Archive for November, 2011

Trampoline Christianity…

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

My crazy niece-in-law, Courtney Garrett Glover – who also happens to be my Pastor’s daughter, is a mess! She’s 23 weeks pregnant and says that her baby boy, Eli uses her bladder for a trampoline. I know that is too much information on the world wide web, but I’m gonna turn this into a spiritual moment I promise! Today on Facebook Courtney posted, “It’s a trampoline day!” While she was referring to Eli being active, I couldn’t help but think about the trampoline I saw on display in Sam’s. It comes with an already-assembled net for protection and only sits about two feet off the ground. As I walked by it I thought about how much they’ve changed since Caleb had one. He loved his trampoline! He got every penny of our money’s worth out of that thing. He would jump on it for hours at a time. Regularly he moved the portable basketball goal up to the trampoline so he could jump and dunk the ball. I still believe that experience helped Caleb be the “white boy who can jump and dunk” that he is today. Other times he used it as his baseball field. Clay or I would throw the baseball and Caleb would dive for the line drive and bounce all over the trampoline. And of course there was football season too. We’d throw hail mary’s to him and he’d dive into the trampoline end zone for a “touchdown!” We all LOVED that trampoline. It provided such a huge spring that it made you feel like you could accomplish anything! I even jumped on it a lot and did toe touches and acrobatic moves I’d NEVER try on land! It should have come with a “Don’t try this on land” warning! Jumping down and walking on the ground reminded you quickly what the “real world” was like.

We’ve gotta be careful not to have trampoline Christianity, bouncing all over the place, springing off of feel-good days and false hopes and empty promises that the world offers. On feel-good days, we believe we can conquer the world, which leads us to discouragement when we come down off the feel-good into reality. Jesus calls us to a stable, steady relationship with Him. There will be highs and lows but we must be constant and faithful; not following our emotions but rather growing in His Word so as not to be bounced around by every feel-good doctrine that comes our way. Jesus calls us to a deep relationship, not a shallow “feeling.” Shallow, feel-good doctrine can do for us just what the trampoline does – make us feel like we can take on the world when in reality we can’t even lift one foot in front of the other without God allowing it. 

Having a good day? Great! But don’t get swept away by the trampoline days! Be stable, sound, secure in your Christian walk, recognizing that there’ll be good days and bad days. But in all days and all ways God is faithful.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you…” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace…” (Hebrews 13:8 & 9).

Hope

I’ll follow you, Lord! No buts!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

During Danny’s reading of the passage on Sunday, I found myself going back to this particular verse…

“I will follow you, Lord, but…” (Luke 9:61).

Jesus and His disciples were traveling to Jerusalem. As He passed through a small town, He called for individuals to follow Him. Each one had an excuse for why they couldn’t just drop everything and follow Christ. They wanted to, they really did – but there was “something” they had to do first. As children I’m sure we were all guilty of asking for just one more minute. I can hear Mom’s voice so clearly saying, “Not in a minute – now!”

Years ago I had the worst habit of ALWAYS responding, “Give me just a minute.” It didn’t matter who was asking or what they were asking me to do. My response was the same. “Give me just a minute.” I never just dropped what I was doing and responded without hesitation. I don’t remember what brought it to my attention, but I became keenly aware of my bad habit. And I corrected it.

With Christ, we respond that way. “Give me just a minute. I’ll follow you, Lord but…”

But let me do it my way.

But give me a few more years to “get it all in.”

But don’t make me sacrifice anything important to me.

But please let it be painless.

But can we do it my way?

But let it be on my terms.

But not before this or that happens.

Jesus is calling us to follow Him. And He’s calling us to respond immediately without hesitation. Have you heard Him call you? What was your response? I pray that in full abandonment you respond, “I’ll follow you, Lord! No buts!”

Hope

 

Don’t settle…

Monday, November 28th, 2011

When I think about my rewards as a Christian, my mind goes first to heaven, what awaits me there. But God has so many rewards for us here on earth – I call those the “right now” rewards. Look at this phrase from Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment this morning…

The reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself.

God doesn’t want us to settle for anything. He has so much for us and we miss out because we’re too busy settling for the lesser. If we will settle for nothing less than Jesus himself, the rewards will pile in. Earthly rewards are what keeps us going. The mind of Christ allows us to respond to adversity, to conflict, to disappointments, to discouragement, to rejection the way Christ responded. Because it is through Christ and His power and strength that we will not just survive life, we will guard our hearts and minds – thus conquering life! This holiday season resolve in your heart to not settle for mediocre Christianity. Don’t settle for “woe is me.” Martyrdom is so unattractive. Don’t settle for “barely getting by” in life. Thrive! Excel! We’ve been made more than conquerors – there’s no reason to settle! All we have to do is seek Jesus and strive to be like Him, and the “right now” rewards will pile in!

Don’t settle for anything less than Jesus himself.

“And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18 TLB).

