Being satisfied in God

As I listened to this podcast of this sermon, I had no idea that many have  picked it apart. Many do not like what Piper says in this two-part message. Let me first just say that I simply enjoyed this sermon from many years ago. I listened to it as I walked on my lunch hour (I had to divide it up over two days to be honest). But it was so powerful to me. I love the way Piper is so passionate for God and is constantly relating points back to Scripture. His passion for God, the way he yearns for us to desire God more is infectious. I am so thankful that God has used the few sermon podcasts I have heard to really stir something up in me. I understand that some people don’t like that he uses the word hedonism, this is simply a post (a couple of post actually) about why I enjoyed this sermon. It is my own sermon notes.

Since the sermon and the notes were so long, I have divided this up into a few post. Below you will find the notes I took from listening to his sermon. This post is on the first part of what he said.

I love the mission that he has for himself and his church, to simply spread a passion for God and His supremacy. Simply I want the desire of my heart and every facet of my life to be about God. His name, His renown, to glorify the Lord in this simple little life that is over so quick.

Since I have heard this thesis statement that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”, it has renewed me in a way to stop focusing on the things of this world. That I must not look to any god or idol of this world for satisfaction. The only way that I will feel satisfied, that I will feel purpose and worth is by drowning in the waterfall of God.

I am reminded of a book by Larry Crabb called Inside Out where it talks about us having different longings and how we spend 90% of our time on these longings that don’t satisfy. That may help us feel better for a moment, but quickly fade away. This is what I do so often. I don’t want to dig my own wells or cisterns. I don’t want to seek after money or fame or power or whatever other counterfeit god, yet it is so easy to slip into that.

One thing that I really enjoy about this message is being reminded that we are to be happy in God. Whenever I have those moments where I feel I am in God’s presence, those are some of the happiest times. I cherish those times. It may happen at a completely unhappy moment, but having such a meaningful, intimate time with Him is awesome.

I want to eat from His table. I need to eat the very fruits of God’s goodness. I want to have that thirst, that passion, that hunger to desire God above all things and never, ever be content in our relationship. And if God is using this message to stir something up in me to remind me of just how satisfying He is, then I am so thankful. I am so thankful that He is using this message to remind me to stop trying to be satisfied in this world and just be satisfied in Him.

God, my prayer is that i may be satisfied in you and only you. Help me to delight in you and Your ways. I need You to help me seek You and only You. My greatest desire and joy is You Lord, may I stop trying to fulfill that in this unsatisfying world. This world will and does fail me, but you are good and i trust in you. amen.

John Piper – passion for the supremacy of God, part 1

John Piper – passion for the supremacy of God – From the passion conference

As I listened to this sermon podcast, these were the notes I took and wanted to share with you. Over the next few posts, it will be linked to this sermon. This to me was a fantastic sermon and I can’t wait to share with you part 2. This was done back at Passion 97 but it has been a fantastic and powerful find.

Here is the link so you can listen to this powerful sermon. (You will actually find the sermon transcribed there but again these are the parts that stood out to me)

We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples is his life mission and vision of church (point 1). He quotes from Isaiah 26:8, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” His purpose (point 2) is to be a match set for the kindling of our joy and thrill in God. Point 3, to see from scripture the two points are the same reason. To spread a passion for God’s supremacy and be happy in God are identical. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him is what we will hear many times during these two sermons. The more we find satisfaction in him and eat from his table the more his worth and all sufficiency is magnified.

No competition between God’s passion to be glorified and our passion to be satisfied because they are one.

Piper is here to torch a glacier in our lives. He refers to Matthew 24:12 – “lawlessness will be multiplied and love of many grow cold.” He hates the thought of growing cold. That my love for God and people would dry up yet Jesus says it is coming. The fact that Lawlessness will be multiplied and love of many will grow cold is a bleak description of the last days. In the next verse it says, “But those who endure to end will be saved”. And in the next verse, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Piper wants us to see the tension in 12 and 14. Piper reminds us it is not the cold people who will take the Gospel to the unreached people of this world. But if we look at verse 9, you will be hated on account of Jesus (summary of verse 9). Thus the tension because if we will be hated, it won’t be the cold people. It will be white hot people. As the end of age draws near, there will be people getting ice cold and those getting white hot to lay down lives to preach the gospel.

