31 08 2012

School buses rumble through the streets. Backpacks are full, books are open, pencils are sharpened, and bells are once again calling children to pay attention and jump into the business of learning. The new school year is underway.

Watching my children lay down the carefree days of summer and pick up the mantle of learning is always an interesting process. Hope, anticipation, anxiety, nervousness, excitement, and uncertainty all play across their faces. Going to school carries with it the knowledge that this time spent in classrooms is designed to stretch, change, mature, and grow their minds, hearts, and spirits. They will look different on the last day of school than they look on the first. They will be exposed to new ideas, learn new information, develop new ways of thinking and seeing the world, and, hopefully, be more equipped to be the people God intends for them to be.

A new school year always makes me look in the mirror. It reminds me that we are meant to be life-long learners. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since you sat at a school desk, God wants us to engage in the discipline of being students. He wants us to be open to learning, growing, stretching, changing, maturing, and transforming. That means we have to go into each day expecting a lesson, searching for truth, seeking to understand His ways, and anticipating His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to prepare to be taught. Jesus has things He wants me to learn today. They may be lessons about His love, His grace, His holiness, or His will. He will use the way I surrender to His teaching to open my hands, stretch my heart, expand my vision, and transform my soul. Students live within the expectation that new opportunities and exciting possibilities are around every corner. When I live as a learner, I can expect to be different at the end of the lesson than I was at the beginning. I will look more like Jesus.

Faces in the Cloud

29 08 2012

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1

Who are your faith heroes? Names pop off the pages of the Bible as we think about the people who have walked with God, showing us all it means to live lives committed to imitating His character and glorifying His name. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Esther, Mary, Peter, and Paul all have a faith that calls us to dedicate our hearts to the One who loves us more than we can imagine.

But don’t stop there. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. They include the people in your life who point you to faith, challenge you to keep going, and model Jesus for you every day. Their faith isn’t abstract. You have seen it struggle, even fail, and get back up and keep going. Their love isn’t intangible. You have felt its strength, been touched by its intensity, and benefitted from its perseverance. Their hope isn’t elusive. You have watched as it anchored them through the fiercest storms and the darkest nights. They are your faith heroes.

Faith heroes help us understand how to live this Christian life in the here and now. They encourage us to keep going, hang on, step out, and surrender again. They remind us that we don’t walk alone. They demonstrate the power of grace, the wonder of worship, and the joy of living fully in His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to stop and look at the faces in my great cloud of witnesses. Some of those faces are only painted for me in Scripture. Others fill the pictures on my walls, can be found in the pews at church, sit across from me at the table, or live in my memories. I want to impress their living lessons of faith on my heart. I want to thank them for the way they show me Jesus. Most of all, I want their example to inspire me to be a faith hero for someone else.

Boys Will Be Boys

27 08 2012

Our society has a saying – boys will be boys. It is meant as a license for bad behavior and a free pass to act in ways that are foolish and immature. Too many of us buy into the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. We paint all young men with a brush that says that they are incapable of being anything more than the sum of their hormones and base desires. Jesus teaches us differently.

Jesus was a boy. He was born male, and walked this earth as a young boy, teenaged guy, and adult man. Jesus was born into a family that taught Him how to honor the presence and purpose of God for His life. As an adolescent, He obeyed His parents and grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men. As an adult, He listened to the voice of God, doing His Father’s will and surrendering His life to His eternal plan.

Jesus is the Model for our sons, grandsons, nephews, little boys, teenaged boys, all boys. Too many times we assume the worst about our boys, rather than expecting them to live like the Best. We give into the world’s wisdom, allowing society to set our standards, color our vision, and define our expectations. When we look at our young men, we can choose to see the world’s reality or the potential they have in Christ. We can settle for leaving the bar in the dirt or raising the bar to the standard of Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to raise my sons to look like Jesus. They do not have to be who the world tells them they are. Choosing to be a man like Jesus is the harder, longer, more difficult path. It requires men willing to look like Jesus in transparent and personal ways in the lives of my boys. It calls for women who will live out God’s own unique call for their lives in front of them. It means finding role models who will walk with them and encourage them to be more. It demands diligence, determination, and discipline. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality diminishes the possibilities of transformation and the power that flows from the empty tomb. I want my boys to be more. God says that they can look like Jesus.


24 08 2012

I could barely open the door. My arms were full and I couldn’t reach the handle. Trying to balance bags, Sunday School curriculum, Bibles, my purse, and a package, I made my way into the room and dumped everything on the counter before it could fall out of my hands. It was Sunday morning after worship, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I had made it that far without spilling everything on the floor. Laughing, I looked around at the other people in the room and said, “I didn’t come into church with my arms this full.”

It didn’t take but just a moment for the significance of the object lesson to sink in. I stared at my pile, smiling at the way God teaches me through burdens and my own clumsiness. I had walked into the building with my arms empty. I was leaving my time with God’s people with my arms full. Come in empty; leave full. Isn’t that the essence of worship?

