What’s Your Story?

If you’ve walked with God for any amount of time you’ve encountered him and experienced his goodness, his grace, his instruction, his refinement or simply and most powerfully, his love.

When you share your story with others you invite others to know God, and to tune their hearts to hear his voice more clearly.

That is my motive with every post I write. And after doing this for several years I’ve developed a deep desire to make ours a two-way conversation. I imagine the stories that each of you has and how much they could enrich other readers.

So will you take the dare and share your own story with me? Maybe it can become a stand-alone post. Maybe we’ll use it in a roundup of anecdotes.

Just take a moment and ask the Lord what story he would have you share. Trust that if something comes to mind there is someone he has in mind who needs to hear it.

The prompt is simply this:

Share a story of your walk with God, and how he helped you grow, change or draw closer to him.

You can use the form below to get the process started. I’ll follow up by email and help capture your story in a way that you feel good about.

This offer is open-ended so you may come back to it at any time.

 

Yes, I’d Like to Share My Story.

 

Need a Little Encouragement?

Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. Mark 5:19

And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:27

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. Psalm 107:1-2

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

Divine Nature

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

One of the most important questions we must be able to answer as Christians is that of exclusivity, how we can claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. It often comes in the form of a question like this:

“What about people who have never heard the name of Jesus? Are they to be condemned?”

God answers this question in the above verse from Romans: Every single human being, as a part of creation, is equipped to recognize the Creator in creation itself and through nature alone is able to come to some understanding of his attributes. In fact, John suggests we can come to know Jesus himself when he writes:

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:3

My husband and I  just enjoyed a wonderful weekend on a lake in the mountains of Virginia with friends. As I read this passage it inspired me to tune in to the beauty of our surroundings with an eye to the attributes of God in our current setting. Here are some things we identified.

Ever-Changing 

The first thing that came to mind is how dynamic nature is. Even as you notice a majestic tree in full bloom its beauty is changing. If you come back to it in a few weeks its leaves will no longer be green, but brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow. A few weeks after that it will stand bare, stoic and angular, its frame laid bare by the changing of the seasons…only to be renewed again with the burst of spring. And yet each year the tree is new and unique.

We too are not who we once were. The cells in our body die and are replenished constantly. So we are comprised of different cells today than when we first began.

The great Impressionists painted the same scenes over and over again, illustrating how they were transformed by changes in light, the movement of the seasons and subtle shifts in the landscape itself.

How glorious heaven must be as the Creator Himself eternally morphs, evolves and reveals new dimensions of himself, all worthy of worship.

Complex Simplicity

We are able to comprehend nature because of its simplicity; for example, enjoying the refreshment of a drink of water. And yet, the more we investigate and discover, the more complex we find every element of nature to be, both in and of itself and in how it interacts with the rest of creation.

From the time I was a child I wondered how ants perceived human beings. Are we merely a shadow to them? Do they discern a piece of our foot and consider it to be the whole, unable to see or process what is behind the flesh?

So it is with God. We come to know him in nature, through the person of Jesus and by the indwelling of the Spirit, and yet we are incapable of ever comprehending the fullness of who He is.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 8-9

Multi-Sensory

Nature’s colors, sounds and textures present themselves independently and in relation to one another, creating a rich tapestry.

To experience nature is to engage all of our senses, what we see animated by what we hear, enriched by what we feel and together creating what we experience.

And so it is with God. He engages all of our senses and our minds. God is wild and uncontainable, invoking our wonder, fear and excitement as we make space to experience who he is in all the ways that we are invited to know him: in nature, through personal reflection, through loving others and through the love of others.

Soul-Satisfying

To be still and observe nature replenishes and renews our souls. It is why we watch sunrises and sunsets, hike trails, walk along beaches or sit on the dock of a lake and tune our senses to what is happening around us.

It is the same with God. In fact, he encourages us to practice this very habit:

Be still and know I am God.

Psalm 46:10

As we quiet our souls and learn to be, we invite the Lord to refresh and renew us, and reconnect to the peace found in synchronizing with his eternal rhythm.

Eternal

Nature is destructive but never destroyed. Forests burn. Earthquakes flatten. Droughts eradicate. But never wholly. The ashes fertilize new life from the remnant, and there always is a remnant.

God is fierce. He is constantly refining and renewing what he has created, bringing forth something richer, stronger and more like him.

So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:7

It’s Sunday. Take time to be still today and take in the sights, sounds, textures and fragrances of your Creator. Invite him to reveal a new aspect of himself to you through his creation.

And consider whom you can invite to join you. This is perhaps one of the simplest, least threatening ways to invite another to come to know God.

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

 

Pray with Purpose

purpose of prayer

I’ve become a student of prayer lately, seeking to understand and expand its place in my walk with God.

For your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:8

If it’s true that God knows what we need before we ask then the obvious question becomes:

Why Pray?

God uses prayer to change our hearts and our hearts’ desires. 

In Exodus 32 Moses prayed to stay God’s vengeance on the Israelites, who had forsaken God and his law by worshipping a golden calf even as Moses was on the mountain receiving that law on their behalf.

