Simply, Jesus

Recently a friend of mine lost her job. I’ve called and texted to encourage her. To do something different, I decided to color a picture for her. You may know that I color as a way of relaxing and I typically use what I color like a greeting card.

On Saturday I looked through the books I have to find a picture that I believed would be appropriate for my friend. Several had Bible verses that were relevant, but I kept coming back to the one that simply said, Jesus.

That’s the one I ultimately colored and gave her. I prayed as I colored, that she’d keep her eyes on Jesus during these days and weeks as she has the rest of her life. I prayed He proves Himself faithful as He has on so many other occasions. She didn’t need a reminder of a verse or a character quality of God’s she knows.

Just Jesus. Yesterday I worshiped with hundreds of others, singing about His name being above all of other names. There’s power in His name. Love. Authority. Healing. Deliverance. So much more.

Some Random Thoughts to Enlighten and Brighten 2017

Enjoy some random thoughts about a new year.

Have you thought of some things you want to change? Maybe some things to leave behind in 2016 and not take with you into this year? Great. Remember, you can make these decisions daily. We don’t need to wait for the year to change for us to change.

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I teach that “wishing it so won’t make it so.” If you want to change, it will take effort, diligence, perseverance, humility, … good old-fashioned work. Listen to your language. Are you telling people that you “wish you’d lose 20 pounds” or you “wish you’d be more compassionate when your kids struggle to learn”? It will take more than a wish. Let’s make work fashionable.

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Remember, it’s really hard (if not impossible) to start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the current one. Have you learned from the past what you needed to? Stop reading yesterday’s news and start writing the next chapter.

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We’re each one decision away from something. What decision do you want to make? Anne Frank said, How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

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We need to make sure any changes we desire for ourselves and children are appropriate and realistic. If they’re not, discouragement comes easily. I sometimes use the example of my height. I’m 6’1”. I’m not ever going to be short even if I pray a lot about it. Make sure your goals for 2017 fit. Do the same for your children. In the words of a young child, recorded in the book Really Important Stuff My Kids Have Taught Me, “If the tree had apples last year, don’t expect pears this year.”

Change is possible, but expectations must be real or disappointment and despair can set in. We can pray about and hope for juicier apples. Redder apples. Bigger apples. More apples. Tastier apples. Fewer worm-filled apples. But, not pears from an apple tree. If you want pears, plant a pear tree.

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Daily, weekly, and monthly, let’s make 2017 great. That reminds me – instead of telling the next person you talk with to “have a great day” encourage him or her to “make it a great day.”

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Do you have any enlightening and/or brightening random thoughts to add? Please leave a comment! Would love to hear what you have to share.

The Greatest Fulfilled Promise of All Time…

The birth of Jesus Christ is the greatest fulfilled promise of all time.

God keeps His Word. He keeps the promises declared in His Word. Look for them and be refreshed. Keep the miracle of Jesus’ birth alive in this way.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” ~2 Corinthians 1:20

Listen Now So They’ll Listen Later

 

Listening to your children matters. Really listening. Listening to understand, not listening until they go away or until it’s your turn to talk.

Responding matters. Not treating them as unimportant. Not making them feel like pests.

Be with them. Be fully present.

What’s your motivation? Hopefully, you love your kids and enjoy being a parent. Great!

I respect that many parents today are busy and easily distracted by legitimate pressures. Yet, here’s what I know. You have to make time for your children. If you’re waiting to find time to spend with them, you may never develop a close, trusting relationship. Or, you may lose the one you have.

If your children approach you and you regularly say “not now,” your children may say “not now” later when you want or need them. They want or need you now. You’ll want or need them later.

You earn the right to be heard later by listening now. You earn the right to lead later by sometimes following now. Go to the tea party your daughter wants to have. Play a game together now even though you have cleaning to do. Build a tent in the living room with the sheets and blankets you were going to wash and wash them later. Ask your son to demonstrate his favorite video game. Listen to your daughter’s favorite music.

Be with them now so they’ll want to be with you later.

Meet The People-Centered Generation

Many young people truly care for other people and inspire us to do the same.

