In the Beginning

31 07 2013

Creation tells a story. It is a story about a God who loves us, invests Himself in us, pursues us, sings over us, and longs to share His heart with us. Like all good stories, it has a beginning, a starting point, a place that helps us trace the most foundational truths of our own stories.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

Beginnings are important. This is why God gives us this very first verse first. At the beginning of all beginnings, we find God. He is the source of all the good, all of the beauty, all of the power, all of the wonder, and all of the minute detail and awesome expanses that are to follow.

We tend to look at this beginning in Genesis 1:1 as singular, but in reality, it teaches us an important, continuing truth. Always begin with God. Recognize Him, seek Him out, invite Him in from the beginning and watch Him work. Beginning your day? Start with God. Beginning to worry? Seek His arms. Beginning a new job, task, or adventure? Invite Him in. Beginning to feel overwhelmed? Stop and listen for His voice. Beginning to feel sin’s sticky grip? Ask for His grace. Beginning with Him who was before the beginning is always the best way to start.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask God to inhabit my beginnings. Too many times, I try to start out on my own. I go a little ways, run out of steam, and then wonder what went wrong. I want to learn how to step into God’s presence at the beginning – the beginning of every day, every hour, every project, every load of laundry, every friendship, every encounter, and every struggle. I wonder what stories we might be able to tell about what God created in our days, our relationships, our jobs, and our families if we learned how to invite Him in in the beginning.





Seeing the Invisible

29 07 2013

Have you ever wanted to have a super power? Super powers allow heroes to step outside the boundaries of “normal” and do the extraordinary. In doing the extraordinary, they help those in danger, right wrongs, and change the world for good.

In His Word, God tells us that we have the ability to do something amazing. We can see the invisible.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” – Romans 1:19-20.

God chooses to teach us about Himself, in part, through the physical world that surrounds us. The trees teach us lessons about His sheltering care. The flowers paint pictures of His attention and love of beauty. The heavens declare His glory and invite us into praise. God who is Spirit, invisible and set apart, reveals Himself in the living world. He allows us a glimpse of His heart. He makes His character visible so that we can learn about who He is and how to be transformed by His deep purpose for our lives.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look for the visible lessons creation has to teach me about our invisible God. He has tucked pieces of Himself in the corners, wide spaces, vast expanses, and small beauties of the world around me. He isn’t hiding His heart. Anybody can take hold of this super power. All that is required for me to see the invisible is a humble heart, a surrendered spirit, and open eyes. Today I am going to look for God. Join me?





A King is Born

26 07 2013

This week much of the world has been enthralled with the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis, who now stands third in line as heir to the throne of England. Reporters camped for weeks in front of the hospital at which his mother was scheduled to give birth. Enthusiasts from around the world counted the days, cheering when she went into labor. Finally, on Monday afternoon amidst all this fanfare, the little prince made his appearance. Welcome to the world, little one.

It was a refreshing blessing to watch the world unite and rejoice in the birth of a baby. As I watched the crier announce the birth of the future king, I couldn’t help but be struck by the differences between this little one’s birth and the birth of another King two thousand years ago. No one lined the streets of Bethlehem in anticipation. No special rooms were reserved for the mother-to-be. There were no cheering crowds, souvenirs, or international media coverage. A mother, a father, a few animals, a manger, and one newborn King.

The King of Kings chose to come to an obscure Israelite town, in the middle of the night, to a young girl, in a stable, with no one but scores of angels watching. Humility cloaked him from the beginning. He settled in among the ordinary, among the nothing-special, in order to proclaim that extraordinary and beyond-your-imagination were now available to everyone.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful for way that Jesus came into this world. His birth was a quiet event that shook heaven and stunned hell. No one imagined that God would wrap Himself in humanity in order to save man from himself. And the King is still doing what He does best. Quietly moving into hearts, lives, minds, and souls, taking up residence, and changing the world.





Counting

24 07 2013

Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” I love the confidence that flows from this promise. Commitment and trust open the door for God’s movement. God’s action will always bring God’s blessings. His movement ignites His purpose to take shape in our lives. His presence inspires the transformation that is at the heart of His desire for our hearts. When God acts, He brings the full measure of His goodness, grace, power, and faithfulness into our lives.

How do we learn to recognize and respond to God’s actions in our lives? It is easy to count the “big” blessings – the ones that warm our hearts, fill our lives with joy, and brighten our days. But I also need to learn how to search out the fingerprints that may be a little more difficult to spot. These are the blessings that are wrapped in inconvenience, are tucked in a difficulty, or are hidden in a hard circumstance. I prefer my blessings to be wrapped in sunshine and topped with a bow, but the blessings that most deeply shape my heart are sometimes found in the things that require me to look beyond myself and surrender. It takes time, perspective, and maturity to search out these blessings, but when we find them, we see God’s hand and His heart in a whole new way.

