Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I can't even begin to give the Lord the praise He deserves for His work in my life this year. This year has been rather different from any previous year. Life has slowed down to a major degree... God has blessed with a job that appears to be steady. Life feels much more structured and planned out. There is still plenty of room for spontaneousness, which I love... but with the schedules of those around me and my work schedule, things in general are a bit more planned out than they used to be. It's a good change.

This year has had so many highlights... the one that really sticks out to me is getting to have a Bible study in our home. This has been something that I have desired for years and thanks to God and Him enabling life to be more structured, Bible study in our home has become a reality. I am learning so much through it about spiritual leadership and studying the Word to communicate it to others... or at least guide the study as the Holy Spirit speaks to the individuals. It has been a great delight.

I was reading earlier in Matthew 6 and this was such a great reminder for me as I enter the new year.
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
If my life down to the very depths of my heart (motives and thoughts) would be more in-tune with the Lord and His ways, this would be a good year. I hope to have a godly carelessness about 2012. God is infinitely wise and knows my every need. Worrying about those things is not in any way honoring Him. Worrying about specific situations and how God is going to work them out is not honoring Him. Full trust based on what the Lord has done in the past for what is ahead is what honors Him.

God, You have blessed us with another year. As we enter 2012, I ask that You would transform each of us more and more into the image of Your Son. Cause our heart motives to be honoring to You... that we would not be satisfied with the empty praise of men, but only in the honor that comes from You. You are the only One that raises up and brings down. Bring me down to whatever extent is necessary this year to make me more like Christ. Raise me up to whatever level You have prepared me to give You all the glory and honor for. Provide for my needs... don't give me too much so that my dependence rests on anything but You... and don't give me too little that I seek to have my needs met through ungodly means. Take 2012 and use it for Your glory in my heart in in the hearts of Your people. Give me a heart of compassion and humility. Make me an encourager. Help me not just to serve You, but to love You with all of my heart. Grant joy in serving You. Grant contentment and sweet rest in full obedience to You this year. Put a guard over my mouth so that I speak as You would have me speak. Guard my steps so that I walk only in Your ways. Guard my eyes that I look upon only that which pleases You. Guard my ears that I give attention to only that which is well pleasing to Your ears. Put a guard over my heart that You and You only be the first in it. Put a guard on my thoughts, that I think thoughts of You and meditate on Your Word day and night. Teach me Your ways, help me to walk in Your truth, unite my heart to fear Your name this year.  Help me to yearn for only things that You want me to yearn for. Cause Your kingdom and righteousness to be at the forefront of my mind... that I seek to further Your kingdom and not a kingdom of my own creation.  Be first in my heart this year.

Make me more like Your Son in 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We celebrated Christmas with grandma yesterday and had a fairly relaxing day today. There is a part of our community that is decorated very nicely and the sidewalks are all lined with candles in paper bags with sand. Cars drive on this loop and people ride bikes, scooters, golf carts, trailers, boats (on a trailer), etc. It is a great time for everyone. Our pastor and a couple other people from church have houses in this section of the neighborhood, so we went over there and had a great time a fellowship. We had a Christmas Eve service followed by singing with the choir throughout the night in this stable/stage. We give out coffee, hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies, fudge, etc. to the people walking and/or driving by. It's always a neat time.

Today, I have been thinking quite a bit about what it means to celebrate Christ's birth. I came to the conclusion that the best way to celebrate Christ's birth is by living in the reality of His ownership of me. Christ gave all for us... we give to others to remember the perfect gift of Christ. Ephesians 2 has been on my heart all day. It is such a joyful thing to meditate on these truths.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Were it not for the gift of Christ, I would be dead in my sins. The ultimate purpose of my life would be to make myself happy. What a worthless and sad life that would be. Christ has rescued me from darkness and transferred me into His marvelous light. He has seated me with Christ in heavenly places so that He can demonstrate His abundant riches to me through Christ. It is a gift that I have accepted. There is nothing that I could do to add to the gift to make it better. I do not deserve it, but He has given His Son freely to die on my behalf so that I might live.

Now, because I believe all these things to be true, the natural next step is to live completely in the reality of this gift of Christ... we were created for good works. God ordained us to be bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. He created us to fellowship in the most intimate way with Him. Let us live in the reality of Christ this Christmas. Let us serve one another in love. Let us come before the throne of Christ and rejoice in the gift of Christ. Let us see our brothers and sisters in Christ as joint heirs with Christ and treat them as such. Let us give generously... not from what we don't have or without wisdom, but freely and with pure motives. But, may the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace in each of our hearts this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mutual Delight

The Lord has continued to pour out His blessings... so undeserved... things that I don't even need... yet, He chooses to bless me anyway. It doesn't really make sense to be completely honest with you. I was thinking this morning and throughout the day about the word, "delight".

On the way home as I was still thinking about this word and what the Lord delights in and what I ought to delight myself in, I was listening to a sermon on the radio and the pastor was talking about obedience to parents and how God blesses with long life. I don't know about you, but sometimes I just really feel like I want to see Him face to face... not at all in the suicidal way... I just long to see Him and to be complete in Him. Long life sometimes seems like it is just delaying us getting to see Him, but you know... He created us to delight in Him right now. We are to take great pleasure in all that we have in Christ including the physical blessings of life and relationships and even the financial blessings and the things He has entrusted to us. It is not wrong to find joy in physical blessings, but that must never be the focal point of our delight. God must always be the center of our delight. God created Eve to take delight in His creation of wonderful fruit in the garden... but her delight in the creation was stronger than her delight in the Creator. In order to know what I ought to delight in, I ought to know what God delights in.
God delights in sacrifices and in obedience. He delights in blessing His children. He delights in the steps of a godly man. He delights in justice. He delights in those who walk in blamelessness. He delights in those that are faithful. He delights in wise words spoken at the right time. He delights in those that fear Him. He delights in those He has chosen for His purposes. God delights in loyalty and in our knowledge of Him. He delights in unchanging love.

That right there is a beautiful picture of God--He gave all freely, He blesses us infinitely, He sent His Son to earth and demonstrated godly living, He is always completely just, He has never once sinned, He is completely faithful, He speaks and does the right thing at the right time without failing even once, He love accomplishing His Father's will, He is loyal in every regard, He is one with the Father, His love never changes.

I will glory in my Redeemer;
My life He bought, my love He owns.
I have no longings for another;
I'm satisfied in Him alone.

What a marvelous thing it is that the God of all the universe can stoop to such a low level as to delight in me. Who am I? I'm just a passing vapor... but He chooses to delight in me.

My proper response to this is to delight myself in Him. Part of that is the delight myself in all the things that He delights in. On top of that, I am to delight myself in the place of His dwelling. I am to delight in reverencing His name. I am to delight in knowing His law and to meditate on it day and night. I am to delight in His blessings... even prosperity. I am to delight in doing God's will. I am to delight myself in His consolations. I am to study God's works and delight in them. I am to delight in the commandments of the Lord knowing that they are not burdensome. I am to delight in His statutes. I am to delight also in the path of obedience to His commandments... not just the end result. We are to delight in God's ways knowing that they are higher and better than our own. We are to delight in those that we lead and discipline. We are to delight in the work that God enables us to do. We are to delight in knowing His ways. We are to delight in the reality of the nearness of God. We are to delight in the Lord for who He is. We are to delight in His words.

