Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Tag: religion

More Than Anything

“Do not cast me away from Your Presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11

By the time I turned thirteen I had mastered the art of the “warm-up.” When I desired a specific response from my parents I would spend time with them. If they were watching “Walker Texas Ranger,” so was I. I appeared interested by “oohing and aahing” at all the right moments. I’d ask questions and give the impression of being invested in the storyline. Once the program was over I would make conversation by asking various questions about their day. Afterwards, I would thoughtfully compliment them and then, at last, ask my question; the real motive behind my charade, finally, revealed. Years later I discovered the truth – my parents always knew. I never had them fooled.

My friends, we don’t have God fooled, either. He knows if our motivation for seeking Him is pure. He is aware if we come for His heart or for what’s in His hand. Let’s pause and perform a heart assessment. Do we tell Him we love Him and rehearse His goodness because we want a specific response from Him or because we just want Him? There is a big difference between the two.

Rest assured – it’s not wrong for us to ask God for things. That’s welcomed, in fact. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” We have to be careful, however, to not get so consumed with Him meeting our need that we forget He’s not our genie. He’s our Father; as such, He desires a real relationship with His children.

Parent-child relationships do not thrive if the child only communicates with the parent when they are asking for something. The parent, instead, feels used. They don’t feel loved and cherished. Their relationship, in turn, lacks vibrancy and enjoyment. That’s not what I want for us. Especially when Jesus came and died for us to have a flourishing relationship with our
Father.

In Psalm 51:11 David penned these words, “Do not cast me away from Your Presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” He had witnessed the Lord’s rejection of Saul and the departure of His Spirit. He understood that, more than anything, He desperately needed the Presence of God. It was the single most important thing.

Psalm 73:25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.” This is my prayer for us. That we would desire Him more than anything. I think it begins by laying our agendas aside and coming to Him simply to be with Him. As we do, we will see and experience the truth – He alone is our exceedingly great reward. Serving Him is not a means to an end with the focus on blessings, but rather on the Lord Himself. He has always been more than enough.

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Further

“And he went a little further…” Matthew 26:39

Similar to Humpty Dumpty’s fate, the quippy phrase, “good enough for government work”, has fallen precipitously from its original World War II perch. From its early use describing superior, high quality products or performances, to its unceremonious usage describing things mediocre or lackluster today, the journey of this earthy proverb has undergone radical changes.

Historically, “close enough, or good enough, for government work” spoke reverently, even fearfully, of the federal government’s exacting demands and standards on the production of war related equipment, requirements in manufacturing that gave material advantages to the triumphal Allies.

Today, the adage is viewed with tongue-in-cheek contempt and sarcastic disdain. It’s as if high standards and quality work no longer measure a worker’s worth or respect. “Ah, it’s good enough for government work”, as the yard maintenance contractor bypasses the weed eating and rushes off to the next complex. Or, as long as something passes minimal levels and the wheels don’t fall off before the customer drives the car away from the repair shop – well, payment has been made and the “shady” garage had a successful day.

But attitudes of indifference towards performance or virtue are clearly indicative of low integrity, low expectations, and minimal accountability. So that when weak character is prevalent in any culture, and when sloppiness and ethical apathy are equivalent to the honored principles and advanced skill levels of former times, the ethos of that community assuredly spirals downward.

But in the Kingdom of God spirits of sloth and stupor are nonentities. For where faith and grace are the mainsprings of life, the spirit of excellency and industry reign – developing tangible, distinctive proofs of a divine nature and life. Energy, heartiness, attention to detail, and welcomed accountability exude from every act. Far beyond what’s dutiful and expected, the soul filled with Spirit exceeds the commonplace, stretching and probing joyfully the deeper realms of service and love.

Throughout scripture, we find Jesus pushing the spiritual “envelop”, breaking tradition, ignoring customs, and demonstrating, in a mortal frame, behaviors and acts beyond man’s capability. From His extraordinary teachings to His supernatural works, His words and deeds declared His divinity and holy dedication. No man ever spoke like this man; no man ever lived like this man; neither has any man died like Him; nor has anyone ever resurrected like Him! He always went a little further! To Him, to live conventionally would be to live compromised and give convenience undue influence! Whatever Moses demanded by Law, and whatever sinful flesh craved, Jesus exceeded and overcame through the Spirit of grace!

