A Hot Shower

31 03 2011

Sweaty and sticky, I stepped into the shower and let the hot water roll over me. Do you know the feeling? Just standing there letting the water wash away the grime felt like heaven. After a few minutes and a little soap, I started feeling like a new person.

It is amazing how a quick shower can change your perspective. All I did was wash the dirt off, but I went from feeling yucky to feeling refreshed and renewed. Today I am thankful for my shower.

The water coming out of the shower always reminds me of the waterfall that cleanses our souls. Walking in the world makes us sticky. We pick up bits of self-reliance, lost focus, and turmoil while moving through our days. We step in sin, stumble in selfishness, and struggle with surrender. On our own, we are doomed to stay sticky and grimy.

While the hot water in the shower cleans our bodies, the blood of Jesus washes the grime and guilt away from our hearts. His precious blood cascades over a believer’s heart like a waterfall of grace. It continually rinses away the rebellion that so often tramples on my heart, reshaping me into the image of Christ.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful for being clean. I am thankful for clean water, bubbly soap, and big towels. I am even more thankful for the blood that washes the sin away from my soul. His grace and mercy have the power to cleanse even the deepest stain, the nastiest sin, and the most stubborn rebellion. Because of the cross, I don’t have to walk around feeling sticky. I can have a fresh, clean heart today and that feels like heaven.

Blessing, TX

30 03 2011

It made me smile. I was driving along the highway and saw the sign. Blessing, TX – 20 miles. Make a right turn, spend a few minutes on the road, and you could end up in Blessing.

I like the idea of visiting Blessing, but what really captures my imagination is the idea of living in Blessing. Wouldn’t you like Blessing to be the address of your heart? It would be so neat to answer the question, “Where do you live?” by being able to say, “I live in Blessing.” Every time you wrote your address, you would write Blessing. Every time you gave someone directions, you would steer them toward Blessing. Every time you head for home, you set your sights on getting back to Blessing.

While Blessing might not be the physical address of our homes, it can be the address of our hearts. We live in the middle of God’s blessings. He surrounds us with them, causes them to overflow in our lives, and fills us with the blessing of Himself. His presence is the best location for our hearts. His grace brought my lost soul home. He is preparing a room for me in a mansion that promises to move me straight past Struggle Street and Waywardness Way into His arms. I won’t be surprised to look out the window and see that the name of one of the golden streets in heaven is Blessing Boulevard.

My Jesus Resolution today is to map out my blessings. I am going to keep Blessings on my radar. I am going to watch for the way God is working in my day to remind me that He is near. I am not going to take a walk down Discontent Drive or spend time in Selfishness Square. I want to not only see and count my blessings; I want to make them the place where my heart rests.

The Clouds

28 03 2011

I was heading home. Settling into my window seat on the airplane, I felt the drain of the weekend pull on my eyes. I really intended to bury myself in my book, hoping that the miles would speed by as I walked in a world of characters and their stories. I put in my earphones, pulled out my book, and glanced out the window.

What I saw caught my breath. We were traveling west as the sun was beginning to sink into the horizon. The sky was painted with an amazing array of orange, red, pink, and yellow. The lights in the sky, however, merely served as a canvas for the wonder of seeing God touch the clouds. Pulled into dramatic peaks, they soared high into the stratosphere like a child who had pulled the top of cotton candy to see how high it could go.

The sun’s backdrop made the clouds luminous. They glowed from within. Darker in the middle, the edges of the clouds were literally gleaming gold. High above the normal vistas of human sight, God put on a spectacular show. He created beauty for the few of us who happened to glance out of the window of a plane.

The clouds helped me see God. He was here amidst the backdrop of sky, sunlight, and billows of white. His hand touched the threads of condensation, mixing them with light to create a moment of pure splendor. The clouds reminded me that God is in the transformation business. What He touches, He transforms and the results are always amazing.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at the clouds. I am going to listen to the story they tell me about God. I am going to look for His fingerprints in their shape, see His glory in their color, and be reminded of His immensity in their size. I want to let my imagination soar into the sky as light plays off the clouds that fill the heavens, giving me a glimpse into divine beauty. I want to remember not to be so caught up in getting from here to there that I forget to look up and see God all around me.

In The Neighborhood

25 03 2011

Did you ever watch Mr. Rogers? He came into our homes through the television, inviting us to walk with him for a time in his magical neighborhood. It was a gentle world where cardigan sweaters and kindness paved the way for friends to get to know one another.

Neighborhoods are special places. They are the places where we live, where we feel at home. Our neighborhoods are our most personal setting. You don’t have to get dressed up to go outside and get the paper or check the mail. This is where you bring in your groceries, throw a ball, and run in from the rain. Neighbors see your coming and going, the trash you put out by the curb, and how often you water your flowers. The pattern of our lives tell a story to those who live closest to us. Neighborhoods pulse with a rhythm that echoes the beating of our hearts.

Because our neighborhoods are home, we often navigate the streets on autopilot. We see without seeing, moving through the familiar by feel rather than with focus. But it is important to stop and really look at your neighborhood. “You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” – Numbers 35:34.

