December, 2010

Dec 10

Faith Builds Faith, Dreams Build Dreams

God has a unique way with our journeys of faith. It seems the bigger the pressure and longer the wait, the bigger the payoff. When He fulfills on His promise, it’s like all that pressure is released in an explosion of faith. We realize what God can do, and we start looking for the next thing God wants to do.

I don’t know what it is for you, but for me, it was my book. I don’t why God allowed me the privilege of having a book published, but I hear Him saying through it all, “See, I can do this. Do you also think the next step is too hard for Me?”

God brings little dreams to pass, first of all as tangible reminders that He loves us, and second of all to build faith for the bigger dreams.

And who knows, maybe ordinary people can be used to change the world?

Dec 10

The Heart of the Prophet

Dedicated to the prophets of God. Written on 3/26/07 with minor revisions.

Just because it’s spiritual makes it no less real.

The heart is beating,
Pumping out life in slow, labored surges.
It is oozing out big drops of blood.
It is torn, shredded to bits.

Others all around turn and stare–
  what a strong, courageous man of faith!
Their searching gazes are returned
  with one of equal incredulity.
How can they not see?
  How can they not hear?
    How can they not feel?
Though he’s standing tall,
  inside his heart is weeping.
The broken heart within him is not his own.
   It’s God’s.

Dec 10

The Will of God: Sovereignty and Surrender

This past Sunday, we heard a great message on the sovereignty of God, and God has been dealing with more of my misconceptions about my walk with Him. To be honest, as badly as I want to be strong in these areas, I’m actually quite weak, though I’m sure that’s no surprise to those of you who are around me!

Take a verse like this:

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)


In my head, I know that God is sovereign and establishes my steps, but I live my life as if it weren’t true. Instead, I live my life with “what-ifs”. What if…

  • …I miss the call of God on my life?
  • …I don’t reach the bar that I set for myself?
  • …my choices and decisions keep God from moving through me?
  • …this is my own opinion and isn’t the voice of God in my life?
  • …this is only an empty work of the flesh and not a work of the spirit of God?
  • …I step out in something and fail because I didn’t have enough information, knowledge, or teaching?

We have a word for this in our language. It’s called fear.

It has other names, too. It’s called a prison. It’s called a shackle. It’s called a weight. It’s called a burden.

It’s also unbelief, and it’s sin.

Jesus died to save me, and He has invested too much in my life to let His life within me be wasted.

God opens and closes doors. If He closes a door, the worst thing that can happen is that I bang my nose on the door because I’m trying to sneak past.

The Holy Spirit is my teacher. Man might be lazy or incompetent, but God isn’t. I can trust the Holy Spirit to teach me before, during, or after whatever situation I find myself in. I can trust Him to teach me everything I need to know at the time that is best.

The spirit of God is joined to my spirit, and the desires of the righteous man are only good. This means that as I walk with Him, I can do what I want because my desires are joined with God’s desires. Obviously, not all desires are God’s desires, and some are very clearly of the devil. I should never go out and kill someone, but that desire only gains entrance because of sin. What makes me think that the spirit of God within me would even allow me to do that?

Here’s the way I see it. Our lives are like a train running on invisible tracks that God laid before we were born. Psalm 139 says that all our days were written in His book. We can’t see where the tracks lead, but we need to trust that God laid them where He wants them. We can sit on the tracks and try to figure out the best route to go, or we can provide the forward motion and go where God takes us. Of course, we can make decisions that will derail us, but our walk with God will keep us on the tracks. In short, it seems to me we must live our lives in full-speed surrender.

Jesus laid out very clearly:

  • “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t try to get it for yourself. Just ask. Jesus is the one who gives it.
  • “Seek, and you will find.” Jesus assumes that we don’t know where to go, but we look, we explore, we seek out. Jesus is the one who reveals it.
  • “Knock, and it will be opened to you.” Doors are all around you. Knock on them. Jesus is the one who will open those doors for you.

Ask. Seek. Knock.

It’s much more nebulous and vague and indefinite than we’d like for it to be, but it throws us back on a dependence on the sovereignty of God. Just keep yourself pure and undefiled before God as you press forward, but try things and explore. God will lead and direct you. The tracks that are in front of you may be invisible, but they are no less real. They may seem unsafe, but you can trust the One who laid them.

Dec 10

Unraveling the Will of God

Our concept and theology of the will of God is a subject that I have pondered quite a bit the past several months, but I haven’t been sure I can do justice to it. In short, I feel like I have a very distorted view of what God desires. I am in the process of unraveling the lies that have held me captive, and sometimes I feel like I am stumbling blind, but I feel that the exercise of expressing my thoughts will perhaps bring clarity. I guess this might turn into another series, or it might not. But I plan to address it from differing angles, rather than in some sequential, logical order.

But enough introduction.

For much of my life, I have believed in a cross that crucifies more than the sinful man. This leads me to doubt passages like Proverbs 11:23 NASB:

“The desire of the righteous is only good….”

It is good to live a life surrendered to God. But it is also good to take God at His Word. Somehow in life, I’ve managed to believe that if I want it, it’s probably not good for me. After all, we can see the emptiness of those who do get everything they want, right? And if we got what we wanted, we’d probably be spoiled!

As ugly as it sounds, it really comes down to a spiritual self-hatred. We don’t value ourselves enough to accept good things or to believe that dreams and success belong to us.

But it’s also in defiance to God. It was God who made us and not we ourselves, and we are the workmanship of Christ created for good works. When we resist the pulls that God had placed in or heart, we are resisting one of the major ways God has for leading us. Did not God place desires within me as a part of equipping me for that work?

