What I Really Want

What I Really Want

It’s RARE I have a morning alone.  But today is one of those blessed days.   I mean, I love my kiddos and my man — don’t get me wrong — but the kids spent the night at Aunt Jessica’s (after a day of negotiating and some serious 10-year old manipulation.  That kid should be a lawyer!), and the husband had an early morning appointment with a pool.

So, I’ve had some time to study and plan and reflect (and clean) and the Lord has softly spoken to my heart and asked me to share.  I’ll make this quick because the troops will march back home any minute.

Jesus is my first love.  I don’t understand exactly how He has won me over, but He has.  By His grace.  Because heaven knows I’m self-centered and arrogant and without the grace of God I’d be a hot mess.  But His pursuit is real and the more I surrender, the more I change.  And this morning I can honestly say that more than anything in life I desperately WANT EVERYTHING God has for me.  I want to know Him.  I want to be used by Him.  I want to make a difference in the lives of people around me for His glory.  I really do.  My heart aches toward that goal everyday.  And I’m asking Him for it.  Finally.

Everyday.

I don’t always obey.  I don’t always get it.  I fail more than I even want to think about.  I’m so far from perfect and so far from being like Jesus I don’t even know how any of it is possible, but it IS what I want.

Here’s what hit me as I was watering some plants on my balcony: MOST people don’t.  My heart physically hurts this morning, burdened by the reality that most people I interact with on  a daily and weekly basis, at their core do not care about what God wants for them.  At least not enough for it to matter.

Many of them are Christians.  At least they say or think they are one.

It makes me so sad.  Sad is the best word to describe it.  Not like a “You’re so sad you make me sick” attitude.  No.  A genuine sadness born out of God’s love for others.  He so beautifully and willingly wants people’s hearts, wants to bless, wants to give, wants to have a relationship with them, wants to change them, wants to heal them, wants to give them a life of purpose and abundance, wants to LOVE them — but no.

People don’t want what God wants.  People don’t really want God.  They may want the blessings of God, but they don’t really want Him and they don’t want more than anything else the things He wants.

And I’m guilty too.

Which also makes me sad.

There are days that I MORE want success in business, affirmation from people and security in life.  Safety.  Comfort . The American Dream.  I want those things sometimes.  But, once God gets a true hold on your heart and His truth has penetrated your mind, you can’t really stay there.  You go back to Him and slowly but surely your desires change and you just want Him.

I don’t know how it all looks.  I don’t know how it all will work itself out. I just know that with every fiber of my being I want all God has for me and I want it for you too.

What do you really want?


Shutdown Your Faith In Government

When we see moral and cultural decay occur in our country, sometimes our response is to put a lot of effort into getting the “right” candidates elected to office. If we could just gain a majority of people who think like we do, they could outlaw everything bad and sinful and America would be great again, right? But I want to make a statement that, when I realized it, hit me like the proverbial “Mack Truck” Baptist evangelists were always threatening my life with at revivals:

Israel had perfect laws given to them straight from the hand of God. How’d they do with that?

 We have an entire Bible that emphasizes and reemphasizes the fact that the law cannot make a person/people/nation righteous. Righteousness is a matter of the heart, and the law does nothing to change that. In fact, sometimes it makes us worse. For example, if you’ve ever seen a sign that says, “Do Not Step On The Grass,” I would bet you have felt the desire to step on said grass.

I want to be clear that I am not about to say that Christians should completely abandon politics altogether. We should vote, and we should pray that God sends believers into the political arena as there are positive and negative effects to certain policy implementation.

But we should never put our hope for the redemption of people and their lives in politics. Our efforts to win elections should pale in comparison to our efforts to love, serve and evangelize the lost. We cannot legislate the gospel into the hearts of people, and when we try, it usually backfires.

This summer, I asked Stuart McAllister, an apologist for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries about how we as Christians should balance our respect for the right of others to disbelieve with our desire to make “good” laws.  I’ll never forget his answer:

“I don’t know exactly what the answer is,” said McAllister, “but I know this: people tend to get pretty angry when we come at them from a position of power, but they usually respond much better when we approach them from a position of service.”

When Jesus came, the Jewish people, including His disciples, wanted Him to take power and become a king. But His kingdom was not of this world. Yet, with no army, what started with one man and His 12 disciples and a handful of women changed the world. In fact, it seems through the New Testament, and history as well, that the less power the church has the more its influence grows.

If you’re concerned for America, that’s good. But what are you doing about it? If your answer revolves around trying to convince people on how they should vote or listening to talk radio or bemoaning the state of affairs at the water cooler or picketing – I challenge you to take all that energy spent on politics and compare it to your energy and zeal for the Lord.  How does it stack up?

Once again, I am preaching to myself. I had to force myself to stop listening to talk radio because it poisoned me against people for whom Jesus died and made me focus on the symptoms of an illness, rather than the illness itself. We cannot forget that our battle is not with political parties or even other countries, it is with the devil. And there is a Satan-crushing atom bomb that needs to be dropped on the hearts of every person possible called the gospel because only the gospel changes hearts. If you change hearts, politics will take care of itself. So, before we take others to task about how they vote, let’s try to take them to Jesus first.


