Sharing: So Easy Even Preschoolers Can Do It!

Luke 21:13 (Jesus speaking) And so you will bear testimony to me.

I may have been a bit overzealous during my instruction on the concept of sharing. Last week Carynne (4) gave me an unexpected gift - the stomach flu. And this was no ordinary tummy bug - I was down for the count for most of three days. Mercifully, Carynne is too young to realize that she passed along this silent invader and was to some extent the source of her mother's agony. She was long past her suffering and not cognizant in the least that her illness had a significant negative impact on my life.

Today I am reading Revelation 12. In this chapter a dramatic scene unfolds in heaven. Satan stands before God accusing Christians day and night. His accusations are short lived as he is overcome by Jesus' blood and the testimony of completing ordinary people like you and me.

I have heard it said that there is no greater evidence of God than a changed life. Your story. My story. Our stories. These are powerful weapons that God has given us in the battle for lives all around us. So why then am I ever reluctant to share my story?

Like Carynne and her stomach flu, I seem to have no problem sharing things others don't really care to receive. I share my frustration at a stoplight by honking at the car in front of me. I share my opinion about issues that in the grand scheme of things don't really matter. I have been asked to keep my frustrations, opinions and germs to myself but the outcome is far different when I share my story. I've never had someone ask me to keep my testimony to myself.

Jesus, as I encounter fellow sojourners on this walk of life I pray I will share with them something of value. I ask for the self-restraint to not share that which others don't care to receive and the courage to share that which is a life-changing weapon that defeats Satan's power in my life. Today I will tell the story of Your love and work in my life.

Raiders of the Lost? Ark

2 Timothy 1:12 convinced that he (God) is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

Great movies are often made in threes. Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and even Toy Story have proven that true. One of the great trilogies is the Indiana Jones series. With its' thrilling adventure theme of seeking objects of immeasurable worth, these movies are still immortalized in a stunt show at Disney World's Hollywood Studios theme park.

I visited there this month. Except this time I sat in that theatre to watch dancers from all over the country compete for the coveted prize of being crowned best in the nation. It was eye opening to see just how many talented dancers there are in this country. As one remarkable group after another took the stage, I realized their performance was ill-placed on that stage.

Indiana Jones represents that which is one of a kind. As amazing as each group was, they were just one of many whose talent shined on that stage. Indie's life pursuit was to locate the exceptionally rare, such as the ark featured in the first Indiana Jones installment.

The ark of the covenant housed three objects - the tablets of stone on which the hand of God had penned the Ten Commandments, Aaron's (Moses' brother) staff and a jar of manna. Each of these were symbols of God's miraculous delivery of His people from Egypt and their eventual delivery into the land which God promised to them. The ark symbolized God's watchful eye over Israel and His great and care for His people.

Only it went missing. Some scholars believe it was carried off to Babylon during the captivity there around 600 BC. Others believe it was hidden in the hills surrounding Jerusalem. No one knows for sure where it is...or do they?

This morning's reading is Revelation 11. Future events continue to be unfurled before John's eye. Two impenetrable witnessed testify about God in Jerusalem for three and half years. They are protected by fire that protrudes from their mouths and consume all who rise against them. Even the writers of Indiana Jones couldn't come up with characters this mystifying. As the chapter concludes, John finds himself once again in heaven. There he sees that within God's temple lies the ark of the covenant (Verse 19).

God is not scratching his beard as He searches to and fro for the "lost" ark. He has not misplaced it or forgotten where He put it. His watchful eye and perfect plan has kept the ark exactly where He has ordained it to be.

The same is true for me. Sometimes I am hesitant to entrust the deepest desires of my heart to God's hand. I'm not certain of what I am afraid. God has proven Himself throughout all history to be trustworthy. He is far more capable than I of holding that which I deem sacred and bringing it about to pass.

Jesus, I can with confidence approach the throne of grace and lay all the hidden longings of my heart before You. You are so able to guard that which I entrust to You. The dreams bottled inside me are precious to You. You will not mishandle them. Today I choose to give them to You knowing You alone are able to bring them to pass.

Today's Take-Out: Sweet Not Sour

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome (sour) wife.

Carynne (4) is sweetness comes to life. For the last couple of days she has been sick. She has endured multiple trips to the bathroom, has scarcely eaten but hasn't complained even once. Her only request has been to be near her mommy.

As we dropped Clara off at school this morning, I anticipated that Rynnie would feel a twinge of jealousy since her illness prevented her attending. Instead as I buckled her back in her seat, she tilted her head and declared, "You are my favorite mommy. I don't ever want another one."

