Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Rehearsing Regrets.

How often do we chain ourselves down with the “doh”s of life? I cannot even begin to count how many times my palm has made contact with my forehead in the gesture of disbelief and shame at my own actions. I can’t believe I said that. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I believed that…after the initial doh comes the haunting. The late night recollections of all the errors I’ve made, all the people I’ve hurt, all the friendships I’ve damaged, and even the pain I’ve caused myself because of regrettable actions.

It can get weighty. Carrying around all you should have done, and bearing the weight of all that you shouldn’t have done. Like vines choking off a tree, so too can these regrets choke the vitality out of you—if fed.

We are told that if we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9). Yet, we are so reluctant to forgive ourselves. I know that I have often beat myself up over things that I have repented of years ago, yet I still regret that I ever was at a point of immaturity that I did such a thing.

In doing so, I waste so much energy looking back at all my failures. It drains me of energy and depletes my confidence, so much so that I have no strength or motivation to look forward in life. This very truth is enough to convince me that it is not God behind the nagging in the back of my mind about how I messed up and how I should have done this or that differently. These thoughts PREVENT me from doing his work, and who would want that? Certainly not God, but it would suit the devil just fine if he can convince us all that we are so terrible that we cannot be trusted to do God’s work, therefore we should just leave it to “someone else”. If everyone becomes convinced, nothing will get done. How convenient for the devil.

So, though I do struggle, I challenge you to make things difficult for the devil. Serve the Lord in your brokenness, and allow him to equip and grow you. You don’t have to have it right today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Life is a continual journey of growth, and being such, each day we will see that some of our actions from the day before were not all that they should be, that we were not all that we should be, but God CALLED us, he wants a relationship with us. He could use the trees, the rocks, the sky to do his work, yet he wants it to be you. He wants it to be me. He loves us and wants us to be co-workers with Him in spreading the word of His love.

So, I say;

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energy on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13 NLT)

I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m going to fight the temptation to pour too much of my energy into what I failed at in the past, instead praying for the strength, wisdom, knowledge, and courage to move forward—living for Christ and growing in Him.

Isaiah 43

Israel’s Only Savior

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—

he who created you, Jacob,

he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I give Egypt for your ransom,

Cush and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,

and because I love you,

I will give people in exchange for you,

nations in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

I will bring your children from the east

and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’

and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’

Bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the ends of the earth—

7 everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.”

8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. 

9 All the nations gather together 

and the peoples assemble. 
Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? 
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” 

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, 
 “and my servant whom I have chosen, 
so that you may know and believe me 
 and understand that I am he. 
Before me no god was formed, 
 nor will there be one after me.

11 I, even I, am the LORD, 
 and apart from me there is no savior. 

12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— 
 I, and not some foreign god among you. 
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. 

13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he. 
No one can deliver out of my hand. 
 When I act, who can reverse it?”

God’s Mercy and Israel’s Unfaithfulness

14 This is what the LORD says—

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“For your sake I will send to Babylon

and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride.

15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,

Israel’s Creator, your King.”

16 This is what the LORD says— 
 he who made a way through the sea, 
 a path through the mighty waters, 

17 who drew out the chariots and horses, 
 the army and reinforcements together, 
and they lay there, never to rise again, 
 extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 

18Forget the former things; 
 do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing! 
 Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness 
 and streams in the wasteland. 

20 The wild animals honor me, 
 the jackals and the owls, 
because I provide water in the wilderness 
 and streams in the wasteland, 
to give drink to my people, my chosen, 

21 the people I formed for myself 
 that they may proclaim my praise.

22 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, 
 you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel. 

23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, 
 nor honored me with your sacrifices. 
I have not burdened you with grain offerings 
 nor wearied you with demands for incense. 

24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, 
 or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. 
But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out 
 your transgressions, for my own sake, 
 and remembers your sins no more.

26 Review the past for me, 
 let us argue the matter together; 
 state the case for your innocence. 

27 Your first father sinned; 
 those I sent to teach you rebelled against me. 

28 So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple; 
 I consigned Jacob to destruction 
 and Israel to scorn.

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Having Superpowers.

It is my belief that every little kid, at some point, imagines being big and powerful, having special powers, and being able to change the world—at least their world—for the better. These are the childhood fantasies that lead to scraped knees, bruised arms, and broken bones. We are let down by what be believe will give us these magic powers. That sheet around your neck doesn’t make you fly, nor does it even help break your fall. That wand in your hand doesn’t freeze your angry neighbor kid into a block of ice, but your taking the time to point it at them and say your magic words gives them enough time to kick you in the shins. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve all day dreamed special powers and played pretend as a child. Searching for that magic power, that source of strength, that will allow us to save the world!

