Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Get Over Yourself

Do you ever feel as if you are wandering around in life aimlessly without purpose, just trying to keep it together, jumping through the hoops of school, job, family and friends? Sure every once in while you get the glimpse of something more, someone greater, you see the vision for a better way, and you participate in the something greater, the bigger the better, the right and true. But then it fades, the glory dissipates and no longer can you see the majesty of the castle instead you are back in the desolate forest. 

Is this just me? 

I don't think it is.

Why are you here? What is the meaning of life? What are you doing with your life? What is the point of all this?


To him be all the glory and majesty forever and ever amen.

Many of you are not going to like this answer, not just because it's a "Sunday school answer" but because it's not a self help to do list, it's not about you, because guess what it's not about us! None of it! It's not about you and me, it's all about Jesus, He alone is worthy of all the glory and majesty. 

And this is our problem, hey I'm talking to myself here, we think life is all about us, what we should do, who we should be, me me me me... It's tough really really tough because as I have said before we can't seem to get away from ourselves, we go to bed with ourselves and we wake up with ourselves, I even meet myself in my dreams! And our self obsessed, self fulfillment, self seeking, self gratification, self centered culture only perpetuates the problem!

Oh who will save us from ourselves!?


Even as I prayed this morning, I came to the rude realization that my prayers were mostly centered around me!

What can we do!? Is there any hope? 

Yes, I believe there is. Pray the Psalms.

I just read Answering God: The Psalms As Tools for Prayer by Eugene H. Peterson. I want to encourage anyone who wants to pray themselves out of selfishness to read this book. But for those who do not have the time or the desire to read it I will give two recommendations: 
1. Get a prayer partner that you meet with regularly to pray, learning to pray in community
2. Start praying the Psalms, nothing fancy, just do it! Read one a day over and over again until all the worlds have sunken into your mind and heart, then pick up a pen and paper and let the words of your soul flow from that place of deep prayer, don't censor them, just let them flow...

Start right now...

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
    he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
    my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
    but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
    my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
    Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Suicidally Jealous

I have been reflecting on jealousy... I warn you that these are deep, dark, and ugly thoughts...

I am greatly troubled by the hatred, bitterness, and violence of my thoughts towards some people I barely even know, even some people that I actually really like!

Do you know what I am talking about? Have you ever been jealous?  Do you have repeated arguments against a person in your own head? Do you imagine embarrassing them in public, maybe even hurting them physically? Do you wish for misfortune to befall them, you know anything to make them look worse so you can look better?

OK I am sure by this point you are all judging me, thinking who is the lady, she is pure evil! I am not going to argue with you on this point, I am a desperate sinner in need of my Savior's love to transform me, cleansing me from all jealously, and instead producing in me love, patience, kindness, and goodness...

You may be thinking so what I am a little jealous sometimes? What's the big deal? It drives me to do better...

I want to argue jealousy is deadly, and it never stays "a little" it always grows, unless you get rid of it! Let's look at case study...

1 Samuel 18
 Saul's Jealousy of David

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,
“Saul has struck down his thousands,  and David his ten thousands.”
And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”And Saul eyed David (Saul was jealous of David) from that day on10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.
12 Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him.15 And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them.

So Saul becomes jealous of David, and he doesn't deal with it, instead he indulges in it, trying to actually kill David! I know this is an extreme example but I think it makes a good point, Saul fosters jealously for David and it doesn't end well for Saul, jealously is deadly... 

After years of being tormented by hatred, bitterness, and violent hatred, and years of pursuing David trying to kill him, Saul kills himself :

...Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it... (1 Sam. 31:)

Jealously did not kill David it killed Saul. 

I once heard that holding on to jealouslybitterness, and hatred against someone else is like taking poison everyday hoping to kill the other person, when in fact you are only killing yourself!

Are you killing yourself with jealously, bitterness, or hatred? Take sometime to ask the Lord if you are harboring any un-forgiveness towards anyone. 

If/when He brings someone to mind, ask Him by the power of his Holy Spirit to forgive them, to let go of all jealously, bitterness, and hatred, knowing that if you hold onto these things you are only poisoning yourself becoming an angry and bitter person, and you're not in fact hurting them. 

I want to acknowledge that some of us have some deep deep hurts that are not so simple to just forgive in a single prayer. I want to encourage all of us who recognize that we have some deep jealously, bitterness, and anger that we need help with to reach out to a trusted mature Christian, pastor, or councilor, you are not alone in this, there is hope for us, we can be set free from all jealously, bitterness, and anger! 

