Archive for May, 2012

Your grace has found me just as I am…

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I am soooo thankful that I didn’t have to get my act together before becoming a Christian. I didn’t have to clean out my closets filled with secret sins or straighten up my rooms cluttered with open sins. God didn’t sit back and wait for me to get it just right before accepting me. His grace found me just as I am, and He accepted me. You’ve heard the saying, “God wants you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.” Grace has found me just as I am, and His mercy and love patiently grow me into the trophy He desires me to be.

Maybe you’re waiting until you get your act together before surrendering to Christ. Don’t bother. First of all, you nor I can clean up enough to be acceptable. And that’s okay. His grace has found you just as you are. All you have to do is accept it.

“What can I possibly say in the face of all this? You know me, Master God, just as I am. You’ve done all this not because of who I am but because of who you are—out of your very heart!—but you’ve let me in on it” (2 Samuel 7:21 The Msg).

Hope

Gotta stick to it…

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The past two weeks I’ve only had a chance, or maybe I should say I’ve only taken the chance to run three times per week. I’m determined to get back to four and five days a week, starting early yesterday morning and early this morning. I’m scheduled to run another 5K on June 9th and the course is quite hilly. So both mornings this week Carmela and I have ran in hilly areas. Man! can I tell I’ve not been running as frequently! It’s one thing to run in a basically flat area. It’s totally different when there are ups and downs the entire course. I said to Carmela this morning as she and I were gasping for breath at the end of our run, “This is why we can’t let up. We’ve gotta stick to it!” I went on to make the spiritual application, and she saw it coming.

We must nurture our relationship with the Lord in the same way. We can’t let up. We’ve gotta stick to it, reading the Bible daily, praying regularly, kicking it up a notch by adding in a Bible Study of some sort, insulate the relationship by hanging with Christian friends and not forsaking the fellowship of our church family. If we neglect our Christian walk, we’ll feel it. We will be “out of shape” when the tough times come. When the ups and downs of life hit us, we’ll struggle. We’ve gotta stick to it, not so the ups and downs will be easy but so we’ll be ready for them.

“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality” (Romans 12:11-13 The Msg).

Hope

Unfinished business…

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Have your ever walked through a house that is half-built? It’s real easy to criticize the work, to see the flaws, the crooked 2x4s. And it’s equally as difficult to see past the current condition and visualize the finished product. And of course, we always have an opinion about what should be changed or improved or removed from the structure. Early this morning as I was praying and ‘fessing up to the Lord, a song from years ago came to my mind…

There really oughta be sign upon her heart, “Don’t judge her yet there’s an unfinished part”…He’s still working on me!

And I thanked the Lord for His unfinished business. I am a half-built house. I have so many attitudes that need to be changed, many reactions that need improved upon, LOTS of thoughts and words and feelings that need to be removed. I’m sure it is very difficult for others to see past my current condition and visualize the finished product that God is building. Thank you for being patient with me. God has a good bit of unfinished business with me.

I pray the same for you. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t expect so much of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you come up short. You too are under construction, a work in progress. You are God’s unfinished business.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6 NLT).

Hope

#NotAboutMe

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Here’s a tweet from Max Lucado…

When our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God but God Himself, we cross a threshold. #NotAboutMe

What do your prayers look like? Are they a long list of requests? Do you ask God for favors, directly or indirectly? Are your prayers for God to show His favor on you? Are they asking Him for “things”? Are they crying out for mercy or grace or strength? I have to be honest if I expect you to be. My prayer life is, for the most part, #AllAboutMe. God is okay with us asking Him for blessings and favors and favor and protection and grace and mercy. But what He wants more than anything is for our deepest desire to be for God Himself. He wants us to know Him intimately. He wants us to long for a personal relationship with Him, one that will stand the test of time. He wants us to miss Him when we don’t spend time with Him. He wants us to desperately seek Him when life throws so much at us that we can’t see past the darts. He wants our “top prayer” to be seeking Him with all our heart. In other words, God wants it to be all about Him. #NotAboutMe

“Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice” (1 Chronicles 16:10).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Hannah’s youngest brother, Andrew graduates high school tonight. He has made such a fine young man. Praying for a special night and blessings on Mickey & Deb!

Hope

Don’t quit!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

This is going to be a short and to the point devotional. Are you discouraged? Are you exhausted? Are you tired of fighting? Are you tired of trying? Are you broken hearted? Are you burnt out? Are you tired of being used? Are you so low from grief that you can’t imagine facing another day? Here’s a word from the Lord for you…

“Be strong and take heart. Don’t quit! Stay with God…” (Psalm 27:14 The Msg).

Please don’t throw in the towel. Please don’t bale on God. Please don’t quit!! Get in God’s Word and allow Him to strengthen your soul, heart and body. Stay with God. He will never bale on you.

This may be a record for my shortest devotional. But it’s a powerful word. Don’t quit!!

Hope

The ultimate challenge…

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Are you ready to take the ultimate challenge? Ever heard that question about either weight loss, an aggressive workout, a big project at work, etc? Here’s a quote from this morning’s Jesus Calling…

The ultimate challenge is to keep fixing your eyes on Me, no matter what’s going on around you.

You notice this ultimate challenge is a continual work in progress, “…keep fixing your eyes on Me.” That means you can’t just do it one time and call it good. Whether it is other people busying around you or whether there is so much going on in your personal life that you can’t stay focused on Christ, something will continually vie for your attention. One glance away from Jesus and we’re distracted. With distraction comes the risk of several things…discouragement, disheartenment (is that a word?), disappointment, depression, fear, anxiety, overwhelm-ment. Or the distraction may be that you get your eyes on your self and your accomplishments. Then the risks are sometimes greater…pride, arrogance, self-reliance (remember that idol we talked about last week?). The only way to avoid these dangerous risks that will leave you in a roadside ditch of despair is to continually fix your eyes on Jesus. “…keep fixing your eyes on Me.” Jesus – He is the pioneer of our faith.

