God isn’t a manipulator — He wants you to choose Him for yourself

No matter what negative experiences you’ve had with your father or your mother or an older sibling or some other significant person in your life, God is not them. I know this because whatever they contributed to the baggage you have been carrying around from these relationships, is the result of their pitiful inability to love.

God has never had that problem. Therefore, He does not appreciate us treating Him as we would them. They have not done an accurate or serviceable job of representing Him — which is after all their primary life-job. This is not to say that they are worthless, but they should certainly be dismissed as reliable examples of God in our lives.

For this we have to go back to the drawing board. And instead of drafting a picture with figure form, we are going to use letter forms to reconstruct what we believe about God. I don’t know about you, but I realize that I have a lot of things that I have to get straight about Him that has been mangled by human error.

To begin with, God’s ways are not our ways. This is true because we who have been designed to freely function in His marvelous ways have jumped ship and tried to make a life of our own completely displaced from the order and peace that He gives. Thus we are far removed from the ways that would best suit us.

We live like thieves and liars and cheats when we could have all the absolute best in life with the addition of unbroken community with God and others. We could have all that God has just by having Him. We could enjoy everything that He does in the way that He does.

Sin is the only reason that we should not have this — and even that God has provided a way for us to be delivered from. He knows that we chose to rebel against Him and turn away from doing what pleases Him, but He still wants to restore us to what we ought to be if we will allow Him.

He has made us free, but with that freedom comes an awful responsibility; one that Satan constantly uses against us when we are in contempt of God. We destroy ourselves because we will not be submitted to a creative Master rather than a deconstructive master.

The benefits of knowing and being loved by God are endless, but one that I would like to highlight particularly here is that He is clear and to the point. He has no reason to manipulate us; He wants us to know Him for who He truly is — when we do we will love Him and serve Him because He is good.

All marks of deceit and manipulation that we know in our lives are not God’s attempt to keep us in the dark, but Satan’s (our pre-Christ captor) attempt to keep us from the light. He knows that all light is Christ and that His one mission is to deliver us from the deadly dominion of Satan, His own enemy.

When I’m not looking up, I fall down

“Am I good enough?” Have you ever asked yourself that? “Will I measure up? Can I ever do what is expected of me, or will I disappoint all of us? Oh, and how will I ever live with myself again if I do?!”

I have asked myself those questions. I wish I could say all of these “self-doubts” were just a distant memory, but they’re not. When I feel like it really counts, that I really want to do well, than I remember all the right wrong thoughts to keep me worried so much that I lose my focus.

I want to be the best person I can be, but what does that look like, and at what cost must it be achieved? I am ashamed that I am still so much of my own glory-hound. I want to feel good only by looking good. And I will pay most costs that are put in front of me.

I will worry; I will think more about myself than I typically do; I will get anxious and irritable, even snapping at my family; I will insist on having my way and see no other way to enjoy myself now unless I can guarantee that later I shall be a success in all eyes including my own.

Certain peoples eyes are more difficult to light up than others, and those are often the ones that are more important to me. But they don’t always have to be. Sometimes I worry the most about eyes that light up pretty regularly. I ask myself, “What if they feel like I’ve changed; what if how I acted in a certain situation is remembered with disapproval to the same degree that I recall the embarrassment.

Okay, so my pride is really blowing up here — I hate disappointment. I feel like I can handle anything of this kind from other people, but not from myself. The disappointment I cause myself — which is always ratcheted up by fears that I have permanently lost the respect that I covet so much from others — is one of the most difficult things for me to handle.

In fact, I fear I don’t handle them at all really. If I did, I would get to the root of this disturbance of the heart and give it to God just as well as I could. If the symptoms were persistent still, then I would keep digging, realizing that this was not a small thing that God was laying on my conscience — He wants a big contribution of repentance for an equally large sum of sin.

This realization doesn’t scare me much any more, it is the fact that I still go so long without it. I think I can handle my heart on my own; that all I need is to get my own way and I’ll be fine. Won’t I get it? That is not the way — things are not as simple as being able to believe everything my lying flesh tells me!

I need to face this arbitrary nonsense and turn from listening to it to heeding something stronger, something more vital to my existence. Something I can only call the Word of God and the constant affirmation of His Holy Spirit. I can go on in this life alone! All I’m good at in the natural (being under my own power) is going in circles because Christ is the only One who is capable of moving my stagnant, sinning self forward.

