Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking UP

I was walking from my office to the Raws Building, intent on my mission as usual.  I was looking at the ground or shrubs around me when I happened to glance up.  Right there alongside the Raws building was a beautiful tree full of bright fuchsia flower buds.  I was startled because I never saw that tree there before.  I had missed it because I wasn't looking up.  

What do we miss because we are so engrossed by life, so engrossed by our surroundings and happenings that we fail to look UP.?  I'm not referring to the trees or the clouds, which are of course well worth a gaze here and again, but looking up in our mind's eye to consider God.  

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

What are you missing because you have your eyes fixed on the temporal?  Look UP and see the things that are above.  Look UP and see the beauty of Christ.  


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grant Us To Be Like-Minded

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6(ESV) Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6 (NKJV)

Over the years I have shared this verse with numerous couples and challenged them to pray this verse for their marriage. I have encouraged others to pray this verse in the face of conflict.  Recently, I was driving to work one morning and I was praying this verse as I had been for a while when it occurred to me I was skipping parts, not intentionally but just the same, I was. I realized I was leaving out some very important parts.  

I was praying "that we would be like-minded and that with one mind and one mouth we would glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Then I remembered I had left out "toward one another."  That makes it much more personal.  We are called to be like-minded toward one another. Some people are easy to be like-minded with, others not so much.  I think if we pray to be like-minded that somehow it seems as if the other people will be persuaded to think like we think.  To be like-minded TOWARD ONE ANOTHER implies that most likely both people will change.  

The other part of the Scripture I was leaving out was even more important: "toward one another, ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS."  The only way to be like-minded in a way that will glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS.  In myself, I am more inclined to be self-minded that I am to be like-minded. I want my own way.  I think my way is, maybe not the only way, but the best way.  For me to be like-minded toward others according to Christ requires the power of God in me to accomplish such a feat.    

If we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, pursue to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, we will with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our homes and churches will never be the same.  


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What Do You Crave?

I have recently been challenged with this question.  Now, if I was honest, I would tell you that I crave coffee every morning.  But, that's not exactly what I am asking myself with this question.  

  Scripture tells us that as the deer pants for water, so we should pant for God. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalms 42:1).  After I take my dog for a walk she immediately comes in seeking water, and often if we find a puddle or walk by the lake she will drink from it.  Based on that observation and the above Scripture, I have to ask myself - do I seek out God like my dog seeks out water after a walk?  In the summer, if I am working outside or in the heat - I understand the craving for water or liquid refreshment.  

At KESWICK, we deal with men who are struggling to overcome different addictions in their lives.  It is probably appropriate to say that they once craved a substance or something in a powerful way.  My husband craved heroin in his past to a point that all he thought about was when and how he could get it.  

Do I crave God like that?  I hate to say it, but probably not.  There are definitely times I am drawn to God and I am looking forward to spending  time with Him, but certainly not in the way that people crave  drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, or food.  It is even safe to say that I do not crave God to the point that I crave food.   

1 Peter 2:2 states: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation..."  Have you been around a hungry baby? Do you desire God or a spiritual connection with God like a baby desires their bottle?  

Based on this question I am attempting to spend time with God before each meal and before I go to bed at night.  Not a lot of time, just some reading or prayer.  Maybe for you it might be that you need to spend time with God before a certain TV show that you just can't miss, or before you read a book - or go shopping.  Whichever it is... Do you seek to spend time with God as much as you feel the need to do other things in your life?

Lynne Jahns

Welcome back Lynne, we've missed your writing.  Congratulations on your accomplishment of completing the requirements for your Doctorate.  Soon, Lynne will officially be Dr. Lynne Jahns.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pedestal Person Two

On Friday I wrote to you about how we can think more highly of ourselves than we ought to and wind up with stinking thinking -thinking which places us in the place of God and encourages you/me to study and judge the world by what is inside us, rather than what is holy and righteous and true according to the Word of Life.

Another way one can be on a pedestal is like this.  I can place someone else there and live life to please that person above the Lord. Many times and in a variety of ways this way of elevating another is just as difficult to discern because to our way of thinking, it is good. We might say or ask, "So what's wrong with wanting my husband, family, fiance', boyfriend, parents, boss, etc., to be happy?  When they're happy, I'm happy."

