Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fighting for Joy

My heart deeply longs for my glory. I long to be praised and exalted. I long to be made much of.

Apart from Christ, there is nothing beautiful in me. Apart from Christ, there is nothing worthy of praise in me. Apart from Christ, I am fallen in every way!

This dying world does not need more of me. This dying world needs more of Jesus Christ. When I reflect myself I do not love, for true love points others to what they need most deeply—namely, Jesus Christ.

Moments of abiding joy are moments of self-forgetfulness. They are moments when I stop living and allow Christ to live through me by His Spirit. They are moments when my eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ not myself.

Jesus glorify Yourself in me, because I cannot. Jesus help me lose myself in bringing You praise. Lord help me worship You not me.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Jesus does not call us to do things for Him. He calls us to abide in Him. To know Him. To love Him. When we seek the Lord our hearts will be transformed and our outward actions will increasingly emulate His. He will transform us from the inside out.

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:4-5

We must remain in relationship with Christ. The moment we step away from Him and pursue religion, we are unable to bear fruit, for fruit is born by Christ alone.

Therefore, in seeking to be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient, gentler, kinder, and more self-controlled only one thing is certain: failure. It is futile to pursue fruit we cannot cultivate! We instead need to pursue Jesus Christ, the Fruit-Bearer.

May we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and allow the Spirit to stir our affections for Him. May we rest in our inadequacy apart from Him and our sufficiency in Him.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Have Been Forgiven Much

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:36-47

People who do not know the darkness in my heart may look at my life and assume I am a "good" person. NO! I am not a good person! The good you see in me is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him I am incredibly broken and wayward. I cannot even imagine the life I would now be living if I did not know Jesus. It is His grace and love which restrains me from pursing the treasures and pleasures of this world.

Countless times I have rejected Christ. Countless times I have defamed His glory. Countless times I have rebelled against Him. My love and passion for Jesus Christ stem from deep awareness of my own failings. Truly I have been forgiven much!

While I was still sinning against Him, Christ died for me. He who knew no sin became sin for me so that in Him I might become the righteousness of God! Who am I to know Christ? Who am I to know freedom and healing in Him? Who am I to know perfect love? Who am I to know unending joy? Who am I to have the hope of Heaven because I have the Son?

I pour out my life for Christ not to be more spiritual or to be a better person. I pour out my life for Christ because I know how incredibly, incredibly, incredibly unworthy I am to know Him! In response to His free gift of life and forgiveness my heart fills with indescribable gratitude. He gave everything for me; the least I can do is give everything for Him!

"You're With Us" by Hillsong United

Beautiful God

Laying Your majesty aside

You reached out in love to show me life

Lifted from darkness into light

King for a slave

Trading Your righteousness for shame

Despite all my pride and foolish ways

Caught in Your infinite embrace

And I

Find myself here on my knees again

Caught up in grace like an avalanche

Nothing compares to this love, love, love

Burning in my heart

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jesus Help Us Abide!

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5
When our eyes are fixed on Christ and when we are abiding in relationship with Him, Jesus bears fruit in our lives to the glory of God. Consequently, the enemy does not want our eyes fixed on Jesus. He does not want us abiding in relationship with Christ...

The enemy will do everything in his power to draw our eyes from Jesus. He will do everything to make us trust in our own strength. He will do everything to make us believe we are sufficient in ourselves. He will do everything to keep us from God's grace in Jesus Christ.

To accomplish the described ends I believe the enemy deploys three tactics:

First, the enemy uses insecurity, comparison, shame and worry to draw our eyes from Jesus to ourselves. If we are in any of the described states we are not trusting fully in the Gospel and our eyes are not fully fixed on our Savior: If we feel insecure we are no longer finding security in Jesus and allowing His power to be perfected in our weakness. If we are comparing ourselves we are no longer turning to Christ for our sense of worth. If we are living in shame we are no longer finding our identity in Christ's righteousness. If we are worrying about the future we are no longer resting in God's promises, trusting He will provide and work for our good in all things.

