“You are Goats” – A Journey Into the Heart

“You are Goats” – A Journey Into the Heart

OK, so funny title to this blog. I don’t think it’s SEO friendly, but here it goes anyway. Yesterday I was driving the kids to school and we were listening to a favorite worship song of mine, “King of My Heart,” with Steffany Gretzinger and the Bethel crew (view it HERE). My adorable 6-year-old son was singing with all his heart the part in the song that repeats, “You are good, good, ooooh-oh,” but instead of “You are good,” he was singing, “You are goats, goats, ooooh-oh.” Funny, I know. I had to keep myself from laughing the way you probably are right now, but I had to ponder the pure heart of a worshiper and friend of God.

Have you ever put pressure on yourself to pray the right way with the right words, make the right confession, you know, “Get the words right.” I remember a time when I lived in the Philippines and we would go to tribal areas to minister. There was one group of people that learned an older song that goes, “Majesty, worship His majesty. Unto Jesus, be all glory honor and praise.” With their limited English, they would sing from their hearts, “Magic tree, worship His magic tree…” Again, I know it seems funny, but they would be on their knees in tears as they were moved by the Holy Spirit!

Another story comes to mind of a time the founder of the ministry I served overseas was doing an open-air crusade and was working with a translator. He was preaching on healing, building the faith of the people to receive the healing that Jesus died for them to have, and desired for them to walk in. At one point in his message, the formerly attentive group suddenly dispersed and began walking to the little “sari-sari” storefronts to get ballpoint pens. He asked his translator what happened and it turns out the translator had mistakenly communicated that they needed to place a ballpoint pen on their nose as an act of faith to receive their healing. (Some things are really lost in translation, ya know?)

The amazing aspect of this story that was always communicated as he shared it was that God actually honored their faith response to the inaccurate instructions given! Many of these people (with ballpoint pens touched to their nose) received their healing!

My point today friends is that we cannot put God in a box. We also have to understand that only man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart! Whether it’s a 6-year-old singing out, “You are goats,” or a group of people racing for the mighty Bic pen – God is not looking at perfection in their words or actions, He is looking at the purity of their hearts and the faith found there!

This is so encouraging to me! I believe sometimes we are taught so many principles (of faith, healing, prosperity, discipleship, hearing from God, etc.) and this is GOOD; however, you probably have felt at times (like me) that in order to “do it right” and get the “right result” you have to follow the formula. I’m here to tell you that formula outside of relationship will never produce the “right result.”

God is our Father! We have to remember the love that flows from Him to us is beyond any earthly parental love that we have for our kids (and that is some pretty indescribable love in itself!) When I heard my son singing it so blessed me! Did he get the words right? No way! But correcting his words was the farthest thing from my mind. I enjoyed hearing him sing from the pure place of worship in his heart. It’s the same with God. He wants your heart, not your ability to follow a formula. You know as well as I do that we can honor God with our lips, yet our hearts be far from Him. What does that mean? It means some people say “all the right things,” but they have no relationship with God. I don’t want to be like that. How about you?

Decide today that you will stop pressuring yourself to “do it perfectly.” Give yourself permission to be relationship driven rather than results driven. We can learn principles, but we must keep relationship first! Keep a transparent and pure heart as you walk in relationship with God, and you will live in the assurance that His grace is filling in the gaps of your growth. Just keep growing!

 

The Lure of a Mediocre Life

The Lure of a Mediocre Life

Have you ever had those moments in life when you just step back and look at where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to be in five or ten years? Have you looked deep inside to search out the Creator’s purpose and design for your life, knowing you’ve walked in step with Him, that you have sought Him, but somehow get the feeling that there is still MORE? Have you considered that maybe you’re not waiting on Him, but He’s waiting on YOU?

What is it about change, impact, influence, growth – GREATNESS…that is so intimidating? Why is mediocrity so alluring? It’s comfortable. It doesn’t require a lot of stretching. It’s well known and familiar. It’s easy to hide in mediocrity. Growth requires risk. Influence requires accountability. Change requires WORK. So let’s all “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”  – NO!!!

