Opening the Door

27 02 2013

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20

God created you with a door in your heart. You can’t see it on an x-ray. No doctor can point to it with a stethoscope, but it is the most important part of who you are. It is a door that only opens one way. You alone have the key. Who you choose to let through that door determines the most important things about you.

God created man with a curious trait. In order to make us in His own image, He gave us a gift – the ability to choose love. We call it free will. It is an incredibly powerful gift. God, in His sovereignty, made the divine decision to endow you with the ability to choose Him or reject Him. You alone have control over the door to your heart.

Every day, we make decisions about opening the door to our hearts. Generally, the deeper the relationship, the more access someone has to our hearts. We open the door wider for our family and friends than we do for the person we just met on the street. Growing a relationship involves increasingly opening the door wider for someone to come in and touch our hearts. As our trust in someone deepens, we open the door and invite them deeper into our lives.

My Jesus Resolution today is to throw open the door for God. God will never barge His way into my heart. He knocks and loves and pursues me with His grace, but He waits for my invitation. Opening the door will create an opportunity for our relationship to deepen. Inviting Him into my day will help me see His glory, experience His power, live in His purpose, and be transformed by His mercy. He promises when I open the door, I will live in the delight of deep friendship and growing love. Every day I have a choice – peek through the cracks or throw open the door and welcome Him in.

Count It All Joy

25 02 2013

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

                                                             – James 1:2

Nobody volunteers for trials. We would all rather have sunny days and blue skies. We like rainbows, but would rather avoid the storms that by definition have to come first. But the truth is we live in a world of struggle. Sometimes life hits us hard. There are times when it knocks us flat, taking our breath away, and leaves us reeling from the devastation in its wake. It’s tough.

Even when my heart hurts, I know all the right things to say. My character is being built. Consistent faith lights the way for others. God is going to redeem this for His glory. Someway. Somehow. But God calls us to do more than survive trials. He wants us to discover joy on dark days and in shattered dreams. How do you learn to count it all joy when you are bruised, beaten, and broken by the world?

The answer is to do just what James says. We have to count our way to joy. We have to rehearse the goodness of God. We have to number the ways He touches each circumstance. We have to count the grace, count the blessings, count the miracles, count the transformation, count the peace, count the places healed, count the pieces He puts back together, count the seeds planted, count the lessons learned, count the mistakes forgiven, and count the countless ways He loves us through the pain. When we do, we stop cataloguing our misery and count our way to joy.

My Jesus Resolution today is to count joy. Today I am going to number God moments. I am going to count my blessings, answered prayers, words of encouragement, kindnesses received, laughs shared, tears cried, peace experienced, and rainbows seen. Counting our way to joy doesn’t deny or erase the pain. It puts it in perspective. It reminds us that even in our darkest trials, God is counting our hairs and bottling our tears. We can’t avoid trials, but we can learn to count our way to joy while we go through them.

Tiptoeing Around Miracles

22 02 2013

We are amazed by miracles. I know. Miracles are extraordinary events that should catch our breath, widen our eyes, and stretch our hearts. By their very definition, they should astound us. Yet, we often ask God to move in, unleash His power, and then we tiptoe around the miracle He provides.

We are not the first to struggle with tiptoeing around miracles. The church in Acts 12 spent the evening on their knees. Praying for Peter’s release, they interceded with God to intervene and interfere with Herod’s murderous plans. When Peter knocks on the door, they don’t believe it. They tell the servant girl that she is out of her mind. They prayed for a miracle, but tiptoe around the miracle in disbelief when it showed up.

When we ask God to do astonishing things, we shouldn’t be surprised when He does. Sometimes we struggle because the miracle doesn’t look like we expected it to look. Sometimes it shows up on God-time, rather than in my timing. Sometimes I am just amazed that He would do a miracle for me.

All of the power that Jesus displays is meant to send one message to our hearts. I want to work a miracle in you. I want to let my power flow through you. I want God’s glory to shine out of you.

My Jesus Resolution today is to stop tiptoeing around my miracles. Every day, God moves in and displays His glory. I can tiptoe around the edges or I can fall to my knees. I can poke them with a finger or raise my hands in praise. I can worry or I can worship. God works miracles in our lives every day in order to draw us deeper into His presence. Today when I see a miracle, I am going to smile, say thank you, and dive in. I want more than my toes to experience His wonder.


20 02 2013

I am overwhelmed. Have you ever been there? I seem to live on the edge of overwhelmed. As long as I can keep the balls juggling, the plates all in the air, and my feet from tripping over my shoelaces, I have hope of making it through the day. But, you know the story. All it takes is one phone call, one deadline, one too many balls escaping, or the inevitable splat that comes when I stumble to find me overwhelmed and almost undone.