This morning I am reading Revelation 10. In this chapter, John receives an unusual command. He is asked to eat a scroll. The scroll is sweet like honey in his mouth but turns sour when it reaches his stomach (Verse 10).

A marriage can be like that. You stand at the altar full of wonder and excitement ready to pledge your undying devotion to your love. The day is the sweetest of days. Soon real life sets in and sweet has turned sour. It becomes difficult to stomach the habits, attitudes and actions of your spouse. Over time sour can turn to bitter or sour can choose to be better.

The last few days certainly have not been fun for my Carynnie but she has chosen contentment. The pill of illness she has swallowed is certainly one she would have rather avoided. Instead of allowing her attitude to sour, she has chosen to thank her caregiver and dole out helpings of kindness and love.

Occasionally on one of my "sour" marital days, I ask myself this question. If Scott were meeting you for the first time today, would my attitude and actions attract or repel him? Would he be compelled to ask me out for the second date or run for safety from spending any additional time with a sour date? I can not control every habit, attitude or action of my spouse but like Carynne I can choose contentment.

Jesus, today I want to be sweet rather than sour. Help me be quick to ask forgiveness when my sour soul pours out as a quarrelsome wife. May I choose contentment and like Carynne dole out helpings of kindness and love, even on those who at times make my stomach feel sick.

Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19b I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

The town where we live is home to railroad tracks. I find the sounding of their horn a friendly greeting whatever time it blasts. It beckons feelings of a simpler time and place when the railroad was central to the health of any town.

A few weeks back I approached our railroad tracks anticipating that the car in front of me would turn left. They did not. I found myself precariously straddled across the tracks. I did not panic. In how bad of a situation could I really be? Surely the traffic light would cycle through straight away and I would be safely on my way home.

Not so. In a matter of seconds I looked up to see a train barrelling down the tracks and headed directly for me. I had no time to weigh my decision. I could either choose death or life. I honked my horn feverishly at the car in front and wildly waved my arms. With just moments to spare, they pulled their car forward enough for me to clear the track. My car shook with the force of the passing train. A sobering reminder of how close I had come to death.

Today's passage is Revelation 9. Two additional trumpets have sounded bringing with them strange creatures who sting only those who do not belong to God as well as death angels who kill a third of earth's population. God has drawn a clear distinction between those who have chosen life with Him and those who have not. He has even allowed the ultimate consequence of death. Because God has given us free will, He has given us the power to choose Him. Even with this level of clarity of the appropriateness of choosing Him, many will not. The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent (Verse 20).

I would like to say that I learn from my mistakes. I would like to say that natural consequences always dissuade me from making further bad choices. However, neither of those statements is true. I am a sinner and were it not for God's grace I would have followed bad choices straight into destruction. My demise may not have been so blatant as a scorpion's sting or death but my propensity for sin nonetheless had the power to produce tremendous wreckage.

That day on the tracks I had not intentionally wandered into danger. I simply wasn't paying attention. Sin too easily encompasses us when we are unaware. A single moment lacking vigilance can land one into a harrowing situation of death and destruction. Our loving God does not fail to warn us. He will send every warning sign He can. The question is will I heed His warning or wander off course onto the tracks? Will I choose life or death?

Jesus, You set before every one of us life or death. To live in obedience to You is life. To follow my own path is death. Today as I encounter the many forks in the road, may I choose to follow You in the path of life. There I will truly find the peace and contentment of a better time and place. For that place is wherever You are.

You're Only Gonna Break, Break...

1 Peter 4:12a Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on to test you.

The last two winters in Memphis, as in many other parts of the country, have been particularly cold and snowy. A snowy day in Memphis means there could be no sign of ice or snow on the roads but if there is even a hint of white in the grass, a day off of school is warranted. My children were celebrating one such day last February with their cousins by racing on scooters down the hill that runs in front of our home.

One moment they were all laughing, the next my eldest, Hannah was splayed on the pavement with a broken hand. After seeing an orthopaedist it was recommended that Hannah's break be surgically corrected. On the morning of her surgery, Hannah came out of her anesthetic-induced fog in a haze that disoriented her to her whereabouts as well as my identity. The car ride home was peppered with questions about who I was, where she was and what was happening. When we rode up the hill that had been the cause of Hannah's pain, something beneath her anesthesia alerted her to its' association with her current discomfort. She looked at me with wild eyes and pronounced in no uncertain terms, "I don't like this hill."

