LET US BE AMAZED!

Larry and I spent last Saturday evening at a Gala event in Chicago that raises money for Angelman Syndrome research. Three years ago this rare and severe disorder was cured — yes CURED — in a mouse model. It was recognized as the “Scientific Highlight of the Year” and all of the medical world stood amazed. It remains yet today only one of two cognitive disorders ever cured in a mouse model.

As parents of a child with Angelman Syndrome, the idea of a cure was not even on our radar when Carly was first diagnosed in November 2000. When we heard news about the ground-breaking research, we stood with other parents of children with this serious disability — AMAZED.

Another thing amazed me on Saturday night. As we have before, we met parents who are raising more than one child with this complex and overwhelming thing called Angelman Syndrome. One can only imagine the moment-by-moment challenges of a family experiencing that kind of adversity! We stood simply amazed as we listened to parents sharing about their lives in those kinds of circumstances.

The emotional reaction of amazement is deep but often fleeting. We pause momentarily to absorb the idea of something that challenges our perspective and our appreciations. Yet, most of the time, we quickly move on and forget that moment of awe and respect when something tests our ability to wrap our mind around it.

It’s the Christmas season and those moments of incredulity at the Gala got me pondering a critical question. Am I appropriately amazed by JESUS? Am I have even momentary astounded when I stop to consider what God did when He birthed His Son through a virgin and placed Him in a lowly manger for the salvation of my soul?

The shepard’s response to the news of a Savior was to exclaim, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” And then scripture specifically points out that they “hurried off” to find the baby. I take it they were amazed.

When the wise men saw the star, they were overjoyed and went to the house to see Emmanuel. They bowed down and worshiped the baby. Then they opened their treasures and presented Jesus with gifts. Those magi were utterly amazed.

When Simeon saw the baby and realized he was gazing upon the long-awaited Messiah, he said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation… the glory of your people Israel.” As Simeon expressed his amazement, Mary and Joseph marveled at what he said about their son. They, too, were amazed.

With evidence of a festive season all around me I’ve decided to pause more often and consider the wonder of who Jesus is and all that He has accomplished. I want more than passing moments of wonder and amazement.

I want a LIFESTYLE of awe, gratitude and passion for the One who came to do even more than save my soul. God became man to demonstrate the greatest act of love and power that will ever be known.

He gave Jesus to ensure that I experience life to the fullest— not just for some future eternity, but also for right now.

That’s amazing!
Almighty and sovereign God, YOU are amazing!

Lord, please cause our amazement with YOU to affect EVERYTHING about how we think, feel and live! AMEN

Are We DONE Yet?

It’s a typical family meal. Larry and I find our plates half full when our teenagers are already excusing themselves and taking their dishes to the dishwasher. He and I look at each other with unspoken wonder while rhetorically thinking, “Are we done yet?”

More than once, we’ve challenged the kids to linger just a little longer. Contrary to popular opinion, some parents don’t have cooties! We’d enjoy the chance to sit and talk a few minutes more about their day, what’s on their minds, what’s coming up for the evening, and so on. Understandably they have homework to do, piano to play, texts to send, tv to watch, and it might even be laundry day with a “Family Power Fold” on the evening schedule. Still, we’re counting the days til college and measuring the preciousness of each moment. We crave more lingering.

It occurred to me one day recently that my time with God is like that. He wants me to linger. I’m in a hurry. He says “come near to me and I will come near to you” (James 4:8). I quickly say “gimmee gimmee” and then run for my To-Do list.

Sometimes I linger. I stay long enough to get what I wanted to get out of it. But did I stay long enough for God to give all HE wanted to give or for either of us to experience the full delight of our undistracted, unhurried nearness to one another?

What if I spent time in quiet reflection with the Lord until I was absolutely certain we were BOTH finished?

PSALM 27
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
DWELL in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and HE WILL DO THIS:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 BE STILL before the LORD
and WAIT PATIENTLY for him

With Thanksgiving, Christmas and a new year fast approaching, perhaps you would take this challenge with me:

Meet with the Lord quietly now and then, praying and reading the Bible — when you think you’re done, ask the Lord, “Are we done yet?” If you sense the answer is “yes” then go forth and enjoy the rest of your day appreciating that God is always near. If you’re unsure that your mutual business is done, then be still a while longer, read a little more, journal or pray and listen for more promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Who’s in?


Let us know what happens, will you?

Where I Get STUCK

PHILIPPIANS 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is loves, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Those of you who know me well are aware that Philippians 4:8 is a special verse for me. After a life-changing experience with that message in 1997, I have been learning more and more about the benefits of keeping my thoughts focused on positive things and especially things I am grateful for.

A grateful heart is God’s Divine weapon against a consuming negative thought life.

I confess that I have a tendency to have a critical spirit. The up side of my wiring is that it is easy for me to see how things could be better in some way. Thinking creatively and finding ways to make improvements upon something come quickly and easily for me. I tend to strive for excellence and progress in life. The down side is that my busy mind and high expectations can leave me dissatisfied, discouraged, lacking hope, and putting inappropriate pressure on people around me (or at least giving them the perception of pressure which can be just as unhelpful).

