Are you in?

‘Must be the manager who’s taking orders,’ I thought, in response to the rich male voice that confidently thanked me and told me the price of my order. I drove forward to the drive-up window, automatically held out my card and knew I was looking at the owner of the voice as soon as he very pleasantly said, “Hello!”

As I handed him my card, I thought, ‘He can’t be the manager’! I continued to watch him through the window as he took another order, all the while smiling. He was very tall and slightly awkward, as if he wasn’t quite comfortable in the obviously new uniform he was wearing; and he had a huge smile–not at all the sort of person I was expecting. At once, I was ashamed of myself for so quickly passing judgment on the young man, who obviously was manager material even if he didn’t look like it.

A rush of questions entered my mind. Was he still in school? How did he become so well spoken? Was he doing anything with that voice? Did he try out for school plays? Did he get passed over for leading roles? Were his parents proud of him?

I smiled as the window opened and he handed me my card and receipt. And then, picking up the bag as if it held a gourmet dinner, he said in that deep baritone voice, “And here’s your order. I hope you enjoy it!”

His smile was genuine, as he made eye contact, and I saw the boy/man and knew what I should say. “You have a lovely voice and such a nice manner. I just wanted you to know I appreciate it,” I said.

Obviously taken aback, he put his hands to his heart and said, “Oh, thank you. You’ve made my day!” He just stood there smiling as I pulled away, and I thanked God for the opportunity to give him what God knew he needed, affirmation. 

On the way home, I thought about the Great Commission, how Jesus said we were to go into all the world and tell people about Him and teach them to follow Him. The command that Jesus left us with isn’t about saving ourselves for some huge, evangelistic effort in the future but is about going out into our own world and spreading the Love of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet.

It’s about seeing through the eyes of Jesus the man behind the Quik Mart counter,  the teenager corralling the carts at WalMart, the mom with three grumpy kids at the grocery. It’s about acknowledging the silent frustration of the mother whose child won’t be quieted on the plane, the pain of the co-worker who confides his wife has left him, or the courtesy of an awkward young man at the drive-up.

It’s about caring… and connection. It’s about making an effort to just be Jesus to the person who needs you to be kind, or say ‘well done’ or ‘I remember how hard it was to shop with my kids.’ And if we have no words, it’s about lifting harried mothers and broken-hearted husbands to the Father, asking Him to comfort them and meet their needs.

I have a feeling we would just be dumbstruck at the number of opportunities to make a difference for the Kingdom of God that we miss each day. And why? Three reasons immediately come to mind: (1) we’re too self-obsessed with what’s happening in our own lives to recognize an opportunity when we’re given one; (2) we’re too concerned about what someone might think; or, God forbid, (3) we simply don’t care.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you may think it doesn’t matter whether Jesus is coming sooner or later, because you’re good, you’re in! But it does matter, because you have a responsibility to God to fulfill the Great Commission. If you’re too busy, too distracted, too tired, too selfish, or too scared to make waves, you might want to rethink your relationship with Christ, starting with this question, ‘Do I have one?’

Being a good person isn’t going to cut it–for you or your friends and family. Being baptized/confirmed/dedicated or going to church every Sunday isn’t enough; and, likewise, living in a ‘Christian’ nation or being a part of a ‘Christian’ family will not guarantee you eternity in Heaven. The only thing that will is trusting God for your salvation.

If you’ve never made a decision for Christ, here’s a simple prayer you can pray. “Father, I know I’ve sinned against You and deserve punishment, but Jesus took the punishment for me when He died on the cross. I ask You to forgive me, and I put my trust in You for my salvation. Thank you for forgiving me and accepting me as Your Child.” Amen

The Great Commission, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, is one of the most recognizable portions of scripture.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s essentially the marching orders of the true Church, comprised of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and have made Him the Lord of their lives. It’s not a suggestion but a commandment that Jesus gave to every person–not just pastors and ministers, priests and missionaries–but everyone who would follow Him.

Just as Jesus revealed God to us, we are to reveal God to others because we have Jesus in us. We are to become more like Christ every day, and the way we do that is by reading His Word and obeying it. We are God’s possession–He created us and He owns us. We are to be His witnesses and the testimony of who He is.