More often than not, it is difficult for us to accept the thought that we would ever place anything in our lives before God.  Every good Christian knows that isn't the way to live. And, as long as the happy feeling we need to "feel" better is achieved, all is well with us and, we will not likely be challenged to think any differently.

  However, the moment the need is not met or the person doesn't provide us with the kind of experience we need to be "OK," then we begin to see more clearly that things are out of order and our allegiance, or loyalty, to God is shared by another.  In either case, whether it's you on the pedestal or the throne of your own heart or whether you have placed another person there, life is revolving around someone else other than God and He will share His glory with no other.

I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.  Isaiah 42:8

Know this: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Psalm 62:5-7

Dear sisters, there is so much more that can be said on this topic and much has been written. One such book written by Ed Welch is, "When People Are Big and God Is Small."  In more ways than most of us are comfortable imagining, our view of God is way too small and therefore, we are easily undone by life's happenings. When we don't meet our own expectations and, when other people let us down, we sometimes/often don't know what to do.

Today's challenge: Examine your heart and life for pedestals. Are you thinking more highly of yourself than you ought? Is there a person or persons in your life around whom your well-being and peace revolve?

Today's encouragement: Remember your first love. Remember the joy of your salvation. Fall in love with Jesus. Hunger and thirst for Him and don't stop eating or drinking until your soul is satisfied. 

May we let Him fill all those gaps, all those leaky places. May we dare to trust Him to really and truly be our all in all.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:1-4


Friday, April 24, 2009

Pedestal Person One

Are you a pedestal person? Or are you a person who puts other people on a pedestal?  Both positions are dangerous.  Lest it appear like I am pointing the finger away from myself, I'll use me as the example of what this might look like.

First let's define pedestal. It's a structure meant to display something.  Anything that is on a pedestal is meant to be displayed or admired. For example, I have a plant pedestal in my home that allows me to observe whatever plant of the moment is thriving upon it. 

Now imagine with me that the pedestal of which I speak is in my own mind (or yours). This could/would mean that I greatly admire myself and that I might be prone to treat myself to some level of high esteem (or that I at least want to be treated like something.)

Right now I am oh, so ready to come to my own defense in this matter. Ah, but I am afraid I cannot, simply because I know myself. I know the thoughts that I think at times and I know that in those moments I am oh, so full of myself.

You know the thoughts I mean, don't you?  Any person with a heart bent toward God knows from whence I speak.  Over the past year or so, multiple moments have occurred that have brought pedestal awareness to the surface.  Some of my worst thinking about other people happens in those moments. In each incident it was ME on the throne of my heart reacting...not CHRIST in me.  (Thank the Lord God that in Him there is no condemnation!)

Put another way, the most common way pedestal thinking shows up in me is anytime I perceive someone to be talking down to me. Wham! The pedestal shakes, topples and I find myself scrambling for solid ground.

Over, and over, and over again, life will give us opportunities for growth. Lately that's exactly what is happening and I hate/love it all at once.  I hate the pain I feel in the midst of it, and yet I love the fact that the ground on which I land is unshakeable and sure because it's at the foot of the Cross.  This is the safest, most secure place that I know.

There is one God and He alone is worthy of praise; He alone will have the place of esteem in my heart.  I thank Him and praise Him (yeah, even when it hurts) for loving me so much as to allow me to fall down so He can pick me up and hold me close while His Holy Spirit teaches me how to "be" without needing to be.  I thank Him that my need to be is as He wills and not as I will.  I thank Him for His patience and His kindness, His mercy, His grace and for the truth of His Word, wherein I find freedom to live and move and have my being.  Being that is not dependant on pedestal placement in my own heart and mind.

There is one God and Him only will I serve.

Question:  Do you have pedestal moments...and when you do, what does it look like in your life? 

Let's praise the Lord now for His kindness in revealing the ways this is true in us and praise Him for loving us so much that He died so that we might have life and life more abundantly; life unfettered by the deceitfulness of the sin of pride.  Let's thank Him now for lifting us up out of the miry clay and setting our feet upon the Rock; the solid Rock of Christ Jesus. 
Let's praise Him, thank Him and then ask Him to help us change. 


