Runnin’ Naked…and Lovin’ It!

Running Silhouette“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” ~Hebrews 4.12-13

So here’s the question: Knowing the Bible “exposes” our innermost thoughts and desires, do we feel comforted…or condemned? Do we think of the revealing Word of God as a good and beneficial thing, or as a frightening thing?

It seems to me that the answer depends on our level of trust in the goodness of God. The more we trust him, the more safe we feel in our “nakedness” before him. Otherwise, we feel violated by God’s “intrusion” into our secret thoughts and desires.

I’m beginning to welcome the search light of God in my life. Knowing that he is for me and not against me makes all the difference. Although in the past I typically imagined God exposing the “bad” things lurking deep within my soul, it has occurred to me there are a few good things within me that God is exposing. For instance, one of the things he is exposing is my deep and enduring desire to be the man he designed me to be, and to be a husband and father and grandpa that will honor him.

He is exposing my willingness to learn to trust him more fully.  He is revealing my confidence that he is the One who will complete the work he has begun within me. Today, my greatest challenge is to live in humble submission to the things he reveals to me…as I live in his Word.

Sometimes when we’re reading the Bible, we simply quit reading too soon. Immediately after we read about God using his Word as a sword to slice and dice our innermost thoughts and desires, we read this:

“This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~ Hebrews 4.15-16

May we invite—and welcome—God’s loving revelation that brings healing into our lives and relationships, and peace that boggles our minds.

Flowing with the Tide of Truth

Water TideWe are often reminded that the current of popular opinion about what is important in life flows against the tide of truth. The following is a great illustration.

I will live life according to these beliefs

God does not exist

It is foolish to think

That there is an all-knowing God with a cosmic plan

That an all-knowing God brings purpose to the pain and suffering in the world

Is a comforting thought however


Is only wishful thinking

People can do what they wish without eternal consequences

The idea that

I’m deserving of hell

Because of sin

Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power

“The more you have the happier you will be”

Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose

In a world with no God

There is freedom to be who we want to be

But with God

Life is an endless cycle of guilt and shame

Without God

Everything is fine

It is ridiculous to think

I am lost and in need of saving

Now, lest your heart be swamped in despair, read it again, this time from bottom to top, beginning with, “I am lost and in need of saving…”

by Deo Volente Media

If You Love Her…Put Her in Her Place!

Numero DosWhile I’m not a fan of all the hoopla surrounding the “Love Holiday”…Valentine’s Day, it is a great opportunity for us guys to give some special thought to ways we can express our undying devotion to our chosen bride. Some guys will be inclined to spend a few bucks on a box of chocolate and some perishable flowers, and a card written by a professional writer. A few guys will show off (excuse my jealousy) by spending some big bucks for a piece of jewelry, or maybe a Lexus or a cruise to an exotic island in the South Pacific.

And the ladies will “Oooo” and “Ahhh,” and fling their arms around our neck in giddy gratitude.

It would be rare indeed to meet a woman who does not enjoy things that glitter and sparkle, and things that make her feel like the beautiful princess she is. She is refreshed in her spirit by the heartfelt message proclaimed by our beautifully wrapped gifts, “You are my treasure. I cherish you.” It makes her feel adored, and a woman likes to feel adored, because that’s what she is designed to be…adored.

Yet hidden away in the heart of every woman is a longing for something more…something more enduring than things that glitter and gleam. She longs for something that will withstand the trials of day-to-day life, and pass the test of time. At the core of her being, she needs to know her husband is equipped to lead with strong hands and a devoted heart. She wants to know that his vision for her—and their family—is greater than his own perspective. She wants to know she is safe in his arms, and safe in his heart.

Men, there’s only one way we can accomplish such a grand expectation: Make her Number Two (or in my case Numero Dos) in your life!

In Holy Libido, I mention a revelation Rose made to me during our whirlwind dating experience. She told me about my “place” in her life. Here’s the excerpt: “Before we were married, in the spirit of full disclosure she (Rose) told me I would have to accept second place in her life because the first place was already taken. Her ‘first husband’ is her Papa God.”

I was a little perplexed at first, and then it occurred to me, “How awesome to be second in line to the Creator of the universe—at least in Rose’s world!” Who would be silly enough to want to step in line in front of God in our mate’s life!

Rose’s simple yet direct remark started the wheels in my head spinning. In order to love her the way God intends for me to love her, I must also put her in second place in my life. My first devotion must be to my heavenly Father. I need to surrender my self-centered perspective in exchange for his perspective. I must learn how to lay my life down for my wife. While this sounds cavalier, quite honestly “laying my life down” often requires little more than seeing things through her eyes rather than through my own eyes.

God instructs me to love my wife as his Son Jesus loved the church. Reasonable men will admit that this love requires something far beyond our own capabilities. Guys, when God is truly in first place in our life, and we are allowing his amazing love to purge us and fill us and empower us, our wife will be the recipient of the unadulterated love of God…flowing from him, through us, straight to her precious heart.

