Saturday, April 25, 2015

More Than You Can Imagine

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. According to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!”
Ephesians 3:20-21

Last summer my family hiked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.  (You can read about our adventures starting here).  Many of the cities we traversed had massive, old cathedrals at their centers.  These ornate, burgeoning structures were literally awe-inspiring.  It was not difficult to see what had captured the imaginations of these ancient artisans; on every available edifice you could find paintings of creation, biblical battles, and Mary the mother of Jesus.  And in numerous alcoves along these massive walls stood statues depicting the apostles, the prophets, and Jesus Himself in various scenes.  All one had to do was look upward towards the ceiling to see the entire story of the Bible unfolding before their eyes. It was if the brushstrokes of the painters purposed to draw your eyes heavenward in reverence.  The story of God captivated these devout people of old.  Does it still capture us today?

I don’t think so.

I think, today, that we are wowed by the glitz and the glare and the general glamour of everything that sparkles.  The story of God has been put on the shelf.

But, we get excited about CrossFit.

And March Madness.

And politics. Especially when an election year is approaching.

We are passionate about vaccinations. Or lack of them.

And GMOs.

And homeschooling.

And public schooling.

And grass fed beef.

We consume ourselves with perfect parties for our one year olds.

And social media.

And furniture from IKEA.


Does this seem strange to you?

The Westminster Catechism can assist us with this.  It asks the question, “What is chief end of man? (or in today's language, "What is our purpose?) And to help us, it also answers and tells us, “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

So…if we are supposed to be glorifying God, but yet we are fascinated with everything but God and, in fact, we think that God is outdated, archaic, even distant, then we are neither ENJOYING HIM nor GLORIFYING HIM.

That means we are not fulfilling our purpose.  Do you understand the problem here? The problem is that WE ARE WASTING OUR TIME!

In Romans 1:21, Paul says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Do you see the irony?  This is like us.  We know God.  We don’t glorify him when our minds are occupied with everything but him.  We don’t give thanks to him because we don’t meditate on the grace he has given.

We need to stop.  We just need to STOP.  And we need to look long and lovingly on the majesty of God.  We become what we behold.  I don’t want my thinking to be futile or my heart to be darkened by distraction.  I want to behold the holiness of my Savior. And I want to become like him.

The focal point of our interests has become OURSELVES--selfie anyone?—but we need to focus on the One that actually is God, not on those things that have become our “gods”.  When we place anything in the spot that God should inhabit, that thing is our idol.  God commands we aren’t to have any of those…but I do, don’t you?  Because I get wrapped up in the here and now and forget that it’s only a vapor.  But what I really need to do is look up, like our fathers of old, and remember that the old, old story is not about me.


Friends, please listen.  I plead.  It’s foolish to run after other fulfillment.  God knows what is best for us.  It’s Himself.  And He’s already given everything we need.  Let’s be captivated by his lavish love and caught up in his grace. 

He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.  He’s already done it.  It’s called salvation—when he took our sin and gave us his righteousness—remember? 

Think about it. Let it capture your imagination.

It’s awesome. And mind blowing.

He’s just that kind of God.


Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 
Colossians 3:2

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. 

Psalm 84:10

Friday, April 24, 2015


Guess what?  God loves you. And He loves you lavishly.

You need to believe this.

Why?  Because beliefs determine feelings.  It’s true.  #preachit

People throughout history have believed wrong things. These wrong beliefs, in turn, led to wrong feelings.  These wrong feelings produced dishonor, disunity, and disorder. Sincere feelings do not guarantee honorable activity:

Let’s start at the very beginning…
Think Eve. Or Hitler. Or Jim Jones.  How about Osama Bin Laden? #howboutyou

Or how about in literature?  Romeo and Juliet? Romeo believes that Juliet is dead, feels distraught and kills himself.

How about in everyday life?  Do you ever believe something that isn’t true?  Sometimes I believe my husband doesn’t care about me, so I feel like he’s not a good guy.  But that’s not true.  He is a good guy and has my best in mind.  I must believe the truth.  Because my beliefs determine my feelings. #feelingslie

It’s like that with God, you know.  You don’t feel his lavish love for you because you don’t truly believe He’s good.  You don’t fully trust He’s got your best in mind.  You can pin as many “Jesus thinks I’m a princess” memes on your Pinterest board as you want, but until you think rightly about God, you will not feel treasured.  #truth

So, what will change us?  What will help us believe what is actually true?  Choosing to use that transformed mind the Lord has so graciously given you (Romans 12:2) and making your feelings align with the powerful Truth of God.  When you say, “I have faith in you God,” you are saying, in essence, “My belief is based in what you say is true, God.”  That’s why it is so important to have a Biblically-based worldview.  Much of what you see, hear, even feel, in this world is a lie, but what you read in the Bible is truth. #allthetime

When you have solid theology, it primes your mind to think rightly.  Good books that challenge your thinking and make you have a broader view of God are belief-building.  When God gets bigger in your mind, you hunger for more of Him.  AW Tozer says “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  If you feed truth into your mind, your believing will be accurate and your feelings will follow. #itsscriptural

