Spring’s Coming

28 02 2014

It has been a cold, wet week. The wind is chilly and blows right through you as you walk outside, ducking the droplets of cold rain. After this much damp cold, our bodies start hungering for warmth and sunshine. We long to stretch and let the open blue skies expand our souls and our horizons. We are anxious to take a deep breath of fragrant air and remember the possibilities that come with new starts, fresh beginnings, and the promise of spring.

But today, it is still cold. The clouds blanket the sky in a covering of grey. Impossibles are a lot like cold, grey days. We fight the way they chill our souls. We struggle against the way that they limit our perspective and dampen our spirits. God’s Possibles are like the sunshine. We crave its warmth. We value its light, the way it makes things grow, and how it illuminates our boundaries with new opportunities. We make it through the winter’s chill because we know that spring is coming. Impossibles melt into Possibles when we keep our eyes on the Son.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that spring is coming. The dark clouds and cold days don’t define my limits. God’s promises are as real in the edges of winter as they are on the brightest summer day. He is at work in me even when it seems like nothing is growing and shadows fill every corner. Even as I pull up the corner of my jacket against the wind, I can anticipate the warmth that will come with spring. I can look forward to counting the ways God has used these cold days to prepare me to flourish and bloom in the light of His presence.

Fill and Flow

26 02 2014

Who do you want to be? I think that we all want to be strong, courageous, compassionate, joyous, and confident. We want to love our families, nurture our children, share deep friendships, make a difference where we walk, and fulfill our God-given purpose. A conversation this week reminded me of an important principle that lies at the heart of living the kind of life I dream of living. I call it the Fill and Flow principle.

Imagine that you are a pitcher. Out of your pitcher flows everything that you want to give to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow Christians. Your love, time, creativity, strength, service, laughter, and hope flow like a stream into the lives of those you meet, work with, and love. I fervently pray to pour Christlikeness into every conversation, every encounter, and every activity throughout my day. In the midst of all of that pouring, however, I often lose sight of one important truth – I can’t pour out what isn’t a part of me.

If I want to pour out Jesus, I have to take the time to fill myself with Him. If I want peace to flow out, I have to be still and let Peace fill me up. The same is true of love, truth, compassion, goodness, holiness, and hope. Sometimes I get so busy, things are so hectic, and life is so crazy that the easiest things to cross of the list are the “fill” practices – Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and worship. It almost seems selfish to invest time in filling up. The truth is that is short-sighted to try to live an all flow, no fill life. God created us to live in a cycle of filling and flowing. Filling reminds us to be dependent, to be quiet and humble, and to refocus our eyes on the One who fills all with the fullness of Himself.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in the rhythm of fill and flow. I am learning that you can’t shortcut the filling in order to keep up with the crazy busy flow of life. I serve better when I spend time with the Servant. I love more deeply when I allow Him to fill me with His immeasurable love. I can share more joy when I have saturated my soul with His presence. The cross can flow more readily into my moments when I have planted myself in its shadow.


24 02 2014

Have you ever been homesick? There really isn’t any feeling like it. No matter how interesting or exciting your present location, home pulls at your heart. It is where you are best known and most loved. Home is where your soul breathes and your heart has room to fully sing. When we are away, we yearn for the voices that are most familiar, the hands that fit best in our own, and the laughter that ignites our joy.

When traveling, a letter from home can be a lifeline. Someone who loves you reaches out and pens words that touch your heart and remind you of who you are, where you belong, and what matters most.

As Christians, we are supposed to be a homesick people. This world is not our home. We are not meant to be too comfortable here. Our hearts are tethered to a different world. We ache for a home that is the true dwelling places of our souls. As we yearn for that place, God gives us a lifeline. Augustine of Hippo put it this way, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to read my letter from home. The Bible helps me see who I truly am and reminds of where I really belong. In the Word, I can hear my Father’s voice, feel His presence, and experience His love. Each sentence in Scripture pulls my heart toward home, reminding me that this world is temporary and what I can see is merely a shadow of what is to come.


21 02 2014

Do you feel overwhelmed? There are days when it all seems too much. Time pressures, money stresses, health struggles, and relationship tangles push on our hearts, making us feel like it is all going to come crashing in on us. We look for ways to keep our heads above water as we navigate the difficult waters that threaten to pull us under. We gasp for breath, praying that today will be the day we come out on the other side of the storm.

