Right now, it probably seems as though a lot of your life is not going the way you want it to. I know that’s how I feel. If I had a magic wand, there are dozens of things I would change about where I am and what’s going on. My guess is, you’d like to borrow the wand when I get finished with it. The funny thing is, you probably don’t feel that way about some of the things in your past anymore. I’ve found that the longer people walk with Jesus, the more they start to embrace their past as being part of a story God is writing or a tapestry He’s weaving together to bring them here from there. It doesn’t even matter all that much how bad some of those things from the past were. As people grow in the Lord, they look back over disappointments, confusions and even tragedies to find evidence of God at work. This is part of the paradox of having faith in Christ. When we’re in the midst of troubles, we find ourselves struggling for answers and doubting the love of God. When we make it out of those same troubles, we look back and see the Lord’s hand, tenderly making a way for us. My hope for my own life is that over time, the gap between straining and praising will diminish. I know that in the end, when my race is run and I’m with Jesus, I’ll look Him full in the face and say, “You did everything well.” May He give us the faith to say those words today and may He give us the grace to know that when we can’t say them, He still loves us.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
When people try to help you feel better about your insecurities, what do they usually do? Do they try to pump you up and tell you how awesome, talented, beautiful and smart you are? Do they cite all the amazing things about you that make you better than other people? Of course they do. That’s how friends are supposed to respond when you feel terrible about yourself. Here’s the thing though; those compliments never really convince you, do they? When your friends try to build you up, it’s never enough, is it? Our insecurities are like bottomless pits. They can’t be filled. When we try to feed insecurities, we just wind up hungrier than when we started. We shouldn’t be feeding our insecurities, we should be starving them. The Apostle Paul does a startling thing at the beginning of his first letter to the Corinthians. He essentially says, “Remember when Jesus called you guys? You weren’t brilliant and beautiful. You weren’t powerful and prestigious. You were ordinary, weak, needy folks.” It turns out that the things we all value aren’t very important to Jesus. In fact, all the things we most want to be only seem to get in Jesus’ way. He doesn’t just want the coolest person in the room, hoping they’ll bring some of their coolness to the Kingdom. He wants to utterly change broken people who need redemption. It’s time to starve our insecurities by embracing humility, accepting who we are and realizing Jesus is crazy about us because He just is and no one can change that. Jesus wants you - with all your flaws, scars, weaknesses, temptations and wrong. He loves you for you and that’s enough.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Why doesn’t Jesus just split the sky open, call a world-wide, live-streaming press conference and prove Himself to be who He always said He was? Wouldn’t that solve everything? Wouldn’t that settle all the debate about which religion is legit? Wouldn’t it answer all our doubts? If Jesus just showed up and proved Himself to be the uncontested King of the Universe, people would have to decide where they stand, right? If He did that, we would all be forced to make room for Jesus, right? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to all those questions, but I know that for whatever reason, Jesus hasn’t revealed Himself in that way. He wants people to trust in Him without having all the proof. He wants us decide to make room for Him in our lives even though we don’t really have to. He wants us to choose to love Him. After Jesus rose from the dead, He disguised Himself. You would think He would be strutting His stuff in front of all the people who had Him killed, but He didn’t. He met with people in small groups and even hid Himself from them. One couple talked with Him on a road and didn’t even know it was Him. When they reached their village, Jesus acted as if He were going further on down the road, but these two people begged Him to go with them and eat dinner with them. That’s what Jesus wants. He wants people who don’t have to hang out with Him to want to be with Him. He wants to be invited into your life. He wants you to bring Him into your day and into your heart because you love Him.