If the enemy is not feeding us lies about our inadequacy, he is feeding us lies about our sufficiency. He convinces us we do not need Jesus in our day to day lives. He convinces us we can advance the Kingdom of God in our power. He convinces us prayer is a waste of time. He convinces us we do not need to petition the Spirit of Christ to move; we can move forth in our own power. He persuades us we can produce holiness and we can break free from captivity. He tempts us to trust in our righteousness rather than Christ's.

Finally, I believe the enemy pulls us from relationship with Christ by tempting us to find satisfaction in the world. He tempts us to build broken cisterns that cannot hold water. He tempts us to believe everything is not a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ. He tempts us to trade Jesus for the fleeting pleasures and treasures of this life.

Oh Spirit fix our eyes on Jesus. We desperately need Your power. We are weak and prone to wander. We are easily deceived. Oh Jesus help us abide in relationship with You. Reveal Your surpassing greatness. Help us find satisfaction in You. Perfect Your power in our weakness. Help us decrease that You might increase! Bear fruit in our lives as we abide in relationship with You.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Fruit of Surrender

The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We each are under God's wrath and we each have merited deathor eternal separation from God.

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. He was tempted in every way and yet He was without sin. He was, therefore, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all men.

Luke 22:41-42 describes Jesus praying to the Father before His crucifixion: "He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:41-42).

Jesus knew He was to be crucified. He knew He was to carry the weight of the world's sin. He knew He was to experience the wrath of God and experience Hell on behalf of sinners. In great anguish He pleads for His cup to be taken from Him, but it cannot be removed. He is the only hope for sinners, and knowing this to be true, Christ chooses to submit His will to the will of the Father. This is anything but an easy surrender.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
-Isaiah 53:10-12

Ultimately, because of Christ's submission to the will of the Father, Jesus justifies many. His obedience was not in vain! Christ's obedience, moreover, provides an example for His followers. As Christians we are called to radical obedience to Jesus. We are called to submit our wills wholly and completely to His.

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." -Luke 9:23

Such a call is not an easy call. It is a call to death and suffering. Like Jesus, however, we can come before the throne of God and express our distress. We can tell Him we do not want to deny ourselves and carry our cross, and we can petition the Spirit of Christ to carry out what we cannot.

Christ's obedience was not in vain, and neither is ours! In dying to ourselves and allowing Christ to live through us our lives bear fruit to the glory of God. This world is not our home. Our lives are but a mist that appear for a little while and then vanish. Our purpose on this earth is to know Christ and make His name known.

In submitting His will to the will of the Father, Christ justified many. In the same way, in submitting our will to the will of Christ, our lives can be used to justify many! What a beautiful and sweet moment it will be to see the fruit of our obedience in Heaven! What a beautiful and sweet moment it will be to cast our crowns at the feet of our Savior!

Let us look to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Let us follow His example in the power of His Spirit. Let us die to ourselves in this life and submit our will to Christ's that others might also be justified by faith.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Healing in Christ

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

-Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12

These words speak life to my soul. Jesus Christ offers so much more than legal forgiveness of wrongdoing and sin. He offers complete healing, restoration and resurrection to new life!

He took up our infirmities.

He bore our sin.

He was pierced for our transgressions.

He was crushed for our iniquities.

He carried our sorrows.

By His wounds we are healed.

Sin—sin committed by us and against us—is the root of all our wounds. To think Jesus died a gruesome death on the cross to heal us of the very things which crucified Him is inconceivable!

How many of us still carry sorrows! How many of us still live in shame, regret and guilt! How many of us have yet to experience forgiveness and how many of us have yet to allow Christ to anoint our wounds!

Jesus is calling to us, "Give Me your pain, shame, and sin. Allow Me to carry your sorrow. Allow Me to take up your infirmity. Allow Me to bear your iniquity."