A little girl drew a picture of this imagery and it was a marvelous glacier with a hole in the glacier at the top with the sun coming down and a stick man with a torch. Many people are growing cold toward God, but nothings says where we live we have to be under that glacier. If there are enough people with a torch, a big hole can be opened up over your campus, your work, even your city.

The Foundation is: your passion for the supremacy of God in all things is based squarely on the passion of God for the supremacy of God in all things. Your God centerdness, if it will last, has to be rooted in God centerdness. God is supreme in the life of God. If you want God to be your treasure you have to see that God’s treasure is God. We may not withhold from God the highest pleasure from God which is worship of God.

The chief end of God is to glorify God. Not just the chief end of man, but the chief end of God is to glorify and enjoy himself forever.

1 Cor 10:31, “…do it all for the glory of God.” But God does everything for the glory of God and the root of my living for the glory of God is God lives for the glory of God. God loves himself more than He loves you and that is the only reason He loves you. It is easy to be a Christian in a man centered world that it buttresses what you would have done without God. You are Not a Christian if you only loved what you would have loved without being confronted by the beauty of a God centered God. If God is only a means to your self-exaltment, rather than you seeing in Him as a God consumed with manifestation of His glory than check your conversion.
God chose me for His glory. He chose us unto the praise of the glory of His grace. That His glory and grace might be praised and magnified. Your salvation is to glorify God. Regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification is to glorify God. Is 43:6-7 God rescued His people for His glory. That He might make known His glory and power. He saved His people so that He might make known His mighty power and it spread all the way to Jericho that it saved a prostitute. Because she heard Your name and Your renown. Even as the people were captives in Israel, He saved them after 70 years, He refined them for His own sake. His glory, He will not give to another.

A God centered motive for mercy. Jesus came to this world in John 3:16. Jesus came in Romans 15:8-9 to show God’s truthfulness in order to confirm the promises and the gentiles proclaim His name. Jesus came so we might give glory for His Father’s glory. In Romans 3 he died to vindicate the righteousness of God like David’s adultery and murder. It troubled Paul that God just passed over his sins. Paul cried, “how can you do that God!” The cross is the solution to a mega-theological problem namely how can God forgive our sins. Christ came to vindicate God in saving people like us.
Why is Jesus coming again?2 Thes 1:9, he is coming to be glorified and magnified in his saints and be marveled at. We must start at that now and do the thing he created us to do. Marvel at him and magnify him, not like a microscope but like a telescope. It is blasphemy to magnify God like a microscope because it takes something tiny and magnifies it make it look bigger. But a telescope looks at something unimaginable and tries to help them look like what they are. A star is not a pinpoint, it is something big and hot. It is bigger than the earth. Your life exists to telescope God’s goodness to your surroundings.

This does not sound loving that God is God centered. If love seeks not its own but now you are telling us God seeks His own. Why God is loving and seeking His own self-exaltation: Quote from C.S. Lewis in the Desiring God book.first a background on Lewis. Lewis hated God’s vanity and was an atheist. Lewis heard God say “praise me! praise me!”. Then God came into his life.This is what he said, “We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” If God is to love you, He must give you what is best for you and that is God. If He gives you everything that is best but not himself, He hates you. If God gives you Himself and nothing more, He loves you. I must have God for my enjoyment if God is to be loving to me.

Summary: To love you, He must give you what is best for you. God is what is best. God gives himself to us for pleasures. But unless those pleasures find expression in praise to God those pleasures are restricted. Therefore God not wanting to restrict your pleasure, He says “praise me… exalt me… Have a passion for my supremacy”. God’s passion to be glorified and your passion to be satisfied are not at odds.