God lives in your neighborhood. He dwells on your street. He is present around the corner, down the block, and in your backyard. He resides in the middle of your neighborhood. He abides where you live, and He wants His presence to make a difference in how you live in the place where you most feel at home.

My Jesus Resolution today is look for God in my neighborhood. When I recognize that God lives in the neighborhood, it changes how I see the people around me, the children riding bikes down the street, and the blessings He stacks on my doorstep. When I take out the trash, He is there. When I play, rest, work in the yard, have people over, or sit outside, He is right there with me. He tells me to let honor, purity, and holiness define the address of my heart. He calls me to open my eyes and see how close He really is.

Changing the World

23 03 2011

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

We all want to make a difference. It seems to be a universal yearning to leave the world a better place than we found it. We want our lives to leave an impact, to be felt, to be remembered as worthwhile. We long to do big things about the big troubles in our big world.

Here is the problem. Too often we look at the global-sized problems that scream from the headlines and feel small. There is nothing I can do about famine, tsunamis, war, or the stock market. Idealism fades as the reality of laundry, bills, deadlines, and appointments fills our days.

This is where Tolstoy has it right. We dream of changing the world, but the part of the world we can change isn’t across an ocean, across the country, or across the street. The part of the world that we can change is the part that looks back at us from the mirror.

And even then, we can’t change ourselves. The best change we can offer is a change of heart. Surrender opens the door for God to come in and make the kind of dramatic difference our hearts dream of experiencing. And that’s where the power is. God changes me. I share my life-change with you. You surrender and share your life-change with someone else. One by one, person by person, heart by heart, the world changes.

My Jesus Resolution today is to change the world. Not the big world, my world. My heart. Jesus is the answer to making the world a better place, for creating a legacy I can leave for those who will walk in this world after me. I am not going to complain, grumble, or wish away my chance to make a difference. A heart surrendered to Jesus is the best place to start changing the world.

Time Flies

21 03 2011

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  – 2 Corinthians 6:2b

Time flies when you are having fun. Have you ever noticed the fluid nature of time? When we are experiencing joy, time seems to speed up. The moments tick away with surprising rapidity. Pain seems to magnify time. Each tick of the clock carries its own weight that presses on your soul. Fear makes time crawl. Love makes time stand still. Laughter and friendship allow time to jump forward.

Time also seems to work at different speeds depending on your age. I remember it taking forever for my birthday to arrive when I was a kid. I would count down the days and hours. I promise that the three months before my birthday were longer than any other season of the year. Now I glance at the calendar, noting that time is moving ahead faster than I would like to admit.

We waste time, try to hold on to time, fill time, lose track of time, and commit to making the most of time. Time is precious because it is a gift from God. He created us to be linear creatures, to live within the structure of time. He exists outside of time, but gives us time to help us appreciate the value of our days. Because God is timeless, He can fill each moment with the fullness of His grace, the bounty of His blessings, and the abundance of His love. He crams His very best into each moment. His heart yearns for us to learn the value of living each moment in His presence, discovering the glimpses of eternity He packs into each minute of our days.

My Jesus Resolution today is redeem the time. I am going to embrace the time God gives me, being thankful for all of the tastes, touches, feelings, and beauty He allows me to experience today. In each moment, I have the chance to seek His face, experience His grace, be enveloped by His love, and lift up praise. He has given me 1,440 minutes today. I want every one of them to be full of Jesus.

My Teacher

18 03 2011

It was just a silly name, but I was having trouble saying it. My four-year-old buddy was trying to be patient while I learned. He would say the name and wait for me to echo it back to him. Finally, I did it right. He got a surprised look on his face, announcing, “You said it right!” “Thanks!” I said. “You are a good teacher.”

That surprised him even more. A confused look clouded up his little eyes. “I’m not a teacher,” he said. “Sure you are. You teach me about God and Jesus every day.” It took a little convincing, but he finally captured the idea that he could be my teacher. He liked the thought enough to begin making plans to tell me the story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den.

Are you a teacher? The answer is yes. Every day you have the opportunity to show someone the heart of Jesus. Your neighbors watch your priorities. Your family sees how you handle joy and sorrow, failure and success. The clerk at the grocery store observes how you interact with those who are slow, sloppy, or selfish. Your coworkers look at your efforts and relationships and learn lessons about the living out the purpose of God in life.

You may not think of yourself as a teacher. You may not even want to be a teacher. But the truth is that every day you are teaching someone something. Our task is to be deliberate about the lessons we teach. You may be the only Bible somebody reads today. What will they remember about Jesus because of you?

My Jesus Resolution today is to make a lesson plan. I am going to be aware of the truth that each moment holds an opportunity to show Jesus to someone. It may be in the way I handle a struggle, a special moment, a sin, or a surprise. I want to make sure they learn something about Jesus as they watch me. Something about grace, about joy, about faithfulness, or about love. The reality is that I am a teacher. I resolve to be a teacher who points others to Jesus.


16 03 2011

Last Friday, a massive earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale rocked Japan. It triggered a tsunami whose effects were felt all the way across the Pacific Ocean in California. Thousands are missing, entire towns are now nothing but rubble, and Japan sits on the edge of nuclear disaster. It is a natural catastrophe of epic proportions. Its impact will be felt for years to come.

