30 12 2013

Photographs are treasures. They capture the moment, helping to cement the details that so often slip away in our busy lives. In snapshots, we can see growth, recall joy, laugh at mistakes, remember lessons learned, and count blessings.

Before this year slips away, take a snapshot of your walk with God. Take a minute to answer the following questions. God has been at work in you, around you, and through you for His glory. Notice His hand. Trace His fingerprints. Listen for His heartbeat. Stopping to capture these moments brings Him honor, softens our hearts to His movement, and helps us catch a glimpse of the transformation God is working within us.

1. Where did you see God most clearly this year?

2. What joy lifted your eyes and heart to heaven?

3. What struggle made you more aware of God’s presence?

4. Where did God surprise you this year?

5. What passage of Scripture came alive for you this year?

6. Which of God’s promises was especially sweet this year?

7. Where did you step out in faith and meet God in a new way?

8. When did grace wash over you most profoundly?

9. What sacrifice freed you to walk more deeply in His steps?

10. What is one way in which you look more like Jesus than you did a year ago?

My Jesus Resolution today is take a snapshot of the way God is working in me. Photo albums are fun because they tell a story. God is writing a story in my soul. It is a story of His grace and the deep purpose to which He calls me. Today I am going to answer these questions. I am going to write down the answers and put them in a transformation album. Each year I am going to come back, answer them again, and over the years, marvel at the way God is moving. As I look at these snapshots, there is one image that I want to see becoming increasingly clear – the image of Jesus.

You Are Loved

27 12 2013

“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all.” – Frederick Buechner

Today brings a gentle touch to your shoulder and a whisper to remind you that you are deeply, gloriously, unconditionally, overwhelmingly loved.

You are not loved because of what you do, where you live, how much you give, or who you know. You don’t have to have it all together to be loved. You don’t need to know all the answers, have figured out any of life’s puzzles, or even made all the right decisions. You are wrapped in a blanket of warm love because God has chosen to love you. Right now. Right where you are. Right in the mess you find yourself in. You can’t change His mind or chase Him away. You can choose not to love Him back. You can choose to pretend that love doesn’t exist. But the truth that God loves you is more certain than the sun rising in the east or the sky being blue. You can build a life and an eternity on that truth.

The world’s hissing tries to defeat that truth from taking deep root in your heart. The lie that God doesn’t really love you is Satan’s only weapon. All of our doubts and fears find their genesis in our struggle to believe the absolute unchanging nature of God’s deep love for us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ As one of my friends tells her son – sing it loud and proud. I need to sing it loud in order to drown out the volume  of the world’s distractions and deceptions. I need to sing it loud to answer the doubts that well up in my own heart. But I also need to sing it proudly, unashamedly, with great confidence, and with conviction. “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”

The Best Gift Ever

25 12 2013

Today I am praying that you have a day filled with joy, touched by peace, saturated with smiles, and wrapped in warm love. As you open your presents, spend time with family, eat delicious food, and enjoy holiday traditions, take a moment to be quiet with your God and thank Him for the best gift ever.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

My Jesus Resolution today is to be thankful for all of my gifts. I am surrounded by the reality of God’s love for me. Blessings fill the corners of my house and the spaces in my heart. I want to catch a glimpse of the enormity of God’s love for me, His protection, care, and kindness. Most of all, today I want to stop and, just for a moment, let the reality of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection take my breath away. He is the best gift of all.

The With God Gift

23 12 2013

I think I might be growing up. It hit me as I was wrapping the bathtub pile and getting everything ready for the big day. I remember as a kid being absolutely mesmerized by the packages under the tree. Not that me or my siblings snooped at all, but we would look, measure, weigh, and shake the packages as we speculated what might be wrapped up in those shiny boxes. We counted down days, sat in front of the tree, and greeted the mailman when he brought the big boxes my grandparents had sent from across the country. We couldn’t wait to open our gifts.

As I sat in the middle of sparkly paper, ribbons, bows and gift tags, I realized that what I was most anticipating this year was not the presents, but the faces that would be around the tree. What I might or might not get doesn’t matter. Who I spend the day with is everything.

Immanuel means “God With Us.” This is God’s greatest gift. He is with us. He is here. He is close. He chooses to walk with us, stay with us, live within us, and be with us. The most amazing gift He ever gives us is the gift of Himself. And if I want to give a gift back to God, the best gift I can give Him is myself.

