More Room for Jesus


It’s the season of Advent: the time when we prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to spend most of our time on things that can take our focus off of Jesus and can zap our energy in a way that can leave us feeling simply empty and fatigued.  

We spend time scurrying around getting everything ready for this special day. We plan gatherings with our family and friends.  We decorate, we bake, we clean, we shop, we attend programs or participate in programs, we travel, we host. It’s a lot of “doing”. I find that we can be so busy with the “doings” that we can miss the heart of what Christmas is really all about. We can prepare everything except the most important thing which is the preparing of our hearts. For this is where He abides.  He desires to have all of our heart, not just a small portion, not the smallest room.  

 So what can we do to make more room in our hearts for Jesus? As I was pondering this question, a word that I don’t really like to think about popped into my mind. That word is surrender. It is in surrender that we make more room for Jesus to abide.

 A few weeks ago in my time of solitude with God I took some intentional time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my soul about the things I needed to surrender. It didn’t take too long to list at least ten things that I needed to let go of in surrender. They were things I thought I had at least a little control over, or at least a right to hold onto.  But, I realized I really didn’t. I wrote down each thing on a separate piece of paper and put each one, prayerfully in a little box I now call my “surrender box”. I knew that in doing this, I was making more room in my heart for Jesus. Hopefully, it helped me have more of Him and less of me.

 I do a home fitness program called “21 Day Fit Fitness”. One of the first exercises on one of the fitness days is called “surrenders”. How I dislike that particular exercise!  I am relieved when it is over! However, I do know that this is a strength training exercise and it does make my physical body stronger.

We become spiritually stronger when we surrender to God the things that are weighing us down. These things take up a lot of space in our minds. It’s a space that can be filled with peace instead of anxiety. It’s a space that can be filled with joy instead of despair. It’s a place that can be filled with thanksgiving instead of self-pity. It’s a space that can be filled with faith instead of uncertainty. It’s a space that can be filled with love instead of harshness.

Just this morning, God revealed yet another thing that I needed to surrender to Him. I must admit, my heart is lighter. My heart is more joyful. My heart is more peaceful. My heart is more grateful.

 How about you? What is God asking you to surrender as you prepare you heart for Christmas?



Something Missing, Something Found


I will never forget her radiant smile. Her laughter was contagious. Joy overflowed from her heart. I will never forget her jokes. I will never forget how much she loved Jesus. I will never forget that she prayed about everything. I will never forget how much I wanted what she wanted. God gave me the opportunity to watch her very closely since we rented a house together our last two years of college. She was the real deal!

I was a believer in Jesus, but as I entered my second year in college I realized my love for Jesus had waned. Something was missing. It wasn’t really clear to me that it was waning until I met Kim.

Kim radiated joy and that joy came from Jesus. Some of our theology was a little different, but that didn’t matter. I saw her living out her Christianity in front of my eyes and it made me thirst for what she had. I thirsted for that same Jesus intimacy she had. I thirsted. I found. The best word I can think of to explain what needed to happen in my life is the word surrender. Some might view that word a little negatively, since it entails the sense of giving up. But, it’s not negative!

Surrender is a wonderful way to live because we are giving up something that isn’t good for us in order to receive the very best. It’s giving up trying to run my own life to the One who knows best how to order it. And, it’s good. Because I witnessed a transformed life modeled through the life of my friend, I decided to hand over the reins of my life to Jesus. My life has never been the same! I still mess up terribly, but He’s always there to pick me back up and get me back on the right track.

Because of Kim, I became a part of a strong faith community, thus I learned how to grow deeper in a way that brings transformation. I distinctly remember discovering what I needed to do, how I needed to grow, in order keep that intimacy alive. There are things that ensure spiritual growth, but always required is a daily, even a moment by moment surrender. Again, it’s a handing over the reins of my life to Jesus the many things that, in reality, I want to be in charge of. Including:

  • My schedule.
  • My words.
  • My attitude.
  • My actions.
  • My thoughts.
  • My money.
  • My service.
  • My relationships.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Who Kim was following. The question I need to ask daily, and often frequently during the day is: Who am I following? Me or Jesus? Would you be willing to ask the same question? Our homes and our world will change when it is Him and not ourselves.

