Search This Blog

Friday, March 11, 2011


Everyday at 10:30 revival happens in first grade. I announce to my small students to put away their things, grab their jackets and line up. Bored, glazed over little eyes pop open, as they jump from their chairs and sprint to the door. I force them to walk in a calm, straight line all the way down the side of the building until we reach the end of the sidewalk. The instant their tiny feet hit the grass, they are allowed to run. When their feet touch the turf, screams of joy and delight erupt. They run at full speed across the field to the playground equipment. Their plots thicken the air as they debate what games they will play.

When I watch them run, I am reminded of a couple of verses of scripture. The first is Philippians 4:4, "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!" These kids understand joy. They erupt with pleasure when they are set free every morning. I have been set free from sin and the grave, I need to be showing more joy in my life! Seeing the joy these kids experience makes me hungry to cultivate that character trait a little more in my life. I have a lot of quiet joy, but I could stand more exuberant excitement about the privilege of following Christ.

The other verse is Philippians 3:14, "I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus." My students are goal oriented, whether they are trying to get to the monkey bars, the swings, or the tether balls. They run at absolute top speeds, trying to break the speed of light on their way to acquiring their desired location. Lately I have been watching their determined burst of speed and wondering what my life might look like if I ran after God with that same intensity and passion.

Just a couple of thoughts from the playground: Live joyfully, run harder.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Be a Tool

In a recent sermon, Shawn spoke from Romans 6:12, "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." He pointed out that an instrument is actually just a tool.

My brain ran away from the sermon on its own little tangent for awhile. BE A TOOL. I have a toolbox. It has many things in it: a hammer, tape measure, screwdriver, pliers, etc. What if my tools tried to tell me how to do my remodeling projects? What if my screwdriver was convinced it could drive nails, and my hammer tried to measure the width of the window for curtains. Can you imagine the chaos? Yet, that is what I do to God. I try to tell him the best way to use my life rather than simply living surrendered to his will. Just like my hammer is best used to drive nails, my life is best used in the hands of the Master.

Even though I may use some tools more often than others, they are all valuable. I may not often need a pipe wrench, but when the moment comes, a pair of pliers simply will not do the job as well. I thought about this application. We as believers want to compare ourselves to others and see what God is doing in others' lives and whine about how He's not doing as much in our own lives. Instead we need to recognize that we all have infinite value to God.

I used to have an old hammer whose head occasionally flew off. While duct tape improved its longevity, it finally had to be trashed. I thought about this old hammer, and realized that sometimes when God wants to use me I am not ready. I may duct tape my life together enough to get by, but it is not a substitute for real spirituality. I realized that in our lives, we have to maintain our spiritual fitness so that we are always ready whenever God needs us.

I guess my goal for today is to work on being a well oiled, useful tool that God can use in any way he desires to further his kingdom purposes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If I said you had a beautiful body.....

If I said you had a beautiful body......some of you would sing the next line in the song, "would you hold it against me," but the majority of my women readers would snicker and laugh at the thought that their body could ever be beautiful.

Body image. It's the greatest of all struggles for most, if not all, American women. We are inundated by images of airbrushed, anorexic models with impossible plastic surgery enhancements. They assault our senses from the magazine stands in the checkout line, billboards on the highway, and the television shows on every network. Women, often under pressure from the men in their lives, believe that their value is found in looking like these models. This has led to a deadly epidemic of eating disorders and other dysfunctional behavior.

Recently browsing in the dollar bins at a local bookstore, I picked up a book filled with beautiful women - not the swimsuit model variety, but ordinary, everyday women. The book was a collection of these women's poignant stories of their journey to find peace in their own imperfect skin. Each woman was tastefully photographed in black and white alongside her story. The women were a cross section of America - old, middle aged, young, skinny, fat, wrinkled, even a breast cancer survivor. As I read the stories, I was awed by the sheer beauty encapsulated in those pages. I saw that real beauty is not the computer enhanced, plastic surgery repaired women on the front covers of magazines. Real beauty is found in a grandmother's winkled, gnarled hands - proof of a long life, lived well. Real beauty is found in the young mom's huge scar from her emergency C-section - a proud war wound in the battle to deliver a first child. Real beauty is large and small, light and dark. Real beauty is seeing yourself and the women around you as a unique and special part of God's creation.

On my way out, I walked past the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and shook my head. The woman on the cover did not compare in beauty to the stories I had just read and the pictures I had just seen. Fake and airbrushed, she did not hold a candle to the real beauty I had witnessed. I was saddened that our society has been satisfied with so little for so long. We have bought into the terrible lie that beauty is a tan, skinny Barbie like figure.

I would encourage my readers to notice and appreciate the beautiful women in your life today. Compliment them, encourage them, and love them. Begin with the beautiful woman in your mirror.