Did you hear me? 

WE CAN BE FREE! This is the good news! Jesus has come so that we no longer have to be bound up in the chains of jealously, bitterness, and anger, instead we can be free to run and dance with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control!

Are you ready to dance!? Let's dance baby!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Don't Despair! There is GOOD NEWS!

I was reading 1 Samuel 15 this morning... 

Take a moment to read it:

1 Samuel 15 (ESV)

The Lord Rejects Saul

15 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley.Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”
17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
    and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has also rejected you from being king.”
24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lordand the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

What struck me was: why do we so often not obey the voice of the LORD? 

OK maybe we don't have a prophet like Samuel saying to us "Thus says the LORD!" But we do have the Holy Spirit in us, who has been sent by God to be our guide, to lead us into all truth, I'd say that's even better then having a Samuel! 

OK yet I still so often do not listen to the voice of the LORD! I will get a nudging from deep within, and I'll ignore it! Why? Saul says that he didn't listen to the voice of the LORD because he feared the people and obeyed their voice...

Could this be the same for you and I? Do we sometime ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit because we fear "the people" and instead listen to them? 

I think that I often operate out of a spirit of fear, fear that I will not be liked, fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, fear of being left out... fear fear fear!

I far to often ignore the nudging Holy Spirit when He says to me "stay home tonight, and just rest, alone with me," or "don't have another drink, you don't need it, it will not satisfy your thirsty soul," or "don't text him, you are seeking love but he can't give it to you, only I can." All of these are not necessarily bad, I am a social, celebratory, and relational person, this is how God has created me, to be in loving relationships with others, and I believe he delights in my enjoyment in life! But my problem is when I ignore (disobey) the nudging of the Holy Spirit (the voice of the LORD) because of my fears (fearing the people).

Before you throw up your hands in despair and give up, please hear these words that the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy with, "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7)...

You hear that? YOU have NOT been given a spirit of fear! Nope God has given YOU a spirit of POWER and LOVE and SELF-CONTROL!

OK I don't know about you but that is some good news that I need to hear more often... 

I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite verses, I remind myself of this truth whenever I'm feeling discouraged and feel like giving up...

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him" (Phil 2:13 NLT).

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Beyond the Books

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you

Taking a few moments this morning to sit in silence with the Lord I asked Jesus, "What it the one thing you want me to know?" and the answer pressed upon my mind was "That I love you, that you are my precious daughter." 

Although these are words that He repeats to me over and over again, any time I take a moment to listen, I am aware they have not yet taken root in my heart... 

As the Apostle Paul prays over the Ephesians:
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (ESV)
That's it people, JESUS LOVES US, HE REALLY REALLY LOVES US! And it is only in being rooted and grounded in His love that we will be free, filled with the fullness of life, of God.

This is the message God has been repeating to me for the past 3 years, through a variety of means, and I believe it is truly the most important message, JESUS LOVES ME, I KNOW THIS FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO!  

Even with the understanding of the vital life giving truth that Jesus loves me, and the constant repeating of the message, I still fail to grasp the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge...

Recently I was sitting on a sun filled roof top with a friend and she was sharing how she need to take a break from school (we are both at Regent College studying theology) to know God outside of books, that although He is in the books, He is beyond the books...

I thought yup, that's it: we can have all the knowledge of God, and that is good, but it can only take us so far, GOD'S LOVE SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE!

I have a confession to make: this morning as I sat trying to be quite with the Lord listening to His repeated words of love, I quickly got restless, thinking yeah yeah OK I know you love me, and I opened up a book, in search of a word from the Lord that I could mediate on...

in the book I am reading (Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli) the story I read is about a women who is telling her boyfriend that she is a prostitute, this is obviously a very painful and vulnerable task, and as I started to read it I internally rolled my eyes thinking oh so cheesy I so know where this is going...  

after she tells him, he is weeping and whispering over and over again to her... 

I didn't even get to the words before I started bawling, as I heard Jesus' words to me through the man in the story

 "I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you ..."
My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away..." Song of Solomon 2:10 (ESV)
Jesus is calling to us, He is saying "Arise, my loves, my beautiful ones, and come away..." 

Will you listen to His call of love? Will you arise and come away with Him?

I know that I need to, I am desperate for His love, I am desperate to  be rooted and grounded in His love, I am desperate to have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and I am desperate to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that I may be filled with all the fullness of God... 


Oh help me Jesus, please help me, to stay always desperate for you, give me the courage to arise and to come away with you...