Monday, January 21, 2019

Maybe Your Bucket is Empty~

Several years ago,
as I sat in Children's Church,
surrounded by precious little hearts,
we talked about our world
and the all too often
missing ingredient,

We talked about bullies
and what it feels like
to live in a world
where kindness
is hard to find.

"Why do you suppose 

people are mean?" I asked.
"Why are there bullies?"

Without thinking twice, 

a five year old girl blurted out, 
"Maybe their bucket is empty."

"Their bucket is empty?" I inquired further.

"Yes. Maybe they are mean 

because they ran out of nice. 
Maybe their bucket is empty."

It made perfect sense. 

We can't give away 
something we don't have. 

And I wondered, 
right there and then, 
in the midst of these precious little faces, 
how many Christians 
are trying 
to make their way through life 
with empty buckets?

So often, 

we dart right out into life 
without first sitting 
at the feet of our Savior 
and filling up on His goodness, 
before communing first 
with the Holy Spirit 
and partaking of His sweetness, 
before allowing the Holy Spirit 
to fill us to overflowing.

All too often, 

we yield 
to our natural inclinations 
because our spiritual buckets 
are empty.

When conflicts arise,
when relationships 
push us
to a place of response,
when life squeezes us 
until we react,
we reach into self 

and the only thing we can pull out
is the fruit of self.

Instead of love, hate.
Instead of joy, despair.
Instead of peace, strife.
Instead of patience, agitation.
Instead of kindness, animosity.
Instead of goodness, corruption.
Instead of faithfulness, disregard.
Instead of gentleness, harshness.
Instead of self-control, self rules.

No wonder the world 

has a hard time 
seeing Christians as Christ-like.

No wonder the world 

has a hard time 
seeing Christ in Christians.

When our reaction 

is anything but Christ-like,
very likely,
our bucket is empty.

As you look back on the
past few hours,
past few days,
past few weeks of your life,
what kind of fruit do you see?

If it isn't the fruit of the Spirit,
maybe your bucket is empty.~♥


Saturday, January 12, 2019

No Worries~

Are you facing a situation
that seems to be slipping
"out of your hands"?

If so,
may I gently,
but boldly,
remind you
not to worry?

When you feel least
in control,
rest in the truth
that God
in control.

His plans supersede
the plans of man.

Our God will move mountains
to accomplish His will.

Instead of fighting to 
"hold on",
release your grip,
surrender your fear,
walk away from your worry,
and place it all
in the nail-scarred hands
of Jesus.

Trust the One
who love you more
than life itself.

Trust His wisdom.
Trust His power.
Trust His hands.
Trust His heart.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Next Step~

She knew it in her heart.
More than that,
she believed it.
Yet, her knowing
and even her believing
were not enough.

She had to reach out.
She had to touch.
She had to take her faith
one step further
and take a step.

We find her story in Mark 5:25-29;
the woman with the issue of blood.

No doubt she had heard about
Jesus' healing touch.
And, no doubt, she believed
His touch could heal her.

She thought,
"If I can just touch his clothes, 
I will be healed." 
~ Mark 5:28, NCV

Faith is more than just believing, though.
Faith is action.

She could have spent
the rest of her life
knowing Jesus was a healer.
She could have tarried away
the remaining years of her days on this earth
believing He could heal her.
But, sadly, if she had,
she never would have received her healing.

Peter believed
he could walk on water,
but it took stepping out of the boat
to do it. (Matthew 14)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abnego
believed God could save them
from the fiery furnace,
but it took their
obedience to God,
refusal to bow down to the golden image,
and a trip into the fiery furnace
to experience God's deliverance. (Daniel 3)

Abraham believed
God would provide a sacrifice
in place of his precious son Isaac,
but it took
building an altar
adorned with his son
and a knife-clad hand
held high to the sky
to reveal the ram
hiding in the thicket. (Genesis 22)

It is faith that
propels our knowledge
and our belief
into action.
It is faith that
reaches out,
steps out,
stands tall,
and sacrifices all.

Our righteousness is found
in our faith in God. Period.  (Romans 3:22)
There is no doubt about that.
But, faith in action
opens the floodgates of Heaven.

Faith in action 
reveals the active presence 
of our God.

She knew it in her heart.
More than that, she believed it.
Yet, her knowing
and even her believing
were not enough.
She had to reach out
and touch.

She had to take her faith

                one                step                  further

One Step at a Time
{Photo Credit}







Sunday, January 6, 2019

Grappling with Faith~

I've been wondering a lot lately
about the level of my faith.

