What’s In A Nap?

Isn’t it absolute irony that when we are young our parents insist that we need a nap and we will try just about anything to get out of taking one?! Then we grow up, have a lot of responsibilities and we wish we could just…take a nap! Eventually we get to the age that we absolutely love taking a bit of a siesta! And we’re proud of it!!

Maybe it’s a rite of passage? I think it’s exhausting to juggle all that we do. It’s not all physical workload that drains us. We tend to carry a lot of stuff around on our heart, in our mind, with our soul…it makes us weary from the inside out.

That is why I love what the prophet Isaiah said in his 40th chapter. He was specifically mentioning those of us who feel lost in the shuffle of life…insignificant in the race we’re running…wondering – does God really see me?!

This is what Isaiah said, (40:29-31, MSG) “God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired.
They walk and don’t lag behind.”

It’s not a nap that most of us really need. We need to spend time and attention with the God who lasts. When we do, He promises fresh strength. I would really love that today. How about you?

Generous Giving, Generous Living

I grew up going to church. We went to Bible study every Wednesday night and to church TWICE on Sundays! And wherever there was a church service – there was an offering plate or bucket being passed. And the one thing I remember hearing almost every time…’you can’t out give God’. And in my lifetime I have certainly found that to be true!

That principle is not only true in what we would call our ‘treasure’. It is also true in our ‘time’ and ‘talent’. Whatever the gifts or talents we have been given, whether it is the ability to grow, to build, to make music, to write or bake….maybe its the gift of time…having coffee with a friend and listening while they unload some of their heavy heart…you cannot out give what God has poured into you and continues to every day.

2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God will generously provide all you need, then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Being generous with what we do have opens the door for God to pour even more into our lives. And when we live a life of generous giving with our time, talents and treasure that is when we look the most like our Heavenly Father. It really is true…we cannot out give God. But what would our family, our church, our workplace and our community be like if we tried?!

Faithful In Little

There is a teachable moment found in Luke 16:10 (from NLT) that Jesus had with His disciples. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibility.” He didn’t sugarcoat His teaching. In His character development 101 class He was clear that whether we are honest, or dishonest, we all start small and grow into it.

Being honest should be our default. That is how God originally made Adam and Eve. But once Eve, and then Adam, had disobeyed God’s instruction in the garden, and then shifted the blame from one to the other to the serpent…the course was set for all of us. Without a course correction we would find ourselves choosing dishonesty over honor. Over and over again.

The only hope we have of being honorable, honest and faithful in this life is through Jesus Christ. The good news is that we CAN course correct. With a daily dose of God’s Word and a constant line of communication open with the Lord we CAN do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

So now is the time to fine tune that important character trait that Jesus taught. Make the decision to be faithful in the little things…that is how God determines you are ready to be faithful in the big things.

God Is Good

God is good!…all the time! And all the time…God is good! Chances are very good that you’ve been around a group of people who have shouted out those phrases. And indeed, God IS good. Every minute of every day. On the green grass…and on the greener grass on the other side! In the hard times and in the times of great joy. God is good.

Consider all the life that happens around you from the time the sun rises until it sets and your day comes to a close. God knew every single breath, and thought, and laugh, and tear that concerned you. Then multiply that by how many billions of people are on this earth…and that gives us just a little idea of how big God is! And yet He is as tender as a whisper over your soul and loves every part of what makes you, you!

That alone is reason to praise God. Psalm 113: 3 reads, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Beginning to end. Start to finish. From your first moment of consciousness until you drift off tonight at bedtime. Let’s make today full of praise for the Lord…who is worthy to be praised.

YOU ARE SPEEDING

We’ve all seen those radar speed signs typically in residential areas that flash your current speed up as you approach it. If it begins flashing your speed its meant to be a reminder of the current speed and to slow it down.

I was driving through the town I live in one day, deep in thought, which is usually what gets me in trouble as I’m driving. All of a sudden I rounded the corner on the street and the radar sign didn’t flash my speed on it…it did something I had never seen before…and have never seen since. In bright yellow CAPITAL letters it screamed YOU ARE SPEEDING. Woah! Now that definitely got my attention. To this day I remember exactly where it happened and how quickly I reduced my speed!

One of the most valuable gifts God has given us as believers is His Holy Spirit living inside us. He gives us wisdom and discernment. He helps us stay on track. And when we are approaching a potentially dangerous situation….He can warn us just as suddenly and intensely as that radar speed sign. Jesus knew that in this crazy world we live in, we would need the Holy Spirit. So He asked God to send Him to us!

Jesus said in John 14:16 (NLT), “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” In the Greek, that word Advocate is “Paraclete” which also means Comforter, Encourager and Counselor. It is definitely to our advantage to pay attention to His direction.

The Old Orange Jar

I made a last minute impulse buy when I was redecorating my daughter’s bedroom a few years ago. On the way to the register my eyes fell on this gallon sized ceramic jar. It had shapes cut out on the sides…and it was orange. I don’t know what made me do it…not even sure what I was going to use it for in her room….but I bought it!

Today, my daughter’s room is no longer that theme, but I can not part with that orange ceramic jar. Last year I discovered that the opening was just the right size to drop a candle down inside and wow! It’s still an old orange jar with holes in the sides; but, in the dark, the light glowing through those cutouts on the sides is beautiful!