This morning I am reading Revelation 8. This chapter outlines four of seven great trials that many theologians consider tragedies to come during the future period in time referred to as the Great Tribulation. Fire from heaven, bitter water and blackened heavens are each described. Personally, I have not experienced any of these but I have endured the burn of rejection, the bitterness of divorce and the darkness of depression.

During times of trial and difficulty it would be understatement to say, "I don't like this hill." Sometimes we don't choose our hills, they are chosen for us. At other times, we find ourselves sliding down hills of our own device. No matter how we end up there, pain and brokenness inevitably result.

However it is my pain and brokenness that drive me into the arms of God. In the weeks that followed Hannah's surgery she was in pain and grossly inconvenienced. Her hand may have been broken but her spirit was not. She displayed strength of character and perseverance and she endured her trial with grace.

Jesus, a fiery ordeal may be lurking just around the corner. When one next rears its' head may my heart be driven to Yours. There is the source of water that quiets fire, love that sweetens bitterness and light that bans the darkness. I may not like every hill You allow into my life but when I encounter a particularly slippery one may I do so with character and perseverance. After all my body may break but my spirit doesn't have to.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Clara (5) had her annual check-up this week. To ensure that she is tracking with her peers, the nurse asked me a battery of developmental questions which concluded with, "Can she prepare a bowl of cereal...that is if you'd let her?" I attempted to hide my smile at her inquiry. Clara, driven by a strong thirst for independence, has already mastered many kitchen functions. She started pouring bowls of cereals several birthdays back.

Although she doesn't recognize every number 1-9, she knows which buttons on the microwave to push to produce popcorn. She categorizes Crystal Light lemonade as a delicacy and ensures we never run out by mixing it up at regular intervals. She is convinced that every snowy day must encompass hot cocoa and will cook up a batch for all partakers. She even cooked an entire dinner for me when I turned forty and that was a month before she turned five. Clearly I allow her to prepare far more than a simple bowl of cereal. Her thirst for autonomy is sated at least in part by mastering various kitchen duties.

This morning's reading is Revelation 7. This chapter highlights 144,000 from Israel and a multitude too vast to number from the other nations on earth who worship Jesus. Theologians have conflicting interpretations of precisely whom this "vast number" includes. Some even argue this group wouldn't include the likes of me. What I do know is that there will come a day when I stand before the King of kings and have the opportunity to worship Jesus face to face. When I do, Jesus Himself will lead me to springs of living water (Verse 17).

The more independence Clara achieves, the greater her proclivity is to be self-sufficient. Jesus is like that. The more of Him that I come to know and experience, the more of Him I want to know. Unlike an endless buffet of culinary wonders to I can return few times before reaching my limit, my appetite for Jesus only grows the more I eat from His table.

However, I must confess I haven't always sought to fulfill my desires from the bounty of God. Two thousand years ago, Jesus happened upon a woman who like me didn't know that He was the living water for which she thirsted. In John 4, Jesus interacts with the woman we now call the "woman at the well". She is living a flagrantly immoral lifestyle in an attempt to fill the longings of her heart. Jesus offers her a drink of water that will satisfy her in a way no man ever could. He invites her to drink from the well of His love and compassion (John 4:14). Someday I will stand shoulder to shoulder with this unnamed woman as we together worship Jesus. Truly He is our living water.

Jesus, You are more refreshing than the coldest bottle of water. You are more satisfying than the savoriest of meals. You satisfy the longings of my heart. Every day that I spend with You, I end up wanting more of You. You are satisfaction guaranteed.

We Hide and He Seeks

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

A favorite game at our house is hide and go seek. My sweet daughters have a unique combination of stature and flexibility that allows them to stow away in some unusual spaces. They have contorted themselves into clothing hampers and cabinets and mastered the art of quiet breathing that sometimes makes them virtually undetectable in their chosen hideout.

This morning I am reading Revelation 6. As the Lamb of God opens six of seven seals, various prophetic events unfold for John's view. After the sixth is opened, John notes that the "kings of earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves among the rocks of the mountains. Although John speaks of events yet to come, the truth written here is just as applicable today. All people are subject to the tendency to want to hide.

Whether we duck behind title and position, hide behind walls of insecurity or cower under blankets of shame and fear, we hide. However, no matter how well we contort ourselves, Jesus still sees us. His love reaches into our darkness. He calls us out of our caves to join Him where delight and joy dwell in abundance.

