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Take Up Your Cross

© Depositphotos.com/ WDGPhoto

© Depositphotos.com/
WDGPhoto

“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Matthew 27:32 (NIV)

Take: to get into one’s hold or possession by voluntary action.

To take is voluntary.

Simon was forced to carry the cross with Jesus. He bore the weight that was too much for Jesus in His weakened physical condition. Simon did not have a choice to help Jesus; and yet, through the process of coming alongside Him in this barbaric situation, He grasped the weight and understanding of the cross. He didn’t simply walk away to never again consider the man who would be nailed to that cross. He took in the truth of Jesus on the cross and passed it along to His children. (Mark 15:21, Romans 16:13)

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 (KJV)

Taketh: to take or get a hold of; to receive.

To take is to get your hands on and receive what is offered.

The cross is a vile form of execution. The cross was so inhumane it was eventually outlawed as a means of capital punishment. And yet, Jesus says if you are unwilling to take up your cross and follow Him, you aren’t worthy to be His follower. What’s up with that? Why would He expect us to voluntarily take hold of a cross? Didn’t He die so we wouldn’t have to do that very thing?

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

Take: To take up or away; to raise up or lift; to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised physically.

To take is to personally participate in the raising or lifting while carrying.

The truth is there’s a cross with your name on it. Because of sin in the life of each person, death is the penalty and judgment. Jesus also says that because He’s been hated and persecuted, as His follower, you will be as well. There will be plenty of people who will want to nail you to your cross. In the midst of struggles and persecution, will you take up your cross or walk away?

The cross of Christ has already been lifted. Because of what Jesus has done, death is not the end of our story. It’s a step in the process rather than the end of the journey. We will face things from our past, things in opposition to our faith, but we don’t have to do it alone. When we are willing to acknowledge that truth, He offers His yoke as well. We can take hold of His yoke to help us carry our cross. He offers us what He’s already done. When we take up our cross, we can also show people what we’ve been set free from. The cross is the cost of our sin. We deserve death. Thank God, in Christ, we receive life.

I found this story of St. Patrick, someone who picked up his cross and followed hard after Jesus. We may not be called to minister to a country, but we each have a family, neighborhood or circle of friends God wants us to reach for Him.

Something to Consider…

Do you have a hard time grasping the truth of the cross, what Jesus did, and why He did it?

Do you have a difficult time acknowledging the truth of your own sin and the reality of the penalty for that sin?

Jesus invites you to follow Him. Where will He lead you? Straight to the cross. Let Him help you understand and grasp the truth of what He’s done for you. Let Him help you acknowledge the truth of your own sin and receive His grace and redemption so you can live free, willing to take up your cross and share His love with others.

Deny Yourself

© Depositphotos.com/ bst2012

© Depositphotos.com/
bst2012

“He (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Mark 8:34

We are currently in the season of Lent, the 40 day period of preparation leading up to Easter. People of faith give up all different types of foods and activities during this time period each year. Some choose things that are easy and won’t really be missed. Others choose things that will not only be missed, but will at times seem unbearable to go without. Either way, it’s a defined period of time and then we often go back to our old ways.

It’s good to change things up at times. It helps us draw closer to God in a different way so we can refocus on Jesus and our relationship with Him. I encourage you set aside time at Lent and other times of the year to refocus, rededicate, and remember that He is enough. His grace is sufficient.

But I do believe there is a difference between these occasional denials of self and the lifestyle of denial Jesus refers to. Here are three ways we can experience those differences.

  • It isn’t what you choose, it’s what He says.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15a, 17

Sometimes what we choose to give up is surface level and shallow behaviors or activities. We focus really hard on not doing these things and then are relieved when our time is up. But often, God wants to get to the stuff behind the behaviors and activities. He wants to go deeper and not just change what we do, but change our hearts so we do things differently choosing His will over our own.

  •  It isn’t for a limited time, it’s every day of your life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We don’t acknowledge Jesus just to walk away going about our business. We stay. We remain in Him and continue to do the things He shows us to do. We will continually be challenged to give up the things we want, the way we react and respond, the way we think about and see others. Denial is a counter-cultural lifestyle change that continues and does not end.

