Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heart Knowledge

As Christians, we know God loves us, but is that knowledge of the head or of the heart? It is easy to have an intellectual faith; such a belief system seems safe since our emotions are left out of it. Yet we miss out on so much of the life God has for us when we protect ourselves from experiencing Christ's love on an emotional level.

When we can begin to come to grips both in mind and heart with how much we are loved by God as his children, our lives will never be the same again.

--Third Day - Your Love Oh Lord

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Cry for Forgiveness

Tucked away in long-forgotten manuscripts and dusty tomes are some of the best examples of Christian writing ever produced. These precious prayers, prose, and poems by godly men and women of the past often lie undiscovered except by a few scholars. One of my goals is to bring some of these lost treasures back into the light of day, not only for my own spiritual encouragement but hopefully for others to also discover and enjoy.

Today's selection is a hymn by one of my favorite poets, John Donne. Although the word choice may seem pretty archaic, take the time to read the words slowly and carefully. See if you can identify with his cry for forgiveness and his faith that forgiveness will be given.


Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my’ sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin, which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two:—but wallow’d in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as He shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done,
I fear no more.

--from John Donne's Devotions by John Donne


Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Judge

He really messed up this time, Lord.
You should fix him.
After all, he deserves to suffer
for what he did...


Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.

--Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gimme! Gimme!

Remember the song "Count Your Blessings"? I used to sing it as a child in church, but it seems as if it has been years since I last heard it. Why is that, I wonder? Is the advice offered in the song no longer valid? Have we become so focused on what we don't have that we have forgotten to be grateful for what God has given us?

Sometimes I feel like a child with my hand always stretched out to God. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! But God has already supplied all that I really need over the years - food, family, shelter, and so much more - and though harder times may come, I have full confidence that He will continue to take care of me. So why do I fret over the creature comforts I don't have instead of enjoying the ones He has already provided for me?

The answer lies in the fact that many of us live in a perpetual state of ingratitude towards God. Oh, we may be very happy that we've been saved, but do we truly take the time to reflect for very long on what that gift cost God? We may enjoy the good things in our lives, but do we ever stop and consider the truth of the statement that all good things come from God in the first place? The very fact that I can write these words and you have the ability to read them is a direct result of God's provision. How long has it been since we have slowed down long enough to sit and meditate on the awe-inspiring truth that the God of the universe loves little you and me so much that He is willing not only to listen to us but to also take care of our needs?

Living with a grateful, contented heart is so much more comforting than living with one's hand always stretched out for more.

The psalmist says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” But I am afraid that among the multitude of our thoughts within us there are far too often many more thoughts of our own discomforts than of God’s comforts. We must think of His comforts if we are to be comforted by them. It might be a good exercise of soul for some of us to analyze our thoughts for a few days, and see how many thoughts we actually do give to God’s comforts, compared with the number we give to our own discomforts. I think the result would amaze us!

--from The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Longing for Love


Exiled afar from heaven, I still, dear Lord, can sing,

I, Thy betrothed, can sing the eternal hymn of love;

For, spite of exile comes to me, on dove-like wing,

Thy Holy Spirit's fire of rapture from above.

Beauty supreme! my Love Thou art;

Thyself Thou givest all to me.

Oh, take my heart, my yearning heart, --

Make of my life one act of love to Thee!

Canst Thou my worthlessness efface?

In heart like mine canst make Thy home?

Yes, love wins love, -- O wondrous grace!

I love Thee, love Thee! Jesu, come I

Love that enkindleth me,

Pierce and inflame me;

Come, for I cry to Thee!

Come and be mine!

Thy love it urgeth me;

Fain would I ever be

Sunken and lost in Thee,

Furnace divine!

All pain borne for Thee

Changes to joy for me,

When my love flies to Thee,

Winged like the dove.

Heavenly Completeness,

Infinite Sweetness,

My soul possesseth Thee

Here, as above.

Heavenly Completeness,

Infinite sweetness,

Naught else art Thou but Love!

--from Poems of Sr. Therese by Therese of Lisieux


Monday, February 23, 2009

Hard to Trust

Is not easily given
Can be hard to find
Is sometimes cruel, but
From God is everlasting


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.

--Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Undeserved Favor

Sometimes we just need a reminder, whether in word or song, of just how amazing the gift of God's love and forgiveness for us truly is. Enjoy Chris Tomlin's reprise of a Christian classic.

--Chris Tomlin - Amazing Grace


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stand or Fall

As we live this life for Christ, we must be willing to be attacked. Whether the attacks are hurtful but fairly passive, like the rolling of of a person's eyes or a slight smirk when you mention Jesus, or severe like in the cases of the recent martyrs of Orissa, India, the enemies of the our faith will go to great lengths to stamp it and us out. The question is, will we stand strong or abandon our high calling?

--Natalie Grant - I will Not Be Moved


Friday, February 20, 2009

Stuck at the Top of the Stairs

Some of us are born climbers. My mother tells the tale of how when I was three she once turned her back on me for a few moments while at a city park. When she turned around I was no longer there. To her terror I had climbed to the top of one of those support poles on the large, iron swing-sets that used to be so common. She was frightened but I was fine. I just was heading where I knew I wanted to be: the top.

Ambition is schizophrenic. In its positive phase it gets us off the couch and into life, propelling us forward to hopefully be a blessing to the world around us. After all, most of the greatest medical advances, finest literature, and most breathtaking sculptures were the result of someone's ambition. Yet in its negative phase ambition leads to wars, broken families, genocide, and untold levels of human tragedy.

Ambition can also be a drug, and those who become addicted to it are like junkies, willing to sell their own souls for another fix of higher achievement. When asked how much money was enough, John D. Rockefeller, once possibly the richest man in the world, gave us this telling insight into the dark side of ambition: How much was enough? "Only one dollar more."

While there are those with average ambition who reach the goals they have set and then sit back with a sigh of accomplishment, most of us with a so-called "healthy" dose of ambition never get to the end of our rainbows. Often we get stuck at the top of the stairs, staring upward at heights we can never reach.

Don't despair. There is another way to that elusive sense of personal success that few of us ever seriously consider traveling. This path has been in place since the world began, but it has been largely ignored because of its tricky beginning. You see, this journey begins not at some wide, well-trod, trail head but at a cliff's edge. The path of God's Will requires us to trust him with a leap of faith, to thrust ourselves out into a future that only He controls. The beauty is that instead of falling to our deaths we are suddenly given wings of faith to fly to the pinnacles of fulfillment that He has designed for us. Our ambition, our search for personal success, is found in His plan and purpose for our lives. It may sound counter-intuitive to abandon self to find self, but since when can man figure out God?

Stuck at the top of the stairs of your own selfish ambition? Try leaping upward into His guiding arms.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Giving Grace

I've been preaching lately on grace, but I realize I have a lot left to learn on the subject.

Recently, we have been hurt by some fellow believers we have known for years. The situation has left us feeling betrayed and has resulted in a breakdown in trust between us and them. A good friend today, though, spoke truth into my life. He said that I need to recognize them as a catalyst of change. I know there are things in my relationship with God and others that can be improved upon, and the actions of these individuals have forced me to address them for the first time in years. Therefore, I should thank them for being used by God to help bring about necessary changes in me.

Wow! That's a pretty tall order. I have a lot of resentment that I have to let go of, some forgiveness to give. But what it really comes down to is being able to extend grace, the same kind of grace that has been given all of us in Christ. The problem with Christians is that we are first and foremost human beings, full of imperfections and prone to mess things up. But God loved all of us so much that He was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to save us anyway, to give grace to a people who didn't deserve His love.

So if God can extend grace to a world of people who have rebelled against Him, surely I, as a child who is striving to be more like his Father, can give grace to those who hurt me.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing--a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me even to this day the greatest wonder that I ever heard of, that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin, apart from His almighty love. I know by a full assurance that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and treated as if I had been perfectly just, and made an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ; and yet by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas aforetime I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder.

--from All of Grace by Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lifetime Ministry

The one ministry age, finances,
or lack of education can never
take away from us is prayer.

Be joyful in hope.
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 (NIV)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Emotional Wreck


Cast your cares on the Lord,
and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.

--Psalm 55:22 (NIV)


Monday, February 16, 2009

A Taste of Temptation

Tempted by all of that leftover Valentine's Day candy? Well, perhaps a little indulgence in the candy department won't hurt. After all, it was given to you. But be careful. A habit of yielding to temptation can be deadly.

