Lean In

Summer is here! And I am very motivated this summer to keep my highly energetic boys busy! (Where they find their level of energy, I cannot begin to comprehend!)

So I recently took them out in our front yard to trim our plants, bushes, and trees. Fun, right?

Well, the boys actually had a blast as I trimmed and they raked and gathered the branches…placed them in the wheelbarrow…and dumped them curbside for our bulk trash pick-up that week.

As I trimmed plant after plant…bush after bush…tree after tree…I began to notice the branches had a tendency to lean in one particular direction. They were all actually leaning towards the sunlight.

I am sure that many of us are not surprised by this as we may have witnessed this with indoor plants that tend to lean in towards the light in the window.

Why do plants, bushes, and trees lean in towards sunlight?

This interesting phenomenon known as phototropism was explained by English naturalist Charles Darwin in the late 1800’s. He demonstrated that the growing shoot of a grass seedling always bends…leans in… towards light. Why?

Because green plants, bushes and trees make their food in the presence of sunlight by the process of photosynthesis. Feel like you’re getting taken back to grade school science class right now?!

Long story short…phototropism is a survival mechanism adopted by plants so that they can get as much light as possible. When plants lean in to sunlight…more photosynthesis can take place…allowing for more energy to be generated.

By leaning in toward the sunlight, plants draw closer to their source of power and energy so that they can receive the necessary nutrients to make food and grow. Without sunlight, they cannot survive.

Just as plants, bushes, and trees must lean in to sunlight for their power source to survive, we too as Christians, must lean in to Jesus as our power source…not just to survive…but to thrive in this world.

The word “survive” is defined as “to remain or continue to live; to endure or live through” while the word “thrive” is defined as “to grow or develop vigorously; flourish; prosper, advance, succeed.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to just survive…I want to thrive!

And so in order to not only survive, but also thrive as Christians, we must…not just believe and accept Jesus Christ in our lives…but also lean in to Jesus.

What does it actually mean to lean in to Jesus?

A great Biblical example of an individual who leaned in to Jesus is Mary…the “Mary” of the familiar Mary and Martha story in Luke 10:38-42.

38-40As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

So to simply break this down… Jesus comes to visit these sisters…Mary and Martha…at their house. Martha welcomes Jesus inside, but then she is pulled away and becomes busy getting things in order. And out of frustration, Martha interrupts Jesus and complains that her sister Mary has abandoned her and that He needs to basically tell Mary to help her out. And Jesus’ response?

“Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Hmm…Jesus sides with Mary in her choosing the one only essential thing…the main course.

In other words…Mary chose the most important thing…Mary chose what was best…Mary chose what was necessary.

While Martha was pulled away by busyness and preparations, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet drawing closer to Him… Mary was listening to Jesus…Mary was hanging on His every word… Mary was leaning in to Jesus.

She chose the main course! Jesus’ words were nutrients and food to her soul…His words were power and sustenance to her well-being…His words were vital to not only her survival, but also her ability to thrive.

Plants can only receive the necessary power that they need to survive by being in the presence of light…by leaning in to the sun.

And we too…as Christians…can only receive the necessary power that we need to survive by being in the presence of the Light…by leaning in to the Son…Jesus.

Mary experienced the presence of Jesus by leaning in to Him!

Are you leaning in to Jesus today?

Do you lean in to Jesus on a daily basis…or only when you are facing a challenge in your life?

What keeps you from leaning in and experiencing His presence?

Busyness…poor time management…a lack of prioritizing… a lack of discipline…maybe even a lack of desire can keep us from leaning in to Jesus.

Unbelief…lack of faith…even disobedience can also keep us from leaning in to Jesus.

Leaning in is really a choice.

Mary could have chosen to help Martha…but instead she chose what was essential…according to Jesus. She chose to lean in.

We too must choose whether we allow ourselves to be distracted or pulled away by people or the things in this world…or choose to draw closer to Jesus.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NLT

Leaning in to Jesus and His Word is nutrients and food for our souls…His Word is power and sustenance to our well-being…His Word is vital to not only our survival, but also our ability to thrive.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8 MSG

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; How blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 AMP

When we lean in to Jesus and His light…When we draw close to Jesus and His Word…We experience His presence and it is through His presence that we will see the blessings and benefits of leaning in.

