Not feeling is the answer…I think

Today has not been one of your best days. Countless days leading up to this one have not been some of your best days either. Where God’s faithfulness has gone you’re not sure. But it surely bothers you. You feel weak with the injustice of it.

You’re struggling with a problem you don’t know how to deal with. You’re trapped in a maze of broken dreams and disappointments. You cry out to God and He doesn’t seem to hear. You can find no other place to turn, so you turn in on yourself.

You lock up your heart. If God is not going to care for you, then you will not leave the tenderest places of yourself open to Him. At first, it appears that this is working: You are taking the initiative to protect your soul, to insulate it from pain as best you can. But it doesn’t take long for you to realize that while you are in control, you are also empty.

Part of you feels lost, but you have no idea how to retrace your steps in order to recover your missing pieces. So, what do you do with yourself now?

What if you began tuning your heart to heed, once more, your Savior?

What He has to say need not be threatening to you. He does not intend to condemn you or blast you with shame. He wants to heal your heart, to enable you to stand before Him without fear. This fresh revelation of His heart will energize you in such a way that you will eagerly invite Him to know you intimately once again. Will you listen in with me?

My child, I want your heart. But, I do not ask for you to offer Me something so precious without the promise of giving you something of Myself which surpasses everything that you’re surrendering. The risks you take with Me only seem difficult until you realize that I am the only One who is giving without an overwhelming return.

I want you to know that I have set My desire on your heart with great purpose. When I fill your heart with My presence, that is when you really know Me; that is when you are made complete.

If giving Me access to your most vulnerable places was not for your benefit, I would not ask it of you. If relationship was possible without our hearts being connected, I would not pursue this so persistently. Understand that I know what is best for you. The only way I can truly care for you is to surround your heart with Mine.

 

Wikipedia: M (named em ) is the thirteenth letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Welcome to the start of your life

What is your life missing today? To make it simple, the only thing you’re truly missing is more of Christ in your life. Everything else seems like it is of value, but you can live without them. They are not your life, you just like them to be a part of your life.

The thing you cannot live without is Christ in all His fullness. You may have Him in your life already, but You need to have Him be your life. This happens over time. Give God the time you have today, and He will make that happen the way it needs to at this time. Then give Him tomorrow and He will own tomorrow. If you keep doing this, when you get to the end of your life, you will find that God was your life because He had you in all your living.

Your life will be spiced with eternities unending pleasures in ever-growing measure. Your soul will rejoice in knowing that you did not wait for eternity to have the most of Him you could!

It’s hard to not be a Complainer when I am focused solely on ME and God is not

As much as we don’t appreciate a complainer, we can find it easy to be one. Complaining can be one of the most tenacious temptations that follow us around. It’s easy for us to give into these enticements from our enemy because we do not know what purpose our desires are supposed to serve in our lives; rather than serving God, we find it easy to serve our personal sensibilities of what “ought to be.”

Our desires were given to us by God to be used for God, but Satan tries to encourage us in the belief that our desires are our god. Rather than let God develop worship in us at the root of our desires, we can be convinced that our desires, themselves, are worthy of worship. They do not need to be submitted to anything else; what they say goes.

Not surprisingly, this creates profound friction in our relationship with God. We cannot serve Him and our desires at the same time. We have to choose one and leave the other behind. Accordingly, when God appoints a good for us that is not consistent with our present desires, we have a decision to make. We can either set ourselves to agree with Him, because we believe He is right in all He does, or we rebel against Him because we acknowledge that our desires are the only relevant dictators of “truth” we will recognize.

Our complaints about our lives and what God is doing with us are expressions of discontent that will lead us, quite predictably, toward full-blown rebellion against the God. Pouring ourselves into rejecting God does not leave much room in our hearts for receiving His care in whatever form He determines it should take. When we are trusting our desires and finding fault with God for actions (and in-actions) that we don’t understand, we are on shaky ground. It may be familiar ground, but this does not make it any less dangerous.