Jesus, You see behind my coverings and into my heart. You seek me every day even when I attempt to hide my heart from Your sight. Today help me remember that there is no place I can hide from Your presence. You will find me behind any disguise. I am never hidden from Your loving eyes.

Worthy is the Lamb

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

On September 5, 2003 my husband, Scott, made me an offer of which I'm still pondering if I'm worthy. That was the night he asked me to be his wife and my two daughters if they would be his daughters. How could I deserve such unmerited love? How could I ever be equal to wed such an extraordinary man?

This morning I continue my journey through Revelation by studying the 5th chapter. The hallmark of this chapter is a scroll which only can be opened by the one who is worthy. The Worthy One is found. He is the Lion of Judah who has triumphed (Verse 5). He is deemed worthy because He became a sacrificial lamb (Verse 6).

God's definition of worth is so very different from our own. We cheer for the conquerer. We delight in the one who overcomes the opposition. When watching a sporting event, the more a team annihilates the competition, the bigger triumph we consider their victory. By sharp contrast, Jesus laid down his life as a sacrifice. He triumphed through the greatest loss possible - His very own life. He is worthy because he was slain (Verse 9).

Jesus, it is Your will that I give thanks in all circumstances. This is not because my circumstances are worthy of praise but because You are. When You triumphed over death, You purchased a victorious life for every person who receives Your free gift of a redeemed life. Today I will praise You because You are worthy to be praised.

Shout It Out

Isaiah 64:6 ...all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

When Hannah recently turned fifteen, her dad and I helped her celebrate with a night out to see the comedian, Tim Hawkins. We had acquired "VIP" tickets which included the option to meet him before the event. This was supposed to be a surprise but as often happens sometime between acquisition and attendance that detail slipped out.

Once Hannah knew she would be meeting a celebrity, her wardrobe for the evening took on far greater significance. She landed on a fashionable ensemble accented by her new favorite skirt - black satin with floral beige lace overlay. As she painstakingly prepared, she leaned up against her bathroom countertop to get a closer view of her makeup application. This would be no problem in a regular household but not such a great maneuver in a home filled with four daughters.

Someone (likely under the age of 6) had "colored" a near perfect circle of bright red lipstick on the front edge. Hannah's skirt now had a lovely polka dot just above the hem. Hannah is resilient and simply turned her skirt around to the back and the blemish was forgotten long before she shook Tim Hawkins' hand. When I pulled her skirt out of the hamper, there was no mistaking the scarlet mishap. I used every laundry tool I own including a variety of stain removers but even with five times through the wash I couldn't completely eradicate that stain.

Today I continue my trek through Revelation by reading the 4th chapter. In this portion of Revelation, John sees God himself seated on the throne. There are no words to accurately describe what he is seeing so John keeps drawing analogies to the familiar. There are four creatures around the throne who testify day and night to the greatness of God. They never stop saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty."

Notice what they don't say:
  • Loving, loving, loving
  • Merciful, merciful, merciful
  • Gracious, gracious, gracious or even
  • Just, just, just

I pondered this for a bit. Why do they perpetually speak of God's holiness? Perhaps it is because that is the one attribute of God that we can never entirely emulate. We were created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore we are capable of shining moments of love, mercy, grace and justice. According to Isaiah 64:6 my most righteous act or day is as permanently marked with sin just as Hannah's skirt is with lipstick. The question is how do I respond to my sin?

  • I Can Ignore It - Just as Hannah could turn her skirt around, it is possible for me to be blind to my sin's mottle. I can choose to ignore the quiet voice of God until its' hardly audible. I begin to fool myself that the unreliable thermometer of my guilt level is somehow indicative of how righteously I am or am not behaving. Only with God's help is it possible for me to recognize the depth of my sin and the areas in my life He needs to continue to work.
  • I Can Cover It Up - No matter how many times I washed Hannah's skirt, I couldn't make it spotless. Just as David attempted to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba with murder, I too try cover my own sin. I try to wash it away with stain relievers like good deeds and generosity but my stain remains. Only the perfect detergent of God's love, grace and sacrifice can remove it.
  • I Can Face It - I honestly may have never even noticed Hannah's spot if she hadn't pointed it out. In the hurry of washing six people's clothes it is entirely possible for some stains to simply to undetected. My only hope is to face my sin and allow God's holiness to wash over me.

Jesus, You can "shout out" my sin with a whisper of Your grace. Today my heart will sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty," as I face my sin and allow Your grace to purify my deepest stain.

