Archive for January, 2011

Are You Poor?

Some of Jesus’ most recognized words come from the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes as we call them.

Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit:  for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Being poor isn’t something we aspire to usually.  We associate that word with our economic condition and while some saints decide to take the vow to give up all possessions, most of us wouldn’t choose to live that way.

The word poor in this passage is a word that means cringing or beggar.  Think about that outside the financial picture of poverty.

For me, it conjures up images of empty places that need filling.  Of a place of feeling frightened, insecure, intimidated, disapproved of, or embarrassed.  Why else would one cringe?

The word cringe means to pull back, cower.  I don’t know about you but I’ve reacted many times like that when I’ve been bankrupt or poor emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

It’s strange to me at first glance that Jesus would say this type of person is blessed.  Not only blessed but blessed with the kingdom of heaven!

I believe it’s because those who recognize their “poorness” do not have to be imprisoned by it.  They have hope.  They have promises.

To me, this verse is all about our true source of deliverance from whatever is oppressive to us.  Where am I going to put my trust?  From where do I believe my help comes from?  Where can I be sure that I will receive justice for injustice in my life?

For me, it’s about embracing my oppressive circumstances or condition as poorness of heart and presenting that poor heart to God.

For me, it’s about God restoring that heart to his design of fullness or abundance because of the access He’s given me to His kingdom–a kingdom whose richness does not depend on anything more than God’s loving generosity or good gifts to all.

How could that not move one from a position of bowing low or cowering because of how we see ourselves to a bowing of our hearts to God in gratitude and humbleness for how He sees us.  He sees us as his heirs and has and will provide according to His riches.

And if we are truly humbled by God’s generosity, I believe we will spread that to others.

To quote Mother Teresa:

“Developed countries suffer from poverty of understanding, poverty of will, of loneliness, of lack of love and spirit. There is no greater disease in the world today than this.”

Lord, I want you to renew a right spirit in me that I might give from your abundance to those around me. 

“When you don’t have anything, then you have everything.”

Lord, I recognize that I came into the world naked and will go out the same.  Everything I have that is of any worth came from you.  That makes you my everything and I want to give from you to the world around me.  Amen.

How do you see it?



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The Words in Red

Said a quick prayer this morning about what to share with you moms.  Thought maybe I’d get some parenting tip, some marriage insight, or something like that.

Surprise!  I was drawn to the words in red….the words recorded in the Bible as what Jesus actually said.  Why that, Lord?  Maybe it’s because it’s time to remember what he said versus what man says.  Maybe because it will help us sort out truth from lies in our lives.  Whatever the reason, His word always brings life so this should be good!

For the next ______ (however long the Spirit leads)  we will talk about these words and how they might apply to our life right now.  Hope you’ll comment and keep the discussion going so we can learn from one another.

Here goes!

Matthew 3:15 (Amplified) “Permit it just now: for this is the fitting way for both of us to fulfill all righteousness (that is to perform completely whatever is right). ”

Jesus was using these words for John the Baptist when John was resistant to baptizing Him.  But how could they apply to us.

Moms often don’t feel they are up for the job in front of them or the challenge of doing something bigger than their perception of themselves.  We ask questions like:  Why me?  Isn’t there someone better qualified?  Or make statements like:  I can’t.  I’m not smart enough.  I don’t have enough talent, time, money, etc.

When Jesus speaks to us to do something or something is in our path to accomplish there is a reason.  Nothing God does is without purpose.

I see four things we can apply in those situations.

1.  It’s about US.  Jesus used the word us with John.  It wasn’t just about Jesus or just about John.  It was the two of them together.  They were a team!

2.  It’s about doing and completing the right thing.  God never asks us to do something that is wrong.  He is also all about completing what He starts!

3.  It’s about Permission.  Jesus asks John to permit it.  John had a valid point when he said Jesus should be baptizing him.  But Jesus asks him to let that go and do what God said.  We sometimes argue with God too.  We may have valid points but Jesus is asking us to let that go and do what he says because it’s the right thing.  He will never force us!  It’s up to us to give permission and do what he tells us.