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fill Me

Strip me of all that is me and fill me with all that is You.  

Recently, during a counseling session, I found myself praying: "Strip me of all that is me and fill me with all that is You." 

I was somewhat caught off guard by the impact of the statement on myself so I took a moment to jot it down. "Strip me of all that is me and fill me with all that is You."

It's not a new thought, by any means, but it was so unintentional on my part during my prayer that I was struck by what God was saying to me in that moment.   John communicated a similar thought in John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease."

As I consider how to share my heart with you, I can think of nothing of value to add. So today's Victory Call will simply share this statement for your edification and meditation today.  As you meditate on this prayer, know there are 800+ others considering the same thought today.  

Strip me of all that is me and fill me with all that is You.

... that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:19 


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Demands of Ministry

Luke 5:15, But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

The report that immediately precedes this verse is of Jesus cleansing a leper.  Although He "charged him to tell no one" (vs. 14) word spread about Him and great crowds gathered.  

Before I came to America's Keswick almost 10 years ago, I was very involved in ministry in our local church teaching Bible study, working in the nursery, counseling, small group, and Sunday school.  We also sought various opportunities to expose our neighbors to the gospel through babysitting, ice cream socials and conversations at the bus stop.  Ministry (vocational or non-vocational) can be exciting, stressful, demanding, tiring, and a blessing.  It is energizing and draining at the same time.  

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you ARE in ministry.  Wherever God has placed you, therein is your ministry.  Are you a full-time stay-at-home mom, a full or part-time employee, self-employed, retired, widowed, engaged, a new believer or a veteran believer?  In your circle of influence you have ministry.  It may be to a husband and children, or neighbor, or co-worker or client or a brother or sister in Christ. Daily, God gives us opportunities to express the gospel in word and/or action.  

More than any of us, Jesus knows the demands of ministry.  Wherever He went He tended to draw crowds. 

I think the word in our verse that draws my attention is "but."  "... great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. BUT he would withdraw to desolate places and pray."1 It would be easy to think that when ministry is demanding we must re-double our efforts to get the job done, but instead of re-doubling His efforts Jesus actually withdrew.  He didn't withdraw to isolate or to mumble and complain. throwing His hands up in desperation and quitting (as I think some of us are prone to do). No, rather He withdrew to connect with His Father through prayer.    

How connected are you to the Father in prayer regarding the ministry opportunities He is providing in your circle of influence?  When the demands of ministry become overwhelming do you put it in overdrive or do you drive over to a quiet place and pray?  


1 Caps for emphasis

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Opportune Time

Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

A very familiar passage of Scripture retelling a time shortly after John baptized Jesus, when Jesus entered the wilderness/desert and fasted 40 days, during which time He was tempted by the devil. 

Each time Satan tempted Christ, Jesus responded without wavering with the truth of Scripture thwarting Satan's best efforts. (See Luke 4:3-12).  Finally, "when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time." (vs. 13)

What are the opportune times in your life?  Perhaps there are times in our lives when we sin at the first suggestion of temptation. We don't even make an effort to overcome or have victory.  Perhaps there are times we put up some resistance, half-hearted at best, and soon our hearts give in to the temptation and we sin.  Perhaps there are times that by faith we mount our best counterattack, and experience the victory won at the cross.  

I find that all too often, I fall into the second category.  I offer some resistance to temptation and walk away, but then a few days, hours or even minutes later I have somehow convinced myself that it isn't really sin, or it is no longer sin, or whatever the ploy of the day is, and I no longer see it as temptation but rather as a choice I am making.  Two areas I experience this most frequently regard food and purchases.  

Why am I sharing that?  I believe it illustrates that Satan does not slither off easily. Half-hearted efforts to overcome temptation and to walk in victory still leave the other half of the heart to the cravings of the flesh.  Satan is oh, so patient.  He will wait until an opportune time to draw you away into sin, whether it takes seconds, minutes, weeks or years.  He will wait until an opportune time.  

What are opportune times?  Those times we fail to have on our battle armor of faith and truth.  When are your opportune times?