  •  There is no going back to the old way. The old is gone, the new is here.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

In Christ, you are no longer the same person you were before knowing Him. When you go back to your old ways, you don’t deny yourself, you deny Him and why He came. You can’t follow Jesus and do things the old way. You may try for a while, but eventually, you will go your own way. You will no longer be following Him.

We are called to deny ourselves daily for the sake of the One who called us to Himself. His love is seen and experienced best when we allow ourselves to get out of His way. Choose today to deny yourself and acknowledge Him.

Something to Consider…

Do you want to follow Jesus, but are unsure of just what it means to deny yourself? As you spend time in His presence reading His Word, rely on the Holy Spirit to show you the things He wants you to get rid of from your life. He will help you move forward in a new way.

Do you know what God’s Word says and yet, you are doing what you want satisfying your own desires and ignoring what He says? God loves you and it’s in remaining in Him, doing what He says that you are able to follow and experience the benefits of His presence in your life. Choose to not just know what Jesus says, but deny yourself and do what He says.

Homework…it’s not just for kids

IMG_2064Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

I came home one day from running errands to find my daughter sitting in the kitchen diligently working on her school work. I don’t remember the last time I had to ask her if she had homework or if it was complete. Even when she doesn’t enjoy the subject, she knows the homework is necessary. My older daughter was not quite so driven to do her homework, but has learned the importance of it and the reward of not waiting until the last-minute.

For those who know me, they would say I love homework. They would probably leave it there and assume it’s true as a whole, but they would be wrong. I really didn’t enjoy school work and still don’t enjoy doing research in general. I also don’t strive to learn so I can simply say I know and understand this thing or that. I haven’t always read the Bible and when I first started, I didn’t understand much of it. I admit, I often fell asleep.

But now I love reading God’s Word and “homework” that teaches me the ways of God so I can do the things of God. I have participated in many Bible studies over the past ten years and have even written and lead a few of them. I always encourage and provide ways to do homework, additional study so everyone can dig into God’s Word at any time. Homework gives us a way to be more intentional with our time and about our study.

How do you know if what you believe God is revealing to you is true? Do you know that the devil likes to reveal things to you as well? He’s very sly and smooth in his approach and he can take something completely outside of the ways of God, mix it with Scripture and make it look pleasing, make it feel good and right and make you think you deserve it. All the while he’s leading you away from God rather than closer to Him.

“Jesus answered,’It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”‘” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Jesus knew God’s Word, not because He was God but because He learned it just like every other Jewish boy. When the devil came to tempt Him, He didn’t wonder what God would say or have Him do. He was able to respond immediately with the truth of God’s Word and defeat the devil even in midst of His physical, mental and emotional weakness. Because of the work He had already done, He was still spiritually strong.

We are so very fortunate to have the Bible, God’s Word, so we can know the truth of God ways. The truth is if you are going to be intentional about reading God’s Word, then you will be responsible for doing what it says because now you know the truth. It’s easy to claim ignorance or simply go by your feelings if you don’t pick up His Word. But once you do, there are no more excuses.

Jesus calls us to be like little children. Children are like sponges sopping up whatever they see and hear. They are constantly learning, sometimes intentionally, but often through what they experience.

What experience do you provide for yourself? As a child of God, as a maturing follower of Christ, do you take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him through His Word? Do you eagerly seek out His answers in the midst of the difficulties you face? Do you rejoice in the good and amazing things He has already done trusting that He is not finished yet?

Homework, when it comes to God’s work, is an intentional time of letting God’s Spirit work in us. We are sitting down and saying, “God, I know there are things in your Word that you specifically want me to know today, right now in this moment. Reveal them to me. As I seek you, you promise to be found. When I ask, you promise to answer. Lord, your Word is rich and I am poor. It is nourishment for this hungry soul. Feed me for I am needy in this world.”

Something to Consider…

Do you enjoy reading the Bible? Do you read the Bible regularly? What keeps you from it or makes it difficult for you? Ask God to help you understand and delight in His Word.

Are you uncertain you can trust what the Bible says? Does it seem to contradict what others say? All of God’s Word is true. God is knowable and completely trustworthy. Earnestly desire to know the truth about God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

Why Go to Church?