Perhaps being overwhelmed is the antidote to feeling overwhelmed. As I sit thinking about the mountains that need to be climbed, the valleys that must be travailed, and the tasks that call to be completed, I realize that I have a different choice. What if I begin to catalog the ways that I am overwhelmed by God instead of the ways the world is trying to bury me?

I am overwhelmed by grace.

I am overwhelmed by His love.

I am overwhelmed with power and purpose.

I am overwhelmed with blessings.

I am overwhelmed in His presence.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be overwhelmed. When I focus on the way that God overwhelms me with His goodness and might, it takes my breath away and helps me see my day with new eyes. Each day I have a powerful choice – be overwhelmed by the pressures, pains, and problems of life or be overwhelmed by His presence, power, and provision. Today I will choose awe rather than awful. I expect that in the process I will be overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.

I Am…

19 02 2014

Who are you? On a daily basis, we answer this question with basic vital statistics – name, job, and relationships. But how we answer this question in our souls is of eternal significance. The world spends a great deal of time trying to shape our identity. It will work hard to convince you that who you are defined by your weaknesses, your flaws, your shortcomings, your bank account, your accomplishments, your looks, or your circumstances. And we believe it. I believe it, and it cripples the way I walk through my day. Never good enough becomes my mirror and the way I see my reflection.

God has good news. You are not limited by your “I can’ts,” “It will nevers,” or “That’s impossibles.” Here are ten truths God wants you to embrace.

1. I am blessed.

2. I am forgiven.

3. I have a purpose.

4. I am loved.

5. I am victorious.

6. I am a masterpiece in progress.

7. I am saved by grace.

8. I am never alone.

9. I am rich in the things that matter.

10. I am a child of God.

My Jesus Resolution today is to believe that I am who God says I am. The world shouts, screams, and pressures me to settle for its version of me. God gently calls me into His love, inviting me to see myself through His eyes. Today I will read God’s truths about who I am out loud. I will say them with joy, embrace them with hope, and walk in them with confidence. God is at work…in me and in you. That is who I am, and that is enough for me.

Gold Medals

17 02 2014

I love watching the Olympics. There is something inspiring about watching athletes from around the world come together to put their dreams on the line. Everyone who competes in the Olympics does so with one goal in mind – a gold medal. Hours of practice, years of discipline, and a lifetime of sacrifice point the athletes toward a single goal – standing on the podium, flag flying, anthem playing, with a medal around their necks.

The stories that fill the Olympic Games always go straight to my heart. Stories of families who have dedicated themselves, sacrificed time, money, and opportunities in order to help their athlete live a dream. Stories of towns who have offered support and encouragement. Stories of the strength required to overcome pain, injuries, and heartbreak. One goal inspires them all – being the victor, winning the gold medal.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Here is the good news. We all have gold medal potential. At the Olympics, only one athlete can be a winner. In Christ, victory is not only possible, but guaranteed, to everyone who runs the race.

My Jesus Resolution today is to commit to my training. I don’t think of myself as an athlete, but the lessons I can learn from watching the Olympics can help me run the race. Keep your focus. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on. If you fall down, get back up. Keep practicing. Don’t give up. Sacrifice is necessary. Remember that you are on a team. Thank those who help you. Keep in mind that in the end, it will all be worth it.

Living Loved

14 02 2014

You are loved. Really. You. The God who rules the whole universe loves you. In fact, He is crazy about you. He deeply, passionately, whole-heartedly, unreservedly loves you. He wants to envelop you with His love, drawing you close to His heart and whispering to your stressed-out soul to breathe. Let His love change your heart, refocus your eyes, transform your mind, and redirect your feet. Today you can live knowing you are wholly and completely loved.

The ways that God shows us that we are loved are very personal. His love isn’t a generic one-size-fits-all thing. It is a personalized, intimate, knowing love that expresses itself in simple gestures and quiet touches on your day. Spend today watching for the ways God is quietly whispering His love to your heart. Take an inventory of your blessings. Notice how many times He meets a specific need of your heart. Look for the ways that He leaves a fingerprint on your day or a love note for your soul. He loves to custom-make gifts of love for you. He wants to catch the attention of your heart and longs for you to love Him in return.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live loved. Every moment of today is going to be drenched in His love. I want His love to saturate my soul and soak down deeply into who I am. Living loved changes that way that I see, think, move, feel, talk, pray, and listen. My identity and my confidence flow from the certainty of His love. My joy bubbles over when I find the expressions of His love all over my day. Each one reminds me that I can live loved because I am loved.