Hope

A foundation of gratitude…

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Here is my paraphrase of a quote from Jesus Calling…

Remembering the cross builds a foundation of gratitude that circumstances cannot shake.

Too often our gratitude, or our thankfulness stems from our present circumstances. It’s difficult to go back to the beginning of 2011 and make a list of the rough days, the heartaches, the grief, the pain, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for each of them. We lose our joy because we believe we deserve better. And when we focus on what we believe we deserve, sorrow or anger or bitterness takes the place of our joy. However if our hearts and minds are on the cross and what Jesus did to set us free, there will be a foundation of gratitude that circumstances cannot shake. That solid foundation of gratitude will provide joy in spite of our circumstances. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I ask you to reflect on 2011. Take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On the left make a list of the good things God’s done for you, as many as you can remember. On the right make a list of the heartaches, disappointments, “bad stuff” that you’ve been through this year, as many as you can remember. Does the cross overshadow any pain or hurt feelings that may have resulted from the list on the right? Is the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross personal enough to you to build a foundation of gratitude that circumstances cannot shake? I pray so.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

“I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! I love you and give thanks to the Lord for your faithfulness to our devotionals!

Hope 

It’s worth the risk…

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

In the quote I referenced yesterday, Max Lucado says…

Imitate Zacchaeus: risk whatever it takes to see Jesus.

Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus but he had never seen Him at work. He heard Jesus was coming his way, so Zacchaeus went to town to see Him, only to find the crowd was too great to get to Him. So Zacchaeus risked his reputation, even his career to see Jesus. His reputation was at stake should anyone see the infamous tax collector climb a tree. But he was willing to take the risk to see Jesus. And if, once he found Jesus, he decided to follow Him, then even his career was at stake. But Zacchaeus was willing to take the risk to see Jesus. Somehow he believed the experience of seeing Jesus would be worth the risk.

Are you having a hard time seeing Jesus in your circumstances? Does He seem far away – or worse, no where to be found? Perhaps your surroundings or your situation or your circumstances are the “crowd” that is preventing you from seeing Him. Jesus is coming your way. You must risk whatever it takes to see Him. It may mean you risk the “reputation” you have built with friends or co-workers. Or in extreme cases, your career may even be at risk should you decide to seek Jesus. The rewards of your pursuit will far outweigh anything you may lose in making such a decision. And let me assure you, it will be worth the risk.

“He [Zacchaeus] wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way” (Luke 19:3 & 4).

Hope

Puny pursuits…

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I just love Max Lucado. I’ve got to share a portion of today’s Grace for the Moment with you.

Step away from the puny pursuits of possessions and positions, and seek your king…Seek him out as the shepherds did. Long for him as Simeon did. Worship him as the wise men did. Do as John and Andrew did: ask for his address. Do as Matthew: invite Jesus into your house. Imitate Zacchaeus: risk whatever it takes to see Christ.

Guys, I have been so burdened for the institution that God ordained before ordaining even the church – the family. The biggest reason I jumped on board the Rick Santorum campaign is because of his love and respect and burden for the family, and our need as a nation to return to the family. Clay and I have been counseling three couples whose marriages are falling apart. It breaks my heart. I’ve lost sleep – not from worrying – but praying for these young couples. They’re all Christians. They were raised in good solid Christian homes with positive roll models. Satan has sold them the lie of greener grass. In one marriage, the greener grass is another woman. In another, the greener grass is a successful career. And in another, the greener grass is freedom from being tied down to a marriage. Greener grass is a puny pursuit. Satan doesn’t mind at all if you and I get involved in church. He doesn’t mind if we busy ourselves with “good stuff.” What Satan minds is when we seek the Lord with all our hearts. He doesn’t want us to long for Christ. He gets very nervous when we risk whatever it takes to see Christ. Because when we seek the Lord with all our hearts, we will find Him. And when we find Him, we will no longer pursue anything contrary to God’s Word.

Step away from the puny pursuits of possessions and positions and seek the King. Life will not be peachy king when you seek the King, but you’ll find solutions for the problems that are tearing you apart.

“God rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

I love this verse in The Message…

“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.”

Hope

Uncover the wrinkles…

Friday, November 18th, 2011

When making my bed this morning I kept having to go back to the coverlet that I have folded over the foot of the bed. There was a wrinkle underneath and no matter how many times I smoothed it out, the wrinkle was still there. I finally figured out that the wrinkle was not in the coverlet but in the bedspread underneath.

As I uncovered the source of the wrinkle, I thought of how we try to take care of the wrinkles in our hearts by smoothing over them. Maybe those wrinkles are doubts, fears, anxieties, disappointments, uncertainties, anger, bitterness, or unconfessed sin. Rather than uncovering them and getting to the source, we keep smoothing them over in hopes they’ll go away. They won’t. They may seem taken care of at first but when you step back and take a good look, you find they’re still there. The only way to get rid of the unwanted wrinkles in your heart is to uncover them. Do away with the pretense that everything is fine and the wrinkle will work itself out. Admit it, address it, confess it, and release it to the Lord. He’ll remove the unwanted wrinkles of your heart. You just gotta uncover them.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

“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).