Dead Woman Walking?

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The list. I know some people who make lists for everything. At times I am one of those. I will even write something on my list that I've already done just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. Other times my list is never written with ink and that is precisely when things go awry in my house.

Like the fabric that's been waiting for a year to be sewn into curtains. The pictures collecting dust under my bed that have never been scrapbooked. The attic boxes I haven't touched since moving fourteen months ago. These items were written with the ink of good intentions. Something tells me they won't soon be checked off their imaginary list.

This morning I read Revelation 3. The first church addressed in this passage snaps my attention. About them Jesus says:
  • You have the reputation for being alive but you are dead (Verse 1)
  • I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God (Verse 2)

There are very specific things which God has prepared for me to do. My things are not your things. Nor are your things my things. Each of us has a unique list of "good deeds" God created us to do. The question is why don't I always do them? The answer probably lies in the same closet as my unsewn fabric so I'll look in there.

  • The Job's Too Challenging For Me - I have never sewn curtains before. It seems far less risky to keep my fabric tucked away than to pull it out and admit to myself that learning to sew will be a challenge. Most of things God calls me to do lie far outside of my comfort zone. In fact I'm currently so far outside my comfort zone, I can't even see it from here. What if I'm not equal to the task to which God calls me? It matters not because God is.
  • The Job's Too Big For Me - I haven't scrapbooked since Hannah was two. She's fifteen now so I have thirteen years of photos crammed under my bed. If I scrapbooked a page every day, I may actually catch up before Carynne who's three graduates from college. The job seems too monumental to undertake so I just keep it tucked neatly away. No matter how big the task seems that God is calling me to, it isn't too big for Him. He makes the impossible possible.
  • The Job's Too Messy - I really do need to go through the boxes in the attic. Those boxes contain more than just "stuff"; they hold my memories. Some of those memories have pain, strife or heartache packed away with them. It is far less emotionally messy to keep my boxes locked in the attic than to wade through the remembrances I've keep contained. Much of what God calls me too requires getting emotionally invested in people's lives. Those lives may appear tidy at the surface, but underneath like all of us there's plenty of gunk. I'm not a trained counselor and my shoulders aren't broad enough to carry anyone else's load but I do know the Wonderful Counselor who shoulders every load.

When I fail to complete what God has for me, my spiritual life takes on a corpse-like stupor that hardens my heart and stops my ears. I have the reputation for being alive but I'm dead without that daily connection to Jesus.

Jesus, I don't want to be a dead head - shuffling through life with eyes fixed and unseeing the opportunities You place before me. Today I will remember that You are able to do whatever You ask of me. Then I won't just have a reputation for being alive. I will experience the thrilling adventure of walking by faith wherever You lead me.

I Stand at the Door and Knock

James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask God.

I grew up with two sisters. One was precise and decisive. She knew what she wanted and when she saw it, she was persistent with her requests for said item. She often got what she wanted. My other sister was far less assertive about her needs. No doubt she had just as many but her requests were more of a whisper than a shout. Her desires sometimes passed unnoticed.

It breaks my heart when I think about my sisters because of my four girls, I have two of each. I have two that will bug the stew out of me until they get what they want and two that would prefer me to really see them and discern their needs with less conversation and more intuition. I pray often that God would open my eyes to their hearts' desires.

Today I am studying the second chapter of Revelation. In this chapter specifics are given about four of the seven churches to whom the book is addressed. I have read this chapter many times but until this morning I didn't see that Jesus is presented in a personal and practical manner to each church.
  • To the church who lost their first love - He is walking among them. He is near. He ardor toward them has not waned.
  • To the church who is suffering - He is the One who has overcome. He is the first and last. The conqueror of death. He will see them through even perils that terminate life.
  • To the church who has added to or subtracted from God's Word - He is the one who bears the double-edged sword. He is truth. He speaks only what is consistent with God's Word.
  • To the church who commits egregious sin - He is a blazing fire. He sees their sin. He will not allow it to go uncorrected.

Jesus is able to meet each church body at the point of their need. How much more is He able to meet my needs?

My two incessant children are heard; at times my two hesitant children are not. This reminds me of a story that Jesus told in Luke 11:5-13 about a man who went to his friend at midnight for bread. His friend thought surely this could wait until morning and refused the request. The man is undeterred and continues knocking until the door is opened. Unanswered prayer is not a matter of proximity. Jesus is near. Unanswered prayer is a matter of perseverance. Am I willing to pester God with my dreams, desires and needs? Or do I just sit back and wait for Him to come to me?