The good our young adults and teenagers accomplish is rarely reported on by the national, state, and local media. It can be so discouraging. Collectively, they’re a wonderful generation concerned with people. Of course, as with our generations, that’s not true of everyone, but as a whole they care. They do more than care.

For example, did you hear how much 40,000 college-age youth contributed at the Passion Conference over New Year’s? They were challenged to contribute toward the building of a hospital in war-torn Syria. $995,128!! This came from “poor” college students!

I can almost guarantee you that they didn’t give to build a hospital. They gave to the people who don’t have medical care. See the difference? This generation is people-centered.

We need to understand that this generation wants their “caring” to show up. To do something. Make a difference. Change things. Matter. Solve problems.

And, they also want our caring to show up with action. They’re not satisfied with platitudes, genuine statements of concern, and just prayers. They can get angry when we don’t seem to know or care about the people involved with the crisis we’re talking about. Youth have told me they wish people in their church would stop just praying for something and “do something.”

We need to listen to young people. They’re intuitive, creative, and solution-focused. Ask the ones you know what people they’re concerned about and what problems they’d like to solve. Ask them for their ideas and don’t dismiss them. Not quickly. Not later. Listen longer. Tell them you’re available to help them think and research. Ask if they’d like to talk with people, observe somewhere, find a mentor, volunteer, travel, …. Don’t force yourself on them, but let them know you’re there for them.

The two following examples are profound. That’s my opinion. See if you agree. Have your teens and young adults read about these entrepreneur inventors. Let these people inspire yours!

Veronika Scott invented a coat for homeless people that becomes a sleeping bag and just a bag when it’s not in use. Brilliant! Her non-profit is based in Detroit. She now employs formerly homeless people and pays them a living wage. In fact, her mission focuses on them and not the product.

Doniece Sandoval is another person who observed a people group with compassion and chose to do something even though it had never been done before. Because of one woman’s tears and frustrations she overheard, she started a non-profit that turns busses into mobile showers for homeless people in San Francisco. (She hopes to expand.) I love what she says on her site about “radical hospitality.” If you take the time to read the mission statement, you’ll see that her company is about restoring dignity, not just helping people be clean.

For our younger generation, it’s about the people. We’d be wise to remember that.

Okay, I must add … don’t just read this and respond “interesting.” Do something! 🙂

What Do You Want? … from Jesus?

“Who are you now?”

“I am a follower of Christ.”

This is part of the routine and conversation between my Pastor and someone who trusts Christ and chooses to be baptized as a public declaration of their decision. Being a follower of Christ is a beautiful thing.

One of my favorite passages about following Jesus is recorded in John 1:35-38. Two men who were being discipled by John saw Jesus and began to follow Him.

“Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked,

‘What do you want?’” (verse 38)

How would you answer that question today? “What do you want?”

At this time of year, it’s common to be asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” Many children are asked that question often. About three weeks ago, my nieces and nephew asked me what I wanted and I emailed my list. They emailed me theirs in return.

What if we thought more about what we want from Jesus? As this year comes to a close and another one is about to begin, what do you want from Jesus? Think about it. Go deep. What are you lacking? What do you want more of from Jesus?

Peace. Joy. Strength. Satisfaction. Mercy. Answers. Hope. Abundance. Contentment. Patience. Goodness. Kindness. Faith. Gentleness. Self-control. Love. Wisdom. Truth. Rest. Motivation. Security. Purpose. Grace. Inspiration. Forgiveness. Freedom. Unity. Blessings. Healing. Assurance. Acceptance. Transformation. Power. What else?

What if we also – maybe first – thought about the question this way? Instead of what do we want from Him, what do we want to give Jesus?

A heart of devotion for Him. Faith. Love. Obedience for His glory. Dependence. Our concerns. Our enemies. Love. Our mind so He can transform it. Our hopes. What else?

Join me in thinking more this week about how to best, individually and personally, answer the question Jesus asks His followers:

“What do you want?”

A Child’s View Of God’s Glory

What do children think of God’s glory? Diminishing it? What’s the opposite?

