Sunday, November 18, 2012

13.1?...maybe, you should sweat the small stuff!

                The air was thick with excitement, adrenaline, nervous chatter, and the sound of “The Black-eyed Peas’ ‘Tonight’s gonna be a good night’”.  I looked down at my bib number and could not believe I was standing there, just seconds away from starting a 13.1 mile run.  It seemed like only yesterday that I was filling out the Half Marathon application online.  However, it was not yesterday, it was early August when I agreed to sign up and run the race with a co-worker.  I printed off the training schedule and was happy to see that I had about 2 weeks before training began.  The schedule quickly reminded me of my marathon training.  For 5 months, I ran 4 times a week with longer runs getting up into the high teens (14,15,18 miles).  I never missed a run, and it was amazing to see what a trained body can do.  I remember later into the training, looking at the schedule, breathing a sign of relief and saying, “oh, it’s only a 12 mile run this weekend, that’s easy.”  Then I would go on that run and find myself barely tired at the end.  Training for that marathon was by far the most dedicated I’ve been to anything in my life.  As a result, my marathon was fairly easy.  I never hit a “wall”, I never walked, and I felt fairly good the entire time. (well, except for after I stopped when my legs wanted to cramp up into tiny little balls causing me to walk for another hour after the race lol).  Because I strictly followed the training schedule, I finished 26.2 miles in 4 hours 45minutes (11 minute miles) without any injuries.  Pretty cool what the body can do when you give it the appropriate training huh!?
                So, looking at half that distance, 13.1miles, did not seem all that bad.  Especially since I’ve been known to go run 5 miles randomly and be ok.  As the weeks progressed and I got into my training weeks, I started running a couple miles here and a couple miles there.  I would get home tired from work and would promise myself I would do my missed run tomorrow.  Well the tomorrow runs never came.  In fact, I didn’t run for a whole month before I was standing at that 13.1mile start line!  I bet you can guess what happens next.
                It was about 50-55 degrees and sunny…awesome!  The winds were about 20-25mph…not so awesome and most of the run was completely out in the country.  The first 4 miles I felt great, nice music, strong legs, wind blocked by local houses….nice run.  Then I entered the country with nothing to block the wind.  Mile 6 was with the wind.  The mile 7 sideways wind kept trying to pull my ear buds out.  Then came mile 8…..nothing but heading straight into the wind.  There was a lady in front of me walking and even though I was still running, I couldn’t catch up to her! I gave in to the wind and started walking.  This repetition started happening: run…walk…run….walk…shove the ear buds back in…run…walk.  At one point, I shut off the music, took out the ear buds and said, “God, what do you want to teach me….I know there’s a lesson in here somewhere, what is it?”. (kinda bossy of me I know!)  Then, I started praying, “Lord, you made these winds and I believe you have the power to make them stop.  Could you please just let them stop for just another couple hours while I finish this race?”.  Do you think they stopped?....Nope.  And by no way is this a reflection of inadequate power of our God.  Sometimes God allows the wind to batter us until we are broken.  We may be begging for the strong winds of our lives to stop, but God’s plan is higher and mightier than our cries.  Trust me, He hears us, but He knows that sometimes we need to go through the valley first before we can stand in awe on that holy mountain.  For example, in this case, if God would have ceased the winds, I would have missed the main message He had for me on that day.  God was exhausting me in order to teach me something. 
                So I continued the struggle, I didn’t give up despite the continued presence of the “Salvation Army” van riding back and forth picking up runners who have had enough.  Which reminds me: sometimes when you are battling a fierce wind in your life…you may see an easy way out…one that goes against truth and against the life you know God is calling you to lead.  Whatever you do don’t get in that van and believe the lie….it is much better to struggle with Christ by your side, then to get comfortable and complacent apart from Christ.  “Consider it joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” James 1: 2-3.  And let me tell you that Paul was absolutely right when he said that “the sufferings of this present time are noting compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us” Romans 8:18.
                At mile 11 my physical body shut down.  My calves wanted to completely tear apart, my knee was shot, my hip felt like I had a knife wedged in it.  I walked the last 2 miles until right before the finish line.  When I crossed, my body was done for.  One and a half years ago I had run a full marathon, and now after running just half of that, I couldn’t even find the energy or strength to drive home!
                What I learned was this: sometimes God, because He is all powerful, allows us to do miraculous things in an instant.  But more times, He demands us to be faithful.  Because I was faithful to my marathon schedule, God allowed me to finish with relative ease and peace.  I was faithful in the big race, but I was faithless in the small.  My pride told me a lie and I listened to it: “because this race is smaller, you should be just fine, you can let your training slide a little. You’re busy, you have better things to do. What can it hurt?”  Well, it hurt a lot!
                God demands us not only to be faithful in the big things in our lives, but also in the small day to day things because each “yes” to God builds up our and endurance and our faith so that we can be fruitful and we can move mountains.  We must not think, “I got this”.  God said, “No, Heidi, You don’t ‘got this!’ and now I’m going to show you why.”  If you don’t allow God into your small plans and the small aspect of your life, why would he trust you with the big?  “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” Luke 16:10.  Those small, faithless acts may end up causing more hurt than good.  I learned that today, one week after the race as I stepped out for just a short 2 mile run.  About two blocks into the run, my calves began to burn and I had to stop.  I seriously had injured myself last week and my body told me today that it needs more time to heal.  Just 3 days after my marathon, I went for the same short run and had the most powerful and exhilarating run of my life! I felt like I was superwoman, that’s how strong I felt.  With the right training, the right mindset, and a devoted prayer and relationship with Jesus, you can and you will bring Glory to the Kingdom as He makes you stronger than you ever thought possible by His grace pouring out to his faithful servant.
                God is so good to us, and He always wants to teach us something.  I wonder how many times I’ve missed invaluable lessons all because I don’t truly believe God is crucial in the small stuff. 
                I’ll leave this with a really cool song that I rediscovered as I was exhausting my body on the road! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Falling For Him