His Power

We will see and experience His power when we lean in. We don’t need to keep trying to do things on our own or in our own strength. He will give us the power to say “no” to the things in this world that keep us from Him and the power to survive, thrive, prosper and fulfill our purpose and destiny as Christians in this world.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2Peter1:3

His Provision

We will see and experience His provision when we lean in. He sees and knows everything we need and when we lean in and trust in Him…He will provide.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

His Protection

We will see and experience His protection when we lean in. When we feel weak, afraid or overwhelmed, He will protect us when we lean in.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4NLT

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2Thessalonians 3:3 NASB

His Passion

We will see and experience His passion when we lean in. We will understand the very heart of Jesus and what He is passionate about and what He truly desires when we lean in.

37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2Peter 3:9 NIV

If we can all see the importance of leaning in to Jesus on a daily basis…if we can all see the blessings of leaning in to Jesus…if we can all see the benefits of leaning in to Jesus…if we can all just see how our very life…our survival and growth…depends on Jesus and His Word…we would intentionally choose to spend time with Him!

We cannot live our lives as Christians if we do not lean in to Jesus. Just as a plant must lean in to the light of the sun for survival, so too we must lean in to the Light of the Son to survive and thrive as Christians.

Lean in today…what’s holding you back?

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you leaning in to Jesus today?
  2. Do you lean in to Jesus on a daily basis…or only when you are facing a challenge in your life?
  3. What keeps you from leaning in and experiencing His presence?
  4. What are the blessings and benefits of leaning in to Jesus?

 

Action Points:

  1. Examine your daily life and see what may be keeping you from leaning in to Jesus and experiencing His presence. Pray and ask God to show you what changes you can make to allow you to lean in more. Many of us have a desire to lean in to Jesus, but we lack the discipline to do it. Ask God to strengthen you to make the necessary changes.
  2. Leaning in to Jesus is essential for our survival as Christians. It isn’t enough for us to lean in just when are facing a challenge in our lives. Jesus wants us to draw close to Him in our lives…all day everyday…and in every detail of our life, not just when we go through tough times.
  3. Leaning in to Jesus and His Word is nutrients and food for our souls…His Word is power and sustenance to our well-being…His Word is vital to not only our survival, but also our ability to thrive.
  4. When we lean in to Jesus and His light…When we draw close to Jesus and His Word…We experience His presence and it is through His presence that we will see His power…His provision…His protection…and His passion.
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Lean In

Summer is here! And I am very motivated this summer to keep my highly energetic boys busy! (Where they find their level of energy, I cannot begin to comprehend!)

So I recently took them out in our front yard to trim our plants, bushes, and trees. Fun, right?

Well, the boys actually had a blast as I trimmed and they raked and gathered the branches…placed them in the wheelbarrow…and dumped them curbside for our bulk trash pick-up that week.

As I trimmed plant after plant…bush after bush…tree after tree…I began to notice the branches had a tendency to lean in one particular direction. They were all actually leaning towards the sunlight.

I am sure that many of us are not surprised by this as we may have witnessed this with indoor plants that tend to lean in towards the light in the window.

Why do plants, bushes, and trees lean in towards sunlight?

This interesting phenomenon known as phototropism was explained by English naturalist Charles Darwin in the late 1800’s. He demonstrated that the growing shoot of a grass seedling always bends…leans in… towards light. Why?

Because green plants, bushes and trees make their food in the presence of sunlight by the process of photosynthesis. Feel like you’re getting taken back to grade school science class right now?!

Long story short…phototropism is a survival mechanism adopted by plants so that they can get as much light as possible. When plants lean in to sunlight…more photosynthesis can take place…allowing for more energy to be generated.

By leaning in toward the sunlight, plants draw closer to their source of power and energy so that they can receive the necessary nutrients to make food and grow. Without sunlight, they cannot survive.

Just as plants, bushes, and trees must lean in to sunlight for their power source to survive, we too as Christians, must lean in to Jesus as our power source…not just to survive…but to thrive in this world.

