Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Down Time


Today was a pretty good day. Work went surprisingly fast and I feel like that hasn't happened in months!

Got home and had the privilege of being welcomed at the front door by my chihuahua whom we were pet sitting this past weekend.

Walked through the front door and found the cute surprise that my sweet husband had left me on the counter.

Finally, had the chance to have dinner with my dad since both of our spouses were being social butterflies.

All in all, great day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Apart from Me...


John 15:3
“Apart from me you can do nothing.” – NIV

This is one of the foundational truths of our discipleship. If we do not learn this early, we may spend years of frustration trying to be the Christian God calls us to be. Our natural tendency is to try hard, be sincere, study diligently and basically train ourselves to be the disciples we were meant to be.

And there is a sense in which all of this is good – even necessary – if it is done with the knowledge that God is working in us all the while as our enabler. How come, then, with all of these good and genuine intentions, do we always end up as failures?

Ironically, most of the Christian life is God stripping us of our self-effort so that He can live His life in us without our interference. We stress and strain over our discipleship that, in reality, should be effortless by nature.

God will often place us in a situation over our heads – even going as far as letting us fail miserably – all in order to teach us this one thing. We are never to depend on our own self-reliance, we are to be utterly dependent on the power of God that works in all our circumstances.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eye Witnesses


Have you ever noticed how extremely self-absorbed we can become in the face of a trial. We see how it will impact us, we pray for deliverance from it and we, quite frankly, obsess about how to work ourselves out of it. But, in all of this reacting, we often become blind to God’s entire purpose behind the trial to begin with.

Our trials, though they seem like disasters to us, may actually be God’s means for bringing honor to His name.

Luke 21:13
“This will results in your being witness to them.” – NIV

In this passage in Luke, Jesus tells His disciples they will be dragged through courts, prisons, and the world’s halls of power. But, He does not tell them to call their attorney’s and clear their names. In fact, He tells them to be more concerned with His name – in other words, be His witnesses.

Though few of us are hauled before the world’s judges for our faith, we all go through our own difficulties. Rather than turning inward and focusing on our hardships, Jesus would tell us by the implications of this passage to have a greater purpose in mind.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Impossible Possible


John 6:5
“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” – NIV

In this passage, Jesus is asking Philip a probing question. It may appear innocent enough, but there is a test hidden within. Jesus gives Philip an impossibility to consider, and Philip’s response indicates a mind-set with which we can all sympathize.

When we look at any given situation, we immediately think of how to solve it in human terms, and then complain about our lack of resources. “There isn’t enough money”, we say. “There isn’t enough time.” “There aren’t enough people and we have insufficient means.”

We, like Philip, forget whom we are dealing with. The situation is never too big for the Son of God. He is not bound by our resources, in fact, if we had sufficient means, He probably would choose to work with someone else! His power cannot be demonstrated among people who don’t need Him. He is waiting for the people of the world to come to Him with a limited supply and ask, full of doubt, “How will we make it through?”

Friday, August 27, 2010

He loves Us


He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane; I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,

Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,

Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Johnny Appleseed


Have you ever wondered how we recognize an apple tree? I know it’s a simple thought, but so valid. Yes, some knowledgeable people would be able to tell them from the leaves or the bark, but most of us will rely on much clearer evidence. If it bears apples, we have our answer. It’s an apple tree.

Peach trees don’t bear apples, and apple trees don’t bear peaches. While these two objects may look obviously similar on the outside, we can only tell the true apple tree by the fruit it bears.

Matthew 7:20
“By their fruit you will recognize them.” – NIV

We can apply Jesus’ principle of fruit to ourselves as well. When we hear a new teaching, or we read some new material, we listen closely to the words to determine if they line up with our understanding of biblical doctrines. This is a good start. But, a better indicator is the behavior that accompanies that teacher. What have they done in life? What do their actions and behaviors say about them?

Words are easy to fake, behavior is not. We won’t find perfection in any human, but when someone comes with gentle words and ferocious actions, the truth is easily seen.

Trust that with bad trees, bad fruit will eventually be evident.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Left Behind


Have you ever noticed that nearly every time someone follows Jesus, they leave something behind?

