Jeremiah 33:3

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God’s Cry…

I love when God stirs my heart so violently that it shakes my stubborn hands into action. Sometimes He’s subtle and soft in His encouragements and guidance. Sometimes He is loud and uncomfortable and abrupt in His will. And then there are some times when He so clearly answers the cry of my heart that it is almost eerie–He answers so directly and so specifically that it leaves me wonderstruck.

This is one of those times.

It would not be a typical day if I didn’t question my true faith and obedience to the Lord at least a dozen times.  I feel like those are natural thoughts for an individual striving to know Christ more, love Christ more and trust Christ more.  There is this common misconception that Christians have some supernatural grasp on their faith and their walk with the Lord. But the fact of the matter is, the more you think you have figured out, the less you probably know.  Christianity is not meant to be comfortable and “figured out”. It is a faith of overwhelming humility and neediness. That constant state of tension is a beautiful thing–it reminds us how little we have figured out. It reminds us how desperately we need Him.

The more and more I have talked to non-believers and believers, alike, the more and more uncomfortable I’ve become with the state of Christianity today.  We are living in an age of hypocritical Christianity. We have churches void of Spirit. We have “Christians” void of faith. And we have lost and hurting people void of Light.  On one side, we have people SAYING they love Christ, but living lives guided by this world.  On the other side, we have people scorned by the guidance of this world, simply HEARING about Christ’s love.  But if there is no example being set, there is no Light being shined. If we are only saying and hearing, rather than DEMONSTRATING and WATCHING a world be healed through Christ’s love, we all simply find ourselves sitting in the DARKNESS.

We, as believers, are called to be the body of Christ. His hands. His feet. His love in a lifeless world. People need not to simply hear about that love, they need to see it and feel it and know it is real.  That is a big responsibility. But that is the call of our lives. One of the most heart-changing sermons I’ve ever had the privilege of sitting under was delivered by Francis Chan at Passion Conference 2012.  In the middle of his message he was telling a story and brought up the fact that God does not listen to all prayers…

 
–What? Hold on…That’s not what I’ve been told in the past. What ever happened to God hearing our cries? What ever happened to the all-knowing God? The one who loves and listens and answers all of our prayers…? What do you mean He ignores some?–

Chan continued on to address a verse that has since mesmerized me. Isaiah 1:12-19 says…
 

“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

 

Wow. If that stirs your heart as much as it stirs mine, I imagine you’ll need a moment to catch your breath.  What overwhelmingly convicting scripture.  What a call-out…

 

If you find that you’re upset right now, you should be. But I want you to take a moment to think about WHY you are upset.  Are you upset because you’re offended that God may ignore you at times? Is it because you think it’s unfair and judgmental that He would be selective in who He listens to and who He answers? If so, shame on you.

 

Or are you upset by this verse because you claim that you’re in a loving relationship with Christ, yet your promises and offerings and commitments to him are often shallow. I claim that I love Him, yet I rely on my own guidance. I rarely trust Him. I rarely take His words as literally as I should. I rarely act on the stirring of my heart.  Who am I to cry out in prayer for Him to bless me with things and do things in my life and help me, when I ignore Him the majority of the time.  What type of loving relationship is that?

 

As the body of Christ, as His hands and His feet, who are we to call out for His blessings when we are defiling His Kingdom here on earth with our lack of love and trust and faith in Him? We should be embarrassed of ourselves. As “Christians”, and as a church. Amos 5:21-24 goes on to say…

 
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” 

These verses have weighed so heavily on my heart lately.  I constantly cry out to God, yet I ignore Him when He cries out to me.  Healthy, loving relationships are not take-take relationships. They are give-and-take. They are balanced and developed in love. I found myself crying out to God the other day. Crying out for His blessings and His adornment in my life. Then I sat down at my computer and pressed play on my iTunes. Suddenly, He cried out, back to me…

The songs you sing My heart has grown to hate them
The meetings of the saints are all in vain
Under steeples marked with crosses I see darkness
For sin abounds under false pretenses

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other

If you lift up your hands I will not see them
Even though your many prayers I will not hear
For My pleasure is not in the sacrifices
But in the righteousness of the heart that makes it

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other

Your sins are like scarlet, but they will be white as snow
You wear evil like a garment, but I’m giving you a brand new coat
And if you are willing to live by all My commands
You will know Jesus and you’ll drink from the Father’s hands

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other

Psalm 91:4

“He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” –Psalm 91:4

There is absolutely nothing to fear about tomorrow; for God is already there. He is a protector and a comforter, a great hope in times of trouble. Rest in faith and live by #GodsOdds.