The foundation God longs to secure us to is so much better than this. He would have us rest upon the weighty desires of His own unchanging heart. He would have us know in full the very deepest knowledge our hearts can hold: God’s sovereignty rules our lives because our lives were first conceived in His sovereignty. No one knows us like He does; no one cares about us like He does. What He does needs not amendment, only to amend the ones He acts upon. When Christ focuses us upon Himself, we are enabled to rejoice in the functioning of plans that don’t exalt us while they bestow love upon us.

 

Do you have trouble letting your fellow in for a time of REAL fellowship?

You’re sitting in a group setting. It’s small enough to be personal, yet large enough to give a decent level of unpredictability to the exchange you share. The conversation changes to matters of God and the heart (in this case, yours). The rule of participation is singular: you must offer honesty that comes at a cost to you.

You cringe at the very thought. You’re not feeling anywhere close to exposing your heart in this way. I’m gonna guess you’re also not looking for a motivation to change your mind. There is a part of you that appreciates the idea of fellowship, but its practical elements make up that large area where you get tripped up and tongue-tied.

When someone in the groups comments, “Oh, where would we be without fellowship?” you instantly think of a thousand places that would make for a very comfortable exchange in residence. There would be no reason to dislike fellowship except that it always has that bite; thus, you do all you can to avoid the unpleasantness.

What you may not realize is that by choosing to not sacrifice your present comforts, you are not making room for the wider range of creature-comforts that God designed for you. There is, in fact, more to being comfortable than never experiencing discomfort. Comfort is the reality of finding that spot that is most suited to you, what truly delivers the best results to your person. Such comfort cannot be offered to you by the world. It is solely the gift of your Maker. When you and I open our hearts to God, and to others who have made Him their Lord, we enable ourselves to be retrained in those very best delights that God originally set out for our lives. We don’t have to worry about disliking fellowship (or our fellows); we will thirst for it in the way God intended.

 

You were wondering what it’s like when God’s behind the wheel…?

Do you ever open the window of your life and realize that there is more out there than you realized? Maybe the extent to which you’ve been living with faith has not been enough considering what you’re beginning to understand about the possibilities in front of you.

I don’t know about you, but I love when my world suddenly takes on wider dimensions. That is when I know God is at work and the seat belt I’m wearing is about to come in real handy. My confidence reaches an all-time high when I am most aware that God is in the driver’s seat of my life and He’s about to turn up the speed and whip a wild turn.

There’s nothing more exciting than encountering the rewards of letting God lead you. I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Yeah, there may be long stretches of I’m-not-sure-what-you’re-doing-God but even these times cannot be compared with the emptiness of not living with God. His presence in our day-to-day experience is irreplaceable.

Now, the fact that God is indispensable does not mean that He bows to make completing our lives His ultimate purpose. I believe this is seeing Him in the wrong way: God is the One in whom we find ourselves complete, but not because He is working toward this goal. God is above the goal of make our lives complete. He defines what He wants to do; He is not defined by something that needs to be done.

Therefore, we are the ones who learn to bow to the One who makes us complete. He is who we need to receive from, not the other way around. So we receive slow times as well as speedy, adrenaline-fueling times with gratitude and peace. We don’t run the show, but the God who does has shown us–and will continue to show us as many times as we have to see it–that He’s got our back. Knowing this is the Truth, fastens our lives to the Rock and catapults our hearts into the ride of our lives. Are you ready to strap yourself in so the Driver can get going?

If you’re gonna serve Him, are you going to all the way with it?

Periodically, I have to take a social break. I pull back from the public world and take refuge in the quietness of my home for a few days. It can feel like a big deal when I do it–reorienting my schedule and reminding me that I primarily serve God, and not my own desires or the people around me.

God uses this time, that I have every few months, to deliver me fresh insights and assignments that I wouldn’t be able to fully receive if my focus were not so concentrated on communing with God. These sabbaticals have recently been resulting in very practical examples of God directing my paths when I acknowledge Him. He honors my willingness to put myself before Him in a temporary adjustment of my life that I wouldn’t normally choose.

This is a matter of obedience. It is not always convenient, but it is truly something I need to do. I worry–with embarrassing regularity–that my friends will be hurt by my actions or at least severely disappointed in/by me. I have a strong inclination to “rescue” them from such a fate by doing my part to keep them satisfied in all things that in any way relate to our relationship.