The word “survive” is defined as “to remain or continue to live; to endure or live through” while the word “thrive” is defined as “to grow or develop vigorously; flourish; prosper, advance, succeed.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to just survive…I want to thrive!

And so in order to not only survive, but also thrive as Christians, we must…not just believe and accept Jesus Christ in our lives…but also lean in to Jesus.

What does it actually mean to lean in to Jesus?

A great Biblical example of an individual who leaned in to Jesus is Mary…the “Mary” of the familiar Mary and Martha story in Luke 10:38-42.

38-40As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

So to simply break this down… Jesus comes to visit these sisters…Mary and Martha…at their house. Martha welcomes Jesus inside, but then she is pulled away and becomes busy getting things in order. And out of frustration, Martha interrupts Jesus and complains that her sister Mary has abandoned her and that He needs to basically tell Mary to help her out. And Jesus’ response?

“Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Hmm…Jesus sides with Mary in her choosing the one only essential thing…the main course.

In other words…Mary chose the most important thing…Mary chose what was best…Mary chose what was necessary.

While Martha was pulled away by busyness and preparations, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet drawing closer to Him… Mary was listening to Jesus…Mary was hanging on His every word… Mary was leaning in to Jesus.

She chose the main course! Jesus’ words were nutrients and food to her soul…His words were power and sustenance to her well-being…His words were vital to not only her survival, but also her ability to thrive.

Plants can only receive the necessary power that they need to survive by being in the presence of light…by leaning in to the sun.

And we too…as Christians…can only receive the necessary power that we need to survive by being in the presence of the Light…by leaning in to the Son…Jesus.

Mary experienced the presence of Jesus by leaning in to Him!

Are you leaning in to Jesus today?

Do you lean in to Jesus on a daily basis…or only when you are facing a challenge in your life?

What keeps you from leaning in and experiencing His presence?

Busyness…poor time management…a lack of prioritizing… a lack of discipline…maybe even a lack of desire can keep us from leaning in to Jesus.

Unbelief…lack of faith…even disobedience can also keep us from leaning in to Jesus.

Leaning in is really a choice.

Mary could have chosen to help Martha…but instead she chose what was essential…according to Jesus. She chose to lean in.

We too must choose whether we allow ourselves to be distracted or pulled away by people or the things in this world…or choose to draw closer to Jesus.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NLT

Leaning in to Jesus and His Word is nutrients and food for our souls…His Word is power and sustenance to our well-being…His Word is vital to not only our survival, but also our ability to thrive.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8 MSG

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; How blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 AMP

When we lean in to Jesus and His light…When we draw close to Jesus and His Word…We experience His presence and it is through His presence that we will see the blessings and benefits of leaning in.

His Power

We will see and experience His power when we lean in. We don’t need to keep trying to do things on our own or in our own strength. He will give us the power to say “no” to the things in this world that keep us from Him and the power to survive, thrive, prosper and fulfill our purpose and destiny as Christians in this world.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2Peter1:3

His Provision

We will see and experience His provision when we lean in. He sees and knows everything we need and when we lean in and trust in Him…He will provide.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

His Protection

We will see and experience His protection when we lean in. When we feel weak, afraid or overwhelmed, He will protect us when we lean in.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4NLT

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2Thessalonians 3:3 NASB

His Passion

We will see and experience His passion when we lean in. We will understand the very heart of Jesus and what He is passionate about and what He truly desires when we lean in.

37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2Peter 3:9 NIV

If we can all see the importance of leaning in to Jesus on a daily basis…if we can all see the blessings of leaning in to Jesus…if we can all see the benefits of leaning in to Jesus…if we can all just see how our very life…our survival and growth…depends on Jesus and His Word…we would intentionally choose to spend time with Him!

We cannot live our lives as Christians if we do not lean in to Jesus. Just as a plant must lean in to the light of the sun for survival, so too we must lean in to the Light of the Son to survive and thrive as Christians.

Lean in today…what’s holding you back?

