Of Hats & Hearts

Hats; we wthear them or see them worn everywhere. The baseball cap variety has any number of things on them. Flags, sports teams, brand names, etc. I have never thought of a hat or logo on a hat as life changing… until this past weekend.

We had stopped at a store – one of those places a guy is ready to get through ASAP. As I walked by the registers to exit a hat caught my attention. One word was on the hat – “blessed”. It really wasn’t the word on the hat that captivated my thoughts. It was the thought the Lord brought to mind. It started with one word, that led me to a question, which in turn led to an assessment. The Word? “Obedience.” What if the hat said obedience instead of blessed? I bet there would not be much of a market for that!

As Christians, we can be obsessed with the perks of knowing Jesus, but not so much with the calling or responsibility. Frankly, we are blessed to be vertical and above ground. To exist at all, given our sinful nature is a blessing from God. Yes, I should relish the blessings of God. I should live in faith that God will bless my life in Christ. After all, we are called to live in hope and blessing must be a relative of hope. But what about the call to obedience?

Obedience is a response of being loved, forgiven, blessed in Jesus. Obedience is following the pattern in the life of Jesus who lived in obedience to the Father. It is certain that we will not live perfectly in obedience. This is why Jesus came. But obedience includes recognizing sin, seeking forgiveness, and turning from it.

I wonder… does our hesitancy of wearing a hat that says obedience come from excusing our disobedience? Do we ignore those twinges of conscience from the Spirit? Does our lack of passionate love for and study of the word of God stem more from subconsciously wanting to avert anything that would touch on places of disobedience? I’m just asking questions…

For me, this all became a call to encourage myself and other followers of Jesus to consider obedience as main stream rather than extreme. Consider the following verses and your thirst (or lack of) for obedience:

“Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, FOR OBEDIENCE to Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:2

“And this is love: that we WALK IN OBEDIENCE to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” -2 John 6

Blessed and seeking a life of obedience,


The 90 Day Challenge Day 85 – Promises & A Fixed Gaze


“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day… So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” -2 Corinthians 4:16, 18

We can fool ourselves. A person can give up and yet still keep going. You do what has to be done. People see you and see nothing different. But inside… inside you have given up, become discouraged, leaking hope… So, how do I move from giving up to never give up? I am promised that The Spirit renews my spirit every day. To not give up I must pay attention to what God is always doing for me, for us – renewing me… daily. How do I do that? How do I see what God is doing in and around me when circumstances look and smell like the bottom of a trash can that has held trash for too long? I am to fix my gaze on to the eternal, rather than the moment, the temporary. Anything I see in my circumstances is temporary; temporary because God will change them, and temporary because of the eternal life I will experience when Jesus comes again. It all comes down to where I fix my gaze. If I fix my gaze on circumstances, then I have focused on my inability to “fix” it. When I fix my gaze on the unseen, I focus on Jesus, His promises, the presently unseen things He is doing. And, ultimately, my gaze is on the eternal.

Father, turn my gaze in the right direction, and give me eyes to catch glimpse of what you are doing in and around me.

Readings: Luke 20, 2 Corinthians 4, 1 John 3, Romans 8

The 90 Day Challenge Day 84 – Promises & Until


“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.” -2 Timothy 1:16-17

While I would never want to name a kid after this guy, I certainly would want kids to be like him – adults for that matter too! He is an encourager, and being an encourager requires something very specific. An encourager must be willing to go out of their way again and again. Paul was in prison, and this man visits again and again. Traveling to Rome, finding a place to stay, and making time for repeated prison visits is no small sacrifice. On top of all this Paul adds that he searched for Paul until he found him.

God’s call for me/we to be encouragers means a readiness to go out of my way; to make sacrifices repeatedly; to persist until found. We tend to hate the slightest inconvenience. This has to be shed to encourage. While many people we may minister to may not literally be in prison, they can be in prisons of their own struggle. They, too, must be found. They will require persistence because they may at first push us away. But the encourager presses on and in.

Father, make me a better encourager…

Readings: Ezekiel 37, 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 17

The 90 Day Challenge Day 74 – Promises & Amazing Restoration


“Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” -Psalm 126:3-5

Hey, wait a minute! Are not these opposing concepts? How can God do amazing things and yet we need God to restore some things? How can God do amazing things and I have to work at things in tears? Doesn’t the idea of restoring run contrary to amazing? How can working at something with great struggle, pain and tears also be God doing amazing things?

Yet this is right where I am. I live in a world that is held together by tension. God is, has done, is doing and will do amazing things in and around my life. At the same time, I can need God to restore fortunes in an area of my life. My life has the tension of amazing and need. I live the tension of a great, amazing, good God and the tension of restoration in another area. I live with the tension of God doing amazing things, while at the same time life being hard and bringing tears to my eyes and soul. The good news is this amazing God promises such tension will lead to a harvest with joy – i.e. God does something amazing again.

Father, You are amazing, and I trust you will come through in amazing ways where I need You to restore my fortunes. I choose to look forward to the harvest.

Readings: Psalm 126, Psalm 92, Psalm 135, 2 Corinthians 12

The 90 Day Challenge Day 48 – Promises & Caring


“But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.”

