Leap Day

29 02 2012

Today is Leap Day – the day in which we realign the calendar with the time clock of the heavens. Every four years since the time of Julius Caesar, February 29th has been the day in which we reconcile the fact that the earth turns just a tad more than 365 times in a year.

Leap Day is a bonus day. Only once every four years do we get 366 days on our calendar. What will you do with your extra twenty-four hours? I know that most of us will engage in our regular routine today. We have to go to work, head off to school, do laundry, pay bills, and walk the dog. But don’t miss the opportunity to experience all the possibilities and potential that God has built into this day. Here are ten suggestions of ways to make this bonus day a blessing day.

1. See if you can count twenty-nine blessings that are unique to today.

2. Smile at twenty-nine people.

3. Be quiet for twenty-nine minutes.

4. Read Psalm 29 out loud.

5. Make a list of twenty-nine reasons God is worthy of your praise.

6. On the twenty-ninth minute of every hour, pause and tell God thank you for sending Jesus.

7. Pray for the twenty-ninth person in your phone contact list or list of Facebook friends.

8. Take twenty-nine seconds and tell someone you love them.

9. Go outside and see if you can count twenty-nine stars.

10. Remember that God loves you at least twenty-nine times more than you can imagine.

My Jesus Resolution today is to leap. I want to leap to attention when I hear His voice. I want my heart to leap when I recognize His great love. I want to take a leap of faith as He calls me into His deep purpose. I want my soul to leap with joy as I experience His grace. Today I am going to leap at the chance to open my eyes to His presence, and let my heart leap at the opportunity to be more like Jesus.





Occupy the Kingdom

27 02 2012

I saw it on a church sign – “Protest sin. Occupy our pews.” Playing off of the media focus on the Occupy Wall Street and other protests meant to spotlight the inequity of corporate wealth, fiscal irresponsibility, and the need for greater social justice, this sign reminds us that there is a bigger battle to fight and more at stake than the size of a CEO’s bank account.

The idea of protesting sin is intriguing. The Christian life, by its very nature, should be a protest against sin. When we walk with Jesus, we reject the way of the world, turn our back on its values, and shut our ears to its voice. Light shines in the darkness revealing the sordid character of selfishness and the twisted tricks of temptation. The aroma of Christ penetrates the stench of sin, offering an invitation while also laying out an indictment. Salt cuts through the rancidness of rebellion, revealing the distastefulness of doing what is right in our own eyes.

On a personal level, I need to protest sin in my own heart. Too many times I am content to shrug my shoulders and let sin coexist with the seed of God’s Word. I need to be offended by its presence, commit myself to cutting it out of my life, and be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to change the landscape of my thinking, attitudes, motives, and desires.

The best protest against sin is to occupy the kingdom of God. We need to live in His presence, rest in His mercy, position ourselves in His faithfulness, and set up camp around the cross. We need to move under the canopy of His grace, and let our knees bend before His sovereignty. When we occupy the kingdom, we let the King occupy us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to become a protester and an occupier. I don’t often think of myself as a radical or a rebel, but following Jesus means doing things differently than the ninety-nine percent. Today I am going to protest the sin that fills up too many places in my heart. I am going to set my stake at the foot of the cross, determined to camp there until the borders of the kingdom fully encompass my life. The best way to change the world is to let Jesus change me.





The Lamb

24 02 2012

It was a snapshot moment. I drove past a lush green field. Wooly sheep covered the landscape. Playing near its mother, a young lamb took tentative steps. It was like something out of a storybook. The lamb was perfect –fresh, snowy white, and innocent.

Lambs hold a special place in the story of God. From the earliest days, lambs were the animals sacrificed for sin. Their blood was spilled in the place of the life of the sinner. Shed on altars meant to direct hearts in worship and dedication, the lamb became the substitute. God’s mercy flowed like a river as the lamb’s blood covered the altar.

Sheep also hold a special picture of our relationship with God. We are the sheep of His pasture. He cares for us, protects us, nurtures us, loves us, and guides us to the places where we will flourish and grow. We live under the Shepherd’s tender care, watchful eye, and protective heart. We learn to listen to His voice, answer His call, and live in the shadow of His presence.

The most amazing portrait comes together when these two pictures merge. The Shepherd became a sheep in order to be our substitute. Jesus wrapped Himself in the skin of a man in order to live among the sheep. He slept where we slept, walked where we walked, ate what we ate, and experienced life as we live it. He showed us how to extend grace, walk in mercy, love without reservation, and live fully in the kingdom of God.

John the Baptizer looked at Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The cross was never far from Jesus’ mind. He came to be your substitute. He came to take your place on the altar of sacrifice. He came to pay for your sin. He came to shed His blood so that you might have life.

My Jesus Resolution today is to bow before the Lamb. That is what those in heaven are doing right now. Worship, honor, glory, and praise belong to Him because of who He is and what He has done for me. But I want to remember the picture in the field. The perfect lamb, white, fresh, and innocent taking steps on wobbly legs so that He can say, “I understand. I have been there. Live in my shadow. Walk with me.”





Grace Street

22 02 2012

Driving with a GPS is a lesson in faith for me. I turn off the familiar path, following a voice that gives me directions that will take me to my destination. For me, this is an exercise in trust, and it highlights exactly where I struggle in my walk with God. I want to know the ins and outs of every road I am going to take. I want to call the shots about where to turn. I want to make decisions about my direction.

This day found me driving in an unfamiliar part of town. I left the main road, listening to the instructions about where to turn, what path to follow, and when to make lane changes. I was just trying to stay on course when the GPS announced that it was time to turn onto Grace Street.