But, as I write this, it is becoming clear to me that such penetrating concern is inordinate, even on the level of idolatry. If I am placing my relationship with my girlfriends above the nurturing of my relationship with God–exalting their response to my action of obedience over God’s response–than I am sinning. I am hoping that in some way, both God and my friends can be equal; that there may be no difficulty pleasing the two simultaneously.

The truth is, though, that I can’t have both. There may be times when I can enjoy harmony between the two, but this is not a long-lasting conjunction. God will inevitably shift me into a new position that will test whether my alliance is with Him solely or parceled out between Him and my other loved ones.

Indeed, this will certainly have a flustering affect on my friends and I–who suffer from an acute sensitivity to discomfort related to God-appointed adjustments–but that’s not so bad. Certainly, we need our naturally-occurring devotions to be questioned in order for us to perceive our lack of Christ-centered devotion. And there is no better place to grow stronger in understanding the agreement between us and God that needs to be formed than by taking time away from the rest of the world for a little while. Have you tried it?

 

Acting a bit squirrelly lately, are we?

The noise of curious shifting draws my eyes through my upstairs window to view a squirrel scavenging in my neighbors trash can. He pops out within a few seconds with what appears to be a tasty (to him) crust of pizza left over from days gone by.

He (or she, as the case may be) repulses me. Every sensation of crawly-skin and mental infestation with the disgusting is happening on the inside of me right now. I hate scavengers–squirrels most of all. (Well, in truth, there are many that I would hate worse, but I won’t let myself remember the existence of any species from the rodent family other than the one creature who afflicts the terrain about my home with it’s presence.)

Seeing the sight I’ve described above, and contemplating what an uncouth life is led by this common breed of scrounger, I can’t help wondering, for a moment, what God thinks of us when He finds us picking at waste and filling ourselves up with the sewage we find around us. This may not have occurred to you, but we act out habits spiritually that are very similar to that of these petty gatherers.

When it comes to finding the truth and filling our hearts with it, we can be so undiscriminating and dispassionate. We’ll take anything. Apparently we have little regard for what may be suitable for us or what is perhaps exceptionally ideal. We’d rather amuse ourselves with what’s available than with what must be worked for.

Instead of acting like civilized humans, who work for their food and hold a conviction about the type of products they put into their bodies, we behave much more like the bushy-tailed Sciurus’ that inhabit our backyards and, sad to say, our garbage containers.

What kind of intervention do we need in order to move us from outback excuses-for-feasting to the real meal that’s going on inside God’s house? How can we stop keeping Him waiting for us to take our seats? Well, for one thing, if we have the heart of a squirrel, we’re never going to be able to really join the sumptuous festivity we were made for without having some type of deep reorientation or else we can go where the food is and still ruin the repast with our awful table etiquette.

Therefore, we head in the direction of the spread God’s called us to partake of, praying our little hearts out along the way. What I’m trying to intimate is surrender. The idea is that we would put our hearts at the disposal of our Host, asking Him to do all that is necessary to make us dining-worthy participants in His celebration of grace. We enjoin Him to make as new and pleasing our appetite and amend our manners in such a way that they mirror the behavior that He created the meal to inspire.

Then, with a joyful confidence that He has gladly taken us under His wing, being capable of refreshing and transforming us in every way, we enter the banquet hall with glee. Here we are, about to receive the fixings we were made for. And, boy, will it ever be good!

Wikipedia: A banquet is a large meal or feast, complete with main courses and desserts.

Are you having a problem choosing God for your life?

How do you see the gift of eternal life that God has to offer you? Do you see it like a type of security that is largely impersonal or a love-debt that is capable of stirring your heart to pour out love in response? You may be thinking, How could my heart ever be stirred concerning God? How could He ever be Someone whom my heart regarded with anything but cold, bitter emotions? God and I are not on good terms, never have been. And I don't expect that to change. I'm not even sure if I want it to.

