Thursday, October 28, 2010



Recently, over the past few months, my husband and I have been trying out a new church home. Lately, and for no reason that I am able to detect, I am just not satisfied with our current choice.

Are they unbiblical in their teachings…absolutely not. Are they cold and stagnant as a worship community…not that I can tell. Are the parishioners unfriendly and standoffish…definitely not the case. So what then?

As I sat in my women’s Bible study last night, thinking of anything except the study, I found myself wondering what my problem was. In short, what am I looking for?

Do I need a church home with a host of means and methods for preaching the Gospel? Do I desire a community that has plans and strategies in place for communicating an “entertaining” message and doing church with stimulation? Do I need a good performance from someone who can captivate the crowds?

Ironically, all of these characteristics define the church from whence I came and, even then, my needs were not being met. I think that at some point, the question must become not about what I want out of church, but what God wants me to receive.

Perhaps, in all of my fascination with the outside of worship I have neglected what’s most important. It could be that what was lacking in my performance driven, program-seeking mind was a desperation for the power of God. And now, now that the desperation is all I seem to feel, that which satisfied my need for entertainment no longer fits the bill.

Have I deceived myself? Have I mistaken the presence of my physical body in the crowd for the existence of spiritual life within my soul?

I dare ask, in regards to church services, what has become most important: The Spirit or the The Show?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Luke 22:32
“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” – NIV
As Christians, we know that the prayers of the Son of God never went unanswered. There was never a hint of conflict between the persons of the Trinity and, definitely, no separation. When the incarnate God requested, the enthroned God heard. When Jesus Christ prayed this prayer for Simon, Simon was secure.
What do we make, then, of Simon Peter’s famous denial? 3 times he swore that he did not know the man of Jesus, 3 times he lied about the One to whom he swore his allegiance. Doesn’t this action alone prove that he was not protected from evil, that his faith did – in fact – fail?
The answer to this question is no. When Jesus Christ looks at our faith, He sees a lifelong process. He sees whether our faith will be proven false by our testing or refined by it. When we fall, and we all do as Peter did, He knows whether we will get back up. No matter what we may think, a momentary falter does not determine the final outcome.
The way I see it, there is a distinct difference between taking our faltering efforts seriously and using them as conditions that define us. Let us trust the Son of God, the same Lord who has personally prayed for us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eager Beavers


I may have spoken about this before, but I used to lead a Campus Crusade for Christ group at UGA. This was right around the time when I first became a true disciple of Christ and was eager to step into any service position available, even if I wasn’t truly ready.

We would meet at my apartment once a week and I would lead an hour long Bible study. This was in addition to the Tuesday night church service that everyone attended and the Wednesday night leadership meetings that I, also, was a part of.

As one can imagine, it did not take long for me to burn out. I was overwhelmed with the amount of commitments that I had rushed into making. There were other aspects of college life that I was forfeiting to be a ministry leader, and frankly, it was just turning into work.

How often does this happen? We become Christians without really considering the amount of sacrifice and dedication that it may entail. Sure, it’s quite easy to utter the Sinner’s prayer and find ourselves saved, but when the time comes to truly follow Christ…are we as eager?

John 6:66
“From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” – NIV

Never, in His entire ministry, was Jesus ever interested in marketing Himself to the masses. I read once that the invitation of Jesus to His followers was clearly aimed at advertising the costly aspect of following Him, instead of the rewards. As He spoke plainly about what would be sacrificed, He watched the crowds diminish…and He seemed perfectly ok with that.

Jesus focuses on those – however few – who believe Him when He says radical things. And through this radical obedience, an authentic disciple is made.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

For His Honor


One of the ways we can determine whether we are becoming Christlike is to see how we act in a crisis. When the pressure is on, what will we do? Or, even deeper, when the pressure is on, what motives will direct us?

Jesus came to the hour that He had long predicted. He was clear about His purpose in coming to Jerusalem; He would die there. The disciples couldn’t understand it, but He had foretold the Cross and Resurrection numerous times.

The hour had come, and it was not a pleasant hour. Nothing in human flesh – not even the Son of God – enjoys suffering. Jesus doesn’t ask God to save Him from this jour, but He does want to know if it’s possible that the cup of suffering pass by Him.

While His spirit was very willing, his human nature was very weak. Think about it, even God – clothed in human flesh – wanted a less painful way.
The fact remains, God’s reputation weighed heavier on the heart of Christ than His own comfort and life.

