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discipline

discipline, featured, fortitude, hope, soul care, strength, trust

Who’s your hero?

January 31, 2015

The Father's Love cannot be explained, only Experienced.

His little legs tottered, yet he knew where he was going. In perseverance, he kept his heart aligned with the greatest hero he knew, fueled by love. He watched…studied him with diligence and the fortitude needed to overcome personal roadblocks, striving to imitate the man he saw with limitless potential and tremendous integrity. He stepped where he stepped and followed every motion, simply to stay in cadence with the man he adored: his daddy.

By age five our son Connor, born with low muscle tone, loose ligaments and a chromosomal anomaly, had only been walking just beyond a year. Until then he sat at his dad’s feet, and with smiling eyes sparkling, he tracked every move, listened to every word, mimicked gestures, facial expressions, and scooted after him as he could. The capacity of a boundless love tore down the barriers of his physical and cognitive limitations to become just like his father.

When his legs and core grew steady and stronger, he followed…tiny steps…colossal determination…to mimic my husband’s stride. No job was too big, nor personal agenda too important to stand in the way of being with his dad. Connor longed to be just like Chris and desired to show him the overflowing love and admiration he had for his father. When meals were served, Connor always invited his daddy to take the first and best “love bite” from his plate, innately understanding that giving back to his father was the greatest blessing he could grant…a generous gesture from a generous heart.

As I looked through a box of old photographs recently, I fumbled upon sweet memories of five-year-old Connor with my husband Chris. Connor, having an ardent love for his dad, exemplified the most beautiful example of what it means to follow Jesus. He put his daddy in his rightful place, dad was the father, he, the son. He watched what daddy did and then followed. In return, he experienced blessing.

In our faith journey, we’re not much unlike Connor. We arrive at the foot of the cross with so many of our own limitations, weak areas and even cognitive impairments (Isaiah 55:8-9.) Yet, as we sit at the feet of Jesus, watch what He does, and step where He steps, we begin to see the greater reflection of who we are in the Father (John 5:19)…our loving Dad. All propelled by trust and love.

What might the Chrisitanity look like if we intentionally pursued to love the Father in order to experience His love?

  • What if we put self-sufficiency aside and let Jesus walk in front of us?
  • What if we loved with an unabandoned child-like trust in God?
  • What if we hoped with unpretentious confidence?
  • What if we sat at His feet for hours, even years and soaked in His words?
  • What if we didn’t take our eyes off Jesus, hesitant to miss something/anything, He wanted to show us?
  • What if our conversations were seasoned only with the language He taught us and not the words and thoughts that the world shouts?
  • What if we jumped at every opportunity to go and be where He was working, just to be a helper, serve and bless Him?
  • What if we willingly and joyfully gave Him our “love bites”… the first taste of every blessing we received?
discipline, soul care

what are you cooking?

December 14, 2014
what are you cooking?

In my day-to-day role at my corporate job, I work with a lot of cooks, recipe developers and chefs. I also work with food stylists who prepare food for photo and video shoots. Now, I’ll preface this by saying, our corporate legal team is very adament: when we portray food on packaging or advertising and claim that it was made with our kitchen appliances, it really has to be authentic, the “real deal”. And it is.

There are other times that we might have an array of food in the backgrounds on a set, either to create ambiance or for propping, when certain dishes are made with food (and other fillers) but they are not really what they appear to be. For instance, we make beautiful ‘faux’ ice cream out of shortening (lard) with additional non-edible ingredients so it doesn’t melt quickly under the lights or through multiple takes. A cherry pie might actually be filled with a thick, dense oatmeal, and cherries are carefully sliced and pinned into the edge where the slice is cut, or a holiday turkey might be quite raw inside, painted and finished with a blow torch for a stunning crisp, mouth-watering skin.

As I look to Jesus, there is such a powerful analogy here. 

Jesus told Peter three times, “Feed my sheep.”

This begs me to ask, what are we cooking? What are we serving? What are we eating?

Do you settle for the almost-good instead of great food, the nearly-satisfying for the satiating? Is your relationship with Jesus like a drive-up window? On my own I can create pretty appetizers to tease the palate, but only my intentional time with Jesus produces filling meals.

At work, I’ve also enjoyed collaborating with award-winning restaurant and celebrity chefs; actual meals taste far better than the styled food…and too, are visually stunning. The chefs know that the most flavorful meals incorporate the finest ingredients.

Our spiritual journeys can be flavored with all kinds of commentaries and opinions, books on leadership, discipleship, serving, multiplying, purpose and challenge…but the core ingredients on your menu have to be the finest…God’s Word, prayer and the disciplines that lead you into His inner courts. Without them you’ll only taste cheap meals…fast food… junk.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus first told Peter to “feed”, then “tend”, then “feed” again. You can’t serve one meal, one time. “Tend” requires care, work, stirring, marinating, turning up the heat or maybe turning down the burner to allow the care to simmer…not always taking action, and allowing the aroma of the best food draw you back to come and eat again.

It takes time and attention, learning from the Master Chef every next step or ingredient.

“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

~1 Samuel 16:7

discipline, equipping

is there more to life?

May 14, 2014

I know there’s more to life than right where I am, and thankfully Jesus wants to change that. But it is taking my own willingness to let Him.

What about you? Are you doing okay with who you are, where you are, and what you’ve become…or do you wish for more?