Could you hear that? That was my spirit’s cry – NO! You know what traps us? Yes, yes, fear of failure, but what about fear of success? What about fear of MAN – fear of man’s rejection, criticism, and judgment? Did you know that what other people think about you is none of your business!? My gosh! How bogged down we become in our own insecurities because WE. ARE. SO. WORRIED. about what others will think. Have I hit a nerve yet? I hope so.

We need to be shaken. We need to wake upHow many years can go by before time has run its course and our race is over? It’s time to break out of the bondage of the lies we’ve been telling ourselves. Now is the time to be bold, to be free. It’s time that we step into the calling that God has on our lives without apology! Have you ever tried to make yourself small because you don’t want to intimidate the people around you? You don’t want them saying, “Who do they think they are with those BIG GOD DREAMS!??” Yes, be humble. Yes, allow God to promote you, but when He does, baby, don’t apologize for it! We are not talking about building your kingdom, your glory, your following – NO. We are talking about building His Kingdom, revealing His glory, and discipling His followers. If that is your heart then think BIG, dream BIG, love BIG, grow BIG! Our God is the exceedingly, abundantly ABOVE God! Let’s not be minimal, just enough, BELOW thinkers!

Who are you? What drives you? Where are you going? Do you believe your life’s purpose is to work for God, or that your life’s purpose is to live the adventure with God! Trust me, these are two mindsets with two very different outcomes. One breeds burden and one breeds passion. One cultivates a sense of religious duty, the other cultivates a root of love that bears fruit that remains. Listen, life is passing by and you can remain in cruise control and have a great life – or, OR – you can kick into high gear and have your BEST life. What do I mean by that? The life, the purpose, the destiny, the dream, the legacy that God breathed into you, child, when He created you and saw ALL of your days before you lived a single one!

Don’t settle. Champions live differently. People of faith think differently. They talk differently! Live every today to be a better YOU tomorrow. Invest in people. Invest in relationships. Invest in your future and the legacy you will leave to your children’s children. Don’t leave a legacy of regret, shame, fear, or timidity. C’mon! NO regrets. Leave a legacy of boldness, courage, and FAITH! Don’t allow mediocrity to lull you to sleep – WAKE UP and rise up to that great high calling in Christ! You can do all things in and through Him. Now go and take your mountain!

 

 

God’s Love for the Unloved

God’s Love for the Unloved

The love of God is the greatest force in this universe. God is love, and He has manifested His love to us in the person of Jesus. You know, when Jesus walked this earth, He was (and still is) a reflection of the Father’s heart toward us. When we look at Jesus, we see the Father. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the “express image of God,” and “the exact representation and perfect imprint of God’s essence.” 

I have been soaking in the love of God, and looking at and beholding Jesus, and I can tell you that there is NOTHING like it. It is a place that I never want to leave. When I look at Jesus, I see mercy and grace and truth. His actions express God’s heart. So, what is God’s heart toward the sinner? Toward the unlovely, and the unloved?

When the religious leaders of Jesus’ day took a woman caught in the very act of adultery, drug her to Jesus, and threw her at His feet I am telling you that is the safest place she could have landed! Glory to God! When every person in the crowd (stones in hand) was ready to execute justice and exact punishment for her sin, her mighty Savior, JESUS, extended mercy and provided protection from her accusers.

The truth is, Jesus attracted sinners, the unlovely, and the unloved. Why? Because He was the love of God in human flesh. He was the grace of God in human flesh. When religion said, “You are worthless,” Jesus said, “Come to me and I will make you worthy.” There is something so attractive about unconditional love – a love that still loves you when you mess up, that still loves you when you haven’t been good enough, that still loves you when you have failed. This kind of love is what makes sinners drop to their knees in total surrender – THIS LOVE is so good!