Finally, it’s a denial of the reality of Christ in me and my union  with him, that He actually lives in me and that we are one in spirit and that I have the mind of Christ. If Christ desires it, who am I to shut down His desires?

That’s where that verse comes in. It’s scandalous in its optimistic freedom. Can I really believe  that what God says is true?

Dec 10

Positional Leadership

I was grabbed this evening by a new perspective on positional leadership. It has to do with our position in Christ, rather than our position with man. The thought is simply this:

“What if I were able to be an effective leader and a man of influence, not because I am doing the right things, but simply because I am where God has called me?”

“What if the fact that I am seated with Christ in heavenly places meant more than my title or earthly position?”

It’s a different kind of positional leadership. It’s not because of who I’m over, but because of who has put me there. It’s not because of what I do, but because of what He does through me. It’s not that I am over others for my own agenda, but that I am coming under  others to raise them up and to serve them.

Jesus. It’s all about less of me and more of Him.

Dec 10

Your Platform Is Here

Today I remembered a prayer I prayed several months ago, recognizing that my current place in life was my platform for ministry. Many times we wait to minister until we feel we have a platform, but your platform is here.

If you are in the workplace, that is your platform. If you are in ministry, that is your platform. Your marriage is your platform; your singleness is your platform. Your role as a leader is a platform; your role as a follower is a platform. Your wealth is  your platform, as is your lack of provision. Your current relationships are your platform. The list goes on. No matter what aspect of your life journey you look at, it is part of your platform. God has you where you are for a purpose.

You should be actively looking for your platform, only make sure you start first by looking right where you are, because God put you there for a purpose.

Dec 10

Our Journey to God

Our journey to God is never us standing in one place, commanding God to meet us where we are. Rather, it is us, stumbling, blinded by tears, feet bleeding, lungs about to burst, knees shaking, legs collapsing, tongue parched, mind reeling, pleading, begging–trying to find Him. And He meets us there. And then we discover that He has run farther, hurt more, and waited longer than we ever will or even ever could.

Dec 10

Honor: Tombstones or Treasure Chests?

Remember what I said about tombstones and treasure chests? There’s another important aspect, not merely about who we are, but how we view others.

I get to live around some people who are like treasure chests. In fact, some of them even seem a little dull and boring on the outside, but God has placed within them incredible treasures that you only get to see when you get up close and start to dig. And I so love that!

But those treasures are not always well visible in people, and that’s where we stumble upon the whole issue of honor.

Many times when we’re faced with conflict, irresponsibility, immaturity, or even sin, it’s so easy to look at people and only see dead bones, but the heart of God is to reveal the treasures that He has placed in each person’s heart. When we confront people, it is all about valuing what God has placed within them and honoring the life of Christ within them.

I have often been the recipient of that kind of attitude. I have become increasingly aware of my own humanity, and many times, I have been broken by this kind of grace. It’s what makes a community a safe place to be, and I love it and I want it. By the power of God, I want new eyes to live this way!

For Christ, who alone is worthy.

Dec 10

Integrity: Tombstones or Treasure Chests?

In regard to yesterday’s post, I’ve been thinking about the question, “What is integrity?” This is the definition that I came up with for myself, so take it for what it’s worth.

Integrity means living as if you existed in a glass house. Now, I’m not saying your house should actually be made of glass. You know that it’s not appropriate to live a completely transparent life, because not everyone is trustworthy or safe, so don’t replace your walls with glass!

What integrity does mean is living with a constant awareness that we can hide nothing from our heavenly Father. It also means living as if the other people in your life can see your every thought and motive. It means honoring others in your heart. It means not allowing thoughts of negativity about others to dwell on your mind. It means living out righteousness even behind closed doors.

The truth is, all of us have secrets. It’s just a matter of what kind of secrets we have.

You can be a tombstone, harboring secrets of a life that is long dead. Then, when people dig into your life, they find smelly carcasses of bad attitudes, unforgiveness, bitterness, selfish ambition, and twisted motives. The surprises never end, but they’re all dark and ugly.

Or you can be a treasure chest. As you surrender your life to Christ, He begins to take those skeletons and replace them with treasures. As you ask Him to search your heart and as you repent of the sin that He reveals in your life, He places aspects of Himself and His glory in your life. The surprises, again, don’t end, only this time they’re glorious!

This is the choice of integrity. Living with integrity is choosing to give up the skeletons and live all of your life as a treasure chest long before any of it is ever visible to the world.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me so excited to chase after holiness and righteousness! Isn’t God good?!

Dec 10

Guided by Integrity

This weekend my father challenged me not to pursue the will of God for my life, but rather to simply pursue the will of God. This doesn’t make sense at first blush; why pursue God’s will apart from what He has for our lives? Well, I was challenged by this verse tonight:

“The integrity of the upright guides them.” Proverbs 11:3a NIV

Do you know what guides you? It’s your integrity. If you live a life of integrity, God will use that to lead you into what He has.

I have spent too much time in my life already worrying whether I am where God wants me or trying to figure out where that is. However, that’s not what God wants me to focus on. He wants me to make sure that my attitudes are right, that I’m honest. He wants me to make sure I am living out the things I teach others to do. He wants me to invest my short little life into others’ lives, loving them with the love I have been given. In short, He is looking for a life of integrity. Through that, God will guide me into His plans.

It’s so simple, but we go to such great lengths to overcomplicate it!