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Christ in Your Home Christian living family God our Father Handling Life's Problems

You Look Like You Could Use a Drink

Stressed out? You need a drink.

Disappointed? You need a drink.

Unfulfilled? You need a drink.

No, I’m not talking about the drinks that come by way of a neon sign and a frosty glass. Not a pretty colored drink with a tiny umbrella either.

The drink I’m talking about is much stronger.

In a really familiar story from the gospel of John we see Jesus having a conversation at a well with a Samaritan woman. (It’s important to note that at this particular time, the Jews and the Samaritans were hostile towards each other’s cultural and religious practices. So this interaction between Jesus and this woman is a huge deal!)

Jesus and the Samaritan woman have a casual conversation about needing a drink of water from the well. Jesus tells her if she knew who he really was she would be asking HIM for a drink! The absurdity right??

Jesus says in John 4:13-14

“If you drink from Jacob’s well, you’ll be thirsty again, but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never be thirsty again. For when you drink the water I give you, it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, flooding you with endless life!” 

Imagine never thirsting again? Imagine the freedom that comes with that? Imagine living in such a way that no matter what your circumstance or situation you are satisfied.

It’s possible friend.

The reason we live stressed out, disappointed, and unfulfilled is simply because we search for our thirst to be quenched in unsustainable sources.

Your spouse isn’t a sustainable source. But wait, isn’t it my husband’s or  my wife’s job to make me happy? Nope. Marriage is meant to make you holy, not happy. It’s meant to be treated as a covenant not a cup.

Your kids can’t be where your fulfillment comes from either. And all the parents say “But my kids are my life”! Well..they’re not meant to be! Making your kids the well you draw from isn’t fair or attainable for them. Kids (yes, those perfect little angels..) will unintentionally disappoint you at some point in life.

Your relationships (dating, friendships) are not meant to keep you going either. People are messy! People aren’t perfect! Relationships are complicated. They can be on track one day, and a complete rollercoaster the next day. Trying to pull from that well will always lead to hurt.

Jesus offered the Samaritan woman a drink from a never-ending supply of goodness and grace. A sustainable source that when consumed becomes a flood of abundant life. And her response is yes.

Why?

Because she was tired of being stressed out, disappointed, and unfulfilled by the other sources she was trying to draw from.

“The woman replied, “Let me drink that water so I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to come back here to draw water” John 4:15

Quit going back to what hurt you over and over again. Quit putting pressure on those closest to you. Quit searching for that quick, easy fix. Quit running back to that well that will run dry.

Instead, respond to Jesus with a ,“Yes, I want what you offer Lord”. Let me find my fulfillment in you”.

Jesus is waiting to meet you at that dry well you’re at. He’s waiting there with a drink that will overflow with peace, mercy, love, and kindness. A drink that will never, ever run dry.

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Christ in Your Home Christian living God our Father Handling Life's Problems

I Am Your Father

If you read that title in your best Darth Vader voice, you are my kind of people. We are HUGE Star Wars fans in our household and every summer we re-watch the trilogies for family movie night. One of the most iconic moments in the whole saga is when the evil Darth Vader reveals that he is indeed Jedi in training Luke Skywalker’s father. Luke’s entire sense of self comes crashing down and he’s left with more questions than answers about who he really is.

In response, Luke lets out a perfect cinematic scream of “NOOOOOOOOOOOO! That’s impossible”! Talk about some family drama? If you know anything about Star Wars you know this Skywalker family has got some MAJOR issues that stretches across decades and many generations.

(If I just happened to ruin this entire movie series for you, my deepest most sincere apologies but it’s for a good reason I promise! Hang with me!)

As we enter into our May series that is all about families, I can’t help but think of all the times I have let out my own yell of “NOOOOOO” and “That’s impossible”, at the expense of my own family issues. Anyone else been there?

Family, no matter what it looks like, is difficult to navigate. Things are always changing, always shifting. What was ok yesterday is not ok today. What we said last week doesn’t mean anything this week. What worked last month isn’t making any difference this month. It can feel like an intense game of tug of war where one minute you’re pulling that rope with ease and the next your face first in the mud with no idea how you even got there.

Here’s the really good news though.

God doesn’t change.

His ways are solid. His ways are steady. His ways are trustworthy.

