Friday, November 6, 2015

Your Feet Are Tired and Weary

Jesus is a mysterious fellow.  God is able to do things that I just don't understand.  How can I be in such a hard situation, but still find such joy in the Lord?  How does He do that?  He's unfathomably good, but He's not JUST that.  He can affect my emotions and thoughts.  He can direct the inner-workings of my life.  He is not like a person.  He doesn't just become present WITH me.  He becomes present IN me, and then He directs me.  Of course, He doesn't force me to do anything, but when I ask for His direction He is right there... inside me... directing my joy.

I'm not sure this is making any sense, but I am finding it to be quite a revelation.
I'm writing a song about suffering and persecution and God's response to us as we approach Him in our suffering.  I'm so grateful for the words God has given me.

You may be struck down,
You may be persecuted,
You may be hard pressed,
You might be hunted down.
But you are defended by my sword and held safe beneath my wings.

Come in deeper.
Crawl in further.
I'll hold you closer.
I'll hold you tighter.
I'm giving you more of me than you'd ever dreamed was there.

Your feet are tired and weary.
Your heart is spent of love.
Your knees are shaking.
Your soul is breaking.
Come eat and drink, I know you have no money.
I paid for it all!

Even in all my weakness and hurt, God is present.  In fact, in my weakness and suffering I am able to lean in further because of my higher level of awareness in my own lack of ability and capacity to do anything about it.  So, because of my suffering I get to experience a different and deeper level of God than I may have otherwise.
This is backwards logic to me.  I love it.  Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Praying Within the Will of the Father

Ok, so I've been reading this great book by a guy named Darren Wilson called Filming God: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith. Darren has been making movies for a while that focus around making God more famous. Darren wants to find people who love radically and step out in faith to act on the radical love they see from God. He finds these people and follows them around, and as he puts it, "along with radical love comes radical events."

Anyway, these people are so aware of the Holy Spirit and of the voice of God. Some have had encounters with demons, some have heard the audible voice of God, some hear the audible voice of God everyday, some have seen angels, all of them have experienced healings and visions and the inaudible voice of God. They have all these crazy stories to tell, but the thing that stands out to me as the common denominator in everything is that these people pray. They pray without hindrance. They pray boldly. Mostly, they pray very very often.

Notably, prayer is two-fold.
Prayer is 1) Bringing your requests before God and 2) LISTENING. The people Darren talk to seem to do so much more than talk when they pray. They wait and they listen. It seems to me that the reason their prayers are so effective and produce healing and salvation and crazy stuff you couldn't even imagine is because they are doing everything within the will of the Father. They do everything within the will of the Father because they know the will of the Father. They know the will of the Father because they listen for it. And this takes time.

Jesus' prayers worked because he was perfectly obedient to the Father and perfectly united to His will. So Jesus didn't go around asking for healing when it was not a part of the Father's will. He submitted his prayer to the Father and so his prayers were always within the will of the Father.

Darren told a story about a man who he visited for filming. This man was lying on the couch one morning and finally came to eat breakfast at some point. Darren asked how his nap had been, and the man told Darren that he had been praying. Just laying there, praying while other people were doing other things in the next room he was praying for what I think Darren said was almost 30 minutes. Another time Darren was filming this same man waiting for him to go pray for some miracles, but instead he stood in the middle of the crowd for around an hour praying asking God where to go. Later that same day after a very unsuccessful day of filming when the team thought they were finally going to get some footage and everyone is staying to clear out and they are running out of time this same man prays with the team for 45 minutes, just waiting on God. He told a story about another man who spent multiple hours every morning in his laundry room praying.

These people spent serious time waiting on the Father and listening intently to find out what His will was. Since they spent so much time with God, they knew him intimately, and so could recognize His voice when they heard it, and could follow obediently into His will.

Friday, August 7, 2015

____ Things Only _____ People Will Understand

There are two huge trends in blogging recently. I know you've noticed this first one: "5 Things You Need To Do Before You Turn 30" or "24 Questions You Should Ask Before You Get Married" or maybe a silly one... "36 Things Only 90s Kids Will Understand." The second trend is a little less obvious. Someone will post a video and title is something like, "She Sees a Box on the Side of the Road and You'll Never Guess What Happens Next... I'm Amazed!" Or maybe, "His Mom is Super Mad, but You Will Never Believe What He Does Next!" Trying to hook you and leave you hanging for the ending. And almost every time the end of the video has been seriously oversold in the title.

