Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Lately I feel that I haven’t been able to hear from the Lord very clearly, or really much at all. That’s pretty troubling when you rely on Him for guidance, wisdom, and direction. It’s been frustrating.

Experience has taught me that most often the times I can’t hear Him are the times I’m holding onto some want or desire so tightly that I start to block His voice. This time seemed to be no exception, as there indeed is something that has come up that I’ve wanted very badly. However, even before this desire arose, He in His perfect wisdom clearly and repeatedly told me to wait on Him. As was the case of the Israelites throughout the Old Testament, and really is with all of humanity, when you put boundaries on a situation, you find yourself wanting to go to the limit. Oh, the fallen flesh.

So I haven’t felt I’ve been able to hear Him, and there was a seemingly obvious reason to the riddle. But I did feel that I was willing to lay down the desire (though I can’t really convince myself of me ever truly being sacrificial). I felt that there was something more to the situation. It certainly had me pressing in and crying out harder than normal; I saw that as potential fruit of the silence. A few nights ago as I went to bed, I didn’t want sleep. I wanted to hear His voice. I wanted His assurance. I prayed:
“Lord, if You won’t speak tonight, then I will seek you in the morning. And if You don’t speak in the morning, I will seek you during the day. And God, if you don’t speak then, I will seek you tomorrow night. And my Lord, if you don’t speak tomorrow night, I will seek you the following morning.”

(Sigh) I then prayed that I would really mean it. There was something freeing about that prayer, as though the enemy had me on the verge of turning away from Him in part, but then I pressed in and trusted even more.

Tuesday morning was special. God decided to speak through a song, one I’ve heard plenty of times before (“Broken” by Lifehouse). As I came to an intersection on my drive to work, the surroundings made me think of that desire I spoke of. After drifting in thought, the song came on... and pretty much every lyric hit me in ways they haven’t before. At one point, I remembered the upcoming verse and nearly lost it. The specificity to various aspects of what I was going through was deeply touching. The song ended as I pulled into the parking lot. I was so grateful. Did I hear everything I wanted answers to? No. But He reminded me He’s listening.

Later that day, I was struggling with insecurities; at one point I texted a friend asking for prayer. That day and night, I felt that I needed to focus on what the Lord thought of me as opposed to my own assumptions on what others thought, but because I interpreted the bulk of my current problem being selfishness and self-centeredness, dwelling on His thoughts about me didn’t seem appropriate. I felt a bit discouraged (and lazy), wanting some short list so I didn’t have to dig through the bible to find these thoughts. I let it go and tried to focus on asking God for a heart for outreach and a focus on others.

This morning, I received a random email forwarded from my great-grandmother. When I opened it, I saw sentences positioned to form the shape of a bell. “Hmm...okay.” The sentences formed a list, entitled “The Bell”. And the first line read, “I Know Who I Am”, and was followed by 30 statements with scripture references about who God says we are. The only thing that kept a stream of tears from flowing was the shock of the reality of what just happened. I was stunned. This time He spoke through an email, showing me again, “Yes, I’m listening...”

These events would not have touched me the way they did without the yearning He’s caused in me. I do believe that His silence has been training for my ears. Though I wish to always have a direct, clear connection, I see Him working in me to trust and move ahead in truths He’s already spoken.

I still have questions. I still would like answers. That aforementioned desire remains. But I shall wait upon the Lord, and listen for His voice. If He decides to speak bountifully, I’ll gladly take it. If He decides to speak sparingly, then may I seek Him all the more, and may my life be worship unto Him, my Wise Counselor, my Savior, my God.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The past 3 or so weeks have been a whirlwind. Going back a bit before that, I had a dream about a friend from high school who I hadn’t thought of in years, and I strongly felt the Lord wanted me to contact His “lost son”. I did, and after sharing my testimony and some scripture, God used that as a pivotal part of this friend’s recent salvation. Wow. I mean, wow. I had some feeling that God was up to something, but to see Him move like that, and use me for some part of

Mid-October, I went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip, serving with Mission Emanuel. They operate a couple schools, a clinic, and a church in a village about 20 minutes west of Santo Domingo, the capital. The trip was intense and absolutely amazing. It started with us actually missing our flight. But I had told God I was giving this whole week to Him, so if He wanted us in the DR, He had to get us there! We got there the next day and immediately went to the mission and started setting up the physical therapy room (for special needs children) in the clinic. As I saw the PTs work on the children, God drove something home. My mind likes to constantly think in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. To work on a child for a bit, knowing he needs more help, seemed like a misallocation of resources or, in some coldly logical way, a waste of time (“not good enough”). But what I did learn was the heart of “do what you can where you are.” It’s not just about the body, but also about the soul. Love on God’s people. If you can do all that is needed, great. But at least do what you can. He puts us where He wants us. (My being in the DR was a testimony in itself; I had battled some depression around the decision time, wasn’t going to go, but an associate pastor rightfully challenged me on it and didn’t let me fade away).

And this was just from the first day.

I got to walk around the village and meet lots of people; also got to pray for many. The people are so warm and welcoming. You walk by, say “Hola!”, and they invite you in to sit and talk and commune. It’s beautiful.

Played with lots of kids, which was great. DID get to play a little frisbee, which I was most anticipating (shallow?...maybe...but it was fun :). Got in a little carpentry work; okay, I just sanded and caulked a bit, but it’s fun to say I did carpentry work.

The most singularly impactful event was when I assisted in the dental clinic. One morning, the power was out (a common occurrence) and the generator was broken (not so easily absorbable). Performing dentistry without power isn’t exactly a favored endeavor of the professionals. They needed some extra help, people to do their best mechanical arm impersonation and hold a flashlight for the doc. When Anna, one of the staff workers, came around to ask for help, I held back; let’s say it was to let others have the opportunity first. Thankfully for me, someone stepped up and went. And lo and behold, a few minutes later Anna was back, asking for more help (there were two dental chairs). She gave me a “please help” look, and I went. And God showed me again how He gets us where He wants us.

I ended up holding a flashlight while Mark, the dentist, pulled 25 teeth from a 13 year old girl; she had a lot of infection and the teeth were rotting to the gum line. Mark said if she hadn’t had this done, she may not have lived much longer. So I stood there, positioned the flashlight, and watched tooth after tooth come out...

