Knowing God’s Will and Becoming Passionate About Him

If God told us exactly what we should do for the next years, I think it would be easy for us to check out and not actually depend on the Father and learn to trust and love Him. His desire is for relationships with His children, not business partnerships.

Instead He says “Seek first my kingdom by loving me and doing good works, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

This requires constant trust in Papa and dependance on His Spirit to guide us. This produces relationship which produces love. It allows us to see that He is trustworthy–that Jesus is faithful and finishes what He started.

Wise men say the “weight of God’s glory” is a fancy way of saying “God’s value.” What is God’s value? Immeasruable!

All of that–love, dependability, commitment, grace–is the weight of God’s glory, His value. That is what He wants the world to see: how valuable He is–not as a business partner, not as a boyfriend, not as a slave master, not as a divine Santa Claus–but as a committed, dependable, loving Father.

He’s not up there grumbling, “Christopher’s not doing anything significant. Man, I really regret creating him. He’s just sitting on his bum looking at Facebook. Holy Spirit, give Him a little kick to get started! Jesus, are you sure this is one we want serving us? Look at how he keeps sinning! I’m going to withhold my favor and pleasure from him and not tell him my one specific purpose for his life until he shows himself committed and faithful.”

NOO!! That’s not the Father’s attitude AT ALL! Not an ounce of that is true!
The Father is saying “I want to show MY glory through YOUR personality, because I absolutely love you and I love the way I created you! If you have sinned, please let me cleanse you because I don’t want ANYTHING to separate us EVER AGAIN.”

He says “I love you child” before we ever say “I love you Daddy.” He says “Let’s do something together” before we ever say “I want you in my life.” He’s not waiting for us to straighten things out, rather He’s saying “Let’s go on an adventure together and maybe in the meantime, we can work through some of these problems.”

Through this kind of Fathering, His glory is made known to us and those who see us. He isn’t glorified by how clean and unwrinkled we are, He is glorified by how good, patient, just, holy and faithful HE is and how alive we are.

So instead of waiting around for a moment when your life-purpose becomes crystal clear, start seeking God’s kingdom first and doing the good works already before you and give Papa the chance to “take care of the rest.”

Do you feel apathetic toward God? Like you don’t love Him as much as you should? Do something and trust Him to guide you, because it is through relational interaction that love develops and passion is stirred.

C.D.

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When a Cynic Looks for Jesus Under Rocks

Most people probably do not realize this, but I’ve become somewhat cynical over the past several years, looking for Jesus under rocks and wearing really smelly shoes.

I feel tremendously inadequate to follow Jesus and often doubt my salvation. Some people seem so confident in their theology, as if having proper theology is what makes one right with God. I imagine them watching and waiting, with their boxes and labels, for me to make a mistake.

I stumble through life trying to figure things out, trying to find Jesus—because He seems like a good guy—under every rock and through every valley. I question things that don’t make sense, and want to crush things that hurt me.

All the while, I have the feeling that someone is waiting around the corner, waiting for me to make a wrong turn so they can box me up and label me as “doubter,” “heretic,” “legalist,” “angry,” “liberal,” “conservative”—whatever path I happen to cross in my stumbling journey—and then ignore me.

Sometimes I wonder if I can trust anyone–will everyone simply marginalize (box and label) me? Because that’s my greatest fear: to be relegated to a cold dark box somewhere, left to jabber to myself. Is there anyone who won’t hurt me at some point? Who won’t let me down and turn out to be terribly flawed like the rest of us?

I guess that’s why I look for Jesus. But I don’t even do that very well.

Sometimes I flip over a rock to see if Jesus is there (for some reason I always think He’s hiding) but instead of moving on to the next rock, or looking up into the next tree, or around the next bend, I just sit down and give up.

Looking for Jesus is so hard.

I weep right now as I write this because I know in my heart that it is not hard to find Jesus. I know that I could just go over and sit on the edge of my bed and He’d be sitting there just waiting to talk. I know in my heart that Jesus loves me and even likes me. I know this in my heart. I cry like a little baby because I know it in my heart, but I don’t feel it in my soul, or believe it in my head.

