Daily Inspiration

Painful Priorities: I really didn’t want to go to church tonight. We had a special “Maundy Thursday” service at 6:30 p.m., and about an hour before that time, I determined that my recliner was very comfortable. Why would I get out of my comfortable chair, walk away from a favorite TV program, throw on dress clothes, and drive 15 minutes across town to observe  Jesus’ last supper with his disciples? I mean, why did it really matter?

But something told me to go, so I begrudgingly cranked the car and dragged myself to the choir loft to sing songs of worship. As the evening service started, I happened to glance to my left and see our large cross located near the organ. Something had changed. On Sunday, the cross had been draped in purple, but on this Thursday it was draped in black. The color changed because the events in Jesus’s life were changing on that special Thursday. While Jesus Christ dined and enjoyed fellowship with his followers on this evening, in a matter of hours he would be betrayed, brought before Pilot, tortured, and hung to die on a cross; cross that bled dark red and black blood as his broken body suffered unbearable hardship.

As I stared at that dark cross, my heart began to break in two. I had complained, griped, moaned, and groaned because I had to throw on dress shoes, drive a few miles through traffic, and give up a mindless t.v. program to go honor my Lord’s sacrifice in the church, when he uttered not one complaint during the personal hell of crucifixion.

I gave up TV…he gave up tears.

I gave up comfort…he gave up crushed bones

I gave up  time…he gave up temptation.

I gave up laziness…he gave up love

I gave up a cold soda…he gave up salvation.

When I put the cross into its proper perspective, then I have no room to complain. Instead of seeing it as a chore, I should see the freedom and opportunity to enter the house of my God as a privilege and blessing.  Jesus didn’t have to do what he did on Easter. Let me say that again…he didn’t have to take our sins onto his perfect body and suffer unbearable pain. When we glimpse that fact, a new level of intimacy with God can grow. Realize that you’re often giving up nothing for someone who gave up everything. Stop complaining and start committing. Let’s get serious about our Savior.


Daily Inspiration!

“Food Is My Everything!” 

This past week while watching a reality show about weight loss, I couldn’t help but look a bit stunned when I heard one of the show participants explain that food meant everything in the world to her. In other words, food had essentially become her God. Now, I can’t say that I have much room to talk, as I’m currently engaged in my own weight loss saga, due in large part to my idol worship of fatty foods. But hearing this statement spoken so forcefully and with conviction startled my senses.

I sat on my sofa thinking to myself, “Is that I’ve dissolved into? Am I a women who yearns for a bite of a donut or a crunch of a chip faster than I yearn for a word from my Savior? Am I just getting out of bed each morning to bow down at the alter of food? And if I am, then am I willing to admit that I’m only living for sin?”

Reality is that we all have idols in life. There are things or people that we worship with far more intensity and reverence than we show God, but hearing it spoken loudly and proudly before millions really emphasized to me how dangerous these false gods can become. The Scriptures tell us to love our God with passion and fervor, to the point that those around us only hear us boasting of Christ and nothing less. Look at this verse – Luke 24:32   And they said one to another, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Can you say this very day that like the disciples, your heart is burning for more of Him and less of yourself? Or are you burning for the $5.00 pizza special next at the local pizza joint? Let’s be faithful in our worship of ONLY one true God and put idols to rest.


Daily Inspiration!

Whatever is Pure…

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8

I’ve heard Philippians 4:8 my entire life. When presented within church circles or wedding ceremonies, it is sometimes presented as a positive, warm fuzzy kind of verse. After all, Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to dwell on the positive attributes of honor, purity, love, etc. You’ve got to hand it to Paul for reminding the early church to uphold the highest levels of character and integrity.

But I fear that we often quote this verse with warm fuzzies, forgetting that the core of Paul’s advice is about sin. After all, if you’re not honorable, loving, truthful, and pure, then think about the type of person you’ve become. Do you really want people to identify you as the individual who is untruthful, unkind, and exposing radically impure thoughts and behaviors? I’d venture to bet that we’d all be quick to respond, “NO, that’s not the type of person I want to be!”

So if we want to follow Paul’s advice, exhibiting the positive traits detailed in this verse, then I think we have to start at the “purity” part. The word “purity” is often associated with sexual purity, but purity refers to lots of different things outside of sexual decisions.

The Scriptures encourage us to have pure thoughts, pure intentions, pure behaviors, and pure motivations. This means that we have to be willing to say, “I’m a sinner, and it’s not in my natural nature to be true, honorable, or kind, but with Christ in me, I can grow more and more in that direction.” When we accept Christ as Savior, he replaces our sinful nature with his pure and loving nature, inspiring us to say, “I want to be like Him.”

