Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011 - Dead to the World

      There was a time when I could hear a fly stomp across a windowpane but I was dead to the world last night. I slept through two earthquakes (4.7 and 3.8), the aftershock, a tornado watch and Tom and Nick yelling to each other in the middle of it all. 
      Being "dead to the world" can be positive or negative. It's positive when nothing going on in the world disturbs our peace in God's control. It's also positive when we "play dead" to the world's pressures to compromise Christ's commands and conform to cultural terminology such as calling abortion "choice," promiscuity "recreational sex," and homosexuality an "alternate lifestyle." The Judge has already judged these issues so we need to kill our useless tendency to judge others while also crucifying our sensitivity to incoming judgment, hostility, criticism, or ridicule from people who hate us for upholding God's judgments. 
 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. 
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. 
Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  
Luke 6:37
    However, being "dead to the world" shouldn't mean I'm unmoved by the needs, lostness and hopelessness of people dying in their own helplessness. We're resurrected in Christ and we now live by His Power to lead people from death into eternal life. 
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." 
John 3:16-17
     In this new life born from death, God calls us to live as Good Samaritans who go those extra miles, pay from our own wallets, turn our cheeks to insult, pray for our persecutors, and forgive anyone who offends us. Jesus calls us to die to ego and live in the brokenness of sitting at the foot of tables, washing feet, touching lepers, loving outcasts, visiting prisoners, caring for widows and orphans, and accepting the "least of these" with compassion. 
     Being "dead to the world" and "alive in Christ" may lead the world to judge us as backwards, weak, or intolerant, but God sees us differently from His throne: 
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. 
For He has clothed me in a robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10
    Jesus slept peacefully through a storm that rocked the disciples' world because He was dead to the world and alive to God's Presence and Power in Him. 
"Now we can see that You know all things and that You do not even need to have anyone ask You questions. This makes us believe that You came from God.' 'You believe at last!' Jesus answered. 'But a time is coming, and has come when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.'" John 16:30
Lord, rock my world with sensitivity to the peopel Christ showed sensitivity and help me "sleep through" the attacks from critics and what doesn't matter. Save us from lukewarm lives:  we want to live fully in You, fulfilling all You call us to do for anyone You put in our paths. We can't die to the world or to ourselves without Your resurrection Power working through us, so ignite Your Spirit in us as fully awake and responsive to You. 
In the Name of Jesus Who lived for You, died to the world and died for the world so we could live eternally in Your resurrection Power!
Inspired by Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest
photo from

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011 - Dangerous Friends

     What would I have done without friends? 
Friends have 
     stuck with me through valleys, and 
     prayed with me up mountains; 
    fed and cared for me when I was sick or recovering from surgery, and 
    "fed" and cared for me when my spiritual immune system needed strengthening; 
    worked like Trojans with me to make home improvements and to landscape, and
    worked like slaves of God with me to minister to our church family;

     listened to my woes and comforted me, and
     blessed me with their honest and tough love when the time was right.
     taken me on exotic trips to faraway lands, and
     sat with me comfortably by the fireside with a cup of coffee;
     gone the extra mile in my behalf, and 
     taught me practical shortcuts;
     surprised me with generous gifts, and 
     shared their hand-me-downs and wisdom;

No one friend has done all of these things but each one has contributed to my life in numberless ways. The danger in having wonderful friends is the temptation to forget I have One Friend Who can do all of the above with Power from above.  
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 
And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. 
But when you are tempted, 
He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  
1 Corinthians 10:13
"We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering 
what we have allowed Him to do in the past . . . 
We will come to Jesus as Comforter or as Sympathizer, 
but we will not come to Him as Almighty" (Chambers). 
Since moving to Benton I'm making new friends but I've also become more keenly aware of my One Best Friend. I'm remembering the depth of my needs and the height of His Love and Power. He's quenching my thirst for friendship with His Presence and Generosity. 
"Sir," the woman said, "You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. 
Where can You get this living water?"
John 4:11
I've moved but He hasn't.
"Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand." 
Psalm 73:23
Learning to depend on God first makes us better friends because no one friend expects miracles from the other. We each already have a Miracle Friend. Friends who rely on Jesus to be Almighty in their lives make the best friends because He eliminates the danger of us draining or smothering one another with unhealthy co-dependence. 
What a Friend we have in You, Jesus, yet how awful we are about bypassing You to lay our burdens on a frail and struggling friend. Forgive us for expecting too much from each other and too little from You. You're the Almighty yet we handcuff You with our cell of faith. Teach us to let the cell divide and grow. Show us what You can do in Your church today and may we fall on our knees in gratitude for You, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, Who always has our best interests at heart, and Who can remove the mountains and level the valleys.
In the Name of Jesus, Friend of sinners    

