Walking in the Cemetery

Walking in the Cemetery

The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”

I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.

The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.

If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.

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Visiting Uncle Skipper (2014)

My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.

 

In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.

If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?

I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.

As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.

Time is short to represent Jesus.

Time is short to do His will.

Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.

I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?

The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.

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This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.

Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:

  • Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
  • Leave notes of encouragement
  • Don’t complain about work
  • Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)

If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!

The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.

God bless!

-LJM

P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.

When Life is Grey, See Blue

When Life is Grey, See Blue

After two whole days of nonstop raining, I got into my car on a damp and dismal morning. The grey clouds matched the greyness that had crept into my demeanor. I felt like I was driving in a fog, only seeing the road a few feet in front of me.

Attempting to pull myself out of my discouraged mood, I prayed. My heart only wanted to complain, but I knew that my God deserved more than that. So, despite my reluctance, I praised Him. After all, He’s still the God that gave me another day.

“You are God of the grey clouds as well as the white. You are God when the rain drizzles as well as when it pours.”

I looked out the window at the clouds. Their chests were puffed with arrogance, and their thick clutches threatened torrents of rain. But amidst the dreariness that loomed over me in my car, I noticed something startling.

Behind me, puffy white clouds parted ways to reveal a radiant blue sky.

I realized that the image might as well have been the voice of God, my Chief Encourager at work.

Dark and heavy clouds do not make the sky. They only cover parts of it, and they only do so for a brief period of time. Moments of sadness or any other negative emotion are easy to focus on and they are at times hard to see through. But the sky, in all its brilliance and beauty, is constantly above us, making sure we’re covered.

In the Old Testament, during the Israelites’ forty-year excursion, the Lord gave them specific instructions. When they packed up the tabernacle, they covered the Ark of the Covenant with leather and then with a blue cloth (Numbers 4:6). I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God covers us, His tabernacle, with a blue sky.  

If you’re going through a grim time like I was this morning, remember to trust that God will see you through. Remember that these despairing moments are passing like a few days of continual rain. Blue skies are coming, because they’ve always been there. Just as the sky doesn’t change, neither will our God.

Don’t forget to take a breath from complaining to God about what’s making you feel this way, and take a moment to praise Him for being the God He’s always been.

Loving. Never-ending. Gracious. Merciful. Just. Constant.

These are blessings we take for granted every day. While I pray for you, do me a favor, look out the window and praise God for the sky you see.

HNCK06251

Some verses for your rainy days:

Hebrews 13:15                                            1 Thessalonians 5:18

Psalm 23:4                                                    Psalm 59:17

James 1:2                                                      Isaiah 43:2

 

God Bless!

LJM

Christians, Don’t be Afraid of Passover

Christians, Don’t be Afraid of Passover

Spiritually speaking, this week is pretty busy. For my family, it’s not really because of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or even Easter, but because of three other holidays that are either glossed over or forgotten completely. I’m speaking of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.

Just like with most holidays and not a lot of nearby family, we did what we do best. Invite a variety of friends, decorate a festive table, and cook like its Thanksgiving.

These feasts, along with several others in the autumn, make up what we call God’s Holy Days. If you wanna know more about them, just check out Leviticus 23. There, God commanded His people to observe special days, not simply for the fun of it, but also to set into motion prophecy of Jesus’ coming.

The Spring Feasts remember how God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt while also announcing the coming of the messiah.

Fun Fact: Jews came from the line of Judah, only one of the twelve tribes. The entire twelve tribes of Israel were called Hebrews. God gave His feasts for all His people.

While celebrating the Passover we remember that Jesus acted in the position of the Passover Lamb, covering our hearts with His blood and forever saving us from the Angel of Death. His sacrifice is a gift we don’t deserve and can never repay.

One of the main focuses in Passover is the act of getting sin out of our lives. Job 11:14 says, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your houses.” (ESV paraphrased). Egypt represents the sin so ingrained in our lives that it almost seems normal. This week is the perfect week to allow God to show us the sins that continue to rule over us and save us just as He did that first Passover.

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Check out a blog I wrote about The “Egypt” in Us

 

There are a lot of interesting traditions that come with celebrating Passover. If you’d like to know more about them, check them out here.

I was in high school when my family celebrated our first Passover. I’ll have to admit, I thought the Seder plate was weird and religious and I wondered if I really had to do these things in order to love God?

Six years later, I can finally say that the answer is no. We don’t eat horseradish and hide bread because we want to please God by celebrating Passover. But the traditions are there to help us remember. We are such a forgetful people, so quick to forget all that God has done for us. Not only in our lives, but in the lives leading up to ours.

Now that I’ve come to a better understanding of Passover, I have grown to love gathering a group of people together to share in the amazing power of Jesus. Him as the Passover Lamb was just the beginning. He was merely gearing up for battle against sin and death.

And in the end? He wins.

God always wins.

-LJM

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Giving God the Time of Day

Giving God the Time of Day

Today, I am thrilled to announce that my first devotion has been published! ChristianDevotions.us is not only an organization dedicated to sharing God’s Word with the world, but they also pride themselves in helping new writers build a resume. I’m so glad that I was led to submit to them and that they were gracious enough to give me this opportunity.