Choosing What Controls Me

TV Remote ControlEach day I am faced with a choice of what will control my mind and therefore, my actions. These choices can center around selfish desires or from choices that come from the heart of God. The things that center around self could be shopping, career, money, fear, worry, technology, being a people pleaser. The list could go on and on. Each of these things could even become an idol if that’s where my focus is. These things have the potential of bringing chaos, conflict, and emptiness if not dealt with. Things that bring peace and joy in life are time in prayer, time in God’s Word and time being in healthy relationships with our family and friends. Many more wholesome things could be added to that list as well. 

A question that I find helpful to ask myself at the end of the day is: What or who dominated my thinking today?” This will help me discern where my heart is. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

May my daily pray be, “Examine me, and prove my thoughts. Test me and know my concerns. See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me and lead me in the reliable ancient path.” Psalm 139:23, 24

Trying to Control Through Worry

Stressed BusinesswomanI read a story about a woman who believed her worry was a way of making sure things turned out well. During her teenage years her parents travelled to Hawaii for a vacation. She worried about the plane crashing. She worried about a tidal wave wiping them out. She worried about becoming an orphan if anything happened to them. Her list went on and on. Since her parents arrived home safe and sound, she began believing that her worry truly had something to do with their protection. She believed she had control over the future if she worried enough. She believed her worry carried great power and was helping the world run smoother. It appears that she really felt she had the power to help God out in running the universe. 

When I first read this story, it sounded convoluted to me. However, when I shared this story with someone else, they said they totally understood because they had a tendency to believe this, too. 

What can we do to make sure we’re not trying to help control and run the world along with God? First, we must understand that God is God and we are not. He is the only One who is in control of this universe. Then we can look at what scripture says about worry:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7

Worry gets us all knotted up. A lifestyle of it can suffocate us. We don’t have to live in that place. God doesn’t want us to live in that place. We must cast all our care upon God through prayer, leaving our worries and stresses in His hands. He is more than capable of handing our burdens. He will replace our worries with a comforting peace. I know because I’ve experienced it over and over.

Contolling Your Spouse?

One of the biggest struggles a wife may face in her marriage is trying to control her husband. Most women marry their prince charming and then after the romance has worn off she may realize he’s not as perfect as she thought. Of course, her husband may also feel the same way about her.

So, what begins to happen? Those less than perfect qualities turn into big irritations and she begins nagging. She begins mentioning over and over those things that he needs to do or change to meet “her standard.” She may question everything he does. She may compare him to other men.  More than likely he will see this as not respecting him as a man, as a leader in the home. She may find ways to manipulate him so she will get what she wants. A marriage cannot grow and thrive when either spouse tries to control the other. Doing things that push a spouse to do things which are really against his or her will can cause great heart ache and will take joy out of marriage. One day not too long ago, I realized that I really didn’t like being told what to do, so is it any wonder my spouse or others don’t like being told what to do either?

I believe it’s perfectly okay to mention something to each other that might need to be done, changed, or improved on to make the marriage and home run smoother.  However, it’s toxic to keep mentioning it over and over. I must learn to surrender that desire to God and pray about it. I’ve found that over and over God responds to heart felt prayers for my husband and for my children. He wants our marriages and homes to be places of peace and love that glorify Him. God is the one who can change hearts and homes. He is more than capable of changing those things that need to be changed in me and in him. My responsibility is to let go and trust God with my loved ones and with me.

Who is really in control?

I was reading through Genesis 27 and four words jumped off the page like never before (vs. 5) “Now Rebekah was listening”. If we’re really honest about what is going on here, she was eaves dropping. Rebekah then went on to use that information to try to control the situation by lending a helping hand.

She was trying to help God out

She was trying to help Isaac out.

She was trying to help Jacob out.

And things got rather messy.

I heard a counselor once say that control is an illusion. It is something that you think you can have, and then you discover that you really never had it in the first place. In light of this illusion, I would often ask myself how often do I try to control things? Can I really control anything?

If I think I am in control, then I must consider the thought that I am putting myself on the throne instead of God. Having this structure in your life very quickly sets us up for lots of disappointment. This reminds me about a time years ago that I was burdened with a very difficult situation. It was in that moment that I was wrestling with my response, God took me to 2 Timothy 1:12 “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him.” That day I entrusted my difficulty to God. I took Him at His word. I let go of the control. Peace and joy returned and I saw in time that God truly could and would take care of what I give over to Him.