Are you giddy with expectation of me gushing over a new man and telling you every bit of detail from the first flower he gave me to the ridiculous endearing nicknames we have made for one another?  I encourage you to get EXCITED!  Keep reading! The love story is at the end!!! ;)
                I have been reminded recently of how sometimes God has to knock me down, flat on my face, to grab my attention.  I was venturing out on my longest run of the year feeling completely pumped and ready to go.  I carb loaded at breakfast, gulped down enough water, even dug through my closet to find my fancy Nike official running tank top, and downloaded some new tunes to my I pod.  Running to me has always been a stress relief and a time to put on some Christian tunes and just get out there with God and be free.   But I did something on this particular day that I’ve never done before.  I got out about 100 feet and turned off the music and prayed.  I said, “Lord, I want this run to be about You.  I know there’s a lot of things that happen during my day where forget to think of you or don’t think to include you, but I want this run to be dedicated to You.  I pray that I may have the strength to complete it but also the willingness to let you be a part of it.  I give you this run to use to show me who You are.” (Warning: don’t pray this prayer if you want a nice calm boring run).
                I turn my music back on and start enjoying the run.  I’m about a half a mile in when before I know what even happened, I’m laying flat out on the sidewalk.  I literally tripped over a sidewalk and bit the dust…hard!  Maybe there was a little rise up in the concrete but in all honesty, I may be thinking that just to make myself feel better for tripping over a subdivision side walk! I seriously have never tripped before on a run.  I instantly felt humiliation, then recovered with laughter. I can only imagine how awkward that fall must have looked.  I wipe off some blood from my scraped knee and continue on when suddenly a picture of the fallen Jesus, cross in tow, surfaces in my mind.
                The Bible tells us that after being scourged, beaten, and mocked, Jesus was forced to carry His cross to Calvary.  During that journey, He fell.  This is extremely significant.  As I recently learned, it’s humiliating to fall.  Our God, who in an instant could have had the strength of a hundred men if he wished, humbled himself to be a bruised and broken man falling under the weight of some wood that would serve as His execution framework.  Our God fell.  I love that.  I have a God who is so powerful He can move mountains and calm seas, and yet He allows himself to fall so that we can have a God who knows exactly how heavy the weight of the world can be on His shoulders.  We have a God who knows probably even better than most of us, what it feels like to be humiliated, betrayed and what it feels like to be so worn out that He can’t even keep himself upright.  He chose to fall because He needs us to know that no matter how far down we get, He’s been there.
                Do you have the weight of the world on your shoulders right now?  Do you have something you’ve been hiding…maybe you are ashamed and think no one would understand.  Or maybe you think you have fallen so far down that you don’t think even a miracle could pull you out of the hole you’ve dug.  Maybe it’s an addiction, a bad relationship, a past hurt, a family member, a friend, a grudge or just plain loneliness that keeps tripping you over and over and over again.  I need you to know that You are never alone.  You have a God who knows what it’s like to fall, and the best news is, you also have a God who knows what it’s like to rise.  I promise you that He wants you to rise and I promise that He will help you do so.  He loves you so much that he would fall for you and die for you.  His love is so vast and perfect and beautiful that He wants to take you by the right hand and wrap you in His blanket of peace.  You must make the decision to turn to Him.
                But that’s not all!  There’s even more good news.  I absolutely believe the first step is establishing a personal relationship with Jesus and calling out to Him.  I also believe He doesn’t call us to do this completely alone.  You see, after some falls, the Romans assign a man named Simon to help Jesus carry the cross the rest of the way.  Our own God didn’t choose to carry the cross completely alone.  What better way to show us how much our God values the idea of “carrying our crosses” together.  He has a desire for us to be in fellowship with other believers.  He knows He is all we need to go on, but He also knows the limitations of our physical and emotional bodies and has felt the concept of “strength in numbers.” 
                If you’re thinking right now, that’s good and all, but what if you don’t have any friends that would love me like that.  All my friends have betrayed me and left me here alone and afraid.  You know that church you keep passing on your way to work?  Or that nagging thought in your head that keeps asking you to google search churches in the area?  You know that co-worker who keeps asking you to tag along with her to Sunday service?  That’s God.  He’s asking you to turn to Him.  He knows you are fallen and He knows that this probably wasn’t the first fall and it most certainly will not be the last.  He may even use a random literal fall on an ordinary run to make You think of Him!  He promises  that “ this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.  The weight of your burdens and the pain they cause will be transformed by His most holy love.  What are you waiting for?!  Run into the most loving arms of Jesus…..but watch out for those pesky sidewalks! =)   
                Ok, ok, back to the love story I mentioned in the beginning……I moved to Sandwich, IL not knowing quite what to expect.  I knew no one, but during my time with God I felt Him telling me I was coming here not only for work, but for the people.  I listened to the “nagging” in my heart which led me to attend 2 churches.  In the beginning I took the first step alone.  Since my initial “move” towards God’s nagging, I have met some pretty amazing people who not only add to the enjoyment of my life with friendship, but also hold me accountable in and strengthen my walk with Christ.  He has also helped me strengthen friendships I already have!  My love story is this; I have a God who loves me enough to say, “Heidi, if you listen to my still small voice and follow where I call you to go, I will provide for you more than you could ever imagine.” So that first flower He gave me, was the beautiful first daisy I noticed which reflected his awesomeness.  And that nickname He calls me is "beloved". He surprises me every day with the love He pours out for me.  One small “yes”, turned into a huge Hallelujah! =)    

