Friday, October 29, 2010

The Mess of Learning

"Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

I'm somewhere I've been dreading for a while. I am potty training one of our now three year old twins. (Don't judge! :) ) Potty training is not something new for me. I have been to this rodeo before with the twins' two older sisters. You'd think I'd jump in with supermom gusto (and would have done so sooner) and show them who's the potty boss. But I haven't. I've procrastinated and delayed. There's one reason why. Learning is messy.

I've been making excuses and putting off the inevitable because I don't want to deal with the mess of learning. I don't want to wash out all of the soiled underpants and wipe down potties. I don't like the embarassment of having my kid pee on the floor when we are away from home. I don't like the inconvenience of the drop-everything-and-run-like-the-wind-for-the-nearest bathroom stage every time I hear those little words "I have to go potty." I've just plain been selfish, because learning is messy.

Pottytraining isn't the only thing I've pushed aside because of the mess, though. I've done it with writing and relationships and other things too. I avoid messy. I don't like it. I often want everything to go right the first time, and all of the time, but it doesn't. I am not perfect. My kids, my relationships, and my writing aren't perfect. For some strange reason, I am always thinking one day they will be. In fact, it is a recurrent newsflash to me that God doesn't ask me to struggle for perfect. Jesus already bought perfect for me. It is my calling to walk forward by grace, instead of sitting sidelined and paralyzed by fear.

Failing isn't the antithesis of learning, if I will let God use what I've learned to help me grow forward. I don't have to live in dread, fear or worry over potential, and sometimes inevitable, messes. The same God who rescued me from the mess of myself for eternity can rescue me from the mess of my learning to walk with Him here (Galatians 3:3). Life will always have some elements of chaos and imperfection, but those obstacles need not keep me from reaching for what lies ahead.

Are you like me? Do you avoid new things or hard things because you're afraid of the mess it may make to get there? Let's commit together to remember that learning is messy and that's ok. Let's get out there and live big, steadied by that perfect grace of Jesus who loved us before we ever got the crazy notion we had to be perfect anyways (Romans 5:8).

Now, off to more laundry and clean up on aisle 3's!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hide or seek?

What about life makes you feel like hiding? Is it consistent pressure, unrelenting demand? Is it fear?

I'm convinced that many of us live perfecting the art of hiding. As John Ortberg termed it, we become satisfied with living out a shadow mission, a second-best-settling for our life's purpose. I cannot tell you how many things fear has robbed me of in life. The fear of what could happen or what someone else might think or what I might be incapable of, have all kept me paralyzed at different times.

We may think that we can insulate our lives from pain and failure, and all of the other things we hide from (even success). The truth is God knows where we are all along. There is no hiding from His loving presence.

I was struck by this afresh as I read in 1 Samuel 10, where Saul was to be publicly anointed as Israel's first king. Saul had previously met with Samuel and knew that he was to be God's chosen man for this task. Yet, when it came time for the public anointing, verse 21 said he was not to be found. When they couldn't find him, they asked God where His man was at. God said, "He has hidden himself among the baggage."

I both chuckled and cringed when I read that. I laughed because it seems ridiculous to hide from a sovereign God in a pile of suitcases. I cringed because I have tried to hide among the baggage too. More times than I would like to admit. I have hidden behind my past, or my inability, or my fear of failure, or any other number of excuses - ducking out on callings I know God has issued to me.

No matter how you or I seek to insulate our lives from pain, difficulty, rejection, or uncertainty, there is no good to come of hiding. Hiding robs us of seeing God at work in us and through us. It robs us of learning to walk in deeper faith and abiding trust, because hiding demonstrates that we really don't trust God's sovereignty at all. We would rather hide out among our baggage - our past, our inadequacy, our present circumstances, than to step out and take a risk by faith. We would rather put all of our effort (and it takes effort and planning and expense) into hiding than we would to put it into the action of living faith.

Jesus came to set us free from every entaglement this world can offer. Sin, our past, our future, our present, our cirucmstances - anything we face cannot separate us from God's love. We may think we are hiding, but God knows right where we are. Because He sent Jesus, we are no longer slaves to fear. It is not about what we are able to do. It is about His ability to do in and through us the works He prepared in advance for us to do.

So instead of hiding, we can step out to meet God at the point of His call. Is He calling you to forgive? Is He calling you to lead? Is He calling you to love? Is He calling you to something you've been hiding from? Then, step out! As Scripture encourages, Do not throw away your confidence in God (Hebrews 10:35). Instead, move forward in faith.

What baggage are you hiding out in today? Stop hiding and start seeking!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Paths of Deliverance

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Exodus 14:21-22 (NIV)

What do you think of when you think of deliverance? Do you think of relief? A way out of the pain, confusion or sorrow? In my life, I've found that paths to deliverance aren't always like what you'd expect. I've thought about this many times as it relates to the Israelites as they were crossing the Red Sea. How frightening it must have been to see the Egyptian armies coming in the desert. Just when the Israelites thought they had made a break for freedom and a new start in life, the enemy comes charging on their heels. Not only do they have the threat of their past captors enslaving them once again, but as they start to run, night sets in.