Monday, April 20, 2009

Proper Attire for Every Believer

ARMOR:  The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength. Nahum 2:1   Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:14-17 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

ACTION:  Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, ...Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. Luke 12:35 & 37  

RIGHTEOUSNESS:  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. Job 29:14

CHRIST HIMSELF:  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13: 14 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27  

THE NEW SELF: ...and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24 ...and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:9-10  

COMPASSION, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, MEEKNESS, PATIENCE AND LOVE: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, Colossians 3:12 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14  

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE: But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:8

STRENGTH:  She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17

A GENTLE AND QUIET SPIRIT:  Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

RESPECT, MODESTY AND SELF-CONTROL: ...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9-10  

How is your spring wardrobe?


Friday, April 17, 2009

Nurturing a Heart for God ~ 5

As I meditate upon those things that hinder me having a heart for God, probably at the top of my list are the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that I have a heart for myself.  

"I love myself supremely because I am the most worthy person I know to be loved and also because I think I can do a better job at it any anyone else."1 (Vincent)

Until I come to the place where I am not at the top of my own list, I will never love God with abandonment.  I can't.  

I know that I have shared from Vincent's book often over the previous few months but grant me to share again.  It has been a life-changing book for me and I want to pass that along.  

One very practical way to nurture a heart for God is to daily rehearse the gospel.  My own experience has been that as I do that, my heart softens towards God and I fall more and more in love with Him.  

Vincent says, "First, the gospel assures me that the love of God is infinitely superior to any love that I could ever give to myself..." And "Second, the gospel reveals to me the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it lures my heart away from love of self and leaves me enthralled by Him instead. The more I behold God's glory in the gospel, the more lovely He appears to me.  ... These reminders deliver a one-two punch to my innate self-absorption and leave me increasingly absorbed with Christ."2

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

2 Corinthians 4:4 ...the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ...

Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ...

"We make time for what we truly value. We build habits and routines around the things that really matter to us....Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish...we should create ways to immerse ourselves in these truths every day. No days off allowed...Your audience is your own heart."3

There are several ways to rehearse the gospel.  Pick one that works for you.   Here are some ideas or find one of your own:

1. Meditate and memorize select Scriptures.  Here are some Mahaney suggests: 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:31-34, Isaiah 53:3-6, Romans 3:23-26, Romans 6:6-11, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and Galatians 2:21.

2. Use a book like "A Gospel Primer" that has 31 reasons to rehearse the gospel and concludes with a nut-shell version of the gospel in prose and poetry.  Great truths, great reminders, all biblically based.  Read it over and over and over.  

3. Sing gospel songs.  There is a great deal of wonderful Christian music out there.  Find a selection of gospel-centered music that focuses on the cross and the gospel.  If you would like suggestions, email me and I will gladly provide some ideas.   

4. Remind yourself of what you deserve vs. what Christ gives you.  I have a list of 55 things and I am just getting started.  

As I rehearse these truths my heart is impacted and God changes me.  You can do this by filling in the blanks.  I deserve _________ but You give me ________________.  

If you have other ideas of how to rehearse the gospel daily, send them along.  If you make a list of what you deserve vs. what Christ gave you, send that along too.  I'm sure you can beat the 55 I have already found.   

Nurture a heart for God by meditating on the truths of what Christ has done for you.  Savor those truths like a good piece of chocolate, extracting every morsel of grace from them. 


1 Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer. Pg. 30
2 IBID pg 30-31
3 CJ Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life. Pg. 132

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nurturing a Heart for God 4

When our greatest passion is for Jesus Christ and His glory, our personal issues, problems, circumstances take on a different perspective.  When our greatest passion is not for God and His glory, then by default our greatest passion is for something or someone else - the Bible calls this idolatry.  

Colossians 3:4-6 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

What do we do when our greatest passion is not for God?

John Piper's 2004 book, "When I don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy" offers some thought in the first few chapters that I have read.  

