Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wholehearted (The First One. . .)

Imagine living with a full heart, ready and able to step into each day from a place of contented strength and purpose.  What might that look and feel like?

Brene Brown, in her book "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" imagines this for us and invites us to explore living 'wholeheartedly.'

I want to explore this with you as well and discover how living wholeheartedly can help us in our spiritual lives.

The first point that Brown makes in this regard has to do with love.  She writes: "Love and belonging are irreducible needs of all men, women, and children.  We're hardwired for connection--it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.  The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering."

This truth may make it seem that now is the worst time to grow in this regard.  We are living in a self-isolating world and being forced to give up intimate connection with others.  This is challenging to be certain. But it is also an opportunity to pursue a love that is foundational to love itself.

Jesus is the epitome of love.  His presence on earth was the expression of God's love to humanity.  He came to invite us into a kind of life that perfectly reflects wholeheartedness.  It might sometimes be tempting to think of Jesus as coming to inform us of the rules and regulations of right living, but if we think that was the main reason we would be wrong . .

Jesus was motivated by love and invites us to receive, experience and share this same love.

And love changes everything.

Talking with his disciples in John 15:9 Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love."

This is such a powerful expression of love that transforms us into wholehearted people.  Jesus was loved; he came to share this love; and we are invited to live in this love every single day of our lives.  This incorporates Brown's description of our greatest needs: to be loved and to share love.  But the importance of knowing the love of Jesus is that this love is unconditional.  We don't need to earn it.  We don't need to perform in order to deserve it.  We don't need to be a champ to win it.  In fact, the nature of this kind of love is that it picks me up when I struggle.

I think this is timely for us because we are living in times when it is so very easy to struggle.  I want you to be reminded, or maybe realize for the first time, that the love of Jesus for you is the exact thing you need to not only get through your day but to actually begin to live wholeheartedly.

I want to challenge you to consider two things for yourself today:  1.  Take a moment to ask Jesus to show you what his love for you feels like and let it sink in.  2.  Allow yourself to believe that this love is meant to move you to share it with someone else.  If you do these two things you will begin to see what it feels like to live wholeheartedly.

Many, many blessings to you on this good day.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Being Gluey

Sometimes I’m amazed when I see how people reach out to others to help them along in life.  Those seemingly insignificant acts that will never make it onto the ‘hero’ list, but are nonetheless the powerful glue that holds life together.

Our lives need that kind of glue.

I see gluey living in a mom that chooses to hold her crying baby after 3 hours of continuous fussing.  I see a gluey life being expressed when someone asks a friend how they are doing even when they are struggling themselves. And I see that same glue through the efforts of healthcare workers that go above and beyond the call of duty to care for people affected by Covid 19.

It might sound silly but being gluey makes life beautiful.  And I think it’s important to recognize that the gluey expressions of care that I describe all happen in the midst of challenges and hardships.  That’s when being gluey for others really matters.

We all experience suffering on some level and at various times.  None of us are immune to this reality of life.  But Jesus, in His wisdom, knew what it would take to make life not only bearable but beautiful and so He did two things: He lived a gluey life and then invited us to do the same.

In Ephesians 5:2 it says “...walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering for us and sacrifice to God.”

Sin breaks apart and fragments our world our our lives, but the sacrificial love of Jesus glues it back together. And just like an army of ‘Humpty Dumpty’s’ we have been glued back together by this same love of Jesus.

So today, when you read this, if you are moved in appreciation for the gluey life of Jesus, then reach out to someone around you and be that same glue for them.

And when you do be encouraged that at least one person sees you as a hero!


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Helping Hand

I remember times when I was just a kid when my Dad would do this one simple thing and it seemed to make such a difference in my day.  If I was frustrated and struggling he would do this.  If I was being a brat he would this.  It didn't really matter what was going on, when he did this one thing it would make an impact on me.  Do you want to know what it was?

He put his hand on my shoulder.

When I needed support, his hand on my shoulder would tell me that his strength would hold me up.  When I needed discipline and direction, his hand on my shoulder would allow me to see myself within borders that helped me to not stray too far where I would really hurt myself.

His hand on my shoulder was like life to me.  It wasn't always pleasant, but it was always good.

When a hand is put on you it can really do powerful things.  And when a good hand is put on you, it can do impossible things.  In Acts 11 we read about the newly established church that was struggling to survive amidst strong opposition.  The new followers of Jesus were trying to help others to find freedom in Christ and it says in verse 21 "The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."

When the hand of God is upon you great things happen. 

Are you in a place where a strong, good hand would be welcome?  Maybe your thoughts are taking you to dark places in the times we live in?  I want you to know that the hand of God on your shoulder can make all the difference in the world. 

It does for me.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus would capture your attention and that you would ask Him to show you what the strong and good hand of God feels like on your shoulder.  You won't be disappointed.