If this is true that God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him and there is no contradiction, then the vocation of my life is to pursue your pleasure. Simply God is our pleasure. He calls it Christian hedonism. Piper will go more into it in part 2.

Movember

About a year ago, Rachel and I went to one of our favorite places in Fort Worth, the Rahr Brewery. The day we were to go, the brewery was doing a special tribute to Movember. I had no idea what Movember was and actually thought it was a typo at first. But as I looked at the site and the description of Movember, I was moved by the group and what they are trying to do.
As the brewery celebrated Movember with a special mustache glass, which is way cool, I told Rachel that next year I will participate in it. That next year is now.
For those that may not know, Movember is a month long salute to men’s health awareness, in particular encouraging men to get screenings. It is also a way to show support for all the dudes battling prostate cancer and a way to remember those we have lost along the way. You show support for Movember by growing out a mustache (thus the M for November) for the entire month.
So this year, with many different things going on, I am supporting Movember by having a no-shave November. Also, by being a 1,000 miles away, I didn’t have to worry about my mother attacking me with a razor.
As I go through this month and the whiskers get longer and itchier, my mind is turning toward those who are battling. For me, my first Movember is coming with an addendum. It is not just to support men getting screenings or men battling prostate cancer, but it is for all those we have lost to this terrible disease. It is for the solidarity of standing by those battling for their lives. It is for those whose life has been saved. It is for every man and every woman who is struggling. It is for every miracle of life after being given a short time to live.
This November is almost up and thankfully for me (and for Rachel) the itchy beard will be gone. But as Thanksgiving comes, I am reminded of lives lost too early. I am reminded of those fighting right now. I am amazed at those using this horrific disease to help and encourage others. Heroes aren’t athletes or celebrities or chefs. It is those that have looked death in the face and by the grace and miracle of God survived. They used this time to encourage those around them. To be an inspiration. To use this time of tragedy and find comfort, satisfaction, hope and joy in the only One that can offer those things. This thanksgiving, Rachel and I remember those that have touched our lives and battled some form of cancer. To those that are battling, we are with you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you. That includes all those we do not know. We are praying for you.
So join us by not shaving the rest of November or in prayer or by even giving to a cancer foundation. More pictures once the month is over. Here is one for now.

20121126-153248.jpg

promises

Readers have been graced with my husband’s writing so far on this side of our blogging world, and you’re probably better off for it. I’m not as eloquent nor do I convey as much feeling as my husband does in his writing. But, I thought I’d give it a try.

There have been quite a few things I’ve been thinking about, spiritually speaking, of course that I’ve thought about maybe writing a piece about here or there. But, all of those random thoughts can be put under the umbrella of the Lord’s promises to us.

It seems that through the Scripture I’ve been reading little promises and tidbits of truth seem to jump out at me each day. While there isn’t a general theme about the promise, I have noticed day after day that there are promises even the smallest verses or sections that I’ve been reading.

Our God is so good that He makes promises to His people everywhere. How beautiful is that?

He promises to answer me.

He promises to help me.

He promises He will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.

He has mercy on us.

He has redeemed us, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

He has freed us from sin.

He has given us the Spirit to live by and be led by.

I’ve been reading in two separate places of the Bible (Psalms and Galatians) during my quiet times with the Lord. These promises come from both places, and I just love how different sections of the Bible, regardless of the writer or the context, are obvious about how God’s promises prevail.

These truths grab at you. And that reminds me of who I am in Christ, something I am so thankful for. When I get in pity parties or tough spots in life, I exactly need these promises. And, to think that these few lines are not even the half of it—what a great thing to rejoice in!

Stand firm on Truth

Over the past several months, there have been several verses that have become very important to me. They have been going through my mind when things seemed grim. They were great reminders of hope. They were truths that I could stand on. As the days mounted and trials persisted, more verses kept coming. What was amazing was and is that they became hidden in my heart. They were my treasures. It was a way to focus on who is in control. It wasn’t about saying these ritualistically or like a mantra, but the power came from who they were talking about. It wasn’t faith in the words, but faith in what the words pointed to. I can honestly say that when we did discuss our fears and anxieties with God, that He did bless us with a peace and continues to do so.