That is the ultimate challenge.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Hope

Excuse me ma’am, you have my seat…

Monday, May 21st, 2012

How much time do you spend judging others? “None!” may be your first response. But have you ever passed a homeless guy with a Will Work for Food sign and thought to yourself, “Look buddy. Get a job. You can work just like I can.” Or you hear of a friend’s daughter who got caught up in the moment and made a poor decision that cost her her virginity and she’s now pregnant. And you respond, “Had she been more involved in her daughter’s life that wouldn’t have happened.” Or you find out your neighbor had an affair on his wife and you respond, “If they’d go to church more often that wouldn’t have happened.” Or you hear that a local family is really struggling with the death of a loved one and do not handle it with the same “grace” that maybe you did, and your response is “Clearly they don’t know God intimately or they wouldn’t question His will.” The responses go on and on, and the judging goes on and on. Be careful. By the same standards we judge others we too will be judged. Reminds me of a few Pharisees I read about who prayed, “Thank you that I’m not like that man”…

Here’s a quote from Max Lucado that really convicted me. Get out of the judgement seat, it belongs to God. Every time I judge someone I visualize God walking up to this huge seat, the back so high that my head only reaches 1/3 of the way up, the arms of the chair so big that I could bump my head on them, the seat so big my feet hardly reach the end, and I hear God saying to me “Excuse me ma’am, you have my seat.” Who do I think I am??

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).

Hope

Who is your sharpener?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

I was discussing with Caleb last night his need to have a really good solid Christian friend who sharpens him. Caleb is a good kid, we’ve had this discussion on the world wide web many times. But I know he is not “all in” with the Lord yet. He’s a Christian. He loves the Lord. He loves to go to church. And while I believe Caleb sharpens his friends in a lot of ways (i.e. goes to church every Sunday while away at college and takes buddies with him), I also believe he allows their lack of commitment to Christ to dull him in other ways. I challenged him last night to find a sharpener to buddy with.

And as I walked back down the stairs with the Barney Fife syndrome attitude of, “Yep, that was a good analogy right there. That got him! (insert sniff)”, I was convicted of the same truth for my own life and the life of my web family (that would be you). Who is my sharpener? Who is your sharpener?

While you and I probably do not face the same “peer pressure” as a handsome, full-of-life-and-personality college student like Caleb may face, certainly we have temptations that dull our influence, our testimony. Who do you hang with? What is your conversation over lunch with a friend? What does your “chit chat with a friend” look like? Does your bestie tear other people down? Are they always negative? Do they see the glass half empty rather than half full? Perhaps they have no desire for the word of God and the truths throughout those pages. Maybe they encourage you to “come into the new century and put away your old fashion way of thinking.” If that’s the case then you are in desperate need of a sharpener. Without a sharpener, you will grow dull in your Christian walk and influence. You need someone who encourages you, who speaks life and truth, who finds the positive in the worst of situations, who exhorts you and calls you out when you’re slack in your Christian walk. You need a sharpener!

So – who is your sharpener?

Hope

Which way do I go!?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I was driving out of my neighborhood and a squirrel was sitting in the middle of the road. He saw me coming. He sat there and stared at me but didn’t move. He just kept sitting there chewing on an acorn that he had snatched from a neighbors yard. As I got closer to him, he kicked into frantic mode. I laughed out loud at him. He scurried to the right, and back to the left, and back to the right, ran in a circle a couple of times and finally took off across the road. I could just hear him saying, “Which way do I go!? Which way do I go!?”

We do that same thing. We see the devil approaching us. We know it’s coming. But we just keep sitting in the middle of the road piddling with life. We wait until the attacker is on us before we frantically try to make a move. Then we run in circles, scurrying to our right and to our left crying out, “Which way do I go!? Which way do I go!?” And unfortunately, the devil doesn’t do like I did. I stopped and waited for the squirrel to make a decision. The devil is not ABOUT to do that! He will continue coming at top speed with hopes of taking us out. We can’t wait until he’s on us to decide how to run from him and which direction is the right direction. 

Be on your toes. Keep your radar tuned and charged. Satan is seeking to devour you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Don’t let it happen. Stand firm in your faith.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8 & 9).

Hope

Home is where our Father is…

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Clay and I toy with / dally with / waffle with the idea of selling our house in order to downsize. As I’ve shared with you before, we built our house, putting in a lot of blood, sweat and tears over an 8 month period of time. Eight years ago yesterday we moved into it and we have loved everything about it. But with Caleb gone 10 months out of 12, there’s about 1000sf of unused space. Just to get Caleb’s reaction, I asked him the other day what he’d think if we sold the house and moved to a smaller one. His answer warmed my heart! He said, “Mom, it doesn’t matter, not really. Home is wherever you and Clay are.” Makes me tear up just typing it.

Today I read in Grace for the Moment the following quote from Max Lucado…

Don’t be discouraged if you feel like a stranger here. Home is where your Father is.

I couldn’t help but remember what Caleb said. Home is where Clay and I are for him on this earth. And home for us Christians is where our Father is. This world is in a big ole mess. And the more news I read the bigger the mess. It would be easy to be disheartened, discouraged, disappointed in people, in circumstances, in LIFE! But we can’t get discouraged. We’re strangers in this land. Home is where our Father is. 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Hope