Friday, September 6, 2013

Tear Off That Rearview Mirror!

Proverbs 4: 23-25

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.

Skeletons in the closet. That's what some people call them. Those things in our past that we want to forget...that we want to keep in our past and not bring them into our present. We all have them. Every. Single. Adult has a skeleton in their closet. Some of us just have a whole family instead of a hermit...and some of us have an entire convention of lifeless bones just hanging out there keeping each other company.

But read that passage above.

Read it again.

Now read it and focus on verse 25.

"Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you."

The enemy of our lives ~ God's enemy, satan ~ he wants us to be reminded of that school of skeletons hanging out in our rearview mirror.

But God (remember yesterday's post? See how He does that? He keeps coming back....)....

But GOD wants us to focus on what lies ahead. Later in the Bible he tells us that if we are IN HIM we are a NEW creation! Those skeletons are there not to keep us back from being better, but to remind us of His lovingkindness and His mercy, and His grace in our lives so we can share His truth, His love, His lovingkindness, His mercy, His grace with others.

Today, make the choice (it IS a choice) to focus not on what you've BEEN, but on what you are called to BE. Fear will come because it's freaky looking ahead. I mean, really, have you seen the movie Cars? (trademark Pixar and all that stuff) Mater, the tow truck driver, is a prime example of why we keep looking in our rearview mirrors. It's easier to know where you've been than where you're going. But looking ahead? Looking ahead and keeping our eyes focused on who we are Becoming is worth going through every fear and every twist and turn.

Today, make the choice to focus straight ahead on Christ!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Looking out my window....

Psalm 2
Why are the [a]nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His [b]Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
He who [c]sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have [d]installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
“I will surely tell of the [e]decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the [f]nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
‘You shall [g]break them with a [h]rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like [i]earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O [j]judges of the earth.
11 [k]Worship the Lord with [l]reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 [m]Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may [n]soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

There are school shootings, school stabbings, workplace violence, rapes, gangs, racial divisions, family divisions, political upheavals...there is unrest around the world. To quote the Psalmist, the nations are in uproar and the peoples are devising a vain thing.

But God....

Two of the most beautiful words ever written.

But. God.

As in, "but then God showed up" or "but then God did His thing." Have you ever seen a little kid really mad at their parent and they're bound and determined to take them down but their efforts are so hilarious the parent can't help laughing? This is the picture I get of God when I read this Psalm. He's looking at all that is going on ~ and seeing those whose hearts would prefer a God-of-the-Bible free world and He's got no other reaction but to laugh because their efforts are futile.

Christians! GOD WINS!!! GOD....WINS! He's still in control. And we're still here because there is a Kingdom that people need. People need to know The One who truly loves them....truly will give them peace...will truly BLESS those who take refuge in Him!

I'm sitting at my desk looking out over my neighborhood and wondering....what can I do today to take refuge in my King and what can I do today to share Him with those who don't know His peace?

How 'bout you?

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Living Sacrifice

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God ~ this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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 12:1-2

Over the past few years a lot of my friends have jumped on the marathon, 1/2 marathon and "k" races bandwagon. I've run a couple 5k myself, but nothing like many of my friends who train daily and have traveled the country for different marathons. I haven't done more because, well, because it hurts. Over the years I've put on some weight...gotten lazy...realized the benefits of "downtime" and basically gotten lazy. (Did I say that already?)

So, then I opened up my Bible one morning and got hit right between the eyes. "...offer your bodies as a living sacrifice...act of worship..." ACK! How many times do we long to please God? Long to do His Will? Fervently pray, "Lord, whatever it takes for me to worship You today, I'm in."? Then it seems like all these people around us are getting healthy ~ making sacrifices in their daily diets to be more able to do what they're called to do, and every which way we turn there's someone else talking about running or Zumba or Spin class or walking or Paleo or Vegetables and fruits and how it clears the mind and energizes the body....and all we want to do is live in such a way to worship God all day long.

Not everyone is in this place, but I have a feeling if you're reading this you're in the same boat as me and God is trying to get your attention about what needs to happen in your life IN ORDER TO worship Him all day long.

We need to make some our bodies.

We need to not make that purchase at the store that will bring more junk into an overloaded house.

We need to not sit mindlessly eating those "healthy" processed snacks while we read blogs about loving God.