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Let me tell you about my friend, Judith......

                A couple Tuesdays each month I drive to a Senior Center in Joliet, pack my front seat with coolers filled with food, and drop off meals to the elderly in Joliet through the program Meals on Wheels.   Little by little I got to know the people I was delivering meals to.  And little by little, one of them in particular started to feel like she was a blessing that was Heaven sent.  Her name is Judith.
                On one particular Tuesday a while ago, I had just ended a relationship and quit my first adult job all in one week.  I was scared, unsure of everything, and feeling pretty down.  Trudging through the snow, I found my way to Judith’s side door and as usual, within seconds of my knock she was right there.  Her smile upon seeing me warmed my heart as she spoke, “Oh, Heidi! It’s so good to see your smiling face, you are just so young and beautiful.”  I thanked her for the kind words and she thanked me for the delivery.   She wished me her usual ‘God bless’ and I was on my way.  I got back in my car and found myself unexpectedly crying.  At a moment in time where I felt far from beautiful, Judith spoke the words that touched my soul.  She brought me great joy and reminded me that no matter what is going on in my life, I can still be beautiful to others, but especially to my Heavenly Father.  In that moment, she mimicked God’s love, showing me that no matter what may be going on in my life, God’s love for me never fails. I know in my heart, God used her to put a smile back on my face.
                More recently, I was dropping off a meal to a new location in a not so great part of town.  The instructions read to call the client or knock on the side door with the meal.  I first knocked on the side door…no answer.  So I ran back to my car, grabbed my phone and called the number.  A lady answered and told me to meet her at the side door.  I grabbed her meal, held my phone, and made sure to lock my car door since I knew this was a rough area.  Small chat ensued, then I was back at my car placing my hand in my pocket for my keys…….I bet you can guess what happened from here.   My keys were staring at me from the front seat with the doors locked, windows up.  Whoops.    
                It was one of those moments when you are pure helpless and you have no one else to blame but yourself.  Luckily I still had my phone and about an hour later a locksmith came and unlocked my car.  I still had 4 meals to deliver and now they were late.  I felt horrible...super super bad.  These are older people who are set on their specific delivery times.  I just messed that all up.  I prayed in the car that I would be shown mercy, and I should have known more than anyone, Judith would be there to do just that.  I arrived at her door and she had the most concerned look on her face.  I started apologizing and she interrupted me telling me how she had called the senior services center knowing that today was my day to deliver and she was worried about me.  I told her what happened and she told me to stop apologizing, that she herself had locked her keys in the car with the engine running at one time.  She showed me immediate mercy, love and fellowship. I was beyond relieved. 
                In that moment, Judith was what I needed.  I just wanted someone to tell me, “I forgive you. Yes, you screwed up, you aren’t perfect but you’d be crazy to think I’d hold this against you.”  Without that mercy I would have still felt agitated with myself and still would have been down on myself.  But after a few kind words from Judith, all the anxiety and fear was washed away.  She showed me a great example of God’s love that day by easily forgiving my mistake, and also being concerned that the path I was meant to take was altered.  You see, God has a path planned for each and every one of us to take.   Sometimes along the way we get side tracked by sin or our own imperfections slow us down or lead us somewhere we know we probably shouldn’t be.  But the great thing about God is that like Judith, He is always right there standing at the door waiting for our knock.  "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9).  God’s love is waiting for you in some very unexpected ways.  All you gotta do is open the door!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul

             This morning I was listening to my Pandora Jeremy Camp Station and all of a sudden I heard “a beat” and rapping, and I thought to myself, “what in the world is this song doing on this station”.  Then I heard the familiar melody of “Lose my Soul” by Toby Mac.  Now it made sense.  I hadn’t heard this song in years! It definitely got me thinking (and helped me get my groove on!lol…thank goodness I live alone ha!).  Then, I went to Church in which the sermon kept my thought process going, forcing me to try and write it all down. 
                The main point in Toby Mac’s song is: “I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul”.  It’s a mantra that is sung over and over again, and I believe that we should always stop and reflect on our own lives to see if we are letting the glitter of “this world” blind us of the things eternal.  Are we so focused on our jobs and getting promotions that we are sacrificing time with God and our families? Are we so wrapped up with material things that we are putting in late hours at work in order to buy the latest and greatest tv’s, clothing, cars, sofas…whatever it may be?  Are we letting the busyness of being “here” and making appearances “there” crowd our lives with so much clutter and a desire to increase in popularity among men that we can no longer see the image of our loving Savior crying out to come and seek Him?  Are we putting all our effort into a new boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and turning to them for fulfillment instead of realizing God is the only one who can ever truly fill our hearts first, thus allowing His love to trickle down into our precious relationship and bless it?  Jesus makes it crystal clear:   "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). 
            Are you loving the world so much, that you are turning away from the heavenly perfect love that was made for you?  There is hope and there is help for you.  Church this morning seemed to fit perfectly with how to get back to loving God and step away from self-absorption and worldly absorption.  It’s funny how the Holy Spirit makes things fit so perfectly together sometimes huh? So I’m going to write about what the Pastor talked about in Church this morning.  I cannot take any credit for this, it’s all his message which I’m sure in turn he would give God all the glory for the words that he spoke this morning.
            First, you must restore your relationship with God.  The best way to do this is to set aside quiet time with Him.  Pour out your heart to Him.  Open up His Word and allow it to flow into your soul.  It also helps to talk to others about where you are at and where you want to go.  Where 2 or more are gathered in His name, He is surely there!  Once you are living in close relationship with God, you will begin to see how things of this world become less and less appealing.  You will begin to see how some of our culture’s lies that supposedly lead to happiness are only dark holes that suck you in and leave you feeling lost inside.  Second, restore your relationships with those close to you.  Build one another up and help each other walk closely with God.  Third, restore your relationship with those far from you like with volunteering or mission work.  As you draw closer and closer to God and to your brothers and sisters in Christ, you will be overflowing with love that You cannot help but desire to perform acts of charity. 
            God wants to give you the pure joy and the unfailing hope that Jesus earned for you on the cross. He wants you to set down those files and paperwork on Sunday morning and come know Him through the Church.  He wants you to turn off The Bravo’s Real Housewives at night(yes, this truly applies to myself!) and tune into quiet time with Jesus.  A lot of people reading this are thinking, “I’m too busy, I just don’t have enough time”.  So start slow, spend 5 minutes a day alone with God. I dare you! You will be amazed at where it will take you!  Our souls were made to love God.  Nothing else on this earth will satisfy that hunger deep within each one of us…nothing.  My prayer tonight is that you take the time to walk with Him.  Let Him show you the ways to everlasting joy instead of following the lies of the world.  I pray you lose your grasp on this world and hold tight to the hands that loved you before the world ever began. 