Time to stop and breathe.

It is okay to be overwhelmed. In those heavy, heart-thudding, stomach-knot moments, God wants me to learn to listen to His gentle whisper. Lifting my eyes to His face lets Him overwhelm my sense of being overwhelmed.

Today God wants to overwhelm me…

1. Overwhelm me with grace

2. Overwhelm me with love

3. Overwhelm me with power

4. Overwhelm me with purpose

5. Overwhelm me with joy

6. Overwhelm me with peace

7. Overwhelm me with glory

8. Overwhelm me with comfort

9. Overwhelm me with blessings

10. Overwhelm me with Presence

My Jesus Resolution today is to be overwhelmed. Overwhelm comes from a root word that means “to submerge completely.” That definition speaks to exactly what my heart needs. I need to be submerged completely in Christ. Perhaps when I am, my days and my heart won’t struggle with being so overwhelmed.

The Cross Collision

18 02 2013

My youngest son is now the tallest one in the family. This fact is a source of great joy for him. He towers over his parents and siblings, while grinning from ear to ear. He enjoys being called into action when I need something from the top shelf. But there are moments when being the tallest has its challenges.

He came in rubbing his scalp. “I just got hit in the head by a cross,” he lamented. The spot was tender, and he shook his head trying to clear the stars. He explained that he was stretching in the kitchen, and knocked one of the crosses we have hanging close to ceiling off the wall. With dramatic flourish, he demonstrated how the ebony cross smacked him right in the top of the head. “Guess God wants your attention,” was my gentle response.

But my son’s collision with the cross has left a deeper mark on my soul than on his head. Don’t we all need to collide with the cross? I would be better if I let the cross crash into my agenda for the day, leaving its imprint on my priorities, plans, and perspective. My relationships would be deeper and richer if I allowed the cross to bump its way into my heart, my words, and my actions. I would use my money, my time, my talents, and my stuff differently if I let the cross run right through me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to collide with the cross. Colliding with the cross would disrupt my world in beautiful, messy, and challenging ways. It would transform selfishness into sacrifice, grumbling into gratitude, whining into worship, and fear into faith. There might be a moment of pain when the cross crashes into my hard head, but it would be worth it. Colliding with the cross on a daily basis is the only way to grow.

A Happy Marriage

15 02 2013

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham

Forgiveness isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t inspire cards, holidays, songs, or cupids. There aren’t aisles devoted to celebrating its over-the-moon emotions nor do we hear pledges of undying forgiveness being made on one knee. But maybe we should. Forgiveness is the best foundation for a happy marriage.

The ability to be a good forgiver is one of the best predictors for a successful relationship. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about a marriage, a family, a church family, or a friendship, your willingness to forgive is central to the harmony and joy of your relationships. If I hold on to little slights, moments of unkindness, seasons of selfishness, and misunderstandings, it robs me of the ability to enjoy the people I love. Healthy connection can’t flourish when I choose to nurse hurts, grudges, and resentments.

Being a good forgiver begins by immersing ourselves in the forgiveness we have from Christ. Daily soaking in His grace and allowing His blood to wash away my sins, smooth out my wrinkles, and transform my life are the first steps into becoming a good forgiver. Grace is a messy miracle. It walks into my failings and loves, forgives, inspires, and heals. When I wear the banner of Forgiven across my heart, it frees me to forgive others and unleashes happiness in my relationships.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a good forgiver. Forgiveness is the best gift that I can give to my husband, my children, my friends, and my family. The willingness to laugh rather than lament, grin rather than grind my teeth, and smile rather than smolder will go a long way to opening the door to happiness in my relationships. I need that grace. Giving and receiving forgiveness invites God to stand in the middle of who I am and who I love.

The Best Gifts

13 02 2013

Wondering what to give your sweetie tomorrow for Valentine’s Day? The best gifts don’t come wrapped in red or pink, have bows tied around them, or crinkle with shiny paper. The best gifts are the ones you give from the heart.

Here are ten commitments to give your beloved that will let your love blossom and grow in God-shaped ways.