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16). Jesus knows all. We do not need to hide from Him. We can enter His presence and acknowledge every sorrow, wound, sin, fear and doubt to Him. In return we can receive His healing Word and new life.

Let us thus approach the throne of grace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lead Us Back to You

Oh Jesus we are harassed and helpless
like sheep without a shepherd
Our wills weak
Our love small

Oh Jesus we are wandering
chasing after other lovers
but You Jesus
—You Jesus we have forgot

I am the good shepherd
the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep

I am the good shepherd
I know my sheep and my sheep know me—

just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—
and I lay down My life for the sheep

Oh Jesus, You bore our sins
in Your body on the cross
so that we might die to sins
and live for righteousness
By Your wounds we have been healed
for we were like sheep going astray
but now we have returned
returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls

Oh Jesus take upon Yourself our adulterous love
and give us love anew
Oh Jesus lead us back
—lead us back to You

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bittersweet Will of God

There is a huge difference between God's will and asking for God's blessing upon man-made plans: We unearth God's will only when we submit our will to Christ's. This is a horribly painful process, for it requires us to die. We must die to every dream, hope and ambition of our making. In adoration and praise we must break our alabaster jar of perfume at the feet of Jesus. We must surrender all to Him.

This is so much easier said than done. My pursuit of Christ is often conditional. I will follow You, Jesus, if...

Do I, however, want the gifts or do I want the Giver? What truly is my treasure?

Surrender is so intimately connected with trust. We can only give Jesus our lives if we believe He is faithful. We can only give Jesus our lives if we believe He works for our good in all things.

When I reflect on the times in my life when I was not walking in surrender—when I was not submitting my will to Christ's—I can blatantly see a root of distrust. I did not believe Christ would work for my good. I did not believe His will and timing were better than my own. Consequently, I took life into my own hands, and without fail this always led to brokenness and heartache.

Though I remain faithless Jesus remains faithful, and slowly He is teaching me the joy and beauty of surrender. He is showing me I can trust Him with my heart. He is showing me His plans are always better than anything I could plan for myself.

Jesus knows my heart better than I know my heart. He knows what makes it break. He knows what makes it come alive. He knows my fears. He knows my doubts. I can enter into His presence and freely acknowledge all to Him. With tears I can tell Him how little faith I have. With tears I can give Him my heart and offer Him my life. With tears I can submit my will to His.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
-Psalm 51:16-17

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Poem of Surrender

Oh Jesus I come with clenched fists
With many tears I kneel at the cross
With great resistance I pry open my hands
With great resistance I offer You my heart

Oh Jesus I come with clenched fists
With many tears I kneel at the cross
Slowly my hand opens to You
Slowly I offer You my heart

Oh Jesus I come with clenched fists
With many tears I kneel at the cross
Again I pry open my hands
Again I offer You my heart

Oh Jesus I come with clenched fists
With many tears I kneel at the cross
This time my palm opens more easily
This time I offer You my heart

Oh Jesus tonight I come with unclenched fists
With many tears I kneel at the cross
Freely I offer You my heart
—You sweet Jesus have earned my trust

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Army on its Knees

I stand in a war-torn valley
—before my eyes I see bones
Bones that are very dry
Can these bones live?
Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:
I will make breath enter you,
and you will come to life
I will attach tendons to you
and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin;
I will put breath in you,
and you will come to life!
A rattling sound echos forth
the bones come together, bone to bone
the tendons and flesh appear on them and skin covers them
but there is no breath!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Come from the four winds, O breath,
and breath into the slain, that they may live!
Immediately before my eyes breath enters the slain!
They come to life and stand up on their feet
a vast army!
Oh army, hear the word of the Lord Almighty:
Not by might nor by power,
but by my Spirit
Oh army, hear the word of the Lord Almighty:
Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still
Oh army, hear the word of the Lord Almighty:
They will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you to rescue and save you
Oh army, hear the word of the Lord Almighty:
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you
to fight for you
against your enemies
to give you victory!
Oh army, heed to wisdom of the wise:
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was Your right hand, Your arm
Oh army, heed the wisdom of the wise:
Through You we push back our enemies;
through Your name we trample our foes
I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but You give us victory over our enemies,
You put our adversaries to shame
Oh army move forth
—move forth army on your knees
If My people, who are called by My name,
will humble themselves
and pray and seek My face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land
Oh army humble yourself
Lament and mourn
Pray and seek His face
His power is made perfect in weakness
He crowns the humble with victory
He is the vine
—you are the branches
apart from Him you can do nothing!
Humble yourself, oh army, humble yourself!
—move forth army on your knees
Oh army move forth
—move forth army on your knees!

