Tuesday, May 24, 2011

But God!

"What the heck? How could someone cut me off in traffic again? Me?! The nerve of them to do such a thing and to me, I am in such a hurry!" How often have I felt that way? I can't begin to tell you. The worst part of it is that it isn't just limited to morning traffic. I can be insulted or given a sarcastic jab from someone and respond as though I were majorly offended. Why is that? Simple answer is most obviously pride. It is the same thing that causes me to feel cut when someone else gets what I look to as an undeserved position, an undeserved relationship, and undeserved job. "When will it be my turn God? When will I get mine?" It's funny how often we cry those words out in our hearts. "But God! I don't want to wait that long! But God why doesn't this just go away! Why can't I just, but God, but God!" But God? I thought those two words when brought together were beautiful.

But God is one of my favorite phrases found in the bible, "But God showed up, but God wrecked house (as taken from the CLT [Chris Living Translation]), but God saved, but God restored." Sounds great coming from God, but typically coming from us, it is anything but great. Often it is some pride centered statement of discontent toward the God who should be sufficient enough for us. What I think we need is an honest reality check. We need a reality check. We need what David had in 1 Sam 26.

David was being pursued by Saul and in short had every right to kill Saul in order that he might take his rightful place as king, however, he didn't. Reading through the life of David I continued asking myself how it was David maintained such an attitude. To see Saul as "The LORD's annointed" (1 Sam 26:9) I am sure was part of it, but that is only the half of it. I think this view of Saul came first from how it was David esteemed himself, something which becomes evident to us in 1 Sam 26:20b

"For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains"

Interesting comparison we have: a flea and a partridge. I don't think you need an explanation for what a flea is, however, a partidge is a bird whose wings are so small that when hunted, try as they might, they never can get off the ground and as a result are harmless. That is how David saw himself and that the ground from which his character grew, humility. David did what Paul speaks of in Phil 2:3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."

It wasn't David's resolve or self-worth that allowed him to carry such a humble character, it was David's view of himself. It was the fact that David had come to terms with the grace God had given him. David wasn't looking to be king, David didn't even really understand what the whole thing was all about. Simply put, David saw himself as a lowly shepherd whose aim was to put a smile on the God he served, nothing else.

How often are we offended by others and tend to put our schedules, our agendas, our ideas, our thoughts, our cards out first and tend to leave others in the dust. This is something I have learned in my own relationships and am continuing to learn, I am not who I think I am. I am not the spiritual guru with all the answers, I am not the guy who trusts God all day every day, I am not the smartest man in the room and I am not the guy who "has it all together." I am the guy who everyday has to be reminded God loves him and that nothing can separate him from God's love. I need his grace daily, and the more I read, pray, serve and fellowship, the more I come to terms with the fact that I am the worst person I know.

Don't stop there though. Remember that their is a Romans 8 in the bible and that we are told there is now therefore no condemnation, so don't beat yourself up about it, just change it and understand that it is not by your strength that you'll do it, but by His Spirit. Humility does not come naturally, however, Christ's nature in us is centered around lowliness of mind, we just have to surrender...

"Your spiritual poverty enables you to enter the world of the other, even when you cannot identify with the world-e.g., the drug culture, the gay world. The poor in spirit are the most nonjudgmental of peoples; they get along well with sinners." - Brennan Manning

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

I was listening to an amazing teaching this morning and the speaker made mention of the above story, specifically the son’s approach to the father. We are all very well familiar with the story, however, the insight he gave to it rocked my very core.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness” is a verse often quoted by many a Christian, however, the son in the parable of the two sons takes this statement to another level. Notice something about his approach to the father, ‘make me like one of your hired servants.’ He didn’t ask for comfort, riches, or even happiness, he simply asked for acceptance, the acceptance of his own father, to be but a servant like all the other slaves in his fathers household, specifically, a hired servant, the least of these in his father’s household, that was the position this son desired.

As a result, the image of his father as master and judge, quickly faded as he found himself not only being accepted, but being clothed, cleaned and celebrated, all because his approach to the father was different. He didn’t go to him for comfort, but he got it. He didn’t go for riches, but he got them. He didn’t go for status, but he got it too. The one thing he went for was acceptance, and from this, sprung every other thing he could have ever wanted.

That should be our approach to our Father. Lord we don’t need anything BUT Your acceptance, to be allowed to sit at Your table. May our hearts be bent this way, may we stop our self-seeking nature dead in its tracks and seek Him for Himself.

“Aim for heaven, get earth thrown in. Aim for earth, get neither” – Tim Keller

“And I will suffer great humiliation once I come to acknowledge and understand that I have not really been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ Himself, but only concerned with knowing what He has done for me. My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God. Am I measuring my life by this standard or by something less? - Chambers

Monday, May 9, 2011


Psalm 119: 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

I loved Cinnamon Toast crunch, so much so that when I was younger, I used to have to hide the box from my brother so that he wouldn't eat it. I mean I tried writing my name on it, which really did nothing because once he picked up the box and say the name, rather than say "I ate the box of cinnamon toast crunch", he simply said "I ate Chris' box of cinnamon toast crunch." I even tried telling him not to do it, which in my brother's defense is difficult, after all it is probably the greatest cereal in existence (that and apple jacks). But it wasn't until I started taking the box and hiding in a place that only I could find that I began to enjoy the cereal, because I actually got to enjoy the whole box, not just a bowl.

An applicable example to what the word hidden means. To hide something in this case isn't to hide because you’re ashamed or embarrassed, the hidden is one that is of security, to safely deposit, to put in a place so secret that no one can take it from you and only you can enjoy it. That is the kind of hidden that is meant in this verse and it is this kind of hidden that we should all practice with God’s word. It isn’t enough to read it, but to also hide it so deep in our hearts that no spiritual attack, no earthly trial, no menacing thought can rip from us the peace we have in the Word of God.

Did you know that worrying is a sin. After all it is Jesus that tells us “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Worry is itself you telling God that for some reason, He may just be wrong, you may have a point and despite what He has shown you or told you, “nevertheless” as the people in Numbers 13:28-29 said, there are issues, there are problems, there are things that He won’t be able to handle.

You are about 12 inches away from peace, from strength, from joy, from knowing God is with you. I say that because the distance between your head and your heart is about 12 inches and at times that is the only gulf that stands between you and getting to the place you need to be. Hence the need for prayer, hence the need for bible study, hence the need to sit at His feet and “learn from Him” (Matt 11:29).

What has God told you that is personal to you? What has God promised you that right now, you just don’t feel is going to happen? What is it that has gripped your heart so tight that right now you don’t even feel like God is with you? Whatever it is, take it off and give it to the God who is with you and allow peace to reign. Let His perfect love cast out fear. Take the word He has given you and hide it in the deepest part of your heart. Go to the “secret place” as Christ tells us in Matt 6 and there, learn to pray, learn to listen, learn to cry out to God who is waiting for you, in fact He died so you could…

“There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for his people to make a show-thing of him, and not to use him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on his shoulders, the more precious will he be to us.” - Spurgeon