As sacrilegious as you might think that confession is, it can actually be a person's most realistic starting point for relating with God. The point in exalting God is not that we would be dishonest--merely telling Him what He wants to hear--but that we would learn who God really is and that such knowledge would open our hearts to a true relationship. If you don't feel ready for such a relationship, perhaps you should take some time and investigate more of who God is. Gather the facts and let them work away at your mind; measure them against what you've always been taught and never thought to disbelieve.

Take a trial run. Ask God to let you find Him and to show you how to respond when you do. You may be wholly surprised by what God wants to lead you into and, also, by what He wants to get out of you. It may not be quite what you've surmised. Perhaps you might conceive for a moment that what God has in mind for you and desires from you would be a joy. He thinks you're pretty special and He doesn't want you to miss out on falling in love with Him. He wants the adventure of a lifetime and eternity to be yours: the unfolding of a passionate promise of relationship with God.

You won't know what it's like until you're willing to find out. Then, when you are, you'll encounter wonders like no one could have told you existed. Your heart will palpitate with ringing exclamations from the inside: "This is life! I've got it. And no one's gonna take this gift from me. Hallelujah!!" Don't picture yourself saying hallelujah? That's okay. Trust me, when your heart becomes unfettered and free in the love of God, whatever you come up with will be a form of hallelujah that is precious, a treasure shared by only you and God. It will be a prize resting so deep in the soul that none but you and He can fully know.

If you've been looking for life, this is where it is. Don't delay, honey--go for it! Your heart is begging for this. Don't let your inexperience be a worthy deterrent. You need this more than anything else; God wants to grant you this gift's joy more than any other joy. This is the jackpot to top all jackpots. It's life without end and liberty without limits. It's the uniting of you and God. It's more than something that makes sense; it's a truth too big for us to dissect or escape. Life is here and if you dismiss Him, He won't contradict you. You may choose no life if you want to. But then, what remains in the absence of life but the default of death?

Diligence is a gift that God gives hearts willing to become diligent

See if you can identify with me here: I don’t struggle with diligence, I just have a problem when being diligent isn’t easy. To think of walking out daily a consistent pattern of performance in good works seems like a marvelous evidence of grace. It’s something I truly want in my life; it’s just not something I really expect to take work.

Lately I’ve felt God calling me to be more diligent in certain areas of my life. He has wanted me to spend more time writing and He’s given me a new goal to reach for each month. I’ve loved the idea of the goals when He put them before me, but working them out has been a challenge–though certainly a very practical means of promoting growth.

I have been greatly aware of the pressure I feel as I attempt to be diligent in more things. I wonder if its not a bad idea that I try to do so much in a day. After all, I don’t always know how to juggle everything perfectly. And I worry that my “luck” in keeping everything in the air at once is running out. Each responsibility that is additional to my goal seems like an obstacle to my goal. Thus, I am tempted to give up my goal in the very name of responsibility. I think I should I hold to my regular duties and forget adding extra work for myself. A voice inside keeps saying: See how unrealistic it is for you to be setting goals for yourself right now? There are too many other things to attend to in your life already. Be smart and stop this before you go crazy and fail in everything you’re trying to do.

The things I have deduced about my circumstances and my responsibility reveal that I have a high tolerance for giving up. It’s not that I should not acknowledge that things are hard, but that I must not use the tension as a justification for disobedience. I know the way in which God wants me to go and I know it will not be easy for me, but I also know that God promises He shall enable me to endure if I am willing to let Him. The issue is whether I want Him to help me in this direction. Do I really want to get to where He wants me to go? Do I want to be a servant that He makes persistent in His mission? Or would I rather merely attempt His mission, but be free to return to my own when it’s harder than I want it to be?

The truth is, God hasn’t called me to an easy path; He has called me to an excellent path. A path where I would be conformed to His image and throw off the likeness of fleshly humanness. I don’t get to control the things that make this path excellent nor do I have the freedom to manage the affects walking it will have on me. I am given the expectation of trust. God anticipates that I will walk the path because I believe His faithfulness is enough of an encouragement to be faithful myself.