Every day we are faced with countless opportunities to hurt our walk with God. Oh, they may not look like that immediately on the surface, but if the activity or thought pattern somehow pulls us along a path that is not God-honoring then we begin to damage our relationship with the one who saved us.

The "borrowing" of supplies at your office for your personal use, the "tasting for quality" time and again at your restaurant job, the casual "white" lies to a child or spouse or co-worker that become easier and easier every time you tell them. These are just a few of the subtle ways we are tempted to compromise our faith, to live in a manner that sullies our Christian witness.

This may seem to be a repeat of the theme of yesterday's post, but it is a topic I feel we need to stress periodically because we can slip up so easily. We need to ask God to help us put a spiritual magnifying glass on our daily lives. We might be shocked by what we see.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gradual Descent

Subtlety is one of the enemy's most favored tools to trip us up. After all, most of us would run screaming the other way if we could see all of the future ripples our sin causes in the lives of others as well as our own. Yet because of how subtle sin can creep up on us, the little slips down the slope seem like no big deal. Everything changes once we reach the bottom, though. This song is a pointed reminder at how a gradual descent is still falling.

--Casting Crowns - Slow Fade

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine's Day Reminder

Valentine's Day, in those countries that celebrate it, is probably one of the "loveliest" days of the year. Okay, bad joke, but you have to admit there sure is a whole lot of emphasis on hearts, flowers, chocolates, and romantic feelings every February 14 with, hopefully, a good deal of love thrown in with the gift-giving. But for today's post I want to draw us back a moment to remembering the source of love in the first place: God.

The Bible makes it clear that not only does God love and that all love comes originally from Him, but that He is so closely associated with it that He is love. I don't know about you, but for me that statement is hard for me to fully grasp. I mean, I believe it, but WOW!

Anyway, this classic video from 2005 is about the kind of love God has for us as seen through the miracle of adoption. Enjoy.

--Steven Curtis Chapman - When Love Takes You In

Friday, February 13, 2009

Music for the Soul

the best way our hearts
know how to express
our love for God
is through music.


My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

--Psalm 57:7-8 (NIV)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Professor or Parent?

Ever feel like if you took a test on your faith you would flunk? We often mistakenly see God as a taskmaster, a demanding professor who expects us to be perfect by the time we've dried off after baptism. But like all good teachers, God knows that learning the lessons he has for us takes time. In fact, it takes a lifetime.

Some days it will feel like you've got this life of faith down cold; you're walking in grace and peace and nothing the world throws at you can faze you. Other days you stumble so much you wonder why God even bothers with you at all. The thing is that the God who saved you is the same one that designed you. He knows your strengths and even (cough! cough!) your weaknesses. What's beautiful is that he loves us anyway, and is more patient than we can imagine.

So rid yourself of the image of the surly professor god and embrace instead the true image of a loving father who won't kick you when you fall but instead pick you up, dust you off, and hold your hand as you step forward once more.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Have you ever gotten that skeptical look when people learn you are a Christian? An unfortunate reality of our times is that there are many people out there who are suspicious of anything even remotely related to Christianity, even if they have had little exposure to the Bible or true followers of Jesus. There is an impression that the Christian life is all about rules and regulations, that to be a follower of the God of the Bible means to become some kind of robotic slave to legalism with a conversion quota to fill. Yet, there is so much more to be found in the word of God than rules. The Bible is first and foremost a book of love, of compassion, of a living God who is desperately trying to bridge the gap between his creation and Him. Probably the best way we can help the people around us see this reality is if we ourselves are students of the word. We must so internalize its truths that when the skeptic confronts us with his misconceptions about the judgment of God we can point them toward the love and grace behind the laws.

Do we not often, too, read the Bible as if it were a book of law, and not the revelation of grace? In so doing, we draw a cloud over it, and read it as a volume written by a hard master. So that a harsh tone is imparted in its words, and the legal element is made to obscure the evangelical. We are slow to read it as the expansion of the first gracious promise to man; as a revelation of the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; as the book of grace, specially written for us by the Spirit of grace. The law is in it, yet the Bible is not law, but gospel. As Mount Sinai rears its head, an isolated mass of hard, red granite, amid a thousand desert mountains of softer and less stern material, so does the law stand in the Bible; - a necessary part of it, - but not the characteristic of it; added because of transgressions till the seed should come. Yet have not our suspicious hearts darkened this book of light? Do we not often read it as the proclamation of a command to do, instead of a declaration of what the love of God has done?

