“If You gave Your life to love them, so will I”

Hillsong United "So Will I"

As I was on vacation last week, my good friend sent me this song (we pass songs back and forth that we love to play in the morning). I already LOVE many songs on this album, but the LYRICS of this song could wake me up EVERY MORNING to help me remember WHY I choose to worship God EVERY DAY!

So Will I – Hillsong United

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I

I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind

Watch Full Lyric Video HERE

Out of Context | “Ask me for anything you want…You will get it!” John 15:7

“Out of Context” is a series dedicated to verses of scripture, often used in today’s conversations, that have little to do with the context by which it was written.

Context | (1) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed; (2) the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

Today’s Verse

John 15:7 But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

When people often make this statement “Jesus said to ask Him for anything and it will be ours,” there are actually several places that these words show up. They’re not alway’s referencing John 15:7 – however it’s just one of the many that will help me break down why this verse is used out of context so often.

On the surface, every time Jesus makes this statement we assume it’s like a BLANK CHECK! Sure, there might be some conditions to it (like “remain in Me”) but other than that…He said it! Ask Me for whatever you want…it’s yours!

We might not ask for a NEW CAR (right away) but we do have desires. We have needs, and we have circumstances in our lives that need solutions. Often, when we try to engage this verse out of context, we think that adding “in Jesus name” to our request gives it some special magical touch that turns it into a HOLY REQUEST. Even when those requests are not for us, ex.”Heal my mom!” or “Help my son who is wandering away from You!,” we still think that by asking in His name it has some sort of special merit.

Out of Context | “God has Good Plans for You!” Jeremiah 29:11

“Out of Context” is a series dedicated to verses of scripture, often used in today’s conversations, that have little to do with the context by which it was written. 

Context | (1) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed; (2) the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

 

Today’s Verse.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

This has to be one of the top 10 verses that I hear Christians use today that has little CONTEXT for when and how they use it.

Sometimes it’s innocent, like an email signature or an encouraging verse for the day.  However, most of the time it’s read (all by itself) by a high school student getting ready to go to college with the promise that God has great things in store for them. Or by the person getting ready to go on a mission trip and are excited about the “good plans” God has in store for them… and no bad plans. Or it’s in a social media post that goes along with someone’s brand new goal in life (new job, new city, new opportunity) in which they claim that God is leading them and has nothing but sunshine and success waiting for them.

God does have a plan for your life. Don’t get me wrong.  He does LOVE that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone to go on that mission trip or move to a new city where He’s given you a job opportunity. However, there are more verses in scripture that better align with those circumstances than Jeremiah 29:11.

I would guess that more than 90% of people who have ever spoken this verse has absolutely NO IDEA the context in which this Word from God was given to His people. However, if you just read the 5 verses before it – it would be very clear.

You Walked Away? Good…I Would Have Too.

Walking Away From The Wrong god.

I wish this title were actually click bait… but it’s true. There are many who have walked away from God, and after talking with them or hearing their stories – I don’t blame them, I would have walked away from “that god” too.

The truth is when I hear a “deconversion” story, (a story of someone abandoning their faith) one of the first things I do is try to figure out what “god” they claimed to believe in. One or two common ones usually show up, but very rarely do I hear of people who walk away from the God that I have put my hope and trust in. It’s usually some version of Him that has been twisted, altered, and changed to the degree that it’s no longer the fullness of God… but a version of a god who they thought was real.

Several months ago, a well-known pastor in Atlanta (Andy Stanley) was catching some serious controversy over a series he did called “Who Needs God.” He was getting a lot of flack from “churched” people, so obviously I was very interested in what he was doing. (I know it’s strange, but whenever today’s Pharisees get angry about something, it usually means that it’s something Jesus might have done!)

In one of his messages, he shared a list of “gods” that people have walked away from and I recognized several of the ones I have also seen in my life.