Not wondering, really . . .
more discovering.

I talk faith.

I believe faith.

I think I have faith.

I find myself seated in a pew
at the funeral
of a four month old.

From the angle where I sit,
I can see the tiny casket
resting atop
a green and yellow striped baby afghan.

And, I listen.

And, wonder.

And, make myself face this question
head on.

"Do I really have faith?"

As the lady
seated in front of me
wipes a tear from her eye,
I wipe a continuous stream of them
from my own.

Pew after pew,
eye after eye.
It seems no one here
is untouched
by this heartbreaking loss.

"Faith isn't faith
until it is tested.
It is in times like this
that we stand on our faith
and it carries us through.
It is in times like this
that we discover
the kind of faith we have."

The words of the minister
reach deep into my soul.

I can hardly stand the pain
I feel seated in this place,
in this moment.

It is
too much.

My eyes keep veering right
and then left;
any direction except
straight ahead
at the reality before us
and the reason we are here.

And, I think of
this precious mother,
this broken father,
these young sisters
and tiny brother.

To suffer such loss.

To bury one
so tiny,
so helpless,
so innocent.

To love God 
in spite of 
and in the midst of.

To believe without a doubt
that God is good
all the time,
even in times
like this.


Do I have it?

Or am I simply spoiled
by the goodness of the Lord?

My life has been an easy one.

God's blessings
have been abundant.
Sorrows, few.

It's easy to have faith
when all is well,
life is happy,
"God is good."

what about when
God's goodness
is disguised in heartbreak?

What about the times when
everything falls apart
and nothing makes sense?

What do we do with our God when
our God allows something
into our life
that pulls the rug of our heart
right out from underneath us?

What do we do when
our foundation shakes so violently
we find ourselves grappling
to keep our footing.....
and our faith?

And, I wonder.

And, I hear God's Spirit
asking me
the hardest question of all:

Do you trust me?

the only answer I know,
the only answer I can give,
the only cry of my heart is this:

"Lord, I believe;
help thou mine unbelief."
~ Mark 9:24


(Re-posting from January 2013)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Why Settle for a Resolution When You Can Experience a Revolution?

A new beginning.

A fresh start.

A new page.

A clean slate.

As we head into a new year,
I have been thinking about how I want to live
this new year of my life.
I have a feeling you have, too.

Resolution. This is a word we hear a lot this time of year.

a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner; 
the act of making up your mind about something

Obviously, a resolution starts in the mind
with a decision to do something different.

This year, I am going to lose those extra pounds.
This year, I am going to get out of debt.
This year, I am going to drink more water.

A resolution begins with a decision to make a change.

But, is a resolution what you and I are really wanting?

Each year, I make resolutions.
Each year I sit down and decide
what I am going to do (or not do).
And, each year I usually end up living life
in the exact same way
as I did the year before.

This year,
the Lord has been bringing a new word to my mind -

a single complete turn; 
a movement in a new direction; 
a far-reaching and drastic change

This is what I want in my life.
I have a feeling this is what you want, too.

We don't simply want to decide to make a change,
we want the change!
We want to make a complete turn
and head in a new direction.
We want far-reaching and drastic change.

So, the question begs to be asked.
How do we turn our resolution into a true revolution?

By being intentional.
By keeping our goals forever in front of us, always in view.
By doing something each day to bring this goal to a reality.

Change starts in our mind, 
but comes to fruition in our actions.

If I want to lose weight,
I have to do more than simply decide
to drop those extra pounds.
I have to start monitoring what I eat.
I have to start practicing portion control.
 I have to swap non-healthy choices for choices
that are nutritional powerhouses with fewer calories.
To lose weight,
I will need to start exercising more,
or for the first time.

For my resolution to become a revolution,
I will need to intentionally make choices
to support this change.

Our resolution will never become a revolution 
unless we daily choose to make the change.

It's the same spiritually.

The most important resolutions we can make
are those that draw us closer
to the heart of God.
How many times have you resolved
to spend more time reading God's Word?
How many times have you decided,
THIS year,
you are going to spend more time in prayer?

Are you still waiting for a revolution in your spiritual life?

The victory is found in our daily choices.

Jesus said to all of them, 
"If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. 
They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me."
~ Luke 9:23, NCV

A true revolution will only come
when we are daily committed
to making it happen.

It's not enough to decide one time.
We must
keep deciding
and keep choosing
 and keep resolving
each and every day.

So, what kind of revolution do you want in your life?