Friday, May 2, 2014
My guess is that you don’t like you very much. I bet you look around at other people, their lives, their talents, their accomplishments their bodies and wish you had what they have. I bet you want to be like them because you don’t want to be like you anymore. Oh, I wish I could give you even a momentary glimpse of the way Jesus feels about you. I wish you could peek into His outrageous affection for you - even for the tiniest fraction of a moment. If you got even a sideways glance of how much Jesus esteems you, it would shock you to the core. I know you probably believe Jesus loves you; but for most of us, our belief in His love is kind of like our acknowledgment that the sun is big. As in, we know the sun is big. We’ve seen the diagrams, but if you were able to actually go into space and get close to the sun without getting burned up, you would be totally overwhelmed by the size. The thing is, Jesus doesn’t just love you, He loves you beyond your ability to comprehend it. And that’s not all. He honors you. He thinks very highly of you. He sees you as His very own child and He warns people not to mess with you because there are angels charged with your care who report to God face-to-face. Don’t miss that. There are Heavenly military forces - eternal, invincible warriors of light who exist to serve and care for you. Jesus doesn’t just love you. He has deployed His best troops to guard your very life. To Jesus, you are the most precious thing in the entire universe.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Why is it that when we need the most help, we will sometimes go anywhere but Jesus? Why is He our last resort? When we’re brokenhearted, we’re looking for a flesh and bone friend to talk to - and if we can’t find a good friend, we’ll settle for just about anyone before we go to the Lord about it. When we’re angry, we’re calling everyone we know and even posting on Facebook about our situation rather than stopping for ten minutes to pray about it. When we find ourselves in the middle of a storm we can’t weather and panic sets in, why don’t we go straight to the Lord? My guess is that we have the same instincts the first disciples had about Jesus. One time, they were in a boat on the lake in the middle of a huge storm in the middle of the night. It was dark, they were scared and they didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, as the lightning flashed, they saw Someone coming toward them, walking on the water. They went from merely being scared to being completely out of their minds with panic and fear. They thought Jesus was a ghost. They probably thought He was coming to scare them to death. He wasn’t a ghost, though. He was their friend. He wasn’t coming to scare or hurt or kill them. He was coming to help them. If they had stopped long enough to pray, they would have asked for this very thing - for Jesus to come save them. We go to Jesus last because we’re still worried He’s after us, but in everything He does, He’s saving us, helping us and loving us.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Are you discouraged or filled with doubts? Do you have a sneaking suspicion that God is angry with you and withdrawing Himself from being close to you? Do you ever feel like you’re worthless or that your life just doesn’t mean very much? Okay, time out. You are under attack, right now. In the Scriptures, God’s enemy has a few different names and titles; but to me, the one that strikes home the most is “the adversary.” When it comes down to it, he’s just against you. He’s your opponent. He wants to take you down and take you out. He does this by confusing you, discouraging you and lying to you about who you are and how God feels about you. He’s so good at his job that most people don’t recognize his attacks at all. When we get discouraged or confused, we blame ourselves and then feel guilty for experiencing perfectly understandable emotions. When we hate ourselves and feel despondent about the pointlessness of our own existence compared to others, we call it humility and we think we’re doing the right thing. If there’s one thing that could completely change the temperature of the daily spiritual battles of normal folks, it would be this: the recognition that a battle is being waged in the first place. The Scriptures are clear when it comes to spiritual warfare. All we have to do is show up. Paul says get dressed and stand. Peter says to simply resist. John says the One in us is greater than the one attacking us. Our biggest problem is simply forgetting that we have an adversary. We blame ourselves, but Jesus knows we are under attack and He wants to fight for us.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Do you ever get frustrated with this world and the way it’s going? Do you ever look around at the people getting more stuff, bigger houses, nicer clothes, better vacations and then realize that you don’t really care about any of that stuff? Have you tried out enough of this busted old world to realize that it doesn’t actually have very much to offer your heart? I mean, let’s be honest - this world has a lot to offer your physical senses. There are comforts, pleasures and delicacies by the truckload, but is there really all that much that can satisfy the depths of who you are? Why is it that the people who have the most stuff, the greatest accomplishments and the brightest spotlights are usually incredibly lonely, depressed and even addicted? This world was never supposed to be our home and the sensory pleasures of this world were never supposed to be able to satisfy our hearts. You were made for a better world. You’re not supposed to be comfortable here. You’re supposed to feel like a foreigner. As believers in Jesus, we are supposed to be pilgrims on a journey to a different and better world - our true home. On Jesus’ last night before the cross, He told His friends that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would come back and bring them to that place He was preparing. That’s why you’re getting tired of this place. That’s why you’re longing for something more. God’s people have always had a healthy dissatisfaction with temporary pleasure. We are only passing through this world. If you find yourself homesick for a place you’ve never been, you know you’re one of His kids.