Here was his list: The God’s of the No Testament
Bodyguard God – he’s here to keep anything bad from happening to you
On-demand God – he’s here to grant our requests (like a genie)
Boyfriend God – you feel him constantly, he’s always with you, and you never fight
Guilt God – he motivates you by condemnation, guilt, and fear.
Anit-Science God – check your brains at the door, God doesn’t want you to understand anything
Gap God – when we can’t explain it, we shove this God in the gap and call it faith

Vision: Change of Pace and Place

I’ll never forget my time in Montana this past summer. Not only was I surrounded by some of the most amazing mountain ranges, but I had the opportunity to drive across one range called “The Road to the Sun” in Glacier National Park. It’s only open for about 4 months of the year. I was there in July, and they had only just cleared the last of the snow off the road to make it open a few weeks earlier. WOW!  It was one of those bucket list items I didn’t even know to have on my bucket list.

Many of the prayers I was praying and seeking God for answers to, came over this 8-day excursion to 6 states, 5 cities, 2 national parks, and hours of flying and driving in between. There was something overwhelming about the GEOGRAPHY being so different than my normal surroundings that I felt closer to God, and maybe more attentive to the experiences I was having and how God wanted to speak through them.  I tried to put it into words, but struggled to do so until just recently.

I’m currently reading “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson.  It’s a follow-up book to his first work “In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.”  It is a great book about chasing the dreams God has for you and how to dream bigger.

He tells the story of how Joel Malm was ice-axing his way up Mount Elbrus when he received his big dream from God.  It led him to create the Summit Leaders.  Why go to a conference and passively listen to a leader when you can hike the Inca Trail or raft the Colorado River with other leaders and live an adventure?!

Mark has lived by this saying, “Change of Pace + Change of Space = Change of Perspective.”

The Messy Middle

What happened during "after a long time..."

As we kick off another year of resolutions and clean slate thinking on our dreams and desires, I wanted to share a verse with you that has been floating around in my head.

Matthew 25:19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used what He had given them.”

Not the most inspirational passage – I know.

This passage is near the beginning of a memorable parable that Jesus taught as He was getting closer and closer to Jerusalem and all that would then transpire (betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension). Most people think it’s just a lesson about money,  and it is to some degree.  However, I get lost in this particular verse because of the grand narrative of life and the kingdom of God that Jesus is talking about. 

If you know the story, the master gifts 3 servants with talents (talent = amount of money) to use and invest for Him while He’s gone.  It then says in verses 16-18, that the one who received 5 talents went out and put it to work and got back 5 more.  The one who received 2 talents gained 2 more, but the man given only 1 talent went and hid his in the ground. Most people focus on the one who disobeyed and use this parable to make other people feel guilty.

However, that’s not what has had me pondering this passage for the last couple of months.

It’s these words that get me, “after a long time…”

You see, I think Jesus was talking about our entire lives, and the account we will give for the life we’ve been blessed (by Him) with.  We quickly RUSH to the point of the story where the first two servants DOUBLED their investments and get congratulated by the MASTER (verses 21 & 21 “Let’s party together”).

I get lost thinking, “WHAT HAPPENED IN THE MIDDLE?’ What happened during that period of “a long time…” the life that those persons lived? They obviously didn’t IMMEDIATELY double their investment.  This wasn’t a “one and done” action or decision.  It must have each taken their ENTIRE LIFE to see this come to fulfillment.

MY ONE WORD for 2016

The "What If" Question I Never Planned on Asking

For those that know me well or follow me on this blog, you probably remember me proclaiming my word for the year at the beginning of 2016. “What if?” I know that’s technically 2 words, but when you hashtag it – it works. #whatif.

I’m a dreamer and a doer. I love to have my head in the clouds, but there are also times when I just put my head down and get stuff done. It’s a unique tension in my life that I’ve learned to embrace. There have been so many wonderful “What if…” moments this year that I could fill all of 2017 with blogs to inspire what if’s in your own life. However, this is NOT that kind of POST.

This post is not about all the “what ifs” that got me pumped up, it’s about the ONE “what if” that had me jacked up for almost 10 months of this year.

What if…my heart never recovers?