The first trend is not so bad. I like the lists, and it makes a long blog easier to understand, but it does get excessive sometimes. The second trend annoys the crap out of me, but it gets me EVERY TIME!! I'm a sucker for a good video (especially a sweet or sad one... I cried during the last episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Like seriously bawled... don't judge me), and I'm willing to watch a few stinkers to find a good one.

I want to make two points. I guess that would make this a list blog. I could have titled this, "2 Things That Won't Solve Your Problems or Bring You Life." This is becoming ironic...

1. There is no magic formula to life.
You can read as many lists as you want on how to be happy or how to have a good marriage or how to have a good job, but sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes I'm doing everything right. I'm working hard at my job, I'm caring about the people I love, I'm eating well, and I'm exercising and doing whatever else is good, but life just doesn't seem to be working. My students aren't listening and don't care, my friends and family and I just aren't getting along, and I feel lazy and tired and out of shape. The gears are just grinding and there is no movement. Another list isn't going to help me. In those moments when everything seems to be working against me, I have only one place to lean. On Jesus to heal my hurting wounds. On the Holy Spirit to soothe my aching heart. On my good good Father to dry my tired tears.

2. Sin will lure you in without warning you about the ending.
Sin is like those videos that have such an exciting looking title, but have an ending that doesn't satisfy the hype. Sin seems so great. It is fun and exciting. It feels good. And if I didn't know what it was like to be full of the life of Jesus, I would believe that the ending was about as good as I could get. Just like I sometimes find a good video in the midst of all the crappy ones, Jesus is good in the midst of all the crap. He is filling in the midst of all the emptiness. He is loving in the midst of all the hurt. He is a friend in the midst of all the enemies.

I don't mind lists (especially since I just made one), and I like an alluring title here and there, but life is only really lived in the presence of Jesus.

Don't miss this verse coming up. Jesus is talking here, which makes this kind of important! There is a differentiation between Jesus and a thief. Jesus is talking about the sheep having life. Anyone who believes in the truth of Jesus in the Bible represents the sheep.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I ( Jesus) have come that they (the sheep... us) may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10 

Parentheses and emphasis added by me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What If We Really Expected the Kingdom to Come?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

If you grew up in church, you probably skipped over that. (Caught you!) It's ok. I would have too. Maybe try reading it nice and slow.

There is so much crazy stuff packed into this, but I've been focused so heavily on one phrase recently.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

The Message (which is translated phrase by phrase to communicate the tone of the text as it was intended) says this:

Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.

Jesus told us to pray and ask God to reveal Himself to us. He told us to ask God to make the world the same here as it is "above" in heaven.

Do we even know what we're saying when we pray that? We are asking that the Kingdom of God (real live Heaven) would come down and be as real here as it is in heaven. What would that look like?

I think it would look incredibly different from what we're seeing in churches right now. There would be so much more love. So much more joy. We would not look down on people because we would see that we are just as filthy as they are. We would know each other completely, and share every part of our lives with each other instead of putting on a show.

We would worship in truth by being honest in worship instead of following the crowd or the screen. We would worship in spirit by allowing the Holy Spirit to move our hearts and even move our bodies and hands and voices to sing and speak praises and prayers and to go to people to love them. We would be filled with love for the poor and needy. We would believe in real healing in impossible circumstances, and we would see it happen. We would believe in the absolute providence of God.

We would not worry. We would not gossip. We would not slander. We would love intensely. We would not stop church (which is so sorely mistaken for a building) just because the pastor dismissed us. We would want more and more of the Holy Spirit in every moment.

We would want our work lives to be filled with praises and joy and love and Jesus no differently than we want church to be filled with that. We would be bold about speaking the name of Jesus to people who don't necessarily know him because we care what Jesus thinks, not ANYONE else. We would pray for people boldly and we would pray alone boldly. We would long with an insatiable thirst for more glory to belong to our King.

I'm no theologian, and there is so much more to this. Heaven is more than we could ever think of or imagine. It's more than we can comprehend. It's not something our brains can contain. I want as much of it as I can get!

