God On Trial

“If you want to maintain your freedom, do your own homework.” One of my favorite political radio hosts said those words this morning, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head.

A couple of days ago I had the absolute privilege of standing in front of a group of gorgeous God-fearing women and telling them what God has done in my life. As I thought back over some of the key events in my life in preparation for what I wanted to say, a theme started materializing. It began with my salvation experience which was presented as mere “fire insurance.” In my young mind I perceived undertones of obligation by God to make good on John 3:16 rather than His actual love for me which compelled Him to offer such grace. I lived believing that though salvation was mine for the taking I would still spend my life  paying for what He’d done for me.

As a teenager I went on a missions trip to France. Though I genuinely wanted to share God’s love with others, in the back of my mind I was hoping it would endear me to Him somehow. After all, I was spending an entire summer sleeping in a tent and wearing jeans and combat boots, a far cry from my usual attire of bows, dresses and cute flat shoes! Instead, the team disunity, physical hardship, issues with leaders and extreme homesickness left me disillusioned with Christianity and the idea of serving Him.

Most of my college years were spent at Moody Bible Institute where I was fortunate to immerse myself in Bible classes and writing. However, with the stress of extenuating circumstances, I began down a dark hole of binging and purging in order to diffuse the frustration. I was convinced His disappointment in me was teetering on the brink of no return.

As an adult, I felt called to marry a youth pastor which I did. My husband is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but youth ministry was his gig, not mine. Realizing that left me feeling like a complete failure, again. What a disappointment I must have been to the God of creation. He’d given me a chance to redeem myself, to finally get it together and be a serious Christian, and I was blowing it. Another black check on the tally sheet.

As a young writer, I had a few successes with the publication of the articles and a children’s book, but it didn’t last. Now I was becoming angry with God. What did He want from me? Why did He continually dangle the carrot in front of me only to snatch it away once I got within reach?

Then my husband and I bought into the idea of the American dream, which you are all too aware of if you’ve read any of this blog. I wrote the following poem one morning to the Lord having no idea the flurry of activity it would release from Him.

I know what I’m asking.

It scares me to death,

But scarier still

Is a life that is left

Complacent, unchanged

Lukewarm at best,

Loving God one day,

Not caring the next.

So take me and mold me

As a potter with clay,

Shaping me, forming me

In Your unique way.

The pain and the time

It takes to change me

Remade in Your image

A sweet offering

I pray will bring

Nothing but glory to You

Redemption in action

Your work showing through.

Then a daughter of Jesus

I’ll stand on display

As proof of the Potter’s

Love for the clay.

Within weeks I found myself on my knees in my dining room begging God for help with my debt. At the time I didn’t realize that not only would He begin the process of unhinging us from our debt, but He would also start the longer, more involved process of releasing me from the captivity of what I believed about Him. Essentially, I had spent my whole life in judgment of God, and my sources for that judgment would never hold up in a real court of law.

I could blame the church that offered salvation as nothing more than a means to avoid hell. I could blame the Pharisaical Christians who had walked in and out of my life over the years. I could blame the American culture and it’s marketing of the American dream to any who will listen. But the blame was mine. I hadn’t done my own homework. I had no hard evidence to back up the verdict of who I thought God was. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. In looking over my life He has more than rescued me from situations that I have chosen, and yet I dismissed all of it as if it were merely hearsay.

Which brings me back to the quote at the beginning. If we want to maintain our spiritual freedom, that is to live without the noose of Satan’s lies tied around our necks, it is our responsibility to get to know the Person we claim to live for.

History has shown over and over how the ability of a charismatic speaker and a few well-placed lies can lead an entire culture of people into political and spiritual ruin. Here’s the bottom line in a nutshell:

1). God is under no obligation to prove anything to any of us, and yet the first breath of every new day is just the beginning of Him spending that entire day proving Himself to us.

2). I had to ask myself if I had spent most of my life basing my judgment of God on the actions and words of others as well as my own unreliable feelings, what judgments are other people making of Him based on what they see in me?

3). John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).

John 8:31,32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'” (NIV).

God On Trial

“If you want to maintain your freedom, do your own homework.” One of my favorite political radio hosts said those words this morning, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head.

A couple of days ago I had the absolute privilege of standing in front of a group of gorgeous God-fearing women and telling them what God has done in my life. As I thought back over some of the key events in my life in preparation for what I wanted to say, a theme started materializing. It began with my salvation experience which was presented as mere “fire insurance.” In my young mind I perceived undertones of obligation by God to make good on John 3:16 rather than His actual love for me which compelled Him to offer such grace. I lived believing that though salvation was mine for the taking I would still spend my life  paying for what He’d done for me.

