Chase the Road

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I often get the urge to run. Not run literally as that would require much more physical exertion than I’m willing to produce most days, but run from things I mean. I almost have this twisted notion that the answer I’m seeking can’t possibly be found where I am it has to be somewhere else. It’s not in logic that I’ve reached this conclusion. Emotions have a mind of their own.

Instead of me doing the running I volunteer a substitute—my car. He’s remotely spruced up, has zero to sixty capacities in all of about 30 seconds, and will do just fine for the adventure. Without thinking I find myself in any odd direction losing track of the reason I am driving in the first place. Driving itself becomes the purpose. You see it’s not that we’re unaware of what we are trying to escape, because deep down I think we really are. More often than not it’s that we don’t know what we are seeking.

Freedom is a funny thing to chase. As one may discover we don’t exactly have the power to free ourselves from what is holding us captive. We must be freed by a stronger, greater force. One that in fact has a key. God, He has the key. Most of what I find myself running toward is God. Not like God is as visible as you or me necessarily, but in many ways He is. In the ocean I see God. In a smile I feel His warmth. At a word of conviction I feel His pull. ‘Straighten up kid I’ve got big plans for you, don’t you know?’

If we stopped focusing on what we’re running from and put our attention on who we’re running to the answers wouldn’t be all that important. The prize is already ours.

The Art of Letting Go

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I’m not sure when it happens. I suppose it’s a gradual sort of thing. The loosening of a grip, a long release of breath, the raising of a white flag—It’s not always a measurable process. For certain, surrender will change your life.

I watched the waves today. The ebb and flow, the catch and release. The hands of the currents tug back and forth. Wondering how if all the universe fit so perfectly, so succinctly, why must we try to control every bit of it ourselves? With God as the Creator, the mastermind behind all visible and invisible things, what could we add to what has already existed?

If we truly believed– believed with all our heart–that our prayers didn’t just hit the ceiling and end but traveled all the way to Heaven, our perspective would change. Then we would know every plea, every tear has been seen and heard. Our endless conversations are not floating in a void somewhere or lost in our imagination. We are heard and we are acknowledged. There’d be no need to handle everything ourselves.

I believe most people hold on to control because they feel a lack of choice, rather than a desire to carry the burden. But you must know this weight you feel was never meant to be carried by you. It’s far too heavy. You’ll never make it on your own.

Love breaks chains. I have experienced it. The more loved you feel, the less approval you seek. The less weight you carry the more freely you can enjoy life. This acceptance is not to be taken lightly. Completely humbled I find myself on my knees time and time again in response to the unimaginable grace of God.

We are rescued from a life of slavery so we can freely worship God without fear (Luke 1:74). The time is ripe. We must redeem the hours with praise, song and worship. The hours will not redeem themselves. We are invited to participate in the master plan of the universe. Don’t miss your cue.

Give My Life to You

You see a hurting soul on the street and think he was meant to find someone else. Watch as daggering words are thrown across a room and remember they can be forgiven but never erased. You could intervene, speak now, but instead shrink back into the solace of self. Why do we often feel God is calling everyone but us to make a difference in the world? Why do their qualifications appear adequate and ours don’t make the cut?

You are in no way unqualified for the work God is calling you to do. The world may look down on your weakness, but God sees you as a prime opportunity to display His power—Bursting forth like a floodlight through one humble soul.

We’re only given one shot to make an impact on the world before we have to leave it. This day will never happen again. Every word you speak cannot be taken back and every good deed you pass up may never be accomplished. Please, love with an urgency because there is not much time left. God is calling you out of the comfortable, out of the familiar into the great unknown. It may seem frightening but isn’t regret more? Salvation pours down from Heaven, falling from the scars of Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone leave your presence without this hope.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
 because the Lord has anointed me
 to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
 to proclaim freedom for the captives
 and release from darkness for the prisoners -Isaiah 61:1

They sharpen their tongues like swords
 and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. – Psalm 64:3

If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light. – Luke 11:36

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Featured song: Give my Life to You by Elevation Worship

I can hear you
You’re calling my name
The ocean between us erased

And salvation
It pours down like rain
Flooding my walls till I break

I give my life to you
My heart to you
You’re all I need
Come and make me new[2x]

I abandon
The weight of my sin
The weight of my loss and my pain

Relief swells
Like air in my lungs
And freedom releases my shame

Jesus Christ, take our lives
We won’t waste another day
Holy God, fill our hearts
We won’t ever be the same>

Stay

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In common culture there remains an unfortunate idea: when things become difficult you are no longer obligated to stay. Go, if you please, to another place where peace and prosperity await you and life no longer boggles you down with troubles. The problem (among many) with this principle is that when things turn sour we need to stand our ground if we ever plan to accomplish much of anything. Take for instance divorce or sickness, bankruptcy or joblessness. It may seem like the easier option to flee but doesn’t say much for our character if we do.

