Life should be about meaningful conversations, not mindless chatter; about making eternal investments, not just taking on earthly interests. But in order to get there, it is imperative that our relationships don't get lost in the shuffle of our everyday lives. Let's be careful to pay attention to the people God has entrusted us to have relationships with, because He may want to use us to nurture those individuals.
It is possible to reach out and touch a life for eternity. What kind of impact will you make today?
"[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men . . . . " -Ecclesiastes 3:11
Life is a tightrope. A fine line on which to balance. Lean a little too far to the right or to the left and you may fall off. So you concentrate. And you give. And you take. So let me ask you this: What is your focus? We all need a focal point, don't we?
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . " -Hebrews 12:1,2
Unlikely Sanctuary= a quiet place of worship outside the four walls of tradition. My unlikely sanctuary happened to be my back patio on Sunday morning. After spending the night caring for my sick child then waking with a migraine, I found retreat and solace amongst a choir of birds and a congregation of trees. We all sat in quiet reverence to the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is an advantage to blooming later in life. Late bloomers don't run the risk of sprouting too soon. Somehow, they have an innate understanding of saving the best for last, or for later. They realize that life is not about the science of blooming, it is about the art of becoming.
A tension rubs against us when we so desperately want to fit in with the culture, but we perpetually fail. Could that tension be like iron sharpening iron?
Perhaps the tension remains because we should desire the things of God, not the things of this world. Is that truth a reality for us? Not always. Is it ideal? Yes.
So if the post-modern culture says, "If it works, then it's true" . . . where does that leave us? I think we need to revisit God's idea of culture starting today!
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
Has God put a dream in your heart? I am not talking about the Disney variety that includes a wish upon a star or prince/princess charming knocking at your door. No, I am talking about the defying-all-odds type of dreams. I am talking about those dreams in which you are the hero who conquers the villain, whether that villain be world hunger or sex slavery or illiteracy or homelessness.
Has God put a dream in your heart? Is He ready for you to wake up and start living it?
Leaves fall in a cascading shower of red, yellow and brown. At this time of year a jacket is a necessity for some. But for this Floridian a jacket is a novelty. It almost becomes a fashion statement.
And I wonder if it's the same with Christianity? Do we sometimes wear religion as a necessity or a novelty, depending on what kind of statement we want to make?
So I pull out my pocket knife to carve my initials on this tree called life. I want to make my mark, but not for my own namesake. I want to glorify Christ with my life through a love relationship with Him, so I keep on carving:
L.S. + J.C.
Do you want to take a turn? Go ahead, make your mark!
Sometimes we think that if we surrender fully to the will of God, then he is going to send us to the farthest ends of the earth where there is absolutely no civilization (Ok God, if you send me, can I pack a lifetime supply of Starbucks in my suitcase?). But if we can set our fears aside, I think we will see that perhaps that is not always the case. In fact, I would like to take it to the other end of the spectrum and say that sometimes God doesn't abruptly transplant us, but instead he eases us into it through a slow transition. When we submit to Him, it can be more of a gentle nudge here or a soft invitation there so that once He has prepared our hearts, we feel compelled to say, "How can I sign up?"
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'" And I said, "'Here am I. Send me!'" -Isaiah 6:8
Shadows shift and hope dawns on the horizon. It is a new day filled not just with optimism, but with promise. After all, optimism can only take us so far. It is temperamental. It is conditional. Optimism is the wind that blows in our sail, but sometimes leaves us stranded on a still, glassy sea. But the promises of God can be trusted. They are filled with certainty. They are steadfast and unconditional. They are not as uncertain as the winds swooping across the sea, but they are more certain than the sea itself.
"And this is the promise that he made to us---eternal life." -1 John 2:25
I confess I have to strive daily to not reach an imaginary standard of perfection looming over me. Sometimes I feel confident in my attempts, making light of that standard as I limbo beneath it . . . How low can you go? Then there are times when I can barely clear it, and like a hurdler I make a mad dash for the finish line.
Jesus calls me to perfection, but not by any standard I can set. I know I am in a healthy place when He crashes my party, asking me to hand over the limbo stick, or when He blows the whistle and calls the race. But even then, He doesn't ridicule me like I am a delinquent teenager, or chew me out as though I have knocked over all the hurdles and lost the race.
Instead, He puts His arm around me and gently says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
He was born in a stable, not in a hospital. He grew up the son of a carpenter, not the son of a prominent leader. He sometimes gravitated toward quiet places-He didn't always hold public forums.
I think we ought to learn from his example.
When our society values overnight success, our Savior values humble beginnings. When our society tells us to pursue success at all costs, our Savior reminds us of the cost of discipleship. When our society points us toward praying to God knows what, our Savior points us toward praying only to God.
I stood over the stove in my kitchen, cooking dinner. From there I overheard my children interacting in the living room. My six year old made a very wise statement that I think we adults sometimes forget. She profoundly explained to my three year old, "The future is not something you go to!" And then she sought confirmation from me, "Right, Mama?" I felt blessed by the honest truth of her statement before affirming her.
How many of us are living for tomorrow?
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." -Jesus (Matthew 6:34)
Perhaps I was not actively seeking you, but still you found me. Perhaps I did not pursue you, and yet you never stopped calling. Surely I never acknowledged you, even though you never stopped saying my name . . .
But when I realized I was an orphan, you adopted me. And when I realized I was a stranger, you welcomed me.
When I realized I was wrong, you forgave me.
"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 3:9
Last night I saw my life collide with two potential crises, but I watched the Lord move in those situations and restore the damage. Did I feel shaken? Yes. Did I feel uncertain? Yes. But out of His goodness, God made two seemingly broken things whole again and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude!
Do I believe in the power of prayer? Absolutely. Do I believe God cares about what we are going through? Absolutely.
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:5-7
Jesus met me one day as I sat on a curbside with my hair disheveled, my clothes stained and my shoes worn, while the world left me on the side of the road, without a ride home. Stranded. But Jesus came walking by and extended his hand. I accepted his invitation. I received his love.
Has the world left you stranded? Maybe it's time to take Jesus' hand . . . to let him pick you up and take you home . . . but not to the home you've always known.
Maybe it's time for a new start?
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." Psalm 40:2,3
I find myself gazing up at puffy white sailboats floating across a bright blue sky, while the Captain of the open blue calls to me, desiring to speak of his love. And I am reminded of how we can experience divine inspiration in the midst of an ordinary day-maybe in a late afternoon walk outside or at the breakfast table over coffee.