I hope you all have a great weekend. Caleb is coming home tonight for Thanksgiving break – yippee!

Hope

Avoid the shortcuts…

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I have a sister, who I will not call out on the world wide web, who is notorious for taking “shortcuts” that often end up taking much longer and are very complicated. We were discussing shortcuts during our Sunday School retreat this past weekend and one of the couples said that the wife is like my sister. She confessed she’d rather go 30 minutes out of the way just to keep moving rather than get in traffic and wait her turn, and she calls it a shortcut. Her husband sounds like my brother-in-law, he’d rather listen to the GPS and stay on task, even when task is rather congested and annoying. He went on to say that rarely is there beautiful scenery or anything appealing on the shortcuts. They’re just windy and curvy and boring.

In our Christian walk, we must avoid the shortcuts. While they seem far more appealing and would suggest we can get to our destination quicker, we miss so much on the shortcuts, all the “scenery” that God has for us on His chosen path. We look ahead to the path He’s laid before us and we see many things that could slow us down, things that would distract us if we don’t keep our focus, and the destination seems too far away to fool with. So we choose the shortcuts. Let me assure you the shortcuts in life will not bring satisfaction. They won’t get you anywhere quicker and easier. They take you farther than you want to go, and they’ll leave you longer than you’ll want to stay. Avoid the shortcuts. You’ll be glad you did.

“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Hope

Overwhelmed By Grace!!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Oh Dear Jesus, I find myself over these last two weeks being just overwhelmed by Your grace – overwhelmed by Your grace! You gave me a scripture this week as we were studying I Corinthians 15 that I’ve never really noticed before. Paul was talking about being the least of the apostles – not even deserving to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church of God. In verse 10 he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, AND HIS GRACE TO ME WAS NOT WITHOUT EFFECT!” Oh Jesus, Your grace to me has not been without effect! Your grace has affected me – every day Your grace has affected me!! And I desire that my life everyday reflect the reality of the grace You have poured over me!

In the Message this morning verse 10 reads “But because God was so gracious, so very gracious, here I am. And I’m not about to let His grace go to waste!” Oh Jesus, that is my heart – I do not want any of the grace You have poured over my life to go to waste! For the last 5 ½ years as You have daily walked with me and brought healing to my heart, You have showered me with Your grace – I see Your grace everywhere! You have allowed me to speak “words of testimony” – which You, in turn, have used to heal my heart and overcome the enemy of my soul.

You have given me several opportunities to share over the last couple of weeks – I recognize and acknowledge that is only Your grace to me – You don’t have to bring healing to my heart but You delight to bring healing to my heart to receive glory to Yourself! Because You alone can heal. You are Healer – that is Your name. And You continue to bring healing to me as I pour out onto others the grace that You are pouring out on me! You are such a God of paradoxes – to be filled – we must be emptied!

Every time You empty me, You fill me yet again – to be emptied again and to be refilled! But Father, the re-filling You do is much greater than anything I can pour out! And as You re-fill me, You fill me with great joy! Joy that You would use any of our lives to bring forth eternal fruit!!

Thank you for every remembrance of Hannah’s life and every continued blessing over our lives as we continue this journey. I pour my love and praise on You. . .

“And though she spoke no words
Everything she said was heard
As she poured her love for the Master
From her box of alabaster

And I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him
Like oil from Mary’s alabaster box. . .

You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His love all around me. . .

Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul
With the wonder of His touch
So now I’m giving back to Him
All the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven
And that’s why I love Him so much!” Cece Winans – “Mary’s Alabaster Box”

Oh Jesus, may I spend my life giving back to You all the praise Your worthy of!!! In Your great name, I pray, Amen!!!!

I’d rather wait it out…

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Early one morning last week I opened the front door for the dogs to go out and they did as they do every morning. They fought for who could get out the door first and ran out in high gear, only to find it was pouring rain. They both came to a screeching halt right on the edge of the porch, turned simultaneously and looked at me with the look of, “Really? Do you expect us to go out in this? Nah, we’d rather come back in and wait it out.” The problem with that decision is that going out to do their business was not an option for them. They had to go for it, regardless of the rain.

That’s how we do with the Lord. We “show up” eager to serve, excited for opportunities, pacing in anticipation, until the door swings open and we find that God’s plan comes with some unwanted rain, rough storms, strong winds. Our willingness and dedication come to a screeching halt and we look back at where we’ve been in question of God’s direction. We say, either literally or in our hearts, “Really? Do you expect me to go through this? Nah, I’d rather continue as I am and wait it out.” The problem with that decision is that if we’re going to be obedient to Christ, weathering the storms is not an option. We have to go for it, regardless of the rain.

I’d rather wait it out, but God calls me, and provides grace to keep moving.

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19).

“The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11 NASB).

Hope