in the people around me. I am going to look in the mirror and not complain about what I see. I am going to delight in the beauty He has planted in me and in you.





Making Room

19 11 2010

The Pharisees are my friends. Sometimes they are my friends because I find myself standing in their shoes. I have a tendency to harden my heart and pass judgment on things I don’t understand, but think I do. They are my friends because in so many ways they do me a service. I can listen to their conversations, look at their motives, and use their actions as a mirror for my own.

I read the stories of the Pharisees and often shake my head. How could they be so stubborn, so blind, so full of themselves even as they stand in the very presence of God? If I take a step back, I realize that it isn’t so hard at all. I do it all the time.

Jesus’ words to the Pharisees provide the remedy for their short-sightedness. In John 8:37, Jesus says, “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” No room for His word. That statement hit me hard. Making room for His word is the key. Creating space for God to fill my heart is what makes the difference.

When I have no room for His word, I am full of myself. My agenda, my priorities, my perspective, and my desires rule the day. I don’t even think it is deliberate stubbornness that gets me in that place. I get busy, tired, distracted, overwhelmed, and discouraged and let those things take hold of my heart. Fear, worry, and anxiety take up room that should belong to God. They push Jesus to the margins and allow me to stand on center stage where my inner Pharisee loves to be in the spotlight.

Making room for God in our lives is a deliberate act of surrender. It means dedicating time – time to be with Him, time to be quiet before Him, time to praise Him, time to let Him work out His purpose in me. It demands sacrifice – sacrificing my desires, my will, my control, and my tendency to fill myself up with things other than Jesus. It requires reorienting my focus – asking Him to help me see what I have allowed in that is crowding Him out of my heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make more room for His word. I am going to get rid of the junk I allow to stack up in my life, and create more space for God. I want Him to inhabit my praise. I long for Him to dwell fully in my words, thoughts, and actions. I want Him to be completely at home in my heart. I am going to thank the Pharisees and move in the opposite direction. I am going to make room for His word.





Thankfulness in the Morning

17 11 2010

Gratitude is an attitude. It is a mindset that is on the lookout for the myriad of ways God is constantly moving in our lives. When our eyes are open, our hearts are more sensitive to the presence of Christ.

I decided to challenge myself to find ten reasons to be thankful in the first ten minutes I was awake this morning. It was a decision to set my heart on God as I start my day. I am praying that opening my eyes to His presence first thing in the morning will cascade into an ever-increasing awareness of Him throughout my day. Here is what I am thankful for so far –

            1. Quilts

            2. Toothpaste

            3. Warm sweatshirts

            4. Good morning hugs

            5. The sunrise

            6. Work I love

            7. A day filled with possibilities

            8. Cold water

            9. Apples

            10. My Bible

It didn’t take long. As soon as I opened my eyes, I was overwhelmed by the blessings that fill my life. They say that how you spend the first ten minutes of your morning sets the tone for the entire day. Looking for God in these first few minutes has the power to open my eyes to His presence as I walk through each hour of my day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be overwhelmed by gratitude. He is here. He is moving in my day. He has filled my life with more blessings that I can count. Each one is a reminder to look for His hand, trust His heart, and follow His lead. If this is what I find in the first ten minutes, imagine how amazed I am going to be as I move through the next 1,430 minutes of the day.





Adoption

15 11 2010

Adoption is a special word. It frames a heart that longs for relationship and is willing to go the extra mile to bring someone close to their heart. A willingness to share life, bestow love, deepen connection, and unveil a mystery are all wrapped up in that single word.

We got just a little taste of the joy and wonder of adoption as we stood in line at the animal shelter. We looked at dog after dog, each needing love, some TLC, and a home. Big puppy dog eyes met us at each turn. Each little face just wanting to be wanted.

We finally picked out a sweet dog and began filling out the paper work to take him home and make him a part of our family. There were questions to answer, information to gather, and commitments to make. My husband and I were interviewed to see if we were qualified to be good pet parents. The face to watch, however, was my son’s. As soon as we had settled on our pup, my son never left his side. He planted himself by the kennel, leash and collar in hand, and waited. He talked to his new friend, reassuring him that life would soon be different. He anxiously watched us for a sign that the dog now belonged completely to us. He opened his heart and let Jack in. The shelter workers were amused. I saw God in my son’s face.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…” – Ephesians 1:4-5

God adopts us. He walks through the suffering, tragedy, and scars of this world and declares that He wants us all. He paid the price, worked through all that was required, and claims us as His own. He opens His heart and commits Himself to giving us a home and a place to belong. He plants Himself by our sides, reminding us each day that life is different because we are a part of His family.

My Jesus Resolution today is to rejoice in my adoption. I don’t belong to this world. I belong to Jesus. I am a part of His family – loved, cherished, cared for, and valued. He welcomes me in and opens His heart to me. Just like Jack, there is some training and discipline to be had in order to best learn how to live in this new home. Today I am going to look in the mirror and let Him remind me how much I am wanted. He adopted me, and that is reason enough to rejoice today.