Does God Care?

Have you ever had perfect timing with a stop light? I mean that light turns green just before you start to step on your breaks, instead of the usual where the light turns red and you have to stomp on your breaks to make sure you don’t run a red light. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

I’ve had more than one crappy day in my life. Days where I’m driving home or somewhere else, I’m already irritable, and I come up to that intersection where the light is always red (you know the one), and it has to be the longest red light ever created. Wow you should hear the grumbling that goes through my mind as I approach that light. But this time I see that beautiful shade of green, the worries and troubles of the day just seem to melt away. I’m reminded of God’s grace and love. I tell God thank you for this small bit of grace that has suddenly turned into a modern day miracle. I know it’s not parting the Red Sea, but on a day like that it might as well be.

Immediately the thought hits my mind, “Does God really care about you getting that light?”. And from the perspective of the universe as a whole it’s not that big of a deal (neither is my day for that matter). So the natural, logical side of me wins, and I go back to by dreary day. It’s not as bad as before, but that light doesn’t mean the same thing.

At least until the other day.

I was running a bit late for work, which is not the norm (just in case my boss is reading, I wanted to clarify that :)), and I had perfect timing for catching the elevator. Once inside the elevator, I said a quiet thank you to God for blessing me with the elevator. And like normal, the thought hits me about does God really care, but this time was different. The Holy Spirit asked me a simple question, “Don’t you want God to care about the small stuff?”. My reply went something along the lines of “Ummm yeah”. I wish I could articulate what followed, but I just can’t. The Holy Spirit showed me that the relationship that God wants with us is one where even the little things in my life are interesting to him. He doesn’t just want me to share the big things in my life with him, but everything in it, my plans, my feelings, everything. And like wise He wants to share everything with me. Isn’t that wonderful, and doesn’t that challenge us to lead a different kind of life?

The short answer: Yes!

Where did this come from?

You have to understand, I’ve been a Christian since the age of 5, and I’ve been through classes where we focused on the book of John, so I’m assuming that someone just added the 17th chapter of John. Cause I don’t remember reading anything like this before*:

John 17

The Prayer of Jesus

1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

6 “I have revealed you[a] to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c] I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

I know it’s a lot to read and take in all at once, but for some reason this chapter really struck me today.  I’ve had friends, family, and pastors pray for me throughout my life, but the thought never occurred to me that while on this Earth Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Prayed for me, and if that weren’t enough, if you read the next chapter you’ll find that He prayed this prayer right before being arrested, tried, and crucified. I know if that were me, some jerk a few thousand years off in the future wouldn’t have been the focus of my prayers right then.

Jesus prayed for me. Now that brings a smile to my face.

I don’t know, but something about this passage really struck me today and really lifted me up. And I wanted to share. :)

*Footnote: Yes I know that the Bible is the immutable word of God. I was merely trying to give you an understanding of how this chapter came out of left field and smacked my heart.

*BibleGateway for the win!

It’s the Fire that Purifies

Sometimes it takes awhile for me to catch on to what God is telling me. It wasn’t until I read this article over on boundless that I really realized what people mean when they say that hard times show you who you really are underneath. When things are hunky dorry, it’s easy to put a mask on, it’s easy to lie to yourself and others, when things are good we can take little problems like a champ.

But’s the hard times when the walls fall down, it’s those times that the masks come off. It’s hard to put up a front and deal with serious issues at the same time. It’s hard to smile when you beyond fustrated. It’s hard to take on those little annoyneces when you’ve reached the end of your rope or had it up to here.

I had one of those experiences, I had a rough day at work and I was really fustrated with one of my collegues. I said something I shouldn’t have, not to him or her directly but infront of several other collegues. I’ve repented. And I’ve asked God to help me deal with that problem in my life. But this experience really helped me to see that God can allow fustrating things to happen in our lives to show us that we are not the perfect people we try to pretend to be.

God used this situation to reveal to me who I really am. He revealed to me the level to which I was relying on my natural self, when I should have been relying on him, casting my burdens on him rather than trying to carry everything myself. If I had been doing that I wouldn’t have gotten, so easily fustrated and I wouldn’t have let me tongue say something that should never have been said.

Fighting the Man Pleasing Spirit

As I briefly mentioned before our Church is watching John Bevere’s Breaking Intimidation movies and while they’ve been very deep and thought provoking I think God is trying to say something specific to me.