Sometimes it can feel like we've gotten free of one situation only to turn around and find trouble on our heels again. As we muster the strength to try to run again, night falls and we feel surrounded. Like the Israelites, we are tempted to doubt God's faithfulness. We begin to recount our past struggles as possibly better than our current ones and we face the temptation to retreat to old habits or simply to hide. We just don't see a way out of our own inevitable defeat.

But as God's Word so faithfully points out, God's ways are not our own. Paths to deliverance are not always marked with parades and singing and neon runways. Sometimes pathways for our deliverance seem dark, chaotic and out of control. However, despite our limited vision and perspective on the situation, God in His sovereignty sees those situations as a beautiful backdrop for displaying His glorious ability to save and to deliver.

Think for a moment what the Israelites must have felt. Sheer terror, discouragement, a sense of being simply overwhelmed at the thought of imminent defeat. They had their enemy at their heels, the sea in front of them, and the mirror of their own inability to do anything about it in between. But God had plans to deliver them, and in that night - amidst the darkness, with the enemy encroaching, He began to push back that sea. He made a way out of no way. This was a miracle! No one had even thought about this option, but God had it in mind all along.

That's where most of us stop in this story, but there is so much more to consider. Can you imagine being an Israelite walking through on dry land looking at walls of water beside you on either side, unsure of when they might come crashing down? I speculate that too must have been pretty scary. Not only did they not know when the water might envelope them, but they also still must have thought the enemy could simply continue following them on past the sea.

God had different plans. His path to deliverance was miraculous and frightening, yes, but it was also sufficient. The same God who parted the sea in the first place was the same God who threw the enemy army into confusion and ultimately swallowed them up in victory. Read it here:

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt."

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen." Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

I don't know where your dark nights right now in life are. I don't know what struggles or past temptations or imminent fears are nipping at your heels, with handcuffs in tow. What I do know is that if you belong to Jesus, then you serve a God who is mighty to save and to deliver. In America, we often believe that means we will always find our way out of trouble and fear and hardship. The Bible tells us differently.

Sometimes the paths to deliverance are long and hard. Sometimes they are a battle. Sometimes they are filled with fear and chaos, and even on the path to our deliverance, we are unsure how it will all come together for victory. What we do know is this: our God is able to make a way out of no way. Heaven, earth, wind and wave obey His command and He can do whatever He pleases to bring our deliverance. His Son, Jesus, walked a lonely road to a hill and a cross, proving that deliverance does not always come the way we expected.

As we face our deserts and those things that chase us this week, jeering that our defeat is near, may we remember once again that our God is faithful, sovereign, and able. He can move in ways we'd never expect and He always has the final say. What you see as a frightening enemy at your feet, or a wall of water at your side may simply be a marker on your path of deliverance. May that bring us peace as we trust in our Deliverer and watch His majestic plans unfold.

Psalm 144:2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Those Aren't Your Shoes

2 Samuel 22:33-34 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.

We were heading excitedly down the path at the park. My two two-year olds were running with excitement. Well, I should say, one of them was. My son kept tripping a little every few feet. He has taken a liking lately to his older sister's Crocs. I'm not sure if it's the bright yellow and orange that fascinate him, or the feeling of wearing big kid shoes. Whatever the case, he loves to wear these out. We let him do so around home or if we're headed somewhere he won't be doing a lot of walking, since they are about 3 sizes too big.

On this particular day, however, I had forgotten he had those shoes on. He had done ok for a while, taking time to stop and put them back on when they fell off, or picking himself up again from another minor trip. Finally, there was one bigger fall that caused some scraping, though he still caught himself. He looked at me with tears in his little eyes that said, "I'm frustrated and hurt." It was then I had one of those mom moments. You know. The ones when you hear yourself saying something to your children and suddenly realize you're talking to yourself too. Ever had one of those?

I said, "Son, those aren't your shoes. That's what happens when we wear shoes that aren't ours." Wham. The conviction train ran me over. How many times have I tried to (figuratively of course) wear shoes that weren't mine? How much pain have I self-inflicted by trying to run in shoes that are too big, too tight or just plain old not for me?

When I chase after someone else's success, someone else's path, trying to force my life into their same shoes, I'm disappointed. When someone else tries to force their plans, ideas and dreams for me on my life, I struggle, fall and cry. I cannot run well in life wearing the dreams and desires and ambitions of others. Instead, I always find myself stopping to try to force the shoes back on again. These stops, starts, and struggles remind me that someone else's shoes weren't made for me to fill.

God made each of us unique. Our calling, our gifting, our talents and our opportunities are all different. When we put on someone else's shoes, no amount of envy, cajoling or faking will move us forward the way we were meant to move forward. (Not to mention that if we've got our feet jammed in there, the person who is meant to wear those shoes can't wear them. )

I don't know if you can relate to my son's struggle, but I can. I've been there and done that, figuratively speaking. I have tried on callings and opportunities and paths and talents that were definitely not my own. I have worn shoes others have placed on me and found myself frustrated. I have looked longingly and with awe at the sparkle and success of someone else's life, someone else's road and stood so sure that those shoes would be just right. But they're not. They weren't made for me.

