Sunday, March 30, 2014

Resting in His goodness

I don’t really know where to start this post.  I’ve got a million thoughts running through my head.  If you get nothing else from me today, remember this – God is good - never question His goodness, His love, or His faithfulness.

I’ve been through a rough time lately.  Some personal/family issues that I won’t go into on this blog.  This last week was really hard.  As I made a choice to praise God in the midst of the storm, I was also faced with intense spiritual warfare.  In Revelation 12:10, the devil is called the “accuser of the brethren.”  That was made real to me this week.  My mind was bombarded with hurt, pain, disappointment; thoughts that I’m unworthy, unloved, rejected, used, etc.  I was grasping with all I could to take ahold of God.  I was reading the Word every minute I could.  I knew I needed to renew my mind.  I knew I was being hit with the fiery darts of the evil one.  (Ephesians 6)  I knew I needed my shield of faith and my sword of the Spirit.

What I got from the Lord was simply these thoughts.  Rest in my goodness.  Trust me.  I created you.  You are my workmanship. My grace is sufficient for you.    No – I didn’t hear an audible voice but I heard these ideas in my heart. 

God isn’t good because He does good things for us.  God is good because of who He is.  It’s a part of His character. 

We all face situations that are out of our hands.  Situations where all we can do is wait and pray.  At that point, rest in his goodness and unfailing love.  As hard as it is, choose to praise Him and give Him thanks. 

God is sovereign.  He is before all things. He created all things.  He upholds all things.  He is above all things.  He knows all things.  He accomplishes all things.  He rules all things.  He is in control of all things. 

You can trust Him when He says that He works all things together for good for those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)  When you are in the midst of the storm, it is hard to see how any good could possibly come from this particular issue in your life but know that God promises that somehow He will take all that “stuff” and use it for good in your life.  That’s what allows you to have a sense of peace in the midst of the turmoil.  Trusting in an all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God and knowing that He wants what is best for you. 

What does He want from you?  absolute and complete surrender.  Surrender your money, talents, career, sexuality, time, interests, ideas, plans, future, dreams, everything.  You are no longer yours.  You have been bought by the One who created you.  Who better to know what’s best for you than the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139:13)  The One who knew you before the foundation of the world.  (Ephesians 1:5)  The One who loves you with an everlasting love.  (Jeremiah 31:3) 

You must trust and absolutely refuse to worry.  Pray intensely, but don’t worry.  God is doing things you don’t understand, things that are deeper and better and more wonderful than you have imagined.  You simply need to have faith, believe, and rest in His goodness.  

You might be thinking, well – that’s easy for your to say.  Actually, it’s not.  I have yet to see the good from my situation but I believe God will bring it about.  Also, please note that I did not say that everything was good, but that everything will work for good in your life.  Some things definitely aren’t good.  My situation is not good.  However, I am praying that God will use it in my life to make me more like Christ.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts on forgiveness

When someone does something that hurts you, is it easy to forgive?  Do you wait for them to apologize to forgive?  Must they apologize in order to receive forgiveness?  Do you hold on to the hurt?  Do you remember that hurt sometime in the future when something else happens?

Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

This passage from Romans says that Jesus gave his life for us while we were still sinners … before we confessed our sin … before we asked for forgiveness.

When you forgive someone, you are giving them a gift.  It is about loving others.  It’s about them, not about you.  Often times the forgiver heals through the giving of forgiveness but that comes as a byproduct and is not the goal for giving forgiveness.

In Biblical forgiveness, God redeems and heals the past.  He doesn’t erase it.  He tells us to remember Him and the events of the past – both our successes and our failures.  We can learn from our hurts and our problems.  If we forget them, we lose the chance to experience God’s redemption in our lives. 

We don’t have a choice when it comes to forgiveness.  We are repeatedly commanded to “forgive as we’ve been forgiven.”  Our forgiveness of others is to be a natural outpouring of God’s forgiveness for us.  It was never intended to be optional. 

Forgiveness humbles the person doing the forgiving.  The act of forgiving requires and fosters humility.  Keeping the attitude of, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Forgiveness frees us.  It frees us from focusing on ourselves and our hurt.  It frees us from hate.  It opens our hearts with empathy for others,  It strengthens us and brings us closer to the offender and it brings us closer to God. 