Arise Oh God!

I see the children of God

—before my eyes I see an army

And looking forth I weep

Countless are spewed upon the cold earth

Wounded and bleeding

—their wounds festering from infection

And looking over to the enemy’s side

I see a hundredfold held prisoner—

The chains are so heavy upon them!

Oh how my heart hurts!

This is not an army in victory—

It is an army in complete and utter defeat

Arise oh God!

We need your power!

We need your strength!

Come oh Healer and anoint our wounds

Come oh Liberator and set us free

Come oh Holy One and make us holy

Oh Jesus we are dying

We need living water

Quench our parched lips with the water of life

Oh Jesus we are dying

Bury us with You through baptism into death

In order that just as You were raised from the dead

Through the glory of the Father

We too may live a new life!

Oh Spirit crucify the old self

That our decaying bodies of sin might be done away with

That we should no longer be slaves to sin

—because anyone who has died has been freed

Oh Triune God from the soil of defeat bring victory!

Oh Triune God from the soil of death bring life!

Oh Triune God from the soil of brokenness be glorified!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Christian Dating

Within Christian community I believe an area of significant confusion and gray area is dating. How can one honor Christ in dating? What does a godly dating relationship look like?

I have been contemplating relationships recently. When it comes to Christian dating I am just as clueless as the rest. In the past I looked to other couples for wisdom and guidance, but a few days ago the Lord spoke to me saying, "Why do you always look to others for wisdom? You know more about relationships than you think, because I have given you wisdom."

I want to share the vision the Lord has impressed upon my heart:

In past dating relationships I completely froze up once a title was assigned. I felt bound to the other person. I felt as if I had to forsake all ties with other men because if I maintained these relationships I was being unfaithful. I also felt extremely unfree. I am a very deep person, and I love knowing others well. Within dating, however, I felt restricted by boundaries of what I could and could not say. Ultimatley, this left me feeling like I was being untrue to myself and in response I completely shut down.

I have been reflecting on the later, working through my response to dating. What I have realized is that dating is in essence a quasi-marriage. A marriage is two people sharing all of themselves with one another. A marriage is two people becoming one, forsaking all others. Within dating I made a commitment which felt like a marriage commitment, but I had not yet arrived at a place where I could forsake all others. Moreover, dating had the form of oneness, but I could not yet be one with the other person. It is no surprise I felt bound and unfree!

The more and more I seek the Lord, the more and more I am convinced that God designed romance for so, so much more!

When I was a child I had an innocent, romantic heart. My heart was deeply moved by romance, but as I got older and experienced heartbreak and failed relationships I became disillusioned. I honestly stopped believing in true love. My romantic heart died, but recently the Lord has been reviving it, showing me true romance does exist. I know true romance exists because I have seen it in the way the Lord pursues my heart and wins my trust.

A woman's heart is designed to be pursued. She longs to be cherished, loved and valued. A man's heart, by contrast, is designed to pursue. He is designed to arise to the challenge of offering his strength and winning a woman's heart over time.

Forsaking ties with all others and being fully committed to one person is what a marriage is intended for, not dating. Dating instead should be a time of pursuit. It should be a time of a man winning a woman's affections over time, earning her trust and proving himself worthy of the treasure of her heart. It should be a time of intentionality. A time of a man and a woman spending intentional time getting to know one another.