From my daily scripture readings this week:

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? Psalms 27:1

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:31-34

I started reading Romans 8 after listening to one of my dad’s old sermons that Brit had posted on the web. (Isn’t amazing that God can still use him to minister to me even after he’s gone home to be with the Lord? My dad would love to hear that.)

From the plaque I received today as part of raffle (lol God so doesn’t do random or coisedence does he?)

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

I think God is trying to tell me something here. All of this really struck home when Pastor Michelle was telling Arielle and I about a conversation she had with someone, and in the midst of that conversation she told the person that he/she had a “Man Pleasing Spirit” and needed to deal with it. What is a man pleasing spirit but a spirit of fear/intimidation? (exactly what everything up above deals with) And while I know that PM wasn’t saying that to me, it felt like it. It really hit my heart. And I realized that this is what God has been trying to get through to me these past couple of weeks. With God’s help I will conquer this spirit and step into the place God has called me to be. (I know beyond a doubt that I couldn’t conquer this without his help)

Please Pray: Upcomming Wedding

We are now less than 20 days till Arielle and I get hitched (as the folks back home say).

Pray for God’s guarding angels to protect all those who are driving or flying down to the wedding. 

Pray for God’s favor as Arielle and I wrap up the last minute things that need to be done, that things go smoothly and at a good discounted price.

We know that the enemy will try to take this time of celebration to a time of fustration. I bind up the enemy and his plans and tell him to get out of here in the name of Jesus’ my rock and my salvation! 

I pray that God will bless all those involved in the planning, all of those who are spending time and or money to help us get things in order, and all of those attending this blessed event.

Arielle and I appreciate all of your prayers, and hopefully we’ll get to see you at the wedding!

Worship

I’m not worthy of worship.

My favorite tv shows are not worthy of worship.

My problems are not worthy of worship.

My job is not worthy of worship.

Only my God, the one true God of heaven and earth is worthy of worship.

So why do I spend more time meditating on how awesome I am, why my favorite character did that, or how I’m going to do to fix this problem at work, than I do meditating on God, praying, reading the word, and worshiping God in spirit and in truth? In essence I’ve been worshiping myself.

Forgive me Lord for my arrogance and pride.

“Not of this world”, is a popular Christian statement, but it is very hard to walk out. It’s hard to pick up our crosses daily and sacrifice our wants, our desires, our problems it’s hard to let go, but we have to if we really want to live free in Jesus.

Fighting Legalism

Satan is called the great deceiver and he certainly earns that name when it comes to legalism. It can be so subtle, it makes you think that you are doing something pleasing to God when in reality you couldn’t be farther from the truth. This article over on boundless really brings that idea home. Here’s an excerpt that really made me think about how I view God’s commands.

Lately, God has been convicting me about living by conviction. I want to live my life according to His ways. David wrote, “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Ps. 119:47, KJV). As I live in the reality of salvation and grace, earnestly desiring to draw closer to my Father in heaven, God’s commands should be not just my standard, but my heart’s delight.

later on she says…

It’s interesting that the world defines Christians by several outward standards that are not strictly Christian at all — Christians, I’ve heard, don’t drink or swear, for example. Is it wrong to hold such standards? No, especially if we understand where they are rooted in God’s commands — be filled with the Spirit, not with wine; let your speech be edifying and pure. But it’s important to keep the lines clear between God’s words and human choices concerning them. God has not forbidden drink or the use of rude words in every circumstance.

The words ring in my heart: “I will delight myself in thy commandments.” I can’t delight in God’s Word if I am continually replacing it with my own. God guards few things so jealously as He guards His message to us. After delivering it to His people, He bound them to keep it intact and unembellished: “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut. 4:2).

Oh Lord teach me how to delight myself in thy commandments.

Thoughts of Throwing Away God’s Gift

For as long as I can remember, whenever life gets tough I start to seriously consider the temptation to throw away God’s gift. And more often than not, I buy into the lie that the devil is selling. I can still remember times, when I struggled early on in school, that I’d tell my mom, “I wish I had never been born”. Then later on in life when things just seemed to be too hard, my thoughts turned to how I could end it all, to be free of pain, sorrow, loneliness, and despair that seemed to plague my life. To say it plainly, for the majority of my life I’ve struggled with thoughts of suicide. And I don’t think I’m the only one. It breaks my heart every time I read about someone taking their own life, and not even that I almost cry when I read of someone who cuts themselves to dull the pain of their life. I know that God loves them and if only they could understand that, they wouldn’t have to hurt themselves to find peace.

