I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Their Best Self

IMG_7653Counter-cultural title isn’t it?

Sounds like I don’t want my kids to be awesome and amazing and stand out and be successful.

Truthfully?

I don’t.

In a society where the best rises to the top and the others are left scrambling trying to gain altitude with those we see as successful, I, as a parent and someone who follows Christ, have to step back and ask, “Is this what the people of God should also be about?”

Should we be telling our kids to be the best version of themselves and go and be successful and “you can do anything you put your mind to’? 

I guess, if in the context of an American Dream society, that sounds pretty good.

However, in the context of people who believe in a God greater than them and has His own plans, those statements do not fit.

Let me clarify some things. I do want my kids to be successful, society contributing individuals that are secure and strong, loving and gracious. However, I do not want my kids to believe that they are the center of their universe and that their gifts and talents are a gift to the world.

I want them to know that the best version of themselves is the less version of themselves. Here, and only here, can they be available to be the best broken vessel for Christ.

 

What I want my kids to understand is this:

They are the “light of the world.” Not their own light, but a conduit of His great and marvelous light that brings people out of darkness. Their “light” is not their own. Matthew 5; Phil 2:12-16; John 1:3-9

They have access to the Almighty God who hears them when they pray, not just for their own asks, but for an intimate relationship with Him so that they know their role in His story, know His heart, and have the fullness of the Spirit. Matthew 6; John 17:3; Ephesians 2

Their humility leads to His greatness in them. A model of humility makes a greater impact than talking about it. These things I want for my children must first be what I want for myself. John 3:30

They are filled with the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and to have all they need in Him. Not for just giving them a sense of a better self, or that He died so they feel better about themselves, but so that they are a whole being, ready for their calling for His kingdom work, brave and true to the Truth. 1 Corinthians 2

There is no dream of God’s put in them that doesn’t not first give and bring Him all the glory, and second, would make them think they had the power to do it in and of themselves for their glory and success. 2 Thess. 1:11

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Their life might not be so easy in the Church here in America as the years pass. Our concept and easy way of doing life here in America could see it’s last days in their lifetime. They will be equipped for a dark world and not ill-equipped because I inadvertently made them think this life was for their benefit and comfort or that I didn’t take what is happening around us seriously. 2 Tim. 1:8-12

Their weakness and failings are not something they should try and remedy. I’m not saying they should wallow in sin and weakness and be big, fat babies about stuff, but we tend to believe that if we have a weakness, we should get rid of it.

 

“Citius. Altius. Fortius.”

“Just Do It”

“If you believe, you can achieve”

“Be all that you can be”

The Word of God teaches to get rid of sin, but boast in weakness. That takes some training to know the difference between the two. One (sin) is covered by the blood of Jesus, the other (weaknesses) are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to be and do what we cannot be and do ourselves. This is a far cry from being our “best self” when our “best self” is ridiculously weak and sinful. The more I teach my kids to rely in faith on the Holy Spirit to do and be all they need, the less they will work for themselves.
1 Thess 5:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Romans 8:26-27

When they spend themselves on behalf of others and not on themselves, they will find wholeness and healing. When the majority of their time and thoughts are about alleviating the suffering of others and not pacifying a need for more stuff or recognition, then they will know the heart of God. Isaiah 58

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These are just a few of the things I see that is very counter-culture (even in the Church, albeit I think it’s not been on purpose) that I want my kids to know and understand and live out. I can be caught up in a world that says I deserve things and should have things and that if I have faith I will be wealthy (okay, some of this stuff is on purpose in the church), and that I should get what I want and be who I want and be the best at all of that.

This is not what Christ taught or even emulated.

This is not what his disciples taught or emulated.

This is not what the early church lived or perpetuated.

We have a gift of a great country (America) that has been given the gift of wealth and influence, not for ourselves to make castles for ourselves and drive the best and wear the best, but we are the extension of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As the people of God, our blessings as a nation, but more importantly as a church, a wealthy and powerful church, we have been blessed to bless. We have been blessed to humbly give to the world the gospel of a great and gracious God. To teach our kids anything less, is to be counter-productive in the Kingdom and irresponsible with the Truth. 

To teach our kids these things, we, the parents, must live them first. These things I want for my kids aren’t always played out in my own life. May His mercy and grace train me as I train them. May we all ask God to show us His ways over our own, His culture beyond our own, His plans and goals, His heart, and then, ask Him to help us leverage the blessing so that He is glorified and the nations are stunned with His majesty.

We get a lot of stuff wrong, we get a lot of stuff right, and the more humble we are to the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit, the more powerful and effective we will be in this world.

 

He must become greater. We must become less. 

 

 

 

 

If You’re Going To Ask, Be Ready To Encourage

IMG_7231I popped in on a friend via text to ask her how she was doing after I saw an Instagram that sorta-kinda let us know she wasn’t great.

“How can I pray for you? Saw your Instagram.”

incoming text

 

Then she told me what was really going on. Nothing tragic. Nothing that would make me want to run over and hold her while she wept on her couch. But just enough that she needed some straight up encouragement.

Here’s the deal. You have truth. I have truth. There are days when you feel crappy and days when I feel crappy. I happened to catch her on a day where she was weak and I was strong. So I let her have it. Here’s what I sent her after she said she was discouraged.

I so get it. And you know the truth. Shut that enemy up and activate your faith. Rise up in the power given to you in faith and let the Spirit flow again to speak His truth. To think you have exhausted His testimony is a lie. You overcome the enemy by the blood of the lamb and your testimony. Stand firm. His fame and his name is your weapon and inspiration.

Let’s be honest, we don’t always talk to each other like that, but we should. We have been given very powerful truths and realities that we need to put in front of each other on a regular basis. It’s not easy being human and no one said faith was easy either. In fact, quite the opposite.

The Bible teaches that our faith will be tested and refined like gold in fire. #noteasy
It teaches that we are to stand firm over and over. Implying #noteasy
Jesus straight up said we will have trouble. #noteasy

This life of those who say they follow God is not easy. It’s not roses and rainbows. It’s tough and can wear us out and can make us fear and tremble and wonder, “What the heck am I doing?!”

