Not Another Resolution

“We’re after Your heart. We’re after Your heart.”

What would that look like it if were really true? If we all (myself included) were running full speed after God’s heart. Trying to learn more about Him–His character, His love. If we were chasing His heart in an attempt to be more like Him. If every day that was our primary focus. What would that look like?
We would love as He loved us– without condemnation, full of grace. A love that says, “What you’ve done doesn’t matter, as long as you come to me.” A love that changes us and everyone who comes into contact with us. A love that is self-sacrificing– always putting others above self. What would that look like?

In this season of resolutions (maybe I’m a little late for this), as everyone pledges to make this the year they become their best selves, I want more. More than a resolution that dissolves after a few short months. I want a real change. Something lasting. I want to be completely, wholeheartedly, in pursuit of the heart of God. I want a passion for His love– a desire to know Him deeper and more intimately– burning deep inside me. A longing that cannot be ignored or pushed to the side in favor of the matters of daily life.

I want to be after His heart.


 

So, I know I haven’t been here in a while. Sorry about that. But brace yourselves, because I’m back and I’m ready for action.

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Wake on Up from Your Slumber

All these victims stand in line for

Crumbs that fall from the table

Just enough to get by

All the while your invitation

Wake on up from your slumber

Baby open up your eyes

Needtobreathe, Slumber

 

All too often we settle for crumbs, don’t we? God invites us to dine with him at his holy table, but instead we crouch in the corner scooping up the crumbs that fall to the floor. God wants us to know him deeply and intimately, and he invites us to do so through the study of his Word. Instead, we settle for the scraps provided to us by others. God invites us to live out a bold, blessed, glorious life that honors his kingdom, and instead we settle for comfortable. Crumbs are easy. Crumbs are accessible. Crumbs leave us with less responsibility. But don’t you want more than that?

What is keeping you from boldly approaching God’s table and claiming the promises he has made to you? What is keeping you from living the life he has called you to live? What is stopping you from using your passion–the passion that aches like fire inside your bones–to save the world?

Your invitation still stands. Live a bold life worthy of the calling you have received.

Wake on up from your slumber. Open up your eyes.

God, why don’t you do something?

I love the new song by Matthew West, “Do Something”. In it, a man is surveying all the problems of this world.. Poverty, homelessness, slavery.. And outraged, he shouts out to God, “God, why don’t you do something??” and God’s response is, “I did. I created you.”

Let that sink in for a minute. I did. I created you. Many times we look to God wondering why he’s not taking action, but he’s looking at us wondering the same thing. He’s saying, “Let your heart be broken over what breaks Mine. Be my hands and feet. Love people the way I’ve shown you love. Be merciful to people the way I’ve shown you mercy. Grant people grace the way I’ve granted you grace.” He knows humanity’s hurting. And he’s saying, “Get out there and do something.”

Why does God let bad things happen?

This past weekend, a friend of mine experienced something tragic. Traumatic. A travesty words cannot describe. She had some serious questions for me. One of her questions could be summed up into what is a struggle for many believers and a barrier for many non-believers:

Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why would a loving God allow his people to suffer?

First, let me say, God does not orchestrate or cause bad things. (Sometimes he allows what we see as bad [i.e. loss of job, illness, end of a relationship, etc.] in order to strengthen our character and draw us closer to him. This was not one of those things.)  Only good can come from him. That being said, bad things happen every second of every day because of the fall of man. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and become their own gods–the second their greedy lips touched that bitter apple–all of humanity was doomed. We experience pain, trial, hardship, malice, evil, greed, deceit, because we live in a sinful world full of sinful people. God cannot put down his mighty hand and stop people from sinning any more than you and I can stop someone else from doing us wrong because we are given free will. We were given free will upon creation because if you’re made to love someone, it isn’t truly love. God cannot stop us from sinning–from hurting one another, from breaking each other’s hearts, from lying, dishonoring, hating–apart from wiping out the earth and bringing us all home. He doesn’t deliver us from the pain we experience just from living in this world because there are still so many unsaved and God wants to bring all His children home. We may want his kingdom to come now—swiftly and gloriously, so that you will experience no more pain and cry no more tears—but think of all the people you know who would die never knowing the magnitude of their Creator’s love for them. Never getting to accept his invitation of abundant joy and abundant life. A joyful life that continues after death.

Gods heart is so grieved each and every day for the evil that goes on in this world. But he doesn’t put an end to it and call us all home so that those who don’t know him may have the opportunity. May come to know his power. His grace. His love. His goodness. God is merciful. He wants us all home with him.

The fact is our God loves us. Fiercely. Wholeheartedly. Jealously. He loves us too much to let us go.

So, my answer, in sum, to the question: God doesn’t end the suffering of humanity and bring us home so that more people will come to know him and experience salvation.

God doesn’t make sense… And I like it that way

I recently finished reading the book Blue Like Jazz. (I’m late, I know). There were a lot of points throughout the book where I had to stop and highlight something that just hit me. Something either I had never considered, or a familiar concept that was rephrased in a way that made sense to me on an entirely different level. One of those things that just hit me was this:

“[She] believed that all things that were true were rational. But that isn’t the case. Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don’t make any sense. I think one of the problems [she] was having was that she wanted God to make sense. He doesn’t.”                                  

God doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to make Him make sense–He won’t. And this got me thinking. Why would we want to serve a god who made sense to us? A god so small and with such little power that our minds could actually understand him.