Redefining Our Perspective

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” –Psalms 39:4-5

It is no secret that our days are numbered. Our lives are short. Our time is ticking.

It is no secret that this scares many people. That it paralyzes our actions. It defines how “safe” and “careful” we live our lives.

This principle and this fear causes us to calculate our every decision based on earthly value. As if this life is all we have to live. As if we are in control of our own clock. As if treading lightly and unnoticed in this world leads to lasting sustainability.

But what if you died tomorrow? What if you died right now? Would your lightly-treaded path of “safety” and “security” leave footprints that impacted the future? Or would your light fade with the setting sun, and your path be overgrown with the weeds of time?

I think many of us live our lives with ourselves at the forefront of our motivation.  Many of us approach our days with the idea that we are the masters of our own universe, the captains of our own ship.  Many of us have a zoomed-in perspective of what God can and can’t do in our lives. And while we say we trust His power, we still consciously and subconsciously clench tight to the steering wheel and base our decisions around our OWN understanding and our OWN perception of life’s magnitude.

Recently in one of my grad school courses, we were studying the idea of perspective.  We came across a photo that showed a pretty phenomenal occurrence. And while my mind was certainly intrigued, I was unaware at how transformed my heart would soon become. Look at the picture below:

You can see where this driver broke through the guardrail, on the right side of the culvert, where people are standing on the road, pointing.  The pick-up was traveling about 75 mph, from right to left, when it crashed through the guardrail. It flipped end-over-end, bounced off and across the culvert outlet, and landed right-side-up on the left side of the culvert, facing the opposite direction from which the driver was traveling. The 22-year-old driver and his 18-year-old passenger were unhurt, except for minor cuts and bruises.

As I stared at this photo, I couldn’t help but marvel at the unbelievable fortune of the two young people in the car. I couldn’t help but try and figure out how, exactly, that truck had flipped in such a manner. How it had avoided striking the concrete outlet and how little damage the body of the truck had received. And I certainly couldn’t help but stare, stunned, at how the car landed and how blessed the driver and passenger were to have left the scene unharmed.

I caught myself murmuring a small prayer. Praising God for His awesome protection and splendor. Praying for the hearts of the boys in the vehicle. How I hoped they realized how blessed they were to still be alive, and how I hoped they recognized how God’s hand had truly guided their truck with perfect intent. Their days could have been numbered far fewer. But, by the grace of God, they were given the opportunity to live. I sat wondering how they now used that gift.

I wondered if God had revealed Himself to the occupants of that truck in a similar way He had revealed Himself to me in my car accident. (For those of you who are just finding their way to this blog for the first time, I encourage you to read the “My Story” portion of the blog so you can see how God saved my broken life through a similar circumstance.) I smiled at the thought of His protection in the photo, then as quickly as I had been emotionally moved by the picture, I felt as though I emotionally grasped God’s splendor in that instance.

That is until I turned the page of my textbook and saw the exact same photo from a wider perspective…

This is the same scene, zoomed out. You can see the culvert, you can see the truck.  But this time, you can see that the truck is actually resting precariously on the edge of a deadly cliff. The truck is resting inches from a drop that would have undoubtedly cut the number of the kids’ days very short.

As I stared at this photo, I found myself utterly speechless. Where I had jumped into prayer before, I found myself stunned to silence now. Not simply due to the sharp chills that sliced down my spine when I saw the gut-wrenching photo, but because of the message that flooded my heart almost immediately.

You see, this was an academic lesson on perception in the media. But for me, this was a heart lesson on perception of God’s magnitude.  Our fragility. And the value of the days we are rewarded through Him.

I wonder how often in life we base our praise for our King off of the zoomed-in perspective of the first photo.  How often have we zoomed-in solely on our own life and the amazing work He has done in it, and fooled ourselves into thinking we were seeing the full picture? You see, when we live life zoomed-in, we unknowingly place God in a box. We unknowingly calculate our praise worthy of the grace we can tangibly understand. We unknowingly limit ourselves and our potential in Him to what we think He can do through us. We wear blinders to our full potential in Christ. We wear blinders to our full potential impact in life.

But look at just a taste of what MORE there is we are missing! Look at just a taste of what a zoomed-out perspective holds in store! Are we living day-to-day giving zoomed-in praise to a zoomed-out King? Are we essentially praising one single tiny thread amongst a quilt of glory? Are we seeing the big picture? Or are we missing the grandeur of His feats because all we care to see is ourselves in His plan?

