Rest in HIM

The Lord is teaching me to say with the Psalmist, “I delight to do Thy will,” instead of the usual, “Well, I supposed it’s the Lord’s will so we’ll just have to put up with it.”

Oh, the delirium of consciously being in the will of the Master–what joy! And this brings a knowledge of His presence and this affords rest.

“My presence shall go with thee, and I shall give thee rest.”

– The Shadow of the Almighty –

Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God. – Jim Elliot

Oh, how much this quote describes my life. I have fallen willingly into the “easy life” of just being “normal”. But I claim to be hidden in the very life of Christ, and to have Him dwelling in me…how can I be “normal” while truly living that?

I was reading in Katie Davis’ book and this cute interlude between her and one of her children popped out at me (this is slightly paraphrased because I don’t have the book right here with me)–

‘One of my girls asked me: “If I ask Jesus into my heart, will I explode?” I laughingly replied with “No, of course not!” and then I rethought my answer: “Yes, if Jesus comes into your heart, you will explode.” That is exactly what we should do if Jesus comes to live inside our hearts. We will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice. We will explode with a desire to be more, to be better, to be close to the one who made us.’ -Katie Davis

When we enter into Christ and He enters into us, it is an exchange–His life for ours. Our life for HIS. It is not a joining of two lives. God is not coming in and joining up with our old life. He comes in and ravishes our life and completely overtakes us….this is how it should be, anyway. We are to be dead to self–our old man absolutely eradicated. Exchanged for the life of CHRIST.

“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him.” Psalm 4:3

Set apart: to be distinct, marked out, be separated, be distinguished
to be wonderful
to make separate, set apart

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

There are areas of life where in this world we are to be extraordinary–but in the heavenly realms, these things are to be the norm.

In our world, it is normal to worry about things that aren’t looking so great. But as a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to “be anxious for nothing.” In our earthly terms, to live this way is extraordinary.

In our world, it is the normal thing to do live a “good life” and just not do “bad things”. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to continually “examine [ourselves], whether [we] be in the faith” and to “be perfect as [HE] is perfect.” In our earthly terms, to truly live this way is extraordinary.

In our world, it is the normal thing to do get upset about things, wish our circumstances were different than they really are, to get discouraged at our situations in life, to shy away from pain and persecutions. As a new creation in Christ, set apart for Him, we are called to “rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, REJOICE!” In our earthly terms, to live this way is extraordinary.

In our world, it is normal and even wise to have a backup plan, in case God doesn’t come through (although we wouldn’t actually put it in those terms). We specifically plan for “plan B” to kick in. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are to have Christ as our all in all–and once we put our hand to the plow, we are not to even glance back. We are called to extreme faith (“without wavering!”) in the One who has called us–“for He is faithful that promised.” In our earthly terms, to live this way is extraordinary.

In our world, it is the normal thing to do hold a grievance against another when they have specifically wronged you, we feel justified in holding onto our offenses. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to forgive, even as the Heavenly Father has forgiven us–completely and utterly, without even a remembrance of any wrong done. In our earthly terms, to live this way is beyond extraordinary.

In our world, it is the normal thing to do to become panicked in a time of crisis. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to “be still and know that [He] is God.” The disciples, when panicking over looking death right in the face, are rebuked: “…why are you fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” In our earthly terms, to live this way is extraordinary.

In our world, it is the normal thing to do to depend on ourselves and our own strength–we are so often specifically even raised this way in our culture. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to have complete and utter dependence on God, in absolutely every single aspect of our lives. In our earthly terms, to live this is seen as extraordinary (and is usually seen as stupid!).

In our world, it is the normal thing to do to take time for ourselves, to make our own self feel better, to have “down time”, to pat ourselves on the back for all the good we’ve done and reward ourselves with some time for ourselves. As a new creation in God, set apart for Him, we are called to live as if our lives are not our own–because, indeed, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are not our own. In our earthly terms, to live this is seen as extraordinary.

There are so many more such examples.

The point is that these things should not be extraordinary in the life of Christ–living as the life of God requires of us should be the normal for a life surrendered fully to God. But if the world looks at us as “normal”, we have much to be concerned about!

