What do you want the most in your life?

There's this guy I have a massive crush on.

We're Facebook friends and, yeah, I stalk him from time to time.

Let's say, theoretically speaking, that he came to Chicago and asked me out on a date.

And let's say, theoretically speaking, that I checked my schedule and was busy that day.

Do you think I would:

a. apologize and ask him to try again next time?

or

b. get the heck out of my other commitment and buy a new dress?

You don't have to be a genius to figure this one out.

I WOULD GO ON THE DATE!

It's not that complicated when you think about it.

Last week I asked you for your help and thought 2 of you would answer.

But you floored me! Not only did a TON of you respond, but you really shared your heart with me. And you wrecked me with your answers.

Several themes popped up. One of the most common ideas mentioned sounded a little bit like this:

I wish I spent more time with Jesus.

You long for intimacy with Jesus.

You know who He is.

And you want more of Him in your life.

Desperately more.

Yet you struggle with making the time for Him.

You don't know how to make Him a priority.

You're too busy with family.

You're too overwhelmed with your physical needs.

You're simply exhausted.

But it's not that complicated when we think about it.

We make time for the things we love.

We re-arrange our schedule for our Facebook crushes.

We re-order our lives for the commitments that mean more.

We say no after saying yes because we recognize that a better yes is staring us in the face.

We do whatever we need to do to make time for the things we love.

Even if it costs us something along the way.

I got out of a medical mission trip once at the very last minute because I accepted a job at a church instead. My friendship with the organizer of the trip suffered because of it.

I broke off an engagement two weeks before the wedding once because I realized I was in love with someone else.

And on and on it goes.

We make time and space for the things we love.

People ask me all the time how I manage my life. How do I make time for Jesus as an ER doctor/author/speaker/global medical missionary?

It's simple: I've found out I can't live without Jesus.

I mean it literally. I cannot live without Him.

I need him daily.

I need him deeply.

I need him desperately.

I need him because my life is too complicated.

I need him because my people are too complicated.

I need him because I'm too complicated.

I have dreams that I can't accomplish on my own.

I have disappointments I can't reconcile without Him.

I have temptations that suck the life out of my soul.

In a world where everything is competing for my attention, I've found that I have to say no to some things in order to say yes to the more important things.

So I sleep a little bit less.

I socialize a little bit less.

I exercise a little bit less.

Because I love Jesus more.

What about you?

What are you choosing over Jesus?

Is it the gym? Your job? Your rest?

Is it your friends? Your small group? Your church?

In a world where everything is competing for your attention, it's time to say no to some things in order to say yes to the more important things.

It's time to say yes to Jesus.

I'm talking to you.

What are you going to scratch off your list to make time for Jesus?

I know you're really pressed - I mean, who isn't? We have Facebook, and Instagram and snap chat to keep up with these days.

But let's make 2017 the year we chase after the things that matter most.

I want to tell you about an app I've started using for my quiet time.

It's called first15.org.

Wanna try it with me? We can do this together.

Let's run hard after Jesus because we simply can't do it without him. 

My verse for 2017 is Exodus 33:15 where Moses says this to God: "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here".

Would you pray this verse with me for 2017?

One last thing, you sort of spoiled me with all the emails last week. I've come to expect you to actually talk to me. So will you do it again? Will you leave a comment with your verse or word for 2017? I'd love to hear from you.

Here's a teaching that I think will help you as you focus your thoughts on the one thing that matters most in 2017: 

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What do you Want in the New Year?

What do you want in 2017?

Stop and think about it.

This year could turn out like all the others.

A bunch of well intentioned resolutions meant to rev us up a bit, a list of good intentions and exhausted attempts at being more, doing more, wanting more.

And still - the same results: failure, disappointment, and unfulfilled longings.

Not me.

Not this year.

This year I want more.

This year I want a closer walk with Jesus. I want more power, more fruit, more flavor. 

This year, I want Jesus.

I want to cease from striving. I want to quit fearing. I want to simply rest in Him.

And God wants exactly the same for me.