...and this brave little girl never showed any fear or shed any tears. After a while, I did start to get a bit woozy (no a/c and lots of blood) and took a break. I found a solitary spot, sat down, and cried. I mourned sin, the brokenness and pain that has entered the world because of a stupid apple (I was a bit angry at that moment...obviously it wasn’t about the apple). It was a very intense crying, what I think I’d call mourning in the Spirit, or something like that; it wasn’t simply me weeping. God did remind me of the healing and redemption He has brought (“look around”) and is bringing. Praise be to God.

Other stuff happened, but you can ask me if you’re interested. It was a great trip and I do hope to return sometime soon.

God, being the type that just can’t help Himself but keep blowing my mind, had something else very special in store. During the trip, there was a father and daughter on the team; they had a great relationship, being best friends. God put some things on my heart to write to them, so I wrote a little note pointing out that relationship and how much of a blessing it was. I mentioned how my mother was estranged from her dad, that it had been very hard, and how so many others are in similar circumstance. I gave this note to the father on the day we left, Saturday.

After church the next day (back home), I called my mother and we talked for a bit. I told her how I was taking an hour or so before going to play frisbee to just zone out and try to recover from all the intense emotions, burden of sharing, etc. from the trip. Then she proceeded to tell me how, out of the blue, my grandfather had contacted her, and they met on that very Saturday I gave the note, and reconciled. I was floored to begin with, then I remembered writing the note, and I had to tell my mom I’d call her back. I got on my face and cried and worshipped God. I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I was an emotional mess in the best way. God’s healing is incredible.

So, all that was a lot. “But there’s more...” At the end of my first week back, I was laid off from my job. It wasn’t an absolute surprise, and I had already been looking for something else. When my boss called me into his office, I knew. I was pretty calm and completely trusted the Lord to provide. As I shared a couple days later at church, having see Him provide for those in the DR, how could I worry? It would be illogical. God promises so much to us. He doesn’t necessarily promise to give us what we want, but He does promise to give us what is good. And one of the greatest promises is that we don’t need to worry about anything. So, I trusted Him to provide. Now, trusting Him after praying for a little while and reading scripture and feeling great is one thing. But then the practical side hits, as I’m scrolling through jobs and not knowing what in the world to do. The enemy wanted to get me riled up and frustrated, but God gave me much grace to cast everything unto Him.

The first week of not working was harder than I expected. I faced tough temptations of various kinds, and they were worse than I anticipated. But somehow, someway, He got me through it all. I was determined to let Him work, trusting in His sovereignty. It was tempting to worry about needing to do more, etc. But I kept letting it go and doing what I could and trusting. Yesterday, I got a call, and within the hour I had a short-term contract position starting today with an old employer, doing what I like to do best (Access/VBA developing). And counting the new pay rate and severance I got, I ended up with more than I would have had if everything stayed status quo. God’s good like that. I was welcomed by lots of familiar faces, lots of smiles, “good to see you”s, “you’ve lost weight!”s, and the like.

The national average unemployment length right now is 6 months; mine lasted 6 days. I shake my head and close my eyes in amazement at the Lord’s hand.

I’ve struggled at times with the thought of “Why all this for ME?” Many others are struggling. But God reminded me that it isn’t all for me (I’m to be generous), and it’s His plan.

I could rattle off a long list of things I haven’t done in my walk/life that I should have, and vice versa. But a major factor in my growth is knowing that list doesn’t matter at all, and I’m able to let go of it as I dive into God’s grace.

So, a crazy involvement in a salvation, an incredible missions trip, an unexpected reunion with grandparents, a job loss, and a job gain. It’s been a whirlwind. And it’s an answer to prayer, much prayer, by me and by so many wonderful brothers and sisters who have stood by and supported me. I’m eternally grateful for them all. And I’m eternally indebted and thankful for my amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


God’s stirring something. Alright, that’s a really bland/general/duh statement. Okay, specifics. God’s stirring community here in Jacksonville. Hmm…still general. Let’s try: God’s stirring deeper community in my heart and in the hearts of others. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

Over a recent period of time, I’ve realized I need deeper spiritual intimacy with my close brothers and sisters than I’ve had. I think the dangerous “Christian culture” has slipped in and settled quite comfortably. For a while, I’ve been satisfied with just hanging out with Christians, having fun moments together. And that’s good and I feel to be desired and sought, in its proper place/proportion. But when that’s as deep as it gets on a regular basis…I need more.

Now, bringing this up demands definition. What is community? What does the Bible say about how we are to live with each other? What I’m I looking for? Spoiler alert: this note will NOT answer all that :). My, that would be a chore not only beyond my ability/knowledge, but beyond my pressure-bearing point as well. But hopefully this can spark discussion, here or in person, within my community and within other ones.

Acts 2:42 (and more in the chapter) is often used to help define community: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” That doesn’t seem hard. I mean, really, is there anything in there that’s difficult? Oh, wait, we’re people. We get distracted, we have emotions that take us in various directions, we struggle with sin, etc. Yeah, that makes it a bit tougher. But obviously does not make it impossible.

So, deeper community. Maybe I’ll just go with some of my own thoughts/desires, and continue from there. I want to be truly “involved” in others’ lives, in knowing how they’re really doing, how I can be of help to them, how I can pray for them…and to actually pray with them. I’ve read recently about how the Body of Christ is a place for people to be accepted and known, and a safe place to grow because of acceptance. I want to help make that safe place, and I myself need it. Symbiotic beauty of intentional Christ-centered community…it’s good.

I discussed this topic over lunch the other day with a good friend. Both our hearts yearn for this, yet at times, perhaps most of the time, we feel somewhat helpless/lost in how to go about it. I do think this kind of community takes commitment, and it can be awkward, to me, to go through some form of “are you committed to this?” stage. But there comes a point where we must advance forward in our walks, and I feel this is something that has to happen. I’ve seen so many scriptures point to the idea that we’re either gaining life or we’re dying. The middle ground (think lukewarm) cannot sustain.

This all takes sacrifice. I’m not sure in what ways it will reveal itself for me, but I will have to sacrifice for this. That’s hard. I’m selfish. I don’t like sacrificing. But though sacrifice feels like death, without it, we will die a slow death, indeed. I’m in agreement with my friends who say we don’t want to live a mediocre life, have a mediocre walk with the Lord. And that’s going to be costly. Sigh.