I almost wish I was speaking emotionally or metaphorically about lost love or dreams that were crushed because of circumstances (almost – because I do understand that this has happened for people who struggle with this question and I don’t want to minimize their experience nor would I wish that on anyone). No, I’m speaking about the very real, odd shaped, irreplaceable muscle that pumps the life-blood through our bodies. MY HEART!

Sex Songs and God

Have you ever heard a sex song and thought of how awesome God is?

Is it just me?

I admit, I find the strangest things sometimes and equate them or find a connection to God. Maybe it’s a movie’s ability to describe the root issue of sin in our lives, or a song’s ability to connect my emotions to a phrase that becomes an anthem, or even just something from a book that was intended to tie the author’s points together but instead, connects me to a better understanding of the tension we feel in life and faith.

Again, I know I’m weird. I embrace it.

Here are some of those lyrics.

Verse 1
You know just what to say
(S#*t that scares me!)
I should just walk away
But I can’t move my feet
The more that I know you
The more I want to
Something inside me has changed
I was so much younger yesterday… (oh)
Chorus
I didn’t know that I was starving till I tasted you
Who needs butterflies when you give me the whole damn zoo…
Closing Bridge
The more that I know you the more I want to…

I don’t know what this song means to you. These words may only speak about a physical act of love in your mind, however I see them as a much more deeply rooted core feeling of desire, want, and need that ONLY one person can fill.

Many years ago, some friends of mine took two Psalms and wrote a song for our church. I’m not really even sure if we performed it more than a couple of times. It’s was titled “Taste and See” after Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the lord is good.” It was a song about our soul’s deepest desire for God

Verse 1
Oh my soul, it yearns for you
How my heart, cries out to the Living God
It’s birthed in me, this desire I cannot hide
How I need, this fountain you’ve invited me to
Chorus
Taste and see, I’m overwhelmed by your goodness Lord!

It may just be me, but I can’t listen to Hailee’s song and stop at just the image of satisfying a sexual desire. There’s something so much larger in me that is STARVING for something GREATER than this world has to offer. The more of Jesus I get, the more I realize my need for Him. The more He satisfies my soul, the more I realize how great my need for Him is!

Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the lord is good.”

God, I didn’t know that I was starving until I tasted You!

The Fear of Reflection…

We fear many things in this life, but one that I’ve personally encountered over this past summer is the FEAR OF REFLECTION.

Reflection is simply that time of pondering over, asking questions of, and interpreting things internally. Some people do this through meditation. Some make this a daily part of their prayer life. Some do it as a deliberate practice when considering a major decision. Others simply are forced to do it when something goes horribly wrong and are working to assess what happened and when.

But I’ve noticed in conversations with people that taking time to reflect and ask personal questions (to ourselves) is not something they WANT to do. There is a FEAR that shows up that they didn’t even realize was there.

  • A Fear of what they will find when they stop moving.
  • A Fear of what they will hear when they stop talking.
  • A Fear of what they will feel when they stop rising to meet the expectations of others.
  • A Fear of what answers they might get to the questions they need to ask.

Where Are The Christian Intellectuals?

I read an article recently in the Washington Post that posed a fascinating question that targeted a tension I feel when engaging in political discussions and current cultural issues.

The question – “Where are the Christian intellectuals in the public square?

The article does a good job predicting the reasons that Christian perspectives are no longer a part of the world’s stage in these discussions. However, no matter the reason why – I do agree with the overall argument that there is a vacuum right now in our discussions when we don’t have (fill in your preferred historical Christian leader) presence involved. Is there a voice of faith that can challenge the status quo?

I also read a report about the recent 20/20 episode entitled “The Girl We Left Behind.” It is the tragic story of Kayla Mueller who was an ISIS hostage in 2014-2015 for 18 months. This story was told by those she encountered while held hostage. I was proud of ABC’s willingness to air the testimony of fellow prisoners who spoke about Mueller’s faith in God and the way that it effected her attitude and hope during the abuse, torture, and rape she endued while being held hostage. Do her actions speak loud enough for anyone to hear?