Tag: God’s word (page 1 of 2)

The Hardest Yes of Your Day

“It never gets any easier. There will always be something ‘urgent’ or ‘sparkly’ to distract you.”  This was a wise word from a mentor. She encouraged me, when my girls were toddlers, to put into practice, “chair time” – a daily meeting with the Lord.

Yes, in some ways it does get easier physically. In different seasons of life you may not have to hide in the bathroom to get alone time, with your “chair” as the toilet seat. And you may not be as sleep deprived. But emotionally?  Spiritually? Not so much.

What would Satan like more than to keep us from the priority of reflecting on God’s Word, opening ourselves to His power and presence?

We would never say it this way, but I think the way Satan distracts us most often is to get us thinking we are indispensable.

The world may stop spinning if I don’t get this email out, or if I don’t get into work early, or get this call made, or this thing mailed or this insightful tweet posted… I am soooo important!

We frantically commute and call and consult while God calmly causes the sun to rise each morning.

When we meet with God early, the fragrance of Him lingers throughout our day.

We may be reminded to pause and ask Him for wisdom when making a decision.

We may think to breathe in His name when we are impatient.

We may look for the imago dei in the co-worker who gets on our nerves.

Most of all, when we make time with God our most important priority it strengthens our ability to put boundaries in all areas of our life.

In order to say “no” to the things that are draining life from us, the things that are lowering our standards, the things that are drawing us away from our best self,  we must first say “Yes!” to chair time with God.

Where’s your “chair”?  This morning I texted a young friend at 5:45, thinking she would just get the text when she woke up, but instead she responded right away with this picture 🙂 She was having her chair time.

If you want a couple of resources for chair time, check out:

Pray as you Go

First 5

Water Beds and Jesus

Like a million years ago water beds were a thing. And we had one.

Now don’t get all judgy. It was totally John, (THE PASTOR)’s fault.

Before we got married, he had a friend who owned a water bed company who got him a deal.

When John told me, my expression must have said I couldn’t possibly marry a guy with a water bed.

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He got very reassuring and promised me there wasn’t a mirror above it, and it wasn’t the really bouncy kind.

He was astounded that this didn’t settle me down.

Anyway, we had that bed for about 10 years and periodically, water beds need to be drained and refilled. There was a wooden frame and a rubber insert with a port where the water could go out and in.

This is clearly a job that a godly wife does, so one summer day when our kids were little and a friend came over I drained the water bed and set it to re-filling with a hose upstairs while we sat and chatted at the kitchen table and the kids played in the yard.

It was the screaming of the kids that (eventually) got our attention.

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They had gone upstairs and noticed our master bedroom flooded with water, the bed insert double its normal size like the most ginormous water balloon you can imagine, and a geyser of water spewing out where it just couldn’t hold any more.

Again, let’s just remember…John’s fault.

At least it was spouting clean water and not sewage, right?

What I had pumped in was what came out.

The other day, this verse was in my morning reading and the image of that exploding water bed came to mind.

My heart bursts its banks,
spilling beauty and goodness. Psalm 45:1

And this oldie but goodie…

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45

If I were to explode today, what would spill out? What have I been filling up with that would soak anyone near me? 

Frankly, I fill up with a lot of ME, and MY, a good dose of other stuff (read “crap”), but as I’ve written before, God’s Word helps me remember who and whose I am.

I wish this was like an exact formula, but it’s not. As a friend said yesterday, “You can’t do math to figure out a mystery.” We live in a broken world where there are terrible things that we are to turn towards, and shine light, and find the image of Jesus in others, and be kingdom bringers.

We’re not meant to live in a holy huddle, but it seems that God is saying we are to be intentional about filling our hearts with Him, with His Word, with Life-giving relationships…being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” in order that we might spill over into this broken world with beauty and goodness.

Another friend (I am so blessed to have wise friends to quote!!) says: “When you open your Bible God opens His mouth.”

So I open my Bible and in my reading after the Psalm 45 verse about bursting with goodness and beauty, I read this:

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deut. 31:6
And this:
 … with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Eph. 3:18-19

 Lord, may You and Your Word so fill us today that we might spill over with beauty and goodness into a Monday world.

 

 

When you Can’t See The Road Ahead

Last week I drove down to my hometown in the suburbs of Chicago on Saturday for a run honoring my brother. After the race on Sunday husband John warned me that I needed to get on the road back to Minneapolis early because of my “condition”.

I have “night blindness” which means I have no depth perception when it gets dark. My perspective is flat. Skewed. I can’t tell how far or close things are (You know, like cars, or stoplights, or the shoulder of the road – the little things.)  And I can’t anticipate turns in the road. So when I didn’t leave Chicago until after 1:00 and hit bad traffic it meant driving the last two hours in deep darkness.