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011 - Peanut M&M's . . . mmmmmmm

     We're at the D6 Family Conference in Little Rock learning how to be a radical family based on Deuteronomy 6. Last night between the Bible study and the Game Gauntlet, my sweet tooth needed a "fix" and I stepped into the hotel's "Suite Shop" to see what was available. I saw my golden prize, Peanut M&M's, snuggled amongst all the second choice candies on the shelf.  However as I reached for satisfaction, the little Dave Ramsey pacing on my shoulder screamed in my ear: "Hotel prices! They want HOW MUCH for those half dozen peanuts wrapped in a little chocolate and colorful candy shells? Hey,if you've got cash they may take less, but don't you dare whip out the plastic!"  Evidently my hand is more committed to Financial Peace than my taste buds because I saw it retract as if the pretty yellow package was on fire. I sighed and took my seat with the others in the game area. 
     About the time we finished the Catch Phrase phase of our Game Gauntlet, Mason, a young man sitting in front of us, turned around with a bag of peanut M&M's and asked, "Do you want these?" Silly question! My overenthusiastic response probably scared him into keeping his candy to himself in the future. I cupped my hand, ready to receive one or two of the precious gems when he dropped the whole unopened bag on my palm.
     Was it a trick? Was I dreaming? Had Mason seen me in the Suite Shop? Why would he give away an unopened bag of PEANUT M&M's? Had he already completed the Financial Peace course and could now afford hotel-priced candy for others? I double checked with him, "Are you sure? Why don't you want them?" but he had simply changed his mind and given them to whomever was closest. 
    My friend Karin and I call moments like these "Serendipities" from God: times when He's like a daddy returning from a trip with surprises in his coat pockets for his children. Serendipities and Peanut M&M's aren't necessary to our relationship with God but they do remind us that:
      1: God loves to let us know He's thinking about us and that He knows our thoughts;
      2: He enjoys delighting us in tailor-made ways;
      3: He fills life with good surprises; 
      4: He uses us to bless each other so we need to follow through on those inner prompts and urgings God sets off in us. Our seemingly small sacrifice or gift may be a serendipity for the recipient;
      5: We'll never outgive Him;
      6: We'll never calculate how He'll solve the problems in our lives;
      7: Right choices and keeping commitments lead to blessing after blessing;
      8. God knows how to reward His children and He does;
      9. He uses little gifts to let us know He's working on fulfilling the deeper desires of our heart; and,
     10. Peanut M&M's taste even better when God gives them to us. 
Silly us! Of course, God is able to do more than we hoped or imagined! 
 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. 
Where can You get this living water?" 
John 4:11
Father, help us trust You to do all Your Word says You can and will do. We'll never figure You out so relieve us of trying. Guide us to accept Your small gifts as reminders of Your amazing Love. Guide us to give You small gifts of our love along the way, too. Work in us to produce a greater faithfulness and discipline so we place ourselves in the path of Your blessings. Strengthen us to draw back our hands from what would weaken our commitment to You as we trust You to fill our hands with what will satisfy.
In the Name of Jesus Who drew back His hand from turning stones to bread 
Inpired by My Utmost for His Highest, my love of Peanut M&M's, and Mason's generosity
photo from

