Category Archives: Relationship with God

Knowing What You Need

I woke up late on a Saturday morning, my wife had already been up and made herself breakfast.  As I came down the aroma of her fried eggs hung in the air.  I usually prepare my own breakfast but this morning I asked her if could make me some eggs.  “Yes, of course,” she replied.  She went about preparing the eggs just as I liked, with toast buttered just like I like, poured and warmed my coffee just as I like and even brought the salt to the table.  All that from a simple request, “Could you make me some eggs?”  It’s as if she could read my mind or perhaps it was the 33 years of marriage.  As she whirled around the kitchen Jesus’ words to His followers came to mind:  “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt 6:8).

I realized that He knows me better than my wife knows me.  And He knows you better than anyone else may know you.  He knows exactly what we need, how we need it and when we need it.  He bustles around our life preparing an unimaginable feast for us to delight in.  All we need to do is ask Him.  We need to make that initial request for His help, His presence, His provision and He takes that request and turns it into just what we need.

So today won’t you simply say to your Father, “Could you make me some eggs?” and see just what kind of blessing He lays before you.  He’s already prepared it.


TBT: Not

Today’s Throw-Back-Thursday’s post comes from July 8, 2011.  In these seven years perhaps I am still not all that I want to be, but I am less “Not.”  Hope you find this encouraging.

I think a lot about what I am not.  I’m not debt- free.  I’m not the right weight.  I’m not controlling my eating.  I’m not taking care of my cars or house well.  These are all fairly common to all of us and I don’t really spend much time stressing about it.  But there are other things I’m not, especially when it comes to my Christian life.  I know I’m not good enough to earn God’s love.  I don’t have a problem with that one  because that statement is so clearly biblical.  Early in my Christian life that idea was so firmly built into what I believe that I can accept it and truly appreciate God’s love in spite of me.  But what about all those things that we should be as Christians.  I’m not very compassionate sometimes or not compassionate enough.  I’m not prayerful enough.  I’m not spiritual (what ever that means) enough.  I don’t read or know my Bible enough.  I’m not loving enough. I’m not passionate enough.  I’m not holy enough.  I’m not pure enough.  The list goes on and on and on.  I am very good at being Not.

So I have spent a lot of my prayer time over the years talking to God about what I am Not, wondering why I am Not and asking Him to change me.  The problem is that it stops there.  It seems that nothing ever  really changes.  I have placed the ball firmly in His court and I wait for Him to work some divine magic so that I become what I should be.  Until He does His thing I am still Not.  It’s not really my fault.   I am simply “waiting on God.”  Sounds spiritual doesn’t it.

What I’ve realized lately is that focusing on all the things I’m Not keeps me from being all the things I am.  While I sit paralyzed by all the Nots, I miss the opportunities to express all that I am.  And that is a disservice to myself, those around me and an affront to God, who created all that I am.  I understand that there is a place for healthy self-evaluation, but not a morbid introspection that rejects all the positives and maximizes the negatives.  And some folks, fearing that they could fall into pride and boasting by looking at the good in their lives, disdain the very good that God has built into them.  While people remain spiritually lost, these folks spend their lives guarding against pride.  What a great and tragic loss to the Kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, said, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:2-4)

He also said, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

Paul doesn’t seem like the kind of person who focused on what he was Not.  Instead he focused on what was ahead.  He didn’t judge himself but let the Lord be his judge.  He focused on the kingdom work at hand.  When I read that I was terribly heartened and cheered.  I was hopeful that I too could live that way.

Being what I am means acknowledging that I do have certain gifts and talents.  Not of my own making but of God’s.  It means acknowledging that there are certain “assignments” that God has prepared for me in this life.  It means looking at my life with a view to be more of what I already am and less of what I am not.  It means asking how I can engage more with my wife, kids, co-workers, church, looking for those opportunities that God is creating for me.  It means stepping into my life,  being  bold and simply letting myself BE.

A.W. Tozer,  a great preacher and writer from the 1950’s, expressed it this way, “My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work.”

I’m sure there are a lot things that I will never be, but so what, I’ve got enough of what I am to last me a lifetime.

The God Who is Solid

It sounds strange, doesn’t it to think of God as “solid.” Usually we think of God as ethereal, insubstantial almost ghost-like, but not “solid.”   And yes, I’m referring to the great Creator God revealed in the Bible, not wooden, carved statues or porcelain figurines.  Some of you readers may think I’m speaking heresy and are ready to come after me with pitch forks and torches, so let me explain.

Over the last few years I have been dealing with a medical issue for which the medical community has no treatment or cure.  Through this experience I have had a choice.  I could either get angry at God, shake my fist at Him and shout, “Why?” or I could press into Him more closely.  I chose the latter.  I have prayed for healing (and will continue to do so) and I have asked others to pray for me for healing.  But more importantly I have asked Him to show me more of Himself.  I have asked Him to teach me how to rejoice.  I have asked Him that His will be done.  I have asked Him to bring His kingdom from heaven to my little part of Earth.  I have asked Him to show me what is important…really important.  I have asked Him to show me how to live so that He will be pleased and so that He would praised by those who see my life.  In all these things He has not failed.  He has shown Himself to be a good, good Father.  He has become more “substantial” in my life and the things the world thinks are important have tended to fade from view.  He has become more “solid.”

