Thursday, December 17, 2009
"The path of righteousness is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." -Proverbs 4:18-19
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Bridge Builders teach the value of linking the well-fed with the hungry.
Bridge Builders embody what it means to extend grace to those who do not know how to receive it.
Bridge Builders love their neighbors as themselves regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, culture or economic status.
Bridge Builders also check their foundation so that the structure is trustworthy and strong.
Jesus Christ is our ultimate example of what it means to be a Bridge Builder. He not only narrowed the gap between humanity and God when he died on the cross, he removed the gap completely. Jesus says "'I am the way and the truth and life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ( John 14:6)
Are there any gaps God is leading you to fill today?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
She stares out the window remembering a different time when showers were apart of her daily regime. Now they seem like a luxury. She envisions her favorite pair of black high healed shoes-the ones that looked great with that black miniskirt she used to wear to her favorite restaurant. Now she wears flats and eats at McDonald’s. But her personal favorite used to be Saturday mornings when she slept in till noon. Now she wakes up at 6:30 to an infant tugging at her breast.
Small grunting noises emerge from the tiny frame, all bundled up in pink, resting cozy in her arms. “But you’re beautiful,” she whispers, “and 100 percent worth it.” Her baby girl came into this world just two months earlier, and has taught her some new things about the lifestyle of infants; they scream like rock stars, and stay up all night like college students.
“It’s quite different from the days when I screamed like a rock star and stayed up all night as a college student,” she recalls.
“For the longest time I thought I needed to find myself, so I embarked on a journey, searching. I like to call it Tour de Me. And for some of the time I knew who I was, but for most of the time I traveled incognito. I couldn’t even recognize myself. So I found it easier to let people tell me who I was. Many men called me Available. But I know that God saw me as Too Vulnerable. Some men called me Tender, but God saw me as Meek. Those men knew me as Lover, and God, you knew me as Daughter. But I did not know you-yet.
Then one day after my journey had taken me far away, I hid from the scorn of society, but you found me. It was a time when the world accused me, but you loved me. At first I thought you were just another man, but when you struck up a conversation with me that day, I knew you were no mere man, but the Messiah. And I discovered that you were not trying to take something from me, like the others, but instead you wanted to give me something: mercy, grace, forgiveness, and salvation.
I found myself the day I found you, Jesus.
So my journey came to an end, but at the same time, it began.
Now I sit here today, redeemed and restored. I have returned to my first love and found new love in the process-love expressed in the shape of a cross, love expressed in the shape of a golden circle on my finger, and love wrapped in a tiny pink package.”
Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink."8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. 9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.* She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?" 10 Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water." 11 "But sir, you don't have a rope or a bucket," she said, "and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?12 And besides, do you think you're greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?" 13 Jesus replied, "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life." 15 "Please, sir," the woman said, "give me this water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to get water." 16 "Go and get your husband," Jesus told her. 17 "I don't have a husband," the woman replied. Jesus said, "You're right! You don't have a husband—18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!" 19 "Sir," the woman said, "you must be a prophet.20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,* where our ancestors worshiped?" 21 Jesus replied, "Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.23 But the time is coming—indeed it's here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." 25 The woman said, "I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." 26 Then Jesus told her, "I AM the Messiah!"*
Monday, December 14, 2009
"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A large hawk flew in the sky overhead like a shadow contrasting with the white puffy sky above. And just as he flew directly above me, he began to soar. The wind sustained his altitude and he lingered there before a gust of wind carried him away.
I wondered, Can I be content to just be carried and to soar?
But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:31
Thursday, December 10, 2009
But the romantic French enthralls me, so I chose to take a few entrepreneurial liberties and open a French establishment in the heart of the American countryside. At one point I hired a French chef whose culinary skill could match the distinctly French name of the B&B: Le Grande Maison. Nevertheless, my efforts to appease my identity crisis of somehow existing as an American owner of a French business inevitably failed. The chef turned out to have a temper as fiery as crème brulee, and given that my patrons would not recognize the French countryside if they were visiting France itself, business flopped.
Still, I am an optimist at heart. So, I started a second business to cater to my American clientele, called the White Pickett Fence Company, building custom made fences that satisfied any idealist’s dream. Despite my efforts, I have not constructed a fence so ideal as to land its design on a magazine cover. Now it’s nearly Christmas and as I stand outside my home on this crisp December night, my dreams also stand here beside me, like ghosts shivering in the night. From inside Katie turns off the lights, unaware I had slipped out in the cold to evaluate my ambitions.
It’s hopeless, I whisper and tramp through the slush, making my way back into Le Grande Maison. The night is dark and still.
Suddenly, I hear the footsteps of someone making their way through the slush behind me. You think you’ll keep her going, or you think you’re gonna fold?
What? I ask, half startled, turning around. The big house? Is it a go? Inquired an old man, partially balding with white hair that curled down over the collar of his trench coat.
I don’t know. I stammered, feeling stripped of my own self-confidence.
