Category: Bible thinkin’

I Wanted Us to Suffer a Little, Then I Saw a Tree and Changed My Mind.

IMG_7399Just above me is a giant tree in our backyard. Growing up in Oklahoma the giant trees were few and far between, and were put on display at Christmas and people drove from miles around to take a look. Here, in Tennessee the trees are quite different. The rise so tall that you hurt your neck looking up for too long. They cover the landscape like a blanket and provide shelter and shade for everything below them.

Trunks so large it takes arms and arms to reach around.

treehugThey sway in the breeze and climb the hills together to display their gold and orange change every fall.

tree4fall

They are wonderous.

There is a verse in Revelation that has been tucked in my heart for over a decade

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

trees in sun

I sit under that tree in my backyard many times a week. I look up at it and that verse runs through my mind as I stare at the thousands of leaves whispering over my head. “How are the leaves the healing of the nations?” I don’t know, but I do know scripture says it. I also know that is Psalm 1 a righteous man is compared to a tree by living water. And although Jesus said he is the root of the vine, why not be the root of the trees? Would that not be a stretch to think that the leaves are….us? 

Are we the leaves that are to be the healing of the nations?

He is healer, no doubt, but we are the messengers, the ambassadors, the one reliant on the root of the vine, where we are admonished to be “root and established in love.” Rooted. Roots that go down into someone who provides all we need for life. Roots so deep that when they are threatened, they cannot be uprooted, even when storms shake and whip the tops.

tree in storm

What if when we are rooted and established in love, even though he slay us, we never stop trusting him? What if our roots were the only thing that kept us from dying in the worst of times? What if our roots in Christ, though we are pruned and changed, we grew stronger and more powerful as a whole collective?

natchez

treepath2

 

I wanted, for awhile, to be really upset with the Church, not a particular church (notice the capital “C”) but at the church of America. I was even thinking “Bring on persecution! It will only cause us to grow! We deserve a little tough times. We don’t know what persecution is! Let the storms come and cut us down a bit. Let the lightning strike and strip us of our pride!”

Angry

Bitter

Arrogant

Then I realized that the church of Acts, when persecuted was scattered. Scattered like ants when their little ant piles are messed with. Scattered like roaches when the lights come on. They, our first brothers and sisters, were forced out of homes and displaced by persecution. Much like what is happening even now to our brothers and sisters.

Then I looked at the tree and wondered, “So, what happened between the times of persecution?” What happened as they rebuilt their lives and started again? What did they do?”

 

They grew.

treepathShe discipled. She spread the gospel. She took care of her own. She fed the poor and took care of the sick. She supplied food and money to missionaries and housed them when they returned. She prayed for each other and encouraged them in Christ. She met for communion and eating, and I’m sure, laughter and tears.

She healed nations.

Now, we sit in a nation, one that is sick and dying, and I’ve wanted the Church of America to feel the pain our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing, but have realized what an awful thing that is. I only meant it like how we talk to our kids “When I was your age!” as though our experiences might make them different. I wanted the experiences of others who were persecuted to guilt the American church into feeling bad about herself, and maybe even wanted us to “suffer” a little more and grow up.

There might be some truth in that. We have a tendency to be spoiled. Our freedom has made us comfortable and we can easily miss the suffering around the world, but that’s not true for all of us.

Obviously

tree5

We have more than a great opportunity here. We have a great gift, obligation, responsibilty as the Church to be the turning tide of our Nation, and to be the ones who fund other other nations to take care of the displaced, the refugee, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. We, as millions of believers in Jesus, have the time, resources, technology, and freedom to be those healing leaves, not only to the world, but to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our politicians, to our enemies.

No more do I say, “Bring on the persecution and watch us scatter!” No, I say,

Bring on the Holy Spirit and watch us explode!

I pray the prayer of the founding Church,

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

And I pray, that through our unity, the same thing will happen among us:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We still live in a free country. We still have the freedom to pray and gather and stand up in boldness. Not in anger, not out of guilt, but in a great unity of believers, full of love and hope and faith, so that we will be filled with the Spirit to expand the kingdom. While we are in this freedom, let us not squander it. I pray we take advantage of it.

