29 04 2013

Springtime is a time of beauty. Driving through the country on a spring day is an adventure in counting the creative ways that God reveals His glory. Splashes of yellow compete with carpets of orange by the sides of the road. Fields of blue catch your breath and bend your knees. Pink, white and red tangles of splendor pull at your eyes and your heart. Deep purple and new greens display His glory and speak of His majesty.

The wildflowers that fill the hills today will be gone in a couple of weeks. They make a short but miraculous appearance each spring, reminding us that new life and fresh hope are cornerstones of God’s plan. Through each little flower, God teaches us about His power, His precision, His purpose, and His perfection.

It is also in these amazing bursts of beauty that Jesus plants a lesson about trust. The wildflowers are faith markers. Every seed that falls and blooms on the hillside or in the field is meant to turn our eyes to God and help us remember how invested He is in bringing beauty to our souls.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious…” – Matthew 6:30-31a

My Jesus Resolution today is to let the flowers inspire my faith. Flowers come from seeds. Seeds are little packages of potential. Within the care of the Gardener, they grow, bloom, and share their beauty with the world. They are also little pictures of me. What He does for a flower in the field is just a whisper of what He longs to do in my soul. Walking with Jesus, He helps me grow, bloom, and share His beauty with the world.

The Physician

26 04 2013

My son is sick. Away from home and away from mom, he had to make his way to the doctor on his own. Being a new patient, he filled out all of the paperwork and took his place in the waiting room. Finally, they called his name.

Making his way back to the small exam room, he hopped up on the table and waited for the doctor to come in. His eyes washed over the charts of ears, lungs, and bones before settling on a familiar book. There lying on a table was a Bible with this note. “This book has brought healing to many. If you wish to study it more, just talk to the doctor.”

Amazing. Here is a doctor who understands that our deepest wounds don’t primarily affect our bodies, but our souls. He recognizes that there is a far more stubborn illness at work in us than a virus. He is also willing to introduce those he meets to the only Physician capable of healing us completely.

“And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31-32

My Jesus Resolution today is to imitate the doctor. He offered an invitation for healing because he is a physician. Might a teacher offer a path to wisdom? A chef offer food for the soul? A musician offer harmony for the spirit? A builder share a divine blueprint? A parent point to a loving Father? A quilter open up Love’s pattern? A writer underline the words of Life? My son’s doctor was willing to be transparent and make God easily accessible for those who wanted to meet Him. I want to be creative like that. I want to be bold like that. I want to share Jesus like that.

Hang On

24 04 2013

“…but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.” – Luke 19:48

I love this picture of the hearts of the people surrounding Jesus. The chief priests and Jewish leaders are looking for a way to destroy Him, but the people are hanging on his words with such tenacity that they can’t touch Him for fear of causing a riot. God works in His timing to protect Jesus until the fullness of time. In the meantime, we are left with a snapshot that pulls at my soul.

The people were hanging on his words. I want to do that. I want to learn how to have a heart that clings to Him, holds on for dear life, that never lets go.

Some days I am at the end of my rope. Hanging on is a matter of survival. I can’t make it through the next hour, much less the next day, without the perspective and power that flows from His words.

Some days I lose my way. Confusion, shame, and circumstances all conspire to throw me off course. Hanging on is the only way to regain my footing. His words provide a compass for my heart that directs me back into His presence.

Some days my heart aches for home. The evil that fills this world slashes at my peace. Sorrow, grief, and worry pull my soul in a downward spiral of despair. Hanging on to His words is the only way to hang on to hope.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hang on to His words. I want to slow down and let them infuse deeply into my soul. I want their sweetness to nourish my weary spirit. I long for their power to unleash courage and strength deep within me. I want to look to His words for guidance, delight in their wisdom, let them fuel my anticipation of heaven, and reach deep inside me and ignite transformation. I want to hang on to His words because I want to hang on to Jesus.

Kiss a Frog

22 04 2013

“Do I need to kiss a frog?” My mom used to say that to me on grumpy days. Being “froggy” was a picture in my family of being out of sorts, not being ourselves, and needing to make a change. Like the fairy tale story of the prince that was turned into a frog, I would let my troubles, my stresses, or even somebody else’s bad day turn me upside down. After a day of complaining and croaking, my mom’s gentle question reminded me that she loved me and was willing to help me be better.

Love has the power to transform us. Some people are stuck in grumpy places, and the only way that they can be different is if we “kiss the frog” with kindness, compassion, and grace. Just like in the fairy tale, sometimes that act of love will be enough to help them become who they really are, rather than the frog they are in the moment.

Frogs are not always fun to kiss. They are warty, slimy, smelly, and ugly. The commitment to ‘kiss the frogs’ in our lives means we have to be willing to bestow love even when it is uncomfortable. It means being aware of our own ‘froggy’ tendencies and extending grace to others. It recognizes that we can ‘kiss the frogs’ we meet because Jesus lavished love on us when we were our most froggiest.