What if I told you I got some real estate real nice like this-A beauty of a place? I can give it to you for free. He offered with a smile.
What’s that, for free? You been drinking tonite, Mister?
No. Not at all. See, there’s a place where the streets are made of gold and there are mansions even more beautiful than you can imagine.
Naaa, not tonight. That’s not for me.
All right, but if you ever change your mind, it’s yours.
Jake! Suddenly Katie calls from inside the house. Jake. Jake . . . . ..
But then the tone of her voice blends with a deeper one . . .
Jake, Jake, wake up. Hey, English! The Preacher is here. It’s the Christmas Eve service. Remember, you said you would go.
Jake lay there in a shabby bed. His body once longed for the soft flannel sheets of Le Grande Maison, but instead his now aged body lay dead and motionless, not in a B&B but in the Federal Prison. His cellmate, Frankie stood by shaking his cold shoulder.
We called him English because he always walked around with a notepad and pencil writing things down, and talking with fancy words, like a professor or something. He musta died in his sleep. Guess he couldn’t live to see another Christmas in the Big House. No one really ever knew what he was in for-just know it happened many years ago. See Preacher, look here. I think he wrote something from the Bible. What’s it say?
Frankie handed the small notepad to the kind gentleman, who read the note aloud,
He wrote down Luke 23:39-43:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
What’s that mean, Preacher? Frankie asked.
It means he could be in the Big House tonight. But not like one you or I have seen, it’s a greater one called Paradise.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Now fast forward 10, 20, 30 or 40 years to today: Christmas 2009. Is it possible that you once again find yourself frozen in a crisis of belief? Only this time you haven't lost faith in Father Christmas, but in God the Father.
Perhaps it is time to revisit the faith of your childhood, only not just in a myth, but in a man: the Son of Man.
" . . . she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." -Luke 2:7
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I confess I have been guilty of decorating on a whim without reflecting on the depth of the nativity's meaning.
"So they (the shepherds) hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:16-19
Monday, December 7, 2009
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:2
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Imagine the softening of a heart that is otherwise uptight and controlling, or the reunion of estranged loved ones, or an orphan adopted into a loving family.
This Christmas season, no matter how great your need is, God is greater still.
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." -1 Peter 4:8
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
But today did you find yourself standing on your tiptoes, trying to get a better view of the landscaping? Did the shrubs appear neatly arranged among decorative pavers with a patio furniture set from Pottery Barn?
We tend to imagine our lives to look like they are staged and ready for a catalogue photo shoot. But as we go through life, we realize that suddenly we are not so photogenic. Am I right?
Or can we claim to be more like Paul, who writes; "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Monday, November 30, 2009
I cannot imagine the first Christmas when my Savior took his first breath in the night air of an old dusty stable. Lord, did you shiver in the cold when you stepped out among humanity-God clothed in an infant's frame.
Lord, did all of heaven look down to earth from the warmth of cloudy, frosted windows? I cannot fathom that you left the comforts of home for the sake of me and for all humanity. Yet, on the night you came to earth, they pushed you to the outskirts of town.
Lord, I pray that we will welcome you today, and not push you to the outskirts of our lives, even on our darkest and coldest nights.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Is there an open door God has placed before you this holiday season?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"Every good and perfect is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." -James 1:17
Monday, November 23, 2009
My six year old helps to usher in feelings of thanksgiving; in her first grade class at a public school, she wrote a story about how thankful she is for Jesus. Her child-like faith bears a depth I admire.
Meanwhile, my three year old waits for the day when we can decorate the house for Christmas, after having very little memory of Christmases past.
And I look forward to spending quality time with family and friends in the midst of all the festivities that deck the halls of our lives with beauty and busyness.
But even when the demands of this holiday season come knocking at my door, I will remember that most of all, my heart swells in anticipation of celebrating the birth of our King.
"'Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" -An angel of the Lord, Luke 2:11
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
It’s difficult to discover a life more fulfilling than the life that follows in the footsteps of faith.
Do we dare to live like Abraham who had the faith to choose obedience and sacrifice? Or do we merely desire to reap the blessing of counting stars?
Do we fight our own battles with the faith David held onto as he faced Goliath? Or do we simply close our eyes and make a wish for victory?
Do we cling to a faith that commands mountains to move? Or do we live with the kind of faith that keeps mountains standing still?
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” –Jesus Christ (Matthew 17:20,21)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
In the midst of experiencing God’s faithfulness to me, I can see clearly that true contentment can come out of suffering. After all, contentment is not something that is fabricated, but rather it is birthed. It emerges from the deep fibers of the human soul after all that soul has endured. It is a taking off of the cast of what was once broken, and allowing rehabilitation to begin.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
In college, I remember singing a song called “Shout to the Lord” and feeling so empty, small, helpless and broken. It was during that song that I said, “Lord, I surrender my life to you” and I immediately felt a huge weight lift off my body. I let go of all that I had been clinging to for so long that I began to shake. It was a huge experience that changed me for eternity. It was wild and it was radical. How could I go from singing the words of Tom Petty, “You don’t know how it feels to be me . . .” to Shout to the Lord, and all in one weekend? Because by the grace of God I stumbled upon a new beginning, not just a new song.