So, what does this look like? How does this start? (Some/most of this application may be more for my situation specifically, where we have a small “core” group of friends already). I think sometimes that may be to pray, then to go out and do something fun. Sometimes to pray, and go somewhere God leads us and help someone/people. Sometimes to pray, and to stay and pray some more. There’s no perfect formula, no set program or way to do this. It does take a group of people, who’s hearts are prepared by the Lord and enabled by the Holy Spirit, to come together and be of one heart and united in seeking the Lord and His kingdom. You don’t find that just anywhere, or randomly. It’s intentional, yet God-given and God-grown.

Life is hard. We need each other to carry on; relationships are one amazing way God grants grace and helps us persevere. We can’t make it in this race alone. We weren’t designed to do it that way. I want to challenge you to pray over these things, and to discuss them with your community. If you don’t have one, seek out others who are seeking the Lord. I feel trite in saying that, but do it. If you are in a community that maybe isn’t quite what you desire, be the change that you seek. And trust me, don’t do THAT on your own; go to God for the strength necessary.

Our Father’s heart is for His people to be in right relations with each other, spurring one another on, building one another up. Let’s do that.

Oh, and Acts 2:47: “…praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Don’t forget to be out-reaching. I’ve seen really good communities dissolve because they became inward-focused only. There’s a balance, as you do need to look after the health of the “internal” relationships. But don’t settle there. Bring others into the fold. That’s Jesus’ heart.


So I have been going through a tough season of late. Well, I really don’t want to use that phrase, but I don’t know the best way to describe it. In generalities, there have been some strongholds I’ve had to face, one in particular of great impediment. But over time, I’ve seen that much of my sin is really just a symptom of some deeper problem.

There have been countless nights I’ve gone to bed, crying out to God, saying I don’t what things to be like this. I’ve felt helpless in my struggles, though that’s been hard to accept because I know I have a will and have felt I should be able to choose the “right” thing. I’m convinced of the Lord’s love and goodness, and I couldn’t imagine Him doing more for me than He’s done; I feel He’s given me the ability to walk in His light. So that leads me to conclude that I must have to do something different, because He’s already doing His part. What you end up with there is the idea of “I have to fix myself”, a pretty big lie.

Wednesday night, as I was driving home from playing frisbee, the thought came to me that perhaps this was a season, a season of struggle that the Lord wanted me to get through. I was very nervous to accept this, because it actually gave me hope (though claiming to love logic, I'm quite often irrational :). Still had a hard night, but something somewhat clicked there.

Then, there was Thursday morning. I don’t imagine ever forgetting this day. I woke up really tired, in a crabby mood, snoozed a bunch, just didn’t want to get up at all. I really think God uses those times on purpose :). On this morning, I finished the book of Hosea. Chapter 14 is incredible. Really. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s your background: imagine a people doing the worst possible things to a God who loved them the most. Then read the chapter. The rest of this note can wait.

In verse 2, Hosea exhorts the people to take words of repentance and return to the Lord. The whole middle section is deeply moving, portraying God’s unending love for His people. The chapter ends with this: (v.9) “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” After reading it, I was challenged to follow this message, and to bring words to the Lord in repentance.

But how do I repent of things I keep turning back to? Eventually you get dizzy after turning to the Lord, then back to sin, then back to the Lord, etc. I’ve questioned if I’ve truly repented of something if I later go back to it. I did forget here a teaching I’ve heard in the past that dismisses this worry, basically saying that though you may stumble, if you’re heart is truly turned to the Lord, that is repentance. I didn’t consider this wisdom until later, so at the moment I was struggling. I knew what I needed to do, but felt unable to do even something as seemingly easy as bring words to the Lord. But God was gracious, and He gave me the words. I repented and cried out for help. I also cried out about the near constant voice of condemnation I feel I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I know some of it has been me being hard on myself, but much of it has been the enemy. I sat there broken, helpless. As I cried out, I felt Him say, “Okay.” And I felt something physically change within me (won’t bother trying to explain it exactly). The voice was gone. Seriously. And the whole day was absolutely unbelievable. The condemnation was gone. The specific hurtful/sinful desire I had been struggling with was gone. I felt a freedom that I honestly do not think I’ve ever had before. Our God is mighty and sovereign and powerful.

I do think much of my struggles have been due to problems with acceptance, something I recently wrote about. I think the sin issues have been a symptom of the condemnation, a way to try to soothe the pain. I’ve known that I needed deeper healing, not just a band aid for the surface level problem. And He provided that. After a season.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:4-5)

God’s been teaching me a lot about grace and acceptance and forgiveness. This moment seemed to be a sort of culmination. And I say that not in whole, as I have so much more to learn and experience.

I do admit that the whole day Thursday was quite a mountaintop experience itself. I know not to expect that as the norm, but to enjoy it when He graces us with it. He gives us those moments to help us through the valleys.

For anyone struggling now, hold on. It feels so banal/cliché/insufficient to say that. But for those who truly believe in God’s power, it is rivers of living water, hope in a dry desert. And I say that to others in hope that they will remind me when I’m in the valley, in the desert.

Praise God for His faithfulness. Hallelujah, and Amen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


God gave me this blog early Sunday morning. Been busy/drained till now.
Recently, a few friends have said I’ve challenged them. Great. I mean, really, I am grateful the Lord uses me. But so often it doesn’t feel like “enough.” And I question, “What’s my purpose?”

I know the general purpose of my life: to praise and worship God, and to bring Him glory. Really, to just “be” with Him. I so often question if I’m doing that. I think at times it seems to be that I am doing those things, but so often not. I feel if I ask certain people close to me (especially my mother), they’ll say I am. But I dismiss it so easily (and foolishly). I have such a high need for affirmation, yet I truly seek affirmation from the harshest critic, whoever that may be (I’m not thinking of anyone in particular). It’s like, “If I can get their affirmation, then I really know I’m doing things correctly.” Umm…“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:1-3).’”

So, A or B: do I think God’s acceptance isn’t enough (pride? confusion?), or do I not truly believe I am completely accepted?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prayer quotes

Some quotes on prayer, numbered for your commenting pleasure. Pass these on.

1. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. – John Bunyan

2. Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential yet more neglected than prayer. – Francois Fènelon

3. To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying. – John G. Lake

5. Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? – Corrie Ten Boom

6. Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing. – E.M. Bounds

7. Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. – Oswald Chambers

8. There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him. – William Law

9. When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. – Corrie Ten Boom

10. Rich is the person who has a praying friend. – Janice Hughes

11. Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude – an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. – Andrew W. Pink

12. If you are sick, fast and pray; if the language is hard to learn, fast and pray; if the people will not hear you, fast and pray; if you have nothing to eat, fast and pray. – Frederick Franson

13. In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. – John Bunyan

14. Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of faith. Faith prays, unbelief does not. – John A. Hardon

15. If you can’t pray a door open, don’t pry it open. – Lyell Rader

16. The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him. – John Climacus

17. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer. – E.M. Bounds

18. God’s answers are wiser than our prayers. – Unknown

19. Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart. – Martin Luther

20. A servant of the Lord stands bodily before men, but mentally he is knocking at the gates of heaven with prayer. – John Climacus

21. I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it. – John Wesley

22. We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another. – William Law

23. Pray, and let God worry. – Martin Luther

24. Pray without ceasing. – Paul

Monday, July 13, 2009


I've had a rough few weeks. I slowly drifted into a state of...something. Characteristics: selfishness, laziness, indecision, degree of depression, passivity. For the most part, I've been struggling with what to do with my free time, how to serve, and what ways I should be "plugged in" at church.

I recently read a book on grace by Chuck Smith. It helped me a lot to better understand grace, how we don't have to "do" things to please the Lord or earn salvation, blessing, etc. It's unmerited favor the Father gives. With that learned/reinforced, I predictably, yet unexpectedly, swung wide to the side of "just be"; certainly short of "license to sin," but far enough into a murky mire as to disrupt my maturing with the Lord. This situation was greatly exacerbated by a free and clear schedule (double meaning there). I didn't have many obligations, and I felt that unless the Lord told me to do something, I could spend the time how I pleased. I would ask the Lord if there was anything He wanted me to do, to let me know. But I can't claim authenticity in strongly seeking His voice for direction.

So, I went on doing whatever I wanted. I played sports nearly every night and relaxed at home afterward. Sometimes I'd listen to a sermon or just watch a game. After repeated days of such activity, an empty feeling developed and grew. I knew I wasn't being discipled/mentored, yet I wasn't clamoring for it. I knew I wasn't deep in genuine fellowship, yet I was okay with my personal study and occasional spiritual conversations with friends. I was doing just enough to keep the overwhelming voice of His Spirit at bay.

The typical consequences of such actions arose: over-eating, sluggish exercising, boredom, shorter prayers, spiritual frustration, etc. The warning signs were all there, and He has grown me enough to make them clearly visible. Yet I waited. Not on the Lord, as I was claiming to a degree, but on myself. I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

One thing that has been good: throughout this time: my faith in His holding onto me was never in question. And perhaps that lent itself to me prolonging my malaise. I knew He wouldn't let me go, but I became extremely passive in this, waiting for Him to change something. A bout of laziness. Thankfully, He loves me enough to take me as I am, and He loves me enough to not leave me as I am.

One particular sticking point of the degeneration: for a while I had been fighting going to Men's bible study at my church. [Divergence: part of me wants to analyze why I'm so hesitant/resistant, but I know that will dig up more imperfections that I'm leery to currently face. Enough of me has learned by now that indeed I need not sift and sort it all, that the Lord will form His clay without it knowing all it's composition. All this analysis, performed as though I knew all the variables. Petty. And pathetic. And forgiven.] There are different reasons, none of which are sound. My rationalization was compounded: well, I don't really want to go, and He hasn't told me to; I don't really know what I'll get out of it that I can't get from personal study, reading commentaries, and listening to sermons; I usually don't really contribute anything unless I'm sure of it, so they won't miss much if I'm not there, etc. There's a certain pronoun that was running rampant.

Sunday was huge for me. God had been speaking in little ways (started reading Isaiah, about justice and a calling, etc.), but I kept pushing them aside or taking them lightly, asking Him to be clear. (What a great response to the voice of God.) Well, on this day He did make things clear. It started at church with an exortation for guys who had been thinking about going to Men's study to go this Monday for an event. "Hmm...okay God, maybe that is You, but You can do better than that," I thought. "Sure thing, son."

The sermon was on Acts 10, where the Lord speaks to Peter and to Cornelius in separate ways and brings them together, confirming His hand in their lives; a great model for how God confirms things. After service, a man that was moving to take a job challenged me out of the blue about young male leadership in the church. POW/BAM/SMACK. Seriously, I can't put to words how it hit me (onomatopoeia was a feeble attempt :). Oh yeah, my walk with the Lord isn't just about me. Oh yeah, God has shaped me to be a leader. Oh yeah, I'm part of the body, and what I do or don't do affects the entire body. It was as if something I had been blinded to was revealed, something I've known yet had lost sight of. At that point I knew that I needed to plug into that bible study and make myself available to Him.

Some needed confession. Even at this point, I still had some uneasiness. Part of it, which sounds pathetic and needs at least some explanation, is I didn't want to give up playing basketball on Monday nights. Now, I've told the Lord that I would give up anything if it's what He wants, and I believe that is true. The catch seems to be that if there's something I don't want to give up, He really has to convice me, and I suddenly have a harder time hearing Him. Funny how that works. After church, I went to the Y and played ball. And I do admit that after seeing that I could play Sundays instead of Mondays, I was more willing/desiring to go to the study. At first I wanted to fight this ("I should choose to sacrifice and be honorable, etc."), but I realized it was a sorry pride issue, and if the Lord throws me a bone, I'll take it.

In the evening, I attended a prayer and worship meeting at the beach with friends from Intervarsity. I almost didn't go, but God wanted me there and made it happen. During the meeting, Dan, the UNF IV staff worker, strongly exhorted us about leading our generation. I just sort of smiled and looked out at the ocean. How am I supposed to respond to God after getting so frustrated when I rebel and beg for clarity, and He grants it? Goodness. There were some other things that I won't detail that supported the whole thread of the day. We serve an incredible God.

So, tonight I'm going to the study. And I'm kind of excited about it. As has happened before, once I said "Yes" to the Lord, everything (spiritually and emotionally speaking) fell back into place. Peace has been restored. I knew all along this would be the result, I just didn't know how long it would take or what it would exactly look like. I do hope to say yes sooner next time, though.