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you leaning in to Jesus today?
  2. Do you lean in to Jesus on a daily basis…or only when you are facing a challenge in your life?
  3. What keeps you from leaning in and experiencing His presence?
  4. What are the blessings and benefits of leaning in to Jesus?

 

Action Points:

  1. Examine your daily life and see what may be keeping you from leaning in to Jesus and experiencing His presence. Pray and ask God to show you what changes you can make to allow you to lean in more. Many of us have a desire to lean in to Jesus, but we lack the discipline to do it. Ask God to strengthen you to make the necessary changes.
  2. Leaning in to Jesus is essential for our survival as Christians. It isn’t enough for us to lean in just when are facing a challenge in our lives. Jesus wants us to draw close to Him in our lives…all day everyday…and in every detail of our life, not just when we go through tough times.
  3. Leaning in to Jesus and His Word is nutrients and food for our souls…His Word is power and sustenance to our well-being…His Word is vital to not only our survival, but also our ability to thrive.
  4. When we lean in to Jesus and His light…When we draw close to Jesus and His Word…We experience His presence and it is through His presence that we will see His power…His provision…His protection…and His passion.

Are You Anchored?

My family and I recently ventured out on a boat at a nearby lake that was nestled in between the rocky desert mountains of Arizona. It was absolutely beautiful!

As I watched various speedboats, motorboats, and jet skiers whiz by us creating many rough and choppy waves…my eye caught a single anchored boat nearby.

The rough and choppy waves splashed up against this little boat causing it to shake and bounce, yet it didn’t move from its place. It remained steady and stable in the midst of all the activity around it because it was anchored.

As my eyes remained fixed on this boat, I began to ponder the ability of this anchor to keep the boat stable and steadfast.

An anchor is a metal device attached to a ship or boat by a cable or rope and cast overboard to hold it firmly in a particular place by means of hook-like arms that dig into the bottom of a lake or sea.

The purpose of an anchor is to stabilize a boat from drifting away …especially in heavy stormy weather.

The idea of this anchor prompted me to consider how we too need an anchor in our lives. We too need an anchor to keep us stable and steadfast…not only in the heavy storms of life…but also in the day to day of our lives.

Are you anchored? What anchors you each day?

In the Bible, the book of Hebrews talks about an anchor…an anchor that will keep us firm and secure…an anchor for our souls.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19 NIV

FYI…the “soul” can be described as the inner life of a person that represents a person’s thoughts, will, and emotions.

 

In order for an anchor to firmly grip the bottom of the waterbed, it must have good anchorage. In other words…the anchor needs to be embedded among rocks in order to hold fast to the bottom without slipping or dragging.

Just as a boat’s anchor needs to be embedded among the rocks…so too must our anchor be embedded among the rocks…really just one rock…the only rock…the rock of Jesus Christ.

And this anchor for our souls? It is hope…hope in Jesus Christ.

Is your soul anchored in the hope of Jesus Christ today? Are your thoughts…will…and emotions anchored in Christ on a daily basis?

As Christians, we can so easily allow our focus to drift away…We can so easily allow our thoughts…desires…and emotions to drift away from our anchor of hope…away from Jesus Christ.

Our Thoughts

Oh how easy it is for our minds to drift away!

I am sure we have all experienced days where our thoughts begin drifting away…drifting away from what is sound and reasonable…drifting away from what we know is true…drifting away from Jesus and His Word…And drifting to negative, unproductive thoughts…drifting to worry, fear, insecurity, discouragement…drifting to even sin.

I know you know what I am talking about!

It’s like your child comes home with an unusual skin rash…and you begin to google its description (by the way…never usually recommended) and after reading all the signs and symptoms from comments that other moms have posted (again not recommended) you have concluded that your child has an incurable disease!

Or you just lost your job and even before you have begun actually looking for another job you have concluded that you won’t be able to find a new job quick enough and your thoughts drift away to the inability to pay your bills and rent and you have concluded that you will be evicted!

This list of unrealistic…and sometimes ridiculous…scenarios is endless…isn’t it?!

Our thoughts must be anchored in Christ.