Forward into more of a view of grace, more of an experience of His glory, more of a dependence on His mercy. God is what I need to be assured of, and the rest of life can be what it will be. And I can live with whatever that is — I just need to remind myself to stand on the truth of who God is and not the fickle framework of who I am — which will always be a dangerous lie without Christ at the head.

What am I not God of?

I know how to pour mountains into molds with nothing but a word; I know how to bring babies into existence and keep them before all the danger that they face; I know how to guard your heart against all the evil that you see and make you follow Me with full abandon.

I am not powerless in anything and I’d like you to know that. I want you to know the relish of unsearchable riches in following Me. Your life can never be the same because it is a great thing of surrender that you have passed to Me. It’s impossible for you to miss the beauty of knowing Me if you obey My Word.

No good thing will be withheld from you and I will open the windows of heaven for you; I will rain its blessings down on you. Yes, you shall be enriched because you are in relationship with Me. That is all there is to it.

Where all the fearless lovers of our time?

No, I don’t mean romantic lovers who are unashamed to let loose their passion in every subway and bar, but where are the love-ers — those disciples who are have no fear in expressing the character of God to every character in their world?

Where are the slaves to righteousness who will not let any demand of their flesh get in the way of following God all the way?

Where are the examples of charity that begins at home? Charity that is cultivated so deeply and with such commitment that it overcomes every obstacle that Satan lays in its path; sacrifice for others that is rooted so strongly in the Truth of God’s Word that it rushes out of our gates like an ocean that covers the earth in a flood.

Where is our abandonment of self-centered living that makes the dying of our flesh a privilege for the sake of exalting Christ in every act?

Where is our joy in suffering that makes holding onto anything but God not only impossible, but undesirable?

Where is the life of Christ that is supposed to rule His Body (the Church), distinguishing it as a peculiar people, the treasure of our God?

Where is our zeal for good works; that thirst to magnify our Father through the demonstration of His character being purified within us?

Where is the Spirit at work producing the gifts that only sons of God can boast?

Dude, just ask — it’s not that hard when you’re getting everything through it

Have you ever had someone that you really wish you were closer to, but they appeared to have no interest in pursuing anything of the kind with you?

Yeah, God has too. Like you, He knows what it is like to carry a burden composed of another person’s indifference to you. He understands your pain very well — so well, in fact, that He has called Himself the “man of sorrows” who is acquainted with grief because of you.

Every day you shun Him no matter how holy you think you already are. But the interesting things here is that there is nothing wrong with Him that we should revolt against Him this way, we are just opposed to the very One who encapsulates all that we are known to need.

Why do we do this? Because we are totally out of our minds! Sorry, if you want a more “sane” or “intelligent” answer to your question, you are going to have to look somewhere else. God and I are not so concerned about the sensible terms of responses to these questions so much as we are concerned about getting truth out there in whatever way we can. It’s a great bonus if you will receive it into your heart and let it reshape who you are into something that is no longer mangled by lies and their useless theories on everything in life.

Now, I’m not trying to behave like I’m second to God here, I am just unabashedly declaring what God has done in my heart; what I know He wants to do in your heart too. And because He has enabled me to receive this truth and realize how essential to life it is, I want you to have it to. (I wouldn’t normally want the best for you, but that is another thing that God has been changing in me.)

If you and God aren’t tight, please brother, let Him make it that way! You aren’t going to lose your identity or essence or manliness, for Pete’s-sake — you’re going to discover what all those things really are like you hit the jack pot. So ask, dude, and God will supply — all you need is realized in the name of Jesus Christ; He is the end of all your searching.

The diagnosis of God’s ADD

God’s Agency of Determined Disaster (ADD) makes it simple and possible to live your life well through whatever comes your way.

Picture this: God has ADD and He wants to make you aware of the facts it’s got on your future. So, He has arranged for a document to be drawn up for you and distributed in various areas so that you may not fail to believe its advertizing about itself and pick one up for yourself.

But the one behind these disasters doesn’t want you to get this vital information — he wants these things to kill you, so he lets you be too busy (even if you get your copy) to read it. If you discover the trigger points and Richter scale readings you’re looking for, you will rely on it and know the Truth.

He wants you to think these disasters are all classic fear tactics that God is using to belittle and devastate you, when in reality God is the One who has chosen to use all these works of your enemy to work for your good — if you follow His instructions.