So, to summarize, I became very self-centered and lazy. I forgot that I am not my own, and that I am here to fill a purpose, one greater than just knowing God personally. There's a void to fill, and I need to step up. The world needs servants and leaders. And I've told God the same words Isaiah did, "Here I am Lord. Send me." (Is 6:8) And in His faithfulness "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6b)

Praise God.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Melting Smile

The melting smile of the Father's face
Reminds my soul of His amazing grace
Multiplying my heart's pace
Sin, guilt, and shame gone without a trace
Stepping into time and space
To lay on the cross, to take my place
Ascending to Heaven to plead my case
How I long and yearn for His embrace
With Him, for Him, toward Him I run the race

Monday, May 25, 2009

A garden, not a factory

From “Why Grace Changes Everything” by Chuck Smith:

“Have you ever considered the vast difference between “works” and “fruit”? “Works” suggests a factory complete with pressures, deadlines, and the constant need to produce. But “fruit” pictures a peaceful, tranquil garden, a place where we are inclined to stay and drink in the beauty while we enjoy each other’s company.

“It’s important to realize that God doesn’t come to His factory looking for products. He comes to His garden to enjoy its fruit. The gospel of grace invites us to leave behind the smog and pressure of a factory-like life of works and instead bear the fruit that God desires to see in the garden of our lives.”

He goes on to cite passages such as Gal 3:2-5 and Rom 14:4. He later expounds that we aren’t to force ourselves to “do” things for God, but rather look to Him and let these things come. And a lot of that will be things that are natural for us. For instance, we aren’t all to force ourselves to be street evangelists, etc., if that isn’t our gifting. He gives Jeremiah (20:9) as an example of how we can’t even keep back the fruit when it is within us. Good reminder that God creates us individually, not in a “Christian mold”, and we aren’t to try to duplicate one another (1 Cor 12:12). Good stuff.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Trip of a lifetime

The Lord woke me up today at about 3am for what I thought was a mere trip to the bathroom. After getting back into bed, I was curious of the time. I drowsily checked my phone and saw an unread text from my mother regarding new brunch plans for later this morning, which got my mind cranking and sent the sleepiness scurrying far away. At some point my mind drifted to an event of the previous day. I had lunch at Panda Express with a few friends. Those of you who are familiar with the fast food Chinese chain know they serve fairly large portions. After receiving a heaping scoop of a “side” of rice covering half my plate, two things came to mind. First, I waveringly thought “that is a lot of food.” Secondly, I pictured myself in a poor country dishing out rice (probably not of the pork fried variety), and it seemed so “right.” My overloaded yet fiscally feasible lunch pierced my heart as another snapshot of my American opulent lifestyle. I’m learning that I needn’t eschew it all for the self-righteous sake of claiming asceticism, but God has been, over time, putting something bigger on my heart.

For a while I’ve desired to serve overseas in some capacity. I’ve been praying for a realization of my spiritual gifts, as I have too often tried to force myself (at least mentally) into roles that may not be for me (full time missionary, street evangelist, etc.). After remembering the Panda Express experience, I thought of my church’s October mission trip to the Dominican. I’ve thought about the various mission trips off and on, usually deciding it just wasn’t the right time or utilizing some other reason/excuse. Surely, money has played a role. Growing up in my younger years without the same luxuries I’m now afforded has created within me a stumbling block in raising support and asking people to “help.” “God’s given me the ability to work,” I’ve thought, “so I’ll just save up on my own…after I pay off that debt. Ok, so it may be a little while. Well, maybe He just doesn’t want me to go right now.” So went the fallacy of pride and self-reliance, even if masked with a “God-centered” front.

I’ve know of this attitude for some time now. And I’ve known He would probably deal with it at some point. I’ve dreamed of somehow coming upon a large sum of money, but I know God isn’t going to let me skirt around this river; He’s going to have me cross it because He is a loving Father who desires His children to be dependent upon Him. I confess that as I’ve met more people and made more contacts, I’ve felt somewhat better about raising funds should the time come; I’ve divisively questioned the merit of such comfort and subsequent placement of trust (flesh, not Father?). Regardless, my faith in God’s provision has grown, and it’s in His hands I place my trust.

The Lord has been good to unveil another antagonistic attitude of mine. I recently had ideas to venture into my own ministry of a particular type, even though my church has a similar one already. I really questioned why I was averse to joining that group; maybe I didn’t want to be restricted to a determined routine or formula? Still thinking/praying over that. This aversion kindled memory of my wanting to go to Costa Rica and do my own “mission trip.” Again, my church has organized trips, yet I seemed unwilling, or at the least uneager to look into them. This morning I think I’ve realized that doing so (going with them) would make it all (actually being out there, serving, sacrificing, etc.) too real, and I was scared of that. But oh, the freedom abounding when desires are given unto thee by Him who softens the hardest of hearts and calms the fiercest of fears! How sweet, how sweet indeed!

A prayer time the other day for a friend reminded me of the importance of community in going out and serving, a contrarian convention to my current lone wolf tendency. I’m not gifted with visionary leadership or ministry planting/development (at least, not at the present time…who knows what the Lord has ahead?). God’s revealing of that lack and of my solitary disposition confirmed to me the need to seek out something established; you know, something like, let’s say, opportunities the Lord had already presented but I had rejected due to my own judgments and faulty inhibitions. Yes, freedom indeed, when we let go of ourselves and our own ideas and determinations.

I started to ponder a bit longer the practical implications of the trip. I wouldn’t have another full week to take off work, so I’d have to sacrifice a planned vacation to a friend’s family beach house in California (just writing that makes me feel far too blessed). I certainly have been looking forward to it. But I must say I have, for some reason, been even more excited/anticipatory about a June journey to Pennsylvania for a good friend’s wedding (a few of us are going up early to make a mini-vacation of it). So, for full disclosure, I feel the wedding’s “trip satisfaction” has made the Cali sacrifice far easier than expected. It’s also early in the morning right now, so we’ll see how I feel later today :)

There are a few other pieces I’ve had/need to wrestle with. One, my desire to go overseas and serve has been quelled in the past by my realization that I was emphasizing the former over the latter. It’s such a romantic idea, traveling across the waters and doing God’s work. But my heart was found out when I shied from serving across town. Hmm…not so romantic, and my desire to serve quickly shrank. From that unearthing I knew then certainly wasn’t the time to go abroad, and I wondered if that time would ever come.

The other piece is “what is a calling, and how do you know?” For concision’s sake, a recurring theme I’ve heard/read on this is God grants you gifts and abilities and creates desires in your heart. My focus on learning my calling has shifted from looking for a bright light and listening for a thunderous voice to looking at my own inventory of gifts and abilities and listening to the divine desires placed on my heart.

