Just For Today

30 10 2013

Sometimes I am overwhelmed. Life comes at me like a train. Struggles swirl and storm around me. Deadlines push, laundry piles up, and my to-do list feels more like a chronicle of the impossible. Instead of worrying about what isn’t going to get done and how much is falling between the cracks, I am going to make a Just For Today list. Life may be crazy, but just for today…

1. I am going to find one thing to be thankful for every hour.

2. I am going to stop and breathe in grace rather than drown in guilt.

3. I am going to give a compliment rather than complain.

4. I am going to hug my children extra tight.

5. I am going to sing “Jesus Loves Me” out loud.

6. I am going to look at my messes and count the blessings.

7. I am going to reconnect with a friend.

8. I am going to be quiet for five whole minutes.

9. I am going to remember that Luke 18:27 is absolutely true.

10. I am going to measure His faithfulness rather than my flaws.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in the moment. Really live. Not just pass through. Not just get by. Just for today I want to open my eyes, open my heart, and open my soul to what it means to fully live today with God. Too many times, I just try to put my head down and muddle through, hoping tomorrow will be better – only to do the same thing again the next day. I don’t want to waste any more time being so busy I miss awe, rush past glory, or stumble over significance. The really important, big stuff is tucked into the cracks of the ordinary. So, just for today, I am going to do life differently and watch how it changes my tomorrows.

Crazy Cactus

28 10 2013

We have a cactus that sits in a pot outside our front door. We call it Spike. It is everything that you would imagine a cactus named Spike would be. Tall, straight, green, and covered with inch-long thorns. Spike came to our house as a two inch little souvenir that my son brought home from an adventure to New Mexico with his grandparents. It had its own little plastic cup, and my son was delighted to bring home a piece of the desert to our humid city dwelling.

Today Spike is almost two and a half feet tall. He stands like a sentinel in his big, heavy pot. Lately, I have been watching an appendage grow straight out of Spike’s side. It started out as just a bulge, but this new piece of cactus is now almost twelve inches long. It is growing fast. Its base doesn’t touch the soil. It has no roots of its own. It depends on Spike, Sr. for all of its nutrients and water. Spike, Jr. is teaching me about Jesus.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

Spike, Jr. is growing and thriving because it remains anchored in Spike, Sr. That connection is a picture of how my heart needs to be anchored in Jesus. The cactus doesn’t fret about being able to do it on its own. There is no streak of independence that challenges it to set up its own pot and handle matters by itself. There is no discontentment about having its identity flow from outside of itself. Life, growth, fruitfulness, and purpose flow from being connected to the Source.

My Jesus Resolution today is to abide. I love that word. Abide means to stay close, hang on, invest oneself, and find strength in. It is a connection word. Abiding in Jesus is my primary responsibility. If I try to set out on my own, I will falter. If I try to come and go from His presence, I will become unfruitful. Only by fully abiding in Him can I find the sustenance my soul craves, the purpose my life needs, and the future my heart desires.

Inside Out

25 10 2013

You feel the familiar knot form in your stomach as you look across the room. Nobody has to say a thing for you to hear the voices start whispering to your soul. “Look at her.” “Why can’t I be like that?” “I’ll never have it all together the way she does.” “Her children, husband, house, or outfit (fill in the appropriate blank) are so perfect.” “I wish I had her life.”

There is an old saying that contains some very wise words: Don’t judge your insides by somebody else’s outsides. I am not sure where the thought originated, but the truth of its words resonates loudly in my heart today.

When I look at others, I see life from the outside. I don’t see most of you before you take a shower, before make up, or before your first cup of coffee. Most of us manage at least a bit of spit and polish before we face the world. But “before” is when I see myself. I know what I look like unmasked, unprepared, and unpolished. I know the truth behind the cape I try to wear, the smile I hide behind, and the image that I try to hold together. That is when the whispers start. Whispers that shout of inadequacy, fearfulness, and doubt. When I measure my insides by somebody else’s outsides, I will always come up short.

God calls us to look at others and ourselves with different eyes. “For the Lord sees not as a man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b) Standing around the cross, we are all grace-covered, mercy-drenched, love-soaked sinners saved by Jesus. We all need. We all fall short. We all struggle. We are all loved. We are all claimed. We are all in the process of being transformed.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at others from the inside out. I want to offer kindness to the hurting. (We are all hurting.) I want to extend peace to the fearful. (We are all afraid.) I want to hand out hope, give away joy, and open my arms in friendship. (We all struggle, weep, and feel lonely.) I don’t need to compare myself with you, nor you with me. Uniquely made, deeply loved, God empowers us to be exactly who He created us to be in Him.

Use Your Voice

23 10 2013

Your words are powerful. Read that sentence again. Do you believe it? Most of us don’t believe that. We think that we have small voices, little to say, and that no one is listening. We believe that what we have to say doesn’t matter, can’t make a difference, or will be lost in the flood of words that flow through our noisy world. Here is the truth. Your words matter. They mean something. They resonate with power, strength, and purpose. Use them wisely.