I think this really sums up how we ought to live:
Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, as a nation that has done righteousness and has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, they delight in the nearness of God.
God, give us this heart for You. Put in us new desires. Fix in us Thy humble home. Rise, the woman's conqu'ring seed, bruise in us the serpent's head. Adam's likeness now efface, stamp Thine image in its place; Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love. God, cause my delight to be wholly in You. Let my delight in earthly things point me only back to true delight in You as the giver of every good and perfect thing. Draw near to me as I draw near to You. Give me ever increasing delight in Your ways. Grant joy in obedience. Make me delight in the things that You delight in and hate the things that You hate. Use my delight to spur others toward love and good works. Be to me the central focus of all my delight.I long to hear Your words of delight in me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Make me Your servant today. I long to hear Your words of delight in me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Make me Your servant today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Joy in the Process

I had the blessing of getting to go to a conference today for most of the day (with work). My boss did a presentation on our system and its new features and I assisted him with certain parts. The people attending were current clients of ours and it was neat to be able to put a face with a name and voice. I got off a bit earlier since I had worked some extra hours previously this week and decided to put up the Christmas lights outside.

It doesn't usually take too long as I put up nails in previous years and can reuse them. I didn't get off quite as early as I wanted since we ended up being stuck in some traffic, so I was running out of daylight to get the lights put up. I am the "to do list" type of guy... I like to know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done and do whatever it takes to make that happen. Sometimes God needs to remind me to slow down and really take joy in the process, not just in the completion of the task. Such was the case this afternoon. Dad had taken out the box of Christmas lights for me and I went over to the neighbor to borrow a ladder. I quickly unpacked the lights and started testing them to make sure they still work. I really don't understand how Christmas lights stop working as they sit in that box in the garage all year, but anyway... almost all the lights worked which was actually just fine because some of the lights were unneeded. I got up on the ladder and put up the first story of lights pretty quickly. I went to move on to the next section when I realized that I had put that entire section backwards. After contemplating how I could run an extension cord up onto the roof to another strand and then down again to an outlet on the other side of the house, I just decided it was best to start over. God used that in my heart to remind me to take joy in the process. I was in my own world in my race against the clock (or sun going down) and found that I wasn't taking joy in it. I was just trying to finish the task. Had it not been for that incident, I would have got it done much faster, but I also wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly so much. I'm thankful that the Lord works in small ways like putting a few sections of Christmas lights on backwards to slow me down and remind me to take joy in the small things.

I was reminded of Psalm 63:1-8.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
The Lord has satisfied me. He has done far more than satisfied me, but I think it honors the Lord for us to be satisfied--to be content in all we have in Christ. It feels strange to use the word "satisfied" because it makes me feel like I am saying that God owes me something and He satisfied my requirements for happiness or something, which is not at all the case. He owed me nothing, but gave me everything... all spiritual blessings in Christ... everything pertaining to life and godliness... eternal life. It is a my reasonable service to respond to His indescribable gift with joyful praises to Him. As I muse on His deeds, I can't help but be joyful as I remember His deeds from the past and see work that He has "finished" and trust Him for the work that is still in progress. It would be a Christ-honoring thing for me to take more joy in the sanctification process. It feels slow and hard at times, but there so much joy to be found in Christ and His unending faithful work to conform me into His image. God, help me to take joy in the process in preparation for when Christ makes me to stand in Your glorious presence blameless and with great joy. May You be glorified now by my joy in You.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

His Washing

On Friday, the Lord blessed me with getting to spend about six hours with a Christian lady at work. I had only met her once before and didn't know that she was a Christian, but my boss asked if both of us would deliver test materials because the guy that usually does it was gone. It was such an incredible blessing. I don't think we got more than a mile from the office before both of us were discussing things of the Lord. It was such an incredible encouragement to me to hear her story of God's sovereignty in providing this job for her and how God had used her getting this position to answer my prayers concerning a possible change in my job description at work. Long story short, I came away from Friday seeing another glimpse into just how brilliant God is in His plan. He is never doing just one thing... He is doing infinitely many things all at the same time for His glory and our good. What a brilliant God we serve! Thank You, Lord for doing things Your way in Your timing!

The sermon today gave me some new insights into Jesus washing the feet of Peter. I had never seen it this way before. Take a look at John 13:1-8.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
The message that I have generally got from this passage is that Jesus was a servant leader, and I should be as well. I was challenged today to see it from a new perspective--to see it as an event in the life of Peter.

Peter was the disciple that rebuked Jesus when Jesus was telling his disciples that He was going to die in Mark 8:31-33. Peter had a plan... a plan that involved Jesus not dying. But, God's ways are higher than man's ways. When Jesus told Peter that he could have no part with Him if Jesus wasn't allowed to wash him, Jesus was not talking about the physical washing of feet, but rather the washing of the heart which was about to take place at the cross. It is humbling to have God wash your feet, but infinitely more humbling to have God die because of your sin. Jesus was using this to prepare Peter's heart for the washing of his heart by His blood. We see just following this that Peter still doesn't want Jesus to die... he cuts off the ear of the servant which Jesus heals and tells Peter to put away the sword. Peter didn't understand God's big purpose. Peter then seems to give up when he denies Christ. Is this not far too often our reaction when God's plan doesn't line up with our own? When He does things in different timing than we expect or in a different way? We lose hope and give up when He is in the midst of doing His perfect work.

If God would have given Peter his way, he would have spent eternity in hell as would the rest of us. We see once again that God is so infinitely wise and His plans are so perfect. His plans don't line up with our expectations and ideals, but His plans are always best! Oh for grace to trust Him more! This same Peter later rights in 1 Peter 5:5...
...Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Peter experienced the grace and faithfulness of God through God doing things His way. May God give us that same grace to believe with all of our heart that His ways are always best. That belief will produce the fruit of obedience and submission to Him regardless of what His plan is... because His plan is perfect.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Path of the Righteous

The Lord has been so good and gracious. I was just meditating just a few of the many blessings that He has poured out on me this evening and once again reminding myself that it everything good comes from the Lord. One of His blessings is the gift of wisdom. In James 1, we read that we are to ask God for wisdom when we lack it... this honors Him, showing our dependence on Him in not leaning on our own understanding. It also is the only true wisdom! Our own wisdom is subject to be influenced by our emotions or the feelings of the moment, but the wisdom from God is unchanging. I was thinking about these things in light of Proverbs 4:10-18.
Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
The reality is that most of us don't like being told to do... but that is because we are surrounded by sinners just like us who are tempted to use authority in a self-seeking manner (just like we are). Do you remember those days when your dad was changing the oil and a smile beamed from you face when he asked you to get that wrench for him? Do you remember when your mom asked you to thread a needle for her and the joy that brought you? Do you remember the first time you got to mow the lawn? Do you remember the first time you got to help your mom cook a meal? Do these memories not bring joy and delight to your soul? Do you know why that is? It is because you know of their love for you and because of that, serving them is a joyful thing. In the same way, our serving of the Lord is meant to be completely joyful.

The God we serve is the perfect Father and cares for us more than the most tender and loving of mothers. It is this God who directs us in the way of wisdom. He tells us to hold onto His instruction and not let go of it because it is our life. Did you get that? Your life depends on the instruction of the Lord. He instructs us in the way of righteousness and tells us specifically how to guard our hearts from evil. We are to not make any kind of provision for the flesh and its lusts... don't even enter the beginning of the path of the wicked. Remember how the priest approached the beaten man in the story of the Good Samaritan? That is the picture here... walking on the other side of the road... not even looking in the direction of sin. Make absolutely no provision for the flesh.

