Cherry Blossoms around Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms around Jefferson Memorial

A fun part about living close to DC is all the free things DC has to offer…the museums, monuments and beautiful scenery. Every year around April, loads of people flock to the city to see the cherry blossoms. Last year, Brian was living here and I flew out for Easter, but the cherry blossoms weren’t blooming just yet. They had started, but weren’t in their full bloom. This year, Brian and I thought it would be a fun (and romantic) idea to catch the sunrise at the Tidal Basin. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with this brilliant idea. We woke up at 5:30am on a Thursday morning and by the time we arrived, there was no place left to park. We couldn’t believe it. Gratefully we were planning to head to the city in a few days for the Easter sunrise service at the Lincoln Memorial so alas, I finally had my chance to see these babies in full bloom.

I’m glad we saw them when we did because shortly after that day, northern Virginia (or NOVA as the locals call it) was bombarded with gusts of raging wind. Petals from the flowers were being ripped from the trees, leaving behind the memory of their beauty and a longing for next year.

Up Close Photo of the Cherry Blossoms

Up Close Photo of the Cherry Blossoms

The other week at our FCA weekly meeting, one of the staff asked a great question to kick off the evening. He asked the athletes, “How do you want to be remembered?” That was a great question for me to consider. Being married to a military man, our time here in NOVA will not last. Eventually, like the cherry blossom petals, we’ll be swept away as the government moves us off to another location. Our time here will be short, but I want to make it a beautiful time. I want to look back on these days and remember the beauty of this time. I want to remember the joys (and pains) of our first year of marriage. I want to remember our church community who have embraced me. I want to remember the Cru staff who have accepted me 100% as a part of their team. Most importantly, I want to look back and see how the athletes at George Mason have grown in their faith and wait for the seeds they begin to sow on campus to take root and bloom (yet unlike the cherry blossoms, never blowing away).

Knowing that you have a short time in one place gives you a sense of urgency to experience everything you can and take advantage of the gifts all around you. Lately, I’ve had more of an urgency to help others to grow in their faith and be equipped to share their faith with others. Being in full time missions you’d think I would always have that urgency, but there’s always been this sense of, “I’ll get to that.” In all actuality, we really don’t know how much time we have. Eventually, our time on earth will end.

Second Corinthians 2:15 says, For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

How do you want to be remembered? What fragrance to you want to leave behind? And what are you doing today to help make that happen?

When Peter saw [John], he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  – John 21:21-22

 Last week it snowed pretty hard here in Ohio. I had to drop someone off at the airport in Cincinnati, about an hour and a half drive from where I live. After I dropped him off, I had the feat of driving back home. It was still snowing and it was getting dark. I decided to own the fact that it was going to take me quite awhile to get back home (I had already bought some coffee for that very reason). I’ve never really used my flashers before, but decided this was the moment to start. I went about 40 miles an hour on the interstate and it took me 2.5 hours to get home.

As semis zoomed past me, all I could think about was staying focused at the lane in front of me (or where I thought it should be, since I couldn’t see the lines). When I passed someone, I cheered them on yelling, “You be you! Go as slow as you feel you need to go!” Obviously they couldn’t hear me.

When I was focusing on my driving, these verses popped into my head. At the end of the

book of John, Jesus gave Peter instructions for how he was supposed to live the rest of his life and he told him how he would die (John 21:15-19). When Peter saw John, he wondered what would happen to him. I love Jesus’ reply: “…what’s it to you? You must follow me.” I don’t believe Jesus is telling Peter not to care about John. I think he was telling Peter that he needed to focus on the assignment Jesus had just given him.

We all have our own assignments from God and they are individually unique. We don’t need to get caught up in what other people are doing and we definitely don’t need to compare ourselves to others. If I would have allowed myself to get caught up in how the semis were driving, I probably would have ended up in a ditch. We need to stay in our lanes. We need to focus on what God is asking us to do. We need to stay focused on our own personal race.

Prayer:
Lord, don’t let me get caught up with the others in the lanes next to me or the fans in the stands. Help me keep my focus on what you’ve laid before me and the work you have called me to do.

Question:
How easy is it for you to get caught up in the comparison game?
What has God uniquely gifted you for this season?

Challenge:
When you get caught up in comparing yourself to someone else, whether it’s sport related, ministry related, or personally related, take time to look at what God has given you. Thank Him for the talent He has given you, the mission field all around you and for creating you exactly the way he did.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

First Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter. I know the holiday coming up this weekend is difficult for many, especially for the singles. This day of love has become known as “Singles Awareness Day” or a “Hallmark Holiday.” But it’s difficult even if you’re dating or married. Women can have such high expectations on this glamorized holiday, which can lead to high pressure on the guys to plan the perfect date (I’m totally stereotyping here!) There’s so much pressure on this one day to show your love to one special person.