Have a great day friends.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A View of the Horizon

I live in a part of the world that has some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets there is.  There are times when they are so brilliant that they cause me to stop and catch my breath. 

It's important that we have these moments, those times when we can stop and breathe in the beauty that surrounds us.  But there is something even more important about these moments, something that helps us to live well in trying times.  When we stop and receive the stunning views of a horizon that is vibrantly displaying its glory, we find ourselves offered a gift. . .a gift of hope.  It's like what you are seeing in the distance is inviting you to be changed in that moment.  You can begin to see your life as something bigger than only the immediate, no matter what it is that you are going through.  It gives you a sense that you are part of something bigger than just you, and bigger than just now, and it can bring a sense of meaning and purpose that goes beyond your circumstances.

This is what it means to see your life as part of a timeline that is heading somewhere with intent.  This is what it means to catch a glimpse of your life as connected to a greater 'voice' that is somehow revealing itself as having the power and the plan to lead your life forward.  This is what it means to experience a moment of peace, knowing that something, or someone, has you in hand.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe my life is part of something just like I described.  I can see my current circumstance and get pretty down, but then I am reminded of my life's horizon, and that view is enough to wake me up to something much better.

The voice of the One who has already designed my life's horizon says to me "Yes, I am coming soon." In that short declaration Jesus shows me that my life is much more than just my current challenges, and He gives me perspective to see that things are going to be OK.

Sometimes we need to get a view of the horizon in our lives to help us see the big picture.  Today I want to encourage you to let Jesus show you the horizon He has in mind for you, because it will be one that takes your breath away.

Many blessings on you friends. .  .


Monday, March 23, 2020

Deep Roots

I remember quite a few years ago living in place where we had all these scraggly willow trees that served as a hedge around our front yard. Half of them were dead or dying and they looked terrible so in a moment of intense motivation I decided I was going to tear out all these eye sores and start from scratch, planting some nice fresh lilacs.

My enthusiasm was soon met with a formidable foe: roots! Even though we had a backhoe for the major work, I still battled against those stubborn roots as they emulated the energizer bunny and kept going and going...

One thing that really struck me about those roots was how alive and strong were the ones that were underneath trees that seemed half-dead above ground.  I have been thinking about this the last few days...

Roots really matter.  They anchor us, hold us up under intense storms.  They don’t get a lot of attention but provide invaluable foundations that help us to stand.  And sometimes even when our visible everyday lives go through a beating, to the point when we can feel half-dead, we can be surprised when our roots hold us firm.

The wisdom of God’s Word tells us that the things of this world are fleeting, that they can get pretty beat up with the storms that come.  It also tells us that there are things that provide for us anchors that are unaffected by anything this world can throw at us.

Ephesians 3:17 says that if you find your life in Jesus then you are rooted and established in love. It says that this love is powerful and that it has the ability to provide for us in ways that go beyond our ability to even comprehend.

This love is much more than just a feeling, it is a truth that declares that in Jesus we are now rooted and established in Him.  He is love and we are now found in that place of provision and protection.

Rooted and established in a love that is pointed directly toward us, infusing us, watching over us, caring for us, and guiding us.

My life may look like it has been ravaged by storms; it may seem that I am found in circumstances that are beyond my control and as such, that my life is in danger.  But if you thought this you would be wrong.  Why? Because I am rooted and established in love and that Love has got me well in hand.

Maybe you feel like you are hanging on by a thread; maybe you don’t feel like you have roots that will weather the storm.  Jesus is more than willing to root you in His love, and that changes everything.

There is nothing in all creation, including Covid-19, and governmental mandated shut down of whole economies, that can separate you from the love of Jesus.

Here’s to new roots...


Friday, March 20, 2020

Seeing Beyond

Sometimes we just need help to see beyond our normal lives.  We find ourselves embedded in the daily grind, with all the responsibilities that come with doing 'life' and to be honest it can be really great.  But if you are like me, there is often a sense, kind of just lurking in the background of my mind, of something more.  It is usually hard to define but it is still there and it seems to invite me to consider the idea that this life I am enjoying is made possible because it is built on something with far deeper meaning and strength.

I am on a journey to discover more clearly what this 'deeper' thing is because I believe that it is part of our call as the human race.  As we find these moments of deeper life, we discover meaning and purpose that often times evades us in our normal life-at-breakneck-speeds.

That's why I am writing.  And that's why I am writing to you, so that we can discover treasures together on this wonderful journey of life.

I was reading this just now and I thought it was relevant for our current times: "Carry each others' burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:8)  As we walk through our Covid-19 world, let's remember to not only look after our own affairs, but consider how we can support and encourage those around us who might be really struggling. 

The hurt is real, but the love of Jesus is far greater.  Let's show that love today by stepping up and taking care of each other the best we can.

It will make a difference.

Praying for protection and provision for you today. . .