28 06 2013

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” – Ephesians 4:18-19

Some days it is hard to believe God loves us. We struggle with our circumstances, how we feel, and the reflection we see in the mirror. We hear a thousand voices telling us how we fall short, mess up, fail miserably, are not quite good enough, or are just shy of what is desired. Sometimes that voice is my own. We catalog our shortcomings with the thoroughness of a museum curator, ruthless and merciless of anything less than what we see as perfection. We carry a secret ache to be loved, but put up barriers to fully experiencing that love.

Here is the soul-freeing, guilt-releasing, shame-reducing, smile-inducing truth – we will never be worthy of God’s love. Before you shake your head, think about it. This is Good News! God loves you. Period. Not because you are good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, do enough, know enough, or are worthy enough. He loves you because you are His. He set His heart on loving you, and nothing is going to change His mind. Nothing! You can’t mess it up or talk Him out of it. He is willing to wade into our struggles and love us right where we are. He longs to unleash the power of His love to help us move, heal, worship, change, and grow. Living loved isn’t about being perfect. It is about choosing today to live in His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to soak in the truth that I am deeply, passionately, wholly, unconditionally loved. The world will tell me that I am unworthy, broken, dejected, hopeless, unlovely, and unfit for such a love. The truth is that God takes what is broken and makes it whole. He transforms what is unworthy into something beautiful and holy. He holds the dejected and hopeless and infuses new life and peace into each moment. God meets me where I am, in whatever state I am, and loves me. He longs for that love to change my thoughts, my eyes, my hands, my feet, my mouth, my ears, and my heart. When I hear the broken record of the world tell me that I am rejected and unwanted, I am going to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ at the top of my lungs. He does, and He always will.

Open Eyes

26 06 2013

Are your eyes open yet? Some of us are “eyes pop open, ready to go” types. Others of us struggle to open both eyes at the same time before the second cup of coffee has had time to work its magic. Either way, mornings are a great time to be deliberate about opening our eyes. Our physical eyes are going to open if we want to move through our day. It is important to take a minute and open our spiritual eyes too. God has already filled this day with blessings, lessons, fingerprints, opportunities, lessons, and faith reminders. He has already provided exactly what your heart needs today.

This morning as you begin your day, take a minute to look around. Count your blessings. Invest in a moment of thanksgiving. Give your heart permission to praise. Rehearse His grace, remember His love, and replay the many ways in which He has provided for your soul. Too many times, I rush into the day with my eyes focused on the task at hand, the to-do list must-dos, and the way the clock is moving faster than my feet. Stopping to savor His presence allows the sweetness and richness of His glory to seep into the cracks of my heart. It changes my perspective and challenges me to look up before I worry or fret or frown. Slowing down and breathing in His nearness allows His grace to set my pace for the day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my eyes. I don’t want to miss God today. I want to count His fingerprints, smile at His blessings, and notice the way He weaves His presence into my moments. I want to be as deliberate about opening my heart as I am about opening my eyes. Today I am going to keep my eyes open, pay attention, and let Him fill me with wonder.

Around Your Neck

24 06 2013

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” – Proverbs 6:20-23

My husband and I decided to take this passage literally. When each of our children was getting ready to enter high school, we went out for a special teen-parent date. We opened up our Bibles and talked about this scripture. We emphasized the importance of following godly wisdom, aligning themselves with God’s purpose, and the many decisions about looking like Jesus they were going to face in high school. We prayed and encouraged them to bind them on their hearts. Then we took them to the jewelry store. We let them pick out something that they could tie around their neck that would be a reminder of their commitment to Christ. We pray that this tangible reminder will help them as they make choices to walk in God’s ways.

I want to encourage you to do the same thing. Put a tangible reminder somewhere in your house, in your purse, on the refrigerator, or even around your neck that will pull your thoughts towards God. Invest yourself in His wisdom. Watch for the light He shines across your path. Prepare your heart for wonder. Surrender to transformation. Commit to walking in His steps.

My Jesus Resolution is to bind His teachings to my heart. I never want to walk outside of His wisdom. I long for His words to guide my choices, shape my attitude, align my priorities, and focus my vision. In order for His words to have power in my life, I have to give them access to every part of who I am. I have to let them in and let them transform me. Today, I am going to find a way to tie a reminder to walk in His ways around my neck and let it point me to Jesus.

The Unknown

21 06 2013

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom

What we know about God shapes how we face the future. Our faith and our fears are both defined by what we believe about the One who holds us in His hand. Everybody’s tomorrows are uncertain, but we can be certain about the heart of God. Here are ten things you can be certain about even in the face of an uncertain tomorrow.