Luke 5:27-28
“Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. – NIV

In this passage, Levi leaves his tax booth. Peter and Andrew left their nets while James and John left the boat and their father. Even more so, the woman at the well left her water jar and the merchant who went looking for fine pearls sold all he had for the kingdom of Heaven.

It is a subtle but consistent theme in the Gospels: To follow Jesus means to forsake something else…or possibly, everything else.

I find it ironic that the items left behind in these passages are almost reported as sheer afterthoughts. These people did not seem to agonize over their decision, quite the opposite actually. They were just far too focused on something better. They were completely preoccupied with the Son of Man.

Are we?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Total Commitment


Luke 18:28
“Peter said to Him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” – NIV

I just love this passage. I love the conviction with which Peter speaks and I love the intensity in his claims. Doesn’t Jesus understand? Everything he had was given up for the sake of the gospel, what else does he have left? Nothing.

Many consider total allegiance to something a characteristic only found in cults and super-fanaticals, not of Christianity. Our society has a way of respecting those who dabble in an assortment of religious beliefs and reviles those who are wholeheartedly committed to one thing – especially if that one thing is Jesus Christ.

I may have said this before, but I can’t help but notice that in our culture it is respectable to say that we are seeking something, but egotistical to claim that we have finally found it. Intolerance is casts forth along with a number of other suspicious complaints the second a total commitment is made. Let’s face it, throughout history, those who have left everything to follow Christ have often been considered nothing more than fools.

What about us? Have we come to view total commitment as an option? It appears that this mentality has polluted our view of marriage, has faith also followed suit?

Lord, grant that we might not be afraid of radical commitment, even when others don’t understand.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Investing


If someone was to offer us a large sum of money to invest, we would find ourselves with many choices to make. The money could be put in full into one account, or it could be divided among more than one. Now, many people would choose the latter option in order to hedge their bets. But, when one option is considered far better than all the others, I can’t help but notice how “spreading out the wealth” takes a backseat to sheer opportunism.

Attractive investment opportunities draw all of our attention and all of our money simply for the possibilities they entail. Like it or not, we all want to capitalize.

Mark 8:36
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” – NIV

In the economy of God, one investment is clearly superior to all the others. It is a sure thing. And Jesus calls us to place all of our resources there – time, money, talents – and exclusively. Ever wonder why this is? Because He knows the return it will yield, and He knows that we will not be disappointed. But, as in all areas of life, there is always a small part of us that can’t help but want to diversify. We want to invest in God’s Kingdom, of course, but we also want to invest some in this world.

We must consider our investments well. Whether we put a lot of a little into the temporal, Jesus says it’s a bad deal. The world will end in bankruptcy, and the Kingdom of God will inherit all wealth.

“There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.” – Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Through Us?


Matthew 14:16
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” – NIV

Just as we underestimate God’s ability to provide in our hour of great need, we also often underestimate the role that He assigns us. Sure, we pray for the world, our country, our families, our friends. We pray for the salvation of others. We ask for God’s blessings. We ask Him to heal hurts and bind wounds, and to lift up the brokenhearted. In all this, however, we are often blind to our role.

Does it ever feel like we are just missing something? Is there a piece to this puzzle that we just aren’t seeing? Could it be that Jesus is actually waiting for us?

God brought the Israelites through the Red Sea, this is true, but only after Moses lifted up the staff. God brought down the wall of Jericho, but only after Joshua led His people through the right steps. God defeated Goliath, but only after David had the heart to step on the battlefield.

The great works of God that come about through our faith usually don’t come without an initial offering from us. Our offering may be small, but still must be given. Every miracle begins with an act of faith, a stepping our of God’s people onto the limb of trust.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Know where you Live


Revelation 2:13
“I know where you live – where Satan has his throne.” – NIV

Jesus’ words to the church in this passage may have been referencing a particular city as Satan’s central power base, but even still, we know that the words also apply to us. It is true that Satan is not omnipresent like God, so we don’t know exactly where he is at the moment. What we do know, however, is that we live right where he has his throne.

Satan runs rampant on this planet and if you have been a child of God for long you know: Evil is not a force to explain; it is far more personal than that. Let the philosophers and theologians wrestle with the problem of evil while we shall wrestle directly with the evil one.

How are we to overcome? Simple: Never depersonalize the evil around us. We must always recognize that there is a relentless and malicious intelligence behind all the pain that we see. As I have said before, some of Satan’s minions know each of us by name and we must attack them directly if we are to survive.