IMG_1781“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Luke 4:16a

“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Mark 10:1

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Christians about why we go to church. Or better yet, why people don’t want to go to church. Conversations that honestly surprise me. I don’t expect people who don’t know Jesus to want to go to church. But when they decide to seek Jesus, when they decide they want to at least get some information about knowing Jesus, people often decide to go to church. So if those who don’t know Jesus go to church to find Him, why don’t those who know Him go there to experience His presence as well? Why don’t those who know Him go there to help others find Him?

Going to church is not a salvation issue. Let me repeat, not going to church will not send you to hell if you know Jesus and have faith in His saving grace.

You are not a bad person for not going to church. However, you are a sinner. And I’m a sinner. And in Christ we are washed cleaned clothed in His righteousness and are adopted into the family of God as His child.

So if you are a Christian and you battle with why you should go to church, let me offer this one perspective and hopefully you will find it to be an encouragement to begin or continue going to church.

We have an opportunity to know God and experience His presence. Jesus promises that when two or more gather together, there He is as well. (Matthew 18) So when we come together at church, as the church, we join in unity with others to love and worship God and experience His presence. Yes, we can meet other places but understand that the gathering of God’s people is His church so you may already be doing the very thing you think you don’t want to do. And when we gather and God is present, there is joy and blessing found in His presence. Do you need a little joy in your life? Go to church with the expectation of experiencing God’s presence and joy.

We also have the opportunity to love others who love Jesus. Just like you go to visit your family at their homes for various reasons at various times because you love them, we can gather together and spend time with our spiritual family. Each person who knows Jesus is your brother or sister in Christ. Do brothers and sisters sometimes hurt each other? Of course they do. People who go to church are no different. Sometimes there are pains and hurts, but in Christ, the goal is restoration and reconciliation. The hope is that those difficulties can be overcome because God is our perfect Father who works out our relationships. He helps us understand what it means to love our families the way He loves us. Do you need some hope for your family and relationships? Go to church with an expectation of help to love and hope that it will be better.

And we have the opportunity to love those who are wanting to know Jesus and looking for a family of their own. You can be the one to introduce them to Jesus. Do you need to be at church to do this? No. Hopefully, you are introducing people to Jesus all the time because you display Him through your words and actions. They know the truth about Him because of who He is in you. Do you let Him show? Do you want others to know Him? Do you want to be encouraged by the hearts of those seeking Jesus so that you can remember why it matters? Go to church with a heart set on Christ so you can see others through His eyes.

There is one issue of salvation: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Then there are issues of the heart. Is church an issue of your heart? Ask Jesus to be the ultimate authority on whether or not you go.

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 4:25

We have the opportunity to gather together to hear the teachings of Jesus from someone anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach and teach His Word. People came from all over traveling great distances on foot so they could be in the presence of Jesus. You can give whatever reasons you want not to go, but Jesus went, so I go, too. He is the one whose example I want to follow.

God is Life

“And this is the testimony of God: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12 (NIV)

God offers us eternal life after we die, but He also offers the abundant life before we die. We do not need to wait until later to experience His kingdom. In Jesus, we have the ability to experience right here, right now the fullness of life God offers. Life after death becomes the perfection of our current state of living.

Are you living now the way you hope to in heaven later? Are you doing what you can to respond to and interact with others the way you imagine it to be when all things are made right? Do you trust and worship God with absolute devotion?

What does the full life in Christ look like? Here are three ways you can experience all He has to offer.

  1. Be confident.

God has sent His Son to redeem, restore and reconcile you to God, your Father. In Christ, you need never worry about your relationship with God. He does still correct and there are still consequences for wrong actions, but everything God does is to teach you what is best. When we refuse to listen, He lets the outcome be our teacher. When we ask Him for help, He will show us the way. Be confident in your relationship with Him.

  1. Be courageous.

God has given us His Word so we can know Him. His character and heart for people is seen throughout the Bible in all 66 books. When we know about God, we will continue to do what we do with an attitude of “that’s Him, this is me.” But when we truly know God through a relationship with Jesus, we begin to respond to God. We do things differently not because of who we are, but because of who He is. He has responded to us by giving us His Son. Read His Word so you can respond to God and do what it says. As you confidence grows, you will become more courageous in your love for Him.

