Glory to God

29 04 2015

This week I read a story about a concert given in Vienna, Austria on March 27, 1808. The orchestra was performing Franz Joseph Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation, a moving masterpiece describing the Genesis account of God’s formation of the world. It is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Haydn’s works.

As the crowd gathered to hear the concert and celebrate Haydn’s birthday at the University of Vienna, word spread through the audience that Haydn himself would be attending the performance. At age 76, the frail composer had to be carried into the concert hall on an armchair. The excitement among the people attending the concert was contagious. Dignitaries and other famous composers, including Beethoven, were present to honor the great master. At the point in the performance when the chorus and orchestra filled the hall with the music of “And there was light,” the audience rose to its feet, applauding the composer. The old composer struggled to his feet and in reply cried, “No, no. Not from me, but,” and he pointed upward, “from heaven above comes all.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to mirror Haydn’s actions at the concert. Everything I do should point people to God. Every word, every gift, every movement should lead them to the cross. It would have been easier, and expected, for Haydn to take a bow. Instead, the composer reminded us all of the underlying rhythm and purpose of creation. We were made to give glory to God.





Ordinary

27 04 2015

Ordinary women in the hands of an extraordinary God – this is what we are! I was reading along and came across this title. It captured my attention. Ordinary is how we see ourselves. Special, but not captivating. Smart, but not brilliant. Pretty, but not glamorous. We quietly work, love, and move through our days not expecting to gather much of the world’s attention or adulation. You know, just ordinary. When we rest in the hands of our extraordinary God, however, everything changes. It isn’t that we are better or less ordinary. Rather, our simple hearts become magnifying glasses that allow God’s extraordinary love, power, beauty, and wisdom to shine through us. Paul tells us that ordinary is a blessing because ordinary showcases the truth that “this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (Check out 2 Corinthians 4:6-7) It is in the simple, regular, ordinary moments of our days that we can sometimes see God most profoundly. Today is probably just a regular, ordinary day for most of us. But remember, this is the day that the Lord has made. The extraordinary has already touched this day. Regular you and ordinary me get to spend the day delighting in the ways that He is present and celebrating the truth that we rest in the hands of an extraordinary God. My Jesus Resolution today is to look for the extraordinary in the midst of my ordinary. God’s power, love, mercy, and goodness are woven into the ordinary pieces of my day. He loves to use the plain, the regular, and the ordinary as canvases for His glory. My job is to be transparent and surrendered to the ways in which He wants to shine through me. I’m ordinary, but I serve an extraordinary God. In the end, that is what I want you to see.





Spring

24 04 2015

Springtime (and allergies!) are in the air! Have you been watching? Brown twigs boast new green finery. Color is bursting forth on the landscape, high and low. Patches of pink, yellow, white, and magenta break the bleakness of winter greys and browns and announce that a new season has arrived. The sun is gently warming the earth. New life, in all its varieties, remind us that God is a Master at creation, renewal, and restoration.

God also uses these beautiful spring days to remind us of the influence our actions can have in the lives of others. Second Samuel 23:2-4 says, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.” 

Every interaction with others has the potential to point them to Jesus. When we walk with an awareness of God’s presence, we have the opportunity to help others see Him. When His words are on our tongues, we can share His light and watch it bring warmth and healing just like the sun shining on a cloudless day. When we treat others with fairness and integrity, it falls into their hearts like life-giving rain. The dawn, the sunshine, the rain, and the new spring growth help us to not only see God, but what He longs to do in our lives. They also help us see how He can work in our lives to show others His heart. 

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate spring. I am going to take a minute to walk outside and look in wonder. I am going to let the colors that I see paint a picture of the way God wants to fill my life with beauty. I want to let the newness of new green remind me of the fresh grace He wants to bestow on me. I long to let the sun warm me with His love. I am going to let all the new growth that seems to emerge by the minute help me see the promise of transformation He is working in me….and you.





God is Happy

22 04 2015

Her mom came up close, and asked if I had heard her daughter’s happy story. She had the biggest grin on her face, and I couldn’t wait to hear about her five year old’s latest adventure.

It was a rainy afternoon. Thunder and lightning crackled in the clouds as big, fat raindrops poured from the sky. The family was together, getting out to run some errands when they passed a rained soaked dad and his two boys. They were walking home, drenched in the downpour. My friends pulled over, asking if they needed a ride. The wet dad and soaking boys gratefully piled into the van. My friend told me that the small boys must have said ‘thank you’ a hundred times.

It was just a few minutes’ drive to their house. On the way, they realized that there was a school connection between the children. They chatted as they drove, quickly reaching their destination. The dad and boys got out of the van, overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them.

The van door had barely shut when the five year old beamed and said, “God is so very happy! We just looked like Jesus!”