Let us overcome the evil one with the Good One.

Friday, August 20, 2010



Yesterday I had a rather unpleasant encounter with yet another dingbat at my office. This woman is simply ridiculous. She can’t help but think that the world revolves around her and her needs alone. She constantly double-books me for meetings when she knows good and well that I have already been called elsewhere. She constantly runs to my boss in hopes of getting what she wants and the worst part is…she usually gets it!

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I would not respond well to behavior such as this. I firmly believe that availability calendars were invented for a reason and should be respected. I do not enjoy being pulled in five directions at once and, as a natural result, my opinion of you alters greatly if you attempt to make me do so.

Matthew 5:7
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” – NIV

Has anyone but me ever noticed something a bit odd in the way that culture responds to people that offend them? Naturally, our first gut reaction in such cases is to respond in kind: to return ill will for ill will or irresponsibility for irresponsibility. We are offended first and only then, if we are attempting to be graceful about our actions, we must spend the next half hour talking ourselves into congenial attitudes.

Somehow, we must learn to reverse these impulses. We must train ourselves to always think of mercy first, to have an attitude of gracefulness before we are ever offended. How in the world can we do that? We have two options: We can try to reform our sinful human nature, or, we can simply ask God for His nature.

We must not only ask, but also believe that He will give it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

False Illustrations


When any non-believer is first exposed to the idea of salvation, they are inevitably shown a simple picture that is thought to explain it all. In fact, I distinctly remember when I was shown this image and the clear understanding that accompanied it.

What we see are two mountain tops complete with a large gap in-between them. Crossing from one side to the other is impossible because of the sin that divides us. One side represents man and our unavoidable death in sin. The other side represents God and His eternal salvation. Then, a cross is drawn which bridges the gap between both sides. This cross represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sin so that we may, in turn, cross over to our Heavenly Father and truly know Him.

John 8:44
“…father of lies.” - NIV

Now, as accurate as this illustration may be, it is not the only method that occupies our culture. The father of all lies tries to deceive us in a variety of ways when it comes to gaining true rewards. In Satan’s plan, the gap still exists; however, there is another way to bridge it.

He elevates us and devalues God. In this ratio of significance, we naturally close in on what we want most…God’s power. Satan teaches that if we can be reconciled with our Creator by our being a little bit better and by God being a little more reachable, then he has nullified our sense of need for the Cross.

Believers, we have one responsibility: Expose the liar. The gap between the infinitely holy and the utterly sinful can only be bridged by blood of the Savior. But, do not discount the amount of people who believe otherwise.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Servant Hearts


In regards to acts of service, Jesus frequently points out that the attitude of the servant is perhaps as critical as the service itself. In the Kingdom of God, the heart is what counts. Our actions are always important, and this is not to belittle that one bit, but the God who sees the intricacies of our motives knows that right actions will naturally flow from right attitudes.

Luke 17:10
“You also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” - NIV

Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17 is a little unsettling to our egos. We all want to hear a “Well done!” in response to our good work for the King. And elsewhere Jesus indicates that we may indeed get one of those. But that is not the attitude with which we should come to Him. We should serve Him because that is what servants do. Period.

Do not get the message wrong here; God is intensely interested in our works. Our
performance does matter to Him, but only as a response to faith and never as an act of merit. Our attitude of service indicates the degree to which the gospel has penetrated our hearts.

I have heard it said that Christianity is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. How much greater is he who brings the bread with him?

Monday, August 16, 2010



Sometimes, I just love Scripture. I love how, no matter what opinions people have of Him, God certainly has a sense of humor. I truly believe that God watches the events as they take place in our lives, and at times, we would be able to find Him smiling.

Today, for example, I sat in a meeting where time literally went to die. After four hours of what can only be called awkward assembly, I left almost more confused than I went in. Nothing productive was accomplished. Not at a single time did anyone appear to really have a "plan". And, if one was to take a quick survey of the room, most of the people weren't even paying attention. The amount of time that was collectively wasted in that room is just plain laughable.

It is times like this when I can't help but wonder...what am I freaking doing here?

Acts 19:32
The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.