The conversation went something like this (Exodus 32:9-14, The Message):

God said to Moses, “I look at this people—oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people! Let me alone now, give my anger free reign to burst into flames and incinerate them. But I’ll make a great nation out of you.”

Moses tried to calm his God down. He said, “Why, God, would you lose your temper with your people? Why, you brought them out of Egypt in a tremendous demonstration of power and strength. Why let the Egyptians say, ‘He had it in for them—he brought them out so he could kill them in the mountains, wipe them right off the face of the Earth.’ Stop your anger. Think twice about bringing evil against your people! Think of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants to whom you gave your word, telling them ‘I will give you many children, as many as the stars in the sky, and I’ll give this land to your children as their land forever.’”

And God did think twice. He decided not to do the evil he had threatened against his people.

At first blush it appears that God is having a temper tantrum and Moses’ prayer helps calm him down. But that’s not consistent with God’s character. Viewed through the lens of who God is, this exchange becomes not about our unchanging God, but his desire to change Moses.

As Moses not only interceded for, but learned to love the stiff-necked, hard-hearted people he had been called to lead, God refined him as a leader, making him stronger, bolder and even more humble, thus equipping him for the challenges ahead.

What to Pray?

God is quick to answer prayers that glorify him in the world.

I will do whatever you ask in My name, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

John 14: 13-14 MEV

Recently I’ve been praying for reconciliation of a broken relationship. Moments later I sat down to my Bible study and the first thing I read was a direct response to my prayer. The next morning at church the sermon was about how we, as followers of Jesus, are called to take the first step to pursue reconciliation when someone has harmed us…because that is how we rescue and restore that other person to a right relationship with God, and it is what it looks like to love others as we love ourselves.

Similarly, a friend of mine has been struggling in her marriage, feeling anger and frustration over her husband’s shortcomings. Persistent prayer led her to shift her focus: She began praying for God to search her heart, to show her where she was contributing to the strife. And lovingly, he was faithful to do so, convicting her of her own negativity, and guiding her with specific steps she could take to improve her outlook and well being before seeking to remove the splinter from her husband’s eye, so to speak.

One of the most profound experiences of God’s presence in my life came at one of the lowest moments of my life. It was a time when I deeply needed to feel his comfort, in the same way that an embrace from a loved one brings consolation in grief. I poured out my heart need as I fell into a restless sleep, and when I awoke at daybreak, the first thing my eyes saw was a cross glowing outside the window on the house across the way. Later, in the full light of day, I tried to discern what had created the optical illusion, the moonlight glowing off the brick perhaps; it didn’t matter. I had received exactly the assurance I needed when I needed it.

These encounters with God through prayer are so faith-affirming and joy-filled, how can we experience them more often? There are a couple of things that I’m finding to be helpful:

  1. Practice. The more I pray the more attuned I become to experiencing God’s response.
  2. Others focus. The more I pray intentionally for others the more God creates in me a heart for the unloved and even the unlovable, and helps me to see each person as he does, an infinitely precious child of the King.
  3. A goal of relationship. When the goal of my prayer is a closer walk with the Lord or a closer relationship with others, especially for the sake of reaching them for him, those prayers seem to get answered in the most miraculous of ways.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Here’s the other thing: Just the act of asking God opens our hearts to receive his answer. 

Have you ever received unsolicited advice? Chances are you either resented it or didn’t even hear it. I think the same is true of prayer.

The reason God invites, implores and prompts us to pray is because by the very act of asking we adopt a receptivity to God’s presence, seeking his perfect wisdom and will for our lives.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7

Want to read more on prayer? Check out Can You Hear Me Now?Our Daily Rhythm #1 or Peace is Data-Free.

Glory Be!

 

I am fascinated by the creative power of words. As a communicator I believe in being as precise and clear as possible about the words we choose.

Some words we use only to speak of heavenly things. And if you’re like me, these words can feel hollow, often-repeated and familiar on the tongue, yet lacking that earthly, tangible context to anchor their meaning.

Glorify is just such a word.

Glorify (doxázō)…to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.

BlueLetterBible.com

Jesus Introduced Us to Glory

Glorify is found 64 times in the Bible, yet its first appearance coincides with the birth of Jesus:

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.

Luke 2:20

The shepherds heard God’s promise spoken to them by angels: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). They acted on what they heard and went immediately to Bethlehem in search of the Christ child. When they found him, they witnessed to those gathered, including Mary, about what they had seen and heard.

Isn’t it interesting that this first experience of glory did not result from seeing an angel for what was surely the first time in the shepherds’ lives? It came from recognizing God at work in their lives.

Glory is our natural response to experiencing God.

 

The Son Lives to Glorify the Father

Jesus performed signs and wonders throughout His earthly ministry in order to glorify God: “It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”(John 11:4)

  • The paralyzed man: When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God….The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:31)
  • A woman with a disabling spirit: And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. (Luke 13:13)
  • One leper out of ten: One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, glorifying God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15)
  • The blind beggar:  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, glorifying God. (Luke 18:43)

The Father Glorifies the Son

Following the miracles, John is the only one of the gospel writers who continues to pursue glory. The next cycle occurs as God empowers Jesus’ words and actions to in turn glorify His Son; that is, to reveal His dignity and worth to people so that it becomes clear, undeniable and acknowledged.