My son has shoes of his own. His shoes fit the contours of his own little feet. They're just right for the stage of growth and for the season he's in right now. He doesn't need to flail around struggling to wear his sister's shoes. In the same way, You and I have our own shoes to wear. God has given us each opportunities and gifts and places and relationships that are ours to walk in. We may think that others' look better or feel better, but the truth is that our shoes are tailor made by a Heavenly Father who loves us. He knows what shoes we need for the specific roads we face ahead, shoes for running and not growing weary, for walking and not growing faint.

Isaiah 40:31 "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.

Hold My Hand

Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV)

We were leaving church the other day. As usual, it was quite a gymnastics workout to get our twin two-year olds reined in before we opened the door to the parking lot.

As we made our way towards the street, I reached for my daughter's hand. She did not want my hand. She twisted and turned. She protested and resisted. She even tried that famous kid move. You know. The one where they collapse while you're holding their arm, so that they drop in that spot and you have to stop. As I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince her to willingly hold my hand, it hit me that this is the way I often treat my Heavenly Father.

There are times in life when God is leading me on to new chapters. He opens the door to things, sometimes scary and sometimes delightful. At times, I'm tempted to lose focus, to try to wiggle free from His grip or to run ahead of Him, thinking I know the way. Like my daughter in that parking lot, sometimes I think I've made it so far. At times, I'm so eager to go running out ahead of God to explore all of the new things in the various chapters of my life. I get overcome with emotion and the glitter of all of the excitement and newness ahead of me. I think, "I've got this. I'll meet you over there."

What I fail to remember in these moments, is that I need to keep holding God's hand. I need to keep in step with the Spirit. There are things coming toward me that, without God's perspective, I may never see coming until I'm demolished by them. While I can now walk in some areas where I used to crawl, the truth is that I still need the wisdom, insight and perspective that my Father God has on my life and my situations. I need His protection and His guidance. Most of all, I need every step of my life to be under the leadership of His unfailing love.

Just as my daughter failed to understand the very real dangers around her in that parking lot, I often fail to remember that God's perspective is so much higher and broader than my own. He sees things I have yet to see. He understands things I am far from understanding. When He guides my hand lovingly into His, I can trust that it is out of love and leadership. It is not a power play to kill my joy. God wants to lead me in love. He wants to walk with me in every area of life and to teach me His perspective, with His wisdom. What a gift that God extends to each of us the opportunity to take His hand and walk the roads of life together.

What about you? Are there areas in your life where you are attempting to run ahead of God - whether in sheer excitement, or in outright rebellion? Are there ways you are finding His pace too slow for your taste? Take these things to your loving Father and ask Him to give you the courage and the discipline to hold His hand through these roads of life. Remember afresh Who it is that extends His hand of love and protection to you.

Trust God to lead you to places and adventures you'd never dream. Rely on His sovereign and sufficient perspective. Hold His hand. Keep in step with His Spirit.

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Just for Fun - Stuff Christians Like

Just for fun, we're taking part with several other bloggers in posting a piece of today's post for the site

The “Is that contestant on American Idol a Christian? Scorecard”

51. During one of those "get to know the contestant interviews," they mention that the Bible is their favorite book = + 3 points

To add up your score with over a 130 other ideas on this scorecard, visit

Stuff Christians Like is a great blog/community I have been following for almost two years. The site is a satire on some of the quirky things Christians do. Its content has been a catalyst in my life for laughter, for healing and for remembering. Among the funnies, the site also contains many comforting and convicting posts that urge us to change for the better. The site is written by Jon Acuff, a man who shares with humor, vulnerability and an authentic compassion that makes reading each day's post an interesting part of the journey.

Use the search engine to read some of my favorite funnies: VBS, the unspoken prayer request, prayer score cards...ahhh too many to name

Or some of my favorite serious ones: Asking is it true, comebacks, 9 words that changed my life

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Heart Grass Stains!

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This morning as I was doing my kids' laundry, I had an unusual experience. I noticed that both of my daughters had some crazy grass stains on the knees of their pants. Finding them was not so unusual, but my response was. Normally, I'd give a sigh and pull out the stain remover with disdain. But today, I saw them totally differently. I rejoiced at the sight of those stains.

The reason a smile broke out was this: I loved seeing firsthand the evidence of them having a great time. I loved knowing that they had really played hard that day, had let loose with abandon and just enjoyed being kids. What delight it brought to this mom's heart to know that her kids were living all out in that moment.