I have always identified with the story in Luke 18 that tells of a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee stood in his own self-righteous pride, looking with contempt at sinners, and thanking God that he “wasn’t like THEM.” He prided himself in his “good works,” and particularly looked with disdain at the tax collector who wouldn’t so much as enter the temple or lift his eyes toward heaven. What was this tax collector (who would have been seen as the scum of the earth in Jesus’day) – what was he feeling and thinking? “I am unworthy of any good thing. I am an outcast and a traitor to my own people. I have sold my soul for what? For some money. I don’t deserve your love.” This man beat his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

I identify with that man. I remember being a young woman – I was an unwed, teenage mother. Struggled with drugs. I was so desperate for love that I gave my body to anyone who would show me some love, even if it was very, very temporary. I remember the day that the shame of all of my foolish choices converged on me and I couldn’t bear the weight of it any longer. My heart cried out to God, knowing I had nothing to offer Him but a broken mess of a life. I had never felt more unworthy of love than at that moment – BUT GOD – Who is rich in mercy – God, like a loving Father, wiped away every tear, and removed all my shame by speaking to my spirit three simple words – I LOVE YOU. When God (love) became real to me, I fell into Love’s arms and where rejection, shame and condemnation had sought to tear me down, acceptance, love and forgiveness built me up! From that day to this, God has been faithful to me!!!

I am here to tell anyone who would read these words – society may give up on you, people may call you worthless, you may have been rejected from the womb by your mother or father, BUT GOD will never give up on you! God will never let go of His hold on you! People may throw you away, but God will never throw you away! You may not feel worthy of love, but surrender your life to Him and He will make you worthy! I am telling you, He will NEVER leave you or forsake you!

Hebrews 13:5 says this:

“for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”

Ephesians 2:4-7 says this:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Are you a sinner? An adulterer? A drunk? An addict? A thief? Are you full of religious pride and hypocrisy?  You are a prime candidate to receive of the grace of God SO THAT in the ages to come, all would look at you and say – look at what the Lord has done!!! Where sin had abounded grace did SUPER abound! Where people forsook them, God never let them go! He NEVER gave up on them, and now look at this glorious, whole, love-filled, joy-filled, hope-filled masterpiece of a man (or woman) He has created from one that was so broken and lost! ALL the glory goes to HIM!

You see, when we don’t deserve forgiveness, or blessing, or goodness, or kindness, but we get it anyway – that’s grace. When we do deserve punishment, the curse, and hell, but don’t get it – that’s mercy. Did you know that God is full of grace and mercy? His love for the unloved, the outcast, the sinner, the rejected and the abandoned is unmatched. So what is your part? Simply believe that God is real, and receive His love gift – eternal life.

I, for one, am eternally grateful that I encountered LOVE, and LOVE saved me. I am a trophy of His exceedingly rich grace, and His loving kindness. And NOBODY can shut my mouth! I will FOREVER praise the name of my Savior, my Hero, my Lord – JESUS!!

Be Still

Be Still

It’s early morning in my house – all are sleeping, all is quiet. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. No rushing, no deadlines, no last-minute search for backpacks and jackets, keys, and purse. There is something about the sense of quiet, the stillness.

In a world of constant noise, I find that “quiet” has become a precious commodity. Did you ever notice that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes? I think we all need to “unplug” sometimes.

The other day, in the midst of looming deadlines, orders piling in my inbox, church meetings, and school activities, I decided to stop at a little park down the street with my kids. It was a GORGEOUS day. My three-year-old & five-year-old were thrilled! I sat in the grass and stopped to take it all in. I listened to their laughter. I pushed them on the swings. We all sat in a swinging chair and counted the cars on a train that went by us – 133 cars! They thought that was something!

We looked at our little part of the city from up on a hill, then we sat down below on a bench and talked about how the view changed. We listened to a bird with a very interesting call, and soon a few sticks on the ground became staffs that would forge a new path into an unexplored patch of trees. The kids thought they had quite the adventure when a nearby dog began barking at them and they rushed back to the safety of mom’s side!

