I Wish I Was A Little More Desperate For Jesus

I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat….(Mark 8:2).

Sometimes I wish I was a little more desperate for Jesus. More often than not, I find myself easily distracted from Him. I’ll press into my abilities or the ways I’ve operated to make things work, instead of leaning heavily into His grace. When life becomes uncomfortable or less than desired, instead of sitting with Him in stillness, I’ll look for ways to flee my present woes.
 
Many of us might think that we’d be willing to go above and beyond with Jesus if He were here in the flesh. Sure, we’d stay for three days too with nothing to eat, just like those people did in Mark 8. At least, we think we would, but knowing me I’d probably have somewhere I needed to be, like a softball game, meeting, or in the comfort of my own home enjoying a good nights rest and a hot meal.
 
Sometimes, I’ll even prioritize my restful time on the couch over my restful time with Jesus. Isn’t that sad? I think it is. Mostly because, on a daily basis, the King of Glory wants to feed me with His bread. His life, peace and sustenance is what He longs to fill me with, but its hard for me to stay in His presence long enough to even begin to know or understand what my true needs really are.
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I think this is why we have such a hard time truly hearing from God in the church. I think its why we don’t make ourselves available very often to hurting people. Since, in our own minds, we have too much to do, and can’t imagine giving up whatever it is upcoming on our schedule to remain present in this moment with Jesus.
 
My to-do list starts to run in my head and I go chasing it instead of chasing the Father. Thankfully, God has grace for to-do list chasers like me, but oh, how I long to sit at my Father’s feet, being forever changed by His love!
 
Father, I want you as my first priority. I know this isn’t always the case. I’m very quick to prioritize what’s best for me over what’s best for others. Lord, please help me to find that healthy balance of self-care and caring for others. May my home and my heart be an open door for your work to do be done. May I always be inviting others into my life to taste and see that you are good, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Am Often Plagued By This Question

He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret…. (Mark 7:24).

 
I often wonder how many people actually encounter Jesus when they are around me. This is a question that plagues me often. Truly, my deepest desire is that they would see the risen Christ alive in me and thus be drawn to His love.
 
The older I get the more I am drawn to people whose hearts have been captured by love. They’re the kind of people who go out of their way to make me feel special, offer a smile or encouraging word. I used to go looking for people who could help me get ahead in life, make me more influential and improve my status. Now, what I want more than anything is people who will love me for where I’m at in the present moment, in all of my messiness, as we journey together in the grace of God.
 
What made Jesus famous? One might argue that it was His ability to perform miracles or His authority that He had as a master teacher of Gods word. Although these qualities, I’m sure, played into His greatness, without love, they would have meant very little. There are plenty of people that I have met who can do and accomplish great things, but if they’re treat people poorly I quickly lose respect for them. I would much rather be around a person with a little giftedness and a lot of love.
 
I believe it was the way He loved that made Jesus truly unforgettable. But, what about you? Does the love of God spring forth from your heart so powerfully that people encounter Jesus when they are with you?
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For a season in my life, God took away my platform. The method I had once used to “shine for Jesus” was now gone. The only thing I had left to do was to love like Him. Can I just say, in that season of life, I have never had such strong relationships be formed? Since His love was all I had, I did everything I could to live out of that place. Now that my platform is back, I long to connect to people in the same way. I want them to see and experience Jesus in me.
 
Lord, I want people to experience you when they see me. Help me to live in a way that shows them you. I don’t want to live any other way. Jesus, abound in me more and more, for your glory, I pray, Amen.

A Critical Heart

“What comes out of a person is what defiles them.”….(Mark 7:20).

I have to be very careful about what I feed myself and I’m not talking about food. What I’m actually referring to are my thoughts. I am often amazed at how critical my thoughts can be towards someone.
 
