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The Court

Most of my weekends as a teen were spent in a gym somewhere in the southeast half the year. Back then, half my age ago, I would have told you it was a good weekend based off if we won and how many three pointers I scored in a game. Looking back there are so many things I would want to tell 16 year old Lane about not being focused on self and to  pass the ball a little more. But one thing I had instilled in me at 16 that I’m forever grateful for today is the gift of the differences I shared on the court with my teammates were only a beautiful thing. Growing up in the suburbs of Birmingham most people looked like me but on the court we had all shades of color…including the season I went orange from too much tanning. I had girls on my team from all over Birmingham…Pleasant Grove, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Pinson, Vincent, Leeds, Vestavia, Alabaster. We all came together for the love of the game and each brought something a little different to the court. Natasha brought a quiet leadership. Martha brought a laughter to all. Tina made sure we all looked good on the court with makeup before the game and always kept me laughing. Ebonie and Laura Leigh brought a work ethic and love for the game that was contagious to us all. Jana just always showed up always ready to play leading us all to give it all on the court. Lindsay and Ashley encouraged us all with the way they loved us. Megan and Mindy brought a humility to us all by their example. I could go on and on here.

We each were different but we all came together for love of the game and it was actually our differences that made us one of the better teams in the Southeast. Color of skin was one difference that we shared on this team but I can tell you this difference in color was only a sweet joy. We learned from each other on those long weekends away. Parents from   the suburbs and city fried chicken together in hotel rooms on overnight weekend trips staying up in conversation. Ebonie if you read this I can still hear your mama yelling “Make your free throws baby.” Conley and Megan I can still taste those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that you brought to every tournament.

This might be a long stretch but I think I got a little taste of eternity on the AAU basketball court….being in unity with people not like me from all different parts but we all came together for one love. Our differences only made us exalt the love we shared more. Can you see the picture here? Each of us unique in our differences(Im not just talking about skin color but all the differences we all had) but we were the same. Jesus has purchased a people from every nation, tribe and tongue with his blood and for all eternity we will be worshipping God and have a part in the eternal Kingdom of God. We are all the same in Christ(Galations 3:28).

So why does global missions matter? There are about 3 BILLION PEOPLE that have yet to hear the the gospel in the world. That’s Billion with a B and people with a P. Not a statistic. Not just a number but a person created by Almighty God. There are over a thousand people groups that have yet to have any scripture translated into their native tongue. There are people from persecuted nations being scattered all over who have yet to hear the good news of the one they were created to worship some of whom are seeking refuge in our country. Approximately 70,000 people die daily without hearing the saving name of Jesus. “But how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:14-15.  Global missions matters because God is worthy of worship from a people from every tribe, nation and tongue that have been purchased by the precious Blood of the Lamb and Jesus has commanded the church to go and tell all peoples.

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate.” —John Piper

I have had the privilege of worshipping with believers on the other side of the world and though we come from totally different places and look different on the outside there was an instant unity in Christ. There was an instant sweetness in worship with them as we worshiped our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We knew we were immediate family.  Just to think those in Christ will be with thousands upon thousands of people groups all the same in Christ for all eternity worshipping God. The Christ follower has so much to look forward too as we will worship our eternal God who is worthy of all praise with a people from every, tribe, nation and tongue. What a beautiful picture and so much to look forward too!

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Gospel

“What Comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer

Does God exist to enjoy you? OR Do you exist to enjoy God?

Does God exist to worship you? OR Do you exist to worship God?

Does God exist to make you satisfied? Or Do you exist to find satisfaction in God alone?

Does God exist to make your eternity desirable? OR Do you exist to delight in God for all eternity?

Is the Bible a book about you? OR Is the Bible a book God has given us so we can learn about him and his eternal plan of redemption for his glory?

Is corporate worship with the church about satisfying your feelings and preference? OR  Is corporate worship with the church about exalting and magnifying God?

I see a trend in our world that most people would answer the first questions on the left with a yes. God is seen as irrelevant. God somewhere someway has some kind of measurement to most and therefore is not interesting. He is wrongly seen by some as some kind of grandfather figure. He is wrongly seen as some kind of anything goes kind of god. He is seen to have some kind of limits. But God can not be measured. We however are measurable. God does not have limits. We have too many limitations to count.

The gospel starts with God. God is all sufficient in all things.  He was not made for us nor does he need us.  But God in his endless glorious grace invites us in through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. John Piper states this beautifully in The Pleasures of God in a very clear way:

“Unless we begin with God in this way, when the gospel comes to us, we will inevitably put ourselves at the center or it. We will feel that our value rather than God’s value is the driving force in the gospel. We will trace the gospel back to God’s need for us instead of tracing it back to the sovereign grace that rescues sinners who need God.

But the gospel is the good news that God is the all-satisfying end of all our longings, and that even though he does not need us, and is in fact estranged from us because of our God-belittling sins, he has, in the great love with which he loved us, made a way for sinners to drink at the river of  his delights through Jesus Christ. And we will not be enthralled by this good news unless we feel that he was not obliged to do this . He was not coerced or constrained by our value. He is the center of the gospel. The exaltation of his glory is the driving force of the gospel. The gospel is a gospel of grace! And grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”

We have future endless waters of living grace poured out and offered to us in the blood of Jesus to receive in faith.  For we were made to know Christ, serve Christ, delight in Christ, fellowship with Christ and worship Christ for all eternity with a people he has purchased from every tribe, nation, and tongue. Because of God’s great endless love lavished on us in Jesus Christ our Lord can we can by faith  become adopted sons of God.