My Jesus Resolution today is to treasure His presence. I want to be thoughtful about being with God. I want to be aware of His presence in the same way that I am filled with joy as my kids leave shoes, coats, and trails of crumbs around my house. I want to notice His nearness and rest in the truth that He is close. I want to remember that the gift God longs for most from me is me.

The Thirsty Gift

20 12 2013

Have you had your first cup of coffee yet? Coffee is a necessity for many. Some people don’t function until at least one good, strong, hot cup of coffee is moving through their systems. There is something about that tantalizing rich aroma and flavor that transforms groggy, grumpy lumps into people ready to take on the day.

What if I craved God in the morning as much as I crave that first cup of coffee? What if I depended on Him to get me going, wake me up, and transform the way I look at my day in the same way that I rely on my coffee? Many of us wouldn’t dream of starting our day without a cup of coffee. And yet, how many times do I sip my coffee and forget to drink deeply from the well of God’s grace?

I once knew a man who committed to feeding his soul with spiritual food before he fed his body with physical food. The rumbling in his tummy while he waited for breakfast reminded his heart to crave God first every morning. His example challenges me, inspires me, and, honestly, scares me a little bit. Can my heart learn to thirst for God in the same way I depend on that first cup of coffee? Can I learn to take my first steps every morning toward Him in the same way that I stumble toward the coffee pot?

My Jesus Resolution today is to tape Psalm 42:2 to my coffee cup. I want to remind my heart that being thirsty for God is the best way to start my day. I can’t be like Jesus with my family, friends, at work, or at church unless I have a good measure of His grace and power moving through me. His presence has the power to transform my thoughts, attitudes, perspective, and motives into something that will allow me to shine with His light, respond with His love, and move in His steps as I walk through my day.

The Attention Gift

18 12 2013

I have decided to become an inventor. I want to invent God Glasses. When you put on the stylish, yet functional God Glasses everything that God touches in your day would become visible through the lenses. The world becomes a canvas for revealing His glory. The minutes light up with the movement of His power. His presence is highlighted through the amazing choreography of colors playing against the background of our hearts. In dark moments, His care and tender concern would be visible. In times of temptation, His holiness and means of protection and escape could be clearly seen. Joy would explode like firecrackers across the horizon. Grace would drench the landscape. Wearing God Glasses, I think we might be stunned by how much of what we see as ordinary is really saturated with the presence of God.

We really don’t need to wear God Glasses to see Him at work in our lives. He is ready and willing to show us His heart, reveal His presence, and highlight His movement if we will but give Him the gift of our attention. We tend to live distracted lives. Our attention flits and floats from thing to person to struggle to pleasure with astonishing speed. During this season, there are even more distractions than usual as the hustle and bustle of the holidays pulls our eyes and our hearts in multiple directions. Paying attention to the presence of God sinks the roots of our faith deep into the heart of our Savior and anchors us to His side.

My Jesus Resolution is to be deliberate about paying attention to the presence and movement of God. Stretching my ability to be attentive requires three things. First, I must believe that God’s power and presence are visible in my world and ask Him to help me see. Second, I need to practice paying attention. This is not a gift that I can give easily. It requires me to learn how to notice the small details, the ordinary blessings, and the routine reminders that mark His nearness. Third, I need to rehearse God’s goodness. Telling someone else where God is at work sharpens my attention and opens my eyes. God has already given me the glasses that I need to see Him. I just need to learn how to pay attention.

The Slowing Gift

16 12 2013

Are you a tortoise or a hare? In Aesop’s famous fable, a hare ridicules a tortoise for his lack of speed. The tortoise challenges the hare to a race. They meet at the starting line, ready to see who will come to the finish first. The hare bounds away, leaving the tortoise far behind. The hare is so confident of his ability to win the race that he stops to take a nap along the way. In the meantime, the slow and steady tortoise moves ahead and wins the race.

We live in a society that exalts the hare. Hurrying is more than a once in a while requirement. It is a way of life. We live rushed, harried, need-to-go-faster lives. In Aesop’s fable, the moral of the story lies in the difference between the perspectives of the racers. The hare is so proud and self-confident in his ability to out-speed the tortoise that it never occurs to him that there may be another way to finish the race. The tortoise invests himself in patience and perseverance. He doesn’t measure his ability by how fast he is compared to the hare, but by whether he is willing to take one step at a time and keep on going.