That's how I want to live. I want to approach this life with all of the gusto I can muster. I want to run hard and dig into the grass in joy and excitement. I want to embrace the joyful moments life brings. My prayer is that I will live this way, as a wife, a mom, a friend. I want my life to reflect the joy and fullness that knowing Christ brings to everything, to celebrate this amazing life He has given us. I long to rejoice in His majesty reflected in this incredible world He created. And I want my life to bear the grass stains of someone who got up, ran hard and dug in with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Oh, that we would all embrace the life of freedom and joy His precious blood bought us!

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meant for More

I John 1:7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

I was in a hurry. I went to wake my daughters from their late nap to get ready to head to church. As I walked the hall to their room, an overwhelming smell hit my nose and I immediately knew what happened. I opened the door to find my younger daughter asleep, covered head to toe in her own poop. It was everywhere. It had dried on the sheets and the bed, even on the wall. I immediately picked my daughter up and rushed her to the bath. As I was gently scrubbing her precious little porcelain skin, God clearly spoke to my heart.

He showed me that what I saw before me was a picture of what He sees when He looks at us. When I found my daughter in that bedroom, covered in feces, my love for her didn't run the other way. I ran to her. I longed to cleanse her from the muck of something she wasn't meant to cover herself in. The smell of that stuff covering her was putrid to me, just as sin is to God, but it wasn't enough to stop me from scooping her up and taking her to where she could be clean. In the same way, when I was covered in the stench of sin and shame, Jesus still reached out to me. He came and died in my place so I could be clean. As I bathed my daughter and she began to cry from discomfort, my heart broke. I had to scrub a bit to get the caked on residue to give. I had to dig under her fingernails to remove the matter that had lodged itself there during the course of her adventure. And though the process was painful, it was for her good - to make her clean. When I have wallowed in sin and allowed God to work His cleansing process on me, it has at times been painful. Sometimes it's uncomfortable when He uproots unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. But it's always for my good, to make me clean.

I learned a lot that day with my daughter, but what I treasure most is the glimpse it gave me to the Father's love. You see, when my daughter was covered head to toe in poop, she was still my daughter. My love for her did not change at all -not one single bit - by the fact she was wrapped in something so awful. She was mine. And I knew I had the ability and the resources to help her get clean. I had the knowledge and understanding to teach her that she wasn't made for playing in poop, just as God teaches me that I wasn't meant to play in sin. I was heartbroken that my daughter chose to play in poop when her Dad and I and her Grandparents had provided so many more wonderful things to play with. I wanted her to see all of the great things she had available to her, instead of playing in the stench. And I think that's God's heart for us too. We weren't meant for sin. We were meant to live today and for eternity enjoying all of the precious gifts and promises that the precious blood of Christ bought us at the cross.

I don't know where you're at this morning. I don't know what sins, addictions, struggles or worries have you marred. But I do know this. There is no sin too great or too small that Christ cannot forgive, no tragedy He cannot redeem. He is a precious, loving Father who will cleanse you. Trust His arms. Trust His process. Trust His heart. When you're His, you're His forever.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Frontline Ministry

I've got lots of friends down front. They are in the trenches of ministry, doing the hard things that no one else wants to do. These men and women aren't getting all the press. They aren't receiving medals or lots of accolades, but they are indeed great warriors. They are doing the work of the Gospel. Loving men and women and children in the name of Jesus in hopes that they might say yes to Christ's incredible invitation to receive His forgiveness and live eternally with Him. They are literally binding up wounds, touching the poor, caring for the homeless, ministering to broken families, caring for little children, writing words of hope to the hopeless, challenging the wayward, teaching truth, feeding the hungry, singing songs of healing and hope, and spurring on the believer.

Sometimes, if I'm honest, I have a tendency to get a little jealous of their position. I know they would laugh at reading that because the places these men and women serve, the things God has asked them to do are hard. They are lonely. And they are often done without thanks or recognition. But oftentimes I long to have the impact I see these men and women making. I want to make a difference in what really matters - the matters of eternal life and death - the things that will far outlive us all.

But you know what? This morning as I was thinking about that, wishing I had a place on the frontline, God showed me something. If we are His, we are all on the frontline of ministry. There is no back of the pack file pusher. There is no overlooked wayside wanderer. God has work prepared for each one of us to do. And His Word tells us it was prepared in advance.

My frontline may not look like what the world (even the church world) defines as frontline ministry. And that's the rub. I think that's where the enemy corners us many times. We simply overlook the importance of where God has us. We fail to trust the sovereignty of His hand in knowing the lives He longs for us to impact. We are looking for platforms and avenues, when we are standing on and in them. And as we sit, idly wondering when our day will come, we are missing the opportunities of the days in front of us, the ones passing by under our noses. May it be so no longer. May you and I wake up to see that there is no ministry too small.

So where does God have you and me? What is our frontline? Is it your family? your neighborhood? Your office? Do not doubt God's ability to do mighty things right there in your backyard. He finds every life precious and is not willing that any should perish. Don't lay idle in your calling simply because your "mission field" looks differently than you would define it or envision it. Step up to your frontline and reach out to the lost and the hurting all around you. Minister boldly and intentionally with dynamic and authentic love and compassion.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Put Your Hands Together

A few weeks ago my family and I were blessed with tickets to the Circus. While there, I noticed something. Hardly anyone applauded. These festively dressed men, women and animals were performing death defying stunts and engaging acts of skill and delight. They were performing "the greatest show on earth." And what response did they receive in return? A half-hearted clap or two, if at all.