IMG_2995

And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22

 

You Do Not Believe God

photo 1-4Pick a table, any table. Or a couple of chairs. Or a couch. Maybe a restaurant. Just pick someplace where you have sat with or sat across from someone and you’re talking about God, His Word, what He has done, who Jesus is, prayer, etc. I’ve been here many times and heard something like this:

I just don’t know if God loves me.
I’m not sure God hears me when I pray.
I don’t know if God has a plan for me.
I still feel so guilty.
Why would God want to save me.
I don’t think God really cares about what is happening to me.
I’m not sure I can change.
I’ll never understand the Bible.
I’m just not gifted.

Ever heard or said any of these? Raise your hand.

To the person who has not followed Jesus ever, or the one that maybe has just become a believer, you can just go back to browsing or Instagram. This isn’t for you.

For you, the one who has been in church a thousand times, who has been a professed follower of Jesus for more than 5 years, who has sat in Bible study, gone to the conferences, read the books, watched the videos, listened to your pastor, had lunch with your Godly friends, I need you to keep reading. If you still say those things up there, or something similar and are still living in those kinds of thought processes, I have one thing to say to you.

You do not believe God.

I can only say that to you from experience, from facing what ever string of sentences I would say over and over to Him and to others, and then realizing that, according to the Word of God, I did not actually believe Him nor take Him at His word.

When I would say, “God doesn’t see me. I’m overlooked” I was actually professing that I didn’t believe what Scripture is crystal clear on. I was actually allowing what I felt to determine what I believed and how I then behaved. I was saying to God, “I know what your Word says, but because I have baggage, brought on by humans, I will go ahead with my tender broken feelings and believe that You act the same way, instead of taking You at Your Word and allowing Your Holy Spirit to transform me according to it.”

And you are doing the same thing.

Whatever line you say to yourself, or others, that is in direct opposition to the Truth of God’s Word is unbelief. It’s not that God has a problem, or that you need to work through something…again. It is that you need a face to face with God on your unbelief.

There is no pastor, no conference, no book, no self-help article that will convince you of what you’re dealing with. You’ve heard it a thousand times and then still…you wonder. It’s time for you to stop that. Get on your knees and confess your unbelief. Tell Jesus of how you have chosen to follow Him, but then have also chosen what to believe and not to believe. When you do this, when you say to Him, “Your Word says _____________, but I believe _______________, and I now chose to believe Your Word, regardless of how I feel, and let your Holy Spirit transform me” you will begin to see yourself become unattached to that unbelief. It will be replaced with a Truth fashioned by the Holy Spirit in you, for the Word of God teaches the Jesus is the Author and Perfector of our faith.

Believer, follow of Christ, rise up in faith! Look to the Word of God and believe it! If you say you have been found by God and have chosen to believe and follow Him, then take the whole package of faith! Let Him be all your fulfillment in faith! Believe Him and move on from your hang-ups and tragic lines of false belief. Our God has made plain in His Word an answer for every need you have. His name is Jesus and He has a plan in you to make His name famous in all nations.

Our enemy would like us to be so self-engrossed, so introspective, so ready for the next “fix” that we fail to see our true purpose here on earth: to know God and to go and make disciples. 

To know God is to be known by Him and there we find complete and joyful satisfaction. In that, we are compelled to go, go to our neighbors, help send others to the ends of the earth, or go ourselves.

We are not saved to sit and wonder if God’s Word is true. We are saved because a great and awesome God made a way for us to be delivered from death in Jesus Christ. This is the God you have said yes to and He is faithful to His Word.

Will you believe?
What lines do you repeat that mark your unbelief?

The “Be still and know that I am God” verse…and the part we overlook.

IMG_5414I like God. I mean I really like God. And, I like what the church teaches about God when it comes to me and my feelings. I like knowing He is good and kind and will give me peace. I love to feel His presence and know that He sees me and lives in me. I really, really like that about God.

I like knowing I’m saved and will live forever with Him. I like knowing I’m blessed and have the promises of God at my disposal. I like being called a daugher of a King and a chosen one. I like knowing Jesus is my Savior and my brother and that we already sit with Him in heaven. I really like knowing that this body will one day be awesome.

I love the idea of having God given dreams and goals. Good ideas. I like seeing people help other people who need it; hungry, lonely, old, rejected. I like seeing them know that Jesus loves them and died for them.

I like knowing I can pray to God anytime, anywhere, and I like knowing He hears me at all times. It’s like when my little kids come to me, I know they want something and I love that. It’s the same with God, and that makes me happy. I like knowing He will give me wisdom when I ask for it, and grow my faith. I like knowing He is a God of compassion and holiness.

All that makes me feel good, safe, protected.