I'm learning that there are 3 main ways God uses to teach us to trust him:

#1 He breaks down all our security structures

What is it you trust? Is it your job or your income? Is if your pastor or your Church? Is it your talents and your reputation? You can tell how much you trust something by how you react when you lose it. If you feel threatened and fear encroaches at the prospect of losing it, then you've likely put your trust in it. God knows that you'll never be happy with just that thing and will do whatever it takes to break you out of that security structure. He is committed to show you that He is more than enough for you. It's only when you lose what you trust most that you learn how dear and trustworthy God is.

#2 He allows difficult circumstances that we can't fix

You know those prayer requests that God still hasn't answered you decades later? You know those people who won't stop hating on you? Yeah, they're God's provision for you. My friend sent me this definition of God's pruh-vizh-uh n: God turning ever moment into a chance to experience the fullness of his love. Every circumstance that puts you at the end of yourself is His provision to show you His love. Will you trust him in it?

#3 He places us in the eye of the storm

See, it's in the eye of the storm that we cry out to him. It's in the eye of the storm that we finally bend our knees and pray. It's in the eye of the storm that His word becomes our lifeline, His promise become our life. And until His word becomes a priority in our life we will never really get to know him. See, He reveals himself to us in his word. That's where we meet Jesus.

I believe that Christians have lost their voice in this world primarily because of our love for materialism and our constant state of worry.

We love our stuff and are deathly afraid of losing it.

We are constantly competing with each other for more stuff.

We are not unlike like everybody else around us.

No wonder no one is listening to us.

But what if we could change?

What if in 2017 we were willing to give all that we have for the sake of knowing him more?

Wouldn't it be worth it?

Looking for a great resource to start the new year with? Check out the Resolved 10 week Bible study with DVD series. Make 2017 your best year yet. 

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What Are You Waiting For This Christmas?

Every year, whether we're ready for it or not, it comes!
Christmas.
In an ironic twist of fate Christmas has fallen on a Sunday this year and many churches have opted to cancel their services.

Ironic, because...well, who needs to meet and worship God when instead we can celebrate him over hot chocolate and self indulgent gift giving?
I suppose I can be glib about Christmas this year since I'll be working most of the week. I will be Christmas-less Christmas this year.
To add insult to injury, here's how my gift giving went down:
The UPS truck pulled away from my house and I quickly ran to the door. The Zappos box held such promise. I opened it and sure enough, a clean crisp UGGS box sat looking at me expectantly.
I concluded that my sister had gone out of her way to kindly think of me this Christmas: a new pair of boots to replace my old beat up ones.

Then I opened the box and felt sucker punched.
The boots I expected weren't there. Instead a high heeled gold trimmed definitely not me pair of boots sat mocking me in the box.
Why in the world would anyone do this to me? I wondered. How could my sister be so careless? I was miffed. Then I noticed how small the boot was. As if the style wasn't bad enough, the size looked even more ridiculous.
It finally occurred to me to check the name on the box.
Sure enough - the ugly small boots weren't even for me.
The UPS man had dropped the box off at the wrong house!
Go figure.
Another typical Lina Christmas with its unmet expectations and sordid disappointments.
You ever feel that way?

Every year a specific part of the Christmas story sticks out in my mind.
This year it's the part about Anna in Luke 2:22-38.
Jesus is already born. The manger a distant memory. The shepherds' song long gone and the wise men well on their way home.
Mary and Joseph are adjusting to life with a newborn babe. A newborn with eczema and baby acne, and colic and gas and all the scary things that go along with a first newborn.
In the midst of all the chaos was a necessary rite. Jesus was to be taken to the temple to be purified. This was a fulfillment of the law.
God became man born in a manger. And almost every one missed it.
Well everyone except for a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna.
Anna was a prophetess, of the tribe of Asher. She used to be married but her husband had died 7 years into the marriage, and she was now old - 84 according to the passage.
A widow.
Alone on this very first Christmas.

For over 70 years she had waited - anticipating, expecting.
Would this be the year?
Would He finally show up?
Year after year she'd hoped.
Could this be the year God finally answered?

Then one day just like any other...it happened.
Hope did not disappoint.
The waiting was not in vain.
God did show up.
Jesus came.

Every year, whether we're ready for him or not, He comes.
Christmas is here.
Hope is alive.

hey, check out this podcast from the archives that will encourage you this Christmas season!

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