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.





Always

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.





Still Giving Thanks

5 06 2013

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

She brushed back a tendril of hair from her face. She had been working…hard. This sweet lady cleans our church building, a job done quietly and largely unnoticed. The discussion of the moment was about how to get chewing gum (or I should say chewed gum) out of carpeting. Listening to the discussion swirling around her, she admitted that practice and necessity had guided her into finally finding a solution to the sticky mess.

We all nodded as we paused to think about how much gum she coaxes out of the carpeting each week. But it was her next sentence that truly humbled me. “Gum doesn’t bother me,” she said. “It means there are children in the pews learning about Jesus.”

There, in a nutshell (or should I say a gum wrapper?), is the essence of essential number three. When we choose to give thanks, we make the decision to notice, to pay attention, and to respond to the presence of God in our days. In every circumstance, we have the choice to either count our blessings or catalog our burdens. We can either see every moment as an opportunity to interact with God or keep an updated record of all that has gone wrong in our day. The path we choose has the power to shape our hearts in eternal ways.

My Jesus Resolution today is to carry a gum wrapper in my pocket. I am going to let it remind me that God is at work all around me. Giving thanks is an invitation to open my eyes and enjoy His presence. It is easy to let frustration, annoyances, griping, and worry set the agenda and focus of my heart. Instead of grumbling, I am going to rehearse the goodness of God. I want to count His fingerprints on my day, and let gratitude open my eyes to what is truly important.





Give Thanks

3 06 2013

She is almost a year old and as sweet as an angel. She has cherub cheeks and a halo of red hair. Sitting in her high chair, it was evident that she was hungry. Mom hurried to get out her meal and let her start eating. Breaking her lunch into bite-sized pieces, it didn’t take long for the crying to turn into contentment.

Settling into eating my own lunch, it only took a minute for the moment to be transformed and filled with smiles and a touch of wonder. Every bite that she picked up and put in her mouth was followed by a loud and definite “Yuuuummmmm!” She would then stop and clap her hands, delighting in the taste of her meal. The next bite, the same thing. A giant “Yuuuuummmm!” followed by applause. She did this with every bite of her lunch.

A little voice and little hands helped me see God.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

This is essential number three – give thanks. I loved watching how this little one taught me how to do this with joy. She didn’t take her lunch for granted. She savored each bite, and stopped to share her appreciation – not once, but over and over again. She invited others to join her in smiling, enjoying, relishing, and appreciating a simple pleasure. My lunch tasted better because she reminded me to value each bite. She helped me remember the power of pausing and letting gratitude soak into the cracks of every part of my day.

My Jesus Resolution is to give thanks. It is easy for me to be rushed and distracted, missing the opportunities that I have to give thanks. God plants a thousand “Yums” and Yays” in my day. Simple blessings meant to give me a pathway into His presence. Little beauties meant to draw my eyes to His face. Tender care meant to enfold me in His love. Today I want to be deliberate about stopping and thanking Him for each one. I am a little humbled to imagine how that will change the pace and focus of my day, but I want to be like the little one in the high chair. I don’t want to miss one chance to let thanksgiving define how I experience His delights.