"The aim of this book is not to salve the conscience of well-to-do Western acquisition. The aim is to sustain love's ability to endure sacrificial losses of property and security and life, by the power of joy in the path of love. The aim is that Jesus Christ be made known in all the world as the all-powerful, all-wise, all-righteous, all-merciful, all-satisfying Treasure of the universe. This will happen when Christians don't just say that Christ is valuable, or sing that Christ is valuable, but truly experience in their hearts the unsurpassed worth of Jesus with so much joy that they can say, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil 3:8)" pg. 21.

Our goal in nurturing a heart for God is that our desire and delight in God run deep within our heart and soul, overflowing to those around us, saved and unsaved alike.

Psalm 73: 25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 42:1  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  

Psalm 63:1,3  O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water....Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Tomorrow, we will consider how to nurture a heart for God.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nurturing a Heart for God 3

This week we have been considering nurturing a heart for God.  Today is a continuation of yesterday's review of God's incommunicable attributes (unique to God):

God is ETERNAL.  God has no beginning and no end.  He always was, always is and always will be.  

Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 

Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

God is OMNIPRESENT. God is equally present everywhere, all the time.  There is nothing that displaces His presence.  

Psalm 139:7-10 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

"Am I a God at hand," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.

God has UNITY (Simplicity)

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Isaiah 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,

John 10:30 I and the Father are one

Sister, this is the God that loves and delights in you.  He is Self-existent, Immutable, Eternal, Omnipresent and One.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nurturing a Heart for God 2

Many years ago, I went through a season of anxiety and depression.  Like most of us, I was looking for a fast way out.  There was none to be had.  I had recently graduated seminary and had been blessed beyond blessed by the Systematics courses that I took.  One of the things that I did was to pull out my notes from those courses and meditate on truths about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.    I absolutely loved these courses and found my heart filled with praise and worship while I was taking them, so it made sense to me to revisit those truths.  I also knew that suffering takes on a completely different perspective in light of the vastness of God.  

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question #4: What is God? Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

As we consider nurturing a heart for God, revisit together with me the unchangeable truths about God's incommunicable attributes (unique to God).  

God is SELF-EXISTENT (independent) - There is nothing outside of God that is required to sustain His existence.  God simply is.  

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM."

Acts 17:24-25 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

God is IMMUTABLE. God does not change.  His unchanging perfection is always reality in the immediate moment.  

Psalm 102:25-27 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.

Tomorrow, we will continue to look at the awesomeness of God's unique qualities. 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Nurturing a heart for God

I often hear women say they love God but there is just something than hinders them from feeling God's love for them.  I think for some, if not most people, loving God or being loved by God are more intellectual exercises than an emotional experiences.  

So how can we nurture a heart for God?

It would seem best to begin by considering His heart for us.

1 John 4:9-10 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:5-6 ...because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:8 ...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

When we stop to consider that there is nothing in us that is naturally attracted to God, we are not inclined toward His glory, we realize we have nothing to boast about.  

Isaiah 53:2b-3, 6  ...he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not...All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way...

Apart from God Himself putting the desire in our hearts to seek Him, we will not.  

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Are you beginning to appreciate the radical love God has for you?  The depth of the love He has lavished on you?  How can we ignore such amazing, unwarranted, undeserved love?  

Stay tuned...


Friday, April 10, 2009

God's Side

Is God on our side or are we on HIS side? This question first gripped my thinking in the midst of a conversation with a deeply hurting friend. Questions, doubts and confusing thoughts were swimming in her head as she openly and honestly shared her heart.

A baby lay dying and, as is always the case when we are confronted with the sometimes brutal reality of sickness and disease, we question and wonder, "What is God thinking?" "Why isn't He hearing us?" "Why isn't He on our side and doing as we are begging Him to do?" 

When the pain is at its worst and we fear our hearts will surely break we honestly wonder, "Where are you God?" "Don't you hear me calling?" "I need you now to do this thing, to take the pain away, to make the baby better, to make sense of this."

Dear precious ones, God is always, always for us....even when His ways, His words, His answers, His seeming silence make absolutely no sense to us.

As Christians, believers, followers of Christ we all have stuff we believe about God; words we comfort ourselves with in hard times and expectations we have of God based on our understanding and interpretation of His Word. In addition, we have all the sermons, teachings, seminars, conferences, workshops, opinions of others which have helped to shape our thinking of who God is and, whether we like it or admit it, some of it, maybe lots of it, is simply wrong.