Staying in Love

12 02 2014

There aren’t any songs about staying in love. Falling in love gets all the melodies and attention. Those first moments when everything is fresh, new, and simple are what inspire poetry, love songs, and movie scripts. Falling in love finds us with stars in our eyes, carefully chosen outfits, and fresh manicures. Staying in love has to deal with the reality of dirty socks, sick kids, overdue bills, and empty cereal boxes. It is better pictured with a little less style and a lot more substance. Falling in love is easy. Anybody can trip and tumble into a song, a date, or a romantic moment. It takes something deeper to get up and daily make the choice to walk together – no matter what the day holds.

Staying in love means staying when escape sounds so much better. It means cleaning up messes you didn’t make, forgiving what hurts, listening with grace, praying through the pain, wrestling with worries, and seeing when all you want to do is close your eyes. This determination to stay in love goes beyond marriages. Its resolve flows into the core of what it means to be friends, parents, siblings, children, and neighbors. To stay in love is to stay. To plant our hearts in the relationships that define us, digging down deep to create roots that will nourish us, anchor us, and connect us for the long run.

We learn how to stay in love with our spouses, friends, and families by living in the stay-in-love reality of the cross. God’s love sees us through the tough times. He stays, even when I am less than beautiful, less than gracious, less than holy, and less than who He wants me to be. Every day, He holds out His hand and makes the stay-in-love choice to walk with me through the ugly and the lovely.

My Jesus Resolution today is to stay in love. Margaret Bonanno said, “It is only possible to live happily ever after on a daily basis.” I love that thought. If I want to live happily ever after, I have to decide how to do that today. The best way to stay in love is to fix myself firmly in the love of Christ. His love empowers me to stay in love in all my other relationships.

Falling In Love

10 02 2014

Love is on everybody’s mind. Valentine’s Day is approaching and everyone’s attention is turned toward celebrating the relationships that make our life sweet with joy and rich in wonder. This season of love is also a good time to reflect on our relationship with Christ. Are we growing closer to the One who loves us beyond measure? Are our times together sweeter, our conversations deeper, our walk together closer? Like all relationships, our connection with God grows when we invest our hearts in His heart.

Here are ten ways to fall in love with God all over again.

1. Listen to His voice.

2. Spend time in His presence.

3. Hold His hand.

4. Be quiet together.

5. Take a walk.

6. Learn His heartbeat.

7. Name His attributes.

8. Count your blessings.

9. Trust His love.

10. Tell Him your heart’s desire.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my heart to deeper love. No relationship survives long on cruise control. All relationships need time, attention, and a commitment to being fully present. This is especially true of my relationship with the Lord. I want to be overwhelmed by His love and give my heart fully to loving Him. I am going to take some time this week, as I express my love for the special people in my life, to remind my heart why I love Jesus and to delight in all the ways that He loves me.

The End of the Story

7 02 2014

The worry wraps around my heart like a cord, strangling my peace and suffocating my joy. This darkness squeezes my soul tight. Fear sneaks in, causing me to waver. I tell myself to breathe. This season will pass. The heaviness that presses in, making the way seem muddled and unsure, will lift eventually. Right? I hope so. I desperately want to hope so.

Struggles do more than wrench our peace. They can change the way we see. The mountains look more daunting, the valleys have more shadows, and the path seems to twist dangerously close to the edge. What came easily before requires more effort and energy than our hurting hearts can manage. Our lives spin upside down, causing us to lose our balance and our sense of being able to move forward.

On days like this, I need to remember a perspective-changing truth. Billy Graham put it this way. “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.” Here is truth that my heart aches to hear. We know the end of the story. This difficult chapter is just that – a piece of the story. But it isn’t the final word. God has already revealed the ending. It finishes with an enemy defeated, a Lamb enveloped in glory, and a heaven filled with Christians who held His hand till the end.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember the end of the story. What happens today is a page in my story. In every story, there is conflict, struggle, and heartache. The beauty of the story is found in the way that those difficulties help move the character toward the final purpose of the author. This chapter may be filled with tears, but the end of the story is pure joy.