I couldn’t help but smile. It was a God moment. My thoughts while driving had been overwhelmed by the similarities between driving with a GPS and walking by faith. Now He showed me the blessings of trusting His direction. Follow His lead, and I will always end up on Grace Street.

Grace Street is both our destination, and the road on which we travel when we go with God. It is a place where mistakes are forgiven, wrong turns are corrected, leaky hearts are mended, and flat souls are reinflated. It is a place with room to grow, transformation to be experienced, and wonder waiting around the corner. When we walk in the Way, we will discover that the home for our hearts is located on Grace Street.

My Jesus Resolution today is remember that I live on Grace Street. If I take a wrong turn, I can turn around and find my way back home. I can rest in all that it means to live in a place defined by grace. I can tell others my address, and invite them to come and stay. I am going to trust His lead, follow His direction, and walk in His steps. I may struggle with wanting more control, but I am going to set my heart to listen to His voice and match His moves. A GPS can sometimes send you in the wrong direction, but God’s compass is always set toward Grace Street.





Teachable

20 02 2012

She is one of those beautiful women. In her eighties, she walks a bit more slowly than she used to, but her heart is soft and tender as it bows in surrender to her King. She greets me every week with a smile and a hug. She is delighted to be in worship, and looks forward to the times when she can celebrate all that Jesus has done for her.

I like listening to her stories. She has lived a rich, full life of service and consecration. She knows much about the landscape of God’s character, the rhythm of His heart, and the depth of His grace. Her words are laced with the wisdom that flows from a lifetime of walking with the Lord.

It was the grin on her face that caught my attention this morning. I went from being intrigued to humbled in the space of a few seconds. She wanted to tell me something new she had learned about Jesus during the week. Her eyes grew big as she explained how she was seeing Him in new ways, discovering His presence in ordinary moments, and hearing His heartbeat as never before. Her willingness to be teachable, to find joy in learning, is an extraordinary lesson.

Too many times I miss the opportunity to learn something about Jesus. I get busy, and let the lessons rush past me. I am noisy, and miss His quiet whispers. I think I already have the answers, and so I turn my attention elsewhere. Being teachable means that my heart is always ready to learn.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be more like my friend. I want to be a learner. The classroom of His grace is always open. Sometimes the lessons are found in quiet, unusual, or unexpected places – in the questions of a child, the kindness of a stranger, or in the eyes of someone sitting next to you. God has something He wants to teach me today. The question is – am I ready to learn?





His Workmanship

17 02 2012

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

God is invested in you. You will find His fingerprints on your DNA. His attention to detail shows up in your eyes. Your soul is a reflection of His very own image. From your very first moments, God has been knitting you together, weaving your cells, sinews, muscles, and bones into the frame that will carry His greatest masterpiece into the world.

When we enter into Christ through the new birth of baptism, God unveils His greatest creativity. We become His workmanship – the product of His love. Held within the word workmanship is the idea that we are God’s masterpiece, His poetry. Think about what that means. God uses you to express His beauty to the world.

The same fingers that placed each star in the velvet night sky touches your soul with His power. The same voice that called the mountains to rise and ordered the sea into its boundaries calls you to walk by His side. The same breath that brought Adam to life lives inside of you. All of the beauty we see in the sunrise, the wonder we witness on a mountaintop, the power we experience in the ocean currents, the exquisite attention to detail evident in the butterfly are just road signs to help you grasp what He can do in you.

The masterpiece that God is creating in you is the image of Jesus. Stroke by stroke, His artistry is being revealed in your life. Line by line, the poetry that expresses His infinite love and matchless grace is being written on your heart. Note by note, a symphony that rises in praise to the King is being composed in your soul.

My Jesus Resolution today is to appreciate His beauty. I want to surrender the canvas of my life to the Artist. I want Him to paint His masterpiece in every corner of my heart. I long for His poetry to be written across the pages of my days. Too often I look in the mirror and see a mess. God sees a masterpiece in the making. He calls me to look at my reflection through His eyes. When I do, I can see the outline of Jesus taking shape in me.





Spiritual Vitamins

15 02 2012

Do you take vitamins? Vitamins are nutritional supplements. They are designed to help us bolster our immune systems, plug in the holes in our diets, and ensure that we have all the nutrients we need to stay strong and healthy. Every day I take a multi-vitamin because I want to take care of my body.

A young mom told me the neatest story. On her kitchen table, she has two jars of vitamins. One bottle holds the basic, regular body vitamins. The other jar holds her family’s spiritual vitamins. The spiritual vitamin jar is filled with Bible verses. She writes pieces of scripture on slips of paper, placing them in the bottle for her family. Each morning at breakfast, her children take their multi-vitamin, and then read their spiritual vitamin for the day. At dinner, this family talks about how the wisdom they read in the morning covered their hearts during the day.

There is profound wisdom in having that jar of spiritual vitamins on the table. She is teaching her children that taking care of the spiritual is as important as taking care of the physical. Every morning she arms them with a shield for their souls. She bolsters their hearts, encouraging them to take God’s Word with them into their days. Every night they talk about how God protected them, guided them, and blessed them because they planted His Word deep within their hearts.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my Bible differently. It is nutrition for my soul. It has the power to help me be healthy, strong, vibrant, and alive. Making it a part of who I am will blunt the things that want to attack my spirit, help me keep my balance, and give me more spiritual energy during the day. If I take my spiritual vitamins, I might find that I sing more, worry less, sleep better, smile bigger, pray deeper, see farther, love quicker, and look more like Jesus.