The Palace

8 04 2015

My son was certain he had spotted the host of a home improvement show while we were out shopping. He begged me to stalk the man around the store, hoping we would get chosen to have our home remodeled on television. While the idea of having a brand new kitchen or bathroom is exciting, I knew that the gentleman who caught my son’s attention was not a home improvement expert. If we were going to remodel, we would have to find another way.

God is in the home renovation business. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, put it this way. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

God doesn’t just want to make a couple of repairs. He invests Himself in a complete transformation of our hearts. He rips out the old, ugly, worn, and rotten, building instead a temple worthy of a King. “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:22

My Jesus Resolution today is to look in the mirror and see a palace in the making. It is easy for me to see the broken pieces, dust, warped places, and dirty corners of my soul. It is hard to imagine my heart being a place grand enough for His glory. God, however, sees me differently. He isn’t looking for a place to live. He is looking for a child to love.


4 03 2015

Right now my son is sitting in an airport. He is supposed to be home, but bad weather, traffic patterns, mechanical difficulties, and a caterpillar crawling across the runway (just kidding, but it seems like a lot of excuses…) have slowed down his journey. Delays are no fun for anybody. Patience melts, good humor evaporates, and grouchiness just seems to explode. We all want to get to where we are going. Waiting just isn’t in our DNA.

While we would like to erase all waiting time from our schedules, the Bible repeatedly encourages our souls to wait on the Lord. God doesn’t seem to need to tell us to hurry, but He frequently reminds us of the importance of slowing down and waiting on Him.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” – Psalm 62:5

It turns out that waiting is an important part of our spiritual journey. Waiting on God means making the deliberate decision to stand in His love rather than running ahead of His presence. When we do, our eyes begin to change. We see things we might have missed in the blur of our hurry. Our thoughts are transformed as we exchange worry for waiting. Our souls become more Christlike as we learn to keep our focus on Him. Waiting changes our perspective, realigns our priorities, and stretches us so that we might be filled with His power.

My Jesus Resolution today is to wait with grace. I often feel like I am only making progress when I am moving, but God often works best in me when I am still and waiting. When I become frantic and frustrated, my voice is the only one I hear. It pushes me to hurry up, go faster, and do more. That is the way of the world. Waiting with grace challenges my heart to walk a different path – one of trust, surrender, and praise while I wait. Perhaps delays are not as much about obstacles and barriers as they are about learning, over and over, to lay everything at His feet.

Rocks, Stones, and Pebbles

2 02 2015

What is your rock? We all have one. Something that is an obstacle that keeps us from moving forward, growing deep, or finding our focus. Jesus talks about them in one of His parables. A sower casts an amazing seed onto rocky soil. It quickly grows, but can’t go deep because there is a rock that prevents the roots from finding their footing in the soil. The sun blazes, the moisture dries up and the plant, once so full of promise and hope, withers.

We all have rocks. Hard places in our hearts that prevent the image of Jesus from taking deep root. I don’t know what your rock is. Pride, anger, bitterness, selfishness, or a sinful habit can all be rocks that are buried within us, blocking the transformation God wants to work within us.

“…a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;” – Ecclesiastes 3:5a

There are rocks that we need to cast away, but there are also stones that we need to gather. Stones lie all over the pages of the Bible. Rocks are needed to build altars so that sacrifices, worship, and praise can rise before God. Stones are gathered as memorials to help us remember who God is and how He works. Rocks are piled up in order to stand as witnesses to promises. Stones are covered with the words of God, reminding a people of who they are and who they are called to be.

We all need rocks. They become tangible reminders of the way God moves in our lives. We need places of worship that challenge us give ourselves fully in praise. We need memorial stones that pinpoint moments when we see the movement of God. We need to gather pieces of our spiritual history so that we can tell our God story to the next generation.

My Jesus Resolution today is to get rid of a rock that is keeping me from looking like Jesus. I will need help. Grace is the only thing strong enough to pry it from my heart. I also want to gather a stone today. Something that will remind me of joy, open my eyes to mercy, and help my heart celebrate His presence.


Enjoy Today

16 01 2015

What is your favorite season? We all have a time of year that speaks to our hearts. I have a friend who spends the winter counting the days until spring. Others love summer with its bright sunshine, hot temperatures, and sense of freedom. Some enjoy fall with its cool breezes and brilliant colors. Whichever one is your favorite, they each have their own special beauty and own unique purpose.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Here is God’s first lesson about time. Recognize the balance and beauty that comes with the seasons. Each season works within a divine rhythm that allows the whole year to unfold, revealing His wisdom and creativity. The same is true of our lives. Our lives move within an unfolding series of seasons, each one having its own beauty, struggles, wonders, and tempo. Many times, rather than enjoying the season I am in, I either look back with regret, look ahead with worry, or believe that I have to accomplish the work of four seasons in the timeframe of today. We put so much pressure on ourselves to push through this season in order to get to the next one. God calls us to live fully in today. Enjoy today. Discover the unique pleasures that fill this moment. We couldn’t enjoy crunching through bright autumn leaves if spring didn’t come and fill the trees with green. The same is true in our families, in our friendships, in our work, and even in our relationship with God. All of the seasons of life work together to grow us into the image of Christ.