Jesus sacrificed a huge following, His school of disciples, His comfort, His health, His current reputation and even His life in order that God’s name might be honored.

Would we?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inevitable Insults


Matthew 5:11
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – NIV

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Blessed are you IF people insult you.” He says when. It is a given. Those who live as disciples in this world will get on the nerves of their culture. There is an inherently abrasive relationship between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men. The reason is insanely simple: God and men are rivals for the same throne.

Jesus is an offense to the ego of this world, and as a part of Him, we become that as well. In our natural selves, we see ourselves as lords of our own lives. The world cannot accept a Savior when it is busy “saving itself”. It all boils down to human nature; to live compatibly with Christ violates the human ego.

“Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,” Peter says in 1 Peter 4.

Know that our Savior is a threat to the prideful and expect nothing less than full on battle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kenney Chesney


On the way to work this morning, I had the pleasure of listening to one of my favorite country music channels. Pretty much following their usual playlist of Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert…they managed to work in a pretty well-known Kenney Chesney song “Everybody wants to go to Heaven.”

Now, not sure if the lyrics to this song would make you think as much as they did me, but it’s worth a shot:

Everybody wants to go to Heaven.
Get their wings and fly around.
Everybody wanna go to Heaven
but nobody wanna go now.

At first hearing, this song probably isn’t supposed to be taken all that literally, but I just can’t help myself. I began thinking about heaven and what an amazing blessing it would be to go there. I began to think of the choirs of angels, the feet of Christ and the radiant face of God.

Almost simultaneously, I began to think of Brian. I began to think of my parents and my brother. I began to think about my baby and all the things that I would miss if I was to find myself in heaven today. Would I be content if I never had the chance to have my child? Would I find myself longing for more earthly time with my family? Are there still things that I want to accomplish and experience before I settle down in the Kingdom of Christ?

What does it mean for your faith if you can almost rationalize how living in this world could compare with meeting what God has in store for you in eternity? Does that mean you are immature spiritually? Does it mean that you have put your family above God?

Does it mean…anything?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Great Works


In my Bible studies recently, I have spent much time in the Old Testament. Among the reoccurring themes of disobedience, mercy and judgment, one thing is standing out far more than the rest: God’s description of Himself. Over and over again, we read of God describing Himself simply by the works He has done: “I am God, who has done…”

Isaiah 46:9
“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God…”

Exodus 29:46
“They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them.” – NIV

Numbers 15:41
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 22:33
“…and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD.” – NIV

Reading this, and recognizing the importance of actions on character, I can’t help but wonder: How do I think of the Lord? Is He the God who has not given me the job I desire? Is He the God who has not heard my unspoken prayers? Is He the God who is too busy to bless my life with more than I deserve?

OR, Is He the God who saves me? Is He the God who delivers me? Is He the God who comforts me, encourages me, protects me and, in fact, blesses me?

The way I see it, it’s all in the perspective.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Week


Well, its official, I basically have zero ways to post my blog now. First, it was my shotty computer that broke. Next, it was the cancellation of our home internet service. Finally, my husband’s work has realigned the security settings on their computer systems and now my blog site is blocked for him and he can no longer help me with the postings. Sheesh, when the devil works, he really goes out of his way to be annoying.

But, while all of this was going on, perhaps God was at work also…

On Wednesday, sitting in traffic, the opportunity came for me to strategically glide through a yellowish-red light that would have enabled me to miss an extra five minutes of waiting. So, there I was, all geared up to do something slightly frowned upon by the department of motor vehicles, when the stupid-law-abiding-van in front of me didn’t go! Completely annoyed, I sat in my car and slightly glanced into my rear view mirror, and there it was: A cop was behind me the entire time. Here am I not blessed?

On Thursday, my office felt like the land time forgot. It seemed as though everyone was using their vacation time and no one was at work…including the bosses. Now, for most of the employees, this was a free-for-all time of leaving early and missing afternoon rush hour. And trust me, I was feeling completely motivated to take the same action, but for some odd reason, I just didn’t. I remained at my desk and stayed on task. Just then, about 10 minutes before quitting time, my phone rang. It was my boss. All I could thank about was how grateful I was to not have left early and missed that call. Here am I not blessed?