I feel God’s given me the desire to go to another country to serve (not sure how long); He’s been growing and pruning it. He’s also been developing various gifts in me, such as administration, gathering, and encouragement. He’s given me a good business sense and technical skills. But most of all, He’s granted me a willing heart (I pray!), covered by the blood of Jesus Christ (I know). He’s worthy of everything we have; the least I can do is give Him my life. I’m committed to serving Him, bringing His kingdom to Earth, loving as He’s commanded us to love. Only by His grace can I carry onward in this race.

For those of you who have ventured to read this far, I ask for your prayers, prayers for guidance, leading, provision, equipping, and confirmation.

I’ve questioned God so much with “what’s my calling in life?” He’s been slowly revealing that it isn’t a grand plan for me to figure out now and all at once. And this potential trip may only be a part. But when He wakes me up at 3am with all this to say, THAT I figured I should write down :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Logical insensitivity

So I’m realizing more and more how poor my communication skills are. Not to fret, as the Lord doesn’t overlook anything. Today produced a good example of a tidy learning lesson.

One of my responsibilities at work is to go to the post office and pickup our PO Box mail. I was out sick yesterday. This morning, my co-worker apologized for not getting the mail, citing her full schedule. I only go Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, naturally, my response was a rather terse (to the outside viewer…you know, not me) “Yesterday was Tuesday.” (It was logical to me, and I didn’t understand why she didn’t realize this. I wasn’t upset, though, in the least…honestly). Pause. “Steve only wants me to go Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” And…successful completion of making yet another person feel like they’re stupid. Of course, this wasn’t voiced, but I was able to see the conversation from her view.

For years I have been (rightfully) accused of flaunting my intelligence and elaborately explaining things as an attempt to do so. As a way to compensate, I have tried to not “lay it all out” but rather give pieces of information and let the person figure it out themselves, lest I be accused of cranial flexing (okay, I couldn’t resist that one). And that seems to have resulted in scenarios such as the one above, where I don’t exhibit my own, but rather insult the other’s intelligence. There are times when another person’s thinking confuses me and far too often I let my logical mind steer my tongue; my friends and family know this all too well. Sadly enough, when I said the terse part, I was thinking in my mind “This is good news.” But it didn’t come across that way.

Shortly after the exchange (I think as I was walking away) I thought of the words I wished I’d used, something like “Oh, not a problem. Steve has only wanted me to go three days a week, so it works out…no harm!”

Perhaps the true success part of the story is that this came to mind rather quickly, as opposed to not at all or far later on. The next step will be, you know, actual implementation :)

I’m grateful for all of you who have put up with me throughout the years. Assuredly at the top of the list is my mother, who’s had 22 wonderful years of this (I’m assuming I developed terseness at birth). I started to write this post as a way to express a learning experience, but now it’s starting to feel like a solicitation for empathy. Better stop this now.

Prov 11:12 “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.”

Prov 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Prov 17:28 “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”

Prov 21:23 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who's good?

I can get upset or even mad if and when someone might think I’m a good guy. I don’t feed the hungry or clothe the poor, so I can’t be a good guy. But I realized today the implied inverse of this thought is that if I did feed the hungry and clothe the poor, that people should think I am a good guy. Hmm…that’s not right.

Being nice or generous is not in and of myself, it’s from God; I’m not capable of those things on my own. When good things do come from me, it’s by God’s grace and for His glory. Any reflection of goodness at all is really on Him and not on me, as it is merely done through me in a given situation. I’m learning to not take negatively my lack of doing certain “idealistic” things (idealistic in respect to a perfect ideal in my mind), because who I am doesn’t change by the things I do or don’t do. Whether or not I flow out the Lord’s love doesn’t change that I am a sinful man in need of God’s grace.

That said, I do desire to emulate my Savior and love as He loved. I deal with fear that if I’m not hard on myself, I won’t “do” anything, as I am a very lazy and complacent man by nature. But God is good, and He has given me His Holy Spirit. I’m learning to trust Him to convict and challenge me, rather than taking on this unbearable burden myself. (Sigh). Yeah, He defines who I am…“For [I] have died, and [my] life is now hidden with Christ in God.”(Col 3:3)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another special morning

This post is basically a recounting of my morning. Slightly hesitant to share, but hoping that it may help someone; when the Lord speaks clearly, I don’t want to pull down the lamp shade. (Please forgive the upcoming train of thought if scattered; I feel it necessary to share as things unfolded.)

As previously mentioned, God’s done a lot in me recently with the issue/desire of marriage (don't worry, the whole post isn't devoted to this topic). Oddly enough, as I’ve grown in contentment with current singleness, my mind has pondered marriage and various aspects it entails all the more (which makes me question the contentment, though I know it’s there). A feeling I’ve had the last few days especially is one of selfishness in taking a daughter of the Lord, as though I may be a distraction from the pure potential of a woman wholly devoted to the work of the Lord. And perhaps, in the heart of “taking,” there may be truth therein. There’s much pressure in the idea of taking a wife, trying to lead her, sacrifice for her, protect her, etc. Not your strength, but Mine. Oh, yes Lord, You’re right…it is written “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”(Ps 147:10-11) God gently reminded me of another way: His daughter given as a gift out of His love. God gives good gifts. And there’s freedom in submission to the Lord, and in receiving a gift with His guidance (and He is faithful to guide).

Good thing for guidance. Marriage is the second biggest decision in life after the choice to follow Jesus, in terms of time (Jesus for eternity, spouse for earthly life) and excitement.

In reflection of His design of marriage, He draws to the surface such a beautiful back and forth process. I love, support, encourage my wife, she’s built up to love and serve others, and as well to return the love to me. And throughout, Christ is glorified. Of course this applies not only to marriage, just in a more intense and intimate way.

(Response to the above rumination)

Lord, I feel like a foal rarin’ at the gates, but I want You more. As desires intensify, is it just more from You to give back, to offer up in sacrifice? Is “it” closer? Aaaahhh…I just want to know. But You, Jesus, are my Daily Bread and my portion. Thank You for the Great Comforter. And Father, thank You for Your gracious smile that my cleansed heart can see. I can only imagine Your joy as You think of the plans You have for me…plans to glorify Your name and to bring joy and happiness to my life (in more abundance, that is, for much joy and happiness You’ve already given). “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”(Gal 6:8) May I live to please Your Holy Spirit, by Your great grace and mercy.