  • Required to go a mile? Go two!
  • Demanded of your coat? Give your cloak also!
  • Took a hit on one cheek? Offer the other one as well!
  • Being persecuted falsely? Rejoice and be glad!
  • Anxious about tomorrow? You’re ok, today!
  • Need some publicity? Stay low, God sees!
  • Looking for vengeance? God’s better at it!
  • Worried about retirement? Put your treasure above!
  • Keeping up with the Joneses? Forget ’em! Seek the kingdom!

Note then, the “extra mile” people in your life! Notice their daily discipline and quiet confidence! Take note of their impartial love for others and passion for peace! Be provoked by their humility! Be inspired by their generosity! Be refreshed by their authenticity and genuine faith! They are the lights of the world and the very salt of the earth! Their best is reserved only for their King, and what’s been given freely they plant again to His credit and praise!

Their selflessness deflects away any personal glory; their servant mindedness desires no praise or adulation! This people are born from heaven; their purpose for existing has no earthy agenda, they serve no temporal ambition! This tribe rises simply to serve! This family revels in the virtues of love and joy and they have no one to model or please but the One who called them to such privilege!

Mark those who prove that faithfulness to such a calling is a choice! For the temptation to a lesser path is always before them, but for the sake of Jesus they gladly reject it! A servant of Jesus bears the marks of the cross and the marks they carry they do with heaven’s honor! Oh, to carry His name and grace! Blessed are those who embody what Jesus taught and lived! They, dear friends, will live with Him forever!

I Am…

For he that comes to God must believe that He is… Hebrews 11:6

There is no scriptural truth greater than God’s appellation of His own divine existence and being. The “I AM THAT I AM”, the name Moses heard at Mt. Horeb when he asked God under whose auspices he’d be sent, that succinct response remains eternally the standard in originality, excellency, and power.

From, “Let there be light” at the beginning of creation, to His final words, “you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit comes upon you” at the creation of His Church – that voice existed sovereignly and supremely before time, prior to anything ever made or created. And before the Son of God lowered Himself to experience our sin-induced, human condition, His presence filled the empty vacuums of space and time.

Yet, we mortals navigate life through the scope and limitations of time, as the clock and calendar confine and record the length of our earthy stay. And intrinsic to the space we’re allotted are innumerable troubles, days and years plagued with uncertainty, pain, and angst. Sadly, remedies from such dread are absent and beyond us. We search solutions only from our own frailty and failed experience. Whether tethered to the traditional antidotes of societies past, or hitched to the starry, futuristic imaginations of other equally earthy mindsets, life is subject to the unkind, heavy hand of time. And with time as a factor in human existence, mankind is utterly mired in constant flux and contention.

And ever so quietly and inconspicuously, time wearies mankind with the constant, subtle demands of decision-making and ever-shifting adjustments. Nothing stays the same. Everything is in motion. Nothing is anchored down. Nothing is permanent. It’s for that reason the, “you only live once, grab all the gusto you can” motto resonates so deeply with the masses. To earthlings, life is fleeting and fleshly pleasures are life’s only reward.

Since “time waits for no man”, the present, or the now, can never be sustained or held over. We photograph our beautiful moments, knowing we can’t relive them again. We can’t camp out in the present, for the present just slipped away to the archives of yesterday. Our only means to live or redo precious moments and poignant times is through memory or remembrance. We find then the present is an impossible state, as “now” is never a static concept. It seems the present becomes simply a vehicle that transitions life between what was to what will be.

But the “I AM” exists independent of humanity’s conundrum! The “I AM” exists apart from the bookends of time, and the nagging changeableness of the human condition! What we as vile sinners could never do or be, ever, He IS and DOES consistently, eternally! And He does so in accordance only with His own character and will! He is free from whims; He knows no lack or need; and He is supported by no other power or force!

May the following truths strengthen our resolve to live by faith, and not by sight! And may our perspective regarding our days on earth be viewed through the prism of eternity, rather than the temporality of a fallen world!