When we are walking in the ways of the Lord, we know it because we are continually more aware of the light of righteousness and the darkness of sin and our hearts are continually turned toward the Lord. It is like we are just discovering the first glimpse of light in the distance showing us a little bit about what it means to live righteously. As we walk in His light and have fellowship with Him, He graciously opens our eyes to see more of what it means to live righteously before Him and we become brighter lights for the Lord. The Holy Spirit is present within us constantly leading and guiding us in His ways... opening our eyes to understand His Word and how it applies to the situations He puts us in. Without the Lord, we are blind! In the words of Christ Himself... "For apart from Me, you can do nothing."

May we have child-like faith to see serving God with incredible joy... just like we did getting that wrench for dad while he was under the car. If we took joy in that small of a thing for our earthly father, how much more joy should we have as we have the privilege of serving the Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the searcher of our hearts, the great I AM, our Wonderful Counselor, our Rock and Fortress. Would not the smallest thing done for the Lord please our Heavenly Father? O God, teach us to be content in pleasing You!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Healing From Faithlessness

I have been reading in Jeremiah a little bit and found myself so humbled and yet so encouraged by the words of the Lord in chapter 3, verse 22.
I will heal your faithlessness.
I am so faithless at times. It never ceases to amaze me how I can know the incredible truths of God and yet choose not to trust Him fully. I see so much of my own heart in reading about faithless Israel. God's calling to them is also His calling to me... to return to Him, to call Him My Father, to not turn away from Him. It is so humbling to kneel before Him and see my faithlessness in the light of His faithfulness. Even tonight as I was pouring out my heart, the Lord was convicting me of my lack of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. God has blessed me with several hours of driving tomorrow and Lord willing, I will be able to spend that time listening to His Word. I need so much more of His heart-penetrating words to judge the thoughts and intentions of my heart. God, thank You for Your grace in revealing my faithlessness. Cause faith to rise in my heart as I call to mind truths of who You are and Your greatness. Speak to me as I sleep. Fill me with the joy of the knowledge of Christ once again. You alone can heal my faithlessness. Thank You for being faithful. Make me more like You, Lord.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wholly His

The sermon yesterday was about having our hearts in the right place so that our offerings of thanksgiving would be honoring to the Lord. I was humbled so much in reading Psalm 51 by my self-centered view on the forgiveness of God. Pastor Tim challenged us to meditate on it all throughout this week so that when Thanksgiving comes around, our hearts would be prepared to offer a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. You know... I have so much to be thankful for, but God wants my heart. My praise and my thanks will come out of that... but ultimately, He wants my heart--all of it.

As I consider the greatness of my sin, I must humbly confess that it is the Lord that I have sinned against. He is right and just to judge my sin. He owes me nothing. The fact is that I am not only sinful now, I was born a sinner. I was never "good". God's desire is for the truth of my heart to be laid open before Him. I realize that the truth is always what God sees, but He desires us to be painfully truthful as we come before Him. Sin is a separator. It stains us to such an extent that only God can wash us white as snow.

You know... it is an incredible blessing that we cannot do something to earn the purification of the Lord... that washing from Him that makes us white as snow. Every other religion is based on some kind of works that must be done in order to be holy before the Lord. The joy comes when we realize that we cannot do anything to be holy before the Lord--Christ has done it all. This is why we do not joyfully sing of our own righteousness... we sing of Christ and His righteousness.

This incredible gift of the righteousness of God in exchange for our sin is not something to take lightly. I was reading in 1 Peter 1 this last week and again reminded of verses 17-21 and my responsibility as a child of God.
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Yes, this is a huge responsibility to fear the Lord in our actions and words, but we must not lose sight of that ending statement... "So that your faith and hope are in God!" All the good works in the world would not honor the Lord if our faith and hope are not in God. It is the realization of having been purchased by the precious blood of Christ that drives us to righteous living. What a joy it is to serve the One who already gave all for me! He has purchased my freedom from sin and death and I can think of nothing more honoring to Him than for me to embrace that freedom and live in it. My sacrifices are meaningless if my heart is not wholly His. God, make me wholly Yours... then I will offer my thanks to You and You will be pleased.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lord, You Know

I was praying this evening about a friend who is having a rough time with job circumstances and just seems to be struggling with everything that comes his way. In the midst of it all, he is continually finding things to be thankful about. God is clearly at work in his heart and I am really blessed by the Lord's work in his heart. As I was praying, I was reminded of that short phrase from Ezekiel 37:3.
O Lord God, You know.
Ezekiel knew enough. He knew that God knew. There is great peace in knowing that God, who created all things, who is gracious, abounding in love, the ruler, the mediator between God and man, the living Word, the great I AM, our redeemer, the faithful Father, our guide KNOWS. Whatever burdens I might try to bear on my own, He knows them already and is pleading with me to take His yoke upon me because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He longs for me to find rest for my soul... true rest in understanding that He knows all things. O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. God, may we ever be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. You have seen. You have heard. O Lord God, You know.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Boldness in Honoring the Lord

Today was one of those days where God seemed to speak directly to me through everything... church, Sunday school, and Awana. Sunday school really stood out to me. The message was from Daniel 5.

Take a look at verses 18-24.
O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father. Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him. He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes. Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.
God had given Daniel the opportunity to interpret the writing on the wall for Belshzzar. It would seem so easy to let the words of the king puff him up and then in pride, make known the interpretation to the king right away since no one else could do it. Daniel was not in a rush to get this answer out. Rather, he took his time to speak truth about God to Belshazzar with great boldness. He did not hide the truth about sin and its consequences. He gave absolutely all the credit to God.

This is such a challenge. Our modern day examples of this that most people think of are people like Tim Tebow... putting a verse in the eye-black or kneeling to pray after a touchdown. I respect him much for this and really appreciate the leadership I've seen from him and how he has dealt with some rather difficult issues. I don't want to make light of these things because God judges the heart and holds people responsible for the position that He puts them in, but I do think that we pick role models that don't really challenge us... or perhaps do things that don't apply to us. What God calls us to do is to do all things for the glory of God. I may not be interpreting handwriting on the wall or making touchdowns in front of 50,000 fans, but the Lord has given me [and each of us] opportunities to glorify Him. You know... God can be just as honored through me at my work place with just a few co-workers and boss as he is with Daniel standing in front of the king who could have taken his life and told him all about God and how He reigns. God looks at the heart and He controls the outcome. He wants faithful men and women. He is looking for men and women that will fully submit to His ways and just obey Him. What could God do if just 10 of us were completely faithful to Him? Do you ever dream of what He might do through you? Are you in a position of leadership? Do you ever dream of what God could do through those you have the privilege of leading?

I find (at least for myself) that I can easily miss opportunities to honor the Lord if I am not looking for them. My heart is naturally selfish and self-glorifying... that is my flesh. But God has given me a new heart, one that loves Him. It is only in dependence on God that I have the desire to glorify Him. May God give each of us the grace to see glimpses of what He might do through us and give us great boldness in honoring Him with both our words and our actions. If God be for us, who can be against us? The righteous are as bold as lions! God, help me to be faithful in honoring You with boldness.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Fearing the Lord

I had some travel time today because I was giving a presentation at a school district about 80 miles away. That is probably the biggest thing I miss about going to school... the drive time. Such fellowship can be had with the Lord when it is just Him and me in the car. An added blessing was that I was able to visit grandma after the presentation and have dinner with her. :) She spoils me!

