You Will Rise

I’m no cook, but I like food.  Therefore, I enjoy watching the Food Network.  And one of my favorite shows recently is “The Pioneer Woman” starring Ree Drummond.  Her cooking is good ol’ Southern home cooking… just my style.

We were watching today when something she said caught my attention.  She was pouring red velvet cake batter into a pan to bake.  Ree said, “This doesn’t look like much in the pan, but it will rise quite a bit in the oven.”

Ever felt like that cake batter? Maybe you feel like that right now… like you don’t look like much.  Don’t worry.  Those kinds of thoughts come to us all at various times throughout our lives.  The key is to remember the second part of what she said. Though you may not look like much now, after you’ve gone through whatever process you’re having to go through right now, you’re going to rise.

I suppose Timothy, the young pastor at the great church in Ephesus was having to deal with some folks who thought he didn’t “look like much in the pan” because his mentor, Paul, wrote him a letter in which he instructed him not to let people look down on him simply because of his age.  Instead, he encouraged Timothy to show those folks that he could “rise quite a bit in the oven” and live a life that was far beyond their expectations.

I want to encourage you today similarly.  Ignore those folks who don’t think you “look like much in the pan” because of your age… or your gender… or your physical challenge… or your race… or your level of education… or… or… or.  Stand up straight. Pull your shoulders back. Lift that chin.  Look them in the eyes with confidence, and offer a firm handshake.  Let them know that you “will rise quite a bit in the oven” by the way you talk to them… the way you behave around. Them… the way you treat others… the way you pursue God… and the way you are genuine.

You’re no ugly cake batter… you’re a beautiful cake in the baking!


What People Look At

Yesterday afternoon, we went and picked up some fireworks to do with the boys last night as part of our family’s celebration of our nation’s independence.  We don’t ever spend a lot on fireworks… just some sparklers and Roman candles, maybe several fountains and one or two things that shoot in in the sky and go “BOOM!”

So, last night, we waited till it was as close to dark as we could stand, and then we went out in the driveway to celebrate.  The moon peeked out over the treetops.  Others in our heavily wooded subdivision were already lighting up the night sky with flashes of light and color.  Even the fireflies were getting in on the celebration.

We had a blast… yes, that pun was intended… lighting up our little area of the world.  It was so much fun watching the boys, sparklers beaming, running around like Mario with a superstar power-up.  We all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the one firework that crackled and popped little blasts of light and sound far longer than any of us expected.

And part-way through our celebration, I noticed something.  None of us were watching the darkness around us.  Not one of us.  No one said, “Wow, there sure is a lot of darkness out here tonight.”  Everyone was focused completely and entirely on the lights being displayed in front of us.

And my guess is that it was the same everywhere fireworks were shot last night.  I’ve already seen videos on social media with people lighting a fuse and stepping back quickly.  Guess what? No one capturing that video focused on the darkness. Instead they kept the camera directed at where the small sparkle of a fuse suddenly turned into a shower of sparks lighting up the entire area.

In darkness, people look to light.  They focus on it.  And as soon as they see light, they forget about how much darkness there is around them.

We were designed to be light in the darkness of the lives of those around us.  For Christians, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world- like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.”  We have the opportunity to calm fears and warm hearts by bringing light into people’s dark life situations.

Darkness can’t stop light.  So wherever you go today, shine.  Just because the sun is shining in the physical doesn’t mean that people aren’t living in darkness. Show up and shine.  They will immediately focus on the light you bring and want more of what you have.

Because I Just Know

Our family LOVES going to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO!  It so fits our family-friendly, Christian-values idea of fun.  And there is so much for the boys to do.

One of their favorite areas is Half Dollar Holler.  And one of their favorite things to do there is climb through and jump around in the suspended netting of the “treehouse.”  At least, it’s one of their favorite things now.

It wasn’t always Austin’s favorite.

Last night, we sat around watching “old” home videos (from three or four years ago) with the boys.  Captured on video was Austin trying to enjoy the treehouse but with great trepidation.  It was obvious that he was unsure of the safety of that netting suspended ten feet above solid earth.

As we watched, Austin told us that he used to be afraid of the bouncing treehouse at Silver Dollar City because he was afraid he would fall, but that he’s not now.  Sure enough, were you to watch more recent videos or travel with us to SDC, you’d find him tearing through there with no hesitation whatsoever.

I asked Him if he reason that he’s not afraid anymore is because he knows if it will hold me up, it will hold him up. (I mean, I might weigh a little more than he does. Wink, wink.)  I must admit that I was a little shocked when he replied, “No, it’s because I’ve been on it enough times now that I know it will won’t let me down.”

Tested, tried, true.

Reliable, dependable, trustworthy.

Because it has never let him down before, he has unwavering faith that it will never let him down in the future.  And with that, I sat back in my seat, having been schooled in faith by my six-year old.

In Deuteronomy 31:8, Moses… the guy who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and all the way to the edge of the land promised to the Israelites by God… looks Joshua… his successor who will actually lead those people into conquest of their homeland… in the eyes and tells him, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Never.  It just won’t happen. God won’t let you down.  He is incapable of failing you. And He chooses to never abandon or give up on you.  He will go ahead of you and clear the path.  Then He will be right beside you every step of the way.

We can trust God because He has never let us down.  In fact, He has never let anyone down.  So unlike those investment commercials on the radio, His past results are indicative of His future performance.

This means you and I can relax and enjoy the ride now.  We don’t have to stress.  We don’t have to panic.  We can romp through life full of joy and hope and peace, knowing that He will neither fail us nor abandon us.

If you’re battling a lengthy illness, He won’t let you down.  If you’re dealing with a difficult divorce, He won’t let you down.  If you’re having trouble passing that class at school, He won’t let you down.  If the bills are stacking up higher than the paychecks, He won’t let you down.

So go ahead… climb the steep ramp of the treehouse of life… crawl into the netted area… and jump with confidence alongside Austin… because it hasn’t let him down before and it isn’t going to let him down this time either.

Neither will God.

If It’s You…

If you’re discouraged tonight…

If you’re doubting God’s concern and presence in your life…

If you’re lacking the hope and joy you long for so desperately…

Then this post is for you… maybe just for you… even though it’s true for all of us.

Some days the ideas for what to post on this blog flow almost faster than I can type them. Sometimes I have several ideas ready to share with you.

Then there are days like today… when I wonder if I’ll even be able to come up with something to say. On days like these, I often breathe a prayer and ask the Lord to give me a little extra help.

I don’t hear an audible voice.  There is no mystical handwriting on the wall. But there is sometimes… like today… a gentle nudge inside, a general sense as to a topic or some words I should write… for someone… for you.

And today, that thought is from Psalm 94:19 which reads, “When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” So, if you’re doubting God in any way right now, know this… God is not mad at you or disappointed with you. He has not written you off or put you on a “naughty list.”

Instead, He has increased His efforts to reach out to you… to comfort you… to let you know how much He loves you… to bring back the hope and the joy and the passion and the faith you once had… that you can have again.

You don’t have to wonder where He is or if He cares about you. He’s right there with you, and He loves you like crazy.  Let Him wrap His arms of comfort around you like the soft folds of your favorite blanket on a cold winter day… even if you’re a man, and you think this all sounds a little too soft and gushy.  In the depths of your soul, you have longed for this comfort… this hope… this cheer. Drop the bravado and drink in all God has to offer you right now. You won’t regret it.

I’m kind of glad now that I didn’t really have anything to write today.  And I hope you are as well!

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