jesus calling

Our Big God Doesn’t Make Small People

“You, the Mighty One who created the universe, live in me!” Jesus Listens, July 2 If you are anything like me, at some point you have dealt with the warring thoughts of wanting more out of life but feeling guilty about your lack of contentment. If God wanted to give me more influence, ability, or fulfillment, He would have, right? I think sometimes. Isn’t my desire for more an indication of a lack of gratitude—or even worse, rejection of what God has for me? I’m not the only person who has thoughts like that this, am I? Getting Answers From the Bible As a pastor, I spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and I love it. Like, love love it. Not only because Scripture holds life, truth, and keys to unlock God’s miracles in my own life—though that’s the main reason—but also because there i...

The Gift of Giving Thanks

“I can never thank You too fervently or frequently.” Jesus Listens, November 1 For many people, it’s difficult to see how life can be considered a gift, because that means they’d need to acknowledge the Giver. Most people want to make it seem like they don’t need someone else’s help. We humans take pride in our independence. The Jewish tradition has an inspiring view of gratitude that I think every person, no matter their religion, can learn something from. Every day it is the goal of those who practice this particular tradition to recite one hundred blessings—or thanks—to God, beginning with eighteen blessings right when they wake up in the morning. The tradition says that as you are sleeping, your soul leaves your body, and what better way to come back to reality upon waking than to reci...

Just for Today, Lord

“Help me to walk in the way of wisdom—trusting You no matter what happens in my life.” Jesus Listens, September 19 He was given the gift of one day. One sunset. One sunrise. Just one rotation of the planet before he left it. Unlike the average American, he wasn’t gifted with almost eighty years of life on this earth. No, he was given the gift of one day. However, the way Jude Samuel Shook unwrapped the divine gift of his one day gave us, his grandparents, a gift that has changed the way we now live every day. A little boy who lived on this earth for just a handful of hard-fought hours taught us how to live our years. Jude’s Story Our son Josh and his wife, Kelli, found out at their twenty-week pregnancy doctor’s visit that something was severely wrong with Jude’s kidneys. The doctor explai...

Feeling the Warmth of His Unconditional Love

Sometimes I hear you whispering in my heart, “I take great delight in you.”It’s hard for me to receive this blessing, but I know it’s based on theunconditional Love You have for all your children. Jesus Listens, May 2 We live and feel deepest from the gut, not from the head. The love I have for my child, the way I felt during the first dance at my wedding, the doubled-over weight I’ve held staring into the casket of a lost loved one, and the laughter that comes from watching my niece open a gift on Christmas morning—none of that emerges from an intellectual equation I’ve solved. It comes from somewhere deeper, somewhere more instinctive, an emotional place. That’s how author of Hebrews describes Jesus’ response to sin and the havoc it wreaks on our lives—a gut-level, emotional response of ...

Thriving Through the Unexpected

“Help me not to let unexpected events throw me off course. Instead of getting upset or anxious, I want to respond calmly and confidently—remembering that You are with me.” Jesus Listens, November 3 In the years since I found out I had cancer, plenty of people have asked me why I think I got sick in the first place. Why did this happen to me? Why does cancer happen to anyone? I actually love that question, because it gives me a chance to share the story, once again, of my mother’s prophetic words. My simple answer is that this happened to me because I was chosen. A Legacy of Firsts If you know anything about me, it’s probably that I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to serve others by being a “first.” First Black senior class president of Kennedy High School in Richmond, California. O...

Four Spiritual Tools to Build Your Brain Power

You formed me with an amazing brain that can communicate with You, think rationally, create things, make decisions, and much more.” –Jesus Listens, February 12 Your brain is a powerful place. It’s the command center of all that you think, feel, and do. That means all of the functions of your emotions, desires, perceptions, ideas, and memories take place inside your brain, which contains about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion interconnections. Did you know the way you think constructs neural pathways in your brain? You can compare this pathway creation process to the way a semitruck makes deep tread marks in packed snow. These deeply-embedded thoughts produce your feelings, both good and bad. If you spend a lot of time worrying or feeling angry or fearful, then your brain builds neural ...

