This week I got the privilege of speaking and serving at camp. One piece of camp was journeying to the cross. The whole camp on mission to reach and experience the cross. As we were approaching it, my six year old, Sadie, began to weep. I was thinking that she was hot, tired or hurt, but when I bent down and asked her what was wrong, her simple response was “I don’t know”. So we sat, and the tears flowed from her big blue eyes. It was apparent that the Holy Spirit was overwhelming her as she reflected on the sacrifice made for her on the cross. And Sadie wasn’t alone. Something about the cross breaks downs walls, convicts hearts, humbles spirits, and surrenders souls to Jesus. As I reflected on that experience at the cross, I thought about the people that were there on Friday. The followers of Jesus who were completely broken as they helplessly witnessed the death of their Savior. The Friday people were hopeless, helpless, lost, full of grief and overwhelmed by sadness. God allowed the brokenness to marinate for 3 days until Christ’s resurrection on Sunday. Sunday brought revival as Jesus revealed himself alive. The Sunday people were full of hope, life, and purpose.
You see, sometimes we need to go back to Friday, to the cross. We need to be broken before The Lord, completely surrendering to him our sin, shame, guilt, hurt, disappointment and fear. The Friday must empty us, so the Sunday can fill us.
Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Let me give you some background to help this post make sense to everyone. We have a dog named Bill. Six years ago, I found Bill on the side of the highway covered in fleas, ticks and mud. Bill suffered for a year with a tick born illness that would leave him paralyzed, but with diligent medical treatment, he was healed of this disease. He is terrified of men, loud noises, thunder, and anything else that reminds him of his past. And this takes us to a story about yesterday.
We were scheduled to get up early and go to my mom’s to help her clear some trees that had been downed by a recent storm. I noticed the radar showed storms in our area and made the last minute decision to bring Bill with us. The car ride he panted, the arrival he fretted, and the whole time at my mom’s he had to have me in his sight to help with his separation anxiety. At one point he jumped in my lap and I looked him in the eyes and said, “After all I’ve done for you bud, I’m not going to leave you now.” You see I was frustrated with Bill’s anxiety because surely after all I’ve done for him, he should know that my intentions are good and with his best interest in mind….can’t he trust that?
Immediately, I felt God’s reminder to me. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” yet I still find myself anxious. After God has picked me up off the streets of the world, saved my soul, healed my wounds, and provided my needs, I still fret about viruses, worry about riots, fear for my children, and spend time feeling alone. In these moments, I have forgotten who God is, and what his heart is for me. We are all like Bill. If Bill really understood my heart for him and for animals, he would consider himself the luckiest dog in the world. If we really understood our God, deeply reflected on what He has done for us, and believe in His promises, how much more confident would we be facing the challenges and changes ahead? May we all trust in His promises and be reminded of his faithfulness now and always.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Luke 15:8-10 8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
This is a really short read, packed with such a powerful message. I was really picturing myself being this woman. A woman who had ten coins, but lost one. I was thinking about how many times I had dropped a penny and just left it, because “it wasn’t worth it to me.” However, this parable shows the lady not only trying really hard to find her lost coin, but then celebrating with friends and neighbors and saying, “I have found it!” The difference is the value she placed on that coin. When I drop a penny, and don’t pick it up, it is because I do not highly value it. However, this woman valued this one coin greatly. Why? There are two reasons that this coin value in this woman’s eyes. First, she only had ten of them, a limited number. Each one became so precious. Second, the coins were silver, and held monetary value.
Now, if you and I and are the coins, and God is the woman, does this start saying something about our value? First of all, out of all the humans in the world that were, have been, and will ever be, The Bible makes it clear that not everyone is going to go to heaven. When we accepted or will accept Jesus into our hearts, we become one of those ten coins. Also, God doesn’t value us as I do a penny. God sees the true worth in each of us. A worth that he would not just drop and not pick up. No. He is searching for you with his light, sweeping the floors, and celebrating when at last he finds you, or you find Him.
Allergy season is here - and while many of us struggle through stopped up sinuses, our spirirual lives can get clogged too. And when that happens, there is an OTC remedy we all have access to - Overcome Through Christ!
Well, my first The 30 Day Gift has been completed and gifted, and the joy it brought both the giver and the receiver was amazing. Some people might be intimidated by a 30-day prayer commitment, but I want to encourage you that it’s worth every single day, and so much more! I started thinking of other things that come with 30-day commitments, such as diets and workouts. For 30 days, you commit to get healthier or in better physical shape; and at the end of that time, you are proud of the work put in and the results that come out. Yes, there is a sacrifice to be made, but in the end, it’s worth it. The same is true with The 30 Day Gift. The dedication I put in to pray for someone for 30 days was a commitment. But, just like those work outs, I gained momentum, and looked forward to that time of intercessory prayer. By the time I was done, my prayer life had been toned and strengthened, and I was so proud to gift the most powerful thing of all to my best friend... prayer. I know I may be biased, but this project totally blew me away with it’s power. I hope you find the same thing to be true as you take on your very own The 30 Day Gift.