Today your spouse needs words of grace. Saturate your words with love. Immerse them in appreciation and rejoicing.

Today your children need words of blessing. It doesn’t matter if they are four, fourteen, or forty, they need to hear that you pray for them, praise God for them, and are proud of them.

Today your grandchildren need words of delight. Grandparents stand in the unique position of pouring confidence and unconditional love into the next generation.

Today your friends need words of appreciation. You can’t say “thank you,” “I love you,” or “you make a difference” too often.

Today your neighbor, a coworker, or a stranger needs a word of notice. So many people feel unseen and invisible. A simple word of kindness can make a profound difference in someone’s day.

It is no coincidence that Jesus is called the Word. It is through this Word that walked among us that God spoke His words of grace, blessing, delight, love, and notice to the world. Two thousand years later those words, that Word, still have the power to change lives and impact hearts for good.

My Jesus Resolution today is to use my voice. My words don’t have to be profound or eloquent to make a difference. They just have to be touched by grace, defined by love, and saturated with hope. Words have the power to encourage, bless, and inspire. They also have the power to crush, wound, and defeat. My voice is a part of my legacy. The words I speak today will ripple out from this moment and touch tomorrow. I want my words to echo with the voice of Jesus.

Water Drops

21 10 2013

Are you a bath or a shower person? If you got to choose where to relax and wash away the day’s stress and grime, which one would you choose? There is nothing quite like the luxury of a warm bath or shower to wash away the stress and grit of the day. The gentle streams of water renew us. Water is refreshing. It cools, cleans, hydrates, and has a quiet power that we often take for granted. Running water, over time, has the strength to erode mountains and reshape the landscape. We live on a blue planet. A good percentage of our own bodies are made up of water. It is one of the most basic necessities of life, and every drop should point us to Jesus.

Physical water has the power to help us understand the Living Water that flows only from Christ. A dry mouth is meant to awaken our thirst for Him. Our deep sigh when we sink into the bathtub or stand under the shower jet is designed to immerse our souls more deeply in the ocean of His delight. God wants us to live lives drenched in His grace, saturated with His presence, and soaked in His purpose.

My Jesus Resolution today is to see Jesus in every drop of water. When I take a shower, I am going to let His grace cascade over me. When I wash my hands, I am going to marvel at the way His blood keeps me clean. When I scrub dishes, I am going to be thankful for the way that He makes the pieces of my life new and useful for His glory. When I brush my teeth, drink a cold glass of water, or turn on the washing machine, I am going to pause and soak in the picture of Jesus that God plants in every drop of water.

Mirror, Mirror

18 10 2013

Talking about looking like Jesus always inspires me. Every time I walk through the scriptures that point me to His face and call me to be conformed to His image settles my soul back into what is foundational about faith.

After opening our Bibles and discussing what looking like Jesus means to the reflection in my mirror, a woman hurried toward me with a smile on her face. She told me about a note that she has taped to every mirror in her house. These simple words meet every reflection it sees.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Do you see Christ in me at all?

She put the little message there as a reminder for her children. She wanted them to refocus on Christ’s purpose for their lives with each glance in the mirror. What was unexpected, she told me, were the number of discussions it opened with friends, neighbors, and visitors to her home. What it means to look like Jesus frequently shapes the conversation around her table and gives the mirror a purpose far beyond looking at the physical.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask the mirror question. My mirror can be used for more than checking my hair or putting on lipstick. It can be a reminder that my most important “look” for the day is to be a reflection of Jesus.

New Shoes

16 10 2013

A girl has got to love a new pair of shoes. Pulling them out of the box inspired a smile, a deep breath, and a sense of anticipation as I slipped them on my feet. I admired my toes and ran to the mirror to check out my “new” look. I walked the floor, feeling the new comfort, enjoying the fresh beauty, and imagining how my style quotient might go up a couple of points. My husband looked at my feet and picked up my old shoes. “Now we can throw these old things away!”

I literally stopped in my tracks. I sputtered, wrestling with mixed emotions. I had new shoes on my feet, shoes that fit, met my needs, and looked cute. Still I struggled to let go of the old ones. Not because of sentiment – no great memories in those shoes, just lots of laundry, dishes, cleaning, and dog duty. Not because they were still in great shape – the worn spots were starting to reveal things about a shoe’s inner workings that no one should ever know. They are worn out, smell funny, and have seen a million miles, but I hesitate to let them go because they are comfortable and familiar.

I guess shoes and habits have a lot in common.

Jesus is working on me. Using the extreme makeover method, He is transforming me piece by piece. He points out the sin and selfishness that require surrender, cleaning up my messes and bring fresh light and air into the stale mustiness of my do-it-yourself projects. A major part of this renovation is centered on my habits. I tend toward habits that are self-satisfying, not too demanding, that make me feel good. Jesus directs me to new habits meant to stretch my soul, open my eyes, and change my heart. These new habits fit my soul. They answer hungers I didn’t know I had, making me feel free and beautiful. But still, I look longingly at the old ways. They are comfortable and familiar. I have a hard time letting go.