As a teenager I went on a missions trip to France. Though I genuinely wanted to share God’s love with others, in the back of my mind I was hoping it would endear me to Him somehow. After all, I was spending an entire summer sleeping in a tent and wearing jeans and combat boots, a far cry from my usual attire of bows, dresses and cute flat shoes! Instead, the team disunity, physical hardship, issues with leaders and extreme homesickness left me disillusioned with Christianity and the idea of serving Him.

Most of my college years were spent at Moody Bible Institute where I was fortunate to immerse myself in Bible classes and writing. However, with the stress of extenuating circumstances, I began down a dark hole of binging and purging in order to diffuse the frustration. I was convinced His disappointment in me was teetering on the brink of no return.

As an adult, I felt called to marry a youth pastor which I did. My husband is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but youth ministry was his gig, not mine. Realizing that left me feeling like a complete failure, again. What a disappointment I must have been to the God of creation. He’d given me a chance to redeem myself, to finally get it together and be a serious Christian, and I was blowing it. Another black check on the tally sheet.

As a young writer, I had a few successes with the publication of the articles and a children’s book, but it didn’t last. Now I was becoming angry with God. What did He want from me? Why did He continually dangle the carrot in front of me only to snatch it away once I got within reach?

Then my husband and I bought into the idea of the American dream, which you are all too aware of if you’ve read any of this blog. I wrote the following poem one morning to the Lord having no idea the flurry of activity it would release from Him.

I know what I’m asking.

It scares me to death,

But scarier still

Is a life that is left

Complacent, unchanged

Lukewarm at best,

Loving God one day,

Not caring the next.

So take me and mold me

As a potter with clay,

Shaping me, forming me

In Your unique way.

The pain and the time

It takes to change me

Remade in Your image

A sweet offering

I pray will bring

Nothing but glory to You

Redemption in action

Your work showing through.

Then a daughter of Jesus

I’ll stand on display

As proof of the Potter’s

Love for the clay.

Within weeks I found myself on my knees in my dining room begging God for help with my debt. At the time I didn’t realize that not only would He begin the process of unhinging us from our debt, but He would also start the longer, more involved process of releasing me from the captivity of what I believed about Him. Essentially, I had spent my whole life in judgment of God, and my sources for that judgment would never hold up in a real court of law.

I could blame the church that offered salvation as nothing more than a means to avoid hell. I could blame the Pharisaical Christians who had walked in and out of my life over the years. I could blame the American culture and it’s marketing of the American dream to any who will listen. But the blame was mine. I hadn’t done my own homework. I had no hard evidence to back up the verdict of who I thought God was. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. In looking over my life He has more than rescued me from situations that I have chosen, and yet I dismissed all of it as if it were merely hearsay.

Which brings me back to the quote at the beginning. If we want to maintain our spiritual freedom, that is to live without the noose of Satan’s lies tied around our necks, it is our responsibility to get to know the Person we claim to live for.

History has shown over and over how the ability of a charismatic speaker and a few well-placed lies can lead an entire culture of people into political and spiritual ruin. Here’s the bottom line in a nutshell:

1). God is under no obligation to prove anything to any of us, and yet the first breath of every new day is just the beginning of Him spending that entire day proving Himself to us.

  2). I had to ask myself if I had spent most of my life basing my judgment of God on the actions and words of others as well as my own unreliable feelings, what judgments are other people making of Him based on what they see in me?

3). John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).

      John 8:31,32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'” (NIV).

God on Trial

“If you want to maintain your freedom, do your own homework.” One of my favorite political radio hosts said those words this morning, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head.

A couple of days ago I had the absolute privilege of standing in front of a group of gorgeous God-fearing women and telling them what God has done in my life. As I thought back over some of the key events in my life in preparation for what I wanted to say, a theme started materializing. It began with my salvation experience which was presented as mere “fire insurance.” In my young mind I perceived undertones of obligation by God to make good on John 3:16 rather than His actual love for me which compelled Him to offer such grace. I lived believing that though salvation was mine for the taking I would still spend my life  paying for what He’d done for me.

As a teenager I went on a missions trip to France. Though I genuinely wanted to share God’s love with others, in the back of my mind I was hoping it would endear me to Him somehow. After all, I was spending an entire summer sleeping in a tent and wearing jeans and combat boots, a far cry from my usual attire of bows, dresses and cute flat shoes! Instead, the team disunity, physical hardship, issues with leaders and extreme homesickness left me disillusioned with Christianity and the idea of serving Him.