This is where we come in for each other.

Others have done it for me. I’ll get texts with prayers, or something encouraging in an email.

I do it for others.

Don’t ever hold back from encouraging someone with the Word and Truth of God. Don’t just give people happy thoughts and atta-boy’s, use the Truth. (and if you don’t know the truth, then get your Bible out and learn it.)

In the end, she was blessed, and it really did encourage her and give her a spiritual boost.
I was blessed.
She was encouraged and my own faith was charged up!

That was the work and word of the truth and of the Spirit. 

So, don’t be afraid to encourage. When someone you trust and love asks you, “How are you?” be honest if you can. If you ask someone and they tell you, take a moment to pray and then let the Spirit minister to them through you. You might be the very thing they need at that moment. Use the Word of God valiantly and boldly. It is powerful, it is effective, it is truth.

How can you encourage someone today?

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Awesome

IMG_3153I have four kids whose ages span from 16 to 5. Three girls and one boy. It doesn’t matter their age or their gender, here are three things work to make my kids feel like they are special and unique. And they will work for you.

(Side note: I don’t have the corner market on these three things, and I don’t think I’m the first to think of it. Wait…. nope, not the first. So, consider this a reminder to things you have heard before.)

One: Touch

I’m not one for snuggling much after the age of about ten. Maybe it’s because once they become almost as big as me, the darling and sweet moments of holding them in my lap is replaced with trying to grasp for air while trying not to wince from the pain of a boney bottom on my femur. So, I adjust. I go from holding and snuggling and picking them up over and over, to sitting by them on the couch and putting my arm around them. I exchange the double-arm, double-leg wrap around my neck and waist, for a long hug in the hallway when they get home. I swap out sloppy kisses for gentle cheek kisses before bed.

IMG_4099Touch is tricky. Some of us love it, thrive on it, can’t wait to be touched by another human because it feeds a place in our spirit. Others of us can go for days without even so much as a handshake. But, let’s stick to the middle of the road here. God created us with nerve endings that talk to our brain and vice versa. We are created to respond to touch and those responses trigger emotions that then make a path in our mind that could either feel love or hate. We all know that not all touch is equal. Some is life-giving. Some is life-stealing. As parents, we have the awesome responsibility to give them the gift of touch that holds hands with the gift of security, love, and feeling awesome.

If you are someone who hands out hugs and touches like cake at a birthday party, keep it up…but don’t smother. If you are someone who doesn’t need to be touched all the time, chances are you gave birth to someone who does, so dish it out. We all need it at some level. And your kids need it most.

Use the gift of touch to make your kids feel awesome. Sometimes, it speaks louder than words. Sometimes, it should be our only words.

Two: Laughter

It’s no secret that laughter is good for you, so imagine using that gift with your kids. I know, there are as many scenarios with our kids are there are families, so some of you might feel like that teen just doesn’t like you and there is no way they are going to laugh. Others might have little ones that the giggles come easy. There is also those years from about eight to twelve where what they think is funny, well, isn’t. But, we must march on!

Finding the funny can take some trying. We might bust a move from our high school dance days and think we could get a good applause and we look and our kids are writhing in laughter. Okay, not the response you may have wanted, but let’s count that as a win. They thought it was funny. Sure, it was at your expense, but it’s worth it. Go with it. Be goofy. Laugh heartily. Be amused at how goofy they are. Watch those silly shows on TV and let it be funny to you.

IMG_7187Let’s just be real here and let those bodily noises be something that is hilarious. You know they are, so don’t be so weird about it. Laugh with them.

Tickle those little ones and let them tickle you. (This harkens back to the #1). Read silly books and make yourself giggle with your toddles and little kids. Make funny faces and act out characters from the books you have. My kids become captivated when I use different voices in their stories. It adds so much to the moment and fills their little love banks until they are overflowing.

With older kids, turn on an appropriate TV show, or an old TV show, turn down the volume just a little bit, and add your own lines. You will roar with laughter and you’ll be surprised how funny and creative they are.

Go to a park and race. That is for sure to bring some laughter. See a G-rated movie. Tell them funny stories from your childhood around the dinner table. Show them old pictures of you and let them roll with laughter. Try to do a full exercise routine with them because we all know this is a sure fire way to get some chuckles.

A shared experience that involves some true gut-wrenching laughs is one they will cherish forever.

Three: Listen

I have a five year old who likes to tell me every detail to his Lego Star Wars game. I have a sixteen year old who likes to tell me every detail of her night at youth group. I have a seven year old who likes to talk about gymnastics and what kind of new shoes she wants until she almost can’t breathe. I have a fifteen year old who likes to tell me what she learned at church and how it touched her.

photoAll of these require more of my ears than my mouth. All of these moments when I talk less and listen more does nothing but show my kids that they are valued and heard. Now, I’m not not talking and sending the signal that I don’t care. I’m reacting. Asking questions. Nodding my head. Trying not to cut them off so I can get back to whatever I was doing. I’m listening.

Listening is more than just hearing what they are saying. Listening is ingesting what they are saying so you’ll have something to grow on. What is important to them may not mean a hill of beans to you, and even though your decades of experience ahead of them makes you want to gently say, “Honey, all this does’t matter when you’re a grown up.” don’t do that. Listen and learn to resist the temptation to always give advice, or always remind them that things aren’t as important when you get older. They are important to them now. Sure, we know that we can give advice and we can help encourage them to see just beyond their circumstance, but the reality is, they just really can’t see that far. They are in their moment, their reality, and we have to meet them there with love, encouragement and patience.

IMG_7188Touching our kids, laughing with our kids, and listening to our kids are just three ways to make them feel awesome. It’s not money, it’s not always in our words and tweets and Facebook posts. It’s in our interaction and in the moments we have now that matter.

The Third Week and Other Emotional Upheavals

IMG_4097_2Men, just, well, read if you want.

When I am about 10 days away from starting my, you-know-what, that war between rationality and emotional upheaval ensues. We women simply cannot help it. If you’re like me, those 7-10 days leading up to what we casually call our “period”, can take a normal, everyday person and turn them into a lip-biting, don’t-hug-me-one-more-time, deep breathing, where is my wine? kind of woman.