In fact, pessimistic, disapproving thoughts about someone are my default. Even if someone shows me overwhelming kindness I am often met with this thought of criticism and negativity towards their kind gesture towards me.
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Recognizing this makes me feel absolutely disgusted. I’m disgusted that what I’ve allowed my heart and mind to feast upon. What I’m recognizing is that I need a new heart and mind. Praise God that this is what He offers me through His love.
 
I don’t have to live this way any longer, nor do I need to feel shame over it. I can walk in the freedom that Jesus offers me as I release all of these things to Him. I can rejoice knowing that He offers a new heart and mind for someone like me. He can take my critical heart and transform it through the power of His love. That’s what I’m banking on today.
 
Lord, you make me new. Thank you for sending Jesus so that I could have a transformed heart and mind. Shower me with your love and grace. Fill me to overflowing with more of you. May my heart be filled with good thoughts towards others. I don’t want that critical heart any longer. I want it to die so that Christ can be raised up in me, in Jesus name, Amen.

When My Pride Seeks To Cause Division

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”….(Mark 7:9).

Yesterday, as I was meeting with my senior pastor I shared with him how I was struggling with prideful thoughts that were trying to cause disunity among myself and some other brothers and sisters in Christ. I told him, “I keep having these thoughts trying to crowd their way into my heart and mind towards others. They’re critical thoughts, because in my pride, their not like me and that bothers me.”
 
As I confessed this reality to him I also shared that I’m combating those prideful thoughts by speaking prayers of thanks to my Heavenly Father for those people. I’m asking God to help me see what others, who are different from me, can teach me about God. I’m asking Jesus to help me see them in a new light and not be annoyed by the fact that they’re different from me, but see how I can be blessed by their differences instead.
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Satan loves to throw wedges between us and he’ll use our pride to do it. That’s the recipe I find him mixing in me the most. My pride gets served up on a platter and if I’m not careful, I’ll feast upon it and before I know it a wedge of distrust, disunity and disdain rises up in me towards those I really do care about.
 
The Pharisees dealt with this too and Jesus rebuked them for it. Their desire to hold onto their pride kept them from loving others well. This is one of our biggest issues in the church, not that we don’t have all the right plans and programs, but that we often allow our personal preferences to become sticking points of disunity within the body of Christ, because of our pride. In doing so, we hurt others, shame them and in our own heart and mind categorize them as irresponsible, lazy, or whatever else our pride convinces us to believe. The only way to be free from this is to speak words of praise and thanks. A critical attitude has to die at the feet of praise. Lord, let it be so in me.
 
Father, forgive us for our sinful and prideful thoughts. Jesus, when I see my brothers and sisters in Christ I want to see them with a Spirit of thankfulness. Lord, thank you that I can rest in your love and that you can change my prideful attitude to one of thanks. Continue to do that in me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Know It’s So Discouraging….But, Keep Praying

 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them…(Re 11:11).

The Lord reminding me this to morning to keep praying for something in my life that feels done and over with. Something that my doubt wants me to believe will never be restored and redeemed. But you see, God takes dead things and raises them back to life.
 
I know that’s easy for me to say. Trust me, I understand all of that. I understand that when something devastating happens in your life and someone’s heart grows hard and they shut you out it feels defeating and so discouraging. Part of you buries that pain, only to lock it away, convincing yourself that things are just always going to be this way, so you need to find some way to deal with it and move on in life.
 
But, if I could be quite honest, that “burial” is quick to come up from the ground when a memory of that time flickers within my heart and mind. Sometimes, that comes at the memory of what happened or, just as I’m going about my day and something similar arises and I’m brought once again back into that painful experience where sin triumphed in the heart of someone and for this present season, there is no restoration of that broken relationship.
 
But sin doesn’t always have to win out. You see, whenever I bury pain, I just place it somewhere in my heart for the devil to use at an opportune time. I must, instead surrender my pain to the Lord Jesus, so that He holds it close to His heart as He continues to work in it for His glory. Now, I’m not making any promises and saying that things will change eventually. I hope they do, but they might not. Thus, we must be willing, once more, to trust Jesus with what happened. We must allow Him to hold it in His hands, because when we do, He can set it aside and hold us closer to His heart. Jesus has a way of making wrongs things right, even if that means things don’t turn out like we hope.
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Lord, thank you that you take dead things and raise them to life. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for His resurrection. Father, be my greatest joy, hope and purpose in this life, as I surrender every part of me to you. I pray, in Christ’s name, Amen.