But what about the other 364 days of the year? What about all the other people in your life? I don’t want my boyfriend to show his love on one day of the year and forget the rest. I want it every day. And I don’t want just his love; I want love from all the people in my life. In order to have good relationships, I need to display love, too. But to love well is hard. Just look at the love chapter. Love is patient, it’s kind, not self-seeking and it perseveres. It can be a sacrifice to lay down pride for the sake of someone else. But it’s a choice. A choice we have to make daily to love the people around us. Jesus commanded us to love others as He has loved us (John 15:12). That’s a high standard, yet it’s the calling of a Christian. Love is the mark of a Christian (John 13:35). Because we are not perfect in this area (or any area of our lives), Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit to walk with us, to guide us and to help us grow.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to love well today and every day. Help me fight the urge to be selfish and demanding. Let others see Your love through how I love them and serve them. Please Lord, be with those who will have a hard time this February 14th, for various reasons. Help them see they are loved perfectly by You.

Question:
How well do you love?

Challenge:
Take a moment to walk through this list in 1 Corinthians 13 and ask yourself how well you’re doing with each one. If there is one area your really struggle with, ask the Lord to help you overcome this. Ask someone you trust to join you in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to love others better.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
– Hebrews 4:12

In light of the Super Bowl, last night, I came across this video. It’s endorsing a Bible app, but listen to what these players are saying about the Word of God:

http://youtu.be/wvHYuQCrlKI

I’ve been reading a book by Francis Chan titled, “Multiply: disciples making disciples” and there’s a chapter about why we should read the Bible. Chan said that people have multiple reasons and motivations for reading the Bible, but here are six reasons he believes God gave us His Word:

  1. To teach us about him
  2. To teach us about ourselves and the world we live in
  3. To enable us to live godly lives
  4. To facilitate a relationship with God
  5. To exalt Jesus
  6. To prepare us for our God-given mission

Chan said, “Though we primarily think of the Bible as something we read in order to gain knowledge, we actually have it backward. The Bible reads us – it penetrates to our core and exposes who we really are” (98). If we have a skewed view of the purpose of the Bible, we’ll have a skewed attitude when we approach the Bible.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your Word! Thank you for the accessibility I have to hearing from you. Forgive me for the wrong motives I have for reading the Bible – for wanting the Bible to conform my life, not my life to conform to your Word. Help me, Lord, to approach Your Word with reverence and help me to let go of anything that stands in the way of letting Your Word penetrate my soul and change my life.

Question (more than one this week!):
How do you view the Bible?

What are you reading right now? Are you currently following any kind of plan?
How do you make sure you’re getting into God’s Word daily, especially when you travel?
Do you use any Bible apps? If so, which ones and how do you use them?

Challenge:
Ask yourself your motives when you read the Bible. If the motives are anything outside the six reasons Chan listed, ask the Lord if this is the right motive. If not, ask the Lord to help you change your motivation when you dig into the scriptures.

Have you ever done something and later regretted it? Lately there have been a couple times the minute words left my lips, I wish I could have sucked them back in before they reached the recipients’ ears. Once when I was in the middle of saying something, I could sense my brain telling my lips to stop, but they just kept rambling on and on. It was like I had to get these unnecessary words out no matter what.

But then something annoying started to happen. I walked away and noticed this nagging sense of guilt. It consumed me. I couldn’t focus on anything else until I apologized to that dear friend. I couldn’t move on until it was rectified. Oddly enough, when I apologized on two different occasions (two different people), they didn’t receive my words the way I thought they did. One said the message received was the message I was trying to communicate. But I thought my fumbling words were distorting the message, like the childhood game of “Telephone,” the end message coming out of my mouth was not the beginning message from my heart.

With these two instances, I think it would be safe to say that I am a good communicator and I am, indeed, getting my message across, so the next time I feel this nagging feeling, I can just ignore it. But I don’t want to, and I shouldn’t ignore it. What if my emotions get involved and I seriously distort things and my words truly hurt someone? Or what if later I realized the words I communicated were exactly what I wanted to say, but later realized they benefit no one?

This nagging made me think of some verses in Matthew 5. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift” (23-24). How can I come before the Lord knowing there is the possibility I have wronged my brother or sister? And if I did, I pray they show me grace (that I don’t deserve).

So, I’m grateful for that nagging annoyance that consumes me, because it forces me to move to rectify the situation. It nudges me in the direction to be more like Christ.

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