The world depletes us. It saps our energy, drains our joy, diminishes our peace, and dulls our sense of wonder. Worship reignites our passion. It refocuses our vision, strengthens our determination, infuses grace into our struggles, and drenches us in glory.

Each piece of worship is designed to fill the emptiness of the world with the fullness of God’s presence. Singing pushes out the empty echoes and fills us with praise for His name. Prayer acknowledges our deep need and helps us seek the fullness of His purpose. The Lord’s Supper calls us to be overwhelmed by the nearness of His presence, the love of His sacrifice, and the amazing privileges of being His child. Giving challenges us to pour out what we settle for so that He can fill us with His immeasurably more. Engaging in the Word unleashes God’s promises and fuels transformation.

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate the way God fills me in worship. I am going to pay attention to my own deep need for grace and watch in wonder as He takes the empty, broken pieces of who I am and fills them with Himself. Worship is meant to be the fuel that powers my movement through my days. Running low on worship means that I can’t get where He wants me to go. Today I want to remember that every time my heart gets close to “E”, the answer is to enter His presence in worship and allow Him to fill me up.

Faith Hero

22 08 2012

He doesn’t look like a faith hero. He doesn’t have a flowing beard, hold a staff in his hand, or hear God’s voice through a burning bush. He hasn’t preached to thousands, walked through the desert, or spent the night in the lion’s den. He is ordinary. He is a regular guy who took a stand for faith and showed me Jesus.

My faith hero stood in a quiet moment, counted the cost, and said, “No. That doesn’t look like Jesus.” Nobody will make a movie about his actions. His words won’t make headlines. The world will shrug and move on. But for just a moment I got to see the true face of courage, witness faith shine in the darkness, and be humbled by the holy privilege of watching what it means to really live out The Jesus Resolution.

We sometimes think that heroes always wear capes and have super powers. Their actions are defined by extraordinary feats of strength and mind-bending moments of magnificent skill. True heroes look like you and me. They inspire us, reminding us of who we are and who we can be. They quietly live out their convictions. They walk through difficult moments remaining true to their identity in Christ. They teach us that “deny yourself” sometimes hurts, but is always worth it. In simple ways and quiet movements, they point us over and over to the cross.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be like my faith hero. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Here is why God puts faith heroes in our lives. They give us a living, breathing picture of what it means to follow Jesus. They let us see transformation in action, grace at work, and faith in motion. Thanks, faith hero, for reminding me that a crown of life is way cooler than a cape and the world’s applause.

The Everywhere Answer

20 08 2012

I smiled. I couldn’t help it. Everywhere I looked, there was a sign. They were in the bathroom, the kitchen, the hallway, by the doors, and on the light switches. There was one on the ice machine, on the office door, and by the entryway. Every sign said the same thing – Jesus is the Answer.

As part of our discipleship challenge this week, our preacher encouraged everyone to make a Jesus is the Answer sign and put it some place that would remind us of the certainty that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In the midst of life’s struggles, fears, decisions, and challenges, we all need a reminder of where to look and Who to turn to.

Two days later, the sign was everywhere. I couldn’t turn the corner, flip on a light, wash my hands, or get a drink of water without seeing a reminder that Jesus is the Answer. It was such a blessing. Sometimes my heart is slow to remember to go to Jesus first.

Having those words by the kitchen sink reminded me that Jesus washes away my sin, taking care of my mess and making everything new. Seeing His name by the ice machine made me thirst for the Living Water as I filled my glass. Posted on the mirror, the words reminded me to look at myself and others with the eyes of Jesus. Glancing at the note every time I walked through the door reminded me that by Jesus I enter into the presence of the Father. Every time I went to the light switch, I had to touch the words and engrave them once again on my heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful that Jesus is the Everywhere Answer. It doesn’t matter where I am, what I am doing, who I am with, or what time it is – Jesus is the Answer. His life is my example. His words are my guide. His presence is my joy. His blood is my salvation. His love is my lifeline. Too often I settle for writing that answer in one place. Someone with more vision knew I needed to see it over and over. Jesus is the Answer – every time, for everyone, everywhere.

The Pile

17 08 2012

I stood by the closet door shaking my head. The pile of laundry in the closet stared back at me. Pants, socks, and shirts lay wadded together in a mess. I went to go find my son.

Earlier in the day, I asked my son to bring his laundry downstairs. I waited, and no dirty clothes appeared. Meager piles of darks and lights lay on the floor. I was sure there were companions hiding upstairs in the closet.

My son assured me that he had no laundry. Not one dirty sock? No stained shirt, slept-in pajamas, or stinky shorts? No, he assured me. It was all clean.

I rolled my eyes, knowing better. I had actually seen him wear clothes over the last three days, so I knew that some things had to be less than pristine. That is when I opened the closet door, and found myself staring at a picture of my heart.

The pile of laundry reminded me of the heap of sin I let accumulate in my soul. How many times do I try to convince God that I have no messes? I try to shove it behind the door, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe I acknowledge a little bit of the dirt, but minimize its significance or the extent of the stain. I attempt to organize the mess, make the guilt and shame look presentable, and let the pile grow in the background.

