Today, The Little Things…Were Everything

  • Smiles…into the sun.
  • Hands in the air…like you just don’t care.
  • Windows down…music loud.
  • Messy bun…no makeup.
  • Dance party…in public.
  • Squeals of joy…in a quiet library.
  • Late night movie…in the living room fort.
  • Words from God…to a desperate heart.

Freedom to Fail. Freedom to Live.

Fear of failure combined with a deep desire to please other people has led to massive destruction throughout my life. After many years of cleaning up my own messes, hiding from my mistakes and living like a suffocated/anxious/neurotic/obsessive person, it was this one truth that truly set me free. All of the approval and EVERYTHING I’ll ever need was already given to me the day Jesus approved of me by dying on the cross. Every drop of blood shouts his adoring love and approval for me. So…what does this mean for my life in light of the cross and His great love? I don’t need to be recognized. Because he sees me and has given me recognition. I don’t need to be first. Because the last shall be first.  I don’t need to be the best. Because my best is still filthy rags. I don’t need to be right. Because my righteousness was laid on my head as a crown. I don’t need to be rewarded. Because my reward is in heaven.  I don’t need to be perfect. Because he was perfect and has perfect love for me.  I don’t need to have status. Because I am a daughter of the King.  I don’t have to win. Because Jesus has already won. 

Which means…I’m FREE!!!

Free to loScreen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.43.21 PMve loudly, preach boldly, sacrifice greatly, pursue wholeheartedly, worship wildly, give radically, trust deeply, live humbly, wait peacefully, believe fearlessly, pray powerfully, and live more abundantly. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. Don’t ever move beyond it. The transformational truth of God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus will strengthen and free you…everyday. It truly is Everyday Wonderful.

The Blood. The Bold. The Beautiful.

God did incredible things at Castle Pines Community Church yesterday. We set up a huge event tent in a busy parking lot last Thursday in anticipation for a very special Sunday morning service. For 3 days it sat empty. For 3 days it seemed impossible for God to fill it. For 3 days our community gawked at our tent with confusion. For 3 days God asked us to trust Him to do what only he can do.

And so we did. We got our hopes up.

We invited, set up, paid out, prayed up, showed up, prepared, practiced, and got in our places. And at 10:30 am, people from all over Colorado came to the tent. Faces of families I had never seen. Young and old. Urban and rural. It was truly beautiful. Our volunteers in their bright green shirts, waited in the parking lot to greet them at their cars and lovingly lead them to the tent. And although the tent was full, there was still a miracle we were waiting for. For the gospel message to transform lives. For the blood of Jesus to wash away sins.

Our guest speaker, Scott Camp, boldly and graphically recounted the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. He passionately told us his own personal testimony of meeting Jesus in a jail cell after years of drugs, alcohol abuse and a broken home.

The Gospel message went forth and the Holy Spirit began to transform hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. You could see people shifting in their seats. You could hear the sniffling. You could FEEL the Holy Spirit gently revealing the truth of Christ’s love to so many broken hearted.

And then the miracle came. The moment we had prayed for, hoped for, and prepared for – people from all over the tent made their way to the front to receive Christ as their savior. And when we thought everyone had come up, even more came forward. I had the honor of being on stage for this moment as we prepared to sing worship at the end of service. I could see the tears, the hope, the peace, the genuine transformation on their precious faces. Some faces were familiar and some unknown, but all precious.

This is the altar I build to remember what Christ did yesterday. I pray for more faith to believe that God can do this every week. I pray for a boldness in my own heart to share the Gospel daily. I pray for revival in Douglas County where money and possessions so easily satisfy but rob and bankrupt souls of true joy and peace.

And now we celebrate the new beginnings of these precious lives. And do the beautiful work of discipleship. And live life with new believers, our new brothers and sisters.

It was worth the cost. It was worth the prayer. It was worth the time. It was worth the energy. It was worth the sacrifice. It was worth the preparation. It was worth the practice. It was worth it. It is always worth it. And so we will do it again on Thursdays. We will do it again on Sundays. Never tiring of the good work. Never growing weary.

Romans 5:5 – …our hope will not be put to shame.

I’m Loved. Redeemed. Set Free. Now what?

After years of taking small steps away from Jesus, I now find myself in His presence. Broken but cleansed. Callused but chosen. Sinful but forgiven. I can see his face so clearly.

But how do I make sure I never look away? How can I make sure I don’t slowly drift off course again? How do my steps stay pointed toward Jesus, to Glory, to Hope? I started to ask the Holy Spirit to show me how to practically live for Jesus and stay close to Him everyday. Keep my eyes on His face. Remain steadfast in my pursuit. Reveal any other areas of my heart that need to be surrendered to Christ. These are faith building prayers because the Holy Spirit ALWAYS answers these prayers.

And He did answer. I heard a whisper in my heart say, “DOES THIS GLORIFY JESUS?”. I immediately knew that this is the question that I’m to ask myself in the everyday and mundane actions, words, and decisions that steered me off course in the first place. For me, this was a big ask. You see, I created a life where cutting corners, shortcuts and self-sufficiency reigned supreme in order to glorify JUDI. I speed read, I talk fast, I put my needs above others, I have to be first, be best, be awesome and I am willing to do anything to show that I can work faster, harder, better than anyone else. Sounds like someone you really want to enjoy a cup of coffee with…right?

Jesus was calling me to humble myself and rebuild faithfulness in the smallest of tasks in order to glorify Him. I started asking myself “Does this Glorify Jesus” before every little daily task – putting the cart away at the grocery store, replacing the empty water jug at work, going the speed limit…silly, silly, small and petty things.