I suppose it is a little comforting to know that these confusing meetings are not exactly "new" things. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Vine


This morning Brian and I attended the Vine Community Church. We have been to this church only two times before, but so far we are really enjoying the ministry. Today, upon our arrival in the sanctuary, the head pastor came down and shook both of our hands. We had a small conversation and I really felt as though our presence was not only acknowledged, but also appreciated by the leadership team.

Now, why do I feel as though this was an action worthy of writing about, because for the last couple of years, I have not yet had this experience. Let me explain:

I attended a certain mega-church for quite a while prior to visiting The Vine. I came every Sunday and worshiped there. I came an hour early and happily served there. We joined other parishioners and joyfully gave there. But what did we not do there…know our minister.

Our pastor was unreachable. He carried with him a status of confidentiality and only the elite members were able to have any communication with him. I know some of the staff members personally and even they were unable to truly know our spiritual leader.

I am not here to pass judgment. I am not here to commend or condemn anyone or anything. All I am doing is sharing my experience with my ministry staff…or for what’s it’s worth…the lack thereof.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Circumstantial Evidence


John 11:14-15
“Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” – NIV

Circumstances don’t get much worse than this. The loved one Mary and Martha had been praying for had died. Jesus was four days late and under fire from those who had come to expect miracles. Mary’s pointed words are sadly, and obviously, resentful: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v32). There was nothing but defeat in the air.

How long will it take humanity to understand that circumstances don’t always tell the whole story? How often in the Gospels alone were appearances deceiving? Wind and waves threatened to capsize boats; thousands hungered; disease ravaged helpless victims and demons held hopeless captives. And, let us not forget, the Lord of Lords was executed by men.

In all of these situations, those who stared at the problems were met with nothing but despair. Those who stared at the Truth found hope. Better yet, they found a hope that was fulfilled.

Our human tendency is to feel trapped by visible situations. But, let us not forget that circumstantial evidence is not the truth of a matter, it is deceptive. God’s plan, when believed, is immovable.

Focus on Jesus. There is no deceit in Him. If you don’t believe, just ask Lazarus.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Foundation Fundamentals


Matthew 7:24

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” - NIV

How many times have we heard this passage? Yes, yes, some people build beautiful mansions with their lives, while others, build shacks. This is such a universal gospel verse that I tend to pass right over it when I am reading. But, when I really think about what this means in terms of the Christian’s lifestyle, I can’t help but notice the inherent significance.

Spiritually speaking, there are both mansions and shacks all over the place! Some people are in church every Sunday volunteering their time and tithing their earnings. These people are mansion owners. Then, there are the others who only show up on Christmas Eve and spend their earnings on the next big thing. Rightly so, these are those who dwell in shacks. But are these assumptions even what matters?

The ironic part of this passage is that Jesus, not once, pays any attention to the quality of the house. He doesn’t care if every step was taken to put each board in its proper place. He doesn’t care if, from afar, this house outshines all the rest in its path. No, Jesus only cares about one thing: the Foundation.

There are all types of houses in this world. Big and small, beautiful and plain, elaborate and simple, lavish and humble. Regardless of the style of home, the crucial question is the foundation underneath it.

What is the foundation of our home? Are Jesus’ words the base of our work? Our attitude? Our relationships? If not, we build our house on wobbly ground at best.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One Last Hope


When God leads us to the place of insufficiency, we are more than compelled to cry out to Him. It is the cry of desperation. We have no hope but Him, and we know it. In fact, we are deeply and excruciatingly aware of it.

“We had hoped to have our stressful situation resolved by now” or “We are at the end of our rope” we cry. “Only God can fix things now.” Or, as I have often heard it said: “All we can do now is pray.”

Over and over again, the Bible stresses the importance of faith. Quite the strange commodity, I think. I often wonder, why didn’t God choose works as the currency of His Kingdom? Why didn’t He choose our flawless understanding as His condition for acting on our behalf? Something as simple as faith? I just don’t understand.

Luke 18:27
“What is impossible with men is possible with God.” – NIV

God chooses prayer as our ultimate act because it is the only thing that sets Him up to show His glory. If God’s intervention was based on our own works, who would be glorified then? If God’s action was dependent on our complete understanding, would He be the one shining in the aftermath? Or, would all of God’s blessings become little more than offsprings of our own awesomeness?