So go for it! Buy her a gift. And write something special in the card…something romantic like, “You thrill my heart—will you please be my Number Two?” It’s the highest honor you can possibly present to her this Valentine’s Day—second in line to her PapaGod—ahead of every other “distraction” in your life…sports, your job, and even your ministry work.

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her…” ~ Ephesians 5.25

So if you love her–and I know you do–put her in her place…

…her place of sacred honor!

Eternal Insecurity – Am I In…or Am I Out!

securityI’m often reminded I take myself too seriously. I begin to think I “get it”—I get what God wants me to know about him and his design for life. I get what it means to live life the way I’m designed to live it. But then something happens to remind me I don’t get it, at least not in an enduring and “finished” kind of way.

I read a verse in the Bible that makes perfect sense, and I memorize it so I can meditate on it throughout the day. Then I discover another verse that doesn’t fit all that well with the first verse. I think of these as “tension verses.” Frankly, they seem to be contradictory. (I’ve heard people trying to “explain” these verses in a way that makes me think of a Spiritual Twister kind of game.) I hesitate to memorize the second verse that seems to clash with the other verse I memorized because I might get confused.

Respectfully speaking, God could have been a little more specific about some of the things written in his Book. Sometimes I wondered why he didn’t just write the Book himself, without the help of men and women. We know he could have. We remember the time he scratched the Ten Commandments into some stone slabs with his finger, and when Moses shattered the slabs in a fit of rage, God made him a replacement set. So we know he could have literally written the Bible all by himself, without the help of the men and women he inspired to jot his thoughts and instructions on parchment. But he didn’t.

The tension verses that seem to rile Christ followers (and Christ mimickers and other pseudo-Christians) the most are the tension verses regarding our “security” in our relationship with Christ and our “standing” before God. As a kid, I trembled during the alter calls, terrified that I might have unwittingly committed a sin that exceeded the limits of God’s amazing grace. We sang songs like Are You Ready, but how could I possibly know if I was ready? My “readiness” was entirely dependent, it seemed, on my ability to live a sinless life.

I remember hearing the members of our flock talk about “those Christians” who claimed to be eternally secure. “Oh, those people.” The tone was mocking. I heard adults making fun of anyone who believed they could “sin every day in word, thought and deed” and think they were still going to heaven. But secretly, I envied them—the eternally secure people. I didn’t want to be okay sinning everyday—I hated disappointing God. I just didn’t want to be kicked out of the kingdom plan for having the Winston cigarette jingle go through my head.

Today, I believe I have been invited by the Spirit of God to participate in his plan of eternal life. I believe I’m sealed by the same Spirit. And because his Spirit has quickened my spirit, I am consumed by my desire to get out of his way and allow him to accomplish what he wants to accomplish, both in and through me. I’m learning to surrender my way for his way. Frankly, it’s becoming easier to recognize the times when my selfishness or fear—or laziness—gets in the way of me trusting and obeying the promptings of God’s Spirit in my innermost being.

I believe it’s impossible to be made alive by God’s Spirit and still be okay with living in continual disobedience to his will. If I understand—even in a minuscule way—what it cost my Lord to pay the penalty of my sin, I can no longer be okay making a mockery of his sacrifice for me. (On a personal note, I lived a spiritually miserable life for many years because of the disparity between my love for God and my shameful disobedience. By his grace, I never became “okay” with my foolish choices.)

And I think it’s impossible to be connected to Jesus the Vine and not produce the fruit of his will—in the fullness of time.

And I’m learning that the energy that is expended in lively debates about our “security” in Christ could be better invested serving those who desperately need to know that God is for them…and not against them. Could it be that God allowed the “tension verses” in his Word so we would leave the end results up to him! As for me, I’m confident that he is the One who will complete the work he began within us.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” ~ Philippians 1.6

Super Bowl Sunday….and WAY Beyond!

superfanA battle is scheduled to take place today in New Orleans. The warriors are some of the most powerful men in the world, trained in the art of war…face paint and all. For those who watch from the grandstands, the pulsating energy is almost too much to bear. Many seem to be overcome with the hype and fanfare; some appear to lose all sense and sensibility.

Yet, it’s just a game. In the grand scheme of things, we will be entertained for only a moment. Some will experience the thrill of victory; others, the agony of defeat. But in just a few short hours, all that will be left is the trash in the grandstands. Tomorrow will be life as usual, never mind the throbbing headache and queasy stomach.

There’s another battle raging on, but we’re not in the grandstands. We’re in the arena. And the cloud of witnesses is on its feet! By comparison, the Super Bowl is child’s play…akin to backyard touch football.

The outcome of the battle we’re engaged in has eternal consequences. The victors of this battle will enjoy a celebration with no end (and no hangover), with the One who spun our world into being. Although he is a mighty warrior—radiating with brilliant splendor—he tenderly formed us in our mother’s womb. And he invites us to share with him in the life he has prepared for us…forever.

So as you’re whoopin’ and hollerin’ and munchin’ on snacks, imagine the inexplicable magnitude of the real battle…the battle between good and evil. And consider the part you’re playing in the battle. Suit up! Can you hear the roar in the grandstands of all those who have gone on ahead of us! It’s an electrifying moment…with an eternal prize.

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