1. I give you space and grace.
2. I give you tenderness of word, touch, and look.
3. I will celebrate the unique wonderfulness of you.
4. I give you my focus, my attention, and my consideration.
5. I will listen to your words, and even more to your silence.
6. I will lift you up with gentleness and kindness.
7. I will let you go first, choose your favorite, and have the biggest piece.
8. I will soak my words in joy and humility before I speak them.
9. I will keep a running count of all the ways God has blessed me through you.
10. I will tell you how proud I am of the way you look like Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to choose the best gifts. I am going to cut out a big red heart, write these ten gifts on the paper, and give it to the ones I love the most. The neat thing is these are gifts that I can give to anyone with whom I want to share my heart. As I put my gifts on paper, I am going to let the words of I Corinthians 13:4-8a become my heartbeat. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”


11 02 2013

“More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” – Psalm 19:10

I am a bread baker. I love making homemade bread. We love the way baking bread makes our house smell, the opportunity to share something yummy with friends, and especially the way that warm homemade bread tastes. There is nothing better than a slice of fresh-from-the-oven homemade bread spread with a little butter and drizzled with honey.

It is especially fun to watch kids eat bread and honey. Their eyes get big as you spread the butter on their slice of bread. The kids at my table like to put on their own honey. They take the little honey bear container, turn it upside down, and drench their bread in golden goodness. Then comes the first bite and the grin.

One of the unique things about honey is that not only is it sweet, it is sticky. Little mouths enjoy the sweet taste of honey while little hands get covered in its stickiness. Washing up after a meal with bread and honey requires some cleaning ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Maybe that is why the description of God’s Word as honey intrigues me. Our Bibles contain the sweet words of God. Yet those words are not only meant to be sweet, but sticky. His words are meant to stick to our hearts, attach to our lives, and adhere to our souls.

My Jesus Resolution today is to get “sticky.” I want to enjoy my time in the Word of God, but I also want it to stick to me. I want to walk through my day with the residue of His goodness adhering to my soul. Its stickiness will draw me closer to His heart and help me attach my life more deeply in Christ. The neat thing about stickiness is that it can be shared. The stickiness on my hands makes everything I touch sticky. So does the stickiness of Jesus on my life.


8 02 2013

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103

Do you ever have cravings? (I will pause and let you wipe the drool from your mouth as you think about your favorite sweet.) Chocolate, in all of its wonderful varieties, mom’s pie, a special cake, delicious cookies, and candies of all amazing sorts invite us to savor the sweetness that God has created for our world. It is interesting that in every culture, meals are traditionally ended with a taste of something sweet. God created us with a sweet tooth!

Close your eyes and think about the first bite of your favorite sweet. Remember how luxurious is feels in your mouth. Recall the smile that slowly spreads across your face as you let its flavors spread across your tongue. Let your mind replay the enjoyment, satisfaction, and delight of indulging in that bite. (Do you need a napkin?)

Did your soul have the same reaction the last time you opened God’s Word?

So often, I think that we approach Bible study like we do high fiber cereal. We know that it is good for us, but we would rather be eating something else. The psalmist tells us that God’s Word is sweet. Sweeter than honey, it is meant to not only nourish us, but bring delight and satisfaction to our souls as we savor the richness of His message. God made us with a spiritual sweet tooth. He invites us to explore, experience, and enjoy the luxury of His love every time we open the pages of His Word.

My Jesus Resolution today is to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8) I want my soul to crave His voice more than my mouth craves my favorite sweet. I want to develop my spiritual sweet tooth. I want my heart to be overwhelmed with cravings for His Word. I am going to be deliberate about looking for the sweetness in my Bible today. I am going to stop and savor the unique way God wants to feed my soul.

Legacy List

6 02 2013

Today I am reminded of the power of a legacy. A legacy is more than a memory. A legacy is the pieces of yourself that live on in others. It motivates them, shapes their heart, and helps them see, move, love, and choose differently. What do I want to live on in this world when I go on to live in heaven?

Making a legacy list is a powerful exercise. Stop and think about what you most want to define you. I long to leave a legacy of love, laughter, and generosity of spirit that is framed by a Christ-shaped, cross-defined, grace-drenched, resurrection-empowered life. I want the people who walk behind me to have their way illuminated by the Light that claimed me and transformed me.

Creating a legacy list is a clarifying experience. What am I doing today to ignite that legacy? Legacies don’t evolve after we die. They are forged in the everyday choices, hugs, giggles, tears, words, repentance, humility, and focus of the ordinary moments. Too many times I am so busy worrying about tomorrow that I lose sight of how precious now is. I forget to breathe, smile, dance, and enjoy the joy God has planted in this hour. I want to live my legacy today.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make a legacy list. The impact of our legacies is already being felt. The way I love my family today leaves a footprint in their hearts. The words I speak will have an effect on someone’s joy. Kindness, gentleness, peace, generosity, and grace will never move through someone’s heart without leaving a mark. I don’t want to waste time on lesser worries and smaller dreams. I want my legacy to be defined by Jesus.