My Jesus Resolution today is to kiss a frog. I am going to be deliberate about being kind when someone is being rude, showing love when another is being impatient, or counting blessings when I run into someone who is consumed with complaining. Fairy tales remind us not to underestimate the power of love. The cross does the same thing. Time to share His story and kiss a few frogs.


19 04 2013

The warm towels were piled on the bed. Pulling them from the dryer, I thanked God for washing machines, laundry soap, and lint traps. Looking at the stacks of towels spread out on the bed, I see the towels my kids use (and don’t hang up) every day. There are kitchen towels, towels that get used for the inevitable “emergencies,’ towels that we use by the sink and by the tub, and the extra towels that just seem to show up, wet, dirty, and needing to be washed.

Towels are a blessing. I don’t really think a lot about my towels. Mostly, they just show up on my laundry to-do list, but towels are a part of my routine. They move us from wet to dry, sop up messes, soak up the excess, and serve as capes for super heroes. Towels also have the power to help me remember Jesus.

“He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” – John 13:4-5

There are many different ways to picture this moment. Right now, watch the towel. It is tied around Jesus’ waist. It becomes a part of Him. As He kneels before each disciple, He takes their dirty feet, washes them, and gently dries them with the towel. The clean towel absorbs their dampness, the imprint of their feet, and the residue of dust that stubbornly clings to their toes. With each man, the towel gets a little soggier, collects a little more dirt, and hangs more limply from His side. That towel becomes a picture of service, salvation, and my Savior.

My Jesus Resolution today is to think about Jesus every time I use a towel. My bath towel can remind me to wrap myself in Jesus as I start my day. My kitchen towels can help me take on the heart of a servant, giving myself in love and humility to the hearts that come my way. My clean-up-the-mess towels can draw my eyes to the cross, igniting thanksgiving in my heart as I remember the way Jesus kneels before me and cleans up the mess that so stubbornly clings to my soul.

Be a Hero

17 04 2013

Another day of horror engulfed our nation. Another day of watching the news with hands over our mouths, tears running down our faces, and knees crumpled in prayer. Another day of having to explain to our children that evil is relentless, pain is real, and the only truly safe place is heaven.

While praying for the lives impacted by the bombings in Boston this week, don’t forget to pray for the hearts that were scarred by attacks closer to home. Somewhere in your neighborhood, a family is shattered by the news that their child committed suicide. Someone dropped a bombshell on their spouse this morning and walked out of their marriage. Someone is counting months instead of years after the doctor called, reporting that the test results weren’t good. A financial crisis threatens to bury another under an avalanche of debt and red ink. A boss brings in a pink slip. Someone waits for the phone that never rings.

The ripples of heartache spread out in a never-ending circle of grief. Hopelessness, despair, frustration, and devastation are more common than we often see. Lives lay in shambles, rocked by impossible circumstances, poor choices, or painful complacency. There are walking wounded everywhere we go. All we have to do is open our eyes and open our hearts.

My Jesus Resolution today is to stand up and step out. The good news coming out of this week’s attacks centers around the many people who risked their own safety to help people along the marathon trail. I don’t have to witness a terrorist attack to help someone in need. I can knock on a door, make a phone call, give a hug, say a prayer, or offer a shoulder to someone aching from the fall-out of their own personal life explosion. It probably won’t make the news, but to the person you help, you will be a hero.

A Dog’s Life

15 04 2013

My dog has qualms about being a dog. Most of the time, Jack loves the dog life. He gets to sleep twenty-three hours a day, has a soft bed to stretch out on, gets treats for looking cute, and has a door person who lets him in and out.

In exchange for all of this good life, he is expected to be the dog and let me be the master. This is where he isn’t always sure that he agrees. There are times when he gets stubborn and wants to do it his way. He runs when he should come. He sits under my desk when he is being called. He crawls under the couch when it is time to go. You get the idea. There are just days when he decides that he should decide.

Surrender is rarely easy, and I see myself in Jack’s stubbornness more than I would like to admit. Blessed beyond measure, my heart should be tender to His touch, attentive to His voice, and responsive to His will. Instead, I find myself trying to devise my own plans, choose my own ways, and follow my own designs. Submission requires the minute-by-minute commitment to remember that I am the servant and He is the Master.

My Jesus Resolution today is to obey when called. I know the truth about Jesus. He is loving, good, kind, faithful, and true. When He calls me, He is moving me into a place that is better for my soul. Obedience allows His transformation to take full root in my life. It opens the door for His presence, aligns my heart with His purpose, and positions me to receive His power.


12 04 2013

Guilt can eat you alive. It gnaws away at your insides, crushing your spirit, twisting through your mind, and nagging at your soul like a drip in the night. Guilt is a burden that makes our hearts ache with its weight. We get caught in its vise-like grip and struggle to breathe. Guilt is persistent. Once it has its hooks in your heart, it digs in and hangs on. Over time, its roots seem to work their way into the fabric of your soul.