Jesus, You miss nothing so unlike me with my kids you know every beat of my heart's desire. You don't fail to meet my needs because You don't notice but because I didn't take the time to ask. Today, Jesus, I will knock on Your door, even pound if I have to because the desires inside can stay there no longer. I need You to open the door.

A Holy Ambition

Matthew 25:40 (Jesus Speaking) I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

We were on family vacation in Orlando. We lined up early at Shamu Stadium. Although we'd seen the show in prior years, our attempt to see it on this trip was debunked by whales more interested in the springtime tradition of pairing up than in performing tricks that delight thousands. Surely Shamu and his cohorts would be in better spirits today.

The friendly stage manager appeared as if out of nowhere and struck up a conversation with our family of six. His eyes sparkled when he asked Hayleigh's age and my answer met with his satisfaction. "How would you like to be in the show today?", he inquired knowing with certainty her eager reply would be a resounding "I'd love to."

Hayleigh was whisked backstage where she got to meet Shamu's trainers and gain an understanding of the role she would play in the show. The theme of the performance was dreams and Hayleigh would depict a female trainer dreaming of growing up to train killer whales. The grand finale was when Hayleigh was broadcast on the jumbo tron and asked the million dollar question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

The collective gasp of five thousand mouths may have sent Shamu into oxygen deprivation because her reply was a sweet and simple, "I want to be a wife and mother." Immediately, I could feel the eyes boring in the back of our heads. After all, no self-respecting parent raises her daughter to "just" want to be a wife and mother. In this decade woman are destined for greatness far surpassing the mundane life of laundry and carpools. Right?

Today I begin the final book of the New Testament - Revelation. The first chapter sets the stage for John's prophecy with an excitement unparalleled in other books of prophecy. This is God's final word: He wins! Amongst these opening strains are words that answer the question of the ages: Why am I here? "To serve his (Jesus') God and Father." (Verse 6)

Like the crowd in Shamu Stadium, I have surveyed my life at times and questioned if I wasn't made for more. Being a wife and mother is a high calling and one I'm proud my daughter aspires to however there is a higher calling. It is the calling to serve and glorify God.

In Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus describes the outward expression of a heart that seeks to glorify God:
  • feeding the hungry
  • clothing the naked
  • befriending the lonely
  • visiting the sick and imprisoned

In the simplest acts, just cups of cold water given to one in need, a single human life can bring glory to God.

While few persons who watched Shamu that July day would agree, I believe that Hayleigh has the noblest of ambitions. Her aim is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, befriend the lonely and care for the sick. In so doing, she will serve Christ Himself.

Jesus, today help me remember that it is my chief aim to glorify You. When I wipe a runny nose, I glorify You. When I invite a new neighbor over for coffee, I glorify You. When I volunteer with the homeless, I glory You. A simple life lived for Your glory alone is indeed a holy ambition.

Far From a Fair Weather Friend

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the Super Bowl is being played this weekend. This year two franchises who have experienced success over the long haul will face off - The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. These two teams have made a collective ten trips to the NFL Championship game.

Even here in Memphis I am seeing Packer and Steelers emblems emblazoned on cars, mailboxes and chests. It is amazing how many fans come out of the woodwork whenever a team experiences success. I am not accusing these individuals of being fair weather fans but to be certain most people's enthusiasm is ignited by success rather than failure.

Today's reading is 3 John. This is John's final letter and again is just a few short verses. This epistle is addressed to a personal friend named Gaius. As John opens his letter he writes, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." (Verse 2)

Any one of us would echo this prayer for our own friends and loved ones. Who wouldn't pray for the health and well-being? It is thrilling to hear of a family who didn't get the flu. It is exciting to celebrate with a friend who recently received a promotion at work. It is invigorating to be around someone whose faith is passionate and vibrant. It is quite a bit less appealing to imagine walking alongside a friend whose health is failing, who recently lost their home or who is questioning her faith. Am I a fair weather friend who cheers for the successes but hides my friendship flag in the attic during a season of flops?

God's love is a constant. God does not love me more when my children behave. God does not love me less when illness strikes my home. He walks with us through every season of life. If I'm going to love other's with the love of God, I have to be willing to love my family and friends under thunder clouds and sunshine.

Jesus, Your banner over me is love. You fly it every day whether that day is filled with success or failure, fortune or disaster. Help me love my friends and family like that. Today I be far from a fair weather friend.