On the way home, I was listening to some sermons that were on the radio... it took forever to get home because of traffic, but the sermons were really exactly what I needed to hear. One of them was on the story of Joseph and how God used the butler who forgot about Joseph... whom Joseph wouldn't have met were it not for the Lord putting both of them there in prison, to place Joseph over all of Egypt. Sometimes I think the waiting periods of life are unending, but my waiting is like... 5 months without a job, but still getting paid unemployment and living in a nice house and getting to spend time with my family, etc. Joseph's waiting was for 2 years in prison for fearing the Lord rather than men.

There is a very common view out there that God will make your life easy if you just obey Him. While the life of the obedient child of God is indeed free of the consequences that sin bring with it, God's promise is not a life of smooth sailing. His promise is that He will work all things together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose. I'm not sure why we attempt to translate this to mean "smooth sailing", because "smooth sailing" is so often not His best. Our plans get frustrated because we want to cram God's will into our own idea of "good", but God is so wise and so gracious in not letting us get our own way. It's kind of like a parent feeding only candy to his child... the child may think this is awesome, but the parent knows that it will actually harm the child. I often lose sight of just how infinite His wisdom is and just how infinitely small mine is. I am so thankful to the Lord for not doing things my way in my timing. Were He to give me all I want, I would be a huge mess! Rather, He gives me what is good as only the most Loving Father can do. This gives me reason to love Him. To obey Him. To trust Him. To fear Him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being an Encourager

The Lord recently convicted me of how my words were not "seasoned with salt" and "spreading grace to the hearer". Humor is a good thing... I believe it is a gift from the Lord; but, it must be kept within His boundaries. I found that I had actually started discouraging things that I ought to be encouraging through my unwise use of God's gift of humor... saying things that discourage rather than encourage. As I am reading in Ephesians 4, I see so many important areas in which I must grow.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all... Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
My words and my actions ought to reflect the calling of God on my life--to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As my words and actions reflect this, they ought to be a means of uniting the people of God together. I must humbly realize the truth of 1 Corinthians 4:7... that I have nothing that I did not receive. God has given me absolutely everything that I have, including the grace to turn to Him in the first place and to want to be obedient to His ways. It is not that I am a better person than the unsaved guy at work... it is simply that God mercifully gave me grace to love Him.

As I think of patience and tolerance, I am reminded of how my dad taught me so many things... as did several other mentors in my life. This men could have done jobs so much faster if I wasn't in their way and yet they chose to invest in me so that I could learn a new skill. I was praying recently about my involvement in ministry and just wanting so much for the Lord to use me not only to serve His people, but to also build others up in serving His people as well. I haven't done a great job of that up to this point, but I pray that with the Lord's help, I will be more aware of those opportunities. I love how the Lord works... I was thinking through these things on Saturday and the Lord provided a wonderful opportunity on Sunday evening to do this very thing. Perhaps God has been providing these opportunities all along and I have just been missing them, but it was a blessing to be able to put into practice some of what He was teaching me.

The Lord is also teaching me more about His love and compassion. I think that sometimes I get an un-Biblical view of manliness... be "tough"... be "hard"... be "manly". Some of this is good and I believe God made us men to be tough physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. However, He also calls us to be tenderhearted. This isn't a command just for women. This is a command for men. We were reading the other day during family devotions in Mark and it said that Jesus felt compassion for the people. Christ was not a weak man. He is the one that cleared the temple when it was being used for personal gain. But, He had compassion. Compassion along with the will of the Father drove His years of ministry. His death was compassion. I have so much to learn in this area, but I know that He is always at work and am so thankful for that.

God, I confess that I have not used the gift of words and the gift of humor to serve others as I ought. I have used them to discourage rather than encourage, to separate rather than unite. Forgive me. Make me an encourager. Give me opportunities to build up others in Christ. Grant wisdom in my words and actions so that I use Your gift of humor to honor You and bring joy. I ask that You would build me up in patience for others... that I would see Your work in them and be able to tenderly lead them to press forward in their obedience to You. Give me humility and freedom from the fear of man that I would not be afraid to associate with the lowly like Your Son modeled for us. Give me compassion for the hurting. I am overwhelmed by my deficiencies, Lord. I know that even my righteousness is only because You put within me the heart to be obedient. God, I have no good on my own. Thank You for Christ. I ask that You would grant joy in obedience and submission to Your ways. God, I am so thankful that You cannot dwell with darkness. By Your grace, shine the light of the knowledge of Christ into the deepest and darkest corners of my heart that all darkness would flee and that Christ would reign without any resistance. God, I love You, though not as much as I should. Help me to love You more. Make me more like Your Son. Amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Satisfied in Him

The Lord has been at work in my heart these last several days especially in the area of helping me to be more satisfied in Christ alone. He has been so gracious and faithful to show me the reality that there is no joy in any kind of sin. Fellowship with Him is the one and only foundation for true joy. I cannot ignore sin I deem as "small" if I intend to find joy in Christ. Yes, Christ has completely paid for my sin in full, but sin breaks fellowship with Him. The reality is that even if I had everything just the way I wanted it, I would have absolutely no joy without Christ. This truth must be deeply embedded within my heart so that I am seeking the things above... so that I am finding His commands as not budensome... so that I love Him more than any "good thing".

I am under the impression that God was teaching David some of these same things as he wrote Psalm 16.

I have no good besides You.

                  You support my lot.

                                    I will bless the Lord who has counseled me.

                                                      You will make known to me the path of life.

~In Your presence is fullness of joy.~

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Make Me a Servant

This morning in men's Bible study, we looked at John 13 (right before Jesus went to the cross). I am convicted of my self-centeredness.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
What a beautiful picture of love and servanthood. This was God in the form of man preparing to die a cruel death and bear the weight of sin for all people, once and for all. Should He not be looking for comfort from His disciples? Should He not be the one being served? Rather than being served, He knew full well that this was the end and in that knowledge, He loved them and He served them.

God, I am so self-centered in my thoughts and actions. I naturally lean toward being served rather than serving. God, convict me of the sin of selfishness and give me a heart of servanthood--the heart of Christ. Show me the needs of others around me and give me a heart to meet those needs so that Christ would be glorified in me. Help me to serve those in my family. Help me to serve those in my church. Help me to serve those I love. Help me to love and serve those that I do not naturally love. Make me like Christ. Make me a servant.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Enlarge My Heart

I was listening to a sermon on the way home from work today and it was about Psalm 119. I was reminded that Psalm 119 was how Jewish children would learn the alphabet. How awesome is that? To have these truths about God's Word so ingrained in your head that it might as well be the alphabet is really quite something to think about. Over the next several days if not weeks or months, I'm going to be spending some time meditating on the truths in Psalm 119 throughout the day. If it was so valuable to them that they learned their alphabet using Psalm 119, it ought to be of great value to me as well... and that means spending time meditating on it.

I love the faith expressed here in verse 32 of Psalm 119.
I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart.
The first statement, "I shall", is a statement of stability and confidence. It comes from the heart of one who is steadfast and immovable. Perhaps it sounds presumptuous... as James says, shouldn't we say, "If the Lord wills, we will do this or that..."? When we look further into this verse, we see why such confidence can be claimed. Running in the way of God's commandments is in fact God's will. We don't need to say, "If the Lord wills...", we can claim it as His will from the start and boldly commit to running in His ways. While we can say these things, again, it is kind of presumptuous that we would just say with that kind of confidence that we will run in obedience to God knowing full well how sinful our hearts are. We have two things and with these two things, we can be confident.

1) We know it is the Lord's will for us to run in the way of His commandments.

2) We know that God will enlarge our hearts to put within us the heart of obedience.

