Guess Who’s Got This

After a few days of helping my sister get moved into her new house, we joined my cousin and his family at a local Mexican restaurant (my favorite  genre of food, unless desserts are a genre, for those who were curious).  The sign behind the counter was too good to pass up.  I was trying to take the picture quickly, and so it’s a little blurry… but the message is clear.

Yes, I know it says Jesús and not Jesus.  But it was a clear reminder to me of a couple things:

1) Someone is in control of everything in my life… and yours for that matter.  In fact, that Someone is in control of everything, period.  That’s good news.  Life is not a random set of occurrences.  There is a plan.  There is order, even when things seem chaotic.  When you want to rant because life seems ridiculous, and you wonder if anyone is in control, relax.  Someone’s got this.

2) That Someone who has everything under control is Jesus.  The guy who fed multiple thousands on more than one occasion with only a handful of food… the guy who walked on water… the guy who calmed a storm-tossed sea with only His words… the guy who gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and movement to the paralyzed… the guy who raised a few people from the dead… and also the same guy who, after taking some vicious torture and dying for our crimes against God, rose from the dead Himself three days later… Yeah, that’s who’s got this day under control.  Jesus is the Person in charge.

That means that, regardless of how weary you are… or how sick you are… or how lonely you are… or how broke you are… or how dysfunctional you are… or how challenged you are… there is Someone you can turn to for help.

In the local Mexican restaurant, they think it’s Jesús.  But in reality… in all of life… the Person who’s really in charge… the Person who truly has got this… is Jesus!  If you have a problem, bring it to Him today.  He’ll know just what to do to make things right.

Christmas Roadtrips

Today we will put away the Christmas decor for another fifteen weeks or so, and wrap up our new family tradition of celebrating Christmas In July.  So I’ve been reflecting on my Christmas memories as a child this morning.  Many of those revolve around road trips to visit extended family. And when I say road trip, I mean road trip.  Like 1,000-1,500 miles and 20-24 hours of drive time.

We would leave on a Sunday night after church.  We would load everything in the station wagon and hit the road.  No seatbelt laws meant we kids could sleep on the slats Dad had specially made to fit in the back of the land yacht. Luggage underneath the slats and sleeping bags on top of the slats.

Mom would drive first because she was a night owl.  She would get us to daybreak, and then Dad… having gotten some sleep while she drove… would take the helm and keep us rolling.

We stopped only to fuel up and eat.  While we rode, we played all the classic road trip games… because there were no cell phones… or on-board wifi… or iPads… or built-in video players which could play videos or your gaming system.  No, we read… and slept… and talked… and drove each other nuts.

But you know what? I never thought twice about what direction to drive… or how much money we would need to take with us… or whether gas stations were open on Sundays or not… or whether we would get where we were supposed to be going.  Mom and Dad said, “Get in the car. We’re going to see your grandparents.”  And I did.  I just got in that station wagon, and let them do all the planning and driving.  They took care of when to stop and when to go.  They determined which roads were best for us.  They made sure we had all we needed to make the trip as easy as possible.  I just got in and trusted them.

Oh, that I would always treat God the same way.  That I would simply get in the car of life which He is driving, and let Him take care of all the details.  Sometimes I do better than most.  Other times, I’m like a 6-year old trying to tell his parents what time to leave, which road to take, how fast to drive, what time to stop or go.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

In those moments, my Heavenly Father is kind and gracious enough to say from Matthew 11:30, “Keep company with Me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  In other words, “Allen, let me take care of the details… You just get in and ride along with me. I’ll get you where you need to be, when you need to be there.”

I’m glad He’s driving.  And since He is, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to climb in the back, rest, and have fun looking at the billboards and license plates we pass.

And oh yeah, just one more time this year… Merry Christmas in July!

Christmas In July- Continued

It has been such a fun week of celebrating Christmas in July as a family.  Memories have been made, and I believe a new tradition may have just begun for Team A.  We even drew names to get each other a small, inexpensive gift.

During this other “most wonderful time of the year,” I am reminded of the classic Christmas movies I loved watching growing up, and which our kids are now getting to enjoy. I loved those old claymation-type animated Christmas movies like Frosty The Snowman and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

One of my favorite parts of the Rudolph storyline is when they need to find toys for Santa to give and Rudolph leads them to the “Island of Misfit Toys.”  There lived the toys that had flaws… and mistakes… and missing parts.  They were the toys culture said didn’t match up.  But Rudolph believed there were kids who would love having those toys.

Maybe sometimes you feel like a misfit toy yourself.  Maybe you don’t seem to match up to culture’s “ideals.”  Perhaps you don’t have the perfect shape or figure.  Maybe you’re not quite as young or glamorous as you once were.  Perhaps your résumé or ACT score isn’t what someone thinks it should be.

But for every person, God has a purpose and a plan.  There is someone out there who needs what you have to offer.  There is someone out there who will love you for you.  There is someone who doesn’t see your flaws and mix-ups as problematic.  Instead, they see you as unique and wonderful.

Ignore those purveyors of “perfect.”  Be yourself.  You have worth and value just like you are.  Ask God to reveal His purpose for your life, and point you toward His plan.  You’ll find Him pick you up off the “island of misfit toys” and place you in a healthy, loving environment designed just for you!

Already

I love this quote…

“Long before Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, the tree was planted to meet his need.”

Ficus sycomorus is the scientific name of the type tree Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus according to Luke chapter 19.  That type tree can take from twenty to fifty years to grow to its full maturity.  So it is possible that before Zacchaeus was born, that tree he climbed was planted. It also means that it was possibly planted before Jesus even came to earth as a man.

Here’s the good news we can take away from this for us today…

God already knows what you are going to need long before you’re going to need it. And He comes up with a solution to provide what you’re going to need before you even know to ask Him for it.

So you can relax now.  God has everything under control.  You’ll have what you need when you need it.

200th Post: You’ve Been Set Up

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been set up.  Someone has been laying out an intricate, detailed plan which directly affects you.

The good news is that it’s God.  The rest of the good news is that He loves you and it’s good things… things to benefit you… that He has been scheming.

Psalm 139:16 reads, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Jeremiah 29:11 points out, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”

And Ephesians 2:10 declares, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

God is not sitting in Heaven figuring out how He can punish you. He is working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).  He has created a plan to bless you… to help you… to prosper you… to propel you… to give you life to the fullest.

John— the disciple who was probably closer to Jesus relationally than any other on this planet— recorded Jesus’ words in John 10:10… “…My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

And that doesn’t end here. For those tho accept Jesus Christ for Who He is and what He has done on their behalf, that life extends beyond death into forever.

You see, you’ve been set up.

No, not by me.  Not in this blog. I’ve never pulled any punches with you or sucker-punched you.  I’ve written what I mean and meant what I’ve written.

But you’ve been set up by God to succeed… to thrive… to flourish… to make a difference in this world… to impact others… to create… to dream… and as a result to be drawn close to Him in love.

So why not stop and take a moment right to recognize Him and His amazing plan for you… to thank Him… to acknowledge that He got way out in front of you on this… to let Him know that you appreciate Him… and maybe even to ask what else His good plans for you involve?

If you’re gonna be set up, at least you’ve been set up by the Best!

Thanks to all of you who read this blog, whether it’s your first post to read or you’ve been here for all 200 so far!  The words of encouragement you’ve given are deeply appreciated.

I look forward to the next 200 posts! More encouragement… more motivation… more moments spent with us living up in an often down world.  See you here tomorrow!

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