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011 - Love You More

The kids and I used to play a game you've probably played with your children or grandchildren. The game combines words, math and love. Here's a sample dialogue.       
    Julie: "I love you, mama," or, Nick: "I love you, mom." 
    Me: "I love you more."
    Julie or Nick: "Nuh-huh. I love YOU more."
    Me: "I love you infinity."
    Julie or Nick: "I love you more than in . . .What's infinity?"
    Me: "It means forever and ever - it's the most."
    Julie or Nick: "I love you more than infinity." 
    Me: "That's impossible - the most is the most and you can't love me more than that."
    Julie or Nick: "Well, I do."
It's a shame we spend so little time trying to win at "Love You More." In fact, too often our damaged pride and hurt feelings trigger another game called, "Let's see who cares the least."  
     Jesus rewrote the rules for loving others and Paul followed them joyfully and freely. 
"So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. 
If I love you more will you love me less?" 
2 Corinthians 12:15
Jesus' love and grace transformed Saul the tight-hearted Pharisee into Paul, Extravagant Spender of Love and Service. He demanded nothing in return but poured himself and his resources out to bring people to salvation in Jesus Christ. He loved them more to introduce them to the God who loved them infinitely more. 
Father, thank You for loving us first and for loving us "more." Loosen the protective bandages we've wrapped too tightly around our hearts and loosen our knees to bend in service. Loosen our grasp on past grievances and pride so we can open our hands and hearts to serve people in Your Love regardless of whether they love us in return. Teach us to be thankful for those who've loved us according to Your definition and example. Thank You for the times You've helped us get over and outside ourselves to let You love through us. What amazing joy and healing those times have brought into our lives. Do it again today, Father. Let Your love pour out of us into a world of people who may love us less for our efforts but who may never forget that someone loved them more.
In the Name of Jesus Who loved us more, praise God!
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." 
Colossians 4:2
"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you, in Christ Jesus." 
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest.
Photo from

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - Leaning Towers and Shaky Pedestals

     As soon as my eyes opened this morning I remembered that today I'll substitute at the high school for the first time. Suddenly home sounds safe and stress-free. I don't have to risk my blood pressure rising or my mouth getting me into trouble when I'm home alone. However, Mr. Chambers yanked my chain again with yet another reminder that the pride-based goals of protecting my reputation and staying out of trouble are mine and not God's goals for me.
 "When a man says he must develop a holy life alone with God, he is of no more use to his fellow men; he puts himself on a pedestal, away from the common run of men." (Oswald Chambers)  
     Pedestals are built on the rotten wood of our perfectionistic pride and concern that other people will contaminate our holiness. Using my relationship with Jesus as an excuse to avoid entangling myself in the "real world" must deeply cut the heart of the One who sacrificed His safety and stress-free heavenly home to rub elbows with sinners. If God's goal for us were only to "be holy as I am holy" we could all go home and live like hermits, studying and praying and glutting on His Goodness and Grace. 
          "So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.
If I love you more, will you love me less?" 
2 Corinthians 12:15
     Pride comes in many forms but the most dangerous for me centers around the temptation to make personal holiness my goal rather than allowing it to form naturally as a by-product of my relationship with God. 
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 
1 Corinthians 13:12
     God's Love breaks through pride's dams and washes away the rotten wood of pedestals and ivory towers. No one is beneath us and no task is too menial for the children of God in winning people to Christ. No rude response, snide sarcasm, stabbing spite, cold unbelief, ill-bred behavior, awful attitude or ungrateful apathy can stop the rising flood of God's Love from our lives into theirs. Only our pride and prejudices can do that.
"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power 
through His Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the saints, 
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 
Ephesians 3:16-18
Father, You alone are holy so keep me from the pride of thinking I can build my tower of Babel to reach where you are by separating myself from other people. Use me today by letting Your Love overcome all barriers - especially the ones my pride constructs between me and what I disdain or fear. I humble myself before You because I don't want You to do it. Forgive me for the pride that hinders Your work through me. Time is short. The signs are everywhere. Don't let others die without You because I was unwilling to kneel and wash their feet.
In the Name of Jesus Who taught us to serve others rather than lording over them our petty superiorities.
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
Photo from my personal photos, Leaning Tower Of Pisa

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - Sometimes we need Him to spell it out for us.