Defined relationships bring with them expectations. When care is expressed because it is expected it loses its power and beauty. Defined relationships also often lose the intentionality of a man pursuing a woman's heart. Because a commitment has already been secured, a man no longer feels the need to arise to the challenge of winning a woman's heart. Consequently a couple's time together becomes shallow. The couple spends time together, yes, but watching a movie together and spending time in the same room does not equate true relationship.

I truly believe all of life is meant to reflect the Gospel, and romance and relationships are no exception: Christ pursues the hearts of the disobedient and wayward. He initiates. He gradually wins a nonbeliever's trust and affections over time. This represents the season of pursuit, the season of a man winning a woman's heart over time. (Note that it is the man, not the woman, who initiates and pursues, for in Ephesians 5 we are told husbands represent Christ and wives represent the Church, or the bride of Christ.) Eventually a nonbeliever comes to a point of decision, a point when he or she finally says 'Yes' to Christ. This point represents engagement, a time when a woman finally agrees to be married to the man pursuing her heart. During the season of engagement the man and woman are not yet married—not yet fully one. They await with joyful anticipation the day they will be united as one in marriage. In the same way, we, the bride of Christ, await with great anticipation the day when we will be united with our husband Christ:

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

-Revelation 19:6-8

I do not in any way claim Christian couples should not enter into committed relationships. I know many couples who have done so with great success, but I think we should also not assume this is the only way. If anything, I hope this post causes you to think about your own opinions about dating, thereby compelling you to personally seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance.

With love,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who is Jesus to you?

I love to prayer journal, and tonight as I was journaling I realized my entry was entirely focused on myself, lacking even a hint of adoration or praise. I was taken aback as I realized my relationship with Christ had waned from a vibrant love relationship to a bland business transaction.

By all means we should come to Jesus with our requests and burdens. We should confess our sin and ask Him to transform our hearts. If, however, our communion with Christ ends here we are completely missing the point of the Gospel.

Jesus died a gruesome death on the cross not simply to make people with better morals, but to restore a broken relationship!

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Christ], 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. -Colossians 1:19-23

Isaiah 59:2 says: "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." Because of our sin we were alienated—separated—from a holy God, but in Christ every sin has been erased, making us holy in God's sight. As Colossians 1:19-23 says we have been reconciled to God the Father!

Thus, by the blood of Jesus we can intimately and personally know our Creator. We can experience His love, and we can learn to hear His voice. Jesus wants to free us from our sin. He wants to empower us to advance His Kingdom and glorify Him. But above all else He wants to be with us.

Though we are faithless He remains faithful. He never stops pursuing us. He never stops showering us in His relentless love and beauty. We simply need to be still and abide.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our Purpose is Worship

In John 9 Jesus heals a blind man, and later Jesus and the man have the following dialogue:

35 Jesus heard that they [the Pharisees] had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said,“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. In this simple verse we find the entire essence of Christianity summarized.

When we accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness our life is hidden with Christ’s. Jesus takes upon Himself our sin and He gives us His perfect, spotless record of righteousness. From the moment of true, saving faith we are justified in God’s sight. We stand before the throne of God without blemish and free of accusation. We are holy in God’s sight not because of our holiness but wholly because of Christ’s.

How quickly we base our standing before God on our holiness. How readily we base our justification on legalistic obedience to the law. How quickly we move from the hope held out in the Gospel!

Christ has already fulfilled the law. Why do we so adamantly seek to add works to Christ’s finished work on the cross?

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” -Galatians 5:4

Let us not be alienated from Christ any longer! Let us return to the Gospel. Let us abandon our works at the foot of the cross and meditate on His completed work. Let us believe and worship. Let us fix our eyes ever on Jesus, and may the Spirit stir our affections for Him.

Monday, March 7, 2011


What does it mean to be blessed?

