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.

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.

Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights?

“Politics are tense these days. Have you noticed? Most of the tensions are centered around whether or not man has a “right” to something. It’s those decades-old arguments “We have a right to own guns!” “We have a right to have abortions!” “We have a right to free speech!” “We have a right to religious freedom!” and so on and so forth. These ideas are ingrained into Americans as immovable foundations of our society. American society and Christianity have been so closely woven together that even the Church expects to be granted “their rights.”  But are these Biblical? Should Christians stand up for their rights?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness(the American Declaration of Independence). From little up, we Americans are taught this as basic truth. It definitely feels accurate, because we feel deeply wronged if our liberty is violated. These “rights” may be God given, but nowhere in Scripture do you find the idea that we ought to defend “our rights.” In fact, you find the exact opposite.

God gave the best example Himself. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is completely divine and entirely perfect. He created the world and is King over it, but in that crucial moment at the Cross when all of His rights as God and as man were being violated all He requested was forgiveness for humanity’s ignorance. He asks us to do the same. It’s true: God has endowed humanity with certain rights, but He asks us to lay down those rights in order to help others and show them that relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of temporal circumstances, is the true path to Life, Liberty and even Happiness. Jesus Christ, not government. We cannot pick-up our crosses and our rights at the same time. To demand our rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness…”

(continue reading)

Should Christians Stand Up for Their Rights?.

Why Reading the Bible Is Not Enough

I believe the Bible to be inspired by God, if nothing else because of its incredible, unprecedented preservation. That alone is a miracle. I make it a priority to spend time reading it everyday. But merely reading a copy of the Bible or learning the Greek and Hebrew or having theological discussions about certain passages does not mean you have actually studied God’s word.

It took three centuries for Christians to have access to what we now consider the inspired Word of God, and another millennium before it was available to the masses. This tells me that there is a whole lot more to studying God’s word than merely reading the pages of a book. In order to understand which writings were true and what to believe, early Christians had to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit (personally and through other believers). They had to actually KNOW Jesus: both through conversation (prayer) and experience.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1,14). He is the perfect representation of God (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15). God’s word, His message, to the world is, simply, Christ.

To truly study the Word of God, we must intently focus on Jesus (James 1:25). This primarily comes through prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit who only says what Jesus says (John 16:13).

Reading and being immersed in the Bible is powerful and essential but should be done with prayer and discernment from the Spirit because that is the primary communication between God and man. You cannot understand the truth of the Bible unless the Spirit illuminates it to you.

I cannot stress, enough, my belief that the Bible is inspired by God and should be taken literally and COMPLETELY. You can be certain that God will not tell you to do something which contradicts the absolute truth He has already spoken through the Bible. But knowing the Bible does NOT mean you know Christ. It may lead you to a deeper understanding of who Christ is and His characteristics, just as a detailed map of LA helps me get around. But studying a map is not equivalent with “getting around” and actually KNOWING Los Angeles. The Bible may be a love letter from God, which is pretty awesome, but no lovers are ever satisfied with only letters. They want real interaction.

C.D.

Divorcing Jesus

If you haven’t noticed, there is a problem with how the Church interacts with the world. They’re missing each other–and by all appearances, they hate each other.

But I don’t think the church needs to become more Hipper to grab people. Shortly after the early church days, the church became so hip that Constantine joined the Church and the government (Roman) into one holy union. (Kind of like a marriage, right?) You know what followed? Over a millennium of darkness.

Jesus was very intentional about accepting people where they were at, and He did this by loving and forgiving them.

But He had one condition: to receive the Life He had to offer, they had to accept Him. Jesus was very bold about Who He was and the need for people to accept Him to receive life. If people didn’t accept Him (and the life He offered), He didn’t denounce them or throw a tantrum, He simply wept and moved on, unoffended.