It ain’t pretty.

It’s that dreaded third week of our cycle. The one that decides that our hormones should be in charge and our wits decide to leave for a one week vacation. It’s exhausting, and can be quite the trickster.

In Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Becoming Myself” she has a few things to say about this time in our lives.

In the third week, if no embryo was fertilized, our brains signal estrogen and progesterone to vacate the building. Emotions slide a little bit. Blood sugar levels slide too. We aren’t feeling our confident selves as easily. For a few day, the empty space created by the departing hormones leaves many women feeling empty as well. This is not the ideal time to have a large gather in your home.

She goes on to give a little bit of advice.

Dear sister, if you haven’t practiced this, please chart your cycle. Make notes in your calendar each month so you know where you are. Look up, and take note of the signposts. You’re not lost;  you’re in your third week, that’s all.

Okay, that cracked me up and I have remembered it ever since I read it. It gives me grace. I can sigh a sigh of relief and say, ‘I’m not crazy. I’m not going to stay feeling like this. My hormones have abandoned me and I am in my third week.”

Still, it’s not an excuse. Well, it is, but I try not to use it.

Yesterday morning I woke up and I just “felt” it. I counted quickly on my fingers…day 20. That explains it. I can even tell my husband, “Look, I’m in week 3. I’m trying very hard to be nice, but I just need you to know that everything between us is just fine. Just don’t hug me so much.” We laugh. But, he knows I’m serious.

Even though the hormones rage, I still have to submit to God. Even though I want to let the firestorm of aggravation lead the way through the house, I realize I am nearly 42 and maybe I should calm down.

So, I get out my journal and write. I type in spite of the crazy running and yelling outside my door. Kids being darling kids that I want to toss outside for the day but can’t because it’s 45 flipping degrees in the middle-to-end of March!

 

breathe

 

 

My journal entry today was this:

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “No, stay in your room and be crabby.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Throw in the towel and drink before noon.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Leave the house for a hours and let the kids fend for themselves. You’ve bought plenty of food! They can totally live for a day!”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re a mom of four for the past sixteen years, not much to offer to the world.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re not strong enough. You’re not influencing anybody.”

 

I say Yes to You when everything flies and rages against me, against us. I will choose Truth and stability.

bosuIt’s like those half-ball, work out things. Down under the squishy, unstable, difficult to maneuver top is a sure and solid foundation. (Well, there should be anyway.)

But, we convince ourselves, regardless if we are in our third week or not, that our emotions, our feelings are our reality. They aren’t our enemies, but they also aren’t our boss, or Lord.

My emotional reality can be squishy, unstable and difficult to maneuver. It even tries to convince me that this is the way it is; that I am unpredictable and that life will always be hard to stand on. They can confuse us and make us feel like there is not really a solid foundation.

We must move past that. Even when we feel like we can give no more, or that if one more person speaks to us that our heads will explode, we must believe that we have a more solid foundation under the chaos of our emotions.

Easy? Nah

True? Yes.

Managing through our emotions can only be possible when the spiritual ground we walk on is stable.

It’s a game, no doubt. One we must play. And even when our hormones win out, even when we cannot control our tears or our anger, they do not define us.

What’s real is God and His Word. I mean, no matter what we go through, no matter how squishy and unstable we feel, underneath the emotions, the tragedy, the flailing of hormones, the day to day, in and out, motherhood, work, kids, marriage, friendship, under all that goes into those is the truth that we really do have a firm place to stand. 

We must not be deceived by the squish of our emotional upheaval. It threatens to make us feel like we really will fall down. Then we start to struggle with fear and panic. We grasp for control. We close our eyes for fear of falling down. Our ankles nearly break from trying to hold our balance. Our arms flail, trying to stablize our world.

 

 

stop

 

 

Breathe. Pause a moment. Take some inventory. See where you are in your month. Rest in the few seconds you have the power to create and sit there. You have the ability to shut down the world around you for a few minutes. Use it. Stop and focus. Look down at your feet. They are actually standing on something firm. We’ve been duped. We’ve believed our precious emotions call the shots and we feel out of control.

Honestly?

We are.

And that is why it is so important to know Who you believe, and what you believe. Know Who God is. It was Christ’s prayer for us toward the end of His life in John 17.

Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people, that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The old hymn really is true. “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

The third week. The emotional upheaval, the grief, the pain, the bad news, the loss..whatever it is, when you feel unstable and out of control, wobbly and tired, remember…

You are on solid ground.

IMG_2585I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40

 

When Fear Pounces and Joy Unfolds

FullSizeRender-1I didn’t want to take showers anymore because I knew that I would find something wrong. I would start the water and my stomach would fill with the little knives of anxiety. My heart race, my breath shorten. Somewhere along the way on my road of depression and grief, I had developed a trigger that said, “You get in and this time you’ll find a lump.”

I would get in because, well, it would be gross to never shower again and I had some sort of dignity left even though fear and anxiety had become my BFF’s. It was strange to be experiencing fear at such a pronounced level. I mean, I think any woman gives at least some thought to finding something in the shower every now and then, but what I was going through was not like that. I could hardly muster up the courage to get in the water.

Patsy Clairmont says in her book, You are More Than You Know, 

“Fear suggests that it came on suddenly when actually it’s been setting up housekeeping inside of us most of our lives. Satan has just been waiting for a situation where he would catch us off guard and set off fear explosives.”

I felt like all the fears, the paranoia, the hypochondria episodes, were sudden, pouncing on me like a lion on an unsuspecting meal. Not so true. Those fears had really actually been there inside me. Maybe somewhat dormant, easy to ignore and control. But, once my life had been uprooted from my home and I went spiralling into depression, those fears were unleashed and grew to the size of monsters. Satan absolutely took advantage of my situation and went on a full out war to get me to surrender to crazy. He dropped fear bombs on me and left me wounded and crying in pain.

My showers were quick. I would slide the soap bar over my breasts and make sure I didn’t linger on them very long. Or, I would just indulge the fear and do a 20 min examination on myself, shaking and knowing things were going to go wrong. Once I was “in the clear” I could go on with my shower and be done with it…until I cycled again.