There was some incredibly valuable insight for me when I looked at the Greek translation for the word THINK in this verse. I am to very intentionally KNIT my thoughts together in the direction of true, trustworthy, honorable, lovely things. What goes on in my mind must, ultimately, be woven in the direction of Christ’s perspective.

Psalm 38:9 models for me that I can lay my every thought and emotion out completely bare before the Lord. How wonderful that Almighty God deeply cares about everything that concerns me! He wants me to share from the depths of my heart with Him. God absolutely cares about even the darkest, harshest realities of what goes on in my mind. He just doesn’t want me to stay STUCK in the places of pain, anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness or dissatisfaction. He wants to hear my heart but then refresh my thoughts in what is TRUE and HOLY and RIGHT.

What do these verses say to you about your thought life today? Let’s share what we are sensing God teaching us together!

PSALM 38:9
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.

2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

ROMANS 8:6
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

COLOSSIANS 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

ROMANS 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

PSALM 111:2
Great are the works of the Lord; they are PONDERED by all who delight in them.

Where I Get STUCK

PHILIPPIANS 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is loves, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Those of you who know me well are aware that Philippians 4:8 is a special verse for me. After a life-changing experience with that message in 1997, I have been learning more and more about the benefits of keeping my thoughts focused on positive things and especially things I am grateful for.

A grateful heart is God’s Divine weapon against a consuming negative thought life.

I confess that I have a tendency to have a critical spirit. The up side of my wiring is that it is easy for me to see how things could be better in some way. Thinking creatively and finding ways to make improvements upon something come quickly and easily for me. I tend to strive for excellence and progress in life. The down side is that my busy mind and high expectations can leave me dissatisfied, discouraged, lacking hope, and putting inappropriate pressure on people around me (or at least giving them the perception of pressure which can be just as unhelpful).

There was some incredibly valuable insight for me when I looked at the Greek translation for the word THINK in this verse. I am to very intentionally KNIT my thoughts together in the direction of true, trustworthy, honorable, lovely things. What goes on in my mind must, ultimately, be woven in the direction of Christ’s perspective.

Psalm 38:9 models for me that I can lay my every thought and emotion out completely bare before the Lord. How wonderful that Almighty God deeply cares about everything that concerns me! He wants me to share from the depths of my heart with Him. God absolutely cares about even the darkest, harshest realities of what goes on in my mind. He just doesn’t want me to stay STUCK in the places of pain, anger, frustration, fear, hopelessness or dissatisfaction. He wants to hear my heart but then refresh my thoughts in what is TRUE and HOLY and RIGHT.

What do these verses say to you about your thought life today? Let’s share what we are sensing God teaching us together!

PSALM 38:9
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.

2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

ROMANS 8:6
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

COLOSSIANS 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

ROMANS 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

PSALM 111:2
Great are the works of the Lord; they are PONDERED by all who delight in them.

Those Nasty DRY Spells

All of us have had those times — a day or two here and there, or even a season, when getting into reading the Bible is especially tough because it doesn’t seem to be “feeding” us the way we are hoping.

I was having one of those days a couple of years ago. I was reading but it felt rather pointless. I wasn’t drawn anywhere in particular and whatever I read was uninteresting, and especially didn’t engage me emotionally. I was a little frustrated and tempted to set my Bible down and get on to the day’s TO DO list. But then I had a thought (thank you, Holy Spirit, how you guide our ideas!) which led to a discovery that was confirmed later that day.

SCRIPTURE IS POWERFUL FOR OTHERS WHEN IT COMES THROUGH US!
I prayerfully read a Psalm and just asked God if what I was reading maybe wasn’t for ME at all, at least that particular day. I asked, “Lord, is what I’m reading going to be an encouragement to someone else today?” Sure enough, several hours later I got an email from someone going through something tough. That Psalm came to my mind and I was able to type out an email response with some of those verses and it was a blessing to my friend!

That experience helped me keep more dedication to reading God’s Word even when it wasn’t seeming to have a lot to offer me personally. I have been on the receiving end of someone’s Word-sharing emails many times and it has abundantly blessed me and helped me through some very hard days. I am so thankful God showed me how He can use my dry days to soften someone else’s hard day.

READING GOD’S WORDS FROM DIFFERENT BIBLE TRANSLATIONS SPEAKS FRESH INSIGHTS TO US!
Another thing that helps me is to read a different Bible. We’ve got several Bibles around our house and several different translations. We also have several different children’s Bibles. Alex met Jesus because of one of those Bibles. A newer one I’ve been reading with Carly has spoken profound new insights into me lately.

We can be sure of one thing. God’s Word always does a work when it goes out. Remember the promise of that in Isaiah 55?

How about you?
Let’s share some ideas folks! What has been helpful for you? How do you keep momentum with your daily time reading God’s Word?