My Jesus Resolution today is to enjoy today. I am going to find ten wonderful things to celebrate about today. I am going to walk outside in the brisk winter air and marvel at the way God allows the earth to rest and renew. I am going to run inside, thankful for warm quilts and hot coffee. I am going to take a picture of my kids in order to capture this moment that will be gone too quickly. I am going to rest in the truth that God created this season in my life in order for me to walk closely with Him. I don’t have to rush it, over pack it, or wish it away – just enjoy it while giving Him praise.

Ten Things You Did Right In 2014

31 12 2014


The end of the year is always a time of reflection. How did your year go? Many times we are hard on ourselves for not accomplishing everything on our “list.” You know the one. The list that plays in the back of our minds like a running guilt meter. Before you beat yourself up, swallow the shame, and resolve to somehow figure out how to do better next year, ask yourself the following questions. You may be surprised by how much you did right.

  1. Did you pray? Then you entered the throne room of heaven and spoke to the King.
  2. Did you encourage somebody? Then you helped someone know they were not alone in a difficult moment.
  3. Did you read your Bible? Then you listened to the voice of God Himself.
  4. Did you step outside your comfort zone? Then you walked by faith and not by sight.
  5. Did you worship? Then you joined the countless angels in heaven glorifying the Lord.
  6. Did you say thank you? Then you displayed a heart of gratitude.
  7. Did you say you were sorry? Then you were a conduit of grace.
  8. Did you make a sacrifice of your time, money, or other resources? Then your generosity blessed others.
  9. Did you notice when God answered a prayer? Then you attuned your heart to His presence and movement.
  10. Did you have lunch with a friend, invite someone over for coffee, or move so someone could sit next to you at church? Then you embraced hospitality.

My Jesus Resolution today is to celebrate what went right in 2014. Sure, we could talk about doing more, having deeper commitment, or better consistency, but don’t underestimate the power of God. Giving Him even the smallest pieces of our hearts opens the door for transformation. Let’s celebrate the places where Jesus took shape in our words and actions. Let’s cheer each other on when we notice Christlikeness forming in our hearts. Instead of being critical, let’s catalog the way God is molding us to look more like Jesus, even if they seem tiny or insignificant in the moment. God may be using these ten things you did right to make 2015 a year for His glory.

The Virus

29 12 2014

It is flu season. Schools are sending kids home by the dozens. Workplaces are having to deal with staff shortages. Families are finding their holidays disrupted by coughing, fever, congestion, and misery. The aches and pains of the flu virus quickly overtake the body, sending us running for the covers, the doctor, and the tissues.

When you have the flu, you know it. So does everybody else. You will do anything to get rid of the virus attacking your body. I wish that the effects of sin on our souls were as evident as the impact of the flu virus on our bodies. If we could see the misery sin causes, the way in which it disrupts our spiritual health, and the power that it exerts when it takes up residence in our lives, we would be more proactive about getting rid of it. Sin, however, is subtle in its attacks. It presents itself as harmless, a little indulgence, a tiny compromise, or a guilty pleasure. It is a small thing. What harm can it do? The flu virus is a small thing too, but it packs a big punch. We can see the damage the flu virus does to the body. Imagine what just a small bit of sin does to the soul.

Thankfully, we have access to a cure. Jesus came into our infected world in order to heal the damage sin has ravaged on our souls. His blood has the power to unleash sin’s grip, bringing health, beauty, and energy into our lives. His grace is also the preventative we need to keep sin from restaking its claim on who we are. The transformation we begin in baptism continues to drive out the influence of sin, lessening the influence it has on our hearts.

My Jesus Resolution today is to visit the Great Physician. Sin has more of a hold on me than I would like to admit. He knows. He sees. He doesn’t turn away. He draws me into His arms, covers me with His blood, and eradicates the disease from my soul. Fresh and new, He invites me to breathe deeply, embrace joy, and live a healthy life in Him.

The Gifts You Won’t Return

26 12 2014

The wrapping paper has all been ripped open, bows strewn across the floor. The stockings no longer hang by the fireplace. The cookies have been eaten, and the memories of another Christmas are settling in. Sorting through gifts and packages, there is probably at least one item that you set aside to be returned. Whether it is the wrong size, wrong color, or just wrong for you, you will quietly head to the store to find something more suitable.

As you finish up the holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the gifts God has poured into these last few weeks. God always gives the perfect gift at just the right time. Here are ten gifts He gives us all that don’t need a gift receipt.

  1. Peace that passes understanding.
  2. Sufficient grace for every need.
  3. Love that knows no boundaries.
  4. The Word that reveals His heart.
  5. Hope that helps us face each day.
  6. Light that pushes back the darkness.
  7. Joy that celebrates today’s gifts.
  8. Glory revealed in simple beauties.
  9. Purpose bigger than our imaginations.
  10. His faithful presence in every moment.