The reality is that we do not desire to obey Him in and of ourselves. We desire only to please ourselves. But, thanks be to God for the boldness to be found and claimed in Christ as our own. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1). The power to run with endurance the race that is set before us is not found in our ability to endure. It is in looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, that we find the joy of Christ as our strength. Oh that God would enlarge our hearts to be obedient. I am in need of constant heart enlarging. I look forward to the day of complete sanctification when I stand before Him complete in Christ, but until then, I must be growing ever closer, my heart must be filled more and more with His truth, and I must, by God's grace, be more and more obedient to Him.

God, teach me the way of Your statutes, and by Your grace, I shall observe them to the end. This is my desire... not one that I can accomplish alone, so I put all my hope in fulfilling this desire in Christ and Him alone. Help me to come to Your Word with the desire learn Your ways and obey You completely. Give me a longing for Your precepts and revive me through Your righteousness. Produce in me a reverence for You through Your Word. Give me a heart that delights to do Your will.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

His Eyes

The weather has been absolutely beautiful here. We have had some rain off and on, clear crisp air that seems to just makes all of life seem a bit more vibrant and exciting, scattered clouds, bright blue sky, sunshine, brightly colored flowers blooming one last time before fall, etc. I was sitting here reading in 1 Peter 1 and had a random, "I should go for a run right now!", thought. I ran around the lake like I usually do, but decided to mix it up a bit and instead of just running at a normal pace the whole way, I decided to sprint every couple hundred yards on the second mile and then walk the last .2 or so. There was almost no one around, so I decided to take some time to just be still before Him and pray.

I lay down on the grass looking upward toward the clouds that were blowing across the moon varying the amount of light that was glowing on the water and I just had to think about the difference between God's eyes and my own. I could see that there was light behind those clouds. By faith, I believed that it was the moon reflecting the light of the sun. Yes, I meant that to be funny, but I also meant to make a point. You see, that is faith! Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I could not see the moon. I could see evidence that it was there and was assured based on what I know about when the moon comes out and what it is supposed to look like that behind those thin clouds was the moon. In the same way, I can be fully convinced that God is working. I may not see the full picture (just like I couldn't see the moon), but I see so many evidences of His work that I can say with full confidence that He is at work. He lives to make intercession for the saints! Now I contrast that with God and His eyes. God does not need faith. He not only sees through the vastness of space to this little planet, but He sees through those clouds that prevent me from even seeing to the moon clearly... and He sees me. He not only sees me and all my actions, but He hears every word that I say, He knows my every motive and thought. Before I even say a word, He knows it was on my heart. I can't even see past the clouds!

How small I am! What is man that You are mindful of him? To say that He is intimately acquainted with all my ways is an understatement. I cannot even begin to fathom how God sees all, comprehends all, and does all things for His glory and our ultimate good.

In light of all this, I can't help but bless the name of the Lord for the riches of His kindness to me in Christ. He has given bright hope through the resurrection of Christ. He has made us heirs with Christ. He is the giver of joy and the restorer of it.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
He goes on to remind us that we were not redeemed with things that are corruptible, but rather with the precious blood of Christ--such an infinitely high cost for the redemption of my soul. I need His grace and help to be reminded of that moment by moment so that I truly prepare my mind for action, so that keep my hope fixed completely on the grace of Christ, so that I walk in obedience, forsaking sin, and walk in holiness.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Heart Obedience

Missing fellowship with His people this morning. I am thankful for the Lord's work in allowing me to have fellowship with godly friends as well as Bible study in the mornings with teammates while I have been away. God has been very good and faithful. God provided many opportunities to serve the guys on the team and I am very thankful and blessed to be used by Him in whatever means He chooses to use me.

As I sit here in the airport listening to music and sermons this morning, the Lord used a song really minister to my heart. It talks about the character of God and how He has never failed to provide for the birds and their needs and how He sees us as much more valuable than them. It continues with the challenge to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:25-34) and combines that truth with the command from Proverbs 3 to trust in the Lord with all your heart, to not lean on our own understanding, to acknowledge Him in all our ways and know what God will direct our path.

There are so many thoughts that fill my mind... so many decisions and directions I could go. The temptation is to try to figure things out for myself, but there is no peace in that. The peace that surpasses all understanding comes only from the Almighty and All-Knowing God in giving all anxiety to Him. The call is to rejoice in Christ and be thankful from my heart to Him for what He has done thus far and cast all burdens on Him so that He can guard my heart (Philippians 4:4-7, 1 Peter 5:8). He alone has the wisdom to guide me in the right way.

I was reading in Proverbs 3 this morning and the end of verse 1 really stood out to me. It says, "Let your heart keep my commandments." Obedience that is not from the heart serves only to please men. When we obey only with our actions, but not with our heart, we are disobeying the command of God in Colossians 3:22-24.
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
This command is so simple... "Let your heart keep my commandments."... but what a challenge to live completely for God through each of the adventures of the day--to obey Him from my heart. I so desperately need God to put in me a heart of obedience, that I would do all for the glory of God, that I would truly fear the Lord and obey His commandments. This obedience won't happen because I "set my mind to it", but rather because the Holy Spirit fills me with the desire to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and that results in heart obedience. Heart obedience always results in practical obedience. God is the revealer of the secrets of the heart whether it be a heart of obedience or just the superficial obedience based solely on pleasing man.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Change Not

A missionary spoke at our church on Sunday and it was such an incredible blessing. He was just overflowing with the love and compassion of Christ. The encouragement he offered us was exactly what I needed to hear. We looked at the beginning of Hebrews 12. I had never really focused on verse 3 before, but it was such great refreshment for a weary soul.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
One of the purposes of Christ's suffering was so that we would not lose heart in following Him when we encounter trials. He knew when He was suffering that we would grow weary and be tempted to lose heart and so He suffered as an example to us to endure... to persevere.

I read a little bit in the Word this morning and got to work a few minutes early and really felt like I needed more of the Word, so I kind of did the "flip and point method"... not quite, but I just told the Lord that I really needed to hear from Him and asked Hm to guide me to something. He guided me to Psalm 77. It's a beautiful passage that shows us exactly what we need to do in those times where we are growing weary. Take a look at these words of weariness in verses 1-10.
My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted. When I remember God, then I am disturbed; When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah. You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of long ago. I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders: Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah. Then I said, “It is my grief, That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
We know from Malachi 3:6 that God says, "I change not." Yet like this Psalm describes, we can be blinded by sin or weariness or the lies of Satan. The Lord so often takes His Word and shows me just how well off I am through passages like this... my problems are so small in comparison to some that are described here and yet there are similarities. The words following this in verses 11-20 is cool water for the weary soul.
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were in anguish; The deeps also trembled. The clouds poured out water; The skies gave forth a sound; Your arrows flashed here and there. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea And Your paths in the mighty waters, And Your footprints may not be known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
In order to defeat the weariness of the soul regardless of the cause, the first step is to simply remember the deeds of the Lord. Remember what He has done in the past. Just sit down for ten minutes and just ponder the greatness of God. Remember how He spoke the world into existence. Remember how He delivered the people of Israel through Joseph being sold into slavery. Remember how God delivered His people from Egypt and parted the Red Sea. Remember how He gave Joshua and Caleb courage. Remember how God chose David and protected him from his enemies. Remember God's faithfulness to Job. Remember God strengthening Daniel so as to not defile himself. Remember how God changed Saul into Paul... turning a persecutor of the church into one of the most influential proclaimers of the gospel. Remember how God sustained Paul through all kinds of trials. Remember how God loosed the chains of Peter right before he was to be beheaded. Remember Christ who conquered sin and death. Remember that Jesus said that it is to our advantage that He go away and send His Spirit to us. Remember that God has never once broken a promise. Remember that Christ promised that He is coming again! Remember. Remember. Remember. Meditate on His deeds! Oh, how can we not be overwhelmed with love for Christ when we just take a moment to muse on His deeds? He redeems us. He leads us by still waters. There is mystery and excitement with God. Verse 19 says that His footprints may not be known... oh, but we have seen the goodness of God. We may not see His every footstep, but we know His ways are holy and just. We know He is good. We know Christ is the very definition of love. He is our God who will lead us until death. When He says, "I change not.", I believe it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Our church helped in putting on a 3-on-3 basketball tournament today for an organization called National Hoops. The basic idea is that they go out to public school and parks and invite people to come play in this tournament and the church provides lunch and help with setting everything up. They present the gospel during the lunch period--the whole point of this basketball ministry. God worked in the hearts of many young men today in drawing them to Himself. I had the privilege of praying with a couple of these young men. It was such an incredible joy and blessing being used by the Lord to help these young men understand the gospel. It was the Holy Spirit that opened their eyes to understand it and caused them to respond to the message by placing their faith in Christ. It was neat hearing them talking afterwards when they were talking amongst each other and wondering why their other friend hadn't turned to faith in Christ. Perhaps the Lord will use these young men to draw many more to Himself.