Why are we ashamed of Jesus? To be ashamed of Jesus is to be ashamed of love, acceptance, forgiveness and sacrifice! But I think that what scares us is His demands that we admit our own frailty and sinfulness, and that we worship God. This is humbling. But the pain and fear of surrender is incomparable to the peace and joy of walking closely with Almighty God.

Constantine married the world to the church, but to do that he divorced the church from Jesus Christ. Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to forsake Jesus to please the world?

Constantine got darkness, and so will we. Without Jesus we have nothing…because Jesus is everything.

CD

Let’s Talk About Music

“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy, for the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the loving kindness of the Lord.” – Psalm 33:1-5

Let’s talk about music! Music is a wonderful art. Nothing speaks quite as deeply to one’s emotions as music does—especially if accompanied with poetry. Music transcends many arts in that it affects not only your soul, but your body and spirit as well. Because it is so intimate, I believe that Christians—especially young people—should be serious in their approach to music and truly seek God in this area of their lives. This may be hard, but, well, since when has that stopped us?

I do not completely know how to approach this subject because I am not exactly sure where you, my audience, stand on this issue. In some Christian circles this is a really sensitive issue, but in others it is a topic from the ‘90s. There is a huge spectrum of musical beliefs and opinions among Christians. Some people believe that anything musical is acceptable, others believe that a cappella is the only way to worship God through music. Honestly, I have rarely participated in a conversation about music that was actually beneficial or uplifting. Therefore, I do not write this in order to give my opinion or assert my own personal belief. Rather, I wish to give some suggestions to keep in mind as YOU formulate YOUR beliefs. These suggestions are mostly an assortment of tools others have handed to me which I find beneficial in my current musical processing, and I would like to hand them to you.

If we’re not careful we can easily fall into the “ditches” on either end of the spectrum. But God does not call us to get stuck in ditches; He calls us to walk with Him on the road. Again, I’m not here to define where the ditches begin and end, or show exactly where we should be on the spectrum. Rather, I’m here to provoke our thoughts and, I hope, arouse meaningful conversation. Many of you will come to a completely different conclusion than I would after applying these tools, but my desire is that you really be thoughtful and spiritually discerning in your musical choices.

Read more:

Let’s Talk About Music.

When Life’s Hard… Breathe In

WHEN LIFE’S HARD… BREATHE IN

“Take a deep breath in. Now breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, again; breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, breathe out. God is active.

Every single breath that you breathe is a gift from God — a deliberate act of God’s will to give you yet one more breath of life, and another, and another.

God is not done with you.

Look all around you. There is life! Look up at the sky, marvel at the mountains, admire the trees—see the people? There are so many people! People with their marvelous relationships: there’s the stability of childhood “besties” and college buddies and the complexity of guy-girl relations. There’s children and elderly. There’s black and there’s white. Some people live in dry deserts; others live in swamps and rainforests, or in cold tundras. There’s life, and beauty — diversity and unity. And it’s all good! And all good things come from God. Every single pure pleasure, worthy word, and splendid sunrise comes straight from the heart of God.”

Keep Reading: http://bit.ly/19KN3f6

“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.

Mom

A mom is security, love and support;

She knows what you’re about, both inside and out.

You tell her the latest, the good and the bad,

And caringly she listens to the heart of the sad.

From childhood to grown up

She’s there in the midst.

She’s everything that matters

Like a precious jewel she sparkles and shimmers.

But you take her for granted.

Yet her love is not lessened,

Diminished or slanted—

It’s within her deeply planted.

And then,

You wake up and find,

The gem afore spoken

Sits there and is broken;

She’s moaning and groaning

And running out of time.

Oh what I would do,

Looking back with regret,

To whisper her name again and again.

To sing her sweet songs.

Oh how I do long

To shout with my life

I LOVE YOU, MOM!

I would tear down the sky

Just to say one last good-bye.

To hug her and kiss her

And let her see me cry.

The tears run so easy

Like never before,

She loved us so much—

Why didn’t I love her more?

But now she is gone,

Taken beyond,

To a land without shadow

A place that is hallow.