My Jesus Resolution today is to slow down. This season in particular seems to highlight my tendency to be a hare. I rush and worry and feel the pressure to do more, go faster, and be speedier. But what do I miss of God because I am so sure that going fast is the only way to move through this life? I don’t want to miss the blessings of this moment because I am in such a hurry to get to the next one. Today I am going to slow down, breathe, open my eyes, and let the fullness of God’s presence completely fill the moment. At the end of Aesop’s fable, the slow tortoise beats the speedy hare. In the Bible, those who faithfully walk with God to the end win the race.

The Prayer Gift

13 12 2013

I love Christmas wrapping paper. There, I said it. I would collect wrapping paper if it wasn’t so difficult to store. I love the colors, the patterns, the textures, and the sparkle. Christmas wrapping paper makes me smile. It is fun, and is an essential element to transforming the pile in my bathtub into gifts that go under the tree.

Prayer is a lot like wrapping paper. It transforms what we wrap it around. When we give someone a wrapped gift, there is a sense of anticipation and excitement as we watch for smiles. Wrapping our cares, worries, joys, struggles, and needs in prayer does the same thing. We pour out our hearts before the Lord, wrapping each piece in prayer. Then we wait and watch. Because our needs are wrapped in prayer, we can live with open eyes, anticipating how God is going to move in each moment to fill it with His glory.

My Jesus Resolution today is to wrap my day in prayer. There is no greater gift that I can give someone than to wrap them in prayer. My struggles and my worries are transformed when I cover them in prayer and give them to God. My joys are made sweeter when I enclose them in an offering of praise. With each prayer comes transformation. My relationship with God is transformed as I open my heart wider to His presence. My stress and cares are transformed as I wrap them and put them in His hands. The people I pray for are transformed as God touches their lives. With every gift I wrap, I am going to pray for the person whose name is on the bow. Can you think of a better present?

The Trust Gift

11 12 2013

This story comes straight to you from the faith-full heart of a nine year old girl.

A grandmother and her granddaughter were enjoying lunch together at a local restaurant. The grandmother was telling her granddaughter how she and her friends meet at the restaurant every week, spending time together talking and enjoying deep friendship. “What do you talk about?” asked the granddaughter. “Everything,” said the grandmother with a smile. “You know, we sit together and solve the world’s problems.” The granddaughter looked at her grandmother with a puzzled expression. “Why? Don’t you think God can handle it?”


I love her insight. I am humbled and inspired by her words. I find myself needing to repent and to rub my bruised toes because she speaks the truth about my heart. Trust is a gift that we can offer to God this holiday season. Trust says that we understand who God is and that knowing His heart will change the direction of our hearts. Worry, anxiety, fretting, and stress all speak to my frantic efforts to manage the world around me. Trust allows me to step out of the driver’s seat and depend on the goodness of the Lord. I don’t have to know all the answers. I don’t even have to ask the right questions. I just have to acknowledge that God is in control, and keep my eyes open to the way He is working out His good and perfect will in me for His glory.

My Jesus Resolution today is to trust and obey. Every time worry creeps in and tries to snag my heart, I am going to resist the urge to grab the reins and find my own answers. I am going to allow trust to be a gift that my heart gives to God. A gift that is wrapped in surrender, quietness, and a willingness to wait. Whatever you are facing today, whatever worry has a stranglehold on your heart, whatever fear is holding you hostage, God can handle it. God is handling it because God has His hand on you. Trust Him.

The Praise Gift

9 12 2013

I could hear Andy Williams singing all over the store. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’ It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Humming along, it struck me how many superlatives we assign to the holiday season. Everything is the brightest, happiest, or merriest. The songs, movies, and commercials set our expectations and define our perspective about how amazing, romantic, festive, and jolly the season is supposed to be.

Yet, I want more out of this Christmas season. Not less merry and bright, but more awareness and appreciation for the One who longs to inhabit, shape, transform, define, and fill all of our seasons. Praise is the gift that will open my eyes and heart more fully to His presence. Praise requires me to stop and appreciate the heart of God. It asks me to look deeply into His character and name what I see.

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” – Hebrews 13:15

Praising God opens our eyes to His nearness, our ears to His call, our souls to His grace, and our hearts to His transformation. Praising God isn’t about throwing around superlatives. It is about responding to the truth of who God is and where He longs to stand in our lives.

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing “How Great Thou Art” out loud. The verses of this song call me to reflect on the wonderful, amazing, marvelous, awesome things God has done. The chorus is my heart’s response to His glory. It is a song that calls me to awe, humility, repentance, and wonder. Singing it provides me with an opportunity to reset the world’s expectations with heavenly ones, allowing me to smile with the knowledge that every day with God really is the most wonderful time of the year.