Monday, January 30, 2012

DREAM YEAR WEEKEND: These Are the Game Changers

We just rolled in a few hours ago from the Dream Year Weekend in Charlotte. I'm still marveling at how quickly friendships formed. Never before have I been put in an environment in which I knew nobody going in and felt like I left only 3 days later with a room full of lifelong friends! What an amazing group of creative, kind, genuine, and generous people.

Justin, the kids and I were at Dunkin' Donuts when a group of our DY friends came in. Fun surprise!
Meet Carrie, an awesome mom of 3 who longs to see people's finances be an asset to their marriage rather than a liability. Tracy, a girl with a heart of gold who wants to have a wellness center/Christian yoga business--a girl who will YET see God's good and redemptive hand in her life. Lindsey, a make-up artist and creative who very obviously has a tremendous heart to encourage others.
Matt and Vanessa, parents to three girls and one more on the way, are a sweet couple who are looking to plant a church in the Boston area. Loved talking to them!
Carrie, then warm and genuine Diana who has a heart for young people and wants to provide a creative environment for them. John-Erik, who is one half of the Dynamic Duo (seen below)...

Thomas, a lawyer by day and creator of an interactive children's book by "dream." Lance, who shares my heart for the Word of God and is passionate about getting Bibles to Ugandans. Great guys.
Melissa, a talented photographer with a beautiful heart. KC, a natural encourager who has a passion to encourage worship leaders. Justin, a filmmaker and musician with a bright future ahead.
Dave and John-Erik, the Dynamic Duo of WonderGrove (love that name). These two guys are incredibly brilliant, but what impressed me far more than their truly impressive creativity was their kindness and sincerity. What genuinely great guys these two are. Ben Arment, coach of Dream Year. Wise, wise, wise! Wisdom and grace cover him in a very evident way. So grateful to get to work with him this year. Jason, a warm and genuine "architect of surprise-and-delight moments," and a fellow Atlantan.
And this wasn't even everyone! What a tremendous group. It was so awesome to hear the stories of these people who are desperate for their lives to be drenched with purpose, and for their God-given gifts to be used rather than shelved in the named of perceived security.

And yet as wonderful as the Dream Year part of the weekend was, I had Justin and the kids waiting for me at the end of each day. THEY are my passion and my dearest dream by a LONG shot, and I am beyond-expression grateful for the life we share.

I'm one lucky girl. :)


Monday, January 23, 2012


We were out in the middle of nowhere, but he was parched. So very thirsty. I kept driving until there was finally a place to stop, and I ran in and bought my little guy a liter of water. He gratefully glugged down half the bottle, and his thirst was satisfied. He even had a little smile on his face as we continued on down the road.

And then his sister grew thirsty, too.

She asked him for a drink of his water, for she too had grown thirsty. He furrowed his brow and wouldn't share.

Not even a sip.

He'd so quickly forgotten what it felt like to drink after feeling parched.

Jesus spoke of a man who owed a debt he couldn't even dream of paying--it would be into the millions in our day. The master was going to make the man sell everything to pay back the debt, but the man begged, "Be patient with me, and I will pay it back." The man's gracious master did one far better: He forgave the debt completely. The servant went away a man who was no longer indebted...

...and one who forgot how it felt for his debt to be paid.

The forgiven servant soon came upon a man who owed him hardly anything--only a few dollars, in our day--and he began to choke the man, demanding that the man pay him back the money immediately.

"Be patient with me, and I will pay it back," the man pleaded--but he was shown no mercy. Instead, the servant had the man imprisoned until he could pay every penny back.

When the master heard of this, he wasn't even kind of okay with it.

"You wicked servant!" He chastised. "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" The master then turned the unmerciful servant over to be tortured until he could pay back his debt (Matthew 18:23-35).

The servant had been shown mercy when he thirsted for it, but refused to show mercy to another who too was thirsty.

How can we receive the great measure of mercy we've been shown from a God who canceled every last bit of our insurmountable sin debt, and then refuse to extend mercy to those who wrong us? There's just no place for mercilessness in light of the mercy that has been heaped upon us.

Who needs us to offer a sip of mercy? Do we really have any right to deny them when we've been drenched with forgiveness ourselves? No matter what wrongs we've suffered, are any greater than the whole of our sins that have been fully forgiven of us?

Somebody is parched and in need of the refreshment of mercy today.

Will you share?


Saturday, January 14, 2012

grumble, grumble / GOD IS GOOD!

I feel like I'm getting whiplash reading through Exodus!

From one passage to the next I feel like I'm riding a roller coaster of grumbling and grace.

In Exodus 14, God pushed back the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites and wiped out their enemies. Seems they really could've coasted on
that high for awhile, don't you think?

Nope. They went straight from the place of their celebration into one of desolation, and no sooner had their feet hit the desert, their whining began. Not entirely illegitimate whining, mind you--they
were without water for three days. I might be doing some whining, too!

But if you'd just seen Almighty God push back the waters of the sea with His own hands, wouldn't you think He could take care of your thirst?

Apparently not. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Whine, whine, whine.