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45

That’s why God makes such a big deal about faith in the Bible.  Faith defined is complete trust and confidence in someone or something.  That’s why, when Mary and Martha believed Jesus was too late to help their now-dead brother, Lazarus, they felt grief stricken and hopeless.  But Jesus showed up, said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God? (Matt 11:40)  God shows His glory to us when we surrender our wrong beliefs to Him. #hesamazing

Want to know HOW God loves you?  Read the Bible.
Want to know WHY God loves you?  Read the Bible. (Spoiler: It’s not because you’re so great)

God has no needs.  He doesn’t love us out of need.  People have needs.  People love out of need.  People have trouble loving other people when those people don’t meet their needs.  God is not a person. #hallelujah

Here’s the scoop guys; God is able to meet ALL your needs according to his riches in glory (Phil 4:9).  But, you don’t believe that do you?  You think someone with skin  here on the earth will be able to meet all of your needs. That is wrong thinking, and it is leading to wrong feeling.  If you believe rightly that God is your need-meeter, feelings of contentedness will follow.  Spiritual laws are no different than natural ones.  If something is true (gravity always pulls me downward), it is always true. It doesn’t matter if you believe it. #trusthim

What can you do to feel loved by God? 
1. Believe that God loves you #hediedinyourplace
2. Stop trying to prove your worth by what you do #youwillneverbegoodenough
3. Believe that you are saved by His grace #freegift
4.  Trust Him enough to give up control #yourlifeisnotyourown
5.  Surrender your identity. Your worth is not in what you do, but in what He has already done #itisfinished

Believe Him!  Enjoy Him!  Let Him Love you Lavishly!


 And I pray, that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Broken Man (repost)

I originally published this in 2010, but thought it appropriate for Good Friday 2015 as well...

 "A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross." 
 Mark 15:21

“Abba! Abba! Take us to the city so that we can see all of the festival preparations!”

“And the people! Take us to see the people, too, please?”

“Yes, Alexander. Yes, Rufus. We will go soon. We will walk into the chaos of the Passover celebration! Have you some sandals to wear, Rufus? It is a long journey from Cyrene to Jerusalem.”

“Yes, I have them, Father, and I will not complain.”

“Let us go then, my sons, you must follow me closely. Stay by my side.”

It seems we have been walking for days. My legs are shorter than my brother’s and my father’s, so I must jog a little now and then to keep up with them. My sandals and my legs, covered with dust and dirt, look the same—gray. My mouth is so dry that I can’t spit; I wish I could spit since my mouth feels gray too. I want to ask my Abba when we will get there, but then I stop myself because I remember that I gave my word. I will not complain, and asking about getting there might sound like complaining. I want my Abba to be proud of me—to think I am a man.

Abba said to follow closely. I have not taken my eyes off of him. But now, I am distracted by the high voices I hear in the distance and I look farther ahead. I smell good smells too. I am hungry, but I will not complain. I think we are almost there.

Finally, we enter the village! Bright colors, strange sounds, dirty animals, rushing people! So much activity! But I will stay close. I must not take my eyes off of my father. He knows where we are going and I don’t want to get separated from him.

I see some soldiers with frowns on their faces. Beside them is a man. I think he is sick. Or maybe hurt. His clothes seem dirty and stiff—do they have blood on them? He is carrying a very big piece of timber, but it seems too heavy for him. He looks very tired. I think he has been beaten—see those gashes on his back? He is trying to carry the wood across his chest like he is carrying a baby. I guess it would probably hurt him to carry it on his bleeding shoulders. The log is so heavy, he is just shuffling along. He is not wearing sandals.

I cannot look away. I am supposed to keep my eyes on my father, but I must look at this man. I want to help him! Without asking, I rush into the road where he travels. The mean soldiers stop me and roughly push me aside. My father steps out to grab me, but the biggest soldier grabs him instead!

Alexander yells “Abba!” and starts to cry, but I watch in silence as they make my father take the big timber from the hurting man. I want my father to be proud of me and I do not cry. Now my father is carrying the heavy load. He carries it on his shoulders because they are not bleeding. The soldiers grab the broken man and they pull him quickly along. But he cannot move quickly. His head is down and he is moving slowly and sadly. My father cannot move quickly either and he is scared that he has lost us. I call out to him, “We are here! We will follow you!” and both of them look up—my Abba and the broken man. The broken man looks at me…he is crying… and now I cry.

There are so many people—throngs and throngs of people! Do they not see the broken man? Do they not see my Abba? I am still crying, but my brother is holding my hand. We make it to the top of the hill. It is ugly—this hill—it looks like a skull.

The soldiers take the log from my father and they lay it down beside the broken man who has fallen to the ground. Then, my father rushes back to us. I can smell his sweat as he pulls my brother and I into his scratchy cloak to shield us from the horror.

But I know what is happening. I can hear the hammer. They are pounding big nails into the broken man’s wrists. They are crucifying him. My father told me about crucifying—it is a punishment for criminals. But this broken man is not a criminal. I could tell this broken man was a good man because when he looked at me he cried.

My father is leading us away, but I look back. I see that the broken man has been put up on a cross—his wrists are still nailed to the log my father carried, and his feet are nailed to a post jutting from the ground. I know he is dying. The broken man is dying.

And I am sad. Somehow I know, my spirit has spoken, the broken man is dying for me.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5