  • God’s will never fluctuates; His Word never mutates; and His power never vacillates or diminishes!
  • God is never in doubt; He never struggles; and to face a circumstance ill-equipped, never!
  • God’s love is beyond words; His mercies garden-fresh; and His kindness super scandalous!
  • God’s faithfulness is shown clearly through creation; His wisdom is etched in Scripture; and ever on display are His mighty works!
  • God’s promises exceed our prayers; His compassions exceed our understanding; and His presence, priceless!
  • God’s sacrifice purchased our salvation; His grace transcended our lawlessness; and His resurrection triumphed over our grave!
  • God’s incarnation and ascension in Christ to man was an impossibility; and His soon return, though decried stoutly by the scoffers, is an incredulous certainty!
  • The unchanging One, the eternal One, the unvarying One, the matchless One, is now come… For Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever has come to be one with us!

What then do we receive when we believe? Well, many things actually, as we receive firstly Jesus Christ as author and finisher of our faith. Through Him, we receive freely the forgiveness of sins, a right standing with God, and undeserved acceptance into the family of God! And as an ever present accompaniment, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as guide and comfort. Everything old is miraculously removed, and everything new is in place! A new birth of spirit is our new reality, thus God’s divine nature now lives in our mortal bodies! In short, we receive eternal life! A life born of the Word, a life that overcomes, and a life abounding in spiritual fruit and good works! Not a better life, mind you, but a new life! A life made in the very image of Christ: a life beyond the changing of years and seasons, a life created for growth and godliness, and a life flourishing in joy, peace, and love! It is for the possession of these indelible truths that Christ lived, died, and rose again!

Paradoxically, we who possess this endless, unchanging, eternal life reside now in temporal bodies and in a world that will soon pass away. The objective then is to think heavenly, to act in alignment with our new birth, seek the will and purpose of Him who called us out, and to find pleasure in the things that have eternal rewards! Blessed are those who find the “I AM” to be their ever present help and joy! Those who believe that He is, that He exists, find Him to be the triumphant same, even in the variance and deviation of our turbulent world! May we experience and enjoy our God now, in the present, forever!

Missional Motherhood

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

This past November I put my little ones in the car and drove to Starbucks for a midday caffeine boost. I ordered a venti iced coffee and two petite vanilla bean scones for the kids. There was a large sign with pictures of various drinks and sweet treats to the left of the drive-thru line. As we drove around the corner my daughter caught a glimpse of the pink cake pop. She sadly said, “I wish I had ordered a pink cake pop instead.” We arrived at the window, I paid, and we received our ordered items. Once we got home I opened the bag and found two petite vanilla bean scones and one pink cake pop. I easily could have rushed past the moment of holy opportunity and chalked it up to chance. Or I could pause and tell her how wild her Heavenly Father is about her. Admittedly, I haven’t always made the right choice. There are plenty of moments I am sure I’ve missed. But on that day I got down in the floor and said, “Harper, look what’s in this bag.” A huge smile spread across her face. I said, “Mommy did not order this for you. But you are so favored by the God of the universe that when He heard His little girl say she wanted a pink cake pop He made sure she got one. God loves you so much.” For the rest of the day she rattled on about how God bought her a pink cake pop.

In Matthew 28 Jesus issues this command, “go and make disciples.” We are given a job that has eternal significance. We did not stumble into this task by accident. God is sovereign, after all. He’s placed us where we are on purpose. We were created by the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus and are now empowered by the Holy Spirit. He saved us then placed us on mission. Wherever we find our feet planted in this season is our God-orchestrated mission field. As mothers, specifically, our mission is to share Jesus with the ones who call us mommy.

If our commission requires that we make disciples within our own homes, we must first ask ourselves what the word disciple means. In studying the New Testament we discover that a disciple was, simply, a follower of Jesus. They followed Jesus everywhere He went. They ate meals and served together. They learned from and were corrected by Him. Jesus taught them how to pray. They were instructed on how to love and live for God. They were trained so they could one day be sent out to duplicate those efforts by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you see similarities to your own life? We, too, have little people who follow us around. We eat, sleep, and serve together. We correct and instruct and die to self and all of it is for the purpose of one day sending them out. Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” Many of us will never get the chance to stand in front of 1000 people and see change but we don’t have to. Not in order to glorify God and see miraculous Kingdom expansion.