Thank You for breathing life into this dust, for Your careful knitting, for Your innumerable thoughts of love, for Your rod and Your staff. Let me not be slow to acknowledge You and Your mercies everyday of my life. For is it not the Lord who gives life? Is it not the Lord alone who’s worthy of my life? “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”(Ps 32:1-2) In Your forgiveness, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”(Ps 118:17)

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”(Ps 116:7)

Lord, this is one of those mornings where everything seems great and I feel connected to You and that I’m hearing You. And tomorrow morning may well be one of the hardest in my life (but “ not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34). Ah, yes…“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Ps 118:24) “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful…Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.”(Ps 68:3, 19-20)

Praise be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Sometimes I doubt; sometimes being “more than a rare occurrence.”

Is this the voice of the enemy, or the voice of reality?

A good portion of my doubting comes from my logical thinking and incessant striving for comprehension of “the big picture” and how everything works together. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”(Prov 3:5-6) Doctors of the days of old come to mind, with their knowledge limited to the four humors. In that knowledge they drew conclusions and in many ways were dead wrong (I couldn’t resist :). Our knowledge, as there’s, is limited.

Sometimes it feels like my “foundation” and faith is a rug under me sliding around a little (a scary feeling). Hardly the roots of a planted tree near streams of water I desire (see Ps 1). But I choose, by God's grace, not to stand on a flimsy floor covering, but rather on the Rock. “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”(Ps 31:2-3) “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”(Ps 95:1)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is alive!

Indeed the Lord has risen, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. We live now in Christ, as we died in Christ. Praise be to God for His wonderful love and grace. Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 10, 2009

What is love?

(Originally written 2/18/09)
Lamely blah title, but that doesn’t matter…

I had a really hard day this past Saturday (Valentine’s). Not so much any form of the typical “heartache” stuff, but rather dwelling on the realization of how much I’ve hated human love. It boiled down to his tidy couplet:

It hurts to be loved imperfectly. And it hurts to love others imperfectly.

The thought of words coming out of my mouth that destroy and don’t build, that impair and don’t help…hurts. The idea that I do things to the harm, and not to the benefit, of someone God truly loves…hurts. The times someone says or does something mean or unloving to me…hurts.

So, on the day the world celebrates its own idea of “love”, I was hurting. I didn’t understand Jesus’ words: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” What? Why? To fall short and to hurt/be hurt again? Why would you tell us to do something we can’t do? Or can we, in You? Why…? Why…? Why..? (I’ve learned that when I start using the word “why” so much, I need to sit down and humble myself before the Lord).

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Being the Faithful One that He is, God showed HIS love for me through persistent friends, who that night would not let me stay at home in my sorrow and self-pity. I was literally crying as I walked to their house, battling through these thoughts and emotions. Yet God had me with my family, surrounded by love.

It’s pretty sad that the enemy can twist things to the point that there are times friends are kind, and I take it in as pain; maybe I’m scared to lose it? I don’t know, and that’s not the point of this note. I wrote this to offer up a topic for discussion, if anyone has thoughts/comments. I may have some more things, but I’m still contemplating.

So, loving hurts. Jesus knows that, more than I ever could. And Jesus tells us to love one another. I’ve always wondered what “carrying my cross” meant…is this part of that picture?

I pray the peace of the Lord and knowledge of His love to all of you. God bless.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To the graduating and "transitional"

Many of my friends are soon graduating. What a milestone in life. I’ll spare you all from my reminiscing and strolling Memory Lane. With graduation comes the foray into the workplace; for some, the first such exposure. Cover letters written, résumés sent out, interviews lined up, dress attire neatly ironed (hopefully). A wonderful time for us to try our faith when we have claimed God’s great provision. A good test indeed.

I’ve tried to encourage people in regard to interviews. Remember that an interview is not simply a way for you to impress someone so you can get the job you think you want (though that seems to be are conditioning). An interview is a time for two parties to evaluate each other; are you a good match for the company and the position, and are they a good match for you? You don’t want to put forth a fake front and end up underperforming or being stuck in a job unfit for your skills and abilities. An interview is a time for great honesty, which, naturally, may be hard to do if you’re gripping to your hopes for the position. And if your aim is merely to get the job that brings fulfillment, happiness, and grand financial gain, the grip will indeed be as a vise (and perhaps a vice).

Anyway, small sermon spewing aside, yesterday morning I was praying for my friends. As I prayed, a large smile developed wide across my face, and I sensed light going forth as God sent out His people. Many may see getting a job as a simple act of practicality. Do you not know the intricate complexion of God’s weaving in His placement of you? Hah…of course, none of us “know” it in its completeness. God will place you where you need to be. Within His permissive will, you could go somewhere other than where He first had in mind, with your decisions perhaps leading to such another place. But that’s ancillary theology outside of the circumference of this discourse (note the subtle insinuation to this writing being a loop that will hopefully come around with good meaning…and close :). I feel I should let that idea float without my anchoring it with my own ideas, at least without more than already presented.

Do know that it is good to desire good things. In that knowledge, I challenge you to close your bedroom door, get on your knees, and lay out your hands, offering up desires of a certain job to God. When released into His freedom (in this case, not held down by any unbridled longing), His peace is incredible. Give Him permission to use you as He wills. That’s scary, if done outside of the trust of a loving, compassionate, and protective Father. And know that your desired job and what you get after you surrender are not necessarily exclusive (just remember surrender entails a true letting go). Such a beautiful thing to receive back what was surrendered, and such grace to have lost it forever.

One last thought. I implore you to pray for your future coworkers. In doing so you allow God to prepare your heart for meeting them, and for serving them. You also are making a request that the all-powerful and sovereign Creator of the world to work in their lives, which He honors; that’s pretty cool.

May the Lord grant you His wisdom in your searching, His grace in your moving, and His heart in your loving.

Psalm 23 (I ended up memorizing this by reading it many times before interviews in ’07)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A friend's eyes

The bible talks a lot about community and its importance. I’d like to share an example.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday. We normally meet each week, sharing what’s going on in our lives and helping one another press forward on in our pursuits of the Lord. This past weekend there was a conference about healing prayer. I hadn’t truly wanted to go, but ended up attending and leaving early. I felt “ok” with it; God hadn’t told me I must go, and I didn’t really want to go, so…what’s the problem?