Don’t be surprised when you learn from these instructions that the Director of this council is the only help you are going to get; His name is Jesus and He just happens to be God’s resurrected Son. He’s already met your prime disaster and seen it through — now all you have to do is trust the precepts He hands down to you because they issue from this Love.

Now don’t expect this manual to deliver you immediately from every trying ordeal — though they will be on your record in necessary portion for the extent of time you live on the earth (out of reach of the absolutely inconceivable everlastingly complete presence of God in heaven.

You will have the presence of God to go with you through these remaining storms before paradise because Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf has already accomplished a work that will never allow you to be alone in your trials again — He will walk through these places that have become His own territory with you.

And you will discover that all Satan’s evil plans for you cannot hold a candle to the good plans God already has planned into your life’s gps (God’s Planned Situations) device.

Does every day really have significance for us?

What does wonder at God look like? Is it a moment of impassioned awe? A quiet contemplation of the gospel? The culmination of a timely retreat?

Yes, I think it is all of these things, but must we isolate this into such hard to reach corners of our lives? Can’t it be found out in the open where most of us live every day? Isn’t this, after all, where God belongs?

We must begin by asking ourselves, “Does God have the power to amaze me not just with mountains but in valleys? Can He transform me in the middle of a work week just as well as He can on a weekend? Is He limited to blue skies, or can gray and cloudy ones doe just as well for His purposes?

I think all these things can be part of God’s working in our lives, but I haven’t always thought so. At the same time, God knows and He has always known that your days are in His hands because He is Lord of the labors and loves you find in each day.

Don’t lose heart if you can’t see the good in them; merely look for the Hand that guides them. And know that if He could knit you together from scratch, surely He can knit your days together into a design that will teach you to see and glorify Him.

Maybe I’m the worst I’m gonna meet!

If you’re like me, you’re noticing that you’ve made a habit of prejudicing yourself against the world. I know this is no small thing to do, but it really is something we are capable of — at least its something that I’ve been doing!

The problem is that I see myself as I am and think, “If I’m this bad, imagine how much worse the rest of the world must be! Gosh, I need to be on my guard or I could get really hurt by other people.” So I avoid others because I superimpose the worst of motives and possible behaviors upon their unknown characters.

The predominance of this reaction shows that I don’t remind myself regularly enough that I am the chief of sinners. I am the one that I need to be praying God will protect others from. I am regularly conscious of insensitive remarks and ill-timed actions. And if I make such mistakes in minute things, how much more threatening can my sin be on a scale of more people, more time, more temptation to think of myself first?

I needn’t be out there looking for and labeling the worst that I can expect from sinners according to what I observe in my enemies. I should ask God, instead, to let me see how I’m abusing these same people that are very close to His heart. If I am already guilty of slaying God’s anointed Mediator, what worse thing could I expect of anybody? Do I think that I should deserve better treatment than what I have given to my Savior?

My fears then are indirect revelations of pride and arrogance. I think I am really the greatest sinner — as in the one with the least reviling sin; the most limited career of wickedness on record — but the also the one most worthy of being called “saint”. Add to this my assumption that sin is just a cover-up of my better qualities — qualities that should not be damaged by the “true” sin of others.

It’s no wonder that I had no way of gaining entrance to God’s holy presence before Christ completely covered my shameful heart with His innocent blood. Only through Christ could He stand the sight of me!

God soften my heart with humility. I need to see that if anyone should have received Your full judgment, it was me; if anyone should make Your mercy a spectacle, it is me. And yet I will rejoice with joy inexpressible — I, even I — have been raised up into Your life with You; I shall never have what my sin deserved because Christ has already received it. Let fear go out of my heart just as Your love comes to take up more room in me.

Are you coming home?

Picture this: Some friends of yours get a great deal on a piece of land. It’s beautiful and fertile. They tell you of their plans to build a house on the site and make the place look even nicer. You are excited for them, and see how much potential they have on their hands. You offer to help them get the things started.

You call a fine company of contractors and ask their on-staff architect to help you draw up a plan for the place that had all of your imaginations leaking exotic ideas. So they get on the job and run through the process. Before you know it, their is a great big hole on the property with cement going into it. You come by in a week and the foundation is complete — it’s a beauty.

Two more weeks pass and you excited implore your wife, “Let’s go see what the Jone’s have up over there by now!” But, when you get there, the Jones aren’t there. What’s worse is that there is nothing new on the property to greet you either. The place seems empty because you’ve seen all that is there already.