Your Heavenly Father Delights In You

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”…(Mt 3:17).

One of my favorite things to do as a child was hop into my fathers arms when we’d go swimming at the pool and have him throw me into the air as I’d come barreling down into the water with a giant splash and an even bigger smile. I found such delight in simply being with my father. I think I loved it so much because he did too. Not only did these times bring me great delight, but they did for him as well.
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I could tell, as a young child, that my father valued time with me. He was proud of me, not just for what I did, the accomplishments I could muster or the way I looked in the mirror. No, he was even more proud of me, because I was his and he took great delight in that, just as I took delight in belonging to him.
 
Your Heavenly Father is proud of you too. He takes great delight in the fact that you are His child. He doesn’t wish you were someone else, doing something more for Him. He simply wants to delight in you. Yes, your Heavenly Father wants to toss you into the air as the two of you smile with great joy. Simply because not only do you find great happiness in being His, but you trust Him to toss you into the air, knowing that, in His arms- you are safe.
 
Yes, your Heavenly Father loves to delight in you. He loves who you are, because you are His. You are His creation, beautifully and wonderfully made, strong and powerful, not because of something you’ve done, but because of what He’s created in you through His love.
 
Father, thank you for your great love. Thank you for showering it upon me. I trust you Father. Just like my daddy, who I knew cared for me and loved for me for who I was, you do the same for me. You are my heavenly daddy and I love you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Time To Let Go

But the fruit of the Spirit is….(Ga 5:22).

This thought keeps running through my head this morning, “Time to let go.” Time to let go of that hurt. Time to let go of that season. Now, Heather, it’s time to grow.
 
Can I be really honest though? That’s much easier said than done. What I want more than anything is a life fully devoted to following Jesus, but what I find more often than not is one that struggles with Jesus towards my freedom. I’m thankful that Jesus is OK with that and that He can work with people like me who struggle.
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Years ago I started praying, “Lord, whatever it takes, make me more like Jesus.” Little did I know that this simple prayer would accompany with it deep and painful trails, dark seasons and deep testing. But you see, that my friends, is how we grow.
 
Fruit is what’s produced in us as we grow as Christians. Fruit that lasts, fruit that changes us and fruit that can only be produced by a life that is planted in the love of God. Think about it, trees don’t produce fruit on their own. A tree simply stays put, allowing the gardener to do their work around them. Then, they wait. They wait patiently for fruit to be produced through seasons of uprooting, planting, pruning, and watering.
 
I don’t always like those seasons of uprooting and pruning. In fact, sometimes I just want to flee from them and if I’m not careful, I’ll allow a bitter root to sneak in when I am exposed. You see, it is so pivotal, that in those groundbreaking times, when God takes His shovel and starts digging somewhere deep into our lives that we don’t allow bitterness, or resentment to find its way into the garden of grace He’s trying to plant within us.
 
There are some mornings when I know God is digging somewhere deep in me, because, quite frankly, there’s still some pain and hurt I buried there with that season of testing and trial that He wants to uproot and heal. Sometimes I’m resistant to let Him go there, because I just don’t want to keep reliving that pain.
 
Yet, the process of healing is sometimes a slow and steady process, of letting go of one small moment at a time, surrendering it to the arms of a loving Father who longs to produce His fruit in us as we stay planted firm in the garden of His love.
 
Lord, I surrender to you today. I long to grow in my walk with God. Jesus, I will continue to pray, whatever it takes, make me more like you. I know that’s a dangerous prayer, but please, through it, make me more like you. Help me to come to you in humility so that I might grow as I stay rooted firm in your love, in Jesus name, Amen.