The earthquake struck at about two p.m. in the afternoon in Japan. That morning had been a regular morning for millions. They got up, went to work, talked to friends, made plans for the weekend, and thought that it was just going to be a regular day. Then the earth shifted, and life will never be the same.

We live in an unstable world. We get up in the morning with plans, priorities, dreams, and to-do lists, thinking that today is going to be just an ordinary day. Then the earth shifts. We pick up the phone, find the note on the counter, are handed a pink slip, receive the test result, hear the squeal of brakes, discover a lump, or open the mail. What seemed like an ordinary day just moments ago is shaken to its core. Our foundations shift, our eyes see differently, our priorities are realigned, and our hearts seem to beat to a different rhythm. It is an 8.9 on the reality scale, and life will never be the same.

Earthquakes, the physical ones that rocked Japan or the emotional ones that sneak into our worlds, don’t take God by surprise. He wants us to build our lives on the firm foundation of His love, the surety of His grace, and the rock-solid footing of His faithfulness. Faith won’t stop the earthquakes, but it will provide the security we need to deal with the disasters that hit us hard. It will give us a place to stand when things get shaky and unstable. He will hold us together when the rest of the world is falling apart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that God is my Rock. My world may shift under my feet, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is unchanging in an ever-changing world. If everything else in my life falls apart, walks away, burns up, and disintegrates, God will still be there. He will still be there loving me, forgiving me, and transforming me. The earthquake may be an 8.9, but God will always be a perfect 10.

Bigger Than a Church Building

14 03 2011

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” – I Kings 8:27

It was a play day at our house. The trucks were racing around the living room, balls were bouncing, and the dinosaurs were roaring. The boys were hunkered down on the floor examining the dinosaurs in fine detail. My son was teaching our little friend the names of all the different dinosaurs, throwing in interesting facts about size, food preferences, and roaring decibels.

A squeal of excitement spiraled through the air as our little friend came racing into the kitchen. “You are not going to believe this!” he exclaimed. “A T-Rex is bigger than a church building!” This was gigantic news. His eyes were big as his imagination stretched the proportions of the dinosaur to fit his newly discovered bigger-than-a-church-building picture. He then reported on the next type of dinosaur, also reportedly bigger than a church building. Dinosaurs make for an exciting world.

Tapping into his enthusiasm, I told him how cool it was that dinosaurs were bigger than a church building. I then explained that God was even bigger than a dinosaur. He stopped in his tracks, contemplating this latest piece of news. His eyes got huge as he processed that God was bigger than the biggest thing he could imagine. “God is bigger than a church building?” he asked. I paused as I considered the multiple layers of truth in that statement. “Yes,” I said. “God is bigger than a church building.”

Once again God used a little heart to teach me a big truth. How many times do I limit God to the boundaries of four walls, a roof, and a couple of hallways? We glorify Him in the pews, but fail to see Him in the panorama of everyday life. We read about Him in the Bible, but don’t listen to His voice in the rhythm of our hours. We seek His face in worship, but forget to look for His fingerprints touching the pages of our stories.

My Jesus Resolution today is to have eyes like my little friend. I want to my eyes to grow like saucers, my jaw to drop, and my imagination to stretch as I contemplate how big God really is. I am going to picture the biggest thing I can imagine, and think about the truth that God is bigger. I am going to stand in wonder, and then race to share the good news with someone else. God is bigger than a church building, and that makes for an exciting world.

Comfort Zones

11 03 2011

I like my comfort zone. My comfort zone is a well-defined space in which I order my time, my stuff, my relationships, and my purpose. My comfort zone makes me feel in control. When things are humming along within the confines of my comfort zone, I know what to expect and feel like I am on top of things. I like my comfort zone. It defines me, and keeps me from taking too many risks, opening too many doors, or taking too many steps outside of my usual path.

We are creatures of habit. Creating comfort zones allows us to order our worlds and feel like we are in control. The reality is that our comfort zones are illusions. The weather changes, the phone rings, the mail arrives, the doctor comes in, or the pink slip lands on our desks and suddenly our comfort zones are shattered. Our foundations shift and the world doesn’t feel stable or secure any more.

Sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zones. He challenges us to see with different eyes, walk a new path, take a leap of faith, or travel deeper into transformation. We stand at a crossroad with the outstretched hand of God on one side and our comfort zones lying enticingly on the other side.

Walking out of our comfort zones means letting God take the lead and redefine the rhythm of our lives. It means making His heart our stronghold and His grace our sure foundation. It means ordering our world around the cross and resting in the certainty that it will outlast any storm and empower any surrender. God doesn’t want us to create our own comfort zones. He wants to be our comfort zone.

My Jesus Resolution today is to let God have control of my comfort zone. I am going to build my world around His presence. I am going to let His love define the boundaries of my heart. I am going to ask Him to open my eyes to the things I tend to turn to for comfort when I should be turning to Him. When the world shakes me up, I am going to hang on to my Rock. When He calls me to walk in a new direction, I am going to hold His hand, knowing that His presence will provide all the comfort I will need.