Archive for March, 2011

March 29, 2011

Star Gazing

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” – Persian proverb


Have you ever noticed how much junk gets in the way of hearing God or seeing what He’s trying to teach you?

Busyness.

Relationships.

Work life.

Even ministry life.

And have you ever experienced what happens when He yells your name and says STOP!? Just stop. Listen to him.

Where did you allow yourself to be surrounded by a fog? Where did the enemy creep in and say a crammed schedule was ok because it was full of good things? Or, whisper that if you just read the umpteenth book on spiritual life, you could control the great sense of guilt you carry with you? Of if you just worked hard enough at your job, it would be enough?

The sad thing is we often take half-truths and twist them just enough that even the “good” things in our lives become a distraction and even an idol. Sometimes it takes going into a dark season to remind us to look for the light. In the darkness, we remember who we are and can find truth if we look for it. God wants a relationship with us. He will allow us to go through times of darkness in order to call us back.

Are you willing to give up the junk? Even the “good” junk in order to draw nearer to Him?

Will you ask yourself who you are and who you belong to?

Will you stand for the truth?

Can you see through the darkness? Do you see the light?

Shed the fog and cling to the light.

 

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March 23, 2011

Come Awake!

Every time Matt Maher’s “Christ Is Risen” comes on the radio, my heart stirs a bit. There is so much joy in knowing what is to come!

1 Corinthians 15: 43 “Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They will be buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.”

vs 54 -58 “…‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”  (Emphasis mine.)

There is nothing to fear if we know and claim Christ. He has risen from the grave and conquered death. May our souls stir and leap for joy when we remember that He has conquered death.

Come awake!

Come awake!

We are one with Him again!

Praise God this Lenten season when we are reminded of what He did to conquer the sting of sin and give us victory over death!

March 22, 2011

Spring Rains

It’s finally Spring  – and with it comes the promise of new beginnings. Fresh starts; a turning of the page; and grace. Sweet grace.

But also hope.

Hope. (Insert pause – breathe it in. The reality of it.)

The spring rains have come. Yesterday I sat looking out my window and thought of all being washed away by a beautiful spring storm. God brought Hosea 6:3 to my mind.

Hosea 6:3 “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the dawn or the coming rains in early spring.”


(Image Source: Flickr)

It’s an inevitable part of spring that the rain washes away the dirty remains of winter. The air seems a little sweeter and smells of the promise of new life. It happens every year. It’s a sure thing. God’s response is the same. He will respond. Why we doubt that He would respond is foolish because it is a sure thing. We must press on to know Him – to crave Him. How are we to hear His response if we are not seeking it? Are we even listening? Or are we so busy grumbling about our current situation or are we too focused on ourselves to even hear His response?

Be reassured that God will respond as sure as the coming rains in the early spring. Let us know Him more deeply and listen to His voice. He is near. There is hope.

March 14, 2011

The Big “D”

The Big “D” and I don’t mean Dallas (or divorce). (Forgive the Mark Chesnutt reference.) I mean doubt. I’ve grown up in Christian circles. I accepted Christ at age six. I went to Christian schools, surrounded myself with Christian friends and even worked at a Christian company. All this to say, I’ve noticed something – doubt seems to give Christians the heebie-jeebies (yes, that’s a very technical term).

We don’t mean to do this to each other but many Christians don’t know how to respond when other Christians find themselves doubting faith. Somehow we expect non-Christians to doubt but not Christ followers.

Generally, I think many Christians see doubt as a weakness. I’m not sure I’ve seen enough evidence in Scripture for me to tell you it’s good, but I can say it’s healthy and normal.

Why?

Doubt challenges us to deepen our faith.

Doubt prompts us to ask questions that we might have missed the first time around.

Doubt motivates us to examine who Jesus really is and who we really are in light of what he did.

Doubt forces us to our knees and to the Word.

While mulling all this over, it dawned on me one day that so many faith greats have doubted or royally messed up. Yet, God still used them to achieve great things, draw them closer to himself, love and redeem them.

Doubting Thomas – needed proof that Jesus was alive and he did spend an abundant amount of time with him as his disciple.

David – there was the whole Bathsheba incident and yet, he is still a man after God’s own heart.

Peter – denied Christ three times and still God built the church upon him.

Remember these things as you or your fellow believer finds themselves with doubt. Come alongside of them. Extend grace. Be patient. Encourage honesty and openness. Pray for one another. Love each other. Remember God can use each of us – even the doubters among us.

 

March 11, 2011

Stripped

God wants all of us. He wants us to come to him. Sometimes we are the ones that stand in our own way of a deep, authentic relationship with Him. But don’t worry, God can (and will) get our attention. He often does this by tearing down our walls. Removing (often quite painfully) idols in our lives or misperceptions of faith and who we think he is (or who we think we are). He does this for a reason.

Envision a brick wall destroyed. At first look, this might appear to be a tragedy but I assure you this is an opportunity. As you sit in the pile of bricks you have the opportunity to examine them before you put them back together. I’m not sure what your wall is all about but could it be about trust? Do you really trust Him or just kind of? What keeps you from trusting? Is it about faith? Do you believe God is good? Do you believe he has a plan?

Ask the questions you need to ask. God is big. He can take it. He knows already – you might as well tell him.

The Book of Hosea has been a great allegory for me in times of rebirth, rebuilding, and challenge in my own life. When God has torn my life to pieces, he has a purpose. He has my attention. He will heal me – but in a new way. He will heal me so that I might know him more fully and live abundantly because he has removed the rubble and built something even more beautiful. He will show each of us – as sure as the morning dawn.

Take heart when you find yourself stripped and laid bare before God. Cry out to him as he will heal you. He will heal in a beautiful new way if you let him.

Hosea 6:1-3 Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming rains in early spring.

March 9, 2011

Unexpected Lessons

Have you ever noticed that in the times when you’re faced with an unexpected lesson or challenge that you learn the most? We can spend our lives planning away but it’s the things that seemingly take us off course where we learn the most. I’ve recently seen how stepping away from my own plan has allowed me the opportunity to experience God in an authentic way. I believe God calls us to experience his goodness. Psalm 34:8 is evidence of this in my mind.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

During these unplanned times, we learn what it is to walk in freedom and grace because we realize we are not the ones in control – that job belongs to God and God alone. When we find ourselves stripped of our defenses (even the ones we mask behind the routines of religion) we are face-to-face with our true nature and our level of faith.

Do we choose to trust Him?

Do we choose to let Him cover us in His blood?

Do we let Him take the reins of our lives and lead us beside still waters?

The questions alone can unhinge us but do not stop asking them. Taste and see my friends. Taste and see that He is good. Experience His goodness all around you. In the mundane. In the pain. In the uncertainties of life. He is there. He is good. He wants you to come to him and know Him. See Him for who he is – good. And what’s more, He loves you. This good God loves you.

I hope each of you find yourselves facing an unexpected challenge – not because I wish confusion or distress on you but so that you would have an opportunity to draw closer to an authentic experience with the Lord and to know Him deeply.

 

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