Wednesday, September 26, 2018

You and I.

I have a confession. 

I wish I could talk about God all the time. 

I wish I didn't have to write about unimportant things. I wish I didn't have to hold meaningless conversations or throw in a smile here and there. I wish I didn't have to solemnly complete menial tasks. 

I just want to talk about God all the time. 

Sounds a bit obsessive, I am sure. But it is a persistent thought that I cannot shake. No matter who I am with or what I am doing, I want to just yank out a Bible and get into the goods. Besides, I'd think being obsessed with Jesus is fairly safe. 

Unfortunately, I am struggling with the fact that (1) It is not socially acceptable to constantly speak about God. (2) Who cares if it is not socially acceptable to talk about God all the time? And, (3) Day-to-day life still goes on and I must live it. 

But, could you imagine how lovely a world FULL of God would be? Imagine conversations based on history and parables and decoding translations. Imagine always being reminded that you are forgiven for your past, your stupid mistakes, your poor choices. And, imagine never feeling alone again. 

Imagine not having to get up and answer the phone because you are in the middle of a conversation about God. (Yes, most of us are guilty of allowing the phone take away this important interaction).

There is an event coming up next month called Bring Your Bible to School Day. Apparently they say that it isn't illegal to bring your Bible to school  (as long as you aren't formally preaching) and they want Christian kids to lead by example -- and bring their Bible. As I heard this on the radio the other day, I was considering whether or not I could have done that when I was younger. Would I have participated? If I did, would I have pulled my Bible out of my backpack? 

I honestly don't know the answer, but it makes me think of how wanting to talk about God all the time is about as taboo as bringing a Bible to school. 

Our world has been terrible enough for a long time now. And, I think something needs to change. The only person powerful enough to make that happen is, well, God. 

I think it is time we start talking about him more -- and in more uncommon and less-inviting situations. I am going to do this and I think you should, too. 

Ready? Next time you are making a purchase at a store, why not share a little something? You know, when the clerk asks you if you will be paying with cash or card, share the story from Luke 14:28. “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’" Let the clerk know that you'd be awfully foolish to pay with credit when you have cash in your wallet. 

It may sound silly, I know, but doing something like this is guaranteed to leave an unexpected, lasting impression. Even if the clerk doesn't remember all of what you said, some will be retained -- and he or she may even be encouraged to pull out a Bible to look up what that strange customer said. 

And that, my friend, is a successful interaction. Check! ΓΌ  

Of course, you can simply spread God's love by not saying anything at all, but simply acting in his ways. Sometimes no words at all speak louder than any verse or conversation ever could. 

Let's do this. Let's be those strange customers, the oddballs, and the ones who stick out. Let's start a small ripple that one day turns into a rogue wave. 



Let's start now.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Where do you want to be?


One day, God is going to come. 

Where do you want to be when he does? 

I don't know about you, but when it comes time for me to meet God, I don't want to be doing something I should not be doing. Or be somewhere I shouldn't. 

Do you ever think about this? 

I hadn't until I read a book by Pastor Francis Chan called CrazyLove. It was a while back, so the exact details are a little cloudy, but, the story went something like this -- He was talking about how devout his mother-in-law is and how she wouldn't join them at the movies. She finally gave him her reason why...  she didn't want to be sitting down in a theatre when God came for her.


“I just don’t know if this is where I want to be when Christ returns.  I’d rather be helping someone or on my knees praying.  I don’t want Him to return and find me sitting in a theater.” –Grandma Clara


Think about that for a minute. 

There are a lot of things that we do in life that we likely would not want to be doing at that moment, but we do them anyway, don't we? 

Our society makes it incredibly hard to focus on God and His Word. Imagine turning down a movie or dinner invite - or even a trip to the mall - by saying, "no, I'm sorry, I cannot go because I am in prayer all day today." Have you ever said those words? 

Getting lost in hours of prayer is just not seen by our society as the "norm." So, instead, we spend our time with nonsense, such as those entertainment things that make us feel good or spending money on material possessions we hope will fill some void we have buried deep.

Is it all wrong? Are we all wrong? Isn't there something missing? How can we expect to live an eternal life with God when we aren't even willing to give him a day or night of prayer? 

I woke up this morning with these thoughts in my mind. Odd, since I haven't read Chan's book in quite some time. So, it must be for a reason. Someone is obviously trying to tell me something - and He wants me to share it with you, too. 

Now, what are you going to do? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Waiting

I find patience hard to come by sometimes - especially in more recent days. Maybe it is because I am busier than ever or maybe it is just the anxiousness of the kids at the winding down of summer vacation. Whatever the reason, I often find myself having to step aside and breathe. 

How about you? 

If you are finding that your patience has become MIA, then this may disrupt your time with God. And, well, that is not something you ever want to do.