How could someone as important as Jesus actually like a bumbling fool who doesn’t even always want to find Him. Sometimes it feels as if Jesus and I are playing hide-and-go-seek and I lose interest and go play with my toys instead of looking for Jesus. He then, has to come find me (playing with my toys) and we start the game all over again.

I don’t know why someone as important as Jesus keeps looking for a bumbling fool, but that doesn’t really matter. What really baffles me is why I keep losing interest in looking for someone as important as Jesus.

Maybe it is because I’m a bumbling fool.

It is in the rare moments of starting to believe that Jesus really does love me as I am, not as I should be, that I am totally surrendered to whatever He wants me to do. People will do ANYTHING for someone they know loves them unconditionally.

Yet, when I say this, I feel the critical eye of righteous people and imagine they say “You should love Jesus whether He loves you or not. You should want Jesus whether you feel love or not.”

I guess that’s true. But what’s amazing is that seemingly logical expectation is not in Scripture! If anything, there is the opposite. Scripture is full of reminder after reminder to not forget God’s everlasting love. It is almost as if God is saying “My love is the very reason you should follow me!” The Bible says it is God’s kindness which leads us to repentance and His love which enables us to love Him back.

The truth is, I am an arrogant, self-righteous, self-sufficient, bumbling fool. There are times my thoughts and actions smell as bad as my shoes.

But somehow, somewhere, the love and grace of Jesus have cleansed and are cleansing my soul, washing away its filth and filling it with sweet fragrance. I don’t want to react to good people or true theology, I don’t want to deny Christ, I don’t want to live in apathy; but I also don’t think cleaning up those dirty areas will incur more grace from God. Rather, I am convinced more grace from God will incur a cleansing of my soul.

Please God, give me more grace, more holiness, more love. Give me more Jesus.

Quit Being So Negative!

How do you view God? Do you see Him as hard to please?

Consider this statement for a moment: You fall short of God’s grace and love and there is absolutely no way for you to ever please Him.

Sounds Biblical right? But how do you respond? Are you drawn to God? Does it quicken your heart to respond in repentance? Maybe. But most likely you feel discouraged. A subtle, subconscious feeling of hopelessness enters in and negative thinking is introduced into your mind.

The problem is that yes, the above statement is true, but only partially. You DO fall short of God’s grace and love—but He extends it ANYWAYS. There IS absolutely no way for you to ever please God ON YOUR OWN STRENGTH. God finds much pleasure in you when the blood of Jesus Christ has COMPLETELY cleansed you of anything that would displease God.

So when these thoughts run through our minds, we slowly become discouraged and lose interest in God. We see daily just how much we fall short. We feel condemned, fearful, and hopeless. And we either give up, or start living out of a drive to please God.

God does not operate through negativity. SO STOP IT! Just stop.

The King came to His enemies, not to condemn, but to LOVE. In response to His love and KINDNESS, we, His enemies, forsake our old lives and become His friends. Once we are His friends, He makes us His very own children. And as His children, we are given power, bravery, endless access to His throne, and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Fear, doubt, and condemnation are not of God’s kingdom so STOP allowing them to reign in your mind. You have the freedom to do this. Christ has given you permission to quit thinking negatively about yourself and others.

Jesus cares for you. Give HIM your fear, doubt, condemnation, lust, pride, unforgiveness, and all your negativity. You were lost and deserve God’s wrath, but Christ took that upon Himself. He has found and freed you. Think on THAT! Rejoice. You are free to rejoice! Get rid of whatever is keeping you from joy, trust God AND REJOICE!

When I allow this truth to reign in my heart, I am DRAWN to Christ: I am drawn to pray and to read His word; to love and serve Him.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge [condemn] the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

[The sinner] said, “No one [condemns me], Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” –John 8:11

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“We love [Him], because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

C.D.

“I Love You Too!”

The other night as I sat with friends and family in the Miller living room, it suddenly felt like Jesus silently walked in, sat beside me, and whispered “I love you!” In disbelief at first, I ignored it. “I love you!” he seemed to repeat. It seemed like He wanted me to respond. So I did. “I love you too!” I thought awkwardly.