I challenge you and I'm challenging myself to start bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth everyday. Let's start by simply praying that it would come and we would have eyes to see it and a heart to welcome it especially when it's not what we expect it to be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cecil the Lion

Each second you read this a baby is aborted somewhere in the world. A human life is destroyed. Almost 650,000 children in the United States have been killed this year at the hands of these "doctors." Some of these "doctors" have recently been revealed to be participating in the marketing of the aborted fetus because the human body parts can be sold and used for research. Human. They are human. How can you kill something that you say is not a human and then market it as a human? A fetus is a human because without your weapons it is headed toward a full life where it has all the potential to change the world.

All that aside.

People are very angry this week because a beautiful lion has been killed. I agree that this lion is beautiful and I wish that it had not been killed. However, HOW CAN YOU THROW MONEY AT CHARITIES TO SUPPORT A LION AND COMPLETELY IGNORE THE CHILDREN BEING SLAUGHTERED IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD? Are they not just as innocent and is a human life not so much more precious? Wake up!! Lions are great, but I will always skip over saving a lion's life to save a baby's. 

Dogs and cats and dolphins and whales are beautiful creatures that should not be abused, but are they really as precious as the people you and I love? Look at your siblings, your parents, your friends, your spouse... It is hard to lose a pet, but would you not choose those people over a dog? Before you allow the media to tell you what to think, look around and decide what is true. 

The truth is that God has a distinct purpose for my life. 
The truth is that He has a purpose for yours.
The truth is that He knits us together in the womb. 
The truth is that His purpose begins in the womb. 
The truth is that evil will never win.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Want to Be Creative

I am so obsessed with being grown-up.  I dislike being grown-up.  Being grown-up not only makes me boring, but it makes me rude.  I get frustrated with people for not being as grown-up and boring as me.  It keeps me from doing what I really love.  I am too afraid to chase my dreams because "it's not what a grown-up would do."  That's stupid.  I want to stay in my 20-year-old self's mind forever.  Anything was possible.  Nothing was out of reach.

I want to have a job that allows me to be creative.  I want to be an artist of some kind, spending my time being creative.  Making things with my hands that are beautiful.  Learning new things.  Taking on new crafts.  I don't want to be stuck in a stuffy office or any other stuffy place.  I don't want to stay inside all day.  I want to enjoy life in a way that allows me to flourish in the gifts I have been given.

I know that there are things that I dream of doing that seem so far off.  They aren't.  I can do them.  I am determined to take some chances.  I would rather take a risk and fail, than fail to take a risk.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Envy is an ugly thing, but it can come off in such a tame manner that we don't even notice it.  Envy is when we want what someone else has.  The perfect relationship, the beautiful hair, the nice clothes, the big house, the nice car, the great family, the perfect job.  There is always something that we see in someone else, and suddenly what we have is not good enough.  The underlying problem is not that we need to stop wanting their stuff, but that we need to be aware of the magnitude of the gifts we ourselves have been given.  We have been given the gift of life, breath, a beating heart, and a thriving soul.  Souls do not come cheap these days.  The only reason we can have a beautiful, vibrant, thriving soul is because Jesus already paid for it.  That could be the end of that, right?  He doesn't owe us anything!  He just gave it to us.  But that is not the end of it!  He gives us more all the time.  He gives us so much more.

Imagine, for a moment, that it is Christmas day.  The two people that you know best in the world are by your side. You know them and they know you better than anyone, so you knew exactly what to get them as a gift. You have planned out these gifts so carefully.  They fit the personalities and lives and preferences of your friends as well as you could ever imagine.  The first, let's call her Cindy, opens her gift.  She loves it.  She smiles and hugs you.  The second, let's call him Andy, opens his gift.  He loves it as well.  Cindy looks over at Andy's gift, and says, "I wish I had that.  If you had given me that as a gift, it would have been much better." You glance down at the gift you gave her.  It is lying on the floor behind her as she egregiously obsesses over the gift you gave to Andy.  She doesn't seem to care one bit that you thought so long and hard about this gift for her.

Don't you think that's how God might feel sometimes when we want other people's things?  He gave us what He knew we would need and not only that, but what we would love. But we are too focused on what we don't have that other people do have to realize how special these things are that He's given us.

Essentially, Jesus is our ultimate treasure, and if we live that way and ingrain that into our minds, we will live in thanksgiving always. Not envy.