Best Friends

31 10 2011

Do you have a best friend? Best friends are special people. They inhabit a unique place in our hearts as we share our lives together. Best friendships are developed over time. Trust, transparency, and tenderness are hallmarks of friendships that have a deep impact on our hearts.

There is an Old Testament pair who helps us understand the power of friendship. David and Jonathan are about as different as two men could be. David is a shepherd. Jonathan is the son of the king. They become friends after David kills Goliath. First Samuel 18:1 tells us that “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

What a neat picture. Their souls were knit together. They wove their lives together, deliberately committing themselves to each other. Friends are intentional about their relationship. Best friends don’t grow without the determination to intertwine your lives. Weaving our stories together requires transparency, openness, and vulnerability. It can only grow in the soil of trust and demands an investment of both time and the heart.

The best snapshots of their friendship are captured in the moments that find David fleeing Jonathan’s father Saul. Having warned David of Saul’s wrath, Jonathan reassures David of their continuing friendship, telling him, “The LORD shall be between me and you…forever.” – I Samuel 20:42. Here is the secret to their amazing friendship. God stands in the middle. Their relationship is defined by the Lord. Their friendship is cemented in God.

My Jesus Resolution today is to imitate Jonathan. I want my friendships to be grounded in God. I want to be willing to open my life up to deep friendship. I am going to commit to being more transparent, sharing my heart with those God has brought into my life. I am going to resolve to point my friends to Jesus with every word and action. I am going to be thankful that God knits us together. With Him at the center, we won’t unravel.


28 10 2011

Saturated is an interesting word. It brings with it pictures of being soaked, overwhelmed, and drippy. I picture a sponge. Used to clean up a mess, a sponge soaks in the liquid spilled all over the counter. It draws the liquid in, making it a part of its own substance. It becomes so full of the liquid it is picking up that it becomes saturated.

God wants us to be saturated with Jesus. Our hearts are like sponges. They are meant to soak up His presence, draw His love deep into our cores, and move in such a way that we are filling ourselves with Him. Too often, we soak up things that aren’t good for us. We allow the world to soak into the pores of who we are and our hearts become heavy with the things of this world.

If we want to be saturated with Jesus, we will have to wring out the other things that have become embedded within us. We will have to empty our sponges of the attitudes that misdirect our hearts, the motives that turn our focus away from God, and the behaviors that cause us to take a shape other than Jesus. Getting rid of that isn’t easy. Sponges have to be rung dry. They have to be twisted and squeezed in order to get rid of liquid stored in its pores. Colossians 3:5 puts it this way, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.”

In order to become saturated with Jesus, we then need to fill ourselves with Him. We need to put on His character, letting holiness, grace, faithfulness, and patience soak deeply into our souls. We must give our hearts to letting Him penetrate our hearts with His love, piercing our souls with His presence, and plant His wisdom deep in our minds. The more time we spend with Him, the more saturated with Him we become.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be saturated with Jesus. I want to fill every corner of my life. I long to be so full of Him that it pours out of my soul in praise. I want to overflow with His presence. I am going to wring out everything that prevents Him from penetrating every piece of my heart. I want to be so saturated with Jesus that He is all you can see in me.


26 10 2011

“Worry is interest paid by those who borrow trouble” – George Washington

Worry is a difficult companion. It sticks inside our heads, takes up residence in our hearts, and crawls inside our stomachs. Worry changes our vision. It effects how we see our world, pulling clouds onto the horizon of a sunny day. Worry expects the worst to happen. It folds our thoughts into an endless game of “what if.” It constantly measures our personal resources against the scenarios of what might happen.

Sometimes we don’t see worrying as a big problem. It is just something we do. It is a reaction to circumstance. The truth is that worry is a habit, and like all habits it impacts us in more profound ways than we might realize.

Worry robs us of joy.

Worry steals our peace.

Worry undermines contentment.

I like President Washington’s insight into worry. Worry flows from borrowing trouble. His words remind us of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34.

Jesus’ words teach us how to change our worry habit. Do not be anxious. For many of us, worry is almost an automatic reaction to what happens around us. Jesus tells us that worry is a choice, and that we can choose differently. Habits can be changed, even the worry habit. It takes diligence, discipline, and deliberate action. It requires deliberately choosing to set our minds on things above. It challenges us to counteract worry with thanksgiving and praise. It demands that we search for the fingerprints of God and trust that His hand will be on tomorrow as clearly as it is today.

My Jesus Resolution today is to set worry down. I am going to make today a worry-free zone. I am going to set up a parameter of peace around my heart and bury my soul in the faithfulness of God. I am going to plant myself in the richness of God’s provision and grace rather than borrow trouble from the world. I am going to choose delight over doubt, satisfaction over second-guessing, and worship over worry.

Carried Away

24 10 2011

There is the neatest picture tucked into the pages of Deuteronomy. Talking to a people standing on the edge of the Promised Land, Moses paints a detailed picture of the way God has moved among them, called them to be His own, and protected them in the wilderness.