My Jesus Resolution is to wear new shoes. New shoes become comfortable when we wear them for a while. New habits work the same way. Living the Jesus Resolution requires that some of my old (read comfortable) habits need to be tossed aside. There are new habits that need to be engrained, formed into my soul so that they can transform who I am. I can’t look more like Jesus if I keep hanging onto the old ways. But the truth is I don’t want to live a comfortable life. I want to live a conformed life – one that is shaped, molded, and inspired to look more like Jesus. Even if it means throwing the old shoes away and wearing the new shoes that will help me walk in His steps.

Prepare to Be Amazed

14 10 2013

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” – Joshua 3:5 (NIV 84)

I love this passage. Amazing things are on the horizon. Wonders are just around the corner. God calls His people to a time of anticipation, expectation, and surrender. Prayers are about to be answered. Promises are about to be fulfilled. Provision is about to be made. Abundance and victory are within reach. Twenty-four more hours will find you rubbing your eyes in amazement.

What is true for Israel on the edge of the Promised Land is true for you and me. Immeasurably More is the beginning of God’s dreams for you. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” God has big things, amazing things, wonderful things in store for you.

I read these beyond imagination promises and wonder why I don’t have that kind of life. Transparency requires me to face an unpleasant truth. I want to reverse the two phrases in this verse. I want to see God’s wonders, experience His amazing things, and then, if I am sufficiently wowed, consecrate myself to His purpose. I get it backwards. Maybe I don’t experience amazing things because I haven’t prepared to meet God on His terms.

My Jesus Resolution today is to prepare for amazing things. The first two words of Joshua’s instructions are key. I need to consecrate myself today for tomorrow’s movement. I need to get ready, examine myself, surrender, repent, sacrifice, and walk in holiness. I need to invest myself in His Word, His people, His presence, and His will so that my heart will be soft, my eyes will be open, and my feet will be ready to walk where He leads. Today I prepare because amazing is just around the corner.


11 10 2013

Children challenge me. They coax me and prod my soul to see God in ways and places where I tend to miss Him. Their simplicity often highlights the moments in which I make faith too complicated.

He is an active, energetic, perfect one-year-old. Just learning to walk, he is mastering “the escape.” He is speaking his first words, each one a precious gift as he learns to interact with the world around him. Sitting in his mom’s lap, he is learning the powerful first elements of faith – coming to church, the wonder of Bible class, the power of community, and how to meet Jesus. (Never doubt that little ones can learn these lessons each time you bring them to worship.)

It was during communion that his little voice spoke a big truth. Looking around from the safety of his mom’s shoulder, he spotted his dad serving in the back of the room. “Da-da!” he cried out. He squirmed to get closer, making no pretense about wanting to be in father’s arms.

I smiled as his voice carried loudly through the quiet room. And then I felt the Spirit’s nudge. Was I on the lookout for my Abba’s presence? Do I pull at the restraints of this world that hold me back from running into His arms or sit comfortably in my own space? Am I willing to tell others where I see Him and how much I want to be in His presence? Does childlikeness characterize my faith or am I too grown up to need an Abba?

My Jesus Resolution today is to center my eyes and heart on my Abba. Abba is an intimate Aramaic word that Jewish children use to address their fathers. Jesus addressed God as Abba Father. Galatians 4:6 tells us that “because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” I want to be like this little one. I want my eyes open for my Abba’s presence. I want to cry out in delight when I see Him. I want to be overwhelmed with longing to be in His arms. I want worship to be a time when I stand in wonder that my Abba joins me and calls me His own.


9 10 2013

Today I feel small. Sometimes we stand in the sun and cast a long shadow. We feel confident, strong, and capable. Other days find us in the midst of a storm. We come face to face with our limitations, feel boxed in by the burdens of the day, or overwhelmed by a struggle that is pressing on our souls. During these small moments, my heart feels more tender, my soul more vulnerable, and my emotions more on edge.

Small is not a bad thing. The world will tell us that bigger is always better, but it isn’t true. Small moments have the power to recalibrate our priorities, realign our vision, and reignite our worship. Feeling small invites me back into humility. It emphasizes dependence, requires trust, and reminds me that small is appropriate next to the bigness of our God. In my small moments, God offers to cover me with grace sufficient to meet even my deepest weaknesses. Taking shelter under the shadow of His wings provides a safe haven for my battered soul. Small grants us the opportunity to choose worship instead of worry, gratitude rather than grumbling, and sacrifice rather than self-pity. I can offer my smallness to God as an offering of praise, trusting Him to use me, work in me, care for me, and provide for me as best fits His plan.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be okay with being small. Sometimes I think that we think we have to be “big” in order to do big things for God. Maybe small is better. There isn’t a hero of faith in the Bible that felt equal to the task. Rather they looked at the wall, sea, lions, giant, army, journey, hard-hearted people, even the cross, and trusted the truth that small surrendered to God is bigger than going it on your own.