God Is. 

God Is. 

God is Self-Sustaining, All Powerful, everywhere present all the time and He does not need me to agree with Him, nor does He need me or you to like Him. He is God! He will do what He will. He will allow what He will and none of it will change Him or the fact that He loves us and He is always up to what is best for us.

My question is will the "stuff" -- tragedies, deaths, losses, etc. -- change you? Will you be for God or against Him? Will you be on His side whether or not you get what you want?

When He asks us to believe, to trust, to obey, will we do so even when our hearts feel torn asunder? 

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15a

Even if He takes what you love and hold most dear...your spouse, your child or children, will you still love Him, trust Him and keep hoping? Will you still be on His side?  Selah


Thursday, April 09, 2009


Mark 7:5-9 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

Every time I read this section of scripture I am grieved at ways we as "good Christians" do exactly as the Pharisees under the guise of "godliness." We set up standards for dress or behavior that boil down to our preferences or our own up-bringing but are, in no way, rooted in the Word of God.  We are guilty of teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.  God is not concerned with our attire but our heart.  

I can't say this dogmatically but I am pretty sure there is no standard in Scripture requiring a certain dress code for holiness.  I believe women are commanded to dress modestly and so as not to draw attention to themselves in 1 Timothy 2:9-10  "women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works."  The footnote in the ESV Study Bible says, "Paul is not prohibiting the wearing of jewelry...; the principle is that women should not dress ostentatiously or seductively, but in a way that is proper." (pg 2328).  

I believe we do a grave disservice to brothers and sisters in Christ when we judge their motives.  We cannot assume that those that dress or behave different than we are rebellious or failing to pursue grace or godliness.  

I must admit, it took me some time to get used to a worship leader in flip flops.  It was so contrary to my background, my experience. God challenged my critical/judgmental spirit forcing me to see the man not his attire.  This young man has a heart for God. He leads the congregation in worship with great fervor and delight.  His passion is to ignite our passion for God so that we, together, raise our voices in praise and worship.  I don't even notice what's on his feet anymore.  I know there are some out there that think it is down right disrespectful.  So I ask by whose standards?  Is it a biblical doctrine or is it a commandment of men?  If Mark 7 is any indication, God wants us to stop worshiping Him with hearts that prefer man's traditions and commandments because it isn't worship at all but merely lip service.  He calls such people hypocrites. May that never be true of us.  

Father, thank you for your forgiveness, purchased by Your own blood that covers my sin of hypocrisy.  Show me the ways in which I put my standards, my preferences, my pet traditions ahead of a heart for You. When I teach as doctrines the commandments of men, make me aware of my error, my sin.  Lord, I pray that I will not only honor you with my lips but that my heart will constantly be drawing nearer and nearer to You in pure unadulterated delight and passion.  


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fellowship with God

As you sit down to your devotional time, do you take a moment to contemplate that you are in the presence of the One True God, The Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe?  AND better yet, He desires fellowship with you?  

"God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:9

In "My Heart Christ's Home" - by Robert Boyd Munger, an allegory about Christ being an invited guest in the rooms of a person's heart, Jesus goes from room to room entering a particular aspect of the person's life represented by that room.  In the following quote Jesus is responding to the person's inconsistent visit to the den in the morning to meet with Him:  "He (Jesus) said, 'The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to me also. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at a great cost. I desire your fellowship. Now,' he said, 'do not neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whatever else may be your desire, remember I want your fellowship.'"  

1 John 1:3 "...and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."

I know I have shared this in the past, but I believe it bears repeating:  God desires fellowship with you.  The next time you sit down to do your devotions, stop and consider this amazing truth, because it is nothing short of amazing!! 


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Push to be Palatable

I once had the opportunity to have some of my writing critiqued by Christian editors. One in particular was a past Victory Call: "My Neighbor the Evangelist." It refers to a conversation I had with my then five-year-old neighbor that I believe has the gift of evangelism. In the Victory Call I quoted her saying that she was so glad she would be with God forever some day, but was especially thrilled she wouldn't go to hell which she explained to me was a burning lake of fire.

