Pride

30 01 2012

I was thoughtless. I didn’t mean to say it, but the words came tumbling out of my mouth. At first it all seemed very reasonable and kind of funny, but watching the moment unfold revealed a different truth. Someone was hurt by what I said. In justifying myself, I stepped on another’s heart.

Pride is a funny thing. We think of a larger-than-life swagger, hogging the spotlight, and big boasts as the stuff pride is made of. And sometimes it is. But the heart of pride is the need to see myself as just a little bit better than you. Almost without realizing it, we constantly measure ourselves against each other. How do I rank? Am I better or worse? Can they see my faults? Inevitably we find someone about whom we finally breathe a sigh of relief. At least I’m not like them….and pride scores a point.

Here is the deal. Pride will always have a hold on my heart if I measure myself against you. Jesus is the standard. He is the measure of all things that are true, holy, right, and just. It doesn’t matter what you have done. It doesn’t matter what I have done. We all need grace. I can try to justify my lying, rationalize my boasting, or excuse my unkindness, but in the end, I am no better or worse than you and your sin. We are all in the same boat. We need a Savior who will cover us both with His mercy and love.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember my own deep need for grace. I don’t want to be filled with pride. I want praise to flow from my interactions with others. Instead of silently comparing myself to someone else, I am going to talk about the ways that God is at work in both of us. I want to see the opportunities to extend grace, demonstrate mercy, exercise love, and spotlight compassion. Pride has “I” in the middle. Jesus is all about “us.”





Thank You

27 01 2012

It came in the mail. A sweet card from an even sweeter friend. It was a simple message. Just a couple of sentences about the value of our relationship and how she sees God at work. She said thank you, told me she loved me, and my spirit lifted above the clouds that had been hovering all week.

Such a simple gesture, and yet the impact was profound. Taking a few minutes to say thank you and telling someone how they look like Jesus for you has the power to lift hearts, open eyes, ignite praise, and activate smiles. Here are ten ideas for people who could use your thanks today.

1. A young mom who makes the effort to bring her little ones to church, even when they are cranky and she is tired.

2. An older person whose life is a shining example of Jesus.

3. Your spouse.

4. Your minister’s wife.

5. The church secretary.

6. Your child’s Bible Class teacher.

7. A missionary.

8. Your best friend.

9. Your kids.

10. The person who most looks like Jesus for you.

My Jesus Resolution today is to say thank you. God uses special people in my life every day to remind me of His love, to offer me encouragement, to help me laugh, to teach me His lessons, and to open my eyes to His presence. I don’t say thank you to Him or them often enough. Today I am going to find somebody to thank. I am going to tell God how grateful I am for His gift, and let someone know how God has used them to touch my heart.





I Love You Day

25 01 2012

My son had a great day. After a very stressful week, things were settling into place. He found a solution to a dilemma, is making new friends, and asking really good faith questions. We talked for a long time, and I watched Him trace God’s hand and see Christ in those around him. It was neat to hear him excited, and opening his eyes to all of the possibilities God has in store for him. It was an I Love You day.

My daughter had a terrible day. She called in tears, overwhelmed by the struggles that had swamped her day. Technical difficulties were causing great stress. The phone call she had been waiting for didn’t come. The new assignment was tougher than she imagined. She didn’t get her first, second, or even third choice. She needed help, and people were rude. She had a raging headache, and couldn’t see past the clouds. It broke my heart to hear her tears. It was an I Love You day.

It doesn’t matter what kind of day you are having today. God says that today is an I Love You day. He loves you on your good days, terrible days, and the I-can’t-figure-it-out days. It doesn’t matter if you have all the answers, make the wrong choice, or are not sure of the questions. He loves you. His love for you is not dependent on your ability, good looks, smarts, checkbook balance, or the number of good things you do in a day. He loves you because you belong to Him. Good days or bad days will always find you at the center of His heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that today is an I Love You day. No matter what happens today, I can be sure that God loves me. He is very close to me, whether circumstances make it easy to see Him or not. He is working on me, using every situation, every decision, and every smile or tear, to help me look more like Jesus. Knowing that it is an I Love You day should change the way I walk through my day, talk to the people I meet, and face the challenges that are ahead. But even if it doesn’t, even if I mess it up, it will still be an I Love You day.





Invest

23 01 2012

It was the neatest sight. The room was filled with round tables. At each table, adults and children gathered around together, heads bent over in concentration. They are working on learning the book of Genesis. Today, talk centered around Noah and the big flood. God’s voice boomed across the room, calling Noah to obedience. Noah built a boat, yielding his spirit, family, heart, and future to the faithfulness of the Lord.

As the ark began to take shape, you could feel the anticipation rising with the kids’ excitement. Here come the animals! Two by two, they crossed their imaginations as they pictured lions, bears, ostriches, and ladybugs marching into the ark. The rain began to fall, and children held their breath as lightning revealed the providence of God.

After a long forty days and forty nights, the rain ceases and the waiting begins. Even here, the children listen as the adults around the room trace God’s hand and point to His grace. Finally the rainbow arcs across the sky. Its colors making a promise we can still see today.

The story of Noah is filled with powerful lessons, but it was the hearts around the tables that spoke to me today. Adults giving up an afternoon to show kids how amazing God really is. Children willing to set down their video controllers to participate in the greatest story ever told. God at work in every heart as each one opens His Word and listens.

