Monday, December 22, 2014

Cynicism and Weariness

Jun 2, 2013
Cynicism is a tricky thing.  It gives the appearance of evolved sophistication while masking its root of brokenness.  Have you ever met someone so coolly cynical that you wondered what brought them to that point?  I remember a co-worker in Los Angeles years ago that was steeped in cynicism when it came to matters of the heart, namely, men.  Upon getting to know her, I realized that her lack of faith in the male gender was due to her ex-husband’s betrayal.  The man she had trusted to love her forever, had not.  It’s an age-old story.  She buried her pain deeply, closing herself off rather than risk being hurt again.  But the defenses she put up didn’t allow healing to reach her either.  Her mistake was in believing that all men’s motives were the same.  Her expectations were skewed.  She carried a lonely burden and it exhausted her.
All cynicism is sad.  However, I think when it’s directed towards God and by his own people, it’s the saddest of all.  People blame God for all sorts of things.  If life doesn’t happen according to their preconceived expectations, they conclude that God has failed them.  Malachi’s people did this.
You have wearied the Lord with your words… By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17, ESV)
Notice the result.  They wearied the Lord.  It causes me pause to think I can actually weary God with my sin.  It’s not that he runs out of energy.  The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord “neither faints nor is weary” (Is. 40:28).  Rather Malachi says that God, who has proven his goodness and love time and again, gets weary of seeing his people persist with unbelief. 
I think one reason this unbelief is sad to God is because it plays out in our relationships.  When a person quits trusting God, the only one left to trust is human… and let’s face it, we disappoint.  Then when disappointment comes, the blame is on God all over again.  I get weary just thinking about it!  Distrust is exhausting.  But God understands our limitations.  He fulfilled his promise to the Israelites and provided an answer for us today, through Jesus, the Messiah.
How have you become cynical?  Do you weary in wondering when your burdens will lift?  Jesus invites us to bring them to him.  To learn from him.  To rest in him.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).

Spiritual Wasteland (Matthew 6:6; John 6:68-69)

Aug 23, 2014

I have found that when the first and last willful thoughts of my everyday are of and for God, that place we can all fight throughout our lives of "spiritual dryness" is no longer the issue.... rather my focus shifts from my thirst for intimacy with God to one of desperately drinking at his well of worthiness. And I choose to worship there - surrendering all I think and feel. 

When I willfully choose to practice the habit of taking everythIng to Christ- I find myself looking more at him than myself. When I shift my eyes from my lack and needs, to God's goodness and grace, I am not as concerned with the “status” of my spiritual life- wistfully remembering times of sweet communion with my Lord- as I am concerned about bringing him into all I live. 

It is in sharing these thoughts that they feel more real to me. It is in communion with his family that I increasingly feel I belong to Christ. It's not about acting upon my feelings... it is about acting upon my knowledge of who Jesus is and what he has done for me. Feelings are not necessarily an evil within themselves... yet they are seldom consistent. But Jesus is consistent. He is the place where I find and live my existence... which is forever. I choose my forever to be at his feet because he has lifted me up from so much pain, sin and anguish. 

This all can seem so ethereal and vague... yet I cannot wait for it to "seem" more real to me than my environment or circumstances. I cannot afford to waste any moment I have been given on trusting more in what I feel than what I know... I choose faith over fear, hope over anguish, peace over chaos. Those are the bedrock choices upon which I can best love my Creator, Savior and Master... Because he has loved me with an everlasting love I cannot comprehend... but I believe, because of his grace and mercy. 

Maybe some day I'll understand more of his powerful, fierce and holy love... but for now, it's enough to know him... to say he is my "all in all" without quite fully grasping what that means. He is so very trustworthy, that I see no alternative but to surrender my will into his loving care. And I am thankful he invited me in... and continues to pursue me every day. 

I take the love I carry for family and friends- the fears and worry for their well-being and mainly their eternities, and place them in his expert hands. I take this urgency I feel for others to know and accept him, and attempt to show them a fragment of his brand of love and compassion. 

I fail to do this well... But his mercies come every morning anew and I carry on accepting his invitation to daily rely upon his strength instead of my own poor reserves. The more I see Jesus and others through his eyes, the more I realize how much I don't see, and how far I have yet to go... but then... slowly... I begin to feel him more than I feel my lack of seeing him. It's not about seeing him "well enough" or "often enough," but just seeing him... in this moment... continually choosing what he reveals. 

This much I know... I am but a poor soul lifted up into the glorious presence of the King... And when I feel it, it's like no other experience in life... And when I don't... it's still the truest thing I live. 

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’”  (Mt. 6:6-8, ESV)

 …“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn. 6:68-69, ESV)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something to believe in

A line from an old song keeps playing in my mind. “Give me something to believe in.” It seems that it should’ve said, “Give me something true to believe in.” Because we are not lacking in something to believe in… just lacking in the faith to believe in the right thing… what is good and true. Something which we can count on, that won’t change, that will make a difference in our lives. It seems alot of people are willing to believe in anything and therefore end up believing in nothing they can count on.