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell.”
– -C.S. Lewis

A while back, I posted this quote on my personal Facebook page. I knew it resonated with people based on the number of “likes” and “shares.” So, I decided to share it here.

I encourage you to discuss it with your children. What do they think it means? God’s glory? Diminishing it? What’s the opposite?

Are there other truths/phrases they can suggest? I wonder if they’ll use their smarts when filling in the blanks? Would you?

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by                                                              than someone can                                                                                                 .”

Or take it out of the context C.S. Lewis used, and discuss statements like these:

  • A friend or classmate cannot make me dumb by telling me I am.
  • No one can convince me I’m not creative when I know I am.
  • If someone doesn’t remember my name, it doesn’t mean I’m unimportant.
  • If a lot of people don’t like my Instagram picture, it doesn’t mean it was bad or I am ugly.

What’s going on with you or your children lately? Would creating a statement like one of these help you have a meaningful discussion? I think so.

A Dangerous Development Met With God’s Grace & Empowering Smarts

I had just left an important meeting about a pro-life initiative we are going to be involved in. It was a stimulating, encouraging, and uplifting time. I was among great people and was so glad to be there.

I walked  to my car, started the engine, and pulled out onto the streets of Dallas heading for the highway home. I expected it to be a normal drive like many others. That’s not what happened.

While entering the highway, I ran over a large rock that was in the road. I didn’t see it because of the car in front of me. Gratefully, I maintained control of my car and kept driving. All appeared well until about ten minutes later. I heard what I initially thought was a large truck coming up behind me. I quickly realized that my car was actually the one making the loud noise. I realized that the rock must have damaged my tire. Because of the sounds, I knew it was shredding and I’d soon be driving on my rim. I was in the middle lane of a major highway going about 65 mph. God provided a way out and I made it to a safe space on the side of the road.

TireCourtesyPatrolI caught my breath and praised God for taking care of me again. I called for service and was set to wait for a predicted hour. Before the technician could arrive, a courtesy officer with the sheriff’s department arrived. What a blessing!

This officer was friendly and compassionate. I immediately felt even safer than I had. He very efficiently changed my tire and sent me on my way.

Just two hours after I pulled off the side of the road, I was already at the tire repair store near my home. Amazing! It happened in Dallas, I live in Fort Worth, it was 2:30 in the afternoon on a major highway, and I had to drive 60 mph because of my spare. It could have been miserable. It wasn’t. Another reason to be grateful.

Forever Grateful – Honoring Pastor David George

Simply Put, David Was The Best Pastor-Teacher and Pastor-Shepherd I Had Experienced

We were in a booth by a window eating a simple meal. I’ll never forget it. David was fully present as he always was. Then he shared what I wasn’t expecting to hear.

David-George FromWebsiteDavid George had been my pastor the first five years I lived in Green Bay. He and his wife, Jayne, had become important to me for many reasons. Watching them raise their four young children impressed much upon my heart and mind that I still pass on to others today. He was the best pastor-teacher and pastor-shepherd I had ever experienced and I marveled that he could do both so well.

But, now we were in Roseville, California, where they had relocated to plant a church. Because we had worked well together in Green Bay, and we respected each other’s abilities, we had talked about me relocating there and helping them with their new church. I was honored and excited about the possibilities.

Across an ordinary meal on an ordinary day that I discovered later would be anything but, David said “no” to our idea that I move there. I don’t remember him explaining much about his reasoning. Maybe he did and I just couldn’t absorb it. Honestly, it’s one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever been a part of. David knew. He was gentle and unwavering. Smiling, as always. I remember his compassion.

David was willing to speak the truth in love even when it was hard to hear. He knew me well enough to have earned the right. I knew he genuinely cared. He said it. He showed it. He knew me well enough to understand God’s best for me even when I didn’t. To believe for me what I couldn’t believe for myself.

It was all possible because he was so aware of the Holy Spirit’s leading. He was so in tune with God. He was willing to say “no” at a significant time in my life when I wanted him to say “yes.” His obedience to God’s leading and selflessness are among the reasons I am who I am today, and I am where I am today. I’ll be forever grateful.