We don’t know where this journey is taking us or for how long we will be on it, but we do know there is hope. We do know there is peace available and has already been given. We do know that this isn’t our home, this isn’t where we belong. We know that this journey through the wilderness is just a visit. Maybe this visit lasts until our mortal lives are over, but they will end. God doesn’t guarantee us a good life or an easy life, in fact He tells us quite the opposite that there will be pain and hurt. There will be times of trial and torment. But there is hope, there is always hope to cling to.

That is what these verses speak to for us. That is what we cling to, hope and faith in something beyond what we can see. These few verses are just a small sampling of the hope God gives us. There are so many more verses and reminders He gives us, but during this time, these stand out. Just like when we keep being reminded of the same lessons during these trying times the past few months, so have these verses and some others kept coming to our minds. In what may seem like a very random time, we will be reminded of a very important lesson or a verse and a smile will come on our face for God’s reminders.

We share these to praise the Lord for the hope, reminders and lessons He keeps sharing with us. We praise the Lord for the truths and the power of the Gospel.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who gives me strength

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

Romans 8:25-26 – But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (26) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Genesis 50:20 – You intended to harm me, but intended it for good…

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

James 1:3-6 – because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (4) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (5)If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (6) But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Psalms 56:10-11 – In God, whose word i praise, in the Lord, whose word i praise – (11) in God I trust and am not afraid…

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Luke 22:44 – And being in anguish, he (Jesus) prayed more earnestly…

Luke 18:1 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. From the Parable of the persistent widow

Luke 18:27 – Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (10)… For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Life lessons and writing them down

As I have gone through this time of heartache and uncertainty, one of the things that I haven’t done well at is what I need to be learning during this time. As I was looking through some old notes and journal entries, I came across the following lessons. I remember writing them down during a time of tribulation with health issues of my wife and financial worries. As the worries mounted, God kept working and teaching me things daily. Sometimes it seemed He was teaching me moment by moment.
God kept reminding me of so many important lessons that I needed to learn during that time. He kept giving me strength to persevere and reminders to not look at the pain or worry and focus on Him. One day at work during a meeting, I didn’t want to lose these valuable lessons. I wanted to be able to write down all that God was doing in my life. I wanted to be reminded of how God loves me and how He has a plan for me. I may not understand it or get it (or even like it), but he was teaching me so much about trusting Him in the middle of a storm. I wanted to be able to look back one day and not forget God’s faithfulness.
Guess what? I came across a file called “lessons” and with the click of a mouse, I was reminded of a hard time but how God got me through. There are definitely times where I will look back and not remember the best times or even that I got through it unscathed. There are unfortunately many occurrences in my life where if I was to look back, I would see a bunch of pain and heartache. But by the grace of God and the nudging of His Spirit will I be able to see some amount of good that came from it. The best thing is when we look back at a hard time, and while it may be full of hurt and pain, it was a time we wouldn’t trade because of how God transformed us and how close we felt to Him. It was a time that took our relationship with God to a different level. Maybe a time of hope for the future. Maybe being reminded this isn’t our home and the only thing that satisfies is Our Father. Maybe any number of reasons.
It is amazing to look back and be reminded of what God did. What was even more amazing was to be able to apply it to my current situation. As I went through each point, I was sad to think I forgot something or did the same mistakes I have done countless times before. No matter how much I want to change, why oh why do I feel like I stay the same.
As I read these, God quickly reminded me to take my eyes off of pain and turn to Him. He reminded me that this is a time of growth. I don’t know what He is teaching me. I don’t know what I am to learn. But I know this, I will start a practice and encourage you as well to try and write down someplace whether in a journal or on a computer or a phone, just what God is doing in our lives. What He is teaching me and what I need to learn and do better at. Sometimes, I feel God is being silent, but maybe just maybe I need to do better at being silent and listening to His whispers. It isn’t easy, but I need to be a better listener (and learner).
I didn’t change these lessons but how funny it is that they still apply.