You see, there’s no such thing as “just a mom.” Despite routine tasks and mundane to do-lists, being a mom is wildly significant. God designed motherhood as part of a much larger plan to draw people to Himself. We are gifted with the unique opportunity to pour into each of our kids and have the confident expectation that one day we will see a ripple effect. We pour into them and they, in turn, pour into those within their sphere of influence and so on. Our largest opportunity for impact and influence is these precious people God has placed in our lives that bear our last name and resemblance. We are making disciples who will make disciples.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will help us notice every opportunity to proclaim the goodness of God and immense joy it is to follow Him. Making a disciple is as simple as that. When I told my daughter, upon receiving her pink cake pop, that she was favored and lavishly loved I was speaking biblical truth that God will use to draw her to Himself. Mommas, God has not asked us to be more than who we are to be used by Him in the lives of our children. When we feel ill-equipped to raise up followers of Jesus let’s remember that it’s God’s capacity in us, not our own. We do not have to over-complicate the assignment. The best way to make a follower of Jesus is to be a follower of Jesus.

Heart Growth

Admittedly, I haven’t seen The Grinch movie that was just released in the last few weeks. The computer-animated retelling of one of the most beloved Christmas stories is sure to be fun and light-hearted (this is not a movie review) but will undoubtedly never reach the classical influence of the original. I do not know Dr. Seuss’ (Theodore Geisel) spiritual inclinations or beliefs or his exact motivation for writing the book “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” However, I can never read through this 1957 classic without being reminded of some foundational truths. 

In this children’s book, the author zooms in on the mindset of an isolated, grouchy character who developed a scheme to put an end to Christmas by stealing Christmas-themed items from the home of the nearby town of Whoville on Christmas Eve. He plotted to take their feast food, gifts, decorations, and even the Christmas tree all in an attempt to keep them from being excited and joyful on Christmas Day. He especially hated the noises of Christmastime, particularly the singing. Dr. Seuss gives the reason for the Grinch’s hatred of Christmas; the Grinch has a heart that is “two sizes too small.” 

Isn’t it amazing to consider that the way the Grinch looked at others was not a reflection of their goodness or wickedness but rather a reflection of the size and condition of his heart? Therefore, he was unable to join in the celebration and participate in the festivities with everyone else. In fact, it caused him to resent and despise the sounds of joy in others not because they were wrong for celebrating but because his heart was darkened. Here are just a few characteristics of the Grinch that were byproducts of his small heart: 

  1. He compared himself with his neighbors. The people in Whoville became his enemies rather than his partners. 
  2.  He became a taker. Anytime comparison is given place, it immediately ushers in the attitude of lack and lack always removes the heart of generosity and replaces it with a heart that takes. 
  3.  He became materialistic. He thought that joy came from their possessions! He assumed that if he could steal their possessions then he could quiet their rejoicing. 
  4.  He wished misery on his neighbors. Because he was miserable, he did not want anyone else to celebrate. Misery loves company! The Grinch was not just stealing the items, he was attempting to steal their reason for rejoicing. 

Dr. Seuss drives home the simple lesson of this book as he illustrates the Grinch looking with anticipation at Whoville after he had stole their goods. He expected them to be sad, gloomy, and miserable but when he turned to listen the opposite was actually occurring. The people of Whoville started singing! They sang louder and louder until the noise covered the town. The Grinch thought that without the items they would be discouraged and disappointed. However, it was never about the items that made the people of Whoville sing, it was about the condition of their heart. Your song says more about your heart than it does your possessions! 

That day the Grinch’s heart grew and he ended up returning all the items and enjoying Christmas with the people of Whoville. He even cut the roasted beast! 

My prayer for you this Christmas is that your heart grows. That materialism, bitterness, and comparison are all dethroned and the purity of this season can be enjoyed. Your song is not dependent upon your possessions or your neighbor. God has been good to YOU! Rejoice! 