4.  It’s about Now.  There is something to be said for God’s timing but when we are face to face with an opportunity, direction, person, etc.  and we recognize the voice of God, it is not time to delay!  John didn’t have the option to wait awhile or to tell Jesus to come back when he had it all figured out.  It was the time for an immediate decision.  Will I do what Jesus asks or will I resist because I don’t understand.    We must never let our lack of understanding get in the way of obeying God.

Now that you’ve read this, tell me what you think?  How does this apply to your life?


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Oh What A Feeling!

I’m sure you’ve heard women are emotional.  Or perhaps, someone once told you that how you feel isn’t important.

Emotions or feelings are part of everyone’s make-up, man or woman, child or adult.  Jesus addressed feelings a lot in the Bible.  After all, God made us to feel.

The difference between before and after the fall of Adam and Eve is one of feeling.  It must have felt wonderful to live totally aware of God’s presence, walking and talking with Him.  And exploring and having the responsibility for His creation had to have been exciting and no doubt adventurous. They didn’t know pain at that point, or even entertain the possibility that something was bad.  It was all good.

The result of their choice to eat the forbidden fruit was a whole host of negative feelings.

Ever since mankind has been struggling with what brings them peace, love, happiness, connection, etc.  Most of us search in all the wrong places or make choices that negatively impact what we really want.  We often allow the circumstances of our life to rob us of the peace that we all really desire.

So how can we bring back those positive feelings in our life and stop the negative ones from controlling us? Faith!  But what is that?  What does that look like?

I love the story in Luke 7 about the woman who pours costly perfume all over Jesus feet.  In verse 50 Jesus tells the woman, “Your faith has saved you: go (enter) into peace (in freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin).”

He explains to the others that this woman understood how much she had been forgiven.  She was grateful that her life was not in the hands of men or the man-made laws that governed her culture.  She understood her need to be changed and had been powerfully touched by Jesus, her very life saved.

Faith in this story was her acceptance of that and her offering of gratefulness.  Her offering of gratefulness for all Jesus had done was to bless Him.

Verse 47 says this woman loved much because she understood how much she had been forgiven. I think that is the essence of faith. It is understanding we have been given the gift of abundant life even though we don’t deserve it, even though we have made mistakes, and even in the middle of circumstances that seem unjust or unfair.

In our gratefulness and acceptance of His gift, we in turn live our life to show our love.  Not trying to prove ourselves but as a gift back to Him.

Want peace, love, joy, happiness, or any other feeling?  Think about His gift to you and then bring Him your life as an offering.


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Whosoever’s House

My mom was a wonderful story teller.  She worked in children’s church as we called it then, for years.  I still remember some of the stories I heard. One of them was called Whosoever’s House.

In those days the story wasn’t illustrated by videos or technology.  Instead a board covered with various strips of flannel and paper figures set the scene.

Whosoever’s house was an example of our heart or inner life.  It looked pretty good on the surface.  On closer examination it was clear that he was hiding things in closets, under the bed, and anywhere else he could.  Pretty soon he couldn’t hide the stuff anymore.

Panic set in because a special guest was about to arrive.

The house then became a heart and Jesus was the special guest.  Whosoever and Jesus worked on the junk and swept the house clean.

Isaiah 66:1 says, “Thus says the Lord:  Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool.  What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting place?”

At first, I fell into my old thinking pattern of asking:  What am I building? Is it good enough?  You know all the performance based questions that allow me to feel God approves of me.

Then I read verse 2 and again understood that I can’t do enough to earn God’s attention. My job is not to try and gain His attention or approval.  My job is to acknowledge my broken and wounded places, come to Him and then honor His direction by following it.

That’s being REAL.  It’s all about being honest.

Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10.

What attitude, belief, thought, or action do you need God to change?  What is He speaking to you about?  What action can you take to honor His word by following it?

We are all Whosoever and Jesus is calling us, just as we are right now! No need to hide anything from Him.  He knows it all anyway.


