Come Closer

James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

I’ve been wrestling with these words. Grasping for meaning. Searching for the other piece of the puzzle. Today it’s placed in my hands. It all makes sense now. Why I wasn’t getting very far.

Matthew 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”

It all makes sense now. I’ve been one of ‘those’ people. I’ve held out one hand saying pour in while I’ve clutched my heart shut with the other. Not in fear of it but in fear of what it may require. My heart must follow after my words.

I’ve got one foot in the laver trying to get ‘clean’ enough, good enough, worthy enough while the other foot slowly inches toward the brazen alter, the consuming fire. And yet the distance is too far, I have to step out of the laver. I have to stop looking back. It’s all or nothing, one or the other, I can’t stand in two places.

I must be poured in before I can pour out. And He’s standing there ready to pour, waiting for me to take that next step.

Acts 2:18 “On my handmaidens, I will pour out of My Spirit!”

 

 

Un-guard My Heart

untitled-design-2

I pick up my copy of The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. My highlighter bleeds on nearly every page. One line echoes off the page and seeps into my soul. And the tears spill. And my heart is rent in two as I remember. Because I

“was the friend who has slapped up cold, guarded walls to protect her heart at the cost of anyone else’s heart, the woman who’s been more interested in self-preservation than anyone else’s situation.”

I remember the moment that wall went up. I was walking down the hallway towards the students that would be my new classmates.  I was terrified. I tried to hide behind my notebook.  A voice without reason whispered they’re going to hurt you to. I didn’t want someone’s words to hurt me again. So my 10 year-old self picked up the bricks that had already been hurled at her in the form of words. Bricks stacked one on top of the other held together by a mortar made of lies formed a wall to protect the shattered remains of her heart.

It was 13 years later that I realized what I had done. That the wall didn’t protect my heart. In building that wall I not only hurt myself but I hurt other people. It literally took a woman kneeling on the floor in front of me, begging me to just say hello to her (you know who you are), for me to realize it. It’s true, hurt people hurt people. And I hurt so many people without realizing it until that day.

That day began the process of trying to find a way past the wall. The prison cell  with no doors. A self-made prison is the worst kind and the hardest to escape from.  It took Jesus to break that wall down, He’s the only One that could, the only One that held the right key.

Some days it’s hard not to rebuild the wall. It’s a daily struggle to live vulnerable. A struggle to keep my heart guarded enough that the lies don’t get back in but un-guarded enough that the love does. It’s a struggle to find the balance between guarded to much and not guarded enough.

Psalms 91

 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Jesus Marveling Faith

faith-the-size-of-a-mustard-seed-moves-mountains-matthew-17_20

Mustard Seed Faith

Time and time again mustard seed faith is taught from the pulpit. We know this faith well. As Matthew 5:17 states “faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains”. Mustard seeds are tiny and miniscule. That’s not really much faith.

But still the smallest amount of faith accomplishes much.

Abraham Faith

In Hebrews 11, we are reminded of the great faith of Abraham and the faith the other biblical heroes and heroines had. We’re instructed to follow their example of faith. We know these examples well. We know their stories well. We want that kind of faith to be found in us.

But there is another kind of faith. One not widely spoken of.

Jesus Marveling Faith

Hidden in the pages of Matthew, we discover a different kind of faith. A kind of faith that has me questioning, Does Jesus see it in me?

In Matthew 8, Jesus arrives in Capernaum. A centurion, a gentile soldier, someone who was not of God’s chosen people seeks the healing of his servant. Jesus said that He would come with him and heal his servant, but the centurion’s response leaves Jesus standing in amazement.

The centurion humbly declares that “I am not worthy to have You enter my home: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed (Matthew 8:8). The centurion goes on to say in verse 9 that when he commands his servant to go, his servant goes.

By saying what he says in verses 8 and 9, the centurion is making a profound statement.

Just as his word to a servant is carried out so is the Word of Jesus.

All Jesus has to do is speak it and it will be done. This was the kind of faith the centurion had.

What Jesus says in verse 10 must have caused a wave of questions in the multitudes that witnessed this encounter. “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed Him, ‘verily I say to you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel.'”(Matthew 8:10)

Jesus saw the greatest amount of faith in Him coming from a gentile soldier. This gentile soldier possessed Jesus marveling faith.

You’d think the greatest faith would have been found in one of His disciples or one of the multitude that followed Him or among His chosen people Israel. But the greatest faith was found in a man He didn’t come to save.

Ask yourself this question: Do I have Jesus marveling faith?

 

Unveiled by the King

“The veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:15-17

My heart was once veiled to the truth. The truth that I am not what they said I was. When you hear something repeatedly, no matter how false it is, it begins to disguise itself as truth.  That’s how the deceiver works. He reiterates himself until you believe. And he uses broken people to break you. Because “he came to steal, kill, and destroy”. (John 10:10 part a). And he will ravage your heart if you let him.