1. God loves you. Period. No matter what.

2. He has more than enough grace. You can’t, won’t, be able to exhaust His supply.

3. He has a purpose for you.

4. The cross and the empty tomb are unbreakable, unshakable realities.

5. You are not alone. Ever.

6. We are weak, but He is strong.

7. God is bigger than _______________. No matter what you put in the blank, God is still bigger.

8. Mustard seed faith is more than enough.

9. His peace and power are a prayer away.

10. Jesus really is the answer. No matter your question.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember what I know about God. Sometimes the future looks scary. It is easy for me to get overwhelmed, over-worried, and overwrought. Instead of creating a list of all of the might-happens, what-ifs, and I-don’t-knows, I am going to recite all the reasons I have to trust my God. He is faithful, good, true, holy, loving, and full of mercy. He was all of that and more yesterday and today. He will be the same again tomorrow.

The 27th Floor

19 06 2013

My husband works on the 27th floor of a downtown office building. Every day, he makes a journey from the ground to the sky. When it is bright and sunny, the view is amazing. He can see for miles. The entire patchwork of downtown is spread out before him. He gets to see sports stadiums, pools on tops of buildings, green-leafed parks, and a maze of sidewalks that connect the whole puzzle together. Of course, thunderstorms provide a different kind of show. Lightning, thunder, rain, and wind all feel different on the 27th floor than they do on the ground. Foggy days make him feel boxed in by clouds. The movement of the sun from east to west is seen with different eyes from the 27th floor.

When he stands on the ground, his view is limited by the buildings, cars, and street signs that occupy his immediate space. Standing on the 27th floor provides a different perspective. He can not only see the block at the front of his building, but the layout, movement, beauty, and snarls of the entire city.

In life, we stand on the street level. We can see what is immediately around us. We are impacted by the reflections, traffic, potholes, and crowds that fill our space. God’s view stretches much higher than the 27th floor. He is intimately involved with us on the street, but also sees the big picture. He knows what is around the corner. He has filled the next moment with sufficient grace. He already has the answers to the needs we don’t even know we have. It is within His perspective that we can find our peace.

My Jesus Resolution today is to trust God’s “top floor” perspective. Sometimes life comes at me so furiously that I feel like I can barely breathe. In heaven, we will get to see the whole map of life unfurled and understand the twists and turns. Until then, I am going to hang on to God’s promise in Isaiah 26:3. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Today I can only see from the ground floor. But if I keep my mind fixed on Jesus, I get to rest in the peace of heaven’s perspective.

The Little Voice

17 06 2013

The room where we were sitting was hushed in worship. Thoughts wrapped around the cross as sins were confessed, thanksgiving offered, joy swelled, and community was shared. The Lord’s Supper has the unique ability to draw us nearer to God, closer to each other, and deeper into the image of Jesus.

In the midst of these quiet moments, a little voice began to softly sing “Jesus Loves Me.” My husband and I grinned as we heard the warbled words gently float in the air. It was a very small child engaged in a very big act of worship. No song captures better the beauty of this moment. Love defines what Jesus did for us on the cross. Love washes away sin, bestows grace, transforms what is broken, and calls us ever closer.

It is a love we can know. It is true, strong, real, and absolute. It is not the stuff of imagination or fairy tales or country songs. It is a love not based on how I feel, what I have done, or how good I am, but grounded entirely in the heart, faithfulness, and character of God. I can know it with more certainty than the feel of my skin or the next beat of my heart.

This love is the story of the Bible. It is the thread that connects every word, frames every miracle, underscores every command, and fuels every one of God’s actions. I can read this love deeply into my mind, heart, and soul. It can shape my steps, change my vision, and speak its life-changing power into my actions and choices.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing “Jesus Loves Me” out loud. I want to be like that little one. I am sure that the child’s parents didn’t mean for the child to sing out, but for me it was a profound moment of grace. I am deeply thankful. Sometimes I make things so complicated. In a little voice, Jesus reminded me how simple it really needs to be.


14 06 2013

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Budington Kelland

Fathers are a child’s first picture of God. For better or for worse, how a father lives his life in front of his child – the way he loves, forgives, works, plays, talks, and chooses – becomes a frame through which his child learns about the character and passion of the Heavenly Father. As walking reflections of Jesus, dads have the unique responsibility to imitate the Father so that as their sons and daughters imitate them, they learn how to mirror the heart of God.

Even as we nod our heads in agreement, we gulp as we think about the heavy burden this lays on our hearts as parents. Yet, it is precisely this father-led modeling that God has put in place as the best way to pass on faith, ignite compassion, fire hunger for worship, and teach the next generation that they stand on holy ground.