We need to actually DO SOMETHING with ourselves that is living out the words of this passage ~ making our bodies a living sacrifice as an act of true worship.

I mean, really, when do you sense the presence of God the most? When you're living free and easy and everything is going right ? Or is it when you're going through something that is difficult and you know that it is in that weakness He is made strong?

I'm not sure He was talking about training for marathons here (pretty sure he wasn't because they were pretty healthy having to walk everywhere), but what is it He is asking you to make a living sacrifice in your life? Maybe it's leaving that desk at the office and actually interacting with your family face to face. Maybe it's putting on those running shoes and pushing through that thigh burn to finish a race you never thought you'd run. Maybe it's being honest with your friends and/or family about an addiction and getting the help you need.

In doing so you and I will be transformed. We will renew our minds and be able to test and approve what God's perfect will is. He asks us to not only know, but to make a living sacrifice to LIVE for Him. What will you do today?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why do you live in fear?

Psalm 27
Verses 1 - 5:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?

2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.

5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.

Chris Tomlin happens to be one of my soul's messengers when it comes to worship music. There are many because I love music, but there are some who reach within in such a way that it is obvious they aren't just a songwriter, but a messenger sent by God for this very time. Mr. Tomlin is one of those. He has a new devotional available through the YouVersion online Bible called "Burning Lights" (the link goes to all the plans, but if you look for it you'll find it along with many other great reading plans). I am so thankful that someone thought to reach out to him and ask if he'd be willing to share his Biblical insights with us through a 5-day reading plan. 

Today is a day where my soul feels the need to put everything else aside and just pray. Someone very close to me is caught up in the "what if's" of the world and facing some very difficult circumstances. This friend is rooted in Christ, but has always been able to rely on their self to get things save a do the right thing. Over the past few weeks someone else's actions are causing a great deal of stress on their personal role and it is showing in the stress my friend carries. As I prayed this morning a sense of peace came over me once again ~ the knowledge that God is before all things and IN HIM all things hold together. He knows the outcome of this situation...He knows the insight necessary to save the business...He knows the heart of the actions on both sides of the coin. 

He has it. 

It's time to let go of it and let Him do His thang. 


Like every human being in the world we let it go and then a few minutes or hours go by and that stress begins to show itself again. A bloody nose..a roiling and upset tummy...a short temper...eating something to soothe ourselves. It shows in the little things like biting our nails...tapping our feet...feeling the need to DO something like run or eat or shop or clean!

And again we need to let it go. 

What those feelings are that make us think we need to do those things (all of which are not bad in themselves) are feelings that need to lead us to the foot of the Throne of Grace with Confidence. It is in those restless moments that God is trying to get our attention ~ trying to get us to realize HE has it. HE has US. No matter the outcome. No matter the consequence. No matter the pain or the diagnosis. HE has US. 

HE  H A S  US!

Do not be afraid ~ and if you start to feel that coming up again? Well, He knows already. It's kind of like a parent who knows the child who said they wouldn't take a fresh baked cookie but is now standing before us with chocolate on his lip saying he didn't take it...He knows we are still holding on to it. He knows that fear is still there. He knows we're human and we need Him. He also knows He loves us and longs for us to "get it." 

He longs for us to "get" that no matter how many times we take it back and think we need to deal with it on our terms He will always be there when we realize we can't and give it back to Him. 

He longs for us to "get" that when we realize we're holding on to it and we're in the process of giving it back to Him He's not going to go, "Again? Seriously? How many times do I have to tell you? I've got this. Now go on and knock it off already!"

He longs for us to "get" that when we realize we're holding on to it and we're in the process of giving it back to Him He's going to say instead, "My Love...I'll take that burden from you. Here is My peace. Take this instead. I love you..." 

What fear are you holding on to today? What do you keep pulling back from Him? 

Is it your parenting duties? Do you just keep thinking YOU need to say something, do something or take the task of changing your child's mind back into your own words? Do you feel the need to "remind" (we don't nag) because they just won't get it if you don't?

