Masks

31 10 2012

Later today, the doorbell will ring. Children will line up for trick or treats, each wearing a costume designed to inspire dreams or nightmares. Some will choose the wistfulness of fantasy – princesses, pirates, and animated characters will come to life right before my eyes. Other children will choose to explore the possibilities of the future – doctors, construction workers, and future presidents will knock on my door. There will be a few that seek to scare me by conjuring up frightful images of ghosts, goblins, and zombies.

No matter which costume they choose, almost every child will wear some kind of mask. On Halloween, a mask lets a little one pretend they are someone else. They allow them to try on someone new, stretching imaginations and playing in the realm of possibility. Tomorrow, their masks will come off and the kids will be themselves again.

The truth is I wear masks all the time. Not fun, fanciful, or frightening masks. These masks are intended to be hiding places for my true self. There is the ‘sure-I’m-fine’ mask, the ‘I’ve-got-it-all-together’ mask, the ‘super-mom’ mask, the ‘I’m caring and concerned’ mask, and the ‘good Christian’ mask. I pull the mask down over my authentic self to cover the weariness, doubt, apathy, exhaustion, struggling reality of my heart. I convince myself that you would rather see the mask than the mess I really am.

Jesus never wore a mask. His authenticity is one of His gifts to us. When we see Jesus, we see the Father. Nothing fake. Just genuine love and honest-to-goodness grace.

My Jesus Resolution today is to set down my mask. Learning to look like Jesus isn’t about putting up a fake front that hides my sinful self. It is about living in a transformation that is changing the identity of my soul. It is about learning to be the real me God has always longed for me to be. On the way, some of my ugliness is going to show. But what is going to be most visible is the beauty of a Savior who is loving, leading, changing, forgiving, and blessing me with Himself. Today, I am going to leave the costumes to the kids and laugh with them as they smile and giggle. My treat will be God’s delight as I set my masks down and embrace the image of His Son.





Learn Something

29 10 2012

When was the last time you read your Bible? Maybe it was this morning; maybe many mornings ago. The neat thing about the Bible is that there is always something new to discover in its pages. Its lessons are timeless, its wisdom is precious, and its truths are unshakeable.

Here are ten things you will learn when you open your Bible today.

1. God loves you. (Notice the period at the end of that sentence. There are no conditions, no what ifs, no maybes.)

2. God means what He says.

3. Forgiveness is yours, right now, right here.

4. He has a plan in mind just for you.

5. Praise is your purpose.

6. Transformation is one surrender away.

7. Jesus really is the answer.

8. Humility will open doors that pride closes.

9. Kindness makes more of a difference than we can imagine.

10. There will be more things to learn tomorrow.

My Jesus Resolution today is to learn something. I want to learn the lessons God has in store for me today. Too many times I glance when I should glean. I hurry when I should be hushed. I carefully wade in rather than spectacularly sink into His grace. I want to hear His voice, listen to His wisdom, and let His instructions etch themselves deeply into my heart. I long for wonder to define my days. I ache for peace to soothe my nights. Today I am going to open my Bible. I want to learn something.





The Right Side

26 10 2012

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s thought humbles me. It challenges me to look deeply into my soul. I am scared of the answers I will find.  Am I willing to leave “my side” in order to walk by His side? Will I surrender the lines that I have drawn around my life to keep me safe, to remain in control, or to make myself look good in order to move more fully in His will? What if He calls me to go to the other “side” and love the people I find there?

Too often, I want to fix myself in a certain place and ask God to come and join me. I stand in my little box, expecting God to bless my efforts, give success to my plans, and allow my agenda to unfold. I want God on my side. I want Him to approve my stance and confirm my vision.

“Follow Me,” Jesus said.

Leave your comfort zones, your security blankets, your safe places, your carefully managed life and follow Me. Walk by My side. Take a risk of faith and live in the adventure I have planned for you. Open your heart and let me write my love story on your soul. Being willing to open your eyes and experience my grace in immeasurable and unfathomable ways. Am I willing to risk, experience, all it means to follow?

My Jesus Resolution today is to focus less on defining the boundaries of “my side” and more on walking by His side. Imagine the way our families, churches, and nation would look different if we all set our hearts to being on God’s side, rather than barricading ourselves on “our side.” Walls would disappear. Boundaries would be blurred. Conflicts would cease. Peace would abound. Joy would be rampant. Love would know no limits. There is room at the cross for everyone, and that is the only side I want to be on.





The Battle

24 10 2012

The car always seems to be the place where my deepest conversations about God occur. We were driving along listening to ‘God’ songs, as my little friend likes to call them. We were singing and talking when all of the sudden things got quiet in the back seat.

“Who is Satan?” my little friend asked.

“Satan is the devil. He is a bad guy and God’s enemy,” I told him. His eyes lit up. Bad guys are a big deal in his world. In the eyes of a six-year-old, everything is framed in the light of heroes and villains. “Do they battle?” he asked. “Yes, they battle, but Jesus always wins.”

“Do they have weapons?” The look on his face was priceless. I thought for a moment about how to answer his deep question. Whether he realized it or not, he was pulling back the curtain on the cosmic struggle that permeates our world and invades our lives. This battle finds us facing an enemy who will use trickery, temptation, and the tantalizing lures of selfishness, pride, and comfort to draw us away from the One who protects our souls. “Yes,” I answered. “Satan’s weapon is lies. God’s weapon is the Truth. And Truth always wins.”

