Monday, September 25, 2017

The Faith of a Child

I was in Walmart (I mean, really, where else would I be?) and my attention is drawn to a little girl who can't be more than three years old. Her face is turned up to see the face of one of the biggest men I have seen recently. She is looking up, up, up just to look into his eyes and I hear her say the word, "Daddy...." I don't know what came after that because I was lost in the expression on her face. She had this look of complete adoration. And you know, just by her face, that her daddy can move mountains. Her daddy can do no wrong. You know that she trusts that man because he is her daddy. No questions, no doubts, just...well...faith. She can't explain it. It hasn't even occurred to her that it may warrant an explanation. That man is her world and in him all things are held together. Oh wait...that sounded like a Bible verse... Sure did. "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 That little girl had a child's faith in her daddy. We are called to have that same faith in our Daddy as well. Why? Because children trust without question, they believe what their parents' say because of that faith and they act on what their parents' say because they know that whatever they were told to do is right just because of who said it. Isn't it about time we went back to trust our Daddy God that way? Imagine the adventures He will take us on if did. Imagine the relationship that will develop if we just trusted and did what our Daddy told us to do.
"and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

Friday, July 7, 2017

Catch Me, Daddy

WHERE ARE YOU, LORD?

Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  Are you tired, weary, and battle worn?

God is there.  He promises He is always with us.  But what about those times when we don't understand and we are asking questions but hear nothing?

I have this image that keeps replaying itself in my mind of a little girl standing on the side of a pool.  Her daddy is in the pool with his arms open saying, "Jump, honey, I'll catch you!"  The little girl gets ready to jump but still looks unsure.  Her body tenses like she will jump then it deflates as the doubt takes over.  Suddenly her face changes, she stands taller and backs away from the pools edge and with all she has she runs and jumps straight into her daddy's arms!  Of course he catches her and they laugh.  All the fear she felt has fully melted away as she says, "Do it again, Daddy!"

Some of us can relate to that image.  For others, it isn't so easy.

But God is that Daddy.  He is the perfect Parent!  When we are infants in Christ, God holds us just as surely and tenderly as a parent holds a newborn.  As we get older and mature He lets us take steps on our own but we still cling to His hand.  We grow to trust Him and know He is always there because we can feel Him.  But our loving Lord knows that faith is not about what we feel.  It is about putting one foot in front of the other even in the dark.

And He asks us to jump.

Wait...WHAT?  What do you mean, "Jump?"  He repeats the request and we say, Just come get my hand so I know you will catch me.  Doubts fill us, we tremble, we plead but God doesn't come to the side of the pool.  He waits.

And one of two things happen to us in that moment.  We either decide God has left us and we let the enemy win with fear and doubt OR we dig deep, remember the Hand that has never let us fall, back away from the edge, run, and JUMP.

His strong arms encircle us. Our fear is immediately forgotten because fear cannot be where love is and we lean our head back to look into His face and say, Do it again, Daddy!

"The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy."
~Zephaniah 3:17


Friday, December 18, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Light

Confession:  I do not enjoy winter.  It's gray, it's dull and, worst of all, it's COLD!  There is almost nothing at all to like about this season. 

Except Christmas!

Christmas is that time of year that reminds me to be thankful.  Everyone seems to have an extra bounce in their step and a happy word on their lips.  It warms my heart.

Perhaps, though, my favorite thing about Christmas is the Christmas lights.  I remember driving around with my aunt and my mom looking at the lights on the houses.  All the different colors and different scenes filled me with wonder and joy just looking at them.  And they still do.

Remembering this makes me to consider the very first Christmas lights. 

I wonder how bright the Bethlehem star was that night.  I wonder if it gave as much light as a full moon or if it was just the brightest star in the sky.  I wonder if the shepherds noticed it.  Somehow I doubt it.  After all, they had their own Christmas lights to look at.

"And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.'" 
~Luke 2:13-14
 
 
How bright do you suppose a "multitude of heavenly hosts" are?  I'm guessing brighter than the noon day sun.  They were bright enough the shepherds couldn't look at them but could see the glory of heaven penetrating their closed eye lids.  It must have been wondrous to suddenly have the utter darkness split in two by the angels of God bringing the most joyous news mankind has ever heard.  Christmas lights remind me, on a much smaller scale, of that. 

The glow of brilliant colors dispelling the darkness also reminds me of the ultimate Light that came to us in the form of an infant.  Emmanuel, God with Us.  All those little lights coming together to make a bigger picture makes my heart sing of grace and hope.  And what a joyous song it is!

"In [Jesus] was life and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 
~John 1:4-5
 
That small child wrapped in pieces of cloth, lying in an animal's food trough reminds me of a single Christmas light.  So tiny, seemingly so insignificant.  But put this Child together with the fact that He is God and He becomes the bigger picture.  He becomes millions upon millions of hearts that His life has changed.  He becomes the very picture of salvation.  And all of our little lights combine to illuminate a very dark world. 
 
