I dare you to keep your mouth shut

I have a bad habit of rambling when I get on certain topics. There are just some things I love talking about. My family. My church. Writing and telling stories. Missions. A particularly beautiful and brilliant little girl with crazy curly blond hair.

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to stop talking about someone or something you love? It’s not easy. When you’re passionate about something, you can’t shut up about it. When your life revolves around a person or a purpose, you just can’t help yourself.

How many of us can say that the person or purpose in our lives that we can’t shut up about is Jesus Christ, though?

FA746BB4CDToday’s verses are Acts 4:16-20.

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

I think Acts gets overlooked sometimes because it’s such a detailed book focused on so much history, but the Book of Acts (or the Acts of the Apostles) is an active book, full of excitement and new beginnings and extraordinary events. It’s the start of the Church. It’s the story of how a handful of men turned the entire world on its head in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts is a big deal.

What amazes me is to see the transformation in the disciples. They went from these timid, frightened cowards to these bold, powerful heroes who were willing to lay down their lives without question for what they believed. That doesn’t just happen. These men saw something, experienced something. And when they shared what they believed with the rest of the world, the world itself changed.

And the keepers of the old guard? The old religious elite? Well, they weren’t happy, as usual (some things never change). And they told the apostles that they needed to be quiet. They needed to stop being so loud. They were upsetting people. But I love what Peter and John said in return. They just couldn’t help themselves.

I want to love Jesus like that. I want to be the person who is so in love with Jesus that I can’t stop talking about Him even when people get tired of hearing it. I’m such a people pleaser that I tend to back off if I upset someone, and, I mean, of course I don’t want to be rude. But my goodness, do you know what Jesus has done for me?

When you see Jesus everywhere, of course, He’s going to pop up in every conversation. And that may make some people uncomfortable. Heck, it will make people uncomfortable. There’s no may about it. But if we’re following Jesus the way we should, He’ll be in every conversation we’ll have. And even if we try to stop talking about Him, we won’t be able to.

Believe me, I dislike obnoxious people as much as the next person. And I never ever want to be like that. I don’t ever want to turn people off because I’m rude about what I believe. But by that same token, my Jesus has done so much for me. He’s forgiven me. He’s given me a new life. He gave me breath this morning, and He answered my prayers yesterday. He never leaves me. He never fails me. And He gives me a reason to keep pressing onward.

If anyone else had done that much for me, you’d understand if I wanted to be loud about it. So why is it any different with Jesus?

Let’s get loud about what Jesus has done for us today. And you don’t even have to do anything different than you normally would. Just take a moment and think about everything He’s given you, everything He’s done, the mercy He’s extended, the grace He’s offered so freely, and the joy and purpose your life has since you accepted Him.

Spend a little time thinking about that and what it really means, and I dare you to keep your mouth shut.

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Funny little moth/bird critter midflight at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

When your lunch sings louder than you do

Life is loud. And busy. And crazy. And it takes all of our focus and determination sometimes just to get through a day, let alone a whole week. And it doesn’t stop with the daily grind from Monday through Friday. Most of the time, we have other things happening in our lives too. After work or school. On the weekends. All the time.

Life is so busy and so loud, when do we have time to sit still? I don’t. I’m always running from one hot project to the next with my hair on fire. I rarely get to rest. I rarely get to slow down at all. And that is usually 100% my choice.

I’ve learned this lesson at least a dozen times already, but I always seem to need a refresher.

Funny little moth/bird critter midflight at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Funny little moth/bird critter midflight at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Luke 19:36-40.

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

This passage is talking about something Bible-people usually call “the triumphal entry.” Triumphal is just one of those words that screams stained glass, so I try to avoid using it. Basically, this is the moment when Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before He would be crucified.

The crowd welcomed Him on this day. Funny how they changed their minds about Him when He didn’t give them what they wanted. But that’s a post for another day.

What caught my eye this morning is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees when they told Him to shut His followers up. The translation I learned this passage in says, “even the rocks would cry out.”

I don’t speak Greek, so maybe my understanding of this is wrong. But I’ve always believed that what Jesus was saying here indicated that if people refused to give Him the praise and worship He deserved, creation and nature itself would do it instead.

How embarrassing would that be? To be beaten out in our worship by a rock? Or a flower? Or a bumblebee?

But when was the last time you sat down and really just absorbed nature? Romans talks about how nature provides all the proof necessary for us to recognize and worship God as Creator.

Have you watched a sunset or a sunrise? Have you marveled at a hummingbird or the bright feathers on a cardinal? What about the way tree leaves sound in a breeze or the wonder of how water can be liquid, solid, and gas? Not even talking about the human body here. Not even talking about the solar system. Just a flower. A dandelion. Or an ant. A single cell.

