We can’t change.

Have you ever been frustrated that you can’t change? You might want to with everything in you but altering our habits, and shifting our lifestyle or attitude can be quite challenging. Well, I’ve been down a long road friends, and I’m not to the end of us, but I believe I’ve discovered the answer. WE CAN’T CHANGE. Let go, and give up, because you just can’t. But when you meet Jesus, you learn he is the change agent. HE can change us. Where we fail, he succeeds. When we grow weary, he does not.

A change agent is a person which causes something/someone to change, become different, transformed by focusing on such matters as effectiveness, improvement, and development. A change agent takes action on a condition to produce a transformative reaction.

There are 5 aspects of a change agent that are each true of Jesus. I dove into each of them here for you, to show you that HE is the transformative power — we are not. And friends, there’s so much freedom in that knowledge.

  1. He has a clear vision and a plan.
    His word tells us he has a plan and he is purposeful with our lives.
    Jeremiah 29:11-14 He has a clear plan to lead us into peace as he changes us; a plan of purpose and good for us.
    Job 42:2 No plan of God’s can be thwarted.
    Ephesians 1:11 It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we heard of Christ he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, which is part of the overall purpose is working out in everything and everyone.
  2. He is patient and persistent.
    I know that my God is patient; he’s been patient with me and I’m sure that he has been patient with you. I know that God is love (John 4:16) and I know that love is patient (1 Cor 13:4). I also know that he is very patient with his people (Exodus 34:6). He is patient with us not because we deserve it but because it is who he is; in his very being, he has loving patience toward us. He is persistent in his patience toward us, he waits for the right time so that we might find salvation. (2 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:15)
  3. He asks tough questions.
    He brings us to some tough questions we must answer as we seek him. (I.e. Do you really believe that I am who I say that I am?) He will challenge and wrestle us until we begin to change under his loving discipline and training. He uses tough lessons to bring about the most beautiful freedom in our lives. He rebukes, he disciplines, and he uses hardships for a purpose to bring about good for us. He produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. His questions and lessons serve a purpose to help us to learn, it’s not because he needs to know the answers. In Gen 3:9 God asks Adam, “Where are you?” even though he knew just where he was. He asked so that Adam would be faced with his sin, and be lead to repentance.Read more about Jesus’ questions in Mark 2:19; 3:4; 4:14; 5:30. He knew the answers in each of these cases, he always does. But, he knew we needed to answer them in order to learn and grow. I believe he asks us questions even now. They might sound like:

    1. I know you believe in me, but do you believe me? Do you believe what I say?
    2. Do you trust me? Do you trust me, no matter what may come?
    3. Do you believe that I am for you and that I am good?
    4. Do you believe that I really, really love you? That I think you are perfect?

His questions provoke self-examination. Listen to what he may be asking you today. Did one of the questions above stand out to you? Maybe that’s the one. Listen.

  1. He leads us by example.
    Jesus washed his disciple’s feet to set an example for us in John 13:1-17. He showed us what servant leadership looks like in Matt 20:28. There are examples of love, patience, temptation, submission to God’s will, trust in God, and so much more that he laid out in his word for us so we would have a place to come and educate ourselves about how we should move forward in the hardest of situations. He gave us a handbook in his Holy Word. For that, I will be so eternally grateful. We are really never left without answers, and he provides stories and examples to color in all the details.
  2. A relationship with him is one built on trust.
    He calls us to trust and then he makes it easier on us by giving us examples of what it looks like to trust. In order to change us, to transform us, he needs us to boldly step into a relationship of full trust with him. Meditate on these verses of trust.Josh 1:9 | Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.2 Sam 7:28 | Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.Psalms 20:7 | Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

    Proverbs 3:5 | Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

    Proverbs 28:26 | He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.

    Daniel 6:23 | The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

    Romans 15:3 | May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Revelations 21:5 | He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Are you Crying at the Tomb?

Something happened this past week to me that left me feeling really hurt. We all have our feelings hurt now and again, and this was nothing different or earth shattering, but my feelings were hurt just the same: I was really sad and discouraged.
As I studied John 20 this morning, working through the aftermath of the crucifixion, I read about Mary’s visit to the empty tomb. Oh, friends, His teachings are fresh every time we open his word, and this morning I was so encouraged by the lessons that He laid out as I read about Mary, this woman who loved Jesus, just as I do.

Let me share this with you:

  • While the other disciples went back to their homes after Jesus’ death and burial, Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she even bent over to look at the tomb. (John 20:11)
  • At one point she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, only she didn’t know it was Him. She thought He was a gardener! Until Jesus said to her “Mary.” And, she knew it was her Savior. (John 20:14-16)
  • Jesus told her to go to His brothers and tell them of His resurrection. And, she did. She went to tell them of the good news saying, “I have seen the Lord.” (John 20:17-18)

I realized after reading Mary’s story that I was doing the same thing. I was standing at the tomb and crying, staying in the place that I was hurt and grieved and weeping. Not only that, but I was leaning over to peer at the tomb.