This Christmas let's remember that, for those who belong to Christ, this season is about Hope and Grace.  The ultimate gift of Love given to us by a loving Father who wants nothing more than a relationship with us.  Let the Christmas lights we see remind us of the Light that shines in the darkness.  Let it also remind us to shine that Light everywhere we go!
 
~ Merry Christmas! ~

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Seeking Refreshment

Some days just kick your butt.  Some days you don't feel empowered, efficient or, heck, even adequate.  Yesterday was absolutely discouraging and disheartening.  Truth be told, I just wanted to give up.  I couldn't wait for bed time to be able to curl into a ball and forget it.

Can I get a witness?  Have you been there?

I was just over it.  Done.

When I got home the last thing I wanted to do was open God's Word.  I was even mad at Him.  But I was dry.  My Spirit was anemic and in need of Him.  So I turned to the book of Isaiah with a huge, heaving sigh (and probably an eye roll).

Isaiah says, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who fear the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."  Isaiah 40:28-31
 
 
And my soul just exhaled!  My God does NOT GROW WEARY!!  When I am tired and battle worn; when I don't understand what I have seen in the world and my heart is breaking; when I feel I cannot go another step my God is not too tired to give me His strength. 
 
 
I picture myself when I am exhausted and my children want me to play.  Or when my oldest, who talks incessantly, begins a 30 minute story and all I want is to be left alone.  Sometimes I tell them I am too tired, that I need a few minutes to take a breath and then they can have my attention.
 
God doesn't do that!
 
God is the perfect Parent.  He is always ready for His children.  He is always ready to give comfort, to give encouragement or strength and He is always listening. 
 
And He is always ready to refresh.  Do you know what He gave me yesterday after I sat at His feet?  My loving Lord gave me a nap.
 
Oh how He loves us!  I spent that afternoon talking to God...okay...complaining to God and I truly believe He had to have been tired of the sound of my voice.  But He listened and He called me to Him. 
 
Hear this:  Sometimes I think we have a pity party in front of God and consider it praying.  But God had something else in mind.  He was calling me to His Presence.  And I had to get in the Word to get there.  Had to.  God was waiting for me and I needed to get to where He was! 
 
If we are going to receive what the Lord has for us we have to get to where He is!  Yes, He is always with us but we have to give Him our undivided attention.  I was so focused on myself and my heartache that I wasn't really listening to God. 
 
Don't let the enemy steal your time of refreshing!  Run to Him and let Him wrap you up in His love and His goodness.  Dive into His Word and let Him remind you of who He is and what He can do.  Wait on His goodness.  It will come like the rain. 
 
"So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.  His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."  Hosea 6:3
 


 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just a Taste

Have you ever thought about some of the things we say?  We say an awful lot of silly things and some are just plain untrue.  Most often I believe we say them because it is what we have heard all our life and we repeat them without realizing what we are saying.  Let's look at just one of those things.  I can pick on this one because I used to believe this 100%. 

"My mistakes have made me who I am."

Oh, sweet friend, you are who you are because of the GRACE of the Most High God!  You are who you are because He has plans for you and He isn't finished with you!  You are who you are because He is GOOD!  You are who you are because He is in the business of redemption, taking a mistake, something totally out of His will and His plan and bringing good from it.  He is touching your life and that verse in Psalm that says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good..."  well, He is giving you a taste!!  Give Him the praise He deserves for that!

I can look back at my life choices and see where I am now and KNOW that I shouldn't be here.  I should be dead.  I should be in jail.  I should be an alcoholic.  I should be anywhere but here.  But He is GOOD!  And when I think of all this I fall in love with Jesus all over again.  My blessings, my "good luck", whatever you want to call it has never had a thing in the world to do with me.  It has all been the grace and mercy of my wonderful Heavenly Father.

Please don't buy the lie that your mistakes have made you who you are.  My mistakes have never done anything for me except bring me heartache.  But my GOD has chosen to bring me to a place of healing and hope.  He has loved me and pursued me even in my most unlovable state.  Even when I didn't want anything to do with Him.  For that, I stand in awe of Him.  He will always be worthy of my praise for what He has already done. 

The enemy would love for us to say that we are who we are because of the mistakes we have made.  After all, if we are "here" because of mistakes doesn't that mean we are doing just fine on our own?  Or does it mean God is choosing to gives us that taste of His goodness and beckoning us to come closer to Him because He has so much more to offer us?

God is beckoning.  God is wooing.  God is showing His love for you by giving you just a glimpse of the wonderful things He wants to give to you.  But first we have to draw near to Him.  He will give us a taste but He is calling us to the banquet!  Come sit at the table!

"O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
Psalm 34:8




Friday, September 4, 2015

Keep Calm And . . .

"I am never, EVER letting you go again!"

I cannot tell you how many times I heard this come from the mouth of my nine year old son.

And the most amazing part of this?  He was talking to his seven year old brother!  YES!!  Hard to believe, right?

What could inspire such devotion from two brothers who sometimes act like they would love nothing more than be an only child?

Fear.