Hear me when I say – these things, these actions don’t make me any more lovable or unlovable, righteous or unrighteous in Jesus’ eyes. His work to redeem me was made complete on the cross. So, why? Why does it matter if I don’t put my cart away at the grocery store? Because there are no shortcuts to gain wisdom. You can’t cut corners to Glory. And there is no Hope found in self sufficiency. These silly little things take time, they put others first, and they obey the rules – all areas I had compromised in my pursuit of self glorification and it was high time to crush that sin.

So, as I trudged through the parking lot with a heavy purse, even heavier car seat, and screaming baby to return the cart, the sinful chains on my heart started to loosen. And now, this simple question has started to transform larger areas of my life as I journey down this road toward Glory. Areas such as holding my tongue when I have juicy gossip, taking the time to reach out to the friend I know is hurting when I would rather veg out or work on yet another power point, extending grace to someone who’s offended me when I’d rather stew and build a case against them. Areas that I struggled with so much in the past.

And then, the transformation continues to grow the more I ask the simple question – boldly sharing the Gospel when it feels uncomfortable, standing up for Truth no matter the cost, sacrificing material comfort in order to give generously.

This is sanctification. This is Jesus faithfully completing the work He began. This is walking with Jesus. This is the free, passionate, bold, radical, faithful life – the life more abundant – that we are promised. These are the thousand steps toward Glory. 

This week, as you tackle the everyday demands of your life, I challenge you to ask yourself as often as possible, “Does this glorify Jesus?”. I promise, you will make wiser decisions, have more peace and joy, and crush sin in your life. 

A Thousand Steps Toward Glory

In one instant, the blood of Jesus can redeem a person. In one moment, a life can be radically transformed. There’s nothing you can do to earn it, buy it, or be worthy of it. It’s beautiful. It’s grace. It’s the good news of the Gospel.

However, our moment of redemption often finds us in the depths of despair, grief and destruction. Mine did. I asked myself, how did I get here? So far from truth? So far from Jesus? The answer was in the thousand little steps I took away from Jesus. The small and mundane moments where I didn’t glorify Jesus in my decisions… My actions… My words. Moments that seemed so insignificant at the time but steered my life so off course until I careened in a ditch in desperate need of a lifeline.

These steps accumulated over years…gathering distance between me and hope.

And now, here I am. Redeemed. Loved. Set free. The love of Jesus washed over me like a thunderous tsunami wave. Breaking loose the shackles that so easily ensnare.

But now what? How do I live out the hope of glory? How do I honor the grace that flows so freely from Jesus? How do I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me?

One simple little phrase has led me closer to answering that question…which I will share tomorrow.

Broken But Cleansed

Grace is humbling. An undeserved, beautiful redemption. Forgiven and set free. A love-producing ocean. However, I don’t know if I would have ever felt this precious, deep, sincere love for my savior if I hadn’t desperately needed his forgiveness and grace to cancel my deep deep sin. 

You see…I grew up “the good girl”. The one who had it all figured out – without any “wrong doings”. I naturally had a desire to follow the rules, obey authority and never fail. I never addressed the “small” sin in my life like gossip or jealousy because it never felt “that bad.”

However, “being good” didn’t produce great love for Jesus. It produced self-sufficiency – the root of so much evil. I was good at being good…until I wasn’t. And then, I needed Jesus…desperately.

Finally, I felt the weight of sin. The heavy, grievous weight of sin. I finally understood what so much of the scriptures talk about. Broken but cleansed. I now know why the woman in Luke 7 washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 

I wish I could have experienced this love without the pain and utter distruction of sin. But grace is sweet and removes the bitter sting of sin and heals the brokenhearted. May I never forget my great debt that was nailed to the cross. May I never move past washing His feet with my tears. 

Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Money has a color. And it isn’t green.

Aurora. A-Town. East Side. Ghetto. Ethnic. But for me, A-Town has been home for the past 11 years.

It’s been good to me. To my family. The delicious food from hole-in-the-wall joints – the best Mexican, Italian, Fried Chicken or Korean food can be found within a 5 block radius. The beautiful spectrum of colorful people from every race. The endless strip malls. The excellent Thrift stores. Mark and I became “locals” and people knew our names at our favorite places. We were always proud to call A-town our home…but we were called to move on.

We moved to Highlands Ranch 2 months ago – an affluent white community. Parks instead of strip malls. Target instead of Thrift Stores. Whole Foods instead of local food joints. And an endless supply of white folks.

And the most noticeable difference was the Comcast store. Aurora Comcast store is like the bottom of someone’s old crusty basement. Dirty, sad and cramped with families with screaming children that are ready to get the heck outta there. They call your number to a small booth similar to the DMV. You feel like you are in trouble for getting a DVR because the grumpy CSR hates being there as much as you do. I thought this was the norm for Comcast brick and mortar stores.

My first order of business when we moved to Highlands Ranch was to cancel our cable. I finally found the closest store to my new home and made the dreaded trip. To my utter shock and unbelief, the Highlands Ranch Comcast store was big, bright, beautiful, with comfy seating, huge TVs playing delightful programming, iPad stations for kids to play and happy CSRs offering me refreshments as I wait. What did I stumble upon…Comcast heaven? 

I was just getting used to my cleaner, newer, and whiter community when sadness struck me like a stone. Families who pay the same amount of money for cable should be able to enjoy “Comcast heaven”…regardless of their area of town. I know it’s just a stilly cable location but does it say something bigger about our society. Are we OK with “colorful” communities getting crappier services even though they pay the same amount for those services? Are we conditioning our Ethnic communities to expect less so we can give them less. And then I was angry. Money is still green. Not white. Not black. Not brown. Or is it?

As we continue adapting to our new community, I pray that Jesus will give me a voice and heart for people who are treated as if they are of less value than others.