It’s pretty obvious that the Enemy of our souls is working overtime these days. He wants to take as many people with him, because he knows his days on this earth are numbered. Unfortunately, the Enemy pretty much has free rein in society today, even in the Church where the power of the Gospel is being replaced by political correctness.  Not offending anyone’s beliefs for fear they won’t come back has become the unwritten policy of a growing number of churches, who want to be known as inclusive in order to keep the church doors open on Sunday morning.

It is the Truth that sets one free to be the person God created him or her to be. And if we don’t speak the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only in our places of worship but in our daily lives, who will?

I’m on my way to Heaven, and I want to take as many people with me as I can. God has commissioned every believer to do just that. Will you? Listen to this paraphrase of the Great Commission from The Message:

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”


Are you in?


Strangely silent
well, maybe not so strange
sometimes the heart has nowhere to go
nothing to say, except to Him
who always hears
but is silent
when silence must have its way.
How could months go by, I wonder,
months of silence recorded doggedly
through scores of mornings
when my sole desire was to sit at His feet
and listen.
Haltingly, I ask for words to flow
from this heart ever changed
by His Words, His Voice
heard best in the silence.

Get on your mark, get set, go!

Questions and answers this morning, as I listen…

Are you so focused on running the race of your own life that His Life is passing you by? Then, take your eyes off your own personal patch of pavement and lift them instead to the One who calls the only Race that really matters, the only one with eternal consequences. Winning that race isn’t about being the first one to cross the finish line, it’s about focusing and finishing—focusing on what you know to do and finishing with the knowledge that you have run the race well.

Are you giving all by doing the work God has called you to with your whole heart; or are you impatient, bored, dissatisfied with your life? Then, get close to Him, take your eyes off of yourself, and look into the Life of the One who has called you. Resist the urge to just do something, but stand there—before Him—exposed in confession and repentance. Purposefully put things right with the One who redeemed you, who bought you with a price—His own life, hung on a cross for the entire world to see. Redirect your gaze from self to Savior. All that you have is because of Him. Live your thankfulness today by being His Hands, His Voice, His Feet, as you ‘go into all your world.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)

What is it you have for me?

What is it that you have for me? I cannot help but wonder.
I do not want drama, jealousy, offense, and a hundred other negative emotions bombarding my happiness, and so I surrender to whatever it is you want for me,
knowing my will and yours will be one.

Where will I be?
In a tiny cottage where the blue
Of living waters beckons me each morning,
Thoughts of you captured in print for others to see?

You know, Lord, and somehow that is enough to stop my wondering
Short of conjecture that serves no purpose.
And so I put my trust in you
Who knows my True North
And the path that leads me there.

Give mercy this day, I hear you say,
The same unmerited favor given to you.
Slip into her shoes and walk with her—
In thought, pray
In word, build her up
In deed, be His hands, His feet.
Just be Jesus.
Quietly, confidently, just be Jesus!

And be not weary in well doing—let us not get tired of doing the right thing, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

You died for me…

You died for me,
I whisper into this silent morning,
You died for me.
You took my sins on your shoulders
and paid the ransom
that I might walk free.
I scarce can take it in,
Your sacrifice
without measure
I look at my horizon
concealed by clouds
and wonder at what You did
willingly, for me.
You could have called 10,000 angels
but you looked at me.
You saw me.
You knew me
and said “It is finished.”
Three days you were there
for me.
There is no way to pay you back.
Oh but there is, I hear You say.
“Go and do likewise,
go into all your world,
make disciples
teaching them to obey my commandments
and I will be there with you
until the end of the age and beyond.”


Growing up…

God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in a crisis they are the ones upon whom He can rely. ~ Oswald Chambers

For approximately 25 years, I’ve been reading the same book almost every morning. More than anything, it has been responsible for my growing up in the reverential awe and admonition of the Lord. That last part is a mouthful, but that’s what growing up in the ‘fear of the Lord’ means. The book is Morning & Evening Devotions with Oswald Chambers, which comprises two books, My Utmost for His Highest and Daily Thoughts for Disciples.

I was one of those kids who loved Jesus from an early age. My favorite song as soon as I learned it, probably at four years old, was ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ and somehow even at such a tender age, I began to believe it. So it was only natural that I would respond to an altar call at our church when I was six. From that time on, I came to understand more and more about how Jesus loved me, mainly from my Sunday school teachers.