In relation to the Christian life each believer will at some point come to the conclusion…life is hard. While I know this may seem obvious to some, to others maybe not. Many assume entering in to a life of fellowship with God will eradicate one’s life of troubles, pain and heartache, but this is not the case. The Bible reverberates of stories in which men and women of God undergo trials of many kinds for differing purposes: sin, testing of faith, refinement/endurance. While the target of such trials is the ultimate glory of God, the unveiling of the human heart and genuine fellowship, the end goal does not make the trials themselves any less difficult.

My hope in writing this is to convey to you: don’t lose heart, don’t let go, and don’t stop moving forward. Sometimes progress seems so small we can’t find a measurement fit to view it, but it is imminent. God’s purposes will be fulfilled and you will come out the other end if you stay planted.

I have found much solace in this particular passage from time to time:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. -James 1:2-4

If you are undergoing trials you are in good company…with me, with our forefathers of faith and with Jesus Himself. All suffering will end, if not now then upon the return of our Lord Jesus. But it will end. In the mean time ‘Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.’

There will come a point when all tears, all questions and all doubts add up to nothing. All that matters is you made it out of the shadow of darkness and into LIGHT. This hope has kept me enduring even through the most volatile of circumstances. Because at the end of the day I can proclaim that my God is good and “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71)

Lord God give us the strength to endure each leg of trial which comes our way. For whatever purpose you have allowed these afflictions in our lives we agree they will produce for us deeper faith and greater obedience, all of which are your ultimate good for us. In the mean time, help us to become people of character, people of endurance and people who stand their ground in the storms of life. Teach us how to stay.

“Stay” Big Daddy Weave

via YouTube

I’ve seen the flash of lightning

I’ve heard the rolling thunder

I’ve felt the crashing of the waves

And though I’ve known Your Presence

and been filled with wonder

Still there are many things that pull me away

Don’t let me go, hold me close because

I don’t want to hurt You anymore

I don’t want to waste another day

‘Cause it breaks Your heart, it breaks Your heart

When I keep walking away

You know what it means to sacrifice

But You tell me that it’s better to obey

You’ve giving me a thousand brand new starts

Jesus, give me what it takes to stay

I’ve felt Your hand of mercy through my darkest failures

And on the other side You’ve covered me with grace

And like a child lost and afraid, You come and find this runaway

And in Your loving arms You bring me home again

But what’s it gonna take to make me stay

I don’t want to hurt You anymore

I don’t want to waste another day

‘Cause it breaks Your heart, it breaks Your heart

When I keep walking away

You know what it means to sacrifice

But You tell me that it’s better to obey

You’ve giving me a thousand brand new starts

Jesus, give me what it takes to stay

Break my heart with what breaks Yours

Until You’re all I’m living for

Show me what it means not just to believe but to remain

The Heart of God

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Have you ever wondered what the heart of God is like? In time those of us who know the LORD discover a level of understanding about His character. We see in scripture He is a loving God, a merciful Father & a friend of sinners. It makes sense in human terms to show love to those who love you in return, but even further than that God shows love to those who don’t even love Him back. And if that alone doesn’t blow your mind, He even has mercy upon those who do evil—so much so that He doesn’t wish for them to perish. Instead, He desires for them to repent and come home.

There’s a lot I don’t understand about the world… like why some people’s lives are full of suffering and others seem struggle free. I don’t have the wisdom to grasp why God allows certain things to happen and yet in His ability halts others. I’ve come to know, however, the more we try to “understand” God the less we allow ourselves to be in awe of Him. What I mean by this is when we are trying to figure Him out, we’re seeking to know why He does the things He does. But the entire character of God is in His mysterious persona. If we could understand God, He wouldn’t be God. He is in His very nature beyond comprehension.

If you’ve never been told this before I think it’s time: You DON’T need to understand everything about the world or everything about God in order to trust Him. Actually, trust in itself implies that we don’t know where the road is going next but we keep on trekking.