David asks God this exact thing when he says:

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground”. Psalm 143:10 NIV

No matter if you’re single, engaged, married, divorced, widowed. No matter if you’re a whole family, a step-family, a blended family. Whether you have one child, 10 children, no children. Whether you have been married for less than a year or married for 20 plus years…God wants your household built on the solid foundation of Christ. All other ways are unstable and fleeting.

See, you may change. Your family may change. Your ideas of family may change. But God has never changed.

The God that brought Ruth to Boaz is the same today. (Ruth 4:13-16)

The God that gave Sarah a baby is the same today. (Genesis 21:1-3)

The God that brought redemption to Joseph’s family is the same today. (Genesis 45:1-28)

The God that brought the prodigal son home is the same today. (Luke 15:11-24)

The God that restored Gomer to Hosea is the same today. (Hosea 3:1-5)

The God that transformed Saul to Paul is the same today. (Acts 9:1-19)

The God that forgave the adulterous woman is the same today. (John 8: 1-11)

God is at work telling a story of restoration, redemption, and miracles through your family. No matter what that family may look like in your current phase of life. Don’t buy into the lie that you need to have it all together or be the “right kind of family” for God to use it. Instead choose to believe that Gods foundation is steady, safe, and secure. Choose to believe that He is for you and your family. That his ways are better than yours. That everything else you may try and build your life on is sinking sand.

God is saying to you today, that you matter to him. That you are his precious child. That he cares deeply for you. He longs for a relationship with you.

How do I know that?

Because God also said, “I am your Father”.

And He’s really good at being a Father to you and your whole family.

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Christian living faith God's plan God's Word Handling Life's Problems victory

Coffee with a Bug

I was sitting on my patio enjoying the privilege of taking my time with a good cup of coffee.  No daily rush just relaxed and letting my mind drift.  I spotted an interesting little bug.  I am not a fan of bugs but I believe in live and let live the best that I can.  He was not like any other bug I had seen.  He was a colorful little guy.  Busily going about his day.  He was extremely purposeful.  He showed no doubt in his mission.  Gave everything he had to its goal.  Never stopped to look around.  He was committed to his destiny.  His only distraction was if something got in his path.  He always corrected direction and continued on.  There was no doubt the bug knew its purpose and path and plan for his little life.

In some ways I began to envy him.  In others not at all.  From what I know of science this little guy had no choice.  He was programmed with only one thought. Locked into a life of no choice. Sounds kind of dull and unexciting and certainly restrictive from a people perspective. 

I am pretty sure he didn’t know any other way and seemed content in his life chore.  Or at least so it appeared.

Just about every Christian can recite Jeremiah 29:11.  They may not know it is Jeremiah 29:11 but when they were saved, they heard and adopted it into their heart.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you  Plans to give you hope and a future.”  It’s the “plans” part most of us struggle with.  How many mornings when I walked out of my house, I had wished that God had just written those plans on my fence for me to read.  Then I would know which way to turn, what choice to make.  What distraction to turn from.  What was the most important goal for that day, besides drawing close to him?  Ah but there in that last one is where you find the answer.  God doesn’t give us a map that says turn here, nope wrong way.  Or my favorite thought to myself often after an apparent wrong turn.  “Are you kidding me!”  

We aren’t programmed.  Instead, He has gloriously given us talents, and abilities beyond our wildest understanding.  Not one but many.  Supportive of each other in ways that often don’t make any sense to us.  But as Jesus said to His disciples in John  “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever.  That Helper is the Spirit of truth.”

That truth, if we draw close to it and learn its voice can and wants to guide us through every step, every choice of our day.  Talents and gifts and abilities are gifts to be valued and used to bring glory to our creator.  However, it is the voice of truth, the Holy Spirit, that guides us to fulfillment on both the easy and hard days. 

The “plans” aren’t programmed into our DNA like the little bug.  The plans are placed in our heart when we seek them.  The Holy Spirit is our guide and the Word is our truth.  Without both of them working together it is easy to get lost in the endless choices we face each day.  The little bug had no choice in his life but was secure in his mission.  We have choice and sometimes get off the intend path and our not so secure in our mission.  Unlike the bug we have a loving Lord who sent the Holy Spirit to guide us back when we get “off path.”. 

Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

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. Christian living God's Word Handling Life's Problems victory

Connect

It has been said a thousand different ways in a thousand different languages; the value of connecting with someone. A spouse, friend, loved one, or even co-worker. When there is a heart connection it does something majestic for the soul. I sometimes think “where do we get this from?” or “why are we wired this way?” and I believe the answer is found in Genesis chapter one, two and three.

We see God telling, revealing “..it’s not good for man to be alone..” and creates Eve for Adam. This is a clear picture we are made for connection. But, notice it starts with our connection with God.

I believe this, we can correctly and in a healthy way connect with others ONLY after we connect with God. If we try any other way it is like getting the cart before the horse.

And when we connect with God it overflows into every relationship we have. When our connection to God is our first priority it flows into every other area of our life. Jesus said “..if your eye is healthy, then your whole body is full of light.” Matthew 6:22

So the question becomes; How do we connect with God who’s name is Yahweh, the creator of the universe?

One, big practical step: Spend time with Him.

This can look like reading the Bible, reading a devotional, reading a Christian book. It can look like taking a walk or a ride. It can look like praying no matter where you are. This can look like worshiping while you cook or drive. Take the time to get the words of Christ into your heart, however it may look in your life.

The whole goal is to make time to connect with God, because He greatly desires to connect with you.

“Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you…” James 4:8 [TPT]

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. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Trust in the Silence

“Silence is golden…unless you have kids, then silence is suspicious”. Anyone with kids relate to that? Having two kids of my own and working with kids weekly, I can absolutely testify to this! At our house it usually means there’s some sort of mess being made or plot being conspired. Kids…am I right?? 

Silence can actually be deafening can’t it? Silence can be alarming. Silence can trigger our need to take action. 

Having just celebrated Easter this past weekend, this is all still fresh on my heart so stay with me because I really want you to “see” this part of the story!

Friday was the crucifixion; violence, mourning, grief. 

Sunday was the resurrection; excitement, celebrating, joy. 

But Saturday? 

Saturday was silent. 

So often we want to bypass Saturday because nothing “good” seems to be happening. It’s that messy, middle part of the story right? Where there’s disappointment, isolation, hopelessness, unexplainable hurt. 

We’ve come one day away from the trauma and we hear that “Sunday is coming and just wait for it, it’s going to be amazing what God is going to do on Sunday”! And that is absolutely true, don’t miss that. (Matthew 27:45-65, Matthew 28:1-10)

Of course God was at work Friday, it was part of His perfect plan. And of course God was at work Sunday, it was God’s promise fulfilled. 

But, you know what we tend to forget? 

God was still at work Saturday. He was still there in the silence. He was still there in the disappointment. In the hopelessness. In the hurt. God was there! When we’re searching for answers for the unexplainable pain and crying out with total abandon desperation…He’s working to bring it all together for good. (Romans 8:28)

Psalms 94:14 “For the Lord will never walk away from his cherished ones, nor would he forsake his chosen ones who belong to him”

When you think there’s silence, God is speaking in that space. When you think you’re isolated, God is working in that void. When you think you’re alone, God is shifting things on your behalf.

God is always, always at work even when we can’t see it or maybe even feel it. God is still the author of your story on Saturday, just like He was on Friday and Sunday. 

God CAN and WILL do for you what nobody else can do for you, even in the silence on “your Saturday”. 

We remember Friday, we celebrate Sunday. 

Let’s trust God on Saturday

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. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Birds and Grass

Leaving my house and heading into the office this morning I counted four different lawn crews working on just a small stretch of road. When I got to the red light I noticed two birds flying not too far above the traffic intersection. This morning, in the short mile and a half road and a thirty-second wait at the traffic light, I felt my trust for God deepen.

God reminded me of His words in Matthew 6

“Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food.

Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?

So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?

And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these!”

So if God has clothed the meadow with hay which is here for such a short time, then dried up, and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need? Even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries!

Matthew 6:26-31 TPT

Can you feel the weight of His words to us?

In our current day and time trusting God at the highest level is a must. We aren’t sure week to week what news headline will shake our nation next, where our economy will go from here, what will “normal” look like!

 Yet, the grass just keeps growing and the birds keep flying.

Those four lawn crews reminded me that God is still making the grass grow. The birds I saw flying above the intersection made the words of Jesus ring in my ears “Look at the birds…aren’t you more valuable to your Heavenly Father than they?”