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lam 3:21-25)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

It doesn’t get more solid than that.  What is truly insubstantial are all the things the world tries to tell us are important.  There is no amount of success, fame, wealth or status that is solid enough to build a life on.  They all crumble under the weight of God’s glory.

We tend to think of our adversities as something we should pray “against” or something we should endure or mope about, but the reality is that God uses the trials we experience to actually grow and perfect our faith.  In the midst of adversity the irrelevant and immature aspects of faith fall off.  Our faith is much more focused.  In the context of all God has done for us these trials are minor and temporary and also purposeful.  We can rejoice because God has favored us with his great mercy.  We can rejoice because He seen fit to bring us to a place of greater and more perfect faith.  We can rejoice because we know the end result will be eternity joy and reward. These are truths that we can stand on and are solid.   If we would see all our adversities and trials as under God’s supervision and control we would complain less and draw into Him more.  We would look forward to a more steadfast, genuine, mature faith.  I’m not suggesting that we deliberately seek difficulties and suffering, but simply that when they do inevitably come we see them through the lens of God’s goodness, grace and mercy.  And as we do, God will become much more solid and we can hold on to Him much more tightly.

TBT: Torrential Love

Today’s Throw-Back-Thursday post comes from October 26, 2012.  Enjoy.

I’m sure you’ve seen videos of rivers flooded over their banks after a storm, rushing through streets and towns.  The torrent of water is overwhelming.  Everything that stands in the way of the might rush of water is simply swept away – cars, trees or houses.  It is unstoppable and relentless.  And while the human and physical destruction is tragic, this imagery reminded me of something the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

“In all these things.”  I think Paul was making a very simple point.  There is a flow of love from the Father towards us – a flow of love based on the sacrifice of Christ.  It is a flow of love that is constant and persistent.  However, it appears there are situations or conditions that would attempt to block that flow of love.  Some of these roadblocks may be thrown up by other people trying to do us physical damage – “tribulation, persecution, sword.”  Some of these potential obstacles may be life conditions – “famine or nakedness.  Some of these potential barriers may even be spiritual entities – “angels, rulers.”  The point is that life happens.  Sometimes it’s a hard and dangerous life.  And when we are in the midst of these events is certainly seems that God has abandoned us.  It seems that the promises of Scriptures or the comforting words of Christians are hollow.  The devil seems more present and powerful that God Himself

But the significance of this passage is that no matter what life throws at us, the reality is that it has not and cannot stop the torrential love of God towards us.  No barrier can withstand the driving love. The Father will move, overpower or crush any attempts at preventing His love from reaching us.  There is no power or argument that can be made to stop it.  That is terribly encouraging to me.  It fills me with hope.  It inspires perseverance.  It causes me to look beyond my immediate circumstances and instead look for the tidal wave of affection moving my way.  It enables me not only to conquer my fears but to be more; it enables me to “over-conquer.”  I become a love-receiving and love-giving superhero.

I have heard some people say that this passage of Scripture does not apply to our own ability to separate ourselves from the love of God.  To me this is the most vile and demonic lie ever.  Remember that this is the love of God flowing from Him toward us.  We will never stop that!  If Christ already died for all the ugliness and sin in our lives, could there be anything else that would make us more unlovable?  No! I believe that because He loves us, He will move our hearts and break down our walls until we get it.  Don’t think that you are more powerful that God’s love.  We are but tiny umbrellas in the face of a deluge of love.  So put the umbrella away and let your self be swept away in that torrent.

Pleading the Blood – Revisited

I believe there is a legitimate way to “Plead the Blood of Jesus” based on a good understanding of what the Scriptures teach and it is not to either force God’s hand to grant us our wishes or as a magical charm to ward off troubles. (See my previous post – or rant – about “Pleading the Blood…What?”)

We look to the Blood as an inspiration to worship.  When we consider and meditate on the horror of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf, and when we meditate on the depth of love that caused Him to endure the Cross, our only appropriate response is worship.  The Blood drives us to our knees.  The Blood humbles our pride and demands.  The Blood wraps our prayers in adoration.  When we plead the Blood in worship we recognize that our sin plunged the spear into His side and our rebellion nailed the spikes into His hands.  The blood that poured from those wounds completely and eternally took away all the guilt, shame and condemnation of that sin.  The Blood did what no human effort could accomplish.  The Blood was shed voluntarily even while we still rejected His overture of love.  That is why we worship and that is how we plead the Blood.  And every time we take Communion, every time we take the bread and the wine as an expression of worship, we plead the blood that cleanses our sin.