Faith. Makes all the difference. What we have faith in will change our lives, ourselves. I have faith in God. Not faith in my faith in God. Just faith in God. I don’t depend on my ability to believe and trust in God- I count on God himself. His power. His truth. His love.

Sometimes it is hard to muster up great quantities of faith. That is when I just ask God for faith enough. I know he can take the smallest size faith and move mountains with it. I’m so glad it is not up me being good enough, tough enough or spiritual enough. It’s just about believing what my God has said. It’s just about depending on him. It’s just about being me in relation to whom God is. I’m his beloved. He delights in me. He is my Creator, Rescuer and Lord. So I long to glorify him with my life. He is more than worthy. If for no other reason than the fact that he loves me enough to increase my faith.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


“I need a miracle in my life.” A friend of mine recently made the statement to his pastor, to which he responded, “Don’t we all?”

I am reminded of a line from an old Moody Blues song that says, “I’m looking for a miracle in my life…” And as I contemplate the desire most of us have for a miracle in our lives, I wonder if we might be missing it because we are not “looking” for the miracle—just “wanting” it? Are we actively expectant? Watching out for evidence of the miraculous around us?

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Ps. 5:3 (NASB95)

And what really constitutes a miracle anyways? Do we credit ourselves with miracles we have already gained? The miracle of finding someone to share our lives with. The miracle of a good job. The miracle of having a child. The miracle of a changed heart. The miracle of a second chance. The miracle of good health.

Do we hope for miracles without the appreciation of where they come from? And if we have hope, what is it in? Do we believe miracles really do happen? And do we only label as “miraculous” that which we deem impossible to obtain ourselves? But what good thing have we truly brought about totally on our own? I mean, isn’t the term “self-made man” meaningless? Doesn’t success by any standard involve forces outside ourselves?

… What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do
you boast as if you had not received it? 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NASB95). Every good
thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of
lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17 (NASB95).

If a miracle is something we cannot attain on our own—then surely it behooves
us to understand where miracles come from and how we can have the audacity
to expect them!

The things that are impossible with people are possible with God. Lk. 18:27
(NASB95). …For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and
nothing will be impossible to you. Matt. 17:20 (NASB95).

The relationship we accept and pursue with God has bigger impact than we
could ever bring about on our own.

Faith. Hope. Trust. The stuff of miracles.

Friday, March 6, 2009


My two good friends had birthdays this week. And amidst the celebratory atmosphere I began to think. Are birthdays really so important? Do people who say that their birthday is “just another day” really mean it? Yet Birthdays are an annual marker of our very existence. An existence that merits acknowledgment.

I’m sure that some people exist so many years with such little celebration of their birth… their life, that they have lost sight of their own significance: that they are created in the image of God! For his glory! I would say that is the epitome of significant!

Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them. Is. 43:7 (NLT)
Doesn’t everyone feel- in the recesses of their soul, their identity- the longing to be celebrated… to be recognized… to make a difference? I know I do. Perhaps these questions can seem too deep for some and oversimplified for others. But they are honest.

Isn’t it sad that many only experience that kind of acceptance and appreciation once a year… on their birthday? After all, that’s when friends and family are “supposed” to be nice to us. Yet even then, birthdays can be disappointing because loved ones can let us down. And what of those who have no loved ones near? It is easier to convince ourselves that we don’t care about birthdays than it is to experience the pain of no one remembering them!

Well I say, let’s not wait until it is someone’s birthday! Let’s acknowledge those around us with special kindness and consideration every chance we get. I am preaching to myself. I wonder how many people I really see? I mean, really notice them for who they are? Beloved by God! We can take the opportunities to lavish people with that kind of celebration all year long!

Now I’m not saying that we should do away with birthday parties! In the words of the Apostle Paul, “May it never be!” Let us by all means celebrate the anniversaries of all our entrances into this world! Let’s just not stop there. This world is not all there is. Better yet, let’s make an eternal impact in someone’s life. Let’s help others see the reason they were born. Let us help others experience their significance in God’s bigger picture. What better birthday present to give than God’s love in us? I am committed to live daily in the grace given to me through Jesus Christ. Because that is who provides ultimate celebration in this journey we call life.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago
. Eph 2:10 (NLT)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Staying Connected

I was having trouble staying connected... to the internet that is. So I viewed my "available wireless networks" and it said I was connected. But when I tried to post something, it said I wasn't connected. So I clicked the "refresh" button. Then I was connected. But I tried to post again and lost the connection. So, I tried the same steps again. I viewed the wireless network to see if there was a connection- there was. But I still couldn't post, so I refreshed the screen.