We are to be showcasing a new creation. A creation made exquisitely by the Master Creator Himself!

True godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the only explanation for you, is Jesus Christ to whose eternally unchanging and altogether adequate “I AM!” your heart has learned to say with unshatterable faith, “Thou art!” – Major Ian Thomas

If we are holding onto parts and pieces of our life for any reason, then we have not yet grasped the fullness of the Gospel. When we’ve truly seen Jesus Christ and Him crucified, there is no holding back from giving Him our all…but it should be completely outside of anything we or anyone else may personally receive–it is because this is what the life and death of Christ requires of those claiming His name: abandonment of self and all you once held dear.

And it is with great excitement and willingness that this takes place, because we have seen that He is worthy!

If there are still parts of us that are living “to and for ourselves”, where does full surrender then come into the picture?

Full surrender doesn’t come into the picture . . . it is the picture.

It is not ordinary to desire to be spilled out for the sake of Christ. It is not ordinary to be willing to be looked on as being a fool for the sake of Christ. It is not ordinary to get excited at the thought of dying for Christ’s sake. It is not ordinary to love Jesus more than life itself.

But this is what a life surrendered to an extraordinary God compels us to.

So, I say again with Jim Elliot:

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

When one is captivated by and allows their life to be ravished and overtaken by so extraordinary a God, they become a “one-note wonder”. JESUS.

JESUS.

JESUS.

That is the cry of my heart. The refrain of my life. And I want that to be the only cry of my heart for the rest of my days–that every breath I breathe would proclaim

JESUS.

Make me ever more dependent on you, Lord. I need you desperately.

We are commissioned to represent Christ! To bear the very name, to bear the very image and reputation of God Almighty!

Don’t pray that God would teach you how to love like He loves; pray that He would fill you with Himself and that He would love in and through you. Don’t pray that He would teach you to have joy; pray that the living God full of joy would enter into you. Don’t pray that He would teach you how to be peaceful; ask for the God of peace, the Prince of peace to infill you. Because if you try to imitate in your own strength, you will be a miserable replica. But if you allow the impartation of Jesus Christ to overtake you, suddenly it all works because it is Him imitating Himself, and He is very good at being God. -Eric Ludy

What Can I Do But Praise You?

When I see the beauty of a sunset’s glory,
amazing artistry across the evening sky

When I feel the mystery of a distant galaxy
It awes and humbles me to be loved by a God so high

What can I do but thank You?
What can I do but give my life to You?
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
What can I do but praise You?
Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah!
A hallelujah, hallelujah!

When I hear the story of a God of mercy
Who shared humanity and suffered by our side

Of the cross they nailed You to, that could not hold You
Now You’re making all things new
by the power of Your risen life!

– Paul Baloche –

(originally posted on 8/23/10)

Tonight’s Thoughts

Tonight is a night where everything is so still that I can almost palpably feel the nearness of my Jesus.

Tonight He is whispering to my heart with words of love and truth.

Tonight I am grieving over my own hardness of heart.

Tonight I am thankful for weakness and pain.

Tonight I am unable to sleep because of the aching in my heart.

Tonight is a night of peace and contentment; a night of longing and searching.

Tonight is a night of sweet worship in adoration of my beloved King.

Tonight is the sort of night I’d love to be taking a ramble in the woods, peeking up into the stars above between the branches of the trees, reveling in the majesty of creation.

Tonight, the cry of my heart is “Desiderio Domini!” (“I dearly long to be with my Lord”)

Tonight I am thankful. So very thankful.

Tonight I am realizing afresh my own unworthiness, and the utter worthiness of my God.

Tonight the tears are falling as I pray for my brother who does not yet know the reality of a life lived for Christ.

Tonight my arms are aching for the hugs of my dear kiddos in Africa, and the ones I’ve not yet met all over the world.

Tonight I am hungering and thirsting for more of my Jesus.

Tonight is a sweet gift from God.

Unless ye become as little children…

It is so intriguing to observe children–especially when one observes them with the mind that we are to be as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Specifically in the area of intellect.

