Tag Archives: faithfulness

Delayed, But Not Too Late: One Word 2011

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My blogger-ific friend, Josh Miles (yep… I went there) recently posted a blog that inspired me to copy his idea completely.

And he was inspired by another blogger named Alece who is challenging readers to drop the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead focus on just one thing, one word to be exact, for an entire year. 

Somewhat unintentionally, as 2010 came to a close, I had been thinking about what word I would use to describe perhaps the most formidable year of life.

Lonely.

I know it sounds depressing; it felt that way at times.  Last year was filled with new ways and  areas in which the Lord emptied me of a lot of things that weren’t Him.  For all the reasons that I am grateful to have been shown how off-center I was in my affections and attention, it wasn’t easy to see things and people I care for stripped away.  

Lesson learned: God is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, in Him.

So with last year now (finally) behind me and with new perspective, my word for this year is… *drum roll*

Behold.

With the things that obscured my vision now removed, I want to behold the Lord.

Behold His grace on me and over others.

Behold His purpose, plan, and provision in each day I am granted.

Behold His continual forgiveness of my sins and His faithfulness to renew His promises to me every morning.

Behold His the lavishing of His love over me that I may overflow onto others.

Behold how expansive His grasp over all creation and how exclusive His grip on my heart.

Want to join in on the adventure?

One year.

One word.

Countless ways to be changed.

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The God-Chair

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I took philosophy sophomore year of college; once a week, on Tuesday nights from 6pm-9pm.  Now, it could have been a truly atrocious experience if I had the typical philosophy professor.  But my professor was anything but typical– he was brilliant, yes, but more than that, he loved Jesus and taught us all that Jesus was the ultimate subject of philosophy.

I remember a particular class in which we discussed “chairness.”  A chair, a simple inanimate object, represented an aspect of basic Christian philosophy this way: unless you believe that the chair is really there and that it will do what you have been told it will do (i.e. hold you up; support your weight), you won’t sit in it.  You must actually acknowledge what the chair is, what the chair does, and then act accordingly by sitting in it, allowing it to fulfill its prupose.  The essence of “chairness” then is made manifest when someone proves it through use.

This idea came to mind recently when a friend of mine referred to God as a 4 legged chair. 

You have to believe in all aspects of God the same way you believe that all 4 legs of a chair work.  You wouldn’t sit in a chair if it only had 2 legs. Why? Because it’s not balanced; it couldn’t support you because it would be unstable.  Same with God– we must believe that He is as faithful and good as He is sovereign and just.

This has really wrecked me over the course of the last week because the more I think about it, the more I think I am not sitting in the God-Chair.  I see God and acknowledge who He is and what He does. But I don’t know that I am truly resting my whole self into His character, nature, and Spirit. 

I tried to break down what the 4 legs of the God-Chair might be; here’s what I came up with: faithfulness, mercy, justice, and goodness.  One way of aligning them could this: His faithfulness shows His mercy; His mercy gives way to His justice; and because He is just, He is good. 

Or you could rearrange it– His mercy proves His faithfulness, and his goodness demonstrates His justice.

Or you could scramble it this way– His justice reveals his faithfulness in the same way that His mercy flows out of His goodness. 

They all, each attribute, reflect and demand the other.  There is no loop-hole here– He is complete; in all, through all, and for all. His holiness demands perfection and His perfection shows Him holy.

What do you think the 4 legs of the God-Chair are?

Growing Pains

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I only come to know the beauty of the valley from the top of the mountain

I only come to know the beauty of the valley from the top of the mountain

I’m beginning to detect a pattern.  Spiritual growth goes hand in hand with struggle, strife, transparent prayer,  desperate faith, and brokenness that leads to repentance.  It’s a pretty simple and predictable equation really.  But just because something is simple does not necessarily mean that it is easy.

I woke up this morning to snow and ice covering my car and the roads leading out of my apartment complex. I poured myself some coffee, turned on my computer and got ready for “bed church.”  “Bed Church” is an infrequent occurrence, but extremely convenient.  I podcast several different churches and listen to sermons at all sorts of random times.  When I’m working out, when I’m getting ready for work, before I go to bed, and most appropriately, on Sunday mornings when I am trapped in my own home.

Today’s sermon was entitled “Organic Faith.”  Beginning in 1 Peter 2, the pastor referred to the verses in which Paul challenges believers to grow and mature, to crave heartier things and to ween themselves from spiritual milk. Like a child who’s tastes change based on their growth and needs, so our desire for God should deepen, incurring a greater need for Him.

