Life is all about change. When you trust an unchanging God - you have the ability to embrace change and trust Him in the midst of it. Join me as the Lord leads me through a new phase of my journey.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ Can you see?

I love the story of Zaccheus.  It's one of those stories that I have heard from the time I was little and I can still sing that song!  As I read over this familiar story, several questions came to mind.

What do I know about Zaccheus from this passage?

chief tax collector (not a popular guy)

rich (from the labor of others)

small in stature (he couldn't see over the crowd)

What had he heard about Jesus that made him so desperate to see Him that he would climb up a tree?

What caused Jesus to take notice of him among such a big crowd?

What did Jesus see in Zaccheus that everyone else had missed?

In verse 6 - we are told that Zaccheus received Jesus gladly - or with rejoicing.

In verse 7 - we are told that as Jesus went to Zaccheus' house, others grumbled.  I thought to myself, "If I do as the Lord commands, I can expect to be grumbled about also." followed quickly by, "Am I grumbling about what someone else is doing?"

Zaccheus has a complete change of heart after encountering Jesus.  

He not only wants to make amends for the wrong he had done, but he wants to give back 4 times what he has taken.

Jesus declares that salvation has come to his house.

Seeking --> Believing --> Repentance --> Change in heart and behavior

Jesus has an answer for His critics.

He says, "I came to seek and save the lost."

I love that Jesus sees the potential in Zaccheus.  

I love that He sees who Zaccheus can be - 
not only who he is at the moment.

I love that Zaccheus runs and climbs up a tree 
just to get a glimpse of Jesus.  

I'm quite sure he looked foolish. 

 I'm quite sure that others laughed at him.

But, in the end, Jesus sat at his table and his life was never the same.

Next time we decide that someone is beyond change - let's think about Zaccheus.

Next time we can't see any potential, let's remember that Jesus does.

Next time we need a change of heart that leads to a change in behavior, let's remember that Jesus is the game changer.

I can't wait to meet Zaccheus.  What a story he will have to tell!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Pride vs. Humility

I have truly enjoyed reading through the gospel of Luke this month.  It is good to go back over familiar stories and see new messages that the Lord has for me.  It is such a privilege to share what I am learning and I am truly thankful for your willingness to wade through that.  My prayer is that what the Lord is teaching me will be a blessing to you through the Spirit.

In chapter 18, Jesus tells a parable about two men who are praying in the temple.  Two men went up to the temple to pray . . . sounds a bit like one of those lawyer, rabbi, priest jokes!  Actually, it was perhaps the most extreme contrast of the day.  There was a Pharisee (highly regarded religious leader) and a tax collector (lowest of the low) coming into the temple to pray.  In human terms, we would assume that the Pharisee had a higher standing in God's eyes and would prove to be more acceptable.

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”  The Message Luke 18:10-14

In one of those twists that Jesus loves, He reveals that the hearts of these men are radically different than their appearance.  The New American Standard puts it like this ~ " . . . for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, he who humbles himself will be exalted."

The Pharisee elevates himself as one who fasts and tithes, not like a tax collector who swindles, is unjust and perhaps even adulterous.  In other words, he elevates himself by standing on another man's back.

The tax collector is slumped over back in the shadows and even averts his eyes.  He beats his chest as a sign of repentance and pleads for God's mercy on him, a sinner.  There is no pretense and no comparison to another.

When Jesus tells this story, he makes it clear that He is not impressed by our list of accomplishments and sacrifices.  He is much more interested in the true state of our heart.

I believe that the biggest stumbling block in our lives is pride.  It is much too easy to get caught up in what we perceive to be our own goodness.  Our appearance of godliness becomes more important than our actual godliness and we begin to take credit for what only God can do.

The tax collector got it.  He knew that he didn't have a leg to stand on.  He knew that his only hope was God's mercy.  He humbled himself before the Lord, bringing nothing with him and was completely dependent on God's power to save and transform.

That is where we are -- stripped of our pride and humbled before Jesus.  





There is no better place to be. 

In truth, I have nothing to bring before Jesus.  I can simply place my life before Him and ask Him to make something of it that pleases Him.  I am no better or worse than anyone else.  I will never be famous -- but oh, how I long to make Him so.

"Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God 
that He may exalt you at the proper time."  
1st Peter 5:6

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ All You Can Eat Buffet

Truth be told, I run the other direction whenever I see a sign that says "All you can eat."  Something about those places scares me.  BUT, when I read Proverbs 15:15 this week, I found an all you can eat scenario that made me really happy!

I have loved this verse for a long time.  I even painted it in my kitchen in one of my houses.

A cheerful heart has a continual feast.  Proverbs 15:15

Don't you just LOVE that?!?!  I do.  I wanted to think on that verse a bit and unpack it to see just what it means for my life.  So, I asked myself a couple of questions.

What does it mean to have a cheerful heart?

*It is a heart of JOY.  That joy is not connected to a particular set of circumstances.  It is deep and it is abiding.  It is that kind of joy that makes your heart feel like it is going to explode!

*It is a heart of CHOICE and it may be making that choice minute by minute.  It is very intentional.

*It is a heart worth fighting for, rejecting the temptation of negative focus and turning aside from satan's subtle and not so subtle discouragements.

*It is a heart that is grounded in truth - the truth of who Jesus is and the salvation that is mine.  It is the truth that I am His beloved and He is mine.  It is the truth that I am safe and secure in His arms, no matter what is swirling around me.

*It is a heart that holds on to faith, hope and love.

What does a continual feast consist of?

*As far as I can tell, it is the bread of life washed down with living water.  It is a feast of fullness, wholeness and satisfaction.

A cheerful heart

A continual feast

Yes, please!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Worn Wallets

I've been back in Chicago for a week.  I finally feel like I am back at home!  It has been cold, snowy and wonderful.  I have reconnected with friends and spent time painting at Hamilton Elementary.  It all came together as we arrived at church yesterday and saw our "family" here.  My heart is happy and content!

I have been reveling in some wonderful time with the Lord this past week.  The Holy Spirit has been teaching me new truth from very familiar passages.  I am soaking it up!  I wanted to share what I learned out of my reading in Luke 12 the other day.

"Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near or moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Luke 12:33-34

I love this text.  It always challenges me.  When is enough, enough?  But today, I was struck by the phrase "make yourselves money belts which to do not wear out." 

That phrase makes me think of all the purses and wallets I have had over the years that have worn down and been discarded.  It makes me think of Alan's wallet right now - so worn out and stretched out that everything falls out!  It has a little cash, cards, business cards, receipts and assorted other interesting things!

So I asked myself, what would a money belt 
be like that did not wear out?
What would it contain?

It would have to be something crafted by the Spirit.  Perhaps it would be a belt of my inheritance in Christ - a sure and strong fabric that is eternal.

What would be in that belt?

It would have to be things that would last into eternity.   I read through a number of scriptures that spoke of our inheritance in Christ.  Here are the goods!







The Spirit


God's promises

WOW.  It was such a sweet moment of the Lord speaking to me about how much He loves me and all that He has for me. 

It is a reminder to keep my eyes and my affections centered on Him.

I was thinking about a commercial that was played over and over again a few years ago.  The tag line in the commercial was . . .

What's in your wallet?

I am asking myself that question and marveling in God's grace as He gifts me with my inheritance in Christ.  One that I absolutely do not deserve - cannot earn - and have in full because of what Jesus did for me.

I'm trading in my worn wallets for the one that does not wear out.

How about you?

Are you holding tightly to your wallet or to the One who fashions a wallet that just won't wear out?

Let's revel in our inheritance.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts ~ How does your garden grow?

I am enjoying my reading through Luke.  One of the things I love about reading through the Bible is that no matter how many times I read a passage, the Lord will show me something new and teach me another aspect of faith.  I was reading through the parable of the soils - a fairly well known parable found in Luke 8.  I have studied it and taught it many times. 

When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable:  “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The disciples questioned Jesus about this parable.  I'm glad they did so we all got the full picture!  This is the part that I saw anew this time.

Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.  

These verses describe 3 different ways to live out faith (or not!)  Living in rocky soil or among thorns is absolutely the worst place to live.  To have known Jesus and then turned from Him is the worst of all places.  Temptation takes hold and it becomes easier and easier for the roots to give way and be pulled up.  