In the course of just 4 chapters the Israelites went from:

-Deliverance from their slavery in Egypt - God is good!
-to a parched place in Shur - *grumble, grumble*
-to camping literally right beside the water in Elim - God is good!
-to a place of famine in the desert of Sin - *grumble, grumble*
-to the provision of manna and meat as an answer to their pangs of hunger - God is good!
-to a lack of water at Rephidim - *grumble, grumble*
-to water pouring out of a rock at Horeb - God is good!

Up and down, up and down. They had hardly finished praising Him for the last provision when they began complaining about the next thing.

But I'm that way too! I forget how God has come through, how He has made a way and carved something magnificent from a plank of impossibilities. And I ride this spiritual roller coaster of grumble, grumble / God is good!

Sometimes we find ourselves saying, "God is so great now!" Like, now that He has provided. Now that a job or opportunity came through. Now that my children are behaving. Now that I'm seeing fruit from my efforts.

No, God is so great ALWAYS. He is always worthy of our praise. When we're parched, when we're without, when we hurt, when we see His hand at work, and even when we don't. God is great. God is good. Not simply "Now that I see His provision." Always.

LORD God, Steady us! We want more consistency in our trust of You. Bring to our minds the ways in which You've moved and made a way when we're in those parched places. Remind us of who You are and what You have done. We claim Jeremiah 17: 7-8: "BLESSED is the one who trusts in You, whose confidence is in You, for he has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Don't let droughts shake us, nor famines fluster us. Keep us confident in Your faithfulness. In the strong and mighty name of Jesus, Amen.


Friday, January 13, 2012


When I was in my hometown last week, I took my kids to the park where I'd played as a little girl. I was excited to go back and let my own children play there, so my mom, my brother Marc and I walked the kids over.

Marc had his dog with him, so he stopped for a moment while we went on up ahead. Two minutes later my brother was right beside us saying, "Let's go" with an urgency in his voice. We gathered up the kids and headed home--and as we walked, he filled us in on what we hadn't realized was happening.

While Marc was with his dog, he noticed a man who had been lurking around, looking around. Marc said he saw the man lock in on me walking with my mom, probably eyeing my camera that looks extra fancy with the zoom lens and hood on it. Marc watched the man look this way and that, put up the hood on his black hoodie, and start moving toward us.

Marc grabbed his dog and began running toward us, which scared off the man in the hoodie. He was gone before we even knew anything was going on.

We have to be so careful out there. And I actually usually am pretty mindful of what's going on and am pretty guarded and careful in situations. But this was happening literally right behind my back, completely unbeknownst to me.

And it's happening in the spiritual realm, too. We must keep close to our Defender, anticipating the moves of an enemy who hates us--yes, hates us, and is looking to take, take, take anything good he possibly can from us.

He's dangling that thing in front of us, hoping we take the bait, because he knows it will hook us and entrap us.

He's hoping he can get us to believe God is holding out on us and will never come through for us. And if we're not spending any time in truth to remember that our God is always faithful and true--while in stark contrast our enemy is the father of lies--we're going to be an easy target.

We need to understand that while God is real and NO ONE is greater, the devil is real, too--and we've been warned. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). We must be covered with the full armor of God and on the lookout.

Almighty God, I pray for each person who is reading today, that you will make their minds wise to the schemes of one who wants nothing but to hurt them. Remind them of Your rich, lavish love. Remind them that You are endlessly faithful and can be trusted. Protect them from one who plots for their pain and destruction. Establish a mighty fortress around your children. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life--life to the full.

Jesus' words in John 10:10

Sunday, January 1, 2012


"Go, Moses. I am sending you to bring My people out of Egypt."

Talk about intimidating! When the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stood before Moses and called him to this tremendous task, his eyes were, understandably, immediately on his own frailties.

"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

Good question, Moses. You were little more than a non-eloquent, slow -of-speech, wanted man on the run for killing an Egyptian. Who were you to take on such a task? Maybe we really shouldn't go there.

And God didn't.

The LORD Almighty didn't rattle off a bunch of reasons why Moses was the man of His choosing. He didn't try to inflate Moses' self-esteem with a pep talk about his stellar achievements and impressive qualifications. In fact, God's response to Moses' whole "Who-am-I?" thing had nothing to do with Moses. He simply said,

"I will be with you."

There was no need to gush over Moses' resume' because it wasn't even about him. It had everything to do with the One who would be with Him.

Who am *I* to be the one to do this?

*I* will be with you.

God simply traded an *I* for an *I*.

Even Gideon tried to ask his own *I* question: "But how can I save Israel?" And again, God traded an *I* for an *I*:

"I will be with you."

What are you facing that has you asking "Who am I to be the one to do this?" Maybe you've been called to something big, or maybe you're just the mom or dad of a child who is requiring everything of you. Maybe you're simply trying to get out of debt this year, and the task seems insurmountable. You're in good company if you find yourself asking "Who am I?" But whatever your task, it's probably not worth even asking about your own *I*.

Simply acknowledge His.

"I will be with you and will bless you." Genesis 26:3 God to Isaac
"I will be with you." Genesis 31:3, God to Jacob
"I will be with you." Exodus 3:12, God to Moses
"No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5, God to Joshua
"I will be with you." Judges 6:16

* * * Happy New Year! * * *