Lessons over the past week
1. Wait on the Lord
2. God know what you need and will give it to you when He says it is right
3. He has plans to prosper you, it may just not be your way
4. You are greedy, don’t be. Worship God alone and lust after Him
5. Don’t seek the things of this world, its satisfaction, desires. Seek the Lord first and only, live righteously and He will give you everything you need.
6. Surrender. Don’t just say it, live it. All for God, not just some of your life. He is worthy of it all
7. He knows every detail of your life, surrender control. Don’t try to control God or a situation; it will only make things worse. Don’t try to manipulate a situation, let God be God
8. God is with you, even when you do not feel Him or sense Him, He is near and with you in this
9. This is a time of transformation, give it to God. Let him transform you, refine you, purify you. Let him redeem you. God, I pray that you would pour yourself into this time and transform me into the man you want me to be
10. This is a time of processing. Don’t be so fixed on the end that you miss the journey and adventure, let God work.
11. Surrender this time to God, give it to Him and He will help you, transform you. Don’t waste this time. God can take this harm and make good come from it
12. Focus your gaze on Jesus. Amidst the storm and chaos, focus only on God.
13. Remember who God is. Focus on who He is. Remember what He has done, remember He is your hope, remember all He can do, but most of all remember who He is. Don’t focus on what or how or when but on who
14. Faith in God. Don’t trust a big company or what analyst/doctors/people are saying. Trust in the Lord. Don’t let your decisions be guided by emotion, trust in the Lord and trust in Jesus
15. Think long. Long term goals. Life is a journey, enjoy it, and learn from God. You can’t go to millionaire overnight or an apostle, let God prepare you and teach you
16. Don’t be consumed with money, be consumed with God and his plan
17. Look to invest in people and ministries. Money and food will spoil and rot away, but faith in God never will.
18. Sometimes we have to take the long way. Sometimes it is about going the long way instead of taking the shortcut. You may go up a mountain and make wrong turns, wondering why God is letting you do this or why it seems like you have been wandering around aimlessly, but there is a purpose. You will get to the top. You will see the oasis that awaits, but as you take the wrong turns and make mistakes, learn from them. Grow from them. Keep trusting God and His plan. There is a reason to it all. Grow in the journey
19. Be heaven minded. Stop focusing on worldly things and being earthly minded. Focus on God, what matters and the reward of growing closer to Him. Thank you Father for this time of growth. It has been hard and painful and stressful, but thank you for showing me what is important and what I need to do. God help me follow through and learn.
20. Obedience. No matter how tough, no matter if you can’t see where it is going or what is going to happen, be obedient. Obedience to God is more important than anything. Trust Him that he will provide. Trust Him, simply trust and be obedient.

The news…

The news shook me. I was stunned. I was too broken up for words. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t expecting this to happen. I wasn’t prepared for it… yet somehow I felt I was.

The other day my wife had to break the news to me. My parents called her earlier in the day to tell her what happened but didn’t want me to find out over the phone. They wanted her to tell me in person. As she told me what happened, my heart sunk. I was literally shocked at what she told me. Yet, in the strangest way I felt comfort.

I called up my parents to discuss what happened and what is next. I couldn’t bring myself to tears. I felt like God had lead me into this storm. I don’t get why health issues keep happening to this precious life, but they do. as they told me the events of the day, I just took it in.

By now you may be wondering who this special someone is to me. You may have already figured it out but it is my dog that I left in Texas with my parents. You may say well it is just a dog. And I can understand that, but the only thing I have to respond is God has blessed me with a huge heart for animals, especially dogs. I grow way too attached to them and they become so special to me. Some will understand how they become a part of our family and some will not. my point is not to discuss that but to discuss God’s provision.