My family went to church every time the doors were open, but, until I was 12 and received my own Bible, no one read the Scriptures in my home except on Christmas Eve. That’s not an indictment, just a fact. Mother’s Bible was precious to her, so it was kept on a shelf in the living room unless she had to prepare devotions for a club meeting or if it was Christmas Eve.

However, that was not the case at the home of my grandmother, who read the Bible every day and often would read it to me when I was at her house. I faced some harsh realities as a child, but because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, those hardships only drew me closer to Him. And, in the process, though I was still a child, I began to grow in my understanding of God–and in my faith in Him.

Please know, I am not saying my childhood was dreadful. It wasn’t. I grew up on a farm with an older brother and sister, and a dad who was an encourager and advocate, so there were times of laughter and fun as we explored woods, creek and barns with the freedom few kids enjoy nowadays. There were, however, big challenges of discrimination because we were adopted–even from those who were supposed to love us–as well as harsh discipline by a mother who had been raised with the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ mentality. Couple that with her fear that we three kids might somehow disgrace her by what others might judge as merely childish behavior, and unreasonable discipline was bound to become the norm at our house.

My life as a kid growing up in the 50s and graduating in the early 60s was pretty normal for a kid raised on a farm in Indiana. Field trips and concert band in the fall, pep band and basketball games in the winter, band contests and track in the spring, and instrumental lessons in the summer, along with Bible School and church camp, swimming at Matter Park, day trips to places like Lake Maxinkuckee and Mounds State Park, and frequent Sunday afternoon picnics at Francis Slocum. Around home, there were always chores to do–chickens to feed or butcher, eggs to gather and clean, gardens to weed, produce to can, and 4-H projects to work on–all before we could go fishing, climb trees or read.

Although we were maturing physically, in many ways we weren’t really growing up, mainly because of my mother’s fear of letting us make our own decisions, and, likewise, learn from the consequences of our choices. I was married at 19, because that’s what most girls did, continued with college, and had my first child at 23. However, it wasn’t until I began to face the experiences of my childhood in the Light of God’s Word that I even began to grow up emotionally and spiritually.

In Genesis 22:2, God’s promise to give Abraham a son has been fulfilled, but God tests Abraham: “And He said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”

God’s command (to Abraham) is,“Take now,” not later, Chambers writes. It is incredible how we debate! We know something is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it immediately. If we are to climb to the height God reveals, it can never be done later—it must be done now. And the sacrifice must be worked through our will before we actually perform it.

“So Abraham rose early in the morning…and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3). Oh, the wonderful simplicity of Abraham! When God spoke, he did not “confer with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:16). Beware when you want to “confer with flesh and blood” or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings—anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.

Please listen carefully. There are some of you who are right where Abraham was. You know what you should do, but you’re trying to find excuses for not doing it immediately; and all that stands in the way of you obeying God is your will. You can think and think and think about what you know you ought to do, and you can talk and talk and talk it over with others, but just know that all of your thinking and talking puts the focus on what you want and not on what God wants.

Remember the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat as the storm rages? Even though Jesus said they were going to the other side of the lake, when the storm came up, fear rose up in the disciples, and they woke up Jesus. Listen to this from Chambers’ Daily Thoughts for Disciples:

When we are in fear, we can do nothing less than pray to God, but our Lord has the right to expect of those who name His Name and have His nature in them, to have an understanding confidence in Him. Instead of that, when we are at our wits’ end, we go back to the elementary prayers of those who do not know Him and prove that we have not the slightest atom of confidence in Him and His governing of the world. He is asleep–the tiller is not in His hand, and  we sit down in nervous dread. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in a crisis they are the ones upon whom He can rely.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.…”

What childish things are you refusing to abandon? Are you taking responsibility for your choices? Are you insisting on your will, or do you want His will?

You can hold tight in your fist what you want, but just know this: If you hold onto what you want, ignoring what He wants, yet praying for His will to be done, God will pry open your hand and remove it from you–and with a whole lot more pain and trauma than if you just willingly open your hand and surrender to His will.

Prayerfully…  Sara