Ordered Steps

In America, virtually anyone has access to the Word of God; sadly, many remain that have no idea what it says. As host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno frequently executed “man-on-the street”interviews. On one particular episode, he decides to ask questions concerning the Bible. The first question was, “Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?” The person responded, “Freedom of Speech.” Another question was, “Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin ____.” The response was, “Have a good time.” Though considered humorous, such responses are tragic. We, as believers, understand that the Bible is far more than just a book. It is the breathed Word of God that provides us information pertaining to true life. Its importance is expressed plainly in Romans 10:17,where it says, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” This tells us that the Word is very important to know, but just as important to sow.How many of us have thought of feet as being beautiful? 

Feet aren’t something we commonly regard as points of beauty, but they can be more beautiful than all the gold in the world when used for the proper purpose. Romans 10:15 states, “…How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

What would it be like to receive an invitation from the most important person alive to join Him in the most important venture on the planet?

Perhaps He would get your attention by referencing what He has done in the past, and how He connects with this initiative; how He became a servant to show God’s “truth.” He might even outline the mission by reiterating the fact that there are other sheep not of His fold that need to be brought in so that there may be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:16). He would probably also remind you that,though it appears joining Him has drawbacks, the reward is GREAT. That no one who leaves home,spouse, children, brother or sister will be without compensation (Mark 10:28-30). If the invitation is TRULY authentic, the person may even broadcast the extent of His authority, under which the endeavor will operate; that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He would remind us that as we carry out His mission, He doesn’t solely promise His oversight, but His own presence and intimate involvement.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve given you the resume/heart of Jesus Christ.

As you step, remember these key components of the “mission-minded” believer:

Please Read Luke 15:1-4, 8

Ingredient 1: Compassion

Jesus had the “tax collectors and sinners” gathering around him. These are lost people who were not running from Jesus but rather running to him. They were not avoiding him, ignoring him, or even hostile towards him. Verse 1 says that they were “gathering around to hear him.”Why were sinners so willing, and even eager, to listen to Jesus? It certainly wasn’t because Jesus had an easy message that tickled people’s ears. I believe the answer is his compassion.Jesus loved them and showed that love with a compassionate heart instead of condemning attitude. How’s your attitude?

Ingredient 2: Effort

In these two parables, Jesus emphasizes the effort that went into finding the lost. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said that the shepherd would “leave the ninety-nine sheep in the open country and go after the lost sheep. . .” In the parable of the lost coin, the woman lights a lamp, sweeps the whole house and searches carefully for the lost coin, according to verse 8. Note: Though “effort” is great, be sure to operate in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Be a “broom.” A broom consists of 2 components: a brush and handle. The brush does the sweeping, but only in response to the direction in which the handle is moved.

Ingredient 3: Persistence

In both these cases Jesus notes specifically that the person continued seeking the lost item until he or she found it. In other words, Jesus seems to be pointing out that persistence was a needed quality for success. After all, lost sheep among spacious fields and hills, and lost coins on the dirt floor of a Jewish home would not have been easily or quickly found. It’s the same way with reaching the lost. It is not always easy to reach people’s hearts so that they receive Jesus. Sometimes it takes years and years of persistence, but we should never be discouraged or give up when key ingredient #2, effort, doesn’t pay off quickly.

Have you responded to His call?

You first received it when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. We all know that He conquered sin and death, and that He now leads the mission from the control room of the universe:His Father’s Right Hand. By His Spirit, through His own people, He is extending His offer of life to every tribe, tongue & nation. You have been summoned to cover yourself in His armor/uniform and step onto the field with the greatest team this world has ever known; all who dress in His garments have His provision.

Change of Plans

Have you ever made the perfect plans? Plans that were so flawless in theory that you even impressed yourself. It took you days, maybe weeks, to consider all the possibilities and parties involved. You made sure everyone was accounted and accommodated for. The schedule was tight and every minute was packed to the limit but if everyone stuck to the plan, it would work perfectly. You emailed it out and copied everyone that needed to be made aware. You followed up with the important people to ensure they understood your email and even doubled back to over communicate. The plan was set. The schedule and itinerary was established. All you need now is execution!