Our place of one last hope was the place where God would have had us all along. It’s kind of ironic that what we should have been saying from the start was: “All we can do now is pray.” He stands ready to be the strength in our weakness, the wealth in our poverty, the health in our sickness and the deliverance in our captivity.

Imagine if we had more Christians for whom prayer was a first resort and not the last.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All About...


Throughout my lifetime, I have always had a very difficult time maintaining friendships with other females. It’s nothing personal against my gender, just a simple case of the all-about-me’s.

When you typically get a group of women together, at least many of the women I know, a virtual war breaks out over who can talk about themselves the longest. “My child did this”, “My husband did that.” “My vacation was this…,” “My weekend was that.”

Honestly, for someone like me who is completely against all forms of small talk, environments like this are just plain exhausting.

John 5: 31-32
“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.” – NIV

Neither in Jesus’ culture – nor in ours – is someone well accepted that claims their own authority. Self-proclamation is not only bothersome, but if it isn’t backed up by truth, it can be even less admirable as well. Just like all things in life, the Son of Man well understood this faux pas.

Jesus tells His hearers that His own testimony is not valid enough to meet the standards of the law…so, He offers up others: John the Baptist, the works and miracles that Jesus performed, the Holy Father Himself, Scriptures in general and Moses in particular.

Jesus’ assertions are staggering and well backed up by any evidence deemed necessary. All that the Jews held to be reliable, He says, points to Him as the Messiah. Prophets and prophecies of the Bible, miracles of God, the story of the nation, the Mosaic law, everything – it is all about Him.

The way I see it, if the entire universe, all of history, all of humanity, and every true revelation is about Jesus…shouldn’t we be entirely about Him as well?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Things First


Ever since I accepted the new position at my company, my days seem to be filled with nothing but agendas. We sit in rooms all day long and make plans. Plans for what our next actions are going to be. Plans for what is most important at that time. Basically, my work life has morphed into one huge agenda from which all of my other activities are supposedly derived.

The problem with agendas is that two people’s ideas are rarely ever the same. What I see as high priority events are what someone else sees as secondary. What I consider the most important aspect of the day, others would skip right over. It is so odd to me that a company can be pulled in so many directions and still manage to move forward.

Galations 5:17
“Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit.” – The Message

The things we often crave the most from the Holy Spirit are His direction and His power. We want Him as our guide and our enabler. We want to know which relationships He wants us to focus on, which career direction to take and which area of service to perform. Then, we want Him to empower us to accomplish these things.

But, the agenda of the Holy Spirit is much different than our own. He has higher priorities for us than the ones for which we usually beseech Him. He wants to bring to life the cleansing words of Jesus and make the kingdom of God the ultimate treasure of our hearts.

The guidance we so often crave is primary in our minds, but secondary in His. If He was to follow our own agenda, we would move from one area of service to another without ever being made into His likeness. But, first things first.

He wants to have His way with us, let us let Him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Consumer Christians


I would say that I spend most of my life being quite informal about things. I am a laid-back country music fan. I am an informal shopper in most purchasing situations. I am even pretty easy going about my handbags which, truth be told, is a fairly recent development. Yes, all in all, (the Twilight Saga excluded) I try not to get too excited about any one thing and just surround myself with several objects that simply make me…happy.

Like everything in life, however, there are some things that I simply cannot be casual about. A few examples would include my family, my marriage, my wedding and my allegiance to Team Edward. But, nothing matters more to me than the formality with which I approach my beliefs.

I truly think that casual Christianity is an oxymoron and flat out impossible. There is no such thing as a low-commitment version of our faith. It is impossible to say that we are followers of Christ and not be willing to lay down our lives for the gospel. Ours is a faith that demands our entire allegiance and it can never be a halfhearted thing.

How often do we encounter what can only be called consumer Christians, people almost shopping around for a faith that suits them well? But we all know good and well, that when we really encounter the Son of God, we face a choice: Stand firm in our faith, despite our many tests and troubles, or settle for a lukewarmness that can barely…if at all…be called “Christian”.

Matthew 13:21
“When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” – NIV

Do we really stand for something, or, do we slouch over for just anything?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Delta Airlines


So we flew home from Kansas City this afternoon. I just have to say that the plane that we arrived on was awesome. We had those little tv's in each of our seats, comfy seat cushions and plenty of leg space.