God doesn't respond when you snap your fingers. He is not always ready to give you an answer when you need it. Sometimes he wants you to sit back, be still, and listen. 

Christina Fox has written a blog on 3 Things to do While You Wait on the Lord. If you find yourself struggling, I think you should check this out. Really. Just do it. 

And, in the meantime, remember -- Good things come to those who wait. So enjoy the time you have and make the most of it. You will hear God in the perfect moment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Still, forgive.

Why is it so hard to forgive someone of their faults? 

Forget the petty little wrongdoings or small bad habits and faults. Instead, consider the person who beats down the very wall that was providing you shelter - crumbling life as you knew it. Or, the person who causes pain, heartache, and strife for someone you love. Or, the one who takes someone's life based on one stupid decision. 

Big mistakes impact the lives of so many, whether directly or indirectly. 

We know that we need to love without conditions. And, we know that we each have faults that make us less than perfect. 

We also know that God forgives - if we seek him - and that is ultimately what matters to that imperfect individual, right? Not my opinion or my feelings. And not yours, either. 

Yet, when trust is broken or you feel wronged, it is hard to push back with unconditional love and forgiveness, despite the fact that we know we should. 

Why is that? 

We are human. You, me, all of us. We know what we should do. We know what we need to do. We know what God expects of us.
___________________________________________

Ready for the truth? 

Forgiveness is an action. It is a choice. You can choose to forgive someone or you can choose not to. You can choose to look at the person with love and joy or you can choose to look at that person with pity, anger, and contempt. 

Jesus loved sinners. He loved those with faults and those who had made bad choices. He hung out with them. He ate with them. He forgave them. 

We should, too. We should push aside all that we feel toward someone who we believe has done wrong -- and forgive them. 

Philippians 3:13-15 gives some great advice... and the way The Message translation says it, makes it easy to understand: 

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
When you are struggling with forgiveness, turn to God and allow him to help you see clearly. He will help you look past the wrongs to everything that is good, whole, and right.

Love one another. Accept one another. And still, forgive.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

We are all the same

I have brown hair (well, most of the time), hazel eyes, and pale skin. The man sitting next to me has black hair, dark caramel skin, and deep brown eyes.

We don't look at all alike, but we came from the same place and we will end up the same. After all, the Bible tells us that we "all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20 NIV). 

So why do we treat each other differently? Why do we hold one group accountable for the actions of a few? Why do we spread hate based solely on skin color (or any other trait, for that matter)? Why do we put our guard up when around certain people, but not others? 

Is history really our best teacher? To learn from, yes - so we don't make the same mistakes again. But, to mimic history to create a future? Not in the slightest. 

Everyone has something to bring to the table. In fact, did you know that Jesus invited everyone to his table? He ate with tax collectors and sinners of all types. And, his disciples did, too. 

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Mark 2:15-17 (NIV)

There are riches to be found in a melting pot. My family is a melting pot. When we sit down to dinner each night, we have a mix of different faces with different colors and different sizes - each with different personalities and different stories. In fact, we are just a whole lotta different.

Why would anyone want everyone to be alike? Jesus didn't ... and neither should you. 

Embrace everyone. 
Starting today.



Monday, May 14, 2018

My mom, the fighter.


This is something I wrote a while back about my mom. I wasn't sure what to do with it because it was a bit personal, but in honor of Mother's Day yesterday, and the journey my mom is conquering like a warrior every day, I wanted to share it with you. 
Enjoy. 
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Have you ever given thought to losing your mother? I never did until she was struggling to heal. Though He already knows the plan, I begged God to heal her! And He did.

I fed my mom today. She was in the hospital bed looking at me, then at the spoon, letting me know she was ready for another bite of her strawberry yogurt. She is wearing her hospital gown and a high flow oxygen mask. Her right hand is wrapped in a soft cast due to a fall that cracked her wrist. Her face is swollen and bruised from that same fall.

She looks beaten. She looks worn. She looks tired. And she looks helpless. 
I went to pick her up the other morning for a doctor’s appointment. She was leaning on the table, hunched over, mouth open, and pale. As she would try to take in a breath, her shoulders would move her whole body. She was struggling. Instead of the doctor, she went to the ER and was admitted. That’s how we ended up here.

That first night was rough. Mom was scared. She had an oxygen mask on and spoke to me through her eyes. I felt her look of pure fear straight down to my soul. The lump in my throat was making it hard for me to even breathe.

I wanted to give her air. I wanted to show her peace. There was nothing I could do but put my trust in God that she was in good hands and that she was right where he wanted her to be.