But then the unthinkable happens! Someone is late and someone else decided to drive their own car. The baby gets sick and messes up her brand new outfit. There is accident on 1-85 and the GPS says it is going to be a 35 minute wait. All that planning and preparing is ruined! All that time spent is wasted! You get frustrated and frazzled (which is just a nicer way of saying you’re mad!). You get short with your spouse and snap at your children. This is not what you had planned!

I am sure some of your heart rates went up just reading that hypothetical situation. We have all been there and know the helpless feeling of being out of control. That is the whole reason we made the plans in the first place, so that we could control as much of the narrative as possible. Every aspect that we could troubleshoot, we did. However, even after all our planning, situations like these remind us of our limitations. So before you get too agitated, let’s pause and take a moment to reevaluate what is actually happening when our plans are upset.

Selah.

You confessed as a child of God that your life is not your own. You are the sheep of His pasture and He is your good Father. However, in moments such as this, we assume He is distant and without compassion. We quickly conclude that if He truly loved us, He would have ensured our plans went off without a hitch or mishap. That the flawless execution of our carefully constructed schedule would have been a sign of His favor and divine will being accomplished in our lives.

I would like to submit another possible conclusion for your consideration. What if the change of plans was a sign of God’s providence not His carelessness? Maud Manohan penned these words about Mother Janet Stuart, the well-known nun and educator from London, England in the book The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart….

“She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship… she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it.”

Wow! So instead of becoming anxious and fretful when her plans were derailed; she delighted and found comfort. Not some superficial, shallow optimistic outlook on her circumstance masking the frustration she actually felt. The change of events literally encouraged her faith and brought an awareness that God was in her midst and had greater and higher plans. She submitted to the change and acknowledged God’s hand in redirecting her path.

One instance where this truth is found in scripture is in Mark 5. Jesus is compelled by a synagogue official named Jairus to come to his house because his daughter was very sick and close to death. While on the way to Jairus’ house, a woman who had been suffering with a hemorrhage for 12 years came near to Jesus and touched His clothes by faith. Jesus stopped and began to heal and speak to the woman. Most of us may know the end of the story but imagine if you are Jairus and your daughter is at the point of death. You made the perfect plan to get Jesus’ attention and get Him to your house. However, on the way your plan was averted. While Jesus talked to the hemorrhaging woman, Jairus receives news that his daughter is dead. His plan was perfect but unexpected events happened and now his daughter is dead. Jesus still insisted on going to the house. When He arrives, he removes everyone from the room except a few disciples and the little girl’s family. He then speaks to the young girl and says “Talitha kum” meaning “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Jairus’ plan was to see his daughter healed, however, his plans needed to be thwarted for the purpose of God to be accomplished. Jesus’ purpose was different. He saw a lady healed and a young girl raised from dead. Jesus’ purpose was better than Jairus’ plan.

Maybe next time the plans change be intentional about looking for God’s hand. It may not be a disturbance but rather God’s leadership. It’s okay to sometimes not be in control!

Attitude of Christ

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:4

Just yesterday I asked my darling four-year-olds to please pick up the magna-tiles from
the middle of our living room floor. They complied but not without making sure I knew
how disgruntled they were. They huffed, scowled, and complained as if I had requested
they clean the entire house from top to bottom. When they were finished this momma did not gush over what a fantastic job they did. Instead we had a necessary conversation
about how important it is to have a good attitude.

I, as a mom, care about my children’s attitudes. I believe our Heavenly Father cares
greatly about the attitudes of His kids, too. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to
Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have
rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.”’

God cares more about how we do something than what we actually do.

While we can put on a mask and hide our truest self from others there is absolutely
nothing hidden from God. He sees the unfiltered version of our thoughts, feelings, and
motives. If I’m being embarrassingly honest- I sometimes resemble my kids. Sure, I am
obedient. But not without doing my fair share of grumbling and whining about how hard
it is.

If you can admit the same about yourself- take courage. Having the attitude of Christ is
possible! God would not ask us to do something we cannot. We are invited to have the
mind of Christ. But how?

