Boys Will Be Boys

30 10 2015

Our society has a saying – boys will be boys. It is meant as a license for bad behavior and a free pass to act in ways that are foolish and immature. Too many of us buy into the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. We paint all young men with a brush that says that they are incapable of being anything more than the sum of their hormones and base desires. Jesus teaches us differently.

Jesus was a boy. He was born male, and walked this earth as a young boy, teenaged guy, and adult man. Jesus was born into a family that taught Him how to honor the presence and purpose of God for His life. As an adolescent, He obeyed His parents and grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men. As an adult, He listened to the voice of God, doing His Father’s will and surrendering His life to His eternal plan.

Jesus is the Model for our sons, grandsons, nephews, little boys, teenaged boys, all boys. Too many times we assume the worst about our boys, rather than expecting them to live like the Best. We give into the world’s wisdom, allowing society to set our standards, color our vision, and define our expectations. When we look at our young men, we can choose to see the world’s reality or the potential they have in Christ. We can settle for leaving the bar in the dirt, or raising the bar to the standard of Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to raise my sons to look like Jesus. They do not have to be who the world tells them they are. Choosing to be a man like Jesus is the harder, longer, more difficult path. It requires men willing to look like Jesus in transparent and personal ways in the lives of my boys. It calls for women who will live out God’s own unique call for their lives in front of them. It means finding role models who will walk with them and encourage them to be more. It demands diligence, determination, and discipline. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality diminishes the possibilities of transformation and the power that flows from the empty tomb. I want my boys to be more. God says that they can look like Jesus.





Wallpaper

28 10 2015

The wallpaper had to go. Outdated and showing the signs of being the backboard for any number of boys’ balls, it was time for the baseball-inspired wallpaper to rest in peace.

I gathered my tools, climbed the ladder, and began the process of “off with the old, and in with the new.” As I started, my creativity took flight as I imagined fresh paint, warm colors, and beautiful charm taking shape in the space.

That lasted about six minutes.

The wallpaper didn’t want to come down. The old adhesive proved more durable than I imagined. I peeled, scraped, scored, and sprayed in an effort to expose this section of the wall to something more desirable, but it resisted transformation. I finally succeeded in getting a corner loose and, with some sense of satisfaction, yanked the piece of stubborn paper from the wall. Progress, I thought. But there, under the baseballs, was another layer of wallpaper. Spaceships, this time. I had forgotten.

Standing on the ladder, peeling away layers of glue, I saw a picture of my soul. Transformation always sounds appealing in the beginning. But looking like Jesus always involves the hard reality of stripping away the old in order to make way for the new. But my sin is stickier than I realize. It is more durable, more tenacious, and more comfortable than I would like to admit. And just when I think that maybe I am making progress, another layer of selfishness, coat of pride, or sign of shame peeks out from underneath.

My Jesus Resolution today is to watch my Savior and redouble my surrender. His blood is the perfect antidote for sin’s sticky residue. His power can pull away the guilt that clings to my soul. He is not discouraged by the layers of old, worn-out, stained, and tacky that too often seems to define who I am. He wants me to look like Jesus. He can see the beauty and potential of what lies deep inside, and He delights every time I open my heart, inviting His transformation to unfold in me.





Where Do You See Him?

26 10 2015

It echoed as a quiet whisper in the middle of the night. An email with one sentence – where did you see God?

The ability to see God moving in our days, in our activities, in our hearts, and in our circumstances is one of the essential keys to learning to be like Jesus. Jesus looked at fields full of crops and saw the Father. He noticed sheep lying in a pasture and saw God. He observed seeds growing, watched children playing, ate His meals, slept in a boat, caught fish, and with every step, every breath, saw His Father at work. Everywhere He looked, He saw a world permeated with the presence of the Loving One. He calls us to learn how to see with His eyes.

Some days it is hard. The question whispered in the dark didn’t flow from doubt or disbelief. Sometimes our vantage point makes it difficult to see Him. We need others to help us trace His hand, feel His touch, and spotlight His movement.

But here is the catch – it takes vulnerability to ask. It means that we have to be willing to admit that we can’t see. There is transparency required in learning how to open our eyes. We have to risk exposing our weakness in order to see His glory.

John the Baptist understood. Imprisoned by Herod, John sent messengers to Jesus. Are you the One or should we look for another? I am having trouble seeing, he admits. Where is God? Do you see Him?

My Jesus Resolution is to be like John. When it is hard to see, I am going to ask for help. I love Jesus’ answer. “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” (Matthew 11:4) John risked asking, and Jesus sent him people with stories – stories of the lame walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, and the dead rediscovering life. John also reminds me not to keep my God stories to myself. Someone out there may be asking – Do you see Him? Your story may be God’s answer.





One Hundred Times

23 10 2015

“…the seriously devout Jews of today still giv[e] thanks to God one hundred times a day.” – Ann Voskamp

I was reading – one of my favorite things to do – and came across this observation. One hundred times a day. I stopped and pondered the magnitude of thanksgiving that pours from lips committed to gratitude one hundred times per day. Do I give thanks that much? Could I? Would I?

One hundred times a day seems overwhelming. It would require a focus and dedication that would occupy the mind and the heart throughout the day. I realized that might not be a bad thing. Gratitude instead of grumpiness. Worship in the place of worry. Jesus occupying my thoughts, shaping my words, and sharpening my vision instead of the television, the radio, or my own misshapen perspective. One hundred times per day.