My fears weren’t limited to just my boobs. I would feel anything weird and know I was doomed. It was appalling to me that normal aches and pains could send me into days of worry and self-medication (wine). A pinch at ovulation. A not-so-normal bowel movement. A headache. Even though each had a rational explanation, it didn’t matter, my emotions won the battle of my mind. The more I stressed about things, the more I believed things were happening, the more my physical body actually acted weird. I had pins and needles. I had weakness and my arms felt limp. I was sore down my neck and arms. I thought my legs weren’t working right. And, I more than once went to see my nurse practitioner/friend and tried to play it cool until she flat out said, “You’re a hypochondriac.”

She was right.FullSizeRender-2

I had spiraled and spun and cycled into an all out worry wart about my health, all while dealing with depression and two more moves after we got to Nashville. I would try and stay away from Google, because we all know every symptom of everything could be the common cold or you’re dead in seven days.

Listen: STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE! (unless you need an answer to some trivia question like, “Who’s the best ping-pong player of all time?”)

I researched my brains out on how to heal the mind. Ordered supplements, read books and articles, listened to my NP on what were the best natural ways to balance my chemicals and feed my brain.

Vitamin D3
GABA
L-Theanine
Omega 3’s
5-HTP

I took them religiously, some of which I still do.

But, there was no magic pill. No right supplement combination that got me through. They were a great part and a good part, no doubt. Feeding my brain with good brain food was a step in the right direction. Talking walks in the sun were great as well. But, the biggest factor to my healing was…

 

Time.

 

You thought I was going to say Jesus, didn’t you? But, notice, I said factor. I didn’t say agent.

Here’s some fun dictionary stuff.

Factor: one of the elements contributing to a particular result or situation.
Agent: a person or thing or acts or has the power to act.

 

Time was indeed my greatest factor. It was one of the best elements that contributed to a result of healing. But, Jesus, he is the only person who had the power to act and heal.

In that time, I would fall and weep and tell him I couldn’t do it. I thought I would never be normal again. The fear and anxiety was too great and I just needed to move home to Oklahoma and drink wine and all would be okay.

FullSizeRenderBut, when the wine wore off and there were no boxes to be packed, I was still there with my fears, and my grief, and my depression. I think somewhere along the way in our super speedy way of living, we think that we can come through things faster, or that we should come through them really fast, and in a tweet sized way. Quick, short and easy. “This too shall pass” we say, but how long that takes is different for each of us. And usually, we want it to pass quickly.

There isn’t a day I can look to back and say, “Huh! I’m not a freak anymore!” I can’t tell you when the paralyzing grip stopped choking me, but I can tell you it did stop. I was persistent with God. I clung to Him and told Him I trusted Him over and over. I read the Word and had a few safe friends who knew what was going on. I confided in my mom. I saw a counselor and was honest with my husband. I sat. I stared. I read. I wept. I believed that God was greater than my situation and actually got to where I could say, “This won’t last forever.”

The fear let go.
The paralyzing cycle of what-if’s quit playing in my head.
The assurance of a faithful God even if my worst nightmare happened began to take the place of struggling to believe I would be normal again.
The grief of losing the life I thought I would have released, and I accepted this journey He had me on.
I quit waking up in knots.
I quit reaching for the bottle.
I relaxed.
Breathed.
Knew God.
Slept all night.
Smiled.

 

Laughed.

 

To open back up from being so tight in fear is like the slow opening like a flower to the sun. It’s a process, an unfolding, and exposure to the Truth-Light until you’re all the way open to the fresh goodness of God, a new perspective on life, and a newfound firm place to stand.

This is what coming out of fear feels like.

I won’t lie and say I never fear anything ever! because, well, I’d be lying. But, I can say that fear doesn’t call the shots. Fear doesn’t tell me that I’m crazy and that I’ll never be free. Fear no longer leads me through my day like a whipped puppy. Fear isn’t my boss, Christ and His Word are!

 

Your journey holding hands with depression and fear can come to an end.

Believe me.
And trust the Agent of healing through a long factor of time.

 

 

For a more in-depth look at how to be free from fear read Patsy’s book, You are More than You KnowAvailable on Amazon. Just click the book title!

Why We Don’t Pray

209I’ve sat silent before God, unable or unwilling to talk. He’s been in my heart’s peripheral, while being on my blog’s front page, my next tweet, my sunset Instagram.

I lift my hands before him in church, and then find myself looking around to see if anyone else has their hands up. Losers with your hands in your pocket! Don’t you know who we are singing to! *fixes shirt* Oh! I’m worshipping. La-tee-da! She’s pretty. I’m hungry. *guilt for the judgment filled loser thought*

I sit to pray and seek God for my life and others. *we need milk and creamer and some brussel sprouts* Thoughts fly through my head. *oh my word, it’s dirty under that couch!* Humanity wins over the spirit. The pull on my mind to pay attention and “fix my eyes on Jesus” can be annoying. I can be very mean to myself about how easy it is for me to bear the weight of the Beheadings in my chest, and in my next thought wonder how on earth I’m going to ever find the right pair of jeans!

We are tragic. We are messy. We are beautiful. We are full of hope. We are tired. We are wired. We are longing for things to be drastically different, and then are swallowed up in the joy that things can be calm and clean and the same.

We want to eat ourselves silly on books and blogs that feed a peaceful and carefree, full-of-Jesus, all-about-me life.

We want it easy. We so desperately wish things were easy! I know I do. I want the white-walled life with the right lighting and soft hues. I want the life that polishes Jesus and makes him my pillow, my comfort, my peace. We desire to have a kind-hearted, blissfully balanced life full of complementary colors coupled with the right chairs and blankets.

God, I want that.

But, it doesn’t fit what I see is the call to follow Christ in the Word. That? That’s messy. That’s challenging and wild and crazy and really irritating because it goes so much against what I want. And the mess in my heart is just messier. How desperate I am to surrender to him. Just give up because the more I say I am a Christ follower, the more I realize there is no pretty way to do it. And I want to do things his way more than I want the cushy life that begs for me to run after it. I really do want to follow him.