Want to Save the World? It’s Easier Than You Think

“While Your comfort is flowing through me to others, some of that blessing absorbs into me.”– Jesus Listens, October 21 “I know! I’ll be an epidemiologist and help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. That’ll save the world!” “I know! I’ll come up with a cure for cancer. That’ll save the world!” “I know! I’ll be like a modern-day Mother Teresa and tend to the poor. That’ll save the world!” A Life of Purpose We all want to do something meaningful with our lives to bring about good in the world. As image-bearers of the God who saves, we find that desire formed into our very being. But if I’m honest, the older I get, the more realistic I am about what I can actually accomplish with what I have, and the less saving the world seems feasible to me. What if I told you that saving the world ...

The Three Best Words for the Brokenhearted

“I can invite You into those broken places and collaborate with Youin putting the fragments back together in new ways.” – Jesus Listens, July 3 In fresh grief, well-meant words can sometimes wound. Even now, I shake my head at the unhelpful comments I made as a young mom handing over a hot casserole and the painful comments said to me a few years later after my husband died. So when a radio host recently asked me for the three best words to tell someone in grief, I perked up. Maybe it’s “I love you,” I thought as I waited for his answer. Those words sure comforted me as a new widow. Or maybe it’s “let me help.” Practical love is so needed when life falls apart. But neither guess was correct. The three best words to say to someone in grief? You’re not alone. The deepest comfort comes w...

5 Ways Fasting and Prayer Can Boost Your Faith

“My soul thirsts for You—the living God. The deepest yearnings of my heart are for intimacy with You, Lord.” – Jesus Listens, June 30 You have the choice to change your life with a simple decision. If faithfully done, choosing to fast and pray will alter your existence, rock your spiritual world, and bring your life on this earth into God’s perspective. I was drawn to fasting when I read in Matthew 6:16 that Jesus didn’t say “if” you fast, but “when” you fast. I knew I needed to follow what I believed was a call to fasting, but where to start? Most think a fast only pertains to food, yet in scripture we read that Daniel fasted from specific things: “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (Daniel 10:3 NIV). E...

Three Ways to Welcome Grief into Your Church

As the worship music swelled, my eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t the first time I’d cried in church since my husband died; I was a pro by now. I knew exactly what to do. Look up at the ceiling to keep the tears pooled in my eyes. Smile and take a deep breath to keep them from dribbling down my face. And, at all costs, don’t make eye contact. Don’t let the grief get out of hand. Before Rob’s death, I’d cried from time to time in church when I was overcome with the beauty of God, when a Scripture passage touched my heart, or when I recalled afresh the precious treasure of the gospel. They’d always been happy tears. Nothing to be ashamed of. Worthy of being shared, like joyful tears at a wedding or birthday celebration. These tears, though? They were borne of agonizing sorrow and dark grief...

Restoring Your Soul in Turbulent Times

I am all around you, to bless and restore. Breathe Me in with each breath. Jesus Calling, February 26 The longing for things to be good again is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It has slumbered in the depths of our souls ever since we lost our true home, for our hearts remember Eden. Most of the time, this powerful longing flows like an underground river below the surface of our awareness––so long as we are consoled by some measure of goodness in our lives. While we are enjoying our work, or family, our adventures, or the little pleasures of this world, the longing for things to be good again seems to be placated. Times of Testing But when trials and heartbreaks wash in, the longing rises to the surface like a whale coming up for air, filled with momentum and force. This is...

A Broken Hallelujah Is Still a Hallelujah

“I can invite You into those broken places and collaborate with You in putting the fragments back together in new ways.“ – Jesus Listens, July 3 Have you ever stopped and marveled at how the Bible, including God’s chosen family, is filled to the brim with screw-ups and sufferers? This is my favorite thing about the Bible. All the screw-ups and sufferers that are in there. It gives me hope, because if there is saving grace for bottom-dwellers like them, then there must also be saving grace for bottom-dwellers like me. The unfiltered stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, David, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others might make the middle class in spirit person’s skin crawl. Even though they are all considered heroes of the faith in the Bible and throughout the centuries, these “heroes” h...

  • 1
  • 2
  • 7