During lunch I mentioned to Sean that I had some reservations about Christian Healing Ministries and healing prayer, lots of questions and such. As Sean knows me well, he asked why I hadn’t investigated it further, since that is my normal character. Through God-given introspection, I realized there were some deeper reasons for my evasion. I still have some deep-seated doubts about the Lord, about Christianity in general. I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of cults, brainwashing, etc., and many of those feelings remain from my BC days. There have been periods of time when those feelings were very hard to deal with and challenged my faith greatly. I haven’t had to deal with them for a while, as they had been laid to rest (but not completely dealt with). But healing prayer is something that stirs the leaves, so to speak. The pile had been dormant; why resuscitate the doubts?
God has recently done a lot in my heart in regards to love, marriage, relationships, etc. I’ve been prone to avoid dealing with this arena, as it has been a tough patch of emotions for a long time. I didn’t want to stir the leaves. But at some point recently, God gave me the ability and desire to delve headfirst into facing this giant of mine; the leaves had been stirred, so why shrink back now? I claim to want the fullness of Christ, so then let me cling to Him and pursue Him in dealing with issues, rather than pull away when conflict emerges.
That lesson rang loudly in my ears as I pondered the current situation with healing prayer. And by God’s grace I knew what needed to be done. I asked Sean to help me and keep me accountable in my pursuit of finding out more about this topic. Surely not all of me wanted to, which further compelled me to ask for help. This actionable result is out of a lot of work the Lord has done, as I haven’t always responded this way. And thank God he isn’t done quite yet :)

I share all this for two main points. Personal accountability is very important, and I sympathize for the Christian who doesn’t have that available to them (and pray God would provide that for them). As good as I think I am at analyzing everything and knowing my emotions/thoughts/feelings, I am still blinded at times from what’s going on. The enemy is the great deceiver, and when deception is lured in front of the chance to avoid tough circumstances, how much the greater the appeal. But God is faithful, and one way He speaks to us is through our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As well, I want to exhort you to press in when you want to peel out. I’m also saying this to myself again, as this is very habitual for me; I feel that writing things out helps to remind me about lessons, as I have something tangible to reference.

I pray God’s grace and peace for you as you struggle with the battle of flesh and spirit. And what a joy to have such a battle! Though it be hard and burdensome, the presence of the warring reminds us of Him who lives inside us and the work He’s doing, along with the promise of completion. Praise be to God for not leaving us to our wicked ways and unto death! Christ lives, and so do we…new creations in a dying world. Indeed, He makes all things new!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I forgot to be thankful

(See “What’s my aim?” for some context)

I feel bad for God in the sense that those He loves on SO much, so easily forget to be thankful. And (unfortunately) I think we sometimes only “remember” when something “bad” happens.

For instance, in the example of my stuffy nose, once I recognized that something wasn’t quite right, I realized how my sinuses had been very healthy for a long time…but I never thought to be thankful for that. Not until there was a problem, that is. I’m never as grateful for the health I have until I’m laying in bed with a fever feeling miserable; then do I realize all the amazing days I’ve felt fine.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

If you’re ever stuck in your prayer life (something too familiar to me), spend some time thanking God, especially for the little blessings. Trust me, when you look for them, you won’t run out of things for which to offer thanks!

And as a side note, I’ve found that when I’m really mad at something/someone, offering up thanksgiving (for the circumstances, the person, whatever) can really do a number on your heart and attitude (certainly no secret; there's plenty of scripture about that). No need to force it, though; if you can’t see it, ask God to show you the blessing in the situation. It’s there.

Ps 100:4
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

What’s my aim?

Driving back to work from the post office, I realized my sinuses were still a little stuffed up. Hadn’t been too bad; not at all, really, just a little runny early AM and late PM. Certainly nothing to complain about. I did ask God to keep my nose from being runny (surely a light prayer), then asked Him to restore my body to full health if anything was wrong (starting to fight a cold, etc.).

Then I questioned myself with this: was I willing to be restored to health if it meant having a runny nose for a little bit? (Please stay with me through this lame example). My heart quickly replied with “Yes, but only if the suffering was for a short time. Otherwise, it’d be better to live with being ‘not whole’ and manage it than to suffer at length.” (Obviously a light use of the term “suffering”).

God speaks to me a lot in little things like this throughout the day, revealing my heart to me. This instance is merely an analogy to greater things, such as my walk with the Lord. Am I really willing to suffer the fires of purification to become what He has made me to be? I think He showed me my current attitude: “Yes, but only if it doesn’t hurt too much.” Of course that doesn’t express what my prayers have been. My prayers are basically permission for Him to do whatever is necessary to purify and sanctify me. But is that my attitude? Is that my desire? Is that revealed in my actions?

Even getting to the point of being willing to undergo “some” suffering is progress, a credit to God’s amazing grace. I do pray that I wouldn’t settle for manageable mediocrity, but rather run the race to its completion, not fainting or falling away. Sigh. Even as I write these words, I feel the tug of the flesh wanting to settle, and hear the lies of the enemy attempting to deceive me into complacency.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Monday, March 23, 2009

As she awakens

As she awakens,
The beautiful breath of life,
Seeps from her soft lips.
I am blessed

As she awakens,
Her aroma stirs me,
To the point of a tear.
How am I so lucky?

As she awakens,
Her hand caresses mine,
Love flowing from her fingertips.
I love this woman.

As she awakens,
She is at her most vulnerable,
Her most beautiful.
Thank you Lord.

(written @ Sonburst '05)

Sand of purity

Thus a grain of sand be my chance,
To dream a feeling so good,
That the pain it may never be,
Sinks my vying heart.
On top of the sand dune she sits,
Running her hand through her silky hair,
As the white capped waves caress the sand,
Her glittering eyes captivate me.
We walk, our souls as one,
Not a single word from either's lips,
My heart swells as I turn towards her,
And in what a thousands verses could never say,
Yet in a glance is expressed,
She knows my love and I know hers,
And her eyes,
Her eyes.

(date unknown, pre-2007)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Be mindful of these
Emotions wage war inside
Acorns know not of the trees
Unfolding great oaks promised
To honor He who waters and feeds
Indeed instructions given
Follow Him in whom He is well pleased
Utterance and groan not understood
Life is renewed with burning of leaves

I reach, I call, I cry, I strain
Stillness and rest by grace bestowed

Hoping, hurting, healing, having
Enduring all for the sake of His Name.



There have recently been more things I’ve wanted to share, but I did not want to write incessant notes on Facebook. So I think I’ll give this a whirl.

I hope to share random thoughts, poetry, words from the Lord, and lessons learned on this incredible journey. What a road…still amazed at His calling me. I’m so grateful for friends who help me from fainting on this race. There’s so much I want to cram in so quickly, but writing can drain my emotions; perhaps I’ll be able to piecemeal my ramblings in the coming days and weeks.