We plead the Blood to deflect and defeat the accusations of the devil.  When he throws our sin in our face and reminds us of what terrible Christians we are, we can say to him, “Yep, but the Blood of Jesus makes me whole, righteous, clean and guilt free.  Go away!”  When devil tries to convince us that we are worthless we can say to him, “That’s not true, the Blood of Jesus makes me infinitely valuable.  Go away!”  When the devil whispers to us that no one could possibly love us we can say to him, “That’s not true, the Blood of Jesus proves He loves me.  Go away!”  Any and every accusation, lie, condemnation, denunciation or allegation that the devil could level against us is dealt with by the Blood.  Remember that Jesus disarmed the devil at the Cross (Colossians 2:13-15).  The devil may bark at us but he has no bite and we can plead the Blood to remind him of that.  We are able to defeat his schemes by standing firm on the work of Christ, not our own merit.  We disable his weapons when we declare the power of the Blood. (Rev 12:11)

Finally, we plead the Blood every time we approach God as a good and loving Father.  It is only because of the Blood that we can be confident and secure in knowing He accepts us, receives us and is happy to spend time with us.  We are His pride and joy.  We are the apple of His eye.  We run into His arms not to demand some “legal” right but enjoy our Daddy.

Oh, my friends, this hardly does justice to all the wonders to be found in the Blood.  We can take each teaching found in Scripture concerning the Blood and spend a lifetime sounding its depths.  Let us not accepted the emaciated teaching that looks upon the Blood as a means to demand of God our wishes or that views it as a force field that protects our stuff.  Instead let us look to the Blood, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:15-19)

The Blood of Jesus – Intimacy

I had the joy and privilege recently of attending a friend’s wedding, or should I say re-wedding (if that’s a word).  This couple had been married, had gotten divorced several years ago and now through a lot of hard work had reconciled their differences and decided to re-marry.  If that isn’t a testament of God’s power to change hearts and lives, I don’t know what is.  The point is that these two people had a broken relationship; they were living separate, detached lives.  Sin does the same thing to our relationship with God, it breaks us apart and alienates us from Him; it divorces us from Him.  But again He doesn’t leave us in that sorry state.  The Blood of Jesus is able to effect a reconciliation between us and God.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:13)

…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Col 1:20-22)

This is simply beautiful to me.  I have been brought near to God.  It’s like a friend giving me an all-access pass meet the greatest person in the world.  Something that was completely impossible for me to do on my own, He did for me.  Not only that, but I can approach God knowing that He sees me as “holy and blameless and above reproach” confident in His acceptance.

Because of The Blood any offense between ourselves and God has been removed.  He no longer sees us as enemies or as the “bad guy.”  We move from being at war with Him to being at peace; from being an enemy to being a friend.  And much more than a friend – a much-loved child.  The Blood makes it possible to approach Him without fear of rejection or of being spurned.  Our relationship with Him is solid.

With that reconciliation comes the opportunity for real intimacy, real tenderness with the Father.  Through The Blood, He made possible a closeness that goes beyond just a passing friendship.  He made it possible to share our hearts, lives, fears, worries and joys with Him and hearing Him express His joy in us.  See my post A Conversation to get a glimpse into what this intimacy could look like.

Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,   (Heb. 10:19)

We can have the confidence and assurance that we can crawl into His lap and be welcomed and heard.  This is more than theological or church-y language, this is enjoying the kind of relationship we all long for.  And it is possible by the Blood of Jesus.

The Blood of Jesus – Clean

I remember as a little kid jumping into the shower after a long day of playing outside (Yes, kids actually played outdoors once upon a time) and the water ran brown with the dirt I had accumulated on my adventures.  It felt good to be clean and fresh and smell good.  It’s a good feeling to be clean isn’t it?  But sin stains our souls and makes us feel dirty and unclean.  It’s that feeling of uncleanliness that we try to expunge through various acts of contrition, through vowing never to do “it” again, through promising to try harder, but sometimes we continue to feel impure, unclean.  The stain on our soul is too deep and we instinctively know that we cannot approach a holy God in that state of uncleanliness so we shrink back and we avoid Him.

King David faced his sin with Bathsheba directly knowing that he could not undo what he had done and that he was powerless to clean himself up.  So David cried out to God for cleansing, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps 51:7), because he knew that only God could do it.  That’s where we are today.  We know we have sinned, we sense the stain on our soul and we are powerless to erase it.  Yet that is exactly where the Blood of Jesus meets us and addresses this seemingly impossible situation.

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Please read those last few words carefully – The Blood cleanses us from ALL sin.  We are in fact clean and sparkly inside.  There is no shame and no need to fear to approach Him because we don’t feel clean.  We ARE clean and pure.  If we would take the time to consider this and let it sink deeply into our souls I think we would experience great joy and freedom.

There is a TV commercial for a laundry detergent that claims it can remove ten thousand and one stains.  I can tell you definitively that the Blood of Jesus can remove ten million and one stains from our soul.  Go to Him and He will purify you and wash away all the filth that has accumulated on your soul throughout your life.  Let’s not be afraid; let’s not shrink back, instead let us run to Him and enjoy a life untainted.