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. Isaiah 26:3AMP

Our Will

“Will” is defined as “a strong desire or determination to do something; a person’s choice or desire in a particular situation.”

Oftentimes we have hopes and desires to do something in our lives, but our will is just that…Our will!

We pursue our hopes and desires without praying about them and aligning them with Christ and His desires…without knowing if it’s even God’s will for us or our lives.

Our human nature is to do what we want to do…even if it’s a good thing…and we don’t even think about consulting our Creator.

God created each of us with a plan and a purpose in this life…So how can we not consult our Creator?

We may not want God’s will because we want our will more…and consequently we can find ourselves drifting away from God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Our will…our desires…must be anchored in Christ.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 MSG

Emotions

And how about those emotions? There are few women who don’t show much emotion but most women struggle with controlling their emotions. I know I do sometimes!

Emotions are not necessarily bad. God created us as women to have emotions but we must learn to control them. If we don’t take hold of them, we will find ourselves allowing our emotions to control our actions and reactions…and even control our day!

And for you moms out there with kids…you know how quickly your patience is tested by your children which may eventually lead to overwhelming frustrations…causing actions and reactions that may not be pleasing to God.

Our emotions must be anchored in Christ.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV

The heart is deceitful above all things. And it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives? Jeremiah 17:9 AMP

So how can we daily anchor our thoughts, will, and emotions in Christ?

Now remember, there is a cable or rope (in nautical terms this is called a “rode”) that attaches the anchor to the boat. This rope is very important because an anchor is not effective unless it has a strong cable or rope.

When the anchor is dropped over the edge of the boat, the anchor is no longer seen. It is trust in the strength of this rope that gives you assurance that the anchor will keep the boat firm and steadfast.

And this rope for us as Christians is faith!

Faith connects us to our anchor hope!

Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 BSB

What is so amazing is another interesting aspect of the anchor called the scope. For all you mathematicians out here… this one’s for you!

The scope is “the ratio of the length of rode(rope) to water depth. Anchoring with sufficient scope brings the direction of strain close to parallel with the seabed.”

In other words…this means that you want a tight scope. It isn’t good to have a lot of slack in the rope. The greater the slack in the rope, the greater the boat’s ability to move and drift  and become less stable.

Again, we are talking about how we can be anchored in Christ.

Our faith becomes stronger the closer we stay to our hope…the closer we stay to Christ. We don’t want any slack in our faith!

But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19 NLT

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… Hebrews 10:22 NIV

In order for us to be anchored in Christ, we must stay close to Him. Keeping close to Him through prayer and daily Bible reading/study is essential in keeping our thoughts, will, and emotions anchored on a daily basis…as well as in the tough stormy seasons of life.

If we are not anchored in Christ, we will drift…drift away from our very source of stability, security, and steadfastness.

Stay anchored in Christ today! He is the ONLY hope that is immoveable!

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19 NIV

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you anchored?
  2. What anchors you each day?
  3. Is your soul anchored in the hope of Jesus today?
  4. Are your thoughts…will…and emotions anchored in Christ on a daily basis?
  5. How can we daily anchor our thoughts, will, and emotions in Christ?
  6. Why is scope so important?

Actions Points:

  1. We cannot rely on people or things to be anchored in our lives. People and things will come and go. We must be anchored firmly on the rock of Jesus Christ. When we are anchored, we will experience stability and steadfastness…not just in the heavy storms of life…but also in the day to day of our lives. The anchor for our souls is hope in Jesus Christ.
  2. Our thoughts, will, and emotions must be anchored in Christ. If we are not anchored, we can so easily allow our focus to drift away. We can so easily allow our thoughts…desires…and feelings to drift away from our anchor of hope…away from Jesus Christ.
  3. We can anchor our thoughts, will, and emotions on a daily basis through our faith. Because it is our faith that connects us to our hope! It is our faith that connects us to Jesus!
  4. Scope is so important because the greater the slack in the rope, the greater the boat’s ability to move and become less stable. Our faith becomes stronger the closer we stay to our hope…the closer we stay to Christ. Keeping close to Him through prayer and daily Bible reading/study will strengthen our faith and keep us stable and secure no matter what comes our way!