Our days are numbered and every single morning that we are given the opportunity to wake up, we must take advantage. We must commit our lives, fearlessly, to living for our King. Even when we can only see the zoomed-in view, we must commit our lives to serving a God with a zoomed-out plan.

When we try to control our own lives, we do just about as good of a job as the guy who was trying to control his pickup truck. We are bound to lose control and flip over the guardrails of truth. Thank goodness we serve a God that can land us safely and give us another opportunity. Thank goodness we serve a God that designed the big picture and is ALWAYS able to rescue us from far worse than we even know exists.

We serve a Sovereign God that is so much bigger, so much grander, and so much mightier than we will EVER be able to comprehend. We serve a God that cannot be boxed in. We serve a God that has no boundaries, no limits, and no chains. And we serve a God that LOVES US SO MUCH that He offers us the ability to host that Spirit of grandeur within ourselves through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Take a look at your life. Are you treading lightly or are you stamping powerful footprints in His name? We are called to live BOLDLY! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are called to live a life that is worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to live a life that glorifies a zoomed-out King! How can we do that when we are playing it “safe” and basing our potential around the limitations of a zoomed-in world?! If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you host a Spirit of INFINITE possibility within your heart! There is NOTHING that you cannot achieve through faith.

I want to live a zoomed-out life. I want my reliance on God’s guidance to be radical and selfless and bold. I want to redefine what this world says is possible and rewrite the books of possibility in HIS NAME! I want to wake up every morning and say to God, “USE ME! Use me however You need. Use me in whatever capacity, with whatever challenges, and under whatever scrutiny You know that I can handle. Fill me with Your limitless strength and energy and use me as Your tool!”

Are you willing to pray that prayer? Do you believe in His sovereign plan? Do you trust that there is a zoomed-out picture that holds more grace and beauty and magnitude than our zoomed-in minds can even understand? Do you truly trust God? Do you trust that He will protect you and use you as He sees fit? …Then let Him.

Our days are numbered. Our lives are short. Our time is ticking. How will you use yours to glorify God’s name?

The only thing more dangerous than allowing others to put limitations around what you can achieve, is allowing yourself to believe them. Live fearlessly. Live boldly. Live zoomed-out. Live by #GodsOdds.

Life Is A Coin…

This particular post is not my own original writing. I received this message from my mom, and found such beauty in the illustration, that I wanted to share it with you all. I hope that, above all else, this inspires you. I hope it encourages you through your hardship and nurtures patience and trust in your heart.

 

Malachi 3:3 says: ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’

 

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: ‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’

He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’

————————–

If you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

“Life is a coin. You can spend it anyway you wish, but you can only spend it once.”

BACKGROUND

 

“Background”
(feat. C-Lite)

 

[Chorus:]
I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the leadIt’s evident you run the show, so let me back down

 

You take the leading role, and I’ll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I’m sticking to your script, and I’m reading all your signs
I don’t need my name in lights, I don’t need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I’m just going lose my soul
And my ways ain’t purified, don’t live according to Your Word
I can’t endure this life without Your wisdom being heard
So word to every dance, a foe, a pop star
‘Cause we all play the background, but mine’s a rockstar
Yeah, so if you need me I’ll be stage right
Praying the whole world will start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
‘Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessing
That I’m not that impressive, matter of fact
I’m who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar
 

I had a dream that I was captain of my soul
I was master of my fate, lost control. and then I sank
So I don’t want to take the lead, ’cause I’m prone to make mistakes
All the folks who follow me, going end up in the wrong place
So let me just shadow you, let me trace your lines
Matter of fact, just take my pen, here, you create my rhymes
‘Cause if I do this by myself, I’m scared that I’ll succeed
And no longer trust in you, ’cause I only trust in me
And see, that’s how you end up headed to destruction
Paving a road to nowhere, pour your life out for nothing
You pulled my card, I’m bluffing, You know what’s in my hand
Me, I’m just going to trust you, You cause the dice to land
I’m in control of nothing, follow you at any cost
Some call it sovereign will, all I know is you the boss
Man, I’m so at ease, I’m so content
I’ll play the background, like it’s an instrument
 
I know I’m safest when I’m in Your will, and trust Your Word
I know I’m dangerous when I trust myself, my vision blurred
And I ain’t got no time to play life’s foolish games
Got plenty aims, but do they really Glorify Your name
And it’s a shame, the way I want to do these things for You
Don’t even cling to you, take time to sit and gleam from You
Seems You were patient in my ignorance
If ignorance is bliss, it’s ’cause she never heard of this