“If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.”

John 8:54

Jesus’ ultimate glory, of course, comes in His work on the cross.

“Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.”

John 13:31

We Glorify Father and Son through the Holy Spirit

And here’s the cool part. Jesus invites us in on this glory gig. As we are reconciled to God by believing in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we become an instrument of God’s Spirit, completing the cycle of glory, so to speak, that others might come to see and know the Father and the Son.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:8

All of the remaining references to glory…in John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and throughout the letters to the early church, are focused on being witnesses, heavenly windows, through which others can glimpse the light of God’s glory in a world filled with darkness.

The final citation, in 1 Peter: 4:11, puts a fine point on it:

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I hope you have a GLORIOUS day!

 

No More Mr. Nice Guy

A friend of mine wore a T-shirt one day with a big Buddha on the back.

“Why Buddha?” I asked.

“I love Buddha. Don’t you like Buddha?”

“Hmmm. I love Jesus.”

“I love Jesus–and Buddha,” he replied jovially.

There is an inclination today to place people in one of two buckets: religious or not. After that the specific flavor of religion seems unimportant, a matter of cultural exposure, family tradition or personal preference.

Yet, as I’ve spent time in the Bible, especially as I’ve focused on Jesus’ own words, I’ve been surprised by how explicitly and deliberately He sets Himself apart from other “great teachers.”

The Choice is Yours

A thoughtful reading of the red-letter Bible (versions in which red is used to denote the words Jesus spoke) points to only two possible conclusions:

  1. Jesus was an insane heretic, deluded by an epic god complex
  2. He is who He says He is: God in human form.

…No room for Mr. Nice Guy. Jesus consistently says that everything He did was through God’s power, to glorify His Name, and He calls God His Father. If His source turns out to be untrue, then it calls into question the trustworthiness of all that He said and did. Just imagine how we would react to someone other than Jesus who made a claim like the following:

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father living in me who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14: 9-11)

A Life-Changing Decision

This is a life-changing, but deeply personal decision. Some folks, like Philip, make it immediately upon encountering Jesus. Philip was so affected by Jesus that he went directly to Nathanael, a scholar and Jewish leader, and boldly declared:

“We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:48-49)

Nathanael, on the other hand, didn’t believe Jesus until he experienced His omniscience in a profoundly personal way. Jesus spoke cryptically of seeing Nathanael under the fig tree before Philip even came to him. While it’s not a meaningful observation to the reader, it clearly moves Nathanael at his core. We don’t hear from him again until the final chapter of John. He’s there with the apostles when the resurrected Jesus appears on the shore, filling their nets for a symbolic final meal together. Nathanael’s decision to act on the truth lead him deeper into relationship, allowing him to experience an even greater revelation of Jesus’ divine nature and purpose.

We also see people in the Bible who make a different decision. Judas Iscariot is the most infamous example. A member of Jesus’ inner circle throughout His three-year earthly ministry, Judas witnessed His miracles, heard His teachings, enjoyed the physical nearness of His presence, yet ultimately rejected Jesus as the Christ.

Another interesting example is Pilate, whose words belie his inner struggle:

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. (John 18: 37-38)

Unfortunately for Pilate he doesn’t stick around for the answer. Later, when the Jewish leaders inform Pilate of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, he becomes fearful and approaches Jesus once more, asking where He came from, but this time Jesus gives him no answer. (John 19: 9)

When we fail to act on the truth we’ve been given, we move away from relationship and receive less truth.

Throughout the New Testament we see Jesus call people–from His closest companions to those He has just met–to decide for themselves:

  • To the man blind from birth: “Do you believe in the Son of Man…You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.” (John 9:35-41)
  • To the Samaritan woman at the well: She said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He.” (John 4: 25-26)
  • To His closest friends: “But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?”Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8: 29)
  • To those in Doubt: Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you really know Me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14: 5-6)

Jesus also invites you and me to “come and see.” He calls us to make that same radical, life-changing decision about who He is. Our very lives depend on our response, not because what He taught is “better than” what other great teachers had to offer, but because what He did is greater than what any other human being could do, since we all are sinful by nature. He took our place–condemned to die–so that we might live.

The truth of Jesus is as simple as that…and as divinely complex and mysteriously beautiful:

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

I AM…

Whether you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior as a youth or are just now getting to know Him, it is good–and important–to know what Jesus says about who He is:

“I, the one speaking to you—I am He,’ the promised Messiah, the Christ.” (John 4:26)

“I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8: 23-24)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8: 12)

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15: 5-8)

The Promised One, The Son of God

[The Son of Man] is the one speaking with you. (John 9: 35-37)

Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.” (John 10:36-38)

“My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6: 40)

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what he sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14: 15-21)

These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:24)

Still Not Sure? Take Heart.

If you’re not sure what you think of Jesus, that’s okay; just commit to take action to do something about it. Find a church (or a new one if need be). Join a Bible study. Start a Bible study with some friends who are further along in their walks. And pray for God to open your heart and mind, and draw you near to Him.

He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

 

 

 

We have an Enemy

I am preparing to publish my first book. It attacks an entrenched spiritual stronghold that is a stumbling block for many people in their relationship with God. During this process God has prepared me to anticipate (and experience) some seasons of intense spiritual warfare.

