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Thursday, May 31, 2012
We should not break the backbone of our faith for the sake of not cramping our style. Still, we tend to hang our hopes on weighty issues that even the most solid of backbones was never meant to carry. So we address popular opinions, but hopefully without tweaking ours to suit theirs. In The Message Bible, Matthew 5:14-16 reads, "You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." Do we shine brightly with this truth mixed with grace, or are we merely blending in with the crowd?
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Expectation greets me at the start of a new day. It always leaves me feeling eager for great things and sometimes feeling anxious that I might settle for lesser things. So I pick up God's word with hopes that I might never fail to have any expectations at all because I serve a big God who is capable of big things. How about you? Do you greet each day with great expectations of an even greater God? If not I want to encourage you to read Ephesians 3:20, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."
Monday, May 28, 2012
I dreamed at night in black and white, the color of ink printed on a page. I dreamed of stories to be told from the exact same pen I hold. But dreams fade away when night turns to day as I wake with scribbles written on my heart. And as ideas run through my head, I jump out of bed to put onto paper what God has put on my heart, for "we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)."
Sunday, May 27, 2012
If we start trying to carve out a niche for ourselves with the hopes of not stepping on toes or burning bridges, then we are meant to do magnificent things. But if anyone achieves their dreams at the cost of sacrificing relationships, then their mission is flawed and life will feel lonely at the top. So let's pursue our passions by taking people with us along the way. After all, "All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it."-1 Corinthians 12:27
Friday, May 25, 2012
Sometimes the idea of summer seems to swallow me up. Just the thought of the calendar makes me wonder if I make my schedule or if my schedule makes me. So I step into a place that always feels familiar: my kitchen. In my family, the kitchen is the hub of our home. And somewhere in the midst of lemons and lentils, words flow easily from my heart to the pen to the page. For me, continuing to write through the busy summer months will come most naturally when I take time to dish up something substantial, whether onto our plates or onto the page. How about you? Does finding comfort in the familiar free you up to write during the busy summer months?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I have hid behind a curtain of activity with hopes that a prompting "to be" rather than "to do" would eventually subside. But in my heart I knew that busyness did not equate with obedience. I can be busy doing things for God, but they may not be the key things he planned in advance for me to do. Does busyness have you distracted today? If so, "... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds..." -Hebrews 10:22-24
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I do not want to live like a Christian who clocks in and clocks out, just as much as I do not want to live with the kind of Christianity I can do with my eyes closed. So I am calling it quits from the routine and the ordinary to pursue the ways God wants me to live, whether they fit on a calendar or not. When I read Isaiah 55:8-9, I understand that I cannot simply try to pencil God into my daily life, "'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" I cannot read that passage without feeling compelled to want so much more. Could God also be challenging you to put the ordinary aside and embrace with open arms the amazing plans he has for your life?
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I felt like looking pretty to soothe my weary nerves after yesterday kept claiming to know me. But there is so much about me today that yesterday has not been told. So I pulled my heart out of hiding, only to discover how wrinkled it had become. Then I opened it up and smoothed in out before pinning it on my sleeve. And once I did, you called me beautiful. "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Control caught me in a place where I did not want to be found, hiding halfway between the perfect and the immaculate, because the truth is that reality is hard to be friends with. So playing a game of hiding feels more familiar than getting found, especially when I struggle with trying to hide my heart in my own sense of perfection. Still, I have hope when I read what the author of Psalm 119 writes, "To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless (Psalm 119:96)." And I feel so thankful to know that God offers me freedom in Christ. How have you been hiding your heart from God?