All of them scream praise to God in the loudest way they can, but somehow our lives are so loud, we still manage to drown them out. We tune them out and focus on our small, petty everyday problems. Or we focus on our huge, life-altering, faith-shaking problems, because people have those too. Either way, we focus on our problems and how big and unconquerable they are, and we forget about how huge and mighty our God is because we can’t hear nature’s praise and worship chorus going on.

Take some time today. Just a few minutes even. Watch to the wind in the trees. Listen to a bird singing. Smell your lunch. Whatever. Just do something that will help you stop–just stop–and be quiet and recognize who God is. And even if you feel like you can only spare a second, thank Him. Just a nod. Just a moment’s recognition that you know He created all of this and you know He is worthy of praise.

It will change your perspective. I promise. Because if you can wrap your head around the fact that God created all the ingredients that went into your lunch, maybe you’ll remember that He can help you face that meeting today, or your overflowing inbox, or that phone call you don’t want to make, or that paper you don’t want to write, or any number of the seemingly impossible tasks we face on this Tuesday after Memorial Day when life goes back to it’s deafening pace.

Find a moment to be quiet, and I promise the praise and worship of nature will shock you. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want inanimate objects–like my lunch–to sing a better song to God than me.

Iris in bloom at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Being still is much different than doing nothing

Good morning from Miami, Florida. We made it in one piece, though not without a lot of frantic running through the Newark airport. Today was supposed to be our down day where we could catch up with office work, but that wasn’t to be. We’ve got an early shoot to make this morning, so yet again I’m running on five hours of sleep. So this will be brief and I beg your forgiveness for typos.

Iris in bloom at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Iris in bloom at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 46:10.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”

This is a good verse for me to remember this week as I scramble to make flights and keep appointments. Some days you just need to be still.

Being still is a lot different than doing nothing. It’s way more difficult.

Being still is a choice we make in a frantic situation to wait and to trust that God will work it out. And while we’re waiting, we have to believe. Which means no anxiety. No panic attacks. No fussing and fretting. No wringing hands.

Stillness.

I struggle with this one because I’m a control freak. But if we know that God is God and we believe He will do as He says, we need to trust that He will. And that means giving Him our burdens and our problems and our troubles and stepping back. And not taking them back again.

Today is a good example. My stomach is in knots because I’m walking unprepared into an interview. I hate being unprepared. I study every contractor I interview so I know what questions to ask, but I have no idea what I’m walking into this morning. If it were a fault of my own, I could blame myself. But this job cropped up out of nowhere. I know nothing about it. I know nothing about the piping systems. All I know is that the VP who we’re talking to is one of the “most important” ones in the area.

So, I have to prepare what I can prepare and leave the rest to God, which means not worrying about it.

So that’s what I’m working on this morning. Being still. It’s harder than it sounds.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Rest doesn’t equal indolence

I believe in putting my whole heart and soul into everything I do. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well; that’s what I believe. Life is too short to do things half heartedly. So whether I’m working at my job or doing ministry of some kind, I am always doing it 110%.

But I’ll be the first to tell you that people weren’t designed to run at that kind of pace for an extended period of time with no rest. And that’s where I have been for the last six weeks. Maybe even longer than that. Probably since January.

I’m exhausted. And run down. And worn out. But even though I recognize that I need rest, there’s still some part of me that feels guilty for doing it.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

The Pink House – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Mark 6:31.

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

It’s difficult to remember sometimes that Jesus rested too. And no one believed in ministry more than Jesus did.

Resting is necessary. It’s not being lazy.

That’s what I have to convince myself more often than anything else: that taking a break doesn’t make me lazy. It just makes me human.

In any case, it’s important to remember that you can’t make it through life with your nose to the grindstone constantly. I mean, you can try. But if you deny yourself the rest you need on a regular basis, you’ll lose your perspective.

If you bury yourself in your work, whether it’s job or ministry, pretty soon you’ll be so buried that you can’t dig yourself out. And by then, your work or your ministry will be all that matters to you anyway.

And, yes, it’s important to care about your job. And it’s important to care about your ministry. But not at the expense of your relationship with God.

Even Jesus recognized that He needed a break to reset His relationship with His Father. And He knew that His disciples needed a chance to breathe, where He could spend time with them and encourage them.

So that’s what I’m doing this weekend. I’m resting. I have my camera. I have three of my favorite people in the world in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I have my netbook with a novel I’m working on (which I may or may not work on).

But beyond all of those wonderful things, I’m being quiet. I’m slowing down. And I’m listening. Because I have been so busy for so long that I’ve not taken the time to listen to the things that God is trying to tell me. And I’m excited for what He has to say.

If you are like me and are so overwhelmed with life and work and ministry, do yourself a favor. Take a break. Step back. Do something else for a weekend, and listen to what God is telling you.

You might be surprised at what you hear.