Talking about spiritual warfare is risky because many people don’t want to think about, let alone focus on, this uncomfortable reality. Yet Jesus warned us often about the nature of our enemy and of the struggle. He wouldn’t be called “Our Savior” if there was no life-threatening danger from which to save us.

Even if you’re feeling skeptical right now, come along with me for the next few minutes as we learn how to walk in victory through times of trial.

Know the Battle

Before victory is possible–spiritual or otherwise–we first must recognize that we’re in a battle. We may be bit players, but we are part of the eternal, epic struggle of which Paul ominously wrote:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

Prepare for Attack

Military strategists seek to know their enemy so they can anticipate when and where he is most likely to strike. Without turning our eyes from Jesus it is good to understand the nature of our enemy.

When Jesus was baptized, launching His public ministry, He experienced an intense spiritual high as the voice of God proclaimed:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

The very next sentence reads:

Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:1

God’s Spirit subjected Jesus to temptation? Why would He do this if He was pleased with Jesus? Isn’t temptation the business of sinners? While only God knows, scripture reveals that every day of Jesus’ ministry He faced temptations similar to those in His desert encounter. Perhaps God was equipping, refining and strengthening Him to endure and overcome such attacks.

Likewise we can expect that any steps we take toward God will be opposed. In our weak human nature we grow battle weary quickly, but we can endure if we remember that God does not ask us to fight, rather He asks us to trust in Him:

This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’

2 Chronicles 20:15

How beautiful: All we are asked to do is be mindful of who God is, how strong, how powerful, how omnipotent. It changes our experience entirely when we view our trials as opportunities to live in minute-by-minute awareness of and dependence on our Sovereign God.

God’s nature is diametrically opposed to that of our enemy. Jesus is light (John 8:12), life and truth (John 14:6); He came that we may have abundant life (John 10:10). Our enemy is darkness, absent of truth and bent on robbing us of the life the Lord desires for us.

He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him

John 8:44

A War Story

I’d like to share an example of spiritual warfare from my personal experience so perhaps you’ll more readily spot it in your own life. As I began the process of writing my book in earnest God planted a seed in my heart to prepare me for opposition. Here is how I recognized it:

  1. First was timing — the opposition, intended to create anxiety and distraction, began as I moved from the research to writing phase for my book. Writing of course requires a clear, focused mind.
  2. Each of the trials was legal in nature, emanating from “rulers” and “authorities”–which was unique in my life as I am a very law-abiding person.
  3. Next was the persistent nature of the attacks. This was not a single incident, but four escalating situations.
  4. Finally, there was the victory in Christ. Each challenge evaporated as unexpectedly as it had appeared.

This situation was notable both for its oddity and intensity. It happened while I was attending a writer’s conference in Concord, N.C.

I had had dinner with a friend and colleague the first night. In the course of our conversation she had helped identify a key message that would become an anchor to my book. I was ecstatic about the God-inspired revelation as I dropped her off at her hotel and headed less than a mile down the road toward my own.

I noted a police car on my right and checked my speed instinctively. I was creeping along in heavy traffic so I had no cause for worry, yet something in my gut said otherwise. That’s when I noticed the lights flashing in my rearview mirror.

Someone had told me that it’s a good idea to pull off busy roads during traffic stops out of respect for the safety of the officer, so I eased into the lefthand turn lane, intending to pull onto the quiet side road. As I waited for the light to turn I saw the shadow of the towering police officer from the corner of my eye. I put my window down; he said I had no registration sticker and requested my license and registration.

In my nervousness I handed him an outdated registration card. As he walked back toward his vehicle I located the current one and held it out the window. He ignored my offer.

After he had confirmed that my registration was current he returned to my window, I thought to release me. Instead he started questioning me harshly about why I had pulled left rather than right in the first place. Aware only of my intention I was confused by his questions and was growing increasingly fearful of his aggressiveness.

As his line of questioning dead-ended he asked me if I had had anything to drink that evening. I answered honestly that I had had a glass of wine with dinner. He ordered me to step out and follow him to the rear of my vehicle, where–right there on that busy highway, with fellow conference attendees likely passing by–I was subjected to my first-ever roadside sobriety test.

By now I was downright terrified; it was becoming clear that this officer’s intent was to find some violation for which to arrest me. I began praying fervently for God to deliver me.

I passed the test. Undeterred he ordered me to take a breathalyzer–or be taken to jail. He said sarcastically, “If you’ve only had a glass of wine you have nothing to worry about.” After I blew into the straw he sent me back to my car to wait. After a few excruciating minutes he returned to my window a final time. Without a conciliatory word or apology he released me.

I was still shaking as I unlocked the door to my hotel room and collapsed on my knees in thanksgiving for God’s protection. As I showered the Spirit brought the earlier verse from Ephesians to mind, and in light of the trials that had preceded it, I recognized what was happening with new clarity.