Happy New Year everyone! After a Christmas holiday full of binge eating, gift giving, and absolute clutter in our house, I love that I now get to regroup, refocus, and make commitments to kick off 2018. You know, I think the timing is great; last week we celebrated the birth of Jesus--the miracle of life, that would later be put to death to give us everlasting hope. Over the last two weeks I have soaked up that miracle, admiring manger scenes in people’s homes, lights on trees, carolers singing the good news, and much more. Although nativity scenes freeze that precious moment in time, God wants us to set our admiration of that child into action. I love Christmas with the best of them, but to vacuum the last pine needle off my floor felt great. It’s like that month of admiring the manger refuels us for a new mission. We need to go and tell the story, live out the grace and forgiveness, and resolve to live every day thanking God for the hope we have in Christ.
One way to do that is to recommit yourself to prayer. When I started this journey, God convicted me that I needed to pray more and with more appreciation for what a gift it truly is. I can approach God the All Knowing, All Healing, All Forgiving, and All Powerful because of that baby that was born in the manger. If you are looking for a tangible way to kick off a prayer resolution in 2018, look no further. The 30 Day Gift is not only a great way commit to prayer, but also a way to love others in a deep and sincere way. Let’s commit to pray, not just in January, but every day of the new year!
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Today was the morning to open presents at our house. Branson and I popped straight out of bed, eager to fix pancakes, hot chocolate, and open presents. As we waited on Dad and sis to wake up, Branson couldn’t resist going to his stack of presents, shaking, feeling, even smelling what was inside. He knew one package was legos just from how it sounded, and the others he took guesses at, only to get a smile and shrug from me.
While I waited, I did a morning quiet time, and the verse of the day was Isaiah7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” In this instance, the prophets and all of the Jewish world were waiting to open their present. They were watching for that long awaited gift from God, The Savior of the world.
As I watch the kids open presents this morning, I hope to remember the true gift that we opened when we invited Jesus into our hearts. When that box gets torn open, out comes grace, peace, patience, forgiveness, hope, love, kindness, goodness, and an eternal promise. If you haven’t opened that present of salvation yet, I pray that you, like Branson this morning, would sense an eagerness in your heart, not to open physical gifts, but to unwrap a spiritual blessing that will change your life forever.
Go to Jesus like Branson did with his packages this morning…..feel him out, study him, ponder what’s inside, and then open up the greatest gift anyone could ever give; eternal hope and salvation.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
As Christmas approaches, you have to sense the anticipation that the wise men felt as they anxiously awaited the birth of the new King. With The 30 Day Gift, we have waited, and waited, and waited for the first shipment of journals; and after over two years of work, they finally arrived! There were so many boxes, we were thankful to have these two strong cowboys offer to pick them up and unload them! I have boxes of books covering the walls in my house, but it is the happiest I have ever been about such clutter! I want to thank everyone for your love, encouragement, support, and mostly, your prayers that have gone into this project. I looked at all the boxes and realized that when every journal in my living room is completed, it will be about 150,000 prayers going up on behalf of others! I wait, just like the wise men did, in eager anticipation to see God's plan unfold before my very eyes.
Sam and I took the kids to see the movie The Star, which was a wonderful movie. There is nothing that touches my heart more than my kids getting to hear the true message of Christmas. However, it wasn’t just the kids who received a message… I definitely did too! At one point in the movie, Mary and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem for the census, and on the trip, they have a broken wheel on their cart. Out of frustration, Joseph cries out, and asks God, "Why?". Why all these problems if I’m on a journey for you? Why roadblocks, speedbumps, and busted wheels?
You know, we’ve experienced the same things with this project. While we know this is the journey God put before us, it has not come without detours. When the road gets windy, or I have a broken wheel kind of day, I have to check my focus. Is it on the problem, or is it on Jesus. When I see Jesus before the problem, I find peace, optimism, and hope. When I see the problem before Jesus, I feel defeated and discouraged. The same is true for all of us. It’s easy to focus our attention in Josephs case, off the star, and on the broken wheel; off of Christ, and on broken relationships, hurt feelings, financial woes, busy schedules, and so much more. It’s this time of year we need to adjust our view finders, and put that Christmas star back in our direct line of sight.
Psalms 112:7 “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them”.