This is relationship. I had real interaction with Jesus Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of life! I think that this type of interaction really happens many times, but I usually doubt it and dismiss it as simply emotion. I will always cherish this brief interaction with Jesus, and look for more. It amazes me how loving and good God really is. Even in His wrath, He is still loving and good.

Yesterday morning, as I sat in on a chapel service, the speaker showed a YouTube clip about persecution in Indonesia. In the clip, Muslims were slaughtering other Muslims who had converted to Christianity. Although it was only six minutes long, I kept thinking to myself “Just make it stop already! Just make it stop!” I thought the clip would never end, but I knew I had to watch as much of it as I could stomach. I had to see. This brutality is the price these people have to pay in order to follow Christ. And then I thought about how this is what Jesus had to pay to set us free! Not only was He mocked and ridiculed, but He was beaten and bruised, and His flesh was torn apart. He suffered immense pain, agony and separation from the Father [God] so that we could be forgiven of sin and unified with the Father.

And I realized how pathetic my love for Him is. Could I honestly bear His name, while having half my scalp chopped off? I’m not sure I could, save by His incredible grace.

I desperately desire deeper love for Christ. I long for stronger faith so that I can stand firm on the Rock, Jesus Christ. I want to trust Jesus, rather than doubt Him or His love. I want to be convinced of God’s goodness. By realizing my security in Christ and knowing that He is completely good and loving, I can endure the pain He may call me to.

Someone once said something like: “to the degree that we suppress pain, we also suppress joy.” I desperately want to be surrendered to this concept: that to experience great joy, I must also allow myself to experience great pain.

I think in many ways I have tried to suppress my pain. I have tried to be strong. But I think there is something beautiful about just letting yourself hurt and allowing yourself to be weak. The picture that I get is a big and strong middle-aged man kneeling before a gravestone bawling and letting his pain out by gasps and screams.

Many times we get knocked down and we can’t get back up. We need a helper, a savior, a healer. Jesus Christ is that Healer.

I do not know if I have responded well to the pain and hard things in my life, but I want to do better. I want to allow myself to hurt: to grieve loss, struggle with change and allow Christ to bring healing when it is time.

I don’t like pain—I run from it. I pursue happiness just like everyone else. But there is health in bleeding; there is relief in flowing tears. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Finally, I am beginning to understand this verse. Jesus is saying, “Allow yourself to hurt, because I will comfort you!” And we will hurt, but we can’t “bottle” it up, or we’ll burst.

Keep battling on. Keep hurting. Keep healing. Keep relating. Keep living. The end is in sight, just a few more years. God is faithful, by His strength we can do this!

Poured Out Like Wine

Hugo McCord

Would you be poured out like wine
upon the altar for Me?
Would you be broken like bread
to feed the hungry?
Would you be so one with Me
that you would do just as I will?
Would you be light and life
and love My Word fulfilled?

Yes, I’ll be poured out like wine
upon the altar for You
Yes, I’ll be broken like bread
to feed the hungry
Yes, I’ll be so one with You
that I would do just as You will
Yes, I’ll be light and life
and love Your Word fulfilled

Where He Leads Me

Ernest W. Blandy

I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.

Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.

I’ll go with Him through the garden,
I’ll go with Him through the garden,
I’ll go with Him through the garden,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.

I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him through the judgment,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.

Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.

He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
And go with me, with me all the way.

Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.

In the Despair — a Poem of Hope

I believe that all men

At a point in their life

Do arrive to a state

Of despair.

 –

“Oh my God,” cried the king,

“Where are you in this world?”

We do fear that the Lord

Is not fair.

 –

But despite our small thoughts

Our Lord God who redeems,

Keeps us in, close to Him

And His care.

 –

We can

Surely

Know He

Will not

Falter

On His

Promise.

 –

In the times of confusion

Trust in God’s substitution.

 –

On the cross in the East

God did die for our release.

 –

There is trouble

There is pain;

But in all

Can be gain.