“…Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

A child trusts. They ask something of their parents fully believing it will be given–“Can I have some water?” And when something is told them–“We’re going to the zoo tomorrow!”–they go to sleep the night before without a doubt in their mind that they will indeed be going to the zoo the next day. When something is offered to them–“I bought you this toy!”–they take it, fully accepting that if told it is for them, that they can take it.

How unlike children we so often are! We reason and hem-haw about things, we don’t feel like things are how we’re told they are or will be. We lack trust.

God’s promises are true. The Holy Spirit bears witness of this–and in Him are all the promises of God “yea” and “Amen!” Unto the glory of God.

What God has promised will be fulfilled. What God has spoken is truth and absolute fact. What God has given us is indeed ours for the taking.

When God has given something for us to accept, it doesn’t necessitate hours of agony and wondering and questioning–it is there for the taking. We have but to rise up and accept what has been offered.

A quote from a story which I will add later really struck me today when I was reading it:

“As you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, take the [promises of God as fact] from the hand of the living Christ.”

So many people struggle with this–myself included. God has given so much, and yet we struggled to receive.

It doesn’t seem like those promises are for me. I don’t feel any different. It seems to easy.

God, make me like a child! A child willing to stand up and take what has been offered. To trust the One who is trustworthy above all else!

Here is the story I mentioned above. It is the perspective of a preacher of old:

I had been for a long time a minister in Leicester, with a large church and of considerable influence in the city, but very unhappy.  Conscious that I had not received the power of the Holy Ghost, I went to Keswick.  A great number of God’s people gathered there to seek and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and they elected to have a prayer meeting from nine o’clock to eleven and onwards, to pray for the Holy Ghost.  A great many people were there agonizing.  I was too tired to agonize and I felt that God did not want me to agonize hour after hour, but I had to learn to take; that God wanted to give, and I had only to take.

Tomorrow your little girl will come down to breakfast.  She is very hungry, and the bread and milk or the oatmeal is on the table.  You do not say: “Little girlie, run upstairs and agonize, roll on the floor for an hour, and then come down.”  You say to her: “Little one, I am so glad you have a good appetite.  Now there is your chair; in you get, say your prayer, and start away.”
That is what God says to the soul.  Those whole nights of prayer for the Holy Ghost are principally necessary to get people who pray into a fit condition to receive the Holy Ghost; for when the people are ready, the Holy Ghost will come without agonizing.

So I left that prayer meeting, and crept out into the lane, and away from the town.  As I walked I said, “O my God, if there is a man who needs the power of the Holy Ghost to rest upon him it is I; but I do not know how to receive Him.  I am too tired, too worn, too nervously down to agonize.”  A voice said to me, “As you took forgiveness from the hand of the dying Christ, take the Holy Ghost from the hand of the living Christ.”

I turned to Christ and said, “Lord, as I breathe in this whiff of warm night air, so I breathe into every part of me Thy blessed Spirit.”  I felt no hand laid upon my head, there was no lambent flame, there was no rushing sound from heaven; but by faith, without emotion, without excitement, I took, and took for the first time, and I have kept on taking ever since.

I turned to leave the mountain side, and as I went down the tempter said: “You have got nothing.  It is just moonlight.”  I said: “I have.”  He said: “Do you feel it?”  “I do not feel it, but I reckon that God is faithful, and He could not have brought a hungry soul to claim faith, and then give a stone for bread, and a scorpion for a fish.  I know I have got it because God led me to claim it.”

When I was in Africa, I talked to the Mamas who worked at the orphanage where I was staying. Some of them had horrific stories of things that they had been through personally and with their families. Siblings being taken as child-soldiers and then killed. Parents who had been repeatedly raped and then left for dead. Husbands who had been shot point-blank in front of them. Children who had been electrocuted. And at the end of their stories, three of these ladies in particular ended with tears in their eyes, and the statement: “My God is faithful and good, and I trust Him!”

I didn’t sleep that night.

How could these women who had endured trials beyond anything I can even imagine still have more trust and faith in God than hardly anyone I had ever seen? I questioned them about it the next time we talked while folding laundry.