You and I are sort of like that orange ceramic jar. Fragile, unique, some of us may have more holes from wounds we’ve weathered than others. But, unlike my last minute impulse buy, we’ve been chosen by the Master Potter for a very specific and spectacular mission in this world….to carry the Light! 2 Corinthians 4:7 (MSG) says, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.”

The next time you’re feeling like the old clay pot…focus on the One we get to carry around in our hearts to share with the world. What a privilege we have been given to carry the Light!

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message) Jesus spoke that invitation to His disciples and followers as a beautiful offer of exchange to us all. Bring Him all that is weighing us down, causing us pain, keeping us up at night and keeping us from truly connecting with our Father and He will take it on. In exchange, He will teach us what real rest feels like.

Learning by example is always easier than trying to figure things out on our own. Jesus’ offer is to walk with Him and work with Him…and watch how He does it…and that offer is good today. The beauty of that unforced rhythm of grace is that we respond to His invitation not out of obligation but out of desiring a relationship. Evangelist Joseph Prince said it this way: “The reality is, when you don’t read the Bible, you should not be feeling guilty; you should be feeling hungry.”

You can be sure of this: when we mess up…and it’s inevitable that we will!…we don’t have to hide. Jesus began with our exhaustion and disillusion and said – bring it! No matter what it is or how often we find ourselves way in over our head, bring it all to Him. He said, “keep company with Me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.”

Right now is the perfect time to lighten your load and follow His beautiful rhythm of grace!

The Middle Seat

The seat NO ONE wants to sit in?…the middle seat on an airplane! You know if you’ve flown before you either want the window seat or the aisle seat. Unless you’re traveling WITH someone you know and want to be seated together…those middle seats are typically the last seats to fill in. When you’re relegated to the dreaded middle seat it means you have a stranger on BOTH sides of you and…who gets the arm rest?!

Being stuck in the middle is never comfortable. Sometimes it’s not a physical middle seat but we feel it just the same. Stuck between pay checks, between that rock and a hard place, between jobs, even broken relationships. Honestly, we are all stuck in the middle between heaven and earth. Yes, we are in this world, but we are not of it, if we have made a decision to follow Christ. We are on our way to heaven. We’re just not there yet!

Living in the middle can be painful…but there is also amazing opportunity to grow! This is where we learn and grow, plant seeds and rejoice in harvest! This middle part reminds us that there is a glorious destination ahead. Jesus said in John 11:40, (MSG), “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 

So rather than dread the middle let’s embrace the hope of what awaits all those who believe in the Savior.

Unlikely Company

I watched a tender video of a dad brushing his little girl’s hair as she is sobbing. When he asks her what’s wrong she chokes out, “I don’t know”. So he sweetly asks her if she’d like something special done with her hair. He was so patient with her as she finally said, still in tears, ‘curls’. While he plugs in the curling iron he smiles and says, ‘wanna hear a joke?’ He tells her a dad joke…and instantly she erupts in laughter. There’s been more than half a million views of that little video that captured a dad being a heroic #GirlDad and, ok, maybe dad jokes do serve a purpose.

Do you ever have days like that little one? You just feel blue. Maybe there IS someone or something that you’re carrying grief over. Sometimes there is just no explanation. There’s just a sadness that hangs like a cloud over your heart. Proverbs 14:13 (NLT) tells us, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” My family and I are closing in on the first anniversary of the loss of my brother. We’ve nearly experienced all the firsts in this first year of living without him. My sister-in-love and I were talking this past week about how we were feeling about this milestone. It is hard to put it into words. On his birthday I wrote it this way, “I’m not sorry that you’re there. I’m just sad that you’re not here.”

Maybe you can relate. Grief has so many layers and as we go through the process we find things to smile about…maybe even laugh out loud over. I believe that verse is less about what to do or not do, and more to confirm that in this life there will be heartache, but it is ok to find moments of laughter…even joy. And that it’s alright to keep company with grief and joy side by side. We can be sure of this, when we are finding our way through those days, we are not alone. God promised that He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) And that is the BEST company to keep!

Collecting What’s Important

I love to collect certain things. If I love them and they bring me joy….why not??!! I remember buying my first Longaberger basket. Pretty. Functional. Valuable. I LOVED it! And I decided to buy more – thinking the value would only increase and…I could pass them down to my children.

Well, I now have quite a collection of functional, not so valuable baskets…and my daughter has ZERO interest in inheriting my collection! I understand. She didn’t live through the era of brass tags and limited edition collecting and hostess credits. And honestly, they are a BEAST to keep dusted!

We all tend to collect things. Either for pleasure or sentimentality, things become valuable to us. But nothing compares to the treasures we must be focused on storing up in heaven. No baskets. No jewelry or artwork or baseball cards. There’s nothing wrong with those things. But they can’t be our priority.

Matthew 6:19-21 in the Passion Translation tells us,“Don’t keep hoarding for yourselves earthly treasures that can be stolen by thieves. Material wealth eventually rusts, decays, and loses its value. Instead, stockpile heavenly treasures for yourselves that cannot be stolen and will never rust, decay, or lose their value. For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure.”

Your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure. Wow. Heavenly treasures. If you are hearing my voice or reading this now….YOU are heaven’s greatest treasure. That Jesus lived a sinless life here on earth, bore all of our sins on a cross, died and rose up to live again is how you and I can live forever in heaven!! Sharing His story with as many who will listen and believe…now THAT is stockpiling heavenly treasures that can never be stolen!