Tassels and theme cards

We remember what’s right in front of us. That’s why we put our grocery lists under refrigerator magnets, pictures on our nightstands and sticky notes on our dashboards. If I want to make it to an important appointment, I set an alarm on my phone, so when the time comes the reminder is right in my hand.

Even what’s most important to us can fade or be forgotten. God knew that with time, hearts can drift from His commands and His truth. In the midst of His loving care, we can start to believe that we are the masters of our own destinies, and that our efforts and strength got us to where we are. The Israelites had the same struggle. God’s set-apart people needed a constant visual reminder that God was in charge, and He had a plan for their lives. So, God commanded that on the four corners of their garments hang blue-corded tassels.

“These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh your God.”
‭‭- Numbers‬ ‭15:39-41‬

Every way they turned, those who wore the tassels would feel that God was with them and they were His, rescued and set apart. As they walked along the path, they would be reminded of God’s commands and respond in obedience. God’s calling was worn right next to their skin.

I need that kind of reminder of God’s calling. I want God’s heartbeat to be my constant playlist, compelling me to move forward in confidence to God’s commands. I desire for the Gospel to resonate so deeply in my life it spills out in Great Commission action.

God has given me the great privilege of serving as my area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, a project that seeks to share God’s love with children in need around the world through simple shoebox gifts. This year, my team is seeking to filter everything we do through the lens of Matthew 28:19-20. This is our mission, our marching orders.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

God is calling us to center in on this theme: GO and GROW. The investment we have in ministry through Operation Christmas Child is because we seek to follow Jesus in His Great Commission. God is using us, literally, to make disciples of all nations by mobilizing people and multiplying shoebox gifts right here in our communities in Missouri. Because of God’s power and the movement of His Spirit, we are going around the world through shoeboxes to children who desperately need God’s love and salvation – and we are a part of their discipleship as they work through The Greatest Journey follow-up program. As a team, we are asking God to raise up more than 45,000 shoeboxes in our 18-county area for 2017. My dream goal is for us to reach 50,000 children this year, which means that up to half a million people in our world could be impacted by God’s love. ONLY GOD could accomplish that!!!

This is my Operation Christmas Child Team's theme card for this year. The Great Commission is the lens for our ministry efforts.

This is my Operation Christmas Child Team’s theme card for this year. The Great Commission is the lens for our ministry efforts. On the raft in this picture are several cartons full of shoebox gifts traveling to an outlying area in Fiji. If you’d like to be reminded of this calling, you are welcome to use this printable or electronic theme card. Please let me know if you are using it!

These theme cards will act as our tassels in the coming months as we follow God’s lead. We want the Great Commission ever before us, so we will post these cards on our refrigerators, bathroom mirrors, dashboards and screens. God’s Word does not return void, and we want Him to sow this seed deep within our hearts, where God has prepared soil to reap 30, 60 and even 100 times what is planted.

We have all been called by God. Called by God to be His arms of embrace and His feet to go where people need to know Jesus. Called by God to love in truth, to follow His commands, to serve together with the church to make disciples of all nations.

Is your calling ever before you? Consider this a reminder that God has a plan for your life. As one who has responded to God’s great grace, God has called you to join Him, to go and grow.

Hang tassels on your garments or put a theme card on your nightstand. Find a way today to honor God’s call and be reminded of His rescue and redemption that He intends for you to share.

Loving in the little

Last year, Matt and I stood in the rain together and prayed for our country at the Missouri Capitol. Him being there with me was a beautiful act of love. Love is so much more than one day a year!

Valentine’s Day is made for grand gestures, thoughtful gifts and lovey-dovey profile pictures. Flower shops and even Wal-Mart stores are clogged with people grabbing a token of their affection to proclaim their love. Though we don’t really need a day like this to express our adoration, this holiday serves as a reminder to appreciate those we love.

Tomorrow, it all goes on clearance.

The chocolate gets eaten, the flowers die and the stuffed animals get thrown in a closet.

The grand gestures mean nothing if not backed up by the day-in-day-out loving in the little ways no one else sees. Filling the coffee pot, early morning snuggles, supporting them in their work and ministry, staying up late to help with homework, folding the laundry, giving each other a kiss before heading off for the day, always speaking well of each other in public, praying for God’s favor in their life, backing them up, doing dishes, watching TV together, making breakfast, giving compliments, showing up, being honest when it’s hard, putting their needs above yours, sending an “I love you” text just because you do, giving them space to process and not heading straight for the argument. True love is validated in the everyday.

Jesus personally showed us this truth:

  • Jesus helped people out in a jam (John 2:1-10)
  • Jesus touched a leper who needed Him (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:40-41)
  • Jesus took time to answer the questions of those seeking (John 3:1-20)
  • Jesus stood in the gap to rescue and forgive those who didn’t deserve it (John 8:3-11)
  • Jesus was willing to be interrupted (Mark 1:35-37)
  • Jesus fiercely defended His Father (Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17)
  • Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her without being asked (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • Jesus had dinner with Matthew and his friends and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 5:29-32)
  • Jesus shared His ministry with His friends (Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7-12, Luke 9:1-2, 10:1)
  • Jesus sent the disciples ahead and cleaned up Himself (Mark 6:45)
  • Jesus was patient and took the time to have deep conversation (Matthew 13:36-37)
  • Jesus challenged his friends to dig deeper in their faith (Matthew 14:28-33)
  • Jesus had great compassion and entered into other’s grief (Luke 7:12-15)
  • Jesus sailed through storms with His friends (Luke 8:22-25)
  • Jesus was patient when Martha was stressed (Luke 10:40-42)
  • Jesus got His hands dirty to help and heal (Mark 7:33, 8:23, John 9:6)
  • Jesus saw people no one else did (Luke 19:5, 21:1-2, John 4:6-7, 5:5-8)
  • Jesus showed his friends who He really was (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:29)
  • Jesus grieved with His friends (John 11:33-35)
  • Jesus loved his disciples despite petty arguments (Mark 9:33-37)
  • Jesus told the truth even when it wasn’t what a young man wanted to hear (Matthew 19:21-22, Mark 10:21-22, Luke 18:22-23)
  • Jesus wept over the lostness of people He loved (Luke 19:41)
  • Jesus stood up and defended those who loved Him (Matthew 26:10-13, Mark 14:6-9)
  • Jesus washed His disciples feet (13:4-5)
  • Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us (John 17:6-26)
  • Jesus loved Peter enough to tell him the truth (Matthew 26:33-34)
  • Jesus shared His sorrow (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34)
  • Jesus took care of His mom (John 19:25-27)
  • Jesus forgave (Luke 23:36)

Jesus loved. Scripture is seeped in His love. And when the time came for the Greatest Act of Love, when Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross, His disciples could believe and we can believe it now because every moment of His life was a testament to His amazing love for us.

The cross is the proof of a lifetime and eternity of God’s love. In a similar way, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just a one-shot love deal. Today, let’s celebrate the culmination of the 365 days before, and the promise of future days, full of loving in the little.