 –

Even when

God seems far,

Don’t despair

For you are

On a journey

That is good,

And will make you

More strong than wood.

 –

So look up to the sky,

And whisper to God:

“I will trust you

I will serve you.”

Even if you feel

Under a curse,

Know that Christ

Loved you first.

 –

There is a hope

Midst the sorrow.

I will wait

For tomorrow.

C.D.

It’s a Jesus Story

I honestly do not know what people will think of me after this post, because humans naturally tend to like super-people who serve God perfectly and hardly struggle [with real issues]. Sure, we talk about struggle, we admit to the general idea of failure in our past or present—but few ever publicly admit to the actual, specific, day-by-day struggles of ordinary people.

But the book of Revelation says that we conquer Satan by the Blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11). So here is my testimony.

First, I will give you a quick synopsis of my life:

Most people reading this probably know that I am a white, Mennonite kid, originally from Minnesota, whose family moved to Los Angeles, when I was twelve, to work for the Southern California district of Choice Books and to plant inner-city churches. Most people also know that my mother, my sister, and I were in a car accident which left my beautiful mother fatally injured and she died in the rescue helicopter moments after take-off. This was four days before my brother’s wedding, just four months ago.

So that is the synoptic of my life, now let me tell you my story. I do not write this because I love to spill my guts on the internet. I write this because Jesus has done a wonderful work in my life, and I have become convinced that not to share my story is denying Jesus’ redemption of my life. Jesus has given me a story, now it is my job to share it. I also share it because I think there are a lot of guys out there who need to hear others talk about their stories. I have nothing to hide. My story is true and my redemption is true, so why would I not tell it?

I “accepted Jesus into my heart” several times when I was young, the two most significant being at age seven and nine. Although I do believe I was sincere, I do not think I completely understood the entirety of who Jesus is. To me He was the God-Man in white clothes who died on the cross to save me from Hell. So I said a prayer in order to escape Hell and satisfy my conscience. I believe Jesus heard my childish prayer and set me on a journey to more fully understand who He is. Why? Because He loves me. Unfortunately, sometimes in the process of getting better, we become worse.

When I was eleven years old, I realized that I liked to lust. And in my foolish weakness, I chose to look at pornography. I cannot say that I just happened to fall into it; I chose to walk into it, and everything that comes with it. And I became a slave to it. I quietly worshiped and served the addiction for three years and was powerless to rid myself of its clutches.

It was during this time that my family moved to Los Angeles in April of 2008. Looking back with my limited perspective, our move was probably a life saver for me, but at the time I hated it. The year 2008, my twelfth year of life, was probably the darkest year I have ever lived. I believe even darker than the last four months. Then, I was a slave to sin (Satan); now, I am a slave to Christ (which is the most freeing situation in the whole world because His burden is light). My slavery, added with the intense loneliness I felt in L.A., affected my whole lifestyle and I quickly became a recluse who only desired to please myself.

All throughout these years, I knew I was not obeying God. I hated it and I pleaded with God to do a miracle and to give me courage to confess. But everyday I awoke and was forced to serve the master I had given myself to. I was living like God’s good son, but I was truly eating pig’s food (Luke 15:11-32).

On Christmas Eve, 2008, I and my parents had a conversation which ended in my recommitting my life to Christ, but I still did not confess my addiction. I sometimes question the sincerity of my experience, but that night marks a point in time when my life began to turn around.

The spring of 2009 was a huge leap for me. Back then, Choice Books sold the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible. Being the type of person who likes a reading challenge, I attempted it. Those three months of ingesting God’s word did something that I cannot explain. It all culminated on June 27, 2009, when I wrote my Dad a letter which explained everything about me that I could think. After having him read it, I felt a relief that I will never forget. I believe it was then, at the moment when I released my idol, that Jesus was able to flood my soul with Himself. But I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took about another year before I was really free from the bonds of pornography—a year of surrendering to Jesus, and strong accountability to my parents. (Let me insert that I credit my parents trust in me as one of the greatest enablers in my surrender. They trusted me to surrender and make right choices.)