Do you ever catch yourself rubbing in your hurts, putting salt in your own wounds? I’ll own to this in hopes that it encourages you and say I do it all the time. One of my favorite Christian speakers, Beth Moore, calls it a “spirit of offense” oh boy am I good at it! (Which, to be clear, is not a good thing!) (Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that grieving isn’t right, when we suffer a loss grieving is right and important. Here, I’m more talking about wallowing or staying longer than is necessary in a place of hurt.)

When Jesus showed up in front of Mary, she didn’t even recognize Him. Perhaps she was too busy crying — wailing and weeping — to see that her Savior was standing before her. How often are we distracted from seeing when and how Jesus shows up in our hurts? I pray that we can all be like Mary and at least hear Him, and recognize Him, once He calls out to us. When he finally opens his mouth and draws our attention to Him (because we’re otherwise blind), let’s hear Him and go to Him, just as Mary did.Instead of mourning at the tomb, Jesus asks Mary to “Go and tell;” to share the good news, to spread the news, and to share that she had seen the Lord.

So, I’m going to try to walk away from my “tomb” today, put my tissues away, and go find someone to tell I have seen the Lord – because, friends, I have.

Will you listen to His voice, and join me?

Springs Without Water

In 2 Peter 2:17 Peter talks about “springs without water.” He is talking about people or things that promise satisfaction and contentment but in reality, they have nothing sustaining or satisfying to offer. They only offer an empty lie.

As we celebrated his death and resurrection last week during Easter, we were told again and again about the great sacrifice that Christ made for us. I kept being drawn to the detail that we needed to be saved. He didn’t die without reason, but rather for a purpose — there was a great need for his sacrifice, we needed to be saved because we were lost and dying! We were lost. He came to find us, and save us.

We were — or maybe still are — chasing springs without water; looking for satisfaction in empty places.

We crave:
Fame
Followers
Money
Peace
Relaxation
Recognition
Clarity about why we’re on this earth
Purpose
A more appealing reality
An easier life
A better marriage
A more satisfying job
A better wardrobe
Someone to love us
Someone to love
Someone to give us purpose
Something to satisfy

These things, they have no water, no lasting satisfaction, no promise of contentment. Yes, they may make us feel better for a little while. But after that time passes, we are empty and chasing again.

We are in need of a Savior. Nothing and no one can touch the fulfillment and thirst quenching power of Christ in our lives. I promise you that.

What waterless springs are you chasing today?

Perhaps you need only look up — to the one true satisfying Savior.

How will you wait?

“There is a sense of anticipation churning deep within me. It’s there when I rise and when I fall asleep. It’s there as I move about my day. It’s a burning desire I can’t ignore. It feels as though I am being prepared. Something is coming. Something good, but something challenging and hard as well. I’m excited. And I’m ready, or at least I feel like I am. I’m sitting here saying, I’m ready! Let’s go, Lord. Let’s do this thing! Use me now. Why must we wait any longer?

Yet I find myself waiting again. And, the waiting is filled with so much doubt. Does this mean I can’t be used? That I am not worthy? Surely if there is a desire to step up, to serve, to surrender, to lead, to love then he would jump at the chance to use that desire. Wouldn’t He? But we wait, together. For I know He is with me in the waiting.

What does it mean that you are waiting, Lord? I know your timing is perfect, and so I wait on you in trust. Trust that requires your help and your strength for this impatient girl. I know you are working in me through my present circumstance and you’re using the now. I’m just ready for the next. I’m doing all I can to sharpen my sword, shine my armor, and brace myself for the battle. Digging into you and leaning into your word as I wait. And I’ll continue to do so until your plan is revealed.”

This is a journal entry from a few months ago when I was knee-deep in a struggle of waiting.
Do you ever feel like you spend a lot of time waiting on the Lord’s timing?

You’re not alone.

It’s what we do in the waiting that determines where our journey will lead.

Will you trust? Will you doubt?
Will you sharpen your sword, and prepare your armor?
Will you choose to have unbreakable faith?
Will you fight the uncertainty.
Will you dig in your heels?

How will you wait?

Parks’ Day

Image from www.emilycoring.com

Today is Parks’ day. Today we honor William Parks Coring, stillborn on March 20, 2016.