She’s traveled to Heaven

She’s taken to Jesus

And Jesus can love her

‘Cause He’s the true lover.

And though I can’t see it,

And hardly believe it:

I rest in this promise

For I know He will keep it.

C.D.

Higher Heights

Recently, my family and I took my two cousins and my aunt (Mom’s sister Becky) out to the coast, near Malibu, California.

Just out of Malibu there is a massive rock that sits on the ocean side of the road in a very prominent place. Since it is at the point of a minor bay, it can be seen from quite a way off.

About half way between the beginning of the bay and the massive rock, is a sandbank that rises very high against a large, steep hill. We have climbed that sandbank in the past, but this time my cousin Lynnwood challenged us guys to try to scale even to the very top of the ridge. This is no easy task, as the cliff is about as vertical as it could get without actually being vertical. The cliff is made up of loose rock, sand, sagebrush, and small bushes, as well as cacti and yuccas.

So as all the other sand climbers took it easy and remained content with their view of the ocean, my Dad, Lynnwood, my brother Asher, and I took up the challenge to reach the ridge.

As I, in flip-flops, struggled up the hillside, slipping and sliding on the loose rock, my mind pulled itself out of its nothing-box and began to think.

Way down at the bottom were lots of contentedly happy and comfortable people who could see the ocean just fine, while we four crawled up the rugged hillside as if trying to imitate Frodo and Sam ascending Mount Doom. Yet every time I turned around and focused on the ocean, I was impressed by the beauty of the higher perspective. As I climbed closer to the top, my perspective of the ocean became more and more complete. I could see nearly the entire bay in one glance. When I finally summited the summit, the view was extraordinary. I could see the wooded green hills that extended farther beyond my ridge. I could see the blue ocean shimmering in the sunlight. I could see the massive rock saluting the opposite point. And I could see the little people far below enjoying their very limited perspective of this marvelous sight. They had no clue.

Such is life. Many people have a fine view of God. They are not sinning nor in rebellion toward God. They see Him and love Him, but because they are not willing to scale new heights and dive to new depths, their perspective of God remains limited and shallow.

Greater perspective of God takes greater struggle. Our hearts are drawn toward pursuing greater heights, but often we get so enamored with the sea level experiences that we do not do what it takes to experience God in greater ways. And sometimes, in our struggle, others can look at us, or we at ourselves, and think we are doing things wrong; but in reality our struggle is born out of our pursuit of a greater perspective of God.

The glorious characteristic of Jesus is the fact that He loves us no matter where we are at—even if we are running away from the “ocean” [God]. This characteristic intrigues us and compels us to pursue this awesome, mysterious God.

I am challenged to search my heart and identify what is keeping me from pursuing a greater perspective of God. I believe anything that obstructs my path to God is an idol and should be destroyed. Unfortunately, I not only am unable to destroy such obstructions on my own but I often hang onto them. I thank Jesus that He continually calls me and gives me opportunities to let go of those things which are too close to my heart. I want to continually surrender them and submit to His love for me and His love for His own glory.

As a Child of God, Heaven is the ultimate height I am pursuing. Heaven has the greatest perspective. Heaven is the only reality. One day, we, the Adopted of God, are going to wake up in Heaven and everything that happened on earth will be outshone by the brilliance of Heaven. It will be like waking up from a dream. We might not forget life on earth, but it will be of little significance compared to magnificent Heaven.

What amazes me, though, is that, from my understanding of the Bible, apparently seeing the face of Jesus will be so awesome that seeing my mom’s face will be a glorious but minor benefit. Now that will be an awesome experience.

Let’s keep embracing struggle and pursuing greater perspectives of God.

May God bless your journey.

C.D.

In Pictures

2013-03-16 15.42.302013-03-16 16.23.37   2013-03-16 17.21.272013-03-16 17.09.06  2013-03-16 17.28.382013-03-16 16.47.402013-03-16 16.31.592013-03-16 16.32.312013-03-16 16.51.15