1 John 1:9 says, “But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, He will be
faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and
he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Let’s trust God’s faithfulness
enough to quickly confess when our attitude is not matching our identity. We are
confident that giving Him permission to purify us is for our good and His glory.

Furthermore, we must be intentional about having the Word of God rooted deep in our
hearts and minds. When we are meditating on His Word our actions and attitudes will
likely follow suit because the Word changes us. More specifically, it gives us clear
instructions about where to park our thoughts. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:8,
“So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and
admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your
thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”

When we confess our sins and fix our thoughts on the truth of God’s Word our attitudes
will begin to agree with His. Praise God! “And the Lord- who is the Spirit- makes us
more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Got Milk?

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word… 1Peter 2:2

Consider the unforeseen risks before booking a family flight that includes a four month old. It’s likely moments will come you can never prepare for, nor predict. For when mom and little “bambino” are thirty five thousand feet up and squeezed between two corpulent characters highly blessed with heavy breathing – well, it will not be like mom’s comfy living room with a blanket between a Fisher Price Baby Bouncer Seat and Kick n Play Piano. Believe me, been there, and it’s just not the same.

And things can get a little testy if mom is seated mid-cabin in a middle seat and little precious gets noisy and rambunctious. Cause it’s likely folks boarding the flight didn’t sign up for, “hey guys, not-a-prob, we-family, we-all-in-this-thing-together, we-totally-understand,” when little angel-face has a few things to say at decibels, and with inflections, and in tones the human ear is yet to appreciate.

And be further advised that a couple hundred sleep-deprived travelers in an airtight cabin with people they don’t know (or care to know), have little time for cooing at someone else’s baby, whether she’s fretful or not. You’ll notice that when passengers cross the aircraft’s entry door threshold, turn right at the cockpit, and double-check the seat number on the boarding pass – from there, it’s every man for himself. Once seated, folks want to be left alone. They’ll read something, do a crossword, or don the buds for some music. But mostly folks want to sleep. Undisturbed sleep.

Such are the potential hazards for flying high with a diaper-clad newbie. That little bundle of sweetness, with all her various eccentrics and oddities, can make or break a parent’s trip, or those traveling with her. If she gets feisty and fussy, the whole journey can turn into a nerve wracking, humbling, regrettable experience. And within minutes, a calm, personable “hi, y’all” mom can become a veritable persona non grata as onlookers slice her up with steamy, head-turning glares and muttered outrage!

Knowing then the capriciousness of newborns, is there an absolute, time-honored answer for appeasing a baby’s irritableness? Is there something out there (or up there!) that’ll ease baby’s disquietude when she’s struggling?

Yes! Yes there is! And it’s the same answer that satisfies the quirks and idiosyncrasies of all babies – and get this, including young believers,  yes, even those born of God! Life, whether in flesh or spirit, will not always provide pleasant surroundings, and the journeying of both never promise calm winds and smooth sailing; but the prescription for both, works miracles for both!

— It’s the milk, friends, it’s the milk! To the moms with ill-humored babies – it’s the milk! It’s. The. Milk!

— It’s the milk, friends, it’s the milk! To the pastors with occasional crotchety congregants – it’s the milk! It’s. The. Milk!

For context, I’ll allude momentarily to the above mentioned family flight: it was an amazing lesson learned in motherhood, as my daughter stilled any fidgetiness little KJ may have been experiencing by bringing her up close and personal with mother’s milk! Regardless the unfamiliar surroundings, unexpected turbulence, strange noises, or new faces – mom and the milk were the miracle cure for keeping her calm and content! Not a whimper, nor a whine that mom’s milk didn’t quickly quieten!

Likewise, the antidote for anxious and out-of-sorts children of the faith has a proven remedy in the highly potent “milk of the word”. Whatever ails the soul of those conceived and born of the Word find their solace and healing through an ingestion of the same. It’s in the wise design of the Creator that the sustenance and strength of the young are drawn from the origin and source of their birth.

There is no confusion, division, frustration, question, or situation that the Word doesn’t have an available solution. And there is no functioning principality or power that doesn’t readily flee from the superior agency of the Word when it’s applied by a child of God. And whether the soul of the elect is drowsy through religious business, drugged through infatuations of a material world, or derailed by envy, pride, offence, or unforgiveness – the temptations and enticements of a temporal world are but an early morning fog dismissed forthrightly by a rising sun – a Son more perfectly known as the Word of God!