The news that day came. They had to take her to the optomologist who was by the grace of God taking appointments that day. As he examined her, he found that her right eye had too much pressure around it. it was causing severe pain. In fact, she had lost sight in it. it was time for a decision, they could keep running tests or remove the eye and hopefully any other pains that go with it. On a day that an appointment opened up and on a day when there was time for emergency surgery, the eye had to be removed…

It was supposed to be just an infection…this wasn’t supposed to happen…the medicine was supposed to work.

What do we do now? As I heard all of this, I can only say that God was with me. And I know that His hand was at work this day. The fact that they were able to take her in and see the doctor on the only day he does surgery, was a miracle. My dog, my girl was now fighting for her life.

The word that I hate more than anything came up again. The word none of us like to hear or want to hear. Cancer. The doctor sent the eye off to see if it was cancerous.

I have seen this movie too many times before. I have seen this and hate the way it ends. I never want to watch it again.

My only course of action was prayer. What an honor to go before the Almighty, the Giver and Sustainer of life, the Healer and ask for a miracle. I can’t go to any CEO or leader in this world, but I can go to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords any time. So with tears pouring out and snot filling my nose, I threw myself at His feet. I had only one hope and that was the only hope I needed. God is the only hope I will ever need.

A few days past and as I prayed and prayed and struggled with trying to make God answer my prayers but saying certain words or rituals, I was reminded I can’t make God do anything and His ways are perfect and mine are not. Then, I started to feel something. My ears were hearing things, my heart began feeling something. Something was about to happen.

I was in Kansas City with my wife and as we drove around the city on Friday, every song on the radio was about pain and how God can move mountains. It was a call to faith. Unfortunately, my nature was allowing worry and fear to come in. God shook me and reminded me to not let it in. to give Him my anxieties and worries. To truly practice Philippians 4:6-7 (Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.). The moment I felt victory, satan came harder and attacked more.

Right after we got back from our trip, my parents called. I kept worrying and wondering why they haven’t called. I wanted to know the results. We finally had them. But at the same time, I didn’t want to know what the results were. I didn’t want to hear it. Then the phone rang.

The results came back positive for cancer. The lab sent the eye off to another lab to see if the cancer had spread to other areas or if it was contained in the removed eye. Now…we wait again.

No matter what, it will be a tough road. I have hope. I have trust. I still think back to the day when the songs on the radio reminded me that anything is possible with God. I don’t know what is next. I don’t know what will happen. My heart aches. My sadness is heavy. But my God is good no matter what. He has reminded me of what is important and how short this life is. No matter how young, our bodies break down. I simply trust in Jesus.

Her name is Gunda (Goon-duh) and she needs prayer. I pray for a miracle to the One who makes all things possible.