I still need to surrender to Jesus, I still have struggles and temptations of various sorts, and I am still a choice away from falling once again; but Christ’s grace is sufficient for me. I do not need to fear temptation or Satan. All I want now is to worship Jesus because He has freed me and justified me before the Father. He is my advocate and I am His child. I can come boldly before His throne and I can look to Him for strength. This is who I am. I have nothing to hide because Jesus has forgiven me of everything, and it is only because of His grace and strength that I can walk in victory today.

Jesus, I am grateful.

This is my story, my song. I hope that anyone reading this who struggles with sin in any way, will realize that they are not alone. I hope they will see that Jesus can save them and redeem them.

If you want peace with God—if you want freedom from sin, if you want the light of Christ in your life, if you want strength to walk through any trial—you must surrender to Jesus. Jesus wants to help you, because He loves you.

Half of surrender is realizing that without Jesus we are monsters but with Him we are weak sheep that need protecting and guiding. (And with Jesus protecting us, we are strong and safe.) The other half is just letting go of whatever is keeping us from worshiping Jesus.

We can either continue in what our flesh says is good or we can surrender to Jesus and His love. We can either worship Satan or we can worship Jesus. There are no other options. When we worship Satan, we become monsters; but when we surrender to Jesus and worship before His throne, we become His precious sheep—His beloved children.

I want to be a sheep, not a monster. What about you?

The avoidance of this topic bothers me. The fact that we act surprised when people confess to struggling with this issue, really bothers me. Anyone who is remotely engaged in western culture and knows anything about human nature should not be surprised. Look all around us. Immorality is everywhere. Let’s not close our eyes to it, let’s not plug our ears! Apart from Jesus Christ that is you, that is me. It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our governments, and it’s in our families and churches.

Struggles with sin cannot be legislated out of us. They cannot be pulled, pushed, or shoved out of our lives. We are who we are and we are completely unable to change. Do we get it? We or anyone else cannot change us. So let’s quit trying.

Enter Jesus Christ.

For our sin the just Father demands a payment [retribution]. Our sentence is eternity in hell. We cannot escape it; we cannot pay it off any other way. Yet, God loves us tremendously. So He became a human and lived a perfect life, therefore He had no sentence to hell. Having lived a perfect life He then offered His life as payment to the just Father. He shed His blood and paid hell for each of us. But God being pleased with the payment raised Jesus (the God-Man) up from the dead and set Him at His right hand in Heaven. We now have no sentencing. God is satisfied; we are justified. Jesus now invites us to relate directly with the Father because the Father no longer demands payment from us. All we have to do is surrender and say “Yes, Jesus, yes! I accept you as the payment for my own sin. I am at your mercy! I worship you! I am yours forever. Yes, Lord, I say yes!”

This is the Gospel. This is the power of salvation [from pornography, bitterness, rebellion, pride, and from every bondage of Satan].

One day, because Jesus has done all this for us, we are going to stand before God’s throne and out of perfect, eternal gratitude we will throw ourselves before the throne, caste our crowns [our rewards] at Christ’s feet and cry “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

So what will it be, my friend? Is your temporary pleasure really worth what Jesus can give you eternally? I pray that you will surrender and abandon your earthly life, at the cross.

C.D.

Failure or Success?

“I think our entire culture suffers to hear, ‘I love you whether you succeed or not. Whether you’re productive or not. I just love you.’”

– Donald Miller

Success. We all want to be successful, right? Our brains are trained to think that unless we measure up to such-and-such a standard, we will not make it—we will have no value in the world. When a business man invests in a company, he expects good dividends in return. Why would it be any different for a human? When teachers invest time and energy, isn’t it expected that the pupil will grow up and give back to the teacher by benefiting society? If not, either the teacher or the student has failed. If what we invest in does not return benefits to us in any way, it is a failure and not worth our attention. We are Westerners we are born and bred to think this way.

So if Christians do not bear so-called “fruit” (whatever that may be), they are failures right?

Wrong!

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8). This is a promise, not a command. If we are Christ’s disciples we WILL bear fruit.