Dads, remember that you are a transparent window into the heart of God for your children. Keep the window clean and free of clutter and distraction and your children will be able to see Jesus. Moms, you have a big role in helping dads be the men God calls them to be. Lift them up – in prayer, in love, and in the eyes of your children. Sons and daughters, never stop learning from your dads. Also, remember that dads learn a whole lot of about God from their children. It is an amazing circle.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful for dads. Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.” The way that a dad lives his life in front of his children has the power to propel them into the Father’s presence. Appreciate the men who walk in faith in your life. Tell them you are thankful for the way they have shown you Jesus. Encourage them to continue to take the hard steps defined by integrity, strength, and selflessness. Fathers make an eternal difference. Thanks, Dad!

Just Ask

12 06 2013

She walked in with an excited smile on her face. My son had been talking with a group of friends about upcoming summer plans and mentioned that he would be helping at Vacation Bible School. His friend jumped in and asked if she could come help as well. “Sure!” he said. “We can always use more hands and smiles at VBS.”

The time passed quickly. The joy, joy, joy down in their hearts came pouring out of little voices, excited bodies, and gigantic grins. Jesus fed the five thousand and there were about that many fish crackers on the floor. Cookies were eaten, crafts were made, games were played, and hugs given. Mr. Bible came for a visit, and then we wrapped it up so we could do it all again tomorrow.

Dropping his friend off at home, my son talked for a minute to his friend’s parents. They were very excited that their daughter was helping at VBS. “Nobody has ever asked her to a church activity before.”

My son came in and told us about what his friend’s parents had said. I was humbled, and honestly, a little ashamed, as he related this mom’s words. While I don’t know this particular family yet, I did recognize the hunger in her words. She was thrilled for her child to be invited to church. The world has sold us on this idea that we should keep our Christianity to ourselves. Let everyone live their own lives. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. We are so afraid of someone saying “no,” that we miss all the times that they might say “yes.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to just ask. The world is full of people who are hungry. They are hungry for purpose, meaning, healing, forgiveness, answers, and hope. They get along the best they can, drive past church buildings, and wonder. What if they are just waiting for someone to ask them to come in? Sure, someone might say “no.” But someone might say “yes,” and get the chance to meet Jesus all because I just asked.

God’s Will

10 06 2013

“…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18b

God has one purpose for your life. He wants you to look like Jesus. He wants to take what is broken, damaged, splintered, confused, and wrecked by sin and transform you into someone who resembles His Son. That transformation is at the heart of His desire for you. He longs to make the miraculous a reality in your life as you learn to live in the character and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

The three basics that God outlines in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 are crucial to this transformation process. Rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances are nothing less than the will of God in Christ Jesus for our lives. When I read that something is the will of God for me, I perk up and pay attention. His will sets my direction. His will outlines my priorities. His will determines my focus and perspective.

If rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances is His will, then they are more than suggestions for a happy life or a way to deal with a difficult situation. They are essential elements to bringing about the transformation that God seeks for our good and His glory. Each one is a key that opens my heart up to looking more and more like Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to walk in God’s will. I am going to let these three basics soak deeply into who I am and allow them to become guide markers for how I face my days. Will I worship or whine? Will I face the moment with faith or fear? Will I count my blessings or catalog my burdens? Making the daily decisions to worship, walk in faith, and count my blessings opens the door for God to have deep access into every part of who I am. When I worship, I look up. When I pray, I bow down. When I count my blessings, I open my eyes. When I do all three, I am transformed.


7 06 2013

I decided to take up running. I know, but temporary insanity can affect all of us. My husband had started running, and after watching how well he was doing, I decided that maybe it was time to add some jogging into my exercise routine. I started out with walking to warm up my muscles. After a little while, I was ready. It was time to start running.

I ran for two blocks.

Did I mention that it was a very long two blocks?

At first, I imagined myself breaking the race tape as I crossed the finish line at the marathon. By the eleventh step, I was just trying to keep from tripping over my own feet. At the end of the first block, I was wracking my brain about why I had thought jogging was a good idea. By the time I reached the second block, I held the stitch in my side, checked running off of my “I’ll do that someday” list, and started walking again.

The power of the three essentials, the basics that God lays out for our hearts in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is found not just in the actions themselves, but in the little words that follow each essential. “Always, continually, and all” are the keys to igniting the transforming power of rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in our lives. Rejoicing sometimes is great. Praying occasionally is a good thing. Being thankful every once in a while is better than never, but it is kind of like jogging for two blocks. You can say you did it, but there is not much lasting impact. The real richness of these essentials is released in us when we invest in living them out always, continually, and in all circumstances.

My Jesus Resolution today is commit to always. I am thankful that I serve an always, continually, and in all circumstances God. If I want to live deeply in God’s will for me, I can’t just give it a little try. I have to dedicate myself to the process that He has set for my heart. Always, continually, and all are little words that have the power to change my focus, alter my priorities, and impact the flow of my days in big ways. I want to look like Jesus for more than two blocks at a time. Rejoicing always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances are the running shoes God gives me to speed me on my way.