My Jesus Resolution today is to count the ways God is acting on my behalf. His movement should catch my eye, calm my soul, and provide me with direction. His fingerprints have the power to instill peace, provide safety, and assure me that I walk in the love of a God who never leaves me. His blessings should kindle praise, spark thanksgiving, and spur surrender. Today as I count, I am going to realize that I am just scratching the surface of the infinite ways God moves in me, for me, and with me.





Peace

22 07 2013

Reality always looks different than it does on television. The roar of the fighter jets screamed in my ears. Soldiers stood at attention, guns aimed, suspicion written all over their faces. The borders were places of palpable tension as we crossed back and forth between Israeli and Palestinian controlled land. The Middle East is a powder keg. What seems remote on our nightly news is real, scary, and complicated.

We sat in a park overlooking the old city of Jerusalem. The Jewish tour guide traveling with us started by giving us a primer in the complexities of the Middle East peace process. Time passed as he outlined idea after solution to the questions of land rights, divine promises, and claim over holy ground. The more I listened, the clearer the answer became. No man made solution was ever going to completely ease the tensions that define life in this land. The only answer for true peace must be found in the person of Jesus.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” – Ephesians 2:14

We don’t have to go far from home to see the aching need for His peace. Our news, and its reality, is filled with the echoes, violence, tension, and stubbornness of hostility that divides us and calls us to suspicion and distrust. It doesn’t matter if the issue is prejudice, abortion, politics, defining marriage, or gun control. Education, discussion, and tolerance alone will never provide the deep and lasting peace we crave. Jesus is the only answer. Jesus is the only way to peace. Because Jesus is the only one who is powerful enough to break down the wall of hostility that divides us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to declare peace. The transformation that occurs when I surrender to Christ begins not with changing the world, but with changing me. The answer is not found in others learning to see my point of view, but in my eyes being made over with divine sight. There is an urgency in knowing that Jesus is the answer. How much violence, how much hatred, how much hostility could be remedied by the blood of Jesus if I had the courage to declare His peace to those who still see a wall instead of a cross?





Today Counts

19 07 2013

Are you a procrastinator? Generally, I am not, but there are times when I find myself putting off what needs to be done and wrestling with gathering the gumption to tackle some big projects. Tomorrow always looks like it holds so much potential, while today finds me overwhelmed, over-tired, and over-committed. Someday becomes an anthem that soaks into the weary places in my soul.

In praying through the urgent and important things on my list, two words kept echoing through my thoughts – Today Counts. Here is a list of ten things that you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow.

1. Say I love you today. You don’t know when you will get another chance.

2. Forgive today. It isn’t worth carrying it around anymore.

3. Tackle a challenge today. The mountain isn’t going to get smaller if you wait.

4. Play today. A daily dose of joy is a powerful thing.

5. Tell someone “thank you” today. Gratitude has a way of changing your perspective.

6. Read your Bible today. God is waiting to reveal His heart to you.

7. Give something away today. Sacrifice frees your soul while blessing someone else.

8. Appreciate your friends today. A hug or kind word goes a long way.

9. Surrender completely today. Transformation is a decision away.

10. Sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ today. Here is a truth we all need to be reminded of every day.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make Today Count. Some things can wait, but the important things, the real things, the God things need to be woven into today. Jesus made every day count. His eyes were open, His heart was surrendered, and His focus was fixed on God. I want to be like Him. Years from now, I want to look back on my days and know that I made today count.





The Impact

17 07 2013

I’m drooling. The anesthetic that the dentist shot into my mouth is wearing off, but not quite yet. The dental work I had done this morning has a long history. When I was about 10 years old, I went through a phase when I decided to test the conventional necessity of daily brushing. I have definitely seen the light, but in the meantime, I have a few fillings to show for my foolishness and unwillingness to listen to my parents.

Today’s dental work is the direct result of those childish decisions many years ago. The filling I received back then had worn away and impacted the tooth in which it rested for so many years. While the dentist drilled, scraped, filled, and prodded, I thought about how an in-the-moment decision made years ago is still impacting my life.

Most of the time, we tend to believe that the choices we make are contained within the lines of the box that define this day on the calendar. We want to hang on to the idea that the world sells us that our decisions are ours alone and only affect us in the moment. The truth is that what we choose today has a ripple effect that can sometimes be felt years, even decades, later.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be mindful of my impact. The choices I make, even about little things, can have a profound effect later. The good news is that there is good news in that truth. What is true for negative, disobedient choices is also true for positive, surrendered choices. Deciding today to listen to Jesus, follow His way, and live in His purpose will not only shape this day, but has the power to touch the substance of my tomorrows.