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Sometimes life feels less like a daring adventure and more like an assembly line.

Wash the clothes. Pack the lunches. Make the deadline. Gas the car. Ride the treadmill. Scratch the to-do list. Buy the groceries. Wrangle the inbox. Change the diaper. Wait in traffic. Pay the bills. Give the same presentation in a new way. Drink eight glasses of water. Pack and unpack the dishwasher. Pack and unpack the suitcase. Pack and unpack the restless feelings.

We step mindlessly from one assembly line to another, forgetting this is our one and only life.

More often than not, I think our issues and sin and discontentment stems out of sheer boredom. And boredom is born because we—as the song says—are looking for love in all the wrong places.

We scroll from screen to screen.

We move from activity to activity.

We transition from trend to trend.

We jump from one piece of breaking news to another piece of breaking news.

“Is this it?” we wonder. “Is this all there is? All we have to look forward to?” Sometimes we’re tempted to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or tempted to stuff it all inside—filling ourselves up with paralyzing worry or hopelessness, which can silently poison our joy.

But this isn’t how it was supposed to be.

When Eden broke, something inside of us broke too. Our God-given intent was disfigured and distorted.

But as Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

We all have issues and problems and we’re caught in an endless cycle that will not let up. But God had a plan even before the world began. And that plan—Jesus—came willingly so that we might have life and have it to the full. Yes, He wants us to spend eternity with Him when all is eventually restored.

But He also came for the here and now—so that we might usher in His glory.

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

So that we’ll look at a watercolor sunrise and remember His faithfulness. So that we’ll hold a newborn baby and know that He’s constantly working new miracles. So that we’ll fold laundry and scrub toilets and wash dishes, recalling His provision. So that we’ll stare into the eyes of a friend or a parent or a spouse over coffee and feel that we are loved beyond explanation.

So that we’ll step into a messy situation and watch His redemptive plan take root in real life.

So that we’ll be empowered to create with the minds He’s given us—to glorify His name. So that as we laugh and play with our people, we will experience the evidence of His joy. So that as we read His living Word, it’ll transform our hearts as well as our perspective of the world around us. So that we’ll notice the vast oceans and the rugged mountains and the smile of a stranger and the curious mind of a child and, in those things, acknowledge His being.

For all things exist by Him. 

Yes, our everyday lives are filled with mundane tasks. There’s no denying that. But all throughout history God has taken ordinary and hopeless and messed up people and totally rocked their world.

Let’s open our eyes to Him, friends.
Let’s live awake.
Let’s notice His whispers and fingerprints—which are constantly breaking our seemingly mundane assembly lines.

 

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It’s a new year—with new dreams, new challenges, and (like it or not) a new president.

As we approach the end of January my gym is still decently full, which I happen to find bittersweet (sweet because people are taking charge of their health; bitter because I do not like smelling someone else’s sweat right next to me). But it will taper off soon, as it does every year. Because forming a new habit is hard.

We moved our kitchen trashcan from one wall, where it’s lived for over ten years, to the pantry. And would you believe it? It took a solid MONTH for us to break the rhythm of walking to that old spot and train our brains to take the new route instead. Because forming a new habit is hard.

I took a siesta from the World Wide Web these past several weeks to hone in on some top priorities. At first, I found myself wanting to click those social media buttons or craving to lose myself in one of my favorite blogs. Because, as you know, forming a new habit is hard. But once I embraced the empty space and didn’t hurry to fill it with something else, my perspective radically shifted.

It’s not easy to break an old habit or to create new ones, but I never want to allow my routine tendencies to trump what’s most important. I want to live my life on purpose, refusing to settle for merely going through the motions.

“Don’t act thoughtlessly,” Paul encourages, “but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Romans 12:2)

My husband and I decided to do a “family word” for 2017—to intentionally involve the kids and think about what really matters. We wanted it to be something like focus; something about fixing our eyes on the important stuff. Since Jack (our almost 5-year-old) is really into nerf guns and constantly shooting his foam bow and arrow, we decided on the word AIM. Aim for what matters most. Notice it’s not “hit the bullseye every time” or “be perfect and never screw up.” No, to aim is to point toward the end goal.

And so we sit around the breakfast table, casually chatting about the seven areas we’ve chosen to aim for this coming year. We wanted them to be short, simple, and easy enough for our kids to remember. And though we’ve elaborated a bit more in our personal scribbles, here is the basic gist:

AIM:

(1) Love God.

(2) Love people.

(3) Be the Church.

(4) Live healthy.

(5) Work hard. 

(6) Play hard.

(7) Stop to rest.

If we don’t point ourselves in the right direction, how can we expect to end up somewhere on purpose?

So if you committed to start something new but have already fallen off the bandwagon, you can still get back on. If you set some fresh goals but have already messed up your record, you can still begin again. If you want the power of Christ to continually change the way you think, but so far you’ve only been focused on yourself, admit your weakness and lean into His strength. Steady your feet, ask for God’s help, mark your target, and don’t give up now.