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit [those who are not spiritually proud and self-sufficient],
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn [over both personal and corporate sins],
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek [those who walk humbly before God],
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who hunger and thirst for personal righteousness and justice for the oppressed],
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful [those who extend the mercy they have freely received],
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart [those who are pure in mind, will and emotions],
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers [those who promote peace],
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness [those who are persecuted for righteous living],
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 5:3-10

The Christian might not be blessed according to the world’s standards, but the Christian is deeply blessed according to God’s. We share in the eternal joy of salvation. We are co-heirs with Christ, and ours is not a temporary kingdom but an everlasting one: “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” (Daniel 7:27). Great is our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12), and our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12:28-29).

Friday, March 4, 2011


It is so challenging to be content and rest in the season of life the Lord has me in. It seems—regardless of my circumstances—that I am always longing for another season of life. Perhaps you can relate.

Discontentment robs me of all joy. In focusing on the blessings I do not have I ultimately fail to appreciate the blessings I do have. Discontentment, moreover, reveals where I am finding my joy.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
-Hebrews 13:5

Circumstances vary and change. Life inevitably lets us down. But Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never will leave or forsake us.

True contentment is found in the unchanging Christ, and true contentment is learned. The Apostle Paul says: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). The secret to which he refers is an abiding relationship with Christ. The nonbeliever depends on the things of the world for joy, but the Christian must learn to find his or her joy in the Lord.The Christian must learn to fix his or her eyes not on temporary circumstances but upward on Jesus—moment by moment and day by day.

May we find enduring contentment as we fix our eyes on Christ, the true treasure.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” -2 Timothy 4:2-4

We live in a culture that caters to the individual. A culture that wants everyone to feel accepted and validated. Our culture frequently—and might I add tragically—spills over into the Church.

What is truth? To many truth is relative. Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. Truth depends on one’s subjective opinion and perspective. I refute this view. I am wholeheartedly persuaded there is one absolute truth—a truth that is independent of one’s opinions and perspectives.

As Christians we enter into very dangerous waters when we begin to think like our culture—when we view truth as relative rather than absolute. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Inspired by God Himself, the Word of God is not open to personal interpretation. Scripture contains one truth—and that is the truth determined by God not man.

We must not shape Christianity to man, but man to Christianity. We must, moreover, be weary of man-made religion disguised as ‘Christianity’; religion rooted not in Biblical truth but human philosophy. Salvation is not relative depending on one’s personal understanding. Salvation is absolute and the only salvation that is truly saving is the salvation rooted wholly and completely in the Word of God.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” -2 Corinthians 5:7

Faith is confidence in what we hope for. It is assurance of what we do not see.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” -Romans 4:18-21

Faith is unwavering trust in the promises of God. It is the full persuasion that God has the power to do what He has promised.

How can we, however, be confident in hope and assured of what we do not see? How can we have unwavering trust in the promises of God?

“But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” -2 Corinthians 1:18-20

Every promise of God is ‘Yes’ in Christ. Every promise. In this knowledge comes confidence and assurance.

May we walk by faith not by sight. May we hold unswervingly to the promises of God, being confident and assured every promise is ‘Yes’ in Christ. May we transfer our will to Christ’s, and may we walk in wholehearted surrender knowing that God’s promises are not baseless but a guarantee.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Beautiful?

As women there is great, unspoken pressure to be “beautiful.” Beauty as the world defines it is an endless, exhausting pursuit. Its focus on external appearance rather than the heart, moreover, renders it superficial and hollow.

Behind every woman’s pursuit of beauty I believe there is a desire to be loved and cherished. The world tells us to fulfill this need in earthly relationship and romance, but our heart’s deepest longing for love can only be met by Jesus Christ.

The world’s logic is this: Become beautiful so that you may be worthy of love. God’s logic stands in complete opposition: You are loved in your imperfection and messiness. You are deemed worthy of love not because you have earned it, but because of sheer grace. It is in this love that we become truly beautiful.