Finally, we all laid in the grass and looked at the clouds. We watched the breeze move through the trees, and let the sunshine warm our faces. How wonderfully therapeutic it is when we “unplug” from the noise of the world and become aware of the unrushed world of God’s creation. In the middle of my “busy” God lead me to a pocket of peace, a place of stillness where I could take a deep breath and recharge.

I want to encourage you to find that place of rest today. Take time to quiet your mind and be still. Take time to be aware of your children and your spouse. Be present in your heart and mind. Breathe deeply. Let God speak to you. What a difference it will make in your life when you choose to protect your peace, when you become intentional about being still and at rest.

You’ve only got one life to live. Don’t let deadlines and “to-do” lists drag you through it. You can still be productive – sometimes more productive – when you “stop and smell the roses.” Memories aren’t made in the “busy-ness” of life, but in the moments that we choose to make special. Make some memories today. Your children will thank you for it later!!

Good & Faithful

Good & Faithful

“Well done good and faithful servant…” these are the words that every believer wants to hear from the Master when He returns and we give an account of what we have done with what He has given us. In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, we read of a master who gives instructions to his servants before departing on a long journey:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” Matthew 25:14-15

A talent was a weight, or a sum of money, but it is appropriate to see this talent as a resource in a person’s life (time, money, ability, authority). The story goes on to reveal that the first two servants felt the responsibility of their assignment and went to work without delay. They used what had been entrusted to them, and gave the master a return on his investment. We read of the 3rd servant that he was afraid and went and hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground. At the very least, he did not lose what was entrusted to him, but he only gave his master “what was his” and no more.

We discover that each servant did give an account of what he had done in his master’s absence…

“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’…He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’

It is good to note that both servants received the same reward, even though they were given different measures, or weights, of responsibility. They both heard equally:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Note also that each servant gave an account individually. As a group they would have done well – 8 talents given, 15 returned; however, each ONE gave his own personal account before his master.

“Remember, my hearer, that in the day of judgment thy account must be personal; God will not ask you what your church did – he will ask you what you did yourself.” (Spurgeon)

Much to the third servant’s surprise, he was not commended for returning to the master what belonged to him. He seemed to believe – because his master was so powerful – that he didn’t need his help. With boldness and perhaps even pride he says to the master, “Look, there you have what is yours.” He seemed to have no idea that his master expected a return on his investment – at least some interest!

As we finish out the parable we see that the third servant was deemed to be “wicked & lazy,” or unprofitable & unproductive. He received no reward from his master, but rather what little he did have was taken away. His fears and assumptions were no valid excuse. He was afraid but his fear was misplaced – He should have feared God rather than fearing risk or failure.

Every time I read this passage it is sobering to me. We don’t have the luxury of not using what God put in our hands. We all want to hear, “Well done.” We all want to hear, “Good and faithful,” when the Lord is addressing us, but we often let our own fears and assumptions about God’s greatness and our “smallness” deter us from fully developing in the gifts and graces He has entrusted to us. Saying, “I was afraid,” is not a valid excuse! Fearing risk or failure rather than God will only lead us into being unprofitable and unproductive, but we are called to live lives that bear much fruit!

Listen, the qualities God is looking for are goodness & faithfulness. He didn’t say, “Well done thou mighty and anointed man of God.” Nor did he say, “Well done thou popular and well recognized Christian celebrity.” No, no – He is looking for faithfulness. He simply wants us to do something to serve Him with what He has given us. It might be serving in your church, raising up children in the spirit of faith, running a profitable business that advances His kingdom, or painting, dancing or performing for His glory. Whether He has given you 1 talent, 2 or 5 – give Him a return on His investment! Bear fruit with what seed He has given you!

In a very unfaithful world, God sees and recognizes and rewards FAITHFULNESS! What is the weight or measure He has entrusted to you? USE IT for His glory, and live excited for the day when you get to stand before Him and hear, “Well done.”

Pin It on Pinterest