Monday, March 27, 2017

A Stone's Throw

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33

Oh, the allure of a 'how-to.' If you're like me, you've clicked more than once on an article that promises to give you the answers to fix a problem in your life. Click-bait ranging from "How to Clean White Sneakers" to "How to Improve your Marriage in 10 Steps", draws in self-help seekers every minute of every day. As humans, we know there is a problem. Deep down each individual knows that there are things in life that need fixing.

I love exploring the opinions and wisdom that people on the internet have to offer. I have read so many insightful, Biblical articles that have changed patterns in my life. But I also believe that our digital culture, which provides infinite information at our fingertips, is breeding a generation of self-help Christians; individuals with hearts genuinely and earnestly desiring change in their lives, but neglecting to use their greatest resource of truth.

We are chasing answers, desperately searching for information to answer the questions that continually trip us up. "Why does God allow suffering?" is typed on Google approximately 10,000 times every month.Questions like "how do I forgive myself?" or "is God good?" flood the search menus. Even as Christians, we might find ourselves asking "how do I escape this particular temptation?" "How do I fight doubt?" "How do I build a healthy relationship?"

Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us a little bit about the Lord's revelation. It tells us that the Lord has spoken to us through the prophets and through His son...for us today, those revelations are contained in the Bible. God also reveals Himself to us through His creation (Psalm 19:1) and our own human image (Genesis 1:27). He can also speak directly to individuals through special revelation. But the bottom line is; there are things we don't know.

How do we deal with these "holes" in the guidance we've been given? There certainly aren't any pages in the Bible with express instructions on how to recover from a heartbreak or master time management or get through depression. And so the Google searches above are born.

"Lord, give me answers!" we cry.

"Child, give me your heart," He replies.

Do you want to change your life? Don't chase answers. Chase the Lord.

Sometimes, we have to remember what it is that we worship. We don't worship answers, we worship a God. Trials are real, and the questions that nag at our hearts are real. We desire easy, tangible ways to overcome grief and temptation and exchange them for the joy and fulfillment we've been promised. But here's the truth; it's not really about us. We have been cleansed and forgiven and given a purpose...and the reason we've been justified in this way is so that we can reflect the glory back to the only one worthy.

We need to focus a little less on ourselves, and a little more on the greater calling. As it says in Matthew, we are called to seek first the Kingdom of the Lord. Everything else will follow, I promise you! It was never the law or a process that saves us; it has always been Jesus.

Do you want it? Do you want to know the Lord's heart? When this is your deepest desire, He will reveal Himself to you as you pursue. Go just a stone's throw further. If you want to find, you have to chase.

Life is full of unanswered questions, but as we get closer and closer to the Lord's heart, we start to realize something. Priority shifts from finding answers to finding God's heart.The more we know the Lord's character, the greater our confidence in His consistency. Truths like 'the Lord is patient' and 'the Lord is powerful' and 'the Lord is righteous' provide us the lens with which to look at the specific issues we face in life.

Questions like "Why does God allow suffering" can be viewed through the reality of a loving God who doesn't desire pain and a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. Questions like "How do I forgive myself?"  can be looked at with an understanding of the God who created us in His image and His sacrifice which redeemed humanity. Not every situational answer has been revealed to us...but the character of God is gloriously reflected in the rich stories and promises found in the Bible; in the beauty of His creation; and in the small taste of His love that we experience in our relationships with other humans.

Aren't you grateful we don't follow a explicit "life guide", but instead serve a living God? Live your life in the light of His truth, and "and all these things will be given to you as well." God doesn't always tell us exactly what to do...but He does desire to reveal to us who He is. And that is enough.


more about methods of God's revelation:
the source of my google stats:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bite-Sized Psalms

     Perhaps you've heard it said: "Time is money."

     As a college student, time is sleep. Time is socialization. Time is work. But most prominently...time is in short supply.

     Messages about the importance of time management are plenty, but even though the importance of devotional time and social time and school/family balance are emphasized, no one seems to be able to answer the question: how? How in the world do we do it all? Sometimes there are simply not enough hours in the day. And so students end up cutting corners somewhere. Homework gets dropped, friends get blocked, or sleep takes the hit. However, I find that in my own life, that sweet time lingering in the Lord's presence is often what slips away to allow room for papers and parties.

     Trying to manage too much usually results in not doing any of it well. This brings with it frustration and guilt and that terrible struggle of always trying to do everything and yet never doing enough.

     Guilt has NO place in our relationship with the Lord. Failure to reach the expectations and goals we have set for ourselves  is something that will happen repeatedly throughout our lives. Do you know why? Because we're NOT God. God is God. And He is good and gracious enough to make up for our shortcomings and bridge the gap between sin and holiness. We are flawed and not expected to always succeed - we are just expected to cultivate a heart that is eager to obey and please the Lord.

    The greatest danger is when this heavy feeling of guilt over struggling and failing to set aside time for the Lord keeps us on the path we are already on instead of driving us back to the Word. This is when it is important to realize - it's not always about the hours we have to give. It is the intent with which we pledge ourselves and our time to the Lord.

     My parents had a pastor who poured wisdom into their lives, and they continue to spread his wisdom to me and sister today. His legacy lives on through his stories. He shared with my parents how he struggled as young working man with a family trying to make time for the Lord, but only managing a few minutes every morning to spend in focused devotion time. He was apologizing to the Lord, exhausted at the fact that his best didn't seem like enough, when he felt that the Lord spoke to him and said, "what do you think the short Psalms are for?"

     Whether you have several hours to spend feasting at the table or only 10 minutes for a bite-sized Psalm, don't let guilt over not doing enough keep you from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. He is an understanding and graceful God, and I think that he is patient with us as we struggle to balance our lives. As we are faithful to what He asks us to do, He will multiply our time and be faithful to us in return.

     Read your Bible, snack on a Psalm; even if it's in the 5 minutes between breakfast and rushing out the door. Continuously making time with the Lord a priority creates a pattern that allows Him to come into various areas of your life throughout your day. He is gracious, and when we give Him all we have to give His grace is faithful to bridge the gap.


if you're looking for a short, bite-sized devotional to munch on each day, i recommend My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers or Jesus Calling by Beth Moore. each contains a small, daily devotional that can get your mind and eyes focused for the rest of the day, and i have encountered some pretty profound truths in the short paragraphs.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017


     As I sit here in my dorm room, my family back home is struggling to adjust to life after my dad's unexpected kidney failure. It's midterms week, and I have three tests and project due in the next several days. I have friends dealing with a wide spectrum of family and personal issues. My phone broke and I had to buy a new one, and my sister crashed my car. My future is unknown, and I'm trying to figure out if I can afford to stay in school another year.

     And as I reflect, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.

     I am grateful that the Lord I serve is constant, and that I don't have to be afraid when life gets rocky because my foundation will never move. I am grateful that He provides peace beyond my understanding. Gratitude is an insufficient word to express thankfulness for a life redeemed and forgiven and a love unconditional.

     Difficult situations sometimes provide the greatest backdrop against which to see God work. His holiness manifests itself in the healing and peace that He provides. God's presence is greater than any circumstance.

     Practice gratitude. Ask God to show you all the beautiful things you have to be thankful for, and no matter what the circumstance, rejoice that you have the opportunity to observe His holiness working not only in your situations but inside of you personally. That's a beautiful testimony.