We have a mindset that says if something is a “failure” [that which does not fulfill our human-defined measure of success] it is worthless. This mindset causes us to look for success in others and try to copy it and we are rarely able to do so. We work and work to try to “measure up” to the talents, abilities, or success of others but we can never do good enough. We constantly fail our expectations. Why? Because our standard is falsely based on other individuals’ success, instead of God’s truth.

God created each of us individually and set us on separate paths toward success. Yes, He desires and plans for us to be successful. But what is success? Success is doing what we are expected to do, fulfilling our purposes. If someone is a mail man and he carries mail from place to place, than he is fulfilling his purpose. He is successful.

God made us with a purpose. He originally planned and still plans for us to individually worship and commune with Him. That is what we see with Adam and Eve.

So we have a function—a purpose: God created us to individually worship and commune with Him. This is our goal. This is what we fix our lives on, to fulfill that purpose. Knowing this we no longer need to measure up to the external doings of other people. When we focus on worshiping God we no longer pursue being noticed, or having such-and-such grades, talents, or status. We only pursue Jesus.

So what is failure? It is not failing a test, not getting last place in a competition, not lacking knowledge or experience, not failing in evangelism, not lacking money, or not lacking talent musically, physically, or mentally. Failure is lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ the King of Kings, the Creator, the Lover, the Savior. Jesus said “Remain in me and I will remain in you, for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me“ (John 15:4). God does not measure our “success” by what we do, but rather by who we are.

Read this carefully:

God created you to worship and commune with Him. When you are a child of God, you are walking a path of worship and communion with God. Therefore if you are a child of God, you are a success in God’s eyes. And when you continue to pursue Him and walk with Him and open up your heart to Him, He finds you more and more successful. No amount of success is too little or too great in His mind, because He loves you and He LOVES when you are successful. It thrills His heart.

Success is not something you can emulate—copy. It is personal and individual and can only happen when you are in Christ.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation is extremely simple, but it is the continued walk that can be hard. Do not worry about what you look like to other people. Focus on God. Discipleship cannot be faked, so don’t try to fake it. Just surrender EVERYTHING you have and are to Jesus—and He will do the rest. This is success.

C.D.

He Loves Me, Yes!

I have found it healthy to now and then go back and remember life: to recall one’s thoughts and actions a couple of days, weeks, months or years ago. This morning I took the time to look back in my journal nearly three months. I came to November 4, 2012 in which I wrote about some personal struggles I was having. About half way through I penned these words: “I just wish I could feel and touch, see and hear Jesus.”

On Monday November 5, 2012, I wrote about what I might say at my brother Asher’s wedding reception on the 10th (which I did not actually say, then). I also described some good experiences we were having in Colorado. Life was relatively normal—even good, I would say.

[Turn the page.]

November 12, 2012: “My life has forever changed.”

I cannot bring myself to read November 12th. I read the first paragraph and realized that every fiber of my being loathes this journal entry, but every fiber of my spirit says that reading it would be healthy. It is like pulling off a bandage for the first time.

My left elbow got all chopped up by glass in the accident and the first gauze bandage that was put on, “healed” itself into the wound. This meant that if I wanted to take the bandage off, the scab had to come off as well. It felt like all the healing had been “undone.” But if I wanted a wound free elbow again, it had to happen.

Or maybe it is better described like my back, which was severely put out-of-place. Apparently the vertebral column is so smart that if put out-of-place, over time it will align itself with gravity so that your head will be straight again, even if your back is still out-of-place. So over November and December my back “fixed” itself and quit hurting. Then I went to the chiropractor and had it adjusted, and the pain was renewed. It is not that the chiropractor gave me a bad adjustment, it is just that my back fixed itself wrong, and it may continually need to be put back in place until the muscles get used to the normal positioning.

So it is with my soul. Over time it has coped and settled with the new reality of the absence of Mom and the grief and pain that accompanies it. But God comes along and, sometimes gently sometimes not—but always perfectly, gives me an adjustment.

Great pain is not something one can just ignore and still remain healthy. If I lightly burn my finger, I can live through the pain and my body will heal itself properly; but if I break my leg, it would be wise to immediately seek medical attention and to continually do so until my leg is fully healed, not necessarily made “normal,” but healed.