Rev. 20:15 If anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life he was thrown into the lake of fire.  

She was speaking the truth written in the book of Revelation.

Unfortunately, for the editor of this Christian publication, it was a bit too "negative," as she put it. She suggested I focus a bit more on the positive, like "heaven." I guess you could look at it that way. could praise the Lord for the truth. We are all sinners, and the wages for our sin is death. Oops, I'm also not really supposed to say we...ok, I am a sinner and the wages for my sin is death. But wait a minute... that's only part of the truth. You deserve the whole truth. You are a sinner and the wages for your sin is death. But the Good News is that we both have had, no, we all have had our debt paid by the spilled blood of Jesus Christ. Believing in that sets us FREE! Oh no, I wasn't supposed to mention blood either. Are you offended! Don't be. Be grateful! God loved us enough to send His Son. I love you enough to tell you the whole truth!


Monday, April 06, 2009

All God Has For All That We Want

Are we willing to give up all that we want for all that the Lord has?

God has given us all His riches at the expense of His Son. Is there anything that we could have or want to have that could ever surpass the greatness, the richness, the vastness of His mercy?  Is there anything that can hinder or get in our way of grasping this amazing truth, of receiving His love, His healing and His blessing?

The answer to that question is a resounding Yes! There are plenty of things and, one which seems to, more often than not, confront me and cause me to stumble, is rebellion and disobedience. I shudder to think of how true it is and I simultaneously PRAISE THE LORD for His revelation. I thank Him right now that He never ever gives up, nor grows weary in helping His kids to grow up and out of themselves.

Dear one, what are you holding on to? Is it grief? Are you grieving the loss of something - a dream, a relationship, a loved one - in such a way that you hinder the movement of God in your life? In the process, are you choosing not to forgive real and legitimate offenses, and thus, not allowing God to deliver you from where you languish, into His Better and His Best?

I have no idea who you are and I am so sorry you are in pain.  But at the same time, I know that God is faithful to carry you and keep you safe...under the shadow of His wings, if we let go of all that we want. He is not afar off. He is here, near and He knows exactly how to meet the deepest longing of your soul, of our souls. Will you trust Him?

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1-2


Friday, April 03, 2009

Happily Ever After

Growing up, we girls just loved the "happily ever after" endings to our favorite fairy tales. In fact, today, all grown up, we still love those movies when the girl gets the guy and they "live happily ever after." Life is full of difficulties and trials and suffering. Some times we begin to wonder, not "will I live happily ever after?" But "will I ever be happy?"

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, if you are born-again, if you are saved, if you have been regenerated, if you are a believer (all ways to say the same thing) then, sister, you will live "happily ever after." It's a done deal sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. "And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

One day your Prince will come and sweep you off your feet and take you home to Heaven to spend "ever after" with Him, and happy won't even begin to describe what you will feel or be.

Your Prince: "God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." Acts 5:31 -NIV

Coming to take you home: "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." John 14:2-3

Happily Ever After: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

... And happy won't even begin to describe what you will feel or be.


Thursday, April 02, 2009


Today, I would like to share a lengthy but familiar passage from Matthew and 5 quick thoughts:

"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 25: 14-29

1. Entrusted- God has entrusted into our care money, marriages, spouses, children, etc.
2. Hiding God's resources does not glorify Him.
3. The Master is coming back. We would be wise to live daily with our eyes poised towards heaven anticipating His return.
4. Fear can prevent us from doing the right thing.
5. It all belongs to God.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

We Are Rich

We are rich in grace and truth and love. We have the riches of heaven. Do we live like it's true or do we walk around like paupers?

Though our very real circumstances can and do weigh us down, one thing remains. We are rich in grace, and by God's grace we need, we must choose to live like that is true -- NO MATTER WHAT!

Let's choose not to allow anyone or anything, be it circumstance or trials, to rob us of the riches that are ours in Christ and from the abundance of His spiritual blessings. Let's choose to give generously in worship, adoration, praise, time, resources, etc.

Far as the curse is found, the Lord came to let His blessings flow. Sisters, rejoice! With all your heart and soul and voice, come and worship, come and worship, Christ the Lord the newborn King!!

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Psalm 33-1-3