She is so right. Nothing pleases God more than when we reflect the image of His Son in this world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make God happy. I want to look like Jesus. Today, I want to be deliberate and practical about showing someone His love. I want to be like my friends and stop to help, encourage, hug, provide, or bless someone else. Too many times I miss the moment because I am too busy, too distracted, or too comfortable. Not today. Most of all, I want to be like my little friend. She knows God’s heart, what makes Him happy, and how to celebrate with Him when we look like Jesus.





Looking in the Mirror

20 04 2015

Small children don’t spend a lot of time looking in mirrors. They don’t feel a need to check their hair, make sure their clothes match, or that they look put together for the day. When they do look in the mirror, it is always with a bit of surprise and amazement. They like what they see. They are fascinated with the one staring back at them. They engage the person in the mirror as if their reflection was a friend. Children live within the reality that enfolds them. If they are told they are precious, loved, beautiful, and smart, they believe it. They live it. It is only later, when other voices begin to crowd their world that they begin to check the mirror and doubt the value of what they see there.

God wants us to live within His reality. It is His love that enfolds us, His grace that defines us, and His purpose that directs us. He wants us to believe what He says about who we are and who we can be in Him. Daily, He tells us that we are precious, loved, beautiful, and chosen. Faith is believing that what God says about you is true. Faith is choosing to live in that truth every day, even when other voices tell us differently.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look in the mirror and look for God. The world expends a lot of energy telling me that I fall short – not pretty enough, successful enough, strong enough, smart enough, or valuable enough to be worth their notice. Those voices are powerful because they are so persistent. I want to be like a little child. I want to look in the mirror and see the person God wants me to see. Look in the mirror with me today and celebrate the person you see – the special person Jesus gave His life to redeem.





Sanctuary

17 04 2015

The words from J.W. Thompson and Randy Scruggs beautiful song, “Sanctuary” have been echoing in my head and heart this week.

Sing with me?

“O Lord, prepare me, to be a sanctuary.

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.”

A sanctuary is a holy space. It is a place to meet God and experience His glory, be covered in His grace, and stand in wonder at His holiness. The prayer enfolded in this song is that He will transform my heart into a space fit for His presence.

God longs to inhabit our praise, dwell in our decisions, make His home in our habits, and abide in our actions. I want my heart to be that kind of sanctuary. A place where God’s presence is evident, where His holiness is at home, and where others can see Christ living in me. From the moment we rise from the waters of baptism, the Spirit works in us to transform us into this kind of cross-shaped, resurrection-empowered, peace-permeated, joy-drenched sanctuary for His presence. Every day He is making another small change that brings me into closer alignment with His will, into a deeper understanding of His love, and into a more grace-filled reflection of Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray the words of this song. Prepare me. Those can be scary words. What does He need to do in me today so that a fuller measure of His presence, a greater depth of His glory, and a more complete image of His Son can live in me? Am I willing to surrender in order to be pure and holy, tried and true? Thanksgiving opens the doors. Praise lets in His light. Grace sweeps out the cobwebs. Prayer invites God to take up sanctuary in this broken-but-fixed-by-Jesus heart.





Mud

15 04 2015

I used to hear it all the time while growing up. “Do that again and your name will be mud.” I didn’t really understand all the implications, but the words were enough to alert me that I was on the edge of trouble. Even as a little girl, I didn’t want to be called Mud, so I returned to the straight and narrow where I could keep my own name. It wasn’t until I developed an interest in history and spent one summer pouring myself into doing research about Abraham Lincoln that the true significance of those words became clear.

One hundred and fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet. John Wilkes Booth, in anger over the defeat of the South in the Civil War, determined to kill President Lincoln. He shot him at Ford’s Theater, jumping onto the stage in the middle of a play, and escaping through the stage door. As the evening gave way to the early morning hours, President Lincoln died of his wounds and the nation mourned the loss a great leader.

It was also in those early morning hours of April 15, 1865, that another drama was playing out in the Maryland home of a country doctor named Samuel A. Mudd. John Wilkes Booth had broken his leg in his escape and needed medical attention. He banged on the door of Dr. Mudd, who set his leg, gave him food, and a place to rest. On April 26, Dr. Mudd was arrested and later found guilty of conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln. He was sentenced to life in prison, even though there were serious questions surrounding his knowledge and participation in Booth’s plot. He was later pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, and released in 1869. In the four years since his arrest, the phrase, “Your name will be Mudd” took on a deeper, darker significance. Nobody wanted to be associated with the name Mudd.

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to be aware of the power of a good name. In the end, my name and reputation are all that will be remembered. God wants me to invest myself in being a person of integrity. He knows that every choice reflects on the heart that He is shaping within me and speaks to not only my own name, but the name I wear because of His Son. I still don’t want my name to be Mud, but the name Christian has a special beauty that I want to cherish.