Is it your calling? Do you KNOW He is calling you to step out in faith and do something that utterly scares the bejeebies out of you so you just keep pretending He's not really calling you? Do you keep saying "yes" to other things so you can avoid doing what you're really supposed to be doing? (I, by the way, have NO idea what that's like! Honestly. I mean...really. ;-) ) 

Is it your lifestyle? Do you know in your heart that the way you're living isn't in line with who you say you are ~ a Christ-follower ~ but you have surrounded yourself with people who tell you it's okay and that God understands so you don't have to change? Do you keep listening to them out of fear that if you do change you'll lose your "fun" in life and lose all your friends and be a loner forever? There's truth in every lie. God does understand...He longs for you to know that...but you still have to change...and you might lose some friends, but you'll get new ones who will be truth tellers and will challenge you to be the YOU you were meant to be.  

Whatever your fear is know this: He tells us to NOT be afraid! We all know the story of the little boy standing at the edge of the pool looking at his Daddy who is telling him to jump out to him. Daddy says, "it's okay! I'll catch you!" and little boy takes a step toward the edge of the pool...bends his knees like he's going to jump and suddenly steps back from the pool. Daddy says again, "it's okay, buddy. I've gotcha." Little boy steps forward again, bends his knees and puts his hands up like he's going to dive in. Daddy speaks encouragement. Little boy looks at the water and freaks out again. This goes on for a while and suddenly Daddy takes a step closer. He says to the little boy with stars and fear in his eyes, "hey, you think I'd really let you fall? I love you so much! I'm closer now...close your eyes and jump and I'll catch you." The little boy bends his knees, puts his hands up in diving position, squeezes his eyes closed and jumps off the edge. For a moment there is real fear written all over his face and his eyes POP open trying to see his Daddy. By the time he focuses on him he's already in his arms and safe. 

He's waiting...Close your eyes...JUMP! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What PART are you fulfilling?

2 Chronicles 7 ~ the dedication of the Temple

"...3 elements we can include in services, and even in songs: re-enactment, realization, and anticipation. They are the like the beginning, middle and end of a story. So we recall something God did in the history of His people – then we enter the realization stage – in other words, what that means to our lives, here and now today. And then we end in anticipation – knowing there is more still to come in this epic love story of God we exist in..."

This is from Matt Redman's devotional series, "Sing Like Never Before." Based on 2 Chronicles 7 and his song, "Lord Let Your Glory Fall."

These three elements are really what my "prayer pattern" is based on...

Knowing God has and is doing His PART, we, too, have a part to fulfill in our relationship with Him. In praying we can remember to do our...

P: Praise Him for what He is doing and Who He is.

A: Ask forgiveness for our foolish human natures that gravitate toward sin and destruction.

R: Requests ~ bring our requests before the throne of grace with confidence in Whose hands we are putting them.

T: Thank Him for His goodness and mercy and what He is doing in our lives.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Be Truthful

I JOHN 1: 8-10

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

I've found that, in every area of life, being truthful brings a peace that is not found in being "right;" being "good;" or even in being "happy." Only when I'm brutally honest with myself do I have true peace.
"If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us....If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."

How many times do we try to put the blame for our part in a situation on someone else? How many times do we look to find who is "in the wrong" when an argument or disagreement happens in our relationships? We often point to someone else. We are quick to see the sliver in someone else's eye while being unable to see the log in our own. We deceive ourselves...we make a liar out of the Very One Who had no sin and took our sin for us. Lord, have mercy, we are without Your peace because we simply don't want to be honest with ourselves.

Thank you for forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness... when we are honest and repent of our foolish ways.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Peace be with you...

25: God has given me the responsibility of serving His church by proclaiming His entire message to you. ... 28:So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29: That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me.

Colossians 1: 25, 28-29 NLT

We have been given a calling. A responsibility. A necessity and a command...we are to share the Word of God with a world seeking, searching and striving for peace. People all around us are looking for *something* that will tell them they don't have to be perfect, they don't have to have it all together, they don't have to do it all why are we telling them that perfection is to be admired; they need this, this and this to get their lives together; and self-sufficiency is the best way to go? Why are we not taking them to the letters written for them in which they can find the peace they are so fervently searching for? To a book of letters written by The Very One who loves them more than they could ever imagine, is the perfection they so willingly admire, and holds all things together? Today let someone know that God sees them...and that His Word in its entirety tells them over and over again how very much He loves them. SHARE the Word of God in all it's fullness with a world looking for life. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Place

We live in a world where winning seems to be everything. In 4 days many around the world will gather in living rooms and social establishments around the country to watch two teams run back and forth on a 100-yard field with two zones at either end, which are the goals of each team. One zone in which the opposing team will do everything in their power to keep that zone's team out of it, and the other zone in which the zone's team will do everything in their power to get in to it. They will throw an oblong pigskin to and fro and will beat each other up (much more tamely known as tackling) in order to meet their goals.