In the dark my eyes play tricks on me. My emotions play tricks on me. It feels kind of like being on that Disney World roller coaster in the dark that has a name with “Terror” in the title. There are times when I’m sure I’m driving off the road into certain destruction. Really.

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For anyone, in the days of loss – loss of person, job, dream – weird shapes loom and threaten in the darkness.  It can feel very scary. Nothing is certain. Life feels unpredictable.

As I concentrated hard and prayed, it struck me how all of us have “night blindness” . Whether it’s the dark of discouragement and challenging circumstances, or the illusion of control and self-sufficiency, or a hill on the route of our personal marathon, we don’t see things as they really are – as only God sees them. Continue reading

Got Worry?

One night recently this fall I had a group of women gathered in my living room. I asked them what character quality of God they need most right now.  They were brave and vulnerable and one after another said they long for Peace in the face of anxiety. Almost every one said she was struggling with worry, fear…Feeling out of control.

I’m not usually a big worrier, but I confess there have been a few nights recently where the “what if’s” and “what should I do’s” have swirled around in my brain like the eddy in a fast-moving stream.

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In If, Mark Batterson notes that “A ship’s anchor doesn’t just keep it from drifting. An anchor can be thrown in front of a ship and used to help it navigate through treacherous channels. The nautical term is ‘kedging'”.

So here’s what I think. Peace is anchoring ourselves not to our circumstances, but to the character of God.

Experiencing peace is not based on what I feel but on who God is.

We need to participate in the discipline of throwing our anchor out in front of us so that we’re continually filling our mind with the power and provision of God.

When we see God as He really is, we see our worries in perspective.

If I’m anchored to the all-sufficient God I’m not focused on the problems, but the Problem-solver. Continue reading

One Word and God’s Word

As you read this I’m in Florida for a long weekend.  Ostensibly for a fund-raiser for World Vision, but let’s be honest, I’ll be with friends and the temperature will be above 30 degrees farenheit.  I’m not suffering for Jesus here.

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“Choosing life” is easy with beauty all around you.  Vibrant color, warm pavement under bare feet, up-lifting conversations.  But this week, living in the left-hand picture hasn’t been all Bougainvillea, sunshine, and Calamari.  Some experiences felt dismissive, some choices by others that felt unjust.  Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but a little bumpy nevertheless. The kind of thing many, many people experience daily for years and years.

How can we not deny the “death” parts, but still choose life in healthy, non-Pollyanna ways?  Still keep perspective? Continue reading

Voices

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and if you are reading this, chances are you’ve resisted the urge to rise before dawn and scrape and claw through Walmart for the “best deals of the season”. (#walmartfights is trending on Twitter.)

You’ve said “no” to Black Friday, or perhaps you’re still just in a turkey coma and are calling it “contemplation”.  You’re reflecting on yesterday, or you still may be with family navigating dysfunctional dynamics feeling as tense as Jack Bauer defusing a bomb with 3 seconds left.

You may be with family members whose voices can strengthen you, reminding you of your inestimable value (like my mom, and basically everyone I’m related to does), or stab you in the back like the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones.

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Last week I wrote about the power of words and the Word as we move into the holidays when there’s more emotion, more stress, more people, more…family.  So today, on Fearless Friday I thought I’d just post this video that’s a reminder of Whose voice is the most important to hear from.

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The Words that Matter

Our friend Sharon always reminds us “Words matter!”

The truthful, timely word, the encouraging word, the destructive one.  They are all composing the story of our life.

Like a mess of Christmas lights though, we often get tangled up in the fearful words.  The “not enough”, “failing grade”, “grim prognosis”, “overwhelming odds” words. Continue reading

Two Questions When You’re “Off”

Last week is was sunny and cool with big, fluffy white clouds pushing each other around in the blue sky where we were staying near Windsor in Great Britain.  (The weather was a tad different the day I took this picture).

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I had just gotten back from a run during which I asked for directions about 492 times in tiny boroughs, at pubs, hoping to find a park. I kept getting pointed different directions.  I felt a little like I was on a perpetual rural British roundabout.

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Finally a woman said, “Well, there’s a moor down that way, but I’m afraid you’d get lost on it.”  Good bet.

I turned around and shuffle/jogged back to the hotel where I jumped into the shower and realized I’d been using body lotion instead of conditioner on my hair for the past few days. That could explain a lot.  (Don’t laugh – it could happen to you.)

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All that to say, I’ve been a little …“off”.

Eating too much, sleeping too little, not paying attention, and getting lost.  A little out of my regular rhythm, both physically and spiritually.

When you travel (or when you have anything “extra”going on, or a sick kid, or out-of-town guests, or a project due…) it’s so easy to get knocked off-stride and out of your spiritual rhythm.