     When was your last pity party? Occasionally we like to hang black balloons, put on our wallowing wear, curl up with our favorite comfort food, set our signature "poor me" song to repeat (mine's Eric Carmen's "All By Myself"), and feel sorry for ourselves.
    I imagine the Samaritan woman who made her trip alone to the town well in the heat of noon each day enjoyed regular pity parties (John 4). She was a W-O-M-A-N in a time when women had no rights and received no R-E-S-P-E-C-T. She'd been married five times because men could D-I-V-O-R-C-E their wives with a piece of parchment any time they felt like it. Yes, she had been unfaithful, but she was only unfaithful because not one of her husbands had understood her needs, which brings us back to our pity party theme (every party needs a theme): "Nobody understands me; Nobody really loves me." 
     Then she met Jesus Who understood her all too well (pardon the pun). As she approached the stone well she noticed a man sitting on it, another man who could treat her any way he chose while she had to take whatever he dished out to her. Her lips probably tightened as she wondered suspiciously why he sat there alone just when the town scandal came to get water. She gritted her teeth and told herself, "Just get the water and get back to the house before you get into more T-R-O-U-B-L-E." She sneaked a closer look and realized this man was a Jew. Relaxing, she thought "No worries, he won't even look my way much less make suggestive remarks." But He was no ordinary M-A-N. He asked gently for a drink of water. When the astonished woman questioned his unorthodox behavior, He  dished out Living water to satisfy what no new R-O-M-E-O could do. 
 "'Sir,' the woman said, 'You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. 
Where can you get this living water?'"
John 4:11
        Jesus revealed Himself as Messiah to this Samaritan W-O-M-A-N and transformed her into a cup of Living water for neighbors previously inclined to avoid her company. Did He quench her thirst? Look back at the well and you'll see the water jar she left in her hurry to throw off everything that had entangled her in sin or failed to satisfy her in the past (John 4:28). 
     "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." 
Hebrews 12:1
Lord God Almighty, forgive us for loving a good pity party. Remind us that pity starts with P-I-T and that wallowing in the pit of self-pity darkens our hearts and minds to Your Goodness and to Your Power to change anyone in any situation. Lord, show us how to open ourselves for Your Living Water to cleanse and re-cleanse us. Wash Your Holiness through us and help us leave behind everything that entangles us in sin. Demonstrate what You can do through a vessel E-M-P-T-Y of everything but You. Teach us to run from the pit of self-pity into Your Arms of Grace and Strength. Occupy our minds with thoughts of praise and thanksgiving. Keep our mouths filled with up-to-date testimonies of how You keep quenching our thirst. Thrill us with Your Truth and Spirit as we read the B-I-B-L-E.
In the Name of Jesus, Liberator and Thirst-Quencher.

Inspired by Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest and songs that spell words (all but "P-I-T")
photos from

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - Cautious Prayers

     I stopped praying for our house to sell today because I kept thinking about people I know who've received what they prayed for only to lose something valuable. For instance, the wealthy couple who built a mansion on the water but the stress of the project broke through their characters and led to divorce. They never lived in their "answered prayer" together. Another couple prayed for a baby for more than a decade and within two years of their child's birth they were divorced. A man and his wife became active in the church and choir and requested we pray for a job for him. We did and he started his own business to which he dedicated his Sundays and we never saw them again. Finally, we've all heard nightmare stories of people who destroyed themselves with sudden wealth. We pray for things beyond our character to handle and push God to give us what we think we need when we're not spiritually mature enough to keep the blessing in perspective. Sometimes we're not ready to be blessed.
"If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God." (Chambers)
Yes, we're to pray continually,
"Pray continually." (1 Thess. 5:17)
but those continuous prayers should be rooted in God's character and exalt Him, not our own desires.
"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

     When we pray for what honors the Name of Jesus, we don't have to worry about getting what we asked for and regretting it. Prayers prayed in Jesus' character and Name don't come back to bite us. They complete our joy.
"Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name.
Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete."
John 16:24
     I've decided God will sell our house and relieve our financial situation when He knows it won't hurt us to do so. My new prayer about the house is:
As the God of our future, You know what's best. Do what You want with the house but please don't sell it until we're spiritually prepared for it to sell. Reveal Your heart to us so we know how to pray in Your character and Name. We can't see all the intricate details and consequences of getting what we think we want or need. Help us think outside the box and give You the credit and honor You deserve for masterful timing and a Love that will not let us go. May we hold on to You before, during and after You fulfill all You have in mind for us.
In the Name of Jesus Whose Name means "God is our Salvation" 

