Give Thanks, Always

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

– 1 Chronicles 16:34

Growing up, I know now how much I took for granted. Simple things like food, shelter, transportation. More personal things, like hugs from the people you love, or a kiss goodnight when your parents tuck you in bed.

It’s easy as a child to not fully appreciate what we have, to be thankful for the blessings we receive. And all to often, this inability to be thankful follows us into adulthood.

We get caught up with the harsh realities of life, schedules, responsibilities, etc.

And then we pause one day a year to be thankful. We eat good food, hang out with family; all good things. But we ought to be thankful all the time.

I’m always struck by Paul’s letters in the Bible. That despite what he was facing when he wrote most of them, the death threats and persecution, he constantly stayed thankful. He was thankful for the people he wrote to, but he was thankful most of all to Jesus.

Paul understood something we often loose sight of.

Regardless of the situations we face, and regardless of the time of year, we should be thankful always.

I know a lot of people who have encountered hardship, loss of loved ones, broken relationships all this year. For many, life this year has been tough, and it can be tough to find things to be thankful for.

I encourage you, join me in remembering the little things we have. Remember that we are blessed, even in the messes.

Give thanks to the Lord, always.

A Fiery Tongue

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It’s a phrase as kids we would say to others when they said something mean. As if the things they said, didn’t really hurt. We would give off this sense of strength.

But often times, it was just a mask. The words hurt. We might not have shown it on the outside. But they hurt, and sometimes deep.

James describes the tongue as a fire, something of great potential disaster.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

James 3:5b-6

The idea of fire, something that can be so destructive, is made synonymous with the very muscle we use to communicate.

But words will never hurt me.

James seems to be telling us something different. The words you and I speak are important. Without restraint, without careful control, our words can be destructive.

James makes a point to bring our attention to the smallness of the tongue in contrast to the immensity it can unleash in damage.

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

James 3:3-5a

A small package that packs a big punch.

Our words have significance. They bring life, or they bring death to the one receiving them.

If we are called to love, to be a reflection of Jesus Christ, we cannot leave our tongue unbridled.

Put out the fire, and speak with purpose.

How Can I Love?

Today I had an opportunity.

I shared a part of my story that has perhaps been the most influential part of my faith development.

How can I love someone who I feel has wronged me so deeply, there appears to be no recovery.

Because Jesus did.

And Paul instructs us to walk in His Spirit. The same Spirit that propelled Jesus to the cross, where He hung and died, for His creation when they turned their back on Him.

He loved them despite the hurt.

Check out more here….

https://www.facebook.com/anchorchurchlawrence/videos/564521524380107/

Position of the Heart

The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

– Psalm 51:17

You need this.
I need this too.
A reminder of how big God is.
That no matter what situation you are in, or what struggle is staring you down, He is big enough to handle it. It doesn’t matter how messy your life is, or what you have done; He is big enough.
The hurts in my story would not have found healing if I hadn’t been real with God about the pain I felt. That’s why this song strikes a chord in me.
David even got it. A guy, the King, in the midst of his mess wrote this…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

He understood what God wants, what He desires. In a time when animal sacrifice was the instructed practice to restore right standing with God, David understood restoration required something deeper.
David understood the value of honest and transparent conversation with God.
And he knew God was big enough to handle anything brought to Him.
Life is messy. It’s hard. But my God, the One who spoke everything into existence, is big enough.
It doesn’t matter what you are facing, what you have walked through, it will never be to messy or big for Him.

Three C’s of Conflict

Courage.
Conviction.
Compassion.

Three words that in any conflict you face, need to surface at some point. And at the same time, can be difficult to embody. They don’t always mix well, and at times can be at odds with each other. That creates conflict within.

I have wrestled with these three words more in the last three years than ever before. And there have been many times my emotions have gotten the best of me, and I have had to take several steps back and correct my course.

One thing I am sure of, is that no matter how tough the battle ahead might be, these three words are ones I must strive to embody. If not for the ones around me who see and are impacted by my decisions, but for the claim I take as a follower of Christ.

I have many more years ahead where this challenge will present itself. And I know you have challenges in your life as well.

Show courage.
Heed conviction.
Practice compassion.

Grace

…for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…

— Romans 3:23-24

Grace.
Something that is contingent on nothing more than love.
A gift, in purest form. A gift God freely, overwhelmingly gives His children. It doesn’t matter what I have done, or will do. He gives it.
Why?
Simply, love.
Despite the fall, our sin that creates a void between us and God, Jesus loved you and me enough. Enough to leave His throne in heaven and walk this broken earth. A creation He spoke into existence, broken by sin through the fall. He walked with us, and then hung on a cross meant for you and I. His love for you and me led Him to death in our place, so now when God looks are us He sees no sin. When He looks at His children, He sees His Son, Holy, perfect, blameless.
This is why I worship Him. It might not always make sense to me why He sees it fit to bless me, to show grace when I don’t deserve it.
But I know it’s because of a love so pure for me, it overwhelms me.

Why?

Why a blog? Why this blog? There are plenty out there already, right?

Writing has been something of therapeutic benefit for many, including myself. More than that, it is a form that allows me to process at a deeper level the thoughts and wrestling concerning my faith that take place within and between my head and heart. Writing becomes an expression of the thoughts, beliefs, and concerns that lie deep within us.

My short live has brought me through many valleys, and thankfully many mountain tops as well. Along the way I have learned a lot about myself; my flaws, my strengths, what gets under my skin and what inspires me. And through this journey of writing, my story will come forward. The past, as messy as it can be for all of us, can be a testimony for God. Despite what we might think of it, for someone else it might be the encouragement, guidance, even caution that they need at the right time.

So why? Because there are things that need to be said. There are people who need encouraged, reminded of who they are meant to be. Something better than they are today. My story, your story, might be the spark God uses to keep someone going.

Finding Jesus more each day is more than a tag line for me. It’s a desire deep within me that drives my thoughts and actions. My hope, is that becomes more and more clear through this process. And together, we find Jesus more each day in our life.