Hallelujah! Christ died for our sins, was buried and raised on the third day. “For the wages of sin is death but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 6:23) Have you opened and received the gift?

I’m just mind blown by God’s endless grace,

Lane

Scripture references that come to mind: Revelation 5:9, Revelation 4:8, Revelation 21, Colossians chapter 1

Recommended reading: The Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer, The Pleasures of God by John Piper

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Shells

My husband loves me in so many little ways. I don’t really praise him on social media very much…it’s not his style.  One of the ways I’m so grateful for how he loved me this past week was he kept the kids along with my parents so I could have times ALONE to do one of my favorite things to be still and read while we were away at the beach on family vacation. With two littles that keep me busy my time to read in long stretches other than staying up until 1:00am comes few and far between. I was truly so thankful for sweet time with the Lord as I was shepherded by two sisters writings pointing me to the Good Shepherd of my soul.

One day at 5:00 the young man who picks up beach chairs came by to collect the chair and umbrella I was under. He asked me this question about some seashells that were sitting in the chair “Would you like to keep these shells?”

I simply told him no thank you but in my mind all I could think was I would be such a fool to not give up my shells.

“With what misgivings we turn over our lives to God, imagining somehow that we are about to lose everything that matters. Our hesitancy is like that of a tiny shell on the seashore, afraid to give up the teaspoonful of water it holds lest there not be enough in the ocean to fill it again. Lose your life, said Jesus, and you will find it. Give it up, and I will give you all. Can the shell imagine the depth and plentitude of the ocean? Can you and I fathom the riches, the fullness, of God’s love?”  ~Taken from The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliott.

 For the one that gives up their shell who receives Christ as Lord and Savior hear and know the truth that you are secure in Christ. But why do we struggle to go looking for our little bit of water we had in our shell once we’ve given it up? Why do we try to hang on to the little bit of control and comfort we think we have? When we are looking for yesterdays water or tomorrows water we are blind to the new mercies God has poured out for today and the purpose for how he wants us to use what he has given each day for his glory.  One of my favorite quotes so simple and so profound I heard from Janet Howard, Elisabeth Elliot’s sister in law.

“Let your yes be a continual yes.”

That may have been so simple you read right past that quote. Let’s go back and read that little one again. “Let your yes be a continual yes.” Do not try to go looking for your old water to fill your shell once you’ve surrendered to Christ. The joy comes in the surrendered daily death to self to walk in sweet fellowship with God. God’s compassions never cease for they are new every morning whether the waters look calm or rough. He will fill you with everything you need in Christ. Trust he will give you your daily bread as you abide in Christ. Don’t look for yesterdays water when you are in an ocean of grace today. Don’t go looking for tomorrows water either. Enjoy the surrendered daily moment by moment joy of taking up your cross and following Jesus where all joy is found as he fills you with living water through the Holy Spirit.

Just as I was alone on the beach answering the man about keeping seashells we all have to individually give an answer to God. No one else can give an answer for you.

With a continual yes in Christ,

Lane

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves  and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25) 

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The plan is Jesus

I could not begin to count the numbers of hairs on my baby boys head. Last night I held my baby tight as we waited for the results of his CT scan at nearly midnight in our first trip to the children’s emergency room. As we waited I stared at the hairs on his head in awe of the One who does know exactly how many hairs each of us have on our head. We are known by God. We are seen by God. And we are loved by God with an everlasting love that he lavished on us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

We don’t always understand or see the what and the why in our circumstances but we can trust the one who has always had a plan. Many are familiar with the scripture where God is talking to the exiles in Babylon that God has a plan for you, for a future and a hope(Jeremiah 29:11). Is this promise still for us today? Yes! Many try to guess what this plan is for them today and look for this plan. Many will look and few will find. The plan is and always has been Christ. Christ is the plan for our future with God. Christ is our hope. Jesus took all the harm that we deserve so we will have a future with God in this world and in the one to come. Jesus reconciles us to God. This is good news. Today all the promises of God find their yes in Christ.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:16-20

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6-7.

God’s plan never changes. His plan has always stayed the same. The plan is always Christ. This is revealed to us first in Genesis 3. The plan is not your job success, degree(s), fun memories or even family success. When its hard fix your eyes on Jesus. When its easy fix your eyes on Jesus. Always fix your eyes on Jesus and then you will see this purpose you have been made for. A plan for now and all eternity to worship, know, and enjoy God. I’m so thankful the plan isn’t really about us but to know God now and all for eternity. During our short time on earth we also have a purpose to make known the beauty of his miraculous gospel to all peoples so they can know him too all for the glory of God. This is why missions matters but thats another post I’ll save for next time maybe:)

“The secret is Christ in me not a different set of circumstances.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

*I should note my little one just had a little fall and CT scan came back normal…kind mercy from God.