IS MY VISION REALLY THAT SMALL?! I’ve been given so much, yet I still get hung up on the small things. “Surely God cannot use me. I’m not good enough…” I MUST look beyond my failures. I MUST look to Christ alone. I MUST get past this complex I’ve got before I can be as effective for the Kingdom as God desires me to be. And you know what? I feel like I can finally do it.
Something broke tonight. It wasn’t glorious. It wasn’t a voice from heaven or a sign in the sky or writing on a wall. It was the remembrance of who I am. I’m not talking about my personal identity. I’m talking about my identity in Christ. Just the words “I am a co-heir with Christ.” And I wasn’t even cognitively trying to remember it. The Spirit brought it to my mind. And it wasn’t in the midst of some spiritual high. It was immediately after I fell again. God has a strange (but perfect) sense of timing sometimes.
I’m glad He said it when He did, though. I wasn’t in a “spiritual mood.” I wasn’t praying some super religious prayer for forgiveness. I wasn’t listening to worship music or reading the Bible. I was sitting in the bathroom of all places. I was in just about the most undignified place possible, and it was there that God decided to speak to me. Sometimes, that’s His FAVORITE place to speak to us.
And BOY, did He speak. Not a lot. But it was enough. He even used my own voice just to show off.
“Though I may stumble and fall, I can stand tall knowing You’ve paid my ransom and given back the royalty my sin stole from me. I’m a co-heir.”
There is SO much theological talk that could be unpacked from that simple phrase, but this is not the time for it. This is story time! I can’t even explain it. I wasn’t particularly looking for a touch from God, but just out of NOWHERE, BAM!! faith started to rise up in my spirit. All of the accusing voices were silenced. All of the regret was destroyed. I just felt God rush in and love on me. He called me His child. Then I did a bit of spring cleaning.
This week has just been amazing. My church is hosting a YWAM (Youth With A Mission for those who don’t know) team and God has just been moving in amazing ways through them, not just in the lives of all they meet at the RNC, but in my life as well. One of the staff even got a vision for me (If you’re reading this right now, and you know who you are, I just want to say thanks for being obedient to the prompting of the Lord, because I feel like what you said is spot-on).
He told me that he saw a dog gnawing on a bone that had long been licked clean, feverishly trying to get more meat off it, and he felt like God was telling him that was representative of me. That I’ve been clinging so long and hard to past encounters with God that I’m struggling to move on. He also said that God has “more meat” for me elsewhere. And you know what? He’s right.
I’ve grown stale in these past few years. Yes, I love the Lord, and yes, I’ve been ministering in my church as the music director for about four or five years now. But, I’ve also been slacking in my relationship. I’ve been letting certain temptations and sinful habits to create a sort of imaginary wall between me and my Father. I’ve been so concerned with other things that God got gradually pushed to the back burner, and it’s in the midst of that vacuum that I’ve been trying to pour out my ministry from. Talk about vain repetitions. Yet, despite that, God STILL chooses to use me to bless people. It just blows my mind.
This staff member then went on to tell me that God has great things planned for me and wants to use me in mighty ways. And I know we hear that all the time in the church, but this time it seemed…different. Then, yesterday, and I don’t know if this is a confirmation from God or something else, the speaker basically stopped in the middle of his message to take a detour and tell us, in essence, that he felt that God was calling some of us to “stand before princes” and be an instrument of (godly) change, but first, we had to lose that sense of “Oh, I could never do great things for God…I’m not good enough…I’m not spiritual enough…” Sound familiar?
So now, here I sit again, as I have so many times before, wondering what God has for me, and once again reassured of the fact that God hasn’t forgotten me or forsaken me like I sometimes feel He has out of the depths of my insecurities. I’m not pursuing fame or popularity. I’m not looking for some grand exaltation of my spirituality or personal holiness. I’m not dependent on accolades. I’m just looking to serve the Lord in any way possible. I’m looking to go wherever He would lead and bring about transformation through His power.
What does that look like ultimately? I have NO idea. All I know is that I need to get on my face before Him and stop treating Him like a hobby or a genie in a lamp. All I know is that I need to get to KNOW Him and the sound of His voice. All I know is that I must make Him the all-consuming passion He desires to be in my life. Lord, give me the strength to do it.