Forgiveness is a choice.  God created us with a free will.  We choose to forgive others.  This choice should be based on God’s love and forgiveness for us.  Is it easy?  Not usually.  Is it right?  Absolutely.

Are you hungry or thirsty?

Do you consider yourself a Christian?  A follower of Jesus?  A servant of God?

If so, you should have an appetite for what is right.  You should be engaged in a passionate pursuit of God. A restless, eager longing to walk with Him and to please Him in every way.  That’s who Jesus was talking about when He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  (Matthew 5:6)

The servant of God should also hunger and thirst for the world to do right.  You should be grieved by the corruption, inequity, and moral compromises that we see all around us.  We should be unwilling to shrug off the lack of justice and purity in our world as acceptable – as the new norm. 

True righteousness grows out of humility.  It grows through the patient acceptance of what life throws at us.  Whatever life brings us – whether that be poverty or wealth, sickness or health, strife or peace, or just the normal day-to-day problems – we are to stay obedient to God and dependent on God. 

The idea of hungering and thirsting for righteousness may sound a bit weird.  Those who choose to walk with God and seek His blessings will naturally desire to experience genuine righteousness.  Chuck Swindall wrote, “Righteousness grows out of a deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ.”  While we have a responsibility to seek the Lord, the blessings of God were purchased for us by the blood of Christ – not by our own attempts at holiness.

What happens when you hunger and thirst for righteousness as a part of your daily life?  “They shall be satisfied.”  (Matthew 5:6)   A perfect example of contentment.  You are contented in your soul.  You are satisfied within.  Your appetite for righteousness is filled.  You can rest knowing that God will will bring satisfaction to your hungry and thirsty soul.

Matthew 5:1-11

“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.””

Friday, March 21, 2014

What do I want …

I’ve had a particularly hard couple of weeks in my personal life.  When discussing some issues with a friend I was asked to think about what I want.

It didn’t take long to figure out the answer.

I want the will of God in my life.  Nothing more... Nothing less … Nothing else…

Now I just need God to let me know what that is.

If you are so inclined, you can pray for me to figure this out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Identity in Christ

"The more you ground your identity in the love of God, the less you need the approval of people for your sense of worth." - Geri Scazzero

I read this quote on Facebook this morning and started thinking.  Many of us, me included, have suffered from hurt or rejection in some way during our lives.  For some of us, that hurt has come from those who should have loved us the deepest.  Therefore, their rejection cuts even deeper, leaving wounds that need to be healed by Jesus.  Until you come to find your identity and worth solely in who you are in Christ, you will continue to seek that worth elsewhere.

It is a normal natural thing to want the approval of others.  But trying to find our worth based on what other people think sets us up for a performance/competition mentality. 

Women tend to compete based on looks, beauty, and figure.  They compete based on how well they married, how many children they have, and how successful their children are in sports, school, or other activities. 

Men are prone to find their self-worth in who they are dating or married to, their jobs, their bank accounts, their athleticism, their ability to fix things, their house, yard, or other possessions. 

Much of this is so ingrained in our thinking that we don’t even know we are competing.  We subconsciously chase after things.  We are trying to find our worth and identity not in God’s love for us but in what other people think.  This is why we deify sports stars, actresses, actors, musicians, etc.  We live under the illusion that if only I had this, did this, got this, or looked like this, then I would be happy.  This is ludicrous.  We are to draw our fulfillment in life from the life giver – Jesus Christ.

We need to come to a point where we get sick and tired of trying to please people. We need to stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses” . 

John 12:42- 43

“Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”

The Pharisees had power, authority, and respect.  They could make rules and they showed everyone how spiritual they were based on their outward appearance and rituals.  If you were a Pharisee, you were on top of the pecking order.  Yet Jesus rebuked them for being hypocrites and failing to understand the call of a follower of God.  Jesus says that they loved the approval of men rather than God.  So, in other words, you have to pick – you can’t have it both ways.

If we choose to follow God and love Him with all of our hearts, then we must quit trying to impress others,  We must quit making earthly comparisons.  We must simply love God above all else and all others. 