There will be people wearing their favorite team's colors ~ some will go to such an extent that they will even paint their entire bodies in said colors so as to prove their loyalty. Houses will have flags waving their favorite team's logo out front. Entire cities will wait with bated breath waiting to see if their team will be welcomed with a parade or a press conference. Everyone will want to know ~ even those who don't follow the sport ~ who will take first place. Which team will win?

In our home we are baseball fans, and it's really fun when the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Colorado Rockies. One half of our family decks out in blue and white. The other half decks out in Purple and Black. Smack talk can be heard as homeruns are hit, bases are stolen and runs are scored. The desire for each half of our family is to see who gets "bragging rights." Whose team will WIN?

Today's scripture talks about winning, talks about who really takes first place in our lives.

Colossians 1: 15 - 23
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

(italics mine)

Verse 18: "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."

Some of you, in looking back in this blog, may have read Colossians 1:17 and know that it is my "life verse." It was given to me in a very hard time of my life and spoke to the circumstances. It still does to this day. However, much like Jeremiah 29:12, the next verse speaks to the continual journey. Verse 17 is the hope, the security. Verse 18 is the reminder of the fact that in our lives, if we call ourselves Christians, God Himself takes first place.

He is the Head Pastor of a church. He is the Head Coach of a team. He is the Owner, President, CEO and HEAD of  E V E R Y T H I N G. He will not take second place. He will not allow other gods before Him. He is the beginning, and the end. He IS everything. 

Are you living that way today? Would you be willing, if God had team colors, to paint your body with His colors to show your love for Him? Would you pump your fist in the air when someone succeeded on His field as you would at a concert or sporting event? Would you, no matter what, go where He's leading, share what He's giving and live in such a way that there would be no doubt as to WHO you belong to because you know with Whom you will spend eternity? Not in the obnoxious, turn-everyone-off kind of way, but in the real way..the daily way? The way that knows you have something soooooo good that you *must* share it and celebrate it? 

"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." 

PS: Enjoy the Super Bro-wl! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Proverbs 16:10

Proverbs 16

10 The lips of a King speak as an oracle,
and his mouth should not betray justice.

Leaders speak in wisdom ~ as they are given authority over a matter or trusted as authority. Because of this leaders need to be held to a higher standard. Leaders, those elected, placed, hired or otherwise appointed, need to remain humble. To become haughty and prideful of knowledge leads right into the betrayal of justice. When one thinks they are a *special* message deliverer they lose the ability to lead. It is in the fear of the Lord, and the consistent study of HIS Oracle that a mouth does not betray justice. Have you spent time today listening to the King of Kings?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Colossians 3: 1 & 2

1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Life is so....daily. God is so...eternal. Fix your mind, your eyes, your thoughts, your actions on the eternal life we are promised when we accept Jesus Christ as God's one and only Son who gave His life for us. As easy as it is to lose hope in watching the evening news, our hope comes rushing back knowing He is forever and this world is not our home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Galatians 6:14

Galatians 6:14

 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  

There is a difference between confidence and pride. Here Paul clearly describes is in the using of our talents and our abilities, not for our own good, but for the good of others and their eternal futures knowing God Himself has placed them in us to further His Kingdom. Are you a manager? Manage in the Spirit, treating others as you would have them treat you. Are you in retail? Work as to the Lord Himself, helping others and leaving an imprint of Christ's love on their lives. Are you a parent? Parent through the filter of the Bible raising your children to be who God has called them to be and disciplining them so as to live according to the Word. Are you an artist? Create, perform and share your art for His glory alone. Sing with passion for the Lord as you use your voice to praise Him in your talent. Paint with brushstrokes of awe in the creativity of our Lord. As you take on a role for stage or film glorify the Lord God Almighty in roles that bring hope to a hurting world. Whatever it is you do, boast not in how hard you've worked or how many kudos you have received. Boast only in the fact that were it not for Christ everything you do would be in vain.