Inspired by My Highest for His Utmost and Jesus Calling 
photo from


Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011 - Nothing to Lose

     Valentine's Day was exactly one week ago today. How did it impact our lives? Some people express their love by the calendar so that on Valentine's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmas they feel obligated to buy the richest box of chocolate, the biggest stuffed bear, the most expensive gifts, and the most expressive cards. Other people do little loving things on a daily basis throughout the year so that when a particular day pops up they don't feel compelled to "prove" their love because a certain date says to do so. Which way most speaks love? As in most of life, the truth can be found between the extremes.
     Sunday was yesterday. How did it impact our lives? Did we go all out to show God we love Him with a big check, tiring service, the loudest singing, and a smile that covered a week of never acknowledging Him or of taking His Love for granted? Was it a day we allowed to reinforce the deepening relationship we share with Him or a day of forced quality time?
     A woman watching Jesus enter the home of Simon the Pharisee felt her heart seized by an idea that came all at once to her now-pounding heart. Her legs took her swiftly to the outskirts of Bethany as people looked at her with the usual disgust in their eyes. Someone spat at her. Once safely inside her house, she approached a small table beside her bed on which sat a lone alabaster jar. Firmly and without her usual care and ceremony she tucled the jar inside her cloak and headed back into town to Simon's house. The jar seemed to burn her skin as she remembered the wealthy "admirerer" who gave it to her. She hoped Jesus would know her gift to Him meant her past was dead, the past for which He had forgiven. As Simon's house came into view, she was torn between lifting her chin in defiance to the "welcome" she would receive from the Pharisees and lowering her head at gentleness she fully expected to see in His eyes, if she dared meet those eyes. She hesitated only a second in the doorway as she searched among the reclining dinner guests for Jesus. She took a deep breath reminding herself that with her reputation firmly ensconced in this small town, she had nothing more to lose. She fixed her eyes on Jesus and moved toward Him before anyone could stop her.
   "But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign LORD; in You I take refuge -- do not give me over to death." Psalm 141:8
When she reached Him she knelt at His feet where she broke the jar. From the shattered alabaster poured the aromatic liquid and from her heart poured the richest expression of love she had ever experienced or expressed. All the pent up gratitude for His protective, redeeming love poured out of her in an unspoken vow to "go and sin no more."
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Colossians 2:6-7
As she wept publicly without shame and  noticed through her tears the liquid washing away dirt from Jesus' feet. Dirt? Had no one offered to wash her Master's feet? She began to use the only water and towel she had at hand, her tears and her hair, to do what should have been done by others. She forced her eyes downward to avoid reflecting back into the eyes around the table the same judgments they were pinning on her: shock, indignation, and disgust. As if they read her mind, they defensively started in on her, judging her for wasting a top dollar item to wash feet.
"'Leave her alone,'  said Jesus. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.'"
 Mark 14:6 
Today may be a day to love in the little, daily devoted ways, but there are times to do a beautiful thing to Jesus with the extravagant expression of a heart that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. 
Father, what is my alabaster jar? What gift tells You I'm leaving all other idols and addictions to follow You? Show me Your wish list and I will give what You want and not what I consider a "good enough" gift. Fill me with the desire to love the least of these with extravagance because what we do for them, we're doing for You. When we all get to heaven, Lord, I pray we'll have the opportunity to do just as this woman did and kneel at Your actual feet in complete love and worship for Who You are and in thanksgiving for how You've redeemed us from a disgustingly selfish and sinful life.
In the Name of Jesus, Who sees our hearts, reads our minds, and fills our futures with hope!

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011 - Baby Steps, Big Steps

     Today is a red letter day in 2011, one that required preparation: set a date, make travel arrangements, make appropriate purchases from gift registry, clear calendar of all other obligations. Today I'll attend the baby shower for Addy Akin, our first grandbaby. Last night I heard our daughter Julie say to her husband Nick: "I can't believe tomorrow is our baby shower. Next big step: Baby!" 
    Preparing for Addy's arrival has been for them a mixture of little steps and major changes. They've pondered and wondered and planned. They painstakingly chose a medical team to guide them through the pregnancy. They've transformed the game room into a nursery where diapers have taken the place of DVDs and video games. They've chosen Adalyn Faith's name. They dream of what they'll teach her and how they'll play with her. As much time and labor as these actions require they're still the precursors, the baby steps, in preparing for the big steps of bringing Addy into the world and bringing her up to become all the Lord intended her to be. 
      Every spiritual walk mixes it up between baby and big steps rather than producing an even pace of equal strides. One difference between our walks comes from our view of what we consider a baby step or a big step. For action-oriented people, prayer, Bible Study, meditation, and clarification are major strides to carry out what then seems like a simple action. For those more prone to dream, plan, talk, or make lists, exerting the trust to act on what God leads them to do or live proves to be the hurdle. No matter how we get there, our goal is the same as Jesus': to show the world we love the Father by obeying Him and doing what He commands us to do. 
"but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded Me. Come now, let us leave" John 14:31
     The little girl now kicking visibly inside Julie compels this couple to plan and act while the hope of Christ in us spurs us toward taking the next step - be it a baby step or a leaping mid-air over a major hurdle.