My Jesus Resolution today is to cherish all of my gifts. It is easy for me to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of unwinding from the holidays. My mind tends to move on fast forward, and I miss opportunities to savor the blessings that God pours into the now. His rich gifts are meant to be treasured and enjoyed. Today I am going to name the gifts He has given me, stopping to thank Him for filling this month with Himself.


24 12 2014

My daughter lives in a different state than I do, a fact we both bemoan on a regular basis. The good news is that she is coming home…soon. When she gets things wrapped up at work, she is going to head towards Texas in order to be with us. And I can’t wait. Right now we are living in anticipation of her arrival. We know that the entire tempo of our house will change when she is present. We have planned things to do, been grocery shopping, rearranged things in the house, and talked on the phone about the fun we are going to have. The best thing, however, is going to be found in just being together. She will be with us, and that is the best gift of all.

Everything that Isaiah has laid out about the coming of the Messiah is meant to underscore a momentous revelation laid out just a few verses earlier in his words of prophecy.

“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

Immanuel means “God is with us.” The Messiah, the One who will bring light, ignite joy, be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, reign as King, and reveal the expanse of the Lord’s zeal, is coming to be with us. Choosing to be with us. Setting aside glory to be with us. Sacrificing to be with us. His presence among us changes everything. His willingness to share in our humanity opens doors we never dreamed could be ours. The rhythm of our lives changes tempos as we learn to walk with Him through our days. All of the blessings that He brings to our hearts pale in comparison to the best gift of all – God is with us.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pause in His presence. I don’t want to miss the best Gift this year. I want His presence to fill up my days. I pray for open eyes, an open heart, and a humble spirit. I long for transformation and for the opportunity to look more like Jesus. Merry Christmas, my friends. Enjoy every moment of your holiday season. Hug your family. Be thankful for your gifts. Smile as you remember that His presence is the very best present of all.


22 12 2014

Do you have any idea how much you are loved?

Seriously. You are wrapped in an infinite embrace of divine delight. You are loved just for who you are right now. Really. The world tells us that we will be loved if…if we do enough, are pretty enough, know enough, have enough, or fit in well enough. The reality is that if always stays just out of arm’s reach. We can’t do enough to earn the love our souls crave.

As Isaiah unfurls heaven’s plan for our redemption, he tells us of the coming of a child who will change the way we see God, think about heaven, and walk on this earth. But it is the force behind this remarkable revelation that should speak most deeply to our hearts.

“The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” – Isaiah 9:7b

Zeal is a funny word. We aren’t quite sure what to do with it. We agree with the ideals behind zeal, but are slightly uncomfortable with the extremes to which zeal is willing to go. Yet our salvation is fueled by the Lord’s zeal. It is His eager desire to show you His love that powers His commitment to come to earth on your behalf. His zeal is unstoppable. There is no force on earth that can diminish His love for you or His desire for you to live in His presence. His zeal makes Jesus in a manger, in the temple, on a boat, feeding a crowd, healing a blind man, speaking in parables, and on a cross the most beautiful truth the world has ever known.

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace God’s zeal for me. The Lord’s zeal extends to all, but it is also deeply personal. God is zealous about me. Me. He is eager to show me His love. I don’t want to miss or underestimate the lengths to which God will go in order to make me His. A quiet manger holding a newborn and a wooden cross covered in blood stand as exclamation points proclaiming His zeal…for me.

The King

19 12 2014

It was still and dark in the pasturelands surrounding Bethlehem. Shepherds were settled in for the night next to their flocks, their senses alert for predators seeking to harm the lambs. They never expected to be the recipients of heaven’s rejoicing. An angel’s bright light pushes back the edges of night, proclaiming news of great joy. A child is born in the city of David. Not just any child. The child. The promised one. The fulfillment of a thousand years of promises. The King.

Read the words of Isaiah as he describes the One who will wear the crown and reign over the world.

“Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

 to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.” – Isaiah 9:7a

Jesus is the King. His reign is defined by His character. Justice and righteousness mark the way His rule reveals His power. Peace overflows into His kingdom as He establishes His place as ruler and sovereign. He fulfills the promises made to David, but in a way so much richer and deeper than we could imagine. Jesus isn’t just a man after God’s own heart. He is God’s own heart sent to walk on the earth.

We are His kingdom. He doesn’t rule over a plot of land, but in the hearts and minds of His people. Our souls are His throne. He inhabits our praises. His sovereignty unleashes His purpose in our lives. His power transforms us into His image with ever increasing glory. We walk in this world as testaments to His reign, reminding the world with each step that the King has come.

My Jesus Resolution today is to take my cue from the angels in the field. It is time to share with someone the good news of great joy – the King has come! Jesus invites everyone to open their heart and surrender themselves to His reign. Starting with me. I need to examine my little places of control, putting them under submission to the sovereignty of God. Living this kingdom life proclaims to the world that the King has come into my life, and the result is great joy.