Tag Archives: spirituality

Priorities

Standard

When God is quiet, it forces me to recognize that I so often value:

1. His voice above His promised victory

2. His gifts above His endless grace

3. His safety above His sure salvation

4. His presence above His perfect peace

5. His Provision above His constant presence

6. His marvels above His ceaseless mercy

Is it just me, or have we become a church that prefers the gifts above the Giver? Have we forgotten our first Love and been drawn away by a lust for signs and wonders instead of the steady and wonderful person of Jesus Christ?

May we never tire of who God is. May what He can do for us never be the soul substance of our faith.

Advertisements

Don’t Create Grey Matter

Standard

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I’m not the “brightest crayon in the coloring box,” if you will. Philosophy 101 pushed the limits of my intellect. Concepts like “chairness,” edged dangerously close to brain melting depth.

I prefer to explore the simpler things; ideas that maintain a very vivid black or white identity.

Grey matter never really did much but confuse and frustrate me. Not because I believe that there is no such space as a “grey area.” Rather I never understood why so much time was spent somewhere that simply had no definitive end.

Instead of focusing on  the question we can not answer, why not focus on the answers we are already have?

For the believer in Christ, we have the answer to so much of what is now debated in society, challenged by culture and being redefined by government. And while we, as Americans, are encouraged to be welcoming, tolerant, and open-minded to those who may hold different values and beliefs, it is the Evangelical Christian Church that is not welcomed, not tolerated, and declared closed-minded and thus, it’s becoming increasingly ostracized for its’ lack of grace and Christ-like love.

This is not meant to be a political post, however politics make for the best example of the point I am trying to make, which is this:

If we, evangelical Christians, bend to any form of pressure outside of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the “truth” and “answers” that have held so closely to and tried so hard to uphold will become blurred, diluted, and eventually nothing more than “grey matter” that is subject to subjective and personal interpretation and no longer considered perfect, holy, or inherent.

Perhaps maintaining the view that Biblical scripture is God breathed, inspired, perfect and infallible is not a popular opinion. So be it.

Jesus Christ was controversial. His claims were preposterous and provocative. He was thought outlandish, arrogant, intolerant and completely irrational.

Does not it sensibly follow then, that those who claim to be His followers have similar reputations?

The era for being singled out and labeled “one of them” has never been more fertile.

God help me, I choose to be among the few.

He calls to you too.

Streams in the Desert

Standard

I realize that it’s been a while since I have written an original piece, but this was too powerful to not pass on. 

They looked… and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10 

Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.

Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.

Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.

Search out God’s promises and say aloud of each one: “This promise is mine.” If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.

The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.

At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly “snub” every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.

Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!

All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. –Selected

On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle’s domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights be had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once be forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!

“Keep looking up–
The waves that roar around thy feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.

“Keep looking up–
Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
The Light of Light shall fill

“Keep looking up–
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up.”

thy soul
When looking up.

We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west. –Japanese Proverb

From Streams in the Desert for April 2.

Where The Battle is Won & Lost

Standard

Special thanks to Mr. Chambers…

Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world. The Spirit of God seizes me and I am compelled to get alone with God and fight the battle before Him. Until I do this, I will lose every time. The battle may take one minute or one year, but that will depend on me, not God. However long it takes, I must wrestle with it alone before God, and I must resolve to go through the hell of renunciation or rejection before Him. Nothing has any power over someone who has fought the battle before God and won there.

I should never say, “I will wait until I get into difficult circumstances and then I’ll put God to the test.” Trying to do that will not work. I must first get the issue settled between God and myself in the secret places of my soul, where no one else can interfere. Then I can go ahead, knowing with certainty that the battle is won. Lose it there, and calamity, disaster, and defeat before the world are as sure as the laws of God. The reason the battle is lost is that I fight it first in the external world. Get alone with God, do battle before Him, and settle the matter once and for all.

In dealing with other people, our stance should always be to drive them toward making a decision of their will. That is how surrendering to God begins. Not often, but every once in a while, God brings us to a major turning point— a great crossroads in our life. From that point we either go toward a more and more slow, lazy, and useless Christian life, or we become more and more on fire, giving our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory.

May Our Hearts Be Turned

Standard

I have a friend named Chip. He’s a chaplain in the Army. Over breakfast one morning he told me that one of his chief ambitions in life was to marry a woman so far out of his league that when people would see them together they would say “How in the world did he get her?”