God is the Great Physician. It is fun to watch Him “do His thing.” It is not always fun to have him “do His thing” on you, but it is always worth it.

Most of the healing is not done through a grand miracle or a great remedy, but through the slow process of therapy; the process of going back, again and again for adjustments, learning how to walk again, or talk—or love.

So here I am: learning to “walk” again and to trust God. It is easy for me to get lost in the world between the pages of November 5th and November 12th; to wish for life before November 6th happened and to fantasize about how life would be had it not. But I am learning that reality has me in a pool of grief flowing from November 6, 2012. And the amazing thing about reality is that God wants to swim with me in my grief. He does not want to take me outside of the pool and have lemonade. He wants to soak up my grief with me and be there to teach me to swim in the deep parts.

I cannot do this alone. I need God. I need His peace to get me through. I need His love.

His love.  What an amazing thing. If I could only grasp a fraction of it, I would be content. But wait, I do not need to grasp His love. He gives it to me freely, and pours it unrestrained into my heart, and from this truth every lie flees. Because if God—the Almighty, the Holy Judge, the Sovereign King over everything—has given me His love without condition, and has justified me and placed me in Christ who sits at God’s right hand: who is there to condemn me? Who is there to keep me from peace? Who can stop me from being healed? No one, I say, because nothing can separate me from the love of God.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 6, 2012, I again repeated to Jesus those words I had written two days before: “I just want to feel you and touch you, to see you and hear you, Jesus.” Three days later as people filed passed my family after attending my Mom’s funeral, I realized that every single day since the 6th I had felt and touched, seen and heard Jesus in an amazingly wonderful and terrible way; because I had felt, touched, seen, and heard the Body of Christ.

He listened to me! And in a weird way, He used tragedy as an answer to my prayer. Yes. Yes! YES! He loves me!

It is because of this love that I can keep pressing forward (although I need daily reminders). It is the assurance of Christ’s affection for me that gives me hope, because I know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Why? Because He loves us.

The Love of God

Frederick Martin Lehman
MercyMe: The Love of God [open in separate tap]

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,

When men, who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call,

God’s love so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race

The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song.

C.D.

Grieving

People say that grief comes in stages, like a staircase maybe. To be honest, I have found that the “stages” of grief are not as distinct as I thought they would be. There is not much of a pattern to how I have grieved. For me, I think grief is better explained as a pool which I am swimming in. Some days I am on the deep end, floundering around in pain and grief that is over my head and it feels like God is far away. Other days I am in the shallow end dealing with easy stuff, and I know I am safe because I can see God. Yes, I like it: grief is more like a pool, not a staircase.

I think most Christians realize that life is a battle, and more importantly, a spiritual battle. But tragically not very many of us are willing to openly talk about our battles. Where are we at, in our battles? How are they going? If it is a fact that we are all in a battle, then let’s be real about it. Let’s confess when we fail, rejoice and sing when there is victory—and intercede when there is intense fighting. Am I describing church? I hope so.

I am in a new battle: my Mom was recently killed in a car accident, (see post “[Not] an Accident”). The grieving process has been completely different from what I expected. At first, God felt extremely close and dear. My faith was nearly unshakable, and I could freely praise God.

Lately, though, it has been more intense. And my emotions have gotten themselves confused with sea waves, going back-and-forth, back-and-forth. It requires some of the most intense fighting I have ever had to do, and unfortunately, I stink at it. I am so pathetic when it comes to warfare because I just quit trying after awhile. Satan attacks me full force with every lie I have ever struggled with since I was a kid, and like a toy action figure I just plop over. I struggle with lies: lies about myself, lies about my friends and family, and lies about God.

Satan is like a spider, weaving webs of deceit and despair waiting for me to blindly walk right into them. I need a rescuer to cut away the sticky threads that get matted into my hair, and stuck onto my skin. Every day I need to take a bath in the peace and love of God, or my soul begins to reek. I hate baths. They are so humbling and time-consuming. I have things to do ya know.