Let these promises sink deep in your heart. Let them envelop your entire way of thinking. If the grass is growing and the birds are flying, God has your back and you absolutely can trust Him no matter what comes your way.

How can you be sure?

Because if He is taking care of flowers and birds He absolutely will take care of you as His child.

To hear a sermon that takes a deeper dive on this click here.

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. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Faith is simply trust

I thoroughly enjoy catchy words, creative sayings, and even tag lines that get engrained in your mind that everyone can relate to. The problem with these catchy and creative tag lines is outside of its context the meaning can easily be lost.

For example the old McDonald’s saying “badabababa I’m lovin’ it” makes complete sense as you are eating a juicy, fresh Big Mac. Add in a large fry with a large coke and a McFlurry, “badabababa” seems to just roll off your tongue! Now if you were to say this as you didn’t meet a deadline, getting a ticket for a fender-bender, or set fire to your kitchen while making dinner…badabababa Im lovinit” would make zero sense!

The word faith is certainly one of these words that, out of context, the meaning can be easily lost.

Phrases about faith are said a lot in church circles and rightfully so as Jesus even makes a few like “have faith in God!” (Mark 11:22) We are even told “it is faith that pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith makes sense in songs and sermons, gets amens from pews and online streams. You can even find faith printed on trendy shirts & Yeti cups in the trendiest calligraphy.

But what does this frequently mentioned faith look like in day to day, hour by hour life?

It is simply trust. Trust that God loves you, is guiding you, and wants the absolute best for you. God desires complete devotion to Him and it all starts with trust.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven. It was trust in God that led Abraham to be called the Father of Faith. It was trust in God that led David to slay Goliath. It was trust in God that led Daniel to not only survive a den full of lions but to influence his culture even when it seemed to have no hope. It was trust in God that led to Peter stepping out of the boat, Lazarus stepping out of the grave, and the leaders of the early church stepping into their calling of proclaiming the great news of the Gospel.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven.

Let this same trust that all the heroes of faith walked in, that is available to you and I, strengthen us to take a step in whatever season we find ourself in.

I encourage you today to see faith for what it is – a complete trust in the goodness of God as your Heavenly Father. He has your back and has never lost a battle or forgotten one of His children. Rest in this truth today and put your trust in Him.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 2

Here is another lie I believed for far too long…

A consistent day off for soul care would make me seem weak, lazy, and unmotivated to the world around me.

How ignorant I was!?

Although hard work is scriptural and honorable, it should not control my life. When I believe the lie of a day off will not fix my problems and it ultimately makes me weak, lazy and, unmotivated – I’m basically taking God and His promises completely out of the equation. I think we can all agree this is not a smart move. Jesus makes this wonderful statement in Mark 2:27

“The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath.”

Rest and rhythm that turn our hearts towards the goodness of our Heavenly Father was made for our sake. Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling. When Jesus says this in Mark 2 He is revealing how the Sabbath is not for rules, rituals, and regulations. Instead it holds a powerful spiritual component that ultimately bears fruit outwardly.

Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling.

Over the last few years I have thought a lot about why God would wire us with the need for sabbath. Although I do believe many of God’s designs and ways are a mystery to us (see Isaiah 55:8-9), I came across seven miracles Jesus did on the sabbath and I believe they paint an amazing picture of God’s purpose behind it.

Check these out:

1.) Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law on the Sabbath [Mark 1:29-34]

2.) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath [Mark 3:1-6]

3.) Jesus heals a man born blind on the Sabbath [John 9:1-12]

4.) Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath [Luke 13:10-17]

5.) Jesus heals a man with dropsy on the Sabbath [Luke 14:1-6]

6.) Jesus drives out an evil spirit on the Sabbath [Mark 1:21-28]

7.) Jesus heals the lame man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath [John 5:1-18]

So why does all this matter?

It shows us what Jesus is doing on the sabbath as a picture of what He will do in our life through our sabbath.

He brings wholeness to our family (1.), restores what was no longer useful (2.) , restores vision (3.), gives strength for steps (4.), heals our inward working (5.), frees us (6.) and makes things happen that we have been waiting years for (7.). Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? When in reality it is a part of the good news of the Kingdom of God!

Sabbath may seem only a day off, a pause in your schedule, a few moments to yourself where you look around and reflect on the goodness of God…but it is so much more!