On Friday, and 14 weeks pregnant by the way, I came to the realization that washed and dried blue jeans are not a good idea for a pregnant woman. I spent most of the day with my button undone, feeling completely ragged, and stressing about how expensive (and unfortunate looking) maternity clothes were going to be. Later that evening, my friend Natalie came over and blessed my socks off with her gift of hand-me-down maternity clothes. She brought so many that I’m pretty sure I won’t even be able to wear them all. Here am I not super blessed?

If there is one thing I have noticed in my life, it is that I’m always looking for God to be visible in the big things. But, maybe, just maybe, by having this mentality I am missing exactly who He is trying to be for me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Dwelling Place


Throughout God’s revelatory history, He has had a chosen dwelling place. In the wilderness and the early years in the Promised Land, it was the Tabernacle. After the reign of David, it was the Jerusalem Temple. The Temple had been rebuilt after Israel’s captivity and was being remolded as Jesus spoke these words:

Mark 13:2
“Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” – NIV

How odd, isn’t it? Jesus speaking, and apparently approving of, the Temple’s destruction.

When Jesus walked this land, He Himself was God’s chosen dwelling place. With the advent of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers, God’s habitation is now those who are in Christ. We, you and me, constitute a mobile and global body in which God lives and moves.

The Temple was temporary and inadequate. It was an illustration of the temple to come, one made of living stones. As living stones, we are to have moved past superficial appearances and formal structures. The worship of God is no longer contained in well-constructed walls. And like it or not, our personal walls, will never restrain Him.

This all begs the question, what is our worship like? Is it like an archaic building, structured and contained? Or, is it fresh as we allow God to move beyond our superficial walls and take us wherever He wills?

Wherever God will go is new heights and new depths, let Him be glorious and let our old stones fall.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Persistence Pays


I have heard it said that blessed are the meek. While this is all good and great, what about those of us who don’t exactly embody that characteristic? I, for one, truly believe that there are certain circumstances in which Jesus calls for assertiveness.

Luke 11:8
“Because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” – NIV

In this parable on persistence, a man seeks help from his neighbor on behalf of his friends, knocking repeatedly on the neighbor’s door at midnight with a simple request for bread. It was an unlikely and truly inconvenient time for such a request, but because of his perseverance, the neighbor answers.

I am reminded of Luke 5 as well, when several men carry their crippled friend to Jesus and lower him in through a window as to not be detected. These men are zealous for the welfare of their dear friend, there really wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for him. And as such, Jesus had no rebuke for them. In fact, their brazenness honored Him.

This is how the Father is to be sought – with a clear knowledge that it is His nature to meet needs. And, if we are zealous to have the needs of others met, how much more honored is He.

I have to wonder, how persistent we are in seeking God’s help for the needs of others. When we are told to bear one another’s burdens, does this ever go passed a prayer?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Easy A


In my Bible study these recent weeks, I have been reading through the writings of the major prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Ezekiel. At first glance, these books seem to speak of nothing but destruction, judgment and righteous consequences. And to be perfectly frank, they are quite the depressing read! But, when one takes the time to look just a little deeper, the number of spiritual lessons are immeasurable.

Take, for example, the books of Jeremiah 2- 3. We as readers can learn so much about Jeremiah, not only as a man, but as the kind of disciple that all Christians should attempt to become.

In chapter 2, we find Jeremiah describing the actions of God as one who brings charges against a disobedient nation. Their wickedness will be punished, their backsliding will be rebuked. The entire nation of Israel had forsaken their Lord and Jeremiah spends the entire chapter warning them of their certain judgment.

In chapter 3, Jeremiah appears to be singing quite a different message. He speaks of the Lord begging the nation to return to Him. His anger will not last forever, says Jeremiah, His mercy precedes Him.

Jeremiah 3:14
“’Return faithless people, declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband. I will choose you…’” – NIV

The important thing to notice in these chapters is what isn’t there. What events changed the perspective of Jeremiah from chapter 2 to chapter 3? What happened in his life that made him view God not as a punisher, but as a merciful husband? Was Israel spared, no. Was Jeremiah rewarded for his obedience, no.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hidden Hi-C


This past Sunday, like all Sundays, I headed off to the grocery store. (It’s kind of crazy the amount of things that happen to me while I’m shopping.) Anyway, I decided to start going to Kroger these days over my customary Publix selection. Just when I was second-guessing my decision, and almost wishing for the familiarity that comes with Publix, there it was…the elusive Smashin’ Wild Berry Hi-C Juice Boxes!