While it was an incredible joy to witness these young men coming to Christ, I was very much convicted by my lack of boldness in sharing the gospel. God brought about half of these unsaved young men to Himself through someone simply having the boldness to share the gospel with them in a clear manner. I may not have the gift of evangelism, but that has nothing to do with whether to not the call to make disciples of all nations applies to me. It does.

I am reminded of Paul's encouragement and prayer request at the end of Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul asks them to pray that God would give him boldness to make the gospel known. I need the very same thing. The stakes of eternal life or death are infinitely high in comparison to my comfort. I need boldness. I know I must speak as the Spirit leads, but I fear that I have been suppressing His lead in the area of sharing the gospel far too much. God, give me boldness for Your glory.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Proven Character Brings Hope

I was reading this evening in Romans 5 and the first several verses jumped out to me:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
This is such a beautiful description of the Christian life. We are introduced to the grace by which we stand found only in Christ. We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God being revealed both presently in His work here on earth and also when He comes again and reveals Himself completely in all His glory. Because of THAT hope, we can take joy in the difficult times of life because we know that perseverance honors the Lord. When we persevere, we and proving the character that Christ has formed in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not character that is natural, it is completely the Holy Spirit's active work of sanctification. It is this proven character that brings hope--the hope of being completely sanctified when we see God face to face. I love how Paul then takes us back to the beginning. We were absolutely helpless without Christ. Yet, He loved us while we were sinners and enemies of God. His love is something that I will probably never be able to fully grasp. One thing is clear: we cannot take any credit for our salvation.

I have been listening to a song that Cal Baptist University Choir & Orchestra sings called, "Christ Has Conquered All". These truths have been so fresh on my mind. I am so undeserving of any kind of grace and yet He took the fullness of God's wrath that was on me and in exchange, gave me His righteousness. Meditate on these truths. Let them fill your soul with joy in what Christ has done.
Heavy laden weary soul,
Bearing up a heart of stone;
His Spirit comes to dwell in you,
And Christ, the weight of sin, assume.
All my guilt is cast on Christ
And his righteousness is mine.
What guilt should weigh upon my head?
For Christ has cleared it all!

The sum of all my sacrifice,
Though joyful, fails to justify;
I cannot pay for grace that’s free
Nor add to work that is complete.
Jesus paid it all for me;
This my ransom and my plea.
What debt I labor to repay?
For Christ has paid it all!

Through the law comes sin and death,
But faith is counted righteousness;
So I will trust in Christ alone,
My debt to pay, my sin atone.
And I’ll stand in confidence,
Covered by his righteousness;
What shall become of boasting tongues?
For Christ has done it all!

Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Swallowed up in victory!
The Lord of glory reigns on high,
Sov’reign over earth and sky.
Yes, he triumphed o’er the grave
And he comes again one day.
What lesser name shall draw our praise?
For Christ has conquered all!
For Christ has conquered all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Humbling Experiences

The Lord really has been blessing at work in incredible ways... really far beyond I could ask or think. I think perhaps He decided that today was a good day to fix any potential "big head" issues. I gave a presentation today which I was told was going to be "short". I was planning for 25 or 30 minutes maybe, but found out that I was to give the entire presentation when I got there. It ended up lasting about 2.5 hrs once all questions were answered and all. They had all kinds of expectations that we were not prepared to meet because they hadn't communicated those to us... etc. All in all, it was a fairly humbling experience.

To add to that, I texted a friend while driving on the way home. The traffic was moving literally at like 5 to 10 mph and I gave into the temptation to text while driving. I shouldn't have done it... and the Lord was gracious in the form of my friend calling me out on it. Of course, I am trying to be a good example of submissiveness to the Lord first and foremost but also to the authorities that He has put over me. I was doing neither at the time. That was yet another humbling experience. I had to ask for forgiveness both to the Lord for my sin and to my friend for being a bad example. Not fun.

Days like today make me really look forward to that promise that His mercies are new every morning. Looking back on the day, I am very thankful for those experiences knowing that James 4:6 says that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. I am desperately in need of grace... and desperately in need of God's help and favor. It is the grace of God that He humbled me today. The last thing I want is to be living in such a way that God is opposed to me. He must get all glory from this heart.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Washing of the Word

We had men's meeting this morning and Pastor Tim was sharing about how little lame quotes in his log book for running have served as help in fighting the battle of the mind while he is running... to not quit, to press on. He then took us to several passages that he goes to when he needs that same help in winning the battle of the mind when it comes to spiritual living. I honestly didn't know that other people did that as well. One thing I do when I am feeling very spiritually needy and overwhelmed with the burdens of life is to go back to some of my favorite passages and just let the truths of them penetrate my heart once again. Those truths need to change my heart again. This is part of the reason that I try to press forward in reading passages that I am not as familiar with (all of it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness) and also try to read something that is more familiar that I already know will minister to my heart where I need it.

Just like we use the same soap every day... the same shampoo... the same toothpaste... and each day it still cleanses us on the outside, God uses His Word to transform our minds into Christ-likeness. There is nothing wrong with pouring over the same 5 verses every day for a couple weeks. Yes, I think we ought to grow in the knowledge of Christ through reading more scripture, but God uses those same familiar passages to cleanse our hearts and minds through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word is living and active. May its washing be more a priority than physical washing. Oh, how I wish that the lack of spiritual washing would show on the outside as much as a lack of physical washing does... would it not drive me to be completely washed by the Word?

Well, guess what... it does show up on the outside. It shows in my attitude toward others. What would my day look like if I was my heart was transformed so that I would consider others as more important than myself today? What would my day look like if I was to work as unto the Lord and not unto men? What would my possessions look like if I did all things decently and in an orderly fashion? How would my brother grow spiritually today if I were to fellowship with him rather than live in the same house with him? How might my parents be encouaged today if I were to honor them as I am commanded to? What if I was truly washed by the Word today? The Word never enters the heart without bearing fruit. The question is whether or not it is truly entering my heart and changing my heart from the inside out.

God, I confess that I have read Your Word far too often without letting it change me. Knowledge of Christ is important, but unless it changes me into His image, it is pointless. I ask that You would implant Your Word deeply into my heart, that I would know You and that I would be changed into Your image by the power of Your Spirit. Forgive me for my hardness of heart. Break me. Mold me. Make me more like Your Son.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Sign?