We become distracted by worries, riches, pleasures -- the things of this life -- and they simply choke out what we had.  Our perspective becomes skewed and what we value tips on its side.  We find ourselves far from God - living our lives in our own way and by our own strength.  

I think that both of these paths can sneak up on us.  I think much of it depends on what we choose to focus on and allow in our lives.

So - here is the new thought that the Lord gave me this time around.


The good soil as NOTHING to do with us being good.  

In fact, allowing the Word to take root in good soil 
is a desperate act of dependence on the Lord.  

It is admitting our need and trusting Him with situations, 
circumstances and people that we just do not understand.

The Word grows in the rich soil of humility, 
and desperation.

It takes perseverance to see spiritual fruit. 

But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. 
 It's hard.  
It is faith that overcomes 
the odds and defies our circumstances. 
 But oh, how worth it!  
To be rooted and grounded 
in the love of Jesus.

To be with Him in any and 
every circumstance.

How does your garden grow?

May the rich soil of God's Word
 be yours today. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Out into the Deep

I was reading a very familiar story in Luke, chapter 5 this past week. When you take a look at the details of the story, it is pretty amazing! 

 Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.
When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”

Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

It seems that perhaps Simon has some familiarity with Jesus at this point.  Jesus got into his boat and told him to take it out from the shore and then push out into the deep water.   I always picture Jesus as having a compelling voice and look - one that you just want to respond to with a YES.  Simon obeys and he is rewarded with a hug catch of fish that was so big that he had to call for help.

The phrase that caught my attention was, "push out into the deep water."  

It made me think that we are all pretty comfortable in the shallow water.
     *You can see the bottom.
     *You don't have to put your head under the water.
     *You don't have to know how to swim.
     *You can easily get out of the water.
     *It feels safe.  
Some of us have been playing around in the shallow waters of our faith for some time.  We believe and we even do some good things.  We like to listen to others teach about faith and we love our other believing friends.  It is a nice place to be.

But, is there a cost to staying in the shallow water?

YES - I believe there is.

Jesus calls us out into the deep.

I want to be submerged in the deep with water all around me.
     *I don't need to see the bottom, because I trust the One who called me here.
     *I want to get completely, soaking wet with the my head under the living water.
     *I want to learn how to swim  - to be who Jesus created me to be.
     *I am not relying on my own strength to get me out of the water.  The One who walks on the water is there with me.
     *I don't need to feel safe.  I can rest in the Lord's provision and protection.

I'm tired of playing in the shallow end.  I want to launch out into the deep and see what the Lord can do.  Peter obeyed -- God brought in the catch.  

I want to be in the deep with the risk takers.  I want to go beyond my own strength so that His strength is revealed and celebrated.

Let's push out into the deep.

Let's take a risk.

Let's watch God MOVE.

Come on . . . get your hair wet.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Change is in the air

Alan and I saw "Saving Mr. Banks" over the holiday.  In that story, I was reminded of the story line of Mary Poppins and how the wind would shift as she came and went -- marking a change for her and those around her.

I'm starting out the new year reading through the New Testament and Proverbs.  I was reading in Luke 3, verse 5 and that same wind shift caught my attention.

"Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain 
and hill will be brought low.  
The crooked will become 
straight and the rough roads smooth."

Jesus' ministry was about to begin and everything is about to change . . . not just a little bit, but dramatically.

Ravines would be filled.

Mountains would be brought low.

The crooked would be made straight.

The rough would be made smooth.

Change is in the air as a new year begins.  Transformation is around the corner.  When I looked at that list, I heard the voice of the Lord giving me instruction about my new year.

*Be filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit!

*Be humble (brought low) before Me at all times. 

*Walk the straight paths of obedience, being intentional about listening and obeying, one foot in front of the other, even if they are baby steps.

*Be My instrument in making rough places smooth in the lives of others by serving, praying, loving, listening and sharing the Word and Hope of Jesus.

I love a new year ~ a clean slate ~ a new adventure ~ new opportunities and the sweet assurance that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Do hear the wind roaring?