Jesus Christ is beauty in its fullest expression. Beauty cannot be conjured or created. Rather, beauty is a heart completely and fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. Beauty increasingly manifests itself in our lives as we decrease and allow Christ’s Spirit to consume us.

As women I think it is healthy and glorifying to take care of our bodies and attend to our appearance, but this should never be what defines our beauty. Our beauty should be defined by Jesus Christ. If you are like me you probably have built your perception of beauty on the world’s lies rather than God’s truth. Thus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to renew our minds with Scripture:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
-Proverbs 31:30

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
-1 Peter 3:3-4

Sister, you are loved in your darkest. You are loved unconditionally by the perfect and holy God of the universe. Rest in His great love and allow His beauty to permeate your life.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blessings to Come

Watching the godless prosper—while I meanwhile struggle in this life—challenges my faith.

My hope is in Christ. He is my treasure. I no longer live for myself, but for Him, and as I pursue Christ and submit my will to His, I do not always encounter prosperity and blessing. If anything, my life is marked by great suffering and pain.

When my eyes drift from Christ hope increasingly gives way to hopelessness. My non-believing friends encounter increased blessing in this life, while I encounter increased heartbreak.

Today the Lord brought me to Malachi 3:14-4:2. It deeply blessed my heart:

“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

41“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

To follow Christ is to suffer. It is to deny yourself, carry your cross and follow Him. Our suffering, however, is not in vain. Hebrews 11:6 promises He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Our treasure is not in this world, and our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Let us hope in the glory to be revealed. Let us cling to God’s promises, and let us fix our eyes on Christ. Let us continue to count the things of this life as rubbish compared to His surpassing greatness.

Praying we may rejoice inasmuch as we participate in the sufferings of Christ, that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Follow Christ We Need Christ

In John 15:5 Jesus tells us we can do nothing apart from Him.

Do we believe we can do nothing apart from Christ? Do we believe we can bear no fruit on our own? Do we believe our sanctification rests solely and completely on God’s work not ours?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

-Galatians 2:20

Christ dwells in the heart of every believer. Why then do our lives so often fail to reflect this reality?

Christ’s sinless person cannot be recreated by sinners, for Christ’s person cannot—and need not—be recreated. The resurrected Christ lives, and His person is only reflected in our lives when we allow Him to live through us.

When we submit our lives to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to live through us we experience the fruit of Christ’s life. We experience victory and triumph over sin, because Christ was victorious and triumphant over all sin. We experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, because these are the attributes of Christ Himself.

Let us hold fast to this truth: Christ lives in us and He lives victoriously in us. We can do nothing apart from Him, but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Heart of God is a Heart After the Nations

I am naturally a faithless and disobedient person. My heart is wayward and twisted, and my sinful heart did not—and could not—choose God. I was enslaved to myself, and I was the worst of captives—a captive unaware.

Despite my rebellion and betrayal God never stopped pursuing me. He looked upon my captivity and His heart was grieved. He longed to set me free. He longed to give me true life. In His great mercy He unblinded my heart to the glory of His Son, and He gave me faith to accept such a precious gift.

Once His enemy, He now accepts me as His daughter. He has made me an heir to His Kingdom. He has clothed me in garments of righteousness. He has broken my chains and He is healing my heart.

I deserve none of this. I deserve nothing but God’s justice. I deserve death. I deserve to be cut off from God forever.

God’s grace humbles me. In the deepest revelations of God’s love come the deepest pains of anguish. Millions upon millions are unreached by this Gospel. They cannot call on the name of the Lord and be saved because they have never heard His name. They are blocked off from the truth, and without Christ’s righteousness to cover their sin and shame they will perish for an eternity. As my heart fills heavily with the love of God I can do nothing but weep.