Your one and only life is far too important.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Everybody loves a good underdog story.

Where a comeback of epic proportions takes place, leaving everyone shocked and ecstatic and jumping up and down in bleachers and on couch cushions.

This type of underdog victory happened last night when the Cubs took the 2016 World Series for the first time in 108 years. That’s over a century, people!

Oh man. The videos of die-hard fans losing their ever-loving minds from the “privacy” of their own living rooms are the VERY BEST EVER. They can’t control themselves! They can’t contain their joy! They go completely insane!

But here’s the thing about underdogs: It’s not always easy to follow them. It has not been a walk in the park to be a Cubs fan for 108 years. There have been some ups, lots of downs, glimmers of triumph, and painful defeat. In fact, all of the original fans who experienced the previous glory days are long gone. But a great expectation still trickled down throughout the years and—though some had lost faith and others had completely given up—many clung to the thrill of hope.

But then.

Then times started changing, the story shifted, and hope turned into reality.

You know, in many ways, Christ-followers share a similar storyline.

Because here’s the thing about Jesus: It’s not always easy to follow Him. It has not been a walk in the park to be a Christian for the past 2000+ years. There have been some ups, lots of downs, glimmers of triumph, and painful defeat. In fact, all of the original “fans” who experienced the previous glory days are long gone. But a great expectation has trickled down throughout the years and—though some have lost faith and others have completely given up—many still cling to the thrill of hope.

Sometimes it’s hard cheering for the underdog.

“Is He ever going to do something?” they say. “Is He sleeping?” they laugh. “Is He even real?” they question.

“They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” (2 Peter 3:4)

But you know what? Times are changing, the story is shifting, and there is hope. Not just in a baseball team or a government or in personal success, but in the God who made you and loves you and has not given up on you.

This is your story. And it isn’t over yet.

 

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How wild would it be if someone handed you a million dollars to invest, but you buried it instead?

How silly would it be if you took a bucketful of seeds for the garden, but decided to see how they would flourish in the attic?

How ridiculous would it be if God gave us countless resources to help and love and encourage and point to His magnificence, but we were just so busy, so distracted, so—meh that we never got around to it?

Jesus told a story about three guys. (You can read it right here in the Best Book Ever).

In a nutshell, a successful man goes on a long trip and leaves three employees in charge of his cash. One guy is given five bags of money, another two bags, and another one bag. When the man gets back, he learns that the guys with five and two bags invested the money and doubled his wealth. But the guy with only one bag hid the money—where he thought it’d be safe and sound. Not only was owner disappointed, taking the lonely bag and giving it to the guy who’d already invested wisely, but also used the words lazy and wicked.

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But for those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29)

With this story at the top of our minds, here’s my question: What are we doing with the time, resources, abilities, talents, and opportunities He’s put into our hands? Are we investing them well? Barely? Not at all? Are we allowing Him to fill us so that our lives might overflow and be completely wrung out because of His hard-to-describe but easy-to-love love? Or are we simply burying what we have and sitting on our gifts—hoping God will understand our good excuses?

We aren’t saved by good works, of course—only by grace through faith. But we will all stand before God on that day that’s been etched into eternity even before the world began, to give an account of how we’ve spent (or wasted) our lives.

There’s a time to rest and a time to GET AFTER IT.

As we pursue obedience to make His name known, we MUST REMEMBER that He is the sole giver. He is the one who’s put the very breath we’re breathing into our lungs. He dropped you here at this particular time in history. He gave you your passions, personality, and potential.

He was, is, and will always be the beginning (and end) of ALL.

We often spend gobs of energy wondering, “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” But Jesus is gently whispering, JUST ENGAGE WHAT I ALREADY PUT INTO YOUR HANDS. Use what you have. Shake what you got. Get creative where you are. Use the brain I gave you. And don’t be afraid, because I will be with you! When you are faithful with little, I know you will be faithful with much.

We are resourced by the original source who was already on the scene. We are mere messengers, distributors, investors, planters, sowers, and seed-scatterers.

So what is that thing you’ve always wanted to do? That thing that compels you? That thing you keep buried inside of your heart?

You should move on it. And I’m serious.  

Maybe you’re scared. He’s not going anywhere. Maybe you’re tired. He is your strength. Maybe you feel silly. Better to be a fool for Him. Maybe you’re small. But He is mighty.  

Even if your contribution is invisible to others, it’s visible to God. Your prayers matter. Your tiny act of obedience matters. Your open arms to someone who can’t say thank you matters. It all matters! We weren’t called to keep to ourselves. So invest wisely—remembering that God in you is the greatest gift you could offer the world.

Just, please, don’t do nothing.

Don’t waste your one and only life.

 

 

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