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I woke up to those words this morning.  As I’ve pondered them, I get excited about how we could change our world if we made that our mantra for 2011!

Did you know that if you saved a penny on day one and then every day after doubled the pennies you saved before in 31 days you would have 10,737,418.24 cents!  That’s amazing!

So what could happen if we made a deposit into life every day?  What if we asked ourselves every day, where can I make a deposit to enrich me, my life, my marriage, my kids, my church, my community, my neighbor?

Let me give an example from a “Wish I would have” moment in my life.  I loved my kids so much and always believed in their potential to do whatever they dreamed of.  There was a moment in my youngest son’s life around 9 years old,  when he shared his heart for the homeless. It was so touching and I remember thinking, we need to take him to a nearby town and work at the mission for a day.  Or we need to put a jar on the table and save coins for the poor.  I had lots of ideas but I never followed through with that teaching moment.

It was the perfect chance to teach him generosity, helping the less fortunate, and all kinds of character lessons for life. One never knows where those early lessons could lead.

We have so many things to deposit!  Love, laughter, acceptance, faith, knowledge and wisdom, values, inspiration are just a few.

If we pay attention, we will find many opportunities every day to deposit something good around us. And according to scripture our harvest is dependent on what we sow.  “Give and it shall be given unto you.” Luke 6:38

I want 2011 to be a year where I make deposits of God everywhere I go.   I’m asking myself:  Where or how can I make a deposit of God in my marriage?  In my kids?  In my relationships outside my home?  In my own life?  In my church?  In my business?  In my community? In the world?

Will you join me in focusing on making this year, this week, this day, this moment a time to deposit good seeds for the future?  Let Moms know what you are doing to make deposits in your world.   I can’t wait to hear!

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The Choice

What makes the difference between living the life we want to live, maintaining the status quo, or watching life move backwards?

The key is choice.  The problem is we forget that we have options.  The first step to creating a better situation is to explore the options. Knowing our options give us hope for a brighter future.

The second step is to choose one. Options are no good unless they are put into action.

This is where a lot of people get stuck.   Most of the time we are afraid to act on our option because we don’t know what the outcome will be.  But, there is only one way to find out!  Act on it and see what happens.  Hope that something might work moves to conviction when we act and find out it does.

So the third step is practice.  We’ve practiced our old ways and thoughts over and over again even when they haven’t worked.  So why not practice a new way?

God gave us the gift of choice.  Until we look at our ability to choose, change will never happen. Even when there are things we can’t control we still have the ability to choose our attitudes and our response to the situation.

We always have the choice to ask God to help us choose wisely and to change our heart and mind, moving us away from damaging behavior or habits.

Whether you want physical, emotional, or spiritual change in your life, it starts with choice.

Like Joshua 24:15, the bottom line of every choice we make is “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.”  Will we follow Jesus, choosing to walk in the light of God that brings life or will we choose a path that keeps us in darkness, a choice that brings death?

When I imagine heaven, I think of peace, beauty, joy, worship, and all kinds of amazing things.  When I think of hell, it’s torment, pain, never ending suffering, etc.   The life after life is a big topic in Christian circles.  We all want to avoid hell and be welcomed into heaven.

But have we considered that we have a choice on earth as well?  As I said to a client this week,  Sometimes the difference between heaven and hell on earth is a line in the sand. That line is called choice.  Which side of the line will you stand on?

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Opened Treasures

Ever since our worship team led this song Sunday, I’ve been singing and reflecting on it.

There are a lot of worship songs out there with stirring music and lyrics.  I’m asking myself, Do I just sing these songs or do I understand what I’m saying and incorporating that worship into my life?

What would your answer be?

There’s a line in this song that says  “with heart abandoned.”  That’s the one that get’s to me.  What is an abandoned heart?   What does that look like in my life?

Reading the story of the Wise Men in Matthew 2, I found four things that apply to my life.