 

face

There is indeed a time to center and let the Holy Spirit fill the space in my life that is nothing but all the space in me. There is no God-sized hole in my heart because God isn’t in the business of filling holes. He is in the business of fulfilling his glory in our lives. He wants to dominate. Take over the life he died for. Have complete control. Fill the fullest measure.

There are no God-sized holes. How trite. How dare we use such pathetic descriptions of what we are without God.

If we have any holes in us that need to be filled by God it should be the unending black hole of desperation for his presence. Moses did not even want to go the promised land without God. The promised land! All that was promised, all the dreams, all the hopes, all the stuff that God told him would be his was nothing if God was not there.

Can I say the same thing? If I looked just at tomorrow, just tomorrow, never mind any dream I may have, never mind any goal I might have prepared, would I say, “I cannot go to tomorrow if You are not with me.”

What does that say about my today? What does that say about what and how I pray? What does that say about my intimacy with Jesus? The answer to that question leads us to look at how personal and seriously we take this intimate, messy-life thing we call prayer.

Taking a few moments to take inventory on the reasons I haven’t prayed in the past (or not so distant yesterday), I came up with a short list.

 

Maybe we don’t pray because…

 

we do not think that He is everything we need, not only for us, but for the world. Is he really everything you need? Or do you “got this”? Could you remove God from all facets of your life and it look the same?

we are swimming in unbelief. We believe that our tomorrows rest on our shoulders. We believe that our talent, our charisma, our connections, our feeds, our blogs, our next thing, can be done in our power, our way. We believe he won’t come through, or that we couple our little strengths with his, like he is a spotter as we lift the weights of ministry. We believe certain things about God and other things about God for other people, but have a heck of a time believing things that he says in his Word about us.

we have been pacified and babied in our walks with Jesus. We have fed each other spoonfuls of grace and love and forgotten to drop on our knees, grab the arm of the person next to us, pull them down and spend our strength in prayer before a holy and awesome God. We’ve forgotten to chew on the sinew of maturity and be grown up in Christ.

we do not see needs beyond our own teeth. And those needs get tiresome and boring and we get sick of hearing ourselves ask for the same thing over and over and then when “it” doesn’t happen, we are pissed and he is a lousy provider.

we forget that we are filled with the Spirit, the same Spirit that hovered over the waters at creation. The same one that dropped life-fire on the men in Acts. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. The same Spirit that is sealed up in us and has the power to stop your breath just after you take the next one. We do not pray because we forget…and we grossly underestimate.

we are blinded by lights and shows of greatness. Great people writing great things and tweeting great stuff. We watch and like and retweet and laugh and applaude and then move on to the next thing like this blog post.

We do not pray because we give time to what really matters to us. Think about what you give your time to. What fills the ticking minutes of your day? I know what fills mine and, wow, I need to put that stupid phone down.

we do not know the Word of God. You cannot pray to a God you do not know and cannot pray for what he wants if you have no idea what his agenda is or what he has even asked you to pray.

we are ignorant. Ignorant because we go day to day without engaging in the tough news of life and putting that up against God’s Word. Ignorant because we do not practice prayer and learn more and more and more.

 

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These judgements are harsh, but I can only say them because I have lived every one of those. They are life-drainers. The only way we will every have a breakthrough in how and what we pray is when we have a breakdown of ourselves and a soul willing to be interrupted and overrun by the great God we say we serve.

We greatly, and I mean, greatly underestimate the power of prayer in our lives, and even more so in the outcomes of what can happen in the world. We dismiss it as something other people do and aren’t even sure about how to do it. But, we must pray. We must change the list of reasons we don’t pray and write a list of reasons that we do pray.

 

So…

We pray because

He is everything we need. Everything. 

we believe. We believe there is nothing in us, or given to us by him, that we can do without him. We believe that he is the only way we can do anything he has called us to. We believe and take him at his Word at every turn of the page and then we bow in prayer in belief that the Holy Spirit is making those things possible in our lives and in the world.

we realize we must grow in maturity and move beyond being babied and coddled and rise up in the power and strength afforded to us.

we see a world in need of Jesus and we have the power to give him to them. We can go and send people into the world, both down the street and into the places where the Gospel has never been heard. We can do that!

we have been given the power and the freedom to do so. Our enemies can take everything from us, but they cannot take the Spirit in us or our freedom to pray. Don’t squander that freedom now, use it like it could be threatened tomorrow.

we are filled with the mighty and awesome and powerful prayer-instilling and prayer-answering Holy Spirit who causes us to fight in the Spirit and know the Word of God so that we can stand against the enemy, send the forces of the Gospel into the darkness, and rise up in strength against persecution and hardship.

we forcefully humble ourselves to be caught up in the greatness of Jesus and not each other.

we realize the importance of it and we give our time and effort to it knowing that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

we have ingested and digested the Word of God so deeply that we cannot not pray because of the truth that dwells in us. The Word of God shows us the greatness of God and we will make our mark in prayer because prayer is where courage is unleashed.

we are incredibly smart and ingenious men and women of God who will not let being ignorant of God’s Word stop us. We learn, we read, we understand, we go after knowledge of Christ in each other and in prayer.

We pray because we know the need is great and our hearts should be so full of fire for the name of God to be displayed that we can do nothing without prayer. We pray because we are so for certain that there is no greater need than the need to pray.

 

So, what do you do?

Find out what to pray.
Learn how to pray. (You’re you. It’s between you and him)
Join with others to pray.
Pray at church.
Pray at home.
Be aware and pray for others.

This list is almost endless. But, if we do not pray, I fear we cut of the very power afforded to us by the Holy Spirit. Will you join me in the great and mysterious wonder of humble and deliberate, life and world altering prayer?

At the end of the age, you’ll be glad you did.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

So, You Don’t Have a Tragic Story. Me Either.

1984 6th grdI’ve heard it preached like a million times and it goes something like this:

“Jesus uses the talentless, the forgotten, the screwups, the marginalized, the poor, the least likely to make his kingdom grow and expand and to take his gospel around the world. He will use your weakness and the little you have to offer for himself.”

Something like that.