That is sometimes easier to say and harder to do.  Following Christ like this often has a cost involved.  Yet we need to follow the Apostle Paul’s example.   Paul chose Christ even though it meant persecution, ridicule, prison, and ultimately death.  Paul valued the eternal over the temporal.  He understood that in the life to come, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  He understood that seeking God’s approval is always worth it.

Don’t look to earthly things to fill a void in your life that only Jesus can fill. Someone will always be better at something, more beautiful, more successful than you are.  Instead, enjoy who God made you to be. 

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

In the end, we all stand before God’s throne.  Our neighbor will not judge us.  Our boss will not judge us.  Our spouse will not judge us.  God, alone, will be the judge.  It is He alone that we are to serve.  We can’t serve God and man, or money, or anything else. 

Devote your heart completely to the Lord.  Let your heart find satisfaction, worth, and identity in Christ.  In His presence, is fullness of joy.  Passionately pursue God.  He is eagerly waiting to embrace you.  Find rest, peace, acceptance, and unconditional love in being a child of the King.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Break my heart for what breaks Yours …

I’ve got this phrase stuck in my head.  It comes from the Casting Crowns song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.”  I’ll paste the lyrics in below in case you don’t know the song.

This is really where my heart is today and what my prayer is.  Lord - Let me see into the eternal as I go through my day.  Jesus, give me your perspective on things.  I want to notice the people around me who are broken, lonely, and lost.  I want to desire to extend grace and love to them the way you have to me.  Break my heart and give me that desire.

I don’t want to live a “normal” American Christian life.  I don’t want to settle for the status quo.  I want to live with eternity in mind.  I want to put Your kingdom first in my life.  I want to be made ready to reach out to the needy around me.

The world we live in needs transformation.  A radical transformation that can only come by the power of God.  But first things first, transform me…. I surrender.

I want to see real revival in our country, our church, but I need to be willing to allow Jesus to start with me. 

Jesus Friend of Sinners


"Jesus, Friend Of Sinners"

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours


Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet


Lent will soon be here.  For some that means ashes, fish, and giving up of something you love for period of time.  Why?  What is lent?

Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  It is the 40 day period (not counting Sundays) prior to Easter.  It is to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert.  He was fasting and being tempted by the devil. 

The purpose of Lent is to set aside a time for reflection on the the sacrifice Christ made on your behalf.  Time to think about His life, suffering, death, burial, and resurrection. 

Lent is about a heart change or a refocusing of priorities.  To some, it is just a ritual.  It is what they’ve always done.  If you approach it as a ritual or a tradition, it will have little to no meaning to you at all.

This year, look at Lent as a time to regenerate your spirit.  A time to strive to know Jesus better.  Make an effort to reflect, repent, and pray daily as a way to prepare your heart for Easter. 

Should you give up something for Lent?  Is there anything that giving it up would cause you to focus more on Christ?  Is there anything that you desire more than you desire God?  Is there anything that if you gave it up, would cause you to pray more?  It’s really about making God your focus.  That may mean giving something up like meat, chocolate, coffee.  It also may mean giving up TV and using that time to study the Word.  It may mean giving up 15 minutes of sleep so you can get up earlier and spend time in prayer.

Give some serious thought to what you can do for 40 days that will enhance your relationship with Christ.  Whatever you choose to give up, do it for the right reasons and with the right motives.  It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus.

Prayerfully consider how you will enter this Lenten season.

Here are some ideas of things to give up, and not just for the next 40 days but for the rest of your life.  Give up…..

  • Fear – God loves you.  In Christ, you are more than a conqueror.  (Romans 8)
  • Envy – Your value is not in what you have, but in who you are. 
  • Bitterness – without holiness no one will see the Lord.  (Hebrews 12)  Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.  (Ephesians 4:21-32)
  • Blame – Take responsibility for your actions. 
  • Gossip –  “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth …”  (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Doubt – Believe that the God that created the universe loves you with an everlasting love and has a plan for you that is beyond anything you can imagine.
  • Pride – “Blessed are those who are humble.”  (Matthew 5:5)
  • Worry – God is in control.  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

What would you add to this list ….