Today, we grieve that we lost this sweet baby. We ache for his parents who lost something so great you just can’t quite put it into words. We mourn because we feel cheated out of a life we were ready to love and cherish. But today, we also celebrate. We celebrate because we don’t need to stop loving Parks just because he isn’t with us. We celebrate because Parks taught us to slow down a bit and love the family we’re so blessed to share time on this earth with. We smile because we know that Parks taught his parents to take more walks, look to Jesus more, and inch even closer to our Savior, and there’s nothing more important in this life than that. We stop in awe in wonder that God could use such pain and heartbreak and somehow craft it into his miraculously perfect plan for those He loves. We take a deep breath and we trust because we remember nothing in this life is guaranteed and each day is a precious gift. We look toward heaven because Parks helps us remember every day that it is is real.

It might sound a little backward, bit we feel a little bit of expectation and excitement because we can imagine the day that we’ll join him, meet him, wrap our arms around him and tell him how much he was adored and loved. I can hardly stop the tears thinking about my sweet friend dropping to her knees and enveloping her son in a hug so perfect and so beautiful with every hurt this side of heaven healed as she is reunited with her precious boy.

I talked to my son Finn yesterday about Parks; I asked him to help us celebrate his birthday today. I explained to him that Parks was in heaven, with Jesus, and that we wanted to help his Mommy and Daddy do something special today to remember him. Surprisingly, he seemed to understand. Then he wanted to call Daddy and explain to him that it was very important that we celebrate Parks today. I realize this conversation, had while snuggled in Mommy’s bed at the end of the day, is such a gift.

Our dear friends asked us to come alongside them to honor Parks’ life, and legacy, and I’ve never taken anything more seriously. They are more than right. We need to seize the opportunity to love on each other, squeeze each other a little too tight, get outside and experience God’s beautiful creation and be thankful for the things we too often overlook.

Will you join my family as we honor our friends Emily and Travis today and remember their son Parks? Will you step outside (weather permitting) and enjoy His beauty? Will you spend some time at the window with your family watching the storm? Will you take a minute to squeeze your spouse tighter, tickle your kids longer, look into their eyes and appreciate them for the gifts that they are? Remember Parks today. And remember the God that gives, that heals, that loves.

Image from emilycoring.com

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. | Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Visit Emily’s blog to learn more about her journey | emilycoring.com

Cadence for Christ

Do you ever spin?

I have a love-hate relationship with spin class (aka: cycling), I always have. It is an exercise unmatched in required effort and energy. If I’m being honest, though, I really don’t enjoy it. I do it because I know it is good for me, it will help build endurance, muscle, and improve mental health.

This morning, I received a message from a friend who was just knocked down with an intense and deeply painful conflict. Very hurtful words, a deep disappointment, an insecurity scraped and made raw. This particular hurt was a spiritual attack. That was clear. An attempt from the enemy to destroy a good work in the making. Sometimes the enemy is just so obvious when he hits us right where it will hurt the most. My heart was hurting for her that morning, perhaps even more than my leg muscles were burning in that spin class.

All of the sudden I realized how perfect the parallel was. This terrible/wonderful spin class was exactly what my friend was going through, what we all go through when we are fighting the enemy for the sake of moving toward Christ and working for His glory. One second we are moving forward, cruising maybe, seemingly smoothly, feeling so hopeful and expectant about God’s plans. Endorphins are plentiful.

The next minute, we feel like we’ve been smacked right on our back, the wind knocked out of us.

Maybe it’s a hurtful word from someone we consider close.
Maybe a friendship was broken.
Maybe a criticism that hits hard and seeks to damage us to the core.
Maybe we realize someone we love is manipulating us.
Maybe we lose something, or someone, precious to us.
Maybe we learn news of an illness.

Whatever it is, it feels like a dagger to the heart, doesn’t it?

It is in that moment that we find ourselves being tested. Our muscles begin to burn in intense pain and become weary. Our bodies long to take a rest, to get off the bike and take a water break, to wish we had slept in rather than hitting the gym.

It is in that moment, in that battle, in that great fatigue that God is calling us to press in even deeper, to lean into him and keep up the fight, despite the strain on our hearts.

It may seem staying on the bike is a victory at that point. You may say, “at least I’m here.” At least, I ____ (fill in your blank here.) That’s not enough. He does not just ask us to stay on the bike, to keep the legs moving for the appearance of hard work.

We are called to maintain our cadence.

Our stride should not falter. Yes, during the uphill climb the pace requires much more effort. Sometimes it feels like we are moving through quicksand; so much work for what appears to be so little movement. Our muscles burn and scream in order to keep up cadence, but dear ones, I promise that our souls are building endurance. The endurance that can only come through the Holy Spirit to take us through this battle, and the next, and all the way to victory.

1 Cor 15:57 | But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Truth for the battle: Romans 8:30-37, Isaiah 54:17, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Eph 6:11-17, Hebrews 12:2, John 10:10