This wasn’t an ordinary day. This was a God-ordained, future-oriented, most-challenging day. Because God directed David to say “no” and he didn’t get in His way, I was able to say “yes” to the bigger call. My move to Fort Worth to establish Celebrate Kids was made possible by David’s push. Rather than my ministering God’s ways to the people of his church, I think he saw something bigger, and he didn’t want to get in the way. This is so rare.

Celebrate Kids, Inc., exists because David said, “You can do this.” Partly because of him, his confidence in me, and his prayers uttered 30 years ago that I would serve God well, I do what I do. I’m so privileged! I will keep doing it. David will forever be one of the reasons I will. His influence will not die. It is still alive, as is He. Very!

DavidJayneHoldingHandsHospitalShockingly on Friday, David transitioned from life here with his family and others who loved him to life eternal with His Lord. Of course, Jesus loves him more than we ever could. With others, I rejoice that David is free of pain, worshiping, and in his forever home. Yet, I grieve especially for his wife, four children, and their spouses and children.

David was about my age and passed away from an extremely rare and aggressive malignant tumor in his pancreas just one month after the diagnosis. I’ve been reminded that God orders our steps and plans our days. This has been hard.

I hope all of us who were influenced by David will continue to pass on what we gained from our friendship and his ministry. For me, this includes:

  • Love your spouse well. Prioritize your spouse in time, deed, and word. Hold hands until the end.
  • Parent well. Comfort your children. Be their solid rock until they know Christ personally and then continue to be a strong source of security. Know your children. Love them for who they are. Help them discover their gifts and then sacrifice so they can develop them.
  • Love without preference.
  • Serve those in need.
  • Be kind, compassionate, other-centered, gracious, …. Christlike!
  • DavidGeorgeOnTireSwingLaugh with others. Always.
  • Show up. Again and again.
  • Be fully present.
  • Relate to others so they know you want to be with them and as if they’re the only ones in the room.
  • Get to know others well enough that you earn the right to speak the truth in love.
  • Trust God in “good” times and “bad.” If we have faith in God for “this,” we must have it for “that.” If we believe God directs “this” part of our lives, we must believe He directs “that” part.
  • Love the Word and talk about it so others know you do and so they will love it, too.
  • Teach the Word. Be clear and relevant. Rely on it in your own life.
  • Tell others about Jesus. Don’t complicate things.

I’m sure I’ll think of more things as I process memories and grief. I’ve also been reminded anew that we all benefit from getting close enough to a pastor or other spiritual leader that he or she can tell us the truth, and we’ll know it’s good and good for us. Do you know someone like this? Do you seek his or her wisdom and insights? Are you able to trust and follow through? It’s conversations with people like this that can catapult us into the next phase of God’s goodness to us and through us. Seek them out.

Welcome Focus On The Family Listeners!

At Celebrate Kids, we focus on children and we want you to, too. If you’re here for the first time because you heard me on Focus on the Family Radio, welcome!

We encourage and support parents because you are your children’s first and most important teachers. The ways you love them, mentor them, and teach them matter!

We inspire teachers to rise above any discouragement and face challenges head on because children deserve the best. We greatly value educators!

We equip church-based teachers, leaders, and volunteers to love, lead, and teach well during these days when Truth isn’t respected like it used to be, but it’s just as important as it’s always been.

We share with children of all ages in all types of schools, churches, and camps to convince them of truths like these:

  • I can be smart with my smarts.
  • I am created on purpose with purpose.
  • I have present value, not just future potential.
  • I am who I am supposed to be.
  • I am a human being, not a human doing.
  • I am a unique, one-of-a-kind, created-in-the-image-of-God miracle.
  • I will control my technology. It will not control me.

Radio is an efficient way to influence people and we’re grateful to Focus on the Family for the opportunity to be a guest on their show. Speaking at events sponsored by Christian schools, public schools, homeschool groups, churches, camps, corporations, and conventions is the most common way we meet needs. Providing hope and direction is a privilege! You can learn more here.

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Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope that through it, the radio broadcast, and our other resources, you’ll find solutions for today and hope for tomorrow. It’s why we do what we do!