5 AM, A Gift of Gratitude

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’  And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.  And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

gift of gratitude

BLART! BLART! my alarm goes off another morning begins or does it?

My word for this year is discipline. I have discovered I have very little of it in my life. And I know that the discipline God has called me to includes waking early…did I ever mention I am no morning person?

Honestly I hadn’t been waking early and when the lenten season began I gave up my snooze button in an effort to obey God in this area of my life. And in the last 20 mornings of Lent can you guess how many times I actually woke up when I needed to? Once. One time I woke up turned off my alarm and didn’t make an excuse to reset it.

I am the “other son” Jesus talks about in Matthew 21:30. I tell God I will obey, but I don’t. And I can make excuses like waking early isn’t a direct Biblical command or I was tired, sick, needed to spend time with my husband, etc. But the truth is I was walking in rebellion.

When I look at the depths of myself I can say with Paul that I am the worst of sinners. And I thank God for this lesson learned in during Lent. When there is no way to earn favor with God, my only hope is Jesus. Through faith in His sacrifice on the cross I am forgiven and freed from sin. In this freedom I can please God from a grateful heart rather than be weighed down by lists of do’s and don’ts. Suddenly the law becomes not a straight jacket of rules that must be obeyed so God will accept me, but a guide to show God my gratitude for what He has done for me.

Waking up at 5AM and getting out of bed becomes not a drudgery of a rule, but a gift of gratitude to the God who gave His son that I – the worst of sinners – may live with Him in eternity.

Praise the LORD!

What gift of gratitude do you need to offer to God today? Kind words to someone who hurt you? A prayer offered for someone who wronged you? Time spent in God’s Word?

Father God thank You for Jesus. Thank You that He died to pay the penalty for my sins. Help me to live in grateful obedience for this amazing gift. May I honor You in all I say and do through the power of Your Spirit who lives in me. In Jesus’ Name Amen.


Finding Joy in Lent

“No, sir! If you want to be cured of your sin, do not back away from God but run to him with more confidence than ever, entreating him as if you had suddenly been struck with a physical malady.”   - Martin Luther

Lent is a time to find joy in the midst of dark desert times. It is seeing the bright light of victory and healing as the slight, but very real, first rays of dawn at the end of a long night. And there is joy because there is a cure for sin. Still in pride I avoid the light, the cure, the healing. I run to God when I have a cold, but run from Him when I act in anger.

And running from God is running from the light and joy of Lent. Often it takes more faith to stay and let God’s refining fire cleanse you than it does to run. Difficult times burn the extraneous away when we stand firm and cling to God. Running may relieve the burn, but it only results in darkness and despair. “Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the crippled man at the pool. And He still asks us who are spiritually crippled, maimed…”Do you want to get well?”

The hope and joy of Lent is that Jesus is our cure. He suffered much so we don’t have to suffer. He will heal us, he will cure us, He will save us.

We only need to trust God as He guides us through the dark. He is bringing us to the light.


Ash Wednesday Fail

Yesterday was the first day of the Lenten season. I did not grow up observing Lent, but as I began to read about this season the more I felt drawn to it. 46 days including Sundays and Maudy Thursday, Good Friday, and the day before Easter. Yes 46 days to focus on Christ…to begin in the dessert as Jesus began His ministry and focus our hearts on His greatest act of love.

So I decided to give up my snooze button for Lent…Sleeping in has become a way of rebellion and sin in my life…So the snooze button had to go…



But Wednesday morning what did I do? I hit that snooze button…a bunch of times. I could give you a string of reasons why and I could claim justification for my actions, but the truth is more potent…I am a desperate slave to sin and I need a Savior who is willing to come after me as I race back to my chains of bondage rather than walk in freedom with Him.

So on Ash Wednesday all I had were ashes to bring to the King. Ashes He would wipe away and tell me it is not by your works that you are saved. It is by my work on the cross and your faith in the sufficiency of that work.

Outside my window clumps of sleet melted and inside my heart some icy places melted and broke apart. God forgave even me and I knew if there was any way I would make it through this Lent season it was in desperate dependence on Christ.

But isn't that how I'm to live everyday? Dependent on a filling of the Holy Spirit to please Christ in every word and deed? I can't do it by myself. I can't even please God before I get out of bed without His help.

This Lent season I am in for a wild ride — an adventure to see joy in the deprivation and obedience to God.

Do you observe Lent? If so how?



Calling It Sin

“I haven’t been writing,” I confessed to my friend who asked about it. “And honestly it is sin…”

Sitting in an auditorium with about 800 other women it hit me. All those days I hit snooze for one excuse after another and didn’t “have time to write” I was walking in sin.

I convinced myself that the word God gave me for 2014 was a suggestion… (my word is discipline the kind that keeps you organized and scheduled and on track).

But the truth is that I know God called me to write and I haven’t done it…and when I don’t do something I know God has guided me to do then I am sinning.

In fact Romans 14:23b says “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And there is a big part of my life that does not proceed from faith.

I don’t trust God to give me the energy I need to do what He has called me throughout the day, so I hit snooze.

I prefer my warm bed to obeying God’s guidance.

Instead of trusting God to bear fruit in my writing and speaking ministry I deem it hopeless and stop trying.

All things that do not proceed from faith that God will make my attempts at ministry effective if I only have faith…

So here I am a sinner in need of grace. Sending out into the world that I don’t have it figured out yet. I really do sin daily and I am desperately in need of a Savior.

Regardless of how insignificant waking up in the morning seems when I know God wants me to do it and I don’t I sin. And sin earns me death (Romans 6:23).

But the best news is that I have a Savior who paid the penalty for my sin (no matter how bad or how small they seem) and His mercies are new every morning.

I am going to set my alarm for 5 AM every morning…I am going to get in bed tonight and wake up tomorrow so I can obey God. And I am going to ask God to help me obey Him and NOT HIT SNOOZE.

What do you need to call sin in your life and what do you need to do to stop falling into that sin?

Consider asking a friend to help keep you accountable. And remember God will give you grace to not sin and mercy when you do sin.

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