Sunday, February 21, 2010

What does your Uniform Look Like?

Are you enjoying the Olympics? I think it is a thrill to see the determination and competitive spirit in these talented athletes. As I watch the races in the skiing and skating events, I’m always on the look out for the American coming around the curve or crossing the finishing line. The only way to be able to determine the American in the pack is by their uniform. It’s their uniforms that reveal the country they represent.

In a similar way, our love for others reveals who we represent. Jesus said people will know we are Christians by our love. Do other people see a sincere love shining brightly from Jesus’ followers? What about a genuine compassion? How about loving our enemies or forgiving those who have hurt us? If we want to look like we are on Jesus’ team, we need to love like he did. His love went beyond loving those who were easy to love or who loved him back. He loved the unlovely, the sinners, the difficult people and the annoying ones.

Francis Schaeffer said, “Love – and the unity it attests to - is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father. “

Let us ask the Father to pour His love through us each and every day. Admittedly we need His help, because true love isn’t so easy in our own strength and power. May the Lord’s love shine brightly through us so that all the world may see whose team we represent.

As you watch the Olympics with your kids, talk about how our love for one another is our uniform as Christians. People ought to be able to see that we represent Christ by the love we show others. Look for an opportunity to demonstrate love and forgiveness to another person this week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

See the Potential

It’s Presidents Day, and it’s a good time to talk with our kids about the God-given potential in every individual. When I consider the humble beginnings of Abraham Lincoln, I think about the tremendous story of persistence and achievement his life portrayed. He could have given up many times throughout his life, yet through each defeat he continued to press forward. Instead of focusing on his limitations and his past, he recognized what he could do and the difference he could make for good in our nation. Take some time today to share Lincoln’s story with your kids ( and teach them to recognize their abilities and to persist in their goals.

God has given each one of us gifts and talents to offer this world. This past weekend my husband and I attended a banquet in Abilene, Texas honoring the wonderful folks at Disability Resources. DRI offers vocational opportunities and a loving home environment for adults with physical and mental disabilities. Several years ago a gifted woman named Kathy Taylor put together a bell choir teaching the special folks from DRI how to play and perform. The “Bell Peppers” bell choir performed for us on Saturday night and they did a fantastic job. I am grateful for the way Kathy and the staff at DRI builds on what the folks can do, instead of focusing on what they are not able to do.

What an important lesson for all of us. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. Every person has strengths. Play to your strengths and stop focusing on your weaknesses. And when it comes to the people around you, build on their abilities and talents instead of wasting your time worrying about the things they can’t do. Make a deliberate effort to search for strengths and see the best in the people God places in your life.

Watching the DRI bell choir reminded me that no one should ever say, “I just can’t do anything.” The precious folks at DRI learned vocational skills and how to work together playing bells. They have asked the question “What can I do?” and found the answer. So step up to the challenge. Ask yourself, what am I able to accomplish with the gifts I have been given.
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”

Let’s make it a personal challenge to ourselves to search and see the potential in others and seize the opportunity to build them up and encourage them in their gifts, talents and strengths. Don’t forget to focus on your own strengths as well. And like Lincoln, don’t let disappointment get you down. Persist as you build on your potential.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Teachable Moment about God’s Presence

Last week we blogged about the fact that God is present in our lives whether you see Him or not. This past weekend I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a visual example of that very lesson. I was in Austin, Texas helping my daughter as she was working on some of the details for her upcoming wedding. Austin is a unique and wonderful place set right in the hill country of Texas, and we were staying at a place right outside the city.

Friday night we enjoyed a truly magnificent display of stars in the clear night sky. Now in Dallas we just don’t have the opportunity to see the stars shine with the same sort of splendor because the bright city lights drown out the ability to see their brilliance. But Friday night in Austin I was completely taken by the majesty of the star-filled sky. Yes, it is true that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas!

I was reminded of David’s declaration in Psalm 19:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech ;
Night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
Their words to the ends of the world.

Think about it - no matter where we go, the night sky is always filled with bright and beautiful stars, but we can’t always see their splendor. Sadly the city lights dim our view. This was a teachable moment for me. God used the stars to remind me that He is always there, but the distractions of life often distort my view. It made me consider what is it in my life that distracts my view of seeing the beautiful work God is doing. I think it is all too easy to forget God’s great love for us and His good purpose for our lives. Sometimes we don’t see the loving way He cares for us because we are blinded by our busyness or consumed with our agendas. We may have hurt or unforgiveness that is clouding our view of His work.

If we want to see the stars, we need to get away from the city lights, and if I want to see the work of God more clearly, we may need to distance ourselves from sin and the things that tend to dim our view of God. Most importantly, if we want to see the stars, we need to look up. In the same way we need to turn our eyes upward to look to Him through prayer and reading His word.

Next time you have the opportunity to see the bright stars of the night sky, use it as a teachable moment with your kids to remind them of God’s continual presence. Talk about some of the things that seem to distract us from seeing His loving hand (anger, sin, consumed with ________). Don’t forget to also talk about those things that help us see Him more clearly, like reading and studying God’s word.

"Oh Lord, help us to see you more clearly. Help us to recognize those things that distract us and dim our view of your kind and gracious love. Strengthen our focus so we see your majesty and your ever present beauty in our lives."