Last weekend my boys decided they wanted to run the bases after a minor league baseball game.  So, after the game and the awesome post game fireworks, we made our way down to field level where no less than half the kids in the stadium crammed together for their chance to emulate their favorite player.

As the line moves forward and the kids all clamor to be first, the line becomes a wad.  They are bunched up around the girl trying to explain what they are getting ready to do.  Then she tells this mob to form ONE line; that no one will go until they are in a single line.

My oldest crams his body in with everyone else and manages to get in the first to middle part of the line.  My youngest, however, doesn't want to "skip" anyone so he heads to the back of the line.

Immediately, J.D. is in panic mode.  He cranes his neck, stands on his toes and waves his arms while trying to make eye contact with Jon.  When Jon finally spots his older brother a silent argument begins.  J.D. apparently wants Jon to come join him in the front of the line and Jon is adamant about staying where he is.  The fight continues until it is J.D.'s turn to run the bases.

When he gets done running the bases, J.D. finds us and only says, "Where's Jon?"  I point Jon out to him and J.D. is gone again to wait for his brother.

The reunion was heartwarming.  You would have thought they had been separated for a year.  They hugged each other so hard they almost fell over!  That is when I heard, "I am never, EVER letting you go again!"

And I probably heard it a hundred times after that!  J.D. and Jon talked of nothing else.  All. The. Way. Home.  They talked about how scared they were.  They tearfully exclaimed how much they loved each other and how they wouldn't know what to do without the other one.  They even made a plan for the next time they get separated.  Again - All. The. Way. Home. 

"Home" is 35 minutes away from the ball park.  It seemed like an eternity.

Now, don't think I'm terrible.  It was very sweet and I now know that no matter what my kids do to each other on a daily basis, that they really and truly love each other. (Yes, some days I have wondered!)  It does my heart good to know this.

But my boys were really in a panic over a situation that was already under control.  It wasn't a huge deal because my husband and I were watching them.  There is no possible way those two would not have been reunited.  We would not have left one at the ball park.  We had our eyes on both of them the WHOLE time.  But, somehow, the fear of the moment made them forget we were even there.

Isn't that the way we go through life with God?

Everything is gong fine until, well, it's just not.  As soon as that happens we let the fear and the panic take over.  We frantically try to control everything about the situation so the world doesn't end.  And then, when the dust settles and we realize we are still intact, we finally look up.

We look up and see Him.  In that moment, I know that I am not alone.  I know that I was never alone.  I also know that He had everything under control the entire time I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

What a relief!

You know what's an even bigger relief?  To be able to realize this BEFORE I let fear rule in my life.  I need this on one of those "Keep Calm and..." shirts.

But wait, God has already given me one of those:

"[Keep Calm] and Know That I Am God..."  Psalm 46:10

Maybe I will put this on a t-shirt after all!  :)


 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Two Cents...

It seems everywhere I turn there is controversy.  Arguments over issues that, growing up as a child, used to be "no-brainers."  I see friends turn on friends, ugly words spoken and typed that cannot be taken back.  I have watched and listened in awestruck horror as we make our voices heard simply because it is our right to do so.  And, through it all, I have begun to ask myself how Jesus would respond to this if He still walked this earth. 
 
Honestly, I don't know what He would do or what He would say.  I know it would be full of love but also full of Truth.  I know that I am tired of being silent but I want my response to honor Him and not simply gratify my desire to be right.  Hopefully this will do just that.

I believe in God.  The one true God, Jehovah-Jireh, God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, the God-who-sees-me-right-where-I-am-but-loves-me-anyway.  That God.  I believe He created man and woman to be able to make new life through physical union.  I believe sex is a beautiful, remarkable gift from God that should be treasured and kept within the sanctity of marriage.  I believe that any life the Lord gives is holy and precious and should be protected.  I believe that any instruction that God has given has been given for my benefit and protection. 

I believe these things because I am a God-follower.  If you do not follow the same God I follow, I do not expect you to feel the same way.  I do not love you less because you disagree with me, however, I do disagree.  My heart is heavy for you and the pain and heartache I know living apart from God causes.  I know this pain because I have experienced it myself. 

I believe in Jesus Christ.  I believe that because He died for my choice to live "my way" and to "be my own person" that I have been made "right" in the sight of God.  I love Jesus for that sacrifice.  He has shown me grace and mercy that I will never be able to fully understand.  He extends that same grace and mercy to all who trust in Him.  It is because of this belief and trust that I love you. 

So, no matter our differences, no matter what you support that I cannot:  I love you.  It is that simple.  No harsh words.  No jostling to be right or politically correct.  God loves you.  He has provided a way for anybody to experience that insane, crazy love He has for them through Jesus.  He has given freedom.  He has given hope.  I believe this because I am a Christ- lover.

In this crazy, mixed up world I believe in the Sovereign God.  I do not fear the changes but that doesn't mean I have to like them, support them or believe in them.  Likewise, you do not have to like, support or believe mine either.  What does matter is this: You are precious in His sight, therefore, you are precious in mine.

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