I came across this striking passage of Scripture the other day and felt it was worth sharing:

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekiel 18:23

We have a tendency as humans to assume that God is like us. It sounds funny even writing this but what I mean is we have the presupposition to think He reacts or would react to people the way we would. Even those of us, while we are being changed from glory to glory, can fall into a trap of judgment. We can look at others and assume God’s grace has limits, but it does not. It is so far-reaching in fact that God himself takes NO DELIGHT in the suffering of His people, even the disobedient ones. While we may look at others and assume, based on their lives of destruction, God would want to keep accounts—and He does—but not to the effect we think. He keeps accounts but only until a little something called repentance takes place. And God wants ALL people to repent and return home to Him.

None of us are good. It doesn’t matter how righteous you think you are or how many good deeds you’ve done, the fact of the matter is we are all sinners. I don’t necessarily like to think of myself as a bad person, but the Bible tells me that in my flesh there is nothing good. Even more so the closer I grow in my relationship with God; the more my apparent inadequacy is revealed! Why? Because God is so perfect, so Holy, so pure that even one sin makes us unworthy to be in His presence. This is why we need Jesus to cleanse us and bring back the right standing with God that existed in the Garden of Eden.

If we as Christians are aware of how sinful we are how much more should we offer grace to others! If God Himself wishes for each and every heart to repent, we too should desire the same. No matter how badly we’ve been hurt, or how cruel the intention those around us have been in our failure we need to see God’s heart for what it really is… INCLUSIVE. Please, seek to include ALL PEOPLE in your plea for God’s mercy. Because God does not want even one to perish.

Luke 15:7

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

Joy verses Happiness

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I enjoy strolling through bookstores from time to time. I’m sure many of you do as well. What I find interesting is that on any given subject one could locate a book pertaining to the topic of happiness—more specifically HOW to attain it (For example: exercise, cooking, positive thinking etc.). This seems like a good idea, right? I mean we all desire to be happy and maybe even to remain in that state for a while. Happiness is all-well and good don’t get me wrong but did you know emotions such as happiness are only temporary. They are circumstantial, based on feelings (which are not very trustworthy or stable) & fleeting.

While the world wants us to attain happiness what they’re really saying is that we only need to aim for TEMPORARY HOPE. Because happiness often comes crashing down when things start to fall apart or bad news comes. One could act ‘happy’ but inwardly feel lost. Since it’s such a passing emotion why not aim for something a little more stable? How about a level of ‘happiness’ or ‘contentment,’ which circumstances cannot rob? Sounds good to me!

This is called “JOY.” At first thought one might assume joy is merely a heightened level of happiness. But truthfully joy has very little to do with how we actually feel. It really has to do with what we know or rather whom we know. I’m talking specifically about Jesus Christ.

When you read scriptures such as James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” it may seem confusing. How could one be joyful all the while in the midst of chaos? Is that even possible? Yes, yes it is. You see there exists a peace, which comes only from knowing the Lord. This specific peace cannot be shaken by the mountains and valleys of life. See, joy comes from knowing the LORD. In fact, the “fullness of joy” is found by living in His presence.

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Really in order to maintain joy we fix our attention on Jesus and the future HOPE of eternal salvation! When we are looking up we can’t also be looking down. The joy doesn’t necessarily come from our own life. We can be content in ANY circumstance (Phil. 4:12) as long as we keep in mind where we are headed. And for those of us in Christ Jesus we are headed toward Heaven.

Even Jesus himself was able to endure the CROSS by keeping in focus the bigger picture, the joy YET TO COME—the joy that was GOING TO BE His after He was faithful unto death.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What I’m really saying is that JOY is eternal and happiness is temporary. Why not seek something that will last? HOPE will get us through our darkest times. The joy YET TO COME is what produces for us a here and now endurance. So keep your head pointed toward HEAVEN. Despite what things look like now joy can be yours if you focus on Jesus and the future awaiting you in His presence.

He IS Risen

My heart could literally burst with joy at the sight of people running to the arms of Jesus this Easter morning. There is nothing that compares to this hope. Truly the same power that raised Christ from the dead is ALIVE and well today! Through the Spirit, it is at work in each of us who have claimed Him as our own. Oh the JOYOUS SHOUTS of Heaven the day Jesus was RAISED to life! Yet still two thousand years later praises of celebration ring from Eternity to Eternity. He died as much for persons in Scripture as He did for YOU and ME; That we might be set FREE from the power of sin and death and made alive in the hope and truth of Jesus. Talk about a reason to CELEBRATE! Happy Easter indeed!

Acts 2:47 “all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”

2 Timothy 1:10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”