I am thankful for the deep wisdom of six-year olds. His questions reminded me to open my eyes. Satan’s lies often look so substantial. They paint pictures of unstoppable might and overwhelming odds. They make me feel helpless, vulnerable, and alone. They appear to block the exits, erect barriers, and trap me in worry and hopelessness. The truth is that Satan’s lies are illusions. Vapors of reality built on the shifting sand of a defeated grab for glory.

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace the power I have in God’s Truth. God’s truth is rock-solid. It doesn’t come and go, fluctuating with the latest trend. It stands as a beacon when I am lost, an anchor when I am storm-tossed, and arms that hold me close when I am broken. God’s weapon is my weapon. With it, I can puncture Satan’s lies and move even closer to the heart of the One who is Truth.





Raining Acorns

22 10 2012

They pelted me on the head. Early this morning, I was walking through the neighborhood. Quiet filled the streets and settled my soul. The soft colors of the dawn were just beginning to peak over the horizon. I smiled at the streaks of gold, pink, purple, and blue filling the sky.

Plunk!

Acorns came crashing through the calm. Walking under an oak tree, I experienced an avalanche of acorns. It was literally raining acorns. They fell on me, hit the ground, rolled into the street, and made music everywhere they landed. With its own rhythm, the oak tree dropped its seeds to the ground in a symphony written by God Himself.

I rubbed my head, smiling at God’s sense of humor. Sometimes, I really do have to be hit in the head to get it. I am supposed to be like that oak tree.

Oak trees grow, mature, and produce fruit. Within each acorn is the possibility of life. They are transformation packaged in a seed. Holding an acorn in my fingers means I can hold an oak tree. All the potential, all the beauty, all the might of the oak lies in the acorn. It just has to be planted.

With the right soil, some water and sunshine, and time, an acorn will grow. Slowly. It won’t become what it is going to be overnight. It has to dig down deep and grow up tall. But grow it will. An acorn is a promise of God’s power. It reminds us that He is ready to unleash His grace into our souls. My job is to plant the seed, send down roots, and let it grow.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pick up an acorn. I am going to carry it as a reminder of God’s promises and presence in my life. I am going to let it inspire me to surrender that piece of my heart I have been holding back. I am going to look at my acorn and see the transformation God has in store for me. I am going to let it remind me to be patient. Oaks trees don’t grow in a day, or even a year. Looking like Jesus will take me even longer, but I am going to let the acorn teach me that transformation is real and God is true to His word.





Incognito

19 10 2012

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.” – CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

This thought by CS Lewis has held my attention for days. We can choose to ignore, but can never evade the presence of God. He is here. He is moving, active, alive, and calling me right this minute. I can turn a deaf ear, walk drowsily through my day, or let my eyes and heart get distracted, but that does not change the reality that God is fully present in this moment. He is right here, right now.

I love the picture of the world being crowded with God. I tend to think of my life as being crowded with work deadlines, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and unpaid bills. People press in, problems pile up, and worries overflow. Would understanding that the world is crowded with God change my eyes and transform my thoughts? Would I see you differently? Would I see myself differently?

We bump into God every day. He walks everywhere incognito. He isn’t flashy or loud or glitzy. He reveals Himself in the still dew of the morning, the sun racing across golden clouds, a whispered answer to prayer, one more measure of grace to face the moment, or the gentle nudge to look up and reach out. He is here. When is the last time I searched the faces around me and recognized Him in the crowd?

My Jesus Resolution today is to stay awake. I don’t have to wonder if God is here. He is. My job is to remember the startling truth that He is present and live in that reality. I want to be awake today. Fully awake. Awake to His nearness. Awake to the grace that He promises me. Awake to the opportunity to be surprised, stand amazed, and offer praise. Awake to His call to surrender. Just because God is incognito doesn’t mean He is unrecognizable. I just have to be awake and attentive enough to notice.





Faith Filter

17 10 2012

The election process seems to bring out the best and worst in Americans. Listening to the rhetoric, watching the debates, engaging in dialogue, and imagining a brighter tomorrow all have the potential to shape our great nation into an even greater land of opportunity. If we don’t tear each other apart in the process.

One of the interesting facets that has come into focus during this election season centers around the importance of faith. In last week’s vice presidential debate, both candidates discussed the central place that faith has in their lives, their worldviews, and the way in which faith influences their decisions in the political arena.

“My religion defines who I am…” – Vice President Joe Biden

“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.” – Representative Paul Ryan

Both candidates are correct. Faith is a filter. Everything we do, everything we see, every decision we make, every priority we embrace, every opportunity we examine, and every person we meet has to be scrutinized through the filter of our faith. The world tries to tell us that faith is something you can pick up or set down as the occasion requires. Jesus tells us that faith is to be the core of who we are. Nothing we experience, no idea that we consider, no action we take can be separated from what we believe about who God is, where Jesus stands in our lives, and how the Spirit works within us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to understand the importance of using my faith as a filter for all I see today. As I pray for the election, I want God’s will to be the filter for my requests. As I listen to the candidates, I want God’s wisdom to help me understand what is best and right. As I interact with others from both parties, I want God’s love to shape my speech and behavior. As I consider all the promises, problems, and platforms, I want God’s truth to help me measure the words. As I vote, I want to make my choice through the filter of faith.