My Jesus Resolution today is to invest. I want to invest myself in God’s Word. I don’t just want to read the story. I long to experience His presence. I want to invest myself in people who will help me see God’s hand and live out His purpose. I am going to invest in someone who is just beginning the journey, and watch their wonder as they see God for the first time. God gave everything in order to invest in me. I am going to invest my heart in Him.





Busy

20 01 2012

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life. “ – Socrates

Socrates has looked at my calendar.

Busyness seems to define who we are.  Every single person I know will say that they are busy. Busyness is the badge of productivity. We fill our planners, make our lists, stretch our time, and run on empty. Our society tells us that the busier you are, the more important you are. The more layers of inaccessibility we wrap around us, the more value we have. Busyness can become a mask that hides the emptiness of our hearts.

We let busyness set the perspective for our lives. I am not busier than anyone else. I have the same-sized plate as you do. It is filled with the same mix of family, job, laundry, bills, and service as your plate. But busyness seems to give us permission to take a myopic view of the world. It lets us turn inward, look at the world through the lens of selfishness, and pass by on the other side.

Jesus came so that we might have rich, abundant, full, overflowing, blessed, connected lives. Busyness has the potential to rob us of the blessings God has in store for us. There is nothing wrong with being busy, unless that busyness steals the abundance Jesus died to give us. From the very beginning, God built in a rhythm of work and rest into creation. Our bodies are designed to move from activity to stillness each day. Our souls are created to mirror that balance of movement and quiet.

My Jesus Resolution today is to choose blessing over busyness. That might mean stopping in the middle of my day in order to hear His still, small voice. It might mean asking for help or saying no. It might mean that others will see me in my vulnerability rather than the “have it all together” mode I usually like to display. Mostly, it will mean taking Jesus up on His promise. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29.





I Can Sit Anywhere?

18 01 2012

Well, she’s done it again. Another one of my sons has succumbed to the charm of the 101-year-old beauty that graces our church family.

We had changed pews. A temporary necessity for one week, but it is amazing how changing where you sit can change your perspective. We require our teenagers to sit in front of us during worship. They can sit anywhere they want, as long as they sit in front of us. We sit on the fourth row.

This week, our change in position opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for our son. He looked at the auditorium with wide-eyed wonder, scouting out his new freedom. Where would he sit?

We lost track of him in the few minutes before services began. The singing started, and as we settled into our pew, we looked around the auditorium curious as to where our son had decided to invest his expanded choice of where to worship. We searched for the top of his head among the groups of young people, cute girls, and family friends. We couldn’t find him.

Finally, we spotted him. Beautiful white curls and short dark hair framed the picture as two hearts spanned by almost ninety years joined together in praise. Sitting there watching them filled my heart with both humility and gratitude. My son’s choice to align himself with someone who so clearly loves Jesus reminds me to be deliberate about surrounding myself with people who will point me to Him. His companion’s open-hearted hospitality teaches me about the tremendous power of welcoming someone to walk alongside you as you seek the face of God. It was a powerful sermon spoken in silence as they worshipped together.

My Jesus Resolution today is to soak in their sermon. My son is captivated by the heart of someone who vividly looks like Jesus. Too many times, my eyes settle on the cheap dazzles of the world. He reminds me that true beauty is best discovered in someone with a worn Bible and a welcoming smile. Our friend opens her heart to anyone with a hunger for Jesus, even if it means changing her routine. Too often, I want to choose what is convenient or comfortable. Her willingness to share her heart with a teenager takes my breath away.





The Street Sweeper

16 01 2012

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We live regular lives. Ordinary lives. Lives filled with the unremarkable, commonplace stuff necessary to take care of our families, do our jobs, and order our lives. Like so many others, my life is dominated by the rhythm of the washing machine, the need to go to the grocery store, the ring of the alarm clock, and the insistent deadlines of work. There doesn’t seem to be much time or many opportunities for great deeds, bold acts of service, or risky steps of faith.

We are captivated by big – big sacrifices, big speeches, and big splashes in the pool of life. But Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words remind us of the big impact ordinary can have when lived with passion and purpose.

It doesn’t matter what position you hold. What matters is how you live out the position to which you have been called. Will you fill your little corner of the world with light, walk with integrity, respond with love, open doors with hospitality, and treat others with dignity? You have the opportunity today to let others experience grace, be touched by kindness, and catch a glimpse of what is possible when someone walks with God.  Jesus said it this way – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) It takes the continual surrender of who I am to create a canvas on which God’s glory can shine.

My Jesus Resolution today is be a street sweeper. I am going to embrace all the opportunities that living my regular, ordinary life has for showing Jesus to others. I am not going to wish to be someone else or hope that one day the “big” chance comes along. Every day I have a thousand moments in which I can spread a little kindness, extend a touch of grace, offer a cheerful smile, speak a gentle word, or hold out a helping hand. Each one by itself may not seem like much. But one brushstroke doesn’t make a masterpiece. One note isn’t a symphony. But a million dabs of paint later, you could see the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. The same is true of my life. I may not be able to see how God can use each of these ordinary moments, but I want the sum of them to point to one place – Jesus.