On the return flight, however, I must say that we had a little less impressive aircraft. There were no tv's. There was no toilet paper in the bathroom. And I couldn't help but be terrified at the awful sound that the plane made whenever the breaks were tapped.

Needless to say, my life definitely flashed before my eyes.

There really isn't a lesson here, or any kind of specific topic that I want to address. The simple fact is...it is 9:45pm on Sunday night. I just returned home and have actually sat down for about three minutes. I have still not yet had a shower and I am more than exhausted. But, a blog is a blog and I didn't want to neglect my responsibilities by not posting anything.

So, I hope you have enjoyed my observations about Delta Airlines and have a great day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kansas City


Brian and I are currently in Kansas City, MO celebrating the final singles days of our friends Drew and Cassie before they get married in September.

May everyone have as great of a day as we will enjoying the blessings of friendship and fellowship.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Real Safety

This is an early posting of tomorrow's blog because I will be out of town all weekend.


When I was in school, I took a course in foreign missions. One of our assignments was to write a term paper on a country where Christianity was considered a minority religion. In doing my preliminary research to help me select a country to write about, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The number of choices was unlimited.

Christianity was not only a minority religion, but numerous countries persecuted such beliefs. Now, I know that this isn’t exactly new information, but for me…a sense of true reality finally began to sink in.

According to recent statistics, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. There are a number of places where Christians are actually put to death for just being Christians. But, I suppose Jesus did say that this would be so.

Luke 21:16,18
“They will put some of you to death…But not a hair of your head will perish.” – NIV

Jesus doesn’t define death as genuine harm. As scary as death is to some of us, and as tragic as early death seems to us, we can all expect to die eventually. It is a universal experience, whether we are persecuted for our faith or our bodies fail us for some other reason. But, rest assured, no real harm will come to us because death in Christ is never a real harm.

Let us ask ourselves, where does our security lie? Do we seek security in our physical well-being? Real safety is only found when we stand firm next to the Son of Man. He is our protector. He is our defender. Even though we may walk through the shadow of death, we need not fear any evil; our God is with us.



Matthew 6:9-10
“This, then, is how you should pray:…’your will be done.’” - NIV

John 15:7
“Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” – NIV

Am I the only one confused here? In our prayers, does anyone else feel this sort of tension between two teachings? Jesus tells us to pray for the Father’s will, but then He also tells us to pray for our will. Which one are we supposed to do?

The way I see it, when we break down the question in this way, we are inadvertently focusing on the object of our prayer – in other words, the answers that we are expecting to receive. But, this isn’t what prayer is about at all. We have become so consumed with who’s will is going to be met that we have completely forgotten the entire intention of prayer in the first place.

Prayer is a relationship. Jesus had more in mind for us than the cause and effect of requesting when He told us to pray without ceasing. He wants to bring us into perfect union with the Father. Yes, He wants us to pray for God’s will…but He also wants us to pray for our own will to be done as well. He wants those two wills to be one and the same.

Now the big question…are they?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Beautiful Thing


Mark 14:6
“She has done a very beautiful thing to me.”

This story is anything but new: In the days preceding His death, Mary of Bethany breaks open a jar of expensive perfume and anoints the Son of God. Jesus says that it was an appropriate preparation for His burial, but all of the onlookers were in a dire state of protest. The formality of the dinner was of no consequence, neither was the “waste” of the expensive perfume. No, according to Jesus Christ, she had done a beautiful thing.

This illustration of pouring oneself out at the feet of our Savior is a running theme in the New Testament. Paul tells us that we have many treasures among jars of clay and that we must be poured out for the sake of the gospel. We are also to be broken and poured out for our Lord as He was broken and poured out for us. Our lives as believers are our most valuable treasures; they are never to be a waste. We are to be fragrant offerings.

I am all for being poured out for the sake of the cross, but sometimes, I find myself tempted to feel as if my service for the Lord is nothing but a “waste” of time. Like the act of Mary, my service almost always appears to be bearing no visible fruit. Like the onlookers at her party, no one is particularly impressed with my acts of service.