 

And I always cringe. I want to adjust myself in my chair and I try not to look around because I know people are looking at me because they know.  I kinda scrunch up my face and begin to feel a sense of “Well, looks like I’m out of the game.”

 

Now, before you think I think too highly of myself, I don’t. What I mean when I feel like “I’m out of the game” is that I grew up in a upper-middle-class home on the north side of the city. I went to the “rich” schools and got poked at by my friends on the south side because I was “rich.” My parents are Christ followers who love each other and are approaching 50 years of marriage. Being raised by them was both fun and easy. I have two siblings whom I love and have more good memories with them than bad. I wasn’t bullied. I never had want for money. I had plenty of food and clothes. I had more friends than I could shake a stick at. I cut my baby teeth on the leather Bible cover and the back of the wooden pew. I was never abused or hurt. I was never lonely. I didn’t go without normal pains like friends hurting my feelings, or loss, but I don’t have a tragic story that has left me feeling like I’m a nobody with nothing to offer.

Quite the opposite. I was always told I was a somebody, dearly loved and valuable, full of talent and could be or do whatever I wanted. I was set.

 

 

While I heard that preached many times, I also heard this:

“You’ve been given gifts and talents by God. Some are in your nature and some are spiritual gifts to you by the Holy Spirit. Now, we need to discover those and God will show you how he can use you to advance his kingdom! Go and make his name famous. Do something! Do something great in those talents God has given you. Be strong! Don’t let your weaknesses stop you!”

Got it.

So, God uses the ugly and untalented and least likely, but then he wants to infuse us with talents and make us awesome warriors for the kingdom so that we are strong for him, but be sure to keep your weaknesses close so that you stay humble, but be strong in your talents and gifting and make sure you are taking time to hone those in so you can do a great work.

I’m getting mixed messages here.

Out of one side of our Church’s face we preach that you don’t have to be somebody to do something. In fact, the worse off you are, the better it will be for you in what you will do for the the kingdom. Out of the other side, we couple that with the elevation of the most talented and the most dynamic and and then they, in turn, tell us we don’t have to be somebody to make a difference.

What is going on?

Which is it?

A nobody or a somebody?

 

I know, I know, I get it. But there is still the feeling in me that I’m at risk at being the least compassionate, the most Pharisaical, and the least like Christ because I’m not the broken, abused and marginalized person.

Preachers do not mean to do this. I know. But, it’s very much a thing. And those of us who have been raised the way we have with little tragic tales to tell, begin to feel like we won’t be as effective or as used as others. We get the sense that we won’t understand or won’t connect. And, you’re right. I can’t really connect with a woman who has come out of prostitution or has had an abortion or has been raped. I can’t relate to parents who abandon me or a husband that has walked out. I don’t have the tragic story marked by a redemptive meeting with God. I have some tragedies, but my life isn’t marked by a life of trouble and heartache.

 

I got saved at nine years old at church camp. We all did.

 

But, here’s what I do have.

I have a story of a woman who has testimony to what a family looks like who has been devoted to Christ for generations. I have testimony that when the “perfect” family, or life, has a tragic moment, we cling to Jesus, and to each other. I have testimony that when I chose a life of sin, and I had known the Truth my whole life, God is still in the business of forgiveness and redemption. I have testimony that generations can love and serve a great God for the advancement of His kingdom. I am living proof that the generational blessing is a real thing and I can point to a family tree, though not perfect, that has deep roots, firmly founded in Christ. I can tell you it works.

Stay true.
Stay steadfast.

I can tell you the Word of God is true, and even though I might not be able to sympathize with you, I know a God who can, and does. Even though I don’t share the exact same story, I understand grace, and love and forgiveness. I am a living testimony to the great Word of God being taught from one father to the next and then to his children and that the years in church and Bible college have armed me with the Word of God, rich and deep, for my life and those lives around me. It has saved me from more sin than I care to remember that I even thought about committing.

I am proof that though I don’t fit the bill of the “least of these” and the marginalized, I am still someone in desperate need of a Savior, who saves me from my pride, and a million other things. I am willing to give my all to God, and use both the talents and gifts he has given me, and the failing of my human weaknesses so that he may be glorified.

 

We are all in this together. We have all fallen short.

You, with the shattered life story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

You, with the pretty story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

Jesus hung out with a blue-collar hot head, a dirty government tax man, a greasy betrayer, prostitutes, and status seeking brothers. But, he also hung out with a Pharisee, a good man who loved God, but had some questions. He had a doctor write two of the books of the New Testament. He saved a well-to-do, dyed-in-the-wool Law abiding man (though a murderer thinking he was doing the right thing), and made him one of the most famous ministers of the gospel the world has ever known. Rich and powerful women advanced the gospel with their generous giving. Prominent men and women, those we don’t know their stories, made it possible for the gospel to march it’s way through the world.

The rich, the poor, the lonely, the one with the awful story, and the one with the pain free story, we all need him. We are all loved and used by him if we are filled and desperate for him.

Your story is yours.
Mine is mine.

But, both of ours plays a vital role in his

 

To God be the glory.

Be the Friend You Want to Have

IMG_4788I was floating along in the pool on a floatie. She was standing in the shallow end. We were lapping up the sun and enjoying our time together. She dropped her ponytail holder just after she had pulled it out to dip under and let the cool water run through her hair.

It sank to the bottom. Three feet down.

She went after it.

Now, at this point, you’d think any grown adult would be able to simply take a small nose dive under the water, retrieve the ponytail holder, pop back up and pick up where we were in the conversation.

That didn’t happen.

My darling friend of thirty-plus years had a bit of trouble. I laid on my mat watching in delight.

She dove under. Feet popped up. There was no small amount of splashing. She seemed to be gone for quite a bit of time. Her feet kept kicking up through the top of the water. She’s only three feet down. What is she doing down there? 

She came back up for a bit of air, hair in face, eyes closed. And went back down.

Now at this point, I’m already hysterical. I have no idea how I stayed on my mat.

She goes back under, oblivious to the fact that I’m in fits over what I’m seeing. My eyes are glued to the saga I am seeing before me. Feet cut back through the top of the water, flailing around like she was on the verge of kicking to the bottom of the ocean. Feet then disappear simultaneously as her head comes back through the top. Ponytail in hand. Rejoice! Glory! We celebrate. Well, she sorta does. My eyes are popped out of my head as she says, “Had a little trouble getting that.”