All of those wonderful things, promised and real, are the most predominant thoughts in my life, and yet, there is a danger in that.

WHAT? What, you say?

Do you like this verse? “Be still and know that I am God;”?

I do. How many times have you heard that in context of needing peace or comfort? How many times has it been preached for when you need to calm down and reflect? How many times have you (and I) used it to get a grip or force ourselves to think about God and not ourselves (which is impossible, by the way. We cannot think of God and not think of ourselves, but that’s a different post.)

I mean, it says “Be still and know that I am God;” but there is more. There’s even a semi-colon at the end of that phrase indicating, “Hey, there’s more here. Keep reading.” But how many placards, posters, pictures, cards, Instagrams, Facebook posts do we just see the “Be still and know that I am God”? And man, we like that. The feeling that comes over us, and we sigh, and smile and keep going.

But what comes after that semi-colon? Do you know? Here, let me show you…Psalm 46:10 (the whole verse)

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The words, “Be still” don’t really mean, “Hey, calm down, breathe in deep, look at the sky and think about how God is God or how good He is to you.” Those words indicate, “Enough!” or “Stop!”. They also mean “to sink, to drop, relax, sink down, be disheartened” and know.

In other words, this isn’t a verse for us to say over and over in our heads so we can bring our heart rate down and hope to God our day goes better. This is a verse with much more powerful implications and more of a wake up call to God and His purposes, rather than a call for us to calm down and take a breather. It is His own words calling out that our enemies will be silenced and know He is God. It is His own words calling out to His people to stop and sink into His greatness in the world. To realize and feel the weight of this thing of global glorification. It is a heavy, awesome, and powerful thing.

When God says, “Be still, Enough! Stop! and know that I am God” and then says, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”, I don’t see anything that has to do with me getting a word from God, or a peaceful sensation coming over me that everything will be okay. I also do not see that verse having really anything to do with me… or us. I see that is has everything to do with God, and His declaration of Himself. It is a call to sink down in ourselves and know that He is the world-saving, all-knees-will-bow God. A call not to stop and sigh and reflect on what God means to us, but a call to stop and contemplate and understand what God means to the world and what He will expect from it.

In our self-centered, modern day, Americanized church, we have fashioned a culture around the wonderful and powerful things of God that make us feel good about ourselves.

We even take verses out of context and make them pacifiers. God is not a pacifier, He is a mighty, powerful, wrathful, you’re-saved-by-my-Son God!

He is a satisfier, on His terms, and for His glory. 

This Gospel promises peace, yes, but that does not mean we have carefree lives. (this makes us squeamish).

This Gospel promises that I will be filled with the Spirit of Christ, but not just for my introspection and calculated goals of trying to be like Christ (but, we have crap to fix, I know, except we can’t fix them, and around we go.)

This Gospel promises that He is great things planned for us, but only when it has to do with the expansion of His Kingdom (we kinda miss this and call it dreams).

This Gospel comes with the Spirit of God, given to us for the task of making disciples. Oh! The wonder that comes with His Spirit is beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our interaction and grasp! But, He is not for us to just feel okay and sane. He is in us for His name’s sake. He doesn’t change us for just our own satisfaction (though, that is amazing!), but He changes us for His glorification, for His name’s sake.

His name’s sake.

His.

And His alone.

We must wake up as a church, stop stuffing ourselves with self-helps and fattening ourselves on what makes us feel good. Only Christ can do that, but it comes with a calling, a command. It comes with the charge of taking Christ to the nations. It’s not a good idea, it’s His idea, His plan, His goal… and it will happen.

“Be still. (Enough! stop! Feel the weight. Know.) that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

Do you read it a little different now? Me too. And I like it.
Now, what do we do about it?
What do I do about it? Still working on that, and I like that too.

God Talking

photo-3How many times have you sorta looked around after “hearing” something that might be from God and mumbled, chin down, in your chest, “Uhh, was that You or me?” Raise your hand. Me too.

But, you see, I’ve come to the place when I know He is talking to me. I mean, I’ve come to a place (though His teaching and my humility) that I can discern when He is speaking, probably about 88.7% of the time. I’m not bragging, I’m just telling you where I have come with Christ.

If I tell people that I hear God, I usually get a few responses:

“He doesn’t do that with me.”
“How do you knooooowww it’s Him?”