Cling to Truth

​Over these past few days, I have had to remind myself of several truths to cling to. It is never easy for me in the midst of a storm to remember the calming truths that God has given to us. No matter how much God has done for me in the past, I easily forget His faithfulness.
A few months ago, while my wife Rachel was going through her health issues, there was another family member going through severe health issues as well. During that dark time of uncertainty, I would read and remember a few verses of God’s power and strength. They became such a battle cry for me. As I read those words and promises, God overwhelmed me with His peace. It wasn’t easy to go through but God used these passages to teach me… and to remind me that He was indeed near me.
As the storm calmed down and health returned, I wrote down those verses that had reverberated through my mind those few weeks and months. I didn’t want to forget them. I didn’t want to forget their power, the comfort and help that God provided to me through those words.
As time moved on, my mind moved away from those important verses. My mind began thinking of things that were unimportant. As life moved on, those important truths seemed like they moved further away. My mind began forgetting those powerful words, those powerful truths that I had clung to just a short while ago. The verses that I could recite, the truths that comforted my aching, pleading heart had been pushed out of the way by worthless things of this world.
During this time, God still taught me. He still reminded me of different things about Him. He still used His amazing Word to teach and inspire me. But as time went by, satan clouded my mind and I easily forget God’s blessings and answers to prayers.
I think there are times in our life where we hold to certain verses or cling to a part of a sermon that really touched us, but it amazes me how quickly I can forget those things. Over these past few weeks as I still struggle with family health issues and possible implications, I have been reminded of how impactful those truths were and how I need to cling to them in this dire moment. Over the past few weeks, Ephesians 3:20 has just gone through my mind over and over and I can’t even tell you how many times I have prayed it. It also seems to keep appearing in my life through listening to the radio. The verse reads, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”.
I very much want to cling to this truth and many more, but why oh why do I let worry and anxiety creep in and take my eyes off of the goodness of God. I struggle and struggle and struggle, yet God meets me where I am and is guiding me back. During the initial health scares, I wrote down all these verses and saved it on my computer at work. Finally, the other day I looked for them… and found them. As I read, I was reminded of God’s provision. I was holding on to each truth. I started to pray each one. One by one I read and was strengthened.
I am thankful that I have that document to look back on, but oh how I need to remember them in my heart. To not just say them, to not just have them in my memory, but to cling to the One they point to. The One that strengthens, comforts and sustains. The devil will attack and deter me, but God will lead me. And thankfully He will always lead me back to Him.
A few months ago, there was an “inspiring word” from a pastor on a radio station that dealt with the issue of trust. It compared us to trusting our GPS. When we go somewhere, we blindly trust our GPS to take us to where we need to go. When it tells us to turn we turn and if we miss that turn it recalculates and tells us what to do next. Often times we like to argue and wrestle with God about where He is leading us. We try to go our own route. Even though we have no idea where we are going or what is next, we try to decide when we turn. Unfortunately, we get off track more times then not. I need to do better at trusting His leading, His turns, His directions instead of arguing with Him. I must trust His leading and pray Oh Lord for your help to trust even if it leads me right into the storm.

God’s will, not mine

​As I was driving home yesterday, I was doing my usual routine of listening to a Christian radio station. I like listening to Christian music to sow good seeds into my mind and also use it as a time to worship. A time to just be alone with God. I enjoy this time greatly and sometimes due to traffic I get to listen to more than normal (those days are days of trials of my patience). Before I started on my journey, I just asked God to come and be with me and talk to me. As I still struggle with news and what will happen to a special person in my life, I just need to be with God. I needed to hear Him. As my heart hurt, I needed some hope to hold onto. God did not disappoint.
The first song I heard was a strong reminder of who He is and what is possible with Him. It was another reminder of His faithfulness and it made me honestly want to shout at the top of my lungs kneeling before Him the words. The song was “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. I love this song. It is such an amazing reminder of what God promises us and can and will do for us.
Then, the exact thing I needed at that time came. The radio station (K-Love) has started airing deviotionals by Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North. I have kind of breezed past them before but this day I listened. The devotional was about Jesus in the garden crying blood tears asking that this cup be taken from Him. As He cried out to God and was full of anguish, He leaves us with the perfect example simply saying, “not my will but your will be done.”
God’s will be done… those words shook through me like an earthquake. How quickly I was reminded that as much as I want healing, as much as I want my way and my will to be done, it comes back to one whose ways are perfect. Only God knows the right way. Only God knows what is best. As I was reminded of Jesus’ own anguish, He still prays for God’s will knowing full well what it meant and what was about to happen. He leaves us with another example of how we should pray and live.
At the same time, He gives us another view into how He knows how we feel. He knows the hurt and pain and sorrow we feel. He knows it intimately. He knows it better than we could ever imagine because He is God and He is man.
When I think about it, I still can’t believe the gift of His love and that He would do all of that for us. I can’t believe the pain and hurt He went through.
But on this day, what I needed to hear was to stop telling God what my will is and trying to control Him instead of letting Him be God. He is the only one that knows best. His ways are good and perfect and greater than mine, my plans are imperfect and do not see what God can see.
God gave me the comfort and teaching I needed. I needed to be reminded that in the grip of pain and facing death, Jesus still asked for God’s will. In my life, in the grip of sorrow and whatever else these bodies face in this world, I need to act and respond like that. God is good and His will is perfect. He still lets me pray for the things I want, He still lets me tell Him what I think I need, but He always knows best. That is what I need to remember. No matter how many times I pray, I want to pray like Christ and humble myself before the will of God.

