Tag Archives: invitation

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.

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TBT: My Ugly Brown Chair

Today’s Throw-Back-Thursday post comes from January 3, 2014.  And yes, I still have the chair.


I have an ugly brown chair in my home office.  It was given to us years ago.  The fabric was frayed and the arm cushions were eaten by our dog.  We almost threw it out; instead we put some new foam around the arms and bought a brown slip cover for it.  Now it sits in the corner of my office and I love my chair.  It’s where I sit and read, or sit and listen to music, or sit and nap, or sit and think, or just sit.  But mostly, I sit and pray in my ugly brown chair.  You see my ugly brown chair is an open invitation to hang out with Christ.  It’s where we can converse and where I can listen.  I try to do more listening than talking; I learned long ago that I do better when I just listen.

One day as Jesus was talking to the crowds He said, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 ESV).  He should have added “sit in you ugly brown chair.”  You see, my secret place is my chair, away from the distractions of the day, away from the gaze of the crowds, and out of earshot from the members of my church.  It’s just me and Him talking openly, genuinely, freely, passionately and often times, desperately.  But I know that I can always count on Him meeting me there at my ugly brown chair.  That is reward enough.

So where’s your ugly brown chair?  It can be anywhere.  It doesn’t even have to be a literal chair.  Where is that “place” where you can connect to the One-who-loves-you-most?  He’s calling you to a secret place where you can open yourself up to Him and listen to Him.  Find your ugly brown chair.  He’s waiting for you.

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)

Grief Experienced

I had never experienced grief like that before.  Sure, I’ve been sad, but this was different.  This was a heart-wrenching grief that shook my core.  It was a wail in the spirit at a great loss.  It came in waves unexpected.  You see, last December my father passed away, and while it was not totally unexpected – he was 91 – it was still a shock.  I wept.  And now, so many months later, the grief now turned to sadness still overtakes me when I am least expecting it.

The day of the memorial service was a cloudy day with a light sprinkling rain.  As we left the church service and were heading to the graveside, some of the clouds parted slightly and the sun shone through for a few moments.  Perhaps a heavenly salute, perhaps just a coincidence, but in either case I thought about the grief our Heavenly Father experienced when He saw His Son dead.  It darkened the sky.  It shook the earth.  It convulsed the universe.  I can understand a little of that now.  And yes, even though He knew that Jesus would rise again, it doesn’t take away from the grief of the moment.  I knew that even as I wept for my father, Dad was experiencing joy unspeakable.  It didn’t help me at that moment.  The grief is still real and very present.

Wouldn’t it be interesting on this Good Friday to pause for a moment and simply acknowledge the Father’s experience on this day, His grief?  Perhaps we can just sit with Him and say, “I understand… a little,” and grieve together even while we look forward to resurrection.  He did that for me.

The Living God

My wife and I visited Nashville, Tennessee this summer.  At the end of our week there we visited one of the local attractions.  In Nashville there is a full size replica of the Parthenon – the classical Greek temple of Athena in Athens.  Apparently this replica was built to celebrate a Tennessee centennial celebration in the late 1890’s.  This replica Parthenon was truly imposing and impressive.  It was beautiful.  Inside the Parthenon was a forty foot statue of the goddess Athena arrayed in her armor with sword and shield beside her and the goddess Nike ready to crown her with victory.  Athena’s bright blue eyes stared out into her temple.  As I walked around this temple and gazed at Athena, I asked her some questions.  I asked her if she saw me.  I asked her if she had anything to say to me.  She didn’t say anything.  She didn’t look at me.  She just kept staring outward.  There was no life in her eyes.  She was, after all, just a statue.

This experience in the replica Parthenon was even more striking because of what we had experienced during the prior week.  You see, we were in Nashville for a conference hosted by Global Awakening.  It was a week of inspiring worship, challenging teachings and encouraging prayer times.  But more than that, throughout the week I heard God speak to me.  He spoke intimately, personally and deeply.  He touched wounded places and brought healing.  He affirmed who I was.  He knew me by name and He saw me.  I experienced the LIVING God!