Start by planning out your strategy.
Write down the necessary steps you will have to take,
then keep these goals
and this game plan
in front of you.

Each and every day
take action to make it happen.

Call on the power of the Holy Spirit
to help you be faithful
to become all that you want to become
 in and through Christ Jesus.

anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. 
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you ready for a revolution?
Me, too!


With the Holy Spirit's help,
let's choose to do it today!

And, tomorrow!

And, the next day!

And, the day after that!

All. year. long.

All. our. life. long.

Let's not settle for a simple resolution
when God desires to bring about a complete revolution in our life!


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Piecing It All Together~

They sit across from me
at the kitchen table,
my brother-in-law
and my precious little
three year old nephew.

As they open the new puzzle box,
a Christmas gift,
my little nephew is beaming with
joy and anticipation.

"Ok, son.
These are rhyming,
so to make a puzzle match,
the two items have to rhyme."

As little blue eyes look on,
my brother-in-law 
sorts through the pieces
all tucked neatly in this box 
and pulls out some examples.

"See, like this.
Hat goes with cat.
And, look -
mitten and kitten,
and star and car."

My nephew,
not at all sure about rhyming,
sits and watches,
as one by one
his dad 
finds the two that match
and joins them together.

From my view,
across the table,
it all makes perfect sense,
until this:

"And here's another one, Son:
Night and light.
See how they go together?"

Night and light?

And, in this moment,
as He is always faithful to do,
God speaks a precious truth
to my heart.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
~Isaiah 55:8-9

So often we look
at the pieces of our life,
trying our hardest to understand
how they all somehow 
fit together.

Admittedly, some "matches"
are easier than others.
Some things,
just naturally seem 
to fit together,
to make perfect sense,
to be understood.

But - then,
then there are those times,
when we find ourselves
looking at two pieces
that don't seem to match at all.

Like night and light,
they seem to be complete opposites:

Loving our enemies.

Finding joy in the midst of sorrow.

Having faith in the face of fear.

Losing our life that we might gain it.

We shake our head
and wonder,
how could these two
possibly go together?

And just like my little nephew
(and me, too)
trying to understand how
some things that don't seem to match
surprisingly do,
we have to intentionally stop
and focus on
how the pieces of our life
are being "classified".

Only when rhyming
hat and cat,
mitten and kitten,
star and car
and night and light
come together to form 
a perfect match.

And only when
trusting the heart of 
our Heavenly Father
and His promise to
work all things for good
and His glory,
the jagged-edged pieces
of our own life,
begin to come together -
and in the end,
the whole picture.

"See how this new puzzle works, Son?"

My precious little nephew
sits for just a moment more,
then hops down from his chair,
and heads off back into the living room.

"Ok - well, maybe another day.
These new puzzle pieces are
a little harder to understand."

And in my heart,
as I think back over my life,
and the pieces then,
and even now,
that have seemed out of place,
I can almost hear 
my Heavenly Father
speaking to me.

"See how this all works together now, sweet girl?"

And just like my nephew,
in times past,
when faced with the challenge
of trying to make sense of it all -
I, too, have hopped down 
from this new way of 
viewing my life
and tried to head back into the
comfortable, more familiar,
"Oh, I get it, God!" places.

But for some reason,
this time,
this time is different.

And instead of walking away,
I find myself drawn into
the mystery that is God,
whose ways are far beyond mine.

This time I marvel
at our God who can take
the seemingly opposite pieces
and mold them together
in a way that fits perfectly
into His bigger picture,
His bigger plan.

I may not understand
how all these pieces fit together,
but He does,
and for now,
that is enough.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Messiah Has Come~

we live as though the Messiah
has not yet come,
as though we are still waiting
for our Deliverer -
the one who will free us
from the wretchedness
that is me,
that is you.

We allow guilt and shame
to keep us at bay,
to become a wall of separation,
to be an endless weight from which
we are never free.

The Messiah has come. 

Jesus, the Christ, was born.
Our long awaited for Deliverer
left the splendor of Heaven
and brought to the wretchedness
that is me, that is you,
deliverance through His death on the cross.

The veil has been torn from top to bottom.

We no longer need to
walk in the darkness of our sin.

We no longer need to
carry the weight of our sin.

We no longer need to
be identified by our sin.

The Messiah,
The Lamb of God,
has come.

Now, we
who believe
are clothed in His righteousness.

Now, we
who were once
separated from God
have complete access to His throne.

Now, we
who had no hope
of escaping the penalty for our sins
have been
made whole,
set free,

Our Messiah has come.

May we live each and every day
in this truth.