“What’s the secret?”

“I read the Bible and I believe it. My God is good. He has said He is and will be good and faithful. He keeps His promises. You should read the Bible and read His promises and believe them. Take them for you.

The faith and trust of a little child, no matter the circumstances around. It doesn’t matter if it feel like God is good. It doesn’t matter if it looks like God is faithful.

It cannot be based on feeling. We must base our trust and faith in our God on fact. Feelings and emotions won’t always line up–but what is more trustworthy: emotions or the Word of God? And once we experience the fullness of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and trustworthiness, emotions and feelings will definitely line up.

You won’t be able to keep from shouting the utter goodness of your God from the rooftops!

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

“[Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.” Romans 4:20

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23

“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“But the Lord is faithful, Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?…” Genesis 18:14a

“…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25b

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly placed in Christ Jesus;” Ephesians 2:8

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6

Psalm 15

Lord, who shall abide in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Your holy hill?

He that walks uprightly.

He that speaks the truth.

He that doesn’t backbite.

He that doesn’t take up a reproach.

He that despises that which is against the nature of God.

He that honors those who fear God.

He that makes an oath and keeps it.

He that doesn’t put his money out to usury.

He that doesn’t take a reward against the innocent.

 

He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Reckoning With Truth

A life truly poured out for Christ?

Oh, that is my heart’s desire, and yet how far I still find myself falling from that reality.

I am going to be dreadfully honest with you right now–there are two things that have been a hindrance in my life, and I’ve finally come to a place where I’m willing to admit it to myself:

I am woefully attached to my sleep–oh! so attached. It’s ridiculous, really, but I literally feel unable to get out of bed in the mornings when my alarm clock goes off. I go to bed with the best of intentions, I set my alarm with the full intention of getting up and coming to the secret place with my Jesus, I go to bed early. And yet, time and time again, I find myself not being able to get out of my bed. No, it doesn’t happen every morning–but far too often for it to not make me mad. I’m honestly mad about it–I feel like it’s something that the enemy is using in my life, and I haven’t figured out how to exert the strength I know I have available to me in Christ, and yet I’m determined. Those hours are precious to me, and I refuse to allow anything to come between me and my time with Jesus–searching Him, knowing Him, learning of Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, studying Him.

I waste a lot of time. There are various ways that I waste a lot of time (did I mention I love sleep?), but a big one, I’ve realized, is through the internet. I don’t spend near the amount of time idly online as I used to, and yet I’ve realized that there is still so much time spent online that I could take captive and use for other things. I choose to cut out all of my idle internet time (there is still stuff I have to use it for for work, but that isn’t “idle” time). I choose to take those hours spent each week and use them for the glory of God!

I love spending time with my Jesus. When I do get up in the early hours of the morning and spend those hours with Him, watching the rising of the sun come and light the day, and allowing the Son to light my day–ah, the things I learn of Him! I find it to be exceptionally fulfilling to take a day and consciously surrender each moment to Him to use as He wishes . . . fulfilling in a way that would make no sense to this world–because how could surrendering every area of your life and every moment of your day to God be fulfilling? Oh! it is.

And yet, how often I find myself wanting to sleep instead, and wanting to just….do other things. What is wrong with me? The enemy is very tactful in making things other than a life lived for God sound very appealing. But, no more! I’ve seen the tactics of the enemy, and I choose to exert the strength that is in Christ and don the armor of God and to sling the enemies darts right back at him.

I know I have been through all this before, but I have reckoned the truth in Christ. I choose to look ahead to fact and truth–experience is not fact. I won’t look at experience, but I will in faith step forward to grasp the truth of life in Christ . . . and experience will follow behind it. I have seen it happen before, and I’m thrilled to see it happen again. My God is faithful and I put utter trust in Him. Sounds foolish to some, but ah, I have seen experience follow when faith is placed in the truth of Christ’s Word.

What a glorious reality!

Almighty God!

God has been doing a mighty work in the hearts and lives of so many people around me, lately, and through their struggles, surrenders, and victories, God has been chiseling away at my own heart, too.