I think sometimes we do want that. We put God into a little box and forget how great He is. How mighty. How powerful. How forgiving. How loving. We think He can’t forgive us, heal us, change our situation. That problem is too great for Him to fix. That person too damaged. But He’s so much bigger than our wildest thoughts can imagine.

God doesn’t make sense to me. He won’t until I meet him face to face in Heaven. But I love that about him. I love just standing in awe at the greatness of my God. I love knowing his power and might are too great for my mind to fathom. That I can never truly know the fullness of His glory. The span of His wisdom. The vastness of His love. The magnitude of His power.

I don’t know where God came from or how. But I know He just is. And I take comfort in that. My God is so big, his name is simply I am. I was, I am, I always will be.


God doesn’t make sense, but I don’t need Him to. I’m grateful that He doesn’t.

Look at the Stars

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Looking up at the stars puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Nature has a way of reminding us how infinitely small we are and how infinitely big our God is. Be encouraged today by the fact that the God we serve is so much bigger than whatever you may be facing. He hears your cries and He will answer.

 

Love Them Anyway

There’s a person in my life who I find difficult to love. Consistently lets me down. Hurts my feelings. I don’t want to not like this person. I want to have a good relationship with them. I want to love them.

This morning, I was talking to God, asking Him to remove the bitterness from my heart. I said, “You know, it’s just so hard when you give someone so many chances, and they just keep blowing it.” And I heard God say back to me, clear as day, “It’s exactly what I do for you. It’s called grace.

When the tables are turned, and I’m looking through the microscope at the relationship between myself and God, I’m the person who’s hard to love. I’m the one who’s constantly messing up. Letting Him down. Breaking His heart. And He loves me anyway. Not just a little love, because He has to. He loves me fiercely. ferociously. jealously. He loves me enough that He died for me.

And He’s saying to me, “Love them anyway. Because I love you.” Love those people that are hard to love anyway. Because God loves you, even at your worst. No, especially at your worst. And He calls us to love like He loves. A love that loves despite flaws, despite mistakes. A love filled with grace and mercy. A love that forgives. A love that extends a helping hand. A love that loves anyway.

Precious Faith

Your faith is more precious than mere gold

1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)

 

Your faith is more precious than mere gold. Gold, what the world encourages us daily to place above all else. Gold. Fame. Fortune. What we equate with freedom, power, and prestige. The American Dream. The Big Goal. A Better Life.

One of the many fascinating and incredible things about God is He turns conventional thinking on its head. Your faith is more precious than mere gold. Mere! Oh, He knew His audience well. Knew we would have such a struggle with the dark yet beautiful allure of money. Knew we would place money on a pedestal–consider it the prize to be won. Something to continually strive for. A measure of worth.

If riches are so important to us–so seemingly crucial to our everyday lives–and God, through James, says our faith is so much more important, how vital then does that make our faith?

Many of us look to money for comfort. I think most will agree that having a certain amount of money makes life more comfortable. James is saying here that your faith in Jesus Christ brings much more comfort than the fleeting promises of riches. Riches will come and go. They are not guaranteed. But God is. He never comes and goes. He is constant. Never changing. Never failing. If we place our faith in Him, knowing we will have hard times, but also knowing He will work each and every one of those times out for good and for His glory, we will experience the flood of overwhelming peace that comes from resting in our inheritance as God’s chosen children. The peace that comes in knowing without a shadow of a doubt who we are and whose we are. That’s an assurance no money can buy. No amount of gold can secure. That’s faith. The kind of faith that moves mountains and doesn’t know the word impossible. The kind of faith that holds tight to God’s promises as the storms of life relentlessly rage on. That’s faith that’s much more precious than mere gold.

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There is a certain route I like to take on my way home on days I need to see God. To be reminded of His power, of His glory. To be reminded of who He is.

As I round the top of the hill, I slow almost to a stop so I can soak in the beauty of my surroundings. My God made all this.

He always meets me there. Among the glittering lights and rolling hills I feel His presence as His peace washes over me. He meets me and tells me, “I’m here. I’m still with you. I haven’t left. Not for a second.”

He fills me with His Spirit and my soul feels renewed.

“You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song”

I used to sing to him as I rocked him to sleep. His eyelids would start to get heavy, and eventually, he wouldn’t be able to fight it any longer. He had the biggest cheeks. Rolls in his thighs. The center of my universe, he was the reason I got out of bed in the morning.

God gave me the amazing gift of a little brother at just the right time. A time when life was difficult and the future bleak. A time when it was a struggle to find happiness. But then this little boy… this little boy came into the world. He would laugh, and suddenly everything was right. Everything was going to be ok.

He’s almost 15 now. Taller than me. So intelligent, witty, and so full of life. It’s hard to remember the days when I was able to carry him. When we would push him around the house in a laundry basket while he giggled and squealed. When he fell asleep in my bed with chocolate milk running from the part in his lips. When he used to hold my hand.

His future is blindingly bright. He’s so talented and dedicated that sometimes I wonder where it all came from. As I watch him grow, I hope and pray that he knows without a shadow of a doubt how amazing he is. That he was created for a purpose. That he reaches beyond the stars and pursues his wildest dreams. I hope he never doubts himself or questions his worth.

The world is a frightening place. Brutal, even. It tears people apart piece by piece until they don’t know who they are anymore. I pray my brother has the strength to fight. That he will be able to stand firm in his identity as a child of God, and know the voices of truth from the lies.

I hope he knows, really knows, the depth of our love for him. The depth of God’s love for him. I hope he feels so deeply cared for that it penetrates his bones. I hope he knows that he’ll never be alone.

I hope for him. I just hope.