God created guilt for our good. Guilt, in its proper context, serves as a warning system that we have veered away from holiness. When our hearts and minds are calibrated by His character, guilt flares up when we move out of alignment with His will. It encourages us to quickly repent and seek His face. His grace is the remedy for our guilt. As His mercy washes over us, the guilt alarm is silenced and replaced by His peace.

The function of guilt has been skewed by our sin-infected, self-absorbed, shame-enflaming world. We wrestle with reconciling the forgiveness that God promises us with the guilt that seems to have a hold of our hearts.

God did not mean for us to be crippled by guilt. Living in the freedom of forgiveness begins by examining the truth of your guilt in the light of His Word. Repent of what needs repenting. Confess what needs confessing. Then believe what God says about the grace He pours out on you. Remember that your feelings don’t always accurately reflect His truth. Your feelings have to be trained to follow what He teaches us is true. It takes time, practice, and surrender, but even guilt can be transformed.

My Jesus Resolution today is to take my guilt to the cross. Jesus paid for it there. Drowning in guilt doesn’t help me look like Jesus. It eats away at my peace, and robs me of my joy. I am going to answer guilt with the truth of God’s Word. I am going to let what He says about me speak louder than the guilt that wants to whisper continually in my ear. Like the sinful woman who poured her tears out at Jesus’ feet, I am going take heart in His gentle words. “And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” (Luke 7:48, 50)

Thank You

10 04 2013

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’” ~William A. Ward

Gratitude is an art. It has a beauty that inspires, a rhythm that helps us dance, and a warmth that results in smiles. Gratitude is more than casually saying two words. Gratitude notices. Gratitude loves. Gratitude sees God in the moment. Gratitude changes how we think. Gratitude softens our hearts.

Take a few of the precious seconds God has given you today and be creative about expressing your gratitude. Here are ten gratitude-giving ideas to help you get started.

1. Buy (or pick) a single flower. Attach a note that says, “Thanks for helping me bloom.”

2. Bake some cookies, and tell someone thanks for the sweet way they….

3. Share a cup of coffee with someone. Thank them for always being your pick-me-up.

4. Create a trail of colored notes at your child’s eye level. On each one, write a single word that tells them something about them for which you are thankful.

5. Have a family gratitude circle. Everyone gets a chance to say one thing they are thankful for about each family member.

6. Cut out a paper heart. Write down ten reasons you are grateful for your spouse. Put it in their lunch, or sock drawer, or briefcase.

7. Set a “thankful alarm” on your phone. Stop. Be still. Tell Him thank you.

8. Turn off the television and see how many blessings you can write down in the time it would have taken you to watch a show.

9. Take a plate of goodies to your local fire station, police station, or school. Thank them for the way they serve your community.

10. Find a small mirror. Give it to someone who inspires you in your walk with God. Tell them thank you for helping you look like Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to say thank you. When my heart is full of gratitude, I don’t have a lot of room left over for grumbling. My eyes see my day differently through the lens of thanksgiving. Gratitude gives my soul a chance to search for God in the ordinary, regular, usual pieces of my day. When I find His fingerprints, it changes ordinary into extraordinary, mostly because it changes me.

Spring Fever

8 04 2013

Who knew? Spring fever is actually a medical condition. Scientists are still trying to puzzle out the malady that we refer to as spring fever, but there seems to be a hormonal component that helps us make the switch from the colder, grayer days of winter into the more active sunny days of spring. As these hormones ebb and flow, our moods, actions, and appetites change.

I have always associated spring fever with a seasonal restlessness that hits at this time of year. The school year is almost over. We can see the end in sight, and the promise of being released from books, classrooms, and homework is just more than we can stand. Students with spring fever quit before they finish. It isn’t just a school kid thing, however. Adults seem to get spring fever as well. Projects, classes, and resolutions that we made in January get left by the wayside as spring’s longer days invite us to step out of our routines and experience something novel and new. We end up not finishing what we started.

One of the things I am thankful for today is that God is a Finisher. What He starts, He brings to completion. What He begins, He sees through to the end. What He promises to do, He faithfully fulfills. God doesn’t get spring fever. He doesn’t give up on us halfway. He isn’t going to be distracted, lose focus, or get sidetracked. In fact, one element of His rich faithfulness is found in the promise embedded in Philippians 1:6. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a finisher. Jesus was a finisher. What He started in Bethlehem, He finished at Golgotha. I want to be like Him. I want faithfulness and integrity to define my heart. Spring fever has the ability to separate the starters from the finishers. Don’t give up now. Set your heart on continuing to open up your life to His movement, your soul to His power, and your eyes to His presence. As amazing as God’s beginnings always are, can you imagine what the finish line is going to be like?