This may sound like a small thing, but you have no idea how hard these things are to find. This flavor of Hi-C is not just anywhere my friend, in fact, their location is one of the greatest mysteries of our time. Sure you can find grape or fruit punch, but Smashin’ Wild berry, well that is like a diamond in the ruff.

Now, while the flavor of these juice boxes is undoubtedly awesome, I cannot say that it is the reason why I love them so much. Sadly, these tasty beverages are one of the most significant reminders that I have from my late best friend. Our house used to be swimming in these drinks. We couldn’t get enough of them. It was what you call a “staple”. Now, seeing them, just reminds me of her in such a joyful way.

Now, there was a time, not all that long ago, when something as tiny as a fruit drink would send me on an emotional spiral into devastation. To be perfectly honest, I would have gone to great lengths to have all of these juice boxes destroyed just so that I wouldn’t have to be faced with my loss. There was a time when no light was visible at the end of my shrinking tunnel and even the hope of peace was far from my reach. But, then, there was also a time when I finally remembered what my knees were for.

Job 22:21
“Come back to God Almighty and He’ll rebuild your life.” – The Message

Beth Moore says that hope is believing that God will, even though He hasn’t. And trust me, when you face the loss of a loved one, nothing is more important that the hope you find in the Lord. The ability to praise our Heavenly Father in the midst of chaos and catastrophe is the sign of a true disciple. A broken soul on its knees before the Lord stands far taller than a fickle believer trying to stand on their own.

So even if it is the small sight of a juice box that sends you down there, even if you have to crawl into your prayer room, Praise Him still. There is no other way to leave that room standing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wounded Community


Many of us became Christians, expecting to find holy people in God’s Kingdom. I mean, why wouldn’t we right? We may have envisioned the church as a collection of folks who have gotten it right, who know what life is all about and know how to live it well. We may have thought our relationship troubles were over, if we related only to the redeemed.

But, if we’ve been around long enough, we have come to realize that while the people are indeed holy in Christ, they (and we) are still anything but flawless. When we go to church we are surrounded by silent addicts, dysfunctional families, physical and emotional cripples as well as broken relationships and distorted perspectives.

Matthew 15:32
“I have compassion for these people.” – NIV

Jesus looked upon the lame and crippled with compassion. He healed them and He fed them. Even knowing that, what do we see when we look out upon the crowds that are coming to see Jesus? The girl with the inappropriate outfit? The man who won’t get off his IPhone? The teenager who smells like a cigarette? A world of infirmities not only lies before our eyes, but also lies before His feet.

Perhaps, we found ourselves disappointed when we realized how deeply flawed Christians can be. Perhaps, we didn’t respond well when we were greeted with the nature of the world inside the walls of the church.

Regardless, the fact remains: The people of Jesus are the walking wounded, inside and outside the sanctuary.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Great Potter


I often think about what my professional life would have been like had I ventured down the road less taken. As much as I wanted to be successful and economically stable, I couldn’t seem to shake the fact that I really wanted to be a professional potter. My love for ceramics is nothing new; I realize that I have addressed that on more than one occasion. But, frankly, I don’t care.

The entire process of building something out of nothing just amazes me. The time it takes to wane and mold a piece of clay can be extremely restorative. Round and round the wheel spins, and with every slip of the hand, a new layer is uncovered. The process of smoothing out the air holes, weeding out the inside gaps and building a strong foundation is not easily matched. Then… it happens, you finish your piece.

From the outside, your new creation shines in faultless glory. To any onlooker, this construction is unblemished and watertight. There is nothing it cannot hold. There is no joy you cannot find in it. It is perfect, exactly the way that it is created to be.

Imagine your surprise and extreme disappointment when you return to your creation after it has gone through the fire. You lift the lid of the kiln and ready yourself to admire your final formation. But to your dismay, the entire creation has destroyed itself.

During the firing process, there was an air pocket that was far too small to detect with the human eye. As pressure was placed on your creation, its foundation was not strong enough to support the weight. As much as you loved your piece, there was nothing to do but throw it out and begin again.

Jeremiah 19:1
This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from the potter…Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as the potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired.”

Sometimes, things get so badly broken that nothing will repair it.