And truly, if I am willing to focus exclusively on His faithfulness, I am able to find cause for faithfulness as well as ability. Therefore, it is high time I let go the comfort-fantasy I’ve let tag along with me, keeping me emotionally uncommitted. As Hebrews says, I must lay aside this weight that would so easily become a sin to ensnare me. I must release myself into God’s care, counting that care as more precious than any care I could give myself.

I must remind myself of the good fruits that God is bringing about through my diligence that I might not shrink back from continuing in it. Though it is harder to follow God in these new ways, I am getting more done than I was before He called me to them. I am learning to trust God in new ways, too. Every day that I endeavor to carry out what He has put before me, I am freshly aware that I cannot do this on my own. Certainly, He has given the goals, and He must give the grace to complete them. My prayer is that just as He is set upon them I would also be.

I cannot maintain diligence unless I realize that it is about more than me. Beyond my perceptions, emotions and even the level of growth I expect to get from it, diligence is about rewarding my Master with the fullness of who I am. I have thought being able to consider myself fit for the the goal I set out to achieve was the ultimate measure of whether I should attempt it. But I am beginning to think differently. Maybe the ultimate reason for attempting any goal is that it be a blessing God. In this way, goals and obedience can serve the same purpose: Being an outlet through which my spirit says to God, I will do anything for You–whatever You say–even what I cannot, just so that You will be praised in the earth. I regard Your name as higher than my own; therefore, I will not consider anything about myself as the main thing in what I do. I will, instead, consider You and may that enable me to do much for Your glory. 

 

Wikipedia: Semicolons are followed by a lower case letter, unless that letter is the first letter of a proper noun like the word I or Paris.

Humorous names, if you ask me!

Do you ever think about how some of the things you have grown up hearing about or being associated with would strike you very differently if they were foreign entities? In the cases of some things, you would think them strange; while in others, you would be so aware of their “differentness” that you would pick out certain points about them that you would never have noticed had they always been part of the backdrop to your life.

Take the names of some things. We’ll start with the city of Pittsburgh. On a trip I took through several states in the Eastern United States, I noticed this Pennsylvania destination in a new way. On the green message boards that hang over the highways, I read the name as if it was the first time I had heard of the place–which wasn’t so hard, since I’ve never been there. I took note of the parts of the word, pondering what bearing they might have on it’s geographical and political identity.

Should you be interested, what I came up with is that Pitts-Burgh is a hapless hamlet where the people grovel in mighty large ravines. I imagine–if I pretend that I do not already know the facts about these things–that the Grand Canyon is located there. It stands out as the greatest fault of all its neighboring depressions. Oh, what a time they must have there!

I find it interesting that I haven’t noticed anyone naming Pitts-Burgh the Depression and Suicide capital of the world. But then, maybe it is a rather barren place, considering that its citizens could give their address in shorthand as “Yeah, I’ve been living in the “pits”.

Keeping in the same geographical area, suppose we consider two names for national sports teams that seem to have no meaning when you really think about them. (I don’t know, maybe the names of sports teams aren’t supposed to have real meaning.)

Phillies. Please, I’m really curious, where did the team creators come up with this one? Okay, maybe the Philadelphia Phillies does make a little sense–qualifying as a show of city pride. But what about the Philadelphia Flyers? What do they have going on? They fly? Then what are they if they fly? I thought flight was an action connected to some kind of subject–but this hockey team appears to be disembodied. Which may explain a few things related to their fans disappointment in recent years…

I don’t know if you’ve considered this as you’ve been reading, but the exercise of looking at familiar things as though they were very new things can be very helpful in acquainting us with God. When we do this, we train our eyes to be able to recognize the true meaning of things that we never probed deep enough to truly understand. We look for what God meant for us to understand all the time. We ask for Him to impart more spiritual insight than we can get from any other source.

True, the goal in this instance is not to uncover humor, but something even more relevant to our lives–the Truth that will help us build relationships with God that are more than wishful thinking, more than good intention. Putting our perceptions before God and being willing to receive His in their place is a commitment of ourselves to learning God as He defines Himself and identifying ourselves with that definition. In doing so, we receive the benefit of spiritual growth; but even more, a heart that knows the expanding blessing of being united to God.