A trip to the ICU and the head nurse fills me in… “your mom is very sick woman…her body has dealt with a lot of trauma... heart surgery can make or break her… may need to put her on ventilator… too weak to breathe on her own… explore all your options… extensive double pneumonia…. prepare for the worst…” All these words just came at me like sharp nails, as if someone rigged a nail gun to keep shooting at me.

Instantly, I was numb. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even cry.

What does he mean prepare for the worst?! Mom was going to be fine. She had heart surgery just a couple months ago – a triple bypass. All the people who had also had that surgery had been to visit her and told her how wonderful she would feel afterward. Sure, she has had some struggles with fluid retention and breathing since the surgery, but she followed all the directions and her scar has even healed beautifully!

I drove home for a quick shower and bite to eat with these words resonating through my mind. The tears came quickly. And I cried. A reality I hadn’t thought of just hit me on the head so hard.

I could lose my mother.

Not my mom. Not the woman who raised me… who made sacrifices just so my selfish, tantrum throwing self could be happy. The woman who showed me what it means to love another being unconditionally. The woman who bent over backwards more than once to make sure I was taken care of. No, my mom was going to be fine. She was going to get better and she would be home.

But, still, I cried. Because, what if I am wrong? What if she doesn’t get better? This could really be it. I couldn’t even believe my own justifications.

Until now, I had never even considered what I would do without my mother. She is the string that links me to my family. She is my phone call in the morning and another at night. She answers my questions about things I don’t understand – like cooking, how to get stains out of clothing, ways to hack almost any household situation. She has been my mom for 39 years. She can’t go anywhere. Not now!

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2

I literally cried out to God. I begged him to leave her here and to heal her while at the same time knowing that my begging would not change his bigger plan – whatever that may be. I reminded him that she had all these things she planned to do, if she could just feel better. She was learning her way as an incredible, independent woman, since my dad’s passing. And I made sure to let him know that she was not ready to go anywhere.

Mom spent a couple of days in ICU. They pumped her full of antibiotics and diuretics and even drained fluid off her lungs. Before we knew it, she was breathing better. She is healing, albeit slowly. We began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Exhalation could now come.

Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

– Jeremiah 17:14

I am sure it had nothing to do with my begging prayers and was all part of a more important masterpiece – but as beaten up as I felt through the whole ordeal, I know my mom was (and is) feeling like a warrior. As she should.

Sometimes we encounter these terrifying moments to make us step back and realize the intricacy of the world around us. What happens with one person can affect the lives of so many others. Even though she may not realize it, my mom has once again taught me lessons for life – who is important, what is important, just how vulnerable we humans are, and what it means to truly care for someone.

God is good. I love you, mom.

Monday, April 30, 2018

On purpose.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.."
- Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

Now is the time! No more wasting energy, moments, and resources. Forget living the lackadaisical life that you want to live -- and start living for the purpose you were created. 

Today I need you to get it together. 

Stop and think about this for a moment: Do you think that you were born into this world to indulge in everything that is good to you without regard for others? Does your world revolve around you? Do you think that you will ever get a second chance to do things differently?

It is time to make a change -- because it is not all about you. The world is so huge and there are so many people who need you. People you haven't even met yet. But, if you stay so focused on yourself, you may miss them. A lost opportunity.

Doing things that we want to do or things that make us happy is not always what we should be doing. We are all guilty of this. You know, spending time going to out to eat and then tossing the leftovers because they won't be as good tomorrow. Pushing away time with God for a good movie, drinks with friends, or a mindless hour of staring at the social media accounts on your cell phone. Or even taking ourselves shopping, for a mani pedi, or on an over-the-top vacation.

Time is a gift that we are all guilty of wasting. And, we may not even realize how. For example, you may think binge watching the latest Netflix series is harmless. But, what awesome task could you accomplish if you didn't?

In all honesty, it is impossible to be perfect all the time, but it is possible to start shifting your focus from yourself and your wants and desires to others who are patiently waiting to be a blessing to you. But, to receive it, you have to look up.  

Are you ready to start living on purpose? 

Give life everything you've got. 
Listen more. 
Talk less. 
Be kind. 
Get dirty.
Follow your heart.
Be like Jesus. 

Our world is crumbling around us and we are all too busy living our own lives to notice -- or do anything about it. We are killing the planet and killing each other. We are surrounded by hate, by fear, and by cowards. Without switching our focus and living on purpose -- for our purpose -- nothing will change. The world around us will continue to implode. And, one day, we may end up going with it. 

Be the difference. Be the light. Be the comfort. Be the strength. Be the one that is fearless in the eyes of those looking for help. Then, share your secret. God created you for a reason. Keep your eyes on him -- and you will see the difference in your life and the lives of those around you. 

Start today.

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You and I.

I have a confession.  I wish I could talk about God all the time.  I wish I didn't have to write about unimportant things. I wi...