“Adopted, healed, and lifted.
Forgiven, found, and rescued.
I am not the same, I’m a new creation!
I am not the same anymore!
I am not ashamed! I will not be shaken!
I am not the same anymore!
You have overcome!
It is finished, it is done!
Now, my heart is finally free!
Every chain undone
By the power of the Son,
Risen Savior, reigning King!”
“Our hearts they cry:
Be lifted high above all names!
For You, our King,
We will shout forth Your praise!”
It’s been far too long since I posted one of these. Not that anyone reads blogs anymore in general. Maybe I should just type everything in facebook notes…meh, writing out my thoughts here saves paper, at least.
It’s amazing how quickly one can lose sight of their goals if no action is taken toward making them a reality. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, distrac-“SQUIRREL!!”-ted, and otherwise apathetic (Couldn’t think of another “track” word. Whatever.). These are common, natural dangers, but they are the worst progress-killers ever, and if we hope to honor the Lord and better ourselves and those around us, they have no place in our lives.
This past weekend at Acquire the Fire was AWESOME! Aside from a few…interesting situations which branched off from me driving one of the vans and not knowing the area around the center AT ALL, that is. God really rocked the house (as He always does), and His presence was so tangible, I could almost physically feel His embrace. It was such an enriching, freeing experience to just be able to sit back and worship without having to worry about hitting the right notes on a guitar or the right harmonies in the mic. Many experienced love, refreshment, deliverance, and healing. Some met Dad for the first time. In my case, it re-centered my focus and carried over into the church service on Sunday. I even picked up some great new songs to use in my own personal worship and in my leadership at church. I made a few commitments. I abandoned a few skeletons. I finally turned away from my vomit for one brief and shining moment.
Come Monday, however, I was already back into a few of the things I swore to leave behind. Call it addiction, call it unfaithfulness, call it what you will, but the reality is I need to just lay them down once and for all. They’re just not worth pursuing, but they are “comfortable” (until the guilt sets in). They are “familiar.” And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of crumbling at the first hint of temptation; I’m sick of allowing my life to be ruled by these petty gods. I’m wholly disgusted with the unholy desires of my heart. I’m totally dissatisfied with my poor self-image, paltry commitments, and pitiable disposition toward sin.
I need more. I CRAVE more. More of the Word. More ministry. More time spent worshiping. More of GOD. So many people are content to allow Him to clean up their mess like a butler, then to ignore Him like He doesn’t exist when things are going well. So many treat the Author and Sustainer of the UNIVERSE like some kind of cosmic Genie who is bound to granting us every selfish impulse of our hearts. I’m tired of being one of those people. I’m tired of grieving the Spirit. I’m tired of living for temporary things. I need an eternal mindset.
God, far be it from me that I should push You to the back burner!! I BEG You, don’t allow me to live another day consumed by such meaningless things! Don’t allow me to fall back into the normal “routine.” Take what’s left of my life. Use me how You see fit. I’m tired of living for my own pursuits. I’m tired of rehashing old and worn out posts like this one. You are SO much better than ANY of this. I pray the passion I have now would continue to flood my soul and banish my internal darkness. You removed all the filth from me once and for all on the cross, yet I treat Your sacrifice as a trifling thing. It’s despicable. Yet, You forgive. You love. You hold me close when I’m broken. You lift me up above my curse. Even when I spit in Your face, You just wipe it off and extend Your hand once again. Please forgive me. Please strengthen this feeble heart. Please refresh my life, remove me from the exalted place that belongs to You, and empower me to exhaust my life for Your cause.
To You, and You alone, be every OUNCE of glory.
Why is it always late at night when I get into “worship mode?” I just wanna cry out at the top of my lungs and proclaim His greatness, but I’ll wake everyone up who lives around me. Then again, maybe that’s just what they need more than anything: A blast of truth to wipe away their darkness, a shout of victory in the midst of their chaos.
The Lord is so amazing. What’s almost more amazing, however, is my frequent forgetfulness of that fact. I get so caught up in everything except the one thing I should be caught up in. Then, at the most inconvenient times, I get broadsided by a glimpse of the splendor of God Almighty and just lose it. My emotions swirl out of control. I can’t keep the tears from flowing. My heart comes alive and I lose all concept of the passage of time. I can’t sit still. I lose track of the other people around me. In the depths of my soul, I feel His awesome weight of glory; His commanding presence. Then, the moment passes, and I’m left reeling in the wake.