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

Based on My Utmost for His Highest

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011 - Live, Laugh, Love

     Words make great art these days. "Live, Laugh, Love" appears on everything from stationery to wall art. Is it just me or is it a little sad that we need to remind ourselves to live, laugh, and love? Living should come about as naturally as anything we do since fighting for survival is instinctual. There's plenty of laughter in the world if laughter means laughter at crudeness, at another person or at entertainment in general. Loving also comes naturally if by love we mean a protective and affectionate attachment to people we're bound to by blood, law or common interestws. 
     Of course "Live, Laugh, Love" aren't popular because we need reminders to do what comes naturally. They're on the coffee cup to remind us to inhale the aroma and take a moment to sip life in a leisurely enjoyment of God's simple gifts. We buy these words on bookmarks and keychains as personal reminders to laugh at ourselves and move forward in God's grace. They're on the walls of our homes to remind us to relish the people God's given us as family and friends, people we're likely to take for granted. In the middle of the day's drudgery and menial tasks, the words "Live, Laugh, Love" can open a window and let the Light in to reveal the deeper meaning in any task.
Jesus transformed:
     *the drudgery of washing dirty feet into a lesson on humility and service for 12 men.
     *a daily trip to the well into a drink of Living Water for a social outcast.
     *the task of planting a seed into a spiritual picture of new life.
     *a cross of execution into a tree of Life.
     *our flesh-and-bone bodies into temples of God.
  "It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards." (Oswald Chambers) 
    No task is too small for God's sacred purpose to be infused into it. I can "Live, Laugh, Love," on the most base levels or I can let God turn every moment into a sacred moment.
"God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' This is what you are to say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob -- has sent me to you' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.'" Exodus 3:14

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereignn LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." Habakkuk 3:17-19

"Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you." Isaiah 60:1
Lord, inject Your holiness into our every moment of this day and may we live to hallow Your name: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
In the Name of Jesus, the One Who infused a body of clay with the Spirit of Almighty God.

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
Photo from

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011 - Pop Goes the Myth

     Last night at our Financial Peace class, Dave Ramsey debunked common myths about money we've bought into as consumers. To emphasize his points, he popped a balloon each time he presented a truth that dethroned the lie. 
     Myth: "Car payments are a way of life, and you'll always have one." Not true because I can choose to save and buy a less expensive, reliable car. POP!  
     Myth: "Playing the lottery and other forms of gambling will make me rich." Not true because while people with low incomes stand in line to spend an average of $153 a month on lottery tickets, rich people wisely invest their money. POP!
     Satan, the father of lies, masterfully twists Truth into lies we swallow hook, line and sinker. He has no power to steal a child of God from God's Hand, but he does his best to keep us senseless to the Power we have in Christ. One of the most debilitating weapons in his arsenal is the "It's too late now" myth which he fertilizes with the following thoughts: 
     "There was a time I felt God's call to . . . but it's too late now." 
     "I missed my chance."
     "If I had my life to do over again . . .  "
     "I should've . . ."
     "I blew it . . . "
     "I wasn't ready."
     "If I could rewind to that open door . . ."
     "I'll never get another opportunity like that."   
     Can you imagine where the Christian faith would be if the remaining eleven disciples had swallowed Satan's lies as Judas did? They, too, blew important opportunities and failed Jesus when He asked for their help and needed them most.
"Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, 
'Are you still sleeping and resting? 
Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 
Rise, let us go! Here comes My betrayer!"
Matthew 26:46
     Somewhere between Jesus' death and Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended to light their fires, the Eleven fought off the weight of guilt and self-reproach that could have tied them to the tree next to Judas. Can you imagine the spiritual warfare that took place in the upper room where they prayed for 40 days as they waited for the Holy Spirit? Imagine Satan relentlessly tapping at their minds and then (as he lost ground) at the windows with signs reading: "You fell ASLEEP when GOD HIMSELF asked for your help;" "You ran like scared rabbits while He died on the cross!" "You hid behind locked doors after He died!" "You never really believed what He said - you're not even sure right now."  "You, James and John, you said you had what it took to rule from His left and His right - but what did you do when they crucified him? NOTHING!" "Hey, Big Mouth - yeah, you, Peter, what are you doing here? I thought you didn't even know Him!"  "Look at you bunch of losers! Not one of you morons grabbed the towel and bowl to wash His feet. 'Not ME! I'm too GOOD to wash the Son of God's feet, much less the rest of them.'" Each disciple battled these temptations to quit by nailing them under God's gracious promises and Jesus' forgiving actions and words. Satan failed in his desperate effort to abort the emerging church and he's still mad and trying to make us miserable with more of his myths.
Myth: "You failed on a major scale or in a million little ways and now you're useless to God."
Truth:"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You. Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory." (Ps.73:23-24)
 Since moving to Benton, I've met three women who've shared with some regret that they didn't respond to God's call to certain ministries when they were young. However, none of them have let Satan win in his efforts to squelch their zeal or steal another opportunity or shut an open door. All three of them have risen to move forward as God calls them now and they're impacting our world for Christ. 
Myth: "I missed God's call when I was young or I missed a golden opportunity He put in front of me but now there's nothing I can do about it."
Truth: "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." (Phil. 3:13)
Truth: "But if anyone does not have them (these qualities), he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." 2 Peter 1:9 

