Is Good, Good Enough?

 But since they have no root, they last only a short time….(Matt 13:21)

While on the youth mission trip I spoke with a number of people who could tell me all about their religious backgrounds. Crosses they owned, church experienced they’d had growing up. Yet, they could tell me very little about a life transformed by the Savior.

Sometimes, those are the hardest people to reach. The ones steep in some sort of thinking that if they’re a good person who believes in God then that’s good enough. The problem is, our good deeds are like filthy rags. Friend, our goodness cannot save us. That’s why Jesus came. To save sinners. If we were good enough, then there would be no need for His death and resurrection.

Don’t you see, there’s so much more to following Him then just knowing of Him. It’s an all-out commitment to take up a brand new life. It’s a radical devotion to Jesus. Friend, there’s no turning back. We’re either all the way in with Him, following, or we’re not.

I am truly disturbed by the number of people I have spoken with over the years who believe they are saved based on their own personal goodness. To me, it is disturbing because I cannot find Scriptural support for it. Jesus says, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it,” “If anyone comes after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”

I would never, ever try to scare someone out of hell and into heaven. However, we should all be willing to ask ourselves, if what is true about Jesus is true (there is much, much evidence historically which has proven it to be so) then where am I going when I die? Have I been made right with God through Jesus? Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes through the Father except through me.” Friend, that’s it- one way. This is good news. In fact, it’s great news, I think. One way to be made right with God and it’s through Jesus.

The Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Friend, this new life, this forgiveness of sin, is available for you today if you might simply switch allegiances and join with King Jesus. He is a good, loving, kind and faithful King. A generous, caring, strong and mighty Savior.

Lord, reach the lost. Use my life to reach them. Help to do that for your glory and namesake, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Do Good

 Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath….(Matthew 12:12)

A simple prayer I pray each morning with my sweet girl is, “Lord, give us eyes to see those who are hurting, a mouth that praises you, and a heart that full receives those who need a touch of your love today.”

Friend, as we’re over here arguing endlessly about one thing after another on the internet, someone lost a friend, loved one or part of their journey that has become very painful, and they need a friend. A friend to be present, to sit and listen and care for them. All of this back and forth bickering on the internet is only keeping us from seeing the lost and lonely because we’re so consumed by our social media. Acting as if we have been given some sort of mission from God to set people straight. When all the while, someone out there feels deeply alone and without hope. We could become hope for them today if we’re willing to make ourselves available to them.

This past week I removed social media from my phone while on the youth mission trip. I was able to be much more present and by God’s grace, engaged in multiple conversations with people about Jesus. Some of those conversations, people shared some of their deepest pain. These were beautiful moments as we shared that space. I didn’t know their sexual orientation, their stance on certain political issues or who they voted for in the last election cycle. I just knew they needed someone to listen. To share space with them and act as God’s love.

Friend, maybe what pleases God more is not helping people see all their wrongs, but being present with them, so that they see Him in us.

As we went out sharing the gospel, one of the teenagers shared his own personal struggles with a woman and how he was able to receive God’s love and forgiveness, despite his ongoing struggle. There was something beautiful taking place in that moment. It was a shared space where one heart connected with another. As these woman heard this young man speaking she recognized that she had strayed from God and that she wanted to make her way back to Jesus. It was a beautiful prodigal moment as we prayed with this woman to return back to Jesus with all of herself.

So friend, instead of wasting our time on the internet, lets find a hand to hold instead as we sit with them in their pain, ushering in the love of God, and sharing the good news of Jesus.

Lord, use our lives. I pray that I would truly look for the hurting today and choose to be present. I want to be your love and light unto the world, in Jesus name, Amen.

Go and Make Disciples

Go and make disciples… (Matt 28:18).

The other day Adah rode her tricycle to the park. After some time playing we heard the sound of a train. Of course, we had to leave the park to go and see the train. That’s one of her favorite things to do. We went looking for the train, and were away from the park for at least 30 minutes. My daughter, just like me, enjoys finding new adventures on the way, so that’s what we did.

Eventually we ambled our way back to the park and as we were approaching, I noticed a small child sitting on Adah’s tricycle with his mom holding the handle attachment from the back. At first I was a bit shocked, then a number of different thoughts started to flood my mind. I think the mom realized that the tricycle was ours because I just kept staring, thinking, there’s no way they have the same tricycle. As she realized this she took her son off the tricycle and placed Adah’s drink back in the tricycle.

As I got closer to this woman, with my child slowly making her way behind me, being distracted by every dandelion along our path, which I realize now was actually the grace of God, because our slow ascent actually gave me the time to process my thoughts and remind myself that my little and most important disciple was following. Instead of snapping at the woman, I spoke to her in kindness. I didn’t get angry, although, initially I felt a bit angry when I first saw her child on Adah’s tricycle.

She apologized many times. I told her not to worry about it as Adah climbed back on her tricycle and we made our way home.

Friend, there are little disciples watching us and we are teaching them, whether we know it or not, every step of the way. I realized that day my Kingdom mission from God, was to show my daughter how to respond in kindness. Not react in anger or shame that woman.

So friend, wherever you find yourself today, remember that your Kingdom mission is no less important because of the small stage you might have. Be reminded that a little heart is watching somewhere and those hearts are precious to God.