Or I don’t get a response, but more of a look. A look like, “Wait. You hear Him?” or, more of an inquisitive look like someone is trying to read more on my face than what is coming out of my mouth. Sometimes I get the “Yeah, right.” look. I don’t like those people so I give them the stink eye back.

Intimacy.
Hearing God.
Knowing His voice and His will for us.

How did I get here? Funny you should ask.

Time. Years. Months. Days. Hours. Minutes. Days. Days. Days. I’m not saying it takes years to hear the Father. I’m saying it takes building a relationship and knowing the Word of God. That takes time.

Study. I not only studied the Bible, but I read books on prayer and, more importantly, the Holy Spirit. A good one to read is by Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit. If you know me, you’re not surprised that I mention him…again.

Quiet. It takes a settling of the mind. A turning in to the belief that you have the Holy Spirit of God in you. In that quietness, you will pave the way to knowing when He is speaking to you and when you are having a conversation with yourself. (On that note. Sometimes, a rational conversation with what seems to be yourself, is probably the Holy Spirit. I’ll often ask myself, “Could I have thought of that or ministered to myself in that way?” Usually, when the answer if no, then the Holy Spirit is speaking.)(Sometimes talking to yourself is just that. And that’s cool. I do that all the time. “Where are my keys?” I ask. “I don’t know,” I say. “Dang,” we say together.)

Faith. These things are in faith. Faith. F A I T H. Not feeling. Not even understanding, nor knowledge. Faith. Something I learned was that faith didn’t always equal a feeling that went along with it; nor did a feeling mean I was full of faith. Faith is a “yes” to what God says regardless of how we feel about it, or how we feel period. Yes, there are emotions, thank God, and yes, the Spirit of God produces emotions in us, but He resides in our spirit, in the deep, unseen spiritual places where emotion is only a by-product, not a litmus test. He lives and dwells in the mystery, so waiting for your emotions to prove that is not faith. I had to learn to trust that He was doing His work, and then I could trust that I would have those things promised.

Are you willing to take God at His word when He says:
You have the mind of Christ? (1 Cor. 2:16)
Or, that you can know His will? (Rom 12:2)
Or that you can walk in step with the Spirit? (Gal. 5:25)
Or that the Spirit of Christ dwells in you reminding you of all Christ taught? (John 14:26)
Or that He is the Counselor, counseling you in wisdom and truth? (John 14:26, John 16:13)
Or that you have Him because you believed, not because you obey the law? (Gal. 3:5)
Or that you can live by the Spirit and not be full of sin? (Gal. 5:16).
Or that you have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know God better? (Eph.1:17).

 

These four things cultivated a heart, mind and spirit in me that can hear and receive Word from God. I will say this, my primary knowledge of God’s will and His heart and what His requirements are of me and the Church come from His Word. The Holy Spirit cannot do His work within our lack of knowledge of the Word of God. Nor will the Word of God be able to do the penetrating work of change and power in us without the Holy Spirit.

I would challenge you to explore these four things for yourself. Add journaling in there, for sure.

Through this, you will find that you are less worried about your future, more comfortable in your own skin, sure of your purpose, and happy in your relationship with God.

Signs and Omens Aren’t the Holy Spirit

Blank Billboard Sign by RoadI look for signs and omens. You probably do too, but you might not know it, or you might not want to admit it. In the church we call it ” confirmation from the Spirit” or  “a word from the Lord”. Wait a minute, wait a minute, missy! I am TRYING to follow God’s will here and I’m TRYING to hear from Him and I’m TRYING to do my best to hear what he might have to say to me.

I know. And I want you to stop. We cannot look for signs and omens. Danger is afoot when we do.

I have been a follower of Jesus for a very long time. I have been to church pert near out of the womb, youth-grouped myself into oblivion, and went to Bible college where I met and married a pastor. You’d think that after all these years of Bible knowledge (and I have it in spades) that “hearing” the voice of God, or knowing His will would be second nature. You’d think, that because I know a lot about the Bible and what’s in it that this life would be an easy peasy walk in the Garden of Life from here on out.

Not the case.

So we search and wonder and look for God to confirm things on commercials and billboards on the highway. We close our eyes, sigh a prayer, and flop open the Bible to see if maybe, just maybe, He spoke to us. Then we are disappointed and kind of mad when we land on the land allotments to the twelve tribes. We might hear someone say something that we have been “praying about” and be like, “Yep. That was for me. I hear ya God” as if He is some sort of side-lined crowd member trying to yell over the noise.

Anyone?

