Monday, May 14, 2018

The Debt We Always Owe

Recently, the Lord enabled me to get out from under a debt that would have taken years to pay off. As soon as it was paid, I logged into my account to look at the zero next to my loan and to bask in the feeling of "Paid in Full."

That night, I read these words in Romans, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another." (Romans 13:8)

No matter how many bills we pay or loans we pay off, there is one debt we will always owe.

We will always owe love.

We can love the people today who God puts into our lives, but they will always need to be loved tomorrow. It's impossible to love too much or to love enough.





Too many people are looking for ways to get out of this debt. Divorce rates are high because someone chooses to pay off that debt and stop loving. Families are torn apart because the debt gets too heavy, and love stops being an option. Neighbors fight, coworkers gossip, in-laws bicker.

Love is paid in full, and it's not supposed to be.

I thought I was done with debt that day. Seeing that "zero" gave me indescribable joy.

But I'm not debt-free.

I have people in my life who need to be loved. Today. Right now. Tomorrow. Always.

I owe them love, and I always will.

When you think you've loved enough or you want to stop loving, put a little more on the account.

Love to the full, but never let it be paid in full.


"Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8)


Next post (May 28):
"If God Were to Answer Your Phone Call"



Monday, April 30, 2018

Three Reasons Why Tomorrow Helps Us Live Today


What drives you out of bed in the morning? Your child in the other room? The thought of freshly brewed coffee? A time clock? A to-do list? Chores?





As believers, we have a more compelling reason to fully live today.



We’re on a timeline.



Christ is coming back, and His return is closer today than it was yesterday.



“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Romans 14:11)



His return gives us perspective. No matter how much we are blessed or how many trials we endure, this life isn’t all there is. We can hold everything we own in an open palm, because we don’t know when it will no longer be ours.



Knowing tomorrow is coming helps us live today with an open palm.



His return gives us hope. Sometimes hoping for the thing we’re waiting for brings as much pleasure as the thing itself. The truth is, there is a set time when Jesus will come back for you and me.



Knowing tomorrow is coming helps us live today in expectation.



His return gives us strength. Life can be overwhelming. Some days, the thought of pressing on is as hard as the pressing on itself. When we have perspective and we have hope, we can do that thing one more time, because we know we won’t have to do it forever.



Knowing tomorrow is coming helps us live today as if it’s the last day we will have to live.



What should be our first thought when we wake up?


We’re on a timeline.



And Christ’s coming is closer today than it was yesterday.





The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout

. . . And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17




Next post (May 14): The Debt We Always Owe








Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash


Monday, April 16, 2018

An Emperor's Forgotten Story


Everybody loves a good story. Some of the most nostalgic pictures portray children sitting at the knees of their grandparents, listening to tales of the past.



Stories outlive the lives they tell about. They teach truths. They remind us that generations and ages gone by were no different from today.



God is the Author of stories. He sovereignly weaves them together and omnisciently knows their end from their beginnings.



But the stories God elevates the most are the ones that teach of His power. He highlights those that tell of His love and that point the next generations to Him.




This is why the story of an emperor, named Yu, lies forgotten. 



Yu was one of the few emperors in China to be given the title, “the Great," yet very little is recorded of this ancient life.



Around 2000 B.C., while Yu the Great ruled a dynasty and built flood control systems in China, the Creator of the universe turned His eye toward a young shepherd.



Jacob, poor and unfavored, lived a life of deception. But God chose to bless this man and give him twelve sons. From this one man’s story, God created a nation. God sent His Son to be a part of that nation. And many promises in Scripture center on the purposes He had for this man He later named, Israel.



God preserved Israel’s story in a Book, read by many generations. Some count Emperor Yu’s story fictitious, possibly passed down by oral tradition.



One man depended on his God to bless him with children, a land, and a name. The other ruled an ancient dynasty, and some wonder if he really existed.



While Emperor Yu lived a forgotten story, God wrote the history of a shepherd. His legacy tells of the reach of God’s power, highlights His love, and points future generations to the God who is their only hope.



Some think it strange that God would look to a poor man and take no notice of an emperor.



But when you belong to a King who chose to call you His child, your story does not go unnoticed.



The rulers of the world live and die. They leave legacies or lie in graves forgotten.



But the stories God writes for His children never go unnoticed. No hour of the day is forgotten. No hope is ignored. No need escapes His attention.



While Emperor Yu earned the title, “the Great,” God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.”



And your story will not be forgotten by the same God who chose you.






“The LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people." (1 Samuel 12:22)





Next post (April 30):
"Three Reasons Why Tomorrow Helps Us Live Today"



Monday, April 2, 2018

The Day After Easter

Yesterday, we celebrated what every Sunday is about: the Resurrection of Christ. As Christians, we wouldn’t have hope of eternal life if Christ had not risen from the dead. If He hadn’t risen, our faith would be in vain. (1 Cor. 15:17) How fitting that we should celebrate this event every week and especially once a year.



But what about the days in between? What about Monday through Saturday? Or the fifty-one Sundays a year that we don’t emphasize His resurrection?



What about the day after Easter?







Mary Magdalene, Peter, John—these real believers who really saw His pierced hands and feet—what did they do the day after Easter? What did their life look like the other days of the year?



You and I weren’t there, but we read a little bit of what those days looked like in the book of Acts.



These early believers told others that Jesus rose from the dead.

They no longer hid in the Upper Room.

They no longer grieved His death.

They lived in hope.



Jesus’ death was the greatest event in human history. His death means that “God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon [you and] me.” -- C Bancroft



But His death would have meant nothing if He hadn’t risen again.



Easter means Jesus is alive.



The day after Easter means we have Someone interceding for us.

Satan cannot accuse us to the point of despair.

God’s wrath will never be poured out on you and me.

We can boldly approach His throne.

Because He lives, we will live also. (John 14:19)



The day after Easter means we have hope. Peter and John and Mary Magdalene lived in the spirit of that reality. They knew they had hope, and they lived like they believed it.



What should the day after Easter look like for every believer?



Today, we have hope.





“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.” (Heb. 6:19)



Next Post (April 16): 
"An Emperor's Forgotten Story"



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Monday, November 20, 2017

Shattered Glass and Learning to Give Thanks



The day started like any other day off. The To-Do list penned. A load of laundry begun. Heading out the door to a dentist appointment.

In a rush, I slam a cupboard door. Because even a day off can feel urgent.

Instantly, I regret my hurried attempt to get one more thing done.

I hear a loud crash—the sound of a day’s To-Do list suddenly altered.

Carefully, I open the door and find a 9 x 13 casserole dish sparkling in a heap of tiny glass particles.

New tasks for my day get jotted down.

“Clean up every piece of glass.”

“While you’re at it, organize the cupboard.”




The day before, I’d been listening to Ann VosKamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts.”


“The real problem of life is never a lack of time,” Ann writes. “The real problem of life is lack of thanksgiving.”


As I started on my new “To-Do’s” for the day, my list was altered again.

With the shattering of glass and the day’s reorganization, my heart found a place of thanks that spilled on to a new list—an enumeration of gifts.

“Finding a pair of scissors I’d given up looking for.”

“Items to be recycled, removing the clutter.”

Life is full of the shattered. The urgent. The waiting to be found. The unplanned.

But when we find in these a way to give thanks, they turn from joy-stealers to joy-initiators.

Giving thanks isn’t a round-the-table game on a holiday filled with enough. Thanksgiving is a daily way to find joy.

When life surprises you with the suddenly shattered, pick up the pieces and make a list.

In every loss, thanksgiving will open the door to joy.



“Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good.” (Psalm 100:4,5)