Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Empty heaven, empty manger

It is not Christmas. It is the morning after.  All the boxes are empty. The tree is no longer crowded with gifts. And then I see the empty manger and my mind begins to wonder. What was heaven like without Jesus? Was it like a child away at college? You know they will be home for the holidays. Or was it like a death in the family? A gapping hole in everyday where His amazing presence had been. 

He was God unlimited! He was everything, had everything, knew everything, could do everything, yet He emptied Himself of all that was super-human and became confined to a small body in the hands of simple humans. Humans who didn't really know who they were holding, wrapped in swaddling cloths. His birth opened the heavens and made the angels sing, the stars align, wise men worship, and kings angry. But that's what His presence does; it disrupts the darkness, it brings alignment to chaos and angers evil, it changes everything. 

An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb. He emptied Himself of all that was His so He could fill the earth with love, peace, joy, and make a way for every fallen human to have their place in heaven with Him. He made a way where there had been no way. He made a reservation for me by giving up His own place in Heaven. 

Jesus left heaven, left the manger, left the cross, left the tomb so that He could call my heart His home. An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb has filled my heart with unspeakable joy, unquenchable light, everlasting life, and unconditional love!

Read more in Philippians 2:6-11
The song my heart is singing  What a Beautiful Name

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

God is watching but maybe not like you think.

 "For the eyes of Yahweh roam (go to and fro) throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely His." 2 Chron 16:9
The Lord is actively watching you, looking for those who will totally trust Him, wholeheartedly! If you read the rest of the chapter it is obvious that each choice, toward or away from trusting the LORD, has consequences.  He tells His people, "You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the Lord your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army. Remember how powerful the Ethiopian and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the Lord to help you then, and you defeated them. The Lord is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again." 2 Chron 16:7-9 NKJV
God is watching, looking for ways to help us when we agree with and depend on Him. God is not passive watching us waiting for a mistake or misstep so He can catch us in our misbehavior. He is however, watching us every second. Watching us intently and actively looking for those who will trust him completely. Watching so He can help us, strengthen us and show His strength in our lives. He promises that He will show up strong for those who completely trust and follow Him completely. He is for us, always. He makes us braver than we can possibly be in our own imaginations. This song remind us of His intention for us. 
"As Your love, In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us, You are not against us
Champion of Heaven You've made a way
For all to enter in...You make me brave"  
You make me brave  by Amanda Cook.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What is in your hand?

I am not a huge fan of magic. I'm usually intent on figuring out the trickery behind the trick.  But I love the miraculous, when God does something only He can explain. God gave Moses what seemed like an impossible task. "Go see the powerful man that has been trying to kill you and tell him to release the majority if his workforce, tell him to let My people go." Moses was the perfect mixture of Israelite / Egyptian to deliver the message but his response is so familiar. "Suppose they will not believe me or listen to me...” Doubt, doubt, doubt. I doubt it, I doubt myself, I doubt You, God. So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  He said, “A rod.”   And He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses ran from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” The all knowing One asks a simple question. “What is that in your hand?" Seems kind of obvious, "A stick."
Talking to God is often like that, He seems to beat around the bush,  not the burning one. He is all knowing but he often answers a question with a question, usually a question with an obvious answer. Like whose face is on Caesar's coin? Hey  Peter, do you love me?  Cain, where is your brother? Moses, what's that in your hand?  "Moses, what is that in your hand?" God was showing Moses that He had everything he needed to obey God right in his hand. After all, he was given the rod by God. So according to 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given to us everything for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us..." We are equipped by Him with everything we need to live and be godly. 
That said, when God shows you what He can do through you it is often scary. When Moses saw the rod turn into a snake he ran from his own rod in fear. How many of us retreat from what God says He wants to do through us. "No God, I can't possibly..." You're right, you can't, but God can. The first thing we have to do is grab it. Watch how God tells Moses to deal with his fear.  "Reach out and grab it by the tail. Fear is dangerous. Grab it. Living in Texas I have a whole new respect for snakes. Snake safety 101 is never catch a snake by the tail. The pure obedience of Moses reaching out and catching the snake by the tail is a picture of faith. The faith that if I do exactly what God tells me, He will do the rest. Perhaps this is why God could do so much through Moses. He heard God clearly. He trusted God. He obeyed.
What do you have in your hand? An instrument? Then play. A voice? Then speak. A pen? Then write. Creativity? Then create. Children? Then parent.  A job? Then do it.  What do you have in your hand? Grab it by the tail and do what God has told you to do.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

What are you sinking about?

What are you sinking about?  Peter was in the boat watching His hero walking on the water. He saw what Jesus was doing and he wanted to do it too, so he said, Lord, I want to come out there too! Tell me to come to You on the water. So Jesus said, Come.”  It was in Peter’s DNA to want to do what Jesus was doing.  What child doesn’t imitate his father, copy him, mimic his walk, his words and his attitude? Listen to what Jesus said in John 5, “I do whatever I see my Father doing." Well at that precise moment, Jesus was walking on water, so Peter thought he would as well.  He thought I want to do what Jesus is doing, to step out of the boat and follow Jesus on the water. Where are your thoughts taking you? Let's follow Peter out on the water with his buoyant thoughts. "This is awesome! I can do this! I can be like Jesus." Then, he started looking around him. "This isn't possible. This is unnatural. Science defies this. I shouldn't be here!" His sinking thinking almost drowned him.
I'm not saying you can wish for whatever you want and it will be, but if Jesus has given you an invitation to step out, to walk on the impossible with Him you have permission to dream, to do what seems impossible. Just keep thinking what He is thinking and you will stay afloat. He told His followers, "See these things I am doing? You will be doing greater things than these." The key? Thinking like Jesus and believing like Jesus. If Jesus, the Son of God, took His directions from the Father, how much more should we humans? Jesus said, “I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in the same manner." When we think like Him we can do what He does, just watch out for sinking thinking! When Peter saw the wind he was afraid and began to sink...he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Stop with the sinking thinking already! Don't doubt, just believe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Get up and walk

When we fail or fall, getting up is hard. Looking in the mirror, harder. We knew we could do better, we were not expecting THAT from ourselves. Sometimes we beat ourselves up thinking that will help us get over it, get past the moment.  We can believe that God forgives us, perhaps others forgive us, but we can't forgive ourselves. We believe that somehow when we have done enough penance we will be able to feel forgiven. There is something so wrong with that thinking. First, we don't understand Grace. His grace is enough! We can't add to it, can't pay for it, can't earn it. Second, who do we think we are that we can forgive sins? If the God of the universe gave His Only Son to die so we could be forgiven, what more do we need? He can forgive us but we can't forgive ourselves? How prideful. It means we believe that our offense against ourselves is bigger than our offense against God? "Jesus paid it all, ALL! All to Him I owe. Sin had left an awful stain. He washed it white as snow." Thinking we can forgive ourselves is a pride sin. We don't have the power to forgive, only God does. All we can do is receive his Grace. That's what we balk at. We want to do something, pay for it, earn it. He says "no", just receive. It doesn't seem like enough. We can no more forgive ourselves than we can heal ourselves. The paralytic was carried in by four friends because he could not bring himself. (Mark 2) And there at Jesus' feet he was forgiven. The question was raised, "Who can forgive sins but God?" And the Son of God said, "I can and I do." "Your sins are forgiven, get up, you are whole." If God has forgiven us, who are we to argue that there is still sin we have to forgive ourselves for? That is rebellion and pride. We can do nothing to save ourselves but repent, receive His grace and get off the mat and walk. Who has power to forgive sins but God? Done, your sins are forgiven, get up and walk.