But Jesus!” He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly!” (John 10:10 part b).

He unveils our hearts so that we may see the truth. That we may see Him.

I imagine it’s like the groom removing the veil from his brides face, publicly declaring what’s his with a kiss.

He rushes in like the wind and mends our brokenness. And declares us His.

And He sets us free.

Beautiful things happen when we stand before the King with unveiled heart.

He turns our broken into beautiful. He replaces all the not good enoughs with “My grace is sufficient for you”. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He replaces all the not pretty enoughs with “Beautifully and wonderfully made in My image.” (Psalms 139:14). He replaces all the unloveds with “nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).  He replaces the alone with “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

He redefines us.

So I stand before the King with unveiled heart.

Which King do You Seek?

Got your steel toed boots on? Good, you’re going to need them. I’m wearing two pairs, one right over the other! You know for that extra protection needed for those toes that are about to be stomped on.

I’ve been reading Lisa Bevere’s book titled Girls With Swords. After coming across this line; MY toes are throbbing…so much for those steel toed boots!

“Let us now compare two warring kings-Israel’s first king, Saul, and her final and forever King, Jesus. Israel’s soldier-king, Saul, was anointed as both king and deliverer because Israel wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted a king to call their own-a figurehead of sorts that they could point to with pride. Rather than submitting to the invisible, invincible, eternal God Most High, they wanted someone they could see and touch. They wanted a human champion who could lead them into battle rather than a heavenly King who would fight for them.”-Lisa Bevere

OUCH! That one hurt!

I’m just like them. I want tangible. There are days when His invisible presence just isn’t  good enough. At least that’s what my flesh tells me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that it’s wrong to desire a tangible, affectionate relationship because it’s not. But it is wrong to place that desire above the desire for deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.

God did give them the kings they wanted. But if you look at the lives all of those kings led, they had faults. They let the Israelites down.

Saul committed suicide. (1 Chronicles 10:4). David committed adultery. (2nd Samuel 11:2-4). Solomon had multiple wives and concubines. (1 Kings 11). Herod led an infanticide. (Matthew 2:16).

What we want isn’t always what we need. We don’t need a king; We need Jesus.

“God is everything we need but He sent His Son, Jesus, to be everything we want.” -Lysa TerKeurst

So which king do you seek? The one who will often fail you; or the One that will never leave you nor forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5).

Please excuse me while I go ice my toes.

 

Relentless Pursuit Continued

I originally wrote this post for a devotional contest. (Hence my absence from here). However my piece was not selected due to an uninteresting title. Here it is below as is. I figured I might as well use it somewhere so here it is because it technically is a continuation of my previous post. If you can think of a catchier title that would have drawn you in, I would love your input!

Where is my Beloved? (original title)

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” Song of Solomon 6:3 (NKJV)

Tokens of His affection are scattered all around us. We need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

Those were the words cycling through my mind that day. I had two miles of walking before reaching my destination. With every step I took and every breath I exhaled those words made themselves known.

I had started that morning out with the ever-present longing for that fairy-tale romance. That sweep you off your feet tangible love. That someday my prince will come mentality.

During my walk, my someday dreams were brought to a screeching halt by those words. Words that could not be ignored any longer.

So I asked Him, ‘What do you have for me today? Open my eyes to see it and my heart to receive it.” And He did. He wrapped me in warm sunlight and soft breezes. Cotton-tailed rabbits hopped along beside me. Butterflies flitted and birds twittered about me. The sky was my favorite color of blue and I passed by a field full of my favorite flowers. And this was just my walk to my destination! My walk back brought me cool breezes laced with the scent of rain and a rainbow off in the distance. He surrounded me with things I love that day. And He does so every day.  Those are His tokens of affection that He scatters around me.

As long as I can remember, I have been asking Him ‘where is my beloved?’. That day He answered, ‘I am your Beloved and you are Mine.’

He showed me that I had got so caught up in the someday dreams that I failed to see the today realities. I failed to see that He not only pursues me but He makes Himself tangible. He showed me that I was wasting my time looking for what might be when He wants me to experience fully what He has for me right now.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t have my someday dreams in His someday timing. It just means that I am learning to be content with what He has for me right now today. I am choosing to see and receive the tokens of His affection. Because tokens of His affection are scattered all around us. We need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

Relentless Pursuit

I took this photo on my birthday last year. That day I had woken up to gray skies and threats of rain. That just made what I just knew would be a horrible day even worse. I kept thinking about that dreadful 30  coming next and the countless ways my life had gone so wrong. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be, hadn’t accomplished the long list of things I wanted to do with my life. I felt as if I was going nowhere fast. Twenty-nine wasn’t looking so good to me that day.