I don't know about you, but I often wonder why God gives clear signs in some instances and not in others. I know ultimately why He gives signs, but sometimes I want one just to remind me that He is with me and leading me. My desire for it is often out of a lack of faith. It's not that He hasn't given me enough to know that He is with me and leading me, but just that I want to feel the firm fatherly grasp of His hand around my shoulder as He shows me the way. I love this story in Exodus 4 because it reveals some of God's heart about showing us signs.
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” The Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.” Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
I find it sobering that God's anger burned against Moses when he complained about not being able to speak well. I'm not one that likes to think about "what if" scenarios too often, but I do wonder if the Lord would have graciously provided Aaron as his spokesman even if Moses hadn't complained about not being able to speak well. Regardless, we know that God made it clear to Moses that He is more than able to fix any kind of problem that he might have in the area of being able to communicate. God will never fail us when we are speaking His truth to others. Paul asked that people pray that God would give him boldness to preach the gospel. If Paul, the man that was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, etc. asked that God would give Him boldness, I need it so much more! I don't know even the slightest bit about boldness. The extent of my boldness is fear of rejection.

Something that really stood out to me about this passage is that God gave these signs to Moses to perform before the people on His behalf for two main reasons: so that they would believe and so that they would worship. There are many areas in which God has given me clear direction and a "sign" of some sort and looking back on each of those times, God used it to cause me to believe Him and worship Him. When Christ chose not to perform signs for the pharisees, he basically told them that He had already given them the prophets and if they didn't believe them, they wouldn't believe Him. To perform a sign for them would be against His character of doing it for the purpose of belief and worship. May God give us the grace to believe Him more fully and bow low in humility before Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Fearing God

It's been a while since I have read the book of Exodus, so I thought I'd go through it again.  I really like Exodus because it is God communicating His character to the people of Israel.  I need these very same reminders of God and who He is so that I am worshiping the one and only true God rather than a God of my own creation.  I love the simplicity of the coorelation between fearing God and God's blessing.  Please note that God's blessing doesn't necessarily mean that life will be easy and all will go as we desire, but His blessing is always best.  While what God does is infinitely complex, He has also made our lives quite simple: fear God and keep His commandments.  This is a pretty neat practical application of fearing God:
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live... So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.
God specifically recorded that He was good to the midwives because they feared the Lord and obeyed Him rather than men. I firmly believe that He recorded this so that we can learn from their good example and commit to obeying Him. May He give us this kind of boldness and courage knowing that fearing the Lord and obeying Him will always be best--no exceptions!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Growing in Responsibility

The Lord has given me several opportunities lately that have stretched me outside my comfort zone in the area of leadership. This is something I have been praying for and yet I have to be honest and say that I am not always as earnest about growing in this area when I have to actually do something about it. I am very thankful that God does not go based on what is easiest but rather what is best. I have the privilege of leading worship tomorrow and really look forward to it. However, I feel like I have to fit the way I lead worship into this box of the expected. It is not that I think "my way" is better, but it is different. I'm finding that much of leadership is being able to lead within the boundaries given us by God (sometimes set by others in authority that God is using). I am also finding that with more leadership opportunities comes much more responsibility. It is one thing to be responsible for keeping my own heart focused on worshiping the Lord, but to have the responsibility of leading this group of God's children in worshiping Him is such a huge responsibility. It makes me so thankful for the Holy Spirit being present and at work in the hearts of each child of His just like He is working in my heart.

There is such freedom knowing that ultimately it doesn't matter if I make mistakes... that is purely selfish pride, what matters is that God is glorified. Yes, He can be glorified much more easily when my pride is stripped away. I feel such a burden to lead wisely and yet He is the shepherd of His people. God doesn't need me, but He has chosen me. He has chosen me to lead His people in singing praises to Him tomorrow. That makes it important.

God, I am weak, but You are strong. I cannot lead Your people to worship You... it is only by Your Spirit that they can worship You. Yet, You have chosen human instruments to proclaim Your truth and shepherd Your people even in the leading of singing praises to You. I ask that You would be my ever present help in time of need so that I would lead them as You would have me lead them. Speak through me. Speak in spite of me. Make me small so that You are glorified.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Sobering Reminder

Work has been incredibly busy these last several weeks. It is such a blessing to be able to come home and not have any of that work to worry about and then to go in the next morning refreshed and ready to get back on it. I have been enjoying it greatly and the Lord has been blessing. There are always challenges of some sort, but I am continually amazed by how God gets me through each of them and teaches me more about waht it means to trust Him. I ought not go into specifics, but I had been praying regarding a difficult circumstance and was just floored by how God did what I truly didn't feel was possible in order to resolve it. He didn't need to do that. He could have let me continue to battle... but He completely took care of it. I can't thank Him enough. It is pathetic that I doubt Him so much. I have so far to go. He is so good!

I was thinking about this situation and reading in Jude this evening and verse 5 stuck out to me:
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
This isn't your normal verse for encouagement, but I feel that I need to hear words like these just like I need to be encouraged by His goodness to pursue Christ. There is so much focus on eternal security, God's grace, God's love, God's mercy, God's compassion, etc. that I sense in my own heart that I don't reverence Him how I ought to. I don't have the godly fear that I ought to have for God. I need to see Him as holy and just. If God destroyed so many of His chosen people when they didn't believe, who am I to think that God is just so gracious now that I don't need to worry about it? God is gracious--very very gracious. I am not trying to make light of all those things that I mentioned above... those truths about God are absolutely vital to our understanding of Him. At the same time, I need that reminder that He is perfectly holy and perfectly just in order to have a true perspective on who God is. Without His holiness and justice, I would have no reason to be so thankful for His unending grace. It is the reality of my sin in light of His holiness and the guilty sentence placed on me by His perfect justice that points me to my need of Christ.

This reality brings so much joy to the end of Jude:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

God, make me to know all of You so that I love and obey You as I ought to. Make me to know my end! I am no more than dust. I cannot stand on my own. It is only by Your grace that I can do anything but stumble. I long for the day when I stand before You blameleess and with great joy because of Christ. Thank You for dying in my place.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Making Him Glad

Today was a packed day starting with getting some work done here around the house and then helping someone load up a moving truck. We had an Awana meeting this afternoon. I must say that I am absolutely excited about the group of guys that I am going to be working with this year. I get to work with the junior and senior guys this year (my brother included). :) I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in the lives of each of these young men.

I had the blessing of going to a wedding reception tonight. The Lord blessed with so much fellowship! Sometimes these kinds of things can be fun but empty... but it seemed like everywhere I went in mingling with people, God was continually brought to the center of the conversation. I believe that is what God intended these kinds of activities to be like. I left refreshed and encouraged in the Lord. God is so good!