For Popeye, it was spinach, for Green Lantern it was his Ring, for Superman the sun. Batman relied on himself, and his own resourcefulness. A lot of times we try to find our power in things external. If we eat a certain way, we’ll be so powerful, able to change and win the world over. If we just try harder, study more, stay in school longer, we can do it on our own. We buy things, make things, covet things that we believe will give us more strength and power to change things in this world. More money, more status, more things.

Yet, we so often feel so empty and weak. We try to change things—even just for ourselves, and fail miserably. It is like we’re Superman with Kryptonite tied around our necks. Instead of gaining more power and strength, we get weaker and weaker. Our world gets more out of control. The enemies we work so hard to keep at bay, fear, loneliness, shame, regret, etc., grow stronger and stronger as our strength diminishes.

We do have super powers—beyond measure. We’re just tapping all the wrong sources. In John 12:14 Jesus says, Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.Now, just think on the life of Jesus—think of all that he did on earth, and this verse declares that we will do greater things. How? Well Jesus, in the same chapter in verses 10 and 11 says that the Father dwells in Him, and He in the Father. The source of power is there, in our relationship with the Father. This verse also tells us how we use the power to bring about change. It says in verses 13 and 14 that whatever we ask in His name, that brings Glory to the Father, he will do. So, our strength is not our own, it comes from the Father and our relationship with him, and we can change the world by asking for things according to His will. His loving, infinitely wise, will.

So next time you’re feeling helpless and weak, remember you do have superpowers. You just have to daily dedicate yourself to improving your relationship with the Father, claim the promises, and surrender all your attempts and searching for strength anywhere other than at the feet of Christ (sounds easy, right? J It’s not always…but it is worth it). Nothing is impossible with God, and the one who created the universe longs to bless you and strengthen you. He thinks of YOU. So, seek Him. Seek his kingdom, and live boldly as one with superpowers on your side.

We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods. We use God's mighty weapons, not merely worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God." 2 Cor. 10:3-5a

A Few Verses on the Source of our Strength:

Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Exodus 15:13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Deuteronomy 8: 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today

2 Samuel 22:33 It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

Isaiah 45:24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance andstrength.’” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.

Isaiah 58:11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with thestrength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

On Growing Up.


The spring winds blow, and like a shower whirly seeds spiral down from their places high up in the branches of the Maple tree. They fall on the road, the roof, and the soil. Soon the spring showers follow, gentle and long. The whirly seeds are torn and battered, they begin to rot away, but from within them springs forth growth. No, not the day they fell, not while the seeds were being scattered, but after they were watered and the seed’s shell itself broke and gave way to the growth that was occurring within.

We have much in common with these little seeds, yet we have one advantage over them—we can come to the water source ourselves and ask for him to Grow us, water us and tend us.

However, we must be aware that growth requires brokenness first—a casting off of masks, a surrendering of our battle stance, an acknowledgment of our inability to do it on our own. Sometimes it takes a good long look in the mirror, to realize our incompleteness. The simple truth is, if nothing changes…nothing will change. We have to be broken in order to grow, in order to be made whole.

I have often prayed the prayer, asking for God to grow me so that I produce the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). You know how we grow in those things? By being tested in those areas. If I ask for more patience, my patience will be tested so that I may grow in patience. If I ask for joy, I will be challenged to find joy in the midst of gloom. Joy is easy when all in life is well, it’s when the clouds roll in that you learn if you have the fruit of joy.

Just as the whirly Maple seed did not bring forth life the moment it fell, so our growth may be slow. God is gracious enough to bear with us, loving us, tending us, as we have to be broken time after time (often because of things of our own doing) because we have failed to learn the lesson we need to learn in order to grow and eventually bear fruit.

Some plants, once sprouted grow faster than others. Did you know that some varieties of bamboo can grow approximately a meter a day? Also, were you aware that the Saguaro Cactus can take up to upward from 40-75 years to mature enough to have it’s first branch or produce it’s first bud? Do you know what determines this rate? It largely depends on the precipitation the plant receives as it grows.

What hope, then can we find in this, while we go through a storm of chaos in order to become peaceful? We can know that God doesn’t give up on us, and that he is with us, let him water you, let him give your broken spirit birth to good fruit.

On "The List".

Girls often have, what is termed shortly, “the list”. It is a list of qualities a man must possess in order to win her heart—or at least that is the ideal she has in mind as she writes it.

This may sound like a most excellent idea, if you have a list, you will not settle for less than your perfect match, right? It will limit the playing field down so that you do not waste your time or emotions where your happiness will not be found, or so I was told when I was encouraged to write mine.

I have found it to be quite the opposite. It, though specific to the point of being laughable, created false positive matches. Yes, there will be more than one guy who fulfills the list. And if you so believe that it will whittle down the choices to one, you take the risk of believing you have found the one—multiple times.