And it got me thinking. When did we become so numb to displays of joy and wonder? Couldn't we see how hard these people (and animals) were working to bring smiles and excitement to the audience? Have we become so entertainment based that we cannot applaud and celebrate the simple wonders of life?

And I thought about how we do the same thing to God. How often do we glaze over the magnificent displays of His splendor each day? The sunrise, and the beauty of nature that surround us each day are enough to warrant praise and thanksgiving. The miracles of life and love are enough to draw admiration and joy. And the Gift of Christ's salvation and of God's abiding presence are certainly worth a great deal of applause and gratitude.

But we don't do that very often.

We fail to stop.
And gaze.
And truly breathe in

the miracles that are every day before us. We overlook the moment by moment opportunities to applaud the God of Heaven.

May it not be so.

May God give us eyes to see just how much His glory is on display every day in the things we are tempted to call common. May we be a people who applaud, and woot woot, and shout and sing praise and thanks to God for all the things He has done. If we awaken our eyes, we find that there's no shortage of things to applaud. His majesty, His character, His love....the works of His Hand....His faithfulness....there are so many reasons today - this very day - to put our hands together and clap loudly. Never has there been and never will there be, a more worthy recipient of our applause. So whatever you're up to today, take in the demonstration of God's love and beauty all around you. Put your hands together for the truly Greatest Show in Heaven and on Earth.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Favorite Shoes

I have a favorite pair of shoes. They certainly aren't the best ones in my closet, but when I put these brown Mary Jane's on, I just feel comfortable. They are perfectly broken in, they're cute and they go with lots of things. But if I'm honest, there's a problem with my favorite pair of shoes.

You see, at the top of these shoes, where there used to be a darling shade of chocolate brown, there are now two solid lines of white scuff. Time and wear have taken their toll on these shoes and these marks tell the story. Even though these shoes are looking pretty rough, it's hard for me to let them go. And here's why: It took time and wear to make these shoes mine. And now they're oh so comfortable. (I also happen to like the way they're styled. ) And even though the scuff marks now betray their cute factor, I still find myself going to them first, like "golden boy" on Seinfeld - Jerry's yellow sweatshirt that was always the first thing he wore when all of the laundry was washed.

A few weeks ago, when I put on these favorite shoes, I saw them for what they were: past their time. And it was a sobering picture to me of the way I approach other things I've outgrown in life. I began to think about the parallels between how dragging my feet had scored those timelines on my shoes and how dragging my feet in life was doing the same on my heart.

What is it when God asks us to move on that causes us to hold so tight to the present, or sometimes the past? I think my shoes can shed some light on this phenomenon.

1. We value comfortable. I don't want to get new shoes because these are so comfy. I like the way they've been primed to cushion my feet. And I have been willing to give up the new for the comfortable. How much more so am I doing that in life? Forsaking new for the sake of comfortable?

2. We avoid pain. Starting something new costs us. Getting a new pair of shoes will cost me money. It will cost me time in discovering what pair will next best suit me. It forces me to face my fear: What if I give my shoes up only to never find a pair I like as much? So, starting fresh costs me money, time, emotion, but there's more. Just like my shoes will cost me discomfort as I learn to walk in a new pair, so beginning new steps can be equally hard. No one likes the pinching, blistering or squeezing that new shoes sometimes cause. But there are times when we must press on anyways. Sometimes, what we find so uncomfortable in the beginning opens the door to a whole new pair of shoes, a whole new part of life, we would have never imagined we'd like so much.

3. We get stuck looking down. I love my little brown shoes. And though others may see a scuffed, boring pair of plain shoes, I see a darling little set that's perfectly suited to my personality. I love to admire their shape and their stitching because it makes me happy. You may laugh at that, but I promise you there are ways we all do this in our lives. There are pet things in our lives that we get stuck admiring, when the time to give them up has long passed. Just like I do with my shoes, we get busy looking down, admiring where we are or where we've been instead of where we're headed. You can't go very far with your head looking down. Sometimes, what was good for a season loses its value and its relevance for now, and it becomes time to pick our head and our feet up and move on.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in a rut? We make a decision to go forward. We take time to treasure the comfort and beauty and enjoyment of a particular season or thing or experience. We thank God for it. And then, we lay it down. We trust that this life is just a passing through to the eternal life we were meant to live forever with Christ in heaven. And we realize that anything He asks us to lay down is of far lesser importance than the treasure of Christ Himself. We trust the God who had the creativity to even dream up shoes. We trust that His ability to design new and tailored shoes and seasons and assignments would blow our minds if we were able to see it from His point of view. His creativity is endless and His attention to personal detail is both comforting and trustworthy.