While God allowed me to suffer such attacks for several months, He was faithful to His promise to provide a way out in every situation, sometimes quite miraculously. (Read With the God of 1 Percent the Odds are Ever in Your Favor.)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Wage War

So how do we do stand against an enemy we can’t see in a battle we can’t fully comprehend? Paul follows his warning (above) with these specific instructions:

Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

  • Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
  • with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
  • and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
  • In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
  • Take the helmet of salvation
  • and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

This is a rich, exhaustive directive that deserves more time than we have remaining today. In short, when I sense that the opposition I’m facing is spiritual in nature, I review this passage and focus on the areas the Lord emphasizes to me.

In this situation it was to stand firm with the belt of truth — as I knew I had done nothing wrong — and to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. I can assure you I was praying all kinds of prayers during those long minutes!

Walk in Victory

When we accept the invitation to follow Jesus we are not promised freedom from pain, suffering or trial. We are promised that God will be with us through it all, and that we will be given His armor and the confidence of knowing the war already has been won for us by Christ Jesus.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

 

Read more about how the enemy speaks death into the lives of believers in The Voice of ED — Revealed.

 

Seeing Is Believing

I’ve been camped out recently in the well-known story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind. One of the problems with such ubiquity is it can make the amazing look commonplace:

“Oh you know, that story when Jesus gave sight to the blind man”

…like that happens every day.

Blind Since Birth

The significance of the miracle was not lost on John; he goes to great lengths to record several eyewitness accounts in order to verify that the man was indeed born blind:

  1. Neighbors: “The neighbors and those who had previously seen that he was blind said, ‘Is this not he who sat and begged?’ Some said, ‘This is he.’ Others said, ‘He is like him.'” (John 9: 8-9)
  2. His Parents: “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.” (John 9:20)
  3. Pharisees: The religious elite, who were intent on discounting the miracle, actually use the fact of his blindness to disparage his credibility: “They answered him, ‘You were completely born in sin.'” (John 9:34)

The most powerful witness comes from the man himself:

  • He responds to his neighbors in verse 9 with, “I am he.”
  • The neighbors take him to the Pharisees and “he said to them, ‘He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’” (John 9:14-15)
  • Even faced with the Pharisees’ wrath the man remains steadfast saying, “I know one thing: I was blind, but now I see.” (John 9:25)

Modern Miracle

Since the world began it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind.

John 9:32

Even some 2000 years later, giving sight to those born blind is still quite a miracle, meriting such headlines as, “Canadian man born blind sees for the first time at age 68.”

And we now know there is more involved than restoring physical function to the eyes. What we see must be connected to our other sensory experiences in order for a person to develop a reliable perception of the world around him.

This was a problem articulated by William Molyneux back in the 1600s, whose wife was blind. Molyneux’s problem, as it is became known, asks if a person born blind who gains sight would be able to distinguish a similar sized sphere from a cube by sight alone. The short answer is no.

The most widely documented case is that of Michael May, an interesting character in his own right because he competed as a downhill skier and worked for the CIA, among other notable accomplishments, all before gaining his sight in 2000. Yet even when his eyes — which were damaged in a chemical explosion at age three — were repaired, he faced ongoing challenges with visual processing:

May still has no intuitive grasp of depth perception. As people walk away from him he perceives them as literally shrinking in size. He has problems distinguishing male from female faces and recognizing emotional expressions on unfamiliar faces.

His brain lacked the full picture of the world to be able to describe its beauty. This made it difficult for him to lead a normal daily life. Michael’s early blindness benefited him so far; he developed very precise senses of hearing and touch. (Wikipedia)

In Mark 8:24, we read of a blind man  in Bethsaida whom Jesus healed; his initial report echoes this gap, “I see men as trees, walking.”

Yet here the man appears to have been given full physical and perceptual acuity immediately.

Hear No Evil

As the Pharisees reject first the timing of this man’s healing (on the Sabbath), then the spiritual qualification of the healer (We know that this Man is a sinner), and ultimately the spiritual fitness of the recipient (You were completely born in sin), the man adroitly and accurately shifts the focus from his vision problem to their hearing problem:

As the Pharisees continued to press him he answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”

Then they insulted him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God has spoken to Moses. As for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”

The man answered, “Well, here is an amazing thing! You do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will He hears him.

Since the world began it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind. If this Man were not from God he could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were completely born in sin. Are you teaching us?” And they threw him out.

This exchange is fascinating and worth parsing:

The Pharisees claim they’re in the right because they listen only to the one true God whom they know through what He spoke to Moses.

But the man sees right through them, countering that if Jesus were not from God He would not be able to give him sight because God wouldn’t have listened to Him. Moses heard God, but God hears Jesus, the man points out; this implies a deeper, far more intimate relationship.

To put a finer point on it he adds that this type of healing has never even been heard of before. This is a unique and powerful act, achievable only by one who has God’s ear.

Now I See

At the beginning of the story we see a man considered to be blind because of his sin challenged by Pharisees who are considered to have great vision because of their holiness. By the end of the encounter Jesus has turned everything upside down, as the one thought to be blind is revealed to have great vision, while those thought to be sighted are in fact willfully, persistently, spiritually blind:

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”

Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks with you.”

Then he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Him.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see and that those who see may become blind.”

Some Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said to Him, “Are we also blind?”