“Where could they be?” your wife asks, to which you have no reply. You get back in your car and drive home in a somber mood, wondering, “What is going on? I can understand our friends being away — maybe they needed a vacation — but, it’s as though they took all the workers and the plans and the dreams with them!”

The next morning you’re still bothered, so you pick up the phone to give them a call, but get a busy signal. You’ll try again later. But a whole week passes and then two more without ever being able to get in contact. Feeling more worried by now, you drive by their house after work and find an abandoned building — one more in the wake of their mysterious disappearance.

Six months go by with nothing — your life goes on and so does the life of that property once so teeming with dreams. Weeds come up and the grass grows tall; dogs hang out in the ruins and groundhogs finish the job by burrowing all over the area. Within just a few years, as your home begins to increase in value, that of your old friend’s is more than a wasteland. The township has grown alarmed by the activities fostered there.

Rather than being a respectable home that everyone can be appreciate as they walk by, now it is a headquarters to the most un-family-friendly activities imaginable. Its boasts lure in people from many miles away — both geographically and morally. You wonder what should be done; this degrading of the entire town through one mean establishment must be stopped.

You decide to buy the rights to the grounds and make something meaningful of it. It takes quite a fight to get this thing settled, but with much patience you get your mortgage and clear the place of everything you don’t want there. Occasionally you still have to face threats of repossession by drug lords and hermits, but you deal with them in the best way you know how.

As things begin to take shape, the towns-people get curious. They casually walk by in the evenings — “I just happened to notice…”, “that’s quite a place you’ve got there…” “any ideas on what you’d like to do?” “I’m sure you’re just dying to get a new renter in there so you can get the whole thing off your mind!” they say in turn.

But, you’ve got other plans. You quietly shrug off their weakly-conceived ideas and go about your business — they will find out in time you whisper to yourself. You clear out the old foundation of all the debris and begin to build again. But the building you have in mind is not just a simple home, but something far more appealing in its community-centered-ness.

You finish it and take up residence in your new creation; then you begin to invite back all the people who were so recently sacking out on the premises. This can be their home at no charge and with no exceptions, so long as they agree with one stipulation. They enter as your family — not because they are worthy to have such a connection, but because this is your house and that is your rule.

Under this condition they realize they cannot come back the same people they once were. They must come as your invitees, intent on receiving your order and letting you train them to abandon their self-seeking ways and live with you in such a way that you would be forever pleased to have them there. Not that they should be afraid of making mistakes, but that they should want to correct them because of the generosity of your blessing. What they were not looking for, and could not earn, you have called them to enjoy as a gift based on your goodness and not theirs.

Do you think you would get any takers? A few, but I’m sure a considerable number would reject you so that they could keep on doing what they wanted to — trashing places for their own benefit rather than building them up. Your tools and orientation would be labeled as “too uncomfortable” and “restrictive” to accommodate the free spirits who like only what they’re used to.

Now, if you think my story is far fetched, I would like you to know that I have based it on a much larger and personal story. It is a life story — God’s story that you’re apart of. The you I referred to is God — all these activities are representations of His activities. Now, we are the drug lords who were invited to a place they really didn’t belong because God had a better plan for them than they did.

But the question I’d like to end with is the only one this story poses: Which drug-dealer are you: the one who came back, or the one who stayed away? Your answer will not only affect today, but your eternity — either you will begin to climb uphill today, or your future will continue to go downhill just as easily as it has until now.

Enjoy the gifts you’re given in their time

Whatever gifts from God you’ve got lined up in your life at present, know that each one is something that God in His grace has stored up for you. He knows you so well that He can and does select just the right season/occation specific gifts to scatter throughout your life.

Now more than likely you have been finding something wrong with His gifts lately. Maybe they’re not new enough, or maybe they’re just too new for you. But the likelihood of God’s gifts changing appearances is not a bad thing.

Whether or not things look a little different today, God will take you beyond the packaging to grace in its purest form. Regardless of positive or negative feelings, God is keeping you from getting bored with His gifts and He is increasing your spiritual sensitive to what He’s doing. These things are especially important in light of how incredible grace is.

What God has given you on hand today is an inheritance that needs to be exhausted now. This is all you can do in this moment — besides praying for more appreciation for grace in the days to come!