I decided to do the math. Taking out seven hours for sleeping (probably more a dream than a reality), there are seventeen hours left in the day. Giving thanks one hundred times per day would require gratitude to bubble to the surface six times per hour. Once every ten minutes.

How would I be different if I stopped and gave thanks for the blessings I had experienced in the last ten minutes, every ten minutes, all day long?

My Jesus Resolution is to give thanks one hundred times today. It is a risky challenge, living out I Thessalonians 5:17 so literally. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I can only imagine how my eyes will be different, how my heart will be softer, how my spirit will be more attuned to His presence, how my worship will be reshaped, how my soul will be transformed. Do I dare give thanks one hundred times a day? Do you? I dare you.





Thin Places

21 10 2015

The Celts have a tradition that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places the distance is even smaller. Thin places are spots where the threads between heaven and now are stretched and sheer, allowing us to catch of glimpse of God’s glory. They are the moments when we catch our breath in wonder, and experience the grace-filled reality that fills the other side.

There are thin places in nature. Places of such intense, raw beauty that we can’t help but cover our mouths and stare. Awe makes us rub our eyes as we soak in the splendor of a vista that boldly, persistently proclaims the majesty of God. These are places where it is hard to leave, to tear our eyes away from the truth that God is in this place. We walk away humbled, eyes wide open, our sense of how we fit into the universe realigned. Thin places.

There are thin places in time. Moments when we feel God’s presence in an almost tangible way. Some of these are times of vivid, overwhelming joy. Others are marked by the intensity of grief or pain. Sometimes it is a quiet whisper that catches our ear, encouraging us to stop and pay attention. These thin places in time come like a streak of lightning, illuminating, for just a moment, a different reality than what we usually see. Thin places.

Sometimes thin places are found in people. Someone who shows you Jesus, extends grace, offers a hand, reminds you that you are loved, or helps you take the next step. In watching them walk with God, we catch a glimpse of His face, hear His voice, or feel His love. Spending time with them leaves us both hungry and satisfied. With them, we have moved a little closer to heaven, hearing angel wings. Thin places.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look for a thin place. I am convinced that they permeate our world. Places where we are allowed to see glory, witness majesty, experience beauty, and let heaven touch the here and now. The thinnest place of all is found on a hillside planted with three crosses. The one in the middle holds back the fabric of earth and invites us to peer from this world into the one beyond.





Seeing God

19 10 2015

I love church signs. You can tell so much about a church by what they choose to put on their sign. The one that just caught my eye read, “If you want to see God, focus on Jesus.”

I love it. In nine words, this sign sums up the message of the Bible. Jesus came to reveal the Father to the world. He came to show us His heart, give us a glimpse of His glory, and embrace us with His love. His words resonate with the Father’s truth and purpose. His actions reveal the Father’s power and compassion. His movement uncovers the Father’s deep desire to make you His own.

The Hebrew writer put it this way – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3). When we focus on Jesus, we are ushered into the radiance of the glory of God.

When we listen to Jesus, we hear the voice of God. When we believe Jesus, we respond to the truth of God. When we follow Jesus, we walk in the will of God. When we surrender to Jesus, we live in the purpose of God. When we focus on Jesus, Jesus tells us that we are able to see the Father.

My Jesus Resolution today is to focus on Jesus. Seeing God is the desire of my heart. I can’t wait to behold His glory, bow before His majesty, and live fully in His presence. Through Jesus, I can do all of those things today. Christ’s character reveals the heart of God. His commands provide a pathway into His presence. His call invites my heart to live in His abundance. Setting my sights on Jesus has the power to open my eyes in ways beyond what I can imagine.





Grace Street

16 10 2015

Driving with a GPS is a lesson in faith for me. I turn off the familiar path, following a voice that gives me directions that will take me to my destination. For me, this is an exercise in trust, and it highlights exactly where I struggle in my walk with God. I want to know the ins and outs of every road I am going to take. I want to call the shots about where to turn. I want to make decisions about my direction.

This day found me driving in an unfamiliar part of town. I left the main road, listening to the instructions about where to turn, what path to follow, and when to make lane changes. I was just trying to stay on course when the GPS announced that it was time to turn onto Grace Street.

I couldn’t help but smile. It was a God moment. My thoughts while driving had been overwhelmed by the similarities between driving with a GPS and walking by faith. Now He showed me the blessings of trusting His direction. Follow His lead, and I will always end up on Grace Street.

Grace Street is both our destination, and the road on which we travel when we go with God. It is a place where mistakes are forgiven, wrong turns are corrected, leaky hearts are mended, and flat souls are reinflated. It is a place with room to grow, transformation to be experienced, and wonder waiting around the corner. When we walk in the Way, we will discover that the home for our hearts is located on Grace Street.

My Jesus Resolution today is remember that I live on Grace Street. If I take a wrong turn, I can turn around and find my way back home. I can rest in all that it means to live in a place defined by grace. I can tell others my address, and invite them to come and stay. I am going to trust His lead, follow His direction, and walk in His steps. I may struggle with wanting more control, but I am going to set my heart to listen to His voice and match His moves. A GPS can sometimes send you in the wrong direction, but God’s compass is always set toward Grace Street.

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