What if Pope Francis is right?

Pope Francis recently asked if God would forgive those who do not believe in him.  (Read about it here.)

His response, according to the Guardian:

“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”

Now there is a lot of taking the Pope out of context, such as The Independent, which ran the headline “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven.”  I don’t believe that the Pope is saying atheists go to heaven as some papers are trying to say, but it does seem like a plausible interpretation that the Pope is saying that following the conscience is the main thing atheists need to do because going against it could mean sin.

So, is the Pope right or wrong? 

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That’s the wrong question to ask.

Let’s assume the Pope is right, and in some ways I think he is.  I agree that “God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart.”  But I’m willing to go a step further. Let’s just pretend that the Pope really was saying that atheists could go to heaven if they would just act according to their consciences.

Would it be good news if just “following our consciences” was the answer? I say NO.

People are excited about the prospect that the Pope, who is kind of the BMOC of religion in the world, might have said that essentially following your conscience is enough is because of an underlying assumption that people are good.  People are not good.  Their, our, consciences are corrupted.  But even if our consciences were perfect, we all violate what our conscience tells us. So, if following our consciences was the answer, we would all be in trouble.

So regardless of what the Pope did or didn’t say, the real questions to ask are these:

1. Am I truly good?

2. If not, how on earth can I fix it?

The short answers:

1. No.

2. You can’t.

These questions essentially capture the whole story of the Bible.  We’re broken.  From Adam and Eve, (who broke a command) to Cain (who didn’t break a command but still sinned, and I would dare say, violated his conscience) to Paul the great evangelist who cries out from his heart, “who shall rescue me from this body of death?!” we are all sinners.  We are all spiritually dead.

So God intervened and sent the son to take on all our deadness and give us life.  And that’s what the Gospel is really all about.  The Gospel isn’t about making bad people good; it’s about making dead people live.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes (*Present tense) in Him shall not perish, but have (*Present tense) eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17 NASB   “*” denotes editors note.

But for those of you who still think that what the Pope maybe, hopefully said is true, keep reading.

18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”.

 

 

 

 

 


Tired of being told to “Love God More?”

Love God more.

What does that even mean?  If you are like me, maybe you can relate to this:

You are sitting in church, and the pastor says that the most important thing is to love God the most.  You agree, so you decide right then and there that you are going to do just that.  You don’t know exactly what it looks like, but “in your heart” you are just going to will yourself to love God more and that’s that.

Basically, what has happened is that we have reduced love to an intellectual decision.  I think I love God more than anything, therefore I do.  But is that what it really means to love God?  I suppose that it is definitely true that you should think of God above all, but that’s a little dry.  The problem is that our English word “Love” really encompasses a lot of things.  So I’m going to throw out some new words for you.

Infatuated with.  Passionate about.  Appreciate.  Admire.  Fun. Find interesting.   How would like to truly be able to describe your relationship with God in terms like these?  I know these sound more like terms that remind you of your first girlfriend/boyfriend, but that is EXACTLY what I’m going for.

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If you have ever had a significant other, you know that the early days of that relationship are EXCITING!  That person is all you can think about.  You talk about him/her with you friends.  You call them.  You look through all of their Facebook pictures.  Every day is a new adventure, and, whatever you think it means, you start to fall in love with them.

Unfortunately, most of us have never felt this way about God.  But you can.  And he wants you to.  But you will never feel this way about God by willing yourself to “love him more.”

What you need to do is study.  Yes, study.  It sounds yucky and reminds you of school, but hear me out.  That honeymoon phase with your earthly significant other was exciting because you are constantly learning about them, and they are excited to learn about you too.  I’m sure you can think of a time where you had a bad first impression of someone, but came to love them by learning more about them.  Or maybe you thought some type of art or music was dumb, but learned to appreciate it later in life.  Knowledge leads to love.

Unfortunately many of us believe — or go to a church that believes — they have it all figured out when it comes to God.

But you/they/we don’t.

I’ve got news for you, your theology and understanding of the Bible and the great mysteries of God will never be perfect.  Ever.

Maybe the reason you aren’t totally infatuated/in love with/interested in God is because you don’t realize there is so much more to know!  Do you think you truly understand the depths of his love? You don’t.  Do you think you know all there is to know about his character? Nope.  Do you really understand how God is weaving the events of history to the benefit of those who love him? Really.  Can you fathom the intricacies of how God holds this universe together just so you can have life?

The fact is, that God is so majestic and wonderful and holy, yet so personal that there is never an end to “getting to know” or dare I say, “dating” him.

Of course there are doctrines that are set in stone, such as Jesus’ s death on the cross.  And we can be confident of this because they are straightforward in the Bible, and pass the logical tests for truth.  But that doesn’t mean you fully understand it.  It doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to learn, or that some of your doctrines need questioning.

There is a difference between questioning God and his word and questioning your understanding of it.  And if you are willing to humble yourself and let God teach you through his Holy Spirit, he will reveal himself to you in BRAND NEW  ways and you will, in fact, begin to love God more.