Most of my college years were spent at Moody Bible Institute where I was fortunate to immerse myself in Bible classes and writing. However, with the stress of extenuating circumstances, I began down a dark hole of binging and purging in order to diffuse the frustration. I was convinced His disappointment in me was teetering on the brink of no return.

As an adult, I felt called to marry a youth pastor which I did. My husband is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but youth ministry was his gig, not mine. Realizing that left me feeling like a complete failure, again. What a disappointment I must have been to the God of creation. He’d given me a chance to redeem myself, to finally get it together and be a serious Christian, and I was blowing it. Another black check on the tally sheet.

As a young writer, I had a few successes with the publication of the articles and a children’s book, but it didn’t last. Now I was becoming angry with God. What did He want from me? Why did He continually dangle the carrot in front of me only to snatch it away once I got within reach?

Then my husband and I bought into the idea of the American dream, which you are all too aware of if you’ve read any of this blog. I wrote the following poem one morning to the Lord having no idea the flurry of activity it would release from Him.

I know what I’m asking.

It scares me to death,

But scarier still

Is a life that is left

Complacent, unchanged

Lukewarm at best,

Loving God one day,

Not caring the next.

So take me and mold me

As a potter with clay,

Shaping me, forming me

In Your unique way.

The pain and the time

It takes to change me

Remade in Your image

A sweet offering

I pray will bring

Nothing but glory to You

Redemption in action

Your work showing through.

Then a daughter of Jesus

I’ll stand on display

As proof of the Potter’s

Love for the clay.

Within weeks I found myself on my knees in my dining room begging God for help with my debt. At the time I didn’t realize that not only would He begin the process of unhinging us from our debt, but He would also start the longer, more involved process of releasing me from the captivity of what I believed about Him. Essentially, I had spent my whole life in judgment of God, and my sources for that judgment would never hold up in a real court of law.

I could blame the church that offered salvation as nothing more than a means to avoid hell. I could blame the Pharisaical Christians who had walked in and out of my life over the years. I could blame the American culture and it’s marketing of the American dream to any who will listen. But the blame was mine. I hadn’t done my own homework. I had no hard evidence to back up the verdict of who I thought God was. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. In looking over my life He has more than rescued me from situations that I have chosen, and yet I dismissed all of it as if it were merely hearsay.

Which brings me back to the quote at the beginning. If we want to maintain our spiritual freedom, that is to live without the noose of Satan’s lies tied around our necks, it is our responsibility to get to know the Person we claim to live for.

History has shown over and over how the ability of a charismatic speaker and a few well-placed lies can lead an entire culture of people into political and spiritual ruin. Here’s the bottom line in a nutshell:

1). God is under no obligation to prove anything to any of us, and yet the first breath of every new day is just the beginning of Him spending that entire day proving Himself to us.

2). I had to ask myself if I had spent most of my life basing my judgment of God on the actions and words of others as well as my own unreliable feelings, what judgments are other people making of Him based on what they see in me?

3). John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).

     John 8:31,32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'” (NIV).

In Over My Head

I chuckled when I walked into church a couple of weeks ago and read that our pastor was starting a new series entitled, “Going Deeper.” If I didn’t know better I’d think he’d been listening in on my conversations with God from the past week. It seems that when God is trying to drive home a point, He tends to cover all of His bases.

Though my prayer recently had been asking God to give me all of Him that I could handle, I have to admit I expected more mountaintop living and less of the battle between my flesh and the Spirit of God. To get more of God we must let go of more of ourselves. Why is that always so hard?

Without going through the laundry list of sins that I constantly battle, suffice it to say that as soon as I pray something as seemingly noble as asking for more of God, it’s almost as if He’s asking me if I really mean it. Without missing a beat the fear, pride and selfishness that characterizes me jumps front and center threatening to squelch the fire that has just begun to flicker.

Going deeper with God looks different for everyone. We are all in a different place spiritually, and our struggles are unique to each of us. For me, going deeper means obeying with no guaranteed results of the desired outcome. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s still a problem!

Driving is my least favorite activity. I cannot wait until my 15-year old gets her license. My plan is to hand her the keys and hop in the passenger seat indefinitely.

Not only do I hate driving, I especially hate it when the weather is not optimum, like in fog, for instance. Pursuing obedience is like driving in the fog. I will never forget as a young college student driving alone to see some friends in Nebraska from my home in Iowa. Not a long drive by any means, but it might as well have been from New York to California. The fog was mud soup, and the only thing I had going for me was the taillights of the driver in front of me. If he changed lanes so did I whether I needed to be in that lane or not.  I stuck so close to that driver that in today’s world riding on someone’s tail like that would be considered road rage.