Here’s the link if you’d like to give it a read.

Click here to visit Christian Devotions

To God be the glory for this stepping stone in my writing journey!

-LJM

The Purple GT

The Purple GT

My summer job allows me to turn up the Christian radio and sip on my coffee as I spend the mornings driving all over town making deliveries.

Those closest to me know that I’m not a huge fan of driving, so this job is definitely God’s way of pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Anyway, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been seeing this bold, purple Ford GT (I think) in different parts of town. It’s not a soft purple either, it’s about as strong and vivid as the skin on the ripest eggplant you’ve ever seen. Not to mention, purple is my favorite color, so the car is definitely hard to miss.

I even saw it this morning, and I can’t help but believe it’s the same car.

Why am I telling you this, you wonder?

After watching the violet beauty speed by me down the road, I felt God minister to my heart. The Father reminded me that we don’t even realize how many of the same people we cross paths with on a daily basis.

People we don’t even take notice of.  And why should we, we don’t know them?

But God knows them. Not only is He aware of every random face we see, He knows all about them and more importantly, He cares about them.

The woman you brushed by with your shopping cart? He loves her.

The guy that handed you your food at the drive-thru? He’s ministering to him.

The child that obnoxiously screams in the restaurant? He wants to soothe.

The stranger who started following you on Instagram? He knows them.

The couple who just got married, or the teenager who just graduated high school, God is present and His spirit is working in their lives because He cares for them and loves them.

I’m glad I can rest in the fact that the Father pays attention to all, not just the people that know Him personally. We should follow His example and treat everyone as if we already know their whole story and love them as a result.

God bless!

-LJM

John 13:34, Psalm 139:13-15, John 14:18

 

The Glimpse of a Prayer Warrior

The Glimpse of a Prayer Warrior

Someone is always watching you.

Not to be creepy, but this is a lesson that God continues to teach me every day. As we go about our daily lives, we are often unaware of the many people that take notice of us. Especially strangers. We don’t realize that we can influence the person in the far corner of the classroom or at the next table just as much as we can influence our best friend.

One of the most unique gifts from God is the opportunity to impact people we don’t even know just by simply living our lives. Unfortunately, we’re able to affect others negatively just as much as positively.

Here is an example. Today a flood of future students poured on campus to prepare themselves and get them excited for the upcoming school year.

I pushed through the sea of families and overwhelmed students to our school’s prayer chapel. Once there, I found my seat on one of the kneeling benches and began writing in my journal.

Amidst the traffic of families touring the chapel, I noticed a guy looking around at all of the little slips of prayer requests. He seemed comfortable as if this were one of the regular places he would go on campus.

While I scribbled away in my journal, I kept noticing him out of the corner of my eye make his way around the chapel. Looking up at him, I watched as he knelt in the corner, his palms facing up in prayer. Then he would stand, look over some prayer requests and return to his corner to kneel and pray. I even saw him go around the chapel gently touching each prayer request as he went.

Who was this guy?

Over on the ledge of the cascading fountain, I noticed a familiar university folder. When he picked it up, I realized that he was one of the visiting future students. Today may have been his first day in the prayer chapel, and he spent more than 30 minutes experiencing God within its walls.

This guy, not even a student yet, was already making an impact on me and on this campus without having to say a word. He left the chapel, and all I could think about was how God would use him in his college career. What’s more is that he has no clue that I observed all he did nor will he ever know how he brought a smile to my face and a blessing to my heart today.

Friends, let’s be reminded of the many people that are subconsciously taking note of how we act, and let’s strive to be people that positively impact everyone we encounter, including those we never interact with.

God bless!

-LJM

Matthew 5:16

Line?

Line?

This week I’ve had the task of getting “off-book” for the show that I am currently apart of. The term “off-book” means to have your lines memorized.  This period of the performing process is where it starts to get messy as actors not only try to remember every word they’re supposed to say, but also know where they’re supposed to move, gesture, enter, and exit.

What’s nice about memorizing lines is the actor can start to get more of a feel for their character and the show as a whole. As someone who has a passion for acting,  I love being able to experiment with acting choices, facial expressions, and movements while trying to get as much out of my character as possible.

The point is, in order for a show to come together, (among many other jobs) actors are required to know the show backwards and forwards. The better you know the show, if a problem were to arise, you could be on top of it and make it work.

I’d like to propose the idea that what if we treated our Bible like a script?

After all, the Bible, like a script, guides our actions, our words, and overall life as a Christian.

If you think about it, the script is handled at almost every rehearsal. How would the actors or any of the production team be able to function without it?  If only our Bibles were so often used.

What if we had a time limit to memorize our Bible? Or what if we put as much dedication into learning the Bible as well as we do a script?

As an actor, the show depends on it. As a Christian, our life depends on it.

The more we know the Word of God the more freely we can live it and know what to do when we are faced with problems.

Lately I’ve been reminded that shows start and a few months later they end, but the job of a Christian is forever.

God Bless!

-LJM

Psalm 119:11