Not up to me, but the One that listens

​Many times over the past few days my human sin nature comes out. Actually it comes out more than the past few days, it comes out all the time but I have been particularly aware of it these past few days. During my many prayers, it becomes easy for me to think that there is something else I need to do. that there is something more that I can do. I start thinking of all of the other words or phrases I could say to God to get Him to answer my prayers. I think of all the ways I could kneel or throw myself on the floor begging, pleading for God to come and intervene.
Then, I am reminded about truth. Maybe it is a faint voice. Maybe it is the Spirit at work in me. Or maybe it is something else that I can’t even understand or know. But the basis of faith comes back and smacks me in the face. It is simply not up to me. It is doesn’t matter what I say or what I do. it is simply up to The One that listens. I could say all the fancy words and phrases we have heard throughout our lives and say the most eloquent prayers, but it doesn’t make a lick of difference. God doesn’t want those things. He doesn’t want the ritual and the words that aren’t from our heart. He doesn’t want the things we do that don’t truly seek Him. All He wants is our honesty.
The One that knows us intimately, actually knows us better than we know ourselves, just wants us to be honest with Him. He just wants to hear our heartfelt words. The things that are on our mind.
In all honesty, here I am telling God what I need. Telling Him when I need it. telling Him that I need this healing. I guess maybe, I take my eyes off of heaven and God and put them back on myself and what I can do. I start thinking about what can I do to make God answer these prayers. What else do I need to do? What more can I do? I just want this to be over. I just want healing to come and the pain to be gone.
But it is not up to me…
It is doesn’t matter what I say or what I do. It is simply up to God. Sometimes, if I am honest with you, that is scary. It is scary as I wrestle with God over control. Or in this case try to earn His favor by doing things. Most of us if we are honest with ourselves have probably prayed prayers that we made wild promises to God that if He answered we would do something or give something up. We just want those things so bad whether it is healing or overcoming addiction and suffering or something else. We just want God to answer those prayers. As we all know, sometimes God doesn’t answer. He doesn’t give us what we ask for. He doesn’t give us what we think we need. He may give us shattered dreams.
This reminds me that as we may do this in our prayer life of trying to earn God’s favor or do something to get Him to answer our prayers, it is easy to do this with our own salvation. It is easy to start down that slippery slope of trying to earn salvation. We start off with the best of intentions or sometimes we don’t. sometimes we do things out of guilt or because we feel we have to so that we can be a “good Christian”. We say long ritualistic prayers to make ourselves feel better so we can mark off a box. We volunteer but we don’t do it with pure and loving motives. We do so many different things but in the end, are we doing it out of love and thanksgiving or out guilt and obligation? I am not here to judge and criticize. Who am I to do that? I do the very things that I just discussed and I am not proud of it at all. I fall into the trap of looking at my salvation as a bank. Doing good things to make deposits and my sins as taking withdrawals. The problem is I am in terrible debt that I will never recover from.
Yet for the grace of Jesus that I can enter His place of rest. I don’t have to do any more. I don’t have to try to earn salvation. I don’t have to run my self into exhaustion. For in His land of grace, I can simply rest. I can simply let the joy and thanksgiving and satisfaction in God pour out of me into acts of service. Not because I have to, but because I am thankful for His great love that paid my debt. Salvation is not up to me. It is not up to what I do or say.
And the same goes for my prayer life. I simply need to humble myself before the Almighty, acknowledge Him as God and trust in His ways. Is it easy? No, we still wrestle for control. We still think we need to do or say something. May our faith never be in what we do or say or certain words and phrases, but in the One who listens. He knows our hearts. He knows our pain and He is sending the Comforter. Thankfully, He gave us His Spirit that helps us when we do not know what we ought to say. I hope and pray that you and I both can give our worries and anxieties to God and trust in Him and what He can do. That we trust in His Spirit to help us and depend on Him.
25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:25-27