Besides the fog I was also dealing with the handicap of having absolutely no sense of direction. I know one way to get everywhere I need to go, and if the road is blocked off or the weather blocks my vision, I’m in real trouble.

You get where I’m going with this. Sometimes deepening our faith simply means getting out of the boat. Other times, the process becomes nothing short of a tsunami, blowing in out of nowhere, taking our breath away and forcing us to hang on without knowing what comes next. In either case, it’s only about us to the degree that we’re willing to obey. The rest is about God.

That is where my husband and I find ourselves right now as God has seen fit to bring a couple into our lives that He is asking us to walk alongside. We are completely in over our heads not to mention there is no guarantee that the time we put into them will guarantee the outcome we are hoping for which is restoration. But if our desire is deeper faith and obedient living then we simply follow closely to God’s leading and let Him worry about the rest.

Hillsong United has a great song out right now called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). My favorite lines go like this:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Isn’t that the point of the Christian life? To allow God to blow the borders off of our tiny faith and bring us to the end of ourselves so that, once again, all there is is Him?

Invest In Gold

I listen to enough radio and watch enough news to be able to quote the commercials for companies offering to sell gold. You hear it all the time in today’s economy: the dollar is losing value, it’s not going to be the currency our kids will use. The answer? Invest in gold. Gold is the standard by which the dollar used to be based on, the one currency that has historically retained its value or grown in value. It does make sense, and I’ve often wondered if we should look into something like that. At times, I become so overwhelmed by the news of naysayers that I start to panic and feel compelled to take every last dime I have and trade it all in for the shiny gold blocks of security being offered. But then I remember why I’m taking up space on the planet.

One of the perks of my job as a house cleaner is the people that I meet. Most of them become very much a part of my life. One client in particular I’ve known for years through church. I started cleaning for Cindy about two years ago after her cancer had weakened her to the point that she needed help; not something she was necessarily familiar with. Over the weekend, she lost her battle with cancer.

At one particular appointment last year she thought her prognosis was improving. She was feeling better except for the constant pain in her back which she attributed to the pain of nerve endings growing back after being annihilated by the chemo. Instead, she was told that her cancer had returned wrapping it’s menacing fingers around her spine and taking up residence in her bones. It would seem to me that a diagnosis of these proportions would devastate even the most faithful. We are human after all, and the will to live is a natural part of our makeup. However, though stunned and saddened, my friend reminded me that her life is in God’s hands.

What kind of person says this when they’ve been given a less-than-positive diagnosis? What kind of person can fall asleep at night not knowing if tomorrow will be waiting and sleep in peace? What kind of person, while their human body is dying, knows a peace that grows ever bigger with each passing day?

The only type of person capable of this response is the one who has invested everything in gold and not the kind sold in heavy blocks that support an economy. By that I mean, the kind of person who has lead a steady existence of keeping priorities in check and God at the front. The kind of person who has spent her life in a relationship with God experiencing who He is so when the rainy day hits, there is no question in her mind if God is good and if He really does hold her life in His hands.

She has spent her life collecting verses to quote in the midst of her darkness. She has invested in her kids in such a way that in her time of desperate need, they have reworked their schedules to accommodate her doctor’s visits. She has invested in friendships that have had a huge return in the form of helping her get dressed and making her lunch. God and people. Those were her nuggets gold.

I find the following quote interesting when put in a spiritual context:

“Historically, gold has been a proven method of preserving value when a national currency was losing value. If your investments are valued in a depreciating currency, allocating a portion to gold assets is similar to a financial insurance policy…” (EagleWing Research 2012, italics mine).

Oh the parallels we can draw! Let’s reword it like this:

“Historically, a relationship with God has been a proven method of preserving value when the world’s system is valueless. If your investments are valued in a depreciating currency (ie. the things of this world), allocating to God all of your assets is similar to an assurance of peace…”

Matthew 6:19-21 says this:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV).

I can’t pretend to know the thoughts that swirled around my client’s head as she lay in her hospital bed at home. What I can tell you is that every other Wednesday for the last two years was, for me, rich. Besides cleaning, we spent time exchanging news about life, encouraging one another and crying together over disappointments. I will miss her so much, but I will see her again someday.

Her faith in Jesus was her legacy, and her devotion to Him was her investment. What will yours be?