“And in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.” – Deuteronomy 1:31

Do you see it? There is an everlasting picture of God painted in those words. He carries His beloved as a man carries his son. In those words we see a portrait of God’s heart. It is a father’s heart. A heart determined to provide everything His son needs. A heart intent on protecting His children and giving them His best. A heart deliberate about intimacy, connection, and joy.

In the picture of a son being carried in his father’s arms, we catch a glimpse of ourselves. Children love to be carried by their dads. There is nowhere more safe, more secure, or more filled with delight than resting in a father’s arms.

A father lifts his child from the ground and everything changes. Perspective is broadened, loads are lifted, weariness fades, and peace settles in. I love how expansive this picture in Deuteronomy is. God carried you all the way. Nestled next to His heart, He bore the burden of the journey and brought us to Himself.

My Jesus Resolution today is to rest in my Father’s arms. He is willing to lift me up, hold me close to His heart, and carry me all the way. In His arms, I can find a sense of calm that can be found in no other place. From His arms, I can see the world differently. I am not going to try to walk in my own strength, by my own wisdom, or following my own direction. I am going to let myself be carried away by my Father.

Eight Times

21 10 2011

I saw it on a sign – Success is getting up one more than you fall. There is a lot of wisdom in those words. Success isn’t about never failing. It is about trying one more time. It is about being willing to stretch yourself, imagine a different ending, and living with a determination that the end will be worth the effort.

The sign didn’t express anything new. These words reflect ancient wisdom. Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 24:16 – “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”

Walking with God isn’t about never falling. Some people are so worried about falling that they never take a step. They stay frozen in the moment and never live out the wonder of walking with God. Others stumble through difficulties, defeated by the moment and their own lack of balance. When they fall, they stay on the ground.

The righteous fall and hold God’s hand as they get back up. They know they don’t walk in their own strength. They trust the truth that God has made a way to rise again when our faces and the floor meet. Success isn’t defined by how many times we fall, but in the grace God bestows as He lifts us back up.

My Jesus Resolution today is to get back up. I am going to fall today. It may be just a tiny trip or a spectacular tumble. It might occur in a private moment or in front of a crowd. There may be a small scratch or deep wound. It may happen once or seven times, but today I am not going to define myself by how many times I fall. Today will be about being grateful that God is there to lift me back up. Even if it is eight times.

Sharpening the Axe

19 10 2011

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Is that how you would tackle the situation? Me either. My first reaction would be to panic about the size of the task. I would then measure the tree by my own strength and start chopping away. I don’t always stop and take time to sharpen my axe.

The length of time that it takes to chop down a tree is much more dependent on the sharpness of the axe blade than it is on my strength and know-how. Too many times, I look at a task and dive right in without preparing my heart for what lies ahead. I depend on my own abilities, my own judgment, and my own muscles to get the job done.

No good comes from striking out on my own. Sometimes the tree in my path is part of a forest that I cannot see around. The way is dark and the path is overgrown. It seems that blindly chopping away at the tree is better than doing nothing. Sometimes the tree is the regular routine of my day. I jump in thinking I can handle the ordinary, everyday stuff on my own.

I need to sharpen my axe. I need to spend time in prayer before trying to cut through the task that lies before me. I need to seek the counsel of the Almighty instead of relying on my own strength. I need to put on the armor of God and take up the sword of truth before facing the enemy. When a challenge comes my way, I need to see the value in sharpening my axe – allowing God to prepare me for what I am about to face.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sharpen my axe. I want to look at the tree differently. I want to see it as an opportunity to showcase the power of God and the grace of walking with Him. I want to slow down and invite God into the moment. I want to open my heart to the ways He wants to work in me and through me to help fell that tree. Today I am going to pray rather than panic, letting God use that time with Him to sharpen the axe.

Morning By Morning

17 10 2011

“Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.” – Isaiah 50:4b

What did you hear as you first woke up this morning? Did you hear birds singing, alarm clocks buzzing, babies crying, or comfortable silence? Did you hear the voice of God?

Morning by morning reveals the gracious hand of our God. Each day is filled with His goodness, His mercy, His faithfulness, and His presence. Every morning He plants new lessons in our day and guides our hearts to learn more about His wonderful love and amazing grace. It is an amazing thought to realize that God wants us to know His heart and see His face. He has made provision for us to know Him better. He awakens us in the morning, preparing us to learn more about Him.

Too many mornings, I jump out of bed and dive into my own agenda. My mind starts working through my to-do list before I even hit the floor. I rush through my day, jumping from activity to meeting to deadline. I listen to the radio, the television, the neighbors, the internet, the gossip at lunch, and the noise in the store. I keep my eyes on the clock, the calendar, and the checkbook. Too often, I have a busy day, but I miss the blessings He intended for me to enjoy. I don’t pause to listen for His voice or open my eyes for the lessons He has brought to my day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to wake up ready to listen to His voice. God wants my heart tuned to Him. He wants His words to fill my ears, direct my eyes, and shape my days. I want to learn how to listen. I want to experience all the rich lessons He has in store for me today. I want to be aware of His presence in those precious few moments when the day is full of possibilities. Listening to Him in those first few minutes of the day will open my heart up to meeting Him through the rest of the day.