The worst part? I don’t want it to end. But it MUST end eventually. There is still work to be done here. There are still souls crying out in their darkness and despair, seeking a Savior. I’m no great speaker, that I should command the respect of my audience. Nor am I an expert scholar, that I should know all there is to know about a particular field. Heck, I’m not even the greatest musician to ever walk the earth. I haven’t sold millions of records, I haven’t gone platinum, nor have I become known the world over. But, my testimony is true. My hope is sure. My message MUST be heard.
God, I don’t ask to become famous. I don’t seek money or power. I just seek You. I just need You. I love You. Even if I lose everything. Even if the floor falls out from under me and the very earth itself threatens to swallow me whole, I want to live the rest of my life in such a way that it screams to the world that there IS something more than what this life can offer, and it’s more beautiful than even the greatest painting, the most striking landscape, or the grandest new contraption that money can buy.
Why do we allow ourselves to squander hours watching television when the LORD is such a grander sight? Why do we find it easy to spend hours browsing the Internet, but find it to be of the utmost difficulty to spend hours with our Creator? What drives us to update our Facebook status every minute of every day when we barely speak our minds to our FATHER? Did He not give us the eyes with which we watch that computer screen? Why do we settle for prophets who “tickle our ears” when those same ears were given to us to allow us to hear the very voice of GOD? Why do we settle for “crumbs from the Master’s table” when He desires to let us feast until we burst upon the Bread of Life? Why do we consider reading the Word a necessary evil when it truly is the highest of privileges? What is it that causes us to innately be able to distract ourselves with petty pleasures when the Richest of Fare longs to speak into our lives? The LORD sits enthroned above the sphere of the heavens, yet we act as though our own sphere of influence is the only thing which exists in this universe. WHY DO WE WASTE OUR LIVES ON THINGS THAT DO NOT MATTER IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF ETERNITY? Many claim to “live for Jesus,” but few actually allow Him to lead their lives and have total dominion. All too often in churches today, the message of the gospel and the very pursuit of God are lost in fancy light shows, state-of-the-art “Worship Centers,” shallow worship, and the pursuit of the “almighty dollar.” When we follow this pattern, we’re merely building castles of sand. The pride I see in the hearts of those around me, whether it be the redeemed or the ones who claim to be, absolutely breaks me. The pride I see in my own heart all to often overshadows my boasting in the LORD, and for this I am ashamed. Where is the fierce longing after YHWH that the fathers of our faith possessed? Where has the fire that filled the bellies of the great evangelists gone today? Where is the deep, sincere WORSHIP, and where are the broken worshipers who bring it? This nation, though founded upon the Rock, has given up its first love in the name of “tolerance,” a desire not to offend, and the task of stockpiling wealth. We need to fall on our faces and beg for mercy from the throne. We are ripe for judgment, not only for the hearty approval we give to godlessness, but even more than that, for the complacency that has settled within our pews. If you claim to be a child of GOD, start acting like it!! Stop making excuses, stop pursuing worldly gain and impure lusts, stop wasting your life, and turn to GOD!! Call on His Name, fall on your face, give Him control, and worship in spirit and truth. Then, get out there and preach the gospel to everything that moves!! That is our mandate. Seek God with every fiber of your being, then share His love with everyone around you. ONLY GOD is worthy to be praised, ONLY GOD is worthy of our worship, ONLY GOD is ALPHA AND OMEGA, ONLY GOD IS GOD!! Seek HIS face, seek HIS face, seek HIS face!! Cry out to HIM!! Fall on your faces and worship!! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, I LOVE YOU!! CHRIST, CHRIST, CHRIST I NEED YOU!! ABBA, ABBA, ABBA FATHER, HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL, FOR I AM UNCLEAN!! I AM UNWORTHY!! I AM A SINNER!! HAVE MERCY, HAVE MERCY, HAVE MERCY!! I AM UNWORTHY, YET YOU HAVE REDEEMED ME, YOU HAVE CHOSEN ME, YOU LOVE ME!! PRAISE YOU, PRAISE YOU, PRAISE YOU!!! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS!! Oh how I love that name!! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS!! Oh, my LORD, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME!! May I decrease, so that YOU may increase. I am YOURS, I am YOURS, I am YOURS!! HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, ARE YOU, OH LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!! HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!! The whole earth is FILLED with YOUR GLORY!!! My heart cries HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, ARE YOU AND YOU ALONE!!! LORD, HAVE MERCY! LORD, HAVE MERCY! LORD, HAVE MERCY!! CONSUME ME, MY GOD!! KEEP ME FROM HALF-HEARTED WORSHIP!! KEEP MY FEET FROM WALKING IN THE PATHS OF THE WICKED!! KEEP MY HEART FROM BECOMING CONSUMED WITH THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD, OH LORD, MY GOD!!! CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME!! I AM YOURS!! ABBA, ABBA, ABBA FATHER, LEAD ME INTO YOUR THRONE ROOM!! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, COVER ME WITH YOUR BLOOD!! HOLY SPIRIT, HOLY SPIRIT, HOLY SPIRIT, GUIDE ME INTO ALL TRUTH!! OH GOD, MY GOD, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME!! I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!!! YOU ARE MOST HIGH OVER ALL THE EARTH!! YOUR VOICE SHAKES THE HEAVENS!! YOUR FACE OUTSHINES THE SUN!! YOU ESTABLISHED THE EARTH, AND ONLY BY YOUR GRACE DOES IT STAND!! YOU ARE THE GIVER OF LIFE, AND YOU KNOW THE NUMBER OF OUR DAYS!! YOU WILL NEVER DIMINISH, YOU WILL NEVER BE FAR FROM YOUR PEOPLE, OH GOD!! YOU ALONE ARE HOLY!! YOU ALONE ARE WORTHY!! I SURRENDER TO YOU!! TAKE ME, BREAK ME, USE ME FOR YOUR GLORY!! CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME, CONSUME ME!! MESS ME UP FOR YOUR GLORY!! MESS ME UP FOR YOUR GLORY!!! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS!! ABBA FATHER, JEHOVAH JIREH, MY ROCK AND MY SALVATION, I SURRENDER TO YOUR WILL!! USE ME, LORD!! USE ME, LORD!! USE ME, LORD!!! I cannot praise YOU enough!!! I love YOU, I love YOU, I love YOU!!! Ever shall YOUR NAME be on my lips!! FATHER, HAVE MERCY!! DO NOT ALLOW ME TO WASTE ANY MORE OF MY LIFE!! DO NOT LET ME SETTLE FOR THE CRUMBS FROM YOUR TABLE!! MAY MY HUNGER FOR YOU NEVER BE SATISFIED, MAY MY THIRST FOR YOU NEVER BE QUENCHED!! CONSUME ME, MY LORD!! HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, ARE YOU, OH LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!!! ONLY YOU ARE HOLY, OH LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
Always leads us in TRIUMPH!! In VICTORY!!! In POWER!!
Who will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
No matter what we come up against, we shall have the victory through Christ.
Even death is victory when Jesus is our Lord and Savior, for He conquered sin and death when He paid the ultimate price upon that cross and rose three days afterward. EVEN NOW He is ruling at the right hand of His Father. Never shall He be defeated, nor shall we as long as He is the One holding us.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
A sweet aroma…a head-turning fragrance.
The aroma of victory…the aroma of grace.
When we walk with Him every day, people notice the difference immediately just by being around us.
When we are cursed, we bless them.
When we are hurt, we still reach healing hands out to them.
When we are beaten, we still offer them a loving embrace.
As we are being killed, we ask the Father’s forgiveness on their behalf.
The degree to which we follow after God, seek His face, and hunger and thirst for His Word and His life is the degree to which the fragrance is made known to those around us.
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other, an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
Among those who are lost, among those whose hearts are hard toward the things of God, our sweet fragrance is a burning cancer, a weakling’s crutch, or a fool’s obsession.
It is practically a death warrant to those who are opposed to the God of all. Whether or not they voice it or are even aware, those who have not put their faith and trust in Christ as their one and only Lord and Savior are His enemies, just as we were before our own salvation.
Enemies of God they are, but more than that, the Lord is gracious to them. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He reaches His hand out time and again to give them the chance to accept Him, but, while He is merciful indeed, He is also just.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sin separates us from our Creator, and the payment it earns is death. We are sentenced to be forever separated from God, but He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” To this end, He offers many chances to those dead in their sins to be brought to life forever. Many times, He uses us to be the instruments of His redemption.
While He chooses to use us, it is not our gift, nor our duty, to bring conviction. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction of sin, it is the victorious fragrance of God that pours out through our lives that sparks a desire for the knowledge of the Lord Most High, and it is the Lord alone that saves us and gives us eternal life. It all begins and ends with Him.
To those who are alive in Christ, however, this fragrance is a source of encouragement, an impetus to fuel the fires of devotion, a holy calling, a priceless gift, and a powerful ally. It is a constant reminder of the beauty of the Creator; a deeply touching, powerfully moving passion that one cannot help but feel humbled by. We can do nothing without Him and His divine guidance and mercy. Not even the life we live is our own, but every day is a gift from God above; we need not waste it on trivial pursuits. It is a glorious honor to be the bearer of such a lofty thing: the very fragrance of GOD!! We must never take it lightly. We must carry the torch with honor and dignity, power and mercy, love and sacrifice, and purity and gratitude until the day the Lord returns or the day calls us home.
2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:35, 37; 2 Cor. 2:15-16; Rom. 5:8; 3:23; 6:23; 1 Tim. 2:4
Brothers and sisters, “Here is your God!”
The matchless, faithful Redeemer.
The One Who calms the seas,
Yet shakes the heavens.
The One Who gently leads His flock like a Shepherd,
Yet, in holy anger, destroys the wicked and their schemes.
The One Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Marked off the heavens by the span,
Calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And knows each hair on every head.
The One Who catches both the falling sparrow and the falling man.
The One Who has created the stars,
Leads forth their host by number,
And calls them all by name.
The One Who stoops to view the earth,
Yet grew up as a Man upon it.
The impossibly amazing, overabundantly providing, ever-near Father.
The incredibly merciful, overarchingly protective, ever-vigilant Defender.
The infinitely wise, overwhelmingly powerful, everywhere present God.
The righteous Judge,
The mighty King of Kings,
The wonderful Savior,
The Comforter, Guide, and Truth-Bearer,
The Alpha and Omega,
The Bright and Morning Star,
The almighty, unshakable, victorious One.
The Holy One of Israel,
The Anchor in our roughest seas,
Provider in our greatest need,
Hearer of our honest pleas,
And Bearer of our darkest deeds.
Our Hope of Glory,
And our glorious Hope.
The Resurrection and the Life,
The Bread of Life,
The acceptable Sacrifice,
The One punished for our sins.
The risen and now reigning Lord.
The ultimate Peacemaker,
The final Adam,
The perfect Man, and perfect Deity,
One God, three Persons.
Father, Son, Spirit.
He strengthens the weary, revives the dead, heals the sick, exalts the humble, brings low the proud, destroys the wicked, and feeds the hungry.
He was not created by human hands, nor dwells in temples made by them.
Rather, He is the Creator and Sustainer of Life,
The Author and Finisher of Our Faith,
The One and only I AM,
Mighty to save, slow to anger, quick to forgive, good to all.
He endures with patience those vessels destined for destruction,
To manifest the depths of His neverending mercies to those being redeemed.
He brings tears to my eyes,
Only to immediately wipe them away.
In Him and in Him alone are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, for He IS all of these things.
Everything about Him blows my mind and leaves me speechless.
In Him, I am complete.
In Him, I am at peace.
In Him, I am ever-joyful.
In Him, I am ever-loved.
Brothers and sisters, “Here is your God!”
Come and listen
To the sound of the wind
To the tickling of the rain
To the journey of the waves in the sea
To the crying of the birds
To the laughter of the children
To the silence
And that still, small voice.
Come and see
The vibrant trees
The solemn rocks
The carefree clouds
The pastel sunsets
The priceless children
The dancing stars
And their beautiful Creator.
Come and touch
The hands of the beggars
The hearts of the hopeless
The souls of the dying
The minds of the confused
The faces of the children
The lives of the persecuted
And the robe of their Sustainer.