In these times I tend to get to the end of the day and think,

“Where am I?  Who am I?  And how did I get to the end of this day totally missing God?”

Two questions can make all the difference as to whether my day is purposeful and life-giving, or a blur of empty activity.

1.  Have I filled my mind with anything of the Spirit?  Have I sought the mind of God to orient myself?  Especially when I’m busy or in a new environment.

Ok, let’s be honest here.  I don’t mean reading and taking notes on a chapter of Ezekiel every day.  I mean anything.  Truly, I’ve found God can use even the tiniest morsel to feed me if I give Him a chance.  If I’m clueless, any part of Psalm 25 is a great “go to” at the beginning of the day.  Anything is something.

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If I listen to God in the morning, there’s a much better chance my ear will be attuned to Him during the ordinary stuff and relationships of my day.  I also have a different grid through which I experience life.

2.  Have I made Space to process with God what He’s been showing me about Himself and myself throughout the day?  Where have I seen God and where have I missed Him?

Space, margin, silence…whatever you want to call it, it’s become rare in our 24/7 world of more news, more activity, more noise (especially for extroverts like me who can easily be sucked into the “more”.

Like Mary, I need to say “no” to the good in order to  choose “what is better”.  Whether it’s journalling or taking a prayer walk, I may need to limit accessibility to the world in order to be accessible to Jesus, prioritizing time to reflect on His activity.

What about you?  What helps you to reorient and pay attention when you’re “off”?

#SOTM2013 and Whatever is True…

I am about as good at memorizing as the Kardashians are at staying out of the news.

Basically, terrible.

I didn’t grow up with Awana, but I hear rumors about gold stars or badges and “sword drills” and I imagine competition is involved which I usually love, but in this case it scares me and makes me think if I had Awana-ed I might have more issues to deal with than I already do.

However, God is incredibly gracious and a miracle-worker to boot.

So when I was 23 years old on a mountain path in the Swiss Alps at dusk one evening, all sobbed out and at the end of my faith rope, it was Scripture I knew that God brought to mind to speak to me.

“God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

As clearly and as lovingly as if He was holding me and speaking, those were the words I heard.

Miracle-worker indeed.

Could I have given you chapter and verse?  No.  But that wasn’t the part God wanted to use.

Over and over again in the years since that crisis of faith, God has brought to mind just the right words from Scripture at just the right time to convict, encourage, guide, reassure.

It’s so easy to decide if we can’t do something perfectly, we can’t do it at all.  I mess up chapter and verse, I get words out of order, but somehow God makes it right.  Like songs you listen to over and over on the radio…you may not remember the artist or all of the words exactly, but the chorus?  Or a key line?  They keep coming back.  Maybe they shape us.

I figure it’s hard for God to bring to mind what we haven’t put there in the first place.  So no badges or stars, but when our kids were growing up we tried to memorize Scripture as a family.  At dinner we’d go around the table, each person saying one word of the verse we were trying to memorize.  It would usually go something like this:

Katy: Whatever

Maggie: is

Laura: true

John: ….??  nice!?? helpful!?? interesting!?? Rats!

Katy and Maggie would crack up as their pastor father was most often the first family member to mess up and need a hint.

This week, my friend Lynne, admitted that her New Year’s resolution was to memorize Matthew 5,6, and 7 – the Sermon on the Mount – in 2013.  But as of the end of March, she hadn’t gotten started and needed some accountability.

A few tweets later (@lynnehybels) and there’s a whole movement of folks committed to memorizing this chunk of Scripture with the hashtag #SOTM2013!  

No, I’m not a great memorizer, but if some small essence of God’s Word becomes more a part of me through this discipline, who knows what He might do with this…what “kingdom come” transformation He might want to do in and through us?  Like Lynne writes,

Maybe we can become givers of mercy and pure-hearted peacemakers. Maybe we can become lights in the darkness. Maybe we can embrace a vision of righteousness that looks more like Jesus than the Pharisees…

I’m in.

And in spite of the fact that both Lynne and I threw John under the bus for his comment about just committing to the Beatitudes, I think I’ve got him hooked too.

Oh, and the verse our family was trying to memorize above?

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy.  Think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

John got so frustrated, he came up with this pneumonic device: Two neurotic Roman priests lost and eccentric pope.

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for three whole chapters in SOTM13.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with Scripture memory.  And join us in memorizing the Sermon on the Mount!

Spiritual ADD

Often people ask me for suggestions of good devotionals or Bible studies.  It happened again this past week after John preached on the Bread of Life and it got me to thinking.  I’m delighted to share what’s been helpful to me, but with a few caveats and a request to hear from you too.  I am so grateful for my relationship with Jesus but…

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