Archive for March, 2023

In my last post, I reminded each of us not to rush past the cross on the way to the empty tomb. We have that tendency during the Easter season. But we need to pause at the foot of the cross and truly take in the weight of what happened there. It was my sin that put Jesus on that cross – it was yours.

When I spend time looking into the face of the suffering Messiah, my heart fills with gratitude and that gratitude turns to thanksgiving. His willing sacrifice compels me to offer something in return. The problem is, the very best I can offer equates to what the prophet Isaiah calls filthy rags.

Isaiah 64:6 – All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

All our righteous acts – on our best day, with our best behavior and our best intentions – the most righteous act we can offer falls flat. So what do we do?

The answer: WE WORSHIP. We own the fact that we are unworthy to be loved by Jesus but that does not stop Him from loving us. And so we offer the only thing we can back to Him – ourselves. Worship is ascribing worth. We acknowledge that only Jesus is deserving of our best and we offer it to Him as a way of thanking Him for His sacrifice – as a way of trying to return the love to Him that He so powerfully shows us.

So today, take some time to worship the only One who truly deserves your best.

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The last couple of weeks have taken me out of my routine. Between being under the weather, attending a pastor’s conference in Waco and having the opportunity to go see our grand baby (who is perfect by the way), nothing about my normal day to day has been “normal.” And honestly, I think we all need the disruptions from time to time to shake us awake.

This disrupted schedule has certainly sidelined sharing here and for that I apologize. But today, let’s focus our attention on what is coming in two weeks. On April 9th, we will observe Easter. This day is the day on our calendars when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the life his resurrection offers us. In one act of divine mystery, Jesus conquered sin and won the victory over death.

I often say, as powerful and eternally life changing the empty tomb is for us, it would not exist had it not been for the cross event. And it is also true that without the empty tomb, the cross event would have been just another gruesome and horrifying execution. The two events are inseparable.

So here is my challenge as we move through the next 14 days: Pause at the cross. We have a tendency to rush to the empty tomb just as the disciples did that resurrection morning. We want to be reminded that Jesus is alive. We want to celebrate the victory. It’s difficult to pause at the foot of the cross and look at the torture and pain. Even standing at the cross, we have to force ourselves to look up and see the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

But this Easter season, pause at the cross. As much as you want to rush to the empty tomb, take time to stop and think about what Jesus has done for you.

His willing sacrifice was an act of self-less love and that love changes everything.

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Spiritual Amnesia

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to slip into spiritual amnesia? It happens so subtly that we don’t even think about it. When things are going well, we rarely think of God’s provision. It is not until we run into difficulty that we turn to God and ask for help. And when we do turn to Him for help, we do so in desperation and panic – as if He has never been there to provide for us in the past.

Spiritual amnesia is the subtle forgetting of God’s continual provision. It is normal because it is human, but it is not what God wants for us and it is certainly not what He deserves from us.

For many, many years I have used a podcast prayer and devotional tool called, Pray As You Go. Each offering is about 12 minutes long which gives me time to listen and pray as I make my way to the office each morning. Today’s reading came from Deuteronomy 4. In the passage, Moses tells the children of Israel to pay attention to the commandments that God has given them. He encourages them to remember them and teach them to their children. And then he says something that really struck me in verse 9:

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.

Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart. He is reminding the children of Israel (and us) that we must be diligent to remember how God interacts in our lives every day. Moses cautions us that it is easy to let these things “fade from your heart.”

In the closing moments of the prayer time today, the comment was made that we should “widen our vision.” It is so easy for us to have a myopic view of our circumstances and see only what is right in front of us – forgetting how God provided just yesterday.

So today, remember how God has provided for you in the past. Set those memories in stone so that the next time you feel anxious, you can look to the past faithfulness of God and be encouraged that He will show up again.

Be blessed today!

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God’s Goodness

This Sunday, I will be preaching from Matthew 7:9-11. In these verses, Jesus teaches us that God’s gifts are the best. He points out that we are fallen creatures and even we know the difference between good gifts and gifts that leave much to be desired. So how much more does God know how to give the best gifts!

As I reflect today on the goodness of God, I think about grace, salvation, love, joy and peace. These are all gifts He offers to those who want them. God knows our needs and He is ready and able to meet them. We just need to remember that there is a difference between need and want. It is so easy to take His goodness for granted.

When I think of God’s goodness, I now have a little different perspective than I did just a few months ago. Just over a month ago, I was introduced to a very special person who is a living and breathing example of God’s goodness.

Meet Harper Louise.

Some of you have been wondering why I have not posted about my grand daughter before now. Here is my first of many posts I am sure. God has blessed us in so many ways as a family. And now we have a new blessing. When I held Harper the first time, I was reminded of the miracle of birth and life. I was reminded that God has a plan and that we are invited into that plan in whimsical and fascinating ways. It is a part of the journey.

When I look at Harper, I am reminded that God is good. His goodness can be found in every direction we look. The key is to look.

So, in the words of Jesus, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

The Father’s goodness is all around us. Where will you look for it today?

I know one place I will find it and I’ll get to hold her at the end of this week!

God is so good!

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Have you ever set aside time for a bit of solitude, only to be interrupted by someone or something.  Solitude is such a rare thing these days.  We are bombarded by constant interruptions – information coming at us from every direction. 

I realize everyone is wired differently and many would say some of my circuits are crossed, but I am a relational person who loves people and being in community.  But I am also one that must have solitude on occasion to recharge.  In solitude, my inner churning can settle.  In solitude, I can spend time with Jesus.  Solitude is important – it was for Jesus and it certainly is for us.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark we find that, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)  For us, being alone with God allows Him time to work on us – and work in us.

In my position, solitude is hard to find.  So when I do have a few minutes of time alone, I get frustrated with interruptions.  Having someone decide for me that their time is more important than mine is just part of the calling but a bit frustrating none the less.

But recently, the Father reminded me that it is possible that time with Him can be found in the interruptions.  Solitude is crucial to our spiritual walk, but Jesus can also use the interruptions to speak to us as well.  

So the next time you are frustrated with an interruption, pause and look for Jesus in the middle of it.  You might just find He orchestrated the whole thing. 

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The last couple of posts have been focused on being still and being present. We all need to make room in our schedules to reflect and just breathe – to be present with God. The season of Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) in which we find ourselves currently is about making room. For many, the concept of Lent is about giving something up. There is value in “suffering” as a way to identify with the suffering of Jesus – although I am not sure going without meat on Friday can really compare.

I have come to believe that the point of giving something up is to come to terms with our perceived need for things other than God. The reality is that we need nothing more than we need God, and giving up something we enjoy helps us remember that fact. But I think it is deeper still. Giving up something that occupies space and time in our lives opens us to time we can spend thinking about Jesus and His sacrifice.

Creating space on our calendar and time in our day offers the opportunity to spend time with our Saviour.

So this season of Lent, I encourage you to go deeper than just giving something up. Make space and time. And use that space and time to reflect on the great love God has for you. Meditate on the grace He extends to you. Praise Him for the salvation He offers you. Love Him for His sacrifice.

Be blessed today!

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