I was reading in Psalm 104 tonight and got thinking about this phrase:
Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works.
One of God's works is His work of creating us. I must ask myself the question... is the Lord glad that He made me? We read in the times of Noah that God was sorry that He made man. In fact, God says that He was grieved in His heart that he made man (Gen. 6:6). I think we (myself included) take His grace far too lightly. We live in the "age of grace", yet God is unchanging. I believe that our sin causes Him to grieve. In fact, Eph. 4 commands us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. May it be that He is glad in His work of creating me. May it be that He is glad in His work of creating each of us. He is completely deserving of all of our praise. It starts with obedience so as to not grieve Him, but it is so much more than that. When we take joy in Christ, we cannot help but praise Him. I believe it is in obedience and joy in Christ that we make God glad. Let's live each moment asking ourselves... "Does this make you glad, Lord?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I went for a couple mile run the other night. My younger siblings and mom were going to walk around the lake the opposite way and we were going to cross paths at some point. I got about 90% done and there they were... all lined up to race me to the end. I was in no way ready to race to the end... I was tired after the previous 2 miles and just not ready to sprint it out at the end. I determined to keep my pace regardless of what they did. I always like to finish strong, so for the last 100 yards or so (uphill), I decided to sprint up that last hill. I had some "beat the little brother" motivation in there as well. ;) Just for the record, I found it quite humorous. :)

One of the things that I think about most while running is the life applications to running. It takes endurance. It takes planning. If I was to start out too fast, I wouldn't be able to finish. The world around us is full of every kind of instability... finances jump up and down... friends come and go... etc. I am reminded of that passage where Jesus is telling His disciples to count the cost of following Christ. The sermon on Sunday was about faithfulness to the end... even if that means death for the sake of Christ. That is endurance. That is planning to finish strong. The pace is living today in such a manner that I am ready to die for Christ if that be His plan. It is living every moment of today as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God. To be holy is to be without blemish. True holiness can only be found in Christ, but He calls me to be holy as He is holy. This is the pace of being victorious over sin. Finishing strong comes when death is conquered by the glorious uniting of us with Christ at the resurrection.  Death is swallowed up in victory through Christ.

Death is a split moment out of our entire life.  We can't add or take away a moment from our life.  God determines how long we have here on earth and so it is our job to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus who is both the author (starter) and finisher of our faith.  He hems us in behind and before in the sense of running the race.  I think of those marathon runners with the police cars all around them the entire way... they are hemed in and protected.  That is a small example of what God is for us.  He protects us along the way.  He doesn't make it so that we don't need to run, but He is right there guiding us toward the finish and then finishing with the victory over sin and death at the cross.  The battle comes in the running.  I was reading in James 5 today...
We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
I can't think of a single person that had a tougher trial than what Job had. I'm sure there have been... but Job had it tough: his wealth was stripped away, his family was killed, his health was very bad, and his wife and friends were less than encouraging. Yet, looking at James' commentary on Job... this actually proved that God is full of compassion and mercy! God blesses those that go through trials. He is not bound to it, but I believe He takes joy in blessing His children just like earthly fathers take joy in blessing their children. God lets us walk through the trials of life... actually, I think we can say Biblically that He absolutely plans the trials of life for His glory and for our good.

God, help me to be faithful. Help me to endure. Help me to run with my eyes fully fixed on Christ.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are You Rich?

I'm not sure why this passage had never caught my attention before, but I was reading 1 Timothy 6 tonight and verses 17-19 jumped out at me.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
I feel like the church as a whole has not done a good job of instructing those who are rich as He commands. We have this idea that there are "missionaries" and there are "senders"... and I guess there is some truth to that, but 99% of us want to be the rich one that God enables to be a "sender". I know I am exaggerating, but you get my point. We are all called to be disciples and somehow we have decided that being "rich" enables us not to fulfill that command. In the name of "seeking to please God with our riches", we are actually fixing our hope on the uncertainty of riches! Our giving is rarely sacrificial... it is out of the abundance that He has given us. Sin is so often disguised by some kind of seemingly God-centered idea. We need His grace and help to uncover the areas in which we are not pleasing Him.

On the flip side, I have also found a large crowd... well at least the 1% in the church that are committed to missions (again exaggerating a bit) that see riches as evil. The truth is that most of the time the riches cause us to love money which indeed is the root of all evil, so they are right in many regards. However, it is unbalanced... if we all committed to reading the Word and doing what it says: fix our hope on God realizing that He supplies all things to us for us to enjoy, be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share (bringing more joy) for things of eternal worth... that would really solve a lot of our problems. It's interesting that we are to be "ready to share". This means that we are saving money for that purpose... to share! He gives us these things for us to enjoy. He even says that! It is not wrong to enjoy the things He has blessed us with... He loves to give His children good gifts and see our satisfaction with His gifts. Yet, I think one of the ways we can enjoy His gifts the most is to share them. One of the ways God has lead me to do this is by actually putting different spots in my budget for "sharing". I don't claim to do it the "right way". I'm not sure that there is a "one size fits all" for this kind of thing. But I know for myself, I dislike spending money and so if I don't specifically plan to share, my natural tendency is to store up treasure for myself which is of absolutely no eternal value. I have found that one part of my budget the most joyous.

I think it important that whether we have much or have little, we are applying these truths. If God is gracious to me and I am fixing my hope on the uncertainty of riches, He will strip away those riches for my good so that I will fix my hope on God! Just because you are poor doesn't mean that you don't trust the Lord and just because you are rich doesn't mean that you do! It simply means that God knows what is best for you at this time and He wants you to be faithful with what He has given. I often think about the rich young ruler and how he went away from Christ sad because he had great wealth. May God in His grace strip away my earthly possessions completely before I walk away from Him to pursue my own riches.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life--A Gift

It's been a great birthday:
  • Stayed up late talking with my mom and sister.
  • The blessing of sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 10 days.
  • The surprise of cookies in my car that my sister baked for me.
  • Getting emails and texts and facebook messages throughout the day filled with encouragement and memories of friends.
  • The reminder that life is a gift and our days are numbered as I saw an over-turned car on the freeway on the way to work.
  • The blessing of spiritual food and the overwhelming love of the Father in Hosea 2.
  • Exhortation from 1 Timothy 6 about fighting the good fight.
  • A great prayer from the end of Ephesians 1.
  • The blessing of having and out of the ordinary day at work with traveling around to different schools and being able to listen to the Word being preached and worship in singing.
  • The blessing of my brother going out of his way to BBQ an amazing roast and make milk shakes.
  • Etc.
The Lord has been so good to me in this short 24 hour period... and His goodness doesn't change, even though I fail to recognize His blessings so often.  The Lord has been so good to me this year.  The reality is that I am not guaranteed tomorrow or even the next hour here on earth.  Five individuals were crushed under stage equipment in Indiana where I was less than a week ago.  I don't know how long I have, but what I do know is that I need Him to teach me to number my days so that I present to Him a heart of wisdom.  I love the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards and was reminded of the one that has stood out the most to me:
Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
Life is an interesting thing.  We must live in the moment.  As Jim Elliot says and I wholeheartedly agree, "Wherever you are--be all there."  At the same time, we must have eternity in our hearts.  We are eternal beings.  What I eat today doesn't matter for eternity.  What does matter is that I do all (even the mundane things like eating) for the glory of God.  It comes down to living 100% in this moment for the glory that is to be revealed in Christ for eternity.  I fall so so short.  That is what makes Christ so real to me.  The guilt of my sin satisfied by the love of Christ in taking that guilt upon Himself so that I could be declared not guilty before the throne of God Almighty.  My sin is great, but my savior is greater still. 

God, take this year of my life and use it for Your glory.  You deserve nothing less than all of me.  Take all that You have given me, time, money, possessions, etc. and use it how You deem best.  Gently peel my fingers off anything that I am holding onto as my own that is really Yours.  Cause me to be a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You this year.  Give me a heart of vision for eternal things and a heart a wisdom in how to apply that knowledge in every "this moment" of this next year.  Make me Your prized possession... not because I deserve to be, but because You deserve all of me.  Rid my heart of anything that holds me back from being fully Yours.  Thank You for this year.  I love You.