--from God's Way of Peace by Horatius Bonar

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Have You Got It?


Can you sing "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in the depths of my heart" and really mean it? If not, maybe it's time to ask Him why. The great news is that He is more than willing to help you get back to that state of reveling in his love.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Put on a Happy Face

Put on a happy face, because the Lord your God loves you and cares for you always.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Sustainer

Want a good dose of depression? Read the newspaper, especially the world news section. Pain and suffering are rampant, with no end in sight. Why? Because our homes are on the battlefield, in a world where sin and evil are waging war on God's purpose and plans for our lives. Despite the promises of politicians, life will always be full of hard times that will just get harder until that glorious day of Christ's return. Yet there is hope even in the darkest moments, for as we turn to Jesus in our troubles He will raise us up, encourage us, and sustain us through any trial this world can throw our way. May this song help lift your eyes heavenward today.

--Selah - You Raise Me Up

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Curse or King

We live in an age where the name of Jesus is used as much as a swear word as it is a phrase of honor or praise. The irony is that one day even those who now think His name is merely a way to emphasize their surprise or anger will come to acknowledge Him as Lord of all. The Bible says that EVERY knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

--Mercy Me - You Reign

Friday, February 6, 2009

Church "Counsel"

My friends it is perfectly safe to take the word of God as we find it. If he tells us to watch, then watch! If he tells us to pray, then pray! If he tells us he will come again, wait for him! Let the church bow to the word of God, rather than trying to find out how such things can be. "Behold, I come quickly," said Christ. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus," should be the prayer of the church.

--from That Gospel Sermon on the Blessed Hope by Dwight L. Moody

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Worry Wart

So why should I worry?
So why should I fret?
'Cause I've got a Mansion Builder
Who ain't through with me yet.

--from the song Mansion Builder by 2nd Chapter of Acts

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On Sparrows and Hairs

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

--Luke 12:6-8 (NIV)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Caught in the Coil

How easy it is for us to be satisfied with the quick fix. Got a problem we can't solve on our own? We send up a quickie prayer, hope for the best, and when a solution comes, that's the end of the matter. Do we take the time to build on the relationship with the One who has helped us? Sadly, we very rarely can be bothered.

Those who claim Christ as savior are truly blessed, and yet we often live in a perpetual state of ingratitude. Oh, we may sing a hymn of praise and worship now and then, but the desire to truly seek an active relationship with the God we confess so freely on Sunday mornings seems to disappear once we step out the front door of the church.

Caught in the coil of complacency in your faith? True freedom and purpose in life comes when we embrace Jesus as Savior AND Lord through actively seeking a stronger relationship with Him.

Hymnody is sweet with the longing after God, the God whom, while the singer seeks, he knows he has already found. "His track I see and I'll pursue," sang our fathers only a short generation ago, but that song is heard no more in the great congregation. How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of "accepting" Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshiping, seeking, singing Church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine, a Rutherford or a Brainerd.

--from The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

Monday, February 2, 2009

Washed Clean

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

--1 Corinthians 6:11b (NIV)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Holding The Wind

Growing up in Oklahoma, I have always loved the wind. From the warm breezes of spring to the fury of the early summer thunderstorm winds to the cooler, almost overpowering gusts typical of fall, I have been enraptured by this unseen power of nature for all of my life. I remember as a child trying to hold the wind, to somehow capture for all time the thrill I felt as its invisible currents rushed around me. But what I love so much has always eluded me, because who can hold what was never meant to be held for long?

We try and hang on to many things in life that we were never meant to possess: grudges, fears, anger, resentment, addictions. Some things have been a part of our lives for so long that to give them up feels like losing part of ourselves. Yet, letting go of these things rewards us with something much better: freedom. And the beauty of it is, when you know you can't let go of whatever you are clutching by yourself, your big brother Jesus is more than capable of taking it away for you. You just have to let him.

--Jeremy Camp - Let it Fade

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