  • Facing a seemingly uncrossable chasm requiring obedience?
  • Prodded to ditch some entrenched habit or attitude?
  • Challenged to renew the rigors essential for effective ministry?
  • Sick and tired of living too far from the available promises?
  • Noticing some dreaded anxiety, possibly some fear creeping in?
  • Wondering where the joy of everyday living has gone?
  • Despise critical or gossipy people, and find you’re becoming one?
  • Consumed by partisan cultural, religious, or political bickering?
  • Aghast that social media has become a shameful fetish?
  • Remembering nostalgically the days of unconventional service?

To those who’ve risen with Christ and have their affection set on heavenly things, the richness and power of scripture is their ever present weapon of choice. In whatever tempting turbulence or distraction they find themselves, they hear the Spirit’s “come up higher” appeal, and rest in the Word to rise in that glorious ascent. Reorientation, peace and strength remains the blessed outcome for those found centered and confiding in the Word of God.

Miraculous Rain

I have received a few inquisitive texts and emails from members of our congregation and others who follow our ministry regarding our recent sermon series after this week’s Hurricane Michael. For those who are not aware, we have been ministering on the metaphor of rain in scripture as it relates to the Word of God. Many biblical authors show the correlation of the nation of Israel’s dependence on God to supply rain from Heaven with our reliance on Him to nurture and supply for us by “every word that proceeds from His mouth.” In other words, the same way their whole well-being was contingent on the faithfulness of God to supply rain for their crops and livestock our lives are also reliant on the sustenance that is supplied by God’s Word.

I believe the initiators of those texts and emails are receiving the teaching really well but all in good fun they requested, due to the the abundance of physical rain we have already received here in North Carolina, that maybe we should consider switching topics for a period. I promise we are almost done with topic of rain. Just one more quick thought. (Haha)

Have you ever watched it rain? It is a beautiful sight to see! I realize it’s messy and inconvenient. I understand that rain can delay scheduling and mess up plans. It destroys new hair-dos and gets your new outfit wet but isn’t it amazingly breathtaking?

Have you ever considered “how” it rains? I know we have been talking about “why” it rains but the “how” is a completely different subject. The “how” is so fascinating that Job names it as one of the great miracles that God performs.

“”If I were you, I would go to God and present my case to him. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles. He gives rain for the earth and water for the fields.” (Job 5:8-10)

If you said to someone: “My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number,” and they responded, “Really? Like what?” would you say, “Rain”? Maybe after this short devotional you will.

Is rain a great unsearchable wonder performed by God? Imagine you are a farmer in the Middle East and you are not located near a water source. The fact that God would bring water from hundreds of miles away and drop it directly over your crops to ensure your family is fed and your needs are met sounds like miraculous provision to me.

But how does He do it? Obviously, we do not have the time to detail the entire process exhaustively and neither do I have the intelligence to fully describe it but I believe the Cliff Notes version will be sufficient for us to understand how wondrous it is.

First, He must cause the water in the nearby ocean and lakes to become light enough to be transported. This process is called evaporation. Heat causes water to be changed into a gas called water vapor.

The water vapor rises in the atmosphere and there it cools down and forms tiny water droplets through something called condensation. These then turn into clouds. One cloud can carry over a billion gallons of water.

All of these tiny droplets begin to combine together through a process called coalescence where they collide with each other until they become too large to remain in the cloud. At this point, the droplets begin falling to earth. However, it would be destructive for the cloud to simply drop a billion gallons of water at once. The droplets are the exact size needed to make it through the atmosphere without evaporating but still being small enough that when they fall they do not destroy the crops. They also fall at the exact speed of 1-18 mph to ensure no damage is done.

Maybe Job was onto something. And maybe I have been missing the wonder of God’s handiwork all this time. Maybe rain isn’t just an inconvenience. Maybe it’s a miracle. And yet another reason that I have to be amazed by the God I serve and thankful for His provision.