Thank God that we can rest in the assurance of our incentives. When we pour ourselves out - for sheer devotion to our Lord and no other cause - then it can never be a wasted effort. This is the kind of sacrifice that pleases Him most. It is the kind of service that He asks of us. A fragrant aroma to Him, a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Truth Hurts


I’m going to have to admit it…at work; I may have developed a bit of an ego somewhere along the line. After four years of diligent study and education, I have finally come to a point in my career where I feel confident in all of the material that comes from me and I can’t help but take some pride in that assurance.

The other day, however, I was taken back by some reprimands that I received from a senior manager. Whether these scoldings were warranted remains to be seen, but regardless, I was definitely knocked off of my self-made pedestal and left in a semi-state of shock.

Acts 9:5
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Paul, what a man. When we read his biblical accounts in our time we can’t help but feel his heart and devotion to Jesus Christ. But, as we all know, this wasn’t always the case.

Can you imagine the shame Saul must have felt when the risen and ascended Jesus met him on the road to Damascus? His whole life had been given to pursuing the God of Abraham and law of Moses. He was confident in his righteous standing before God. But, unfortunately, he had also been zealously persecuting the very same God that he sought to serve.

In a moment, Saul went from thinking he was one of God’s greatest allies to knowing he had helped put God incarnate to death. The blow to his ego is staggering. And yet, this is the epitome of grace.

Grace always begins with a crisis. It cannot be understood apart from a clear recognition that we need it desperately. When we hear the truth about ourselves, sometimes, grace is all that remains. No redeemed person is spared from the knowledge of their offenses before God. Let us always walk in this humility.

Monday, August 2, 2010

All Talk


I’m a pretty big talker…about certain things. I talk a big game about my ceramic ability for example. If you were to ask any one of my peers, they may be under the impression that I am one kiln short of Picasso in my perspective field. I also talk about my cooking talents. Last year, I bragged so much about my famous grilled cheese that I was actually challenged to a grilled cheese cook-off right inside our building. Naturally, when push came to shove, my opinions about my special talents changed dramatically the second they were challenged.

Who we say we are will often depend on whom we are talking to. To some, we are amazing parents. To others, we are incredible professionals. In this crowd we are devoted Christians. In that group, we are party-loving socialites.

Mark 8:29
“But what about you?...Who do you say I am?”

We must ask ourselves this very question; it is no longer about whom we say we are, but who we say He is. Perhaps, an even better question would be this: Who do we really – in our very core of cores – say He is? We must go beyond the pew and the pulpit and into our living rooms and office cubicles for the true answer. Is our answer the same on Sunday as it is on Wednesday? Is our answer the same on the night of triumph as it is on the eve of defeat?

When our situation is dire, who is He? Is He a theological tenet or really our Savior and our Friend? When we are tempted beyond our strength, is He a biblical character or our Righteousness? We must know Him truly in our inner being. Jesus does not help as much as the center of our theology; He helps as the center of our life.

I have a great need for Christ; and a great Christ for my need. – Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Calmly Waiting


My mom loves to tell the story of how my dad lost me when I was a child. Apparently, as the story goes, we were all at the mall on some sort of shopping trip. My dad, in his childlike fashion, decided that it would be a wonderful idea to play hide-n-seek with a four year old. From what I can gather, at age 4, I was a dynamite hider. It didn’t take long for me to hide so incredibly well that I was lost all together.

Not sure how the process of finding me went down, but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant. In his guilt, he failed to inform my mom that I was currently misplaced. After what I can only assume to be a major panic party, my dad found me standing in the center of a rack of clothes like the true hide-n-seek ninja that I was calmly waiting for him to discover me.

Luke 2:49
“Why were you searching for me?” – NIV

I have already spoken of the young Jesus that was missing for three days, a painfully long time. But, it wasn’t the only time Jesus would be missing for three days exactly, and each event prompted a similar response from His loved ones. Both times – when he calmly sat in the Temple and when He lay in the grave – His loved ones were thrown into an absolute panic. No one ever seemed to look in the right places for Him. In both cases, people fundamentally misunderstood who Jesus was.

Isn’t this an accurate portrayal of our reaction and His response in times of crisis? We often find ourselves running around in panic mode because our situation appears disastrous. All the while, Jesus calmly awaits our discovery that God is in fact sovereign and sitting exactly where He said He would be.

It’s a great feeling to know that our situations are much larger to ourselves than they ever are to Him.