14 10 2011

Have you noticed all the health foods in the grocery store? Everything these days seems to be marked with a label designed to draw our attention to the nutritional value of the product. Heart-healthy, low cholesterol, reduced sodium, no trans-fats, extra fiber, and no refined sugar food abound on the shelves. Everyone is trying to focus attention on the need to be careful about our physical health and what we put in our bodies.

Today it was the heart-healthy label that caught my attention. Red hearts grace the boxes of items that claim to be heart-friendly. Choosing those products is supposed to be a step in the direction of good health and a longer life.

I wish they had those kinds of labels for things beyond the physical. Wouldn’t it be neat to see a heart-healthy label on a television show or the cover of a book? I wish we could attach them to music labels and internet sites. It would even be helpful to be able to adhere one to certain people. Are they individuals who will help my heart be healthy or someone with whom I should be careful of my exposure?

As important as it is to be physically heart-healthy, it is absolutely vital to be spiritually heart-healthy. We need to be even more careful about what we put into our spirits than we are about what we put into our bodies. We need to read the labels, measure the goodness factor, and use God’s wisdom to help us determine what is best for us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask, “Is this heart-healthy?” I am going to examine the things that I put into my heart through the lens of Jesus. I want to know if they are going to help me look like Him. I want to spend time with people who encourage me in the Lord. I want to read books that point my mind to Him. I want to listen to music that lifts my soul in praise. Being heart-healthy is about more than living a longer life. It is about living forever with Him.

Looking at the Sky

12 10 2011

I love the faith of children. It sparkles in the light of His grace, casting off a thousand jewels that teach us how to shine for Him.

He is six years old, and cute as can be. Sitting on the front steps of his grandmother’s place, he solemnly announced that they needed to stop playing and pray for rain. It is true. Here in Texas, we are in the midst of a devastating drought. The effect of months of clear blue skies and high temperatures has taken a visible toll on the landscape. Even a six year old can see it.

The little boy and his grandmother spent a few minutes with heads bowed and hearts lifted to God. They prayed for rain and for the blessings of God’s mercy to be evident in the flowers, trees, grass, and sky. They finished their time in prayer, and the little boy opened his eyes. He looked at the sky, looked at his grandmother, and said, “So, how come it isn’t raining yet?”

I love that. I know that he has lessons to learn about waiting on God’s timing, but his faith is amazing. This little boy understands the power of prayer. He knows that God is listening, and responds on behalf of those who love Him. He lives with the truth that God is the One with the power to change our circumstances, and the ability to make a difference in our struggles. He has no doubts that God is able and willing to step into the moment and do what only God can do. But the best thing about this little boy’s faith is his anticipation of God’s movement. God is going to show up, and he doesn’t want to miss it.

Too many times I pray, but don’t turn my eyes to the sky. I ask God to make a difference, to move in my situation, to answer my questions, or provide for my needs and then forget to open my eyes to His answers. I ask, but I don’t anticipate. I acknowledge His power, but forget to kneel. I say, “Amen,” but never open my eyes.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at the sky. I want to live in anticipation of His movement, expect to see His glory, and be able to trace His fingerprints on my day. God is listening to my prayers. Sometimes He answers in the moment. Other times, He knows that waiting is the best way to shape His purpose in me. Either way, He is on the move. He is responding, redeeming, transforming, loving, forgiving, and providing. I will either see it or I will miss it. Just depends on whether I look at the sky or keep my eyes on

The Snapshot

10 10 2011

I wish I could have taken a picture. Sitting in worship, I glanced across the aisle just as the Lord’s Supper was being served. It was the perfect snapshot. Little brown fingers were wrapped in a big white hand. Dark curls rested near a balding head. A six year old sat quietly next to a sixty year old, each taking in the moment of praise and profound wonder with wide eyes. Two people – one older, one younger, one white, one brown, one experienced in walking with Jesus, the other new to faith – joined together because of Jesus.

They have nothing else in common. If not for Jesus, these two would never meet. They would never be connected. There would be no snapshot. This is, in part, what the Lord’s Supper celebrates – the creation of a new family album. People from different walks of life, different experiences, backgrounds, and dreams are united by Christ and make the commitment to walk together in Him.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:19

As family, we help each other see Jesus. We encourage one another to take the risky steps of faith. We hold each other accountable, and lift each other up when we stumble on the path. We cheer when victories come our way. We weep when sorrow overwhelms our hearts. We pray together, pointing each other toward the cross.

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate my family. No matter the size or shape of my physical family, I am a part of the household of God. I have brothers to encourage, sisters to hug, children that need role models, and elderly friends that need love. Every time I see my family, I should be overwhelmed by the miracle of God’s grace. Each face gives me a glimpse into His purpose. Every story reminds me of His power. I can’t wait to get to heaven and see the entirety of my family. For now, He gives me this snapshot, so I can wait, stand in wonder, and worship.