We have but one life. The riches and treasures of this life will all fade away. The souls of men and women are alone eternal. May we humbly come before the God who loves us and ask Him to reveal His purposes for our lives. May we faithfully submit to His perfect will. May we deny ourselves in this life and carry our crosses that others may share in our great hope.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Great Reward

As Christians we want life to be easy—and not only want but expect. We pursue faith hoping to obtain the goodness of this world and the goodness of Heaven at the same time. We indulge in the pursuits of this life, hoping all the while to enjoy the life to come.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” -1 Peter 2:9-10

We are a chosen people, a holy nation, God’s special possession that we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

When we conform to the world around us we fail to show a dying world the ultimate worth of Jesus Christ. Jesus no longer is our treasure. He is no longer our great reward.

We can joyfully forsake the things of this life, because this world is not our home. What appears to be loss is actually gain. This life is but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. All is rubbish compared to His surpassing greatness.

These are truths I need to continually remind myself of. It is so easy to stop hoping in Heaven and trade Jesus for the things of this fleeting life.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

When I don't want to carry my cross...

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. -1 Corinthians 2:14

Without the Spirit’s empowerment I cannot embrace the cross with joy, because the cross is foolishness to me. Walking in the flesh, the cross symbolizes painful sacrifice, suffering and death. I don’t want to suffer and I certainly do not want to die.

In moments such as these I run not only from the cross but also from the cross bearer. I deafen my heart to the Lord because I do not want to hear His call. I blatantly reject His presence. I become defiant and disobedient.

In escaping the suffering of the cross I ultimately suffer. Life apart from Christ is empty, joyless and unfulfilling. I was made for Jesus and it is only in His presence that my soul can rest.

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” It is easy to hear this call and fail to hear the last part: follow me. We do not carry our cross alone. Jesus comes with us!

Bearing the cross apart from Christ is unbearable, but bearing the cross with Christ is joy and life. All is rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him and as Matthew 28:20 promises He is with us always—to the very end of the age.

May we be humbled and encouraged that the Lord has come to call not the righteous but sinners. May we freely acknowledge our deficiencies and boldly proclaim that apart from Christ we can do nothing. May we ask for an outpouring of His grace. May the Lord embolden us by His Spirit to comprehend spiritual realities. May the cross appear as it truly is—beautiful—and may we embrace it with joy. May we never separate the cross from the man on the cross. May we abide in Him, and may Christ be glorified as we are crucified by the Spirit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Daily Deaths

To follow Christ is to go against every value of this culture. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says: “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Unlike the world, the Christian does not live for him or herself but for Jesus Christ.

The life of faith is hard. There is an unseen battle for our wills. A daily battle.

It is in moments of testing that me of little faith questions what I am doing: Why am I putting all of my hope and trust into something I cannot see? Why am I seeking first the Kingdom of God rather than this world? Why am I passing opportunities to advance myself in this life?

Though I am faithless, the Lord remains faithful. His Spirit speaks truth to my heart: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

The truth is I am surprised when trials come, and I am distraught when the Lord asks me to make costly sacrifices for His glory. My flesh clings to this world. My flesh wants to be successful in this life. My flesh wants to become greater not less.

The Spirit within me sheds God’s overwhelming love abroad in my darkened, sinner’s heart. It is in the Spirit that I am given renewed strength to walk in the way of the cross. It is in the Spirit that I am reminded that my daily death to self pales in comparison to the price Jesus paid. The Son of God who knew no sin died a gruesome death on a cross that I might have eternal life. I have been bought with His precious blood and my life is not my own. All I am is His. I exist to bring fame to His name. I exist to glorify Him forever.

2 Corinthians 4:13-12 says: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” As Christ was crucified, so are we crucified. Crucifixion is an excruciating process, but as Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him, so also do we bear the cross for the joy set before us. To live is Christ and to die is gain! This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in Heaven. May we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

Lord flood our hearts with Your relentless love. Grant us the grace to be crucified to self that You might live through us. May we accept Your call with thanksgiving and joy, and may we have fellowship with You as we partake in Your sufferings. May we count all as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing You.