Now I’m not writting this to tell you how I overcame suicide through my own strength or through my own force of will. Because as I stated earlier I bought into the satan’s lie, I believed whole heartedly that I was worthless, that the world would be a much better place without me. But rather how God has repeatedly saved my life, from myself. All glory and honor be to the one who created me, the one who loves me even though at times I haven’t loved myself, the one who had a plan for my life even before I was in my mother’s womb, all the praise belongs to God for taking me beyond the lies and into his heart of truth and love. I’m being transparent here, honest as I can be, not holding anything back (and trust me putting something like this out there isn’t easy) because I believe God has asked me to write about my journey and battling thoughts of suicide has been part of it (an ugly part of it). 

One of the reasons I believe this has been a constant struggle in my life, is because every time I wish I was dead, or fantasied about killing myself, the devil was throwing the miracle of my life back in God’s face. If you haven’t read my testimony, then you should know that God preserved my life at a time when I was defenseless, a time when my mother’s decisions meant life or death for me, a time when babies all over the world were being slaughtered simply to make a mother’s life a little more easy (click here if you’d like to read a more detailed account). So if the devil had ever been able to get me to follow through with what I was thinking that would have been a major victory for him, but he seems perfectly fine with a minor victory and insulting God. Thankfully God is not one to let Satan win lasting victories.

Another reason I believe that I was readily open to this attack of the enemy, is that as a human being I love doing things the easy way, or doing the easy things in life. Looking back now, non of the things that made me wish I was dead were really that hard. Math, spelling, heartbreak, loneliness, fear, and failure were all temporary and all things that eventually I worked through (obviously since I’m writing this ;-)). But the lies of the enemy made mole hills turn into mountains. Had I taken these things to God rather than working them out through my own limited human abilities, they would not have seemed so difficult. But I chose to trust in myself rather than the one who made me.

But the root cause of all of this is something I mentioned above, fear. Fear, is brought to us by a spirit of intimidation. This is a spirit I’m very familiar with, I’ve lived under it for so long, I’ve been bound by it’s chains, set free only be the awesome power of Jesus Christ! One of fear’s most used tools is a feeling of hopelessness. For the longest time I had no hope for ever finding a life long friend, I had no hope that I would ever find the woman that God had out there for me (and yes that’s how warped my mind was I acknowledged that God had selected a woman for me but yet didn’t have hope that he would lead me to her, how whacked is that?), I had no hope that I would ever find joy and happiness, and I had no hope that I would ever find understanding. So anytime life would get rough, this spirit would remind me of my hopelessness and I would buy into it. The logical conclusion being that if there is no hope for my life, why live it? As John Bevere talks about in his book “Breaking Intimidation“, fear makes us focus on ourselves. The thoughts constantly running through my head focused almost entirely on me and my current condition. I focused on how sad I was that my “girlfriend” left me, and focusing on something like that long enough I would start to think about how I’d never be able to find someone. This train of thought is something Pastor Michelle would call a death spiral. My other fears were similiar in that my focus was me, and my problems. The opposite of fear, is love. Love forces us to put our focus on others and breaks us free from the death spiral that fear has us trapped in.

I could talk more about the spirit of intimidation’s other tools like a false sense of control or the constant need to blame others, but if you want to know more about breaking this spirit’s control over your life I recommend John Bevere’s book Breaking Intimidation. I could also talk about the things God used in my life to encourage me, to give me hope and how he used my friends Brad and Jen, my Mom and Dad, and my love Arielle to show me how much he loves and cares for me, he used them to save my life in ways they will probably never understand, but if you want to hear more about that you’ll have to ask me someday or God will put it on my heart to write it here. Instead what I’d like to leave you with is this, as I’ve said before, the devil is a liar. Look at what I was so worried about above; finding the right woman for me, finding friendship and understanding. God has provided all those things and then some. I just want to encourage you to stop focusing on yourself and focus on God and he will provide all your needs. I’m a walking example of his love and his provision and I hope that my testimony will be used by God in your life to draw you closer to him.

Please Pray: The Stones

I’ve started praying for this couple and their two sons. And I ask that you do to.

20-21In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”

 22-25Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.” Mark 11:20-25

Update: Fixed the link