Jesus said:

If you were blind you would have no sin. But now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

John 9:41

Seeing Things Differently

More than 40 Greek words mean to see; four are used in this story. And, John deploys them progressively to move the story itself from darkness toward light:

In verse 1 Jesus passes by and sees a man blind from birth. The word here is eídō, which means mechanical, passive or casual vision. Basically Jesus was aware of the man’s presence.

Throughout the heart of the story the word blepō refers to the man’s sight; this connotes the seeing and perceiving we do every day.

In verse 8 the neighbors “had previously seen that he was blind.” Here the word used is theōreō, which means “been a spectator to;” it signifies earnest, continued inspection.

As the story concludes Jesus reveals his glory to the man whose spiritual vision is now clear:

Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks with you.” (John 9:37)

Here the word is horáō, which means to gaze with wide-open eyes as at something remarkable.

What a beautiful literary parallel John offers to our own faith walks.

Seeing the Light

As we see and respond to the truths God reveals in our own lives, we are given more truth. When we reject truth we move toward spiritual darkness; standing still is not an option. (See the parable of the talents, Psalm 43:3, Ephesians 4:17-22, among others)

How do we apply this story to our own lives as we seek to enhance our spiritual vision?

  1. Reflect God’s Light — God hears Jesus and He hears us. As the formerly blind man said, “If anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will He hears him.” (John 9:31) We do God’s will as we lean on His word and serve others.
  2. Shine before All — Make no judgment about who is blind and who sees, rather let your light shine before all (Matthew 5:16). This humbly acknowledges that spiritual vision is not easily discerned by our human senses.
  3. Seek the Light of Truth — Be alert to God’s truth when it is revealed in your life and be faithful to act on it to continually move toward light and away from darkness.
  4. Worship the Light Giver — When Jesus told the man who He was, the man responded instinctively with worship. We who call ourselves Christians are blessed to know the source of our light. Let us greet each new day with thanksgiving for this great gift of sight!

Learn More

What People Cured of Blindness See,” The New Yorker, August 28, 2014.

Man with restored sight provides new insight into how vision develops,” UW Today, University of Washington, April 15, 2015.

Recovery from Blindness,” Wikipedia.

 

God Intends Good

Joseph was dealt a bad hand in life by most standards: Betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, taken far from home with little hope of returning, falsely accused of rape, wrongly imprisoned and then, heaping insult on top of injury, forgotten by the cupbearer he helped free who promised to seek clemency on his behalf.

When our worst-case scenarios happen we are forced to confront the question of evil head-on: “If God is good why doesn’t He do something about the evil in the world?”

As we wrestle with this question, as I have for the past several months (read Unforgiven for the back story), peace can be found in these Biblical truths.

Truth #1: We have an enemy.

If this were not so we would have no need for a Savior.

In fact, our Savior warns that our enemy “comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:9) You know he is at work wherever you find broken hearts, broken bodies, broken spirits, broken relationships, broken trust, broken confidence…and broken lives.

Joseph experienced all of these, yet God did not rescue him as we might expect a loving God to do:

  • God did not lift Joseph from the pit.
  • He did not smite the traders who enslaved him.
  • He did not expose the lies of Pharaoh’s wife to spare him prison.
  • He did not whisper to the cupbearer of his promise to intercede with Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf.

In fact, the only thing Scripture tells us God did was this:

The Lord was with Joseph.

Genesis 39:2, 5, 21

Terrible things happen as collateral damage in a fallen world, and even worse, as intentional acts by people fully given over to evil. Looking evil in the eye is terrifying and can cause us to quickly lose heart. Jesus knew this:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Truth #2: Where the Spirit of Love is there is Freedom.

So why does God allow evil in the first place? In His omniscience He addressed this problem right up front; it can be found in Chapter 3 of Genesis, and it’s called The Fall.

I hear your heels tapping. I realize that in the face of tragedy it seems inadequate to point to what you may consider to be “a folk tale about the first man and woman” as the source of universal truth (because we all know Adam and Eve predated the pen and paper, not to mention the advent of social media, so how could their story be preserved or true?)

And yet, no other explanation will do.

The only way I can get my head around it is to employ a parenting paradigm. Whether you have children or not, imagine with me that you created a home with your children in mind. Even before you birthed them, you designed it with and for love of them, so they could spend a lifetime discovering and delighting in it all, and thus experience your boundless, unconditional love for them.

Perfect. Or so it seems. Yet, no matter how wonderful it is, if you do not offer your children the ability to leave, they are no more than slaves. There is simply no getting around this. And if they are not free, then whatever affection exists between you is not love.

Love is a decision and it must be reciprocal: freely given and freely received. Any break in that infinite cycle cannot be love, and ultimately, it cannot be good.

So as a loving parent you open the door and give your children the freedom to go. Of course, you hope they can see what you see: that there is absolutely no reason or need for them to depart from the safety and beauty and comfort you offer them.

Yet, the universal and individual story of humanity is that we are rebels at heart. As soon as we see the door open we walk right through, without exception. And that is where we now find ourselves, east of Eden.

 

Truth #3: Jesus suffered the worst-case scenario in your place.

God knows what our hearts are prone to forget: the ultimate worst-case scenario is to continue our separation from Him for eternity.