There are a few verses/chapters in the Bible that God has so been pressing on my heart in the last day. I can’t stop reading them over and over–the pages in those specific places are getting quite worn!

I can’t help but share them here. I can’t help but speak and share about my wonderful Savior!

“The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof…His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship Him, all ye gods…For Thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: Thou art exalted far above all gods. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: He preserveth the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.” (Snippets of Psalm 97)
“For by Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in Him. For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect…I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them. And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet. For Thou has girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast Thou subdued under me. Thou has also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.” (Snippets of 2 Samuel 22)
Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee. For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build Thee an house for Thine hold name cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own. I know also, my God, that Thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy Thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly to Thee.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-17)
“Oh, sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1)

Anguish

Do I honestly believe what I say I believe? Do I care and love the way I like to think I do? Do I know the reality of the world I live in?

The other evening I innocently happened across a city-wide zombie-thon thing in the old-town district of a neighboring city. There was death and gore literally walking the streets. I felt like I was looking at the inner souls of these people–not just the facade of sweetness and everday-ness that is so easy to assume, but the true inner workings of their being. I saw the utter lostness, the darkness and depravity of this world walking the streets right in front of me. This is who these people are on the inside–and I was surrounded by it on all sides. There they were, supposedly alive, and yet walking in death. The stark reality of it all hit me like hardly anything ever has before.

But, oh Jesus, where is the anguish of my soul? I feel so cold and dry sometimes. If what I believe about You is a reality in me, then where is the anguish? Why don’t I feel overwhelming distress at the thought of souls lost in darkness apart from You?

I feel passionate, and yet I’m still so passive. The reality of my life is still so apathetic and lethargic. Anguish is not just a flash of emotion, a concern for what is happening. Anguish is the utter agony of soul–deep pain, distress at the highest level. And I don’t have that right now.

God, I don’t want to be blind to lukewarmness. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the lostness of this world. Jesus, I long for that agony of soul–that anguish of heart. Break my heart, Jesus. Keep me awake at night, unable to sleep for the very fact that Your name is being blasphemed and mocked in this generation! The very knowledge that approximately 5,000 people have died just during the time it has taken me to write this blog post–how many of them have gone to an eternity without You? And here I sit . . .

When I don’t feel anguish over the things that You feel anguish over, it is equivalent to standing by and watching as person after person walks unknowingly into the way of an oncoming train–and I am sitting by watching complacently as they walk to their death. If I truly believed what I say I believe about God, His name, His word, heaven and hell, and the reality of truth . . . wouldn’t I be desperate to tell everyone I see? Shouldn’t I be completely overcome with passion to tell of God’s glory and the awesome good news that God has made so clear to me? Wouldn’t I be running the streets like a raving lunatic proclaiming the truth to anyone who might hear and be saved from damnation and eternal darkness?

God, I don’t have it. I’m not where I need to be. Joy comes from anguish. Grant me that anguish of soul and heart, God! I need to be broken and spilled on Your alter. Grant me this, Jesus . . . grant me this anguish. This desperation. This distress. This deep pain. I want this, God. I long for Your heart and Your burden!

If souls are going to end up in hell, let it at least be over my exhausted body. If hell is going to claim someone, let it be not without a fight. Oh, that not one soul would end up apart from God without having heard the knowledge of truth!

A quote from an old “mighty” in the faith: “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, but, Lord, I want to set up a rescue shop within a yard of hell!”

Jesus, let that be my prayer. The true cry of my heart!

Tonight

Tonight is the sort of night that October nights should be.

Tonight is the kind of night where I can feel the very presence of God in the stillness around me.

Tonight is the kind of night where I have an ache deep inside of me.

Tonight is a night of peace and contentment; a night of longing and searching.

Tonight is filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions.

Tonight tears fall freely as I experience the awesomeness of my God.

Tonight I want to be outside, bundled up warmly, reveling in the starry sky.

Tonight is a night for sweet worship as I press further into God, allowing HIM to fulfill this loneliness which threatens to creep in.

Tonight I choose not to dwell on me; tonight is not about me.

Tonight I am hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Tonight is a sweet gift from my King.