Friday, February 24, 2012

The Day Jesus Came In a Tiny, Little Package

I stood at the counter listening to the whir of the blenders thinking about the day ahead.  Dreading the day ahead.  It was going to be one of those days, a day you’d hoped would never come.  And yet, here it was. 

Our dog, Jake, seemed to have gotten old overnight. His eyes were cloudy and his hair was thinning. He no longer pulled the toilet paper from off the roll and into the hallway to chew on for as long as he could get away with it.  Food didn’t interest him anymore.  Except cookies. He always had an appetite for cookies.  His body had lived a good, long fifteen years and now it was time to let him go.

So I stood there, choking back the tears, waiting to drown my sorrows in an iced three-shot espresso with milk and lots of chocolate.   And then I heard a tiny voice behind me say “hello.”

I turned around and saw a little round face sweetly smiling up at me.  I couldn’t help but smile back and return the greeting.  And for a moment my tears were kept at bay.

The kindness of this three-year-old boy shined a light into my dreary day.

He didn’t move mountains; he didn’t lead an army; he didn’t preach a great sermon.  He simply smiled and helped me through a painful day.  And to me, that was a lot. 

I left with my drink and an unexpected shot of strength and hope to get through the day. 

I'll never forget Jake.  I'll miss the way he got under my feet while I was trying to make dinner.  I'll miss the ridiculous mess he made in the three-foot radius around his food dish.  But mostly I’ll miss the unconditional love he gave that got me through many difficult days and how he taught me about Jesus.   

And I'll never forget the day I made another little friend, a friend who helped me smile even when I didn’t think I could.

He’ll never know what that meant to me.  But I hope someday he knows he was Jesus for me in a tiny, cute, little package.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 25:37-40

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Li'l Tim Hawkins Talking Marriage for Valentine's Day

Yep, Valentine's Day is next week.  Aw yeaaaahh.....

You either love it or you'd rather go croc hunting.  Either way, you gotta keep a sense of humor about marriage and Tim Hawkins is here to help us out with that.  Plus, you get a guaranteed ab workout.

"A joyful heart helps healing..."  Proverbs 17:22  

Guys, gals....enjoy!   

Monday, February 6, 2012

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear
has to do with punishment.”
1 John 4:18

God recently drove this truth home in a very personal way. 

If you haven’t been with me since I started writing about my long and winding road, I’ve been on a journey of sorts for the last several years.  It started with God telling me plainly, four times in one month, to be strong and courageous.  I knew I was going to face something but I had no idea how big the battle would become. 

The circumstances don’t matter much.  We all have difficult times in our lives. If we become fixed on the details of the trial we miss what God wants to do in our hearts and in our lives.

My instruction was to be strong and courageous.  Translated, that means to hold onto something, or in this case Someone, Who is stronger than myself.  Hold onto God.  And I had a hard time doing that.  I struggled.  Hard. 

As the years went by and my prayers for the specific circumstances of my trial seemed to go unanswered, I felt more and more confused.  Why would God leave me here?  Doesn’t He care? 

As I was working on cleaning out my house last month, God was cleaning out my heart. 

I’ve searched my heart these last eight years and have seen more than I wanted.  There are things hidden in the attics of our hearts that only God knows are there.  And sometimes He’ll take your hand and lead you up those ominous steps into the darkened, creaky room and uncover a pile of dusty old attitudes, some worthless misunderstandings and some poisonous character flaws that He wants to throw out. 

He wants to heal us. 

As I cried out to God again, He took me up those stairs and uncovered a root cause of a lot of my issues: fear. 

Now I knew I had fear, but in that moment God began to connect some dots in my mind.  He reminded me that perfect love drives out fear.  I knew that, too.  So what was I missing? 

I went to my concordance and looked up those words.  Perfect means complete, mature.  When we receive God’s love and it matures in our hearts, there is no room or need for fear. 

God knew the fear in my heart.  He knew, more than I did, how much that fear ruled my thoughts, my actions and my decisions.  He knew that not only did I grow up with a lack of being loved, I grew up among circumstances that instilled fear.  And that fear was cemented over and over again.  The combination of being unloved and filled with fear really was a form of punishment. 

God wanted to fill me with the love that I lacked to drive out the fear and heal my heart.  And as long as I was holding onto Him--talking to Him, getting to know Him by reading His Word--and allow Him to love me, that fear would be driven far away. 

God had never left me.  On the contrary, God was in the trenches of spiritual warfare with me.  God loved me, perfectly and unconditionally, and He wanted me to be filled with love, not fear.   

Your issue may not be fear.  It may be something different.  The circumstances don’t matter much.

Be strong and courageous. 

It’s when we’re in a trial that we’re keenly aware of our need for Him.  We reach out, we pray, we learn more about Who He is than we otherwise would have.  We open our hearts and let Him fill us more and more with His love.  And His love matures in our hearts. 

And that’s when healing begins.

Let God love you even more than you think you’re worthy to be.  Take your eyes off your circumstances.  They’re only a vehicle for God’s grace and healing in your life. 

Trust Him.  Trust Him to know what He’s doing in the middle of your trial. 

Trust Him to see what’s up in your dark and dreary attic.  Because hidden beneath the piles of junk that God wants for us to throw away are treasures of godliness that lead to a rich and full life in Him.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Funnies ~ Dream Big and Pray Bigger!

We don't need to settle for small dreams like Bo. God has big plans for us just around the corner if we'll only ask! Plans that will fit us perfectly.

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. 
   Glory to God in the church!
   Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
   Glory down all the generations!
   Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!"

Ephesians 3:20-21  The Message