  1. Be content.

People who don’t trust tend to protect themselves. There is an attitude of what-if and a response that comes out of what they don’t know instead of what they do. God knows our every need. He also knows our every want. He knows how getting our wants will affect our hearts and attitude toward Him and others. When we trust God, we can follow Him and be content no matter where we are, what we do or what we have. His way always leads to life. As you become courageous for God, you will see His purpose for your life unfold and in it you will be content.

Life in Christ is experienced when we know God personally, do what He says and trust Him completely each step of the way. God’s greatest desire is that the whole world would know His love and receive the life He offers. What’s yours?

Heavenly Father, you are life. In you, we move and breathe and have meaning. Lord, may my confidence grow as I come to know you more. May I become courageous for you because your love is true. May I be content with all you give me because I trust that you give me all I need. Your word is true, your way is best and your love leads to life like I have never known. Make it the desire of my heart  to know and live this life you offer. In Jesus name. Amen.

Do you know you’re beautiful?

IMG_1779 (2)“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

– 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

As I was getting ready for the day looking at myself in the mirror and thinking about an upcoming meeting with some people I had not yet met, I found myself wondering if I had the right “look”.

I’ve started thinking about coloring my hair again. It’s been five years and I’ve grown comfortable and content with my own color. But maybe it would help …

Then I noticed the scar on my nose. I had already bleached the tooth my daughter accidentally knocked when she jumped with excitement right into my jaw breaking the root. Maybe I should see what I could do about the scar. I’ve had the scar for eight years and rarely notice it anymore, but maybe …

I do want to lose some weight, exercise and eat better. I’ve been working on this and have been more on than off lately. Maybe some new clothes and shoes. I’m on the short side. Maybe I should think about what might make me look taller … thinner …

And the list could go on and on and on.

When I think of being seen, I worry about how I will measure up. Maybe no one will even notice me. Am I worth noticing?

The simple answer is yes.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

– Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

God has noticed me. He says I’m worthy of notice. God sees beneath my outward appearance and looks lovingly on my heart toward Him. He sees every flaw and loves me still. His work consists of not an outward fix but an inward change. He corrects the attitudes and problems in my heart that affect my outward ability to reflect His love.

And through all of this He says I’m worth His effort.

I don’t know if I’ll color my hair. I’m sure I won’t mess with the scar. I love to shop so maybe if I have some success with my healthier lifestyle I’ll treat myself to something special. And being short just helps me engage in conversation when I need to ask for help with something way up high on a shelf.

But I do know that I will continue to let God work on my heart helping me be more gentle and quiet in spirit. Helping me understand from where and whom my true beauty comes. And helping me to see people, showing me their hearts beneath the look they try to put on. We’re all trying to measure up to someone’s standard of beauty. Who’s standard will you look to?

Something to Consider…

Do you struggle with your appearance? Have others noticed your flaws more than your beauty? Know that God did make you beautiful. Ask Him to help you see yourself through HIS eyes.

Do you do the simple work of caring for yourself, your physical self as well as your mental and emotional self? Jesus Christ died for you just as you are, but  if you’re neglecting yourself, you’re not caring for the gift He has given you. He has made you for a purpose. Help yourself be ready and able to do all He has called you to do.

What do you notice first about others? Do you look at them and make judgments before you meet them? It may be human nature but know that’s not God’s nature. In Christ, we can see others from His perspective. Challenge yourself to see the beauty within first.

Fight or Flight…or Do (The unexpected part 5)

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:13 (The Message)

Last fall, I wrote a four-part blog explaining the process of understanding my anxiety and letting God take control.

It wasn’t long before I realized I had settled into a state of depression. I was dumbfounded. How on earth could I have just come through this battle with anxiety finally feeling like I was set free, only to find myself sad, lonely and hopeless?

Helpless.

And that’s when God once again spoke truth to me in a very loving way.

“You’ve given up control, but you’ve given up too much.”

What, too much? You, God, have all control and I’m in control of nothing. Isn’t that the way it works?

“There are things you can’t control, that aren’t yours to control. But there are things you can control and should control. You have work to do and you need to grab hold and move. Don’t wait for permission or approval. Get up and go!”