Truth: "As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.'" Romans 10:11
Truth: "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:14
Truth: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father."
Truth: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Abba, Father, fill us with Truth and push Satan's ladder away from our minds. Keep us wide awake to serve You when You call on us to serve. When we fail You, help us acknowledge the failure, confess our sin, and start again under Your Grace. Fill Your people with determination to be smack in the middle of Your will. Use Your church as Your Hands, Feet and Heart. May nothing keep us from getting up from wherever we've been sleeping to follow You. 

Inspired by Jesus Calling, My Utmost for His Highest and Dave Ramsey
Photo from

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - Expect the Unexpected

     So far in my substitute teaching journey I've shared twice in the joy of having just settled children in to work when the fire alarm sounded to disrupt everything and send us into the cold for a few minutes. When we returned to the classroom I had to re-calm excited children, recalculate the time remaining and re-evaluate which assignments most needed to be completed.  Praise God, these were planned drills instead of real emergencies. 
     Routines and plans provide the framework of our activities and schedules. They're important to our healing process after or even during an emergency. They're necessary components for producing results but we don't want to mistake them for our security. When routine lulls you into a numbness of going through the motions of living rather than the joy of living, prepare to hear a buzzer. God knows we come "alive" when we have to think in a new way. For example, after Jesus' died and was buried, the women who came to the tomb went back to thinking in routine ways about how to care for Jesus' body. When they arrived to carry out their plan, the buzzer went off, the thunder rolled and angels spoke.
"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. 
Come and see the place where He lay." 
Matthew 28:6

     Of course, those people whose emergencies have become routine crave and need "normalcy." For them, God provides a recharging retreat away from the drain of too much excitement. After the spiritual battle on Mt. Carmel where God used Elijah the prophet to draw fire from heaven, God revealed Himself to the exhausted Elijah by ringing a dinner bell. Elijah had seen God open heaven in violently visual ways, yet when the "emergency" was over God provided a normal, nourishing meal for His servant (even if the delivery boy was dressed a little strangely). 
"Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. 
 All at once an angel touched him and said, 'Get up and eat.'"
1 Kings 19:5
     As God's new creations who are still under construction, we can trust God to know whether we need a buzzer or a dinner bell. If you're dozing in your rut, beware! His Hand hovers over the buzzer. If, however, you're exhausted from one emergency after another, take heart - He's turning down the covers and has prepared a tray just for you. Expect the unexpected.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; 
the old has gone, the new has come!" 
2 Corinthians 5:17
Father, You know what we need to keep us close to You. Help us trust You and accept willingly and respond gratefully to either the buzzer or the dinner bell You've planned for us today. Anything You allow in our lives can be used to live up to the new creations You've designed us to be. Fill us. Open our eyes to see You in our routines and in our emergencies and use us to help others face theirs as well. 

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling