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Archive for March, 2012

Now, and not yet

When someone asks you what you do, do you feel proud or embarrassed by your answer? Personally, I tend to go on about all I dream to do. I think we all have this sense that we’re not reaching our full potential. But if you think about it, do you even know your own full potential? Your dreams are big, but are they big enough? Maybe not, but it’s hard to dream bigger when they already feel so far away.

We’re all “better than this,” we think, and we’re just waiting to prove it. But do we really know ourselves as well as we think? I’m coming to realize that we probably don’t know our own inadequacies or our true capabilities as well as we think. God knows that who we will be even our greatest dreams diminish, but also who we are in our weaknesses. Through every triumph and trial he is revealing it to us, and being content requires trust.

If you haven’t gotten the promotion, consider looking beyond your boss. If you haven’t been asked to fill the position you feel perfect for, ask the one who knows you more. If your menial work is going unnoticed, consider the meaning of service. Isn’t it most blessed to give? And don’t forget this isn’t the only life you’ll live. You’re being prepared for heaven. Maybe the world is supposed to change you for the better as much as you’re supposed to change the world.

‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much’ (Luke 16:10). Are we loving a few people well? Then we can love many well. Are we completing our task, however menial? Then we can accomplish greater things. Is service our work ethic? ‘Serve wholeheartedly, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people’ (Eph. 6:7). When we can be trusted with very little, then we can be trusted with very much.

The King has come down from heaven and his Kingdom has been announced. ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’ (1 Cor. 10:31). Though you can barely see it, you are building the Kingdom. Though you forget, you are serving the King of kings. When no one else knows, he notices. He will promote you as he sees fit, on earth and in heaven. For now, he is doing what’s best, and then it will be better yet.

Heaven is here now, and not yet. We are, yet we are becoming. Can it be better than this? No and yes. For now, God is doing what’s best, and then it will be better yet.

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God is greater than Satan is terrible. If that weren’t the case, Satan wouldn’t exist. All things exist to the glory of God. Satan exists to the glory of God. The very thing that Satan hates determines every breath he takes. He is desperate for what he despises. Twisting the truth is the only way he can lie, but his existence proves all that he lives to deny. Even in him, God is glorified.

Satan may rule the world which is passing away, but only by God’s grace. The more he curses the ground, the more God’s blessings rain down. The more he beats you down, the higher God lifts you up. The deeper he wounds, the deeper God heals. The darker your night, the brighter God shines. Satan may be ruining your life, but only for a time. Your pride may die, but you will survive. God always restores better than Satan destroys.

Satan thought he led God to the cross, ‘Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…’ (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus said, ‘No one can take my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.’ (Jn 10:18) Jesus chose Judas before Satan did.

How have you felt pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, close to death? How have you been oppressed? Satan can’t take all the credit. Like Jesus said (through the mouth of Joseph), ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ (Gen. 50:20) Satan intends to put us to death, but God has a thousand greater purposes. Even death means life for us!

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Satan may take the pen to sentence us to death, but God is the author of Life, and he is on our side.

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from Psalm 62

Who is stealing your peace? Who is depleting your strength, threatening your position, damaging your sense of identity? Who is shaming your integrity?

Wait quietly before God, because he hears the words you cannot say. He collects the tears you cry in secret, even the ones that don’t leave a trace on your face. He feels the pain you can’t pray away. He is on your side, even if you are the one to blame. He suffers your enduring shame.

Pour out your heart to him, because he is safe. He will rebuild what the others have devastated. He will repay what they have taken away. Yes, they broke you in his name. But he would never work that way. His way is grace.

You’ve needed protection, but only from them. Child, why are you running from him? He won’t do what they’ve done to you.

They smile at you with your blood on their teeth. They walk by and wave at you while you weep. Is this what God calls ministry? They claim his name, but betray his ways. You’re not the only one whose heart they break.

Maybe you could have seen it coming, if they were enemies. Maybe you wouldn’t be hurt so deep. But these are family. Your own flesh and blood. Their lips said love but hands meant hate. And you’re left desolate.

Listen beloved, after all is said and done, don’t let them rob you of God. Once you’ve had enough, dust yourself off and stand up, because you are still loved and he is still good.

Don’t fight with them; fight for him. Fight to know him despite them. Fight to hope in his character when truth seems false. Believe in Love when they only prove him wrong – only they are proven wrong. Listen to God when there’s no one to speak well for him, when the lies are all they live. Look for Christ beyond Christians, even the anointed ones. Their power means nothing without love. Trust in the one you once knew was true, through and through. Whatever they do, they can’t take him from you.

Sheep are not always what they seem. The powerful are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on God’s scales, they are lighter than air. But the godly bear the weight of glory. See that you are one of these. Choose humility. Choose forgiveness, not bitterness. In all these trials, you’re a child of promise.

God alone is your peace. He is your strength, your position, your identity. He alone is your honor and integrity. Let all that you are wait quietly before him, for all that you are is in him. And no matter what they do, they can’t take him from you.

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Rain

I’m looking outside at the rain and I have this feeling like I’m trying to collect it in my hands, but it keeps slipping through my fingers. God has given me countless blessings, but I can’t seem to keep them. My clothes are soaking through with grace, but I can’t catch the rain. It’s all too much and too little at the same time.

It’s like standing on the opposite side of the train station from someone you want to meet, with tracks in between. Close enough to say hi, but not enough time. And in a moment the feet will mean miles.

It seems the only thing between you and the gold metal is yourself.

It’s being in the right place but feeling like the wrong person. Or being the right person while feeling lost. It’s caring so much, yet not enough. Does it matter if I say ‘I love you’ and mean it when you don’t even feel it?

I think so, because Jesus cries for some who will never see his tears.

I wish you could feel what I do when I think of you, then you would know. How can I be so articulate, yet unable to express it? How can we speak the same language, yet the words be inadequate? Why must love be kept secret? Please Jesus… help them hear it.

I’m at the end of myself, in need of your help. Where once I had feeble strength to claim, now I call your name. Help me to catch the rain.

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Barren branches

“The next morning… Jesus was hungry.” (Mark 11:12) He noticed a fig tree and went to see if it had any fruit, but all he found were barren branches. It’s like going to the fridge in the morning only to find empty shelves. No milk or bread or eggs. We’re left hungry and disappointed.

Every day, we are hungry in more ways than one. We know people that could fill us up. We go to see if they have any fruit, but often enough all we find are branches and leaves. They look like good trees, but they have nothing good to eat.

Christians are filled with the Spirit of God. We could be and should be overflowing with peace, joy, and love. But for whatever reason, some are not. Some are out of season. Some broken. And they leave us empty and disappointed.

Where we thought we’d find peace there’s anxiety. Where we thought we’d find joy there’s discontentment. Where we thought we’d find love there are conditions. Jesus understands our disappointment. It was his own experience.

Abraham was called to be the father of many nations, but what if he never believed? Einstein obviously had the potential to develop the theory of relativity, but what if he never studied? To fall short of our call is a tragedy. I don’t want to be the barren fig tree. I want Jesus to bless me.

When people come to me empty, I want to fill them up with God’s love. When people come to me worried, I want to calm them with his peace. When Jesus comes to me in the least of these, I want to have more than leaves. I want more than to look like a good tree, but to bear fruit to eat. To give abundantly.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… Remain in me, and I will 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.” (John 15:1; 4)

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Something glorious

You were made for a purpose, for such a time as this. Made with precision, wisdom, intention. You were no accident. You were made for glory.

Your days and birthplace were chosen. You were hidden in the womb for a time, but God knew you. You’ll shine dim in the world for a while, but he sees you. Though what you will be can hardly be seen, he sees. And you can believe. Though men have their opinions and you have your visions, what you will be even dreams diminish. You were made to become something glorious.

You were designed with eternity in mind. You were defined the moment you crossed the mind of God. You were formed and shaped in his image, crafted by his own hands. He’s left fingerprints upon your soul, and engraved your name upon his palm.

Live like you do because you are loved already, not because you hope to be. You have nothing to prove. You have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. You will never be loved more, or less, than you are in this moment. You were meant to enjoy it.

The essence of love is the gift of it. If you worked for it, and earned it on condition, you might win affection, but don’t call it love. Being loved was never your choice. You either are, or you’re not. And you are.

Hidden treasure that no one is searching for is treasure nonetheless. Its worth does not depend on being found. But you are being sought out. Even with no eye to see it, a flower is beautiful still. Even while the world is asleep, the stars shine brilliantly. The sun sets and rises to the glory of God whether or not we are there to watch.

So sit down and shut up, or stand out and speak up, but if you never said another word for yourself it wouldn’t change your worth. Work hard, or not at all, but love cannot be bought. At your best or at your worst, when you’re too proud or too ashamed, you will be loved the same.

Go anywhere and love will find you there. Run, but you can’t run fast enough. Be anyone, but you won’t be anyone else. You can’t outrun yourself. You are God’s beloved. Lose all you thought you’d die without, and all you’ll leave behind are lies. You are you, and that’s a beautiful truth.

It’s not who you are that means so much, but whose you are that means much more. God has breathed gold into the dust of what you were. Whether you’re built up by friends or broken down by family, don’t let it sink too deep or forget your identity. Don’t forget who you are, whose you are. Jesus was praised by the crowd that soon left him hanging, ruined on a cross, naked and mocked. But he never forgot who he was. He must have always known that he was God, and you must always know that you are God’s. God’s creation. God’s chosen. A story still being written. A unique fingerprint. A glorious expression. God’s beloved.

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