“He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle…” -Matthew 12:7, 20a

The disciples had picked grain and was eating it on the Sabbath.  It was a clear violation of religious law at that time.  Jesus’ words point to the need for mercy.  Mercy is not something extended to the deserving.  Mercy is for the undeserving.  Mercy is both forgiving and overlooking sin.  Mercy is not excusing sin, but releasing the sinner through forgiveness.  Mercy is not crushing the weakest.  Mercy is not snuffing out a flickering candle.  Mercy sees into the eyes and heart of the fallen and devotes itself to keeping the flame burning… ever brighter.

I can speak not only from the Word, but from experience.  I have been the weakest, and He loved me and put me back together, instead of crushing me.  I have been the flickering flame about to go out, but He stirred the flames.  I have known, know, and will know in the future His unquenchable mercy.  Which leads back to me.  Am I seeking to be like Jesus?  Are my fellow followers of Jesus seeking to be like Jesus?  Am I condemning or giving mercy?  Am I crushing or curing the weakest?  Am I building a roaring fire in others or snuffing out the flickering flame of others?  It doesn’t matter what other believers do here.  It doesn’t matter if they think I am weak. What matters is living like Jesus.

Father, let me be a source of Your shelter for the weak, and the bearer of Your fuel for the flickering flame of others.

Readings: Matthew 12, Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 8, Philippians 1

The 90 Day Challenge Day 22 – Promises & Perplexity


th-8“And He also said, It is finished!  I am the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End.  To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” -Revelation 21:6

Today when I went out to ride my bike I had decided to use the time to think and talk with God about some things.  My ride was this seamless drifting from talking to God, to thinking about pacing and how far I could push and not cramp up later, to thinking about some things I needed to work through, to how cold it was in the wind, to prayer, to thinking, to how surprisingly hot I was and would pay for that later when I was out in the fierce wind again, to talking to God…

At around the 20 mile mark the Lord planted a thought in my mind.  People today are stressed out.  One recent study stated that millennials are so stressed out that many are  prematurely losing their hair.  (I will not speak to the veracity of such a statement.)  Nevertheless, we are more and more “stressed out” not matter what our age.  Some would think it is the complexity of the world we live in today.  With all the advances in technology and the pace at which knowledge is increasing, complexity must be stressing us out.  I don’t think our problem is complexity.  It is perplexity.  We stress out because we are perplexed at our situation; or why God hasn’t done anything yet; or why we intended to do better but didn’t; or why someone so close to us hurt us as they did; or…  We live in a perplexing world, where things, circumstances, and people are perplexing because we are just not consistent (though it is a noble goal to strive for).  (The thought – “it is not about complexity but perplexity!)

Here is where Revelation 21 comes into play.  After telling us what the New Heaven and New Earth will be like after Jesus returns this statement in verse 6 appears – “To all who are thirsty I will give freely…”  What Christ did for us isn’t complex, it is perplexing.  Why bother saving people who turned their back on Him?  Why love the unlovely and unlovable?  The flip side is I find the idea of thirsting for Jesus is not complex, it is perplexing.  Sometimes I am really thirsty for more of Jesus.  Then there are other times where what I want is elsewhere.  I am a perplexing being.  I relate to other perplexing people who, like me, will spend our entire lives nowhere near being consistent.  But the perplexing has a solution – Jesus.  I can love others no matter how perplexing they may be to me because Jesus can love through me.  I know I should be thirsty.  I have been thirsty and therefore received Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  But I can also go to Jesus to ask for His help in being thirsty.  It’s a bit perplexing, but it is the very thing that Jesus loves to answer.

Jesus, guide me through this perplexing life by keeping me thirsty for more of you.

Reading: Genesis 15, Hebrews 9, Revelation 21, Luke 1

The 90 Day Challenge Day 7 – Promises Over Struggles

“I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger… The faithfulness of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” -Lamentations 3:1, 22-23

This chapter makes it clear that his suffering is from God.  God is angry.  They have sinned and he is responding.  He describes his suffering as “broken bones”, “distress”, “heavy chains” to mention just a few.  I/we have experienced heavy chains, brokenness, distress.  It is an unbearable pain and there seems to be no end in sight; whether physical, emotional, mental.  It is the kind of hardship that makes us ready to quit.  We come to the point of just “getting through” the day.  It is a period of life where optimism and hope dries up.  Our spiritual, mental, and emotional make up becomes dead, hardened, empty.  Yet Jeremiah finds a way to keep going; a way to grab on to hope.  He lays hold of the promise of God to be faithful.  And to emphasize it, he redundantly says God’s faithfulness “never ends.”

When all hell seems to break lose in our lives; when suffering seems beyond our ability to cope; when we are ready to give up; to fall down and decided to not get back up – in this desperate place – God is faithful.  He is faithful in leading us to this hard place; faithful in leading us through this hard place, and faithful to lead us to a new phase of life on the other side.

When life can’t seem to get any worse, and then something else happens;  when it just feels like everything, everyone, every circumstance is just piling on us – he rests on the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning.  Every morning, no matter how bleak and discouraging – God gives us a fresh start.  Every morning He is there; His love is there; His faithfulness is there; His mercy is there.  I have found that it is in the deep valleys of life that God’s faithfulness and mercy shine brightest.  And that is what happens when you choose to live by Promise instead of by problems!

Faithful God, when I am down I will choose to see Your faithfulness to me more than what I am feeling.


Readings: Lamentations 3, Psalm 37, Psalm 83,  Genesis 22