Ask for ANYTHING You Want?

John 15:7-8 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (NLT)

I find it fascinating that twice in John chapter 15 (verses 4 and 5), Jesus says, “If you remain in Me and I (He – Jesus – remains) in you”, but in verse 7 He says, “If you remain in Me, and MY WORDS remain in you, you can ask anything you want, and it will be granted.”

Why did He switch it from “I” to “My words” remaining in us?

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Jesus is the True Vine

I’ve been a bit under the weather the past almost two weeks, and when you live in Illinois, under the “weather” could mean something different every day. I was bummed to cancel all my music students last week to not share the love with them, but the really bright side was it allowed me all kinds of time to hang out in John chapter 15, and dig deeper than I ever had before. 

This week’s post has more of a Bible study format, and I consider it my “thank You note” to God for allowing me to get sick, 🙂 for directing me to this amazing chapter, and for drawing me back into more study of His Word.

I will forever call it the “REMAIN” chapter, as Jesus says the word “remain” 8 times in the first 9 verses. I spent hours each day, and still only got through verses 1-17, which seemed to easily fall into 3 sections:

REMAIN in Him. (John 15:1-6)

REMAIN in His Word. (John 15:7-8)

REMAIN in His love. (John 15:9-17)

I so very much want to get better at all three.

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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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Love that Endures

Last week, I shared some practical ideas to improve our “loving like Jesus” skills. One practical idea was to look over the list of the 15 descriptions of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…

(patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, doesn’t demand it’s own way, not irritable, keeps no record of wrongs, doesn’t rejoice with injustice, rejoices when truth wins out, never gives up, never loses faith, always hopeful, perseveres)

…and then decide which one of the 15 you need the most work on, and ask God to help you grow to love like He does in that area.

Today, I wanted to dial it in on one – the one appropriately placed at the very end of the list – love endures all things.

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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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John’s Head, Yummy Bread and Almost Dead

One of my new favorite chapters in the Bible is Matthew chapter 14. From start to finish, it is packed with action, and its three stories force me to take acton when:

I doubt God’s heart,

     I doubt God’s fairness,

          and I doubt God’s plan.

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Would God really send you into a storm?

Jesus and Peter Walk on Water (Matthew 14:22-32)

It’s a story you hear as a child if you grow up in church. It was stormy. The disciples were rocking back and forth in a boat. They look out and think they see a ghost, but it’s Jesus walking on the water. Peter yells, “If it’s really You Lord, tell me to come out to You.”

(Which by the way, I’ve always thought if I were Peter, I would’ve picked something entirely different to ask of Jesus by which to assure me it was really Him. Anyone – or any ghost or any alien – could’ve replied to him, “Sure Peter, come on out!”)

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s ever been caught up for at least a minute by this one very insignificant thought about Peter in this story. 🙂

But back to the story:

Peter gets out of the boat, and finds that he too can now walk on water. But then he takes his eyes off of Jesus and lets doubt creep in, and he starts sinking fast. Jesus catches him, asks him why he has such little faith, they get in the boat, Jesus calms the storm and all is well.

The moral of the story is twofold: Don’t be afraid to get out of your boat (AKA, comfort zone) and  when you get out, don’t take your eyes off of Jesus. Or more simply put – don’t fear, and don’t doubt.

And if we end it there, I would wholeheartedly agree that I need to hear this most important message over and over. I need to let it ring in my heart and mind each and every day.

Don’t fear. Get out of your comfort zone.

Don’t …

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3 Tips to a Happy New Year

It’s still January. New Year’s Eve was a mere 25 days ago. I’m still wanting to raise my drink of choice – a mocha-chip milkshake – and festively shout, “Happy New Year!” and really mean it.

This past Sunday in the kids church where I serve, God used two kids to cleverly speak to me about happiness, and to put a full-length mirror in front of my soul.

The first messenger came to me with her friend during prayer time, right after worship.

“What would you like for us to pray about, Sweetie?” I asked.

Without hesitation, she answered, “I’d like a swimming pool, a trampoline, a new bed, some Barbies, clothes for them, another dog, and toys for him.”

A bit taken aback by her extensive list, I looked to make sure I wasn’t wearing a red and white suit, and that Rudolph wasn’t playing reindeer games in the background.

Before bowing my head and closing my eyes to pray, I conveniently noticed the speck of dust in one of her eyes.  I turned up the sweet-tone volume coming out of my mouth to override the judgmental heart volume that I feared would escape through my ears or nose.

I prayed and said “Amen”, and as she and her friend returned to their seats, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Your wants list is just as long.”

Right after that, it was time for the story, to be followed by ten minutes of small group activities, and the hour would be over.

As the storyteller began, another leader pointed out one of my favorite little guys to me. This boy steals my heart all the time, and at that moment, the poor guy had tears flowing down his cheeks.

“What’s …

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Pretty People Pleaser?

Last week I gave three reasons why we sometimes say yes to things we should’ve said no to. 

  1. We aren’t crystal clear on what we really want.
  2. We choose urgent over important. And,
  3. We slip into “auto-pilot mode”.

I invite you to check out last week’s post if you missed it.

This week, I want to bring into the light one more reason we sometimes say yes to things we should’ve said no to, along with some possible solutions.

It’s simply this: We want to be liked by certain people.

Are you a people pleaser?

I think a lot of us church people fall into this category. As a kids pastor who is constantly looking for more volunteers, I’ve had amazing people on my team over the years, and there have been a few of these amazing people who I knew simply could not say no to any request. I can spot them because I’ve been one of them, and I’ve tried really hard to not take advantage of their no-saying disability.

How do you really know when to say yes or to say no to opportunities to serve in your church, community, or family in light of God’s Word that tells us to think of others as better than yourselves, or to not look out only for your own interests, or to do to others whatever you would like them to do to you? (Philippians 2:3,4 and Matthew 7:12)

This might make us feel like we can never say no.

At least not to some people.

Some have said no to my invitation to serve, and quickly followed it up by saying they could never have said no to the lead pastor – that if he would’ve asked them the same thing, they would’ve …

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Why did I say yes to THAT?

“You need a plan, plan. Yes, you need a plan, pretty mama –

to stop sayin’ yes to all the wrong.

You need to hear some funky insight and…

pretty mama, I’m gonna help you make your plan.” 

– Lyrics to the Newbie Doobie Brothers song, “You Need a Plan”

We say yes to a lot of things we should’ve said no to.

So why do we do that? Why do we say yes, when we should’ve said no?

I can think of a lot of hair and clothing styles I’ve had over the years that I should’ve never said yes to, but I’ll save that for another day.

Here are 3 reasons why we say yes when we should’ve said no.

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