God won’t do it all for me. There are things I need to do myself. My “doing”, my moving forward in His purpose for me is how I take control of what I can. My ability to confidently make decisions and carry out the actions required by those decisions makes me anything but helpless.

These decisions and actions are based on and affect both the external situations around me, as well as, the internal condition of my heart, mind and soul. If I’m not focused on Jesus, someone or something else will influence my decisions and my actions. I “do” because He did. I start because He finished; He did all that needed to be done.

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” John 18:9-10 (NIV)

“In addition to all this (the full armor of God), take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

As I said in my previous posts, anxiety and anger were my ways of protecting myself. Depression has been as well. Anxiety and anger came when I stepped into a situation thinking I had to be my own protection. Depression came when I stopped stepping into any situations at all thinking I had no protection. But when I trust that Jesus is my protection, I can do all things He calls me to do. He’s been showing me that I can put down my sword, drop my guard and pick up His shield of faith. In doing so, I pick up, lay hold of, take control of what’s within my reach and I trust Him with what isn’t.

I understand there are times when medication and professional help is necessary when dealing with anxiety and depression. Both were essential for me in my ability to make progress. But Jesus is the only reason I have clarity around any of this. He’s the one who saved me and continues to show me the way.

Something to Consider…

If you have a sense of helplessness, there is something you can do. You can choose to put your trust in Jesus. Ask Him to come into your life and be the Lord of your life. Invite His Spirit to come in and help you lead the life you desire. Find a local Bible-based church and speak with someone about this decision.

If you already have Jesus in your life, choose to believe and hold tight to the faith you already have. It seems obvious, but there’s a chance doubt or unbelief has entered your heart and you are unable to fully trust Him. Ask Him to show you anything that may be hindering your walk with Him. Ask Him to reveal where in your life doubt or unbelief has taken root.

Choose to put down your sword, let Him be Lord and Savior, and have faith.

Choose Life

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

I’ve debated this blog and gone back and forth about it for a week now. I speak from my heart and out of my love for Jesus and His for me. I believe that based on my experience, God is bringing good from it by asking me to speak to this issue. There is hope.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Moses is writing about the promises of God. God has given us a choice to trust and accept His promises or reject them. There is life in His promises. There is eternal life in heaven, but there is also a fullness of life in the kingdom of heaven on earth.

I heard Graham Cooke speak at a conference in April of 2013 and he said, “What is true in the natural is true in the supernatural and what is true in the supernatural is true in the natural.”

This is something I try to remember as I see and experience the battles I face and understand that there is nothing we go through in this world, the natural world that He hasn’t already dealt with in the supernatural, the spiritual world.

Here’s what Moses says about life and death:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

God has given us the free will to choose life or death. We can choose life in Him for all eternity or death separated from Him for all eternity. That is our choice to make; He has given it to us.

Now how we receive life in Him for all eternity is on His terms, not ours. He gives us the option to choose His terms or not. And His terms – it’s Jesus. Receive the gift of free grace by repentance and faith through Jesus. Do this and you choose life, not death.

Now, if choosing life in the spiritual world is a blessing, then choosing life in the natural world is also a blessing. What is true in the supernatural, the spiritual, is true in the natural.

Let me give you this example: Say I’m married to a wonderful man who has a great job. He provides all I need: a nice home, food on the table, heat, water, healthcare benefits, a 401(k), vacations, and clothing. He brings me gifts and gives me opportunities to take time for my own needs and well-being. There is one thing he does; He hits my daughter once in a while. It’s only once in a while, here and there. Compared to everything else he does and provides it’s really quite insignificant. And besides, my daughter is weak and believes this is really the best answer. She made some mistakes and she can’t really expect there to be a better outcome than this. She understands all the other good things he does for us so she just concentrates on those things while he hits her.

I hope and pray that if I really was in this situation and believed this, you would think I was nuts! You may even want to call the authorities on me and my husband for allowing this to happen. I hope you would tell me how wrong this is. I hope that you would encourage me to leave this man, at least until he received help and understood the evil that was present in his actions. I hope that you would not settle for this life for my daughter.

The truth is we settle for this type of action for our daughters every day. We live in a society that chooses death. It tells women, even young girls, that there is nothing wrong with death. God says death is a curse; society says death is our right and legal choice. They say death is healthcare.