Start With Love

At once they left their nets and followed him…Matthew 4:20

There seems to be this call of allegiance to Jesus that is required in order to follow Him. When He called the disciples they immediately dropped what they were doing, and followed Him. They still maintained parts of who they were. Peter had a spouse, he didn’t completely leave her to follow after Jesus. He simply said yes to Jesus and patterned His life around Jesus’ teachings, life and ministry.

Jesus had a new way of doing things, so to speak. Many of His contemporaries interpreted the Scriptures quite differently than Him. Jesus’ method was one of grace, compassion and love for one another. It was a ministry of deep mercy. Jesus loved those who were far from God. People who others said couldn’t have a seat at the table. He never told sinners or people who dealt with sin that they couldn’t follow and learn from Him. First He loved them, called them and then He walked with them.

Friend, what if that was our mentality? What if instead of trying to use shame or fear or whatever to bring people to Jesus we invited them to follow a King whose message is one of love and allegiance? Allegiance not to oneself or their ideals, but to Him. Because of that reality i’ve had to change the way I think over the years. I’ve had to stop acting and believing certain things, because my new allegiance is with Jesus and His life, ministry, love and grace. No, I don’t do that perfectly, far from it, but what if instead of focusing on all the things that divide us we started with love? Just like our master- Jesus.

Jesus only called out those who were overly self-righteous, the ones who didn’t love. Those who pushed people out of the Kingdom because they didn’t meet a certain standard or ideal. So, what if instead of pushing people away, we invited them in with deep mercy? Regardless of their beliefs or where they’re at in that time in their life. Yes, it is true that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, but He loved her deeply first. He cared for her has a person and I’m sure His words to her were peppered with grace and not condemnation.

So friend, I’m doing my best to place my allegiance to my King and His ideals of loving the poor, the outcast, the lost and lonely, the forgotten, abused, neglected and marginalized. I’ve got a long way to go, but friend, if we want to be like Him, we’ve got to stop starting with condemnation and start with love.

Lord, I don’t know if I have even a snapshot of things figured out, but I know that in this life I want to do better at loving people. I want to meet them where they are at in life. Not pushing them away from the Kingdom, but welcoming them with open arms. God you’re the one that changes people. That’s not my job, so will you use me to be your messenger of grace and not one of condemnation, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Need This To Be Happy

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing…..(Ps 23:1).

I have lived much of my life wanting something and feeling as though I could not be satisfied without it. Instead of resting in what I do have and being satisfied with it.

This drive for more, and discontentment with where God has me or has had me always makes me a little angry with Him and others. I don’t see Him as a God who provides all my needs, but one who’s holding something back from me. I start to get stuck in these places that try to convince me I need something else instead of learning to be with the one who was and is and is to come.

One of the most satisfying things we can do as Christians is embrace where we are today and do so with joy. That’s easier said than done though, isn’t it? The whole embracing where we are with joy part. We very well might be able to accept where we are, but if you’re like me, you didn’t like it. You knew this is where you had to live, but you regretted it and started to resent parts of it too.

If the Lord is truly my Shepherd than He will meet all of my needs. He will provide the green pastures, the jobs, the money, the home, etc. Yes, He’ll provide the life I need to make Him known. Not the life I want so that I can be happy. Truly, happiness is really only found in embracing where we are today to make things better around us, not just wanting something else and forgetting to love what God has placed before us.

I am learning that finding freedom from this area in my life has truly been transformed by confession of sin, asking others to pray for me and proclaiming in victory that Christ is all I need. Truly, praise, confession and accountability is what breaks chains. You dear friend, can find in today, even if you don’t have all the things you think you need. God has provided just what you need for today if you’re willing to receive it.

Lord, I trust you. I don’t always trust you. Forgive me for that. I want to be like you. Change and transform me. I want to live for you and not for myself. Be my joy and delight. Be my provider and my hope, in Jesus name, Amen.

You Woke Up With A Heavy Heart

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you….(Psalm 143:8)

Someone out there today woke up with a heavy heart. The diagnosis, the crisis, and circumstances that just don’t add up are weighing so heavy upon their heart.

I’ve been there. I understand how weighty life can be. It’s easy to lose heart, think God doesn’t care, maybe He’s punishing you, so you’d better find something else to repent of so this thing finally gets fixed.

All of that heaviness, can find rest, it truly can, but only in His unfailing love.

When I was a child, feeling hurt and discouraged, I would go looking for my father, because his tender, warm embrace provided a safe place for me to rest.

Friend, we all need someone in our life who becomes a place of rest for us. Who shows us the love of God because they have experienced Him so deeply that their life isn’t characterized by things that keep their hearts angry and bitter, but by Jesus, the one in whom their hearts find rest.

So today, as you wake, go to God first and then don’t be afraid to reach out to that friend who has shown you God’s love in the past. The enemy of your soul doesn’t want you to reach out. He wants you to believe that they don’t want to hear from you. They find you annoying, so just keep your mouth shut, but friend, that’s just not true. Your heart needs to experience Him and sometimes we experience that through the love of a friend. I want to encourage you to be that love for someone today and go and seek it out for yourself, first from your Heavenly Father and then from a friend who has continually shown you the endless depths of HIs great love.

Father, you are someone we can trust. We give our whole selves to you. You are so good. Be our place of rest so that we can show others that rest today, in Jesus name, Amen.