God is there. Are you?

I’m pretty sure I love God with all my heart. I’m quite confident that Jesus is my #1 treasure in life. I enjoy singing. I love playing and listening to music. I hope all my piano and guitar students become worship leaders. I was a worship pastor on staff at a church for years, for goodness’ sake. So how can I be so easily distracted during “worship time” at church then?

We all can become distracted and complacent in our worship, but what if we wholeheartedly arrived at church each week to join the Body of Christ in seeking Him and pouring out our praise on Him? What if we offered Him something that actually cost us something, and did it while helping others in need? What if He listened to us and responded in mind-blowing ways?

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How to Help Your Pastor Become a Better Preacher

I could probably call myself a “sermon junkie.” I watch several sermons a week on YouTube, and I’m blessed to belong to a church where the pastor is a good preacher. But there have still been seasons over the last couple decades where I’ve left the church after a Sunday service feeling like, “Eh…today’s sermon was okay. I’ve pretty much heard it before.”

One of the dangers we face the longer we’ve been in the church is losing the spark we had at first for hearing God’s Word preached so we could go out that very week and apply what we learned. My mission is to do all I can to protect my heart and yours from becoming stagnant or calloused when it comes to hearing and living out the truth of the Gospel.

If you’ve been in the church for quite some time, and have ever wished your pastor would preach better sermons, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, and watch the video first, and follow it up with the 5 action steps.

Two caveats about the video:

  1. At the beginning of the video, I’m “acting irreverently” exaggeratedly and on purpose, to help make a point.
  2. If you’re a new Christian, you’re not the target audience for this post. If you’re a new Christian who is excited to listen to every sermon possible, and to hear and learn God’s Word so you can apply it in your own life, don’t ever stop! (And help the “been there – heard that” older Christians in your church to regain the joy of falling in love with Jesus and of telling others about Him.)

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Why go to church?

I’ve been a church-going Christian for over three decades. For over two of those decades, I was a pastor on staff at a church – first as a youth pastor, then as a worship pastor, then as a children’s pastor. During those years, I could give you some good reasons why you should choose go to church, but for me and for the other staff pastors, there was really no “choice.” It’s not like we could wake up on Sunday morning and say, “Eh…I really don’t feel like going to church today.”

Now things are different for me. Earlier this year, my baton was passed to an amazing and dynamic new kids pastor, and since then, after decades of having no “choice” of going to church (if I wanted to keep my job), now I get to choose whether or not I’m going to church each Sunday.

And I choose YES!

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Think like a bird.

Back in kindergarten, this naughty boy taunted me on the playground, “Bird Brain! Bird Brain! You’re nothing but a Bird Brain!!”

That mean mockingbird.

I wanted to cry at the time, because even though I hadn’t taken any science classes yet to know the actual size and capability of a bird’s brain compared to that of a human, at age five I was confident that anyone who likes to eat worms couldn’t be that smart.

But these days, I sometimes wish I had more of a bird brain. Listen to me chirp for a moment.

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My Grandma Made Me Think

This past Saturday, my mom’s side of the family celebrated the life of the woman I’ve always known as “Grandma Toe”, who passed away at the age of 98 the week before.

There are a handful of thoughts and questions that always come to mind when I’m at a funeral that always make me think, “Wow, I should really think of this every day, and not just at funerals.”

In honor of Grandma, who is probably holding a dog in one hand and a cat in the other while gazing at the beauty of our Savior right at this moment, I’d like to share these six thoughts.

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Ever get THIS song stuck in your head?

I got this old song stuck in my head this week. I think it was old when I first heard it in 1984.

“I’m so happy and here’s the reason why;

Jesus took my burden all away.

Now, I’m singing as the days go by;

Jesus took my burden all away.

Once my heart was heavy with a load of sin;

Jesus took the load and gave me peace within (my heart and)

Now I’m singing as the days go by;

Jesus took my burdens all away.”

Author: S. W. Gavitt

It made me dig into God’s Word so that my head and heart would be stuck with God’s truth way more than it would be stuck with the melody to the song or to the feelings I had been experiencing.

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What do you love the most about ___?

What do you love the most about God?

What do you love the most about the people in your life?

What do you love the most about your daily circumstances?

Currently, I have the joy of taking a theology class every Wednesday night for 7 weeks at my church. This past Wednesday, after teaching about the attributes and character of God, our pastor asked us to discuss in our groups which attribute we loved the most about God.

Little did he know how much that question would stick with me.

Little did I know how much it would beg to be asked about everyone and everything.

What would happen if we all began to ask the “what do I love most” question about God, the people in our life, and our daily circumstances?

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Why do you do the good things you do?

Last week, I confessed that I had no (correct) idea about what the word “prodigal” meant. That confession was easier than this week’s. 😉

This week, when I first asked myself, “Why do I do the good things I do,” my initial response was, “to get closer to Jesus and to bring others closer to Him as well.”

Maybe my years as a kids pastor had me programmed to quickly raise my hand and give that correct church answer in hopes of winning some candy.

I didn’t get the candy.

Nor did I get the peace in my heart that I had answered the question 100% honestly.

Had I been answering the question, “Why SHOULD a Jesus girl do good things?” I would’ve been absolutely correct. But as I shared in this week’s video, that wasn’t the question.

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Do you love your “neighbor”?

“THROW AWAY YOUR LIFE.” …Shari Tvrdik

This past weekend was quite inspirational to say the least.

On Saturday night, I attended a missions banquet put on by Cup of Cold Water Ministries. There were highlights of missionaries serving around the world, and my dear friend (whose family just returned from eight years of service in Mongolia) spoke about throwing your life away for the sake of the Gospel. She communicated with such assurance that denying ourselves to follow God’s lead is the only way to truly live.

Even if.

Even if God’s lead takes you and your four kids from rural Happytown U.S.A. to the slums of Mongolia with no indoor plumbing and negative fifty-degree weather.

And I believe her. I listened to her and remembered the “welt belt” of flea bites I wore around my waist for weeks at a time in the winter when I lived in Chile. The only way to ease the pain and swelling was to put ice cubes directly on the bites to numb them, while the air inside our house averaged 40-45 degrees at night. And I still look back on those years in Chile as the best years of my life.

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5 Ways to Love Like Jesus

“Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT)

I confess that I don’t love others like Jesus does.

I really want to, but I don’t.

I really want others to experience the love of Jesus and be drawn to Him by my words and actions, but I fall short.

Here are five ways I would tell someone else to get started in loving like Jesus. I’m going to intentionally live out these five this week:

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