Father God, I am clay in your hands,
Help me to stay that way through all life's demands,
'Cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
And every little thing I make up my mind to be,
Like I'm gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,
And I'm gonna be a husband who stays legit,
And I pray that I'm an artist who rises above,
The road that is wide and filled with self love,
Everything that I see draws me,
Though it's only in You that I can truly see that its a feast for the eyes- a low blow to purpose.
And I'm a little kid at a three ring circus.

I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.

America has no more stars, now we call them idols,
You sit idle, While we teach prosperity,
The first thing to prosper should be inside of me.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'll Take you Back.....ALWAYS

I don't know how to explain it
But I know that words will hardly do
Miracles with signs and wonders
Aren't enough for me to prove to you

Don't you know I've always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away
I'll tell you still
Don't you know I've always loved you
And I always will

Greater love has not a man
Than the one who gives his life to prove
That he would do anything
And that's what I'm going to do for you
-Third Day

            I hadn’t heard this song in a long time, but tonight it came up on my Pandora radio station.  I stopped everything I was doing and just listened.  I was filled with peace and joy and a desire to shout of God’s love. Maybe this is my “shouting”.
            It’s hard for us sometimes to even comprehend God’s love.  We never fully will.  If we did we would be in Heaven.  But what we can comprehend is still so unbelievably amazing.  To think that a God, who is Lord of lords, King of kings, knew you before the world even began is beyond incredible.  He not only knew you, but He loved you.  When God was creating the mystical sunrises and sunsets, you were in his mind sitting there admiring the beauty billions of years down the road.  When he created the wonderful taste of a strawberries, chocolate, anything, he knew every person who would ever enjoy them and he smiled. 
            My heart hurts for the people I see today who are drowning in regret and shame at the horror of what they’ve done and think that they do not deserve love.  You have a God who has loved you even before time and He can never love you less.  There is nothing you could ever do to make God look away and stop loving you.  The bible says that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8: 38-39). NOTHING, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God including your very own sins.  His love is always there.  What happens is as we build up more and more sin, more distractions, more earthly desires and less heavenly aspirations, we cloud up that love of God that once shone so bright in our lives.  His love is still there just like always, but we don’t always let ourselves see it, or feel it.  We think that what we have done, or what we have failed to do makes us unworthy.  We think, “How could God ever love me after I did this…or did that?”.  If you get one thing out of this rambling, I pray that it is this: God could never love you less.  He loves you just as much as he loves Pope Benny.  He loves you just as much as he loves Mother Teresa. 
            The other Sunday, the priest told the story of Saint Margaret Mary and how Jesus revealed Himself to her, calling her to start a special devotion to His Sacred Heart.  She told her superior Priest about this calling and the need to spread the word about Jesus’ great love through His Sacred Heart.  The priest wouldn’t believe her.  She saw Jesus again that night and He told her the same thing. She explained how the priest wouldn’t believe her but Jesus told her to be persistent.  After a couple nights of this same routine, finally the priest said “There is one shameful sin that I committed when I was really young that no one knows about except Jesus.  If you can tell me what it is, then I will believe you.”  So that night, Sister Margaret Mary talked to Jesus and asked Him to reveal to her the priest’s sin.  Jesus replied, “I forgot”.
            Guys, I cannot stress this enough: God loves you.  He knows about your addictions.  He knows about your shameful deeds.  He knows that very thing that is coming to the forefront of your mind right now at this very second, and all He is asking you to do is to have faith in what HE has done.  Believe in the cross.  Take all your sins and get down on your knees and release them at the foot of the Cross.  You will be lifted up by forgiving and bleeding hands of Jesus.
            And I hear you saying, “but what about this world, what about all those who have seen what I’ve done and are standing in judgment over me.  They look at me with scorn and distaste in their eyes and cast me out.  How am I to move on when this world counts me out?”.  Take a look at John Chapter 8.  Jesus encounters a woman caught in the act of adultery.  The people hold stones in their hands ready to put her to death as punishment for her crime.  Then they ask Jesus, “In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. What do you say?”.  Jesus replied, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Wow, they weren’t expecting that one.  We are all sinners, and we all need God’s love and grace.  But essential to this story is what happens next, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, from now on do not sin any more”.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want knowing that God forgives no matter what.  I feel sorry for the man who believes that because in the end he will face the wrath of God.  Being a Christian means knowing that we are sinners, and God will forgive all our sins, but He calls us all to strive to become the best versions of ourselves.  We can mess up, but we best try again harder next time to turn away from sin and turn toward justice and truth. And even if our trying consists of just baby steps, He will rejoice in our efforts to walk closer to Him and allow His love to wipe away our deepest sins and renew our hearts.  No matter what, His love will always remain.
            So….you gotta QUIT doubting the cross.  Jesus was enough.  He conquered all sin and all death.  He conquered all evil with His love for you.  He stood in judgment and all the while being rejected, He thought of YOU.  He carried his cross in complete exhaustion, and every time he stumbled and fell, He saw YOUR face and got back up. Nails pounded into his wrists and his feet and his heart ached for the sin He knew you would commit, but His LOVE for you remain.  He lay hanging, blood pouring down from his most precious face and before giving up His spirit, He saw YOUR face.  I can’t help but think before leaving the tomb, Jesus smiled seeing the hope that you now have available to you if only you would just BELIEVE that His cross was enough.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Delinquency and "Jesus"