Jesus knows better. He invites us to bring Him our deep stains and sinful stench. He is willing to make everything new, clean, whole, and fresh. His blood is the cleansing agent that has the power to remove every trace of sin.

My Jesus Resolution today is to bring Jesus my dirty laundry – all of it. Jesus wants to wash every part of me in His blood. He longs to replace my soiled, stained clothing with garments of grace. He wants to trade the stink of sin for the aroma of His presence. But I have to bring it to Him. I have to put it in His hands. When I do, He will go to work, transforming my pile of stains into opportunities for praise and thanksgiving.

Raising Servants

15 08 2012

One of the most specific goals that we have as parents is to raise servants. It is our deep desire that our children learn the beauty, sacrifice, obedience, blessing, and joy of what it means to imitate the One who came to reveal the servant-heart of God.

This week I realized that we may have missed an important piece in the process of helping to shape servant-hearts.

When talking about service, there are always two sides to the coin – there is the one who offers the service and the one who receives the service. Jesus knew how to do both well. He didn’t come to be served, but He graciously received the service of others. He ate meals cooked for Him, accepted gifts given to Him, and allowed others to meet His needs. Tears washed His feet, perfume scenting His spot at the table as He opened Himself up to be cried upon and cared for.

Perhaps part of the key to being a servant is knowing how to graciously receive service. Jesus always accepted these heart gifts with gentleness and transparency. He never pouted about sitting at the table, rather than being in the kitchen. He didn’t shoo people away, mumbling that He could handle it Himself. Thankfulness defined His heart as He acknowledged the God-movement behind the acts of service offered to Him.

Most of us are comfortable being on the giving side of service. It is the receiving end that gives us trouble. We are uncomfortable with being served. We don’t like others seeing us in anything but a position of control and responsibility. We dismiss opportunities to be dependent, vulnerable, or transparent. It takes humility and grace to receive the blessing of service. Perhaps learning how to receive service would make us better servants.

My Jesus Resolution today is to imitate Jesus in the way He accepted the service of others. His gentle example of how to be on the receiving end of service is a quiet thread that runs through the Gospels. Learning the grace of receiving service has the power to open my eyes and soften my heart. I treat others differently when I take turns standing in their shoes. If I am going to raise servants, I need to teach them the blessing of looking like Jesus no matter which side of service they find themselves on.


13 08 2012

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

It is Monday morning. We can frown at that statement, look at the week’s long-to-do list, put our heads down, and hope for Friday. Or we can see this day for what it truly is – a gift from God. Today is a chance to start the week with praise. You have a chance to meet this week with your eyes open to His presence and your heart ready for His grace.

Here are ten reasons to smile on a Monday.

1. Jesus loves you – without limit, without condition, without end.

2. You are forgiven, new, clean, and whole – right now – because of the blood of Jesus.

3. You will meet God today. Keep your eyes open!

4. The cross has the power to take what is ugly and broken and make it beautiful.

5. Prayer works. It unleashes heaven’s glory into your circumstances and your heart.

6. The tomb is still empty.

7. Transformation is always possible.

8. Heaven is real.

9. God is present, in control, and at work all around you.

10. All of God’s promises find their “YES!” in Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to smile – all day, every chance I get. The world may complain about the fact that it is Monday, but God has made this a day for rejoicing. Look at what God has already poured into this day – irresistible love, amazing grace, unlimited power, infinite possibilities, and reassuring presence – and it is only Monday! If the week starts off this way, imagine what tomorrow is going to bring! Smile!!

Coming Home

10 08 2012

We sat in the airport in the wee hours of the morning. His flight had been delayed. We anxiously checked our phones waiting for word that he was finally home.

Our son has been gone for several months. Blessed with the opportunity to study abroad, he soaked in all of the lessons that come from seeing life from a different perspective. Language, history, art, and economics all took on richer, deeper hues as he experienced life outside of his comfort zone. Through it all, he met God around every turn. He saw Him in the haunted hunger of desperate refugees, felt Him in the zeal of persecuted Christians,  heard Him in hymns sung in a foreign tongue, and experienced His Oneness as he gathered around the communion table with brothers and sisters from other lands.

Through all of these moments, one thing permeated his trip. Coming home day. The truth that this was temporary, a reality to be explored and enjoyed for a short time, shaped every step he took. He slept, ate, played, learned, grew, loved, enjoyed, and experienced everything life offered there, but he always knew home was somewhere else.

C.S. Lewis once said,If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that I am made for another world. As the song says, “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.” I want to soak in all of the blessings and lessons that God has for me in this place. I long to see Him around every corner and meet Him in the people and experiences He plants in my way. I also want to remember that, as wonderful, startling, amazing, and beautiful as this all is, it is all temporary. Coming home day is coming. I am going to let that truth set my perspective, priorities, and purpose. I belong in another world, and I can’t wait to go home.