Also, I discovered that one “side effect” of the list is an increased “other” focus—looking and evaluating others, looking for strengths and weaknesses [going down the checklist, ticking off all the favorable qualities]. This side effect seemed to result in self-blindness.

Now, some of you may say—aren’t we supposed to be other-focused and not focus on ourselves? Yes, when it comes to love and nurture, guidance and care—but this wasn’t that. This was pointing out the speck in my brothers’ eyes while ignoring the plank in my own sort of “other-focused”.

You know what the whole thing ended up resulting in? Me feeling utterly lost. I didn’t know myself as well as I should. I was praying to God what would be the perfect guy for me as if I knew better than He? I was wandering around purposeless, holding on the dream of finding my purpose…..in a perfect match.

What is a perfect match? Who would be my perfect match. That’s how I looked at the world, if I am really honest with myself. I had very good intentions, they were just incomplete and lacking of a certain degree of maturity.

See, I was uncomfortable making a list of expectations and traits I was looking for in a man, without making sure I was up to the standards I was holding for the guy. No, I’m not saying you have to be a clone of your ideal guy, that would be boring and weird. Let me, for this instance, take a shallow example. One of the things on my list is that I want a guy who is musical. I, however, considerably lack musical talent. If you ask me to sing, you’ll only do it once. Trust me. However, I love listening to people play music, to express themselves through song. It speaks to something inside me, and moves me. However, in the list making for yourself, one must be careful what your motives are behind each item.

I want to learn to play an instrument. So when I can afford to do so [and the time is right], I will take lessons. This is where the list can throw you off, once again. I could take lessons in order to make myself desirable to a guy who is musical, and this would be a derailment.

In other words, I should not make myself into a musical person to get a musical man. Nor I should I pray for the sake of winning the heart of a praying man.

One further question, since when do we earn love? Going through your list becoming the things on it so that you may get a person with those qualities supposes that you can earn love. I believe God is the ultimate example of Love, and what can we do to earn his love? Nothing, it’s a gift.

Now, I need you to catch this. I’m not saying living up to those standards is wrong. It’s the motives behind them that make the difference. I should pursue music because it gives voice to that deep place within me, because it provides yet another way to praise my Lord and bring glory to his name; and prayer must be an expression of our heart, more specifically our heart for God and his people. Not for just one of his people.

Instead, I would urge you to work on your relationship with God. Let the relationship with HIM change you and make you long to be a better you, because you love HIM endlessly. That way, who you are, who you become, will be matched with someone who is on the same journey toward God. This will result in you finding a match, maybe not who meets your every minute specification and preference, but one whom is headed the same way as you. And thus, your relationship can become a ministry to others built on true devotion to God, and a solid identity forged by the intimate relationship you have with HIM.

I still consider a list, of sorts, to some degree. Men and women, read the ones for your gender and see if that is where you are or where you are headed because of a true and passionate love for God.

Women, is this woman you? "A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her. (-UNKNOWN)" Men, is this where you are looking for a woman?

  • To all: (Consider; are you these things? Do you possess the following traits? Do you honestly want to be these things because of your great Love for Christ?)

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

1 Corinthians 7: 33-35

But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 11:8-9,11-12

For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man..... In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

Ephesians 5:21-28

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

Proverbs 4:23-27

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet and let your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or left; Remove your foot from evil.

Spirit filled:

Ephesians 5:18

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

God is number 1:

Mark 12:30

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a]

Broken (of self) rely fully on God:

Philippians 4: 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


1 Corinthians 4:2

2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Ministry Minded: Concerned about lost souls:

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?


Galatians 6:2

2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

A disciple (both a teacher and the one taught):

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Colossians 4:2

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Put others before self:

Philippians 2:3-4

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Finds joy in the Lord:

John 15:11

11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Pursue proper and peaceful relationships:

Hebrews 12:14

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Finds peace in God and waits for God’s timing:

Psalm 37:7a

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;

Kind and Compassionate, emotionally sensitive:

Ephesians 4:32

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:12

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

  • To Women:

  • The book of Esther

  • The book of Ruth

  • Proverbs 31 (select verses, see below)

  • 1 Peter 3:

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands

  • To Men:

  • 1 Chronicles 28:9

  • And you, my son [insert your name], acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

  • Proverbs 20:6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

  • Proverbs 17:27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

  • Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

  • Proverbs 25:28
  • 28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Proverbs 31:

Proverbs 31 (For men, Leaders, and all)

2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! 3 Do not spend your strength [or wealth] on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.

4 It is not for kings, [insert name] — it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! 7 Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31 (For Women)

The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her

and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.




20 She opens her arms to the poor

and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,

and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,

but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.