I kept trying the same thing over and over again to no avail. Finally I looked under "tools" and noticed I was "working offline." The connection was there, but I had inadvertently opted to work unconnected. Ok, so I don't know how that happened... but as soon as I unclicked the work offline option I was able to stay connected. In other words, I could post something and get a response. I could interact.

This got me thinking about the fact that sometimes I feel like staying connected to Jesus can be a frustrating cycle. I try over and over again with no real holding power. It can feel like I'm talking at dead air. By the time I stop foolishly doing the same old steps, I realize that I have been trying to connect to Jesus on my own power. As if I can be "good enough" to merit some supernatural interaction with the Lord without his intervention. But without the Holy Spirit, without the Word of God, without an honest two-way conversation with God- there is little meaning in it all. My "spiritual disciplines" simply become ritualistic practices. For all intent and purposes, those are the times I am "working offline."

The thing is that just like the internet, working offline- ignoring the Holy Spirit- can be so subtle... it feels as though one minute I'm happily plugging away, then the next I'm suddenly disconnected... offline. Most of the time, I don't even know how it happened! And in all honesty, it is never that quick. God's grace has held me on many occasions that I have let go.

Connection is an intentional choice. A predetermined decision to act. Of course there is no real connection power when I try to connect by myself. Connection, by default is a two-way proposition. A relationship. And I need to choose to utilize the proper power Source and depend on that Source to stay connected! Because my strength is not enough to create the connection I desperately need with God.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Romans 8:26-27 (NIV).

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Believe - Help My Unbelief

It’s raining- actually, it’s pouring- as I sit at my desk and write in my journal. I pour out my thoughts and emotions to God. I know he is attentive to me. I don’t actually come out and literally ask him for a “sign”… but it is the sentiment I convey between the lines.

I know that I face this difficult time in my life with God’s continual presence. I know that God is for me. I know that he promises to work all things to the good for those who love him and are called by him (see Romans 8).

I know, I know, I know. But at the moment… it is hard to “believe.” I mean, if you really believe something, it changes you, right? I want to believe God because only he has the words of real life (John 6:68). He came so that I could have a full life (John 10:10). I want to be open to that life. That requires God’s ongoing transformation in me. And I want to come out of this experience better than I was going in.

So I let God have it. All my questions, doubts and fears. All my anger, pain and suffering. I know- no, I “believe”- my God is big enough to handle them all. And as I pour out my heart to him, I acknowledge that I feel vulnerable and weak. That I need to believe he is really with me… right now… in this moment. I ask the same thing that the possessed boy’s father asked of Jesus in Mark 9:24:

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.

A flash of color catches my eye. I look out the window and notice a prism. The splash of color can only be described as the tip of a rainbow. “Hmm… that’s strange,” I think to myself. “The sky is dark and laden with storm clouds. How can there be a rainbow visible?” I go to investigate further. As I step out onto my front porch, I am met with an amazing view.

Amidst the still pouring rain and dark sky all around… there before me is an unexpected break in the clouds. Brightly lit by the unseen sun is a complete rainbow! Its reflection hovers just above the tree line affording me a ringside view of its full colorful arc. I stare in wonder at God’s gift. His glorious presence with me is an almost tangible thing. Such a personal, gracious love overwhelms me. I bask in the beauty and wonder of the moment… a “sign” from God. He is with me. All I can do is worship him.

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Eze. 1:28 (NIV).

After what feels much longer than the 5-10 minutes that have passed, the clouds close in. They engulf the rainbow, hiding it from view- as if it had never been. The sky darkens once more. I find myself back in the reality of the storm. Gone is the beautiful vision that God allowed me to witness. But its promise lingers. I am left with the notion that it is still there- waiting for the storm to pass and the sun to shine its glory once more.

And such is the personal storm in which I find myself. It is as if God in his mercy, has given me a memorable illustration of what is to come. Yes, I must face head on the challenge of this dark hour in my life. But I know- I really believe- that the firestorm will pass. I can assuredly envision that beauty will arise from the ashes to shine brightly in my life again.

Part of really “believing” that God is with me involves asking the “why?” question. Why must I go through this now? If God knew I was going to face this problem, why didn’t he make it happen sooner when I was younger? Even though I am not over the hill, it is easy to feel that my time is running out in certain respects. This trial “should” have happened earlier so that I could move on more “easily,” right?

I can’t know all the eternal or temporal ramifications of my life experiences… but this I do believe: God never allows his people to endure more than they are able (1 Cor. 10:13), and God’s timing is never too early or too late. Who knows? Perhaps the wounds would not have healed had this particular trial occurred earlier in my life. The scars may have changed who I am to the negative. I may not have been so spiritually connected with God to avoid lasting heartache.

What is certain to me is that God has graced me with his presence today in a way that I can carry through these turbulent times. I believe in his power and faithfulness to carry out his promises. I believe I will come out on the other side, not only a better person, but better able to help others. In the meantime, as I sing to the Lord- "I will praise you in the storm!"

… and I will bless you… and you will be a blessing. Gen. 12:2