Jesus’ suffering and agony on the cross were physical, but even more so they were spiritual. As He took on your sins and mine, He stepped into the abyss, experiencing the ultimate, infinite agony of eternal separation from God for you and for me. In so doing, he opened a path for us to return home again, forever.

When we accept Jesus’ offer of salvation no earthly scenario, no matter how evil, has the power to deliver the true worst-case scenario to our lives:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:31-39

Truth #4: God is Sufficient

Throughout everything Joseph suffered he experienced the presence of the Lord, and he endured. As he learned to lean on the Lord in all things, God began a good work in him, using what others intended to break him to remake him, turning the precocious, boastful young man into a humble, wise and obedient servant of the Lord. God’s sufficiency in Joseph’s life is apparent in his reconciliation with his brothers:

Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.”

Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.

Genesis 50:20

Unless we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus we will fall into despair when we fall into the pit in our own lives. In such times we must remember that God doesn’t fix broken things; He creates entirely new and more glorious ones, intended to save not just us — but if we allow Him to use our suffering — many others as well:

 

 

Unforgiven

God has been speaking into my life a lot lately about forgiveness.

I’ve been fascinated by what I’m learning, yet reluctant to tackle it here because there is so much I now realize I don’t know. So instead I simply invite you to journey along with me.

Unforgivable?

It all started when I attended a local roundtable where I heard a man speak candidly of his loss and immense suffering as a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a priest, a man his own mother trusted to shepherd her son to a life of service to the Lord. Instead the priest repeatedly and violently violated his promise by raping this little 10-year-old boy for more than two years.

In his testimony the survivor, now in his 60s, makes a point to say that he believes there are some “unforgivable” sins, including acts like this one, committed against innocent and powerless children. I want to agree.

For days after hearing him speak I wrestled with the question of where God was when this little boy cried out for rescue and deliverance. Why did He allow such incredible suffering to continue for so long? Is it really possible for a heart and soul as wounded as this one to find forgiveness?

Forgiving the Unforgivable

As I wrestled with these questions answers began to roll in over the airwaves of my favorite podcasts. The first was the story of Virginia Prodan, now an author and attorney, who grew up an abused and neglected child in the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu.

In her book, Saving My Assassin, she details how her search for truth in the world of Communist lies led her on a harrowing, yet miraculous journey to become a lawyer who defended Christians against persecution. Her faithfulness to this task resulted in her being terrorized, tortured and placed under house arrest without enough food to feed her family. Yet Ms. Prodan never stopped praying for forgiveness of her enemies, a practice that culminated in her witnessing to a man sent to assassinate her. Twenty years later she discovered that the assassin had become a Christian pastor who led his family to the Lord.

A few days later I was introduced to the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch follower of Jesus who hid her Jewish countrymen from the Nazis. A neighbor turned her in, and her family was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where her father died within two weeks and her sister also later died. Corrie too suffered greatly during her imprisonment. When she was released, however, she forgave her betrayer as well as her torturers, and continued throughout her life to be a powerful witness for Christ.

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
– Corrie Ten Boom

And then at church I heard the testimony of a woman whose only daughter was killed by a distracted driver, who to date has not expressed remorse, nor suffered consequences for his actions. Despite his flagrant disregard the girl’s mother not only forgave him, but prays deeply and sincerely for his redemption.

Together these stories capture the situations that come to my mind when I think of  “unforgivable acts.” It doesn’t take much imagination to sympathize with how these women must have felt or to sense how remote forgiveness would seem in their shoes.

Are they simply better people than the rest of us or is something more at work here?

7 x 70 = ?

Most of us are at least familiar with Peter’s question, recorded in Matthew 18, about the limits of forgiveness:

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Jesus then speaks to the “heart problem” by telling a parable that compares the Kingdom of God to a king whose servant owes a great debt that he cannot pay. The king orders the man sold into slavery. When the man begs for mercy the king doesn’t just spare his life or work out extended payment terms, he wipes out the debt entirely, an extravagant gift that the servant neither asked for nor deserved.

Yet, given the opportunity to pay it forward this same servant shows no mercy to a fellow servant who owes him a small debt in comparison. When the rest of the servants get wind of his wickedness they are outraged and alert the King.

Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. (Matthew 18:32-35)

On the surface the lesson is simply that we are to forgive as God forgave us. But then I heard an interview with Dr. Bruce Wilkerson, and purchased his book, The Freedom Factor: Finding Peace by Forgiving Others…and Yourself.

Dr. Wilkerson says that’s only half the story; the other half is that if we do not forgive we open ourselves up to spiritual attack and “torture.” (And guess whom he quotes on the very first page of his book):

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.

-Corrie Ten Boom

My inclination is to believe that God calls us to forgiveness because He knows torture is the inevitable byproduct of an unforgiving heart; He knows it is an open door to Satan. But I am afraid in this case I may be sugar-coating a warning that is much more direct and dire:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6: 14-15

Dr. Wilkerson explains it like this:

Wait, what? Was Jesus saying, ‘If you don’t forgive the accountant that embezzled money from your business, or forgive your spouse for having an affair, you’re going to forfeit your eternal forgiveness and be condemned to hell’?