1.  An abandoned heart is a seeking heart.  It’s a lifelong quest in my opinion.  We don’t just find him at the manger scene, the cross, or the resurrection.  We don’t just find him in the Bible stories or the signs and wonders.  An abandoned heart seeks Him in every area of life, recognizing that everything points back to the question, What would Jesus do?

2.  An abandoned heart is an acknowledging heart.  When the wise men found the child they fell down and worshiped him.  When we worship we are acknowledging that the object of our worship is bigger or more important than us.   We are placing ourselves under the thing that we are adoring.  That’s why it’s important to think about what we let control and rule our lives.  When we set our true affection on Jesus, we find freedom and life.  We find validation in Him instead of our position or our stuff!

3.  An abandoned heart is a giving heart. Giving is not just about money.  You can give a lot of money to some cause and still not have a true giving heart.  Remember the story where the widow gave one mite and Jesus said she gave more than those who had given big offerings.  Why?  Because she gave all she had from a heart of worship.

There was one line in this chapter that really struck me.  “And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him. ”  That is true abandonment.  We have treasure within us.  We are treasure to God and the world.  If we keep that hidden, if we don’t open it up and use it, if we allow other things to consume it, we have to question whether we are truly embracing this God we sing so easily about.

4.  The abandoned heart is a guided and obedient heart.  After the wise men worshiped, they were warned in a dream that they should not follow the instructions of Herod.  They listened and went another way.  Likewise, God is speaking to us, always guiding us in the way we should go.  But I have to ask myself, am I listening?  Am I following Him?  Or am I choosing to go the way I want to?

I want 2011 to be a year of true worship.  Not one where I say the right things or act a certain way because that’s what Christians.  Instead I want to worship from abandoned heart, opening my treasures, and presenting them as gifts to Him.  After all, all that I am is because of Him in the first place.

Will you join me?

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Are You Branch Sitting?

I don’t know about you but my eyes have a tendency to glaze over when I’m reading all those begats in the Bible.   After awhile all the names sound alike and the only the names I recognize seem significant.

Today I was reading in my Max Lucado Inspirational Study Bible and I decided to start in Matthew 1.  As I read the Bible this year I decided to ask this question.  “So what?  What does this mean to me and my life?”

So as I began to read with that question in mind, here’s what I discovered.

Matthew records the lineage of Christ through Joseph’s side of the family.  Why is that?   Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit but Joseph was a key player.  Joseph had a choice here.

He could jump on board with what the Holy Spirit had conceived in Mary or he could put her away quietly and abdicate his role in parenting the son of God.  So what?  What does that mean to me?

First my life represents a branch in my family tree.  Not just my earthly family but my true lineage links back to the very heart of God.  He created humans in His image and we have His DNA is imbedded deep within us.

So think about a tree.  A branch draws life from the center of the tree and a healthy branch from a healthy tree grows leaves and fruit.  The life of the tree is indicated by the fruit of the branches.   My so what question was answered with this.  My life’s decisions and fruit is a direct result of my relationship with the tree (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  The what shall I do’s in my life are answered by the trunk of my tree.   Who is at the center of my life?   God, myself, others, things?

Joseph wrestled with the possibility of the supernatural conception and birth of Jesus.  He had to choose what to do with Mary and his choice directly affected the role he would play.

Here’s what Max had to say.  “Perhaps changes are in the air right now.  Maybe you are in the midst of a decision.  It’s disrupting isn’t it?  You like your branch….and like Joseph, you’ve been a pretty good branch-sitter.”

This is a new year and no doubt much will change for me and for you.   Change and choice go hand in hand.  Will I hide or run from the thing God is calling us to participate in?   Will I sit on my branch because I’m comfortable or  afraid to move forward? Or will I stand up and go out on a limb, take a risk, take a chance on God and what He is speaking to me about? Will I look back on my life and see a branch that bore fruit and beautiful leaves or one that is bare because of the winds of  excuses I let blow across it–the what if’s, I can’t, I don’t, I won’t, I’m not’s of life.

That’s my So what?   What does that mean to my life?  answers.  What about you?   What do think?




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