So this morning, I'm asking myself, as I'm asking you: Are you willing to quit dragging your feet? Are you willing to lay down your favorite projects, ideas, and dreams and trust God to lead you to your next set of shoes?

Galatians 5:25 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Monday, February 8, 2010

On Monday, as on Sunday

Ephesians 6:10 " strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."

Ahh Monday. Perhaps one of the most hated days of the week, a far cry from the love and fanfare of Fridays. Dread and fatigue are usually the first to greet us on Monday mornings. Usually, long lists of duties and errands, which cry out for our attention seemingly simultaneously, follow closely behind. But there is another voice crying out when Monday rolls around. It is the voice of Jesus, our Savior.

He wants to show us that instead approaching the day with fear, disdain and resentment, we can face it with joy and with hope. God's mercies are new every morning. His love never fails, regardless of what the calendar says. This is the day that He has made, we can be glad and rejoice in it. He beckons us to come close and to see Monday from His perspective.

And we have a choice. We can choose to be a prisoner to the Monday monotony. We can opt to start the day lamenting over all that must be done, versus the little time to do it. Or we can look to Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Because He remains faithful, we can approach the day with gratitude at His goodness. He is God on Monday, just as much as He is God on Sunday. Your lists and problems don't intimidate Him. Your emotions don't surprise Him. Your weakness doesn't weaken Him.

This Monday, why not take a different approach? Come to God with a sacrifice of Thanksgiving. Ask Him to help you see this day as a new dawn of opportunity. Dwell not on all that's yet to be done, but dwell instead on all God has already done. See how many times you can recall how faithful He's been in the past. Let it encourage you that He will again remain faithful in the future. Even on Mondays, we can take heart. We can find encouragement and hope to face the week, no matter what it may bring. God is God every day and I want to live like it! How about you?

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Come, Rest

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."(Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Are you tired this morning? Do you long for the relief of rest? Have you awakened today from sleep only to find it was not enough to satisfy? Does your soul strive to just be at peace?

Jesus is offering you rest. He longs for you to come to Him and to abide in the peace He alone can give. Let the majesty of His presence cause the chaos of your circumstance to diminish to the background. Let the goodness of His love bring comfort to your pain. Allow His grace to cover all of your efforts and striving.

Just Be Still.

And Know He is God.

He is good.

He is enough.

He is rest.

When Jesus came and died in our place, and rose to life again to conquer death, hell and the grave, He bought a way for us to find rest. His rest blankets to the bone, from the height of emotion to the depth of the soul. For every circumstance and every situation, He is enough.

All of our efforts to please God, to measure up, to "keep the law", to be good enough were crucified with Christ on that cross. He bought a way for our souls to find peace forever. If we belong to Christ, sin can't steal it. Death can't. Time can't. Riches or lack of riches cannot. Jobs or joblessness, family or no family, dreams broken or realized, hurtful words or haunting words. These all stand powerless to overtake the rest Christ bought for us with His own blood.

Child of God, your life is paid for. Your sin is paid for. Your righteousness has already been made whole. Your God is enough. Come, Rest. Abide in Your Savior's presence and find the strength you need afresh today. Let Him lead. Let Him carry the burdens of your day. You will find that even when life lodges the heaviest of loads, Christ shoulders them with you, covers you in His yoke and leads you in His abiding love, grace and peace. His arm is never short. His grace is always enough.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Paraphrase)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

He knows

"He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:22

I don't know where you're at this morning. Maybe you woke up eager to face the day, invigorated by the challenges and adventures ahead. Maybe not. Maybe you woke up with that dark fog over your head and your eyes. Maybe this morning, as Bill Hybels once put it, you're flipping coins - tossing back and forth over whether to just quit. Perhaps the struggle to continue, to keep pursuing, to keep pushing back that addiction, to keep investing in that relationship, to keep doing the right thing with no reward, seems like swinging in the dark.

If so, let this verse be an encouragement to you today. God reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness. And light dwells with Him. Light always overtakes darkness. Whatever your hurts or struggles today, I am praying that God will reveal the deep and hidden things behind them. I pray that He would fill you with courage and belief and inspiration to put one foot in front of the other for one more day. I pray He would give you specific insight and revelation into what ails your soul. And I pray you would find encouragement to know that all of that seed you think you're simply planting in the dark does not go unnoticed. Your Heavenly Father sees. He knows the time and money, the heart and soul, the physical and emotional investments you are making, and those you have already made, to seek His kingdom first.

As you allow Him today to continue to unfold the mystery of His grace in your heart, think about what this scripture says. And look at Daniel 2:27 too: "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." God knows the dreams and longings, the fears and failures. He knows what lies hidden beneath dark layers. More than any mere man, friend, or professional, He knows.

Why not take a moment now to just sit at His feet, to let Him show you His perspective on your hurts and habits and hangups, on your unrealized dreams, your wavering faith, your struggles with unbelief. Ask Him to do what only He can do, to reveal the mysteries, the dreams, the hopes of your life, to expose, to heal, to renew. May Christ renew your mind and your hope this morning by the washing of His Word. There is no darkness He cannot overtake, for dark is light to Him.

Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Backwards If

"If is a big word." That was one of my Moms favorites to me growing up, and turns out she was right.

If is a concept with which we must all wrestle along the way, most especially when walking out our dreams. What if I'm not funny enough, clever enough or savvy enough? What if no one reads, supports, likes, agrees, etc.? What if I fail? What if I make a good start and never finish? What if it becomes plainly clear to those watching me step out that I don't have what it takes? Yes, "if" is both exhausting and inexhaustible. And it's often that way simply because we're using the backwards if.

What would happen if we re-framed our "ifs" to start from a totally different place?

Look at Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

That perspective changes everything.

Dreams mean nothing when all of our ifs start with man or self. They mean everything when we start with Christ. It doesn't matter if people find us witty or smart or clever. It doesn't matter what our follower count is, on our blogs, in our churches, around the office, or at school. It matters Who we follow. Are we trusting? Are we trusting with more than our bobbing heads and flapping jaws? Are we obeying? Are we more concerned with what God thinks about what we're doing than what our other "audiences" think?

Look at the book of Daniel. Look at the book of Genesis, the life of Joseph. Look at your life and mine. God gives the dream AND He gives the interpretation. We often get that confused. We think we are responsible for both or either, when we're really responsible for neither. It's not the dreams we muster, the plans and grand visions we map and plan out with detailed vigor. Instead, it's the way we respond in trust and in obedience to God's dreams and plans for our lives.

The truth is, no matter the "if", God is bigger. So, press on. Even when your efforts aren't perfect. Even when no one stands up to say "atta boy." Even when dollars and high fives run dry. Keep doing the thing in front of you, because of the faithfulness of the One Who's asked You to do it.

For me right now, my ifs have a lot to do with myself. I know I'm great at starting things, and not so great at finishing. But you know what? The Bible says that God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith! See, no matter the "if", God's bigger.

What are your "ifs" right now? How can I be praying with you for a shift in perspective to see that no matter the "if", God is bigger?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

While It Was Still Dark (March 25, 2008)

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdelene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." John 20:1

As I sat in Easter services this weekend and read the text of John 20, this phrase repeatedly captured my attention..."while it was still dark." I have often marveled both at the living nature of God’s Word (that it is always actively fresh and relevant) and at its detail. This small detail is a great example.

Sitting there, I began to think about many of my friends and family (and even parts of my own recent journey) who are in a "while it was still dark" situation. Many are in situations that have been dark for a while. There has been a "death" of sorts, whether a literal death of a loved one, death of a ministry, a friendship, a marriage, a dream...and those dark days can seem overwhelming. The temptings of doubt, unbelief, and agonizing silence...the inability to see beyond that dark, all seem to threaten hopes of anything beyond the grave.

But I wonder, for how many of us who are in these "while it was still dark" situations, is God quietly cheering us on as he works out a wild plan for resurrection. In Mary’s story, I see our own. Mary was out in the dark, heading to minister to her Savior’s body. I’m sure the grief of losing what she thought would be her Messiah was agonizing. Doubts, pain, questions must have muddied her mind and darkened her vision as she put one foot in front of the other to face that tomb. And I see us, discouraged by what we can’t yet see....painfully tearful over what appear to us as dead end roads and sealed tombs... stumbling as best we know how to "plant seed" in the somehow muddle through believing, if even only with a mustard seed of faith. We journey through the dark to face the final resting place of what we see as a closed door, a sealed tomb.

But Jesus. When Mary got to that tomb, it was open and Jesus wasn’t lying there motionless, dead, unaware of her grief. Suddenly, in a day, in a moment, all that Mary knew had changed. What she deemed to be her greatest grief, the most painful death, a sure dead end, a forgotten dream, the darkest night, was now pierced with beams of light. And as she encountered the risen Christ, all of her darkness was diffused by His Light. As she turned her face upon his, He changed everything about that moment. What was once her darkest hour, became a miracle of His glorious Light. And He rewrote her story...far beyond anything her mind could have previously conceived, above any of her previous imaginations...Here was Christ, risen, alive, her King had come!

As we stumble tearfully through the dark to face the tomb of our own dead ends, I wonder, do we see that God may just be at work to do an absolute miracle right before us? Perhaps, He is setting the stage for the darkest night of our lives to prove the power of His might...a resurrection of sorts. After all, His Word says that the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in those of us who believe.

So friends, for those of you who are in a "while it was still dark" moment, I encourage you to hold on! Your resurrected Christ is at work in you, for you, to His glory. What you see as your greatest defeat may just be the groundwork to display His splendor! Stand and see the salvation of the Lord!

"Jesus said to her, ’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’" John 11:25-26

Believing God for your resurrection...

What if?