A LITTLE?

The spasms of laughter ensued. Spasms! Gut-wrenching, swimmer’s cramp, grasping for breath, equal to sit-ups kind of laughter.

She is a friend. A dear friend of whom I am not afraid to laugh at straight to her face. And she would do no less for me.

 

 

Same friend. Years later.

“Nat, I don’t know how much longer my mom is going to live,” she said.
“Want me to come home?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s wait and see. I can’t believe this might be…” her voice cracked, “the last time I talk to her.”

We cried together, wondering if I should make the twelve hour trip home for a “maybe”. I called another girlfriend and we talked and weighed my options. We whispered our concern and spoke in low tones about our dear friend.

We have laughed until our sides split, and cried over things until we thought our hearts could bear no more. We’ve hurt each other’s feelings and made each other feel like we could conquer the world. We have studied the Word of God together and cracked not-so-clean jokes. We spoken Truth to each other and held each other accountable. This is friendship.

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Being a friend isn’t always about us. It’s not about who’s who and who knows who and who is on the Instagram with who (or is it whom? moving on).

It’s not waiting to see if you’re invited or tagged. It’s not waiting to see if they will text before you text them, or if they told you something they didn’t tell others so you will feel included.

Friendship is being the kind of person you want them to be to you.

 

 

 

You want friends who will prayer for you and with you? Then you pray for and with them.
You want friends who will check in on you and make sure you’re okay? Then you do the same for them. And if they don’t reciprocate, then maybe you need to find a different friend.
You want friends you can trust? Be trusting.
You want friends you can count on? Be someone they can count on.
You want friends who go after the things of God? Be someone who goes after the things of God.
You want friends who have your back? Have theirs.
You want them to care about the stuff in your life? Care about theirs.
You want them to babysit your kids? Babysit theirs.

This looks simple and sometimes it is. But friendship takes work. It takes being vulnerable and opening up. It takes going after it sometimes. One of the best ways to find strong friendships is to go through a Bible study together. Get some friends together and do a six week study. It’s amazing the new level you will have.

Wanna make it more amazing?

IMG_5089Pray together. Together, like on the floor together. Make it a priority.

Be that friend you want so that you will have the friends you want. They will be your biggest cheerleader, your greatest source of comfort, and your best laughs. Our God designed us for community to display His glory to the world. Even Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” (paraphrase)

When we love one another, when we are friends through thick and thin, it speaks to His greatness. Don’t let insecurity, jealousy, and the “need” to be popular (yes, even 41 year olds can still deal with this) ruin your chances of being a great friend and having great friends.

They are worth the risk, the fight, the reaching out, the work, the joy, the pain.

Be the friend you want to have in your life, and you will be so enriched by who God places in your journey. These are the friends I have. I pray you have the same.

Spend Yourself in Prayer

DSC_0353Crucified upside down.
Staked.
Burned alive.
Torn apart by lions.
Skinned alive.
Shot.
Beheaded.
Tortured.

No one wants to read that. No one wants to actually believe people are capable of things we hear, have studied in history, in the Bible, and now have seen on our screens.

I’m with you. I’d rather run, hide, pretend it isn’t real and believe that I’m so ill equipped to handle it that I just have to turn away. I don’t want to turn away, but I must. I can’t handle it. I’m way too weak, and honestly, too selfish to want to deal with this! But, I must. We must.

 

We can’t turn away.

 

I sat on my shower floor, exposed and as naked as you can be before the Lord. I prayed for them, for those who are facing those evil eyes, staring out over masks, and those hands holding knives and torches, guns and video cameras. I prayed for the ones that have no voice. I prayed for the ones that we have no idea where they are or what country they are in, but they are threatened, they are being targeted. I prayed for the ones not covered by media, nameless, faceless.

I begged God to send the enemy they face into spasms of spiritual fits because the name of Jesus is being spoken around them. That they would become like King Nebuchadnezzar of old, wild and untamed, lost and foraging in the ground until they recognize the One and Only True God. I prayed that He would cause them visions and dreams so unrelenting that they would beg Him to stop, and they would then know His love. His forgiveness.

 

“Pray for your enemies.” – Jesus

 

 

My head dropped lower and the water poured over my head. I whispered prayers, asking Jesus to tell my brothers and sisters, “We are here. We see you. We love you. We pray that your words would be of Christ. That your words would irritate the enemy, though they slay you. That they only know of Jesus and Who He is because you dared speak. We pray for your strength and boldness. We pray for your unwavering faith and dedication in the face of things we cannot not begin to understand.”

I wished I could whisper prayers in their language, but I was satisfied with knowing He can.

They are facing death. They are facing things we can only imagine and only see on our screens while we sit in our chairs and watch the snow fall. We cannot grasp it.

 

Do we dare pray for such things? If we were facing death as they, what would we be saying? What would we be praying? Pray that for them.

 

Prayer.

You doubt it?
You don’t understand it?
You wonder if it is effective?

Do not think that because you do not understand all of it that it is unproductive and He isn’t listening.

He is.

He wants us to pray. Repent. Drop our ideas of success. Let go of the need to be popular. Go faceless and nameless for the Great Name of Jesus. Blend in to the unity of believers and as one Bride, kneel and pray for the infectious name of Jesus to crawl into the hearts of those who hate and kill.

Ignore platforms and stop counting numbers.
Kneel. Weep. Spend your energy, your wonderful, Spirit-filled powerful energy on asking God to SEND, to GO, to GIVE, to RELIEVE, to IGNITE, to CRACK and PIERCE the darkness!

Spend yourself on behalf of others!

Spend it in prayer. In money. In social media. In whatever way you can. Wear yourself out.

Spend yourself because:

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?…If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Isa. 58

 

Do not think for one minute that your fasting, your prayers, your agony for others is not doing something. These promises mentioned in Isaiah of satisfaction, strength, water, light in the darkness, these come when we spend ourselves on others. These aren’t promises because we have prayed more, or thought more, or dreamed more… these come with pouring ourselves out more and more and more for

 

others.