I fully understand that there will always be people in this world who will choose the world’s system over that of God’s. They will believe the lies they are told, that they are weak and need to get rid of their mistakes, make up for their mistakes on their own terms.

But God says we can’t get rid of our mistakes, our sins, on our own terms. Our sin is only removed through the blood of Jesus and we can only receive the blood of Jesus by choosing life, not death.

So as I have opportunity to call people’s attention to the outrageous acceptance of organizations that provide abortions, that say it’s okay to choose death, I will.

Yes, they provide various healthcare options and services for women all across this country. Yes, they meet the needs of many women. But, on occasion, once in a while, they kill babies.

I mean, women are weak (that’s what one woman told me), they are weak and this is the only way they know to deal with their mistake, their accident. It’s completely reasonable that we would overlook this atrocity for all the other benefits these organizations provide. We can’t really be expected to choose life when it hurts, when our situation is difficult, when it’s inconvenient for our own life, can we?

I’m here to tell you this thinking is nuts! This is wrong! Why on earth would we support this thinking for our daughters? When do we stop looking out for our own benefits and comforts and realize the horrible position in which we have helped to put other women? Maybe ourselves?

I choose to stand here and tell you life is a blessing and when you choose life in the natural, you are choosing a blessing. Death is a curse. Death is the consequence of sin in our own lives and the evil actions of others. And while we can’t undo the curse of our own or others actions, Jesus can.

When we stop choosing death and choose life in Christ, He alone removes the curse and gives us abundant blessings; life that never ends.

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…” Deuteronomy 19b

Life is a blessing. Life is a blessing when it hurts, when it’s difficult and even when it’s inconvenient. Even what we think is an unplanned life is a blessing because God planned it.

“For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Something to Consider…

Through Jesus, God redeems completely. If you have experienced the pain of an unplanned pregnancy and have chosen an abortion, I want you to know that God loves you and understands your pain. He wants to bless you through your choosing life in Jesus. If you are sorry for having chosen an abortion, tell God. He will forgive you. It’s a promise. You can know the full and abundant love and life found in Christ.

If you believe life is a blessing and death through abortion is not okay, help stop the lie and share the truth of the life found in Christ. He alone can right the wrongs and bring blessings when all that is seen is a curse. Help others understand and know they can choose life!

Let’s Go!

Bobo What's up (2)“‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.’” Luke 5:5 (CEV)

I am on a health kick struggle. Some call it a journey, but for me it’s a constant battle of the will to even decide how I’m going to tackle the food and exercise choices each day. Is variety the answer or a consistent planned out routine?

The other day, I chose to walk my dog. He needs to get out more often so it was a twofer. The best part of taking him for a walk is the moment I tell him we are going. Actually, I ask with excitement and anticipation in my voice, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

His head lifts and tilts, his ears perk and his body is at attention. I ask again, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

He turns, stops, and looks at me as if to ask, “Now?”

And then the moment he’s been waiting for, “Let’s go!” He bolts for the door, tail wagging while pacing back and forth as he waits for me to catch up. I love every minute of it!

And if there’s anything he loves, it’s taking a walk. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he drops everything for this one thing…even though he’s on a leash and never more than four feet from me. Even though he never gets to stay and check out a scent for too long. Even though he doesn’t get to choose the direction or the pace, he joyfully comes with me whenever I call.

His excitement, energy and joy made me wonder. What call do I willingly, joyfully drop everything to answer and follow? Is it an activity, a person, or a purpose? Does it matter if I get to choose the destination or the route to get there? Does it matter how fast or slow we go? Do my desires get in my way of being able to stay close, stay focused or continue in excitement? Do I see it as a burden rather than a gift – a gift of spending intentional time with another for a specific reason because I’ve been asked to join in and be part of what’s going on, take part in what this other person is doing?

I love the way Luke 5 tells the story of Jesus calling Peter to come and follow. Other versions simply say he dropped everything and followed. But here in this version we see the real thoughts and emotions of a person who is going about his day, tired from his work, and struggling to follow instructions that seem from his perspective and experience a waste of time.

 “They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart. Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink.” Luke 5:6-7 (CEV)

After, out of obedience, doing the very thing he didn’t want to do, Peter sees the results that come when working with Jesus.