And that is the difference between a beautiful, plaster-cast goddess and The Lord Almighty.  So maybe folks today aren’t worshiping Athena, but many, many people turn to the idols of this world – the shiny things, the causes, the power or fame, the possessions – for comfort, meaning or comfort.  “Does anyone SEE ME?” they cry out.  “Does anyone know ME?”  That is what we want, to count.  And yet just like that lifeless statue of Athena in Nashville, these idols are just as dead, lifeless and impotent.

The living God knows us.  He said to Israel and He says to us today, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine (Isa 43:1).  He also says,” Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you (Jer 1:5).

So instead of pursuing the Athena’s of this world – the unmoving, unresponsive, unseeing idols – remember that there is a real, living God poised to respond to your deepest cry.  One who can speak into the secret places of your life to bring comfort and wholeness.  One who knows you by name.

So as beautiful the replica Parthenon is, I would much rather spend time in the temple of the Living God and have a conversation with Him.

Living by Bread Alone

Humans are hungry creatures. There is, of course, the most basic and necessary hunger for food. After all we need to survive, yet there are so many other things we hunger for – companionship, recognition, love, fame, wealth, significance, acceptance.   You can probably name any human endeavor and I am sure someone hungers for it. Some of these, to be sure, are natural and good to hunger for, but sometimes those natural desires turn ugly and we become captive to that hunger leading to brokenness and destruction. Hunger is a powerful motivator, but when satisfying that hunger becomes the focus of our lives we begin to lose perspective on the things in life that are truly important.

Believe it or not Jesus dealt with this very thing – needing to keep the proper perspective on life when a very basic hunger threatened to side track Him.  We read about it in the Gospel of Matthew.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “ (Matthew 4:1-4)

So Jesus had already spent 40 days fasting then became hungry. (I probably would have been hungry at the end of day one). And the devil made his pitch, “turn these stones to bread, you know YOU can!” The devil was trying to get Jesus to focus on satisfying His immediate need. He was trying to get Jesus to focus on His own resources to satisfy His need. He was trying to get Jesus to redefine what is important in life – the here and now. But is that what life is really about? Is it only about feeding our hungers?

Jesus answers with a resounding, NO! Jesus says that there is more to life than bread. There is more to life than the physical needs of our bodies or even the hunger in our broken souls. Jesus says that life is bigger than that. There is a greater hunger – a spiritual hunger – that humans need filled; a hunger that can only be satisfied by God. Listen again to what He says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word…of God.” Putting it differently Jesus says Man shall live by every word of God.  If you want to live fully, to be wholly alive as you were meant to be, then you need a connection to the Father.

The devil makes the same pitch to us today. He tries to define for us what is important. Why not spend our resources to fulfil our wants? Why not spend our days on satisfying self? Why not focus on ME, right now? Nothing else is more important, right? And he tries to blind us to our need for God because he knows that that is where we truly find our satisfaction, where real life starts.

“…every word that comes from the mouth of God” doesn’t just mean reading the Bible, but it means maintaining a dynamic, present-moment relationship with our Father. A relationship in which His words become life-giving, nurturing and heartening; a relationship in which we hear His words of affirmation, wisdom, acceptance and love; a relationship in which we hear and stand on the promises He has made. Every word! Every moment! That is how life was meant to be lived. That is what He wants for us and has possible for us through Christ – a life that is more than bread alone.

Hide and Seek

First, I just want to give credit to my son for this little gem that I about to pass on to you. He shared it at church a couple of weeks ago and I found it so encouraging I just had to write it down.

You remember as a small child playing Hide and Seek? You would hide in some easy-to-find place so that you COULD be found.   The joy was in being found, letting out a delighted squeal and giggle when you were found. The object of the game was not to hide and remain hidden, but to hide so that you could be found. And that somehow deepened the relationship between the “hider” and the “seeker.”

Our Father likes to play Hide and Seek with us. Only He is the hider and we are the seekers.   He hides so that we will be motivated to seek Him, all the time anticipating the moment, the joy-filled moment, of our finding Him again and again. He hides in plain sight and then invites us to seek with the promise that He will be found.

You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, (Jeremiah 29:13)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

Yes, He sometimes hides from us, not to punish us, not in anger or disappointment, but to draw us in. He wants us to be looking for Him constantly around every corner, in every conversation, in every circumstance, in every moment. He is there and He is just waiting to be found. Seek!