For a nation and culture that can sometimes be very anti-Christian, America somehow seems to proclaim a lot of “Jesus’”!  How many times a day do you hear a co-worker, friend, maybe even spouse or family member use His name as just an expression or worse as a swear word. 
                “..the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” – Philippians 2:10-11.
Most recently, Natalie Grant wrote an amazing song called “Your great name” in which she explains the mighty power of the name of Jesus: “the enemy, he has to leave, at the sound of Your great name”. 
“Jesus”, immediately love, gratitude, mercy, grace, reverence, awe, among many other wonderful emotions should come to mind as well as great power and hope.  His name is precious because of who He was and is and always will be.  He is God, our savior who at the whisper of His name will rescue you and bring you peace.  I challenge You next time you feel lonely, sad, afraid, scared, just whisper His name and embrace the peace that follows.  The power of His name is real because He is real and He loves you very much.
The reflection on his great name came about due to my most recent run on my favorite wooded trail.  It was a beyond beautiful day and I just kept going down the trail worshiping Him with my new live Jeremy Camp cd blasting in my headphones.  I looked up at one of the signs on the trail and right on the post someone had written in permanent marker, “Jesus”.  It made me smile and I kept going.  Sure enough, the next sign and the following sign, and even the one after that, the same thing, “Jesus”.  I laughed thinking, “well, I’m sure God doesn’t exactly agree with defacing public property but I’m sure He will overlook it when He sees all the smiles it brings to those along the trail”.  I began to think about who had written it, and came up with my own deductions as to exactly who the artist was.  I figured it was a child maybe teenager with a newfound fire for Christ.  Someone bursting at the seams with a love for Jesus that she just couldn’t hold back from praising Him publicly.  Ya know how when we were kids, people would carve their names and their loved ones name on the bark of a tree trunk.  I feel like this is exactly what this child did: she loves Him so much that she wants the whole word to know who He is.  So why not display Him in one of the most public and peaceful places imaginable.
I pray that God every day gives us that exact desire to make His name known to the world.  I pray that we may be bursting with joy and love for Jesus that we wish to shout out loud about His goodness.  I pray that we may worship Him and allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts to work through our lives in order to write in permanent marker the name of Jesus on the hearts of those surrounding us.  How great would that be if just like the posts, one after another, we could gather believers for the glory of God with Jesus’ name firmly etched on their hearts.