Know Where You’re Headed?

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 (NLT)

Not sure if this has ever happened in your marriage, but there have been plenty of times when Kari and I set out on a date night, hopped in the car, and started driving around trying to decide on a place to eat. “I don’t care, you decide.” “No, really, it doesn’t matter to me. I could eat anything.” This is how the conversation goes. Sound familiar, or are we the only ones? We know where we’re headed (dinner) but not where we’re going.

We try not to do this too much anymore because things could go south very quickly, but, it does remind me of the journey of a Christ-follower. When we invite Jesus into our lives, we begin a lifelong journey of following Him. But, there are detours and changes along the way because of life’s circumstances and experiences. In fact, they are a routine occurrence. So, we face our journey one day at a time, trusting that we know where we’re headed (being like Christ, Heaven!) even when we can’t clearly see where we are going. Faith makes this journey possible AND worthwhile!

I also think about our ministry to kids. We are much like Abraham on a journey to another land (kids ministry!). We’ve answered the call to serve kids, but, oftentimes we don’t know where this journey will take us. We encounter surprises along the way…like dirty diapers and crying toddlers. And, we encounter unexpected opportunities…like divorce scarred and bullied kids. We know our heart is to make a difference, yet we don’t know where it will take us this time. Abraham was asked to leave home and everything familiar to travel to a people and land he did not know and just trust Him. He’s asking us to do the same.

Maybe you’re feeling like you are wandering. You might have no idea why you are in the place you’re in right now in life. I would encourage you to be obedient to God’s call. Keep following Jesus. Take comfort in knowing that God is with you on this journey and you will be safe!!

Have a great day, my friends!!

Why Me??

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)

I remember making a clay pot when I was in 8th grade. To be honest, it wasn’t much. I didn’t even really put that much effort into making it all that nice. I was a typical 8th grade boy that wanted to get through the class, so I just did what was needed to slide by. When I brought the project home to show my mom, I don’t think I was prepared for her reaction. She was over the top ecstatic about it! She couldn’t believe my craftsmanship and the “uniqueness” of the pot. She went on and on about how creative I was and how she had just the right place to display it in the house. It made me kinda proud to create something that brought my mom so much joy. Maybe I just needed a different perspective.

In homes around the time Paul wrote this letter, there were many clay jars that were used for all kinds of things. They were used for washing, storing, carting things around…they were there in the thick of life. And, although they sometimes looked battered and used up, they literally carried life for whole households. There were other jars and pots in the house, but they were stored away looking pretty and not being used that often.

I wonder if, in this verse, God is trying to tell us that we are like these clay jars. These vessels made of earth, capable of carrying all kinds of different personalities, stories, talents, and experiences. And, while we are incredibly valuable, at times we are also very fragile. The craziness of life can break us at times, showing wear.

I wonder if God, in all of His goodness, doesn’t value us because of how shiny we are, or what we’re “used for,” but because of what we are made of. Because of who we are…His children. And, within us, He stores what is most precious: His love, His forgiveness, His kindness, His blessing. I wonder if it is this treasure that was meant to seep through the cracks of life and allow others to get a glimpse of.

I am convinced that God doesn’t use us to minister to children and families because we are perfect in any way. He used us to make a difference in others because we are making ourselves available through our everyday, ordinary lives to share this incredible treasure that lies within us. God has always used imperfect people to spread His incredible plan with others. Why? “To show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Be reminded today of your incredible worth! And, be mindful of the treasure you are carrying within you as you allow others to experience it as well!!

Let Your Actions Speak

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. 1 John 3:18 (MSG)

You’ve heard the popular phrase that St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” The following story communicates how actions often communicate more than words.

I once heard a story about a member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, and stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening and the pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and sat down. The pastor made himself at home, but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some time, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

Today, spend a few moments considering what your life communicates to others.

Wrong Battle

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood… Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

The other day I was talking with a friend and I mentioned another mutual friend of ours in our conversation. This friend immediately shut down. As I probed, I found a level of disgust and anger toward this other friend of ours. I started thinking about this. My friend that I was talking to loves Jesus, and, so does the friend I mentioned. They both love Jesus and are working to accomplish His purposes in their lives.

It’s crazy how we let things divide us, isn’t it? There happened to be an incident between the two of these people and they haven’t been able to resolve it. I can’t say that I’m innocent. There are times that I’ve held grudges over the dumbest things with my fellow Christians. How sad!

As humans we’ve become masters at fighting each other over our differences. All the while, the enemy just sits back and laughs, not having to lift a finger to spread hate and chaos.

Here’s the deal…the struggle we face is not against humanity! Our differences are a huge distraction to the collective calling of God in our lives. Can you imagine what it would be like if we stopped fighting, judging and hating and started listening, hoping and loving? There is so much more that unites us than divides us and we must “fight” our own natures to hang on to those things!

Today, mend a broken relationship if it needs it. Pursue unity and not division. Look for a way to encourage someone else. Let’s not give the enemy a reason to laugh in our faces. God wants to encourage you today to love as if your life and the world depend on it!

Have a great day, my friends!!

Promises, Promises…

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Hebrews 11:13 (NLT)

“Promises, promises, why do I believe?” Do you remember that 1983 hit song by Naked Eyes? The song talks about promises that are broken by someone else. I’m sure you can relate. Whether we’ve had promises broken by our parents in the past or our friends and even spouses, we all know what it feels like to have a promise broken.

Whenever I read this verse, I’m blown away by the faith of our Old Testament heroes. I’m sure they had experienced broken promises as well, yet their faith in God’s promises was different. It was a faith that was grounded in the belief that God can and would ALWAYS come through. God isn’t a typical promise maker. He truly has the ability to do what He says He will do. These heroes of our faith didn’t get to experience God’s Son, Jesus, coming and dying on the cross, but, they were promised that it would one day happen and they believed it!

I wonder what God has been promising us. I wonder what He is telling you and me about the future. And, I wonder how many times I’ve not “received what was promised,” but instead doubted that it would ever come to pass. Maybe our faith needs to be grounded in the reality that we are just foreigners in the land called earth. This place is just a temporary dwelling to set us up for eternity. Maybe when my perspective changes, my faith grows!

I challenge you to allow your faith to grow and believe God’s promises to you today!!

Rooted In God’s Word

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

“Do not pass.” Ever see one of those signs before? They are posted to warn drivers that on a particular curve, passing another vehicle would be dangerous. I’m sure we’ve all been tempted to ignore the sign and go ahead and pass another car. In fact, I know of a specific accident that occurred because someone decided to ignore the warning.

This got me thinking. I wonder what warning signs I’m ignoring. I know that familiarity can cause complacency and that can put me in danger. When I become too familiar with God that I ignore the basic warning signs found in His Word, I’m in a potentially dangerous spot. He doesn’t give us these instructions because He wants to control our behavior or make us into robots that obey Him. He gives them to us because He loves us and warns us for our own benefit. His warnings are real warnings about real dangers.

My encouragement to you this morning is to not be tempted to ignore God’s Word (His warning signs) and let familiarity get the best of you. Think about it. Consider its purpose. Act on it. This is what the Word of God is meant to do for our lives!!

Have a great day, my friends!!