I laughed when I initially heard of his goal. What a ridiculous thing to strive for. But about a month later, something sparked that conversation in my memory and instead of laughing, I felt an odd weight of conviction. Suddenly, I recalled times when I have seen what society would say was an “unevenly matched couple” and I would think to myself “Wow, he must have a great personality to make up for…”

It was in that moment that Lord gently, but firmly whispered,

You have the same reaction when you see an unlikely soul walk into Church on Sunday mornings.  You turn your head in astonishment as if to say that they are too much for Me to redeem. You turn your head, but not your heart. Be careful, Mere.

Have you ever noticed how beautifully terrifying a deeper relationship with Christ can be?

It is a beautiful thing to experience grace, to receive mercy; to be clothed in robes of righteousness and covered in garments of salvation.  To be declared holy, blameless, and pure.

It’s breathtaking to realize that you are loved endlessly and without cause by the very Creator of the universe. To know that you have captured the heart of a King. You have been chosen by name, set apart since the beginning of time, to be the recipient of a limitless and unfathomable love.

But in all of this undeserved glory and redemption, something becomes painstakingly clear. As we bask in the light of His grace, the veil is lifted and we can see with perfect clarity the depth and breadth of our depravity were it not for His gracious intervention.

As we draw closer to Him, growing more acquainted with his nature and seeking to harvest the fruit of His Spirit in our own lives, does it not become paralyzing obvious how unnatural His nature is in us? Is it not blindingly apparent how desperately we must depend on His grace and mercy in order that we might live as He has called us to?

In the light of His holiness, does not our sin become more evident?

If we are all honest, we would answer yes. And if we would continue to be honest, then we must ask our selves this question: If He invited and accepted me, as I am, what on earth would make me think that His grace and salvation are not enough for the next person? Who am I to say that this person’s sin outweighs the power of the Cross?

May we never forget who we were before Christ and may we always remember that His redemption is for every man.

Scripture Came Alive

Standard

I came across a verse in Isaiah this week that I am pretty sure I have never seen before. I’m confident that it has always been there, but I don’t know that my eyes or heart have ever been open to it in the past.  It says,

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

There is a lot about this passage that I love and resonate with. For starters, the way that is begins takes my breath away– “The Lord waits to be gracious to you.” In saying that He “waits” it implies He wants to be gracious to us; to shower us with love and grace and forgiveness in order to show that He’s wants us. He’s after our heart. That’s a big statement.

But I literally say the latter part of this verse in action today and it nearly brought me to tears.

As I was out hiking (and by hiking I mean walking briskly on a sidewalk in the middle of a neighborhood in the suburbs) I saw a little boy riding a little bike, complete with training wheels, being trailed by his dad, running behind him.  They were headed right at me.

As the little boy’s legs tried to peddle the bike forward, it was obvious he was losing momentum and beginning to veer towards me. His dad, jogging behind him, placed his hand gently on his back to push him forward and kindly said, “stay right, stay right.”  I nearly stopped dead in my tracks as this verse came to mind.

 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it…”

Regardless of where I am or how fast I am not going, Christ runs behind me, helping me up the hills that are too hard when my legs grow weary and telling my in what direction to steer when my handle bar begins to wobble. And because He’s God, I think He runs ahead of me too, clearing the path He would have me take of some hazardous obstacles. Things like pot-holes where I could potentially get stuck or limbs, perhaps, that could be sharp enough to pop my tires.   All the while, He delights in me. Why? Because I am His kid. With the superman helmet and training wheels.

As this father ran behind his son, smiling, his son never looked back to make sure he was still there. He didn’t need to because he heard his dad’s voice and in knowing he was close, he peddled confidently.

God may we hear your voice. May we go where to you tell us.  And may we run hard after you.

Chain Reaction

Standard

They say that nothing about the Christian faith can be formulated into an equation. And I would agree.

I do think though, that there is a chain reaction element to this faith.  A chain reaction of beliefs, decisions, and actions that all culminate to ultimately create your reality.  But as you know, chain reactions must be started, there must be something that initiates the need to develop beliefs, make decisions, and eventually act in order to create said reality.

It all starts with theology. Your theology dictates your reality. If you really believed what you said you did, would your life, circumstances, relationships, etc. look any different? Would your reality then, reflect the theology that you claim?

The reason I ask is because I had a challenging and thought-provoking conversation with a friend that is much wiser than me and he made the following statement:

Your faith is strengthened and established by your obedience. Your obedience is compelled by your love for Christ. And your love of Christ is activated when you humbly recognize your deep need for His free grace and accept it wholeheartedly.

It never ceases to amaze me how frequently God takes me back to the basics.

 May we never forget from what we were ransomed and how we were set free.  May our love and obsession with Christ be fed daily and may we walk in it, working it out in our obedience.  And may we be filled with the joy of bold and vibrant faith because we simply believed.