We are desperate to hear the voice of the Spirit and we often wonder, “Is that my voice or His? How can I tell?” We want to know that we know that we have the Spirit of God speaking to us, teaching us and living in us because we have all these evidences.

But, that’s not faith. 

Having the assurance that what Jesus said about the Spirit living in us begins with taking Him at His word regardless of how we feel or what we think we hear or don’t hear. Jesus didn’t say that the Holy Spirit would come to us and we would know because we felt pretty awesome on the inside. He said that Holy Spirit would dwell in us and that His dwelling comes by faith, not feeling.

God always dwells in the deepest place He drops in on. The inner-inner room of the old Temple (called the Holy of Holies) was His first place of mystery. Sacred. Shrouded in incense. Heavy with holiness. The exact place His glory would fall. Then, by His Spirit, He dwelt among us in the mystery of the God/man Jesus. And now, the greatest mystery of all, His Spirit now lives in us. Sacred. Kept in heaven. Heavy with holiness. We should not think that He will act the way we do, or operate the way we want Him to, or talk to us like we think would be best. He is the Unique Mystery is doing His work, His way, and all we have to do it believe it.

That’s it.

Believe it. Faith in the hope of what is Unseen is the very thing that will unlock what you think you need from the Spirit (because what you think you need might not at all be what you need. Let go of what you think you need.) We must believe that because Jesus said He will teach us everything, and that He is the power of God, and that He knows the mysteries of God’s mind and we have that mind, that it is TRUE! And with that knowledge of that holiness, we are free to release ourselves from trying to figure Him out, or trying to make our spiritual lives some sort of well balanced mess.

We can’t.

We must just believe in His life in us. He will take it from there as we go in faith to His Word, as we go in prayer to His feet, as we walk and talk with our friends. He is there.

Andrew Murray says this:

When contemplating the promise of the Spirit, Christians want some idea as to how His leading is known in their thoughts; how His quickening affects their feelings; how His sanctifying can be recognized in their will and conduct. They need to be reminded that deeper than mind, feeling, and will, deeper that the soul, where these have their seat, in the depths of the spirit that came from God, there the Holy Spirit comes to dwell.*

We are free to let God do the work, all the work of making us holy, of making us like Christ. We bow in humble willingness to be at our weakest so He can be our strength. We move to self-denial, and we walk away from using our minds and flexing our muscles of knowledge to feel out Christ and His life in us. He gave us the life, we can no more make it do what we want than we can make the sun stop setting. (I am not saying we don’t use our minds. I’m saying we stop relying on our minds to assure us of His presence. He said He dwells in us, we must believe it in faith.)

We are literally at His mercy. Let us stay there. Begin now with a simple acknowledgment of His presence in you. Don’t look to “feel” anything or “experience” anything or receive anything outside of the sweet belief that He has condescended into your deep spirit, and has come to bring His light all the time.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Believe it and you will find that He is your soul’s occupant, your mind’s fixation and your heart’s bliss.

 

*Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit 

“He Doesn’t Talk to Me!” said the 4 year old.

I’ve decided that working out is the right thing to do. So much so I now have a personal trainer. Yes, I’m that cool. Truth be known, I have her for two reasons. 1. I do not know a whole lot about working out. 2. She’s one of my besties here in Nashville and we laugh…a lot. So, she is my frainer. My friend trainer. Or my Triend. Whatever, stop trying to blend words, Nat.

So, we meet about every other week for her to put me through hell with our friend Jaime. She sends us off heaving and sweating and with a new workout schedule for the week. Super. All week I have her to blame for burpies, squats, hard card on the treadmill that includes hills, big ones. It’s what you think it is. Hard freaking work.

One fine day, before it got to the unbearable temperature of 80, I was working out on my patio. My four year old darling little boy came looking for me. I was in the middle of something painful when he sat on the chair and said, “Mom, why you always gotta work out?” My mind raced for a better answer than, “Well, honey, because since I had you I can’t lose a dang pound and mommy feel like a lardo most days.” Hmmmm, what to say? What to say?

I said, “Honey, I do this so I can be healthy and strong so I can do all God wants me to do.” Listen people, that is the truth. I do want to have a body that works well and stays strong so I can complete anything God tells me. And that is what I will teach my children. What I say to my girlfriends may be something totally different.

He then asked, “How do you know what God wants you to do?”

Huh? Come again? Aren’t you four!?

