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 Outdated and showing the signs of being the backboard for any number of boys’ balls, it was time for the baseball-inspired wallpaper to rest in peace.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





Praying For You

14 10 2015

It came as a quiet, hurried phone call. “Please pray. Pray right now.” The tension in my friend’s voice was obvious. Stress was fracturing peace. The jagged pieces of broken hearts were shredding joy. Tears flowed with such ferocity that it made it difficult to breathe. Drowning in a sea of desperation and despair, my friend sent up an SOS – please pray.

My heart jumped into my throat even as I fell to my knees. I prayed. I prayed hard. I struggled with a desire to do more than pray. I wanted to help, ease the pain, find a solution, or open a closed door. Anything to heal the situation in which I heard my friend’s heart breaking.

Walking through these days of prayer, God reminded me of a precious truth. Prayer is the first, best gift we can give to those we love. There is nothing more powerful than inviting God into the circumstances that challenge us. There is no better answer than asking the Lord to move in the ways He knows are best.

God stands in the middle of our homes, workplaces, friendships, and churches. He knows our struggles, sees our tears, understands our fears, and witnesses our worries. Prayer asks God to unleash His power, unfold His purpose, and unveil His presence in our days. It pleads with Him to take what we cannot control, and bring it under His sovereignty and into His light.

My Jesus Resolution today is engage the power of prayer. Prayer’s potency doesn’t flow from our words, our faith, or our timing. The power of prayer is rooted in the power of God to intervene in our lives. Prayer acknowledges our dependence and deep need for grace. It speaks a profound truth into our hearts that God is able enough, faithful enough, loving enough, and mighty enough to change what seems to be unchangeable, answer what appears unanswerable, and move the seemingly immoveable. Prayer changes things because prayer changes people. Starting with me.

 





Uphill Climb

12 10 2015

Have you ever felt like you just were never going to make it to the top? Sometimes the road seems pretty level, things are going well, and the walk is easy and energizing. Other times, however, finds you digging deep for the strength just to take the next step. The grade is steep, the climb all uphill, and the horizon just never seems to get any closer.

When you are standing at a distance, it is easy to talk about the mountains. They soar majestically into the clouds and grace the horizon with images of strength and beauty. Stand at the base of a mountain and you might find yourself with a lump in your throat. Things look a little tougher from the bottom of the hill than they did when the mountain stood in the distance.

It is in the uphill climbs that we become the most transparent. What lies at our cores is revealed as we struggle to take each step and find our footing on the rocky terrain. Uphill climbs highlight on whom we depend, what we understand about our purpose, and how we see the journey. It is in the midst of the climb that transformation is most deeply at work in our souls. It is here that we catch a glimpse of what is really true, what is worth the effort, and just how much endurance and grace are bound together.

God gives us an amazing truth to hang onto during the uphill climbs. Listen with wonder. Let His words soak deeply into your heart.

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” – Isaiah 46:3-4

Our lives are spent in the arms of God. He carries us close to His heart from infancy to old age. From before your birth, God loved you. When your hair turns gray, God will still be carrying you. Up the hills, over the mountains, through the valleys, and around every turn, God holds you tightly and carries you.

My Jesus Resolution today is to rest in His arms. I never make the uphill climbs alone. I can walk in the stability of His grace, move in the refreshing rhythm of His mercy, and find sure footing in His faithfulness. Today I am going to stop for just a minute, close my eyes, and feel His arms around me. Too many times I try to walk in my own strength, and end up tired, frustrated, and disillusioned. Being carried changes the uphill climbs into times of intimacy, dependence, and trust, but it requires surrender. Are you going to climb today or let yourself be carried?





Door Openers

18 09 2015

My sons are learning to be door openers. We call them gentlemen-in-training. They have watched their grandfather do it for their grandmother, their dad do it for me, and now they are learning how to open doors for others. It is pretty neat to watch.

They are learning how to open car doors, front doors, garage doors, and store doors. There is a rhythm to learning how to open doors. You have to watch the other person. You have to be aware of how to move the door so that it is easiest for the person you are serving to go in and out. They are learning how to offer their hand or their arm if someone needs a little extra assistance. They are discovering how to pace themselves so that they can walk with someone and put them at ease.

I really can’t think of anything else I would rather my children become than door openers. I want them to be able to open the doors of their hearts and love deeply. I want them to open the doors of their minds and drink in all the rich wisdom of God and the beauty of this world. I want them to open their eyes to the very real presence of God. I want their spirits to be open to the call of God on their lives and their souls to be open to the transformation He wants to work deep within them.

I long for them to be door openers for others as they invite them into God’s grace, to make it easier for someone to come to the cross and stand amazed by the empty tomb, to join in worship, and bow in surrender.

I want the psalmist’s desire to be the desire of their hearts. “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – Psalm 84:10b

My Jesus Resolution today is to be a door opener. I am going to learn from my sons. I am going to be deliberate about making it easier for someone to see Jesus. I want to open the door into His presence, invite someone to make themselves at home, and show someone the delight of His grace. Opening a door is such a simple thing. Yet, it is a gracious act that shows someone else they are important. Jesus was a door opener. My boys are learning. Now it is my turn.





Overwhelmed

16 09 2015

Dear Friends,

Overwhelmed. If I had to pick one word, it would be this one. I am writing this to you from a hospital bed, but your prayers have been a blanket around my soul. Thank you doesn’t begin to express the gratitude that fills my heart and the hearts of my family. As you know, I have been very ill. The word went out that I needed you to take me to our Father’s throne and plead for His power and mercy to be poured out on me and my family. He is faithful, and I am writing to you today as a testament of His grace. I have a long road of recovery in front of me, but God’s story is being written large across the pages of these days. My doctor speaks of miracles, and I can point those around me to His glory.

I am going to continue to humbly ask for your prayers, patience, and love. As I focus on healing, I would like to share some of my favorite blogs with you. You are special to me. Thank you for loving me and continuing to lift me in prayer.

Casandra

 

A Lesson in Contentment 

Another lesson from the car seat. My four-year-old friend and I were driving to school this morning. He announced on the driveway that we would be looking for dump trucks, cherry pickers, and school buses. Keeping our eyes open and paying attention to all the neat things God puts in our path is one of our greatest joys.

Our eyes were peeled and almost immediately he saw a school bus. Smiles exploded from the backseat as he noted how quickly we were spotting these road treasures. Driving along, he noticed a bright yellow car and pointed it out. I told him that it was a fun car and that I would like to have a car like that one. He got a puzzled expression on his face. “But you already have a car.”

I do have a car. Of course, I couldn’t learn my lesson on the first go around. I tried explaining that sometimes it was fun to think about what kind of car you might like to have someday. So I asked him, “Do you ever think about what kind of car you would like to have?” “No,” he responded. “I just want to be four.”

Contentment is the attitude of being at peace amid your circumstances. It counts the blessings that we often overlook. It sees the presence of God in the ordinary.

Too often I wish my life away. I wish for a new car rather than being thankful for what I am driving. I wish I was in a different stage of life rather than enjoying the moment I am in. I wish I was starting, or done, or had the chance to do it all again rather than savoring the part of the journey I am on.

My Jesus Resolution today is to cultivate contentment. I am going to be satisfied with the richness of today. I am going to spend less time wishing and more time counting my blessings. I am going to keep my eyes open, looking for the treasures God puts along the road today. I am going to let every yellow car I see today remind me of the lesson of contentment God wants to plant deep in my heart.