Sometimes, we as Christians get strange ideas into our heads. They become foundational beliefs that weigh us down and drive people away. One belief that has weighed me down for years is the lie that I need to be perfect [failure-less] in order to please God. A lie that often accompanies this belief is that God does not love me unconditionally. But the truth is completely opposite! The truth is that God loves me no matter what I do! “God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 8:5). And because He loves me God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die in my stead. And He has placed on me, Christ’s perfection so that God and I might again have fellowship (see Romans 5; actually, read the whole book).

I do not think that God is asking us to get our lives, our thoughts and actions, straightened out and perfected. But rather, I think He is asking us to simply depend [trust] upon Him for forgiveness and security. He is asking us to surrender. He can do anything with anyone who surrenders.

So I choose to trust God. Faith, love, trust, hope—all of this is a choice. If I only trusted when I “felt like it,” frankly, I would have abandoned my faith long ago.

Let’s be open about our battles, because they are real and intense. There is no shame in struggle. The shame comes from hiding failure. “He that covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

I was blessed by Tenth Avenue North’s latest album, The Struggle, even before Mom’s death, but recently the song “Worn” from that album has been brought back to the forefront of my thoughts. I think the lyrics are some of the most beautiful expressions of the spiritual battle we all face, that I have ever heard. So I have included them below. Listen to the music as well, if you can, it is also very beautiful.

Worn

Tenth Avenue North

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing.

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world.

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

My prayers are wearing thin
Even before the day begins
I’ve lost my will to fight
So, heaven come and flood my eyes.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn.

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn.

C.D.

The Battle Rages

Have you ever noticed how many “guy” movies include many intense action scenes? Most guys can relate to this, and many guys get a thrill out of it. The battle, the sweat, the uphill climb—is all very realistic to us. We identify because that is who we are. We are fighters. We are made to fight—to struggle [not with flesh and blood, but against principalities (spiritually)].

But when it comes to real life, very few guys actually like to fight. Who would? It is so easy to quit and give it all up: to say it is impossible. Who wants to keep fighting while struggling against lie after lie that the enemy throws at you? Giving up looks so easy when “blood” is spilt and God seems farther away than ever.

So what do we do? We give up. We surrender to the enemy and withdraw. We turn our attention to things which are not real. Trucks and movies, sports and girls, jobs and perfecting personal doctrines suddenly become really important to us. We disengage our forces and turn into wet-noodle knights. We forget reality and begin to think that trucks, sports, and girls are what life is really all about.

But we were made to fight and protect, yet we are doing neither; inside we are longing to fulfill our nature, but we have forsaken it. So we turn to other fulfillments. We begin to indulge into personal pleasures at unnatural proportions. Numerous guys become consumed by video games that give them a vague sense of feeling like a winner. Many men devote their lives to jobs, deceiving themselves into thinking they are providing and protecting. Countless others turn to sex, feeling like they have conquered. And many just give up trying, all together, and dive into drugs and alcohol to escape the pain.

The battle is real, and it does not go away. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He never rests, he never stops for a breather, but is constantly fighting. Satan cannot defeat God, but every soul he drags down to hell is a victory for him.

I write this because it describes who I once was—and could easily become again. I write this because it seems like so many of us guys, or young people in general, just sit down and quit as soon as the internal warfare begins. Are we as young people truly content with being the wet noodles we often appear to be?  Spiritual battles are not the quaint occurrences we often imagine them to be where Satan discourages us with a headache and we say “Go away, boo!” Spiritual battles are genuine battles! They are bloody and gory and messy. Satan attacks the very foundation of our faith and belief in God. He throws at us pitiful lies that he was wanted us to believe for years. And he does not stop. He does it again, and again. Like a battering ram at a castle gate, just waiting for us to crumble.

This is when we need to cry out to God. We need someone more powerful than the enemy to come in and defeat him. So we fall flat on our faces desperate for help. And the Almighty steps in, picks us up, and fights our battles with us.

This is reality. This is warfare. This is Christianity. Let’s keep fighting, because there is a Savior and there is an end—and it’s not too far away. Hallelujah!

C.D.