“Well, He tells me” I said. It didn’t but barely slip through my lips when he quickly and with a slightly irritated edge snapped, “Well He doesn’t tell me!”

Completely taken off guard and let out a laugh and then said, “He will sweetie. He will use Daddy and Me to help you and He will use the Bible….” I didn’t get much further than that and he was outta there.

You ever feel that way? Like God isn’t telling you anything or talking to you? I know. I get it.

Here’s the deal. Just because you can’t hear Him or feel Him or see Him doesn’t mean that His powerful Holy Spirit isn’t at work at all times. We underestimate the power of God in our lives and think it’s regulated by our emotions and situations. We tend to think that by some power of ours, whether it be a bad day or a hard season, that we have shut God up and off. We think our immature emotional roller coasters have the power to derail the One who raised Jesus from the dead. Let’s pull that bad boy back for a min. We do not carry that kind of weight or power. He is always at work. Always speaking. It is His very Word at this moment keeping your heart pumping. It is by His limitless power that you breathe your next breath. He is your very breath. He may be quiet, but He is not absent. May we never be so bold to think that God ever owes us an explanation or even another Word. Tough, I know.

When you have times where you are struggling to hear God, may I challenge you?

Stop everything.

Stop working at hearing Him. Stop reaching out and craning your neck to maybe hear His voice. Stop looking for signs and omens. Cease the work of straining to hear the Holy Spirit. Stop and be still. It may be for a day, it could be months. For whatever reason, either you can’t hear Him, or He has chosen to quiet Himself, you are not without the power of the Holy Spirit. Your humble spirit before Him may be just what you need and He honors. Your quiet heart before the most loving God might be all it takes for whatever to change. A heart of worship rather than a demand for an answer might be what you need to work on. Me too. His Holy Spirit knows His mind, the mysteries of all eternity rest in Him. We must learn to wait and wonder and awe at Him…even if He were never to speak again.

Sometimes, the darkest places bring the greatest revelation of Him, not us.

And I will give you the treasures of darkness and  hidden riches of secret places, so that you may know that is it I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name. Isaiah 45:3

God’s Plan or Purpose for You?

Knowing God’s plan for you is secondary to knowing God’s purpose for you — to become like Christ, know God, and glorify Him. (Romans 8:29 and John 17:3)

I have a purpose in life.

Don’t we all? I really have more of a purpose idea. Not even a statement, just an idea. Lord knows I’ve asked Him a hundred times to show me my great purpose in life. And He has. So, what do I mean by that statement up there? Well, we Christians have a ton of advice, books, blogs, programs, tests, and activities that help up seek and find what we think God’s plan/calling/passion is for our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally love it and totally believe in it and totally have done all said things. But here’s what’s happened with me: I let the plan (or “purpose”) of my life, with all the wondering about it, the planning for it, the watching for it, the waiting for it, get in the way of God’s ultimate purpose for my life.

His purpose is three fold:

Become like Christ

Know Him

Glorify Him

This is where it gets tricky. Those three things up there require absolute abandonment. There is no working hard to know God. There are no action steps to a successful relationship. There are no goal sheets or financial spreadsheets. It is an act of abandonment to the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things about God through Jesus.

To become like Christ is a millions acts of abandonment to self over and over and over and over until it becomes habitual and natural to bend to God’s will, rather than ours.

To glorify Him actaully seems to come more easily and naturally. We want Him to have all the glory. We want His name lifted high. However, sometimes what we want is that glory to come in the way we want it too. I know it does for me. I abandon again.

And then there’s the question of what does it mean to “become like Christ.” Well, that’s what we must seek in His word and in Godly counsel. Some of the things are see just flipping through the Bible. He is merciful, compassionate, straight forward, wise, knowledgeable, keen, sharp, loving, tender, aware, giving. There are so many things about Jesus that we will be conformed to, but it’s between you and the Spirit as to what He needs to do to you, in you, and through you.

The point is, which do you seek more: God’s purpose for you or His plan for you? 

Once we learn to put aside the self-crazed desire to know the “plan” and humble ourselves to the Purpose, we will see the plan very clearly. And we never know, it might not be at all what we had in mind, but it will most certainly bring Him the greatest glory and us the most satisfaction.

I’d like to change my statement to “I have a purpose in life, to become like Christ, know God, and give Him all the glory, and, thankfully, He’s let me in on a really great plan while I’m at it.”

May we abandon ourselves to the glorious and beautiful purpose of God!