As my family and I were heading out the door that day, my mood was just as gray as the sky. I remember leaning against the doorway and thinking “Once, Just once; I would like to have blue sky on my birthday!” But blue sky in November just wasn’t going to happen. At least I had convinced myself of this.

On our drive to dinner and a movie, this woe is me self was staring out the window when all of a sudden  the sky opened up and a shaft of light shined through. And there it was, a patch of blue sky in the shape of a heart!

13465977_553383828728_7743035887800858876_n

And I didn’t even directly ask God for it. But He knows our thoughts. (Isaiah 66:18). He knew how desperately I needed that piece of blue sky.

It was as if He was saying, “I see you, I know, I am here, I love you.” In that moment I realized that God pursues us. He was pursuing me that day.

His pursuit of us is relentless. It is “immovable in purpose or will” and “occurring without interruption or end”.

These past couple of years for me have been about pursuing more of God. But in the midst of my pursuit, I failed to see the moments when He was already there. He’s already here!

Tokens of His affection are scattered all around us; we need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:5

 

 

In My Father’s Arms

I will never forget that day I climbed into my father’s lap and asked him why we were not packing his things in boxes. I was five  years old and didn’t fully understand what was going on. But I was observant. I knew enough to know that we weren’t packing his things. I looked him square in the eyes as he gave me a half-truth. The army wouldn’t let him go yet. He still had another year of service left at Fort Leavenworth. I will never forget looking into his eyes that day and seeing the heartbreak pooled there. It would be years later that my mother would reveal the full truth to me. She had every intention of filing for divorce that year. I am so thankful she didn’t. He may have been gone for that one year but by the grace of God, he won my mother’s heart back and is still here with us today.

I don’t know if it was because of that ‘lost’ year or those few scary times when we thought we might lose him to one health problem or another; but to this day my favorite place to be is in my father’s arms.

There is truly nothing like the sound of my father’s heartbeat.

The sound of his heartbeat takes away all the fear and melts away the stress. There, I am safe and secure. I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

As much as my earthly father loves me, there will be and are days when he will fail me. I will be let down. Promises will be broken. His arms will fail me. He won’t always be there to catch me when I fall. I won’t always have the sound of his heartbeat.

But there is One whose arms are everlasting.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27New King James Version (NKJV)

26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun (the upright one),
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

My heavenly Father desires me to depend on His everlasting arms more than I desire my earthly fathers arms.

Everything I need can only be found in my heavenly Father’s everlasting arms.

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

 

A Searching Heart

We are all in search of something.

We look for love. We look for a sense of belonging.  We look for purpose. We look for security. We look for what we’ve lost.

Our heart longs to find that which it lacks.

We are so desperately hungry for it, that we look in all the wrong places. We look everywhere but the one place it can be found. We want love so we turn to people and our hearts get broken. We want to belong, to be accepted, so we try to fit in and we find ourselves trying to be something we’re not and end up hurting ourselves. We want to have purpose so we try anything and everything that we think might make us happy but end up more empty than before. We’ve lost things and people along the way and are grasping for something, anything to fill that void. But nothing we do works. All we find are Band-Aid cover-ups. The wound is still there, just hidden away.

Are you looking in the right place?

All these things and so much more can only be found in one place. They can only be found in Jesus. ” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”- Matthew 6:33 Seek Him first! He should always be the first place we look. You need not look far. He said He will be found by us. “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

What is your heart searching for?

 

 

A Heart to Know Him

Jeremiah 24:7 KJV “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

Today this verse strikes a cord with me. For the longest time, I knew about God. I had a heart to know about Him. I loved hearing the stories about him. I loved memorizing and reciting His word.

 But I didn’t know Him. I didn’t  have a heart to know him. I am discovering that there is a big difference between knowing Him and knowing about Him. Knowing about him is good but it doesn’t really mean anything until the head knowledge turns into heart knowledge.

Sometimes I look to other translations for different wordings for better understanding. In the amplified bible it says “a heart to know, recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Him”. Contemporary English version says “a desire to know him, and a want for him to be our God”. International Standard Version says “the ability to know him”. The living bible says “a heart that responds to him”. That’s a lot of responsibility on our part! But he’s already done His part.

He desires to know us! So much so that he gives us a desire to know him. It’s a relationship that requires communication and action! Let’s not be one-sided in this! We get more out of him than he gets out of us. Let’s make this personal. (He will give me a heart to know him, that he is my Lord: and I will be His, and He will be my God: for I will turn to him with my whole heart.) This implies an intimately close relationship. He desires to be with us in that secret place, the place that only He should ever be allowed to go.

See  Psalm 91:1

Do you know Him? Or do you just know about Him?