No. That’s not what He was saying. Eternal salvation from our sins comes from Christ’s death on our behalf. It is not related to any work that we do — including forgiving others….The consequence of unforgiveness is torment before we die….According to Jesus, when we fail to forgive, God has stopped forgiving us.

He adds, “When God decrees a discipline contract against you or me because of our unforgiveness, it’s serious. He removes His peace from us as part of the discipline process intended to turn us back to Him so that we humble ourselves and choose to forgive and end the contract against us. We are made susceptible to many unwanted things in our life because that protection is no longer in place.

And not only do we have the difficult task of coping with such painful torments, but we also forfeit so many blessings that could be ours. There could be a whole life of His joy, love, and peace, just waiting for our open hearts, but finding no way in.

A Work in Progress

This is a post without out a neat, clever or happy ending. This is challenging stuff.

I heard at the roundtable, and later read in his book, about immense suffering in the life of the sexual abuse survivor. And I heard about peace, joy and abundant blessings in the lives of the forgiving women.

Yet, I’ve never suffered anything close to what these amazing survivors did. I’ve not confronted such unveiled evil or lost someone I love by the hatred or negligence of another. In fact, I find myself struggling to forgive from my heart for much smaller grievances.

But, I also know that when I am on the other end of the equation — the sinner in need of forgiveness — the burden of the things I’ve done brings me to my knees. It is in such moments that I am most aware of and grateful for God’s gift of grace.

Without forgiveness and redemption all of us, sooner or later, would be undone by our own dark hearts.

The type of extravagant forgiveness demonstrated in these examples, and so many others, is beyond human will; it is an act of the Spirit. It requires inviting God in to do the work in our hearts needed to forgive another and experience for ourselves the freedom it offers.

So why is this gift that is so infinitely valuable to receive so infinitely difficult to give?

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Manna for Today

I love writing this blog. It is an important part of my faith walk. Each week I pray that God will put a topic on my heart, and each week for more than a year now He has been faithful to do so.

Often as I unpack the topic He has given me, new truths emerge that deepen my faith. The workings of the Spirit through this weekly act of worship truly bless my life (and I pray yours too).

But that’s not what makes it a faith walk. If you know me, you know patience is not a virtue I possess (or really aspire to). I hate waiting! I like to work fast and ahead of schedule. If I had my way I would have posts drafted through at least the end of the year.

Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day I will stand up to testify.”

Zephaniah 3:8

And yet I have had to learn to wait on the Lord every week to receive my topic, no shortcuts. That’s not to say I haven’t tried, but when I do I come up blank. Literally. Either I have no idea what to write, or if I have a topic I am unable to develop it. I get this feeling in my gut when I land on God’s idea; it’s assurance mixed with adrenalin, and as it forms it generates overwhelming energy that pushes me irresistibly to my keyboard. Then I write with urgency, clarity and an acute focus on what God would have me say. It’s in these moments that I am reminded how grateful I am not to be the one in charge here…or elsewhere in my life.

…to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us

Ephesians 3:20

DAILY Bread

The image God has brought to my mind over and over again as I wrestle with this blog is that of manna. He used manna to provide for the Israelites on an as-needed basis, one day at a time.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

Exodus 16:4

When I think of manna I imagine it looking like tiny Communion wafers. communion-wafers-2

It turns out this is no coincidence. Dependence on God for our daily bread does have literal significanceGod wants us to trust Him to provide for our physical needs.

This daily dependence is difficult for a rebellious-minded people like us, what God called being a “stiff-necked” people. We want to be in control, and thus we seek to stockpile what we can to give ourselves the illusion that we are capable of meeting our own needs:

Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.

Exodus 16:20

God wouldn’t tolerate that from the Israelites, nor will He tolerate it from us; and this is for our own good. For whatever it is we look to — other than Him — to provide our security, well-being and abundance will lead us to a place of want, scarcity and unquenchable hunger and thirst.

Bread of LIFE

Instead, God offers us spiritual sustenance and abundance through daily dependence on his son, Jesus:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

For it was Jesus who promised:

I am the bread of life;

he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 6:35

beth-moore-believing-god-lifeway-books

Walking in faith each day means trusting these five statements of faith, articulated so beautifully by Beth Moore in her study, “Believing God“:

  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God’s word is alive and active in me.

How does it look to live these promises, in my blog and in our daily rhythms of life?

I’m still learning the answers myself, but here is what I’ve learned over the past year through my blog:

  • Wait on the Lord. God is faithful and He is capable. He will give me what I need.
  • God’s timing is perfect. I like to publish my blogs on Thursday afternoons, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. I am learning to trust that God has a purpose in His timing. Perhaps a message is meant to reach one person in a specific time of need.
  • God’s metrics are eternal. While I fight the temptation to obsess over my blog’s metrics, seeking to validate if it matters to anyone at all, God sees it differently. My blog exists for His glory, to reflect His light into the lives of others. And it is one of an infinite number of ways He is about this work daily. His grand plan is to save as many souls as possible and there is no worldly metric for that.
  • My work is to trust and obey. Each of us is given an assignment by God that allows us to participate in His salvation story. What Mordecai told Queen Esther also is true for each of us (paraphrased):

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place…but you have come to your position for such a time as this.

Esther 4:14