It is as spiritual as praying, fasting, worshipping, giving and serving. It is God’s designed way to fill you up with His goodness and grace to take on the journey He has planned for you long ago!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10 [NLT]

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 1

Confession time! Here is a lie I believed for far too long…

A day off is not going to fix my problems.

As with most good lies there is a small kernel of truth in it but it is far from actual truth.

What does stopping to refuel, finding the rhythm of refueling, and caring for your soul (all of which we have been calling Sabbath) does is creates a peace within you. Think about that for a minute. What could complete abandonment to true peace do for your weary soul?

If you go to Mark 4 we find Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of a great storm.

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:37-39 [NLT]

Take a moment to picture this in your mind. What stands out to me is even the professional fisherman in the group disciples were scared for their life which means this storm was quite something! Then they cry out with the question so many of us ask when we are in our own storm “..do you even care?”

I do a deeper dive in this when I preached about my own battles of suicide and burnout and you can find that here.

But notice what Jesus does here because it is so important when we find ourselves asking those hard questions. He gets up and stops the storm to the point it’s noted “..there was a great calm”.

How did Jesus do this?! Maybe because He is the son of God? Maybe because He is showing us how God deals with storms? Or could it be Jesus had authority over the storm because what was within Him did not match what was around Him.

Be sure to know this: storms WILL happen. But when we have the peace of God WITHIN us we can deal with everything AROUND us.

Notice in verse 38 where Jesus was when the storm was raging “..sleeping in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.” He was in a posture of rest. Can you see now, the significance of resting, refueling, and finding rhythms? It’s what Jesus did and as a result He had a peace that surpassed all understanding!

So what about you? How is your sabbath rhythm going?

Sabbath is so much more than just time off from the hurry and the mundane in our lives. It is a rhythm of rest that God our creator put into place (see Genesis 2:1-3). In part two of this I will show you the seven spiritual aspects of sabbath. Until then I encourage you to take a step this week in finding your rhythm of refueling. You will not regret it!

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so he rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

Just Schedule It

Have you ever run into a friend out and about somewhere, or maybe they shot you a text or a quick phone call, and y’all discussed hanging out soon? So the schedule hunt begins…

You can’t Monday because your oldest has volleyball practice.

You can’t Tuesday because the new puppy has it’s follow up vet appointment.

You can’t Wednesday because you have small groups.

You can’t Thursday because you have to work on the presentation that’s due Friday.

You can’t Friday because the plumbers are scheduled to come look at the dripping pipe by the washer.

Saturday is out of the question because it’s the community yard sale.

Sunday? Probably not because laundry and getting the house reset is a must before Monday.

Then, the dread hits you. Your schedule doesn’t allow for anything, let alone time for you and your friend to connect anytime soon.

I don’t know about you but I have been defeated by my schedule more times than not! This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

Seems kind of upside down doesn’t it? To schedule the time where you rest, position your heart to the goodness and grace of God to let Him refuel you. It seems absurd to schedule these moments to eat a great meal, catch up with a friend, or to simply enjoy your favorite activity (or whatever you do for Sabbath). Let’s call it what it is; it seems odd to have to schedule it.

But from my own experience if you do not make it a priority on your schedule, it will never be a priority in your life.

Here are two practical tips:

1.) Start where you are.

You can easily put it off until after volleyball season, or after the busy season at work, or when this small group study ends. But putting off your rest prolongs the gift of refueling. You also run the risk of operating longer on whatever is left in your tank, which I’m guessing is already close to empty. Maybe you only have a few hours a week right now because of prior engagements, so start there!

2.) Find what fuels you in the time you have.

This potentially is more difficult than finding the time to stop and sabbath. Once you schedule it, what are you going to do? If Tuesday from 7pm till 9:30pm is your starting point, what are you going to with that time? Only you can answer this and it most likely will take a good amount of testing. Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either! Look at this time like a weekly holiday for your soul. A good meal, a relaxing hobby, a different environment, a great sunrise, a great sunset, a long bath, or whatever fills your heart with the goodness of God!

It’s not about just getting time off from your busy schedule, it is about how you use that time.

Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either!

Remember why this matters. Sabbath is important as your prayer life, your alone time connecting with God (i.e. bible study, devotionals), your generosity, and your unique gift to the body of Christ. This is significant so, start today and schedule it because you were not meant to run on empty.