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." Psalm 40:1-3
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
At one point in my life, there was too much noise in my head. It rang in my ears. Voices echoed from the past of lovers I lost or lovers that lost me, of abandoned dreams, of sound advice that once beckoned me not to go. It was a collection of hauntings that did not allow me to rest, and for this reason, I remained unsure of whether or not I could reach out and find the Great Almighty, or just end up somewhere in the great unknown. Until suddenly I felt a little push, and I lost my balance. Perhaps it is an angel, hoping I would fall into God’s lap, or a demon that devised to tip me ever so slightly into the deep, dark abyss called hell. I think it could have been either, but then maybe it was neither. Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit wooing me unto him the way a mother chases after her wandering child.
Isaiah 30:18 "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion."
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
We all hear the popular clichés, “Give it time” or “Time heals all wounds”. These phrases bear some truth when set against the truth of God’s Word that says there is “a time to heal” (Ecclesiastes 3:3). But what is time, really? Is it an elusive force that winds in and out of our lives? Is it a thief that steals from us? Is it Father Time who cares for us? Is it something we can manipulate to fall back or spring forward? We all have different perceptions of time, but time only has one perception of us; it moves and travels regardless of where we stand or what we do. We all have moments we wish to preserve, and we all have moments we wish to erase.
So what do we do with time? Shall we carpe diem? Shall we concern ourselves with time since the Bible says, “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8,9). My desire is not to waste time, but to make the most of it. He has carved the truth of his word into the woodwork of my soul and I intend to display the works of his hands.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
What is beauty?
For me, beauty is no longer something I have to prove in the eye of my beholder. Instead, beauty is birthed in the eye of my Maker. He places a rare treasure in my heart that cannot be bought. It does not come in the shape of a Coach bag. It does not look like a new hair color. It does not feel like a new boyfriend. It is an inner confidence of God’s love for me- a sturdy sort of substance that really sticks to the heart and radiates in the eyes of others.
1 Peter 3:3,4 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Songs of praise rise up like rays of light stealing the night away. And the darkness evaporates.
Hope rises to penetrate the heart, conquering despair, the way a soldier takes on his enemy. And the darkness evaporates.
God’s presence settles around us like a dense fog, so that no matter which way we turn, he is there. And the darkness evaporates.
“You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29 from David’s Song of Praise 22:1-51
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
What defines us? Financial security? Having a significant other? A great career path? A lavish home or car? A sculpted physique? All of these things can be good as long as we own them and they don’t own us . . . as long as we give them over to the Lord and don’t keep them as idols . . . as long as they are not the sole prizes we seek to obtain.
In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures I heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I think the question worth asking is, what is our treasure, or perhaps more importantly, where are our hearts?
Friday, July 31, 2009
What does it mean to thirst? How many times a day do you think, I’m thirsty then seek to fulfill that basic physical need. What do you drink when you feel thirsty?
What does it look like to spiritually thirst? Jesus makes several references to a spiritual thirst during his ministry; “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6), “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). On most occasions, I think of spiritual thirst as a need I take to Christ because he satisfies, he gives, he quenches, he provides.
When I think of God, I try to comprehend His union of the physical with the spiritual so that we might better relate to Him. In doing so, He relates to us in such a basic way that God himself, so holy, so perfect, so divine, would thirst. In John 19:28 Jesus says, “I am thirsty” just before He dies on the cross.
I try to wrap my brain around the fact that the God of the universe sent His son Jesus to this earth as a man, that He would thirst, so that I may thirst no more.
Are you thirsty today?
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Someone once said it takes a village to raise a child: mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, big sister, big brother, babysitter, teacher, coach. I believe the same can be said for a child of God. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are God’s workmanship. He is the Craftsman who shapes His craft and he does so in part by using others: mothers, fathers, mentors, disciplers, role models, friends.
Who does God use to shape your life? What are the works that God has prepared in advance for you to do?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I love the days when I am traveling on to a place where mountain tops collide with the sky instead of running to catch up or sitting in a lonely, stale room.
Where are you today? Are you on board this train called life?
Jesus says in John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The view from my home in Florida is a tropical treeline that in some ways reminds me of a Gustav Klimt piece of art with swags of Spanish moss loosely dangling over patchy green leaves, pushing their way to the front like children crowding together for a picture. In other ways, the treeline resembles the lacy hem of a dress as the triangular tops stand neatly sewn together. Who can create such a magnificent piece of art framed from within the outline of my window? Who can sew together a more beautiful garment? It is the Lord and He speaks loudly with the trees as his megaphone and the vast blue sky his arena.
But the question remains: are we listening?