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I think the idea of destiny is highly overrated. When held in the light of an all-powerful God who has a perfect plan, destiny merely leads us down different avenues that should not define us. Those avenues may shape us or sharpen us along the way, but they can never make us into who God intends for us to be. Instead, those avenues ought to be nothing more than pathways that are apart of our greater journey we take with Christ. Do you walk down avenues that leave you weary after chasing an illusion called destiny? Perhaps it is time to walk a different road. "Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, 'Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He's on his way! He'll save you!' Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly. There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It's for God's people exclusively— impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it." -Isaiah 35:3-10 (The Message)
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Story stands at every door of our hearts, waiting to be told and wanting to be heard. But sometimes we feel more compelled to embrace the story that simply goes riding off into the sunset rather than embracing the story that points people to Christ. Perhaps we do not feel like entertaining story in such a way that it could change us by softening our hearts or by opening our minds. But the truth is that a love story gets woven into every story that glorifies God. And that love story is one he has written for each one of us. So before we feel like turning those stories away, let's consider giving them a second chance. Is there a story you have been waiting to tell or wanting to hear? Perhaps you are like Paul who writes, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)."
Monday, May 14, 2012
Discovering opportunities and deciding to either pick them up or to pass them by can be very difficult. I find it especially hard when opportunities are not only begging to be seized, but are also branded with a shelf life that will eventually expire. The idea of an opportunity having an expiration date means making a timely decision to either move toward that opportunity or to let that opportunity move toward someone else. Are you faced with decisions to make regarding opportunities in your life today? If so, let me encourage you with wisdom from God's Word, "So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do." -Ephesians 5:15-17
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Some of us live life on the edge, while others have a fear of falling off. But God does not call us to feel comfortable. He calls us to be courageous. And while there is excitement in adventure, there is not always a safety net. How do you live? By holding on to what seems safe this side of heaven? Or by holding on to the hand that holds heaven? "This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Transparency found me tangled up in a crowd, trying to find the truth. So I hid my face in my hands until I could find my way through. Even though the crowd felt thick and I felt thin, I just knew that disappearing in the depths of the majority is not what I have been called to do. So I rest now in the fact that I have been rescued, especially after not really knowing for so long that I was lost. And I embrace everything I know to be true about myself by matching it up with the truth of God's Word. "'For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.'" -Ezekiel 36:24-26
Monday, May 7, 2012
Recently, God released my heart to resign from ministry as a profession in order to remain in ministry as a lifestyle. So I am taking off my ministry mask to reveal a more realistic me. Now the truth can be told with each expression that crosses my face since I actually have a smile that not only looks less plastic, but also feels less perfect. So when ministry in real life gets messy, I can better reach the bruised and brokenhearted. After all, I cannot get deep in the dirt if my heart is clothed in khaki, but I can clothe my heart with the comfort of an old cut off pair of jeans and dig deeper for all of you to see all of me. "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:19)." How do you do ministry in real life?
Sunday, May 6, 2012
My life is a steel train rushing full steam ahead. Sometimes I feel as though I am a passenger en route to a clear destination, and life is full of meaning and purpose. Other times I feel like a box car child, running alongside the train, trying to hitch a ride. And then there are times when I sit in the comfort of my seat from the confines of the train station, watching my life go by. 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."
Friday, May 4, 2012
Some say success is found by discovering their destiny while they wait for destiny to come dancing on their doorsteps. But I say success is having a hearty goodness handed down from heaven that heaps our lives full of blessings, giving us a heritage we can dish up into the lives of our children. To me, success means leaving a lasting legacy that glorifies Christ. What does success mean to you? "Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]." -James 1:17
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Can I carry multiple loads on the tops of my shoulders? Or do I shift them around so that they balance on my back? The weight of indecision either grows heavier by the day, or I just don't feel as equipped to shoulder the load. So I let the weights fall off my back to give myself a little rest. And as I take some time to just be still, I remember there is a better way to manage all the weight I've been carrying around. Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne (Matthew 11:28-30)." What do you need to do with the weight you have been carrying?
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Competency calls, telling me I can make it in life. So I climb higher, like a champion claiming her prize. Only, I don't want the obvious sort of prize made from silver or gold, instead I want the kind made by the One who makes all things beautiful and new. This world offers the types of prizes that I can touch or taste, but God offers the prize of new life. What type of prize are you striving for? "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."-1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
My view 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 of greenery? It is the Lord and He speaks loudly with the trees as his megaphone and the vast blue sky as his arena. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." -Romans 1:20