This is fairly elementary.  What got my attention is how he went on to describe just what this looks like.  What does it look like to go deeper? How does it taste to chew on tougher spiritual matters? How does it feel to wrestle with issues we may never find answers to? How do you live in the world without becoming like it? And how do you live in full confidence of faith when all you have is in fact, your faith?

Now, my fleshly rational would say, “Well, once you become a Christian, spend time in the Word daily, and fill your calendar with ‘churchy’ events 4 days a week, life is smooth sailing.”

Enter divine irony. Que omnipresent paradox.

This is exactly what Jesus said will not happen. This is exactly what he warns will never be the case.  And this is exactly why He came, saw us in our depravity, and conquered the sin that clings close and so easily entangles us.

That being said, we must face some hard truths. We must accept a few ultimate realities in order to be better prepared for the defensive battle. After all, defense wins the game, right?

First thing first: Forward motion is all that matters–pace does not.  So long as we, no matter our spiritual state, are seeking His face, yearning for His presence, and consuming the Word of the Gospel, we will be propelling ourselves forward. How quickly we get to the next step does not matter.

Once we realize that time is of no importance to God (considering He is outside of it) we can more accurately measure the “nature of growth.”  By not allowing ourselves to be contained or restricted by a clock or calendar, we can focus on what change is occurring and what new truths are taking root instead of making sure that we keep up with the spiritual-growth-pattern that the church outlined in a three point sermon.

Here are some components of the growth of maturity (remember, these are not my thoughts–I am simply relaying a message that encouraged my own valley season):

Spiritual growth, change, and maturity may or may not be instantaneous.  For some, God may radically and instantly change them, removing huge barriers, demolishing blockades, or simply bringing a peace that is there in the morning when they wake up.  Still for others, it may be a process, something that must be worked through with sweat and tears.  The former would appear to be easier; but the latter, while longer-lasting, may be used as a testimony to countless others.

Unlike an earthly parent-child relationship in which the parent would teach and instill in their child the ability to be independent of them one day, Christ draws us continually to Him.  In strengthening our faith, in deepening our relationship with Him, and in continuing to dip us into the fire of sanctification, we instinctively and intrinsically come to need him more.  Life outside the presence of Him begins to feel unnatural, uncomfortable and impossible.

The next part is what has been a real wake up call for me as of late.  In drawing closer to the Lord, seeing more of Him, and beginning to understand (or at least attempt to grasp) the expanse of His goodness, grace, justice, and sovereignty, my sin has become so much more apparent to me.  It seems to have blown up in my face.  All the ways that I fall short, the way I do the things that I don’t want to do (shout out to apostle Paul), and the humble realization of my desperate need for grace is amplified.  While I know this is good, right, and a natural outcome of growth, it does not feel good.  It had, at first, created in me a panic-stricken need for God instead of a reverent and endlessly grateful love of God.  To be panic-stricken is to forget the free gift of salvation and all that it means. So I must remember first His grace that saved me, allowing me to approach the throne, and then again worship Him for such mercy that has written my name in His book.  I now see that the realization of my sin generates an understanding of my dire need and thus, an eternal gratitude for salvation.

Maturity at this stage must be maintained through the continual “tasting and seeing” of the Lord’s goodness.  Like a plant that needs water, so we need to daily taste of the Lord’s grace and see His goodness in and over our lives.  Now, I will be the first to admit that there are times in which I can neither taste or see these things.  What’s the remedy?

I think it is two fold: prayer and remembrance.  I must pray that the Lord would open my eyes to see all the ways in which He is moving, orchestrating, and intervening on my behalf.  Then, I must call to memory all the ways in which He has been faithful to protect and provide for me in the past.  He may be unpredictable, but He will never contradict or deny Himself.  So there is rest and hope to found in the fact that His faithfulness is without end.

Lastly, we must ask “why.” Why the valley season? Why the spiritual drought?  I think that in asking and in wanting to know the mystery of His will, we discover the state of our own heart.  And that is the root of it all.  If we want to change our behavior and modify our actions, beliefs, etc. we must first confront the matters we house in our heart.  At the end of the day, that’s what the Lord is really after anyway, right?

Cliché, but true.

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I don't cheer when I write my checks, but I am grateful that I can write them at all.

I don't cheer when I write my checks, but I am grateful that I can write them at all.

“You can’t out-give God.” We have all heard it. Every pastor says it during the part of the service when they take up tithes and offerings. It a trademark line; a way of convicting (or convincing you) that if you give to the Lord, He will give back to you.

For the longest time, before I actually started tithing, I thought it was “scammy;” a little on the disingenuous side.

And it bugged me.

“How can they say that? How do they know that the Lord will give back?”

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