 

Pray. Get some friends together with an agenda. Get together and kneel and pray, even if you don’t know how to pray…learn. Learn how to pray what God wants you to pray. Stop being afraid that you don’t understand or that you’re not sure. Fight for knowledge of the mysteries of heaven and spend yourself doing it. Loose what is in heaven to earth! Fight for our brothers and sisters in the posture of exhausting prayer. Loose their chains in ways we will never comprehend this side of eternity.

 

For in the end, what will matter most? In the end when the end of days come and we are watching Him in all His glory, will you smile because you…YOU spent your days on behalf of others, interceding in prayer for the lost, broken, persecuted, forgotten, and yes, even your enemy. You tired yourself fighting for them, for Him.

Will you spend your strength, your might, your time, your naked shower time to pray?
Will you let God agitate you and make you uncomfortable?
Will you let him bother you enough that things become a little silly and you worry less?

Talk to Him.
Ask Him to make you a pray-er if you are not. Find out what He says about prayer and then…

 

pray.

Join 21martyrs.com to pray Sunday. Visit the website and join the Church in this.

The Dangerous Search for Our True Self

IMG_1170I love my personality. However, there are things about it that I think “Huh. Wish I wasn’t like that”, and then in the next breath I’ll be all, “I really like that about me!”

For instance, I can fly off the handle. I can go from a ho-hum, la-tee-da, I’m not doing much but fiddling around in my kitchen, to all out WWIII on an issue that might fly across my Twitter feed. I just don’t hang out in the middle of the calm side of personalities.

JT and I joke about that I am either a 1 or a 10 most of the time. He…is a five. All the time. He has deep feelings and convictions, they just don’t come out in a blaze of fury and call the entire world “stupid” if an appliance doesn’t work the way it should. We have the same convictions and the same moral compass, he just doesn’t want to hit people with said compass. I married a five. A great counter-balance to this 1-10. So, at times, my personality serves me well. I am about justice. Black and white. Right and wrong. Countered with a man, full of grace, calm and can help me filter my words before I take someone’s head off. (Thankfully the Holy Spirit can really keep me in check.)

Let’s talk about preferences, like say, decorating, art, music, feelings, and the like. We all like to talk about and encourage one another to “find their voice” and “make their mark.” We like to clap for one another when we feel we have found our “true self” and are true to that “true self” calling it a mark of bravery and God’s design.

Granted, I see that. I totally understand that. I want my own voice. I want my own preferences and my own way of feeling this world out. I love the various forms of expressions and artistry. Such beautiful marks of an artistic God. Even now, I’m watching snow fall between the limbs of a giant, bare tree. Beautiful. Artistic. Majestic.

We live out the cornucopia of God’s imagination in our lives and between all of us. We encourage poetry, writing, painting, dreaming, seeing, worship, musing, exploration of deep feelings, the following of the heart and inner soul. We indulge in quiet moments of reflection and introspection. We think of all the ways we can express ourselves and find ways to make ourselves feel at peace. Whole. Wonderful. Powerful.

We want to know ourselves.
We want to know this person God made in Him image and make him or her the best one of us we can be. All of this is good. But, it can also be…

 

 

 

Dangerous

 

(unfollow here if you want)

 

Before you tell me about how much we need to love ourselves and the lives God has given us, I am not disagreeing with you. I too want to love who I am and who God made me and enjoy this spirit He has given me with all it’s gifts and traits and abilities. I love my introspective mind and the word pictures expressed in there. I love finding ways to enjoy who I am.

But, I do not ever want those wonderful gifts, the gift and freedom to know myself, to become more of a focus than knowing Him.

When my world, even my Christian world, becomes more about me finding out more about me in the name of a good God, then I have exchanged His glory for my own, and this is dangerous. When I spend more time looking for ways I can express myself in my world than I spending looking for ways to extend His grace and His glory, then I have a simple and incomplete knowledge of the Word of God, and this too is dangerous.

In fact, I can’t find anything in the Word of God that makes such notions to go exploring finding my true self or spending that much time learning about who I am and how I can express who I am to the world. 

Indeed, I find it nowhere. I find quite the opposite. I find that I am to go exploring and finding all the ways I can know Him, His true self (revealed by His Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 2), and that I am to express Who He is to the world.

Check these Scriptures out:

“..but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24

 

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” -Jesus in John 17:3

 

“In him we were also chosen having be predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Eph. 1:11-13

 

“For this reason [the one above]…, I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Eph. 1:15 and 17″

 

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Eph. 3:16

 

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved Children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph. 5:1

 

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things…I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.” Phil. 3:7-11

 

“…we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Col. 1:9

 

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2-3

 

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”  1 John 4:15-16

 

These scripture point us to God. These scripture lead us to be a people who go after knowing God and being filled with His Spirit in order to actually do that. Our predecessors of the faith spent their brain power and faith on knowing the God they had said Yes to. They knew God and therefore knew what He wanted. They knew God and therefore knew His purposes, plans, desires, wishes and dreams for Himself…and then they joined Him.

Their full selves given over to the fullness of God. What He wants; we want. What He desires; we desire.

You cannot know what those things are if you do not actively seek Him above yourself, your needs, or talents, your desire to express yourself, your introspection, and your need to be true to yourself. 

Our first and only priority is to be true to the One True God. In Him we find fullness of joy. We find all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge. We find complete satisfaction. And from there, we express His glorious Self through what we do and who we affect. We do it for His Name’s sake. And, oddly enough, we find that when we do that, we are the both the best expression of ourselves, and His, that we can be through the power of His Spirit in us.

We dare not express that we believe in ourselves beyond our expressions of believing God.
We dare not seek our own self beyond seeking the One who made us.
We dare not seek our dreams and desires before knowing and understanding His.

If we are who we say we are, a people belonging to God, then His ways, His will, His expressions, His purposes should be our first priority. It’s in those expressions of Him through us that we find out who we are in Him, and we are free to display His glory in the glorious display of us!

 

 

In what ways do we seek to keep finding ourselves and our “true self” over seeking and knowing God?