Glory on the Mountain and in the Valley

I’ve just finished a 40 day fast. These are the thoughts.

I’ve been on many mountain tops. I mean, real ones included and it ain’t easy to get up there. Being a flat-lander climbing a mountain is no small task. Being a flat-lander with limited exercise (not because I’m incapable, I’m just lazy) trying to climb a mountain is ridiculous. Still, all the heaving and near vomit moments are worth it in the end. My raisin sized lungs start to relax a little once I find a tree stump and sit a spell.

The view is spectacular and the air is clean and crisp. I can see for miles.

Focused.
Peaceful.

The Mountaintop.

The funny thing about growing up in the church is that everyone went on and on about how “We can’t stay on the mountaintop. We’ve got to come down back into reality. Get in the valley where it’s hard. You know, those worship moments are just mountaintop experiences. Not real life.”

Wait, did you not just see me HEAVE getting up to that mountain top experience? That was no joy ride. That was my most difficult work EVER! What do you mean I need to come back down to reality? Where? Where you are? Where you sit around and make judgements of those climbing the mountain? Can’t you see they are striving for glory? HIS glory. You? You’re just getting fat on your Porch of Complacency in the valley.

Getting down to that valley? Shoot, that’s easy…

just lie down…

and roll.

No effort. No work. Just lie there. The valley will come to you.

I believe, however, there is a different Valley. One that is as real as the Mountaintop. This Valley is the one we worked just as hard to come back down to. We leave the Mountain, grab our walking stick, and head back down. In this Valley we must get back to work. Back to fighting the locals who bring us the temptations of Irritability, Worry, Contempt, Bitterness. This Valley is real, but no picnic. In the Valley, we must always be looking to the Mountain from where our help comes from. Look to the Mountain and plan when we will make the long journey back up there.

I’d like to stay on the mountaintop. It’s harder to get to. Requires more of me. Forces me to focus on the goal and keep going. I’m leaner and stronger because of the mountain. The slippery slope, crumbling rocks, prickly trees, and darkness in the forest keep me alert and mindful. The pain in my body urges me to move because rest is coming. The rest is at the top, not the bottom. If I’ve hit bottom in the valley, that is no time to rest. Still, at the top, we choose which valley to go to. Do we tuck and roll in to the valley of Discontentment and Laziness? Or, do we take a deep breath, tighten up our shoe strings, grab our stick and start walking into the Valley of Grace.

Highs and lows don’t have to mean we’ve been taken for a ride. They can mean we worked hard for both.

We look like Moses on the mountain and like Jesus in the Valley.

It is in both you find the Glory.

 

Honor

I thought I got honor. I mean, I tear up with the rest of us when the military gets an applause in the airport. That is certainly honor. Mercy. That gets me.

I love standing for someone and clapping for them.

I love telling my husband he is an amazing father and husband.

I love sticking up for people.

I love doctors and teachers and emergency workers.

I love people who risk their lives for others.

I love telling my kids how amazing they are.

Honor.

So, now that we have that covered, I recently was shown something by God pertaining to honor. It’s super easy to have honor for those listed (and others) but something I haven’t shown much honor in is the, well, more secret places.

my time
my thoughts
what I feed my body

Websters Dictionary says this about honor:

1. High respect, esteem
2. a privilege
3. “honor implies the acknowledgment of a person’s right to be honored”

So, I have to ask myself, Is there anything in my life that is from God (who is the highest and worthy of all honor) that I do not honor, hold in high respect, esteem, consider a privilege?

The answer? Yes.

If God is the highest in my life who deserves all honor in all areas, then I have to take a look at what areas I’m lacking in in honor.  He is after His own glory, His own honor, and so should I be. Because, when I make that my primary objective then…. well, just read this little gem of a scripture.

“Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.” Exodus 20:24b

Wow. Wherever He is honored then He will be and He will bless. Makes me want to make sure I am honoring Him in all ways.

What about you? Any areas you can think of where your honor to God might be, let’s say, a little less than?

Every Spiritual Blessing?

During Bible Study last Thursday we looked at Ephesians 1 where it says we have every spiritual blessing in Christ. So, I got out the white board and together we made a list of what we knew to be spiritual gifts in Christ. Once we got started, we got on a roll.

Here’s what we came up with then I added the Scripture later.

Then I got home and thought of some more.

Then I posed the question: If we can see this truth, why do we not live like it’s true?

I can tell you, it’s made me think. You?