Stop and think about the purity of your intentions, behaviors, and motivations. Are you walking so closely with Christ that the words you speak, the thoughts you share, and the behaviors you exhibit cause people to say, “That truly is a man or woman of Christ?” If not, then why not? We only grow into these beautiful characteristics by walking closer and closer to the Lord. Remember that Christians are not called to daily perfection, but rather, we’re called to imitate Christ. Christ makes us pure, but our sinful nature can still rage if we are not in step with Him daily. Make it a point in 2014 to pursue purity in Christ, and the honor, kindness, and justice parts will follow.

Daily Inspiration!

As a young child I enjoyed driving my big wheel around the basement. I would spin around the columns as if  the Daytona 500 victory had already been awarded to me. But alas, I never really won a race. Instead, I just kept moving in circles on the concrete floor of our basement, making no significant progress and lacking the crowd’s applause. I can’t help but wonder if our Christian walk is sometimes like my big wheel. We move around in good “church” circles, assuming we’re making great strides in the Kingdom of God, only to realize that our efforts have not resulted in new souls for baptism, impacted church growth, or changed our level of intimacy with the Savior. In other words, we’re moving and doing something, but it’s of little impact on the real world of service for the King. Let’s all work on making our efforts matter, making sure that each step we take serves to draw ourselves and those around us closer to salvation, service, and sweet intimacy at the feet of God.

Daily Inspiration!

Title: The Shouts of Selfishness on Crucifixion Day

FOCAL SCRIPTURE —- Luke 23:20-24: “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.”

While reading Luke’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a story I’ve probably read hundreds of times in my lifetime, I saw something that I’ve never seen before. I saw, or rather heard, a lot of shouting. Specifically, Luke shares that there were crowds of people, some teachers, and even priests (the highest religious leaders at the time), screaming at the top of their lungs for Pilate to release a known murderer (Barabbas) and condemn an innocent Jesus to death.

Obviously, their loud voices paid off, as we read in verse 24 that Pilate said “ok” and kept Jesus for sentencing to the point of death. So what, you might ask, is so significant about the shouting? Answer…they were shouts of selfishness. Those shouts signal a large group of people shouting about something they knew absolutely nothing about. The main reason they were shouting was because they were angry; angry that this Jesus person had rocked their world so significantly.

You see, because Jesus was born to and destined to remain perfect, there was absolutely no crime that Herod or Pilate could pin on this Savior. He wasn’t born into a life of crime. He was born as a symbol of God’s commitment to once again restore an imperfect, sinful creation back to Himself. Jesus was the bridge between God and his broken, fallen creation; a bridge that put the perfect love relationship that God had established with his creation in the Garden of Eden back into order. So if Jesus was guilty of any crime, then it was a crime of passion; a crime of love, restoration, healing, bonding, and of restoring order back to God’s beloved creation.
The angry shouts came from people who were disturbed by this Savior and his lifelong purpose; disturbed because he rocked their very existence to the core and dared to say such things as, “Let not your heart be troubled, My peace I give to you…” and “God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY son…”

In other words, they didn’t like this Savior who suddenly told them that they no longer had to work out their own salvation through sacrifices or good deeds, but rather, just had to believe, trust, and grow. It almost seemed too easy, if you stop and think about it. Jesus was looking at that angry mob saying, “People, it’s your decision. If you truly believe, then act like a people of belief and get committed and get right before your God.” And sadly, that was too much for them to hear.

I can’t help but wonder if we too frequently become angry, shouting mobs before our God. Sometimes we don’t like his simplicity, his silence, or his stillness because these seasons force us to do the Jesus thing of just getting alone on our knees before our daddy God and growing through prayer and Scripture and service. That’s almost too easy, and yet, we make it far too hard. We come kicking and screaming if the church asks us to serve or lead any of this stuff, because after all, our time is our time and we don’t have to do that stuff to be “spiritual,” do we? But worse, we come kicking and screaming before our Jesus saying, “How dare you ask me to be still, absorb your word, absorb your silence and absorb your very essence while I step out in faith and wait to see your final decision.” It’s as if we resent that the Christian faith is actually a faith of just turning over every piece of our heart and every remnant of selfishness so that like Christ, we can say at the end of every day, “Not my will, but thine…”

This Easter, don’t fall into the angry, shouting crowds. Instead, become the person God ordained you to be; a person who seeks the very presence of God almighty through prayer, silence, Scripture, service, so that every ounce of your being yearns to be with the people of God (church) and with God himself (prayer) daily, weekly, and annually. Stop shouting and start yielding today.