(Saturday, March 10, 2007)

what if?

what if God does something totally unexpected in our lives? what if, in His wildness, He completely blows our miniscule ideas about our lives out of the water? what then?

what if, in His majesty, He refuses to climb into the "god of my life" mold i make for Him by my own preconceived notions of who He is (which hold no merit against scripture)? what then?

perhaps it is a fault of definitions and parameters. if God is really God to me and i have truly surrendered my life to Him, then it's not really my place to put conditions and parameters as to how He can use my life, how He should bless me, what the next step for me is to be. faith like that is no faith at all. it shamelessly reduces the glory of a wildly powerful and magnificent God to the trappings of mortal men. and that God i do not find in my Bible.

i am learning head on just how selfish and demanding i am. as if God should bow at my every whim because after all, "He loves me so much." no, i am learning instead, that if i meant it when i told Him He could have my life, then i am also giving up my claims on what that looks like and the timing of how things come to pass.

don't misunderstand me though. there is something deeply liberating about trusting God in His wildness, about joining Him on an untamed adventure of faith, where all of the eggs of the basket of life are in one wild place. but oh what a place to be! it's like a bird finally plunging out of the nest to fly...terrifying and liberating all at once. and the view so much more broad, so much more breathtaking than the "safe" place lived before.

and in time, living in this kind of reckless abandon of faith,we begin to discover that what we thought was so precious and well planned...those courses and prescriptions for our own happy picture of life have become wildly redefined. we discover dreams and frontiers we could have never imagined on our own because they are painted with the majesty of a wild and sovereign God who knows better than we do what we need, what will bring us true joy and life. we discover in an unforgettable way that God is about making us holy more than making us happy. (if the latter, then He would be nothing more than a genie. and let me be the first to testify, He is no such thing.)

i have walked with God for many years and i never tire of learning more about His fascinating power and His incredible love. He has FAR outgiven and outranked any miniscule thing i have give up to follow Him. i am realizing that He has more to do in and through me than i would ever believe about myself.

so as i journey with Him to break the will of my whining, selfish, faultfinding soul, i find Him forging new territory of faith and adventure in me. and i am so humbled at His invitation to take a deep breath, jump and let the wind of His Spirit blow wild through my hair as i learn to soar to new heights.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! AMEN!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I just want to give God praise for giving me the courage to do this, what to many seems like nothing much. To me it feels monumental. This song is such an inspiration for me to follow Christ forward and I hope it will do the same for you today. Wherever it is He is asking you to, just step out of the boat and walk forward.

Following the Leader

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

I was in Nashville a few weeks ago with some dear friends. We were headed out to breakfast on the last day, so I was following my friend to get to the beloved Pancake Pantry. She's lived in Nashville for years.

As I drove behind her, I really enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenes of Tennessee. It was a gorgeous day and the trees and hills were so beautiful. I liked looking at all of the different types of homes and shops along the way.

And then it occurred to me. This is what it should be like when I'm following Jesus. When I was following my friend, I wasn't tapping my foot, worried about knowing every turn ahead of time. I was just following her lead and enjoying the drive. It didn't matter that I didn't know where I was going, because she did. I trusted her heart and her knowledge. I knew she knew that area like the back of her hand. I also knew she wouldn't leave me stranded. Fear that she would leave me or mislead me never even crossed my mind.

And that's how I want to follow Jesus. I want to rest peacefully in the fact that He's a good leader. He knows the roads I'm on like the back of His hands. I can trust His heart toward me and I can trust His leadership. I don't have to know every turn to get to my destination. I don't even have to have ever been to the final destination before, because my leader is trustworthy.

As I continue this journey, I want to stop pounding down God's door with anxious demands to have it all mapped out before I take my next step. I desperately want to surrender my panicky grabs at the GPS and my stranglehold on the steering wheel (which is really an illusion anyways). Instead, I want to trade trade them for resting in remembering that my God has been incredibly, remarkably faithful. So here's to letting go, laying back and enjoying all of the beautiful scenery of this ride I'm on! Regardless of the twists and turns, the hills and valleys, my Leader is faithful. He's sure. I can trust His wisdom. I can trust His leadership. I can trust His intentions. Even if I don't know where we're going.

Playing Catch Up

Ok. This isn't the first I've attempted at some sort of public writing. I've dabbled here and there but I've gotten waylaid and distracted by time, circumstance, and honestly-excuse. So I'm gonna throw a few of my older pieces up here so it's all together. Enjoy!

Moving Forward

Marathons begin in steps and blogs begin in keystrokes. Dreams are funny that way. We see them as monumental, powerful in force at their sheer size. Sometimes we stand dumbstruck beholding them, not knowing how to get at them. But admiring them doesn't bring dreams to pass. The best way to get at the thing is to just take a step forward. Every day a step forward. As an old saying goes..."How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

So here's to my own personal marathon: a dream to pour my heart out on in the hopes that it helps and inspires someone else to tackle their own elephant. And more importantly, to give glory to the amazing God I serve. For today, I have taken one of the hardest steps...that of getting started, of pushing forward in spite all of the unanswered questions. It's a leap of faith in elephant eating and dragon slaying! Thanks for stopping in to share the journey along the way.