God is at work in this world. He is everywhere at all times and while He could go alone, He doesn’t. He calls to us to come with, to follow Him and to be part of what He’s doing.

God has made me an offer better than anything I or anyone else could imagine. I know who He is, I know what He’s done, and I know who I’ve been, as does He, which makes the offer all that much more incredible. He wants me to see what He’s doing, listen for His call, and be ready to act when He says, “Let’s go!”

That is my prayer today: that I would be aware of what God is doing, in tune with and listening for His voice above all others and in that moment when He calls I would willingly, joyfully and with great anticipation drop everything in response to His invitation to join Him in His work.

Something to Consider…

How has Jesus called to you and invited you to join Him in what He’s doing? What activities do you struggle to drop so you can follow Him fully?

What results have you seen in your work with Him? What actions do you hesitate to take because you don’t understand how it will play out?

How does knowing God doesn’t need you, but wants you to join Him encourage you to follow Him in whatever way He calls?

Cleansed Once and For All

???????????????????????????????“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:2, 7 (NLT)

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take on a minor makeover. The bathroom our daughters shared was in need of some repair. Moisture had condensed in the ceiling fan vent and dripped through damaging the ceiling. We had it repaired, but the new paint caused the old paint to peel making it look like there were upside down meringue whips covering half of the ceiling. At one point, water had run over the edge of the tub causing the paint to peel near the baseboard. In addition, the bathroom décor was not as appropriate for my daughters who were now young ladies and no longer little girls. A good cleaning, repairing and decorating were in order.

We took a long weekend to thoroughly clean the room, remove any cracked and broken materials, repair damaged spots, paint the entire room ceiling to floor and finally bring in new décor. It looked like an entirely different room when we were finished!

Both of our daughters were out-of-town during this process. One came home and was thrilled at how nice it looked. She noticed just how clean it was compared to when she left and decided she didn’t want to let it to get dirty again. In her resolve, she now cleans regularly. She treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s funny how once something gets dirty it’s so easy to let it stay dirty. The work we put into cleaning it just won’t last so we don’t waste our time.

Thank God, Jesus sees us differently.

When Jesus comes to us, we are a mess. He sees not just the shallow, maybe deep layer of dirt that covers us, but He sees beneath the surface. He sees the cracked and broken places in our hearts, the damaged material we’ve become. Some of it’s out of neglect, some has been caused by others, but either way, He knows we need a makeover.

And He doesn’t just point out our need; He takes on the project Himself. He will do the work we so desperately need in our lives.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

I love that the very first thing He does is cleanse us from our sin – the filth and grime we sit in day after day. At times it’s so easy to believe we will never change, so we don’t. But Jesus changes us immediately when He thoroughly cleanses us of all unrighteousness.

Next, He gets to the nitty-gritty of the specific repairs of which we are in need. I wish it could all be taken care of in a long weekend, but it will be an ongoing process of repair and maintenance. Sometimes it will be painful as He strips and peels away the things that seem safe and feel comfortable, but are really hurting us as well as others.

The interesting thing about a Jesus makeover is that He is able to make complete what is not yet complete.

He doesn’t wait for all the work to be done before He gives us our new décor. We receive that as soon as we say, “Yes” to His invitation of a new life. We are a completely new person right off the bat even though the work continues.

So how do we keep ourselves “clean” while He is still repairing and working on our broken parts?

We choose to seek Him out daily asking Him to show us and clean us of anything not of Him. We refuse to go back to old habits, behaviors and attitudes with which He has already dealt. We allow Him to continue His work knowing all we need to do is be in agreement with Him.

In Him, we are free to respond in His righteousness to the world around us. We are cleansed and given a new identity, one many won’t recognize. Will you treat yourself with the care you deserve? Will you respond to His loving care for you?

Something to Consider…

Do you believe you are really a new creation with a new identity in Christ? Accept His forgiveness and be willing to see yourself through His eyes.

In what ways are you in need of a cleaning? Acknowledge them to Jesus. He is faithful to cleanse and repair you from top to bottom.

Do you have a difficult time maintaining the work He has already done? Remember, He doesn’t leave or give up; He is always there continuing His work in your life. Follow His lead knowing He and you are worth the effort.