I love the obvious but relevant quote found in Dallas Willard’s book Divine Conspiracy. Willard said, “…not going to London or Atlanta is a poor plan for going to New York.” That’s pretty apparent, right? But how often do we approach our spiritual growth and relationship with Christ through expectations of landing in one place, while walking in the direction towards another? Life change requires one simple thing: your willingness to let Jesus work.

If you want things to change you’ve got to be intentional. Jesus can certainly do much in a church service, but consider what He might do in your life if you gave Him an all-access pass and you started experiencing Him more. Author and Pastor Tim Keller said, “To the degree you experience God’s love toward you – that He sees you as beautiful and radiant – you will be changed.”

You might pick up your Bible or cry out when it’s convenient, in need of an emotional boost, or to throw a request Jesus’s way for something you’re hoping for…but what change might happen if you met Jesus over coffee every morning, while you pause for lunch, at the start of your evening, or all throughout your every days? You might begin trusting more of your life with Him, and begin to know Him as Friend (John 15:15.) Taking it to another level, as you learn to trust Him You might begin understanding that sometimes, instead of answering your immediate hopes, Jesus sees beyond it and He wants to meet your greater need, which is ultimately better for you in the longrun. As you experience Him more, your life changes more.

If you’re fed up with life as is and status quo, pause a moment and let The Message version of Luke 11:28–30 sink into your soul: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I want to encourage to jump into God’s Word. Does it take time? Sure it does. But any relationship is worth your time, and a relationship with Jesus is worth it all. Read God’s Word, listen to it, speak it, breathe it…because we believe you’ll begin to catch brighter glimpses into how God sees you and what He desires for your life, all because of His incredible love for you.

Next step is community. Find others who are following Jesus and get together. You’ll be amazed at how your life can move when you gather with others in His name, learning more about Him, depending on Jesus, bringing honest questions and finding truthful answers.

discipline, faith, fortitude

can you embrace the wilderness?

December 28, 2012

Sometimes my world feels comfortable, right, fitting.

I am blessed beyond every measure and far beyond what I deserve: I have a pleasant home, loving family, deep friendships, fulfilling career, two parents married over five decades, extended family, a safe community, good health and even the storybook golden retriever who greets me with an abundance of love.

And sometimes my world feels…awkward, barren, deserted.

Admittedly I prefer to slip into the cushioned chapters that wrap themselves snug, creating warmth, rest and satisfaction, but it’s in the wilderness that I most grow. 

It’s the conflicts, uncertainty and parched moments that stretch me to dig deeper into God’s assurance and cling white knuckled to the promises I cannot see, to the fruit that isn’t evident, to reach for refreshing water in the dry emptiness of it all.

Sometimes, I concede, the thirst is not readily quenched.

But the role of the wilderness cannot be diminished; counterfeit comfort leaves us right where we are.

Reflecting on 2012, my spiritual journey has migrated to the barrens.

It might have been activated by the obvious: being too far away from my dad’s battle with lung cancer, a loved one’s combat with anxiety and depression, contrasting and challenging  management styles that changed with three different bosses, compulsive conversations with a son with special needs…but it wasn’t. 

It was obedience that led me to the wilderness.

I walked away from a leadership role in our small home church when it positively made no sense to me whatsoever: because God said to. I gave up involvement in a non-profit where God is clearly active: because God said to. I passed an invitation to interview for a dream job at work: because God said to. I was extended an invitation to join a dynamic ministry team that I know will impact many: God said no.

NONE of these made sense to me, each took a part of my heart, and each pushed me further into wild dependence on God for answers.

But He hasn’t answered me. 

My wilderness is not punishment and I know I’m not alone. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. Please don’t miss that if your journey feels barren: the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. It was there the devil tempted Jesus for forty days.

Has your wilderness too, been filled with temptation? Mine has. Crazy that it arrived in the form of goodness this year…job offers and ministry opportunities.

The hardest part is learning how to say no to counterfeit good, in order to wait for the genuine great.

Here is what I’ve learned in the wilderness:

  1. God’s provision is measured in growth, not gratification. Gratification is the bonus to which we can return gratitude.
  2. Discipline is the most tempted, yet the most rewarded when overcome.
  3. The wilderness sets out to break me of autonomy, independence and self-sufficiency. The quicker I open my heart and hands, the less I am hungry.
  4. My sense of mission is clearer, I gain better perspective and understand my purpose and calling.
  5. I know I will be equipped with what I need when it ends.

Is life looking a little barren to you? A little wild? A little dry?

Let your wilderness affirm God’s promises even if you cannot see, feel, taste, hear or smell them.

Cling to faith. You will emerge with more of God.

discipline

stay

November 17, 2012


Through the grace of simplicity, dignity is bestowed in the command “Stay“.

Stay hems in safety and provision. It comforts, nourishes, bolsters.

Stay calms.

Yet…there are times the boundaries of stay mock the ever-turning engine of a wild heart and glare into the face of my own true motion. In split-second will, a heart domesticated by Grace, still chooses to toss the blessing and run with unbridled abandon. As if never having known the extravagance of tame.

This heart kicks up dust and dirt in the face of others…
and leaves me gritty.

Until I upright myself yet again, enough to hear the whisper of wind carrying the voice of my Master, calling my name.

I lean in. That voice, it woos me.

I move closer, returning to Stay in the loving arms of mercy.

It’s all grace.

 

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7.23-25